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Avril Lavigne 2014 Singapore Tour – What A Blast!

February 16th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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Avril 2014 Poster

Every time Avril Lavigne visits Singapore, my wife and I would attend her concert. Her first concert was at SunTec City. Must have been ten years ago? Back then it seemed a bit odd to be surrounded by so many teenagers while we were in our business attires attending a weekday concert. To date, all her teenage fans who stood by her since the beginning have grown up, added another decade onto their age number. All of a sudden, the age gap between us and them doesn’t seem that wide. They are working and so are we. But still, we had two young girls sitting behind us screaming their lungs out jumping in the air throughout the concert holding banners up high. While I am glad that we did not sit one row behind them having to stare at their erm whatever throughout the concert, their screeching sound pierced my ears. I didn’t mind though. Especially during enchore. It was good to have reinforcement from my back to add onto my own screaming. I mean, Singaporeans are the quiet bunch. I was so worried that Avril wouldn’t come out because the crowd went so quiet during enchore. Before the show started, one girl from the back came to us and asked if we wished to switch seats with her. Cynthia and I were at the front row, with unblocked view. Why would we want to give up our seats? But I have got to say, she has the determination though. To her, there was nothing to lose really.

A good thing about Avril’s concert is that over the years, both of us know what to expect. We would arrive early and dine at Brewerkz. It is a microbrewery and a restaurant. The food is so-so. But I love their beer. The atmosphere is good. We remember where we were seated in the past. And every time we stepped inside, good memories return.

The concert started at 8pm on time, which was as expected. Hello Kitty was the opening number, which was what I have anticipated too. The song is upbeat. It is current and has an Asian feel to it. Loved her Asian doll-like outfits. This tour of hers started in Japan in the beginning of the month, she was in Hong Kong in Valentine’s Day and in Singapore the day after. I joked with Cynthia that we celebrated this special day on the 15th instead.

Next one was Girlfriend taken from her 2007 The Best Damn Thing album. Who doesn’t know how to sing Girlfriend? So, everyone sang along. The third number was Rock N Roll, a single from her latest album. The crowd went wild. I like Avril’s debut album. And her latest self-titled album is my favorite after her debut album. Rock N Roll is such a great song that portrays her unique attitude that her fans love so perfectly.

I remember her previous concerts usually were kept to 60 minutes long. This time, she has extended the duration to 90 minutes. I wish there were more but I understand that Singapore’s crowd is tiny, may not look that enthusiastic towards Western artists (compare to say Taiwanese artists). Most of the concerts I have attended are short. 90-minute is still longer than expected. So I am happy.

In her last concert, she cracked jokes on the stage and made connection with the audience. This concert, the connection wasn’t quite there. Maybe she didn’t have time to do much in our country. She did mention “Singapore” a couple of times though. Every time she did that, the crowd went wild. Some of our favorite songs from her most recent album, she did not perform. Having said that, she did pick a few hits from her previous albums, which was a treat. The highlight of the concert would be the band’s rendition on the the song written by Marilyn Mansion for Avril called Bad Girl. Avril has a costume to go along with it too. A black cap and two little red horns on her head.

Except a few glitches here and there probably due to sound engineering, she held her notes well throughout the concert. I knew she would do well on stage. And she gave it all for the last few songs of the set reaching notes so high till my ears and heart bleed, in a good way. What a blast last evening was. I sure hope that she will make a return to Singapore one day. Below is a photo I have taken during the concert with my mobile phone.

A photograph taking using my mobile phone Nexus 4.

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A Compilation Of Our Tasmania Holiday Google+ Posts

January 12th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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Last December, my wife and I have visited Tasmania. Every year, we pick a destination to visit. We must be one of the last few couples on earth to embrace new technology. It was only recently when we have started to plan and book the accommodation for our entire holiday in advance and in the comfort of our home.

The magnificent Painted Cliff taken using my mobile phone.

But time has changed. We too have embraced new technology for our Tasmania trip. No longer do we need to carry the heavy guidebooks everywhere we go. Instead, we bought the electronic version from Amazon.com and load them into my Nexus 7 tablet. It is not as intuitive because I still prefer to flip through a book looking for what I want. However, electronic version does have its merits. It is extremely easy to search for a place when all of a sudden, we pass by a town and wonder if it is worth visiting – for example.

