Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am feeling incredibly LAZY at the moment. I've been reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for two days, and I've almost read three quarters of it already. I've almost completed the review for the first four books, but I was too lazy to finish it. I'm walking around feeling as if I'm in the magical world...minus the wand and the ability to perform any magic, of course. Kak Ilah has lent me five of her novels which I can't wait to start - but I have to finish Harry Potter first...I haven't read HP for one semester, which is quite long for me. So, I guess it's back to the sofa with a HP book and some snacks to munch on. Hope I won't be like this boy in the cartoon. LOL. See ya later folks!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Harry Potter

I haven't done any book review for the last few days because I was busy helping my mother pack our stuff to move to our new house. Among the books I've finished reading are the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (plus various other books which I'll review later). When I was in England, my friend Khadija had already told me about Harry Potter, but it wasn't until after I'd watched the first HP movie did I feel attracted to Harry Potter. I begged my parents to buy me the books (at that time, there were only the first four HP books published), which they did and gave me as a present for getting good results for my PMR. As soon as I read the first page of HP and the Philosopher's Stone, I immediately fell in love with the story (love at first sight!) and knew that the books were going to be way, way beter than the movies.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone tells of a boy named Harry Potter who had to live with his relatives, the Dursleys, after his parents were killed in a car crash. Later, when he receives an offer letter from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he finds out that he is actually a wizard and that his parents were killed by a very powerful Dark Wizard, Lord Voldemort. In this book, Harry faces Lord Voldemort for the first time (second, actually, if you count the time Voldemort tried to kill when he was still a baby) when Lord Voldemort tries to seek the Philosopher's Stone which can give him immortality.

Since I've read HP 1 to HP 7, I can see the difference in Harry's personality in each of the books. In this book, JK Rowling did a good job of portraying Harry as a young, naive and innocent 11-year-old wizard who (sometimes) makes immature decisions, afraid to confide in adults (such as his Headmaster Albus Dumbledore) while trying to get used to his identity as a wizard.

Harry enters his second year at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In this book, Harry faces the heir of Slytherin who has opened the Chamber of Secrets. I don't like this book much because there was a part where everybody avoided talking to Harry because they suspected he was the heir of Slytherin. Only when Harry's best friend Hermione is attacked do they change their minds. Another reason I don't like this book much is the way Harry and his other best friend, Ron Weasley arrived at Hogwarts (by flying Mr. Weasley's Ford Anglia) because they started the new term with a whole lot of trouble due to their bad decision-making. But never mind...they're still immature here. But I loved the part where Harry fought the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets...considering the fact that he's only 12 years old.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, everyone in the wizarding world and the muggle (people who don't have magic) world are on the alert for a high-profile murderer, Sirius Black, who has managed to escape from Azkaban, the wizard prison. Extra precautions are taken to protect Harry since Black is believed to be trying to capture Harry and bring him to Lord Voldemort. Halfway through the story, however, Harry and his friends learn that Black is Harry's deceased parents' best friend...not only was he the best man at his parents' wedding, but they also appointed Black to be Harry's godfather and guardian should anything happen to them. Harry and his friends also learn that Sirius Black was framed by another old friend, Peter Pettigrew, so they have to save Black from the Dementors (the Azkaban guards). The method used by Harry and Hermione to save Sirius Black in here is really ingenious. Although its kinda disappointing that they weren't able to clear Sirius' name and prove his innocence, there's a reason for it all in one of the later books.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favourite book of the first four books. There's a lot more magic in this book, not to mention a number of useful spells which I wish were real (eg, Accio! No need to keep getting up to fetch that something you've left somewhere). In this book, Harry is chosen as one of the school champions in the Triwizard Tournament...but the mystery is, Harry does not even fulfill the age limit required to enter the tournament! So who submitted his name as a participant?? After successfully performing all three tasks, Harry and Cedric Diggory, another Hogwarts champion, tie for the first place and grabbed hold of the Triwizard Cup at the same time. To their surprise, the Cup is a Portkey (which is an object that can transport you to the designated place when touched) and it transported them both to an empty graveyard, the place where Lord Voldemort has chosen to resurrect himself. My favourite part in this book is the Priori Incantatem chapter, the part where Harry duels with Voldemort. The first death in the HP series also occurred in this book with the death of Cedric Diggory. When Harry returns to Hogwarts, he told Dumbledore that Lord Voldemort has returned. Unfortunately, the Minister of Magic at that time, Cornelius Fudge, did not believe in Harry's story.

