[REVIEW] THE MEN WHO UNITED THE STATES

THE MEN WHO UNITED THE STATES BY SIMON WINCHESTER

Simon Winchester, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Atlantic and The Professor and the Madman, delivers his first book about America: a fascinating popular history that illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings.How did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognise today? To answer these questions, Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, such as Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys; the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing the fascinating people who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States.Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together.


This sweeping history of largely unsung heroes of vision and creativity behind America’s exploration and infrastructure development was uplifting and informative. Starting with Lewis and Clarke, Winchester’s lively narrative brings to life the stories of key individuals for charting the young nation’s geography and geology, exploiting its waterways, building roads, canals, and railroads, linking its far reaches by telegraph and then by telephone, radio, and electricity. We take so much for granted, but each of these achievements involved a human story and a host of challenges. He puts himself on the road to places that are significant to these accomplishments, so his storytelling from history becomes integrated with his personal travelogue. He makes an odd frame for organizing his narrative in relation to the five classic Oriental elements of wood, earth, water, fire, and metal, but his progression is logical enough without straining to these metaphors. I like the thrust of his overall urge to account for the bones and flesh of America’s stable unity of states and peoples despite so much diversity.

Winchester writes with energy (and occasional hyperbole) that was fun to listen to in his reading for the audiobook version. The effort clearly reflects his admiration of his adopted nation. His special affinity for geology and map making I was already a fan of from previous works of his that I’ve read. He acknowledges the bad deal and genocidal proportions of how Native Americans were treated effectively as impediments to Manifest Destiny of white dominion over all resources. However, the human achievements of the explorers, engineers and the dreamers still deserve our interest and appreciation. He tries to get at what drives them and finds admirable aspects of their personalities relevant to their talents and actions, but he does not shy away from varied contribution of self-centeredness, greed, jealousy, or lunacy behind their successes. I appreciate his probing mind, sense of wonder over human creativity, and ability to put so many threads of history into his tapestry.

credit: Michael
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[REVIEW] N OR M?

N OR M BY AGATHA CHRISTIE

 

Set during World War II, Agatha Christie’s riveting novel in her Tommy and Tuppence series follows the unlikely espionage agents as they pursue a pair of Nazi spies who have murdered Britain’s top agent—now a movie on both Acorn TV and PBS.World War II is raging, and while the RAF struggles to keep the Luftwaffe at bay, Britain faces a sinister threat from “the enemy within”—Nazis posing as ordinary citizens.With pressure mounting, the intelligence service appoints two improbable spies, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. Their mission: to seek out a man and a woman from among the colorful guests at Sans Souci, a seaside hotel. But this assignment is far from an easy stroll along the promenade—N and M have just murdered Britain’s finest agent and no one can be trusted.


As light reading between more demanding literary works, Agatha Christie never fails. Although Tommy and Tuppence were always my least favourite sleuths of Agatha Christie’s, the detective formula largely follows the same formulas as in the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple stories.

This one has a bit of Fawlty Towers about it. It’s on the eve of World War II, and T & T go sleuthing in a sleepy seaside boarding house. There they meet the usual suspects: a retired major, a strange foreign woman, a dimwitted elderly woman and her hypochondriac husband, a seemingly devoted mother and her child, a suspicious young German, etc. Will T & & be able to unravel the spies of the ‘fifth column’ before Hitler invades Britain, or will they be found out …?

Although the hotel boasts of no Basil Fawlty, the story is like a comedy of manners here and there, with some delightful phrases and characterizations. The hypochondriac coughs aggressively, the little child goes into ecstasies of mirth, the imbecile wife murmurs pacifically and so on. It got a bit soppy toward the end and was, in essence, predictably unpredictable.

My tattered copy is a testament to the days when I first began my English book collection, searching the dusty bookshelves in second-hand shops up and down Charing Cross Road. I first read this book back then but remember not a single thing. So, less demanding may also mean less rewarding, but there’s something to be said for a bit of brain candy before (and after) more taxing reading experiences. Dostoevsky, here I come!

