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Yang Safia On Monday, June 25, 2012


Synopsis by Goodreads.com:

The New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments continues—and so do the thrills and danger for Jace, Clary, and Simon.Can the lost be reclaimed? What price is too high to pay for love? Who can be trusted when sin and salvation collide? Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

(I know this is a pretty sucky synopsis but what's there to reveal when it's already the fifth book in the series?)



Thoughts:


Clare delivered once again. The book got me giggling like mad as if I was reading her first book, City of Bones. Despite it being the fifth book in the series, the dynamic is not lost since the characters are witty as ever and the plot progression is alright. The book doesn't have any annoying traits to it so reading City of Lost Souls (CLS) was a smooth sail for me. Also despite me not having visiting their world for almost a year (the period between my last time reading the fourth book and this one), I didn't have any trouble picking up where we left off. Unlike with Insurgent because Clare was kind enough to provide a bit of explanation here and there. And it wasn't to the point that she was basically repeating herself like some authors do (and I can just imagine how annoying it would be for people who are reading it straight from Book 1-5).

One thing I have to give props to Clare is her characterization. I've mentioned this before in my previous reviews but I don't think it's humanely possible to make a reader more in love with her characters (especially by the fifth book) but she did. I'm more in love with the characters more than ever. There's not one character that I don't like from Team Good (read CLS and you'll get the joke) and despite the alternating POVs in the book, which I always find annoying in most books, I welcomed it full heartedly because I'm just that happy to know what the other thinks. Like in one second, we're hanging out with Jace and Clary and then we shifted to Simon and the rest of the gang.

This is not a complaint but I'm just merely stating a fact here so that potential readers would know. The Mortal Instruments Series is pretty much a character-driven book. Plot wise, this series is nothing special. The story is not ingenious to those like Ready Player One or Divergent but the characters really made the series amazing. They could just be hanging out and watching TV and I would read that because I love them that much. So to have them battle against these evil forces and to be able to go on this journey with them is pure...bliss. It's a perfect escape from reality for me.

(To Malaysian readers: One of the characters spoke in Malay in CLS and my mind was pretty much blown.)

I've been trying to describe the gang for awhile now. To find the best way to sum up their pure awesomeness  and by CLS, I think I managed to. Clary and her friends are like the badass version of the Famous Five. They're hot, witty and full of badassery that sometimes it's too hard to comprehend. 


I honestly can't wait for the last book to come out sometime in 2013 and the movie too!! I'm quite worried as to whether the movie will be released in Malaysia due to its themes but I hope so!! Lily Collins will play Clary while Jamie Campbell Bower will play Jace!! I am so excited!!! They certainly looked the part so...arghh I can't wait! XD




The Verdict: 4 out of 5


Obsession Rating: 5 out of 5 

Yang Safia On Friday, June 22, 2012

Winter Break Activity: After weeks of persuading my "friends" (I'm looking at you Alia and Jie Ning) to make Unicorn Poop Cookies and failed, I finally got my chance during this break. I'm no baker. I don't function well with instructions when it comes to food. I believe in "FEELING". Thanks to Hafiz, who went along with my idea and pretty much did the basics for me while I get to do the fun stuff such as intertwining all the colours to look like poop.  


Most of you might be wondering of the taste.

Like I said, I'm no baker so naturally...

...it tasted like shit.
Yang Safia On Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yes, Tahno. I will most definitely go to your private lessons. 

EEEEEEEEEEKKKK!!

Korra fever is here!! The season finale is this weekend and I.AM.LOSING.MY.WITS! 

PS: I'd like to thank God for providing me with supportive friends and siblings (willing&unwilling alike) who tolerate with my fangirl tendencies. 

Love,

The 22-year old girl who refused to grow up.
Yang Safia On Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Synopsis by Goodreads.com:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Thoughts:

I would just like to get this fact out before you start reading my review so that you can emulate your own thoughts against/for my opinions on this book. I was at a great disadvantage when I started reading Insurgent. It has been almost seven months when I last read Divergent so my memory of the plot is blurry. While I still remember the main points of the plot, I can't remember the details in between which makes it really difficult for me to be really immersed in Insurgent because I just can't remember! I even had trouble remembering who's who. So that's why I feel this review is potentially one-dimensional because I might not get my facts straight. :( Note: My Divergent copy is in Malaysia.

