Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 3 read of year 2010

I have read so many good and interesting books and discovery many new and great authors this year that it's difficult to nail down my top 3 favourites.  Anyway, I think the following would be my top 3 choices, each for different reasons and I'm glad to have read them.

They are (in no particular order) :

1. Outlive your life by Max Lucado

2. Forgiven (2nd book in Firstborn Series) by Karen Kingsbury

3. Overheard in a dream by Torey Hayden.

I certainly look forward to a new 2011 - lots of new books (hopefully!).


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I bought from BookXcess

I made my first order with BookXcess recently and here they are :)  Arrived save and sound courtesy of PosLaju Malaysia :)

From L to R :

1. The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham - yet another of Mark's book. 
2. Paths of Glory by Jeffery Archer - only for RM9.90. Who can resist that!
3. House by Ted Dekker - to scare myself silly!

I can't wait to get started.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Read - The Heaven Trilogy

** Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year **

Wishing you a blessed Christmas.

May your stockings be filled with lots and lots of books.

Love from
Purple Queen Fairy

What I got for Christmas :)
The Heaven Trilogy (Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven)
by Ted Dekker

Monday, December 20, 2010

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinesella

I can’t believe that I read another Sophie Kinsella so soon after Shopaholic & Baby. I was at the library recently (and so far I do have good luck in the library) and what do I come across but Twenties Girl. I have been yearning for it since Chirstmas last year and was just thinking whether I should get a copy while at the bookstore recently.

Lo and behold, there it was, right in front of me. All I have to do is to reach out and take it home and I can start reading it that very night. That’s exactly what I did and it took me a week to read it and I enjoyed every minute I had with the twenties girls!

Synopsis :

Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they?

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie – a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love and the right way to dance – mysteriously appears, she has one last request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, and Sadie cannot rest without it. Lara, on the other hand, has a number of ongoing distractions. Her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, her start-up company is floundering, and she’s just been dumped by the ‘perfect’ man.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different ‘twenties’ girls learn some surprising truths from each other along the way. Written with all the irrepressible charm and humour that have made Sophie Kinsella’s books beloved by millions, Twenties Girl is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family.

Sophie Kinsella showed another side of her in Twenties Girl. Different from Shopaholic and from her stand alone title like Undomesticated Goddess, Remember Me, etc. Slightly more serious but equally enjoyable. I love Lara as much as I love Sadie. They are really good together and even though Sadie’s from the 20s, she seems more liberal than Lara who’s more uptight. They do have chemistry together and I would have loved for Sadie and Lara to have another adventure together in another book - perhaps Sadie came back to ask Lara to do something else for her again.

Whether funny serious or quirky silly, Sophie Kinsella is a great storyteller and it would be awesome if this was adapted into a movie too. I can just imagine the vibrant 20s coming alive. Who do you think can play Lara and Sadie wonderfully?

Go and get your copy of Twenties Girl. You’re in for an enjoyable time.

Tally ho!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Jane Austen

Today, 16th December is the 235th anniversary of Jane Austen's birth. The wonderful people in Google did a wonderful doodle in celebration of this annivesary. 

Here you have a couple that could come from Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Perjuice, both books which I read for English Literature in High School.  I have another of her book, Mansfield Park somewhere at home.

I dont read a lot of literature but if I do, Jane Austen would be the top in my choice.  Perhaps it's time to dig out Mansfield Park.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Books by Neil Gaiman - you either love them or you don’t. After a few titles from Stardust to American Gods to Coraline and Anansi Boys, I finally decided that I don’t really like what Neil Gaiman produces. His books are too bizarre for me.

I first knew of Neil Gaiman from the movie Stardust which was adapted from his novel with the same name. After watching the movie, I read the book and decided that I enjoyed the movie more than the book which says a lot as I normally never like much about movie intepreted from novels.  Next, I read an e-book on American Gods when a publishers offers it for free on-line for a limited period of time. Subsequently, I was presented with Anansi Boys and here we are.

Anansi Boys is about Charlie Nancy whose nickname was Fat Charlie for obvious reason and whose estranged father recently dropped dead on a karaoke stage. It was then that Fat Charlie found out that his father is actually Anansi, the trickster spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air and even baffle the devil. With this knowledge, Fat Charlie’s world, as he knows it, turns upside down.

First, he found he had a brother whom he never knew about who has certain powers and then his future wife, Rosie fell in love with his brother, Spider, thinking that he’s Charlie and the he was framed by his boss on some white collar crime and with trips to the Caribbean and Charlie fell in love with another girl, things starts to get bizarre for Charlie and for me too!

After all the bizarreness, the ending was just ok. Perhaps I have higher expectations after being brought on a bizarre ride but it was just a-o-kay. By the way, how many times did I use bizarre? Real bizarre.

His other famous book Coraline was also adapted into a movie recently and no, I’m not in a hurry to watch it. It will probably be too bizarre for me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

POPULAR – warehouse sales nationwide

POPULAR – the well known bookstores in Malaysia is having a nationwide warehouse sales. This is not the same as the sales at the bookstores but held in different venue like an exhibition hall or warehouse. I saw the notice when I was in Penang recently and when I’m back home, I saw the banner proclaiming the sales from 7 – 12 December 2010 in Permata Carpark, Kuching.

The selection is quite good if you have the time to slowing look through the messy stacks of books. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella going for 50%, books by Jeffery Archer, Dean Koontz, James Petterson, David Baldacci and lots more all going for 30% - 70% discount. Even Goodnight Nobody was there! I stay far away!

Went there during lunch break and left with these four, all at 50% discount.