 

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[REVIEW] 1 WANITA : 10 LELAKI – APABILA CINTA TIDAK KESAMPAIAN

1 WANITA : 10 LELAKI – APABILA CINTA TIDAK KESAMPAIAN Oleh Aishun Rafiq, Fendi Ameen, Muhamad Fazrin, Alies Furqan, dan Miqael Arshad

Benarkah cinta perlu mempunyai penamat yang baik? Bagaimana pula jika cinta yang tidak mempunyai penamat seperti yang kita inginkan? Pastinya cinta adalah perkara besar dan agung bagi manusia yang sangat diperlukan. Cinta, adalah pengisi kekosongan. Tetapi, ia juga boleh menjadi sesuatu yang sangat menyakitkan. Cinta itu indah. Cinta itu juga sakit. Apabila cinta tidak kesampaian, apakah yang kita perlukan? Kisah ini ditulis oleh sepuluh orang penulis lelaki dan seorang penulis wanita.


Tajuk macam propa. Ada rupa tajuk depan akhbar tabloid Metro eh? Malangnya ianya jauh lebih menarik dari itu. Ianya kisah cinta yang tidak kesampaian. Bukan satu tapi sebelas kisah yang bakal menggarap perasaan serta menggerakkan minda anda.

1 Wanita 10 Lelaki ini adalah tajuk sebuah antologi cerpen yang menghimpunkan 11 penulis yang terdiri dari 10 penulis lelaki satu penulis tunggal wanita. Ianya dikeluarkan oleh SO Publishing. Sebenarnya saya memang minat membaca akan cerpen tambahan pula ianya diletakkan di dalam sebuah antologi menjadikan ianya amat berbaloi untuk dibaca.

Ada sebelas buah bingkisan kisah hati yang yang digarap berkisarkan kisah cinta yang tidak kesampaian. Di manakah kita di hujung cinta yang tidak kesampaian? Saya telah membaca buku ini beberapa kali untuk kepuasan maksimum.

Buku ini okay tapi penamat yang tragis, tragis sampaikan susah untuk dihadam. Tetapi apa yang pasti, ia wujud dalam dunia realiti cuma kita tak nampak sahaja.

 

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[REVIEW] KIMCHI & CALAMARI

KIMCHI & CALAMARI BY ROSE KENT
Kimchi and calamari. It sounds like a quirky food fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine, and its exactly how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldnt an adopted Korean drummer—comic book junkie feel like a combo platter given:(1) his face in the mirror (2) his proud Italian family. And now Joseph has to write an essay about his ancestors for social studies. All he knows is that his birth family shipped his diapered butt on a plane to the USA. End of story. But what he writes leads to a catastrophe messier than a table of shattered dishes—and self-discovery that Joseph never could have imagined.

This book was truly stunning.

The thing that at first pulled in me to the book is the way that Joseph is Korean. I lived in Korea amid my senior year of secondary school, and Cherished it… what’s more, I appreciate any positive references to Korean culture, dialect, sustenance, and so on. I cherished that he was from Busan, which is truly near where I lived when I was there.

So the start of the story is basically: Joseph, a Korean kid, is received as an infant by an Italian-American family. He’s raised really Italian… eating pasta three times each week (in his words)… with the huge more distant family, and dab, spot, dab. And after that his eighth grade English educator gives his class a task to compose a 1500-word paper about their family line. So he resembles, “Uhhh… I’m received! I don’t know ANYTHING about my Korean legacy!” So he goes on a kind of social and familial investigation, supported by his closest companion (a web master) and another Korean family who simply moved into the territory.

I don’t realize what it resembles to be received or to be… sandwiched between two exceptionally solid societies (I’ve recently got the one in number culture, myself), yet I figure the writer made a truly extraordinary showing with regards to of composing Joseph’s story in a way that enabled me to venture into his shoes for a little time. It was an extremely intriguing and interesting background that I’m happy I could have!

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[REVIEW] SO INN LOVE

SO INN LOVE BY CATHERINE CLARK

Reservations? Yes. A couple. Like: Is Hayden really as interested in me as I am in him? And is my roommate right—should I beware of hookups? Confirmation? Doubtful. Oh, Im sorry, I thought you said commitment. Special Requests? Let me get through this summer without being fired and heartbroken. Let me fall in love this summer. Let me be part of the inn crowd.


