Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Reviews: Recent Reads part 2

I don't read as often as I used to, but I have managed to read these books recently. I thought they were all worthwhile reads, so I wanted to share, in case anyone out there wanted to get her hands on a book and didn't know which one to crack open. These three books are for three different mindsets.

The Last Letter From Your Lover
by Jojo Moyes


It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband.

Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.


I picked up this book because I am a huge fan of Moyes' Me Before You. While this one isn't as good as that, it is still a nice read.

This is the book you should read if you're looking for a mature, serious love story which will keep you turning the pages as you wonder who the mysterious lover is, and if they will ever get back together. I don't condone extra-marital affairs at all, but this book kind of makes me understand why some people do it.

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman


Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.


If you're in the mood for a good cry, this is the book for you.

I love the flashbacks of Mia's life, her interactions with not just her boyfriend, but her family as well. It's an easy, short read, and despite the sad premise, it's not too heavy. It's been turned into a movie, so perhaps that is a good enough reason to read it.

This is What Happy Looks Like
by Jennifer Smith


When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?


This book had me at the first few pages of cute witty emails, and by the time I got to the one where they discussed "what does happy look like?" I was a goner. This is a perfect chick lit, feel-good rom-com light-reading.

Any good books you've read lately that you'd recommend to me? Let me know in the comments, please and thank you. :)

Book covers and synopses sourced from

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

{Movie Review} The Giver


The haunting story of The Giver centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community's memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community's secret past.

With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined - a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all - a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before.

The Giver is based on Lois Lowry's beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. (C) Weinstein


I read The Giver many years ago when I was still a student, and I fell in love with it and the genre. It was probably my first dystopian fantasy, way before Hunger Games, Divergent, and the rest.

"When people are given the freedom to choose, they choose wrong." This is the premise behind why the communities in Jonah's world was created. People have to take injections so they won't develop emotions, and they live in structured dwellings with families that are not of their own blood. Babies are produced by birth mothers, women assigned to do this as a job, then assigned to "parents" who have applied for them. They live in an efficient society with no pain and hunger, but also no love. It has ceased to exist, the word becoming so antiquated, that most people don't even know what it means.

I love the philosophical questions that the story elicits. If people were stripped of choice and emotions, can we live in a better world where there is no excess and pain? Sure, it will seem like a boring world indeed, but what if we didn't know about what we were missing? What if our knowledge of all these, and all our capacity for emotions, were hidden or suppressed? Maybe if we don't know what we're missing, we won't want for it, and therefore be content.

But then again, is a life devoid of pain and also all other emotions worth it? Maybe we need to feel, both good and bad, in order to live a life worth living. Because without those, is it called living or mere existing?

This movie has such a low rating from critics because the movie does not dig deep enough into the classic source, apparently, and because they deviated a bit by inserting Meryl Streep's character and adding the love story angle with Fiona (her name was mentioned in the book, but she didn't really have that much of a role there). I don't think these additions are that upsetting, though. I understand why they were added, to make the story more interesting for the average moviegoer. And any movie with Meryl Streep in it immediately becomes watchable, don't you think? This movie is star-studded, by the way, with Meryl and Jeff Bridges and Katie Holmes and even a bit part by Taylor Swift.

Besides, they kept the important parts intact, like the ending, and the general gist. So all in all I think the movie was worth watching. It's not as exciting as other movies of its genre, though, so don't expect too much.

Ratings: IMDB - 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes - 68%

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

{Foodee} Fart Tartz

On my 6th year anniversary in Singapore, I decided to celebrate by seeking out a cafe that I had never been to before, and found myself in Fart Tartz in Max Atria (Expo).

I know. Funny name for a place that sells food, right?

I loved that the place was huge and spacey and quiet, the perfect place to hunker down with a cuppa and some sweets to study or have a catch up with friends.

They have lots of tarts in jars which all look so delectable and interesting that I had a hard time deciding which to choose.

But what really got my attention were the desserts that look like potted plants. So cute, right?

So I chose the oreo nutella mud tart and a cup of mocha.

Then I sat down on a small couch with a low table right next to a huge plate glass window that overlooked the parking lot and offered a view of the Singapore skyline.

It's not fancy schmancy but really quaint and quiet. I love all the cute little touches, like the shelves with plants and this interesting woodwork that houses couches made for lots of people, with the interesting light bulbs hanging over it.

The coffee was good, and I really loved the tart in a pot. So good! Here's what the chocolate "soil" looks like inside.

Well this place is near my office, so I'm definitely gonna be back!

1 Expo Drive #02-04 Singapore 486150
Nearest MRT station: Expo

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