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The Ghostwriter – Robert Harris

This is a story of a ghostwriter which has accepted a job to write a memoir for a former prime minister of Britain. The first ghostwriter dies unexpectedly and he is being hired for the replacement. He knows little about politics and his past experience lies in portraying aging rock stars, film and sports celebrities. In order to continue the remaining work left from the previous ghostwriter, he is required to join the former prime minister (Adam Lang) in a secure house on a remote place (Martha’s Vineyard) where connections to the outside world is not allowed whenever he’s working in the house. It’s not just the mysterious death of the previous ghostwriter haunts him, but also Adam’s past are buried with shocking secrets.

My rating for this book probably affected by the reason of my lacking interest in politics. I personally rated the story a 2/5. For me, the plot is quite good but this book will be excluded from my list of favourite books because I’m not really interested in politics. Besides that, I feel the story is getting draggy and slow. Also, there are a lot of narrator’s imaginations being inserted into the story causing distractions to the readers from following the story.

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Tokyo Vice – Jake Adelstein

Tokyo Vice is a memoir wrote by an American journalist, Jake Adelstein of his experience as the first foreign reporter working for one of Japan’s largest newspapers, Yomiuri Shimbun. In the book, he covered the in-depth look at the Japanese culture along with the dark side of Japan which includes extortion, murder, human trafficking and corruption.

What really impressed me about this book is the author has covered every single detail about Japanese culture including the dark side of Japan without any hesitations. This really makes the story very genuine and no hidden part in it. As for the author, what I like about him are his passions for his work and his courage to strive for the freedom of the press. In order to produce high-quality news content to the public, he will talk to anyone to obtain the accurate news even if he needs to communicate with a prostitute or a yakuza. From the book, I’ve learned that Japanese news media works extremely hard to obtain the first-hand news and they believe that public has the rights to know everything including the seedy side of the country. This is different from certain countries that try to hide the ugly side from being exposed to their people.

I have jotted down several quotes which I really like from the book:

No story is worth dying for, no story is worth your family dying for. Heroes are just people who have run out of choices. You still had a choice. You made the right choice.

 

Sometimes you have to pull back to fight back. Don’t give up.

 

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

 

I don’t know why the fates had been so kind, but I thought I should cover all the bases.

 

Everything in Japan, even theft, is an art. Even assault is an art – judo, aikido, and kendo, all of these are more than just learning to decimate your opponent, they’re about learning to master yourself.

 

Apparently, not knowing history means never having to say you’re sorry.

 

‘You have to have faith in people sometimes, Jake. Sometimes you have to trust people who are untrustworthy. By trusting them, you make them trustworthy.’

 

‘To not know and to ask a question is a moment of embarrassment; to not know and not ask is a lifetime of shame.’

 

‘The best people to loan money to are people already in debt. They’re so desperate that they will pay any interest rate you demand as long as they can have the cash right away. Once they borrow from us, they’ll never be able to pay it back. We own them.’

 

When lying is part of your job, you forget how love is supposed to work.

 

‘Sometimes in the mountains the animals make paths by using the same route again and again. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might think it’s a path made by humans – it looks that way. If you follow that path, the path of beasts, you won’t get anywhere at all. People lost in the wilderness, they follow these paths and only get more and more lost. Sometimes they lost their way and they die. It’s not a path for humans, it’s a dangerous diversion. Are you sure thats the road you want to take? It wont get you where you want to go.’

 

When you drink alone, you know you have problems.

 

Friendship does not usually include an implicit agreement to become a human target.

 

It’s a weird feeling having an ex-yakuza crime boss light your cigarettes and make coffee for you in the morning.

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Only 13: The True Story of Lon – Julia Manzanares & Derek Kent

This book tells a story of a girl called ‘Lon’ who runs away from the family at the age of 13 and later, ends up as a top earner in Thailand’s sex industry. Lon comes from a very poor family and as the eldest daughter in the family, she bears the responsibility to support the family and become the primary breadwinners. She was brought up in a very poor environment where girls aren’t valuable enough to receive education and the brother is always being given the highest priority in everything compared to the other two sisters.

