Today, I'm going to talk about music for my second Nostalgic Moments post. I'm sure everyone must have at least one favourite band or artiste whereby their songs will forever live in your heart (mind) no matter how long it has been or whether or not if they are still performing today. Music plays a huge role in my life, both present or past. I listen to music whenever I'm happy, and I listen to music whenever I'm feeling down too. And music is definitely my best companion during those school examinations days as I find it to be one of the most wonderful methods to de-stress.

My mom had a song that made her cry whenever she listened to it, as she could relate to every word of the lyrics. I don't think I have a song that would make me feel strongly that way, yet, but I've to admit whenever I listen to that song, it makes me think of her (she passed away four years ago for your information).

Anyway, back to the topic. I think my first favourite band is a British female pop group called Bananarama. They are quite famous during the early 80s. "I Heard a Rumour", "Love in the First Degree" and "Venus" are just a few of my favourite songs by them.

(L to R: Siobhan Fahey, Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin)

Besides Bananarama, I have a few favourite pop groups/artistes from my teenage days but instead of giving them a full introduction I shall leave you with the pictures of their albums so I won't bore you to tears (in case you aren't into 80s music).

(You may wish to click onto the image for more information.)

Debbie Gibson Tiffany Kylie Minogue NKOTB Depeche Mode Johnny Hates Jazz

(L to R):

Debbie Gibson (My top favourites: "Foolish Beat", "Lost in Your Eyes", "Out of the Blue")

Tiffany (top favourites: "All This Time", "Oh Jackie", "Hold an Old Friend's Hand", "Radio Romance", "Drop That Bomb")

Kylie Minogue (top favourites: "I Should Be So Lucky", "It's No Secret", "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi")

New Kids on the Block (top favourites: "Please Don't Go Girl", "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)", "Cover Girl", "Baby, I Believe in You")

Depeche Mode (top favourites: "World in My Eyes", "Policy of Truth")

Johnny Hates Jazz (top favourites: "Shattered Dreams", "Turn Back the Clock")

If you are into 80s music, who is your favourite bands/artistes?

24 September 2007
Taipei, Taiwan

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (国立中正纪念堂) is erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China in Taiwan.

The Memorial Hall

Martyrs Shrine (忠烈祠) - Heroes who sacrificed their lives to the revolution before the establishment of the Republic of China and who fell during the Sino-Japanese war and the Chinese Civil war are worshipped here. As a respect, hats and/or sandals are not allowed to be worn here.

Last year, I participated in the Green Books Campaign hosted by Eco-Libris and I am glad to say that I will be participating again this year (a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices in the industry, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books). I will be reviewing For the Love of Strangers by Jacqueline Horsfall so be sure to check out my review on November 10th.

I read about from a magazine and would like to share this great site with you. This is a non-profit website run by the UN World Food Programme and their goals are to provide education to everyone as well as to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free, and this is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.

And how do we help and make a difference? Playing the vocabulary game (there are other subjects as well) at FreeRice not only allows us in learning new vocabulary but most importantly FreeRice will donate 10 grains of rice for each correct answer. FreeRice also has a custom database containing knowledge questions at varying levels of difficulty so this can be played by everyone! (Read more.)

So what are we waiting for? Go green and help others now!


Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

First, they couldn't prove something had happened if it hadn't happened. And second, I hadn't killed anybody.

Not in their town, and not for a long time, anyway.

(Pg 5, Killing Floor by Lee Child)


Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page where readers get to share the books that came into their house last week; the host for this month's Mailbox Monday is Kathy of Bermudaonion's Weblog.

Bought the following book from The Book Depository:

1) Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (Don't you love the cover?)

What books came into your house last week?

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Marg and Claire that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

I borrowed only one book from the library last week - Killing Floor by Lee Child. I actually ordered this book from The Book Depository two weeks ago but it hasn't arrived yet. This is the first book of the Jack Reacher Series and I'm enjoying reading it so far. I am also slowly adding the rest of the series onto my to-buy list so I can read them in the near future!

