Elisha Anne Reads
I broke my rule about not reading a book review before I’ve written one already! I made it a rule because I didn’t want my tastes to be dictated by others - reading is a personal experience and I will read whatever the hell I want and make my own judgements. Ah well, I will be as objective as I can…
Coming from barely any knowledge of Dante’s Inferno, Florence and Boticelli, it was difficult for me to immerse into the story. A lot of times I was just confused. There were references to so many artworks that most of the text was pure description of the works - many of which unrelated to the plot. This became tiresome rapidly because the story was bogged down by description. Strange I never felt that way with Brown’s previous books. Was there comparatively more art in this one?
The story was of the typical Dan Brown formula. Adventure, an unsuspected call by an authority because duh who employs symbologists, foreign backdrop, conveniently beautiful and intelligent female sidekick, Robert and said sidekick oblivious to the physically-disfigured spy following them, art and codes. The novelty for me has worn off.
Things began to pick up more than three quarters into the book. That was when I couldn’t put the book down. But was it worth it by then? I enjoyed it, sure. But it was predictable. Didn’t we already see the plot-line of the female sidekick (apparently brought into the adventure by accident) being the “answer” to the mystery all along? I can’t help but feel that Inferno is Dan Brown’s attempt to reclaim the glory days of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by literally combining the two stories.

I broke my rule about not reading a book review before I’ve written one already! I made it a rule because I didn’t want my tastes to be dictated by others - reading is a personal experience and I will read whatever the hell I want and make my own judgements. Ah well, I will be as objective as I can…

Coming from barely any knowledge of Dante’s Inferno, Florence and Boticelli, it was difficult for me to immerse into the story. A lot of times I was just confused. There were references to so many artworks that most of the text was pure description of the works - many of which unrelated to the plot. This became tiresome rapidly because the story was bogged down by description. Strange I never felt that way with Brown’s previous books. Was there comparatively more art in this one?

The story was of the typical Dan Brown formula. Adventure, an unsuspected call by an authority because duh who employs symbologists, foreign backdrop, conveniently beautiful and intelligent female sidekick, Robert and said sidekick oblivious to the physically-disfigured spy following them, art and codes. The novelty for me has worn off.

Things began to pick up more than three quarters into the book. That was when I couldn’t put the book down. But was it worth it by then? I enjoyed it, sure. But it was predictable. Didn’t we already see the plot-line of the female sidekick (apparently brought into the adventure by accident) being the “answer” to the mystery all along? I can’t help but feel that Inferno is Dan Brown’s attempt to reclaim the glory days of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by literally combining the two stories.

I liked this a lot more than The Casual Vacancy. As I said before, it is a bit unfair to compare this to the Harry Potter books, but come on - it’s going to happen no matter what. I didn’t think The Cuckoo’s Calling was amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good plot, but I expected something more elaborate and clever. Something deeper and… Sherlock-y. Then again, since this is going to be a series, the story will most probably grow and become more intriguing! Especially since we have that unresolved plot point of who has been sending Strike those death threats. Looking forward to the rest of the series!
(Also, JK Rowling screenwriting a series of Newt Scamander movies is beyond exciting.)

I liked this a lot more than The Casual Vacancy. As I said before, it is a bit unfair to compare this to the Harry Potter books, but come on - it’s going to happen no matter what. I didn’t think The Cuckoo’s Calling was amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good plot, but I expected something more elaborate and clever. Something deeper and… Sherlock-y. Then again, since this is going to be a series, the story will most probably grow and become more intriguing! Especially since we have that unresolved plot point of who has been sending Strike those death threats. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

(Also, JK Rowling screenwriting a series of Newt Scamander movies is beyond exciting.)

Trailer for The Book Thief! So excited :) Death will still be narrating (even though he isn’t in the trailer), which will be really interesting to see done!

So I work at a library, which is fantastic to find out about cool new reads… especially ones that I would not have sought out on my own. But as this book landed in my hands for me to check in, my interest was piqued (and not just by the suggestive cover haha). This definitely was not a book I would have read ordinarily, but I am glad I did. It is original, well-written and freaking disturbing. Even though it has been a goal for me to read books of as many genres as possible, the journey has not always been positive… Reading Tampa has restored the motivation.

So I work at a library, which is fantastic to find out about cool new reads… especially ones that I would not have sought out on my own. But as this book landed in my hands for me to check in, my interest was piqued (and not just by the suggestive cover haha). This definitely was not a book I would have read ordinarily, but I am glad I did. It is original, well-written and freaking disturbing. Even though it has been a goal for me to read books of as many genres as possible, the journey has not always been positive… Reading Tampa has restored the motivation.

