Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fifty Shades Freed, EL James

The finale. One that provides closure. The unraveling of the truth behind the trifecta of eroticism at its very heels, not truthfully the best I would have to admit. The third epic erotic novel kicks off with a blinding start with a nervous build-up. One that surely inches at a snail's pace to give you the delectable feel as to the raw emotions pent up within Anastasia Steele. The focus of Freed was more of providing a proper curtain call before James signs off officially from the prime of her fictitious BDSM escapades. Though I have thoroughly enjoyed the actions and the thrills that comes entwined with the affection that is poured out in these trilogy, I can't help but felt drawn reluctantly towards 1,200 pages of how a woman's thoughts could be so complicated and challenging. Had I bumped upon this book earlier, perhaps my feelings towards how women's emotions and feelings would have changed for the better? Oh... please forgo all the raw skin stuffs that I have no intention of deferring to.

Though I could appreciate James' tremendous effort in placating the very hot-headed Christian Grey by matching him up with Steele's wits, it's quite a floorshow (as they would have it) to see them lashing out at each other in verbal competition followed instinctively by what we all come to know as a stance where it takes two to tango (I'm referring to sex in this matter). The clashes were colourful to say the least and several times, such ignition was what gave the book a tremendous disinclination on my part. I couldn't help but feel poorly for Grey's overreactive hyperawareness and for Steele's persistently implacable rebelliousness despite the former's strict disciplinarian characteristics and his overprotectiveness. This is where all the scripts are repeated in a monologue pattern; one that couldn't veer far from platitudes. It was a relentless bane with that prose that marks its downhill performance.

But the book does has its enthralling moments, or what as Grey would have it exclaimed, beguiling to an extent towards the final few chapters. The kidnapping was totally unanticipated and it caught me off guard. One that gives a pretty good twist in a dull circumstance that nearly got my senses alerted in all manners. Yet, it climaxes pretty too rapidly with a minimalistic attempt in pursuing the intensiveness of the agenda with the villain arrested and arraigned immediately just after he lashes out on Anastasia. Kind of puts you back to where you are before you even first started. And the thematic of the novel of eroticism dominates against one that has anything to do with thrillers.

An entertaining albeit too long epilogue gives off the vibe that James isn't sure of herself of what her readers would expect and two excerpts towards the end that gives the readers a first-hand insight into Grey's first interview with Anastasia; although welcoming forthrightly, was a tad bit too long. A closure too long, but it ends right there with a warming touch. What I'm particularly sated from it all is the fact that James tried her level best to show how a woman's love could transform even the most indignant, insecure, rebellious, pessimistic and egocentric arse into one that could admit his love for his dead mother (whom he labeled as a crack-whore), his family and as well as his newly wedded wife. His fears were dispelled and not without three books worth of coaxing and cajoling before he finally succumbed to reveal his past with Mrs Robinson.

Fifty Shades isn't the best book out there. The prose is far too simplistic and disorderly, too rash in aspects that required a slow momentum and too draggy in certain aspects that requires tact. But at least I get a glimpse of liberation to see how Grey survived it all with Anastasia. Who could have thought so much could happen within 5-6 months of venture into such an uncertain relationship that is so discordant in all level.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fifty Shades Darker, EL James

Apropos to the context of the novel, the title of the novel should be aptly named lighter as the protagonists continues their tryst albeit in a much subdued manner. Emotions run higher than the first book and we see how Christian Grey becomes more of a mollified man. All in the name of love. How EL James twist the characters around and then introduce significant plots to tie up the events are quite a number to contend with although the prose remains rather weak with a dull edge. The pulling factor of the novel is missing a great deal especially when it comes to the intimacy aspect. Granted, it started off pretty with a flourish but such well-guarded story line soon blew out of proportion as ideas start to run out high and dry on the author. Nevertheless, readers get a tinge of more to come rather than all those ‘kinky fuckery’ as per described in the exact words of their love-making venture.

