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Crazy Rich Asians By Kevin Kwan

16085481Crazy Rich Asians By Kevin Kwan
Crazy Rich Asians #1

Published 11 June 2013 by Doubleday

Goodreads

Summary: Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

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This book is over the top dramatic.

I had initially pinned this as an Asian version of Gossip Girl, and yes, it read like gossip, but it was just so over the top. I am a Singaporean, born and raised and we often hear about this top few percent of billionaires so it was quite intriguing at first.

What I hadn’t imagined was this entire cast of madness. I came in thinking this book would be about Nick and Rachel and how they navigate returning home to Singapore for the wedding of the year and surprise! Nick is crazy rich. Except… Rachel doesn’t know it, and quite frankly, Nick doesn’t seem to realise he’s extremely rich either. The book was flamboyant, irritating at times and just so unnecessarily complicated.

I kept reading for one reason only: I wanted to know what was this deep secret that everyone seemed to know about Rachel Chu. Her family background. And when I found out, I felt empty. The ending made me feel empty, like I’ve been working so hard chasing after nothing. I just wasn’t impressed. It left me hanging, thinking, huh, that’s it? After all that drama towards the end, all for it to end up like this, neatly wrapped and everything is okay. It just didn’t blow me over.

I initially started listening to the audiobook of this, read by Lynn Chen but I didn’t like the way it was read (too difficult to listen to, all the characters sound the same) and there were too many characters being introduced for me to properly catch on. So I switched to the book and eased myself into the story again. Fairly disappointed at the audiobook — considering people were raving about it but it just really wasn’t for me. As someone who lives in Asia and can differentiate different dialects very well, I just don’t think the narrator does any of it much justice or even has a clue. Too much switching, too many bad attempts at dialects and Singlish (Singaporean English). Overall would not recommend you getting the audiobook (I believe she’s the only narrator for Crazy Rich Asians) at all and opt for the book instead.

Enjoyed the book as a whole, but got lost in too many insane characters and felt that Nick and Rachel’s relationship got lost in the process, being completely overshadowed by other colourful characters. Reminds me of Gossip Girl meets Sarong Party Girls (by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, which I read and devoured this year — a total must read, especially if you’re living in Singapore or Asia!)

Still very excited to see the movie! Very curious to see how all this will be interpreted for the big screen!

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Home Sweet Home By Mia Cassany

cover124280-mediumHome Sweet Home by Mia Cassany

Published 3 Oct 2017 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads

Summary: Kids will have their imaginations captured by this beautiful, non-fiction picture book that looks at home from around the world. Home from Home celebrates the wide diversity of living quarters people around the world live in.

Find out who lives in a Brooklyn brownstone or a Tokyo apartment! What about a London townhouse, or a cabin in Reykjavik?

Up and coming talent Paula Blumen illustrates all of these great views of home. There’s never been a better time to remember the importance of home for everyone.

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I love this book! From the illustrations to the cute little stories, it is fantastic! This book is great for discussions, interactive games and is suitable for children aged 3 and above. What I particularly like is that it is written from the point of view of the pets living in a particular home. We get to learn about the type of place it lives in, the people they live with and so on.

The illustrations are beautiful and captivating. I did a reading with my 7 year old sister and she loved it. She was into the colours, trying to spot different animals and we also did a discussion about the differences of all the houses. I loved that we got to travel to places we’ve ever been and see the houses and civilisation in that area.

We’re also exposed to different languages, where for example, when the book heads to China we get to see Chinese characters written everywhere in the streets and that easily opens up another conversation with children about languages and text.

It can be so difficult to find a book that’s engaging and interactive as this, all while being educational. I would love to have a copy of this in my classroom and just talk to the children about people, animals, cultures, languages and lifestyles.

One of the best new children’s book that I’ve discovered this year, hands down.

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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better By Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell

31944977Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell

Published 10 Jan 2017 by Animal Media Group

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads

Summary: Anonymous break up stories from men and women, old and young, serious and silly and the cartoons that inspired them. Author and artist Hilary Campbell turns the painful into the hilarious, validating emotions from forgotten middle school tragedies to relationships that ended only hours ago.

Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and cartoonist. Her films have won top prizes at Slamdance, SF IndieFest, and more. She was the co-illustrator of Jessica Bennett’s critically acclaimed Feminist Fight Club. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But You Could’ve Done Better is her first book of cartoons.