I read The Book Thief over the Christmas break and it was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It reminded me a lot of another favourite book of mine - When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. The juxtaposition between the innocence of childhood and the horrific context of the Holocaust is really fascinating. In both books, two young girls grow up in fear, constantly struggling to survive without really understanding what’s going on. So much of their childhood was stolen from them, and yet some childhood innocence remains. To see life through their eyes, even when they are living in so much terror… there is a certain beauty to be appreciated because amongst the pain, there is purity. It is so awfully tragic.

I read The Book Thief over the Christmas break and it was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It reminded me a lot of another favourite book of mine - When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. The juxtaposition between the innocence of childhood and the horrific context of the Holocaust is really fascinating. In both books, two young girls grow up in fear, constantly struggling to survive without really understanding what’s going on. So much of their childhood was stolen from them, and yet some childhood innocence remains. To see life through their eyes, even when they are living in so much terror… there is a certain beauty to be appreciated because amongst the pain, there is purity. It is so awfully tragic.

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One of the best experiences of my life was a school-trip to France. We visited Paris and the little country town of Sarlat. I loved how passion was just infused in everything - art, food, architecture, language. France will always have a place in my heart. It will always be this place of fantasy. Visiting the Mona Lisa was a huge highlight of the trip. It was amazing to find myself in front of an iconic painting, with so much history associated and etched within the frame - all of the adventures the Mona Lisa has been on, created by the very hands of an artist that played a significant part of my life.

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One of the best experiences of my life was a school-trip to France. We visited Paris and the little country town of Sarlat. I loved how passion was just infused in everything - art, food, architecture, language. France will always have a place in my heart. It will always be this place of fantasy. Visiting the Mona Lisa was a huge highlight of the trip. It was amazing to find myself in front of an iconic painting, with so much history associated and etched within the frame - all of the adventures the Mona Lisa has been on, created by the very hands of an artist that played a significant part of my life.

O Jesu Mea Vita - Monteverdi

by the Queen’s College Choir 2012 (aka my awesome choir!)

A very… moving piece :p One of my favourites to perform!

A digital painting I’m working on.
Mary Margaret/Snow White of Once Upon a Time.

A digital painting I’m working on.

Mary Margaret/Snow White of Once Upon a Time.

Ian Wright is one awesome dude. Man, watching him on Lonely Planet (now Globe Trekker) on the Discovery Channel (now the Travel and Living Channel) was a prominent part of my childhood! That and watching documentaries on National Geographic. Gorgeous landscapes and colours and food. Just so beautiful. The TV was my only window to see and experience the natural landscape. Being a city girl pretty much all my life has its downsides. In some ways, I’m still new at this - roughing it and being adventurous. But I’m trying! I still like my creature comforts, but the only real times I’ve ever been truly relaxed and at one with my surroundings was when I was off the grid. Stripped from technology, surrounded by friends and experiencing something new. I think that’s what I want in life. Something peaceful but fulfilling. I guess I want something sure, but I’m in a mad rush to find it. I think I’m too used to a chaotic life. I can only imagine myself having one, but I don’t think that that is necessarily me.
Either way, it’s good to have a balance of the two and right now, I’m too stressed. Trouble is, if I am not stressed, I feel that I am not being proactive. I need to keep in mind that some R&R is good for me! I need to remember what makes me happy and to do them.
Well, I’ve taken steps. This year, I started to read more and messed about with some ukulele. Journaling a bit on this tumblr. Those were fun. Singing in choir was also good fun too - I should keep it up next year. It’s challenging, but I love having a creative outlet that allows me to learn a bit too. I’m getting better with accepting things I cannot control, even if I want to so badly. Things like the well-being of my loved ones, the outcome of my job applications, events and parts of my life. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting better. A load is off my shoulders. I am thankful for the supportive, loving people in my life that have helped me on this journey. I think all in all, I’ve made big steps forward this year that I should be proud of and grateful for.
Wasn’t that a tangent :p I guess looking at Ian has made me reflect again on my priorities. Here is a man who is living a life that, as I see it, is fulfilling to himself. I’m not actually that envious of the places he has been to - I am jealous of the passion he has for it, and what he gets out of it. I want that sense of purpose, but I need to remember that I am not alone on that one. The best thing I can do is focus on being happy. Maybe I will never find that one true passion, and maybe not many people do. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a good time while I look!
The picture above is a watercolour sketch by Ian Wright (he is an artist! You can see his gallery here). I love watercolour, but never learnt how to use it. It could be my new “thing” for 2013 (it was my ukulele for 2012). It is everything I struggle with, yet aim to have in life - serene, simple, subtle, beautiful. Watercolour finds its beauty with mistakes and accidents. You can’t control every single detail, or have much detail, when using watercolours. It makes you focus on the larger scheme of things because you play with negative space. There are no straightforward instructions to achieve beauty. No boundaries, no confinement. Just a little bit of chance, and a little bit of patience.
Learning how to use watercolours might just be the activity I need, to come to terms with these ideas.

