Tag Archives: Review

The 2016 End of Year Recap

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Golly! Is this that time of the year again? Time to recap the year and list of what I have achieved this year…

Okay. From the resolution, these are what I achieved:

  1. Mein Deutsch wurde besser. Ich kann manche sätze machen, obwohl es ziemlich lange dauert. Yes… It took a while to compose that sentence. In fact, it always takes a long time for me to make a sensible sentence. But it’s getting there. All I need to do is to get more learning sources so I could expand — as Duolingo is now a little bit predictable.
  2. I haven’t reached my book challenge, nor Nanowrimo. So both just didn’t work.
  3. I definitely reached the blog post goal, although it is not posted in this site.

Other thing that I have achieved:

  1. I have lost around 11kg since Chinese New Year. The reason why I didn’t lose too much after mid year assessment is because we went to Indonesia for a holiday, and since I have lost a lot the weight loss gets a little bit trickier.
  2. I get my visa extended, so it will be okay for the next three years. Wohoo!!
  3. I am doing well with handcrafting, and gardening — until I went to Indonesia again for my sister’s wedding in November and came back to the UK with a nervous breakdown.
  4. Mr. Fix-It and I travelled a bit, although it was our usual trip to Indonesia during Summer, and Wales for Christmas.

I really wish I could achieve more though… But I can’t complain too much… this year wasn’t a good one for me. Let’s just hope that next year would be much better than this — with less pressure from immigration, and new plan laid ahead, I think there would be some progress to be done next year.

But until then, let’s enjoy the last day of 2016.

See you next year 🙂

 

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Book Review: Red Dog

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Title: Red Dog
Author: Louise de Bernières
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

I know Louis de Bernières from his other book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and love that book so much. It was probably one of the best book I have ever read. That is why I don’t have any hesitation to start reading this book — when I found it in my husband’s bookshelves. One thing I was not happy with — why didn’t my husband gave me this book much earlier?

This book is thin. Very. Especially if it is compared to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Not only that it is thin, but also incredibly light and easy to read too. I think it is just a perfect summer reading — unfortunately I did not know it and finished it before the summer has even started.

The main protagonist is the Red Dog. Yes. A dog. Definitely a plus point from me. The human characters — although they’re basically the supporting character in the story, they are well described and definitely play an important role in shaping the story.

It is funny, and heartwarming. I can’t remember the last time I used that word — heart warming. I found it really difficult not to tear up a little in the last few chapters. Somehow I missed Chika.

Anyway I definitely will recommend this book, especially to those who like dogs. Yes, you can call me bias or something but from me, it is 5 out of 5.

Book Review: South of The Border, West of The Sun

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Title: South of The Border, West of The Sun
Author: Haruki Murakami
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

Hajime was the only child. Nobody could understand him, apart from the other only child at school, Shimamoto. When they grew up they went to different school and lost contact. But of course, I wouldn’t tell you the whole story, because what’s the point then? If you want to read the synopsis you could click here, and if you would like to read my review you can just go on.

This book reminds me a little about Norwegian Wood. I couldn’t say that I have the same feeling about them though. Because, although in a way I love Norwegian Wood more, I could relate to South of The Border more. South of The Border is not as dark and gloomy as Norwegian Wood, although dark and gloomy is still the theme of the book.

Unlike Norwegian Wood — South of The Border’s plot is really fast. It is almost as if I am watching a film while fast forwarding to the interesting bit only. Sometimes, I wish Murakami would elaborate more about some part of the story. That’s probably why I liked Norwegian Wood better than South of The Border. But I should stop comparing these books and focusing on South of The Border from now.

The main characer, Hajime do me anything. I don’t like him too much. I have to say that I don’t really like Shimamoto either. But somehow, these two people that I don’t really like could make a beautiful story between them. How bizarre! It is as if doesn’t matter how flawed the character, as long as in this book their existence complemented the other.

