Monday, December 26, 2011

A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, 3rd edition

by Bill Slavicsek

Flipping through the browning books on my bookshelf, I found this long buried guide to that galaxy far far away, reminding me of my long lost interest in Star Wars. A Guide to the Star Wars Universe is a must have for die-hard fans like me in an era when internet is not as pervasive, and you just wanted to know a little bit more about that character or planet which you just read off the latest Star Wars novel.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

No, I am not French, nor could I communicate in French, but I am reviewing a French novella, or at least one written by a French. You do know that the famous The Little Prince is actually written in French, right...? Well, at least you do now.

Although I have heard of the novella for a long time, I have never thought of seeking it out. No one around me seemed to be able to tell me what the story is about either, or why it is so famous. So a little while ago, out of boredom, I sought the English version out and read it, and was captivated.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Exploring History - A National Geographic Premier Issue
I wandered into the bookstore when I was loitering in the mall as usual, and would have completely missed this if not for my girlfriend who usually spent her times among the magazines section. Exploring History is a new magazine from National Geographic, and with its issue stated as "Premier Issue" and a published date of "Fall 2011" there is no indication of whether this is a one-off or a periodical. Funny thing is that although everything I searched online showed a different cover, the one I purchased was of another cover.

Exploring History covered a wide range of historical topics, and most of them are adapted from articles published in National Geographic's other publications. What differed this magazine from the usual National Geographic magazines is the fact that the latter is too varied, covering topics from geography to politics, whereas the former dedicates itself fully to historical topics. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Terminal Man
by Michael Crichton

The Terminal Man was actually published before Jurassic Park, another book in my previous article, but I did not get to finish it until recently. Unlike the dinosaur-filled action-packed thriller that is Jurassic Park, medical science and computers played a major role in this novel.

Plotting the Terminal

Although he is not the protagonist of the story, the whole event revolved around Harry Benson, a patient suffering from a violent seizure known as Acute Disinhibitory Lesions, or ADL (not sure if it is a real syndrome). Harry's seizure came and go, and was so violent that a police guard was required to escort him into the hospital in case his epilepsy occurred. During the course of the seizure, Harry would have no control over his actions nor his behavior, and would act violently towards anyone in his immediate surrounding.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big Bad Wolf Book Sale
Calling all book lovers! Ever thought that you could get the book which you always wanted but constrained by your monthly budget? Fear not, the Big Bad Wolf is here! Hopefully you ain't wearing any red riding hoods... 

The Big Bad Wolf book sales will commence in Serdang, Selangor from Oct 7 to Oct 16, a whooping 10 days of book sales with 75-90% discounts on 1.5 million books, and that's more discount than any other thing you could expect! Their website,, has more information and there is a list of classified books looking for their potential readers to bring them home as well, so do check it out and be delighted by the discounted price.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jurassic Park
by Michael Crichton

There was the novel before there was the movie, but I was captivated by the movie before I read the book, and even then, the novel itself still managed to enchant me. When the title Jurassic Park appeared on TV ads, I was filled with joy, for I was the ultimate fan of those thundering beasts that once roamed the face of our planet. The ferocity of T Rex frightened me and the craning necks of Brachiosaurus ensorcelled me, and before long, I was begging to watch them on the silver screen.

The Story

Everyone knows of the concept of safari, with wildlife roaming beyond the safe confines of the vehicle and participants marveling at life at its own natural habitat. Jurassic Park is that kind of theme park, combining the concept of safari and zoo along with recreation of extinct dinosaurs to enchant families and kids, while earning big bucks at the same time.

The original story in the novel is slightly different from that in the movie (or should it be the other way around?) although the core concept that is delivered remained the same. The main story delivered the tale of man vs nature, and how in his arrogance, man fails to understand that nature always find a way and will always prevail against man's control.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Math-A-Day - A Book of Days for Your Mathematical Year
by Theoni Pappas

After sharing Calvin and Hobbes - Weirdos from Another Planet!, it got me thinking of another book which I find very suitable for kids, especially those in preschool education or who had just started their schooling years. Many of my friends are married with children of their own, or at least expecting one in the coming months; Math-A-Day is my dedicated gift to every one of them to explore the world through the fun-filled activities in this book with their growing child in the coming years.

The Author

Truth is, she (yes, Theoni Pappas is a she) is not within my list of known authors until I decided to write this blog. There is a biography page in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics site dedicated to her, and that shows how important she is in the field of education, especially on mathematics. She may not be the next Pascal or Leibniz, but she may well be training the next of them.

It is quite obvious that Pappas is not satisfied with delivering her knowledge only in school, and I believe that the evidence lies in the number of books she had written over the years. Her books have the aim of delivering mathematical ideas to the general public by removing the intimidating (and boring...) aspects of mathematics and substituting it with fun-filled puzzles and mathematical gems. If you are an educator, this book is for you as well, and you could use the gems in this book to begin or end your class with.

Penang International Chinese Book Expo
Calling all book lovers! There will be an international book fair featuring books from the Chinese region, including Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, as well as local Mandarin books in Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) from Aug 12 - 21. Do not miss out your opportunity to grab a book or ten to quench your thirst for knowledge in this event!

The Star Online has more information in this link: 

View Larger Map

Do enjoy your time in browsing through your favorite books! ^^

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Calvin and Hobbes - Weirdos from Another Planet!
by Bill Watterson

Ever read the comic in pullout section of the newspaper? If you did, then Calvin and Hobbes will not be total strangers to you. The humorous comic which ran in boxes of four or sometimes luxuriously filling up half of the page had been featured in most comic sections for as far as I can read, and had been the company of most readers of newspaper. There are a few compilations of Calvin and Hobbes comics and Weirdos from Another Planet! is one of them.

