Aperture priority; 1/200, f/5.7, ISO 160, focal length 201.6mm
Author: Eric Wilson (based on screenplay by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick)
Thickness: 284 pages
Tagline: “Never Leave Your Partner”
Novelizations are always tricky books to review. If you enjoyed the movie, you could be making unfair comparisons – almost always able to find those little details to critic the book. If you didn’t like the movie, you could be reading it to find obvious points not featured in the movie that made it so bad. Thankfully, I was able to escape from this double trap when I read Fireproof because I kept missing the all the screenings when Astro was showing it quite a while back.
All I heard about Fireproof was that the movie was created by the same people who brought us the inspirational movie Facing the Giants, which was quite a sleeper hit, considering the budget they used to produced it. So honestly, I never knew what quite to expect when I bought the book, except that it would be something inspirational.
Fireproof is a simple and inspirational story about love, marriage and what Caleb Holt did to fight for them. Caleb, a captain of a fire brigade, spends most of his time fighting fires and saving lives of strangers. Unknown to most people, his marriage of seven years to Catherine is also on fire – of a different kind. The anger and resentment they have for each other eventually reached its breaking point and put their marriage on the brink of divorce.
However, before the divorce papers were filed, Caleb’s father confronts his son and challenges him to perform a 40-day challenge called ‘The Love Dare’. It essentially requires Caleb to perform one task for one day for his wife for the next 40 days.
For the next forty days, Caleb commits himself to the challenge and tries to rescue the heart of the woman he loves and also save his marriage and making it…fireproof!
Quite an interesting premise, if you asked me.
Novelizations have always been quite fun to read, simply because there is plenty of dialogue in those pages. It may seem pretty easy to rip those dialogues from the screen and compile them into a book. However, I would like to believe that the main challenge of novelizations is in creating the back story so that it fills the gaps that is not found in the movie version. And that portion is done pretty well by Eric Wilson.
The other challenge of novelizations are the descriptive bits, which is important as the writer tries to tie the story back to its original screenplay. Whilst sounding mundane sometimes (especially when you read about the colours of the shirt, type of hair, body build, skin colour, etc.), Eric manages to bring out all the characters from the screen to the pages pretty well. The writing has good humour and the action bits are very well described to heighten the tension.
The portions about the relationship between Caleb and Catherine and their characters were very believable to the point that I found myself wanting to knock some senses into Caleb’s head in the first portion of the book. As the book wore on, I then found myself rooting for Caleb as he tried to fight for the love of his wife. Pretty good stuff.
The other highlight about the book is ‘The Love Dare’. Whilst the book (sadly) does not detail out all 40 challenges, it does provide a glimpse into some of these challenges which I feel is really relevant and helpful in making all relationships fireproof. Some examples of these invaluable and inspirational relationship insights is extracted below:
Day 1: Love is Patient (based on Ephesians 4:2)
The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.
Day 18: Love Seeks to Understand (based on Proverbs 3:13)
Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you. The dinner can be as nice as you prefer. Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you’ve rarely talked about. Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your mate.
You can read the complete 40-day challenges from the actual book, The Love Dare!
There are also quite a number of memorable quotes from the book that I will always remember, like:
“Salt and pepper are completely different. Their makeup is different; their taste and their color. But you always see ‘em together. When two people get married; it’s for better or for worse, for richer or for poor, in sickness and in health. (after glueing them together)..If you pull them apart now, you’ll break either one or both of them..”
“When a man is trying to win the heart of a woman, he studies her. He learns her likes, dislikes, habits and hobbies. But after he wins her heart and marries her, he often stops learning about her. If the amount he studied her before marriage was equal to a High School Degree, he should continue to learn about her until he gains a College Degree, a Master’s Degree and ultimately a Doctorate Degree. It is a Lifelong Journey that draws his heart ever closer to hers.”
I also think the title of the book/movie was cleverly thought off, as it was written against the backdrop of a main character who is a fire fighter who is also fighting to make his relationship fireproof.
Glue Factor (difficulty of putting the book down!)