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic is trying very hard to deny rumours that Lord Voldemort is back by using the Daily Prophet to portray Harry and Dumbledore as crazy, etc. The Order of the Phoenix is an Order established during the time Lord Voldemort was still in power (Harry's parents were among the members of the Order before they were murdered). The Order was re-established to start planning various strategies to overcome Voldemort. One of their tasks in this book is to guard "something" in the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry from Voldemort. Towards the end of the book, Harry sees his godfather Sirius Black being tortured by Lord Voldemort via his scar, which somehow connects him to Lord Voldemort. So he rallies his friends and they all fly on Thestrals to the Ministry to try and save Sirius. However, it turned out that the vision was merely a trick to attract Harry to the Ministry, because Lord Voldemort wanted Harry to take a prophecy regarding Harry and him. A battle ensued between Harry & his friends and the Death Eaters. The other members of the Order turned up just in time to help them fight the Death Eaters. Unfortunately though, Sirius was killed in the fight. Sirius' death was a big blow to Harry, because he had now lost the man he looked upon as his parent. One good thing that came out of the fight at the Ministry is that the Minister and several other wizards turned up just in time to see Lord Voldemort before he disappeared, so now they have to accept the fact that Lord Voldemort is really back.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince starts by describing the deaths and terror faced by the people as Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters start killing Muggles and Muggle-borns. In this book, Harry takes private lessons with Professor Dumbledore - together, they go back into the memories of certain people to learn about Voldemort's childhood as they attempt to understand him. Along the way, they learn that Voldemort had created seven Horcruxes which are hidden in different hiding places to prevent him from dying. Harry follows Dumbledore to a certain cave by the sea to destroy one of the Horcruxes, but when they return to Hogwarts, they discover that it had been attacked by a group of Death Eaters. Dumbledore dies in this book, leaving Harry with the basic knowledge of what he has to do in the future to overcome Lord Voldemort. I can still cry each time I read the part describing Dumbledore's funeral, because Harry is now all alone - his parents, his godfather and now his headmaster have left him in their efforts to protect him from Voldemort.

I almost didn't want to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because this is the last book in the series and that there will be no more Harry after this. But of course, I had to start reading the minute I bought the book. In this book, Harry sets out with his friends to find and destroy the seven Horcruxes created by Voldemort. The ultimate battle then takes place between Harry's side and Voldemort's side. I loved reading the battle part - it seems so much cooler and riskier to battle using magic instead of firing canons of dropping nuclear bombs on the enemy. Thankfully, JK Rowling created a "19 years later" chapter which lets her readers know what happened 19 years later. I don't think I'd be fully-satisfied otherwise.

JK Rowling has an exceptional style of writing regardless when she is describing sceneries or when she's playing with her characters' emotions. She is also quite witty and manages to keep her readers laughing (or crying) at all the appropriate moments besides keeping her readers hooked and wanting to keep turning the page to find out what happens next. Each time I re-read a HP book, especially the last one, I really appreciate the little details written in the earlier books which then play their own role in the end. And to be honest, I don't watch the HP movies anymore because the movie plots are too different from the actual books, so I don't see how they're going to portray the Horcruxes part and stuff. There are too many important details left out...but then again, movie-makers only have a couple of hours to cram in around 600 - 700 pages.

I have repeated all HP books countless of times...and if a new HP book was coming out, I'd read all the previous HP books and surf the HP websites in anticipation of the new book. Oh, the thrill of it! Too bad there are no more HP books coming out though. However, there are other HP-related books such as the newly-published The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which is a fairy tale book mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Even though HP is now over, all I have to do is open the cover of the first HP book to make him alive again. (Sorry if that sounded cheesy.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Last Sunday, I watched Barbie & the Diamond Castle on TV3 with my youngest sister. Needless to say, it was a great movie (especially if you're a Barbie lover) with the theme of friendship. Its mainly about two best friends, Liana (the pronounciation is like Rihanna) and Alexa who share a love of singing. Of course, somewhere along the way the strength of their friendship is tested. You can read the full review here.