The ending… I really wish it could end differently, but I am glad it didn’t. I think it couldn’t be better than that. I think the whole plot was meant to lead to that kind of closure.

It is one of few books that I had to practically put so much efforts to put down. It was late and I was sleepy, but my eyes were glued to the page of this book. When I reached the last page, I was so sad the story ends there.

Of course, I would recommend this book. It is perfect for summer reading, or for people who is new to “foreign literature”. I rated this book 4 out of 5.

 

Book Review: Roadside Crosses

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Title: Roadside Crosses
Author: Jefferey Deaver
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:
When a patrol officer saw a cross on the roadside he thought nothing about it. Not until…

Well… I shouldn’t tell you the story should I? If you want to read the synopsis you could click here. While I am going to do the review.

The main character of this book is Kathryn Dance, a kinesics expert — basically someone who observe one’s body language to interpret messages. Something that in the real life I don’t believe. But this is a book, so I enjoyed it. It is meant to be a fiction, isn’t it?

Anyway. Apart from the fact that I am not comfortable with “kinesics expert” thingy. I could say that I quite enjoy the book. I think it is Jeffery Deaver’s writing style that made me practically hooked to the story. I should say that he’s one of my favourites — and I don’t have many.

The fast paced storyline appeals to me. There is nothing that puts me off more than a dragging scene about two people reminiscing about something that has nothing to do with the plot (just for the sake of the word count).

I like the way he twist the plot without wringing it too much. I patted myself in the back for being able to guess the obvious. But boy… the last one, I did not expect that at all. It is always nice to have an unexpected something when reading a book.

Unfortunately, I don’t read the book according to its sequence. I did not read the first book, and this is the second one of the Kathryn Dance series. Maybe I could relate to this character more if I read it from the first book, but so far, I don’t have the same kind of fondness to Dance as to Lincoln Rhyme.

Would I recommend this? Of course I will. Despite of the characterisation, I would still rate this book 4/5 for the story alone. So yes, if you like crime stories, you would like this one.

Film Review: Halbe Brüder

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Title: Halbe Brüder
Year: 2015
Director: Christian Alvart
Actors: Sido, Peri Baumeister, Wilson Gonzalez Ochsenknecht
Genre: Comedy
Language: Deutsch with English subtitles

Review:
Julian, Yassin, and Addi never crossed path before in the past, but one day they were gathered in a lawyer’s office just to be told that they were half brothers from their mother’s side. They were also told that they have got an inheritance, but only be given one clue how to get to it. So, the three men embarked on a journey of a lifetime as brothers.

I watched this film during my flight to Indonesia. Since my German was very much limited, I found the English subtitles helped a lot. I grew up reading subtitles, so it did not bothered me for one bit. However, I also know that for some native English speakers, the existence of subtitles could spoiled the fun of watching films — or just simply disturbing. But honestly, not watching this film just because it is subtitled… you’re missing something.

This is definitely a good comedy film. Like many comedy films, the storyline was just not logical. You cannot use your logic to make sense of some stuff in this film. It is not supposed to do that. Instead, it will make you say: “oh my dog… really??”, and laughed. And, no.. it is not that kind of “borderline bad cheesy” actions or “outrageously rude slapstick” either.

I cannot say much about the actors. I haven’t watched many German films (as much as I want to — I believe it would helped me in learning German better), so I don’t know many German actors. But these three main characters were definitely portrayed really well by these three actors. I wonder if they are the equivalent of Nicholas Saputra or Reza Rahardian in Indonesia — really good, but not yet go international.

It is not meant to be heavy, or deep. It does not promise you a good moral of the story. It does not try to confuse you with plot twists or anything like that. I believe its sole purpose of being made is pure entertainment. And it worked really well. It was enjoyable to watch, it definitely made my flight much more bearable, and it stuck in my head.