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This book is suuuuper easy to read. Could be easily read in 5 minutes or so. The book consists of several break up stories, many of which are very relatable. I love that it included LGBTQ stories, long distance relationships as well as relationships from all different stages of our lives.

While the stories are very relatable, I’d have to say the star of this book are the hilarious illustrations. I LOVED the illustrations and personally, I feel that the illustrations itself could be an entire book by itself or even in comic form, similar to the Sarah’s Scribbles books or The Worrier’s Guide to Life. I’m very fond of illustrated books and these set of illustrations were cute, hilarious and speaks volumes with just a picture. I feel like these illustrations were even better than the stories in the book.

I personally have never seen any of Hilary Campbell’s other illustrations but they are definitely up my alley and I would love for her to come up with more books just with her illustrations. Please?

Loved the illustrations, relatable content. Better suited for those who need a quick reading fix or like coffee table books.

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The Girl Who Said Sorry By Hayoung Yim

cover122335-mediumThe Girl Who Said Sorry by Hayoung Yim

Published 5 Oct 2017 by Rhyming Reason Books

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads

Summary: Too girly or too boyish. Too thin or too fat. Too quiet, too loud. Be ambitious, but don’t hurt feelings. Be inquisitive, but don’t interrupt. Be outspoken, but don’t be bossy. Most of all, be yourself–but be a lady.

What’s a girl to do in a world filled with contradicting gender expectations, aside from saying sorry?

The way we teach politeness norms to children is often confusing, changing based on gender–and can have lasting effects. And while everyone should be courteous and accountable for their actions, apologetic language out of context can undermine confidence and perceived capability.

Within the subtle yet beautiful illustrations and powerful rhyme of “The Girl Who Said Sorry,” developing girls will learn that self-expression and personal choices can be made without apology, and with confidence.

50% of profits from this book is donated to Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign dedicated to empowering young girls to take action on global issues.

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THIS. IS. SO. IMPORTANT.

Parents and educators: this is the one book you REALLY NEED ON YOUR SHELF FOR YOUR KIDS.

I found myself nodding while I read this because I could relate so much to this. Growing up, I heard a lot of stereotypes about being a girl. I should do this, not that, but you know… don’t be too girly, as if it was possible to measure the level of your feminism on any form of scale. It baffled me, that being a “tomboy” was seen as not raising your girls right, but then chastised for being too soft or quiet.

As a kid I always wondered: what is it that these adults actually want from me?

Our main character is often saying sorry, because she never seems to meet anyone’s expectations. She is neither here nor there, she cannot be this or that. The ending summaries it so well:

Words and choices that don’t hurt anybody else, I will not say “Sorry” — They’re an expression of myself

And that is exactly it.

This book is going to teach kids that they shouldn’t say sorry for being expressive and themselves. That they can be whatever they want to be, without judgement, if they aren’t hurting anyone else.

The book is short and simple to read and also has very nice accompanying illustrations.

Please buy this for your little girls (and even boys)! Teach them not to undermine themselves and to stand tall and proud of who they are without apology.

50% of profits from this book is donated to Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign dedicated to empowering young girls to take action on global issues. I urge you to buy the book and contribute to a great cause for young girls everywhere.

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Don’t Dangle Your Participle By Vanita Oelschlager

18143322Don’t Dangle Your Participle by Vanita Oelschlager

Published 1 May 2014 by Vanita Books

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads

Summary: Words and pictures show children what a dangling participle is all about. Young readers are shown an incorrect sentence that has in it a dangling participle. They are then taught how to make the sentence read correctly. It is done in a cute and humorous way. The dangling participle loses its way and the children learns how to help it find its way back to the correct spot in the sentence. This is followed by some comical examples of sentences with dangling participles and their funny illustrations, followed by an illustration of the corrected sentence. Young readers will have fun recognizing this problem in sentence construction and learning how to fix it.

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PARENTS AND EDUCATORS, YOU NEED THIS.

Being in preschool education, I’m always on the look out for books that’s going to help us in the classroom and THIS IS IT. To most, this may be quite advanced for a 6 year old, but living in Singapore, this is exactly the thing we need to prepare the children for at age 6. My centre’s preschool curriculum is pretty tough, once they turn 6 and begin to prepare for their entrance to Primary schools. Teaching and helping them understand can be a struggle sometimes.