One gets to enjoy the more pacified Grey as he begins to come to terms with his falling in love account, and as well as confronting his nightmares and personality of the past. Taking it with a pinch of salt on whether to trust Grey or not is the total end of another spectrum for Anastasia. She finds it a challenge and a near insurmountable task to trust her lover and at the same time be beholden to him as she could find no blaming flaws so intense to make her leave. Such fragile balance could tip either way, and it’s most abiding to see James does it to the point of making both characters seem mercurial - one for his personality change while the other for her emotional turmoil. The confrontation between these two characters were hardly on the tip of the balance leading to a disjointed relationship that one could clearly see and needing no clairvoyance to extrapolate that their future together would be a disaster.

James is good with that. The contradiction and the confrontation that burns and promulgate the incessant conflict that hides just beneath the covers of the counterpane, waiting and watching to pounce right out. At times, such emotions from Anastasia was confounding to say the least, and unexpected while others (in fact most of them) were bromide and mawkish. That in itself, sets the pace of the book and inflames Grey to do things that seemingly puts him in a perpetual anachronistic situation. Like an adolescent trapped in the body of an adult man. He experiences what an adult would at a tender age and aims to catch up with himself emotionally and mentally at the present moment explaining all the mercurial character and personality traits.

Off the charts, Grey finally does away with the BDSM physicality and embraces love; finding that life without Anastasia was a chasm so deep that he couldn’t much fill with anything in the world, not even with his riches. And that strikes home in the very first chapter - the main plot for him to win Anastasia back. The finale was gruesome and teasing as it is. A disgruntled Jack (Anastasia’s ex-employer), though the name wasn’t uttered (but its implicit tactfulness wasn’t a challenge to deduce by itself - James is after all not a potent suspense author) is back with a vengeance showing that it was his doing in meddling with the crashed helicopter that almost took Christian’s life alongside his number two - Ros (his personal assistant). Let’s hope that the final trophy of the book could seal the ending in a mesmerising way, but that hope often doesn’t do it well for any trifecta that pales in the first two books with three star ratings.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James

If you’re an unrestrained individual who possesses the freedom to roam the Internet for information all the years that you do, then the nastiness involved in this novel wouldn’t be that much of a surprise. It may to a certain extent yield some connotation towards the virtue of sexual abuse, but when it comes to the plain fact of the plot, one can’t help but remained unaroused or guarded towards the prospect of how the scenes are plotted. With what appears as a nonchalant individual, poised with a significant amount of authority basing on his wealth and his character, Christian Grey exudes a powerful aura around those that he yearns control. The first novel didn’t penetrate too deeply into his life (pun intended) though it does give some surface glides as to how he is what he is at the present. In comes the innocent, taciturn, unremarkable Anastasia Steele who for the life of her (twenty one years in all) has never come close to passing first base and all of a sudden is thrust (another pun intended) into a world of BDSM. Her carefully crafted idealistic world is about to fall apart as she is guided by Grey into a dark nether world that she has never known existed.

What revolves around the novel is plain sex and that’s a lot of those scenes cramped within one to two weeks. A sexually potent and virile Grey could plant several moments of his erected penile tissue over a short period of time and coming every so often; yielding the ultimate question as to whether there is in reality exist such a man? Then again, one could argue the fact that the novel remains one that is fictitious in all accounts, but the point is moot when you could pull out the charts that shows how ‘capable’ these Adonis beings are in the adult film industry. The novel does has its erotic tinge at the first few scenes, but it soon boils down towards two issues in my humble opinion on this regard. First, the mechanical action soon becomes soiled with boredom; a dull, repetitious, predictable act of lust that veers away from genuine love making. Second, the interminable amount of physical abuse that gets lashed out (despite Ana wanting it, or purportedly so) was a grave abhorrence that disgust me to all extremes especially when it is coupled with the emotionless agony that the victim has to endure. No wonder criticisms are bountiful when it comes to the reviews.

