Category: life

Peyton’s Choice

Peyton’s Choice
Author: Kimberley A. Johnson
Genre: Young adult, life, hard choices

I was given this book for a fair review.

Peyton Andrews is seventeen, full of life and a promising future with good grades and a scholarship to UCLA. The only problem with her almost perfect life is that she has not had a proper date before. Her friends all have boyfriends, and she is not ugly nor boring. Her focus on her studies has made her an outsider of sorts in her circle.

When Brad Davis enters her life, Peyton thought her dream had come true. Brad is a trophy boyfriend, and they hit off instantly. As a senior, Peyton finally has found a date for prom night. Things are going along swimmingly and Peyton even got a prescription for birth control. She is quite a responsible young woman, pregnancy is so far down her life’s bucket list she’s making sure it doesn’t happen sooner.

Peyton’s Choice is a story for young girls, and as a reminder to those who think single, young mothers are at fault. Peyton herself did not plan to get pregnant and destroy her future, but it happened. Nothing is 100% effective, especially when it comes to pills, even condoms are only 96% effective in preventing pregnancy. It is unfair to blame things solely on the girls, when the boys are just as guilty for not being responsible about their sex life.

What is next? In Peyton’s Choice, I see how young girls are pressured from many sides. To abort or to keep the baby, she will get blamed either way. I guess the author wants this story to be less depressing, so Brad is kind of a sweet guy, because we all know not all guys are like Dream Guy Brad here. In the end, I want to say that it is her choice in the end, and no matter what decision, it is none of our business as an outsider.

Wiley’s Grocery

Wiley’s Grocery
Author: SB Boughton              Illustrator: Hieu Nguyen
Genre: adults, life
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ISBN-13: 978-1495327612
Synopsis: Wiley’s Grocery: a world where groceries and grudges never end. But should they? Meet Ky, Chad, Stephaney, and Vernon as they struggle with the day-to-day life of working at Wiley’s Grocery. It is a store with a paranoid manager that is attached to his favorite jacket, a cowboy that struggles with his bladder, and a devil’s advocate who manipulates others to reach his goal in the end. Time away from the store isn’t even safe as Stephaney deals with the torment from a stalker on vacation, and Vernon is forced to confront a fame-obsessed boxer that robbed him. Like all workplaces, the conflicts never really end. Witness a time period where the moments at Wiley’s Grocery reach the peak of its weirdness.

Welcome to Wiley’s Grocery store, the only place where you can read about what really happens in retail setting when you have employees like Ky, Stephaney, and Chad among others. Sure the cover might look a little bit deceptive, but it is definitely an adults only book.

I have worked in retail before, and it just so happens that the characters in the store are a little bit similar to what I used to have in varying degrees. So I not only understood the book, I enjoyed it. Written by someone who have the experience dealing with difficult customers and disgruntled co-workers. This book will have you laughing since page 1. 

It is also a short book, and so a quick laugh during a lunch break. I would recommend it to everyone who wants a good laugh.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A novel (First Edition)
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Knopf                     ASIN: B00MFD6UKO
Publisher: Vintage; Int edition
ISBN-13: 978-0804170123
Genre: literature, life
Synopsis from Amazon: a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present.

This is the version of book cover I borrowed from my local library:

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-y4sGUKCAIyM/VWrUEPhO79I/AAAAAAAAHus/BtyrcCvfIZU/s144-c-o/20150531_175526.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/100502578272154004275/BloggerPictures#6154965010105692114″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”20150531_175526.jpg” ]

and the translator is Philip Gabriel

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-J_kKRfUL8xA/VWrT5vktqPI/AAAAAAAAHuk/MSaJtUSlG1E/s144-c-o/20150531_175711.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/100502578272154004275/BloggerPictures#6154964829731662066″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”20150531_175711.jpg” ]

 Honestly, I think Jay Rubin is a better translator, slightly better than Philip Gabriel. It is the selection of words and the understanding of Haruki Murakami’s work that had be deciding that perhaps Jay Rubin is more into Murakami’s head than Philip Gabriel.

It would have been a great book, except somehow I feel colorless, like Tsukuru Tazaki when I read it. FInishing Murakami in one sitting, in my own opinion, is sacrilege. His works usually trigger deep thoughts and self reflection, oddly Colorless had failed me this time.