Ian Wright is one awesome dude. Man, watching him on Lonely Planet (now Globe Trekker) on the Discovery Channel (now the Travel and Living Channel) was a prominent part of my childhood! That and watching documentaries on National Geographic. Gorgeous landscapes and colours and food. Just so beautiful. The TV was my only window to see and experience the natural landscape. Being a city girl pretty much all my life has its downsides. In some ways, I’m still new at this - roughing it and being adventurous. But I’m trying! I still like my creature comforts, but the only real times I’ve ever been truly relaxed and at one with my surroundings was when I was off the grid. Stripped from technology, surrounded by friends and experiencing something new. I think that’s what I want in life. Something peaceful but fulfilling. I guess I want something sure, but I’m in a mad rush to find it. I think I’m too used to a chaotic life. I can only imagine myself having one, but I don’t think that that is necessarily me.

Either way, it’s good to have a balance of the two and right now, I’m too stressed. Trouble is, if I am not stressed, I feel that I am not being proactive. I need to keep in mind that some R&R is good for me! I need to remember what makes me happy and to do them.

Well, I’ve taken steps. This year, I started to read more and messed about with some ukulele. Journaling a bit on this tumblr. Those were fun. Singing in choir was also good fun too - I should keep it up next year. It’s challenging, but I love having a creative outlet that allows me to learn a bit too. I’m getting better with accepting things I cannot control, even if I want to so badly. Things like the well-being of my loved ones, the outcome of my job applications, events and parts of my life. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting better. A load is off my shoulders. I am thankful for the supportive, loving people in my life that have helped me on this journey. I think all in all, I’ve made big steps forward this year that I should be proud of and grateful for.

Wasn’t that a tangent :p I guess looking at Ian has made me reflect again on my priorities. Here is a man who is living a life that, as I see it, is fulfilling to himself. I’m not actually that envious of the places he has been to - I am jealous of the passion he has for it, and what he gets out of it. I want that sense of purpose, but I need to remember that I am not alone on that one. The best thing I can do is focus on being happy. Maybe I will never find that one true passion, and maybe not many people do. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a good time while I look!

The picture above is a watercolour sketch by Ian Wright (he is an artist! You can see his gallery here). I love watercolour, but never learnt how to use it. It could be my new “thing” for 2013 (it was my ukulele for 2012). It is everything I struggle with, yet aim to have in life - serene, simple, subtle, beautiful. Watercolour finds its beauty with mistakes and accidents. You can’t control every single detail, or have much detail, when using watercolours. It makes you focus on the larger scheme of things because you play with negative space. There are no straightforward instructions to achieve beauty. No boundaries, no confinement. Just a little bit of chance, and a little bit of patience.

Learning how to use watercolours might just be the activity I need, to come to terms with these ideas.

Recommended Books by John Green

Whether an author intended the symbolic resonance to exist in her book is irrelevant. All that matters is whether it’s there because the book doesn’t exist for the benefit of the author, the book exists for the benefit of you. If we, as readers, can have a bigger and richer experience with the world as a result of reading a symbol, and that symbol wasn’t intended by the author, WE STILL WIN!
John Green
The highly acclaimed The Fault in our Stars by John Green.
Enjoyed the read. It had some great lines, and I actually really, really liked the story. It was real. A type of love story that isn’t naive. A story that has real people with complicated lives and emotions. John Green can read people, like he knows the mechanics of people’s hearts. He portrays them so well - I could relate to the characters. Just goes to show that despite our different circumstances, we all have the same desires and hopes that fuel our lives. And somehow, while the complexity of life frustrates me, John Green finds the beauty in it. 
We can tell ourselves over and over again that the fault is not in our stars. That we are in control of our lives - any lack of control is silly because we can help it. That there is no fate. But then there are things we can’t control - things like cancer. Does that mean that it is trivial and that we have the power to overcome it? Should we feel any less adequate for not being able to live the lives we want to live? Well… no. So I guess there is no point in moping around, blaming the universe (or worse, ourselves) if we are in any way unsatisfied with life (providing we are actually trying to lead full lives as opposed to waiting on our butts).
The fact that we feel these emotions is both beautiful and ubiquitous. We are all in this together.