In Australia, for A$2 a day, we were able to access the Internet on my mobile phone using a prepaid SIM card. 500MB a day. Tethered that to my 7 inches tablet Nexus 7, there are many things we could do!

For example …

Google Maps. With that, we will never get lost, except when the mobile signal is gone. Still, what I do is to cache the maps for offline browsing. A little bit tedious. But that can be done. Wife doesn’t get stressed up reading a map. I don’t get stressed up driving without knowing where we are heading. It is perfect.

And of course, in every trip we go, I keep a diary. Because so much happens during our holiday, it is impossible to remember all the details. So I write them down, on pen and paper. The reality is that it is very hard to keep a readable journal written after a long day of travel. Most of the time, I can hardly read what I have written!

Google Drive. With that, I can write my journey online, using my tablet! It is perfect because for the first time in history, I can read everything I have written. A little bit tedious to type on a tablet. And when there is no data signal, Drive just wouldn’t open my journal. Still, I can write on Evernote as a backup plan.

And the best of all? Google+ the social networking website, my one and only. Everywhere we go, I take picture using my phone (and my DSLR of course). I transfer the mobile phone photos to my tablet, process them using Snapseed, and on the spot, I can share the pictures to Google+ with a location tag! It is like live blogging on our Tasmania trip. We love it so much that I am going to compile all our holiday posts into here, for our future reading pleasure (because Google+ does not seem to have a … erm … timeline feature).Those that are marked are our favorites.

  1. Our road tip plan
  2. Checking into a motel
  3. Heading to Hobart for dinner
  4. University of Tasmania
  5. The oysters were so fresh!
  6. Taking a ferry to Bruny Island
  7. *** A view from a memorial
  8. The pancake here were divine!
  9. First Catholic Church we found in Tasmania and it was closed
  10. Captain Cook landed here once upon a time
  11. A wallaby pie, enough said
  12. Cynthia wanted a brekkie
  13. A campsite by a river
  14. Port Huon
  15. River Huon
  16. Some walk can be really long, like 6 to 12 days
  17. A swing bridge
  18. (Recap) Huon River by a campsite
  19. A live wallaby!
  20. Lady Barron Falls
  21. A beautiful B&B we have stayed in
  22. Queenstown, looks like Storybroke!
  23. I love eating steak in Australia
  24. A local library
  25. And we played Ingress
  26. Another Catholic Church we have found (and it was closed)
  27. A car that Agent Coulson would love to have
  28. Locomotive panel
  29. *** Queenstown landscape
  30. Crocoite
  31. The Paragon Theatre (good story)
  32. Crossing a lake, not!
  33. Birds in a cage
  34. Penguin Cradle Trail
  35. Cradle Mountain
  36. Sheffield, a town of murals
  37. Devonport by the coast
  38. Neptune at Devonport
  39. Molly Malones at Devonport
  40. *** A beautiful sight on our way to Deloraine
  41. Lunch at Deloraine
  42. *** Meandering River
  43. A windmill next to our inn
  44. Drinking consultants …
  45. *** (Recap) Hiking at Cradle Mountain
  46. Wombat pool (or poos)
  47. Launceston post office
  48. Narawntapu National Park entrance
  49. Hiking through the vegetation and into the beach
  50. *** A kiss from the Tasmania sky
  51. Walking along the beach of Narawntapu
  52. Photosphere of the beach
  53. My camera and I
  54. *** Wombat and I
  55. Hiking through a tiny sandy road
  56. Heading to the beach
  57. Christmas Mass at Launceston
  58. Cataract Gorge
  59. Pier of George Town
  60. (Recap) Cataract Gorge from another angle
  61. Tasmania weather
  62. Boxing Day at McDonald’s
  63. This is Swansea
  64. *** Wineglass Bay
  65. A lighthouse at Cap Tourville
  66. This steak was divine, best we have ever had so far
  67. And the dessert
  68. (Recap) 18 days?
  69. (Recap) Photosphere of Wineglass Bay
  70. A squid farming boat
  71. An award winning bakery
  72. Waubes Bay
  73. Redbill Beach
  74. *** We are the champions …
  75. Cynthia and the beach
  76. A gallery
  77. Waubes Bay from another angle
  78. Italian food in Tasmania
  79. Arriving at Maria Island
  80. Found some native geese
  81. Hiking at Maria Island
  82. A creek and a beach
  83. Cynthia photographing Painted Cliff
  84. *** The magnificent Painted Cliff 
  85. Walking round the cliff was kind of challenging
  86. Resting at the reservoir
  87. *** Going off the grid
  88. *** The magnificent Fossil Cliff
  89. *** A video of a wombat!
  90. Strange flowers at Richmond
  91. *** A kangaroo posing with Cynthia
  92. This was where Sydney-Hobart race ended
  93. Found this in our luxury hotel
  94. *** A video of Cynthia and the kangaroos
  95. Lily Pond at Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden
  96. Flowers that smelled really good
  97. *** Pinnacle of Mount Wellington