A little more modern, yet still keeps its traditional elegance, Murakami still delivers a beautiful, poignant story about loss of friendship and inability to move on. When Tsukuru was cut off by his friends without a reason, the non-closure changed his life forever. 

While Tsukuru is not the only one on a pilgrimage to find himself in the story, he is the main character whose journey is being closely followed. Murakami adds the life experiences of other’s via story telling from a friend. 

Sometimes though, I do feel like his books should include the CD or some sort of the song titles that he had included in the books. I always feel that it would be a better experience listening to the songs in the books, and contemplating on the lessons taught in it.

Is it worth the read? It was in ONE sitting, and for Murakami that is rare. I am torn between telling everyone to read it and saying that it is not that great. As I am writing this post, I am going with read it, it is quite a compelling read, but yes, translations are not that great =S

The Porcelain Thief

The Porcelain Thief
Author: Huan Hsu
Publisher: Crown
ISBN-13: 978-0307986306
Genre: Historical, Life Journey, Mystery, Non Fiction
FTC Disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”
Synopsis from Amazon:A journalist travels throughout mainland China and Taiwan in search of his family’s hidden treasure and comes to understand his ancestry as he never has before.

 

Synopsis From Amazon Part 2: In 1938, when the Japanese arrived in Huan Hsu’s great-great-grandfather Liu’s Yangtze River hometown of Xingang, Liu was forced to bury his valuables, including a vast collection of prized antique porcelain, and undertake a decades-long trek that would splinter the family over thousands of miles.

Many years and upheavals later, Hsu, raised in Salt Lake City and armed only with curiosity, moves to China to work in his uncle’s semiconductor chip business. Once there, a conversation with his grandmother, his last living link to dynastic China, ignites a desire to learn more about not only his lost ancestral heirlooms but also porcelain itself. Mastering the language enough to venture into the countryside, Hsu sets out to separate the layers of fact and fiction that have obscured both China and his heritage and finally complete his family’s long march back home.

Melding memoir, travelogue, and social and political history, The Porcelain Thief offers an intimate and unforgettable way to understand the complicated events that have defined China over the past two hundred years and provides a revealing, lively perspective on contemporary Chinese society from the point of view of a Chinese American coming to terms with his hyphenated identity.

My Review:
Huan Hsu’s book about his journey throughout China and his family’s history is one that you should not miss if you like Chinese History. Forget about history books, forget about travel guides, Huan’s travelogue/ quest to find his family heirloom is as true as it gets, because you learn things that Lonely Planet will never tell you.

Huan is lucky to have a family who understood the value of history and familial ties. I am Malaysian Born Chinese, my grandparents from father’s side were from China; my mother is a second generation Malaysian Chinese I believe.

Huan’s quest in looking for his family heirloom is full of difficulty, from the changes in geography and red tape, it would take a miracle to find them. However, for the reader, the journey he undertook is the one of importance. The author’s journalistic background has proven that good writing is essential when you want to talk about boring stuffs.

I am no stranger to my own culture, despite not being a full fledged Chinese, resident of China. It does feel odd saying it, I also hate explaining that I am from Malaysia but I have Chinese heritage, as people would automatically think: “Oh, so you are from China.”

Like Huan Hsu, I am not. I would like to think that I am more civilized that them, I have read many horror stories about Chinese tourist (those who are actually from China) abroad and none of them makes me want to go :”I am proud to be one.”

I am talking about a civilization that had invented many things: paper, print and gunpowder to name a few. It has gone from great inventors to great counterfeiters in a few decades, ethics and moral values out the window, where it was once a pride and joy of the nation. I am talking about dodgy businessmen who recycled oil from sewage and adding melamine into baby formula here (as written in the book and in the news).

This book is not just about cultural, his journey and a history lesson of Chinese porcelain. It is also an acceptance of one’s identity. When Huan, the American in China, he was constantly stereotyped, is he American or Chinese? Why can’t he be both? I am luckier in the sense that I was never given the doubt about my own heritage, no thanks to my country of origin.

