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Exchange by Paul Magrs

‘There’s no “just” about it,’ said Simon. ‘That’s what we are. Proper readers.’
Story about book lovers for book lovers. I fell in love with this book once I read it. Well, actually I like the front cover. It’s quite simple and attractive. I spent almost an hour whether to buy this book or not. And in the end, it’s worth it!

A 16 year old Simon lives with his grandparents after the death of his parents. Simon and his grandma, Winnie are bookworms unlike his grandpa, Ray. Their house is filled with books and the smell of old papers. One day during their weekend, Simon and Winnie stumble across the Great Big Book Exchange – a bookshop with a difference. There they meet impulsive, gothic Kelly and her boss, Terrance – and the friendships forged in the Great Big Book Exchange result in startling and unsettling consequence for all of them.

The Great Big Book Exchange is somewhat like a bookstore but more like a library. They provide you with rare and old novels to be read, but should be return after finish reading them and pay with small amount. My favourite character in this book is Kelly. She may be a gothic but she’s fun and very straightforward. She’s not that rebellious like I thought she would be.

Through the Big Book Exchange, Simon found a new friend, Winnie found an old friend through a ‘novel’ and granddad, Ray has a little secret kept in his garage.

The book is not that thick and its fun to read it because I feel like this book is dedicated especially for book lovers. I think this book almost closed to the 1000journals project that I’ve found on the internet few years ago. But slightly different.

More About Boy by Roald Dahl

From the world's number one story teller, More About Boy is a delightful collection of Roald (pronounced Roo-arl) Dahl's childhood tales. This book differs from About Boy as it contains more amusing info & never seen before pictures.

Interestingly, the books starts with the story of his father and uncle instead of Dahl's birth. However as you read the chapter, you realise that Dahl's life was compelling even before it began! Harald Dahl (Roald's father) was not only a successful man but was also a brilliant person who overcame life's struggles and was a "tremendous diary writer". All these undoubtedly contributed to Roald's success as a writer.

The second chapter is very short as Roald couldn't recollect much about his early years at school but somehow it doesn't matter at all. The following chapters are very funny and introduce you to people who influenced the characters Roald conjured. For instance, "Mrs Trunchbull" in Matilda was inspired by a matron in his school who was heavy-bossomed, mean and hated little children! And if it were not for Roald's love for candy and his frequent visits to a candy shop as a child, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would have been a completely different story! Though many people in Roald's life did not influence the characters in his books, they did have an affect on Roald and also his writing in some way. For instance, the name "Willy Wonka" was derived from "Skilly Wonka", a boomerang Roald's uncle had invented. My favourite is Thwaites, Roald's know-it-all childhood friend who explained that liquorice was made from mice stew!

Perhaps the person who had the most influence on Roald and his writing was his mother. She single-handedly raised Roald and his siblings after her husband's death and how she kept all of Roald's letters from when he was a little boy until he reached adulthood was very touching.

Besides the story, the book is peppered with photos, some taken by Roald himself, short essays he had written when he was young, and interesting tidbits on "Boy"- Roald's nickname. Imagine that at the age of twenty, Roald, thanks to his passion for anything sweet, was already wearing dentures! Too bad because he was quite a good looking fellow! This book also gives you a glimpse of what life was like in the olden days when there was no novacaine or driving tests!

This book deserves five stars! Now wouldn't it be nice if we could all turn our childhood experience into well-loved stories?

- Reviewed by Haryati Abd Gafur

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The Other Side of The Story by Marian Keyes

'Dad, before I drop you home, I've to go to pharmacy.'
'What do you need?'
'But you haven't cut yourself.'
'Tissues, then.'
'Have you a cold?'
'Alright, Hedex,' I said irritably.
'Have you a headache?'
'I do now.'

Crossed women. Crossed lines. Crossed swords.

The Agent
Jojo, a high-flying literary agent on the up, has just made a very bad career move:
she jumped into bed with her married boss, Mark...