ISBN-13: 9789868635425
Publisher: Motif Press Co., Ltd
Published: August 2010
285 pgs
Source: Personal Library

当爱重返身边, 才发现,
你, 一直都在。

好久, 好久没好好地坐下来享受读着张小娴的书了。每一回读她的书籍, 都会被她细腻的文笔深深感动着。 那种感觉, 久久都会停留在我的脑海里, 挥之不去。她的文笔, 象施了魔法般把我带进她的故事世界里, 让我觉得故事里的人、事、物仿佛都在我的身边。我想,这就是张小娴的魅力吧。她的故事总能触动着我的心。


为了找寻麻辣火鍋的秘方,夏如星竟无意中发现爸爸藏了大半輩子的秘密。原来除了她,夏如星发现父亲在另外兩個相隔萬里另有两个女兒!这个突如其来的发现简直是晴天霹雳,令夏如星不知所措。但夏如日和夏如月毕竟是她的姐姐,夏如星没有理由不把父亲的死讯告诉她们。就因这事故把夏家三姐妹相聚在一起;她们的共同点就是经营父亲的麻辣火鍋店,使它起死回生 (父亲在世时,生意本来一落千丈,负债累累)。


It's been a while since I have read a Chinese novel; and even if I do read them I don't do a review on them because my main focus is on English novels. However I have to make an exception here simply because I loved this book so much! (Correction: I love all Amy Cheung's books because her writing is beautiful and poetic; and her stories always touches my heart.) For this English review, I will take a different approach from the Chinese in including the spoilers.

Through letter writing style, My So-Called Spicy Love (roughly translated) tells a story of a gal named Xia Ru Xing and her life after the death of her father. Her mother had died many years ago due to breast cancer and though her life with her father was simple and filled with hardship, but at least she is happy. After her father's passing, she is left with nothing but her father's spicy hotpot eatery. Not wanting to disappoint him and knowing that her father had a deep passion for his business, she decides to take over the business but first she has to find out the secret recipe for her father's famous spicy hotpot.

It is also during this time that she found out that her father actually had married two other women from overseas and had two daughters with them. Ru Xing decides to tell her two elder sisters about their father's death, after all the man whom they loved would no longer return. The two sisters met up at Ru Xing's place in Hong Kong since they lived in different countries (Taiwan and Szechuan in China), and they decide to work together for the eatery business.

Ru Xing has a childhood friend named Li Hao Shan. He is working as a volunteer at an orphanage in Malawi, Africa for about two years. Ru Xing and Hao Shan will write letters to each other to share about their life. Ru Xing always find comfort in his letters because he never fails to make her smile, even though the distance has brought them apart. Hao Shan also shares with her about his experience looking after the AIDS orphans, and Ru Xing finds herself she has a lot of things to learn from him, after all his experience in Malawi has helped him see things in a new light. Through him, Ru Xing also learns about fate and other things that made her think. However, the joy is a short-lived one as Ru Xing soon finds herself diagnosed with breast cancer. Will her last letter reach Hao Shan? And does Hao Shan has the chance to see her for the last time? Amy Cheung has left an open ending with these questions for the readers to find out for themselves.

If you ask me how I think of the ending, I'd say it would most likely be a sad ending. I got this verdict after reading most of Amy Cheung's previous work and having recognising her signatures to their endings. However, I hope this is not the case in this book because it'd be too sad to see this lovely couple being torn apart by distance and illness.
ISBN-13: 9781596431386
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Published: March 2007
176 pgs
Source: Library

A teacher. A student. Crossing the line. (Extracted from cover)

Books that cover difficult topics (or controversial/touchy issues for that matter) is never an easy read to me, let alone writing the reviews but that does not mean that they are bad and that we shouldn't read them. On the contrary, I think they bring awareness and serve as a support/information, especially to young adults readers whom some may feel that they have no one to talk or share with (one of the great examples is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, which has been mentioned around the blogosphere lately for against the banning. I have this book in my TBR pile and I look forward to reading it).