To wrap it up, The Porcelain Thief is about a lot of things: a journey, history and cultural awareness that some people might find interesting. This is no an expat’s point of view of China, this is a Western Chinese’s view of China, and how his knowledge of the history of his great- great- grandfather changed the lives of his generation.

Truly an awe- inspiring read for everyone. 

 

 

The Truth of Rock and Roll

Rock and Roll Banner 4

Cover Art: Ruben de Vela

Print Length: 55 pages

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A nameless young man is watching his dreams slip away when a man who let his own dreams die long ago sits down and begins to tell him a story: a story of young love and teenage dreams and rock and roll magic. A story about being young and being brave, and the girl who taught him how to be that way. As the story unfolds, the young man begins to wonder if there’s something more to this older man and his strange story…if maybe, just maybe, rock and roll magic is real. A modern-day fable, The Truth of Rock and Roll is a cautionary tale about being young, being brave, and holding onto your dreams. iconAddtoGoodreads1_zpsacc01fa2

 

Guest Post

  by Mattew Keville   I believe in the truth of rock and roll. Note the lack of capital letters. That sentence is not referring to the title of my novella, although that is also true – I do believe in The Truth of Rock and Roll. As you might guess, the two are connected, but the one doesn’t need the other. Let me explain. When I first sat down to write The Truth of Rock and Roll, I was in a pretty low place. It was 2008, and like so many, I had lost my job. At the time, I didn’t realize just how bad things were for everybody – for the whole country, the whole world. All I knew was that This Wasn’t Supposed To Happen. I had spent my early twenties, post-college, working part-time jobs and temps jobs. Blockbuster floor minion, data entry, one admin job after another (one of which was, in retrospect, exploitative as hell), even one horrible month making cold calls to sell Xerox machines. But all of that was supposed to be over. Everyone wanders around a bit before they find their Real Job – that was what I believed – and I thought I’d found mine. And having found it, I would work there for 35 years and retire with a gold watch. No seriously, I actually saw a secretary get awarded a gold watch for 35 years of service. And why not? I’d been getting steady raises, lots of praise from my superiors. I had every reason to think I’d found what the animal lovers would call my Forever Home. And now it was gone. Something I’d thought was safe and settled was gone. What was worse, I was having trouble finding more work. The longest that had ever gone on before was maybe six weeks, which had seemed eternal at the time. Now I was on unemployment for months. Worst of all, my marriage was ending. And That Was Not Supposed To Happen. Not ever. I spent a lot of time over the following months and years walking the City, especially the beach and boardwalk at Coney Island, listening to music that made me remember being young (which isn’t the same as music fromwhen I was young; Bob Seger’s Night Moves, which is from the year I was born, does a better job of reminding me of youth than Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, which was supposedly the anthem of my generation), and wondering how it had all gone wrong. Surely I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, made a wrong choice. Surely there had to be a point where, if I could only get back to it, I could set things right, and live the life that was truly supposed to happen. The Truth of Rock and Roll was born out of those walks and that music, coalescing in bits and pieces over the course of several years – more than you’d think would be necessary for a relatively short novella. But I kept coming back to this story over the course of those years, because I had something to say: something about youth, regret, second chances, and rock and roll. And in the end, I think I actually succeeded in saying what I wanted to say, which as I any writer will tell you, is a rare thing indeed. That’s why I believe in The Truth of Rock and Roll. As for the truth of rock and roll…it doesn’t need me to believe. It’s just true. I discovered it during those long hours walking country roads and city streets, parks and bridges, beaches and boardwalks. I learned it while listening to Night Moves and Against the Wind and Running on Empty and Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young and Objects In the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are. It’s a truth that I incorporated into my story, that inspired its name and gave it substance and truth of its own – and that helped me get past my yearning for missed chances and inspired me to get out there and grab the new ones that came my way – grab them and hold on with both hands. So what’s the truth of rock and roll? Rock and roll is about two things: being young, and being brave. Young leaves us all. But you have to give up brave of your own free will.