Categories: Diary
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The Pill – Love the Dialog and Drama

December 14th, 2013 by Wilfrid
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The Pill is a 2011 American romantic comedy film starring Rachel Boston and Noah Bean.

I chanced upon this 2011 movie while exploring movies over Netflix that have Rachel McAdams in it (somehow, Rachel Boston appears as a ‘close match’).  I was intrigued by the synopsis and since I enjoy watching romantic comedy genre, why not give it a go?  The story is incredibly straightforward.  A man (Noah Bean) and a woman (Rachel Boston) has a one-night-stand.  In the following morning, the man is concerned that the woman may become pregnant and insists that she should take a morning after pill.  At the pharmacy counter, the man discovers that one pill has to be taken immediately while another, 12 hours later.  So, he has to find a way to hang out with the woman he barely knows for half a day making sure that she will take the pill.  And she has no clue that there is a second pill to be taken.  Meanwhile, the woman just comes out of a long relationship and the man actually has a live-in girlfriend to go home to.

I like The Pill because the film focuses on the drama and the dialog.  There is plenty of acting involved while the rest like backdrop, effect, and soundtrack is kept to the minimal.  It reminds of films like Before Sunrise whereby the actors keep on talking throughout the movie.  Everything is stripped to basic excepts character development.  Love it.  It is a lighthearted sort of movie and is not as unbelievable as some of the bigger budget Hollywood romance comedy.  It simply presents the possibility of falling in love.

Categories: Drama · Movie Reviews
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Rice Propagation At Jacob Ballas Children’s Park

December 13th, 2013 by Wilfrid
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This post comes in two parts.  Part one on what I have done in a national garden today.  Part two on the toad and snake my wife has encountered.  We save the best to the last so first, here comes part one.

I am a big fan of corporate volunteering activities, even though some are pretty laborious – at least to an office worker like me.  Next week, my wife and I will be holidaying overseas.  So why not wrap up this work year with some volunteering work at the Botanic Gardens?  As usual, I have little idea on what I have signed up for.  The event was in the afternoon.  My wife and I took the opportunity to have lunch at the garden.  She asked what to do while waiting for me to literally get my hands dirty.  I said, why not take a nap and play her favorite Android game Duo Lingo?

We visit Singapore Botanic Gardens often.  But it was the first time we visited Jacob Ballas Children’s Park.  Admission is not free.  And it is – I think – for the children.  Hence, the why.  There were only a handful of us from my company joining the activity today.  We were led by a young female staff who walked a lot faster than we did.  Oops.  I hope we were fit for what we were about to do.  And we have gained access to a restricted area!  Exciting.  As we walked in, I saw rows and rows of plants that I do not know of.  Once we were indoor, I saw this lying on a bench waiting for us.

These are baby rice.

The young staff then announced cheerfully, “Today, we will do rice propagation!”  I looked at these two trays of ‘baby rice’ and was wondering, do we need twelve of us working on this?

Turns out we do.

First, we have to take empty pots, put the fertilizer at the bottom and fill them up with soil.  Then, we have to move the pots to the bench area where those who were assigned to work with the plant would need to take out three tiny stalks of rice and plant them onto the pot!  How fragile these stalks are.  All of a sudden, this activity was going to take some time because there were many stalks.

After planting the stalks onto the pots, we would need to water them and transport the pots to an outdoor nursery area where we lined them up on the top shelf, and the bottom.  Something like this.

Rice pots!

