Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

This week has been rather hectic, so here's another short review. I read The Book of Tea and it's only 74 'pages' on my iPad, so a really quick read.

The Book of Tea is what its title says. It's a discussion of the Japanese perspective on tea. It has 7 chapters:

- The Cup of Humanity
- The Schools of Tea
- Taoism and Zennism
- The Tea-room
- Art Appreciation
- Flowers
- Tea-masters.

There's also a mini-biography of the author, which helps explain why he wrote the book.

The author's love of tea comes across very clearly in this book - as does his disdain for the West (although his life seemed to tell a different story). I really enjoyed the whole book and learnt a lot from it. Plus, I really love the language in it, like this passage:

Translation is always a treason, and as a Ming author observes, can at its best be only the reverse side of a brocade - all the threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour or design.

And by the way, this was originally written in English. So you can be sure that you're getting the original, not a translation without subtlety or colour.

If you like tea, you should take a look at this. I borrowed it from the NLB e-reads app, so if you have an account, you can get it straight away (if you don't, you can make one if you're an NLB member).

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Battlestar Galatica: Six by JT Krul

The reason why I requested this was rather odd. I rode the Battlestar Galatica ride at Universal Studios Singapore, and while in line, I looked the story up. From what I saw, Six seemed like an interesting character and when I saw this origin story on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Battlestar Galatica: Six uses a flashback/present day narrative for Six/Eve as she tries to figure out who she is. I daren't say more, because any more and I'll probably give away quite a few spoilers.

I believe that this contains all the issues from this series, but it was pretty short. I suppose I was expecting something longer (and a lot more character development - perhaps I'm too used to novels), and the comic seemed to have ended before it begun.

Still, it was a pretty interesting origin story.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

All of us have biases. We use it to look at the world and interpret the different things. That's the reason why two people can look at exactly the same thing and have two differing interpretations. And because these biases are so crucial in how we see the world, it's hard to hold them up and examine them. And it's even harder to reject them - especially when rejecting them means rejecting your entire support system as well.

And yet, that is what Nabeel Qureshi has done. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is his extremely moving testimony of how he was raised in a loving Muslim home, and how after investigating both Christianity and Islam, he ended up converting to Christianity. (Also, I just want to say - I was super surprised and happy to see that he did TOK (Theory of Knowledge). If it's the same TOK that I did, then he's a fellow IB alumni!)

This book is part testimony, part introduction to a comparison between Islam and Christianity. Of course, it's not as complete as No God but One (the later book that takes a much more in-depth view of the similarities and differences between the two religions), but it's a very good introduction to the whole thing.

There's not much more I can say. I have no regrets about buying this book, and I thought it was a very engaging, encouraging and enlightening book. Definitely a must-read, especially in the multi-religious world that we live in.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Collision of Worlds by Lincoln Cole

Just finished this second book in the Graveyard of Empires series! I'm happy that I read it soon after I finished the first book, because I suspect that if I left too much time between the two books, I would have another "The Grace of Kings" and "The Wall of Storms" problem where I couldn't remember the main characters for the first few chapters.

Collision of Worlds continues the saga, with a few more pieces moving into place for a huge, explosive ending (which will probably be in a later book). Traq, the kid that we meet in the previous book (the boy that Argus discovers) exhibits more powers. Argus doesn't get as much airtime in this book, but his co-worker, Vivian, does and I really find her character interesting! She has no idea how to raise a child, reading tons of books to compensate, and it leads to her doing some very unorthodox things. Moms may not approve of her.

Maven and Alyssa, the twins in a never-ending battle move their rivalry one step up by betting the lives of Jayson and his teammates. Darius doesn't really appear much, but from Maven's section, I got a much better sense of how the Union operates. And they really, really don't seem much better than the Republic, like I suspected in the first book.

And for the Kristi and her ship - sadly, Kristi and Abigail do not appear as much. Instead, more airtime is given to develop Abdullah, her second in command. And while Abdullah didn't really make that big an impression on me in the first book, (sorry, but Kristi totally overshadowed him) I did remember him and so his enlarged role wasn't as big as a surprise to me.

Two "new" characters are Jim and Oliver. They basically first appeared at the end of the first book, and I totally didn't expect them to start playing a big role. But I find that I quite like their storyline too - Jim's struggles to fit in with the upper class, and his tenuous friendship with Oliver was oddly captivating. And for the record, I find Jim a lot more sympathetic than Oliver, who's more practical and money-minded.

If you liked the first book, you will probably enjoy the second. The cast of characters largely stay the same, with the difference being the amount of page space given to each individual character. I still haven't decided if there's a side that I want to root for, and I look forward to finding out more and more about this world.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.