How Do You Write a Review?

After more than four years, I found that I mostly post about book reviews in this blog.

The reason to that, I think, is because I love to read and I like to share what I’ve read.

I use to discuss the book that I read with my sisters. Especially if we all have read the book and found it interesting, or when I read a book and I want them to read it, either for the knowledge or nice stories in it I thought they should know.

We could spent hours to discuss a book. About how the story goes (how surprising, or how we disagree), about the characters in the book (how we love or hate them), about how true some of the wisdom that lies in it, how we learn from the book, how we amaze of how the writer comes up with such ideas and put them into words.

One thing that I know would make me like a book and wanting to discuss about it is how it make me feel. That is what my review is mostly about too.

I’m not an expert of how to write a good review. What should or should not be in it. I don’t know that much about technicality as some other people do. What a good book should, technically, consist of. I might not even read as many books as some avid readers do, to have a masive insight and comparison or knowledge about genres and stuff (see, I don’t even know what to name it).

I just write a review based on how I feel about the book (or film, or place, or event). Any detailed that follows is to describe the feeling.

There are books that open my eyes, shaking my minds with some new point of views that I never thought before. There are books telling me some stuff I’ve heard before with some different kind of ways. There are books that make me understand things better or completed my previous knowledge; connecting the dots. There are books that open up my imagination, bring me to places I’ve never been. Books that make me laugh and cry, inspired and motivated.

BR 2

I’m pretty easy to please. I might dislike a book, but, so far, never hate it. I always try to finish what I started to read, no matter how boring it may be. In most of the cases I eventually enjoy the book or got something from it. So, yes, I believe that we should give books a chance like we should give people chances to show the good side of them.

It is more challenging, however, to write a review than simply discuss it with my sisters. The review is in english, first of all. Then, I need to find the right words to describe some of the many things I want to share, in one single post (instead of bubbling every now and then about random pieces of the book). And the hardest part is: I should watch out for spoilers! ;D

That is why, I didn’t write reviews as much as I read. But I’m planning to write more.

I think sharing what you’ve read is helping you to have a better memory and understanding about it. It’s also a good practice to express your thought.

How about you? How do you review a book? What do you think should or should not be in it?

I would also like to hear your opinion about the reviews I’ve wrote so far. The comment box is open for you. Thanks! :)

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The Mortal Instruments

As an answer to this post, yes, I finished “City of Heavenly Fire” first. That means a closure of “The Mortal Instrument Series”, which always left some sense of loss.

I read the first book of the series, “City of Bones”, years after I bought it. You know I have this habit of keep buying books even though I haven’t finished all I’ve bought before. And there’s always so much books I want to have and so little time to read them. This first book seems to keep being overlooked, lost the competition against the never ending list of what I found as more interesting books.

There are time for every book. So one day came the time for the first book to come to my attention. My sister said that it’s an okay book. She doesn’t seems to be interested enough to read the next books of the series. With that low expectation, I start reading the book.

It was not as intriguing as “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins (I know, this one is dystopia, so it might not be an apple to apple comparison) or as enchanting as the legendary “Harry Potter” by J. K. Rowling (but what does, right? And again this is not a YA, so again maybe is not a very fair comparison). But, I think, especially “The Hunger Games” effect, had its contribution on my sister’s less interest on this book.

However, I found the book interesting enough that I want to read the rest of the series. Thankfully, each book keeps getting better.

Clary (the main character of the series), her boyfriend/ brother Jace (you have to read the book to find out), her best friend Simon, The Lightwoods, and other interesting character ini this book, will bring you to another side of New York, where shadowhunters (warriors with angels blood in their vein that protect the world from demons) and the Downworld (with warlocks, vampires, fairies, and werewolves) exist. The side that a regular human being, of course, can not see.

If you’re into romance there’s some dose of it in this series (obviously, since it’s a YA Urban Fantasy).  There are many interesting character in this book and I enjoyed being introduced to each kind of creatures with their unique character and how they interact with each other.

Again I reminded that no one can live by their own. We need the help and cooperation from other people.. or creature. And differences is not to be destroyed, make us feel superior or inferior. It just there so we could learn from each other, to create great things together.

I’m sorry that I made a fantasy novel sounds so serious. It just that I always learn so much from them.

There’s a prequel to this series and another series based on one character in it. It’s in my book-to-buy list. Here are the covers of the sixth books of the series that are published in Indonesia. If you decided to read them, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do.

Which One Would You Choose?

You could either do whatever makes you (only) feel good right now or do something good for your life now and in the future.

You could choose to snooze the alarm and sleep again or wake right up and do a morning jog or prepare a more decent breakfast.

You could choose to watch TV all night or write a new post in your dear blog.

