Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases

On Monday, I was happily browsing the library, trying to find a series in which I forgot the title and author but knew the general location it was at. And did I mention that this was before the library re-arranged the shelves? Well, one pleasant find was this book: The Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases edited by Jeff Vandermeer & Mark Roberts.

When I got home, I realised that it was like an anthology (many authors) which include Neil Gaiman and Mieville China. My reaction? -> O.O



and an immediate Goodreads recommendation to all my friends (who are on Goodreads) that like these two authors (at least, I think they like them).

The book was fantastic (as expected). It's a book you can read in bits and pieces because it's either a collection of fantastical diseases, or an account of Dr Thackery T. Lambshead. Plus, the on-going joke of how the book is in its 83rd edition, plus the footnotes make it hilarious. The book also has a few metaphysical jokes (at least, I think they are metaphysical jokes), as its design and typeface is used to poke fun at several of these imaginary diseases (e.g. Printer's Evil)

The only thing that hampered the book at times was the seriousness at which it took itself. Certain entries are hard to understand, mostly because they can't be understood (and not on purpose, like Logrolling Ephesus). But generally, you can get the joke on the second reading onwards, so this wasn't too much of a problem.

All in all, this book is adorable! It's funny and the pseudo-serious tone that it uses is generally successful. I think you should read it.

Oh and by the way, I managed to find the series I was looking for. The author is Frank Tallis (catalogued under TAL) and this book is under THA so I wasn't that far off the mark(:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sew Kawaii by Choly Knight

Yes, I know, it's another craft book with a pun. I was actually drawn to this because of the word "Kawaii" in the title. I was actually planning to try the crafts out before reviewing but something stopped me. And that is, the lack of a sewing machine.

In the book, the author makes it seem like a sewing machine is so much better than hand-sewn (maybe it is). But if you haven't sewn before, I wonder how you're going to make these projects, since a sewing machine appears indispensable for most of them, But before I go on, here's what I did like:

The projects looked cute and were supposed to be suitable for the beginning -waves hand in air- And with each project, a Japanese word is introduced. You won't finish the book being able to speak Japanese (words, yeah, phrases and sentences, nope), but it might spark your interest in learning the language.

The way the book is organised is also quite good, since it progresses from the easy stuff like Key Chains to the harder things like Home Decorations. Although I don't see myself wearing some of the Jellyfish dress in the Clothes section, I might be tempted to try a character hoodie.

Patterns are also provided, although since I'm reading the ebook version, it's very very hard if not impossible to use them. That is the second part of the reason why I couldn't make any of the projects.

So, this book is confusing. While it's supposed to be for the beginner, and goes into details like needles, stuffing, materials and such, they expect a sewing machine. My grandma has one, but it's the old-fashion foot pedalled one (way cool, but I have no idea how to use it without stabbing myself in the hand). Plus, I'm going overseas soon and I don't think I can buy a sewing machine on my meager allowance. I expected, and would have preferred more projects that only needed hand-sewing.

But still, if you like the items featured in the book and happen to own a sewing machine, I think you'll really enjoy reading this. I guess it's just not for me.... ):

Oh, and never buy an ebook version of a craft book. It might be because I was reading on a DRM-reader, but the book was exceptionally laggy and took a long time to load. I'm attributing that the the heavy use of colour and graphics, which are necessary, but still made me fustrated.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Teaser Tuesdays - The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases

After about 2 weeks of no Teaser Tuesdays, I'm back! I went to the library yesterday and found this very interesting book while browsing. It's called The Thackery T. Lamshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. Today's teaser comes from the disease entry called "Poetic Lassitude" (or "Pyrexia Poetica; also known as De Quincy Syndrome, Iambic Langour; Black Plapsy or Sapphic Trench")

So, do you think you have this "disease"?

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. See you next week!

UPDATE: My review of the book can be found here.
"In the tertiary stages of Poetic Lassitude, the sufferer becomes completely useless as a human being, a drain on his friends' and family's resources, and a cause of bankruptcy to his publishers. Unable to feed himself, he is at last only capable of dressing, arranging his hair and perhaps applying a modicum of eye makeup."  (Paged 135)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Interrupted by Rachel Coker (ARC)

Surprisingly, I really liked this book. Allie, the main character is prickly and perceived to be proud, things that normally make me dislike a character (and since I've read that we dislike in others what we dislike in ourselves, what does that say about me?).

The novel follows Allie through the pre-WWII and WWII years (ages 14, 18 and 20 if I'm correct), although most of it is centered around the time she's 18.

Allie lost her mom to brain cancer when she was 14 (at first, I thought it was Alzheimers), and after that, she was adopted and forced to leave her home. Her mom was fairytale like (likes flowers, stars, myths, etc) and sounds pretty cool, which explains why Allie adored her. It also explains why Allie inherited her mom's hang-ups about Christianity (seeing as her "Christian" father abandoned the both of them). But as she lives with Beatrice (her adopted mother), and meets her childhood friend Sam, her 'heart of stone' starts to melt.

Although Allie is irritable and rude and whatnot, I liked her character. I could understand how she felt, feeling out-of-place. I suppose that's a universal emotion. Her prickliness and everything else was just a defense mechanism (or as another character puts it, a "shell") to stop her from getting hurt. Towards the end, she herself admits as much.

The only problem I had with this book was how it handled Christianity, which was odd, seeing as it's a Zondervan book. A lot of the book focuses on how angry Allie is, and then how she finally admits that's she's touched by the love of Beatrice. But the issue of her father that abandoned her is never resolved, something that should have been, seeing as it's why her mother (and her) hated Christianity so much. For some reason, it felt as though the faith aspect of this book has been placed on the back-burner. Nothing wrong with that, but it felt unsatisfying.

Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Firefly Dance by Sarah Addison Allen and others

When I saw that this book contained a story by Sarah Addison Allen, I really wanted to read it. I remember reading and enjoying Garden Spells, which is why I requested this book from NetGalley without knowing anything more than it being a short story collection. The book actually consists of four stories by four authors:

The first, and possible shortest story "The Stocking Store" is by Phyllis Schieber. It deals with a child of Holocaust survivors, but in a very nuanced way. Through an interaction at The Stocking Store (and news of its later closure), this sense of poignancy is imparted. It's very short, but can (and should) definitely be read a few times, because you'll want to savour it. Plus, on the first reading, I only realised that Sonya's mom was a Holocaust survivor, and I think it'll be interesting to read it once without knowing, and once knowing.

"Petey" by Kathry Magendie is the second and possibly the longest short story/novella in the entire book. It's a few chapters long, and spans an amazingly broad time frame. Most of the story is centered just after the move to Texas, and I loved reading about the family dynamics and such. The only thing that confused me was the last chapter, because the switch was way too abrupt for me. I would have preferred (if possible), for the ending to be gentler, because I spent the first part of the chapter wondering if I was still reading the same story (then I recognised the names).

Next is "Resurrection" by Augusta Trobaugh. It's confusing, and I have no idea what it's about. It's supposed to be "surrealistic" but it's also so short that I didn't have enough time to understand what was going on. If a bit more character motivation was explained, then it would have made more sense. Still, it was an interesting read, especially in the beginning, where the scene was set.

Lastly, "In My Dreams" by Sarah Addison Allen. It's a pretty long story (by comparison) and has several different point of views, although the dominant one is the main character of Louise. I felt that Louise was really well-written, and although there's no 'high drama' in the story (none of these stories really do), it was still lovely and engaging. The only "complaint" is the sudden switch in point of view for one chapter, but that was mostly my fault, because I didn't connect the "Sophie" they talked about and "Great Aunt Sophie" together. But other than that, the length was good, because if it was too long, I would have gotten bored unless something major happened. Here, the marriage of Louise's mother and her grandfather's visit was enough to keep me engrossed.

All in all, this is a really lovely short story collection. It's supposed to be about childhood (although I don't recall mine that way, but then again, the distance of time is not that great), and I love how each story writes about childhood in a different way, allowing for a lot of diversity.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Merely Mystery Reading Challenge: The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

Although I really liked Tess Gerritsen the first time I read one of her Rizzoli and Isles mysteries, I was kinda disappointed by this one.

For one thing, Maura Isles isn't in the book, and I like her better than Rizzoli. Rizzoli is too angry and I end up going (-.-) instead of sympathising with her. And this book is the angriest that I've ever seen her (I think she calms down after she gets married and has kids....)

The book features Rizzoli (and her team/co-workers) trying to hunt down an elusive serial killer known as The Surgeon. And he's stalking/taunting the only victim he didn't kill - Catherine Cordell, an ER doctor. Along the way, Catherine and Moore (one of the policemen working with Rizzoli) start to fall in love.

The story was actually interesting, although the fact that I read the later books meant that I already knew who the killer was. It was an interesting change to see Rizzoli fighting for acceptance. Except, she fought too hard.

She was obviously trying to be "tough", but ended up being obnoxious. There wasn't a trace of caring in her, and the way she was so hostile to Catherine was >.< Admittedly, she had a reason, but still, I expected two women who were supposed to be alike to get along better.

The only part of the book where I felt any sympathy for Rizzoli was when she was having a family dinner. Her brother's actions are truly disgusting, and outweighed the antipathy that I had for Rizzoli. Apparently (I say this because I have no recollection whatsoever), I was a um, how to put it, confrontational kid (still am, although now, I tend to use words - I know, I'm trying to stop). So what I didn't understand was that if Rizzoli is supposed to be so tough, why isn't she standing up for herself? Then again, she didn't really do that in the later books, but she was mellower.

So basically, this book was interesting, but the angry-Rizzoli thing was a major damper. Read the other later books in the series.

And since I'm reading this for the Merely Mystery Reading Challenge.... I suppose I should classify this as a "Police Procedural" because although Rizzoli likes to be a lone wolf, she does rely on the help of others.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner

I started reading this book while waiting for Cake Boss (if you haven't watched it, go watch it! The show is awesome and I love the cakes~). But by the time I looked up, the show was 2/3rds over -sad face-

This is one of those western romances, lent to me by Aunty Florence. It's quite interesting because the two main characters are quite opposite in character. Or at least the way they act. Jessica is supposed to be a lady while Brady is a rancher.

Um.... let me see... the backstory for Jessica was quite interesting, and I wish that more was said about the downfall of her brother-in-law. There's also a quite exciting backstory involving Brady and a messed-up family past, culmilating in devastating fire to the ranch that almost ended Brady and Jessica's relationship.

I think if anything, the major weakness of the book was that it was too focused on their romance towards the end. I would really have liked to read more about what happened when Jessica returned to England. From the few details we are told, it seems like it could be very interesting. Unfortunately, it felt like the author wanted to wrap up the story quickly (this occured in the later half of the book), and I missed being introduced to some interesting-sounding characters like Douglas. The first half of the book is quite good, because there's the more immediate threat of Sanchos (a deranged man who provides the danger in the novel).

But then again, the book is 412 pages already, and I suppose most people won't want a fluffy book to be any thicker. Yes, I said fluffy. I think so because there isn't much exploration of deeper issues (there's the usual love stuff, but it occurs in almost every romance novels), unlike say, yesterday's review of Shayla Witherwood, which also (actually, it was mainly about) fitting in.

The book is mostly clean except for a few pages which I skipped. I would say that this is definitely for older readers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shayla Witherwood: a Half-Faerie Tale by Tamra Torero (ARC)

This book was so sweet(: I needed something like this.

Although the title sounds overdone (too many fairy stories...), the book was fun to read. The story centres around (duh) Shayla Witherwood, who's half-faerie, half-human (wow, I'm being redundant today). But basically, Shayla is going to school for the first time in her life (she was previously homeschooled), and she has to learn to fit in.

What I liked about this novel was that Shayla knows about her identity as a faerie. There's no dramatic \(O.O)/ moment when she realises she's not human. Although she hasn't fully mastered or realised her powers, it's not her fault because she wasn't taught them. Although there's some drama (like someone after her life), the story is mostly about fitting in and finding friends. Which I liked, because somehow, it reminded me of Judy Blume. I can't tell why though, seeing as the stories have nothing in common.

