Category: Gifts

Aug 28

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

The Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yoko Ogawa
(5/5)

Contemporary Fiction/Japanese Fiction
Publisher: Vintage
First Published in August 2003

Review


This is one of my favourite books that I have read this year. It’s actually turning out to be a bit of a Japanese reading year for me, with Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 trilogy keeping me busy from January to March.


I had read a favourite books of the year newspaper article in January and along with 1Q84,  The House Keeper and the Professor was among the chosen few. It’s a heartwarming story about a housekeeper, a professor and the housekeeper’s ten year old son. Using the word ‘heartwarming’ to describe this story may cause it to sound trite and mushy, but having just finished this short novel just an hour ago, that’s how my heart feels – warmed.

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Jul 19

And Furthermore by Judi Dench

And Furthermore

by Judi Dench

as told to John Miller

(5/5)

Autobiography: And Furthermore by Judi Dench

Autobiography / Biography / Memoir / Non-Fiction
Publisher: Phoenix
First Published in 2010

Click here to buy the book And Furthermore by Judi Dench (with free delivery)

Book Review:

This autobiography of Judi Dench’s career was a fun and easy read. As an actor myself, I loved reading about her stage productions and the different experiences, directors and actors she encountered. Dench comes across extremely down to earth and hard working actor with a playful sense of humour. I read the book with a mixture of envy and awe – Dench was actually fought over to play Shakespeare’s Cleopatra by two directors, Peter Hall and Terry Hands, who had both decided to direct the play at the same time!

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Mar 25

Audio Books!

I’ve discovered Audio Books!


I’ve been listening to podcasts like the New York Times Book Review and B&N Meet The Writers which I have enjoyed very much, but I’m now ready for more. I get motion sickness if I read while traveling, so I get really bored and frustrated not to be able to be engaged in a book while I’m getting from one place to another.

So, I decided to sign up for an audio book membership with Audible.com to listen to audio books on my i phone/i pod/ MP3 player. I used to think of audio books as being expensive, but I’ve realised, they can be cheaper than buying an actual book!

Here’s the plan I’m getting:

Audible Listener Discount Gold Membership


Discount Gold Offer

  • Price: Monthly: USD$7.49 for the first three months and USD$14.95 thereafter and Annually: USD$149.95
  • Benefits: 12 membership credits; 30% discount on future purchases; complimentary subscription to The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times

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Jan 08

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl

by Eoin Colfer

Picture 1

Fantasy / Fiction / Children’s Book / Light Reading
First Published in 2001
Publisher: Puffin
International Bestseller
Shortlisted for the Whitbred Children’s Book of the Year
Winner of the WHSmith ‘People’s Choice’ Children’s Book of the Year
Winner of the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Artemis Fowl, a genius criminal mastermind has succeeded in establishing the existence of fairies, and is determined to catch one. After staking out over 100 fairy locations, Artemis succeeds in kidnapping LEPrecon Captain Holly Short.

But these aren’t the toadstool-dancing creatures of fairy tales, these are trained law enforcement fairies, and they are ready to fight back. Just when Artemis Fowl thinks he has them cornered, the fairies stop playing by the rules.

FYI: Artemis Fowl is a twelve-year-old.

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Dec 31

The Book of Bunny Suicides

The Book of Bunny Suicides

by Andy Riley

Picture 1 Adult Picture Book / Gift
First Published in 2003
Publisher: Plume, The Penguin Group

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Little fluffy rabbits who just don’t want to live any more. This adult picture book, and its sequel, Return of the Bunny Suicides, contains endless ways for a bunny to kill itself. From smoking out of every hole in its body, to flushing itself down an aeroplane toilet, to kicking an alien in the balls, this ridiculously funny book is a fountain of knowledge on rabbit self-killing.

Picture 2

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Dec 30

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

by Elisabeth Robinson

(5/5) Picture 3Fiction
First Published in 2004
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
International Bestseller

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

This novel is told in the form of letters from Olivia Hunt to her sister with cancer, Michael her ex-boyfriend, her parents and her best friend. Along the way we find out about the progress or non-progress of Olivia’s feature film that she’s trying to get off the ground in Hollywood.