Insurgent really takes me away from the world that I fell in love with in Divergent. And I can understand why even though it frustrates me a great deal. I wanted to scream at Roth while applaud for her skills at the same time. In this book, we are met with self-conflicting characters that struggle to cope with this war among the factions. In between the divided allegiances and secret agendas, I felt somewhat suffocated with all the events happening in the book. And I believe this is similar to what Tris is going through herself; in between her grief and guilt and to actually make big decisions regarding this war. 

The big portion of Insurgent deals with Tris trying to discover the truth to all this matter. Her relationship with Tobias is crumbling due to the pressures around them while she struggles to be sane after the death of her parents and Will. At a point, I do feel like skipping this section of the book because it is so frustrating with me not remembering the important details. I was really forcing myself to relive the excitement I felt when reading Divergent but now that I think about, how can you when there's a war going on? Also I was looking for those profound moments in the book which I got in Divergent. I was close to disregard Insurgent as a failure, seeing that I have an enormous expectation of it and because it is a middle book of a trilogy. And if you're a seasoned reader you would know the problem that authors face with middle books. 

However Insurgent does have its high points. You can really see the effort Roth goes through in exploring the different sides of the war. I believe this is the key element in Insurgent because it reveals to us that there is always a different side to a story. Most people are comfortable in taking a side, often a side that they are familiar with. Through Tris, Roth explores this multi-faceted war which I guess can cause some people to be slightly annoyed with Tris. It is after all easier to conform to a stronger team than searching for the truth.

I also love how Insurgent shows the pros and cons of each faction. For instance, how the Dauntless are really brave and yet impulsive. The Candors, honest but selfish. Tris efforts to fight for the innocent Erudites. This brings up an important reminder to us readers that with what is going on in our world today, it is important to understand different perspectives. But I also believe there is one true way to solve things. 

Caution: SPOILERS

On Tris and Tobias:

For the most part, I understand with what Tris is going through. The guilt and the grief can really mess up one's judgement. Despite her recklessness that caused the friction with Tobias, I personally would do the same thing as her. But I do believe this "recklessness" should have a limit. To me, Tris started to get annoying when she lied to Tobias one last time (during the Factionless/Dauntless war against Erudite). To me at that point after all she had gone through with him, I do believe she should have just come clean. Yes I do expect Tobias to be furious with her decision but at least, he knows. (At this point it is safe to say that Tris has some serious hero complex. Which is EXTREMELY ANNOYING RIGHT NOW!)  Because I rather have them fight side-by-side rather than be on opposing teams. 

On the other hand, I kind of understand why Tris did what she did. Tobias hasn't been completely open about his plans either. Basically he's being a complete MAN about it. Like the whole I'll-tell-you-the-full-story-when-things-are-happening-because-that's-when-the-plan-is-ready when in fact, he should have told her from point A. 


As you can probably tell at this point, my feelings for Insurgent is quite mixed. I'm still quite unsure whether to be satisfied with the book or not. I know for a fact that I LOVED the ending because it really just prepares you for the next book. That's one thing about Roth, there are moments when I'm just completely frustrated with the book but her cliffhangers are freaking deadly. She just kept you coming for more despite these frustrations. 

I have a few favourite scenes in Insurgent:

a) Tris and Tobias's trial with the Candors.

b) Eric's execution with the Dauntless.

c) Marlene, Hect and the other girl's simulation threat at the Dauntless area.

d) Any scenes that involves Tris's Dauntless friends, joking around. URIAH AND ZEKE, I LOVE YOU!!  Oh and an Erudite, FERNANDO!!! (Why must you die?) These scenes provide the best comic relief to a serious book.

e) Caleb's betrayal. I did not expect this. I thought it was Marcus.


The Verdict: 4 out of 5

Obsession Rating: 3.5 out of 5 

Note: I am planning to reread Divergent and Insurgent before the final book comes out. I'm really frustrated with this Insurgent review because I'm not satisfied with my reading of the book due to my inability to remember the details in Divergent. I AM REALLY FRUSTRATED WITH MYSELF!!

Yang Safia On Saturday, June 16, 2012
The Capping Show is a long standing tradition at the University of Otago. It's an annual show where it is a 100% student production but greatly acknowledged in Dunedin. It showcases the best and worst of Scarfie life here and well known for its crude humour. Most definitely not a family show but if you want to get a taste of what Scarfie (that's what us Otago students call ourselves) life is all about, Capping Show is where it's at.

