Friday, February 20, 2009

A Boy and A Tiger in A Boat in The Middle of the Ocean

For 227 days with little to no food, a 16-year-old boy from India shared a small boat with a hungry Bengal tiger...

Piscine "Pi" Molitor Patel from Pondicherry, India grew up with beautiful and exotic animals from his father's zoo. His familiarity with the animals has led him to love and revere these wild animals, observing their behavior and studying their way of living and adapting despite their captivity.

Because of the sudden political instability, the Patel family found that it will not be able to continue the expensive upkeep of the zoo. The father decided to sell the zoo and its animals, start anew and try his luck across the ocean.

Pi and the rest of the family were eager to be able to journey to Canada, to where another zoo has purchased a variety of their best animals. But in the middle of crossing the great ocean the ship sank and the only human survivor was Pi.

In a small lifeboat Pi cowered with fear, anxiety, hunger and all the chaotic jumble of thoughts in his head. Pi had company in that small space, too. An injured zebra, an orangutan named Orange Juice, a frisky hyena, and finally, at the head of the lifeboat, a royal Bengal tiger who sleeps fitfully underneath a tarpaulin cover. Though the lifeboat's inhabitants manage the first few days without any occurences, it didn't take long for nature to do its dirty work. The hyena grew hungry and attacked the poor zebra; and though the orangutan managed to fight back at first, exhaustion and malnourishment became her undoing and she grew too weak to defend her life. After a time, the hyena found Pi and almost makes him his next meal, but it was the exact time that the royal Bengal tiger woke up, attacked the hyena and goes back to sleep without harming Pi.

Because of his upbringing in the zoo, Pi has an absolute understanding of the dangers he is going to face with just him and this ferocious animal...

Pi's life rested on his ability to think of ways to face the tiger down, not to drown in the wide and deep expanse of the Pacific Ocean, nor to become a shark's lunch. Or to succumb to both the screaming pains in his body and the dark pits of despair in his mind.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

10 Reasons to Hate Kindle

(My version of "10 Reasons to Hate Kindle by Dave Rosenthal")

1. You can't leave a Kindle copy of The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco lying on your beach towel when you doze off at Mergrande Resort. D'oh!

2. Cute nerdy guys with glasses won't introduce themselves upon noticing your copy of Forgotten Realms by R.A. Salvatore

3. My favorite cover art and inset graphics such as the illustrations on Hippolite's Island by Barbara Hodgson by can't be appreciated.

4. All books are the same in Kindleworld. You lose the charming, adventurous nature of Red Dog by Louis de Bernières and the melancholy of the loveliest poetry by Pablo Neruda.

5. I can't use my collection of random bookmarks: my very first company calling card, the latest receipt that I grieved over or a cute cut-out of a magazine.

6. The 101 Must Visit Destination and the Sandman: Dream Hunters aren't made for electrons.

7. The battery never dies on my paperback of A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

8. I can't bear to part with my stacked bookcase :D

9. If I hate what I'm reading, I can't throw it across the room.

10. I probably will never be able to afford Kindle.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Robes of Tradition and The Sanctity of Their Calling

A beautiful, absorbing memoir of a precocious little girl living far away from her own home, who bloomed with the most exquisite grace and became Gion's Mineko, one of the most famous geisha in her era. To learn more information, check out online accredited colleges to find history classes that can teach you about Japanese Culture and the secret world of Geisha.

Masako Tanaka was a quiet little girl of independent means. Willful, clever, and often a little too proud, she lived her idyllic life before she decided to agree to go to an okiya to save her parents. She is taken in the Iwasaki okiya when she was barely 5 years old. Masako was going to be legally adopted into the Iwasaki household, and was deemed to be the apparent successor of the establishment. Though struggling to understand the situation as only a little girl can, she adapted to her new environment, came to get used to her small living quarters and had developed a relationship with the women of the okiya. And it was there that she discovered her love for the artistry of dance.
Her enthusiasm for learning and her perfectionist nature was the very mark that the women of the Iwasaki household found curious about her, six years old and ready to take on the brunt of her geisha training.

