Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Can't stop reading ...

Michael from Eyeris may have started a trend of sorts! I'm picking up the post started by Michael and continued by Grace Shu: Where/when do I read?

Yes, us voracious readers just find time to read a few words here and there. On average, I read about 4 to 5 books a month. Unfortunately, I buy twice (or more) the amount of books I read!

In bed as I'm about to nod off
I absolutely cannot sleep if I don't read first. It's a rite I've begun goodness knows since when and it's a rite I cannot seem to break. Even when I'm bone-dead tired, I will still grab a book to read for a few minutes before nodding off.

At traffic lights when the lights are red
Definitely not when it's green. ;P As Michael says, kids (and adults) don't try this. I rely on the car behind me to honk me into awareness when the light turns green. I have not cultivated the necessary skills to read while in a jam like Michael though. ;)

While at a long line at the supermarket
Sunday/Saturday grocery rush is never a drag when you have a book in your bag while waiting for that lady in front of you with a few hundred items in her cart to finish paying.

While in up-market coffee shops like Starbucks or Coffee Bean
Curled up in an oh-so-soft sofa with a good book is a thrill. Unfortunately, by the time I'm done sipping that iced blended chocolate (I can't take coffee) I'll be so cold I find it hard to concentrate! ;)

In the public jacuzzi at my apartment
Hmmmm. The epitome of loveliness. With the water bubbling around me, I would indulge in a mystery or two. Of course, the book getting splotches of water here and there is a casualty of sorts.

In other places where it's too delicate to discuss about it further
In the loo lor ...

Saturday, June 26, 2004

My not-so-detailed list

Because my books are in the apartment, and I'm in my parents' house. :) So this list was dredged up from my not-so reliable memory.Meaning, some of the titles may not be 100% accurate.

Here are the beauties I bought:

1. Oriental mythology
2. Titans and Olympians
3. Introduction to the Romans
4. The Outremer saga, Books 1 to 4
5. The Otherland series by Tad Williams, Books 1 to 4
6. Number Ten by Sue Townsend
7. How to lose friends and alienate people by Toby Young
8. The Guardian Cycle by Julia Gray - Books 1, 3 to 5. Darn, where are you, No.2?
9. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover
10. The Ghost sitter by Peni R. Griffin
11. Wheel of Time's Book 2 and 7 by Robert Jordan (only because my dog peed on the first copies I bought)
12. Boy by Roald Dahl
13. Going Solo by Roald Dahl

Friday, June 25, 2004

Another book sale: Popular 3-day Crazy Deal

As if my wallet is not suffering enough; Popular Bookstore has to sic a book sale on me. The Book Review Blog alerted me about the sale.

Venue: Amcorp Mall at the concourse area, Petaling Jaya, Persiaran Barat
How long? From today until this Sunday (June 27th).
Deals? Apparently "rebates up to 70%" as reported by the blog.

Will hop by today, hopefully, to have a peak. I'm don't think my wallet will thank me for this, but "book sale" is often a siren call for me.

PS: Revisited the Times warehouse sale again. Dented my wallet by another RM200, which brings total damage to RM313. Wish I could say this is the end. Will be revisiting on July 2. Help! I'm a slave to books ...

Also, will be putting up the semi-complete list of books I bought at the sale tomorrow.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Dazed at the Times warehouse sale

One word. Fantastic!

I didn't want to go, honestly. I have no $. Yes, I have a credit card, but this lady is really seriously in debt. But when Daphne (who also reported about it) told me how good it was I just had to go. I'd never forgive myself if I missed out good deals. Michael, a Star journalist who also keeps a blog was ga-ga over it too.

It took some time for my colleagues and I to find out where exactly it was (2nd floor of the Fedex building) but we were there. My goodness. Can I say stacks upon stacks of books? They are laid out in tables all over the area. And it's a huge area.

What kind of books? Everything under the sun. Picture books, bestsellers, obscure books, rare books, non-fiction books ... many for the ridiculous (in a good way) price of RM10. I bought The Poisonwood Bible, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, Saga of the Renunciates for RM10 each. They are, except for Saga which is a tad tattered, in pristine condition.

There are books below RM6, and they're not books to scoff at, that's for sure. The ultimate steal has to be The Giant Book of Celtic Myths and Legends for 50sen. Yes, you read it right: 50sen.

Then there's Roald Dahl's Boy and Going Solo for RM6.

Current bestsellers are selling around RM24 upwards. There are, by the way, stacks of Lord of the Rings books but I did not spy any Harry Potter volumes. If you're big into The DaVinci Code, it's there.

There are other things as well - original VCDs and stationery.

What's my damage? RM113. Surprising, especially since I bought so many books.

I give this warehouse book sale a solid A+.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Salam Pax: The Baghdad Blogger by Salam Pax

It's interesting to see that bloggers are now getting published. I followed Salam Pax's blog during the US-Iraq war, and was as concerned as many when he stopped blogging when the US forces attacked.