And it isn’t surprising when the physical abuse and neglect led to a phase of emotional turmoil that keeps flitting through Ana’s mind where she runs a diorama of reserve conversation between her subconscience (the presumable angel part of her) and her apparent goddess (the direct opposite of the former). The story gets chaffed with a load of soreness and painful reminiscence and that pun is an utter statement of the century. I wouldn’t glorify the novel to an extent of giving it a thumbs up recognition, but I’d just leave it to you to explore if you have the intent. Just be sure that you remain your own judge as to your freedom of choice. Whether it arouses you or inflames you, now that goes deep within. As the novel’s character Grey insists on how the submissive would subsequently react to what the dominator effects on the former, so would the novel evokes that subconscious seated deep inside your brain.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Death Benefit, Robin Cook

As far as we are all concerned, Death Benefit is at the present moment, the latest Jack Stapleton-Laurie Montgomery series of medical examiner’s mystery thriller novel. Yet, to give it that honour would degrade their predecessors which were far more pronounced and both the main characters were in actual fact given more room to explore around the plot. Death Benefit reels the series into a different totality, a distinct aspect as many would come to find out for themselves.

Pia Grazdani, a fourth year medical student in Columbia University is into her elective rotation where she is allowed to pick and choose which medical field that enthuse her and appears to be the most likely field where they plan to go into residency in the near future. As she picks up a rare interest that delights the keen mind, she delves herself into the field of research. The one particular novel research that fascinates her appears to be that of stem cell research where two great minds of the university were heavily involved in. Dr Rothman and his assistant Yamamoto were the clear favourites to advance further into the field of stem cell research to the degree of allowing these pluripotent cells to form into any particular cells in the human body they so desire. Combined with avant garde facility and great intellect, they found through a breakthrough discovery that they were not only capable of generating specialised cells of any particular organ, but was also capable of organising them into a proper skeletal framework; thus allowing them to build up an organ. In short, they found an endless possibility of the provision of organ transplants without any potential harm through recipient’s rejection.

Such amazing discovery was kept in the hush-hush and few who knew about it were sworn to ultimate secrecy. Yet, such clandestine operations were technically impossible with the inappropriate babbles of some tongue-slip; inadvertent or meant in deliberation. To the horror of Edmunds and Russell who are two uprising shrewd businessman, such nobility of organ availability meant harm to their business. They earn a living buy ridding old folks who are near death’s door by purchasing their life insurance and cashing it in when the seller buys the farm. And with such widespread network of connection they have, they hire convincing salesman to do just that throughout the whole of the country. Soon with their stock markets hitting the roof, they were astounded by a character, Gloria Croft who informs them of the bountiful prospects of her own self-discovery. Partly in retribution for vengeance where Gloria wanted to get back at her old boss Edmunds for a love tryst that never was a success, she had little time to bask in the glory of seeing her ex-lover fall to his doom.

The involvement of the Albanian mafia marks the apogee of violence where threats and gunfights come in to replace the more casual business talk. Practically one novel that builds on nothingness and with a pace that would encourage a snail’s trail, the story does have a hinge of excitement to it as one nears towards the middle of the book. Jack and Laurie merely make a cameo appearance alongside Chet McGovern and Detective Captain Lou Soldano making it seem as though the book should at least be given the honour to be shelved alongside the ten preceding it.

It really depends on how you take the whole scenario, the plots and the sub-plots as well as the build up of the varying characters with Pia playing the centre stage of what appears to be egocentricity and maintaining the air of an implacable lady with a determined mind. Having gone through so many of Cook’s books, I can appreciate the recipe for disaster that his writing is heading to. Let’s just hope that his latest 2014 novel - Cell - sets a good platform for better books roc ome.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

6th East Malaysia Thalassaemia Forum

Having not been to any of the conferences or seminars organised throughout the year of 2014 (by and large thanks to the monopolising dude who feels that he could get away by harping on any such opportunities), I finally fought for my chance to attend at least one of the many seminars held throughout the year in Kota Kinabalu. Perhaps the fighting chance was allayed to rest and that was copiously due to the fact that the field of haematology was my competitor’s bete noire and he couldn’t for the life of him wanted to have anything to do with it. Well... his loss, my gain, like what many would say.