I love this book so much. The illustrations make it so clear for children to understand and helps us as educators to explain the concept of participles to them. English can be quite vague and it can be tough to explain to children using only words. The illustrations explain the concept perfectly through a fun and humorous way.

Colourful and short enough to gain attention, illustrated well to understand. A must have in every teacher’s arsenal. Get it, get it, get it now!

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Herding Cats By Sarah Andersen

35924705Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen
Sarah’s Scribbles #3

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: “. . . author Sarah Andersen uses hilarious (and adorable) comics to illustrate the very specific growing pains that occur on your way to becoming a mature, put-together grownup. Andersen’s spot-on illustrations also show how to navigate this newfound adulthood once you arrive, since maturity is equally as hard to maintain as it is to find … ”
The Huffington Post

Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah’s Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.

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I LOVED THIS.

I thoroughly enjoyed Adulthood is a Myth and Big Mushy Happy Lump and it’s no surprise that I fell in love with Herding Cats as well. I love Sarah’s simple and hilarious comic strips about love, anxiety and her love for animals.

On a personal level, I found the comic strips to be relatable and absolutely loveable. I love these types of comic strips. The drawings are incredibly simple but it WORKS. They’re funny. It’s not a serious comic, neither is it one of those “incredibly fancy and illustrated” comic books. It just isn’t. But its funny. So there.

I love the second part of this book. It’s a small advice column for artists who worry about getting their work out there or being criticised. She shares her own experiences and advices. Despite not being an artist myself, I found that the column can easily be translated into any line of work. There will always be a form of self-doubt at any given time, and it is essential to just create and go forth.

Comics are hard for me to review — mainly because it just depends on your level of humour and how relatable this book will be for the reader. But if you are into cats, have crazy high anxiety and are just in for a good laugh, then this book is for you.

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Sea of Strangers By Lang Leav

cover126001-mediumSea of Strangers by Lang Leav

Publication Date: 9 Jan 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for a review copy.

Goodreads

Summary: Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav picks up from her previous international bestselling books including Love & Misadventure, Lullabies, and The Universe of Us, and sets sail for a grand new adventure.

This completely original collection of poetry and prose will not only delight her avid fans but is sure to capture the imagination of a whole new audience. With the turn of every page, Sea of Strangers invites you to go beyond love and loss to explore themes of self-discovery and empowerment as you navigate your way around the human heart.

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The thing I fear about my favourite authors and poets is that that their previous work cannot surpass their current one and I’m left disappointed.

Am I disappointed?

No.

Lang Leav has this magic that leaves me with an aching heart and a dire sense of desperation each time. Its so surprising how her poetry gets more soulful with each release.

I have several favourite poems already: To Dare, Love What You Love, To Myself Ten Years Ago and Strength among others. Lang wrote at the start of the book that this set of poems was written a decade ago when she was having a difficult time.  I could really feel everything she was going through and I could relate to so many of these. Her poems of love, loss and self empowerment brought me back to my own times of difficulty. It is exactly the words I wish I could have written to myself years ago.

Lang’s poetry is one that is simple, raw and this time, authentic. Unlike her more dreamy poems in Love & Misadventure and Lullaby, Seas of Strangers is a more honest collection of poetry that will dig deep into your soul. Critics will say that her poetry is too simple, but I find that hers is just right. It makes getting into poetry simple. It goes right through the heart — which is what poetry is supposed to be about.

Despite this being one of her more honest collections, it doesn’t necessarily overtake my love for her first two books Love & Misadventure and Lullaby. Perhaps I’ve grown too attached to the words in those books that it makes it difficult for me to love the others like the first two. Her first two books were equally excellent and memorable, though I’ve yet to feel the same way for her latest collect.

But that isn’t to say I don’t love this book.

Another collection of poetry that is left deep imprinted into the soul. Here’s another for the shelves.

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The Most Magnificent Thing By Ashley Spires

 

18383325The Most Magnificent Thing By Ashley Spires

Published 1 Apr 2014 By Kids Can Press

Disclaimer: I received a review copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads

Summary: A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

What a cute little dream of a book! The Most Magnificent Thing features a girl and her pet dog who is on a mission to create the most magnificent thing. In her journey, she discovers what it means to explore creativity and the power of perseverance.

I loved this. As a preschool teacher, this is a book that I would definitely love to place in our centre’s library and introduce to my class. I loved that the main character is a girl who is an inventor. Often enough, I tend to hear the boys in my classroom say “but you’re a girl and that’s for boys”. After putting an end to that, I would always tell the children that gender should’t be a reason why you can and cannot do something.

