Book Review: I (& Giveaways!)

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What does the book title “I” tells you?

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Summary

When I was a boy, I helped old woman cross the road, for it was dangerous for them to cross it by themselves. I’m not trying to show my friends that I’m kind.

When I was a student, I taught my classmates topics that they did not understand, for I wanted them to ace their examinations.
I’m not trying to impress the teachers.

When I was a working adult, I stayed back to help my colleagues complete their work, for we worked for the same company.
I’m not trying to gain a promotion.

When someone says that a dirty bomb is being planted in Singapore, I kill people to escape from it, for everyone is doing so
I’m not trying to survive.

Don’t deny. Don’t use your felicia to answer me.
Don’t, for I’m you.

I” is a pyschological thriller novel written by the local writer Low Kay Hwa. The book I is Low’s latest work and has been recently nominated for POPULAR’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2013.

So, this is the second book I’ve read from Low’s, the first one was his 10th published book A Singapore Love Story. If you are familiar with Low’s books, you should know that Low uses simple language for his novels. There’s nothing wrong with that because that is his style of writing.

I touches on a topic that many Singaporeans may have taken for granted – security. Gone were the days when there were bombings in Singapore, but what happens if there is a person or a terrorist group who releases a bomb before the police can crack down?

Other than the imaginary situation of Singapore, the book also explored on the theme of human nature, how we respond to our survival instincts when something happens. Now, we have all seen the photo of a broken window smashed by a fire extinguisher when SMRT broke down. Now the question is brought up to a higher level, will all hell breaks loose if there was really a bomb attack?

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One thing different about I from the usual novels that we read is the way how the chapters of the book are structured. The novel is written in different points of views of people, such as the protagonist Bryan, the antagonist Iago and many other characters in the book. If you read the chapter titles before starting, you will soon get the hang of how the plot flows.

While the language is fairly easy to comprehend, there are some technical terminologies from different disciplines that readers should note of while reading the book. It is very easy to get lost in the plot if the terms are not fully grasped.

However, despite the tricky points of views of I, it has a simple plot – who planted the bomb?

Overall, I is a fairly good read as the switching points of views makes it interesting for me to follow through as the story unfolds. I give it a 3.7/5.

If you are interested in reading I, you can get it in all major bookstores such as Popular, Times, MPH and Kinokuniya.

Alternatively, you can try to win it here because I have TWO copies of I for giveaway!

** GIVEAWAY **
Here is how you win it, comment below and state that you would like to win a copy of it.

You don’t have to stress yourself to come up with a reason to show me how badly you want the novel because this is not a competition. Save your brain cells for I instead. 😛

The giveaway ends on 31st August 2013. Winners will be picked by a random number generator website and I will notify them through e-mail. So be sure to give me a valid e-mail address which you frequently checks. 🙂

** Vote for I **
AND… If you love the book so much that you think it deserves to win the POPULAR’s Readers’ Choice Award, vote for I at www.popular.com/readerschoice/! All voters stand a chance to win a $50 Popular voucher and a year membership with Popular bookstore!

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Reading

I wanted to blog about reading few dozen minutes ago, but I was distracted by chats with my sister, event invitations and so much more other things. (I will be blogging slowly about the events and product reviews, so just watch this space. Meanwhile, read on.)

After about nearly 5 months, I finally picked up a new book from my bookshelf and read. It got me thinking: When was the last time you read a book? I’m not talking about reading materials or textbooks. In fact, I’ve been reading so many essays given by my professors weekly, hence it doesn’t count that I didn’t read for 5 months. But you should get what I mean. I think we should read other stuffs other than textbooks. It doesn’t matter what; if you love current affairs, go ahead and read the newspapers. You can also read graphic novels, as long as you read.

Once a mother told me that her kid doesn’t read. Then I turned to look at her kid, who was reading a storybook, and asked, “Isn’t your daughter reading now?”. And guess what? She said she was reading junk. Really? No wonder why the bestsellers are now assessment books and numerous bookstores have closed down.