17-year-old Connor isn't happy with his life (to be exact, he is two weeks away from being 18). He feels unloved and that his life is being brought down by his alcoholic parents; his father is institutionalized in a nursing home after an accident caused by his drinking and though his mother is seeking help to curb her drinking problem, Connor doesn't really trust her as there are times that she gives in to drinking again. With no one to rely on, Connor lives with his aunt and simply waiting for his time so he could live on his own after finding a real job instead of flipping burgers.

It is through an encounter that allows Connor to meet up with his history teacher, Ms. Corinna Timms once again. And it is easy to see why he is attracted to her, after all the 31-year-old Corinna is attractive and she makes Connor feels that she is the only person who takes notice of him. However, she is not perfect as one thinks for she has her dark past too. It doesn't take long for them to begin an affair, but could their relationship last and would it be accepted by the society?

On the cover, Gone may give people the impression that it is a story about forbidden love between a teacher and a student. But after reading it, I found that it goes beyond that. Aside from the teacher-student affair premise, it also tells a story about a teenage boy finding himself as well as finding a place to call home. Connor felt his life has been revolving around his alcoholic parents, and deep in his heart he wants to live his own life and not having others to show pity on him. This explains why he is drawn to Corinna, because the latter makes him feel like a real person instead of a charity case.

While Corinna is also attracted to him, however I wasn't sure if her feelings towards Connor is simply based on lust or love. I think Connor is truly in love with her, because his actions towards the end speaks volumes about how he feels for her. But in the end, she was gone, as the title indicates. Did she leave because she thought of her past, or did she leave because she knew there would be no future in regards to her relationship with Connor? These questions were never answered, and it made me feeling disappointed and perplexed. Honestly speaking, I didn't know how I should feel for Connor in the end. Sorry that he was being dumped? Or happy that the ending has somewhat made him realised where his real home is? I think it is up to the readers to decipher and decide.
23 September 2007
Taipei, Taiwan


First of all, I want to thank everyone who commented on my posts lately (especially the BBAW week). I just want to let you know that I read every of your comments, but just did not have the time in replying to every one of them (however I'm trying my best to visit and comment on your blog whenever I can). Work has been extra busy recently, especially with the news that we will be moving office in another few months or so. I can foresee that there will be much changes in regards to the work on top of the new environment, but then I am sure I will get used to everything given some time. After all, isn't there a saying that nothing is permanent?

I am currently reading Gone by Kathleen Johnson. Don't you think the cover makes you think of a romance novel? Well let me tell you it is much more than that; this is a story about a teacher-student affair. I will let you know what I think of the book in my forthcoming review.

Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

He remembered his first day in class last January, when her eyes had flickered over him the way a teacher's eyes will. But then hers had come back to rest. Before flitting away again.

(Pg 31, Gone by Kathleen Johnson)

ISBN-13: 9780385738484
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: July 2010
224 pgs
Source: Library

In western folklore, it is believed that the Sandman will bring good dreams to people by sprinkling magical sand onto them while they sleep. In Sleepless, it tells a love story between the Sandman and a mortal girl.

Eron DeMarchelle is the Sandman; his mission is no doubt to seduce his charges to sleep. Like a spirit, the Sandmen could not be seen by the mortals but they have the ability to communicate with the mortals through their dreams, though they are encouraged not to do so as to prevent from getting too involved with them.

Julia has been put under Eron's charge ever since her birth. Eron had knew about the rules for not getting too close with his charges, but now that Julia has grown up to be an attractive young lady, he is afraid that he couldn't help but to succumb to the temptation of falling in love with her. After all, his role being a Sandman is going to expire soon once they have hit the hundred years.

Julia, on the other end, is feeling sad and lonely. Her boyfriend Griffin, had died in a car accident and she is not sure how she should feel towards his good friend, who had lately shown an interest in her. To add complexity to the story, Griffin would replace Eron's role once his expiry date is over but Eron is not sure about this arrangement since Griffin has a lot of angst in him. With trouble lurking around the corner, would Eron be able to protect Julia? And most of all, would they even have a happily ever after?