The characters in the book were well-written though. I liked almost all of them, and the only reason why Josi didn't win me over was because she became way too conspiracy-theory minded at one point. But I loved how they were good friends (not perfect, but good), and I saw how Shayla, being the new girl, managed to bring two different groups of people together (somewhat).

I'm not actually sure if this is a series though. I could see how it could be made into a series, but as it is, the book is perfectly fine as a stand-alone. Actually, I may be a bit tired of chasing series (I was never good at keeping up with them), so a standalone book would be great(:

Yes, so basically, this is a very sweet book, and yup, totally clean. I'd recommend it for all ages.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sew Iconic by Liz Gregory (ARC)

What was I thinking asking for a sewing book? While I can sew, I definitely, can't make clothes that the book is trying to teach. The book contains 10 patterns that tries to teach the reader how to recreate iconic dresses like the Breakfast at Tiffany's Little Black Dress, the brown & white polka dolt dress from Pretty Woman, the lace evening gown from Titanic and so on and so forth.

Each of the 10 chapters provides a brief summary of the actress who wore the dress, the movie, the story behind the dress and of course, how to sew the dress. I'm actually quite psyched about the book (Breakfast at Tiffany's anyone?) because my Aunt and Grandma can sew according to a pattern(:

The book actually seems quite straightforward, and they seem to try to make things as easy as possible. If you decide to buy the book (and there's both an ebook and print version), make sure you buy the print version. It's hard (if not impossible) to cut out accurately based on patterns.

But I think to me, the most enjoyable thing about the book are all the pictures. There are lots and lots of geogous pictures of the dresses, which definitely tempt me into wanting to make it (if I had the slightest knowledge how!)

And can I mention (if you haven't noticed), the pun in the title, which is cute if predictable.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

P.s. sorry about the lack of Teaser Tuesdays. I don't have anymore actual books and I have no idea how to pick random sentences form an ebook.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to Read Slowly by James W. Sire

One book my friends have always kept from my were the "how to read faster" books. Their reasoning was simple: Eustacia reads so fast now -> reads those books -> =.= But I'm pretty sure that they'll approve of this How to Read Slowly book.

The book isn't a method teaching book, it's actually telling you to slow down and smell the roses, so to speak. It's like a literature class condensed into one book (another similar book is How to Read Literature like a professor). However, this book covers fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Most of what the book said was already familiar to me. This was kinda sad, because I was looking forward to learning how to read non-fiction. I realised that thanks to ToK, which is essentially a course in deconstructionism, I know how to read an article and dissect it (i.e. what is the knowledge claim? How does it know?), although the part about identifying worldviews was quite new. I'm used to classifying the worldviews as "Christian" "non-Christian" and according to the various religions. I haven't actually thought of using "nihilism" "existentialism" (although I have heard of "naturalism"), mostly because I'm not sure what it's about. But I should really go read up more(:

The literature section (fiction and poetry), was quite interesting. I liked the poetry section mainly because it summarises what I've been struggling to master while studying poetry (the irony is, when doing an unseen commentary, I almost always pick the poem). But what was most interesting was chapter 5: Cityscape, a larger context. Here, the importance of knowing the literary, historical and cultural background is emphasised, something I do agree with as a method of interpreting literature. I really do love the word "intertextuality", even though I've never been able to use it yet :/

All in all, I think this is a good book if you're trying to find out how to appreciate reading more. But just so you know, the author is a Christian and naturally, references Christianity and the Christian world-view a lot.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Child Molesters, Child Rapists and Child Sexual Abuse by Lynn Daugherty

Some time ago, I reviewed a short book called Voices of Survivors by Lynn Daugherty, which was a short but very impactful book containing the accounts of victims of child abuse.  After emailing her to let her know I posted a review, and more emails back-and-forth, I ended up with another book: Child Molesters, Child Rapists and Child Sexual Abuse.

The book is about, and I quote: "more informational than my self-help books and can get a little “academic” at times, as there is a lot of information to present. It is still written in (hopefully) clear and understandable language though, rather than in psychological jargon. This fairly concise book is meant to help former victims and the general public understand more about how child sexual abuse takes place and what motivates abusers. The more everyone understands about this difficult subject, the better able we are to protect children from abuse. A major value of the book to former victims is that it reinforces the idea that they were abused, not because there was something “wrong” with them, but because there was something “wrong” with the abuser."

While the book is quite short, it is very informational. It has a total of 9 chapters covering subjects such as who abuses the children, how does it happen and treatment of abusers.In addition, it has short accounts from the point of the abuser, something was creepy (because I didn't want to know what was in their mind) and informative at the same time.

I think that this book is useful for understanding child sexual abuse. It covers things like the factors/pre-conditions for abuse and the types of abuse, which is something we should know, because if not, there might be a case going on around us and we'd be totally unaware.

This is really not a pleasant topic for me to write about. I'd rather be writing about happy stuff, or at least leaving the unhappy stuff to the realm of fiction (and I just know I wrote similar sentiments in the earlier blog post). But well, this book does have its place, and I don't regret taking the time out to read it. (I know the review's short, but a short awkward review is better than a long awkward one right?)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wild One (manga) by Kiyo Fujiwara

I have finished another manga! Or to be more exact, one of the mangas that I'm reading has finished (some, like Detective Conan, aren't).

Wild Ones is so good(: It's about Sachie, who after her mom dies, finds out that she's from a Yakuza family. This manga romanticises the Yakuza world, but I don't care. It's so nice~~

Sachie justs wants to be ordinary, but she finds it impossible, especially with her caretaker Rakuto, who happens to be the most popular boy in school. And due to his selective dissemination of information, they all happen to think that she's a rich ojou-sama (princess/young lady). So the series is quite comedic, since she's trying to adapt to this new family while keeping it a secret from her friends.