Through Olivia’s letters we track the progress of her year, and are privy to her thoughts, the varied way she communicates with people, her highs and lows and also just the plain usual things that happens day to day that find themselves into her letters. Simply yet powerfully told, this novel simultaneously funny and sad, tragic and heart warming.

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Dec 23

The Buddha’s Book of Daily Meditations

The Buddha’s Book of Daily Meditations

by Christopher Titmuss

(Author of Light on Enlightenment)

Picture 3 Spiritual / Non-Fiction / Quotes
First Published in 2001
Publisher: Random House

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Buddha’s teachings are still profoundly relevant despite the fact that he lived 2500 years ago, because his teachings came from a down to earth wisdom.

This is a compilation of some of Buddha’s thoughts and advice put together by Christopher Titmuss, a meditation master who has been a Buddhist monk.

There is one quotation for every day of the year to guide and free those who reflect upon them from the conditioning of our minds, and so bring about change in different aspects of our lives – spiritual, social, personal and political.

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Dec 20

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

a memoir

by Jeanette Walls

(5/5)

Picture 1Memoir/Autobiography
First Published in 2005
Publisher: Scribner International

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

The Glass Castle is an extraordinary memoir of a dysfunctional yet effervescent American family. Jeanette’s father is an intelligent, compelling figure, who educates his children on geology, physics and joie de vivre. However, more often than not, he was a drunk who was caustic and dishonest.

Jeanette’s mother was a free spirit who loved painting but hated conformity and the domestic life of raising children.

And so, Jeanette and her siblings grew up taking care of themselves. Jeanette became a successful writer in New York, a place where her parents eventually moved, choosing out of their own free will to live homeless.

In The Glass Castle, the behavior of Rex and Rose Mary Walls is shocking and unacceptable, yet at the same time, it is abundantly clear that they possess deep love and loyalty for their children. It is this contradiction that makes this memoir so gripping.

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Dec 09

The Wide-Mouthed Frog

The Wide-Mouthed Frog

[A pop-up book]

by Keith Faulkner / Illustrated by Jonathan Lambert

Picture 1 Children’s Book / Picture Book / Pop-up Book
Ages 3-6
First Published in 1995
Publisher: Koala Books

Click to buy this book (free delivery)


Children’s Book Synopsis:

The curious wide-mouthed frog wants to find out the favorite foods of all the animals he meets along his journey.

He can’t stop himself chattering away, stopping to ask every creature he meets: ‘What do you eat?’

But then he meets an animal who loves eating wide-mouthed frogs…

bunnyMy Book Review:

This is an amusing story that my mother, who is a storyteller, tells to young children. In book form, the pop ups of the animals are delightful, and the repetition of “I’m a wide-mouthed frog and I eat flies…What do you eat?” helps the kids join in as they learn about what mouse, bird and alligator love to eat. And despite the carnivorous inclinations of the alligator, the story of The Wide-Mouthed Frog has a funny ending.

x Julie

Reading Like Rabbits

Children’s Book Review

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Dec 07

The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch

by Jill Murphy

Picture 1Children’s Fiction
Ages 7-11
First Published in 1974
Publisher: Puffin Books

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

The Worst Witch:

Mildred Hubble joins Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. But it doesn’t take her long to realize that she is possibly the worst witch the school has ever had.

Mildred is a klutz, can never get her spells right, and has a tabby cat who is terrified of broom-flying.

However, Mildred may have been able to pass under the teacher’s radar, if the mean Ethel Hallow hadn’t decided to become her worst enemy.

A few more books from the series:

Picture 2

A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch:

Can Mildred shed her reputation as the worst witch of Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches? She tries her best, but as usual for Mildred, things go horribly wrong for her…

Picture 3

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Dec 06

The Hours

The Hours

by Michael Cunningham

(5/5)

Picture 2Fiction
First Published in 1998
Publisher; Fourth Estate, A Division of Harper Collins Publishers
Set in: London, New York City and Los Angeles (1920s/1940s/1990s)
Won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Won the 1999 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Three women.

1920s London. Virginia Woolf attempts to begin her new novel, but she is struggling to settle her unruly mind.

1940s Los Angeles. In the stifling heat, Laura Brown, a young mother and wife aches to abandon her domestic life to escape to the solitude of reading Mrs Dalloway.