1. The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang  (hardcover) – the China version of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

2. Lifeless by Mark Billingham (paperback) – it’s difficult to find books by Mark in the bookstores.

3. Twilight Children by Torey Hayden (paperback) – I was awed by Torey here.

4. Valentine Princess by Meg Cabot (hardcover) - it’s pink and has the word Princess. It’s for my Fairy Pink Princess. :)

See you there!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck

I love to cook and I look cooking show too so a book about cooking show is just too hard to resist.

Joy Ballard is a host of her cooking show ‘Dining with Joy’ but she can’t cook. It’s a secret that only few know about and when her show is picked up by a major network and given prime time slot, it was just a matter of time before her secret is out especially since her television rival is stopping at nothing to bring her down. When Luke Redmond, a handsome, creative but jobless chef was asked to co-host with Joy on her show, Joy sees him as her way out of the secret that’s consuming her.

Joy holds on to a promise from God taken from John 4:34 ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent me’. By saying that my food – my substance, my reason for existence is to do God’s will, surely she can’t expect to keep her secret and continue with living the life of lies? It just doesn’t work that way. God won’t allow it because what He has for us is a life without lies. Joy found out the hard way but it brought her freedom and opens her eyes and her heart to love.

This is my first time reading Rachel Hauck and I quite like this book. However, I think the writing wasn’t that captivating but it was quite light and fun.  I was annoyed with Joy but sympathise with her at the same time. I was annoyed with Luke too for he fell so quickly in love Joy but at the same time rooting for him as he is a nice guy.  I like the message and the originality of the story.

So, will I read Rachel Hauck again? Yes, I think she has great potential to produce good books although she needs to develope her writing to be less descriptive at times.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pastures Nouveaux by Wendy Holden

Synopsis :

Cash-strapped Rosie and her boyfriend Mark are city folk longing for a tiny country cottage. Rampantly nouveaux-riches Samantha and Guy and also searching for rustic bliss – a mansion with a mile-long drive and hot and cold running gardeners.

The Village of Eight Mile Bottom seems quiet enough, despite a nosy postman, a reclusive rock star, a glamorous Bond Girl and a ghost with a knife in its back. But there are unexpected thrills in the hills. The local siren seduces Guy while a farmer fatale rocks Rosie’s relationship. Then a mysterious millionaire makes an offer she can’t refuse but should she?

Correction on the synopsis - Rosie‘s the one who is tired of city life and longs for life in the country. She managed to persuade boyfriend Mark who has just got his own column in the papers. However, life in the country isn’t really what they expected and it wasn’t long before things get out of hand. Likewise, beautiful has been actress (although she won’t admit it) Samantha also ‘persuaded’ her rich husband, Guy into moving to the country so that she can get a part in a TV series. It wasn’t long before she gets out of hand and brings chaos to the country! We must not forget the postman - country postman seems to be in the thick of things and knows a lot more than just delivering the post. Relationship gets topsy turvy and I can’t tell you who ended up with whom how did it all end. You will have to discover it for yourself and enjoying yourself while doing so!

Definitely a chic lite and quite delightful and entertaining too. It’s pretty funny, amusing and will certainly appeal to many chic lite fans. The uniqueness of Wendy’s books is that her characters can turn up in other titles too. This is the first Wendy Holden that I read. Next is the Wives of Bath and who knows, if I have a chance to get hold of her other titles in the future, you will certainly see her here.

Wendy is married with two children and lives in Derbyshire although she lived a few miles from the home of Charlotte Bronte when she was young. Her official web is and her personal web is

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

Synopsis :

Tears of the Giraffe charts the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s only and finest female private detective. It’s going to take all her intuition and eminent sensibility for Precious to crack her hardest case yet : the decade-old disappearance of an American on the edge of Kalahari. And if that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of matters closer to home to concern her: her highly talented secretary, Mma Makutsi, eager to be promoted to detective, the unscrupulous maid of her husband-to-be, the wonderful Mr J.L.B.Matakoni and the sudden and unexpected increase in her family by not one but two.

The book is slightly bigger than the normal paperback but smaller than trade paperback so I’m not sure what it’s called at this size. At only 230+ pages, it’s an excellent book to bring when travelling as it will not take up a lot of space and weight.

I quite like Tears of the Giraffe. I don’t love it but finds it very refreshing to read about another culture other than then normal western based culture. I am not sure if generally the good people of Botswana address each other in practically full name or it’s just this book. I can’t get over the fact that Mr J.L.B. Matakoni is being address as Mr J.L.B. Matakoni throughout the book even by Precious Ramotswe and he was her future husband!

I also like the culture implications of having hired help is to ensure that those who are not so well off are taken care of by society by being employed. And if you can afford it but still do not employ hired helps, you are perceived as being not socially responsible. Let me quote from the book : ‘It was inconsiderate not to have a gardener if you were in a well-paid white-collar job. It was a social duty to employ domestic staff, who were readily available and desperate for work. Wages were low, but at least the system created jobs. If everyone with a job had a maid, then that was food going into the mouths of the maids and their children. If everybody did their own housework and tended their own gardens, then what were the people who were maids and gardeners to do?’ Wow! I never thought of the honourable aspect of employing hired help.

But one thing will never change in any part of the world and in any circumstance are that diamonds will always, let me emphasise, always be a girl’s best friend! Mr J.L.B. Matakoni seems to think that just because Precious Ramotswe is different as she is a detective, she would not think it’s necessary to have a diamond ring. Well, he’s wrong. Even though he might think that it’s a waste of money even though the ring it’s for a special occasion, she, like every other female thinks that they are essential when one gets engaged! Haha...I really enjoy reading the conversation they had on buying her an engagement diamond ring. But she does show her true value when she requested for a non showy small modest diamond ring. What a woman!

