Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review : Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows by J.K Rowlings

Haa……. Closure at last. I finally got the answers to the questions that built up since I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Let me tell you this, although Ms Rowling definitely was inspired by works of J.R.R Tolkien, Eva Ibbotson and others, enough for some critics to accuse her of plagiarism, her books was a well thought one, and I am sure it was all done by her. As if, when she wrote the first one, she had already known what is the ending and all the small details in between and cleverly divided the concept into 7 installments and ingeniously add and embellish to make the books whole and the stories longer and linked. So that must be her own ingenuity then, yeah ? Just like Tolkien. Just like C.S Lewis.

What I like about her style is that her books are easy to read. I also love how she made her characters constant that we could predict how each and everyone would re-act. She had also cleverly developed the characters, not making them stuck to their childish behaviour, allowing them to grow and mature. She had skillfully maintained the essence of the books. Wonderful woman.

Of course there are aspects of this final book that I don’t like. Well one, is the body count. I have learnt to love the characters so much that I shed sad tears whenever one died ( especially since I already know what they are supposed to look like from the movies ). And I hate the ending… 14 years later what happened to Harry Potter. She allowed us a glimpse of his future, but it was so scant, that I thought, surely, there should be an 8th one ? I just want to know how Harry proposed to Ginny, their wedding and all and of course how did Hermione and Ron got hitched ? Also, who is the new Minister of Magic ? Where are they working now ? I mean what are they doing ? Is Harry an Auror ? A Quidditch player ? How is George keeping up with Fred’s death ?

I am not satisfied with the book because I want to know more. Damn !! ( what an oxymoron, closure at the beginning and its very opposite at the end…).
Oh... dear, dear Severus Snape.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Abang Ramlee

If you ask me whom do I really want to meet, I would say P.Ramlee. And if you ask me what questions would I ask him, I would say I am going to ask him if he heard beautiful music in his sleep, if when he bled did music flow with it and if his heart is filled with joy or sorrow. Then I would ask him to sing.

“ Sing for me abang Ramlee… “ he he…..

I was on the way to work when I heard the beautiful entry of Geteran Jiwa. P. Ramlee’s voice when it came stirred my heart and twisted my feelings. That voice….Oh man… menusuk kalbu ( if kalbu means what I think it means ). Suddenly the voice altered and I thought there was something wrong with the radio, brutally forcing me out of my reverie. Rosak ke radio aku ni ? Eh, bukan… radio ku okay. Suara KRU yang tak okay, destroying abang Ramlee’s soulful serenade.

Apa raaa…. Potong stim gila…… But when abang Ramlee sang again, it was simply marvelous. Lovely. The deep voice, unmarred by any glitches was just so divine. So smooth, a treat to the ears. And I of course wept, because it just touched my soul. Can you imagine him reading the Quran or even reciting Adzan….. ?

But lets concentrate on his talents, especially his song writing. Exquisitely composed songs. Calming but can jump-start your feelings at the same time. They are mostly romantic, making you ache for your lover. Tunggu Sekejap and Malam Ku Bermimpi were some of my favorites. How can he write such beautiful melodies and have the voice to sing them ?

Malam Ku Bermimpi

Malam ku bermimpi
Hai dengan satu bintang
Berkata-kata ku di jendela
Ku lihat kanda tersenyum memandang
Asmara bergelora
Meresap ke dada

Malam ku terlihat
Oh sekuntumlah bunga
Baunya harum menarik hati
Tak sanggup menahan rasa asmara
Meresap mendalam
Mengusik di jiwa

Sayang jauh di balik awan
Wajahmu tetap berseri-seri
Laksana bulan sedang mengambang
Menawan dan menggoncang dalam kalbu

Oh angin meniup
Bawa daku ke sana
Hasratku ingin bersama-sama
Tak tahan rasa hati menderita
Gelora asmara
Selalu menggoda

He actually sang this song with Saloma. I really love this one. It is so romantic. The yearning, the missing, the love… you can almost feel it. The melody is the best of all………. Beats Kenny G any time….. he he…. ( However I amnot sure about the lyrics. He did pen some lyrics but mostly they were penned by S. Sudarmaji ).

His movies are precious too. They engulfed our lives and shape the way we talked sometimes. Me, I love to use his “ Banyakk…., jarang – jarang and kadang – kadang “ as per Nujum Pak Belalang. What about his “ Oii orang sebelah !! “ scene in Masam – Masam Manis that became a sort of joke between a lot of married couples when they fight. Or his kutu babi stint in Bujang Lapok. There are too many to mention.

One of my colleagues doesn’t like his movies because she said they were filled with expletives, from bahlol to haram jadah. True, but well… that is P. Ramlee for you, I suppose. Level of censorship back then was not the same as now and to me it is just a reflection of society back then.

I love the way he looked in Sarjan Hassan and when he spoke in English, I almost swoon with pride at his intelligence. Come on, he didn’t sound awkward at all speaking English.

I remember reading the papers about one of the veterans lashing out at the reporter when they tried to interview him. He was angry because all the while all people would talk about was P.Ramlee and he felt left out. He said he is not doing any interviews as he felt it was too late. He asked the reporter to do another piece on P. Ramlee instead. Whoa !! Relax brother…

When I was working in Klang as a Trainee Engineer, a colleague of mine told us of a story that happened to her cousin. Her grandma lives in Keramat or Kampung Baru, I am not sure. One day her cousin was sitting outside their grandma’s house and she saw a guy walking by. He was clad in white suit and wore white shoes. It was P.Ramlee. She was frozen when P.Ramlee approached her and left a message to not watch his movies anymore because it hurts him every time his movies were being watched.