And of course, there's the romance angle. Although, Sachie and Rakuto are just about the most oblivious people ever. Actually, Sachie is more oblivious. Rakuto knows, but he doesn't dare to tell her, unlike Azuma, who also likes Sachie. But as the story progresses, they gradually start to be aware of each other's feelings towards the other. And yes, the story remains clean throughout.
Sachie and Rakuto

But to me, the ending is the sweetest and most touching part. Because the Yakuza are discriminated (a very big part of the story), Sachie has managed to live a normal life for 3 years. And while I wouldn't mind if the manga ended like that, but it was so much better that the manga addressed the issue. I was very close to tears when Sachie -spoiler alert- ran out of school because of a bad flashback, but at least there were smiles all around at the end.

This story is about 56 chapters long, so it's quite short. I finished this within 2 or 3 days, and while reading other books as well, so I think this is good as an introduction to manga without being overwhelming. And of course, this is a shoujo (young girl) manga, so if you're a sucker for romance stories, you should really read this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

One of the most well-read people I know introduced me to this book. GIDEON, YOU WERE RIGHT ABOUT ITS AWESOMENSS :D

Un Lun Dun, which if you haven't realised, is a play on the world UnLondon. And yes, UnLondon sounds like a wonderful place. The major thing about UnLondon is how it affects London, which is seen through language, e.g. undernet -> internet. And binjas, which I really want.

Basically, the story is a "save-the-world quest" kind. The closest comparison I can think of is Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe. And the similarities don't just lie in the length of the novels. In terms of the alternate world thing, the easiest way I can describe it is to ask you to read The King in the Window by Adam Gopnik. And yet, despite the many comparisons I can make regarding the book, it's also (paradoxically) very original at the same time. Please don't ask me to explain that paradox, it kind of transcends words.

Another thing that the book has are illustrations. I think Roald Dahl has proven that illustrations can really enhance the whole reading experience and yes, Un Lun Dun was like that. And yes, I'm harping on and on about binjas, but that was my favourite illustration. Well, I would have like one of Hemi (the half-ghost boy) too, but ...

If you're worried about the length of this book (it looks really thick), well, I would say I was too, but I was mainly excited. And the chapters are actually quite short so you can easily read it a chapter at a time and pause without brain overload.

Um.... I don't know what else to say. This is an awesome book, and I really recommend that everyone read it. It's one of those books that I'd give me siblings to read without fearing they'd get bored too much. And I'm definitely getting my hands on a copy of my own.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seeing Red by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Lately, I realised that kids have all the luck. They have great stories (like The King in the Window) and when people try to make them learn something, it's normally quite fun. One example is Seeing Red, which basically looks at blood (its history, people's perception of it, etc)

What I liked about this book is that it manages to devle into the world of blood (like blood sausages and blood brothers) without being too long or draggy. While it was a bit distracting to constantly look at the tibits of information here and there, I can see how it could actually sustain a child's attention span (my logic: ...reading...boring...hey new stuff!... reading -repeat-). I know that it works for my brother, and he's probably the correct age group.

And target audience. I have a feeling that this book is targeted towards boys, because it may be "icky". But I don't know, I read anything when I was young so I'm hardly the best judge. And admitedly, there are references to pop-culture like Buffy or -shudder- Twilight so I suppose this could be targeted at both genders.

If, after reading this, you aren't trying to mentally recall whether you've accidentally eaten blood (it is a part of many traditional dishes), they also provide a list of books for "Further Reading". This is different from the "Selected Sources", which have names that look much more boring than those in the "Further Reading" section.

The only thing that I didn't understand about this book was Harker, the boy who is used to tie the chapters together. I don't quite understand why he's researching about it, but his 'notes' at the end of the chapter does provide interesting things for reflection.

And one small thing they left out. The book mentions how people used to think that personality is affected by blood, but completely forgot about how big this phenonemon is in Japan. If I'm correct, quite a few people still believe in blood types affecting personality. And if you're curious, here's a short list that I took from Tofugu:

Type A

People with Type A blood are said to be timid, mild-mannered, and pretty earnest. A Type A person might be like that bookworm sitting in the corner of the library. However, Type A people are also known to be stubborn and anxious.

Type B

Type B is particularly important to me, because my blood type is B+! People with Type B are like Miley Cyrusthey can’t be tamed. They’re supposed to be wild, creative free-thinkers. But Type B people are also supposedly erratic and selfish.

Type O

Type O blood is pretty unique. People with Type O blood are known as “universal donors,” because Type O blood can be used in any type of blood transfusion. If people with Type A blood are Clark Kent, Type O people are Superman. People with Type O blood types are said to be outgoing, confident and passionate with very dominant personalities. It’s said that public figures are often Type O, like politicians and baseball players

Type AB

Those with Type AB blood are supposed to be somewhere in between Type A and Type B blood. They’re supposed to be social people who are at the same time very calm and in control. But Type AB people can also be very aloof and irresponsible.

The full article is called True Blood: Personality and Blood Types in Japan and has really interesting information and pictures (blood type towels anyone?)
Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Sir Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge: The Folklore of Discworld

I've been waiting a long time to read this book. I first saw it last year, but decided not to borrow it because I had exams. And then, I didn't go to Jurong Regional Library (where I saw it) for quite some time. And now, I've finally borrowed (and read) The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson.

At first, I was a little disappointed because it kept talking about the folklore of Earth. But gradually, I came to understand that the inside jokes about Discworld (and the folklore) exists only in relation to that of earth. After all, Discworld is very much like Earth, except when it's not.

If you're looking for a nice thick book to read, then look no further. This huge book is divided into 16 chapters, covering things like Heroes! Death, Beasties and so on and so forth. I loved how thick it was, because it showed the immense talent and work involved in building a good Alternate Universe (AU) and because it helped to solidify Discworld in my imagination. In order words, it gave this AU a solid history and character.

A very cute thing about the book is how they quote the Discworld novels so extensively, especially when talking about its folklore. It actually brought out some details that I'd previously thought was insignificant and showed how it contributed to the novel.

The folklore about Earth was interesting too. I liked how folklore from around the world was sourced, and an adequate background/explanation of those folklore's given. I feel as though I've learnt quite a lot about folklore from the book ^_^. And as an added bonus, I also felt like I understood the authors a bit more, because the stories they've heard is also mentioned, adding a personal touch.