In life, I seldom take the role of what everyone is doing.  So I volunteered to be one of the two transporters.  It was a rather tough job.  Two of us went around looking for pots from the bench ready for transportation and moved them onto a trolley.  We then took turn to water the plant, pushed the trolley to the designated area, and arranged them nicely.  Under a hot sun!  We must have moved more than 200 pots in the afternoon.  Tiring it was, but pretty fun stuff we did.  I have a much better appreciation of what goes behind the scene in maintaining such a large world class garden.

Before we parted, one colleague wished to take some pictures of the fruit of our work.  Just as I led her into the nursery area, one Indian staff frantically said, “No photo!” We were puzzled.  Just when we were about to ask why, he frantically waved his arms and screamed, “Water!  Go!  Now!”  Lo’ and behold, all the water sprinklers were switched on simultaneously!  We were deep inside the rows of plants and both of us ran like mad!  What a laugh we had.

What’s the point of doing what we did?  I learned that each stalk of rice produces six seeds.  So I guess by propagation, we help to increase the seed pool.

When I finally reunited with my wife, I asked her what she has done while I was gardening.  She told me that she had a half-an-hour nap on a bench (no wonder her eyes were so big when we met).  After she woke up, she saw a toad hopping towards her and stopped in front of her.  Not long after, there was a snake coming from behind going after the toad and the toad – naturally – hopped away.  Both disappeared into a bush nearby!  My wife said she jumped out of the bench seeing the snake approaching her.

“Where are the photos of the toad and snake?” asked I.  She said none.  So I conclude that either she was dreaming of a toad and snake during her nap.  Or the toad came to her, woke her up, and warned her of the snake.

OK.  One last picture to share.  Here is the entrance of Jacob Ballas Children’s Park.  All photos are taken using my mobile phone, Nexus 4.

Entrance of Jacob Ballas Children's Park

Categories: Diary
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Talking About Sleeping Disorder … And That Sandwich Store

November 26th, 2013 by Wilfrid
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According to my wife Cynthia, she has used this very photograph taken during our recent trip to France as her profile photo in one of her company’s websites.  Needless to say, that has made an impression among her colleagues; forever known as the croissant girl or the girl who likes French café.  OK.  I have made the last bit up.  But you see where I am coming from.  That radiance of happiness for the love of croissant and coffee.  Now, how does this photo relate to this blog entry?  Stay on.  You will see.

This is my wife Cynthia and we were in Paris!

Left home early for work, because I needed to drop the car at a workshop near the city for its 140,000 km servicing.  Travelling more than 70 km a day does age the car pretty fast.  Instead of working in the office at the east, I have decided to work in town, taking the opportunity to meet up with the business folks.  Every time I visit town, I often call up my friend Shauna to see if she is up for lunch.  The challenge of being relocated out of the city is that it is hard to keep up with my friends whom I get to know from previous workplaces.  Shauna happens to be one of my few dear friends who is willing to meet up, even when we are like 25 km apart (that is halfway across the country!).

Over lunch, she asked if I still paint.  I then replied to her that not only I do not have the energy to paint, but also anything else really.  Like writing or creating music.  Not even playing music.  Since April, I have not had a decent sleep.  She nearly jumped out of the chair – we were dinning by the Singapore river by the way – and said, “Me too!”.

It turns out that she too has a similar issue.  She would sleep for four hours and then for no reason, become awake.  Most of the time she would not be able to fall asleep again.  No matter how much exercise she does, the cycle continues.  I too suffer the same sleeping problem.  The good news (all relative really) is that after months of sleep deprivation, I am more likely to be able to drift back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night.  But my sleep is pretty disturbed nonetheless.

There is little the both of us can do.  She exercises regularly while I stay out of caffeine all this while.  We barely able to pull through the day.  And somewhere in our conversation today, she mentioned that she is losing her memory too due to prolonged lack of sleep.  I have not done a memory check.  However, I would not be surprised that I may be affected in a similar way.  So today, I have started to resume my blogging.  Even if I – touch wood – lose some memory here and there, so long as I remember the URL of my website, I can always refer to what I have written.

After lunch, I took a walk around Shauna’s new office building – Ocean Financial Centre – and took some pictures.  In the past, it was used to be Ocean Building before that was torn down for this new building.  I have worked in that old Ocean Building too.  A consultant in an accounting firm.  Those were the weirdest days of my life.  Now, my past has been obliterated together with the disappearance of Ocean Building.  I am sure I have written quite a bit of my good-old-days-in-Ocean-Building somewhere in this website, if I care to dig deep through the pile of posts that is.