You could choose to eat anything delicious in your mouth or start eating something that is good for your health.

You could choose to stay still or learn new things, build new skills and habits, do something that would change you and your life to the better.

The first choice is what most people take. Because it’s easy. The second one needs discipline.

Now, it’s okay to sit back and relax. But if that is all you do you will loose a chance to have a better life to enjoy.

To make a better choice you need to see the consequences. Imagine it in your head, then choose based on that image.

A short fun easy now that cause you a messy life and some troubled future or a long happy meaningful life.

I want the second image. I need to train the dragon (just because it’s a more cool word than discipline and I love the book :p).

Would you please share your experience in training your “dragon”?

Welcoming March

I just decided to start a new strategy on my last post, then the next week I forgot to post at all -_-”

So, here comes March, and this is my post to welcome the new month.

It’s not always easy to deal with changes, but changes happen so there’s no other way than learning to deal with it.

I adapt, with my own way and time, to all changes in my life.

I cried and laughed through some of it. I felt uncomfortable and scared. Then I got used to it, and everything is okay again, if not better.

One thing for sure, I grew. I became a person I would never be without those changes. Mostly a better one. Someone with more perspective and understanding. With more patience and empathy. I became more sensitive with things I didn’t realize before, more grateful of precious things I used to take for granted.

I learn to be stronger, to have more will and determination.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect now. That it would be easy to face any change and hardship from now own.

I just learn that no matter how hard things get, it will be okay again in time.

Changes are fine. See you February.. Welcome March! :)

So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.

[The Holy Quran – Al-Insyirah: 5-6]

I Just Want to Write

Let’s see… The problem with keeping this blog updated is always about “what to write” and “how to write it” problem. It’s between I have no idea what should I write about or how I’m to afraid of being imperfect.

Whether the topic is not interesting or important enough, grammar or spelling mistakes, boring even wrong choice of words, etc.

So, this time, I will try to lower my standard of “quality” and put quantity as a priority. Hopefully that way, we will see more post this year than last year. Maybe not so “amazing” post but maybe it would not be that bad either. I mean who knows. I think there’s a great possibility that some great posts will arise from these random quantity-prioritized posts I’m going to write.

There’s definitely a better chance for it than if let’s say I only write four or five posts in a year.

My first post here is about the reason I created this blog in the first place. I hope this “strategy” could also fulfill those reasons. But whatever that is, by the end of the day, I just want to write.

What do you think about my “strategy”? Do you have your own your tips on keep blogging?

It would be nice if you share it in the comment 😀

The 6th Book Combo

I’m in the middle of reading these two books. Both are the 6th also the last book of the two series I’ve been following.

6th

It took more than a year to wait for the translated version of these books to be published. So once they came out, I don’t wait too long to grab them from the book store. Well, I actually bought them online, like most book purchasing I did in the last few years, so I click the button right away to bought them both (not at the same time though).

“Terminal”, from the Tunnels Series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, were available first. I just start reading it when I bought the second book, “City of Heavenly Fire” from The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare. I’m not the type of reader who would read two or more books at one time. I would usually finish one book before start to read another one. Then one day, I left “Terminal” at the office…

I work on flexible hours, which means I only have to go to the office three days a week. The day when I left my precious book is the day before my schedule to work at home for two days. So, what happen next in the underground? And what am I going to do for two days?? (beside of working of course :p).

There is when “City of Heavenly Fire” saved my life ;p

Now that I’m back to the office, both books were reunited. I do have a strong feeling which one I’m going to finish first. Feel free to guess, just to make it a bit more interesting ;D

Books I Read in 2014

It’s crazy how the time passed isn’t it? I can’t believe the first month of 2015 is coming to an end and the last time I post anything on this blog was May 2014 -_-”

There were so many things happened last year, a life changing ones.

Well, this is my first post this year. Hopefully an opener to more posts and updates.

Apparently, I also read less book on 2014, like 9 books less than 2013.

I don’t know if I could read more this year, since one of so called life-changing-event I might going to tell you in another post, but I will keep updating it on the “Book List” page. And I will try my best to create more post.

