The DUFF: Coming to cinemas near you

Another young adult book is adapted for the big screen. ‘The Duff’ is based on a book titled ‘The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend’ by Kody Keplinger’. Here is how the story goes:

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

‘The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend’ by Kody Koplinger

The movie stars Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell and is expected to be released in US cinemas on 20th of February 2015. It will be released in Malaysia tentatively on 9th of April 2015. For a sneak peak, watch the trailer below.

For more news, visit the official link of the movie.

The Paperback Book Club: December 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 book chosen for December is…

Book: ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger (Goodreads reviews)
Date:  20th of December 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 most popular covers for this book

RSVP at the website or Facebook event page 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.

‘How to Build a Girl’: A book-to-movie adaptation is in the works

Monumental Pictures has bought the film rights to Caitlin Moran’s novel ‘How to Build a Girl’. Ms. Moran and John Niven will be writing the screenplay. The movie is set to be released in 2017.

The novel has received raving reviews and sold more than half a million copies in more than 16 countries. For those who are not familiar with ‘How to Build a Girl’, here is a brief synopsis of the book:

What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës—but without the dying-young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?

‘How to Build a Girl’ by Caitlin Moran

Ms Moran described the novel as a semi-autobiography. Now I am intrigued to read it because I don’t read enough autobiography. I wonder if the novel is meatier enough for a book club discussion. What do you think?

If you are a fan of the book or are simply excited for the movie, like this post! 🙂

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.

American Association of Malaysia (AAM) Book Club: November 2014 meetup

Members of American Association of Malaysia (AAM) Book Club meet again end of November. This time around, the club has chosen ‘Bento Box in the Heartland‘ by Linda Furiya. Here is a synopsis of the book:

While growing up in Versailles, an Indiana farm community, Linda Furiya tried to balance the outside world of Midwestern America with the Japanese traditions of her home life. As the only Asian family in a tiny township, Furiya’s life revolved around Japanese food and the extraordinary lengths her parents went to in order to gather the ingredients needed to prepare it.
As immigrants, her parents approached the challenges of living in America, and maintaining their Japanese diets, with optimism and gusto. Furiva, meanwhile, was acutely aware of how food set her apart from her peers: She spent her first day of school hiding in the girls’ restroom, examining her rice balls and chopsticks, and longing for a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

The cover of ‘Bento Box in the Heartland’ by Linda Furiyia

Here are details of the book discussion:

Date: 21st of October 2014
Time: 11:00 am
Location: Ambiance Coffee Café
Ambiance Ampang, 379A 4 Jalan Ampang,
First Floor (near Ampang Grocers)
Kuala Lumpur
Cost of drinks/food: Individual
RSVP: kindly appreciated but not necessary.

Please be informed that non-members are welcomed to join the event as a guest for the first two visits only. They will have to be a member of AAM if they would like to participate after the complimentary visits have been used.

To get the latest information on the book club, visit their weblink or email to them.

‘Eleanor & Park’: book-to-movie adaptation is in the works

There is another YA fiction that will be adapted for the big screen: ‘Eleanor & Park’ by Rainbow Rowell. Dreamworks has bought film rights to the novel and plans to start shooting the movie next year. Guess what? Ms Rowell will write the screenplay.

For those who are not familiar with ‘Eleanor & Park’, here is a brief synopsis of the book:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

‘Eleanor & Park’ by Rainbow Rowell

My favourite online educator (pssst I love CrashCourse!) is also excited about this movie!

I must admit that I haven’t read any of Ms Rowell’s work. Now I am more intrigued about the book after reading the news and finding out that the lead characters are not your typical American teenagers in the 80s (guy is half-Korean while girl is a plus-size). I am going to ask Mr Sam (SS Readers Corner owner) to stock the store with Rainbow Rowell’s books.

What are your favourites? In addition to ‘Eleanor & Parks’, what other titles should we buy for the store?

Join #simonteenchat with Ellen Hopkins & Stephen Chbosky on 15th October

Are you a fan of these bestselling Young Adult fiction authors, Ellen Hopkins and Stephen Chbosky? Join them in a Twitter chat organised by Simon & Schuster teen books:

'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky; 'Rumble' by Ellen Hopkins

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky; ‘Rumble’ by Ellen Hopkins

Date: 15th of October 2014
Time: 5:30 pm USA Eastern Time
What’s in store? Writing, reading & all things on YA literature

To join the chat, follow @simonteen and send your tweet(s) using the hashtag #simonteenchat.

If you don’t have Twitter, you could still submit your question. Complete this form here and come back during the chat to see if your question gets answered!

‘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.

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.

Benefits of renting books: #6 Improve English proficiency

‘Bahasa Malaysia’ is the national language in Malaysia. English and Mandarin are widely spoken, particularly in main cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Education First’s English Proficiency Index listed Malaysians as highly proficient English speakers. Yet recently several people have noted that English proficiency of Malaysian university graduates are quite low (read articles written by The SunLok Wing Kong and/or BA Hamzah for more details). As a result, these graduates become unemployable in the English-medium private sector (‘Bahasa Malaysia’ is the medium of instruction in the government sector).

There are many ways to improve one’s English language skill. One of the ways is to read (click here to see other strategies).

Out of 28,000 books stored in SS Readers Corner, majority of them are written in English. I asked my friend, who is an English graduate, to recommend books for English as Second Language (ESL) learners. She suggested these titles:

  • ‘Harry Potter series’ by J.K. Rowling
  • ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger
  • ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by C.S. Lewis
  • ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon
  • ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by L.M. Montgomery
  • ‘Peter Pan’ by J.M. Barrie
  • ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll
  • ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Johnathan Swift

Even though these titles are categorised as young adult and children’s books, the language deployed in each book is rich. The plot has substance hence making it appealing to adults and teenagers.

We have the complete set of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' in our store

We have the complete set of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ in our store

Some of the suggested books are available from SS Readers Corner. Visit our store to rent the books and work on improving your English proficiency.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts to encourage people to borrow/rent books. Click on the number to read previous posts: #1#2#3#4 and #5.