Review: The Other Side of the Story

The Other Side of the Story, by Marian Keyes

Crossed Women. Crossed Lines. Crossed Swords.

That’s the tag line of this wonderful novel by Keyes. Highly cynical about life, yet heart-warming and hilarious all the same, The Other Side of The Story tells the tales of three women – Gemma, Jojo and Lily – leading different yet interwoven life.

Gemma is a successful event planner in Dublin. Work was a nightmare, and when his Dad did a runaway on her mum, her life turns positively hellish. Things were looking all sunny from her side, and she took comfort confiding in Susan who lives far away. Night after night she escaped by writing stories on her life… not knowing that these very pieces will turn her life around few months down the road.

Lily is a so-so writer, a “boyfriend stealer” (or so Gemma would label her) who hit a miracle success in London publishing world with a story that is too good to be true. Ever the pessimist, Lily believes in retribution, and the tale traces her thoughts, fear and anger as her life took unexpected turn with Anton (the boyfriend), Ema (the out-of-wedlock baby), Irina (the Russian neighbour) and of course, Gemma and Jojo (how else would their lives be interwoven?)

Jojo is “viagra of the literary world”, a highly successful and ambitious literary agent who represented Lily. A love affair with her boss (Mark) took an unexpected twist and Jojo soon found, to her horror, that her career dream was suddenly snatched out of reach. Grieving and determined not to show any sign of weakness, she striked out on her own in a tale unlike any other – Gemma wrote a book that was “a band-aid equivalent in the literary world” and Lily’s third highly-successful book after a horrid second one.

I found the book to be highly readable and, compared to the Shopaholic series, was far more realistic, serious and easier to relate to. It was not one of those books that you couldn’t put down (I took my own sweet time in finishing it – 2 weeks), but yet it compelled me to write about it the moment I finished it.

The ending was kind of predictable, but kinda rushed when compared to the earlier, more-leisurely paced pages. Perhaps keyes suddenly ran out of idea to elaborate more on the three ladies (or maybe the book’s publishing deadline was looming – hey, I learned that from the book!).

What have I learned from the book?

#1 Love at first sight is possible
#2 Being large (like me) can be beautiful
#3 You can actually earn loads being a writer
#4 You can write stories of your life by renaming the “character”

My favourite paragraph from the book:

“‘One,’ I declared, listing on my fingers, ‘I think all men are bastards. Two, whenever I start listing things out on my fingers I get distracted by my nail colour, and three, now I’ve lost my train of thought – see! And three, I think all men are bastards.”

Freaking hilarious. And you get more doses of such chick-humour towards the end of the book.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The book is available at Popular, Borders and

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Reviews |

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Went to Detention Class to celebrate Ben’s 27th birthday. Lots happened – shouldn’t blog about that. You guys should know what happened. Thanks for being there for the fun, and comfort.

Now you know, I’m only human *wink*

But here’s one hilarious photo that I just have to post up first:

More pics in the gallery

Blogged under
| Life |

Fav Blog Post for 8/4

From Finicky Feline:

“It’s funny how people can use religion to justify certain events that happen.

My colleague was telling me this morning that she has to go to church tonight. Then her son called her and asked her to go for seafood instead. She told me “Aiya, too bad I have church tonight” and I told her she shouldn’t see church as an obligation and should be happy and motivated to go to church. She then looked at me for the longest time and said “God is speaking to me through you”. I had to quickly gulp my milk down before I burst out laughing”

Went to see a gay play at Esplanade today, and took lots of pics to and fro the place. No time to post though, coz Liping and Zhiren dropped by tonight. Will do it tomorrow!

Blogged under
| Life |

The Esplanade Shuffle

Went to a play at Esplanade (more of that later – maybe). Was totally mermesrized by the sights I see on my way from the train station to the play studio. Perhaps I am seeing things differently now I have my Olympus.

Most photos didn’t turn out right. How sad. But here are some nicer ones, from the entire collection in the gallery. I named the album “The Esplanade Shuffle”. My view as I shuffle from the station to the studio.

Lame, I know. But who cares?

