Stockholm Public Library

I can’t seem to be able to get this image out of my head. So the only thing I can do is share it with you all.

 

credit: cgsociety

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Beneath the Glitter by Elle & Blair Fowler

Title: Beneath the Glitter
Author: Elle & Blair Fowler
Genre: Young Adult/ Chick-lit
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by St. Martin’s Griffin

I’ve seen these sisters makeup videos pop up on YouTube very often and if you’ve ever searched for a review of a beauty product on YouTube, one of their reviews will most probably be recommended. I’ve watched a few, especially Elle’s Glitterature videos and they are pretty descent. So when I saw this book in the library I was instantly curious. My first reaction however was ‘Anyone now a days can write a book‘ considering being good at makeup doesn’t make you good at writing. But since I was in a reading slump already I thought I might just stop being a book snob and see what the book was like.

So let’s get on to my thoughts on this book. If you don’t like chick-lits or Young Adult, stay miles away from this book. It is what it is – a fluffy and light read. It actually does read like a feel good chick flick. 2 sisters Ava and Sophia become popular because of their makeup beauty videos and move to LA to climb the career ladder. In LA, they get to mix with the rich and famous and attend lavish parties. Eventually the lifestyle and misunderstandings between the 2 sisters almost ruin their career.

 The book tries to capitalize on the big bad image of LA and how being rich and famous will make you a shallow person. Only thing is it doesn’t quite ring true in this case. It feels too much on the surface. The story too is very breezy and superficial and drives on clichés. But it is entertaining. It’s a very quick read and doesn’t want you to make use of your brain cells too much, which could be a good thing once in a while.
Another good thing about the book is the bond between the 2 sisters – Ava and Sophia. I have 2 sisters and I could well understand their bond and it was very heartwarming and sweet at times. That is the perhaps the only section of the book which seemed effortless to me.
The worst Part? The book starts with the sisters getting arrested for a murder. It ends with ‘to be continued in the next book’ which annoys me to no extend. Again, I said this before, I don’t mind sequels but I prefer the subplot to end in the same book. If you want to write a sequel come up with another subplot.  Anyway, this book might not be for everybody. It seems like something targeting teenagers and younger crowd. But if you don’t mind a breezy, no-brainer once in a while, this does fit the bill.

Top Ten Tuesday…

toptentuesdayWith Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday in the USA, we thought it would be fun to see what we’re all thankful for! This can be bookish or not. It’s completely up to you!

-> Above everything else I’m thankful to my husband. We’ve been married 4 years now (tomorrow is our wedding anniversary).
-> For the libraries in Singapore. We have libraries outside almost every single train station and I didn’t realize how awesome that is until I moved here. I don’t buy a ton of books anymore because borrowing is so easy.
-> I love the weather in Singapore. I know there are times when I complain about having no seasons and that it’s so hot. But frankly i would live in a tropical climate any day compared to the cold and rainy.
-> I am thankful for my darling niece who is 7 months old already. Time flies so fast.
-> I’m thankful that I have this hobby of reading. It has taught me so much which I would never have learnt by myself in this short life.
-> I’m thankful for my new career. After 4 years of working as a software engineer, I shifted to Graphic Design. I’ve been working in this field for about 7 months now, I couldn’t be happier.

See the Top Ten Tuesday post here

The Raising by Laura Kasischke

Title: The Raising
Author:
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (March 15, 2011)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Raising is about a perfect blond teenager who died in an accident and comes back to the campus to haunt. Whats not to like? A lot apparently. My foremost complaint about the book was that it jumped a lot between the past and present and in-between the characters as well. The moment I found myself immersed in a certain storyline the narration jumped to something else. Not only did I find this very distracting but it also made it very difficult for me to follow the story.

The characters for most part were also very unlikable, be it Nicole, the girl who died, her boyfriend or Josie – her roommate. The only character I liked was Perry who was Clark’s friend.  But half way through the book I started to dislike Perry as well. The storyline was also very bizarre, I found it very difficult to accept.

But the book is not without its plus points. That I found the story weird could also be a plus point for someone who likes a unique storyline. The one thing I loved about the book was the classes on Death that Professor Mira taught. I was genuinely interested in the subject and this book provided me enough material to learn something new and start researching more on a certain topic if I wanted to.