Anyway, Tears of the Giraffe wasn’t exceptionally exciting but it was an enjoyable read. Next up is The Kalahari Typing School for Men.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Found (Firstborn Series) by Karen Kingsbury

Found is the third book in the Firstborn Series by Karen Kingsbury. First book is Fame and second book is Forgiven. You are advised to read the series chronologically to fully understand and appreciate the storyline. However, if you have just one book with you (any which one), you can still read it as by itself, the book is equally inspiring and the theme might just touch your heart and your soul.

I was excited to read Found after having enjoyed Forgiven extensively. Found focused very much on Dayne Matthews and on the Baxter family especially John Baxter and not so much on Katy Hart. It started with Dyne finding out some bad news from his Hollywood girlfriend, Kelly which jeopardizes his relationship with Katy. A tornado that swapped across Bloomington caused some tensed moment for the Baxter family as they are all gathered at John’s house for a reunion and the book ended with Dayne meeting John for the first time and with Dayne knowing what he really wants out of life and with the assurance of Christ in his life, he went back to Hollywood a different man.

It is a book demonstrating the miracle of an awesome God from the street evangelism in Mexico to the events after the tornado but the greatest miracle would be in God's grace for us.  A card that Dayne sent to Katy says it all ‘I once was lost but now am found’.

For Dayne, he found the lies that Hollywood bring with it and how destructive it can be but at the same time he found God and accepted Christ in his life and found the much sought after peace in the process. He found his birth father and he found his way home.

For John, he found the firstborn that he and Elizabeth has been looking for all their lives, he found the peace in knowing that God answered Elizabeth’s final prayer and she did meet up with her firstborn just a day before she died.

It was again a very slow read for me and I think that’s the way for me to approach Karen’s book. It’s more than just reading the story of these characters but the book is chocked full of lessons and teachings and even ways of reaching out to the lost and bringing people to Christ.

The next book is Family and it saddens me that I don’t have this book. My attempt to search for it online seems futile. At one point, I found it in Amazon but for some reason, Amazon said they don’t deliver to where I am! Anyway, will keep on trying. Now, I am undecided if I should just go ahead and read final book, Forever or should I wait.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella

Synopsis :

Becky’s life is blooming. She’s working at London’s newest fashion store, The Look, house-hunting with husband Luke and she’s pregnant! She couldn’t be more overjoyed especially since discovering that shopping cures morning sickness .

Everything has got to be perfect for her baby – from the designer nursery, to the latest, coolest the celebrity, must-have obstetrician. But when the celebrity obstetrician turns out to be her husband Luke’s glamorous, intellectual ex-girlfriend, Becky’s perfect world starts to crumble.

Welcome to Becky’s world where everything can be solved through shopping. Becky’s really well known now that she’s got her first movie which starts Isla Fisher. Will there be more? I’m not sure.

In Shopaholic and Baby, things get slightly out of control for Rebecca Bloomwood nee Brandon or otherwise known as Becky. Blame it on the hormones or blame it on Becky herself but she would blame it on Luke’s ex-girlfriend, the celebrity obstetrician whom Becky initially fought hard to be a client of. Can’t say it does her any good since the ex-girlfriend still has it for Luke and it wasn’t difficult for her to make Becky looks like the fool that she sometimes could be. Don’t get me wrong, I love Becky and there's a bit of Becky in me but sometimes she drives me up the wall. But, despite all of Becky’s weaknesses, she’s all heart and whatever common sense that she might lack, she certainly made it up through her kindness, her optimism and simplicity of her thought process (I’m not doing a good job making her sound good here, am I?)  Having said all that, I do feel for her when she thought that Luke was having an affair with his ex-girlfriend.  But being Becky, she bounces back quick and with much drama.

Shopaholic and Baby is the 5th book under the Shopaholic Series. The latest would be Mini Shopaholic featuring shopping adventure of Becky and her 2 year old baby girl. I haven’t read it yet as I’m not sure if I want to. For you see, I am rather tired of Becky already and there are some review which says that Sophie should have stop at Baby. I am sure Sophie would want to but I am sure she can’t just yet as Becky is still pretty much a cash cow for her.

Yes, go read if you’re a fan or if you wish to be a fan of Shopaholic or you just wish for some entertainment.

Seriously, I really like the Shopaholic series even thought I seems to imply otherwise here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Echoes by Danielle Steel

Summarised Synopsis by Purple Queen Fairy :

Beata Wittgenstein, the quiet Jewish beauty met the love of her life in the summer of 1915. Unfortunately he’s French and a Catholic and her parents are unable to accept him. Beata followed her heart and left the only home she keow and the two of them build a new life together amidst the 1st world war. They had a daughter soon after marriage and they named her Amadea who had her own adventure when the 2nd world war starts. From the Carmelite convent to Nazi death camps and then to the heart of the French Resistance, Amadea will feel her mother’s loving strength as the voices of lost loved ones echo powerfully in her life.

From the elegant rituals of Europe’s pre-war aristocracy to the brutal desperation of Germany’s death camps, Danielle Steel draws us into a vanished world, weaving an intricate tapestry of a mother’s love, a daughter’s courage and the unwavering faith that sustained them – even in history’s darkest hour.

This is my first time reading Danielle Steel after a lapsed of 8 years. The cover of the book was rather nostalgic..a train with 3 children on the platform. It could be the Kindertransport that brought children from Germany to England during WW2 and save many lives. Or, it could also be Nazi trains that brought millions of Jews to death camps. Unfortunately, neither was prominently featured in the story. So, I’m not sure why this graphic. Most probably the person who choose the cover never read the book! I would think a beautiful Swiss landscape would be more appropriate as that’s where Beata spends her life after she left home to be with the man of her dream and where Amadea was born.