Well, this is my 2014 book list:

[To continue what I did here, this page is now will make a note of the books I finished reading on 2014. Feel free to share your own list or your recommendation of books worth reading on the comment below. Enjoy your reading! :)]

books 2014
Oh, the joy of reading…

Books I read in 2014:

>> January:
1. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
2. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
3. Siomay Pink: Sebuah Perjalanan untuk Menemukan Cinta – Nidya Febriani Utami
4. Otobiografi Malcolm X: Sang Negro yang Merevolusi Dunia Islam dan Kemanusiaan – Malcolm X & Alex Haley

>> February:
5. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
6. Please Look After Mom – Kyung-sook Shin
7. The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare
8. The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass – Cassandra Clare
9. Pulang – Leila S. Chudori
10. Gadis Jeruk – Jostein Gaarder

>> March:
11. Cahaya, Cinta, dan Canda M. Quraish Shihab: 70 Tahun Membumikan al-Qur’an – Mauluddin Anwar, Latief Siregar, Hadi Mustofa Djuraid
12. Cinderella in Paris – Sari Musdar
13. Berguru kepada Sang Mahaguru: Catatan Kecil [Seorang Murid] tentang Karya-karya dan Pemikiran M. Quraish Shihab – Muchlis M. Hanafi
14. Catatan Indah untuk Tuhan – Saptuari Sugiharto
15. Six Suspects – Vikas Swarup
16. Ibrahim Bapak Semua Agama: Sebuah Rekontruksi Sejarah Kenabian Ibrahim AS. Sebagaimana tertuang dalam Taurat, Injil dan Al-Qur’an – Iqbal Harahap (penyadur)
17. The Chronicles of Ghazi #1 – Sayf Muhammad Isa & Felix Y. Siauw
18. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
19. The Homecoming – Shashi Warrier
20. The Jilbab Traveler – Asma Nadia, dkk
21. Sepuluh Anak Negro (And Then There Were None) – Agatha Christie
22. One Amazing Thing – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
23. Mirror Image – Sandra Brown

>> April:
24. Always the Bridesmaid – Sarah Webb
25. Kau, Aku, dan Sepucuk Angpau Merah – Tere Liye
26. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
27. The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J.K. Rowling
28. Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time – Karen Armstrong
29. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
30. Antologi Rasa – Ika Natassa
31. Kisah-kisah Tengah Malam – Edgar Allan Poe
32. Birrul Walidain: Wawasan al-Qur’an tentang Bakti kepada Ibu Bapak – M. Quraish Shihab

>> Mei:
33. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
34. The Miracle of Enzyme – Hiromi Shinya, MD
35. The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare
36. Creative Writing – A.S. Laksana

>> Juni:
37. Leafie: Ayam Buruk Rupa dan Itik Kesayangannya – Hwan sun-mi
38. The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare
39. Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
40. Melunasi Janji Kemerdekaan – Muhammad Husnil

>> Juli:
41. Divergent – Veronica Roth
42. Insurgent – Veronica Roth
43. Allegiant – Veronica Roth
44. Run, Dear, Run – Corrine Morgan-Thomas, Gary Brozek

>> August:
45. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate DiCamillo
46. My Life As: Film Director – Haqi Achmad
47. Cecilia dan Malaikat Ariel – Jostein Gaarder
48. Financial Stories: Kisah Inspiratif Pengelolaan Uang, Utang, dan Usaha – Erlina Juwita, dkk

>> September:
49. Mari Lari – Ninit Yunita
50. Sabtu Bersama Bapak – Adhitya Mulya
51. The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand – Jonathan Stroud
52. The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Golem’s Eye – Jonathan Stroud

>> Oktober:
53. The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Ptolemy’s Gate – Jonathan Stroud
54. Beautiful Liar – Dyah Rinni
55. Menjadi Djo – Dyah Rinni

>> November:
56. I Will Always Love You – Jo Chang-in

>> December:
57. The Story Girl – Lucy M. Montgomery

[] >> I think I’ll keep the opener as it was just for the sake of nostalgia ;D

Jalanan

I don’t remember when was the first time I saw a preview of this documentary movie, but I remember that I really interested to watch the rest of it. So when I heard that it finally available to watch in theaters, I absolutely wouldn’t miss the chance.

The most questions I got about the movie was, is it boring?

Maybe because it’s a documentary. Maybe we just can’t imagine what could be interesting about a live of a “pengamen” (street musician or what they called busker in this movie), who some of us sees almost everyday on our way to do our activities.

Well, boring is one word that is not belong to this movie.

Without a scripted drama or adjusted storyline, “Jalanan” (the street) opened a window to a real life of buskers in Jakarta. The movie let the audience get to know the buskers in a more up-close-and-personal kind of way, that helped you see them beyond, but not apart from, what they do as a living.

Jalanan

Watching the movie, following the life of the three buskers: Ho, Titi, and Boni, made me realize so many things. How there are different kinds of world and living out there, where mine is just one of them. How bad governance, where corruption is the inseparable part of it, is hurting the country and while it might not disturb the life of the higher class that much, the lower class of the society feel the direct effect of it.

What I love about the movie is the inspiration that comes from the optimism those three amazing main characters shows. They’re living a hard life but they don’t give up on their future. They struggle but do not forget to laugh and be grateful. They enjoy life, while some of us with more things we have can’t seems to stop complaining.