As the successor of the Iwasaki household, she was re-named Mineko Iwasaki, and from then on she continously studied the geisha arts and trained rigorously under the tutelage of the very best teachers in the dancing school until she was ready for her debut. At the age of 15, she shed her little girl's yukata and donned on an elaborate ceremonial kimono to celebrate her debut as a maiko. Her rise to fame was rocky, especially with the malicious intent of other geisha who try to bring her down. Her beautiful figure, delicate face, and her natural grace and talent for dancing easily eclipses almost all the other maiko. And though miserable and without friends, Mineko managed to master the traditional customs, perfect the dances and become versed with the shamisen. Finally, she "turned her collar" and became a full-fledged geisha by the time she was 21. It was at that time she began to unravel as one of the highest-paid and the most sought after geisha in the history of the Gion Kobu.
Mineko revolved her life around the okiya. She made a choice of dedicating herself to her craft and preserving the age-old tradition of the karyukai.
Geisha, A Life is a biographical work that reveals the intricacies Mineko's life as a geisha until her leaving Gion Kobu. Mineko seems vocal, proud and headstrong. But the pain, sadness and sacrifices that she made as she continues her journey to become a geisha is not something that's easy to overlook. This book is filled with her story and anecdotes about one of the most exotic and rare culture of the geisha.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Saving with Barnes & Noble Coupon Codes

As every compulsive book buyer may know, only the money in your pocket is the limit!

I myself absolutely adore books, but with the income of a struggling writer I can only buy so much but I always end up wanting more than I could afford. I head off to the nearest book sale for a generous helping of pre-owned books, but I find some of the coveted titles are not there. It's really hard to get a specific title or author, and you're not even sure if it's there or if you're going to find it. The popular authors I love are still hot on the shelves of big bookstore chains, especially the "Mecca" of bookworms in the world, Barnes & Noble. No matter how you love books, you are always hindered by its price tags. Since prices are high especially if the book is on this week's Bestseller List! Contemporary authors are popular and their books are pricey because of the fan base and followers, but it doesn't mean you have to wait until the next sale, knowing you're the only one you know who hasn't read it yet!

I've been to that kind of situation, it's painful I know. And as a voracious reader, I would love to get my hands on some of the books in B&N (actually, there's a lot I really want!). I'm sure booklovers everywhere can empathize with me. Inside the store are so much books there, but we have so little money, right?

But ah, the wonders of Coupon Saver Discount Coupons, are here to save the day, with Barnes & Noble deals.
How would a Buy Two Books, Get the Third for Free sound? It's a heavenly deal, I'm sure. Or a 80% Off for Bargain Books? It would feel like salvation.

These coupons are my lifeline to one of the best books I've always wanted to have. The few on my list of Books-To-Buy are "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer, "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss and the recently released "The Women" by T.C. Boyle. Several more I have to put on hold, though, my wishlist is just overwhelming me. I'm hoping to get some wishlisted titles using the discount coupons above. It would simply relieve me of having to feel guilty about spending it on books, my budget is tight enough as it is...

It's exactly what I need, these Discount Coupons from Barnes & Noble to suit the frugal bookworm me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

His Pride and Her Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife..."

So starts the best love story ever told.

Jane Austen writes this shining piece of romantic literature, Pride and Prejudice, considered as one of her greatest masterpiece. It has the highest fan base among all her novels.

Set in early 19th Century in a society where women were born and raised to meet specific requirements to be eligible for matrimony. They were artistic, musical, all loveliness and graceful submission. Because unlike the men of the era, it is only in marriage that a woman can claim to have a respectable social status and an easy access to wealth.