I believe novels are not junk. I sure learn a lot from just reading novels. There are quotes to remember, and there are also other things – I know Social Security number are like Singapore’s Identity Card number. And H&M is a large clothing store like CK Tang or This Fashion, waaaaay before it set up a franchise in Singapore. And reading novels allow you to let loose of your imagination.

My friend, who happened to be one of my most respected senior, and happened to be the director of the play I worked on few months ago, once said that if there are 100 audiences, then we will have 100 interpretations. Imagination is a very powerful tool. Bill Compton (from the Southern Vampire Mysteries) in my mind doesn’t look like Stephen Moyer AT ALL. I bet everyone’s version of Bill Compton are different from mine as well.

So anyway, last night I picked up a new book that I bought 2 months ago. It was written by Ellen Degeneres and today I finished reading it.

I really love this book. Other than it being a really easy book to read, it is hilarious. But I guess the key message that I got amid all the funny stuffs she wrote was to be happy, be grateful, not to conform to be somebody else and don’t let negative thoughts or words get to you. Kinda like something I’ve been trying to tell everyone. I’m glad somebody shares my sentiments.

If you asked me what’s the most memorable quote from the book, I would tell you that I want to quote the entire book. But I can’t do that because of the “copyright infringement” laws. But seriously speaking, buy this book and read. It’s awesome.

Review: A Singapore Love Story

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The title have said it all: A love story set in Singapore.

This novel is written by Low Kay Hwa, a local full time novelist. A Singapore Love Story is his 10th published novel and has reached The Sunday Times Bestsellers list in November 2011. When Kay Hwa approached me to do an unbiased book review, I thought, “Why not? If it’s good I’ll recommend local writers to my readers.”.

Summary
Valerie is a Singaporean in an upper-class family—going through primary school, secondary school, a top junior college and eventually university. She follows the route of most Singaporean, having being encouraged by her parents. Unknowingly to her, she is responsible for her parents’ long marriage as well. If not for her, her parents would have divorced long ago due to their different social classes.

 Michael is a typical Singaporean “Ah Beng”, and is well-liked by his peers. I’m sure we as Singaporeans have friends who are Ah Beng, and they are one of the friendliest people around. Michael does not care what others think and lives on his own values.

 Valerie knows Michael since seven, and they get into a relationship despite their different backgrounds. The plot seeks to ask a question: If reality is there to break them apart, can their love for each other hold them together?

This novel is an easy one to read due to the simple English used in this book and the concise story plot. With the Singaporeans’ “lingo” used in writing the novel, it is therefore better appealing to secondary school students and those who don’t like reading thick books.

However, never belittle the story plot by the simple language used. The concept of having to balance and keep love alive while at the same time, trying to cope with the harsh reality of Singapore – earning well enough to bring home the bacon. As unromantic as it sounds, this is what the reality is.

In Singapore where the cost of living is so high, the concept of love is never really about what the Chinese often says: “有情喝水饱”. It is tough to maintain a relationship when reality crashes in.

This novel is also not one of those stories that ended with a cliched ending – how the couple managed to overcome all obstacles and ended up together, living happily ever after. It ended with a twist at the end and it’s tragic. However, I would like to comment that I don’t like the ending at all. At the later part of the story the male lead, Micheal, died in a freak accident and from then on it somehow became a ghost story.

Half the time I was like, “Wtf? Why it became a ghost story?”

I mean, I can totally accept the fact that the ending is going to be tragic, but this seemed like 2 different genres of stories mixed together which it is, in my opinion, not a clever twist after all.

The author’s concept of afterlife is also what I cannot manage to grasp and accept. It seemed out of place and absurd. I would love the story if it just ended at the part where Micheal died.

Even though it is well concise without losing its theme, I believe this novel also has potential of expanding its story plot in order to create a greater depth and to let the readers get immersed in characters of the story.

Overall, I find that it is a good read for some Singaporean humor but not good enough to be added into my list.

If you would like to give this novel a shot, it can be found in most major bookstores at $17.90.