Another “Don’t Want It to End” Book

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver has been on my bookshelf, unread, back in Coquitlam for a while. I always meant to read it after I first found it on the Pop Crunch list for The 10 Most Disturbing Books of All Time, but I never got around to it. You know what they say about borrowed things versus things you actually own; if you know the book is going to be yours forever, you’ll just put off reading it.

This book, for me, goes on my list of books that I wish “would never end.” I’m enjoying the book so much that I want to just go on reading it. Not very many books make this list. Some other books that were on my “Please Never End” list:

There are a few more books that I can’t recall off the top of my head, so I’ll just get straight to the point of this short post: being able to enjoy a book so much that you don’t want it to end is something that I hope I never lose.

Home Towns

I wrote this in response to someone’s question about my hometown.


I currently live in Stamford, CT, USA. I came here in 2013 in order to be with my husband. He’d moved here in 2012 for work.

Our favorite restaurant changes with the season. Currently it’s Dinosaur BBQ. We don’t really have a favorite anything else because Stamford is not really our scene.

We go to the movie theatre a lot; and there are 2 Cineplex theatres here. Our favorite of the 2 is the one in the mall because it’s not as shabby.

We spent a lot of time at the Stamford Nature Center one year in Spring, now we spend our weekends up North a bit at a new State park we found.

I see this one bus driver, Charlie, a lot. He’s always cheerful. Doesn’t have that, “I hate my job” vibe that most bus drivers have. he talks too much though.

I see this other bus driver, I call him Parrot guy because I think he has a parrot. He constantly has a scar over his nose and it always looks like it’s a new scar. I’ve taken his bus for 6 months now, and the wound always heals a bit and then looks fresh again. I’m sure he probably doesn’t have a parrot and it might be some other story; but I’d like to think he has a grumpy parrot who pecks him and he’s grumpy back.

He used to be grumpy whenever I saw him, but I started smiling and asking him how his day was all the time. He started smiling back, and whenever he saw it’s me boarding the bus, he’d laugh and say “hey!” I hope I’ve made his day a little better.

I don’t like living here, to be honest. We’re planning to move to Australia at one point, which I’m really looking forward to.

Before we came here, we lived in Vancouver. There are countless interesting things to do in Vancouver that it would take a whole hour just to write them out.

Before that, I lived in Taipei, Taiwan (where I was born). My favorite restaurant there was this chain steak house; because they have unlimited free soda. My brother and I once went in there with a paper cup and filled up on our way home from elementary school; the waitress chased us out. Free soda was for paying customers only.

In Taipei, we lived by this huge river with a dam. We took walks along the dam most nights after dinner. We’d walk up to the skate park and our aunt would teach us how to roller skate. Lots of great memories from there, too.

Like the time I took in a stray puppy (snuck it in my back pack, kept it at school, then took it home with me) and hid it in my closet for a whole week. I moved it to my brother’s closet at one point because I was afraid it would poop on my clothes. It ended up pooping on his jacket. That’s when we moved the puppy into a card board box in our room (with the help of our aunt).

It took a whole week before Dad found the puppy. He then helped us construct a more secure box. A couple days later, Mom found out, and that was the end of keeping Puppy. Mom didn’t like animals, so we had to return it back to the wild.

In Taipei, in the 90’s, there were A LOT of stray dogs roaming about. I think animal control back then wasn’t very well funded.

I always get stumped by the Home Town question, because I have two. I have childhood memories from Taipei and Vancouver. Then when we include where I live now, or have lived, then there’s a lot more.

I used to hate moving around. I felt displaced a lot and never felt like I belonged. Since I’ve met my husband, I’ve come to enjoy it. I think my mind has re-centered what it thinks of as “home” to just “husband”. Now it feels like it doesn’t really matter where we live; it feels like home as long as we’re there together.

One Piece – My Forever Obsession

The Obsession

Today’s first words are dedicated to One Piece, one of the longest running Manga series and Anime series of all time.

Very briefly, One Piece is a Japanese manga series created by Eiichiro Oda. The series depicts the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, who sets out to become the Pirate King in Oda’s imaginary world.

My interest in One Piece began as early as 2003. I fell in love with the anime, then later I would go on to follow the manga as well. Through out the years I’ve fallen off the One Piece wagon time and again, but I always crawl my way back on.