I love simple little books like this that focuses on gender, different types of occupations and the use of imagination. I noticed that as the years go by the children in my class are more afraid to experiment be it with colours, or journal writings. This is a great book that shows the children that you don’t need something “perfect”, and that you should’t give up whenever things don’t go your way. It is always the journey, and never the destination.

The writing is simple enough for children aged 4 and above and good for those who are emergent readers. Teachers and parents, this is one for the shelves!

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Real Friends By Shannon Hale

31145178Real Friends By Shannon Hale, Illustrated By LeUyen Pham

Published 2 May 2017 by First Second

Goodreads

Summary: When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Timesbestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

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This hit home so hard.

I had a similar childhood. I had difficulties making friends, then I moved and thought I had a great group of friends before that turned out to be a sham. They were mean, nasty little girls and when I moved up to secondary school I thought I’d make better friends. Wrong. I didn’t.

I understood where Shannon was coming from. There is nothing spectacular about the plot — it wasn’t moving or gripping but it is important. It’s important because we need to talk about this more. We need to talk about bullying, about loneliness, OCD and our own battles with ourselves. This book isn’t riveting but it delves into some extremely real and relatable problems. Real Friends provides us with an outlook of something that everyone of us has experienced before: loneliness, struggling to fit in, fake friends, and the desperate search for true friendship. It talks about sibling rivalry, sibling bullying and even touches on the importance of asking for permission before doing something like kissing someone.

I read the acknowledgement that the author had written at the end of the book. One where she felt the need to have her main character (also named Shannon) to have the ability to say “no” to her bully instead of easily forgiving. She wanted to instil the idea that it was okay for us to say no and create boundaries between us and the bullies or the people who hurt us. I think this is important — because so often we’re told to live and let live, to forgive and forget, but they don’t tell us what to do when it gets hard and difficult to do that.

I want this book to be read by everyone, of every age group because of this importance. It is important to be able to make your own choices, to have the ability to say no when it is uncomfortable for you and not to give in because of what others will say about you. It is important that we keep talking about this, that we keep sharing our stories and continue to help keep each other afloat.

Read this. Please.

This is going straight into my favourites pile.

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Scrappy Little Nobody By Anna Kendrick

 

29868610Scrappy Little Nobody By Anna Kendrick

Originally published 15 Nov 2016 By Touchstone Books

Audiobook published 15 November 2016 By Simon & Schuster Audio, narrated by Anna Kendrick

Goodreads

Summary: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

Yes, Anna Kendrick, YES!

I love Anna Kendrick. She’s one of my favourite celebrities. This book needs to be listened to. The audiobook is read by Anna Kendrick herself, which makes the book even better because you’re listening to it in her voice; reading the way she wants you to read it. There’s two things we need to address before I start on the review:

  1. I love Anna Kendrick, so maybe, in some form, it is slightly biased.
  2. Anna Kendrick has her flaws as a narrator. SO THERE.

To most, Anna Kendrick is just another “up-and-coming” actress, probably most famous for her time in Pitch Perfect. And yes, I loved her in that movie and I absolutely love Pitch Perfect. What most people don’t really see is Anna Kendrick the human. I often forget that she’s a person just like me and that she has real thoughts and feelings. She’s not a robot created by her PR team (maybe slightly?) and this book really shed some light into human Anna. Anna Kendrick is smart. She comes across as intelligent in the book and she has a lot of great insights on feminism, the entertainment industry and just trying to survive a world that’s beyond her capabilities.

Anna does do one thing poorly: she doesn’t pace very well. She talks really fast (I didn’t even need to speed up the audiobook at all) and sometimes its hard to catch on to whatever she is saying.

Is she superbly funny? No. She’s not. But that’s not the point of this book. She’s not trying to advert that she’s hilarious. The book is just a series of essays about her life and how she’s just trying to scrap on by. It’s not meant to be series, or intellectual reading, but just a girl sharing her feelings, opinions and thoughts about things you didn’t ask her about.

I think that’s what I like most about this book. The fact that she recognises herself as average and human; that she wants as much as possible to remain as down-to-earth as possible despite being a celebrity.

I do want to own a paperback copy of this at some point — she had a lot of great opinions, many of which are completely important and relevant to today’s discourse.

Listen to the audiobook. I promise you, you’re going to love Scrappy Little Nobody.

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