Yes so basically, this is one awesome book. I'm glad I managed to read it before I leave for Japan. I'd say that this book is for all Discworld lovers, and it's actually very helpful to a newbie reader (for them to understand how the Disc operates). But as an introduction to Discworld, I think it'd be too confusing, so it's best to have some knowledge of the series before you read it. But then again, why would you want to read this book if you've never heard of Discworld?

Ok, so I read this book as part of the Sir Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge. It not only fufils the-one-book-a-month thing, but also the second part, where I want to read a book about Discworld but isn't a Discworld novel. But looking at the "Other books about Discworld" list, I really want to buy "Nanny Ogg's Cookbook" and read more of this kind of stuff.

P.S If you really love folklore, then this book has a nice bibliography, where they recommend books to read (as well as those that aren't directly related to folklore but good to know)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Sorry, no reviews today. I spend today at my alma mata (Methodist Girls' School). In the morning, I had to video my mom's art class for her art class. It's actually really refreshing to see girls who are camera shy/avoid the camera instead of looking for fame. In the afternoon, I held my first craft session at CF (Christian Fellowship). We made .... -drumroll- ... corner bookmarks!

Here are the three samples that I did:
All Three samples, one for each shape

And it was so fun! The girls are so cute and really creative. One of them (Keisha), even gave me the bookmark that she made, I'm really touched! It was really hectic at first, trying to oversee 20 girls at one time, but so worth it. And worth the hand-cramps I got on saturday from cutting 32 pieces of templates - in fact, they finished all the templates(:

So, here are some photos of them at work, as well as some of the bookmarks they made:

I love how unique these are!

One of the smaller girls. I'm happy that all of them could participate (there's
a 5 year age gap between the oldest and youngest)

Monday, February 13, 2012

First Date by Krista McGee

I made a mistake last night. It all started when I planned to go to bed and mistakenly thought that reading the first few chapters of First Date wouldn't take long. Well, I couldn't put the book down, and spent far too long reading on an iPad in a dark room.
First Date is loosely based on Esther. Unlike Hadassah (link to review), which sticks faithfully to the story and time period, First Date is a much looser interpretation of the story. The story is shifted forward to our time period and the king becomes the President's son Jonathon. Apart from allusions to the names (Hank for Haman, Mike for Mordechai, etc) and broadly similar events (attempted assasination), the story is more like a "first love" story than a Biblical story.

What I liked most about First Date was Addy (based on Esther). I can relate to her completely. If I were in her shoes, I would be even grumpier. Like her, I have a problem with my temper, and I can relate to her fears of what will happen when people find out she's a Christian. Basically, all her flaws made me like her. Plus, I can really empathise with her.

The only problem I have with the story is its ending. I don't know why, but everywhere I look (ok, on almost any disney show with a competition in it), it seems that it's no longer acceptable to have the protagonist win first place. Nooo, she has to place second. And why? To prove that life isn't a bed of roses? But since the protagonists are (ideally) not Mary-Sues, then we're already rooting for them to win. Just watch Sister Act 2. I'm fairly sure they won and I'd been crushed if they came in second place.

To make things worst, it has to be the nastiest girl (Lila) who won. If she had to lose, why not let her best friend (Kara) in the competition take first place? It makes sorta-logical sense for Lila to win (read the book to find out why), but since it was done by voting, Kara could have won. And seeing how popular Addy was with America throughout the competition, it doesn't make much sense that she lost.

But apart from the ending, which only irked me because it was exactly like the others, this book was excellent. It's one of the few ebooks that I couldn't put down (others include Camy Tang's Protection for Hire and Andrew Van Wey's Forsaken) at night.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love Works by Joel Manby (ARC)

Have you ever wondered how effective leading with love is? Sometimes, it seems like it doesn't matter. But it does. I remember how my favourite teachers all taught/led with love, and no one ever likes the power-obsessed ones.

Now, before I start the book review proper, I'm going to define love. From 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." (NIV version)
If you feel like this is a very inaccessible definition, then here's the version from The Message:

"Love never gives up. Love cares for others more than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first", doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others."
Now, Love works aims to show you how to lead with love (this is practical advice, not airy-fairy theory) through 7 different aspects of love: patience, kind, trusting, unselfish, truthful, forgiving and dedicated. Here, the case study (aka role model) is HFE or Herschel Family Entertainment, which sounds like a great company to work at.

What I liked about reading is book is how each chapter (or topic) is broken up into sub-chapters. This means that all the sub-chapters are relatively short and I didn't suffer from information overload. The constant examples also showed me how to apply the theory and made the book easy to understand.

This book is something that I wished I read while I was still in IB. It would have been fun to discuss the book and see how the theories we learnt were or were not related to the principal of "love works". And now, with my cohort has a significant number of people starting companies (e.g. a group of my friends just incorporated their charity - who says we Singaporean kids have no drive?) this book could really come in handy. I'm having a lot of fun helping the friends who are starting a charity, right now, I'd want them to read this quote:

"Typically organisations start small with an entrepreneur and/or inspirational founder; they have a caring family-type culture with a workforce completely committed to a cause. However, when these same organisations find themselves in a transition, the found culture rarely remains intact. For the culture to survive, it must be define and adhered to or the organisation could lost its way. Once an organisation loses its soul, financial performance usually starts to decline and the best people leave."

It may not be relevant now, but I think that these are wise words we should keep in mind.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The History of the World According to Facebook by Wylie Overstreet

Facebook, with it's mandatory timeline and confusing privacy policies, is loved-and-hated by many. In fact, I read that there's an online that there's a movement to delete your facebook account. But anyways, one useful feature of the facebook timeline (the old one, not the new one), is it's ability to tell a story. It's been successfully dones for Classic Literature, like the book Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens who Don't Float: Classic Lit signs on to Facebook. Which is why, when I saw The History of the World According to Facebook at the library, I immediately grabbed it.