The Bennett family of Hertfordshire has not one, not two, but five daughters of marriageable age. The book is largely centered on one of the daughters, Elizabeth, the second eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Elizabeth is a down-to-earth, level-headed woman of quick wit. She is considered as her father's favorite among her sisters and is known throughout Hertfordshire as a handsome and intelligent woman. Elizabeth's best friend is her own sister, the eldest, the equally sensible but more reserved Jane Bennet. She is the sister who is blessed with the most fair looks that easily outshadows any other girl in the country.

The story begins when the Bennet household is driven to an uproar when news arrived that a young man from London, of incredible wealth and of good character, is coming to Hertfordshire to purchase and move in the vacant Netherfield Estate. And Mrs. Bennet was bent on this young gentleman marry one of her five daughters, especially Jane, that she begins to plan schemes to hook this man and ensnare him forever.

The newcomers were welcomed in a small ball held in the Lucases ballroom. Mr. Charles Bingley, the new owner of Netherfield, reveals himself to be a good natured man and is immediately taken to the whimsical atmosphere of Hertfordshire. While his glamorous sisters, Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Louisa Hurst, are less than thrilled to move from London to what they deem as a remote 'barbaric' countryside. Mr. Bingley is accompanied by Mr. Hurst and the aloof and disdainful Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Derbyshire

Mr. Bingley and his company are very well received with the neighbors, especially Mrs. Bennet as she perceives that Bingley shows a sure partiality to her eldest, Jane. Mr. Darcy, however, earned the scorn of Elizabeth Bennet with his untoward comment and his coldness to the people in the room. To his chagrin, he finds himself drawn to this enigmatic and witty woman with dark, captivating eyes. Unaware of Darcy's growing feelings for her, she continuously argues and contradict Darcy's point with her own ideas, vexing Darcy but yet holding him in place. She begins to dislike Darcy an even higher kind of vehemence, as she gets to know a certain soldier by the name of George Wickham, and about his story in the supposedly cruel hands of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

I have to stop now or else I'll reveal everything about this already! It's just so fascinating for me and I absolutely adore the story so much. There's nothing I love most than to read the book again and again when I need something romantic to inspire me and brighten my day!

This novel is entirely a battle-of-the-sexes type between Elizabeth Bennet, a woman of independent thought, with an arsenal of strong wit and a clever humor, going against the formidably aristocratic and proud Fitzwilliam Darcy, who matches her in intelligence and stubborn streak.

A Tale of Love Amidst a Violent Struggle

There's nothing more fitting as a first post than a feature on my favorite book, Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

This novel by Louis de Bernières is set in the pre-WWII era. It tells of the story of a community in the small Greek island of Cephalonia. It centers on the life of a Pelgaia Iannis, a fiercely independent and loving daughter of a well-loved village doctor, and the apple of the eye of Mandras, a Cephalonian fisherman of simple means.

Despite the idyllic and oftentimes funny going-ons in this small island, there was a sudden tension in the when the Italian forces found their way to their remote village, getting ready to heighten their forces for the upcoming war.

Captain Antonio Corelli is the officer-in-charge of the Italian regiment that settled in the heart of Cephalonia. Polite and cultured Antonio Corelli could not understand the vehemence of the villagers. The tension runs thick as Greek and Italian cultures clash and the people of Cephalonia treat the soldiers with as much disdain as they could muster.

Despite his military position, Corelli is a musician at heart and an extremely talented mandolin player who loves nothing more than to strum his instrument to his heart's desire. Captain Corelli crosses path with the lovely Pelgaia, as he lives in the village doctor's house by forced means. And despite the difficulties and trials between them, Pelgaia and Corelli fall in love.

Their affair lasted for a lifetime, struggling against a great world war and complicated their union because of their allegiances to their own countries. The war ravages the entire world, and especially the small whimsical village of Cephalonia. Corelli and Pelgaia's love are tested by great and incessant life-shattering events.

It is history at a level that readers will be able to understand. Captain Corelli's Mandolin simply unearths lives and stories on different levels, as it is a story of love and a brutal tale of war at the same time.