Again, I know that lots of people have problems with subtitles, but I will say it again that not watching a good film just because you cannot be bothered to read subtitles means you are missing so many good things in life. So, I will recommend Halbe Brüder, especially for these kind of people. It is light, it is not difficult to follow, and it is a good film. Who knows in the end of the film you suddenly want to learn German? There are lots of people want to learn Japanese because they watch animes.

I also will recommend this to other people. Like I said, it is good film, and definitely worth watching — as I rated it 4.5 out of 5. However, it is not for children though, as there are explicit words, sex scenes, blood, etc. Don’t say that I haven’t warned you 🙂

Prost!

Film Review: The Hateful Eight

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Title: The Hateful Eight
Year: 2015
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Actors: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Channing Tatum

Review:
Since I was never a Tarantino’s fan, I dismissed this film when I saw the teaser. However I did not say no when my brother in law said he’s going to treat my sister and I to the cinema, and watch this film. After all, I quite enjoyed Inglorious Bastards (come to think of it, I haven’t written its review, have I?), it could be that good — I thought.

The premise is that in the middle of a nasty winter in Wyoming, eight travellers stuck together in a little cabin because of the storm coming. Two bounty hunters, one prisoner, a war veteran, a new sheriff in town, a public executioner, a coachman, and a cowboy coming home to see his mum for Christmas. What could go wrong?

Well, it is Tarantino’s film, everything could go wrong, so there will be no surprise in it. What is a surprise was that I enjoyed the film thoroughly. It was slightly draggy for the first ten minutes, but then things escalated pretty quickly and I got really absorbed in the story. It was exciting, and well… it is understandable that it was rated 21+ — even with Indonesian butchering style censorship it was still pretty gory for your little ones, so just leave them with your mum.

I found Samuel L Jackson as the star of the film. He was awesome, funny, witty, and was pretty much owned everybody else in the film. I expected more from Channing Tatum but I don’t mind with his appearance. Kurt Russell though, I almost can’t recognise him, and he was good too — but again I think Samuel Jackson owned everybody else in this film.

I can’t compare it with other Tarantino’s films because I don’t watch many of them, but I can say that it was a good film. It was definitely entertaining and it doesn’t hold back at all. It has all things un-PC, so if you are a bit twitchy about that this is probably not your cup of tea. It has a lot of swear words and blood gushing scenes, so if you are into a sweet and lovey dovey drama, you might want to skip this one too.

Having said that, if you are 21 years or older, and you want to watch something worth your money on weekend in the cinema, I could recommend this– but not for first date unless you know your date like films like Kingsman or Die Hard, this might be a good choice. No, I don’t give warranty, you cheeky bastards.

My verdict is 4 out of 5.

Book Review: Norwegian Wood

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Title: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review;
Listening to The Beatles’ song Norwegian Wood, Toru Watanabe was reminded of his life when he was a Drama student in one of the universities in Tokyo. The year was the late 60s and the early 70s, and Watanabe’s life was among the modern youth movement, more and more books, great musics (which is entirely subjective to my taste. Yay!) and of course the adventure of casual sex. It was also the year of self discovery, and when Watanabe found himself in between the past and the present.

This is the first book by Haruki Murakami I have ever read. Yes. Isn’t it just surprising?

I have heard about this book for ages, and I would love to read it. From the reviews I have seen before, the readers have given this a really high recommendation. Of course I have a really huge expectation when I started to read this book, and I know I should not have done it. But never mind, this book has fulfilled my expectation anyway. I was not disappointed at all.

The book was narrated by the main character Toru Watanabe. It was interesting to access the mind of a introvert teenage boy discovering life and growing up. I found it so easy to like Watanabe, and most of other characters in the book. Heck, I love all the characters in the book, not necessarily like them, but love them nonetheless — even the most vile ones.

 

I love how this novel was written. It was written in a no-nonsense, simple, and straight forward attitude (you know like how a teenage student would), and yet it was beautifully penned (or typed…). I can still feel the presence of cultural influence, although it was translated to English (unfortunately I can’t speak Japanese 😦 ), I can still enjoy the detailed description of the picturesque Japanese countryside or the busy Tokyo.