Liza takes a summer job at the Tides Inn to make some money, get a tan on the hotel’s private beach, and find true love.

When she arrives at the Inn to report for duty things, as expected, do not go as planned.

Instead of working as a front desk clerk she ends up on the housecleaning crew. The dorm that the employees stay in is not nearly as nice as she had hoped. And her former friend that she knew from vacationing in the area with her family acts like Liza is a dead bug on the bottom of her shoe.

SO INN LOVE is a cute summer read, although at times predictable and it seems to have an abrupt ending. It’s a great book to read while lying in the sun, though!

The back covers of these books don’t reveal much about the plot so here’s the basic storyline. The main character Liza is working at an exclusive hotel in Rhode Island for the summer along with a group of other kids around her age, including a guy she really likes. I wasn’t wild about the love interest in this one. I never really warmed to him as a character and I thought he was more of a jerk than anything. Liza was okay, but she was really unreliable in her job and kind of lazy. She seemed to care more about hot guys than doing her work. The plot was more about the romance than anything else. It was a light, fluffy read, but nothing more than that. I did like that it was set in Rhode Island (one of my favorite places) though.

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https://www.e-sentral.com/book/info/110216/So-Inn-Love

[REVIEW] 26 DAYS – A LOVE STORY

26 DAYS – A LOVE STORY BY MICHAEL STAFFORD

Cynthia Thornton is the CEO of a world-wide cosmetics company. At age 40, her 10 figure income provides her with luxury few people enjoy and she is entrenched in her New York City lifestyle. She manages a mega-company with 28,000 employees, yet she can’t manage her own life. Her world is small and the happiness she seeks continually eludes her. Nicholas Legitt is a best-selling, Pulitzer Prize winning author who lives in a small town in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. At heart, he is a mountain man. He and Cynthia meet at a fundraising event. Their friendship creeps along until it escalates into an off-again, on-again relationship that is rife with acrimony. Cindy has a very troublesome characteristic that makes sustaining a relationship impossible. Jill McDonald had lived her entire life in the same, small Colorado town as Nick. She and Nick had a torrid relationship that began in high school and continued for over four years. Her life moved on after the parted but she never lost the love she had for her high school sweetheart. Now that his relationship with Cynthia was behind him, Nick was free to pursue his former lover and they revived a love that never faded. The characters are as real as the people you know and they will become your friends. But a word of caution. Don’t jump to conclusions. Things are not always as they seem. So how does the story end? Do they each find happiness in their own way? Does each one live happily ever after? The answers are in the story. Please note. 26 Hours is intended for mature readers. It contains adult language and adult themes that are secondary to the plot. The story is driven by its plot, not by its sexual content.


Bestselling author Nick Legitt finds himself seated next to glamorous and intriguing Cynthia at a fundraiser for his long-time friend, Peter. Amid the glitz and opulence of the New York City Plaza hotel, the two are drawn to one another, making it even more surprising for Nick when Cynthia immediately dismisses him at the end of the evening. 26 Days: A Love Story by Michael Stafford travels from the exciting energy of Cynthia’s New York home and high pressure career as a CEO to the beauty and quiet of Nick’s Colorado town and calm life with his dog, Gloria. As the two embark on a tumultuous long distance friendship, the reader learns more about Cindy’s tragic past and unusual reaction to it. With each move towards closeness, Nick is met with rampant outbursts that emerge from Cindy’s personality at the slightest provocation. But soon, Cindy comes to trust Nick’s honest character and confides in him the story of her poignant and agonising past. Working together, Nick embraces Cindy, providing her with her first trusted male friendship as they enjoy exploring cities and each other. Soon, their mutual admiration turns to something more as they both experience feelings they have never encountered before. But will their long distance relationship, distinctive personalities, and turbulent pasts create a barrier to lifetime happiness?