The Collection

Collecting some of the printed comics in 1988 and running at near 300 pages long, Weirdos from Another Planet! will be a worthy pastime to spend your evening at, laughing at the ironic but humorous actions and conversations of the kid with hairstyle that defies gravity in the company of his make believe stuffy tiger. In his world, his stuffy tiger Hobbes was as real as the person next to him, and most of Calvin's comical action were did in concert with Hobbes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Dig
by Alan Dean Foster

I loved the game which inspired this novel. The Dig was a popular game back when there were no fuss about GPU or any high tech computing power; it was just plain old mind teasing puzzle game. You use your brain to the best of your ability to work through the story while enjoying exploring new areas revealed in the game as a reward of solving tough puzzles. Although the game was tough and I only managed to complete it with the aid of walkthroughs, I was still superbly satisfied with the story. I was not aware that there was a novel that depicted the game, until I accidentally found this book in a used book store.

The Story

When an asteroid suddenly appeared in Earth's orbit, defying all natural laws and without anyone seeing it coming, a doomsday scenario appeared in everyone's mind. Instead of crashing directly into Earth, the asteroid remarkably swing into orbit around Earth, but it was a decaying orbit which could cause it to crash down any moment. Quick action was required and the only course of action from calculations was to ignite 2 nuclear bombs on the asteroid to kick it into a stable orbit. For such a delicate mission, Boston Low was the first choice although a reluctant one.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

by Ian Graham

When I finished reading Monument, a profound sense of sadness lingered within me. This story is unlike any other fantasy novels which I had feasted upon; this is way darker and within each page, death looms and hope is an optimist's dream. There were no heroes in the story, nor were there villains; everyone carried their own darkness, and it was obvious that everyone was far from perfect.

The story revolved around the person known as Ballas - a vagrant, a drunk, a vermin, a scum; in him lied the vices of all men, and while he was the protagonist of the story, he was not a hero. As such, he was beaten to within an inch of his life when the story began, and a priest took pity upon him and ministered to his wound. Ballas was no stranger to disrespect and violent treatment from people around him, but being treated kindly was something new, and he was uncomfortable with it. His nature took hold, and from those who treated him kindly, he stole.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The cover to the graphic novel edition.
by Neil Gaiman

Well, I guess everyone will have the same impression as I did the first time I read the title - "Shouldn't it be Caroline? Must be some typo there." And that is the same response people gave her.

Young Coraline was not happy with her life despite the fact that she was only a kid. The adults around her acted a little weird sometimes, making her the more mature one in her mind and she felt bored about that. Her parents worked all day in front of the computer and nobody played with her. The fact that people kept calling her 'Caroline' didn't help much either, making her felt more that adults were stupid. So when she found the door which usually opened to a brick wall opened to the Other World, with the Other Mother and Other Father on that side, she was quite surprised. The Other World was much fun than this original one, and everyone remembered her name as 'Coraline'; this world was her dream come true, since what she wished for at her world did happen in this world.

Friday, June 3, 2011

100 Novels Everyone Should Read - Compilation from The Telegraph
Had you been reading a lot? Ever wonder whether anything which you had read were listed in any list of recommended reading? Well, I saw a post by The Telegraph on a compilation of 100 novels that everyone should read. Here is the link to these literatures:

So, did you read any of these books? Do share a thought...

No, this is not about that magician... David Copperfield is  written by the same author who wrote A Tale of Two Cities.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I am Number Four (Book 1 of The Lorien Legacies series)
by Pittacus Lore
The Lorien Legacies series (Book 1)

"In the beginning we were nine.
Three are gone.
Six are left.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
I am Number Four.
I know that I am next."

With a title and summary like that, and with puny Malaysia (pardon my opinion) included, you will need a chain to hold me from flipping through those pages. It has been a long time since I came across another intriguing title and summary like this one, with rhyming passages to go with as well, so I expected that this would be a story with a nice plot in it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Star Wars: Death Troopers
by Joe Schreiber

For those Star Wars fans out there, a forewarn to you all: this is not a new kind of stormtrooper... At first I thought it is, but picking up the book tells me that this is something new in that far, far away galaxy.

What comes to mind when 'Star Wars' is mentioned? What is the most horrible thing that can be imagined? Darth Vader (aww, come on... you call that horrible!? he's adorable...)? Well, now you have something more horrible than that adorable asthmatic Sith Lord: Joe Schreiber (no, he is not another Sith Lord...)

Imagine zombies roaming around in the Star Wars galaxy, and this is the outcome. The plot itself is nothing new: a ship met some malfunction, stalled in the middle of nowhere, met a ghost ship, entered and bring back unspeakable horrors (you know what it is), everyone become zombies, a few protagonists died, a few finally survived and left, blah blah blah... Well, at least that is the gist of it. Sounds familiar? If it does, that is because it is. If you had played "Dead Space", then you can almost guess the whole story.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How Starbucks Saved My Life
by Michael Gates Gill

When I first saw this book, I thought of how ridiculous this title is, and that it is just another marketing ploy for Starbucks, another big shot corporation that has not earned enough. Intrigue led me to take a look, and flipping through the first few pages changed my perception of this book, so I bought it to try out.

This book is similar to a biography but written in a more interesting way. It does not promote the author; it demotes him instead. This book is all about a person who once had it all, born into a life of privilege, and had fell from grace for things that he had and had not done. It was from this experience that he wandered into an Open House job interview with Starbucks, and get to work there. This is the story of how he had been accepted, and how he had changed himself with the support of those working around him. Although this will be an advantage for the marketing of Starbucks, this is more of a motivating book to others than it is a book that sells more coffee in Starbucks.

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