I thoroughly enjoyed the humour. It has touched my darkest sense of humour like no other novel has ever done before. It was witty, and funny, and it could depict the most profane sex scene without being crass (if that makes sense?).

Do you know what? I can’t believe it was written only a couple of years after I was born. I can’t believe that this book is almost as old as I am and yet it seems so modern. The story feels so relevant and incredibly easy to relate even today. I am not surprised that this is considered as one classics everybody should read. I am not surprised that Murakami has been considered as one of the best living legend in the world literature history.

Obviously, I would recommend this book to everybody who hasn’t read this. I might be the last person in the world that hasn’t read this book, but if there’s the next generation reading this review, I would still want them to read this book. This is definitely one book you have to read before you die. And I would rate it 5 stars out of 5.

 

The Ashley Madison Meltdown

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Actually, I was going to title this article with “How The Ashley Madison Meltdown Affects People’s Outlook In Marriage As An Institution”. But it does sound too pretentious, doesn’t it? Well, I have to make do with the current title then.

Right. So, what is Ashley Madison? If you haven’t heard about it at all, you might want to start google, or if you can’t be bothered at all, I would make it a little bit easier for you by presenting you this video:
http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.js#ec=V3MWwzdzrcsH1ge7gJAlliN8Evo-kXMM&pbid=7dfd98005dba40baacc82277f292e522

How am I for being extra generous today?

Ashley Madison is a dating site, mainly dedicated to people who are married to have something on the side. It has millions and millions of follower, but what made it to the headline is when a hacker broke in and stole personal information about the members, and gave it away in the dark web.

The Ashley Madison Meltdown, I should say.

It contains the personal information of — obviously — married people, including — allegedly — people from the UK government. There were at least one hundred UK Government email addresses found in the millions of data for public to see online. Not surprisingly, it has been ruining people’s lives.

I am not going to — of course — discuss the moral message, nor the motives behind this data stealing activity. I just wanted to know how people has seen their marriage now.

Mr. Fix It and I have never seen marriage as a sacred bond between us and god. We don’t bloody care about the sanctity of the religious mumbo jumbo, we did what we did just to make my mum satisfied that she thought she has kept her promise to her god. But those mumbo jumbo, the threat of being burned in hell is what kept many bored couple who hates each other from either killing each other or getting a divorce.

I wonder how many insecure couple would start wondering if their partner has been in Ashley Madison. One Australian lady called the radio station just to ask if her husband was on the list. She was pretty upset when she found out that he was. At least she was pretty brave to actually go and ask to get to know the truth. But, how many worried husbands or wives are now just sitting there in front of their iPad, reading the articles and thought, “what would I do if my partner was in that list?”

What would I do?

I would be surprised of course. I would ask him why he never told me that he was in that website. Obviously. Would I be angry if he told me that he has joined that kind of website? I don’t think so. Here’s the thing.

My husband and I are quite open in talking about the possibilities of extramarital sexual adventure. We talked about this before and we agreed that it might or might not happen, but we would tell each other if we are looking. I would not be angry if he joined this website to seek for a thrill, but I would be pretty upset if he wouldn’t tell me in advance.

Both of us still kept our dating site profiles, and we know each other profiles and once in a while used it as a tool to relight the fire and get the spark again. I would send him a message there just to make his day after a long time at work. He would do a creepy role play and send me a message there just for a giggle. We are best friends as we are partners and lovers. And I think that’s why I have never once questioned if he has got any secret affairs behind my back.

I think that’s what a marriage should be.

I know that I have only been married for just over a year, but I have seen many crumbling down marriage. I have been approached by some married male friends for a sexual favour — in which I always turned down for a very personal reason — despite of their happy marriages. Yes, people with an affair are not necessarily an unhappy one.