This book could have been great. There are a lot of things going for it: the politically incorrect humour was the main thing (although I suspect that being politically incorrect will soon be the new politically correct). I laughed many times while reading it. And Mr Bean as Britain's profile picture? (Y)

But, it's seriously hampered by a few flaws. One was the America/Euro-centric bias. Where was the history of China? Or Japan? Or Korea? Or... you get the point. They only appeard during times of War. I could ignore this most of the time, but there was one even bigger problem.

And that was it's anti-religion, to be specific, Christianity (because it barely mentions other religions). The book goes beyond poking lighthearted fun at the Church into nauseating virtiol at times. E.g. When The Origin of Species appears on facebook, it's described as "Backed Up by Oodles of Scientific Evidence and Fossil Records." Um, excuse me, but there's no evidence for the type of macro-evolution that you promote. Natural selection (or Micro-Evolution), does exist, as some information is duplicated or eliminated, but there is no evidence to show how any organism can gain genetic information that has never been in them previously through natural means. In short, I have never seen an article claiming that XXXX effect is caused by a gene that has never existed in that person's/organism before. Normally, it's due to a loss/blockage or duplication of genetic information.

Oh, and the whole World War II thing? Quite pro-American. Nothing wrong with that, but still, there are facts you could include. Like the Rape of Nanking. Or the Fall of Singapore. Or, you know, Japan's attempt to get the European Jews it saved to America. I can see it now:

Japan>America: I got some Jews from Germany. Can they come to your place?
America>Japan: Nope. We're afraid they'll be German spies even though Hitler wants to kill them because they have family back in Germany.

Sigh. What a pity.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Warriors and Wailers by Sarah Tsiang

I'm seriously loving Annick Press right now. Their books are sooooo cute! It's the kind of stuff that I read when I see at people's houses (I know I'm over the target age, but humour me). The latest book that I managed to get from NetGalley was Warriors and Wailers by Sarah Tsiang, which explores the different jobs in ancient China.
The book has a short introduction to China and then delves into the jobs that existed back then. It's divided into 10 chapters, each chapter focusing on a particular aspect of Ancient Chinese life, e.g. Imperial, Religion, Peasant, etc.

Personally, I thought this book was extremely cute. I heard of most of the jobs before, but some, like "Pearl Maker", I've never heard of. I guess some things aren't covered in TVB/Hong Kong dramas.

I'm finding it quite hard to review this book without going into details about the various jobs in China, but suffice to say, this book is good. It's suitable for children or someone who wants to learn about Ancient China but doesn't know where to start. I've read the history textbooks on Ancient China (don't ask), and I can safely say that this is more interesting that that huge tome.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Japan by Colin Joyce

I went to Jurong Regional Library yesterday and came back with a bunch of books about Japan, so the next few forseeable posts will be book reviews. The first book was one that I wasn't looking for (as were most of the books) but I don't regret borrowing at all. Quite the opposite in fact.

How To Japan is written by ex-Japan Corrospondent for The Daily Telegraph Colin Joyce. It's actually a series of articles about Japan. I actually like almost all his articles but here are a few of my favourites:

Japanese is Easy (Chapter 2): Here he reminds me about the lack of number, gender or case for nouns, lack of definite and indefinite articles, and the relative simplicity of adjectives and verbs. I'm going to have to keep this in mind the next time I'm silently complaining about how I don't understand a single world of Japanese. He follows up with some Japanese phrases in Chapter 3: The Joys of Japanese.

Every Day is April Fool's (Chapter 9.5): this is an article where you should take the opposite of every statement if you want the truth. It's really hilarious though, because it pokes fun of the misconceptions that many people have.

The two chapters about Tokyo: Loving an Unlovely City (Chapter 10) and Let's Tokyo (Chapter 11). Loving an Unlovely City tells me that Tokyo is ugly, but then points out the small pleasures that make it so lovely. I look forward to experiencing that(: Let's Tokyo is an alternative guide Tokyo, as he tries not to parrot the guidebook. Consider it a small sign pointing the way to explore Tokyo. And can someone please remind me to check out Toden tram (if it still exists) because "it seems to run almost exclusively through the parts of Tokyo that retain a feel of the past."

And finally, Confessions of a Tokyo Correspondent (Chapter 14). It certainly explains why almost all news coming out of Japan seems to be either about robots or some wacky thing about their society, making them seem completely unlike the rest of the world.

The original book was written in Japanese and published in 2006, while the English edition was published in 2009. Some information might be dated but well, I'll find out when I get there. There were some grammar errors, but the book is so good that I can live with them (this is a rare occurance).

(This post was first published at With Love from Japan, Eustacia )

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Diary of a Teenage Girl Series by Melody Carlson

When my mom went to visit the Logos Hope, I asked her to buy a few books, including anything by Melody Carlson. Unfortunately, she only managed to buy 2 Melody Carlson books, both the first in Diary of a Teenage Girl series. I can imagine people going "how can there by two 1st books?" Well, that's because they're first books for different girls - Chloe and Maya.

Chloe is the protagonist and narrator of My Name is Chloe. And if I'm right, she's the second Diary of a Teenage Girl series protagonist, the first being Caitlyn (I haven't read the books, but she does appear in the book). This series is all about music, since you can tell that Chloe loves music. And I think that her song lyrics are so good, I wish that they were songs in real life.

The only thing about her book that bugged me a little was that it was written in typewriter format, and I wasn't used to it. But I forgot about it after a few chapters.

The latest in the series, (at least I think it's the latest) is A Not-So-Simple Life, starring Maya. I'm not sure what it's about, since most of the book focused on clothes and modelling, but ended with Maya talking about how her modelling career is over. Basically, Maya is a 'green' girl trying to stay afloat with a drug-abuser mother and an absent dad (he's reviving his pop-star career). It was really cool seeing characters from all the previous series - I love how they inhabit the same world.

The "green tips" from Maya at the end of each chapter were a bit awkward at first, especially when it didn't seem to have a discernible link. But towards the end, it got better, especially when you could see her feelings.