Before Shauna said goodbye, she told me that the tart from the new sandwich shop near her office is delicious.  In actual fact, I have passed by the new underpass just before meeting her and I vaguely remember such a store named Paul.  I was attracted by the sandwich filled with brie.  It looked so yummy.  When I mentioned Paul to my wife Cynthia this evening, immediately she told me that we have visited Paul before, but not in Singapore.

Now, look closer to the picture in this post, do you see Paul?  I love to document my life here, be it as in words or in pictures.

Categories: Diary
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The Hunger Game: Catching Fire – A Spontaneous Watch

November 25th, 2013 by Wilfrid
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The second episode of The Hunger Game.

In a rare occasion, I managed to have a decent eight hours sleep on Saturday.  I can count how many times that has happened in the past seven months with my one hand.  Jolly mood I was at, without having this wanting to fall asleep every other minute throughout the day, I made a list of suggestions on where to go for lunch.  My wife Cynthia has picked a Chinese restaurant in the airport called Crystal Jade, which is around 25 km from our home.  I was lunching at the same place the day before with my colleague June.  My wife asked if it was OK for me to dine in the same restaurant two days in a roll.  I am happy to.  June has planned to bring her family to Crystal Jade on Saturday for dinner.  Imagine her surprise if I was to tell her that I too have brought my family all the way to Changi for food.  The love we have for Crystal Jade, try not to underestimate.

I did not plan to return home immediately after our little excursion to the east side of Singapore.  After our sumptuous meal, I took out my tablet and secretly check out the movie schedule near our location.  The Hunger Game was showing in a cinema 10 minutes’ drive away from us.  I asked Cynthia if she has an appointment at four and she said no.  So I booked the tickets online and then told her that we were going for a movie.  Everyone loves a little surprise, once in a while.

It was the first time we visited the mall Downtown East.  If Changi – where I work – is far from where we live, Pasir Ris is even more remote.  I do not know what places of interest are in Pasir Ris.  Downtown East is one.  Pasir Ris Park – where we had our dinner later on – is another.

The mall looks different from the rest that we have seen.  We felt as though we were in Malaysia, or in Bandung Indonesia.  There is nothing too exciting inside the mall and the cinema only has four screens.  Perhaps that is the very reason why we still managed to get good seats so close to showtime.

Catching Fire is a two and a half hours movie.  It is a pretty lengthy movie, just like the first one.  At the end of last episode, both Katniss and Peeta from District 12 (I always thought he is ‘Peter’) have won the game – a first time in history to have two tributes surviving the game.  In this second episode, following the tradition, the winner or in this case winners have to make a tour through the districts and pay respect to the fallen tributes.  The concept is kind of odd to me.  I mean, there is this game whereby tributes against their will are killing each other in order to survive.  And in the end, the survivors visit the homes of the fallen ones to … I don’t know … to gloat?  To apologize?  To say, a battle well fought?  Only Panem can think of a sick tradition like this.

But here is the irony.  The movie has gone in great length dealing with character development that is lacking in action but essential in giving meaning to this meaningless game.  And then when the game finally came, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it because it is so sick that I hate it.  I cannot pinpoint what I am attracted to.  Perhaps I wanted so bad to know how Katniss can beat the game again.  Other moral conflicts, I can deal with them another day.

When Katniss and Peeta are back in the game – think Survivor All-Star – the pace of the movie picked up tremendously.  It may not be as exciting as the first episode because I can more or less anticipate what is to come, it is still exciting to watch.

Like some other trilogies, Catching Fire being the middle episode sandwiched between a fresh beginning and a climatic ending is neither here nor there.  I wish the game was longer, the on-screen romance was more convincing and intense.  I can also understand that if it was so, it would look like a repeat of the first episode.  It is not quite an ending that concludes this second episode, but rather an opening for the third.  Since I am a fan of the franchise, Catching Fire is a must watch, for me.

After the movie, Cynthia and I have decided to have our dinner at Pasir Ris Park.  Long time ago, we used to frequent the place.  After the government has got rid of many of the eating places there (oh those BBQ chicken wings we so dearly miss!), we have stopped visiting.  On our previous visit, it was raining hard.  We still remember how all of us dinners squeezed into every last bit of shelter trying to have our meal without getting too wet.  The restaurant is by the beach and has an open area concept.  On Saturday, we have visited the same restaurant again.  The air was fresh.  Facing the beach in near pitch dark, it was rather romantic.  What a day.