Salam Pax does not blog as much as he used to, something I find a little sad. Perhaps it's because of the pressure that came with his "unveiling" - when people found out his identity. Well, if you're still interested, you can check out his blog.

Meanwhile, you can read my review, No holds barred blog account.

Times Book Sale

Look! A book sale! Times will be giving book lovers a treat this week. If you're hungry for bargains, this could be the place.

24th June (for those with Times Privilege Card and UOB Credit Card. Preview)
25th June - 4th July 2004 (those not fortunate enough to have said cards)

Place to go to:
4, Jalan 13/4, 46200, Petaling Jaya (Fedex office)

What time?
10am - 7pm

Times Privilege Card membership will be available at RM20 on 24th June 2004

Thanks to Daphne for the hat tip.

I'm probably going to the sale on iun July. Poor me does not have any money to speak of. Waiting for pay day.


I'm perhaps, one of the few Malaysians whose parents would beg once in a while to "stop buying books."

If there's one weakness I have, especially when it concerns my wallet, is my inability to turn away from a good book. Bookstores like Kinokuniya and Pay Less are "traps" for me. I so often find good deals ande rare books that I often leave the stores a few hundred ringgit poorer.

Take my visit to Pay Less last Sunday, for example. I found Bad Love by Jonathan Kellerman, a new mystery writer I'm checking out. The book was being sold at RM7.90, the price of a meal at shops around my office.

At Kinokuniya, it is the graphic novels section that do me in. A fan of X-men, Spider-Man and others, being surrounded by so many glossy trade paperbacks could drive me mad.

This month was quite a record. I believe I bought about 20 books. I will probably read them all in two years' time. Sometimes, I shamelessly just buy a book to keep it. Naughty girl.

I buy so many books that I don't know where half of them has gone. Yup, dad was the keeper of my books, faithfully squeezing the volumes in the limited space available at our Subang home. I, with the spotty memory and all, helpfully squirelled some as well. Unfortunately, I don't know where they are!

Worse, sometimes I lend books out and never get them back. And I don't realise this until years has passed. I lent Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs to a friend - oh, two years ago. Unfortunately, said friend and I have a falling out, so getting the book is going to be quite difficult. Lent another friend my favourite historical romance trilogy. It's been two months and I'm starting to sweat.

Well, I better have a system to keep track of my books or else precious volumes are going to go poof!

Friday, June 18, 2004

The Face by Dean Koontz

Posted by Hello

Dean Koontz's books are a guilty pleasure. Most of the time they're really cheesy, but they're so darn enjoyable. Maybe because the stories are often outlandish and weird.

I was introduced to Dean Koontz by Alex and his wife Susan, the owners of Reader's Corner at Subang Parade (it's a rent-a-book store). I started with Strangers, one of his better books, and proceeded to devour almost every Koontz book imaginable. But somewhere along the line, Koontz's work started getting bland and predictable and I stopped reading.

I only started reading him again with False Memory, a so-so book which at least managed to hook me in till the end. The latest is The Face.

Here's my review, which appeared in The Star today.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Look what I've got!

Posted by Hello
Bought these two beauties at Popular Bookstore at Summit, USJ Subang Jaya (Selangor). They're only below RM20 each; fully illustrated, and with nice-looking fonts too! (Weird, I know. But fonts have to look a certain way for me - not too big, hopefully serif fonts - for me to enjoy reading them.)

I've always loved myths and legends. I devoured books on Greek, Roman, Chinese legends and other mythologies when I was a kid. When I used to visit the National library at Jalan Tun Razak back in my college days, the dusty volumes there were my constant companions.

Left: The books are beautifully illustratedPosted by Hello

I hardly own any of these books, however, because most of the books are usually amazingly expensive (especially the illustrated ones!) or incredibly boring. Meaning, they're written from the perspective of an antropologist or historian, or has fonts so small you have to squint to look at them.

I've always preferred legends to be told like a good yarn and I got that in this book.

Quite a steal, buying these books at RM19.90. Popular bookstore has the most amazing deals sometimes. I have no idea how they get their books so cheap, but sometimes they sell great books at great prizes (I sound like such an ad). Just a while back I bought a few hardcover fantasy books for RM16.90 and these are not old, old, old titles but current ones that other bookstores are selling for at least RM39.

Anyway, I'm not sure all Popular bookstores have this, but if you're near one you could drop by and grab it. The last time I was at Summit (Monday this week) there were only 2 copies of each book left, so hurry, hurry!

