Book Reviews: May 2020 Reads

Confession: I’ve neglected reading for frivolous interests. The Animal Crossing epidemic has reignited my interest in Switch gaming, where I am also once again in the calvary boots of Geralt of Rivia. Nevertheless, three 5-starrers managed to steer me away from my console. Thankfully!

Black Sun (by Owen Matthews, 2019)
5/5

No complex motives, nothing that Holmes and Watson would ever feel the need to light a pipe to ponder, ever appeared in the files that landed on Vasin’s desk. […] Only thieves’ pathetic ideas of honor, profit, and survival. The desperate things human beings with no options left did to each other.

Sent to investigate a gruesome lab murder in Arzamas, Major Alexander Vasin never imagined the scale of the ploy at play. What he uncovers sets him on an intense race against time to save himself – and the world. Of dogged dissidents, misguided scientists, and a femme fatale, Black Sun has everything a political thriller should, and more.

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Book Reviews: April 2020 Reads

We are 30-odd days into the lockdown, and I am not complaining about the extra time to read. Here are the books of the month.

A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror (by John Hornor Jacobs, 2019)
4/5

Pleasure makes us numb, stupid, inert. Pain sparks our wicks. The light and scent of pain—the greater the better—draws the attention of the mighty. The prodigious. The vast and numberless.

The first of the two cosmic tales, The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky, is as gorgeously written as it sounds. The prose captivates right from the start with the charismatic poet Rafael Avendano, whom Isabel comes to fall in love with in spite of, or perhaps because of the danger in his reputation.

Caught in something less of a romance than a strange enchantment, she gradually learns of how he lost his eye and his life to the fascist regime. His story unfolds before her with as much grace and terror, gripping in every word.

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Book Reviews: March 2020 Reads

Saying goodbye to the cinemas has been hard, even if it is only temporary. On the bright side, that means more time for books.

What I managed to read were excellent, though incidentally clouded in grey, which inspired a revisit of my favourite graphic novel series for much-needed cheer.

How We Disappeared (by Jing-Jing Lee, 2019)
5/5

He knew what the unsaid did to people. Ate away at them from the inside. He had told Wang Di nothing. Not until a few years into their marriage, following a rare day at the beach. After that, all he wanted to do was talk about the war. What he had done. Not done.

I have often wondered about the stories left untold as the number of war survivors dwindle with time. Inspired by author Lee Jing-Jing’s own family history, How We Disappeared is thus a remnant to be treasured. The novel recounts one of the darkest chapters of Singapore’s history, where the Japanese army had ruthlessly enslaved and murdered women.

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#QuarantineAndChill: Free (legal) entertainment and education online.

Not everyone can afford a dozen cable channels. Thankfully, the Internet provides. Here is a list of my favourite free and legal platforms, where you can access movies, music, books, and lessons from the comfort of your homes.

The services are available in Singapore where I live, and mostly accessible in other countries. This is for anyone out there, who may be under quarantine or staying home during the COVID-19 outbreak. Be safe, and stay sane!

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Book Reviews: February 2020 Reads

A literary classic, a children’s novel, an urban fantasy, and an absurdist collection of short stories on love. This month’s book picks are an eclectic lot. But interestingly, they all portray dysfunctional relationships in different ways.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (by Patrick Süskind, 1987)
5/5

“And scent entered into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.”

Jean-Baptise Grenouille is different, and hated for it. He is taunted for his ugliness and reviled for his absence of scent. Hate forges evil. He begins an obsession for what he does not have, and in his fervour for scent reveals his desire for affection and acceptance.

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