Personally, I had difficulty putting down the book, mainly because the chapters flew by so fast, thanks to the bulk of the book which is dialogue-based. The curiosity of seeing what’s the next challenge for Caleb also provided the pull factor to continue reading it.
Last but not least, I also enjoyed the humour and other side stories like the friendly banter between all the firemen, the funny encounters with their neighbour, and the gossiping staff at the hospital where Catherine works.
I would highly recommend for everyone who is in a relationship, about to embark on a relationship, sustaining a marriage and even for those who want to know more about what real love in a relationship is like.
Okok, I believe it is a wonderful book for everyone.
For the simple reason that the book allows us to reflect on the challenges faced in any relationship, and getting great ideas from the Love Dare on working on the relationship and making it fireproof.
After all, Fireproof is much more than just an inspirational book – it is a book about love, and why it is something worth fighting for.
I was driving my kids home from their baby sitter’s place the other evening when our car came face to face with another car from the opposite direction. Since the road was quite small, I was grateful that the car started to back off, reversing itself for a short distance to allow me to pass through first.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen…there is still hope for Malaysian drivers…:-p
Anyway, this little incident sparked the following conversation between my son and I…
Collin: Papa, why is that car driving in reverse one?
Me: There is no room for both of our cars to drive through, so the driver was nice enough to reverse to let Papa pass through first.
Collin: Orh….err..Papa, can your car drive in reverse?
Me: Yes, Collin. All cars can drive in reverse one.
Collin: Even race car?
Me: Yes…even race cars.
Collin: What about bus? Buses are big and long one, you know..
Me: Yes, even buses can drive in reverse.
Collin: Wahhh..motorcycle leh?
Me: Err…nope. Motorcycle cannot move in reverse one.
Me: For motorcycle, we have to use our legs to erm, manually push it if we wanted to move in reverse.
Me: Because there is no reverse gear in motorcycles..
Collin: Orh..but my bicycle got reverse gear, you know.
Me: Nope. Actually, your bicycle also don’t have reverse gear. Papa have to push it backwards for it to go in reverse one.
Collin: Orh..I see.
Me: Hey, Collin…you know Christmas, right?
Me: Do you know that Christmas can also move in reverse one?
Collin: Huh?…really ah?
Me: Yeah, do you want to know how?
Me: Let’s find out together, OK? Our church will be performing a special children’s musical called “Christmas in Reverse” next month. You wanna go watch?
Screening dates are 3 Dec 2011 (Sat), 3pm and 8pm; and 4 Dec 2011 (Sun), 8pm. Admission is FREE. Do click on the above image for more details on its Facebook page.
I’ve read that my canine brother, Rotti had previously written a blog before, and it had always been my dream to write a piece in my Master’s blog. The time finally came when my Master gave me permission to blog about the recent horrifying battle involving the snake and myself. This is my attempt at recording the details of that frightful night to the best of my memories..
Ever since our first face-off about one month ago, I had been silently anticipating a return from my slimy foe.
Building up my physique and enhancing my barking vocals had been my main prority. Of course, there was also that need to improve my dexterity and reflexes. I may not be a snake expert, but I’m bracing myself for the possibility that my foe would have grown a little bigger already.
Although I was quite sure the snake would find its way back into our garden, I certainly didn’t expect it to be so soon! Last Monday night, the serpent finally returned for a rematch…
The setting was almost inviting. It had rained rather heavily that afternoon. Kept on pouring till late at night. Our house garden was completely drenched with rain. All the leaves of the crawling passion fruit vines were carrying raindrops as much as they could. Everywhere without a shade were shown no mercy by the falling rain. Like I mentioned before, the setting was truly an inviting one.
The rain only started to let up sometime after 8pm, I reckon. Hey, it’s not easy to read time based on the moonlight, ok? My Master and his family had already come home by then. Probably even finished their dinner. My super-hearing senses told me that my Master had taken one of his kids upstairs for a bath. His wife and the other kid remained downstairs. Looks like dinner was gonna be slightly later for Rotti and I tonight. Sigh.