1990s New York. Clarissa Vaughan hosts a party for a dying friend.

Michael Cunningham uses the life and works of Virginia Woolf as inspiration for a moving reflection on love, failure, despair and artistic behaviour.

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Dec 06

Detective’s Handbook and Spy’s Guide

Detective’s Handbook

and

Spy’s Guide

Illustrated by Colin King

Picture 1Picture 2Children’s Non-Fiction Book
Ages 8-11
First Published in 1978
Publisher: Usborne

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Detective’s Handbook Synopsis:

Being a detective is challenging and extremely thrilling. You must be well trained, alert and patient to be a good detective. He must be able to create a whole story from the tiniest clue at a crime scene. He must be on the lookout for criminals and be prepared to chase down a baddie if necessary.

The Detective’s Handbook teaches you special detective skills, such as dusting for fingerprints, identifying handwriting, questioning witnesses and finding clues.

Full of advice, tips and hints, this handbook for young detectives will prepare you for when your skills are put to the test!

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Dec 02

Jonathan Livingston Seagull a story

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – a story

By Richard Bach

Photographs by Russell Munson

(5/5)

Picture 1Fiction / Inspirational
First Published in 1970
Publisher: Harper Element

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Seagulls fly to find to food. Seagulls eat. Seagulls survive. This is seagull law. But Jonathan Livingston Seagull has discovered the sheer joy and pleasure of flying and swooping and diving. Because of this, Jonathan is banished by the seagull elders. But Jonathan still continues to fly, expanding his horizons and searching for his higher purpose.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a fable about seizing life by the horns, and following your dreams, even if it means going against the norms of the flock.

A story that will inspire you to follow your dreams, so that you can soar too.

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Nov 30

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones’s Diary

by Helen Fielding

(5/5)

Bridget Jones PictureFiction
First Published in 1996
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Set in: London, present day

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Cover Synopsis:

Bridget Jones wants to have it all – and once she’s given up smoking and got down to 8st 7lbs, she will. Bridget Jones’s Diary is about a year in the life of a single girl on an optimistic but doomed quest for self-improvement. A dazzling urban satire of modern human relations? An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family? Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something? Bridget Jones is everyone’s favourite Londoner. This is your chance to reacquaint yourself with the funniest, most heart-warming young lady ever to grace the pages of a Picador book.

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Nov 29

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

by Edward Gorey

Gashleycrumb PictureFiction, adult picture book
First Published in 1963
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Wikipedia Synopsis:

The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing is an abecedarian book written by Edward Gorey that was first published in 1963. Gorey tells the tale of 26 children (each representing a letter of the alphabet) and their untimely deaths in rhyming dactylic couplets, accompanied by the author’s distinctive black and white illustrations.

bunnyMy Book Review of The Gashlycrumb Tinies:

The Gashlycrumb Tinies was given to me as a present from a friend. I loved its macabre nature but had to wonder what in MY nature had caused him to think of me when he saw this book.

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Nov 28

Outliers

Outliers

by Malcolm Gladwell

(4/5)

Picture 2Non-Fiction
First Published in 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Click to buy this book (free delivery)


Book Synopsis:

Why do some people achieve so much more than others?

Can they lie so far out of the ordinary?

In his provocative and inspiring new book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising than we could have ever imagined. He reveals that it’s as much about where we’re from and what we do, as who we are – and that no one, not even a genius, ever makes it alone.

Outliers will change the way you think about your life story, and about what makes us all unique.

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Nov 28

Maus

Maus

I – My Father Bleeds History

II – And Here My Trouble Begin

by Art Spiegelman

(5/5)

Maus PictureFiction, Graphic Novel
Winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize
First Published in 1980-1991 in RAW magazine
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Set: Nazi Poland and modern day New York, USA

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

“The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.” – Adolf Hitler

Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father, his father’s terrifying story, and history itself. It’s form, the cartoon (Nazi’s are cats, the Jews are mice), succeeds perfectly in shocking us out of our any lingering sense of familiarity with the events described, approaching, as it does, the unspeakable through the diminutive. It is, as the New York Times Book Review has commented, “a remarkable feat of documentary detail and novelistic vividness…an unfolding literary event.”

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