The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Historical England, boarding school, magic and realms, strange creatures, evil forces, and a group of teenage girls: these make up the Gemma Doyle trilogy. The Sweet Far Thing picks up where Rebel Angels left off.

Gemma and friends are back at Spence Academy and under the watchful eyes of their headmistress, Mrs. Nightwing, they learn decent manners, curtsies, and everything else ladylike. Gemma is unable to fit in with the mindless chatter and gossip of the other girls at her school. She feels that there’s more to life than just attending parties and dancing with men.

Now Gemma holds all the magic of the magical realms where she and her friends, Felicity and Ann have been going. She’s expected to share the magic with all the tribes in the realms but not so soon. Since Felicity desperately needs a Lady Markham to sponsor her debut in order to claim her inheritance, she needs some of Gemma’s magic to make it happen. As for Ann, well, she needs some magic to escape from being a miserable governess.

What about the beautiful Pippa who’s stuck to wander in the realms forever? Felicity is always delighted to spend time and play with her best friend. However, Gemma feels that there’s something suspicious about Pippa and that she must be careful around her.

In the meantime, Gemma keeps having dreams/visions of a lady in a lavender dress. The lady seems to be trying to tell her something but no sound comes out from her. Who is she? Is she dead or alive? What is she trying to say? What is the Key and what in the world is the Tree of All Souls? Absolutely mysterious and frustrating!

Gemma also needs to find out why the school is restoring the ruined East Wing now. Many years ago, two girls supposedly perished in a fire that destroyed the East Wing but they survived anyway. One of the girls was Gemma’s mother. The other girl, Circe, became an enemy and murderer. It is also said that the then headmistress, Eugenia Spence, sacrificed herself to the Winterlands. The Winterlands is an evil place, by the way.

Oh no, I did not forget the handsome and elusive Kartik. He returns to stay with the gypsies and occasionally has little secretive chats with Gemma. He keeps telling her that he’ll leave someday which only irritates and saddens her. His old brotherhood, the Rakshana, is also on the lookout for him as he failed to kill Gemma in the previous book.

That’s quite a lot to digest, isn’t it? Well, you can expect much more than that from this 819-page book. There are five acts and there is a quote at the beginning of each act. In truth, I enjoyed reading every page of this book even though it took me more than a month to finish it.

Some things I just didn’t like though. I thought Gemma’s friends selfish, especially Felicity. Most of the time, I felt that Felicity’s only using Gemma to enter the realms so she could be with Pippa. I’m also quite surprised at Ann who eventually leaves Gemma alone in her troubles too. Like Gemma, I thought that perhaps her friends are only her ‘friends’ because she has magic which can reduce or wipe out the unpleasantness in their lives. Well, nobody’s perfect.

Besides her school chums, Gemma has to deal with Kartik, Pippa, Miss McCleethy who’s watching her every move, Fowlson who’s working for the Rakshana, her father who’s addicted to laudanum, and her obnoxious brother, Tom. She definitely has a lot on her plate.

I’m quite sad to see the end of the Gemma Doyle trilogy. It’s been a thrilling journey following Gemma, her friends and their battle against being helpless women in a rigid English society that expects little and yet so much from them.

Other reviews: Debbie, Susan B. Evans, Emily, Em

The Inkheart Movie

My jaw dropped when I saw how long the line was at the cinema ticket counter yesterday. It was a Wednesday and the tickets are cheaper on Wednesdays.

My mom tried to get another lady to buy for us but she said that only single seats were left and that they were far away from one another. Nah, I still stood in line and waited for my turn. My turn only came about 30 minutes later! One ticket for the Inkheart movie cost RM6 or USD1.67. And I managed to get good seats.

Anyway, how did you find the movie? I haven’t read the book yet but I bought it a few days ago. I believe in watching the movie first before reading the book. Had bad experience with Harry Potter, that’s why.

The cast was kind of star-studded. Brendan Fraser, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, Paul Bettany, Sienna Guillory, and Jennifer Connelly is Roxane? Who’s Roxane?? Meggie was played by Eliza Bennett from Nanny McPhee.