Suddenly, I saw a movement coming from the garden. I silently muttered a curse. My dinner thoughts had caused me to let down my guard for a split second. I pointed my ever-reliable nose towards the direction of the faint movement and it confirmed my suspicions – the snake was back…
Without a second thought, I let out a deep, ‘I mean business’, loud growl in its direction. The sudden bark didn’t even make the snake flinch a bit. I smiled. It looked to have come back better prepared this time. I continued barking as it finally showed its hideous head, looking all shiny, slippery and sinister at the same time. When it came out from the bushes heading towards me, it stopped. I can’t exactly read its thoughts but it was almost as if it was surveying the situation, sizing up its challenger. The night might have been shorter if Rotti had braved himself and joined me in a tag-team battle against this common foe. Unfortunately, my canine brother was nowhere to be seen.
Just like the previous encounter, Rotti apparently couldn’t be bothered by the appearance of the snake. My Master is probably right. Not all dogs were bred to fight snakes. Come to think of it, I don’t think I know of any dogs that were bred naturally to fight snakes! All I know is that as a Jack Daniel mix, I’m sort of a hunting dog, and for the rest of that evening, or my life, that competency would have to do.
I had not let up on my barking. I knew my Master or his wife would be able to figure out what was happening if I barked long enough. From my past battle experiences, I know that having more reinforcements on your side is always better. I just hoped the snake hadn’t brought any shiny extras itself..
My Master’s wife was first to have a look see from the house kitchen window. After confirming what she saw, she promptly called out for my Master. I was glad that they moved into action without any hesitation, opening the locks on the back door as quickly as they could.
Unfortunately, by then the snake had already coiled backwards slightly. Hmmmm…was it going into retreat mode? Were my Masters making too much noise trying to open the door? Suddenly, the snake confidently raised its head to match my height level. My mind raced a bit. In a flash, my height advantage was gone! Here, in the pouring rain, I was staring eye to eye with this reptile!
In the near pitch darkness, the advantage had obviously leaned towards the snake. Its shiny emerald like eyes lit up the night as if on night vision. I was pretty sure it was able to see quite clearly through the night…unlike me! Dogs have never been known to possess great eyesight, especially at such a close distance. Considering the darkness, I had to completely rely on my sense of smell and hearing to sense its movement and react accordingly.
A faceoff in the dark of the rain between sight vs smell and hearing. It doesn’t get any better than this..
The fact that the snake managed to raise its head to my eye-level shocked me for a moment. I remembered my Master saying that pythons typically moved slowly, and more importantly, are NOT poisonous. It also meant they would coil around their victim to suffocate the life out of them, instead of injecting some poisonous venom from its fangs. Staring at its eyes, it suddenly dawned on me that something is very wrong with the picture here. Pythons don’t raise their heads in striking positions, unless…
“It’s not a python!” my Master shouted when he saw the face-off.
Crazy thoughts flashed across my mind. Erm. Does that mean it could be poisonous, then? How did it become so fast and agile compared to our last meeting? Could I hold the stare long enough for the calvary to arrive? How do I-
Too late. The reptile picked its moment and lunged its head forward at me in one swift, lightning motion! I guess someone forgot to tell the snake my Master didn’t give me the name Messi for nothing! Like my namesake in football, I sidestepped the strike in a split second when my extraordinary hearing picked up the impending assault a millisecond as it happened. Before I could regroup, I felt the body of the slimy reptile brushing its skin aginst my fur with such intensity and speed.
Wait a minute.
What if it wasn’t trying to strike me just now? What if it was all a gambit? One second of hesitation felt like forever. I felt the snake trying to wrap itself around my body. You kidding me? Could the snake actually have the strength to choke me to death? I certainly didn’t wait to find out.
Instinctively, I wriggled to break free from the coiling action of the snake. I’m surprised the grip of the snake was stronger than I thought. I didn’t even want to think about what a larger version of it can do! It was a battle alright. Honestly, in the chaos of this erm, dogfight, I wasn’t sure if I was bitten in the ensuing struggle or not. There was only one thing on my mind at that moment, and that was to break free. Recalling all my street smart techniques, brawn and muscles, I finally managed to shake off the coil grip it was trying to execute.