Now, excuse me while I go enjoy my books. :)

The black and white illustrations are beautiful too. What a find this book is! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

My favourite Star Trek novels

Listing my favourite ST novels turned out to be a more difficult enterprise than I anticipated. Not only do I not remember many of the titles, I also don't have that many favourites to list! But here are the books in no particular order:

Star Trek Voyager
Mosaic by Jeri Taylor
Pathways by Jeri Taylor
Marooned by Christie Golden

Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh (IMHO, one of the very best ST books ever)
Section 31: Abyss by Jeffrey Lang, David Weddle
Warchild by Esther Friesner

Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Q-In-Law by Peter David
I, Q by Peter David

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Star Trek novels

Posted by Hello
TV Tie-ins (books based on television shows). Love 'em. Hate 'em. Actually, most of the time I dislike them. Yet, you just can't stay away - especially when your favourite television series is on a hiatus and you can't wait for more stories.

Of all TV tie-ins out there, the Star Trek novels are near-legendary. Not only has the television series spawned the spin offs Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, the enterprise (no pun intended) has spawned hundreds and hundreds of books as well.

[For the uninitiated, Star Trek is the tale of explorers who have gone where no man has gone before. You know, humans travel in a space ship for this organisation called the Federation and meet aliens with funny foreheads/skin. Gotta apologise - non Trek followers could be a tad lost in this review.]

I started reading Star Trek novels way back in my teens, and my first Star Trek novel was bought by my dad who knew I had a taste for sci-fi. It was a good one, though I have forgotten the title. Essentially, it was Kirk is in peril, Spock is in peril - and a bit of murder on the side.

That book was the best Star Trek novel I've read, and I hate to say this - but its descendents have been inferior in quality: flimsier in plot and detail, sometimes characters are out of character and worse - the authors mess up their back history! The publishers also have a tendency to split what should've been one book into two (or more) so that we hapless, addicted Trekker fans would spend more $.

Posted by HelloHomecoming and The Farther Shore is a great example. The books continues the story of USS Voyager after after they returned to the Alpha Quadrant from the Delta Quadrant (or rather, what happened after the series ended after seven seasons). I was surprised at how hard it was to finish the book, which surprised me since Christie Golden is one of the better Star Trek Voyager writers. I just did not have any interest at all in the fates of the crew. I think it was the use of the Borg plot device (TM) yet again. We've seen how humans beat the poor ol' Borg on the show a gazzilion times - must we see it in print?

Enterprise, the newest spin off, does not fare too well in the books department. The little I've read of Daedalus did not entice me. The only hope I have is that it'll improve with age. Also, dividing the flimsy book (depth-wise) into two smacks of exploitation and does not help me fall in love with it at all. Hmph.

Posted by Hello
Only Star Trek: Deep Space Nine books seem to have quality these days. I personally thought the "relaunch" of the novels, which continues the tale after Star Trek Deep Space Nine ended its run, was fantastic. It started out very strongly with the usual politicking we're fammiliar with in the series, and fammiliar faces like Ro Laren from TNG are introduced. It's rich in intrigue and the characters develop - what more can you ask for?

My favourite ST:DS9 book is Section 31:Abyss - strong on character development and advancement, it's one of the better Star Trek books out there.

And oh yes, how can I not mention books based on Star Trek: The Next Generation? Well, most of the time it was great, and definitely they had great sparks, like the utterly hilarious Q-in Law. Well, at least that was true nearly ten years ago! I've not been reading TNG for a long time, and so do not know how it fares now in the quality department.

Still, despite my current displeasure with the exploitative methods of the publishers and the generally poor writing in these books, I still return to them for some Trek fix. We Trekkers are a sad lot sometimes.

Next post: My favourite Star Trek novels.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Ruse: Enter the Detective

Lovely art, not-so-wonderful story, but still ... Posted by Hello

Visiting Kinokuniya at KLCC (in Kuala Lumpur) will always almost just do me in - in the wallet department, that is. My biggest weakness is the graphic novels section. I'm a sucker for pretty pictures, so nice picture + great story = irresistable.

One of my better buys was Ruse: Enter the Detective. I was mainly attracted to the art, which depicted the Victorian era perfectly. Of course, the dishy detective Simon Archad helped seal the purchase!

Simon is a super detective who is able to solve almost any case. He's suave, handsome, cultured and as cold as an iceberg. He exists in a Victorian era where gargoyles exist and druidism is an official religion. Unbeknowest to Simon, his prim and proper assistant Emma Bishop is a priestess who can freeze time - among other things.

A mysterious woman - Miranda Cross - appears, and intrigues Archad. She also disturbs Emma because she has mysterious powers too!

The story is very predictable, but the hinge that keeps us going is that we want to know more about Emma ... unfortunately, we don't really get more than - her eyes glow, a disembodied voice speaks to her and she can freeze time.

Besides the intriguing Victorian-esque art, what keeps the story going is this Scully-Mulder-like 'tension' going between Simon and Emma. Will they, or will they not?

(Most definitely not. Yet. The writers would want to milk the tension for what it is worth.)

If you love gorgeous art, an okay storyline and a nice looking hero, Ruse is a good bet.