The Paperback Book Club: November 2014 meetup

The Paperback Book Club is a Kuala Lumpur-based book group that meets every month. Since its first meetup in October 2011, the book club has discussed 40 books including ‘The Book Thief’, ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘The Hobbit’.

The meetup in November is scheduled as follows:

Book: ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman (Goodreads reviews)
Date:  29th of November 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 3 – 5 pm
Location: Nook Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Who is invited? Any readers aged 18 years and older
What will be discussed? Themes, characters, plot, style, takeaway points from the book, etc.

One of the many ‘Coraline’ book covers

RSVP at the website if you are keen to join the discussion. If you have not finished reading the book or are feeling rather shy, you are still welcome to take part in the meetup.

For latest news on the meetups, check out their official website and Facebook page.

‘A Monster Calls’ movie: Movie now in the making

‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness is being adapted for the big screen. For those who have not read the book, here is a short description of the story:

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting— he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd— whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself— Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness

The movie will be directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, whose previous works include ‘The Impossible’ (2012) and ‘The Orphanage’ (2007). Patrick Ness himself writes the screenplay. The cast includes Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, Geraldine Chaplin and newcomer Lewis MacDougall. Production has already begun and Patrick Ness seemed excited about it.

‘A Monster Calls’ will be released tentatively on 14th of October 2016. Are you excited about the news? Share your thoughts below.

Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of SS Readers Corner. This post contains spoilers so kindly skim it if you don’t want too know in detail.

I love publishing a post on Tuesday because of The Broke and The Bookish‘s ‘Top Ten Tuesday‘. It is a weekly meme/feature that encourages bloggers to discuss about books. Today’s topic is ‘Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels’.

At first, I had trouble coming out with a list of character-driven books because I wasn’t sure of the characteristics. I consulted my best friend Google, who suggested this link for clarification. Once I had understood the difference between character-driven and plot-driven, I came out with this list. 🙂

Strong-willed women in Victorian era

Character-driven classic romance

‘Jane Eyre’ & ‘Emma’

‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is one of many fictional characters that I admire. Despite her low social status, she is independent and intelligent. She possesses a strong sense of self-worth and dignity, as indicated in this quote:

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”

Furthermore, Jane is unwilling to compromise her beliefs and principle. I really like it that when Jane found out about Bertha Mason, she would not lower herself to the part of a mistress so she left Mr Rochester. As fate would have it, Jane and Mr Rochester were reunited at the end.

‘Emma’ by Jane Austen

At the start of the novel, I did not like Emma because she was self-conceited, spoilt and immature. Despite her shortcomings, I like that she was uninterested in looking out for a husband of her own. She made a few errors in judgement but with the guidance of and advices from Mr Knightley and Harriet Smith, she learned from those mistakes and became a responsible lady. I also like that Emma’s love interest is present right from the very beginning of the story, as opposed to that romantic hero in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. He had always been there for Emma.

Marriage of convenience

‘Devil in Winter’ & ‘Kiss an Angel’

‘Devil in Winter’ by Lisa Kleypas

This book is one of my favourite re-reads. If you have read ‘It Happened One Autumn’ (book #2 in Wallflowers series), you would know that Sebastian St Vincent is a selfish womaniser. In ‘Devil in Winter’ (book #3), Sebastian and Evangeline “Evie” Jenner agreed to a marriage of convenience. It was a pleasant surprise to read how Sebastian became a better man. I just love the quote below because it indicates that Evie noticed the change in him and wanted to take their marriage to the next level:

“Life was too uncertain to waste time. There was no guarantee that Sebastian would be faithful to her. She had nothing but hope—and the instinct that although the man she had initially married was not deserving of such faith, the man he was becoming just might be.”

If you’d like to find out more about Sebastian’s transformation without reading the book, click here.

‘Kiss an Angel’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Daisy Devreaux was a flighty rich girl who was forced into marrying a no-nonsense circus worker named Alex Markov. Despite her flaws, Daisy had a big heart and likeable personality. Even though she has never worked hard before, her time in the circus has taught her to be hard working and appreciative of the value of money (as showed in the quote below):

“I’m not making any long-term predictions. One day at a time is the most I can manage right now.” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth and frowned. “All I know is that I have to do this.”

“Daisy, it’s too much work.”

“I know.” She smiled. “That’s why I have to do it.”

I just enjoy everything about this book: character growth, the plot, the humour and even the circus setting. ‘Kiss an Angel’ is another book that I enjoy reading repeatedly.