I’m always a firm believer that offense is the best defense. So after I had temporarily set myself free, I naturally opened up my jaws and revealed my shiny fanged teeth to the snake for one hundredth of a second before I dived in and sunk my teeth into its body. Ewww. Tastes worse than rubber! At least I could feel the snake shriek in pain. Now it was its turn to try to wriggle free from my grip. I guess they don’t call snakes slippery for nothing. I could barely get a better grip on its shiny textured body when it easily shook free and was trying to limp away.
By this time, my Master got hold of my chain and pulled me away to safety. He used a torchlight to see if the snake was still there. I smiled. I could sense that some damage had been done. Probably not enough to kill the snake but just enough to prevent it from crawling away to safety for a second time.
Whilst I was held in restraint, both my Master and his wife began numerous rounds of pouring hot boiling water on the crippled snake. The cool night coupled with the light drizzle caused even more smoke to evaporate from the reptile, which is now seriously being cooked in front of my eyes. It tossed and turned in retaliation, bu to no avail as it was obviously too weak to crawl away. It would only be a matter of time now.
Then out of nowhere, Rotti appeared on the battle scene, nonchantly waltzing towards to half-cooked reptile. My Master screamed for him to stay away but Rotti bravely went close enough to do a sniff and do a prod test. No movement. I believe the triple boiled snake special is finally ready. Perhaps, Rotti was already hungry…
My Master then took a mop stick and prodded the snake a few more times to make sure that it was really dead. He then lifted it up and dumped the cooked animal into a large paper bag to be disposed off immediately. It was then that I saw in full view how long the creature was. Gasp. It was about 6 feet long and looked bloatedly large after the boiling water test.
After the snake had been safely tucked away in the garbage bin, my Master surprised me by rewarding my valiant efforts that night with an unbelievable dinner. Just my luck they brought home a whole quarter chicken from Kenny Rogers the day before.
The light drizzle soon washed away all the residue and smoke from our impromptu ‘garden steamboat’. Whilst the snake was gone, I could still smell the foul stench from the reptile. But I could use a break first. After my delicious dinner, I will go back to my normal routine, with a little extra patrol along the lines of the backyard…whilst the stench is still present.
To many, I may have looked like a hero. To me, it’s all in a day’s work.
I can only hope there will not be any trilogy to this saga..
Book: Enemies & Allies
Author: Kevin J. Anderson
Thickness: 320 pages
Tagline: “The Dark Knight meets the Man of Steel”
(Note: This is my first (and hopefully not last!) book review since making the personal pledge of not wasting words and make it a point to read all the books in my collection!)
I must admit I was totally suckered into buying this novel at the recent Big Bad Wolf warehouse sale. The staff had sneakily placed it in the Bestsellers section, and I couldn’t resist picking it up, amateurishly duped by the New York Times Bestseller tagline in front of the cover, which also had a catchy visual of Superman and Batman striding forward heroically. Somehow, I totally forgot how many novels also suckered the New York Times to bestow that ‘bestseller’ tag. There are just too many of such NYT Bestsellers around! Ha.
It was only when I started opening the pages of the novel at home did I realise that the ‘NYT Bestseller’ tag was actually referring to the author, Kevin J. Anderson, and NOT the novel itself! Sigh, I really felt conned at that time. However, after flipping through the first few chapters of this novel, I have to say I am really glad I was suckered into buying it because it is truly a refreshing and entertaining read!
The plot is wonderfully set in the background of the post WWII 1950s, where tensions are rising amidst a possible nuclear war between USA and the Soviet Union, and the world were really into UFO sightings, alien invasions, etc.
Both Superman and Batman were introduced into the storyline as heroes in the very early years of their ‘heroing’ careers. Batman was still seen very much like a vigilante, fighting for justice and hunted by the law at the same time; Superman is pictured as a naive young superhero still trying to grasp and adapt to the peculiar world he has come to live in, and protect, of course. The main hook of the novel is Anderson’s depiction of a possible first meeting between Superman and Batman.
With both USA and the Soviet Union anxiously developing and stockpiling nuclear missles and other weapons in preparation for war, the story introduces us to Lex Luthor as the main villian of the novel, who makes a pact with a Soviet General to create a chaotic situation out of this nuclear crisis which would benefit both of them. When LutherCorp steals some technological designs from Wayne Enterprises, a situation is developed to allow Batman to investigate beyond Gotham City, and eventually into Metropolis and finally resulting in the very first meeting with Superman.