The highly acclaimed The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

Enjoyed the read. It had some great lines, and I actually really, really liked the story. It was real. A type of love story that isn’t naive. A story that has real people with complicated lives and emotions. John Green can read people, like he knows the mechanics of people’s hearts. He portrays them so well - I could relate to the characters. Just goes to show that despite our different circumstances, we all have the same desires and hopes that fuel our lives. And somehow, while the complexity of life frustrates me, John Green finds the beauty in it. 

We can tell ourselves over and over again that the fault is not in our stars. That we are in control of our lives - any lack of control is silly because we can help it. That there is no fate. But then there are things we can’t control - things like cancer. Does that mean that it is trivial and that we have the power to overcome it? Should we feel any less adequate for not being able to live the lives we want to live? Well… no. So I guess there is no point in moping around, blaming the universe (or worse, ourselves) if we are in any way unsatisfied with life (providing we are actually trying to lead full lives as opposed to waiting on our butts).

The fact that we feel these emotions is both beautiful and ubiquitous. We are all in this together.

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.
Hazel Grace, The Fault in our Stars by John Green
You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
Augustus Waters, in The Fault in our Stars by John Green
As a young kid, my parents got me into the habit of reading by encouraging me to read comics - I think the logic behind it was that comics was like a “gateway genre” between picture books and prose. I mainly read Archie comics because they were quite popular. Since I was also learning Malay, I also read the Malay translation of Doraemon. One of my favourite things to do then was to go to this tiny, dingy Indian book rental and search for an edition of Doraemon or Archie that I had not read before. It was one of my favourite places!
As I progressed to reading at a higher level, comics were left forgotten, especially since comics had this stigma of being a waste of time, together with television and computer games (well, according to my parents, at least). The exception is, of course, The 14th Dalai Lama by Tetsu Saiwai, which I read about 3 months ago.
Well, my genre-exploring would not be “explorative” if I had not revisited this old friend.
The choice of reading Battle Royale was influenced by having read The Hunger Games. I was curious about Battle Royale (as a movie) when I first heard comparisons between the two stories. I didn’t realise it was initially a novel and was also adapted into a manga series. I came across the comics as I was rearranging the comic book section of the library where I work (working in a library is a great way to find books to read!). There was the whole series! I decided to borrow the first two volumes to test the waters.
It took me a while to get used to reading comics again. Funny thing, I was a little shocked as to how graphic it got, bearing in mind the only two comics I’ve read was Archie and Doraemon (and a comic-version of the bible haha)! So to see violent and sexual content, which I am sure is really normal in manga, was a little weird at first.
But once I got used to the style, I found myself rapidly flicking through pages to get to the end. I enjoyed it, although I don’t really spend much time deliberating the images which were violent and bloody… I think I may enjoy the novel more than the manga. Nevertheless, I’m keen to finish the series, and may give another review on the story itself once I’ve finished it.

As a young kid, my parents got me into the habit of reading by encouraging me to read comics - I think the logic behind it was that comics was like a “gateway genre” between picture books and prose. I mainly read Archie comics because they were quite popular. Since I was also learning Malay, I also read the Malay translation of Doraemon. One of my favourite things to do then was to go to this tiny, dingy Indian book rental and search for an edition of Doraemon or Archie that I had not read before. It was one of my favourite places!

As I progressed to reading at a higher level, comics were left forgotten, especially since comics had this stigma of being a waste of time, together with television and computer games (well, according to my parents, at least). The exception is, of course, The 14th Dalai Lama by Tetsu Saiwai, which I read about 3 months ago.

Well, my genre-exploring would not be “explorative” if I had not revisited this old friend.

The choice of reading Battle Royale was influenced by having read The Hunger Games. I was curious about Battle Royale (as a movie) when I first heard comparisons between the two stories. I didn’t realise it was initially a novel and was also adapted into a manga series. I came across the comics as I was rearranging the comic book section of the library where I work (working in a library is a great way to find books to read!). There was the whole series! I decided to borrow the first two volumes to test the waters.

It took me a while to get used to reading comics again. Funny thing, I was a little shocked as to how graphic it got, bearing in mind the only two comics I’ve read was Archie and Doraemon (and a comic-version of the bible haha)! So to see violent and sexual content, which I am sure is really normal in manga, was a little weird at first.

But once I got used to the style, I found myself rapidly flicking through pages to get to the end. I enjoyed it, although I don’t really spend much time deliberating the images which were violent and bloody… I think I may enjoy the novel more than the manga. Nevertheless, I’m keen to finish the series, and may give another review on the story itself once I’ve finished it.