The bestseller
Jojo's sweet-natured client Lily's first novel is a roaring success. she and lover Anton celebrate by spending the advance for her second book. Then she gets writer's block...

The unknown
Gemma used to be Lily's best friend - until Lily 'stole' Anton. Now she's writing her own story - painfully and hilariously - when super-shark agent Jojo stumbles across it...

My first chick flicks. But this is the best and humorous book I've ever read and the first book I bought other than the Harry Potter series and before buying other books. Obviously, this story is about 3 women.

First is Gemma, who is revengeful towards her used-to-be-best friend, Lily who 'stole' her boyfriend. Then, her dad left her mother for another younger woman and her mom loves Lily's book, which is actually, almost based on her. She emailed her other friend about the problem she's having, very emotionally. Jojo, a literacy agent called Gemma and told her she likes her story(emails) so much and decided to sell it to publishers to publish her story. Her book is based on her life and the protagonist in her book. And along the way of writing, she realized her love story has begin, again.

Then, there's Lily who has a baby with Anton and living with him. She's a writer of 'Mimi's Remedies' which almost based on Gemma. Though, it's a bestseller and about to write a second book. She uses her money to buy a new house, away from their neighbor who'll sing a Christmas song to anyone wearing red. Unfortunately, they have to sell back their house as her second book is not as success as the first one and her relationship with Anton is beginning to apart.

And lastly, there's Jojo. A literacy agent who have an affair with her married boss, Mark. She's also the agent of Lily and Gemma which led the two 'met'. Mark asked her to live with him and he'll leave his wife. Will she or will she not live with Mark after she decided to leave her job and decided to start her own literacy agency ? And will Mark be by her side?

Gemma and Lily is written as first persons while Jojo is written as the third person. My 1st favourite book by Marian Keyes. A little difficult for me to read because of the size of the writing and also, it's the first book I've read besides Harry Potter. A very thick book for a small size. What else can I say? Consists of love, 'revenge' and humor. I laugh my head off until the end. Not literally.

Chinese Cinderella and The Secret Dragon Society by Adeline Yen Mah

Not one of the best book by Adeline Yen Mah who is the author of the bestselling book 'Falling Leaves'. This book tells the story of a girl named CC (Chinese Cinderella) who seek refuge in a martial art school under the guidance of Grandma Wu. She later joined the Secret Dragon Society and got involved in a few daring adventures which include rescuing a crew of American pilots. The story was set in China during the Second World War.

The story of CC and the secret society was originally a short story written by Yen Mah when she was small. At the beginning, I expected this book to be somewhat similar to the heartbreaking story written in Falling Leaves which I have already reviewed in this blog. Looking at the picture of the small girl on the front cover which was also shown on the front cover of Falling Leaves, made me thinking that this book must have some connections with the book Falling Leaves. Since I really like the story in Falling Leaves, I decided to buy this book instead of buying Paulo Coelho's Like a Flowing River. And now I feel regretting buying this book.

The book's description of a girl's adventure with a secret society with a little bit of kung fu might sound appealing at first but quite a disappointment when reading it. Firstly, I cannot deal with the fact that the society members included a Japanese Russian boy, a Chinese American boy and CC herself. I am not being a racist but why aren't there any real chinese members excluding CC, in the Secret Dragon Society? I would assume that having a true chinese as the members of the society would be more interesting that they will show some interesting cultures being a chinese as well as some real Kung Fu moves! I assumed that The author is trying to suit the story to the western readers by creating characters which are mixed-blood. This might be acceptable for the Western readers but not for me. Having wathing Chinese Kung Fu movies all my life, I have come to accept that every Kung Fu movies have Chinese warriors showing their their remarkable Kung Fu and later getting involved in some kind of adventure.

I think that this book would definitely suit to the small children who might be interesting with the concept of secret society and Kung Fu. But for the rest of us, it might be worth checking out other books.

Thanks For The Memories by Cecelia Ahern

"Blood comes from the heart."