Why?

The Cause of the Obsession

The Characters

Every. Single. Character created by Oda is full of depth. The formula of a core cast (the Straw Hat crew) of characters and playing them off of each other that Oda uses is a very popular structure we see in Western TV Shows (Cheers, FRIENDS, Buffy, Serenity).

This method ensures that the readers will keep reading, just to see how the characters play off of each other, even if the plot is lacking.

The Plot

The plot starts small, then unravels into a larger idea of the world as Luffy and his crew explore the One Piece world. Many teenagers and young adults can identify with this type of adventure, especially if they are also leaving their nests (home towns) and going away to college to find the person they will become.

The Many, Many Relevant Themes

There are so many different issues covered in the story of One Piece. Prejudice, Class Division, Corruption, Sacrifice, Family Values; and that’s only to name a few. These are heavy issues for a “children’s show” to be portraying, but Oda presents them well.

The Laughs

There’s just so much room for hilarity with the cast of One Piece. Even the “boring” interludes between story arcs are welcomed “feel good” episodes.

The Future

Even though Oda started this series in 1997, he’s mentioned in recent interviews that the series is far from finished. I’m happy knowing that… it’s the same feeling you’d get knowing that there’s a Book 7 to Harry Potter after you just finished Book 5 (that is, if you’re a Harry Potter fan).

Thanks, Oda, for sharing with the world the beautiful thing that is One Piece. I’m looking forwards to the next 15 years.

Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline

I started this book with high hopes, as the premise of the story sounded very interesting.

The hook of this story was done early, and now I know why; it needed a reason to make the reader keep reading despite all the terrible plot devices that followed.

Through out the story, the actions of the characters felt forced; it was very evident that their decisions weren’t natural reactions to the events that befell them. It seems that character development and the integrity to remain true to a character’s personality were forfeit for the purpose of driving the plot forward. And here’s why:

**SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT**

The hook was quite well done. It was easily the best part of this novel. Having an unknown person walk in and leave Chloe for dead made me want to find out exactly who it could have been.

Then Dr. Mike comes home… and therein starts the string of unrealistic events. The author reveals tidbits of Danielle (Chloe’s sister)’s personality. At times she seems controlling (over Emily, Dr. Mike & Chloe’s baby daughter) , at others she seems pathetic (when dealing with her own husband, Bob).

A long string of characters are then introduced. They are all one-dimensional characters with no depth. Their only purpose is to drive the plot forward.

Through it all, I kept reading because I wanted to find out what type of person would have left another person dying. The “whodunit” hook kept me going. I ignored the poor plot devices.

Then… you find out. Dr. Mike makes a decision that lands him in the right place at the right time to hear the killer’s confession.

While it is conceivable that the killers were these characters, it feels poorly done. The author seems to have run out of steam with the whodunit plot line and simply rushed to the finish. The characters that the negligence & murder were pinned on were simply never developed at all, so it makes it difficult for a reader to understand their purpose. They were just another plot device. Ending the “whodunit” plot on poorly developed characters robs the reader of the satisfaction of concluding the mystery.

Then comes the dénouement… somehow after Dr. Mike solves the murder, every unfortunate circumstance the author piled on him miraculously evaporates. He’s not charged for attacking Pat (who is not mentioned at all in this part. His parents are both going to end up in jail and it’s as if Pat never existed). His in-laws suddenly feel differently about him (after finding evidence of his addict behaviour) and want to give him his baby back. Stephanie the lawyer somehow became his new romantic interest…. It’s as if the author felt bad for forcing readers through the disappointment resolution, so she thought giving us a happy ending would make us feel better. She failed; the unrealistic nature of “and they lived happily ever after” just made a disappointing read even more pathetic.

The ONE thing that kept me reading ended up failing the story. The author has some skill in driving plot. But without believable characters, a structured plot is just a skeleton of a story. There is no flesh, no color, no depth. This book was overall, very disappointing.

Back From the Land Down Under

I’m back, and yet I’m not.

Jamie and I spent 3 weeks in Australia visiting with family, and I loved all of it. I fell in love with his family, who accepted me as part of them, now that we’re married.

