Ready, Action! Kim Hyun Joong in Spain Photobook Review

When Korean superstar Kim Hyun Joong (“Boys Over Flowers”, “Playful Kiss”) visited Spain last year, fans thought it was for a well-earned vacation. As it turned out, the visit was for a special photobook project which Kim Hyun Joong himself referenced as a “gift” for his fans in the year 2010. I am not really sure if this was what he referred to but given the style and quality of the photobook, I would say this was the gift he talked about. Continue reading

The Last Lecture

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch‘s The Last Lecture went viral. So viral that he was invited to reprise his lecture on Oprah and appear on Diane Sawyer. He received so many letters and emails from people who were touched by his lecture. 

Through this book, Randy Pausch was given a new medium to communicate. A professor dying of pancreatic cancer, Randy Pausch talked about “How to Really Achieve Your Childhood Dreams”. This relatively easy read is packed with life lessons and beautiful moments that make a well-lived life. Randy Pausch’s quest to preserve a legacy for his children unwittingly set the course for him to leave a legacy to the world. Experience is truly the best teacher. Pausch’s no-nonsense, no-self-pity attitude is something for all of us to learn from. His insights on parenting, discipline, perseverance, pride, humility and passion reminds us of things we know in our gut but too often forget. I cannot help but tear-up when he talks about what his wife of 8 years whispered to him during his last lecture. I also cried when he talks of his children and how he is saying goodbye to them without their knowledge. 

What makes the book different from watching the lecture is that Randy Pausch discusses the aftermath of the lecture. He talks of lessons he learned from the emails he received and even gives us a glimpse of applying what he learned from Diane Sawyer. But what truly struck me about The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is the sense of humor and positive attitude the author exudes. Pausch, himself, quoted a friend who said that he is the poster boy for balancing optimism and realism. This is very true. He truly succeeded in leaving a legacy for his children. We will all do well to learn from him.

Breaking Dawn Broke My Heart

Breaking Dawn

[SPOILERS Ahead!] It is extremely obvious from my site that I am a huge Twilight Saga fan. I would have to say, though, that the final installment in Stephenie Meyer’s vampire saga disappointed me very very much. I feel that she wasted a great opportunity to crystallize the recurring themes of her series. I know some fans may disagree with me but I also know that many agree as evidenced by the Return Breaking Dawn movement and other bad reviews of Breaking Dawn. Let me list down my points of contention with Breaking Dawn in this Breaking Dawn review.

What is Meyer telling me?

In the first three books of the Twilight Saga, Twilight, New Moonand Eclipse, Meyer’s recurring themes were love, sacrifice and choice along with their consequences. I was expecting that these themes will be crystallized in the last book. Breaking Dawn felt like a betrayal of her established themes. Bella’s choice to become a vampire did not have the natural consequence of her estrangement from her father and her mother just disappeared from the scene. I am a parent and I do not think a father will react the way Charlie did. Her choice to marry Edward and hurt Jacob was simply resolved when Jacob imprinted on her child (a half-human, half-vampire). What is Meyer telling me? Let me see…

(1) Marry even if you are young and immature
(2) Becoming pregnant automatically makes a woman mature
(3) No need to go to College. You just need to marry a rich man
(4) You can have your cake (Edward) and eat it too (Jacob)
(5) There are no consequences for a proven evil intent (Volturi walking away unscathed after Garrett’s speech)
(6) When you admit a unintended mistake, you die and there’s no justice for your death (Irina)

Sorry for the comparison but I can’t help it. J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter installment successfully established her themes of love and good versus evil. I learned something from Harry but I will not recommend Breaking Dawn to my daughter (She’s 1 so she can’t read yet…).

What Happened To The Characters?

Many of the characters in Breaking Dawn did not behave the way they were expected to behave given the character development from the first 3 books. Edward was half the man he was. Come on, he didn’t even contribute to naming his daughter! That’s not the Edward I know. Jacob, a strong alpha male, suddenly turned wimpy after he imprinted. Bella rapidly developed maternal instincts when she was so hostile to the idea of marriage and these are just the 3 major characters! I wanted to cry for these beautiful characters…

Why Introduce So Many New Characters with Breaking Dawn almost concluded?