Echoes follow the lives of Beata and subsequently Amadea. While it was an enjoyable re-acquaintance with Danielle, it missed a lot of spots. There were many loose ends that I wish Danielle would tie up. Like, when Beata and her second daughter Daphne were taken away by the Nazi, that was the last time we heard of them. What actually happens to them? Most likely scenario would be they died in camp. And the ring that her mother gave to her, it just ended there. It would be nice if the ring made itself back to Amadea . And Daphne, she’s seems totally unimportant even though she was the long awaited 2nd child.

I would also love it if Beata’s brother, Ulm could be someone that sympathise with her when she left her family. This is one character that has great potential in Beata’s life and perhaps in the life of Amadea, given the opportunity. I am surprised that after the introduction of Ulm, and what a solid personality he is, he just faded away.

While I admire Amadea and how Danielle turned her from a nun into a French Resistance heroine, I didn’t really understand how someone who wants to study philosophy and psychology and literature would suddenly want to enter a convent and be totally submissive. It’s ok to having a desire to enter the convent but why introduce her as having the ambition and passion or something like philosophy and psychology. Might as well don’t mention it.

I felt Danielle tried to pack too many stuff into a 400+ paperback. The story has lots of potentials. Perhpas, she tried to cover both generations and in the event, things felt quite rushed and a lot of plots that could have developed further and followed up with was not done so successfully.

I still enjoyed the book. Perhaps not as much as 20 years ago when I am less critical of what I read.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Featured Author - Danielle Steel

Which among you ladies (and men) have not heard of Danielle Steel? She’s one of the best known author in the world for the past 30 or more years and has more than 70 bestsellers under her belt. Even if you have not read any of her titles, a few of her books have been adapted into television series and you might have seen it one time or another. I started reading Danielle Steel in my late teens and until now I still do enjoy her books once in a while. Not too often but once in a while. I’ll explain why.

I have always preferred her over other authors who churned out romances like a factory. Danielle is so talented to spin such a tale that you felt you are on a journey with the character, across time and space. To me it’s always an experience to read her tales based on historical theme. My all time favourites are Zoya, the tale of a Russian princess and The Ring about a ring that belongs to a Jewish family during the holocaust. Crossings, Jewels all set around WW2, Message from Nam, set during the Vietnam war are fondly remembered. However, I didn’t like it so much when it comes to tales based on modern world. For some reason, I just don’t dig them. I still remember book such as 5 Days in Paris and also The Klone & I which I didn’t like at all. But I do like The Ghost. I remember bringing it with me to my honeymoon! I still have it and might re-read it again one of these days.

I stopped reading Danielle Steel about 8 years ago. There are just so many new authors to discover and I do need a break from her. While I love her writing, there’s a certain formula to her style. The heroine is always beautiful and desirable and also rich or they will be rich then along the story became poor and then rich again or they started off poor and then become mega rich and successful. I’ll stop right here but I’m sure you do get the picture. There’s an element of ‘woman power’. Then, the men...they would always be either real rich or stinky poor but will always the handsome and dashing and the perfect gentleman and extremely honourable and such and we all know that such men only exist among the pages of her tales. Slightly like what M&B has to offer but Danielle offers nothing sleezy and she describes a roll-in-bed like the perfect lady that she is. Also, her heroine’s characters are better developed and more refined. Danielle does bring to life what she spins.

After the break of so many years, I bought 2 of her books recent from here. I thought I might rediscover Danielle once again and see if what she has to offer once again, appeal to me. I bought Echoes and Irresistible Forces. I’ll share my thoughts on Echoes at the next post so do stay tuned!

A mother of 9 kids, Danielle lost one of her son, Nick who committed suicide and died when he was 19. Danielle wrote a memoir about him in His Bright Light. For more information on this talented author, you may visit her at She blogs too at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tales of Beedle The Bard by J.K. Rowling

Tales of Beedle The Bard is important in the final book of the Harry Potter seriesHarry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. With the movie adaptation of the Deathly Hollows releasing in soon, interest in Tales of Beedle The Bard would escalate. TBTB is important in HPDH as Hermione Granger was presented a copy under the last will of Professor Albus Dumbledore. A story in TBTB was instrumental in Harry’s quest in finding the Deathly Hollows.

Tales of Beedle The Bard is a collection of 5 short tales, each with its own magical character and uniqueness. In the world of Harry Potter, they are popular bedtime stories for young wizards and witches. It is the equivalent of stories of such as Sleeping Beauty, Ugly Duckling, etc. to the non magical students.

Fans of Harry Potter would have surely gotten a copy when it was release in year 2008. Non fans will not bother at all. The stories are very un-Harry Potter like and not necessary the ‘living happily after type of stories’ as favoured by us all. The uniqueness in the book would be a short note or observation made by Professor Dumboledore at the end of each stories. There’s also footnotes and such and generally, quite delightful.

I will certainly hold on to my copy but it’s no bedtime stories that I would like to tell my young ones!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Holiday Read

I'm going on a holiday :) and these are what I'm bringing with me :)

The Wives of Bath and Pastures Nouveaux, both by Wendy Holden.  Don't they look cheerful :)  I loved the cover colours...pastel green and prawny pink.  Just the right colour for a relaxing holiday.

I'll let you know what I think of them when I'm back.

Monday, November 8, 2010

False Impression by Jeffery Archer

You can see how torn and tattered the book is. That’s how it looked when I bought it in a 2nd hand shop a few years back. Cost me only RM8 (about US$2.30). I know I can get better looking 2nd hand book for this price or cheaper but it’s the story inside that matters and not so much the cover. Since then, I have read False Impression twice.