The forum was organised mainly by the Malaysian Paediatric Association and co-opted largely by the Sabah’s Women and Children’s Hospital where the Paediatric Dept holds a large part of their affairs there. That affairs being the handling, investigating and managing kids of all ages within the paediatric range. And since thalassaemia has a great deal to do with adult medicine as well as in the very fact that treatment has so far advance in the field of haematology that we are now seeing adult thalassaemia, I was given the opportunity to attend for the improvement of my poor knowledge on the field. It was a definite eye-opener and I couldn’t stop myself from wandering back to those years in Seremban as a medical student where I was tasked with a thalassaemia patient who was part of my CFCS (Community & Family Case Studies) project. I had to follow him up for 2.5 years throughout my clinical school agenda and towards the very end of it to write up a long and elaborate detail of his condition, his progression and subsequently what we have done to improve his compliance towards chelation therapy and follow ups with the paediatrician-in-charge. I recalled having to delve deeper into books on that topic and having not enough of it to answer my doubts, I flooded myself with the help of technology into grossing out the latest developments through researches that dealt sparingly with bone marrow transplant or the newer field of cord blood transplant in Malaysia. This was back in the years of 2004-2006 where the technique has just begun to make its appearance in Singapore and Malaysia.

More like a refresher course attended by doctors of varying ranks, and in particular the supporting nurses who takes care of the thalassaemia patients; the forum dealt delicately with issues concerning the introduction to thalassaemia, its epidemiology and pattern of prevalence in Malaysia, how we as a state in Sabah is dealing with the patients, complications arising from the disorder alongside advance management. The latter delved into the problems of blood transfusion alongside the newer chelation therapy taken by mouth - Exjade, as compared to the older and more established technique given by subcutaneous infusion for 12-15 hours depending on the severity with increasing frequency over weeks. It also gave a detailed explanation into genetic therapy in the sense of cord blood transplant alongside bone marrow transplant to which a much celebrated Thai professor was given the luxury to elaborate on his expertise. Even several slots were given to a cardiologist who specialises in cardiac imagine to talk on the complications arising from frequent blood transfusion to the heart and how his field of expertise could help in delineating the severity through cardiac MRI and subsequently translated to the patient to reinforce compliance to chelation therapy. Notably cardiac iron overload is reversible with chelation therapy, and this holds true for the liver as well.

The stay @ Novotel KK was a pleasant one and it was a significant luxury to have stayed there as the place is connected to the One Borneo Hypermall through a short walkway on one of its side entrances from the lobby. Having always stayed in Tune Hotel, the significance was awe-inspiring and relaxing to both the physical and mental state after an exhausting two-week call duty going on three.

The two day course was filled with back to back talks and that was one of a hefty information overload but nevertheless, an intriguing aspect into briefing the younger doctors regarding the truth behind thalassaemia as well as reinforcing the knowledge to the more senior doctors who runs the show in the ward; in particular, the medical officers and junior specialists taking the rein off the consultants when the latter is not around to call the shots. Seeing that it is an annual event and it has been so successful for the 6th year running, I wish them all the best as they continue to persevere in their efforts to raise awareness regarding thalassaemia in the state of Sabah. This has shown successes as more concentrated efforts of family planning and early screening has shown their efficacy over the years of patiently working with the community at large. The result? Lesser thalassaemic births… and now let’s hope that continues though ultimately, the decision of having a child with thalassaemia; despite the risk of percentages involved after genetic screening has been done, rests with the newly wedded couple.