In order to strive for the family’s acceptance after being blamed for her father’s death, involving in prostitution is the only way that she can think of. Unreasonable employers, low-paid jobs, bad working environment as well as gender inequality are some of the common reasons which lead to the increasing of prostitution in Thailand. She sold her virginity at age 13 with the price of 30,000 Baht which is less than $1,000 USD. Before her first marriage to Switzerland, she has been involved in sex-tourist industry for five years in Thailand. The remaining stories about her several disastrous marriages in different countries which most of the time being used by her husbands for sex and money. This leads to the story of her mental health and how she supported her family especially to avoid her sisters from following in her footsteps.

From the beginning until the ending of the story, my hatred feeling to her family only increased and never decreased. I can’t believe there is such family exists in the world. The mother just asking money from her continuously and doesn’t bother about her daughter’s involvement in prostitution. What she only cares is the money and she asking more and more from her daughter. When one of the daughters decided to further her studies, she disagreed with the idea because she hopes to get more money if both daughters working at the same time and she doesn’t like the delay. It seems she doesn’t feel anything wrong with the daughter selling her body to earn for the income and worse is, she never appreciate all the things that her daughter has done for her and she still loves her worthless son the most. I doubt she will ever feel guilty or regret in the future.

Although Lon never got the chance to have a proper education but she always believe that education can change a person’s life. She tried very hard to save up her money to support her sisters’ education. Comparing to my country where I often heard of kids being scolded by their parents of not putting enough effort in their studies and lots of school dropouts in these recent years, you can just imagine how huge is the difference of these two neighbouring countries.

When Lon started to have problems with her mental health, I wasn’t surprised with it. Who wouldn’t if they have such greedy and lazy family plus with several disastrous marriages. It’s not everyone can handle all these in a good way.

This is really a good story for us to understand the poverty life in another part of the world and how they strive for their living. We might think 1 Baht doesn’t cost much too us especially for people that comes from richer countries but for them, every baht comes from their hard work which probably to the extent involving of selling their bodies for a living.

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A Quiet Belief In Angels – R.J. Ellory

This thriller story is quite good and I almost rated 4 out 5 stars for it. The reason I gave 3 out of 5 is because it seems the story is a bit lengthy and repetitive. When it comes to the middle of the story, it seems the author is dragging the story for a few more chapters before ending the story. Also, the main character has the most unfortunate experience I ever read in my life and the bad things that happened on him are continuous.

When I read the story at the beginning, I feel the story is quite interesting and I’m curious with the author’s background. I was a bit disappointed when I read the news about the author posting fake reviews of his books: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2253579/RJ-Ellory-Crime-writer-posted-fake-online-reviews-books-exposed-trying-change-life-story.html. I personally feel a bit shocked with the news as I never expect the author need to create fake reviews since the story is really good and I assume the author should have tremendous confidence in his writing. Well, I just hope it won’t happen again because I really feel the author did a great job in his work and he shouldn’t ruin up his reputation with fake reviews.

Here are some of my favourite quotes from this story:

‘And given one [life], we wish for two, or three, or more, so easily forgetting the one we had was spent unwisely.’

‘My mother said that nothing could crush a man’s spirit so much as telling him he could not help.’

‘At times I have believed that age is the enemy of truth.’

‘The past was like an eye, and sometimes I was ahead of it, sometimes behind, but it was always there…opening, closing, opening once more.’

‘Words were not forgotten. Words were remembered, and time seemed to give them nothing but strength.’

 

Additional details, reviews and quotes for this book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2440137.A_Quiet_Belief_In_Angels

 

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The Secrets of a Fire King – Kim Edwards

This book contains of fourteen different stories. Each story contains an eccentric character and most of the stories are very random. Sometimes, I don’t really understand what is the main idea that the author wants to tell to the readers. The stories were written in simple English with complicated plots. Some of the random stories are such as rats, birthday invitation, parachute, gold digging, and garden.

I feel none of the stories are interesting and I don’t understand what is the conclusion of those stories or what the author wants the readers to understand from those stories. I don’t see there is any interesting parts in each story that can capture readers’ interest in it. Also, it seems the men were all bad and the women were all victims or experiencing difficult life. Most of the stories were quite depressing.

I struggled my way to finish this book and tried to finish it as soon as possible so I can read a better book after this. My conclusion about this book: simple English but complicated plots, random stories, weird characters, depressing, difficult to understand and no clear theme in each story.

More reviews about this book:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/448213.The_Secrets_of_a_Fire_King