I don't know what it is about Barbie that makes me still attracted to watch her movies...perhaps its the excellent graphic used in the movies, or the prettiness of Barbie and her friends (not to mention their outfits and the sceneries!). Or maybe its because I played with Barbie dolls when I was a little girl, so she reminds me of my happy and carefree childhood.
Back in England, my parents bought me and my sisters several Barbie dolls, a great big doll house which was even taller than us, plus some furniture to decorate the doll house with. The doll house had four levels - the ground floor consisted of a kitchen (which had a kitchen cabinet) and a bathroom (which had a toilet, a sink+mirror and a bathtub with a shower curtain). The first floor was the sitting room (which had a chair that could recline complete with footrest, a writing table table+chair and a side table), the second floor was the bedroom (2 single beds, 2 closets, 1 dresser. We even had the accessories such as shoes and clothes, pillows and covers and little hairbrushes and handmirrors). The topmost floor was a rooftop balcony for the dolls to hang out in the evenings. My sisters and I had a blast arranging and re-arranging the furnitures, changing the dolls' outfits and acting them out in various scenes. It's pretty funny recalling it all, but I wouldn't mind admitting that right now, the child in me is crying out for me to grab my youngest sister's doll and start playing with it. Just going to Toys R Us to ogle at the latest Barbie collection is enough, seeing as its not really worth spending my money on it. But of course, the more matured Me is saying...Grow Up!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

High School Blues

My sister Yusraa is now in her second week of SPM. Looking at her studying, doing her homework, rushing off to tuitions and extra classes prior to the exams, I wonder how I managed to get through it all back when I was in high school. Waking up at 5.45am to catch the school bus...which was hard to do considering the fact that I stayed up late to finish my homework. Coming home at around 4pm (due to the extremely long route taken by the school bus) and catching a few winks before rushing off to tuition. Extra classes and tuitions during the holidays. Trying to cram in two years' worth of knowledge in the form of 11 subjects (luckily it was only 11 in my time) in the last few months before the actual exam. Shudder.

But there are some happy moments though...gossiping on the school bus with friends, taking the rare opportunity of hanging out at KOMTAR or Prangin Mall on the way home from extra classes, and of course, meeting friends from other schools at tuition...some of whom I am still in touch with. I even finished high school successfully. So what's so bad about high school then?? Nothing much...but given the chance, I don't think I want to go through it again. University life is way happier. So far anyway.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh. My. God.

Okay, so I was watching some videoclips at Youtube with my youngest sister when I decided to check my gmail. I saw that someone by the name of Phillipa had dropped a comment, and my heart started to beat a little faster. Could it be...?? No, why would she?? I opened the email, screamed, and refreshed my blog. Screamed again. Yes!! It's her!!

"Her" would be Phillipa Ashley, the author of Wish You Were Here which I have just reviewed. Oh my god, I am still (pleasantly) shocked, stunned and definitely thrilled that she dropped me a comment, let alone the fact that she noticed that someone did a review of her book. I would like to extend my gratitude and a million thank-yous to Ms. Phillipa Ashley for making a reader happy. I know I probably sound like a demented and desperate fan, but I don't care. Nothing can spoil my day today! :-D

Updated Later:

A million thanks to Ms. Phillipa Ashley for putting the link to my blog review in her blog. Need I mention again how thrilled I am?? ;-)

Burn your Calories while doing Housework

I've read about this years ago in one issue of Reader's Digest, but I've only just remembered it while doing the housework today. Believe it or not, you can actually burn your calories while doing the housework! The following calorie calculations are based on a person weighing 160 pounds (72.6 kg) who participates in any of the following activities for 30 minutes:

  • Cooking dinner : 60 calories

  • Making a bed : 94 calories

  • Dusting : 120 calories

  • Watering outdoor plants : 120 calories

  • Washing the dishes: 144 calories

  • Washing the windows : 144 calories

  • Grocery shopping : 190 calories

  • Ironing clothes : 190 calories

  • Playing with the kids : 192 calories

  • Vacuuming : 196 calories

I only listed the activities which we're more likely to do everyday, but if you'd like to find out more, just click here and here. Okay, now let's work out how much calories you've burnt in terms of food:

  • 1 Starbucks cappuccino = 150 calories = 50 minutes cycling

  • 1 jam doughnut = 250 calories = 30 minutes swimming
  • 1 medium sized portion of chips = 270 calories = 40 minutes salsa dancing

  • 1 croissant = 275 calories = 75 minutes housework

Hmm...I do hope I haven't put anyone off eating by this post...and there's no need to be calorie-obssessed if your body mass index is just fine. But I highly recommend this method to anyone who's been trying to lose weight unsuccessfully either by starving themselves, trying out different kinds of diets or exercising like crazy, because not only do you get a cleaner and tidier house, but you can also stay fit at the same time. So, people...start cleaning your house now!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wish You Were Here

I wish I had someone to say that to, but no, I don't. Not yet anyway. *wink wink*. That's the title of the book which I started at 8.35 am this morning, and finished in the afternoon. Mind you, I vacuumed the whole house in between that too, so I didn't just spend the whole morning lolling about on the couch with the book and some snacks.

Wish You Were Here is a contemporary romance novel written by Phillipa Ashley. I don't know why I'm in the mood for this category lately...perhaps they're easy to read and don't involve too much emotion, except the usual sigh of happiness+romance at the end of it. This book is about Elizabeth Allen, who was proposed to by Jack Thornfield at Corsica, after which he walked out on her for eight years without any explanation (which is a very cold-hearted thing to do, in my opinion). So eight years later, Beth applies for a post as the Product Manager at a travel company, the Big Outdoors, without knowing that Jack is the CEO of the company. Naturally, it wasn't easy for either of them to work together but they managed to get along professionally eventually. After working together for a few months, Beth soon finds out the reason Jack left her. And she also discovers the important fact that they both still have feelings for each other. But the question is, does she/can she still accept him??? Jeng jeng jeng...

It says on the front cover that this book is "the perfect holiday read: sun, sea and star-crossed lovers", to which I absolutely agree. Since I read this book on the couch in the living room, I could only content myself with imagining the scenic waterfalls, the lush nature trails and whatever holiday destination is described in here. However, I love this book because not only does it have a happy ending, but the guy in it is soooo perfect!! And actually, that's one of the major cons of reading this kind of books...when you read about the heroine and her handsome, macho, sexy, rich CEO boyfriend, your mind can't help going into fantasy mode and wishing that one of these days you'll find yourself a guy like that too. Haha...and I'm already getting carried away here. I know, I know...iman (faith) should come first. But it doesn't hurt to dream, right? *wink wink*

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

I haven't read any good story books lately due to assignments and exams. Well, I actually managed to finish two library novels during the exam period, but the first book I read after the exams was Thanks for the Memories, a best seller book by Cecelia Ahern. For those of you who don't already know, she's one of New York Times' bestselling authors for her previous novel, PS, I Love You, which has also been adapted into a movie (and whose review I have yet to post).

The story is about Justin Hitchcock, a professor of Arts and Architecture, who decided to overcome his fear of needles and donate his blood (it was also because he wanted a date with the pretty doctor) in Ireland. In another part of Ireland, Joyce Conway had a traumatic accident and had to have a blood transfusion. Since her accident, she finds that not only has her eating habits changed (from being a vegetarian to a non-vegetarian), but she can also speak Italian and Latin besides knowing a lot about old heritage buildings. She also has dreams of people and places which she doesn't know, although they all seem familiar to her in a way. At first, she thought she was going crazy because of the stress she's feeling, but after several incidents, she discovers that the changes are due to the blood transfusion - her blood donor was Justin Hitchcock, and that somehow, his eating habits, knowledge, interests and even memories have been passed to her.