Michael Stafford’s 26 Days: A Love Story is an up and down ride of the relationship between Cindy and Nick. Nick’s character is slow moving and patient as he helps Cindy work through her demons, making him a most endearing character. Cindy’s battles and subsequent life decisions are very intriguing, providing an unexpected edge from traditional female leads. Stafford does a fabulous job depicting both the physical setting and emotional ties to the locations defined in the book. From New York city to the Colorado Mountains to the cowboy dancing night clubs of Dallas, the reader comes along with Nick and Cindy for their ride as they both work to leave their pasts behind and take a leap into happiness. Stafford’s writing has a rarely found tender edge that works magically through the character of Nick as he helps Cindy move forward through both their conversations and their passionate encounters. I look forward to further stories from Michael Stafford and, given that this is entitled Volume I, I eagerly await Volume II.

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[REVIEW] TAUTAN KASIH

TAUTAN KASIH OLEH RYANA ADRINA

Hasilan nukilan Ryana ini pasti mencuit pintu hati anda dengan jalan ceritanya tersendiri. Athirah merasakan hidupnya kosong. Ada yang menyayangi, namun hati menidakkan. Ada yang disayangi, tapi si dia menghilangkan diri. Lantas, apa lagi yang tinggal pada dirinya. Dia sedar, dia harus memberi peluang kepada hatinya untuk menerima dan memberi, tapi dia tidak pandai mengungkap kalimah cinta. Sebenarnya, ada jejaka yang amat mencintai Athirah, iaitu Irfan. Namun, kehadiran Farah Marlissa dan Farah Hayana menyegarkan kisah cinta mereka. Apa pula yang berlaku dengan kehadiran semula Syazwani dan Danish? Siapa mereka di hati Athirah dan Irfan.


Irfan dan Athirah bercinta monyet ketika sekolah. Hubungan mereka terputus begitu sahaja bila Athirah ke SBP selepas MRSM dan Irfan ke UK selepas STPM.

Irfan kemudiannya bercinta dan berkahwin dengan Syazwani dan dikurniakan 2 orang anak. Mereka bercerai bila Syazwani sejak dari mula tidak menghiraukan suami dan anak2nya kerana ghairah mengejar cita2 sebagai seorang pengacara. Penceraian tersebut mendapat liputan meluas media dan Irfan disalahkan secara total. Irfan kemudiannya jatuh suka kepada Zuriani, setiusaha barunya. Bercadang untuk mengahwini Zuriani biarpun anak2nya tidak suka.

Athirah yang juga terlibat dalam bidang penyiaran (officemate Syazwani sebenarnya) telah bertunang dengan Danish. Akibat kesibukan si tunang, Danish curang. Athirah nekad memutuskan ikatan tersebut biarpun Danish berulang-kali merayu.

Dalam satu insiden, Athirah terserempak dengan ibu Irfan yang panik di Wad Kecemasan kerana anak Irfan diserang asma. Ikatan antara Athirah a.k.a Auntie Sya dan anak2 Irfan mula terjalin.

Niat Irfan untuk bertunang dengan Zuriani telah dipersetujui kedua-dua keluarga. Namun, ketika itu jugalah Irfan bertembung dengan Athirah di Langkawi. Dan kasih yang layu mekar kembali. Dalam satu pertemuan keluarga Irfan, Athirah dijemput sama. Irfan terkejut kerana Athirah dan Auntie Sya adalah orang yang sama. Athirah pula tergamam bila mengetahui Irfan dan Zuriani akan bertunang.

Penolakan anak2 ke atas Zuriani memberikan kekuatan kepada Irfan untuk memutuskan hubungan mereka. Zuriani yang kecewa berpakat dengan seteru sepejabat Athirah untuk memburukkan namanya di media. Malahan keluarga Athirah juga mula termakan dengan fitnah tersebut. Athirah dipaksa kahwin dengan bekas tunangannya, Danish.

Untuk mengelakkan perkahwinan tersebut dan juga untuk menyelesaikan masalah, Athirah bertekad untuk menyambung pelajarannya ke UK tanpa pengetahuan sesiapa. Irfan cuba memujuk Athirah dengan kiriman2 emailnya.

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