Told in an alternative narrative mode between Julia and Eron, Sleepless is simply a love story with a dose of mythical and suspense. What I liked about the book is the refreshing perspective of the Sandmen, in particularly to Eron as he is a charming yet intriguing figure. What most touches me is the feelings Eron has harboured for Julia for a long time, despite all their differences.

As much as I enjoyed the story, however I felt the characterisations are not fully developed. There are times that I wondered about the characters and wished I could understand them a little bit more (e.g. the relationship between Julia and Griffin as I could not feel there is much chemistry between them). All in all, it was an enjoyable read. It was good to read about the Sandman, Eron, from a new perspective, well at least in the eyes of this reader.
For the last day of BBAW, we are asked to share what we enjoyed about BBAW and our blogging goals for the next year.

First and foremost, I want to thank Amy and her wonderful team for organising and putting this great event together. The best thing of BBAW is not only it allows book bloggers to share our passion for books and reading, it also expands our social networking with other book bloggers through participating in the fun topics and the interview swap during the 5-day event. I love the interaction, and it is great to make some new friends along the way and adding their links to my already long subscribers' list with Google Reader.

Finally, I want to thank all my readers for reading and commenting on my blog! You have no idea how much huge influence you have made on my reading and blogging, and I am really grateful for this. Thank you for broadening my reading horizons through your wonderful recommendations, and makes me discover so many great authors I have not heard of. Isn't it amazing how wonderful this bookblogging community is, despite of the physical distance and that we have not met one another in person but yet we are able to share and exchange views (no matter if they are book-related topics or any other matters) as if we are long-time friends?

As for my blogging goal for the next year, it is simple and will always remain the same and that is, I hope my reviews (thoughts) will influence you into reading the books. And most of all, have fun and make more new friends!

Labels: 10 comments | edit post
Today, BBAW asked if we have a book which we wish would get more attention by book bloggers. I have a few in mind but instead I am going to focus on one of my favourite authors of all time - Mo Hayder, since I rarely see her books being mentioned around the blogosphere so I would like to take this opportunity to highlight them. For those who are not familiar with Mo Hayder, she is a British author and she writes mainly crime and thriller fiction.

I was first introduced to her books by a colleague, and I remember very well she wanted me to read Tokyo (aka The Devil of Nanking) since she enjoyed reading it so much. Needless to say, I searched for the book during my next visit to the bookstore and devoured it on the very same day! I enjoyed it so much that I looked out for her other books. Birdman is the next book I read by her and it is through this book that I got to know the lead character, DI Jack Caffery. I have to say Jack Caffery is unlike any heroes I read from other crime thriller fiction. There is no doubt that he is tough, driven and is capable of solving complicated cases, but like any other human beings he too has issues (he is tormented by his personal demons as he cannot escape the memories of his younger brother's murder which happened many years ago) and vulnerable and this is probably one reason why I am intrigued by him, for I don't think I have ever came across a hero like him. If anyone ask me if I have any literary crush, DI Jack Caffery will be the one who first comes to mind.

Here are some of Mo Hayder's books if you are interested:

Tokyo (aka The Devil of Nanking) - Nominated for three CWA dagger awards (here's my thoughts)
Pig Island (here's my review)

Jack Caffery Series
The Treatment (here's my review)
Ritual (here's my review)
Skin (here's my review)

Labels: 14 comments | edit post
How time flies! Today is already the third day of BBAW and I am enjoying every moment of it! Today's topic is to share a book or genre we have tried under the influence of another blogger. Well, I definitely have a lot to share through reading all the wonderful recommendations around the blogosphere but I want to highlight this particular bookblogger (and a dear friend!) who has influenced me to read graphic novels, a genre which I have not tried even though I read mangas. She is Ana (aka Nymeth) of Things Mean A Lot.

