Books Kinokuniya – Singapore

I’m trying to make it a point to visit bookstores whenever I go on a trip outside the country, just because it’s fun. Plus for a bookish person like me, it’s always interesting to see various editions of books, especially the ones translated in the country’s local language. The first foreign bookstores I went to were during my trip to Europe. I was only able to check one bookstore in Jakarta (and I wasn’t able to blog about it, eep!). So I went to Singapore last week, and as I was planning my itinerary, I knew there was one place that I should go to: Books Kinokuniya.

I’ve read really great things about this place — and by great, it’s really more This is such a big bookstore and There are really so many books inside. On my third day at Singapore, I hopped on a train to Orchard to get to Takashimaya Mall and looked for this bookstore.

And…I was amazed.

I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos outside and inside that aren’t sneaky photos (I haven’t had that tourist-y talent down pat yet). I was alone when I went there, and I was really too amazed at the selection of books more than I wanted to take photos. Here are some photos I took, though:

kinokuniya02

Rows and rows of shelves!

Two versions of The Lover's Dictionary

Two versions of The Lover’s Dictionary

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Amazing Grace, Amazing Race

Amazing Grace by Tara FT Sering

Amazing Grace by Tara FT Sering
Marshall Cavendish, 184 pages

Pre-school teacher, Grace Lim, thinks that she has finally found her man at age 27. Mr-Blind-Date-No.-7, Mike, has turned out to be everything that she s ever wanted, dreamt about, and more!

With a marriage proposal in hand, Grace thinks that she is set for life. Trouble begins to stir in paradise when Mike informs Grace that he is re-locating from Manila to sunny Singapore because of work.

But the conveniences of modern technology aren’t enough to bridge the distance between Mike and Grace, and what of Mike s colleague Kaela who appears in every photo that Mike s uploaded online?

So Grace decides to give Mike a surprise visit in Singapore but is she ready for what she will find?

The thing with Summit chick lit books is they seem to be too thin for a Php 150 priced novel. That’s why I hesitate buying them because I feel like they’re a bit too expensive for such a quick (albeit enjoyable) read. So when I spotted Anvil Publishing’s reprinting of Asian chic lit by Filipina authors from Singapore in National Bookstore, I was curious!  Here are some thicker chick lit books at the same price.

The next question is: are they any good?

I finished reading Tara FT Sering’s Amazing Grace this week, and I can answer 1/3 of that question (since there are three Asian chic novels out as of now): it’s very good.

Amazing Grace is the story of Grace Chua, a 26-year-old Filipina-Chinese single woman who has been egged on by her friends and family to find a man and settle down before her biological clock stops ticking. Grace realizes that, and she allows herself to be set up for blind dates. However, none of the guys were deemed worthy, until guy #7, her Valentine’s Day date, Mike. She and Mike clicked, and after two years, he proposes to her. It would have been perfect if Mike hadn’t gave her the next bit of news: he got a job in Singapore and will have to move there for two years for his contract.

Grace was determined to make the long distance relationship work — after all, they were engaged, and there’s no way she’s letting go of that! — but things become complicated when Mike seems to have less and less time for her (acting like she has some kind of contagious eczema or something), and he always seemed to mention a woman named Kaela in their conversations. Grace goes to Singapore on a weekend to surprise him, and finds herself in a race around three countries, all in an effort to get her man back.

Amazing Grace was unlike all chick lit I have read so far, and it was mainly because of the second person POV used in the story. Second person makes use of the pronoun “you”, making it seem like the reader is also the main character in the story. I’ve managed to write one second person POV story, and I am not even sure if I did it right. From NaNoWriMo research, I’ve learned that its best to avoid writing in second person POV because it almost never works properly. For this novel, however, I think it really works. The POV effectively puts the reader in Grace’s place, but still maintaining enough character to distinguish Grace from the reader.

Grace is a quirky, relatable character. I loved being in her shoes, I loved reading her thoughts, I love her reactions to the situations she was in. It was easy to sympathize with her and that may be because I was in her shoes as I read it, but I also felt her pain when she found out about Mike. Grace is not exactly a woman scorned, but there was a sense of desperation in her that made her want to save the relationship even if her sister says to let him go. Her growth in the story was believable in the sense that there wasn’t really much drama over her epiphany. More often than not, there isn’t much grandeur whenever we reach a certain point or realize an important thing in our lives; it usually comes quietly. The same thing happened to Grace, although unlike others, she found herself in a hilarious situation. What is that exactly? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. :)

Other than the effective second person POV, there were a lot of fun sequences in the story, all in respect to the humor of chick lit. There were the good life lessons, too — lessons that a single woman would definitely find useful. :) I’d also like to praise the epilogue of the novel — it had me chuckling all the way to the end. :)

Amazing Grace is a fun read, and it is worth the Php 150 I paid for. If you enjoy chick lit, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one too. :) If you’re not yet convinced, here are some quotes from the book that I found memorable/funny/both. :)

And factoring in the fact that only fictional chicks in movies get the guy they like on the first and second try (or after many cute pratfalls in equally cute outfits), you can expect a period of tumultuous hitting and missing, so getting together with someone by the time you’re 28 will require you to start looking around and dating about…well, last year. (p.15)

The truth is, you begin to suspect, a woman will go through great lengths designing the rescue, and then hurry back to the place of distress where she will recline and pine, and wait for the man she has chosen to act out the rescue. Then she will gloat and tell all her friends about it. The man, clueless on all unseen workings, will then appear extremely pleased with himself and feel entitled to act it out again — on someone else. (p.38)

In this day and age, a Bad Hair Day, contrary to what the term says, is no longer just a 24-hour nightmare. With a single click of a teeny digital camera, your Bad Hair Day will not end when the sun goes down, but rather, will continue to live on for as long as your friend’s Multiply account is online. (p.81)

Again, you wonder: How did you get here?

Lena calls out from the room. “What?”

Say: “Nothing!”

You really should do something about your tendency to think aloud. (p.151)

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 53 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 8 out of 20 for Project 20:10

My copy: paperback, Php150 from National Bookstore

Cover image & blurb: Goodreads

CymLowell