December 28, 2005

Review: The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve

No one recommended this book to me. It is by chance I came across a collection of Ms Shreve's book. I was browsing at MPH Alamanda, trying to look for Nora Robert's Red Lily. Then, somehow I moved to the fiction side, hoping that maybe Dan Brown has something new. Of course, he doesn't. Then I saw a line of pastel coloured paperbacks. I read the synopsis for few of them and was intrigued. And I bought this title.

I have never wrote a book review before (safe the ones that I did when I was in school.. you know, during that Reading Month...). So, this is my first attempt to do so. Any comments are welcomed.

This story is about unconditional love. Love that survives 26 years of separation, different relationships, different places and time. (Heh.. I'm starting to sound very romantic... ha ha ha).

The narration started when Linda at 52 years old, a renowned poet, attended a literary festival. To her surprise she met her ex-lover, Thomas, an accomplished poet long before she did. At middle age, they both have been married, had kids, gone through ups and downs of life and relationships. They are both different person, so to speak. But one thing was constant even after all those, that's their, ehem... love.

The second part of the book took place when they were in their 20s, meeting by chance in Kenya. There their passion rekindled, resulting in chaos and difficulties in their current relationship. Psst... they were both married to different people at this time. Ish... Ish.. Ish... In this period of time, however, you get to learn the personalities of Linda and Thomas, as well as the people that they are married to; Peter and Regina. You will acknowledge the emotional turmoil that they were going through that makes you understand why they got back together.

The last part of the book, is actually the first time they both met. When they were sixteen. They were attracted to each other from the start, and from there on they learn that they actually sort of meant to be together. However, a car accident, Thomas was driving, separated them.

Although the story was presented in an easy going manner, but it seems like the author rushed to tell everything. The only part that was really explored was when both characters were in Kenya (I understand from another review this probably resulted from the fact that the author did spend some time in Africa). The scenarios and plot could actually be developed more to give in depth view of the story. Readers will string along the events as they read the book, and construct the image in their minds.

The ending of the book makes you want to read the book again immediately. Because it is the start of the whole thing. The book does not have a definite conclusion. Which is really interesting in a way, annoying in another. For the ones who devour happy endings (like me), you apply romanticism and they lived happily ever after (which will not be quite true, if you read the book you'll know why). For the sceptics, well, we shall just leave it at that.

This book is about life, in general. Of the reality of relationships. Of people. Of the world. No, you will not find sordid details of coupling (ha ha ha), because this is not a romance novel. It's what happening all year round, everywhere, around us. It's a romance with realism. Love story with both feet firm on the ground.

Will I buy another from the author, you asked? I surely will. Am I recommending this book to you? Duhh, why should I do the review if I'm not recommending it? Oh ya... probably just for the fun of babbling.. ha ha ha...

December 27, 2005

Veronica Decides to Die

I bought this yesterday.

Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for. She goes to popular night spots, she meets and dates attractive young men and yet she's not happy. Something is lacking in her life. That's why, in the morning of 11th November 1997, Veronika Decides to Die. After taking an overdose, Veronika is told she has only a few days to live.

This story follows Veronika through these intense days as to her surprise, she finds herself drawn into the enclosed world of the local hospital she is staying in. In this heightened state she discovers things she has never really allowed herself to feel before: hatred, fear, curiosity, love - even sexual awakening. Her experiences lead her gradually to realise that every second of her existence is a choice between living and dying. Paulo Coelho's new book is about those who do not fit into patterns considered normal by society. It is about madness and the need to find an alternative way of living for people who frequently have to face other people's prejudices because they think in a different way.

I like the last sentence. "It is about madness and the need to find an alternative way of living for people who frequently have to face other people's prejudices because they think in a different way". You may think I'm being melodramatic, but I do feel, most of the time, that I do not fit into the norms. And this is even before I came acrros Mr. Coelho.

December 15, 2005

For the love of chocoloate

Okay. This is one of my weaknesses. CHOCOLATE. My uncle, who's working for Lembaga Koko Malaysia, would have a list of rebuttle if you say that chocolate makes us fat. Anyway, they can say anything about chocolate, it will always be my favourite. Hmmm... chocolate also releases endorphines, the feel good hormone. So eat more chocolate everyone.

I know my handiwork (ehem) on the left is not so... artsy (is there such a word anyway? he he he) but those two were the outcome of the office visit to the 'bon bon' shop in September. Yes, when I was in Amsterdam. It was fun. Do you know white chocolate is actually called 'bad' chocolate? Because they do not have cocoa beans inside them. It's just butter and milk. So.. the white bon bon in the picture was mixed with red chilli and rosemary. The black bon bon was with orange skin.

I should tell you that urmm.. making chocolate is actually very, very sexy. But then again, it probably depends on who's doing the mixing. Ha ha ha... So anyway, I did the mixing for the white bon bon. Sliced the chillies and rosemary. It was really fun, the whole department was there, and we were standing around the rectangular table. Only two person were doing the mixing, the rest was looking. The real fun started when we start to fill up those little rubber cups with the liquid mixture. First, we were to put a thin layer as the base of our bon bon. It was then left to harden. Minutes after that, we put the mixture, say in this case the white chocolate with chilli and rosemary slices. That was left to harden again. Next, we put the toping. This one sealed the bon bon, becoming its base. Finally, we put the toppings.

And walla, you have your bon bon, ready to eat. Our bon bon was put into this lovely package, complete with a ribbon. The pink card, that's the recipe. Unfortunately it's written in Dutch, as such it became one of my collectible items. He he he...

So, my lovely, lovely people, all I'm saying is, chocolate is good for our health. In moderate amount of course. Anything taken more that it should is always not good. So, go on, get your chocolatey dose for today... I know I will.