Ana is a prolific reader and I enjoy reading her posts because she writes eloquently and her reviews are always so insightful and thoughtful. The graphic novel which I mentioned is Blankets by Craig Thompson and though I have seen lots of rave reviews on this one, it is actually Ana's review that made me pick up this book and read it (here's her joint review with Aarti of BookLust, another blog which I too enjoy reading). Needless to say, Blankets became one of my favourite reads this year.

Another blogger I want to give a shout out is Sandy of You've Gotta Read This! Though I am a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, it is her review of 61 hours by Lee Child that got me pick up his Jack Reacher's series (Sandy also mentioned that Jack is her literary crush so the more I am intrigued with the hero and the series). I bought Die Trying and The Enemy the day before and had ordered the very first book of the series, Killing Floor, since I could not find it in the bookstore. I cannot wait for it to arrive so I can read it in order, though I understand the series can be read as standalone. You can bet I will be adding the rest of the series to my wishlist in the near future!

What about you? What book or genre you have tried due to the influence of another blogger?

Note: Wordless Wednesday will resume next week as I haven't go through my photo archive. My apologies!
Labels: 18 comments | edit post
Today marks the second day of BBAW and our topic for today is getting to know another bookblogger through an interview swap. I was paired up with Ash of English Major's Junk Food and without further ado, here are Ash's answers to my questions:

Melody: How do you define a ‘good’ book or a ‘bad’ book? (Personally I don’t think any book can be defined as ‘bad’ as I believe there’s a book for everyone out there.)

    Ash: I totally agree with what you said in parentheses. I think a lot of people see 'good' books as literature and classics and 'bad' books as just about everything else. I don't look at it that way, I read things that interest me and hold my attention. Sometimes that is literary nonfiction, sometimes it's a romance novel, and sometimes it's both! As far as what makes a book good for me, I like strong female characters, villains, and great dialogue in my fiction. In nonfiction I love well researched creative nonfiction that helps me learn and makes me want to know more about a topic. I also love memoirs where the subject is totally self deprecating. Honestly, a great book for me is one that, when I'm finished, I look at and say "Wow, this book really changed the way I look at "fill in the blank."

    M: I understand you read mostly historical fiction novels, so are there any genres that you refuse to read?

    A: I read a lot more historical fiction when I first started blogging, I think my genre of choice now is probably creative nonfiction. This is because when I first started blogging I was in a creative nonfiction course that I wasn't really enjoying and felt a little stuck in my own writing. I was drawn to historical fiction because you can still learn from it, but there is a great story there. I think historical fiction is kind of my "escapist" reading. A far as genres I refuse to read, I don't really like "inspirational" books, thrillers, or science fiction.

    M: Who are your favourite historical fiction authors? Let’s say I am new to this genre, which book(s) would you recommend to me?

    A: For historical fiction I really enjoyed Lynn Cullen's recent book The Creation of Eve and when I first started blogging about historical fiction I read And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander, which I thought was a fantastic book. Kind of a mystery and kind of a romance. Sheramy Bundrick's Sunflowers was also a good book. For creative nonfiction I have better suggestions. Joan Didion is a must read, particularly The Year of Magical Thinking. I also love Chuck Klosterman's books about pop culture, John McPhee's essays, and any anthology that Lee Gutkind edits.

    M: How do you inspire yourself when you are in a writing slump?

    A: This is a great question and one that is difficult to answer. Reading is probably one of the best answers I can come up with. I find so much when I'm reading and I have to be aware of what I'm taking in from a book. I make notes when I read and sometimes when I return to them I find ideas for writing. My other answer, and the one I probably use more, is walking. I find things when I'm walking because I'm mentally isolated, but often still in the world looking out to it. Those are when my best ideas come.

    M: What are your opinions of a good book review?

    A: I don't think a good book review has to make me want to read the book, in fact I've read quite a few great book reviews that made me want to run and hide from a book. I think fairness is key. Acknowledge what you didn't like about a book but then try to explore why it didn't work for you- it might work for someone else. I enjoy reading samples of the author's writing, even if it's just a few sentences, because that gives me a better idea of the writing style and if I think it will work for me.

    M: How many blogs are there in your Reader? And how do you keep up with them?