My friends have been inviting me to go with them ever since my first year but I never truly bothered because well, I was very caught up with directing Malam Malaysia and OMSA. But now seeing it IS my final year, might as well experience it. That night Alia and I took a break from our assignments, had dinner together and went to catch the show.

The only thing I had to complain was that we got the ABSOLUTE worst seats ever! 

From what I've noticed the Capping Show has a different theme every year. Last year was Alice in Wonderland while this year is the Apocalypse. 

One of the main (and long standing tradition) acts is these choir of men called The Sextet where they sing a medley of current pop songs but inject it with very crude humour. Often funny but there are times when their jokes make you cringe. Later I found out they have a female counter part called The Sexytets (haha!) and I love their performance especially because it was so cheeky and they basically turned all your favourite Disney songs to...umm...how do I put this delicately...less innocent?

video

The Sextets sang right in front of me! I only took a short video because I had to focus and refrain from dying of laughter. 



From what I can understand the Capping Show pretty much makes fun of every major news and pop culture that's very big in that year. For 2012, they parodied everything from Kony to One Direction (their version is called One Erection! I was laughing so hard when these "normal" looking Kiwi blokes dressed up their popstar counterparts and started dancing to their version of That's What Makes You Beautiful).

The Capping Show can also be a high cultural-context show meaning that it is very Kiwi or Scarfie that it's quite hard to get the jokes if you're not here long enough. I heard many International students complain that they couldn't really understand the jokes so it was very boring for them. That is one of the reasons why I put off from going to this show until my final year.


video

This is the closing number where all the cast and crew sang some song la. I couldn't really understand where the song is from but they made it entertaining!

For me going to the Capping Show was a nice experience that I for surely can't get in Malaysia. Also it made me somewhat proud to be a Scarfie. Who knows, thirty years from now maybe I could visit my alma mater and catch their god-knows 736-th show.

PS: I FOUND THIS YEAR'S PERFORMANCE ON YOUTUBE! WARNING: FOR MATURE AUDIENCES!

Just so you guys could get a taste what's the show like. Keep an open mind!



Yang Safia On Wednesday, June 13, 2012
If you've been following my book reviews, you would start to notice that I have added a new rating called Obsession Rating. I bet all of you might be wondering what does it actually imply aside from the rating whether I'm obsessed with the book or not.

The Obsession Rating (OR) applies to a couple of things:

a) Sometimes the book can be quite a bad piece of work (ie: problems with author's style or plot structure) but for some odd reason that I cannot explain, I like it. My verdict rating could be low but my obsession rating could be higher because of this reason.

b) The OR also implies my engagement level with the book. For example, the book is sooo good that I could not put it down or it's so bad, I rather die than read it again. You will also come across to some situations where the book is a marvellous piece of work and I have acknowledge it but it's not enjoyable at all. This is one of the instances why I introduced the OR.

For instance: White Noise is a great piece of work because of how it impacted my view on death so I gave it 3 stars. But my OR could be 1 star because it is so boring.

c) This is simple. It rates my obsession level. It implies to whether I would create a shrine for this particular author/book/character. Like how I'm super obsessed with Legend of Korra or Legend of Aang. Their comic series are freaking mindblowing that I'm on the verge to start a fanclub already. I digress but you get my point. To differentiate my OR and my verdict rating is to say that the former is to rate how much I enjoyed the book while the latter is where I rate the book using my critical skills.


I know it looks complicated but give it a chance yeah?
Yang Safia On


Synopsis by Goodreads.com:

 It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. 

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?

Thoughts:

I first heard of Ready Player One from Priscilla of TheReadables where she bought the book. I watched the video where she featured the book in one of her book haul videos but never really gave it much thought when I found out it is a science fiction. Now, if you know me I'm just not into anything technology related. I always believe that I can never understand a thing if they start putting in those technological terms and such. I'm simply terrified of science fiction basically. Right but what made me pick up Ready Player One?

Note: I didn't know it was one of the most raved books of 2011.

It's a book about video games. I LOVE VIDEO GAMES! I like the whole notion where you can just get lost inside this virtual world and it seemed as if reality just stopped. I love that feeling! It brought back memories when I was fourteen and I was playing Final Fantasy X during school holidays.

 I also love the idea of a worldwide race to find this easter egg. I was pretty much curious how did this nobody Wade can find the first clue?