A single woman in a modern world

'P.S. I Love You' & 'Bridget Jones's Diary'

‘P.S. I Love You’ & ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’

‘P.S. I Love You’ by Cecelia Ahern

I choose this novel because of the way the author sets up the character to grow emotionally. I love it that Gerry sets monthly tasks for Holly in his love letters. It was really tough facing life after the death of a loved one. However Holly had the support of her family and friends. It was a pleasure to read Holly transforms from a naïve, husband-dependent young woman to a woman ready to face any life challenges.

If you would like to read Gerry’s love letters, visit this link. My favourite letter is the fourth one. ❤

‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ by Helen Fielding

I haven’t read the book yet but have watched the movie. Hence I’m evaluating the book based on the movie.

‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ is relatable – Bridget is a normal everyday woman who struggles with her weight, smoking, drinking and men. I first watched the movie when I had self-esteem issues so I could identify with her character. Yes, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ is fluffy but it does teach readers/movie-goers one important lesson: to truly accept yourself. That line spoken by Mark Darcy “I like you very much. Just as you are.” shows that people who really love you will accept you regardless of your flaws.

Coming of age tales

'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' & 'About a Boy'

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ & ‘About a Boy’

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky

The book was a speedy read (two days) for me yet it was rich and thought-provoking. It was great to read Charlie grew from a socially-awkward introspective teenager to a more participative and not-so-shy young man. ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ touches on issues such as social belonging, first love, peer pressure, familial relationship, student-teacher relationship and even mental health. The epilogue left me gobsmacked and I am not going to divulge more!

Plus points: As an avid music lover, it excites me that Mr Chbosky made a playlist of songs for Charlie. Another thumbs up to the author for making book references.

‘About a Boy’ by Nick Hornby

I shall write based on my movie experience since I haven’t read the original source. The movie, which starred Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult and Toni Collette, was well-made.

This story shows that age does not define maturity. Will, a 30-something man, thinks he is cool and acts like a college boy. Marcus is a 12-year old boy who has an old soul. Despite their different personalities, I like the interactions between both characters because they learned so much from each other.

Multiple character arcs

'Lord of the Flies' & 'The Lord of the Ring'

‘Lord of the Flies’ & ‘The Lord of the Ring’

‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding

If you like observing/learning about group behaviour, then this book is a fine example. ‘Lord of the Flies’ is about a group of schoolboys who were deserted on an island after a plane crash and had to survive on their own. There are 3 characters (Ralph, Jack and Piggy) that readers could analyse and compare based on their leadership potential. Ralph was elected as leader because of his charisma and likeability. Jack wasn’t happy with Ralph’s promotion so he formed his own group to rule. Piggy was intellectual but due to his unfavourable physical appearance (overweight, spectacles-wearing), other boys overlooked his opinions.

As the story progresses, readers learn more about their characteristics and leadership capabilities. I was shocked by the twist and the ending left me unsatisfied. Nevertheless, the book was a good read and deserves a space in my bookshelf.

‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien

I have only seen the movies therefore I’m using them as a guide. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a good example to study multiple characters. What I like about Frodo is that he took his responsibility very seriously. He had never gone out of his hometown before nor been in a life-or-death situation. Yet he willingly accepted the risky challenge despite his limitations. My favourite character in the movies is Aragorn. Despite being an heir to the throne of Gondor, he was unfazed by the title. He had a pure heart and wasn’t tempted to steal the ring for his own use. As the plot thickens, Aragorn became comfortable with his royal identity and led an army of men to defeat enemies in Mordor.

If you’d like to learn more about ‘LOTR’ archetypes, visit this link.


Do you agree with my choice of character-driven novels? Perhaps you could recommend me your favourite character-driven books. Feel free to share your comments and/or links in the box below.

Benedict Cumberbatch vs. Idris Elba: Which adaptation of ‘The Jungle Book’ excites you more?

For those who haven’t read the book nor watched the 1967 Disney animated movie, let me start with a brief synopsis:

Saved from the jaws of the evil tiger Shere Khan, young Mowgli is adopted by a wolf pack and taught the law of the jungle by lovable old Baloo the bear and Bhageera the panther. The adventures of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the snake-fighting mongoose, little Toomai and the elephant’s secret dance, and Kotick the white seal are all part of Mowgli’s extraordinary journey with his animal friends.

One of many book covers for ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling

There will be TWO movie versions of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’. That’s right, TWO movies by TWO different studios. Main cast and crew have been decided and here is a summary of both movies:

The Jungle Book Movie title  Jungle Book: Origins
Disney Studio  Warner Bros
Jon Favreau Director  Andy Serkis
Justin Marks Writer  Callie Kloves
15th of April 2016 Release date  6th of October 2017
Cast 
Neel Sethi Mowgli (human) Rohan Chand
Bill Murray Baloo (bear) Andy Serkis
Idris Elba Shere Khan (tiger)  Benedict Cumberbatch
Ben Kingsley Bagheera (panther)  Chrisian Bale
Scarlett Johansson Kaa (python)  Cate Blanchett
Giancarlo Esposito Akela (wolf)  Peter Mullan
Cumberbatch vs Elba: Who will be a better Shere Khan?