The Esplanade Shuffle

The Esplanade Shuffle

The Esplanade Shuffle

The Esplanade Shuffle

The Esplanade Shuffle

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| Photos |

Behind The Smiles

While working on my company newsletters, we are trying out new features to highlight our candidates. So my new writer wrote a “sample” of how the feature will be like, based on yours truly. And this is the result:

Behind The Smiles

What strikes you when you first meet Roger* is how he doesn’t stop smiling. He claims, with almost comic deadpan, that he has “no passion” for anything and leads a simple life. But you soon learn that his trademark straight-faced demeanour hides an existential, philosophical streak.

He cheekily tells you about his roguish escapades on campus, coercing classmates to cover for his attendance. But just how the self-confessed mischievous student managed to top his class at the Nanyang Technological University Mechanical Engineering degree programme eludes me. And his remarkable high-grade average at his second degree, this time in Mass Communications, proves he is no flash in the pan.

Stumped? As was this writer. Until Roger, in his mid-twenties, threw me another of his signature curved-balls: “I like studying, I just didn’t like going to school.” – Thanks for the lifeline, Roger. I feel like drowning in this torrent of oxymoron. But Roger is perhaps so successful because of his independence. He possesses a distinctive desire to excel and pushes himself harder than any professor, co-worker, or boss ever could.

While he declines to divulge how much he earns, the middle-level manager readily admits he spends every single cent. But money is not a motivator for him. “There are more important things in my job,” Roger explains. “Like being happy with what I have achieved, how much more I can achieve, and knowing my work is recognised and appreciated.”

Right about then, the mystery that is Roger unravels. He has a passion for dodging questions and making this writer’s job more challenging. And he doesn’t stop smiling because he has a passion for life.

Of course, “Roger” is me. And I love this feature of me to bits. Thanks, Jude. You made me smile today =)

Blogged under
| Musing |

Fav Blog Post of the Day

From Scribbles by TR:

“Like me. Hate me. I really don’t give a damn anymore but I really appreciate if people just leave me the fuck alone. Don’t view me as a lost cause that you need to bring back to the “right path”. What makes you think that your path is THE right path, anyway?”

Phweet! Way to go, gurl!

The Day My Mood Swung

Have you ever wonder why someone who experience moodiness and general unhappiness is often labeled having “mood swing”, when obviously he is not having any “swing of mood”. If your mood swings from one (happy) end to another (moody) end, like a pendulum, then you are having a “mood swing”

Today is one of those day for me – I was mood swung (is there such a word).

The day started normally enough, until I turned my attention to the crisis at end for the wine appreciation session I am organizing for a bunch of marine engineers.

It was all about the venue. I had an agreement with the NTU Alumni Club to use their Da Vinci Lounge for the occassion. I had the entire pub to myself (glam hor), for a sum that is really reasonable. I was over the moon when I got to know the list of guests include some of the shakers and movers of the industry.

Until the Miss MRO (that’s members relation officer) told me the arrangement has to be modified, because “the management of the pub has changed hand” over the weekend.

I was like, “WTF?

So I found myself sitting at the deserted lounge today facing Miss MRO and the new owner of the pub. If there is one term to describe this new boss, it can only be chee ko pek.

Me: So you want to raise the cost of rental?

CKP: Yeah, from 9 p.m. onwards it is “golden time” for us

Me: (what a description) Uh, ok. I understand. Since the arrangement was with the previous operator, I know I have to adjust my expectations…

CKP: (cuts in) Unless, of course, you want to share the pub with the public. I will have some “la mei” show, it will be gre..

Me: (cuts in faster) .. uh, sorry, what mei?

CKP: “LA MEI“. You know, podium dancers?

Me: (You mean pole dancers, you CPK?!) Uh, ok. I don’t think that will be appropriate…

More negotiations ensued…

Me: Okay, so I’ll have the whole pub to myself until 9 p.m. After that, you can open the pub to the public. My guests would be leaving by then

CKP: (Eyes twinkling) Or, I can bring in the “la mei” in at 8.45, and your guests might not want to leave after all!

Me: (Speechless) Uh, I think that would not be appropriate… one more thing, can I have some waiters to pour wine?

CKP: (After a pause) S$8 an hour

Me: I’m sorry?

CKP: My waitresses are special, ok. They are models. For a 30 minutes show I pay them S$100

Me: You mean your waitresses are the pole dancers?