Set against the NY Sept 11 backdrop, we have heroine Anna Petrescu who survived the attack just as he was being sacked by her boss, Bryce Fenston, a banker with questionable banking ethics. The author gave us a quick insight to those in North Tower during the attack and Anna’s one of those who made her way down just in time before the tower collapsed. The attack is not significant at all to the story but probably just the author’s way of immortalising the incident for future readers/generations

A self portrait with a bandaged ear by grandmaster Van Gough is the main character in this story. Through a set of incidents, he travelled pretty much around the world as the story brought us to these places by those who meant him well and those who wishes to possess him. Of course, however, tacky it would be, there would be the expected romance which otherwise, we might say it’s a horrible book! In this we have senior FBI agent , Jack Delaney, to thank for.

This reminds me of Sydney Sheldon‘s book like Master of the Game, etc, it’s a engrossing read - fast moving and full of suspense, hint of romance, bit of humour,etc. Jeffery Archer is a great storyteller and managed to spin a tale that keeps you wanting to turn to the next page and the next and the next..... and before you know it, you have been on an incredible ride with him. However, do be mindful that’s one of those that I considered a ‘fun brainless read’ so don’t expect any Nobel Prize material. Just enjoy the ride and be entertained. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes


Everybody remembers where they were the day they heard that Paddy de Courcy was getting married. But for four women in particular, the big news about the charismatic politician is especially momentous. Lola has every reason to be interested in who Paddy’s marrying – she’s his girlfriend but she definitely isn’t the bride-to-be. Grace, the journalist wants the inside story on the engagement. Grace’s sister, Marnie, might have the answer but like Grace, she has issues with the past. And Alicia, the soon-to-be Mrs de Courcy thinks she knows the real Paddy de Courcy but does she? Four very different women. One awfully charming man. And the dark secret that binds them all …

I have wanted to talk about this book for ages and I just can’t wait anymore. First, Marian Keyes is one of my most favourite authors of chick lite. I discovered her years ago with ‘Last Chance Saloon’. Marian is a fantastic author. She deals with common but important life issues women faced. For example in Rachel’s Holiday, it was alcoholism, mid-life crisis in Angels and Anybody Out There? deals with coping after death of spouse. But the way she writes them, you can feel the connection with the characters. You laugh with them and at them but you also ache and cry with them as you felt their pain and sorrow. I cried a lot when I was reading Anybody Out There? Will share that with you one of these days. :)

With This Charming Man, things seem to be a bit different. The message is much more serious and sombre and you felt a sense of seriousness throughout the book. The main issue highlighted here is domestic abuse and how each of those women being abused deals with it differently. Some went into denial, some blames themselves, some turns to alcoholic but some champion the issue... It is also about how it can happen to anyone whether you are a housewife or a career woman in the corporate or political world. For that reason alone, I find it a very different read altogether compared with the other titles. The seriousness of the message came through. Even Marian’s style of writing is slightly different here. 

But you know what, with more than 670+ pages, you should just read it. Published by Penguin, I bought mine in trade paperback from the Penguin warehouse sales last year. According to reliable source, this title is no longer available in my country for reasons that I am not very sure of. Anyway, I am happy to add this to my collection of Marian’s titles that I have in my library.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell

Would you like to have this for your home address?

Synopsis :

Leah and Toby have lived across the street from one another for years without meeting...and in that time Leah has been itching to peek behind the front door of Toby’s eccentric house, always packed to the rafters with weird and wonderful tenants. When fate finally lets her in, Leah find that Toby needs her as much as she is surprised to realise that she might need him. Sometimes life needs a helping hand – with a sprinkle of romance and their own special magic, Toby and Leah’s dreams show the glimmer of a chance of coming true.

With that, we are invited into the home and lives of Toby and his assorted tenants. We have wild girl Ruby, mysterious Joanne who has much to hide, dreamer boy Connor who has a dream and a plan and his mother, Melissa who is full of guilt. Not forgetting, Leah, the girl from across the street who is basically sweet and charming . We get to know their stories, why they are where they are now and eventually when they ended up in. Toby is generally a nice guy and I’m glad that there are people like him around in this world. He really deserves what he got at the end. Leah is a wonderful person and I’m so glad she didn’t sell herself short.

With its dreamy pastel coloured cover, 31 Dream Street is a feel good book full of humour yet retains its humanity. I don’t want to share too much but I generally glad I picked up this one from a warehouse sales. The review from Cosmopolitan says that this is ‘A great one to read on a Sunday morning while you’re curled up in your duvet’. I quite agree. Go and get your copy today!

Lisa Jewell lives with her husband and daughter in the UK and has a few titles under her name. As her website says ‘After fifteen years of distractions and diversion, Lisa rediscovered her first love and her only talent – writing. The rest is history.’

Monday, October 25, 2010

Maximum Ride – Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson

My first introduction to a kid named Max with special abilities like having wings and being able to fly went back to the days of When The Wind Blows, first published in 1998 and subsequently Lake House, published in 2003. Along the years, I knew that James Patterson started a series with these characters under Young Adults Category. However, I never came across any of the books under this series until now....

When I pick this particular one up, I knew what I was getting myself into – a fast thrilling ride but what I didn’t expect was the difference between this series and the early days of When The Wind Blows. I guess I should have expected it seeing that they were written for different category of readers. James Patterson also claimed that the Max and her gang in these series are not the same Max that I mentioned from the above 2 books and follows a different but similar storyline. Hmm.... I hope you got that and how do I not think of them as the same Max. I think that’s rather difficult for someone who had read When The Wind Blows and Lake House not to identify this Max with the other Max.

Anyway, back to the differences, other than a different Max altogether, what’s the other differences, you ask? Well, for once, the writing is different. This is less descriptive, short sentences with matter-of-fact statements. Lots of cynical remarks, very technologically updated with references to blogs, emails, etc. I am sure it’s very appealing to targeted Young Adults. Very little on romance, just a hint of it here and there. Certainly very different from the Twilight Series.

