Category: Books

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

9 Dragons (2009) is a long-running series by Michael Connelly, the 15th book in the Harry Bosch series which began in 1992 revolving a detective called… yep… Harry Bosch. This is one of Connelly’s most unique writing as he wrote this American detective who knew nothing about the culture of the Chinese having to learn it in a short time to put the culprit who murdered a store owner in China Town, Los Angeles, behind bars. What started out as a determination to put the murderer behind bars ended up becoming a personal pursuit to rescue his loved one. In a race against time, will Bosch succeed to rescue both the murderer and his family?

The writings by Connelly in 9 Dragons were impressive and as an Asian, we enjoyed going through the mind of the American character while he tried to understand the Chinese culture and the notorious underground gangsters and we enjoyed how the story progressed as it described in detail especially the relationship between the main character with his work partners and also all his other relationships including his superior and his family. It was nice how we gradually found out how the main character turned out to be quite an arrogant person too.

What we didn’t like about the book was how the author kept switching from the first name, Bosch and at times Harry. While in understanding, how one character calls another determines the relationship with another, for example, calling Harry instead of Bosch mean that the character has more informal relationship with the main character, we noticed that this name switching from Bosch to Harry and back to Bosch is even mentioned in the narratives, which made the reading slightly unpleasant. We reckon the author must have a reason for that but in the mean time, before our understanding comes, it will remain as an ugly mark in the book.

Apart from that, how the author described in details the sight and scenes of Hong Kong and how the 9 Dragons came in play and its the history was one of the main highlights of the novel. We really recommend you to read this book and perhaps follow through the entire novel right from Book 1. You can see the listings of the books from here:

http://www.michaelconnelly.com/extras/series/

As for now, keep on reading and… happy reading!

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Not-so-casual…Casual Vacancy

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It’s hard to think of J.K Rowling writing about anything else than the magical wizard world of Harry Potter. We were crushed when that era ended.

And then we were told that she was venturing into the world of adults (and adultery?!) in Casual Vacancy.

And our thought was “blimey!” (sorry, couldn’t resist Ron Wesley’s signature remark).

While not exactly a page-turner for us, Casual Vacancy was more than a decent effort from Rowling, though we thought that some bits of the book were too far-stretched (in other words, it did bore us a bit) with too many lingering conversations and dialogues.

Towards the ending (don’t worry, no spoilers here) it felt like ‘watching’ a soap opera or telenovela, Rowling was so eager to cramp everything in it.

It actually had a promising, but dark start-off, with the death of the village parish councilman – hence a ‘vacancy’ to be filled for the post. As it happened, the village is full of gossip and scandalmongers, and the political and social impact left behind by the death of Barry Fairbrother revealed a lot more than what the villagers bargained for.

But, the black comedy that made up Casual Vacancy, with Rowling’s move in using a lot (and yes, there were a lot) of variety for the ‘cursing’ vocabulary, added with scandalous and taboo issues like teenage sexuality, drugs, rape among many,  had at times gotten just a little bit way too much for us to handle.

No, not because we were too naïve to think that these things don’t happen in real world; but it was rather too boring to be talked about again and again, as if we don’t already have enough of them.

Perhaps, it was Rowling’s way to unleash her inner, deepest thoughts – what she couldn’t really write in the Harry Potter series, she put them in Casual Vacancy. There are certainly no limitations or restrictions now.

We know that it is unfair to keep comparing Casual Vacancy to the Harry Potter series, on how Rowling managed to work her charms in the latter, but not able to leave such ‘magical’ impact on the former – but we just couldn’t help it.

Although the book will definitely please some of her fans, we think that a lot more will be dismayed by it. Having said that however, we would still wait, and keep our fingers crossed for more Rowling’s magic.

Check out some more wonderful literature at Popular, located at LG1.123, contact no – 03-56377280

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Quiet Blog

Can the introverts survive in the world full of extroverts? Of course, we’d like to think so.