People are bored. They don’t call marriage as “settling down” for a reason. When you are settled for too long, you would start to feel the itch to move around. And when your partner don’t move with you, there would be some other bored people to get around with. Hence the affair.

Probably, it was the affair that keeps the marriage together. It could be one night thing, but some people comes home with less thing to think about. Husband is tired and old and not wanting to do anything else than watch telly and then go to sleep — find someone to go travelling with and get a hot steamy sessions so that you don’t have to come home and nag for your lack of self fulfilment. Wife is always covered in puke and poo as you just had twins — find a pair of massive boobs to fondle and a hole to poke, so you’re too tired to do anything else or complain when you come home.

Or you can talk.

Problem is… some people take things a little bit personally. Especially nowadays when people do take suggestions as blabla-shaming. “I know you could eat whatever you want, but you haven’t stop eating since your get up in the morning” is body shaming or fat shaming. “Sorry your mascara is melting, do you need a tissue” is make up shaming. “Do you want to go jogging with me” is another body or fat shaming. If you could not tell your partner that she/he needs to take a shower (because it’s an odour shaming) then you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself filling the form and writing an Ashley Madison’s profile.

Gah… It’s getting too long now. I don’t think anyone would read anything longer than this. I know that there are other things that count, but for now I will leave it at that…

Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed

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Title: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Language: English
Format: Hardback cover


Review:
I always loved Khaled Hosseini’s work. His debut book — The Kite Runner has stolen my attention, and the second book A Thousand Splendid Suns has assured me that he is a wonderful writer. When I saw this book was open for pre order in Amazon, I was so excited and promised myself that I would read it. This week, I had the chance to read the book.

And The Mountains Echoed evolves around the life of two Afghans siblings who were apart by fate when they were very young. The wars, the changes in social and political situation in Afghanistan shaped their lives, and the lives of people around them. Hosseini captured them all in his beautiful storytelling about the life in Afghanistan and the lives of the Afghans from different point of views.

It was a struggle to put this book down. If only I do not need my beauty sleep in the night, I might have finished this book in only three days. Yes. The story was THAT addictive.

Of course t wouldn’t be fair to compare this book to the previous two. However, this book is incomparable after all. It has different depth in political and war situations, and definitely different characterisations which made this book so much different that Hosseini’s former works.

I wouldn’t lie to you. This is not a chicken soup kind of heart warming story. Instead, I found it dark, gritty, and incredibly brutal. Which I like so much.

So, based on those verdicts, I would recommend this book, and rate this book 4 out of 5 stars 🙂

 

Book Review: Shame

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Title: Shame
Author: Salman Rushdie
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:
I have heard Salman Rushdie since I was a very young girl. Of course in Indonesia, it is almost impossible for me to come home with a copy — but I did not understand why. So while I got the chance to lay my hands on one of his books, I chose this one to start with.

Shame is a story revolving around a man named Omar Khayam Shakil who has three mothers and no father, living in a politically unstable fictional country. The story is narrated by an anonymous character who has never introduced himself to the readers, yet somehow it is not important as he has no involvement in the story itself.

It is just interesting since the beginning, but it became even more interesting when the anonymous character started to throw in clues about how similar the fictional country and cities in the story is to Pakistan and its cities.

For someone who has been completely blind about the political and military history in Pakistan, the story is such an epic journey to follow. Of course it would be highly exaggerated. After all, it is a fiction. However, the way it is written, the dark and gritty humour that was meant to be satire — has pushed the boundaries of political fiction, which some groups of people might find offensive.

The book is deep and critical, and mock so many things believed by some particular communities. It provoked the thoughts and made people questions, while at the same time never cease to entertain me as a reader.

I would have to say that I really love this book. This has everything I would expect to read in a socio-political fiction. It successfully portrayed the cultural movement, the political condition, and the social situation in details without converting into a university textbook (not that the university textbook is boring or something…)

This book deserves the rating of 5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are interested in the socio-political situation in the Middle East.