Now onto the actual review of the book:

If video games is not your thing and you're a science fiction virgin, fear not because Ready Player One (RPO) will guide you through it. The first few chapters of the book are pretty much dedicated to the world building of the story. There's even footnotes!! << My mind was pretty much blown at this point. I'm not really bothered with world building (but it is ESSENTIAL to your reading of RPO) because half the stuff is what I already know so it is a TINCY BIT tedious for me. I was just really ready to get straight into the action! Haha.

The start of the book is a bit slow for me but when Wade starts figuring out the location of the first key, things pretty much rolled from there on. I got really excited around Chapter 12 and at that point, I can't stop reading. It is so good and intense. Just the spirit of the competition is freaking crazy.

This is kind of weird but how cool is the title? I can never not say it without using this epic tone where you hear every time you start a new game. READY.PLAYER.ONE!

I'm not going to share with you my favourite scenes or whatnot because you have to give RPO a shot. It is very different from what I've read so far and based on my limited science fiction knowledge, this has got to be the most original. The characters are nothing special in my opinion. They're not bad but they're nothing special either. I believe RPO's biggest appeal is the competition to find Halliday's prize. The plot development is simply amazing and original. I can never expect what would happen next.


The Verdict: 5 out of 5


Obsession Rating: 4 out of 5
(Look out for my explanation for this rating under my book reviews tab on the sidebar)
Yang Safia On Monday, June 11, 2012



This house is actually the Faculty of Music. I'm always fascinated with this particular faculty because the atmosphere is always different. Instead of lugging books, you often see the students carry their music instruments instead. Back in Otago, I had the opportunity to have my tutorial in a room under the rehearsal studio. It's kind of nice to be able to listen to some music while studying. Haha.

Then we made our way to the registry building. Even though the exterior is really modern, the interior is quite Victorian. This is Alia and Ikmal attempted to do an artistic (?) shot in one of its hallways.



The University has its own Marae!! Too bad you can't go in unless its for a special event. I thought I was going to get lucky by catching a Haka performance or something!




We can only reach till this point only before the caretaker shooed us off! Haha! The locals are very protective of their Marae because to them is their sacred ground. In fact, you have to get invited to go in. 




I took this picture below because of its cute sign. Milk&Honey is one of the on-campus cafes that you can find in Victoria Uni.




I was really excited when we got here!!! It's their Uni bookstore!! It's very different from Otago's because of its modern interior. It feels somewhat magical but I like my Uni bookstore better!! 








Then we went to Cuba for a bit to do some thrifting. I didn't know thrifting can be difficult. Most of the time I tend to just give up because I couldn't stand the smell. I found some jeffrey campbell shoes but meh, I don't really care for them. It was fun seeing Ikmal went crazy though. He found two tops from Zara Men and Banana Republic for like $5.







This is the view from Ikmal's common room


For dinner we went to another Malaysian restaurant that's always packed. Luckily we managed to get a table and I got to enjoy my Chicken Rendang. Obviously it can't beat my mom's but this had to do for the time being!






Then we visited a music shop. Ikmal was telling how he wanted to buy more old records for decoration in his room and he got Alia interested so they went crazy. It was $1 each and they managed to find some really cool designs.




Ikmal posing with his new Banana Republic sweater. Haha!




After walking through some more shops, we finally met up with Nings and Tim for coffee and we stayed there till late pretty much. I can't remember the name of the cafe though but it was the only one not full.




On our last day at Wellington, Nings, Alia and I slept in and went to her local mall for lunch. We went back to pack some stuff and took the train to the city to have dinner with Tim. Apparently there was a game between two local rugby teams so the train was packed with game-goers. It was quite rowdy but the people still maintained nice. The two goofy guys behind us (of which I was a bit scared of to be honest) eventually gave up their seat to an old lady. I was um, quite surprised. Haha! I guess never judge a book by its cover!


They tried to photobomb us though!



Awesome Indian food!



The next day Alia and I had an early flight and when I reached home, I was down with some serious food poisoning. >_< I don't know why but I'm always sick after coming back from Wellington!



So that's pretty much about my Wellington trip!

PS: I sat for my first paper today and I think it was okay. One down, one more to go! :D
Yang Safia On Sunday, June 10, 2012
This trip is long overdue but a week after our Easter break, Alia and I visited Wellington to see Jie Ning. Seeing that Nings no longer live in Dunedin and now working in Wellington, we figured to see her. God knows how much Dunedin has changed after she left. I'm particularly close to Nings so as a good best friend, I need to make this long distance friendship work! ;)

Funny story about how we got to Wellington. Our flight was really early, I think around 6AM so we promised ourselves to sleep really early because the shuttle will pick us up at 4.30AM. 