 
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Stop by on May 1st for a [Meet & Greet Facebook Party] featuring Author Matthew Keville! We will be giving away GREAT PRIZES, including:

*eBook copies of The Truth of Rock and Roll and Hometown, by Matthew Keville

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*PRINT copies of The Chronicles of Tucker Littlefield, by Tegon Maus (US ONLY)

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*eBook copies of JOURNAL OF THE UNDEAD: LITTLEVILLE UPRISING, by S.G. Lee

*eBook or Print copy of Double Spy, an Autobiography by Peter van Wermeskerken

*eBook copy of Happiness follows on Friday the 13, a short story by Peter van Wermeskerken

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About the Author

Matthew Keville wrote his first short stories in first grade, when the books on the shelves didn’t have the stories he wanted. The stories have been his constant friends since then, and they’ve carried him through some hard times. He grew up in a small town where you either leave at eighteen or live there forever. He elected to leave at eighteen. Now he lives in New York City where everyone is only working as a waiter or bus driver or stockbroker until they make it on Broadway. This makes him different and special, because he’s only working as a paralegal until he makes it as a writer.

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The Truth Of Rock And Roll: A Cautionary Tale
Author: Matthew Keville
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ISBN-13: 978-1483966984
Genre: life lesson
Synopsis from Amazon: A nameless young man is watching his dreams slip away when a man who let his own dreams die long ago sits down and begins to tell him a story: a story of young love and teenage dreams and rock and roll magic. A story about being young and being brave, and the girl who taught him how to be that way. As the story unfolds, the young man begins to wonder if there’s something more to this older man and his strange story…if maybe, just maybe, rock and roll magic is real. A modern-day fable, The Truth of Rock and Roll is a cautionary tale about being young, being brave, and holding onto your dreams.


 

This book is unique for a few reasons, first of all the guys are nameless, but the other characters have names. So the storyteller and the listener’s name were not obviously told. For 97 pages, the storyteller was either son or dweeb.

It was obvious by the appearance of Jenny that this was a historical and situation story, where Jenny was a situation in the past that happened and the storyteller now regrets are few things after the incident.

Strangely enough, even though I was expecting some point of weakness, there was a kind atmosphere that radiated from the story. One that reminds us that kindness, even in small amount, goes a long way. 

Why should you read it then? It is not because it is just 97 pages long, nor because Jenny is a cool ass chick with issues. 

You should read it because this happens to everyone, it is our respond to the situation that sets us apart. If you were the storyteller, what would your actions be? Hence the unique point and attractiveness of this story.

The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty

Picture from Amazon

Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty [amazon asin=B00ED5FQEI&template=add to cart]
Author: Marsha Mehran
Publisher: 4th Estate
Genre: Life, poetry
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
ASIN: B00ED5FQEI
Synopsis from Amazon: Set in Buenos Aires during the Falklands War, the Margaret thatcher School of Beauty is the story of a group of displaced Iranian refugees living in a decaying Beaux Arts building in the city centre. the inhabitants of the building form an eclectic community: a sick ex-prisoner and his daughter, a promising medical student; a timid hairdresser; a newlywed couple with a dark past; a young revolutionary; an eccentric pilgrim of Mecca; and at the heart of the group Zadi Heirati, a single mother struggling to make ends meet at the beauty salon she operates from her apartment. Drawn together by a revolution in their homeland, they begin to find solace in weekly poetry meetings. the words they share inspire each to turn inward and discover beauty long buried. As a new war unfolds in their adopted country, this group of disenchanted individuals begins to form a family. At once familiar and extraordinary, this moving story weaves disparate lives together into a tapestry of unique grace, wit and lyricism.

When Zadi and Maryam arrived at Buenos Aires, they were welcomed by Haji Khanoum into Anna Kareina, an apartment building housing all sorts of people from all walks of life. Some how they had managed to start a beauty school, doing threading and other beauty stuffs for the residents of Anna Kareina. 

When the arrival of a new tenant: Capitan, a poetry circle starts. From then on, it was a regular showcase of beautiful poems from the other languages and arguing about the meaning behind the poetry.

It is amazing how this author (or translator) had managed to translate the poetry so marvelously that it created the illusion that the poem had been in English. While it is obvious that it might not be, but I had loved the poems and would recommend it to people who likes collecting them.

The books are third person point of view, and has each chapter a different character who is living in the building. From there, you read about the past history of each person, and how life has ill-treated them, in turn the hope and positivism that radiates from them.

