Category Archives: Book Reviews

Sputnik Sweetheart

Sumire was an aspiring author. K had been her best friend since college. K was also madly in love with her, but never even hinted about his feelings because he knew she didn’t feel the same way and he didn’t want to risk losing her as a friend.

Sumire met Miu, a Korean woman who grew up and spent most of her life in Japan, at a wedding. Miu was a successful businesswoman and offered Sumire a job as her assistant. A struggling author didn’t make much money, so Sumire happily accepted the offer.

One day, when they had dinner after work, Miu said that she wished she had met Sumire when she was whole. Something happened 14 years ago that split her into the person she became now.

Sumire confided in K that she had fallen in love with Miu, a woman 17 years older than her. K was crushed, but there was nothing he could do.

This is beginning to sound like another love triangle, doesn’t it? But no, because this is no ordinary love story.

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A Gentleman in Moscow

I didn’t expect to be fascinated by a story of a man confined to house arrest for more than three decades.

This story is set in the aftermath of the Russian revolution. In 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was on trial for a poem he wrote in 1918, which was deemed corrupting. For that crime he was sentenced to indefinite house arrest. The Count accepted the sentence and carried himself with dignity, as expected of a man of his standing.

At the time of the trial, the Count had been residing in a suite at the Metropol Hotel for four years. He was instructed to return to the Metropol for his sentence, but instead of the luxurious suite, he was moved to a small room in the attic. If he left the Metropol, he would be shot on sight.

House arrest seems like a sentence worse than a life in prison — to be free, but confined within a building. As the story unfolds, perhaps it was not the worst fate to befall a man. The house arrest shielded the Count from the post-revolution turmoil and a world war.

Mishka, the Count’s best friend, was sentenced to eight years of hard labour. Upon his release, he went to see the Count. “Who would have imagined,” said Mishka, “when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia.”

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A Man Called Ove

This is a humourous and heart-warming story about a grumpy old man called Ove. Considering everything that happened, Ove earned the right to be grumpy.

Ove’s mother died when he was eight. His quiet father became even quieter. Even though few words were exchanged between father and son, they grew close after his mother’s death. His father taught him the meaning of being a man of integrity and principle.

Ove’s father died when he was sixteen and he was left to fend for himself. He took over his father’s job. His employer and colleagues knew him as a quiet young lad who is honest and can be relied on — just like his father.

Ove was on his own, literally. There wasn’t any joy in his life until the day he set eye on Sonja at the train station. They fell in love and everything he did was about making her happy, which made him happy.

When Sonja died of cancer, Ove became depressed. He didn’t live before he met Sonja and now that she was gone, Ove had no reason to live. And so, Ove hatched a plan to commit suicide.

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Kumpulan Puisi Mek Bah

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Mungkin jiwa saya tidak cukup halus lalu saya gagal menghayati puisi-puisi dalam buku ini. Kalau anda seorang memahami bahasa puisi, mungkin ada dapat menghargai buku puisi ini.

Ada kawan bertanya, “Itu puisi BN-kah?” Jawab saya, “Langsung tak kena-mengena dengan BN, Itu pasal omputih pesan, don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Stephen Hawking — His Life and Work

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Stephen Hawking was a truly remarkable person. When he was diagnosed with ALS, the doctor predicted he only had a few more years to live, but he lived to the age of 76.

He was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest minds of our time, but that was not what awed me. I was awed by his love and passion for life, and his passion for his work. Even though ALS eventually confined him to a wheelchair and he gradually became totally dependent on his nurses to care for him, he never lost sight for what was important in his life. It would’ve been easy to wallow in self-pity but he never allowed himself to tread down that path.

I’m equally awed by the love of his first wife, Jane. She married him despite of his disease and knowing that they might only have a few years together. As his condition deteriorated, she stood by him and strove to provide her family with a normal home.

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Kursani Segenap Bimasakti

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Saya membeli buku ini kerana dimaklumkan ia buku sejarah. Setelah membaca, saya rasa agak kecewa kerana buku ini tidak menumpukan kepada mana-mana aspek sejarah secara khusus.

Ia adalah kisah berbagai sejarah, sebahagiannya adalah tulisan di laman Facebook penulis. Buku ini lebih kepada himpunan sejarah yang cacamerba.

Kalau anda mahu membaca sejarah dari berbagai aspek, tetapi tidak berminat untuk tahu secara terperinci, mungkin buku ini sesuai untuk anda — dapatkannya di sini. Saya rasa tak berbaloi bayar RM40 untuk buku sejarah cacamerba ini. Lebih baik baca saja tulisan-tulisan Cik Srikandi di laman Facebooknya — percuma.

Small Great Things

This book deserves a five-star rating. It is a powerful story about an issue many choose to ignore — racism — the prejudice, the bias, the privelege.

The story is told through three narrators — Ruth Jefferson, Turk Bauer and Kennedy McQuarrie.

Ruth was an African American, who graduated from a prestigious university, and had twenty years experience as a nurse. Her mother, who worked as a maid at the home of an affluent white family, wanted her to have a better life and made sure Ruth got the best education. All her life, Ruth worked hard and tried to blend in. She wanted to be acknowledged for more than just her skin colour.

Turk and his wife, Brittany, were white supremacists. When Brittany delivered their baby, Davis, Ruth was assigned to care for Davis. Turk and Brittany were horrified that a black woman was touching their baby. Turk told Ruth’s boss in no uncertain term that he did not want any African American to be involved in the care of Davis.

When Davis suddenly stopped breathing, Ruth was part of the team that tried to resuscitate him. Davis died and the scapegoat blamed for his death was Ruth — the nurse Turk forbade from touching his baby. Turk and Brittany were determined to avenge their baby’s death, and thus, began Ruth’s nightmare.

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