I don’t know if the story stayed true to the book but it was exciting nevertheless. The story starts with Meggie and Mo in the midst of buying books when Dustfinger approaches them. Dustfinger is desperate to return to the book where he came from: Inkheart written by Fenoglio.

Mo is a Silvertongue. He has the ability to read characters in and out of books! Therefore, it seems that he’s the only one who can help Dustfinger. But, yes of course there’s a but, Mo has stopped reading aloud ever since his wife mysteriously disappeared many years ago. He’s afraid of what’ll happen if he reads aloud again.

Dustfinger appears to be selfish because of the way the author created him. Mo wants to get his wife back. Meggie doesn’t know anything about it until now.

There’s also a Farid from ‘Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves’ who came out of the book when Mo read aloud. The audience in the cinema seemed to like him best, I think. They laughed whenever he uttered his lines. Well, he did get the witty lines. Is he just as witty in the book?

Exciting, magical, adventure-filled and bookish: that’s what Inkheart the movie is.

Meme With Weird Questions

Just like any other meme. It wouldn’t be a meme if it didn’t contain mindless questions. By the way, I got this from Cahaya’s blog.

1. Have you ever been on TV?
Yes, on a family video cam!

2. Have you ever sung in public?
Alone or in a group? If group, yes. I was in the school choir when I was 13! Singing alone? Wahahahaahha!

3. Have you ever dyed your hair blond?
No. It’ll turn my mom’s hair white.

4. Have you ever eaten frogs’ legs?
I believe I ate frogs before. The meat was white and looked like fish but it had bones bigger than a fish’s. Well, my uncle told me it’s frog but I can’t say it’s true or not.

5. Have you ever received a present that you really hated?
Hmmmmmm….yeah, I think so. I have presents that I didn’t like but not to the extent of hating it.

6. Have you ever walked into a lamp post?
I’ve walked into many things before.

7. Have you ever cooked a meal by yourself for more than 15 people?
No. My father wouldn’t even let me cook his instant noodle last time.

8. Have you ever fallen or stumbled in front of others?
Did that a couple of weeks ago. One of my coursemates laughed non-stop. *angry face*

9. Have you ever done volunteer work?
Would like to.

10. Who’s next?
Anyone reading this!

Do let me know if you have any memes with weirder questions than this.

Eating At Nasi Kandar Restaurants

Since it’s Chinese New Year Day 2, some Chinese food and vegetable stalls still haven’t resumed their business. At the market, at restaurants, and so on. So we either cook at home or visit the 24-hour nasi kandar restaurant!

I’m not really a fan of nasi kandar (pic below) but I do like capati, roti telur and murtabak!

Nasi kandar (nasi = rice, kandar = ??)

Roti telur (roti = bread, telur = egg)


Murtabak lembu (lembu = cow, daging lembu = beef, murtabak = ??)

It’s not that expensive to eat at nasi kandar outlets. A roti telur can cost around RM1.20 and you can enjoy a glass of sweet, hot teh tarik too. If translated literally, teh tarik would be called ‘pulling tea’ or ‘pulled tea’. It’s because they sort of ‘pull’ the drink while making it.

Teh tarik pic taken from here

This is the teh tarik man at work. See the guy ‘pulling’ the tea? There are even competitions where the participants do all kinds of tricks while making teh tarik.

Pic from here

The service at nasi kandar restaurants are quite efficient. The moment you’re seated, the waiter comes and takes your order. But if it’s really busy, then you’ll need to get the waiter’s attention. While you’re waiting for your food to come or even while you’re eating, you can also watch TV. Not bad, eh?

The food’s cheap, the service laudable and yet I’ve once heard some customers criticizing the waiters. One waiter took their order and went off to get their food. These customers quietly muttered among themselves, not trusting that their waiter would remember what they ordered since they made quite a long, fussy list about how they wanted their food.

I don’t know what happened in the end, if the waiter got them the right food or not because my family and I were done eating and left. Hopefully the poor waiter got everything right. If not, they’ll surely complain more about him! There were lots of customers that time and you know, it’s busy, busy, busy!