All said and done, although I was very excited about reading this book, it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me.

Red Lotus by Pai Kit Fai

Red Lotus coverTitle: Read Lotus (UK version)
Author: Pai Kit Fai
Source: Library
Published by Sphere (first published January 5th 2010)
Rating:4 out of 5 stars

I had a reading block for the longest time;
hence the lack of posts. I haven’t blogged here for a while for the same reason and a book that bought an end to this block is worth mentioning. I literally devoured this book and considering it is 500 pages long, it says something.

Red Lotus
is a story of 2 women, mother and daughter, who were unlucky to be born in a time and place which was not very kind to women. The book begins in the year 1906 at the Great Pine Spice Farm on the Pearl river in Southern China. In a rich farmers family, a young girl is bought as a concubine. She was a girl from an influential family but was sold because the family had fallen into bad times. The concubine gives birth to a girl who is named Li-Xia. Li-xia survives against all odds and manages to escape her house when she is sent to work in a Silk weaving factory in Ten Willows. There she finds a family and some happiness. She finds her destiny with a foreigner called Ben. I wont tell you much but suffice to say Li-xia’s story is the first half of the book and Sing’s, her daughters story is the second half of the book.

Some people might say this book is rambling and very detailed. But for someone like me it was the main reason why I loved this book. Miss Fai’s writing is brilliant and she manages to bring the Chinese countryside, the Silk Farm and Macau to life. It was fun to read about what Macau was like a few years back. I marked a lot of pages but for the sake of this review, I’ll post one here

Gold can be found everywhere you look for it…sprinkled by sunlight on clear water…in the evening sky and the coming of each new dawn. It falls like scattered coins on the forest floor and gilds the leaf of every tree; glitters on every blade of grass after the rain and turns each dewdrop into a precious jewel. You will find gold in kindness; it can be found in the seeking of happiness and in helping others. Try to find your fortune among these things, collect what you can of these real gold, and one day you will be qian-jin.
(*qian-jin: means being compared to thousand pieces of gold).

There are some drawbacks of course, but they are mainly with the scenes towards the end of the book which I’ll refrain from mentioning here.

I loved both Li-xia and Sing but I have to admit I have a special affinity for Sing just because of her trying childhood and the way she overcame all odds and still remained strong and pure.

It’s a book worth reading if you enjoy oriental books, love reading about the countryside, love reading epic stories and finally, love reading about strong women. This ones definitely going on my ‘one of the best reads‘ of 2013.

Note:
1. The summary on Goodreads spoils the plot. Miss it if you can.
2. The cover is gorgeous but unfortunately its the most mismatch cover ever. The story is about Chinese women set in China. However the girl on the cover is definitely not Chinese, neither is the farm picture at the bottom. It’s a clear case of designing for the sake of beauty and not as a reflection of the actual book. Since I’m a designer myself now, I find this very disappointing.
3. This book is also published with the name ‘The Concubines Daughter’ in the US.

Teaser Tuesdays!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I havent been reading much lately, hence the lack of posts. But this one books has me reading again. Inspite of being 500 pages long, I’m more than halfway through and loving it. The writing is wonderful. Here’s a teaser.

Gold can be found everywhere if you look for it… sprinkled by sunlight on clear water… in the evening sky and the coming of each new dawn. It falls like scattered coins on the forest floor and gilds the leaf of every tree; glitters on every blade of grass after the rain and turns each dewdrop into a precious jewel. You will find gold in kindness; it can be found in the seeking of happiness and in helping others. Try to find your fortune among these things, collect what you can of this real gold, and one day you will be quan-jin. 

BookShelf Tour!!!!

I don’t think a bookshelf tour is something I can write about, so here’s a video for you. Sorry if it’s too shaky.

It’s uploaded on my YouTube channel which is called ‘BookShelved’ so don’t get too surprised when you see the intro.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

bookTitle: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books; Book Club edition (June 7, 2011)

My thoughts:
Here is a completely different take on a very popular topic. Mr. Riggs has taken the plotline that many fantasy novels have today and turned it into something completely different…in a good way.