I told that story to my family and I remember saying that whatever it is we have to take that story with a pinch of salt. Ye ke tidak. But my mom and some of my sisters were really cute. If they happened to chance on a P.Ramlee movie on the telly, they would squeeze their eyes shut while attempting to change the channel. He he….

Nevertheless, the story is good for my Abang Ramlee. After that, my family and I would always mention him in our prayers. Praying for him to be saved from seksa kubur and api neraka. He died too young but I believe because Allah loves him. His generosity and kindness is wildly known.


PS : It is worth noting that P. Ramlee died on the 27th of May, 1973 in Kuala Lumpur and my abang was born on the 28th of May, 1973 in Ohio, U.S.A. He does look like him a bit.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Book Review : Nobody’s Baby But Mine By Susan Elizabeth Philips

This is quite a good book. It is definitely a romance, just like those Avon romances but set in current America. Sadly the plot is rather familiar, as I think I might have read something like it in one of those Avon romances. However the book is still enjoyable, even though it is rather simple.

Brainy Jane is broody but needs to find a partner that is stupid, to offset the intelligence her son/daughter would definitely inherit. Jodie conveniently knocked on her door while she was crying, who just so happened to be a groupie for the state’s football team, who happened to be looking for a woman for their star quarterback or something. Such luck.

Anyhoo, Jane was presented as a birthday present to Cal and did the deed and got pregnant and Cal found out and they had to get married because Cal doesn’t want his child to be born out of wedlock. That is the Avon romance bit. So of course they fell in love blah, blah, blah.

It is quite a good book because the reading was smooth and there were romantic parts that will make you go aaaahhhh………. The only problem is that it was kind of familiar. I said it is quite a good book but am not really singing its praises huh ? Well trust me, it was just the plot.
Dn't worry, I bought an interesting book already by Mike Haddon who wrote the lovely and smashing Incident That Happened In The Night. I am however reading Harry Potter, so the next review would be about that, I suppose. Where am I with Harry Potter now ? He just got captured... Wargghhhhhhhhhh.....
Okay, back to Ms Philips' book, since the cover girl was very pretty, si I magined her to be Dr. Jane. I couldn’t think of any huge football players so I imagined Brendan Fraser as Cal. It might work…

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Book Review : My Best Friend’s Girl By Dorothy Koomson

This book is about Kamryn who left her fiancée and best friend when she found out they had slept together. For 2 years she had no contact with them what-so-ever when one day on her birthday she received a card from Adele to say that she is dying.

She had to return to London to see Adele, who was already in hospital, ravaged by leukemia. Adele asked Kamryn for a big favour, to adopt her daughter, the result of her one night stand with Nigel, Kamryn’s ex-fiancée.

It is a beautiful book. How can Kamryn adopt the product of a betrayal ? But under the circumstances she did and the story of their journey is wonderful and sad. Luke, her boss, entered their life and Nigel, who never stopped loving Kamryn also came knocking.

What a girl to do ? New daughter and 2 wonderful men to choose from ?

The book is wonderful, so much so, I wonder if Ms Koomson would mind writing a sequel. I want to know more. Did she have more children with the man she chose ?
As I read, I would try to put a face on the characters. And since I met Amelia and we had a session of trying to match the characters in Flowers in The Attic with the current movie stars when we were 14, I have been doing that on my own too.

I imagined Luke to be that handsome lawyer on The Practise. Adele I imagined her to be Dr Meredith Gray from Gray’s Anatomy ( maybe because of the hospital connection ) and he he…. initially Oprah as Kamryn… but I changed it that lady in Waiting To Exhale. The one her husband cheated on. Soft but feisty. Not easy to penetrate. And she looks better sitting next to my imagined Luke than Oprah. Nigel… well…. Ms Koomson’s description of him is rather vague, but I think the best candidate is a serious Ben Stiller. Take all his funny bones out, and make him a more serious actor.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Book Review : Be Careful What You Wish For by Alexandra Potter

I first read Ms Potter’s Me And Mr. Darcy. It was good and I enjoyed it immensely. I of course started to get desperate for her other books. I called MPH but they only carried that one title and then tried Kinokuniya. They have one other title called Be Careful What You Wish For. I asked them to keep it aside for me. Funny really because she has like 5 books under her name and they only carry 2 titles ?

Moving on. I like this one too. It is about Heather who likes to wish for things. Like a seat on the tube, or for her car keys which she misplaced… you know normal everyday things like that. But she also loves wishing for a thoughtful and romantic boyfriend and a job at one of England’s major newspaper, instead of just being an assistant wedding photographer.

On one rather yet unlucky day for her ( she was caught in the rain while her gorgeous neighbour was dry, sharing an umbrella with an equally gorgeous girlfriend ), a gypsy lady approached her and offered her lucky heather. Now if you have been to Europe ( and especially London ), these people are everywhere. Either they beg for money or try to sell heather bunches for a quid. She of course refused to buy them but the lady insisted and told her that she needs a bit of luck in her life. Entranced, she took it.

Almost immediately, her life started for the better. She got a new housemate, the gorgeous neighbour actually fancied her like forever and just got the nerve to approach her, she got a job interview with a big newspaper and bought a winning lottery ticket. Perfect ? So it seems…..

Her brother warned her that she should be careful with what she wish for… and did she listen ? Well…..

I like her style of writing and I like her ideas. However, the ending was rather predictable and she really should explore more on her relationship with the neighbour. It ended too quickly without delving deeper about her own feelings.

It is still a rather enjoyable experience.

Read, if you want.