Daniel Ziv, the director of “Jalanan” spent about 6 years to made this movie. Then the more than 200 hours of footage the team got was edited with the help from Ernest Weiss-Haryanto. The movie then won Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Mecenat Award for the best documentary at BIFF 2013.

Aside from the award, I want to say here that I consider the movie as a gift for Indonesia. It’s a privilege to see that one part of Jakarta that might usually being overlooked. To recognize Ho, Titi, and Boni as persons, as Indonesians, to listen to their stories and thoughts, to see Indonesia through their eyes, to enjoy great songs that they created, to laugh and cry with them.

I recommend everyone, to watch this movie. You can get more information about it from @JalananMovie. Meanwhile, you can watch the awesome trailer:

The Raid 2: Berandal

If you are into action movies, moreover had a thing for what they called gory action, this movie would be a perfect choice.

As the second part of The Raid trilogy, “The Raid 2: Berandal*” is even better than the first movie a.k.a “The Raid: Redemption”. [*thug]

Having “The Raid: Redemption” as a comparison, “The Raid 2: Berandal” will exceed your expectation in the proportion of blood and action. The fighting scenes was intense with a lot more variation in location. It’s pretty cool for me to watch some familiar places on screen (one of the scene was actually took place in front of the building where I watched the movie :D).

The story (which is written by the director Gareth Evans), even might not the strongest part of the movie, is still interesting to follow, and despite of a couple of name recognizing problem, I could enjoy it just fine. It also has more complexity than the first movie which make it even better to watch.

The Raid 2

Beside Rama, the main character who played by Iko Uwais (who is better in fighting than acting), this movie filled with great characters and casts, such as Bunarwan – the police official who put Rama on his new mission  (Cok Simbara), Reza – the corrupt police (Roy Marten), Bangun – one of the two powerful mob boss who runs crime in Jakarta (Tio Pakusadewo), Uco – conflicted son of Bangun (Arifin Putra), Goto – the other mob boss (Kenichi Endo), Bejo – a newcomer who wants to take over the criminal world (Alex Abbad), The Assassin – who uses kerambit as his weapon (Cecep Arif Rahman), The Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) and her brother The Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman). You can also see the performance of Oka Antara, Deddy Sutomo, Kazuki Kitamura, Ryuhei Matsuda, Epy Kusnandar, Yayan Ruhian and Marsha Timothy.

The fighting choreography by Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian (which based on Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat) was impressive. Along with the beautiful cinematography by Dimas Imam Subhono and Matt Flanery, and amazing score by Fajar Yuskemal, Aria Prayogi, and Joseph Trapanese, “The Raid 2: Berandal” was presenting an experience full of excitement.

Of course, this movie is not for everyone. The level of violence is not for anyone under age (we got our id at 17 year old in Indonesia, so I think it’s a quite save age, though I recommend you to wait until you’re at least 20 :))). If you’re scared of blood and prefer a peaceful scene from a movie, this movie is not for you either.

Feel the piece of the movie on the trailer below :)

Please Look After Mom

Can you hold your tears up while thinking about your mother, all the love she’s been giving you through every little things she does? I think most people can’t. I know I’m one of those people.

The story begins when a wife was separated with her husband in Seoul train station. A few stations after, the husband realized that his wife wasn’t following him into the train and rushed back to pick her up, but never found her.

The entire family, the husband and their children, were looking after her. Day after day, week after week, month after month…

“You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone” could be used to describe this story. Only after their mother (and wife) were gone, they started to remember everything about her. How she took a very good care of them. How she sacrificed lots of things, done things that they can’t even imagine doing half of.

Please Look After Mom (goodreads)Of course they always love her, but they were almost too busy with their own lives to really think about how much she meant in each of their lives. While looking for her, they were thinking about her as a person, about her life and dreams. They were asking themselves if she was happy, hoping that she’s okay, wishing that they have done better things for her.

The writer, Kyung-sook Shin,  were using different point of views to write each chapter of the book (the first person, the second person, and the third person point of view all together). It’s pretty confusing at first,  but I kind of enjoy it after a while. I think it helps me to see through the characters eyes better and relate to the story even more.

Back to the first sentence of this post, the answer to that is exactly why I wet my eyes more than once while reading this book. While each character were bringing up memories about their mother, I’m thinking about mine.

When it comes to mothers, what they’ve done for us seems never ending while what we’ve done for her feels like never enough. Still, we tend to take it for granted from time to time, forget to appreciate it as well as we should.

The highest gratitude for all mothers in this world, especially for my own mother. Reading the book, I ended said to myself and pray to God to, “Please Look After Mom”.