This is better than chicken soup for the soul, because it shows that people can be strong, and stronger when there are like minded people coming together to form a bond of love and support.

Truly a remarkable book to read, be it for the poems or the people in Anna Kareina.

Got this from the library on a whim as usual.

Lust4Life

Lust4LifeAmazon
Author: Sean- Paul Thomas
Publisher: Paul Thomas Publishing
ASIN: B00LZFHC14
Genre: Life, death, fiction
Synopsis from Amazon: Set in modern day Edinburgh, an average everyday working man in his mid thirties is given the devastating news that he has terminal Brain Cancer. Refusing any kind of help or Chemo treatment, he struggles with overbearing thoughts on becoming a better person and giving into his natural urges, social fears and sexual desires to do and act however the hell he pleases. No longer wishing to obey the rules and regulations of monotonous every day life and society. Now our hero yearns to know what it’s like to live a life without regret and consequences while his mind is still a healthy functioning one.

I have got a new version of Lust4Life, and I have got books 1 to 3 all in one book, so I could finish it in one go. Which is nice, because I hate cliffhangers and having to wait for another book.

Liam is a plumber working in Edinburgh, he was discontent with his life, until he was delivered bad news: he has brain cancer. The first few chapters were slow, because it was more background about Liam, what he did and his interests in general.

It was after the big news that Liam started to behave like he did not care, first he ran the red light, then he went on to do things that normal people would not dream of doing. I guess psychologically he was in a kind of denial or angry at the world?

This is more of :” how guys behave when they are 16″ than “how to die sooner” book for me, when Liam did not care about the world and its rules, things became heated, exciting and reckless fast. Sean-Paul also had kindly given me some Scottish phrases to understand, it was in Edinburgh after all. Without his counterpart Celine, it would have been a one shot to hell book.

Celine is not really a heroine, rather she is the counterbalance of Liam, Celine is one who wants to live. She’s French and loves poetry, her love to life sets her apart from him.

Overall, the story is unique with a predictable ending (with that I mean some one dies), but how it ends was bittersweet and I like how he somehow manages to find peace. If you are a fan of reckless events, this is very much your read.

100 Names

One Hundred Names
Author: Cecelia Ahern
ISBN: 978-0007509379
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: life, writing

Cecelia Ahern’s writing has an agenda of their own, like Mitch Albom, it is about life.
In this book, it is more about story, the lesson is simple: everyone has a story.
But there is also a deeper meaning, if you are writer, this book is a must read. For everyone, stories all have a lesson, no matter how short.

Do not give up, remember what words can do to change a person’s life. This books looks thick, but it is quite easy to read and follow.

Summary from Goodreads:
Journalist Kitty Logan’s career is being destroyed by scandal – and now she faces losing the woman who guided and taught her everything she knew. At her terminally ill friend’s bedside, Kitty asks – what is the one story she always wanted to write? The answer lies in a file buried in Constance’s office: a list of one hundred names. There is no synopsis, nothing to explain what the story is or who these people are. The list is simply a mystery. But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late. With everything to prove, Kitty is assigned the most important task of her life: to write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to. Kitty not only has to track down and meet the people on the list, but find out what connects them. And, in the process of hearing ordinary people’s stories, she starts to understand her own

Art of Forgetting

The Art of Forgetting

With the look of the cover and the title, I picked up this book thinking it was about a ballerina with problems in forgetfulness. But I was wrong, I was hauled into the chaotic world of Marrisa, whose friend Julia was hit by a car and suffered from brain damage. Clearly neither the title nor the picture in the cover tells much then, I do not understand why the publisher thought the title was appropriate or why they used the cover.

What happens when your best friend has brain damage? Would you react like the protagonist Marrissa? While the signs of brain damage is well researched, the author had troubles, in my own humble opinion to relate that to the reader. Yes, tempers fly and doubt arises, but somehow no matter how bad the situation gets, it would be as docile as Marrisa’s reaction to things.
This story lacks the explosive edge to it, it is not what I expected it to be, and I cannot believe that there’s no fighting, no screaming, no cursing and no great flux of emotions.
What are best friends for? We fight, and then we kiss and make up.

I am disappointed, even though it was well written, the book simply did not deliver a punch, nor the angle of the story justifies the title.