On the surface, Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking seems to be on the defense for the introverts, who are often biased against and misunderstood as being passive, shy, avoid conflicts, talk less listen more; to sum it all – QUIET.

Introverts often crave for solitude and silence, being more at ease having a one-to-one conversation or just chatting in a small, familiar group, rather than being in a room full of boisterous extroverts.

Extroverts, who are described as affable, social, confident and charismatic, are most often tend to be highlighted as more productive, highly successful and important.

But as we were reading the book, we couldn’t help but to wonder – are they really extroverts, or are they really introverts masking themselves as extroverts in order to ‘survive’ in the world?

Confused yet? So were we.

But, as it turned out, no one is purely an introvert or extrovert, but rather a combination of both, to an extent.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking also explores the two inter-connected personalities, with Cain making comparisons between American and Asian cultures, and the past researches that have been surrounding the subject.

She also calls working in groups will lead to more productive results (a favourite with the extroverts) – “a myth”, as according to her, brainstorming, thinking and discussing on a project or problem in a group would often lead to nowhere, as everybody is so busy talking to get their ideas across, and listen less.

And as such, that is why working on their own is more favoured by the introverts – however, it really depends on the individual.

As they say, two (or three or more heads) are definitely better than one, so working in groups might be beneficial in some matters.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world” – said the great man of India, who was a self-proclaimed introvert, which we agreed.

As we found out, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was not a light read. Cain didn’t really justify the ‘real’ definition of ‘introvert’ or extrovert’, but she managed to give us some characteristics which are useful for identifying them.

And it certainly would help us all in appreciating the differences and uniqueness in people.

“Yasmin How You Know?”

ImageThough we’ve never got the honour to meet the late Yasmin Ahmad in person, watching her Petronas ads and movies such as Rabun, Gubra, Sepet, Mukhsin, Muallaf and Talentimemade her our best friend, the partner-in-crime who we would tend to go to when we needed a break from everything. The messages in her works are simple, though often misunderstood as controversial, but she would always express the harmony and tolerance among Malaysians, throwing in some inter-racial relationships and friendships.

As simple as they were, in her own words,

“Simplicity is one of the hardest things to do”.

Reading Yasmin How You Know?  was like having a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night – it’s soothing and heart-warming, leaving you with profound thoughts and insights of your own life.

The book was a tribute to the great film director, copywriter, sister, daughter, friend, “a brand builder”, containing a lot of “Yasmin-isms” which would melt even the stoniest of hearts.

Written from the viewpoints of her friends, fellow colleagues, family members and mentees, we couldn’t put the book down, even re-reading it several times, especially when life seemed so tough and stressful that all we needed was just a tiny bit of “Yasmin-isms” to get through the troubles.

Yasmin was a gifted poet as well; and she did not even have to use all “big and flowery” words to express her emotions.

She had a jovial and upbeat look on life, taking everything rather positively, even when the critics and naysayers were out to get her.

“No matter how badly people behave towards you, just think good thoughts. Only good thoughts” – wise words, which became our personal favourite among all her “Yasmin-isms”.

Her sense of humour and cracking wittiness were so infectious, that those who were interviewed for the book immediately cheered up every time she was nearby, even at the times they were dejected and crestfallen.

She did not give a hoot to whatever anyone said about her, not afraid to call a spade, a spade. The talented soul had a knack with words, often describing things as she saw them, like telling her former colleague Ng ChooSeong that “the sky is sticking its tongue out at you” upon seeing a half-moon one night.

She was the soul and life of any party, according to those who knew her best, putting everybody’s best interest in her heart and treasuring every single minute of her life.

The book made us laugh, made us cry, made us grin, made us smirk.

And we think these qualities made Yasmin, who gone too soon, a remarkable, unique soul.

“On no soul does God place a burden greater than it can bear”.

Rest In Peace dear Yasmin.