Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Basic plot

Ruth Young does not get on well with her elderly mother LuLing. Growing up, sometimes she was secretly ashamed of her old-fashioned mother who made her feel different from other kids. Even as an adult, they constantly disagree about the simplest of things. When her mother starts ailing and forgetting things, the relationship becomes more strained. LuLing tries hard to communicate with her daughter by telling Ruth about her own story and how she came to America. She feels that through this story, filled with sadness and tragedy, can Ruth finally understand who she really is. In a race against time and the disease that will claim her memories forever, unfolds a story of family, sacrifice and love.

What I liked about this book

Actually, half-way through the first page I realized that I had read this book before. I went through an Amy Tan phase a few years back and happened to be living in a house that had a lot of Amy Tan books for me to borrow. I kept on reading though, because I could not recall what happened in the book which says a lot about how memorable the book was (not). Don't get me wrong, this book was a pleasant read (both the first time round and this time), especially the stories involving Precious Aunty and LuLing growing up in China. However, Ruth was not a character I could connect with in the book. 

What I disliked about this book

Unlike The Joy Luck Club, this book did not enthrall or captivate me. It was an average read but felt slightly bland in parts. Some of the chapters were good but wading through the others was akin to looking for the fruit cocktail in bowls of custard. 

A quote I liked from this book

"A daughter should have no secrets from a mother."

Rating: 3/5

Monday, April 16, 2012

Petrosains Playsmart, Kuantan

Everybody's favourite: Robot football!

The first question that my youngest son Hamzah always asks whenever it is the weekend is "Where are we going?" After a few weekends, you can guess that the actual places to go have more or less dwindled. Last weekend, I found inspiration from my daughter Aishah's school trip. We decided to go to Petrosains Playsmart in Tanjung Lumpur.


Armed with a Google map and a 4 1/2 year old navigator, we set off after a hearty breakfast. Signage to the Kompleks Yayasan Pahang building was atrocious but we plouged on after the Tanjung Lumpur bridge full of optimism. We were relieved to spot an official looking building just in time to hear Aishah say "There it is!"


Since it was quite early, we were the only people there except for a group of teenagers on a school trip doing Math exercises in the corner. The kids were delighted to see all the exhibits and had a great time trying each one. Even the adults had an interesting time trying to figure out the puzzles and playing the games. Most of the exhibits worked and were well maintained. There was no gift shop to stop off and buy fridge magnets to add to our collection though. 

They even had traditional games, and board games

Balance beam

All in all, a fun and educational place close to home. We'll be back soon!

We had fun!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thud! by Terry Prachett

Basic Plot

Commander Vimes has his hands full running the city watch especially since a vampire has decided to join. His band of trolls, dwarfs, humans and werewolves are hard enough to handle without adding a vampire into the mix. Everyone is on edge and with the Koom Valley battle looming ahead, the tension in the air is almost palpable. When a dwarf leader is murdered, all suspicions point to the culprit being one of their sworn enemies, a troll. However, it is not an open and shut case. Commander Vimes and his motley crew of officers must work together regardless of shape or form to solve not only one murder but perhaps discover the centuries old secret of Koom Valley.

What I liked about this book

This book was lent to me by my Head of Department and I am so grateful because it was an excellent read. Trying to describe why I like this book is akin to describing why I like ice cream or rainbows or weekends. It was a treat. Even though Thud! is the 30th (!) novel in the Discworld series, it was a story unto itself, which was perfect since I had not read any of the previous books. The characters are all very lively and painted with deep brushstrokes, so that the reader does not only know them superficially but knew their motivations and essence. He describes what it feels like to be a werewolf, mundane things like resisting the urge to wag its tail when happy, or how they deal with bad hair days to the immense need to just rip the nearest vampire apart. We get to understand why a vampire needs to turn into hundred of bats instead of one and how they carry emergency kits with dust pans and instructions just in case they accidentally turn to dust. All these mythical creatures are described in such a human way or more precisely so that a human would understand them. My favourite part of the book is how Commander Vimes deals with his Gooseberry, a small box containing an imp which reminds him of appointments, send messages to other people by running very fast and is a whiz with numbers. The imp is often chastising him for losing the instruction manual and calls him Insert Name Here. Haha. The story line was well thought out and each character contributed to the story. This was truly a great book filled with smart humour.

What I did not like about the book

Not much, overall it was a very good read.

A quote I liked from the book

It could only have been a troll. Is it not said that behind every crime you will find the troll?

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, April 2, 2012

Birthdays, gas, water, clowns & more birthdays

It's been a strange and rough weekend but quite a lot of fun too. Last week was Educare's March babies birthday celebration so Hamzah got his special Agent OSO cake. Sadly, I couldn't go because Aishah had an asthma attack. Very scary because it was the first time, really. Previously she has had cough, runny nose etc but usually after being unwell a few days it would clear up. This time, she really had shortness of breath and laboured breathing. I guess, I should have expected it, she has atopy (the triad of eczema, rhitis, asthma - Aishah has eczema) and there is strong family history but as a parent, seeing her first time needing a nebulizer was a very emotional experience for me. Hopefully, she will not get AEBA (acute exacerbation of bronchial asthma - asthma attack) often.

Alhamdulillah by Saturday she was back to her normal active self. So we headed to the IIUM swimming pool. I had registered Yousof and Aishah for swimming lessons by a certified trainer under the IIUM kids of staff program held by the Sports unit. It has been on my "to do" list for so long. I think being able to swim is such a good skill to have especially since the kids are very fond of splashing around in any pool. Rather than merely horsing around in the water, actually being able to swim would be safer and more useful. Plus, I am sure that knowing how to swim would make pool time more fun too.

Since the instructor took only kids aged 7-12, Yousof was the only one who fit the requirement. He was timid at first but as soon as they were in the water, it was obvious that he was having a great time. The IIUM pool is huge. even the shallow end is more than 1 m deep but I was confident because the trainer really watched the kids carefully, personally taking care of each one when in the water. For the first lesson they learned basic things like why they must shower before getting in the pool, how to get in the pool safely, breathing techniques and other stuff. There was an ambulance on standby outside the pool, which I thought was an extremely good safety precaution and many of the other parents there were also doctors. So even a worry wort like me was less worried (I will never not worry). 

Hamzah and Aishah were relegated to the kiddies pool. They were no less thrilled though and had a great time splashing about. InsyaAllah their time will also come.

That night we all went to Taman Teruntum Nite Zoo, since I had been passing all the banners advertising good family fun on Saturday nights. We were sorely disappointed though. I had read that march was the Space Odyssey (a laser and light show) but it seemed that the last week of March was for the Kesenian & Kebudayaan show. What we were "treated" to was a lame "concert" by the Pahang Kebudayaan troop. Seriously, who sings dangdut and Bunkface (?) when it was obvious that the whole audience was made up of families with young children. As soon as the guy started singing we stood up and walked away. In order to not waste the whole trip we walked around the "zoo". It was a few cages with some sad looking animals. We stayed to watch the clown act, which was quite funny but went home before the next singing act took the stage. I think the kids still enjoyed the clowns and looking at the animals but I was severely disappointed.

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. True to tradition (a new one we invented), the kids cut the cake and had the most fun. Hamzah loved the orange sponge cake but the other 2 still prefer chocolate. We didn't do anything grand, just had a home-cooked Western meal at home. Aishah was so pleased to show her Masterchef skills by helping to make coleslaw. 

I truly am grateful to have such a wonderful and supportive mother. Happy (belated) birthday Mak!


Related Posts with Thumbnails