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#BuySingLit: I Want To Go Home by Wesley Leon Aroozoo

I Want to Go Home by Wesley Leon Aroozoo
Published by Math Paper Press

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book c/o the author. Review and opinion is my own.

Goodreads

Summary: On the 11th of March, 2011, Yasuo Takamatsu lost his wife to the tsunami during the Great East Japan earthquake. Since that fateful day, he has been diving in the sea every week in search for her.

Compelled and inspired to share his story, I Want To Go Home is a journey from Singapore to Onagawa through the lens of the intrigued to meet him. Of unlikely friendships across borders and languages; to share a man’s loss, recovery and determination to reunite with his wife.

The novel’s feature film (also titled I Want To Go Home) has also been selected for the 2017 부산국제영화제 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). This book also includes a Japanese translation by Miki Hawkinson.

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Prior to reading this book, I didn’t actually know about this story. But I’m glad that the author contacted me and let me know about his book. I do feel that this story is one that should be shared. There’s a lot of things that we don’t necessarily know about the aftermath of a Tsunami. How deeply it affects people and how they’re holding up when the news don’t talk about them anymore. The laws, the court trials, the search — these are the things that sometimes get overshadowed by other news. But for these people who are affected, it is their life. They live through it, day in and day out.

What I like about this book is that its not very difficult to get into. Its a non fiction that reads a little bit like a fiction book, which is great, especially for people who don’t really read non fiction or are scared of non fiction books being boring. The book is essentially the author’s week, spending time with a Japanese man who is still in the search for his wife’s body. He dives everyday, with the hopes of finding her and bringing her home.

I liked the story. I think its entertaining, it teaches us a lot of things about the Tsunami, about how they prepare the citizens for a Tsunami, the protocols etc. But there’s a lot of how the author himself relates or makes sense of the whole situation. I feel like this could be a hit or miss with people — I’m kind of 50/50 about it myself. I think yes, its a good way for me to relate with how he feels as an interviewer. He wants to tell the story of how he felt, the places he went, the things he observed in detail and share it with us. But sometimes, it becomes too detailed that it derails away from the main story he wants to share. It can get a bit much.

I went into this with no expectations, though the main expectation is to learn more about Mr Takamatsu. And while I learnt bits and pieces about his story, his life, his wife, I found myself more intrigued with the final few parts. I was keen on learning to know more about the lawsuit, the evacuation plan, I wanted to see more research about safety plans, alerts. I thought those portions were important and interesting.

The book essentially is a documentary piece, about a journey, but I felt like there’s still so much I could learn about Mr Takamatsu and his life and his efforts. I would say that its a good non fiction, but it was hard to connect to the story on a deeper level.

The book touches the surface of love and loss in the midst of a disaster. A good read, suitable for those who are keen to read more non fiction books.

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#metoo by Lori Perkins

36531293#MeToo Essays About how and Why This Happened, What It Means and How to Make Sure It Never Happens by Lori Perkins

Published 3 November 2017 by Riverdale Avenue Books

Goodreads

Summary: #MeToo: Essays About How and Why This Happened,

What It Means and How To Make Sure It Never Happens Again

More than 16 million people had posted their #MeToo story and support against sexual harassment by mid-October as a reaction to Rose McGowan’s brave admission that she had allegedly been raped by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. A groundswell of reaction to and exposure of this sexual predation was unleashed that has spread throughout Europe and beyond. New revelations of unacceptable behavior in every industry break every day as people come forward in response to the viral #MeToo posts. Protests are scheduled such as the “Take back the Workplace” Hollywood march in November of 2017, and legislation is being drafted in New York and California to finally change the way things have been for far too long.

This is the turning point. Things are going to change.

This is a historic moment and it needs to be memorialized, passed around and passed on. Although social media is a fantastic means of igniting a fire, it needs to keep burning, like a torch.

So Riverdale Avenue Books, a woman-owned leading hybrid publisher, is putting its money, words and power, behind this and publishing this collection of 26 essays from people who understand want to make this change, and we, as a society, have got to figure out a way to drive that change forward.

So pass this book around. Share it with your sons, brothers, fathers, your daughters, sisters and mothers, your co-workers and friends. Read passages to them, if they won’t read it for themselves. Leave it on the desk of someone who should know better.

Help us make this movement more than a hashtag.

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#metoo, #metoo, #metoo.

I’ve been following the discussion on #metoo and honestly, this is one of the more important conversations we need to be having with each other. As I followed the news, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier. At a tender age of 13/14, I met a boy. And in the span on those turbulent 9 months, those were the most difficult times of my life. Back then I didn’t think of the word for it — I didn’t see it for what it was, but I knew that whatever happened wasn’t right. It wasn’t then, and when I think about it now, it’s not okay now either. At that age, I thought it was my fault, that maybe I brought it upon myself for being too forward with a boy a year older than me. That maybe I had led him on into thinking that this was okay.

I was wrong, and I want to tell my 13 year old self that whatever happened to me then, was not and will never be my mistake. #metoo taught me a lot — about sexual harassment, the different types of; the fact that sexual predators can be so sly and cunning and be as young as kids in high school. It’s something that’s been going on for centuries long, one that I hadn’t put my finger on or a name on it — until now.