Kate gasps. "It came straight from his heart, " she says dreamily.

"Oh, so now blood transfusions are romantic to you."

Ever heard 'Blood is thicker than water'? Well, this book kind of related to that statement. Another magnificent story by Miss Ahern.

Joyce Conway, the main character has a blood transfusion after she had an accident. She remembers things she shouldn't. Remember faces that she never met and walk down a street that she never steps on. Question in her mind, "How can you know someone you've never met?"

While Justin Hitchcock, a divorced man arrives in Dublin to give a lecture on art and meets an attractive doctor, who persuades him to donate blood (he hates needles). It's the first thing to come straight from his heart in a long time.

When I first read this book, I quickly follow how the story goes. Very humorous (because of her friends, Justin and Joyce's father behaviour) and sad and also kind of annoying. Joyce then live with her father, and let me tell you I almost put down this book but at the same time, her father just want to make Joyce smile again. Josh Hitchcock is kind of a 'rushing' man that makes me wanna say, 'Could you slow down? I can't catch up with you.' The annoying part of this book, they met! But they don't have time to sit down and talk. Sometimes they got interrupted and stuffs and I'll go 'WTH?!'. Best book to read I must say. Don't skip this one!

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

"For anyone with a love-hate relationship with their flexible friend"- COMPANY (LONDON)
"Don't wait for a sale to buy this book!"- ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

My friend recommended me this book long before it was turned into a movie. I feigned interest in listening to her go on and on about Sophie Kinsella's books while my mind was somewhere else. When it comes to chick lit, I often pass. I'd rather be caught dead than caught reading it. I've always thought that chick lit is all about make-up, rainbows and unicorns. Yawn!!!

Although Confessions is about shopping, those fab Armani glasses and a whole lot more designer stuff, this book is highly entertaining. Meet the heroine, Becky Bloomwood, an enviable young woman living in a trendy London flat. Becky or Becks is always decked in chic, expensive clothes and has socialite friends. She buys anything she fancies by swiping her credit cards. Judging from her exterior, nobody could guess that she is actually BROKE! And to make matters worse, Becks is actually a financial journalist who writes advice on how to save money!

Follow Becks' journey as she ignores her bills, signs bounced cheques and dodges calls from Derek Smeath, her bank manager who's hot on her trail. Read how she went on a date with Tarquin, her flatmate's cousin and one of the wealthiest men in Scotland. Perhaps she seduced him enough for a small loan? Other characters include her best friend Suze, Becky's parents who think that she's a big shot financial journalist, her neighbours Martin and Janice who think she's still in love with their son, Becks' enemy Sacha and the sexy Luke Brandon.

The writer is witty enough to make Becky a very loveable character much like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, only smarter and more comical. Even a strictly no chick lit reader like me was greatly entertained. You'd probably want to read this book while alone because you'll be laughing out loud.

(For those who have seen the movie, the book is WAY much better. The movie is disapointing if you are a fan of Sophie Kinsella).

Reviewed by: Haryati Abd Gafur

Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela

This book depicts the story of one of the greatest icons of the world, Nelson Mandela, starting from the story of his childhood and his transformation into a political activist fighting for freedom in the apartheid years of South Africa and the years he spent in prisons until his achieved his own freedom in 1990. One can never again wonders why Mandela is a legend and considered an icon by many people after reading this book.

It is amazing to read about how he never gave up his fight for freedom even after being prosecuted by the government many times and spending most of his time in jail and away from his family. One should admire his courage and his undiminished hope of seeing a free and equal South Africa. It is sometimes heartbreaking to read about his struggle and the ugliness of the apartheid system of the South African government and the unequal treatment towards the Black Africans, the original inhabitants of Africa before the European colonialists took over their land. But sometimes small funny details appeared throughout the book which makes this book more interesting to read.

My favourite part of the book was the part where Mandela was in the prison in Robben Island. Nonetheless, this is a great book and a must have book for any bookworms.
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