CKP: (Grinning) Of course! Special uniform.

Me: (Speechless)

What the fuck is NTUA thinking having such a sleazy operator running the freaking pub? What happened to the World-Class University vision when you have skimpily clad woman gyrating their sagging hips to entice alumnus who, being educated themselves, might be revolted by the whole fiasco?

So I headed back to office in considerable foul mood. End of work time came, and I have no heart to go for my class at MDIS. So I did what a good metrosexual will do – I cut my hair, ate a hearty dinner and shopped for clothes.

Decided to go for patterned short sleeve shirts! Honestly, everybody in my office can tell you I had NEVER roll down my sleeves unless I have to wear a tie (and, except for the first week of work), and that I always wore mono-coloured shirt.

A dull me no more – on to a more colourful wardrobe!

A dull me no more - on to a more colourful wardrobe!

My mood was considerably lighter. Until I saw the MDIS result slips sitting on my living room table.

FINALLY they are here! I was lamenting how slow the results were released just sometime last week.

I took a deep breath, changed into my skimpy shorts (for sleeping one!), sit in front of my PC, and ripped both of the slip open. It was one slip per module, and I was reading my results excruciatingly slow…. and…

Public Relations - A!

Advertising - A!

I was elated, of course! After all the stupid mishaps at work with the stupid CKP with his “la mei” dancers, this is definitely something to cheer me up! And happy I was!

Of course, considering I didn’t attend 80% of the class, and that I did the 2-months projects for both modules only one day before the deadline (and copying loads from the Internet, by the way), I still got my distinctions.

Okay, gotta give myself some credits. The project I did for my PR module was at least half-decent: I did something on Taufik, and it was through this campaign that the term “Taufik-ed was widely used among Fiknatics (that’s Taufik’s fan club). And the research and stats in the report are real – I have all the data at my fingertips anyway. So… it was little suprise when my lecturer wanted to send my report to Oklahama City University, for “benchmarking purposes”.

I hate myself for being not-so-modest, but hey, it had been a bad day. Gimme a break! =)

Blogged under
| Life |

Left of Zed

Remember the post on “Harold & Kumar Go White Castle“, and how I found out that Harold is actually in a band named Left of Zed? I dropped them a note, and got some info on their next show.

In the meantime, we are once again playing the world famous Whisky A Go Go ( 8901 Sunset Blvd), Saturday, April 9 at 9:30. This is a great venue to see bands, and we hope to see you. And again, it’s an ALL AGES SHOW. So we would appreciate you forwarding this email to those who cannot normally attend.

Go to our website,, to reserve your ticket. We have a limited amount of discounted pre-sell tickets. They are a mere $8 if you order now (click on the “Shows” page), and we’ll have your ticket waiting for you at the door.

Otherwise, the attached flier will get you in for $10, versus $15 at the door.

So to those of you from that area, do drop by and support yeah?

Left of Zed

The Bloke and A Fish

This gotta be the best blog post I have ever read in months.

Albeit a bit silly, and probably the Asian carp that guy tried to saved is dead, but the documentary was well presented with loads of photos and step by step recount of what happened – from the fish market and to the river.

Funny at places, shocking at others, the tale is like no other and it brought wave of warmth to my heart. Though this fella is miles away, I gotta say – you brought hope to many of us who are convinced that silly, kind-hearted blokes like you are long extinct.

The Bloke and A Fish

Blogged under
| Musing |

Tell the world!

Instructions: Copy the following questions in whole, replace my answers with your own and post it up on your blog!

What’s your favorite smell?

Which living person do you admire the most?

What would you most change about yourself?
My lack of modesty

Which living person do you most despise?
Myself – for my lack of modesty

How do you unwind?
By farting

What traits do you dislikes most in others?
Their unimaginative/I’m-holier-than-thou mind

What makes you cry?
Chopping onions

What makes you depressed?
My lack of psychic ability

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
See above

Do you believe in monogamy?
It’s a board game, right?

What are your distiguished qualities?
My ability to consume $30 worth of Canadian Pizza at one go – on my own

What’s your favorite phrase?
Do you take Visa?

What makes you happy?
When the answer is yes

What’s the most important lesson life has teach you?
Nice guys finish last