I think the saddest part of reading this is that most people didn’t have an adult or person they could trust. The people they trusted betrayed them the most, and in search for help, they found themselves stuck in a cycle of hurt and distrust. Sexual harassment and abuse does a lot to a person’s psych. It damages them in some form and sadly… the predator usually doesn’t realise he’s in the wrong. Then there’s the people who are aware and don’t do anything, or the people who minimise the situation by telling you “it’s your own fault”.

I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t. It just happened when a boy gave me the ultimatum of a negative and a negative. I lost, no matter my decision.

I need you to read this. I need you to.

I want you to know that I’m here for you.

We need to change the system and make it safer for our children.

Please, I pray it will never be you too.

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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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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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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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No More Dirty Looks By Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt

No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt
Published 13 Jul 2010 By Da Capo Lifelong Books

Goodreads

Summary: Your lipstick. Your nail polish. Your conditioner. Most of us don’t realize that the products we use every day can expose us to thousands of chemicals that are readily absorbed through our skin. The impact on your health? It’s not pretty. In this must-read, Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt leave no bottle unturned. They found out all kinds of things the cosmetics industry doesn’t want you to know and now they’re going to share it with you.

– The most dangerous ingredients in widely-used brands and how they’re still not regulated
– Insider secrets from top scientists, dermatologists, and experts
– The 100 best clean makeup, hair care, and skin care products
– Cheap and simple do-it-yourself beauty recipes

It’s easy to make the switch to clean cosmetics. From mascara to moisturizers, shampoos to sunscreens, No More Dirty Looks will help you detox your regimen. Now you can be beautiful inside and out – because coming clean is the best look yet.

 

Today’s book review is a little bit different from usual. I’ve been reading a lot of beauty and fashion related books lately and this gem of a book was discovered from one of Anushka Rees’ blog post. I had a hard time finding this book and according to the librarian they no longer stock this on the shelves because its a very old edition. This book was first published in 2010 and there doesn’t seem to be newer editions of this, so I don’t know how accurate the information in this book is and if anything has changed within these 7 years.

No More Dirty Looks discusses about all the harmful chemicals and ingredients that can be found in our every day products like shampoo, body wash and even skin care. The authors discuss at great length about the FDA and what the FDA does and how major companies get their licensing and its horrifyingly shocking how easy it is for anyone to use a large amount of harmful chemicals in our products. It’s even more shocking to know that there are dangerous chemicals even in baby products — and that really speaks volume about how thorough these products are checked through.

The authors list down a series of dangerous chemicals and ingredients and provides alternatives that’s readily available in the market right now for a cheaper price (or slightly more expensive, but a product that is completely free of harmful chemicals) and what names (and alternate names) to look out for. I’ve personally looked through a bunch of my own products and noted that there are a lot of chemicals that were listed in the book, so perhaps not much have changed in the past 7 years.

Its important to note that the book states that out of the thousands of chemicals that were banned in Europe, only a handful have been banned in the US. I don’t know how accurate this information is but it is absolutely terrifying to just think about it.

I think its important for us to try to look into the ingredients that go into our everyday products, especially if we’re using it on large surface areas of our body and on a regular basis. I’m definitely interested to learn more and if there’s other books that has been released lately with more updated information. I urge you to do the same and look into these ingredients — it may be difficult to do a complete overhaul, but at least we could have the chance of making better and smarter choices.

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Bloom: Navigating Life and Style

Bloom: Navigating Life and Style by Estee Lalonde
Published 6 Oct 2016 by Ebury Press

Goodreads

Summary: ‘For me, the word “bloom” encapsulates the idea that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. It’s a word that hints at becoming who you are meant to be.’ Estée Lalonde

In Bloom, Estée shares the moments, people, things and life lessons that have made her who she is today and offers her tips for surviving life. Celebrate your bloom story and what makes you unique.

Youtubers getting book deals seems to be a trend as of late.

I’m actually a fan of Estee’s videos. I love how calm and collected she is and I love her beauty and style content. As a fan, I’m quite disappointed with this book. I loved the opening few pages, but as it went on it, Estee just seemed to glance over all her problems to keep it positive and nice. I feel that her stories were on a very surface level, she didn’t go too in depth, and she didn’t share how she overcame her problems. She just did, and that was that.

I don’t really know what Bloom is supposed to be. Its a mixture of her life story (very briefly explored) and later some bits about beauty, some recepies and about travelling. In a way she is quite relateable. I feel like I could relate to the things she was talking about like anxiety, long distance relationships etc and the way she writes makes it seem like you’re talking to a friend. I went through this book in a day. Its a really quick read, fairly simple to digest. Aesthetically, Bloom is very pleasing. I loved the layout, fonts and pictures. It is very Estee, but other than that, the real content is rather simple. It does remind me a little bit of Tanya Burr’s Love Tanya though it is lacking in the self help portion (though, I don’t think Bloom was meant to be a self help book).

Easy to thumb through if you have the time. Worth buying if you’re into clean aesthetics for the coffee tables, but probably not one for the shelves.