Wednesday, April 20, 2016

People's Friend Annual 2011

This is probably going to mark me as extremely uncool, but I ordered this annual over the holidays! If you like Chicken Soup and short stories like that, and you like the UK, you'll probably like this. This annual is basically a collection of stories + paintings + columns about books + poems.

For some reason, I had a 2002 annual at home, and it was a book that I read repeatedly over the years. So when I saw that the 2011 annual was part of Amazon Prime, I decided to just order it. I don't actually own many of these, because I don't seem to see this in Singapore or Japan (only in King's bookshop in Vivocity, but it's closed now. Unless anyone from Singapore knows where it went?).

Which leads back to the question - how did the first annual even get into my home?

All the stories are about love, and I think there's quite a nice balance between the different types of love. My favourite stories are the family stories though - like A Grand Night In which is about a grandma and her grandkids who come to stay; Hokey-Cokey Weather, about a grandma who is learning to try something new; and A Patchwork of Memories which follows a recently widowed father and his daughter as they get over their grief by learning how to make a patchwork quilt.

All the stories are heartwarming, and possibly very corny/cliched. But I find them very comforting to read. To me, they're sweet but not saccharine.

The columns this year are on children's classics.  Enid Blyton also gets a column, as does Black Beauty, the book that makes me cry every time I read it. I've probably read most of the books (Little Women, anyone?), but I haven't read The Water Babies yet, so that's going to go on the ever lengthening TBR list.

I have absolutely no regrets buying this. Job hunting has been pretty stressful, and the stories here made me smile.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Teaser Tuesday - The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

I'm a little earlier than usual in posting this, but I've got a cooking class later, so better early than never, right?

Right now, I'm reading The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I first heard about it on Wendy's blog, and it sounded so interesting that I put it on my TBR list and finally got around to reading it. I'm about halfway through and so far, it's got me hooked.

My teaser:
"She expected to be asked to leave the room after dinner so that her husband and his guest could talk about their secret. She got used to the left-out feeling but sometimes she wondered sadly whether she would ever be in her husband [sic] confidence again." 

So, what is your teaser this week?
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ctrl + Z by Meg Leta Jones

The right to be forgotten is a tough issue to decide. I mean, I was trying to decide where I stood on it, and for every different case study, I came up with a different verdict.

A victim of a crime who wants to stop being defined as a victim? Definitely for the right.

A pedophile applying to teach at a pre-school and wants his criminal record hidden? No way. Even if he has managed to reform himself, I think the school has the right to know his past and then decide if they want to trust him.

For every case where I think "yeah, it's a sensible right", I can think of another where I think "Nah, people deserve to know this".

Basically, this is a complicated issue. And Ctrl+Z tries to make sense of the mess. The American position is basically framed as "the public has a right to know" and the European position is "you have a right to be forgotten". This is a generalisation, but that's how I saw the two positions. After introducing the two polar views, the book looks at the "theoretical and conceptual muddles surrounding to be the right to be forgotten", and then criticises the way this issue has been presented before reframing it. The last chapter looks at the US system as a case study and "discusses how to construct digital redemption within existing legal systems". The last chapter says "International Community", but it's really about the US and the EU.

This book is a tough read, but I managed to understand it. It's probably not for the general audience - I have the sneaking suspicion that I understood it basically because I've studied this issue in class before. The text can be dry at times, and I had to reread certain pages to make sure I understood what it's about.

If you're somewhat familiar with the Right to be Forgotten and want a deeper look into it, this is probably the book for you. If you want an accessible introduction, then you might want to look somewhere else.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson

Hello folks! I basically bought this book, read it, wrote my review... and then discovered that I've already reviewed it (four years ago)! So, this is now a re-read review XD And it's funny to see how much more gushing and fangirly I am. The heart grows fonder with time and all that. 

I basically found this book because I needed to read something Folklore-ish for the Once Upon a Time reading challenge. Since I didn't really know the difference between folklore and fairy tales, I just put "folklore" in the NLB ebook search engine and waited to see what came out. Once I saw Discworld, I knew what my choice would be.

The Folklore of Discworld is basically a mini-summary of all the folklore around the world, with a heavier emphasis on English and European folklore, using Discworld as a starting point. My verdict?

Terry Pratchett was insanely knowledgable.

I don't know how he does it, but he connects all sorts of folklore to that of his books. Either that or all folklore is somehow connected. But either way, this was a surprisingly educational book.

But, and this is a big but, I'm not sure how accurate it is. In the beginning of the book, they write:

"Chinese mythology also knows of an immense cosmic turtle, but with a difference. According to the Chinese, our world is not balanced upon the the creature's back (with or without elephants), but is sloshing about inside it."

I know about Pan Gu hatching from an egg and creating the world, with the four animals helping.

And because I'm not very good with Chinese mythology, I had to Google to find out about Nuwa cutting off a turtle's legs to prop up the sky.

But nowhere can I find that Chinese mythology says we're living in the giant turtle. Am I missing something here? Anyone more knowledgable than me able to fill in the blanks?

Everything else I read that I know about I've heard before, so I'm pretty sure about its accuracy, but this one thing has me doubting all the new (to me) information in the book.

Overall, though, this is a hugely entertaining and probably very educational book. Not to mention that my respect for Terry Pratchett just went up again. I just wish I had the chance to meet him once in real life.