Categories: Fantasy & Sci-fi · Movie Reviews
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Rush – What An Experience Back To 1976 Formula One

October 17th, 2013 by Wilfrid
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Rush, a F1 movie

As a Formula One enthusiast, this movie Rush is a real treat. Unlike Senna (2010) – also another great film on F1 but in a documentary style – Rush is a movie based on a true story between the two rivalry drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.  All the elements of the sport are there.  Classic tracks, ear-bleeding engine noise, the flamboyancy of a F1 driver, how the technical knowledge a driver can bring an advantage to the team, the politics within the sport, the need to fight for a seat, the danger involved, and the sacrifices that the drivers and their families have made for that podium, and to be crowned the world champion.  Most of us would only see the sport as fast cars going round and round in circle.  Rush is a rare glimpse into what this sport is truly about.  While Formula One of today is a lot safer than in the earlier days, much of what is seen in this movie is still relevant.

The drama of the 1976 season is intense and part of it can be so gruesome that my wife has to turn away from the screen in the midst of the show.  The determination of winning a season above all sacrifices and this constant satisfaction of cheating death – something it is hard to relate but to a F1 driver of that era, that was all that mattered.  This movie is moving for me seeing how the two drivers fought against each other against all odds.  In the end, one may wonder what all of this are for.  To go down in history as one of the legendary drivers I suppose.  Some do live and die for the sport.

Both actors – Chris Hemsworth (of Thor!) and Daniel Brühl – act equally well.  Even to those who are not familiar with the sport (like my wife and my buddy), Rush is entertaining to watch.  If you wish to read more about Niki Lauda (ranked 9th as F1′s greatest driver by BBC), check out the link here.

Categories: Action & Thriller · Movie Reviews
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The Entire 2012 Korean Trip Photo Album Is Out!

September 2nd, 2013 by Wilfrid
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I know I have not been paying as much attention to this website as I used to be.  The truth is that I have not stopped blogging.  Just that I am doing so more often at Google+ instead.  There is something amazing on that social platform.

Now back to our Korean holiday last year, I have finally finished processing all the pictures and have them mostly published at Google+.  Photo processing takes time mainly due to the fact that I put captions on each photo that is worth publishing.  And adding captions require fact checking and constantly referring to my diary (and my terrible, terrible handwriting doesn’t help).  My goal is to be able to view the photograph and read the captions in the future so as to relive the moments.

Jeongbang Waterfall

As always, the links to the photo albums can be found in here.  Below are the journal entries for each day of our travel, documented in Google+.  Thank you for reading and browsing!

Categories: Photography
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The Silver Linings Playbook By Matthew Quick – An Engaging Read

August 13th, 2013 by Wilfrid
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An original story with unexpected plot

Let us begin with a quote from the book as it beautifully summarizes the theme of The Silver Linings Playbook.

“Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly [...]. And literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for people to endure nobly.”

In my mind, the author does just that: telling us a story through Pat who believes that his life is a movie produced by God. With vigorous exercise and good behavior, God will eventually grant him a happy ending. One that reunites him with his wife Nikki. The story begins with Pat discharging from the mental institution – which he calls “bad place” – and slowly integrating back to his old life: his emotionally unstable father, his ever-loving mother, always-supportive brother, and best friend. No one tells him how long he has been away. He has no recollection on why he was locked up in the “bad place” and what has happens to his marriage. All he knows is that between Nikki and him, they are on “apart time”. His goal in life is to see through the end of “apart time” so that he can see his wife again.

Except, life is not as simple. There are good reasons why his mother has put away all his wedding photos, no one around him wants to mention Nikki, and Pat is having a hard time catching up what he has missed during his stay in the “bad place”.

It hurts to look at the clouds, but it also helps, like most things that cause pain. So I need to run, and as my lungs burn and my back rebels with that stabbing knife feeling and my leg muscles harden and the half inch of loose skin around my waist jiggles, I feel as though my penance for the day is being done and that maybe God will be pleased enough to lend me some help, which I think is why He has been showing me interesting clouds for the past week.