Maximum Ride – Saving the World is actually the 3rd book into the series. The 1st two are The Angel Experiment and School’s Out Forever. The subsequent titles are The Final Warning, Max and Fang.

You can read this book just as it is without the earlier titles but it would be quite difficult to fully appreciate the storyline and who these group of ‘birdkids’are. The writing is fast paced and the chapters ere short and just over 2 -3 pages per chapter. However, I find the characters quite one dimensional. There’s no in-depth development there and I can’t understand how they can joke at times when their lives ere in danger. I find it pretty lame but perhaps that’s how young readers like it to be....

I finish reading it in just 2 days. It was published by Little Brown in hardcover and would have cost me RM48.50 (US14 or £8) but since I pick this up from the local library, no damage there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Overheard In A Dream by Torey Hayden

I am so glad that I always seem to be ended up with good books from the library. This was no different. It was rather a wild card as I was not familiar with the author and never heard of the title. I just took a risk as I thought the synopsis was rather promising although rather heavy with child autism as the main subject but the front cover of the little boy peeping from behind the wall looks rather endearing.

Torey Hayden is a child psychiatrist and a special education teacher turned full time writer. Most of her other books are actually non fictions based on the cases of children that she worked with over the years. Perhaps that’s why it shouldn’t surprise me that Overheard In A Dream is so mind-boggling! I actually found it hard to start this book and was thinking of returning it to the library to exchange it with another title. Am I glad I didn’t make that mistake. Once I actually got started, I realised that I can’t put it down! It was that good.


Conor, aged nine, arrives in the play therapy room of child psychiatrist James Innes with the diagnosis "autistic". His mother Laura, an aloof, enigmatic novelist, can't handle him. His rancher father, embroiled in divorcing Laura, does not feel there is anything wrong with Conor. His six year old sister Morgana insists he really does see ghosts. As James becomes convinced Conor is not autistic, he is drawn first into Conor's strange world of "things the cat knows" and then into Morgana's stories of her friend the "Lion King". James is pulled most deeply, however, into Laura's world; at first that of a lonely, rather difficult woman and then, eventually, into the world of her imagination, an enthralling world that seems almost real - and that hides a terrible secret.

While the writing is straight forward, the story is not. It is a rather interesting exploration of the human mind and what it’s capable of. I can’t share much without spoiling the story for those who have not read it. This book is all about family drama, psychotic thriller and even science fiction if you believe that ‘The Forest’ is real. That’s all I can say. The ending actually stunned me! I didn't expect it at all, although I should have probably made the connection earlier from the many clues found throughout the book. I find myself keep thinking of the story even though I completed it quite sometimes back.
I don't think I've ever had such a reaction quite like this one to a novel before. This is one of the few non fictions written by the author. If you happen to pick up a copy and undecided if you should read it, let me decide for you - Yes, Read It!

While I have no impression of Torey Hayden when I first read this, you can probably tell that I am in awe of her now!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

Synopsis :

For Kate Klein, the unsolved murder of a fellow mother is the most interesting thing to happen since the neighbours cracked their septic tank. Up until then life in suburbia has been distinctly underwhelming. So, on days when her kids are in nursery school, Kate launches a murder investigation of her own. With the help of her best friend, Janie, and former flame, Evan, she is drawn deep into the dead woman’s double life. Suddenly suburbia is not so ordinary after all.

I must admit that I was drawn to Goodnight Nobody first by the title and second by the author. The author also wrote In Her Shoes which was made into a movie which stars Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MaClaine which I enjoyed.

Recognising Goodnight Nobody as a chic read, I want to give it a chance, hoping to discover on words, the magic she created with In Her Shoes. Unfortunately, this was not so. The book lacks creativity and humour. It lacks everything.

The story was rather flat and Kate Klein was rather annoying. Married with 3 young children, she is a bored housewife except she takes offence at being called a housewife. In her boredom she decides to take it upon herself to investigate the murder of her neighbour just because she found the body. In the process, she puts her kids and herself and everyone around her in danger. With the reappearance of an ex-love, she is putting her married in danger. All I can say is that she’s pretty idiotic. It’s very much like Desperate Housewife meets Nancy Drew.

The only reason, I read on was to test my mystery solving skills in finding out who the murderer is. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at it...haha.... , and that’s the only applause I can give Jennifer Weiner. I hope this is the last time I come across Kate Klein – I can’t stand her!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Place Of Hiding by Elizabeth George

A Place Of Hiding is a thriller that I bought during a warehouse sales. The front cover of a misty graveyard  in this particular publication intrigued me. Here, see for yourself.

Browsing through, I noticed that the author had penned quite a number of thriller. Ok, that gives me some form of assurance to check out this book and see if I have a new gem of an author on hand. (Note : warehouse sales are good for trying out new authors as you don’t burn your pocket much over it. That’s where I found authors such as Marian Keys and Mark Gimenez.)

Here’s the synopsis :

The sudden death of Guy Brouard, a generous patron and benefactor of Guernsey Island after his morning swim shocks the residents of the island. When a young American woman is charged with his murder, her brother seeks help from an old friend, Deborah St James. Deborah persuades her husband, Simon to accompany her to Guernsey to investigate. What they find on that beautiful island is a tangled web of deceit and betrayal. Deborah and Simon must rely on their long-standing friendship with Inspector Thomas Lynley in solving the crime.

There, not a very exciting synopsis, isn’t it. Likewise, Elizabeth George, while being not bad, wasn’t really the diamond that I was looking for. The thriller was good but wasn’t really that thrilling, the plot was interesting and quite original but the presentation wasn’t really that captivating. The suspense just was not there.

