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The Lands of Charm and Cruelty

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Author: Stan Sesser Type: Non-fiction 306 Pages Published in the United States by Vintage Books (July 1994) The Lands of Charm and Cruelty followed the accounts of American reporter Stan Sesser during his journeys in several countries in Southeast Asia in the 1980s through the early 1990s. He journeyed through Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia – and noted the viewpoints of both the government and the commoners from those countries. And he found a common theme regarding life inside the countries: despite the exotic charm of the region that always fascinates people from Western countries, the Western-style human rights concepts had not been practiced in full, and some of the governments had been involved in the violation of human rights of its own people. Thus the idea for the title of this book. There are five chapters in the book, and each chapter tells Mr Sesser’s account of each country he visited. The first chapter was titled “Singapore: The Prisoner in th

Trilogi Khadijah Hashim (Jilid 1)

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Penulis: Khadijah Hashim 453 Halaman Diterbitkan oleh ‘K’ Publishing Sdn. Bhd. (Cetakan ke-2, tahun 2000) Buku ini memuatkan tiga buah karya Khadijah Hashim iaitu Laila Azwa Gadisku , Cinta Kedua dan Senator Adila . Biarpun latar ketiga-tiga novel ini berbeza, namun kesemuanya mempunyai persamaan daripada satu segi: kisah percintaan yang terhalang oleh orang tua, dan bagaimana insan-insan yang terputus kasih ini menghadapinya. ***AWAS SPOILER!!!***  LAILA AZWA GADISKU Sepanjang pembacaan aku, perasaan aku bercampur-baur. Nada cerita ini buat aku terngiang-ngiang akan novel Konserto Terakhir (karya Abdullah Hussain) dan juga Tenggelamnya Kapal Van Der Wijck (HAMKA). Ini kisah cinta antara dua kekasih yang berbeza darjat, tapi punya rasa yang sama, punya kecintaan yang sama terhadap dunia muzik. Cuma beza Laila Azwa Gadisku dengan kedua-dua novel yang aku sebut di atas, kisah ini punya penamat yang lebih gembira dan penuh pengharapan terhadap masa depan. Sekurang-kura

Cinta Suci Zahrana

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Penulis: Habiburrahman El Shirazy 275 Halaman Diterbitkan oleh Ar-Risalah Product Sdn. Bhd. (2012) Satu perkataan yang mampu menjelaskan perasaan aku tatkala mula-mula membaca beberapa bab terawal Cinta Suci Zahrana : SENTAP!  Watak utama novel ini, Zahrana merupakan seorang pensyarah dalam bidang senibina yang mempunyai pencapaian akademik yang sangat cemerlang. Zahrana seorang yang bercita-cita tinggi dan terlalu asyik mengejar ilmu sehingga tidak berasa terlalu tertarik untuk mendirikan rumahtangga. Sudah ramai lelaki yang cuba melamar Zahrana tetapi semuanya telah ditolak mentah-mentah oleh gadis itu atas sebab-sebab yang remeh. Zahrana anak tunggal kepada Pak Munajat dan Bu Nuriyah. Pencapaian hidupnya dibanggakan oleh kedua ibu bapanya, tetapi hanya dalam diam. Di hadapan Zahrana mereka tidak menunjukkan kegembiraan yang teramat atas pencapaian-pencapaian akademik gadis itu. Ini kerana mereka tidak mahu Zahrana terus bersemangat untuk hanya mengejar kejayaan akade

Bukan Aku....

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Penulis: Maria Farinna 179 Mukasurat Diterbitkan di Malaysia oleh Ahadiat Akashah The Writer Sdn. Bhd. (1999) Novel inilah yang telah berjaya mengembalikan minat aku untuk melayan novel-novel Melayu setelah bertahun-tahun hanya menghadap novel Inggeris dan buku-buku bersifat umum. Sebelum ini, aku hilang minat terhadap novel-novel Melayu kerana tidak tahan membaca lebih 500 halaman novel yang mempunyai plot yang membosankan atau mempunyai konflik yang terlalu ‘ stressful ’. Bukan Aku.... mempunyai 179 halaman sahaja; plotnya bergerak pantas sehingga aku tidak sempat berasa bosan! Setiap halaman dan bab padat dengan penceritaan yang membantu dalam pergerakan plot dan pengembangan karakter. Tiada babak yang ‘membazir’ atau tidak perlu di dalam novel ini. Shahrin merupakan seorang pemuda dari kampung yang diambil bekerja sebagai pemandu dan tukang cuci kereta Datuk Sulaiman. Datuk Sulaiman berkenan mengupah Shahrin setelah melihat kejujuran yang ada pada diri pemuda terse

Kain Songket Mysteries #1: Shadow Play

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By Barbara Ismail 285 pages Published in Singapore by Monsoon Books Pte Ltd (2012) When I read the first few pages of this book, it reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Five Little Pigs : it’s a story of tragedy that befell a man who had had more than one lover. Maryam, a successful kain songket trader in the Kota Bharu Central Market, was throwing a celebration for her youngest son Yi’s circumcision ceremony. She had hired Dollah Baju Hijau’s wayang siam troupe to perform on her land as part of the celebration. Wayang siam is a form of shadow puppet play which was popular in Kelantan decades ago. In the olden days, these shadow puppet shows had mystical elements which involved conjuring spells and calling up help from spirits to ensure the audiences were captivated by the show. This story was set in the Malaysian state of Kelantan in the 1970s, thus many of the traditions and lifestyles mentioned in the book are hardly available for observation nowadays. I don’t think wa

Kain Songket Mysteries #2: Princess Play

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By Barbara Ismail 270 pages Published in Singapore by Monsoon Books Pte Ltd (2013) The second book in the Kain Songket Mystery series involved much more deaths than in the first book. It was more tragic, with whole families destroyed, and all of that began from merely one thing: casual sex. What a waste of innocent lives! Jamillah, a woman from Maryam’s neighbourhood, as well as a fellow fabric trader at the Kota Bharu Central Market, had been unwell and depressed for quite some time. Jamillah’s family believed that she had not been herself due to disturbances from an evil spirit or jinn . So the family decided to hold a main puteri (literally translated into princess play) ceremony, a form of exorcism ritual within the Malay community of the olden days. Main puteri is a mix of curing ritual with some form entertainment: there are music, and when the bomoh (witch doctor) as well as his patient began to get possessed by spirits during the ritual, they may resort to t

Two of a Kind #27: The Facts About Flirting

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By Judy Katschke 88 Pages Published in New York by Harper Entertainment (2003) Mary-Kate had a crush on a boy in her fencing class, Jordan, but she was too shy to express her feelings. So her sister Ashley, who was more outright with boys and already had a boyfriend, decided to help Mary-Kate. Without Mary-Kate’s knowledge – let alone her permission – she began to write a love letter for Jordan on behalf of Mary-Kate, and signed the letter as a secret admirer. Then she stashed the letter quietly into Jordan’s backpack. In the letter, Ashley told Jordan to put his response letter inside an oak tree near the library, if he decided to reply. A few days later, there had been a response to the love letter – and it was full of sweet and romantic sentences that Ashley liked so much. She then quietly put the letter inside Mary-Kate’s notebook for her to discover. After finding the love letter, Mary-Kate had been nervous but then she decided to reply the letter to try her luck w