So which of these "first books" are better? According to my mom who read both of them before me (she's a huge Melody Carlson fan) she prefers Chloe. And I do too. At first, I thought I would like Maya more, but I guess in the end, I could relate more to Chloe. Especially through her song lyrics.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The World in Your Lunch Box by Claire Eamer

While I was reading this book, I called my brother over and starting reading from that newly-started food (it was about yeast and I thought he'd be interested). After I finished, he told me to start from the beginning of the book.

While this book is targeted at younger readers like my brother, I still enjoyed reading it very much. Ordinarily, I like learning, but I don't like reading about it if it's boring. This book uses the idea of a mission to tie together the history, science and other tidbits (pardon the pun) of some common food items like ham, bread, pizza etc.

The book is written in the form of a student's report (something loosely resembling that anyway), as he/she has to research the various food that he/she eats for lunch. Each chapter/day is introduced with a comment by the teacher who breaks down the foods (like mac and cheese to pasta and cheese). There are plenty of illustrations in the book and they do help the reader understand what's going on, or they provide laughs. For my little brother, his favourite part of the book were the jokes that were scattered here and there.

After reading, I want to eat this item called "poached threads". The book describes it as "a popular dish. People would heat syrup and then drizzle a thin stream of egg yolk into it. The yolk would cook into sweet threads." For some reason, the closest I can find to it is "fios de ovos", a Portuguese dish that was later taken to Japan and Thailand. To quote Wikipedia (link to page):

"fios de ovos generally require egg yolks and egg whites in the approximate ratio 12:1. These are beaten together, and forced through a fine strainer several times to remove all solid egg material. The mixture is dropped into simmering sugar syrup (about 2500g/L) through a special funnel with a narrow opening, which must be moved around so as to keep the strands from touching before they have hardened. The cooking should be done in small batches. The strands must be pushed down into the syrup with a slotted spoon, kept there for about 30 seconds; then they must be removed, immersed into ice water, squeezed lightly, dipped into cold lighter syrup (about 400 g/L), squeezed again, and left to dry"

Disclaimer: I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Teaser Tuesday - A Not-So-Simple Life (Diary of a Teenage Girl)

Hi everyone!

I went to the library yesterday and got a whole bunch of books, so now, I have actual books to read! But first, I'm still reading a book that I bought some time back. Yup, it's today's teaser: A Not-So-Simple Life by Melody Carlson, part of the diary of a teenage girl series.

"Life got worse after that. And although I'd given my heart to the Lord, I think I took it back. My reasoning was that if the Lord cared so little about me as to take the one person I really needed, well, why should I give a hill of beans for Him?" (Page 159)
Ok, so it's three sentences instead of two. But I couldn't decide which one to cut out!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Voices of Survivors by Lynn Daugherty

When I saw this book on the LibraryThing giveaway, I thought, hmm... this looks interesting. And well, I need non-fiction. But this short book, consisting mostly of real-life accounts of victims of sexual abuse, makes a very big impact.

While I'm not the intended audience of the book, as it's a book aimed at the sexually abused, it reminded me of not gossiping. More than one account mentioned how they didn't want people to know, and how they felt that people were talking behind their back. I think, if I ever find out that someone I know undergoes something so terrible, I should remember not to gossip, but rather, support them.

The book is divided into three sections: stories from victims of child sexual abuse, questions and answers about child sexual abuse amd choosing a professional counselor. To me, the most interesting sections were the first two, and I glossed over the last section.

This book is taken from a longer work, but is standalone. I think that we should be aware of such things, even though I myself would rather not know about such realities. But since it exists, we cannot be ostriches. I suggest that if you do not want to read a long work about sexual abuse, you should at least read this book.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from the LibraryThing giveaway in exchange for my free and honest review.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Afterlives of the Saints by Colin Dickey

Have you heard of hagiography? It's a genre referring to the writing of the lives of the saints. Honestly, I didn't know about this genre until I read Afterlives of the Saints by Colin Dickey.

To Colin Dickey, "saints exist not as a medium for God but as a lens for humanity". Hence, the book Afterlives of the Saints looks at a few saints that have impacted Colin Dickey for a few reasons: through their writings (Part One), because of the art and literature they inspired (Parts Two and Three), or because of the wide range of beliefs they encompassed (Part Four) and those that are un-canonised for various reasons (Part Five).

Honestly, I'm very unfamiliar with the world of the saints. I wasn't even aware that there were saints of libraries, of laughter and even cheese. But reading this book introduced me to the background behind them, the stories that made them famous.

For some reason, this book reminded me of Malcom Gladwell's What The Dog Saw because each chapter is a separate story, able to stand on its own. In fact, the only common thread throughout the whole book is that each saint is a Catholic saint. Other than that, the topics explored are quite vast, from libraries to art to death. In fact, the book doesn't even focus on the saint. More often than not, the saint is used as a launching board to delve into the history and the different views of the topic.

To me, this book was very interesting. I felt that the subject was dealt with fairly respectfully and appropriately. The book treats the saints as humans and doesn't venerate them. Instead, it looks at their background, and why they behaved the way they did. He notes that "saints are defined almost exclusively by their bodies, by what they did with them and what was done to them." and it is the reasons behind and the consequences of the acts that they do that the book explores.

All in all, this is a very interesting book. I recommend it for those wishing to expand their general knowledge, especially knowledge of the times when the Catholic Church was a major influence (socially and culturally).

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa

I managed to finish another ebook today. I think my ebook reading speed has increased! ^_^ Anyway, remember how I was complaining about monotony in my reading (that one period of time where I read a lot of chic-lit)? Well, I can safely say that Dirty Little Angels is unlike those novels.

The novel is one of those disturbing ones that you feel compelled to keep reading. It's really dark, due mainly to the portrayal of the lower-income class. I could actually see this as a novel to be studied in Literature.

Basically, the novel is narrated from the protagonist, Hailey's point of view. It's a rather winding novel, chronicling her day-to-day life. The only thing is that to someone like me, it's a very strange and interesting world. Hailey has got to be in her teens (it's mentioned that her friend and her are below 21) but she smokes, she drinks, smokes pot and well, all sorts of things that I have never dreamt of doing. Basically, it's a far far distance from my sheltered world.