    A: I don't use a reader because I always forget to look at it. My method is actually just my blogroll on my blog. Every few days I just hit up everyone's blog to see what posts interest me and I try to leave at least one comment on each blog. I have 54 blogs on my blogroll but there are a few I've been checking out recently and haven't added.

    M: Onto a non-books related subject, what do you most enjoy besides reading and writing?

    A: I love being outside so I enjoy walking, biking, hiking, swimming, and just spending time with nature. I also recently got Netflix so I've been fairly obsessed with getting movies online and delivered to my house!

    M: I love your blog name! So do you have any favourite junk food which you’d like to share?

    A: Ah! I love junk food, unfortunately. My favorite junk food is probably buffalo wings or pulled pork sandwiches, and pizza. The list could go on and on.

    Ash, thank you for being my interview partner! I enjoyed reading your answers and it was so much fun doing this interview swap with you! I look forward to spending more time on your blog!

    I hope you will visit Ash's blog after reading my interview with her! You may also wish to check out my answers to her questions over at her blog if you are interested.


    Teaser Tuesdays

    TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    He moves close to me but does not touch me. He seems afraid to. Like he knows that that's the reason Griffin is so upset. He whispers, "If you ever see him in your dreams, you must do everything you can to awaken. Do you understand?"

    (Pg 180, Sleepless by Cyn Balog)


    Can you feel the excitement in the air? I definitely can, because today begins the Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW)! If you have been blogging for the past two years, you should have been aware of this great event started by Amy of My Friend Amy. The main purpose of this event is to recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading. This year, BBAW starts from 13 September and ends on 17 September and for a week it will spotlight and celebrates the work of bookbloggers through guest posts, interview swaps, awards, giveaways and other community activities.

    The theme for this year is "A Treasure Chest of Infinite Books and Infinite Blogs" and everyday starting from today, there is a list of topics for the bookbloggers to participate and today's topic: "First Treasure" is to share a great new book blog you have discovered since BBAW last year.

    Well, I had added quite a number of book blogs to my Google Reader through BBAW last year, and among them is Tasha of Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books. What makes her blog stands out from among the rest is because she was my interview swap partner for last year's BBAW. I remember when I first discovered Tasha is an art historian, I was in awe! How cool is that?! And not only that, she also has experience in curating, teaching, researching, and writing academic articles and essays! Tasha also loves reading romance, mysteries and many others so if you haven't visit her blog, you should!

    I am happy to note that Tasha's blog is being nominated for BBAW's 2010 "Best Eclectic Book Blog" and I would like to take this opportunity to wish her all the best!

    Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page where readers get to share the books that came into their house last week; and the host for this month's Mailbox Monday is Kathy of Bermudaonion's Weblog.

    I received the following book from Sourcebooks which I won from their giveaway:

    1) The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds

    What books came into your house last week?


    What Was It? by Fitz-James O'Brien (The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories)

    What Was It? was one of the most extraordinary ghost stories I had read in a while. To be frank, I did not know if I should classified this as a ghost story because the overall story just astounded me (even the narrator said so himself through the opening line).

    "It is, I confess, with considerable diffidence that I approach the strange narrative which I am about to relate. The events which I purpose detailing are of so extraordinary a character that I am quite prepared to meet with an unusual amount of incredulity and scorn."
    Harry (the narrator whose name I did not know until later) lives at No. -- Twenty-sixth Street in New York (for some reason, the number wasn't disclosed and I wondered why). The house was built some years back by Mr A-- (again the name wasn't fully disclose) but he died of a broken heart after a stupendous bank fraud. After the news of his decease reached the country, and from there rumours are that the house was haunted. The caretaker and his wife who temporarily inhabited the place by the house-agent had declared that they were troubled with unnatural noises, and claimed that doors were opened without any visible agency and that the remnants of furniture were scattered through the various rooms were piled one upon the other by unknown hands, etc etc. The house agent did not believe the couple, and put others in their place. This continues until a Mrs Moffat (who is Harry's landlady) decided to rent the house and she brought along her set of boarders from her boarding-house who declared that they would accompany her to explore the supernatural beings, if there is any.