There were too many characters and suspects, too many motives and possibilities and while you might say that makes a good thriller, but, it gets too complicated and drags on and fails to captivate my full attention. However, having said that Elizabeth is a consistent storyteller and the consistency of the story and it’s originality pulls through and I ended the book with some form of satisfaction.

I would recommend this book if you are interested in war history as well as trying to guess who the murderer is. This title was published in 2003. Elizabeth George’s latest thriller featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley is entitled This Body of Death, published in April 2010. I won’t mind checking it out if I have a chance.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Leader’s Heart – 365 Day Devotional Journal

Synopsis :

Applauded as one of the world's most popular leadership experts, John Maxwell brings many of his winning concepts and scriptural meditations into a daily devotional/journal format, designed specifically for leaders. Each devotional is delivered with John’s trademark style of confidence and clarity, followed by space for writing personal reflection. Included are a host of relevant topics including success, stewardship, teamwork, and mentoring—all topics that ring true to every leader’s heart.

This is a year-long devotional leadership lesson per day. 365 days....365 lessons. Each devotions has a leadership topic, bible verses, some pointers taken from John Maxwell’s previous publications and some sections at the bottom for you to pen down your thoughts and reflections.

The topics covered are very extensive and are issues that will be faced by any leaders or issues that leaders need to know for problem solving and in dealing with others.

The book is in hard cover and is rather thick and I don’t think it’s something that you would want to carry around. I wonder if there’s an e-book version. Having said that, the journal is very grand looking with its hardcover and traditional looking jacket cover. It would certainly makes a great gift for those in leadership positions whether in church or in the corporate world. It is also a great gift to motivate someone to take up leadership positions whether in church context or otherwise.

However, it’s rather expensive at US$18.99 but the good news is that the lessons can be used for small group teaching and group discussions other than just as a devotional journal. They are not time sensitive so can be referred to or used over and over again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

Max Lucado brought the characters from Acts into the modern world using words that are very easy to understand. Who are the characters from the book of Acts? They are the simple fishermen, tax collectors and the general you and me in today’s world. What’s so great about them then? Nothing other than they choose to make a difference with the things they do and it’s not being nuclear scientists or anything impressive but simple acts of love and grace and compassion that make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others whom they encounter. It opens our eyes to see Jesus in every other person around us.

I enjoyed this book so much and is so blessed by it. The teaching is very subdue but extremely impactful. It’s so easy to read and it won’t be long before you complete all 200+ pages of it. I really recommend this to you and you and you! Put it in your Christmas list, buy it for your church leaders or buy it for yourself for Christmas. It will be a worthwhile investment.

Let me end by quoting from Max ‘None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone. And when we help them, we serve Jesus. Who would want to miss a chance to do that?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Divide by Nicholas Evans

Two words I would use to describe The Divide as I reach the last page would be happy and sad, all at the same time. I feel sad for the Coopers – Ben, Sarah, Josh and Abby. For what they went through and what could have been and for all that they lost. Happy for them too because they found some form of peace within themselves and with each other at the end.

Before I go further, a quick recap - the story started with body of a young woman found embedded in the ice of a remote mountain creek. It wasn’t long before the authorities identify her – Abby Cooper, wanted for murder and acts of eco-terrorism and her picture is on every police computers all across America. The question is how did she die? What was she doing up on the mountain? What trail of events led her, a beloved child of a loving family to stray so tragically?

This is one book that is full of ‘What ifs’ and ‘if only’ and such. What if the family didn’t holiday at The Divide that particular summer? What if Ben never met Eve? If only Eve never called Sarah when they are back in New York. What if the marriage of the parents never collapse? What if Abby turn back when she can and not wait another day? If only Josh didn’t answer that particular phone call.

While literally, ‘The Divide’ is the name of the range where the Coopers family had their vacation the past few summers before their lives were changed forever. It’s also the place where everything begins and ends. I would also like to think that figurative , it also mean a family divided and perhaps even oneself divided - divided thoughts we go through and divided decisions we have to make in our lives –the what ifs and if only, and not just for the Coopers but lives in general.

Nicholas Evans is also the author of The Horse Whisperer, a novel that that was made into an award winning movie by Robert Redford. If you have watch or read The Horse Whisperer, then this book might evokes similar feelings within you – happy and sad..both at the same time.

I bought this from a book fair for only RM10 (US3.50) and it’s a new copy. Worth every dollar.

Highly recommended.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Forgiven (Firstborn Series) by Karen Kingsbury

Forgiven is the second book in the Firstborn Series with Fame being the first. It continues from where Fame left off and the focus is once again on Dayne Matthews, the Hollywood superstars and Katy Hart, a director with the Christian Kids Theatre (CKT) in the small town of Bloomington.

From the title, forgiveness is the theme for this second book. A lot of the characters in the story have to learn about forgiving and act of forgiveness.

For the kids at the CKT, a devastating tragedy leads to a lot of unforgiveness and thoughts of revenge among the kids. They have to learn to trust God and forgive the one who ‘trespass against them’.

For Dayne, he has to forgive his late adoptive parents whom he felt ‘choose God over him’ when they left him in boarding schools while growing up while they do their missionary work in the jungle and he himself needs forgiveness from God. By the way, Karen gives readers a brief insight on a new age cult that initially had a hold on Dayne.

For the Baxter, the secret that John and Elizabeth guarded so dearly all these years was finally revealed to one of the children when she found a letter that Elizabeth wrote. At least I am glad for John that he doesn’t have to bear this burden on his own now.

I didn’t really like both Dayne and Katy when they were first introduced in Fame but I am beginning to like them and root for them. I especially love how the book ended. It really magnifies and portrays how Great God is.