Jacob Portman is a normal teenager who leads a boring and uneventful life (according to him). He is fascinated and intrigued by the stories his grandfather used to tell him about his past life – about growing up in an orphanage on an island and about the peculiar children who lived there. He described children who could levitate, who could pick heavy objects and of the one who was invisible. As Jacob grew up he knew these stories were just made up.

But when his grandfather dies in mysterious circumstances, he decides to find some answers by journeying to his grandfathers orphanage somewhere close to Wales. What he finds there is completely unexpected, fascinating and overwhelming.

I loved loved loved the plot. I thought it was innovative and very mysterious. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The author created a beautiful atmosphere with the Island and the mysteries that surrounded it. I wished I was on the Island with Jacob. There is a lot more to the story than what I just told you but I wont disclose more because I want to keep it spoiler free.

Now the bad – yes, it’s not perfect. There were a lot of loopholes or if you see it from a different perspective, I didn’t understand some of the story. The ending was rushed and there is a sequel. I’m kind of bored with the whole sequel obsession in YA. Why can’t people write a book that is complete in itself? Also I found Jacob to be very decent considering the fact that he is a teenager and a boy.

I still really enjoyed reading the book and would love to read the next one. The pictures in the book helped with the story and made it more fascinating. Initially, before reading the book, just looking at the pictures, I thought this would be a horror novel – but it isn’t. I know some people get turned off by horror novels, so don’t be.

I think you would enjoy this book even if you don’t read YA.

Some of the pictures from the book

picpic1pic2

New feature series: Book cover design: Jurassic Park: Chip Kidd

We all love to look at beautiful book covers and we love to adorn our shelfs with them. There are many blog series around that talk about different book covers – how similar are some covers among other things. We have book cover reveals as well. But what we overlook is that there are people who have designed these covers. There are people who have tried to understand the story and the intention behind the book and try to design a cover that reflects that. I have been attracted to the art of book cover design for a long time and I thought this would be a perfect platform not just to show you a nice cover but also let you know the process behind it and also introduce you to the designer while I’m at it.

For today, let me introduce you to Chip Kidd, one of the most influential and famous book cover designers today. The cover I’m going to talk about today is this

jurrasic park

I’m sure you all know what book this is about. The design process goes something like this.

Chip Kidd went to the library to find books on dinosaurs and found this page.

He put this in a photostat machine, took a piece of tracing paper, taped it over the tracing paper with a scotch tape and took a rapidograph pen and reconstituted the dinosaur and came up this which was used in the final book cover.

When it was sent to Michael Chrichton and he responded with this 🙂

The image was bought by Universal and was used in the movie which in turn was used in a lot of the movie memorabilia when it was released.
movie

Thats the story behind the cover of Jurassic Park. I hope you enjoyed reading this post.

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chip kiddChip Kidd (from Wikipedia): Chip Kidd (born September 12, 1964) is an American author, editor, and graphic designer, best known for his book covers. Kidd is currently associate art director at Knopf, an imprint of Random House. He first joined the Knopf design team in 1986, when he was hired as a junior assistant. Turning out jacket designs at an average of 75 a year, Kidd has freelanced for Doubleday, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Grove Press, HarperCollins, Penguin/Putnam, Scribner and Columbia University Press in addition to his work for Knopf. Kidd also supervises graphic novels at Pantheon, and in 2003 he collaborated with Art Spiegelman on a biography of cartoonist Jack Cole, Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits. His output includes cover concepts for books by Mark Beyer, Bret Easton Ellis, Haruki Murakami, Dean Koontz, Cormac McCarthy, Frank Miller, Michael Ondaatje, Alex Ross, Charles Schulz, Osamu Tezuka, David Sedaris, Donna Tartt, John Updike and others. His design for Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park novel was carried over into marketing for the film adaptation. Oliver Sacks and other authors have contract clauses stating that Kidd design their books

Obviously I have to get this information from somewhere. There are a few youtube videos on this so if you are interested you can watch this videos but for these feature series I’m going to break it down so that you can go through the process in less than 5 mins instead of watching a 20 mins or an hour-long video. All the references will be given alongside.

References:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC0KxNeLp1E (17.17 min long video)

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