I really like the story...there are many moments of sadness, but it also has its hilarious moments, not to mention many moral values. Cecelia Ahern is one the few authors who write using the present tense, which is probably why you feel as if you're really "in the moment" when reading. What's most intriguing, however, is the fact that there actually are cases of heart transplant patients who acquire their donor's skills, tastes, etc after the transplant. Although I'm not sure exactly if there are also similar cases involving blood transfusion. From the psychological perspective, more research could be done to find out if blood transfusions and heart transplants can influence the patient's behaviour and mental processes. Hmm...have to keep that in mind if I want to do a research someday.

So how does the story end?? Ooohh...the ending is just so, so sweet. Read it yourself!

Monday, November 10, 2008

In the Dark of Night

Recently, a friend and I couldn’t seem to sleep, so we just hung out in the corridor chatting about various stuff. I then glanced at the sky and commented on how dark the sky was tonight. My friend said that the moon isn’t showing herself tonight, which led us to remember the bits of science taught to us during primary school – the one about how the earth spins on its axis for 24 hrs (1 day), and how one complete orbit around the sun takes 365 days (1 year).

Then I remembered a lesson I learnt in my Arabic class which discussed verses 3 – 10 of Surah Yunus in the Holy Qur’an. Verse 5 mentions that Allah created the sun and the moon to move in its own orbit so that we (as the slaves of Allah) will know how to count the months and the years. So my Ustaz told us that the Roman calendar (tahun Masihi) is based on the sun and consists of 365 days a year, while the Hijriyah calendar is based on the moon and has 354 days in a year. That means that if we follow the Hijriyah calendar, we’d actually be older than we are now since it has fewer days in a year compared to the Roman calendar. Slight shudder there.

Another fascinating thing which my Ustaz pointed out to us in Verse 5 is the way Allah described the sun and the moon - Allah has created the sun to radiate and the moon to glow. However, I find that the Malay translation of that particular verse is more apt and easier to understand, believe it or not. Dia-lah yang menjadikan matahari bersinar dan bulan bercahaya. The significance of Allah’s usage of the word dhiya’ (which means ‘to radiate’) in describing the sun is because the sun emits light – bersinar. On the other hand, the word nuur is used to describe the moon because nuur means cahaya. In this case, the word cahaya means ‘light’, but in the sense that when the moon catches the light from the sun, it shines because it is reflecting the light from the sun. Of course, you will recall from your primary school science that this is because the moon doesn’t emit or radiate its own light – rather, it reflects the light from the sun (and thus, bulan bercahaya).

The shining sun

The glowing moon

It’s really beautiful and amazing actually the way Allah has paired and suited the perfect adjectives to describe His creations. Even I had to refer to a number of dictionaries and Qur’anic translations while writing this post. But then again, it shows that although we human beings are gifted with ‘aqal (mind), our knowledge will never, ever surpass Allah’s knowledge, unless He wills it to happen.

**Please correct me if there are any mistakes...Thank you.

It's Over!

Alhamdulillah, my exams are finally over and done with. Of course, now that its actually over, I can't help wishing that I spent more time studying instead of sleeping, eating and whatever it is students generally do when they should be studying. And once you've actually started studying, you start to realize that the subject is actually pretty interesting. Then you wonder why on earth didn't you start studying earlier?? You then vow to not study last minute anymore next semester, but you end up going through the same thing again. But never mind...the best thing - and the only thing to do now - is to make du'a to Allah that my results will turn out okay. Sigh.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm Still Here..!

First of all, I'm so sorry for not updating my blog in like, 21 and a half years as kindly reminded by my old friend. It's just that I was sick for a whole week during Raya, so I didn't even have the urge to go online, much less find the energy to update my blog. This Raya was quite an uneventful one for my family actually. Sigh...never mind, trials and tribulations are a part of life.

It's now the middle of the final exam season at IIUM (another valid reason to not update my blog), and I've only got one paper left - Islam & Psychology, which pretty tough to score. After that, I'm going home to enjoy my almost-six-weeks-of-vacation!! During which I will update my blog, insha Allah. Exams do not deter me from reading novels!

So anyway...please pray for my exams. Hope all of you have fun doing whatever it is you're doing.
“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.”
- Martin Tupper