Their first contact is met with much distrust with both Superman and Batman rightfully skeptical about each other’s motives. But as the story moves along, both superheroes slowly starts to earn each other’s respect and trust. Their eventual alliance would be much needed as they work together to battle Luthor and preserve world peace.
What I liked about the plot is that it is kept really simple and straightforward. At times, it felt as though I was reading through a comic rather than a novel! That really made it easy to follow the storyline.
I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Anderson’s work in this novel. He has a clever way of contrasting both super-heroes to the extent that makes their ‘meeting’ and eventual alliance even more likeable. For example, whilst Superman is often portrayed as a headline superhero who saves the world boldly in broad daylight, Batman remains the superhero that only prowls on criminals at night.
The dialogue, although pretty cheesy at times, were written in such simple words that made for light and easy reading.Like I mentioned earlier, this novel is as close as you’ll get to reading a comic! I also liked the generous helpings of humour thrown into the pages every now and then. There was certainly a good mixture of fun meshed in with the tension of the plot as it reached its climatic battle scene.
Of course, there was the solid character development and back story for both Superman and Batman. In a novel where there are two main characters, I think Anderson has managed to get a fairly good balance of ‘spotlight sharing’ throughout the book. Of course, I still felt Superman seemed to get more pages. Sigh, but that’s just me.
Glue Factor (difficulty of putting the book down!)
I was happy to see that despite having more than 300 pages, Anderson has expertly split the novel into 60+ chapters, with each chapter comprising of an average of 4-5 pages long. This dissection essentially helps the readers to read the book in small chunks, thus reducing possibility of boredom. With short chapters to carry the story, I found it extremely difficult to put down the book down because the pacing just keeps me want to read on and on to complete the book!
The simple plot and words also reduced the need to think a lot during the reading. Definitely a plus point that helps any reader to finish a book if it is purely reading entertainment!
A fun yet thrilling read. If you love Superman or Batman, you should love this book too. The writer has managed to imagine a believable storyline to bring these two superheroes together for the first time, although in an alternate timeline that is not in either heroes’ comic canon. If you are not a fan of these two superheroes nor comics, I recommend you to pick it up too, simply for a quick escapade. Who knows, after reading it, you may start to love comics too!
I would even further recommend the producers from DC Comics movie studios to seriously consider shooting a movie with a similar storyline. After the recent failures of ‘relaunching’ Superman, the Man of Steel’s franchise could do with a complimentary boost from the very happening Batman movie franchise.
Do you think the quality of English of our country’s next generation is all about the PPSMI issue? Not so. Methinks we gotta go down to a level much much lower than that…
If you are someone who isn’t worried about our young children’s educational books, today’s blog will definitely give you something to worry about. If you are already worried about such educational materials, today’s blog is bound to push you over the edge!
Now we all know how important it is for a child to learn the ABCs. It is after all, the very basic foundation for a child to master the language. As a father of two kids, I have seen many ABC books – you know, the one that spells out A for Apple, B for Ball, etc. but I have to say I have never come across the ABC book I have recently observed.
Firstly, it’s scary enough to note that the book is published as a 1Malaysia series thingy. How it managed to get that status is beyond me. But the main highlight of the books of the series is the strange identifications of an English word associated with the corresponding alphabet.
For example, the typical word associated with A would be like Apple or Ant, right? In these pages, you get stuff like A for Air-Conditioner… and that is already a very SANE example. Try not to laugh too hard when you check out some of the more weirder ones below…
Do we actually need to teach our kids about this strange species that most people have not even heard of?
I laughed so hard when I saw this, but when I did a quick Google, I found out that there IS (gasp!) such an animal! It is essentially a hybrid between a zebra and an equine. Question is, why the strange choice?
Another laughable inclusion. A quick search on Wiki taught me that it also exists, well, sort of – as it is defined as an extinct sub-species of the plains zebra. How it got resurrected in print again is a total mystery!