In the mist of all these confusion and necessary adaptation, Pat has met Tiffany who is recently widowed and is also mentally unstable. Since the story is narrated from Pat’s perspective, very little is known about the intention of Tiffany. She appears to be mysterious, yet another flawed character. The extract below shows an aspect of her character.

When [Tiffany] turns to face me, I think she is simply going to say good night, but she says, “Look, I haven’t dated since college, so I don’t know how this works.”

“How what works?”

“I’ve seen the way you’ve been looking at me. Don’t bullshit me, Pat. I live in the addition around back, which is completely separate from the house, so there’s no chance of my parents walking in on us. I hate the fact that you wore a football jersey to dinner, but you can fuck me as long as we turn the lights out first. Okay?”

I’m too shocked to speak, and for a long time we just stand there.

“Or not,” Tiffany adds just before she starts crying.

The Silver Linings Playbook is engaging in a few ways. First, I have always enjoyed reading books characterized with flawed characters. Second, the emotion these characters are going through is complex. It is like taking a roller coaster ride reading this book. Third, the plot is unpredictable. It is hard to guess where the author is heading although there is a particular path I may wish the book would resolve. As a bonus, this book is so well planned that it may be worthwhile to read again and everything seems to make sense – from clouds watching to Tiffany’s abrupt entry to the story.

Back to the main theme of the story, The Silver Linings Playbook is certainly not a PG feel-good read. It is a heartwarming read reminding us the importance of stay positive and look for the silver linings in life.

Categories: Book Reviews · Fiction
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Suddenly Royal By Nichole Chase – How Would Kinsella Approach This?

August 11th, 2013 by Wilfrid
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Suddenly Royal

I thought all chick-lit are created equal. Then I realize that just because I love reading Sophie Kinsella‘s novels doesn’t mean that I enjoy reading any chick-lit. Believe it or not, I had no idea that Suddenly Royal is as such. The story line sounded like Princess Diaries, yes. The review seems ravishing. Some said they love how the author makes this story her own. Other said they love the twist within.

I don’t see any twist or whatsoever. It is a feel-good story that is predictable from beginning to end coupled with some steamy sex scenes that are neither tasteful nor artistic. When I read the followings, I knew I have picked up a chick-lit. One takeaway though, is that when you are hot and handsome, you can potentially get away with running your eyes up and down a girl’s body.

I shrugged out of my coat and that’s when I felt his eyes on me. Looking up, I realized Prince Yummy had indeed come for dinner. Jess and the undergrads had been wrong. He wasn’t yummy, he was delicious; a feast to be savored. Dark blond hair hung a smudge too long, eyes so blue it was like looking into the heart of a glacier. Built like the statue of David; the contours of his suit hugging every delicious muscle. Laugh lines around his mouth and eyes brought him into the realm of humanity, and gave him a personality. As his eyes ran over my face and down my body slowly, heat washed over my skin. When I handed the jacket to the maitre d’ i felt naked. There was something about his bright blue eyes that left me feeling exposed.

Samantha is a biology graduate specialized in raptor. She works hard for her degree and she has a father with cancer to take care of. Out of nowhere, the royal members of Lilaria (somewhere in Europe) have sought her out in America claiming that she is a royal descendant. Samantha has a decision to make. Stay in US or head to Lilaria claim her title and land. To spice up the deal, the Lilarian royalty has promised to provide good medical treatment for her father. At the same time, the crown prince of Lilarian seems to have fallen in love with her!

But here comes the dilemma. Samantha wants to finish her study and she thinks that falling in love with a prince is bad idea. Because … because she thinks the prince would need a queen who is … a royalty (and she is not?) and a born-and-breed Lilarian (since when a prince must marry someone from his countries?)

Throughout the book, I could not help but to think, how would Sophie Kinsella write this book? Here is my take.

Samantha would have a tough time integrating into the royalty circle since she is not born royal (unlike this story whereby she has no problem with the royal politics as a commoner). She would have a boyfriend but yet, intrigued by Prince Charming. Then, some evil force from within Lilaria would strip her title. Everyone including Prince Charming would despise her. And then, Samantha would do something extraordinary to save Lilaria from this evil force out of selflessness. There will be happy ever after between Samantha and her love interest.

Unfortunately, Suddenly Royal does not have this level of drama.

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