    As you would have guessed, Harry did encounter something but what he found just astounded (and perplexed) me. Is it a ghost? I wasn't sure, and I do not wish to elaborate much further in case you want to read it and find out yourself. At this point, all I can say is the title is very fitting for I find myself scratching my head and asking that same question - What was it?

    Related Post
    The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell
    ISBN-13: 9780439023511
    Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
    Published: August 2010
    390 pgs
    Source: Personal Library

    With much success to the first two instalments, it is no surprise that there would be a lot of hype and speculations surrounding Mockingjay, the final instalment of the Hunger Games trilogy, which I think is expected and well-deserved since I enjoyed Hunger Games and Catching Fire so much. However when there are much anticipation, naturally there comes with high expectations in which explains the mixed reviews I have seen around the blogosphere lately. That said, please note that the following are simply my thoughts of the book and that it contains spoilers (because it is hard not to do so).

    ***Spoilers Alert***

    I have to confess that I did not know what to think after reading the book. The plot has totally blown me away. The characters I thought I knew before were not what I expected from this instalment, because most of the time they were either being hijacked or drugged. I have to admit I was Team Katniss since the beginning of the trilogy; she has totally wowed me with her determination and her fighting spirit and not to mention her sense of responsibility she had for her family. Then again, she is also simply a girl who wanted nothing but to safeguard her family members from any danger. Nevertheless, I was disappointed that she did not take on an active role in this instalment in spite of her drugged condition, and that she was part of a game of President Coin’s plan; it was as if her fighting spirit has been drained out of her here and that saddened me.

    And then, there is the issue of her relationship between Gale and Peeta. I can understand how hard it is for Katniss to choose between them, after all one is her best friend whom she knew from childhood, while the other she had battled hand in hand with during the Hunger Games. I liked Gale and Peeta during the last two instalments; I think each of them has their own qualities. Honestly speaking, I thought Gale would understand more of Katniss since he was her childhood friend, but in this instalment I was disappointed to say I have knew nothing about him at all. It was as if he was a changed person. And what happened to Peeta? I was saddened to see him being tortured and brainwashed until he couldn’t recognise Katniss anymore. It was as if all the characteristics of these characters have been wiped off and replaced with another personality. There was a moment where I wondered if he would ever recover.

    As much as I had anticipated that there might be a death of a major character(s), I did not expect it would be Prim. I was prepared to accept that Gale or Peeta might not survived in this instalment, but to have Prim taken away seemed somewhat out of the situation to me. How ironic it is that Prim’s life was lost when she is the reason why Katniss was in the Hunger Games from the beginning. But that is the sad reality of life isn’t it, since one could not predict what would happen next. Still, I could not grasp the total turn of event of this one, and I have to admit it totally boggles my mind why Prim was at the scene when the bombing happened. How could this happen to her?

    As for the ending, I accepted that Katniss and Peeta being together. I think Katniss does have some feelings for him after all. As I mentioned before, I was neither Team Gale nor Team Peeta, but I think there should be a closure for Gale, considering he was Katniss’ best friend. How could he simply disappear without any explanation? I still could not fathom the reason behind this. I have to say I quite liked the epilogue however, at least in my opinion it tells me that there is much hope after all what they have gone through; Katniss’ and Peeta’s decision to have children and Katniss’ book where she recorded her thoughts and pictures and hopefully to share with their children when that day comes serves a reminder about the cruelty and violence of the Hunger Games (or wars) and that they shouldn’t take anything for granted.

    ***Spoilers End***

    All in all, I enjoyed my reading journey with Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy. Although Mockingjay is not my favourite among the three instalments (Hunger Games is), I am still sad to see this trilogy ends.

    Note: I welcome your opinions and comments but please make a note if it contains spoilers as I do not want to ruin the enjoyment of other readers who have not read the book. Thank you.

    Hong Kong Disneyland
    January 15th, 2007