Cumberbatch vs Elba: Who will be a better Shere Khan?

In my opinion, the cast for both adaptations look solid so the quality of the films will depend on the director’s capabilities. I am massive Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett fan hence I am in favour of ‘Jungle Book: Origins’. Despite that, I plan to watch both adaptations.

Which adaptation are you looking forward to? Vote below!

Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

The Broke and the Bookish hosts a weekly meme called ‘Top Ten Tuesday‘. It aims to: 1) encourage people to talk about books and 2) introduce book-loving bloggers to one another. Today’s topic of discussion is ‘Top ten books that were hard for me to read’.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of SS Readers Corner.

The books that I have selected are based on grouped together based on these reasons: 1) peculiar storyline, 2) disturbing content and 3) unlikeable characters. Kindly take note that this post contains spoilers so skim it if you don’t want too many details.

Peculiar storyline

Books that are difficult to read because of the peculiar plot

Tough reads due to the plot

‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel García Márquez

I took up Intermediate level of Spanish Studies at university. My teacher was very passionate about Latin American culture (she’s a New Zealander) and as a student, I find that inspiring. However I wasn’t happy when we were told to analyse this book for a written examination at the end of semester. Oh, did I mention that the examination was in Spanish?

The story was long-winded and the family saga was exhausting. The names are frequently repeated in many generations; I got confused even where there was a family tree diagram in the foreword. I didn’t finish the book but I passed my exam. Despite not liking the story, I bought an English copy just in case I feel like reading it one day.

‘Kafka on the Shore’ by Haruki Murakami

I read many good reviews about this book. I’ve never read any of the author’s works so I decided to try. Personally, I’m glad the book was borrowed not purchased.

This is the most bizarre book I’ve read…ever! There were so many characters that are supposed to be connected to each other but I couldn’t understand the connections. Certain scenes seem unnecessary such as cat torture and sex scenes with a minor. It was a mess!

Disturbing content

Tough reads due to disturbing content

Tough reads due to the content

‘The Surgeon’ by Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen used to be a physician but now writes novels.  I decided to read this novel because I have never read a medical thriller before.

I had a tough time reading the book because the villain was a sadistic rapist and killer. The crimes were minutely described so readers could definitely feel the victims’ suffering. Despite the brutality of the crimes, it was an enjoyable read because the story was well-written. I will most certainly continue reading this book series.

‘Accidentally on Purpose’ by L.D. Davis

I really enjoy reading contemporary romance and I must say that this is one of my favourite books.

I don’t like it when a person cheats on his/her partner. Despite the infidelity, I was sympathetic to Emmy because of the abuse she endured from her lover. At the start of the story, Emmy was a witty, independent woman but after the abuse, those qualities vanished. She didn’t think she deserved happiness. Emmy slowly healed with the help of friends and family and got her happy ending. The next book in the series is based on the abusive lover’s point of view. I am conflicted about reading his side of the story.

‘The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden’ by Jessica Sorensen

I read this book when I was in ‘New Adult’ book binge. This is one of my favourite books in that genre.

This book was difficult to read because of the subject matter. Both main characters were abused; Callie was raped at a young age while Kayden was beaten by his own father. They are tormented by their pasts and their coping behaviours are just too troubling. Well I’m glad that they were friends first before becoming lovers because building trust takes time. They don’t live happily ever after at the end of the book. There is a cliffhanger, which I think is appropriate for such traumatising story.

‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold

I bought this book when I found out that a movie was going to be made. Did you know that Ryan Gosling was set to play Mr Salmon until he had some creative differences with the director Peter Jackson?

Anyway ‘The Lovely Bones’ was a tough read because of the tragedy that befell Susie Salmon. She was attacked and murdered by someone she knew and that happened in the beginning of the story. Hence the novel/movie is told from Susie’s point of view in the afterlife. It is devastating to read the impact of Susie’s death on her family. Oh I had one issue with that body-swapping scene at the end. That’s just weird and unnecessary.

Unlikeable character(s)

unlikeable_characters

Tough reads due to the characters

‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy

I watched ‘Anna Karenina’ starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Johnson-Taylor and the movie confirms one thing: Keira Knightley cannot act. Her acting is appalling! I am considering reading the book.

However I think this book would be difficult to read because it is a very long book (about 800-1000 pages depending on the publisher/edition). I am afraid of losing interest once I start a few chapters. Another hesitation is due to the main character. In the movie, Anna is very unlikable. I can’t imagine myself spending so much time on such character.

‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov

I watched ‘Lolita’ the 1962 movie and I understand why the book is highly controversial even till this day.

I think this book would be difficult to read because of the subject matter. Paedophilia is not acceptable even if the minor says that it is “true” love. Humbert Humbert shows no remorse for his immoral behaviour. The movie was ambiguous about their sexual relationship but I think the book is more descriptive. I will only read this if my book club chooses the book. At least the discussion could be therapeutic.

‘New Moon’ by Stephenie Meyer

Speaking of paedophilia, would you consider Edward Cullen a paedophile? Despite the youthful appearance, he is more than 100 years old. Putting that issue aside, I actually like ‘Twilight’ (I own a copy :P) and that’s about it.

I cannot stand the second book in the series because I felt like strangling Bella majority of the time. I understand that she is afraid of growing old while her true love remains a teenager forever. But must she make a life-altering decision at such a young age? When Edward refuses to comply to her wishes, he vanishes and leaves her heartbroken. Jacob Black helps Bella recover from the breakup and during that period of recovery, Bella sees the possibility of turning the friendship into something more. Then Bella gets confused. Come on, girl…make up your mind! If you are torn between two options, then stay single!

‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver

I am a huge fan of Tilda Swinton ever since I watched ‘Constantine’. She is a brilliant chameleon, from acting to fashion. There are so many praises for the book and movie. Since I love book-to-movie adaptations, I decided to read the original source before watching the movie.

This book was a gruelling read. First, the main character Eva Khatchadourian uses sophisticated words because I believe she has a superiority complex. I checked my Dictionary app whenever I encountered “big” words. Half-way through the book, I stopped using the app because it disrupted my flow of reading. Secondly, I was puzzled with Eva’s lack of connection with her son, Kevin. Why didn’t she get any help/counselling when she had doubts/suspicions about Kevin? Despite all the negativity, the book was thought-provoking for example “Who is to blame for Kevin’s atrocious behaviours?” Eva, Kevin, Franklin or all three?


What do you think of my list of ‘Top Ten Tough Reads’? What books do you find strenuous to read? I’d love to read your picks so just share them (or a link to your blog) in the comment box below.

Follow LitChat Twitter conversation with Helene Wecker

Litchat organises live Twitter conversations with authors every Wednesday. The one-hour session starts at 4 pm USA Eastern Time (4 am Thursday for those in Malaysia).

The guest author for the slot on 27th of August 2014 is  Helene Wecker. She will talk about her book ‘The Golem and the Jinni’. Here is a synopsis of the book:

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

‘The Golem and the Jinni’ by Helene Wecker

There are two ways to follow the conversation:

  1. Type #litchat at Twitter search box
  2. Visit Litchat dedicated channel at http://www.nurph.com/litchat (recommended for those who prefer to read tweets in order)

To those who participate in the moderated Twitter chat, have a great time.

For latest news on LitChat, check out their official website or Twitter.

New Arrivals – 26/07/2014

Hello.

Good news for SS Readers customers. There are 24 newly arrived books at the store!

Title Author Genre
Wicked Nights Gena Showalter Paranormal romance
Beauty Awakened Gena Showalter Paranormal romance
Burning Dawn Gena Showalter Paranormal romance
Air Bound Christine Feehan Paranormal romance
Steadfast Mercedes Lackey Fantasy
The Baron Next Door Erin Knightley Historical romance
How to School Your Scoundrel Juliana Gray Historical romance
Regency Sabotage Mary Nichols Historical romance
The Accidental Duchess Madeline Hunter Historical romance
When Day Breaks Maya Banks Romantic suspense
Concealed in Death J.D. Robb Romantic suspense
Bombshell Catherine Coulter Romantic suspense
Branded Laura Wright Contemporary romance
It Happened One Wedding Julie James Contemporary romance
Tangled Up Megan Hart, Sarah Morgan & Lauren Dane Contemporary romance
Zero Hour Clive Cussler & Graham Brown Thriller
The Widow’s Strike Brad Taylor Thriller
Hostage Chris Bradford Young Adult
Ransom Chris Bradford Young Adult
Dork Diaries: Holiday Heartbreak Rachel Renée Russell Young Adult
Dork Diaries: Dear Dork Rachel Renée Russell Young Adult
Dork Diaries: TV star Rachel Renée Russell Young Adult
Paper Towns John Green Young Adult
Fortunately, the Milk Neil Gaiman Children’s

I visited the store yesterday and the books had not been wrapped and price-tagged yet. So I am not sure when they will be ready for rent. If you are keen to borrow any of these books before the shop closes for ‘Hari Raya’, please call Mr Sam to avoid disappointment.

Thank you. Enjoy the long weekend.