Sleeping early was just not possible for us. Around 11PM, we were all very hungry (including our friends Zaini and Mahdi) so the guys picked me up and we all went to have supper at Alia's flat. That alone took two hours of eating and later somebody had a brilliant idea (it was Alia) that we shouldn't sleep and let's watch a horror movie instead. Which we did. After the movie I went home and straightaway got ready for my flight. (=__=)

It was really bad idea. 

So at 8AM, Alia and I found ourselves at Victoria University lost like lambs. We were tired and hungry. But not surprisingly cranky. I was feeling quite high from the adrenaline. 

Okay back to story, we were lost. We didn't know how to get to the city centre from the Uni because from the looks of it, it was quite far. Heck, we didn't even know how to get OUT of the Uni. And to make matters worse, Wellington is really hilly so we ended going up and down the hill.



On top of being lost, the two of us needed to umm...pee. And we couldn't even find the toilet. Until we came across this workshop with engineering students working on their projects. One of the instructors was really nice to show us the way out of the Uni.



Victoria Uni's Library (Otago's nicer ;P)



There's a cemetery in the middle of the Uni. Which is really weird. Apparently it's the rest place for the famous scholars of the Uni.



I realized Victoria Uni has a lot of these small walkways that seemed to lead to somewhere la. I don't know but it seemed very cool and mysterious.

So we finally got ourselves out of the Uni and walked our way to the City Centre. I know not many foreigners know this but Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. Not Auckland. The city is a lot smaller compared to Auckland but it's really compact.





The two of us were so......tired. And we were walking through the city, dragging our luggages.









Public Toilets!!

We got really lost at this point. And we were soooooooooooooo hungry. And cranky. Alia and I have started making mean jabs at each other at this point because we were lost, cold and tired. After walking around for about an hour, we found a Subway and ate. Seriously at that point we nearly died. 

Then later we met up with Ikmal who was really kind to show us around while we wait for Nings to finish work. Nings doesn't live at the City, she lives at Lower Hutt. That difference is like Subang Jaya and Shah Alam so we had to take the train. So in the meantime, Ikmal layan us la.






I've been to Unity Books before during my first trip to Welly. I LOVE LOVE Unity Books. It's like the hipster version of MPH or Whitcoulls. It's so...cool!












Eating sushi and takoyaki on the bench while people watching!



Then we visited this really awesome shop that specializes in tea. They have ALL kinds of tea! You can choose what type of team you want and they make it for you. The tea is seriously amazing. They charge $2.40 per cup. I don't really know how to describe the tea but it's just a nice balance of tea, milk and hot water. Add cold weather to the mix...heaven!










You can even buy the tea and make it at home!






I chose Vanilla Valet.

Alia went crazy when she saw Typo. We don't have Typo in Dunedin so it was really cool la. Typo is an Australian stationary shop. Their stuff is really cool and the shop is always full.









Then we went to the most famous street in Wellington. Cuba Street. It's the hipster scene la. This is the street where Nings, Tim and I did our jalan-jalan cari makan (food tour) during my first trip to Welly.





Ikmal later brought us to eiss kream. A gelato shop.



See my eyes? Not sleeping was a VERY bad idea.



Alia was really tired. You can just tell.

Then later Nings finished wokr and we had dinner at a Malaysian restaurant. The food was gooood. The picture below was during our way back to Nings house. My scoliosis was acting up at this point and Nings was baik la to pull my bag for me.



Train Station!

Finally at Ning's house and was about to take a shower when I noticed this. Since she knew Alia and I were coming she prepared this! If you're Malaysian you will get this! Haha!


The next day. Nings left for work and Alia and I prepared to meet up with Ikmal at the city. We walked around Ning's neighbourhood and I saw the smallest library I've encountered in my life. This is what I love about NZ sometimes. No matter where you go, no matter how small the town is...a library is as important as the bank or supermarket.



In the train!

Back at the city!




Victoria's Law School is right next to the train station.

We met up with Ikmal in front of the Uni and he took us on a tour!

I'll just drop my opinion now. As biased as this sounds, I made a great decision to come to Otago Uni!










At the entrance of the library. I was quite surprise how small it is.







Right I'll stop here. Part 2 will be up soon!