Erm…no other normal-looking words that begin with N? Sigh..
Ooh…they couldn’t put the English word because it starts with B…:-p
Learnt something new again here…!
Somehow, just ‘zebra’ won’t cut it..:-p
Must be so difficult to come up with an M word…”-p
‘Duck’ would have been too obvious, huh?
The company must be so honored to be associated with this book…
Whoa…publisher must really love food…
So next time before you buy an ABC book, better check through to confirm it wasn’t a joke book, ok?
If this book is a model of the type of English learning tools we publish, I shudder to think of what is being published for our students at the primary or even tertiary levels!
It is quite pleasing to see our garden where almost everything is growing rather well.
The passion fruit vines have been busily crawling all over the yard and giving us generous supplies of bounty to make delicious passion fruit juices; papaya trees come and go, but at least one tree so far has given some fruit to taste; the hibiscus gives us fresh flowers everyday; the potato patch is invading much of our land at the back; some other plants (that I don’t even know what they are) are also growing at an alarming rate.
Heck, I think we have created such a comfortable environment for creepy crawlies to live in to! We have seen some rats appear every now and then. There are at least two chameleons that have made our garden a permanent residence. And of course there was that scary looking snake that showed itself about a month ago.
In the ‘busy-ness’ of everything that’s blooming in our garden, it’s easy to miss out on the small little things that is budding too. One of which is our buah nona plant, which is steadily (or silently, rather) growing in between the potato patch and the crawling vines. In fact, the fruit was so small I hardly noticed it until my wife pointed it out to me!
This discovery helps me realise that sometimes we need to be aware of the little little things amidst the chaos that seems to be ruling our life!
Have you listened to God’s whisper lately?
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD,
for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
Seriously, I never expected to see the wear and tear like what I’ve seen happened with our dog kennel (or cage, for that matter). We had bought the cage when we first brought Rotti home some 5 years ago? Eventually, it became the cage for little Messi to grow up in.
A couple of months ago, one corner of the wheels broke…
This problem was quickly solved with a all-purpose BRICK.
And then a couple of weeks later, another corner wheel decided to call it a day… And because the height of the broken legs are not the same, this leg required TWO BRICKS…
Yup, for a dog that is capable of chewing through just about anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if Messi had anything to do with it..:-p
Anyway, with both my dogs all grown up now, we figured it is not a priority to get a new cage, for now. Besides, all our flourishing passion fruit crawlers have started to wrap around the hobbling cage, thus seemingly holding it up stronger…haha..
Not bad for a wobbling, old dog cage, huh?
Would you agree with me that people are a wasteful lot?
I enjoy reading those weekly posts from my sister on Food Wastage – and its entire community too on this site by The Frugal Girl! (gasp!). Sure is shocking to see the variety and quantity of food wasted each week! Of course, I am proud to say that with regards to wastage, I do not have any such problems with food. Sure it does help that I have a big appetite (and tummy too) but I also have two dogs that willingly helps clean up any leftovers we may have….even tonnes of expired milk! Strong tummies they have, huh?
Anyway, my blog today is to highlight another form of wastage some of us may be prone to: the wastage of UNREAD BOOKS! Yup. With so many insane book sales and fairs happening around us of late, I am quite sure many people would have stocked up their
warehouses with books. Question is…how many of them would we actually READ?!
Unfortunately, I am a self-confessed ‘book-waster’. Don’t get me wrong…I actually love to read but with so many other things happening in my life, I just have not found the time to complete those books gathering dust and cobwebs on my bookshelves. I reckon I have only managed to complete about 30% of all the hundreds of books I have in the house so far. And I have not even started calculating the wastage of my vast collection of e-books yet!
Just a sampling of what I have been hoarding at home:
My basic mathematics knowledge tells me that even if I were to complete reading ONE book per month, I would NEVER be able to complete all the books in my house in my lifetime!
So, how do I plan to curb this wastage?
I am making a personal commitment to READ at least a book (or more..yeah, right!) in two months (for a start!) …and as a personal audit, I shall endeavour to write brief reviews of books I have read.
Any other Word Wasters out there with the same bad habit like me?! Are you doing anything about it?