Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #6: When does the search end? by Melanie Lee

The last book in the Squirky series was an excellent and fitting end to the adventures of the blue alien.

I've been following the exploits of Squirky for some time now and I must say that this book provides a not a saccharine sweet, happily-ever-after kinda ending, but a more realistic yet satisfying one.

In the penultimate book, Squirky decided not to enter the Garden Galaxy and travelled back to Earth to be with his adoptive parents. It was bittersweet. On one hand he wanted to see his birth parents, but on the other he really liked his family on Earth.

I thought how his adoptive parents dealt with his life on Earth subsequently was sensitive and filled with love.

It would be interesting to see another series on what happens when Squirky grows up into a young man and have significant conversations with his birth parents while negotiating his relationship with his birth parents, and perhaps in the context of starting his own family.

Alas, that's not for me to decide but for MPH Publishing and Melanie.

Nevertheless, I'd like to recommend this series to all families. The compelling story together with the lovely illustrations make for a great book for parents and children to bond over. The awards the previous books have won, namely, snagging the second prize for the Samsung KidsTime Author's Award for The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #4: Where is my Mama? together with the Crystal Kite Award for the Asia, Middle East and India region for The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #3: Who is the Red Commander? are testament to the quality of the stories.

Buy them (at Kinokuniya) today!

Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Silence by Shusaku Endo

I don't read novels often, much less those translated from Japanese but CAN I GUSH ABOUT HOW AWESOME THIS BOOK IS? I mean Hunger Games was brilliant, so combining the gripping narrative of that and 1Q84's quintessential Japanese feel, together with a dash of innovative Christian persecution in the form of suspending one upside down over a scorching pit, tying them to a stake to die at sea, a sudden and random execution by a samurai paired with the utter and complete silence of God in the midst of all this and you have a earth-shatteringly good book in your hands. 

Why had I never read this before?

My, oh my. 

I made this impulse buy at Kinokuniya after receiving Makoto Fujimura's 'Silence and Beauty' in the post. This was because when I posted a picture of the latter up on Twitter, someone suggested I ought to finish Endo's work first and so I did. And wow, what a book!

Silence is set in the 1600s where Japan, after years of missionary work, began to deciminate Christians one at a time. They drove out all foreign missionaries and also murdered all professing believers who refused to recant. 

After realising that simply killing them was making matyrs, they then began thinking up creative torture methods to force them to deny Christ. This seemed to be more effective and is probably why Japan is a country where only 1% of the population today identify as Christian (Source: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2298.html). 

*Spoiler alert*
'Silence' revolves around a Portuguese priest, Father Rodrigues, who sets off from his homeland to Japan after hearing rumours that his beloved mentor, Father Ferreira, has apotastized. He left with two other fellow priests who had once set under the theological instruction of their former teacher, eager to know the truth of the matter. No one knew whether he was dead or alive and if the abandonment of his faith was a fact or a lie. We find ourselves following the protagonist as he first lands in the village of Tomogi, is hidden by Japanese Christians in a hut at the top of a hill, and then is later captured. 

The theme became clearer and clearer as the novel progressed and one feels for the main character and how the utter silence of God in the midst of suffering can be cruel and unrelenting. 

I'll leave you to find out how the book ends but rest assured it is one satisfying end without any easy answers nor platitudes. 

Pick up this book at Kinokuniya, Book Depository or Amazon today!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Part I: Spell of Happiness by Twisted Medley

This is an excellent piece self-published by first-timer author Beatrix Lowe. The stunning cover drew me in and although I have a huge stack of books yet to be read, I dove straight in. 

It's a fantasy centered on Lucien, a fallen angel who's lost his memory and doesn't know who he is, and his butler Constant, who serves the former faithfully with great adoration. However, things aren't that simple and as the story progressed, I was completely transfixed. I loved the romantic angle as it wasn't too forced nor trite.

Like most self-published authors, a handful of typos distracted me, but what a plot! I've never read anything like it. And apart from the sometimes strange turns of phrases that any typical Singaporean is prone to, I was quite impressed with this piece of work. 

I also loved the illustrations embedded within the novel by Sobachan. The manga-style drawings fit in nicely with the story. 

You can check out her blog where the author posted a couple of chapters from the beginning of the book so as to get a brief feel of what it's like before purchasing. Details on how to get the book are also on the blog:

This is one author publishers should line up to sign on. With an editor and some professional help, I'm sure more will be able to enjoy her work. 

I can't wait for Part 2!

P.S. This book falls under the category of BL/yaoi/slash, which basically means gay fiction. But don't let that deter you. I thought it was all tastefully done without any hint of pornography.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.