What I remember, most of all, is what Jamie’s father kept saying to me the summer before this last. Summer 2013 was when we last visited them. Jamie and I wouldn’t be married until mid 2014, and we weren’t yet headed in that direction.

I eat slow, and so did Jamie’s dad. Each time this was brought up, Rod would look up at me meaningfully, and say, “I’m glad to have another slow eater in the family.” That meant so much to me. I fell in love with their family then.

Now that we came back, we can both feel the loss of family. We don’t enjoy living here in America. We love each other very much, yet we also realise we need other people in our lives. Other people who love us and who we love.

So we’re planning. We’re going to get ourselves home. Soon. It’s not easy, but we know we need to do it.

Gradually Settling In

I went for a short jog today down to the Nature Centre. I think it’ll be a thing now. Stopped off at the breakfast place that Jamie and I like so much. Got a Twister wrap and a small coffee. The people there are fun.

It’s Been A Few Months

These past few months have rolled by FAST. It’s October. It was almost July when I last wrote here.

Since July, I’ve turned 29. I’ve purchased a Google Chromebook. I’ve finished some TV shows. I’ve started the Novel version of Different yet again. I started knitting a wrap.

Not much else to add here except that my 29th year is passing awfully fast. I miss Jamie. We expect to see each other again by this month. And if not by this month, then in November at the latest.

My Story

I finally started it. All the random memories, along with the feelings associated with them, are now being recorded on virtual paper.

It’s something I was afraid of doing before. I was afraid of being absolutely honest even when it was to no one in particular. The fear of offending someone else’s sensitivities gave me pause.

But I’m ignoring all of that now.

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I finished the series a best friend got me for Christmas. The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. Not the best writing I’ve ever come across, not even the best story. It wasn’t terrible enough for me to just abandon reading half way through. The ideas it put forth was familiar and the execution of it was admirable. I just didn’t feel sympathetic to the story or the characters–and I generally grow attached to books that CAN make me feel something.

I started another series that I came across while shopping for Steak. The book aisle at Stop & Shop is directly facing the meats. Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Now this book is more up my alley. It’s horrifying at times and it reads as it the author drew the story from genuine feeling. The writing is fluid and the story enjoyable. There are certain areas of the book where it feels like a heavy-handed plot device inserted to get the characters from point A to point B, but it doesn’t distract enough from the story itself.

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My family. How do I explain this? I changed my facebook profile photo to one of my younger self propping up my baby brother. The only comments this drew were from my mother and my aunts.

My mother: “You miss your brother.” What she’s really trying to say is that I don’t miss her.

My other aunt: “Good! Now when you come back you should continue to love your brother oh!” ……………

Why is my choice of living in a separate area from family viewed as desertion? Why am I accused of loving my family less simply because I live in a different area from them? The idea of what “family” means for my Chinese relatives prevents them from understanding this, but their lack of decorum is preventing them from keeping their thoughts to themselves.

There is nothing like being guilt tripped by one Chinese mother. I’m being guilt tripped by multiple because apparent my mother’s sisters all band together when it comes to their children’s wrong-doings. Let’s quadruple the guilt power, shall we?

So that’s today in my life.

Cheap Classics

I acquired three Classics for $10. Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

I’ve read Pride quite a few times already, but I thought it would be handy to have a small copy to take with me on hand–simply because I never know when I’d like to re-read it again. I’ve never successfully finished Emma, but now I plan to.

This is all an attempt to quit my reading dry spell. I sped through the last three books I read because they were difficult to put down. I spent most of my days looking forward to free time for reading. The magic ended after I put down John Grisham’s The Racketeer (I knew what Bannister was up to the whole time, by the way).

I attempted, for the N’th time, to begin reading A Time to Kill but I was foiled yet again by the descriptive rape at the beginning of the book. Other seasoned readers may suggest that I skip that chapter entirely and simply begin reading from after the rape, but that would be admitting defeat. Skipping any part of a story would be as if I never started that story at all.

I’ve been having some success with Emma this time around. I found it very difficult to relate to the character and theme in my previous attempts–a difficulty I suspect was due to my lack of life experience. This time around I found myself continuing to read the book while walking on the sidewalk (a dangerous habit).

Here’s to knocking off another great book on my list!