Is it in order to sell copies of the Twilight companion book in December? I won’t be surprised if the companion book contains back stories of these new vampire characters. I felt like Breaking Dawn was trying to become Harry Potter in its last book. Harry Potter had a slew of incredible wizard characters but they were slowly established by Rowling throughout the series.

What is Up With The Different Points of View?

Majority of the first 3 books were written in Bella’s perspective. It was only in Eclipse where Jacob’s POV was used. I have nothing against different POVs but for an author to deliberately break her own writing structure is a bit off. If Meyer were to break her own structure, why not write Breaking Dawn’s Book 3 in Edward’s perspective? It would have been more entertaining to read about Bella’s first days as a vampire from Edward’s POV. Also, wouldn’t it be better to read about Bella’s preparation for Jacob to take care of Renesmee (Ough! The name!) in case of her and Edward’s death from Edward’s unsuspecting eyes? At least, I would have had a good twist.

A lot of the things that made me love the Twilight Saga were destroyed by my experience of readingBreaking Dawn. I am now on a quest to cleanse my brain so I can forget about Breaking Dawn. This may take some time but I will try. To me, the Twilight Saga ended with Eclipse.

The Twilight Saga Review

I finally succumbed to the temptation! I had read about the Twilight saga from the In Print newsletter last December and their review piqued my curiosity. However, my busy schedule didn’t allow me the luxury of reading for pleasure. 

Two Sundays ago, I saw the first of the series in National bookstore. Seeing that it was reasonably priced, I got myself a copy. I never thought that this saga will not just fill my time but has turned me into a crazed fan. I am hungry for more! Good thing Stephenie Meyer gives me more by posting outtakes in her website. I loved Midnight Sun, Rosalie’s News and Miscalculation. I read the entire series including Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse in just a week and a half. I had talked to people around me endlessly about the books. I think they are just about sick of hearing about it. My husband encouraged me to write a review but I am having a difficult time because I just love the books so much that I can’t seem to be objective in writing a review. I’ll just give you five reasons (not in any order) why you should read it. 

1. Love Triangle
2. Simple yet delicious writing 
3. Extremely romantic but the beauty is in the seduction
4. Metaphors, allusions and foreshadows abound
5. Engaging and entertaining

Ok…ok…I’ll admit it….the reason why you should read this book is Edward! Meyer writes her romantic protagonist in the tradition of Jane Austen. Who will not fall in love with him? 

Ladies…you will enjoy these books. Gentlemen…I suggest you stay away and wait for the movie. Take your wife or special someone. I’m sure you’ll earn pogi points. =)

Timeless Books

There are books that are considered classics. Books like Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, etc. I recently read a science fiction book written in 1960 which many consider a modern classic. The book is Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. It’s been a long time since a book had such a personal impact on me. I’d say that Flowers for Algernon must be required reading for all psychology students.

The book is about a man born with low IQ who was given an opportunity to develop better IQ through an experimental treatment first successfully performed in a lab rat named Algernon. Charlie underwent the surgery and the procedure seemed successful until Algernon started deteriorating. What will happen to Charlie?

This book is beautiful in its treatment of the ethical issues related to psychology and the beauty of the human soul. Written using the unreliable narrator style, the book is an exciting read. Touching and relevant, I’d say that this is truly a book worth your time.

Fast Food Nation Book Review

I am currently reading Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser

This is a very interesting book since it exposes several issues about the fast food industry. From the title itself, you can already anticipate the topics discussed between the covers. I haven’t finished the book yet but I already feel terrible for the unfair labor practices, massive use of food chemistry, incredible politics and strategic marketing strategies employed by fast food companies. Today, I try my best to avoid eating McDonald’s fries. If you’re a huge fast food customer, I suggest you read this book.