But strangely enough, I couldn't stop reading it. Hailey's story isn't hopeful, conversely, she actually goes into a downward spiral. But somehow, despite all the negativity, and the fact that she smokes, she's a strangely likable character.

This book is short, but worth reading. Especially if you're like me, and you hail from a sheltered world.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from the librarything giveaway. All opinions in this review are my own.

Illusion by Frank Peretti (ARC)

I'm not sure why, but all my posts seem to be very "gushing" lately. I think it's because I've been reading so many great books(: So get ready for another "gushing" post, because I'm going to review Frank Peretti's latest book: Illusion.

Illusion is a Christian-Science Fiction-Thriller-Romance kind of novel to me. It revolves around Dane and Mandy, a husband and wife magic duo, which was tragically cut short when Mandy died in a car accident. But to Dane's surprise, he sees a woman who resembles Mandy not long after, and this is the Mandy at 19. As for Mandy, she's very confused, having found herself in a disorienting future. Yup, this involves time travel.

I must say though, the science behind it is stretched beyond the limits, but I had some fun thinking about it. The use of a Machine to alter the timelines wasn't very novel, but Mandy's -mini spoiler alert!- ability to control was (I think. I don't read many Science Fiction books). But I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humour when the characters commented that all these explanations were so confusing. Yes, that's exactly how I feel for quite a lot of books!

But what I liked about it most was how the characters maintained their faith. Mandy prays, Dane prays and it's so great to see them doing so. Plus, the fact that they maintain their integrity deserves respect. Let me explain; because Dane and Mandy were married, there's an attraction between the 60 year-old Dane and 19 year-old Mandy. But, Dane doesn't give in to temptation and I can happily say that this love story was kept clean at all times. Plus, it's a really touching love story.

The ending was great too. It was expected yet unexpected if that made sense. I knew there had to be a twist, but it wasn't quite what I expected, but it all turned out how I wanted it to be. Ok, that was confusing, no more talk about it.

Bottom line, this book is great. Although it has Christian themes, motifs and symbolism which I enjoyed reading, it's not "in-your-face" pushy (nothing spoils a book more than it being a sermon in disguise. Which explains the success of Narnia and Lord of The Rings). Plus, it's a very good alternative if you're looking for something other than the normal chick-lit romance, or even YA-romance (or for that matter, those thriller/chase-romances).

Disclaimer: I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Man Who Was Thursdays (Quote)

I realised that it's been quite some time since I've had posted a quote (+picture). For some reason, the picture above reminds me of the quote below:

“I? What am I?" roared the President, and he rose slowly to an incredible height, like some enormous wave about to arch above them and break. "You want to know what I am, do you? Bull, you are a man of science. Grub in the roots of those trees and find out the truth about them. Syme, you are a poet. Stare at those morning clouds. But I tell you this, that you will have found out the truth of the last tree and the top-most cloud before the truth about me. You will understand the sea, and I shall be still a riddle; you shall know what the stars are, and not know what I am. Since the beginning of the world all men have hunted me like a wolf—kings and sages, and poets and lawgivers, all the churches, and all the philosophies. But I have never been caught yet, and the skies will fall in the time I turn to bay. I have given them a good run for their money, and I will now.”
From The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Research Virtuoso by Toronto Public Library

Ok, I admit it. I'm terrible at research. When I was in IB, I spent so much time researching, only to end up chasing dead ends. The one example that sticks clearly in my mind is about my Business and Management (BM) research paper. I spend more than an afternoon merely looking for Malaysia's crime statistics. In the end, all I found were the statistics for one year, more than 5 years ago. Hopes of interpolating and finding a trend was dashed, and I ended up relying a lot on interviews.

Which is why, I wished I had read this book a lot earlier.

The Research Virtuoso is basically a short but fairly comprehensive guidebook on how to do primary and secondary/desk research. It's written in a way that targets (if I'm right), university students, which really, makes me the target demographic (give or take a few months). And all I can say is, it works.

The book is broken down into four sections:
1. Getting Ready: Preparing yourself for Research
2. Digging in: Locating information (and includes very helpful information on how to use the Internet, library, archives and interviews to gain information)
3. Taking Stock: Evaluating and Processing Information
4. Getting it out there: Communicating your research (the writing part).

Needless to say, I took copious amounts of notes while reading the book. I hope the print copy comes to Singapore before I leave, because I definitely want to buy a copy for reference. One of the most useful parts of it is the "Grab & Go" section, which contains summaries and templates (and seriously, until the book mentioned it, I never thought of using Venn Diagrams as a template for Compare and Contrast Essays). Although much of the location specific examples are Canadian, I think this book will be very useful for any student that needs to write a Research Paper (like an EE).

Disclaimer: I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions written here are my own.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Three Questions with Patti Roberts

If you can recall, I wrote a review of the Paradox series by Patti Roberts sometime in mid-January. Now, in a follow-up, here are three questions that I asked, plus, a contest!

Me: What is your favourite character? Does having a favourite character make it easier to write about her?

Patti: I have so many favorite characters. They become my favorite usually because it is so easy to get into their heads so writing dialogue for them becomes so effortless, natural. You can actually picture them saying and doing the things they do.

Me:Are any of your characters based on people you know?

Patti: No characters are based on people I know. Some of the characters traits and names are though.

Me: And finally, an unrelated question: What bookshops do you recommend if someone visits Cairns?

Patti: That is hard to say. most of the big ones have closed down because so much is available on line nowadays. I will have to check for you :))

And since I'm sure that I left out many questions that you're wondering about, don't worry, Patti has a wonderful Question and Answer page here that goes beyond the usual "questions-about-motivations" into questions about the world of Paradox.

In addition, Patti is currently hosting an art contest.  She's looking for art work/fanart based on the Paradox series, and apart from having your images published in the book or her blog (credited, of course), prizes include, and I quote: "There are complimentary ebooks, t-shirts, caps, posters, tote bags and  signed copies of  the paperback version that the winners artwork is published and credited in."

I may not be artistic, but I'm sure many of you are. And if you're stuck for inspiration, Patti has a list of ideas on the contest page that you can use. ^_^