Forgiven, like Fame is again rather slow moving which allows readers to reflect on this theme. It can get rather boring but if you get past that, you would enjoy it. It took me months to read it as I only read a few pages at a time so I am learning to enjoy and appreciate the ‘slowness’ of the story.

I certainly enjoyed it better than Fame. The third books is entitled Found. I can’t wait to get started on it!

p.s. For some reason, this worship song by Chris Tomlin kept coming back to me even when I'm done with this post.  So, here it is....may it be a blessing to you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The One Year Choose Your Own Ending Devotions

The One Year Choose Your Own Ending Devotions is a soft copy interactive and engaging devotional book published by Tyndale with contents developed by Pioneer clubs, a church-sponsored midweek program for children across North America. I felt that it’ ideal for  children age from 6 to 10 years. This book covers devotions for the whole year with one page devoted to one day.

Every devotions start with a short story but without a complete ending. After reading the story, Bible scripture passage, and going through the questions and assignments and the learning outcomes, children and/or parents are encouraged to complete the short story. However, there are suggested endings at the back of the book for comparison or for reference.

I receive a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Tyndale House Publishers for review. I think it’s a great tool for parents to use as devotional materials with their children either individually or in a group. The story is a great start as to capture the children’s attention. Encouraging the children to complete the stories is a great opportunity to encourage creativity and also test their understanding of the learning points.

The only thing I don’t like about this book is that the font size use is too small. I know that the publisher wants to keep each day in a page but there are some empty spaces at the bottom so perhaps a slight increase in font size would be helpful.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The English Harem by Anthony McCarten

Novelist and three times Booker finalist, Timothy Mo, named The English Harem, Novel Of The Year. For me, I don’t know what to make of this book. It can go either way.

First of all, I think anyone who wishes to read this has to be ready for it. You need to have an open mind and a romantic spirit. Otherwise, you might be offended or insulted. First there’s Tracy Pringle, who’s an only child to mum Monica and dad Eric. Tracy lost her job at the starting chapter and found a new job as a waitress in a vegetarian Persian restaurant ran by her Muslim boss, Saaman Sahar or otherwise known as Sam.

Tracy was introduced as being a dreamer intrigued by heroines and romances of the past especially from books and movies (Think Lawrence of Arabia, One Thousand and One Night and you get the drift). My take is that when she walked in on her boyfriend, Rick, bonking another girl, the poor girl probably couldn’t handle real life and takes her imagination up a level or two. Otherwise, I can’t really explain how she would want to be married to Sam knowing very well that he has 2 other wives (and about 4 children).  Sam at one point even acknowledge this fact - that Tracy sees their lives as being very surreal and it appeal to her as a dreamer.

Coming from an Asian environment or otherwise known as the East, I am aware that this practice of having multiply wives (max is 4) is very much alive in the Muslim culture. I am not familiar with Anthony McCarten and his background but I think he is writing this from a very one dimensional perspective and meant for it to be a light read.   Sam married his 2 earlier wives out of duty (1st wife is the widow of his elder brother) and 2nd wife out of guilt?  He could still takes care of his brother's widow without marrying her and likewise for the 2nd wife. 

What amazes me about this book was that the first two wives of Sam were happy with such arrangement and were the mastermind in persuading Sam to marry Tracy. What amazes me even more was that how Tracy bought into this idea and accepts it. Her parents had a difficult time dealing with it and I couldn’t blame them. I had a difficult time dealing with it. I was thinking of ditching it halfway through but for the sake of this review, I ploughed on. The ending is pretty mind blowing too!

Like I said, you need to be open with this one. Read it as you would watch a comedy film (the writting is quite funny at some point) and don’t think too much after that. If I go into the details of what I think of this book, this post would be very lengthy indeed. If you can’t be open with such concept or if thoughts of such practices rile you up, then, for your own good, I suggest you give this a miss.  Otherwise, enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Collection

When flipping through the newspaper sometime last week, an article on a new series over in HBO caught my attention. It's called the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  Hm....that sounds familiar. It wasn't a few days later that I realised that I have a few books with this title.  A quick check through my 30+ odd unread collection resulted in the discovery these 3 titles that I have under the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series.

I have started with 'Tears of the Giraffe' which is the 2nd book while at the same time I would try my best to get hold of the the other titles provided I like Tears of the Giraffe.

The author is Alexander McCall Smith.  He has a few other series under his belt since writing the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series.  Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh and is married to a doctor.

Keep on eye on my review of Tears of the Giraffe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Destinations by Sheila O’Flanagan

While on the bus, train, or even on the road, have you ever wondered who’s the pretty lady in front of you, smiling so happily as she chats away on her mobile? What about that old man with a kid that looks like his grandchild? Or that lady that dresses so well but has such a sad look in her eyes. What are their lives like? What makes them happy? What makes them sad? What are their stories?

‘From the moment the Dart system became part of Dublin I dreamed about writing a collection of short stories centred around it. I think this is because I am basically a nosy person and love looking at the backs of people’s houses and wondering what kind of lives they’re living. And whenever passengers get on the train I’m always intrigued as to where they’re going to or coming from and what’s going on in their lives.says Sheila O’Flanagan.

Destinations consist of a collection of 19 such short stories. I like how Sheila started our journey with a story entitled Saturday at 12. It's about a dad taken the train to pick up his little girl for lunch on a Saturday.  To me it was rather a sad story but it’s a good start and sets the tone for the book. Like any journey, just when you least expected it, something has to happen to make it interesting.  Halfway into the book, Sheila suddenly linked Saturday at 12 with one entitled The Martini Girl where you get to know 'the other side of the story' and probably knowing that at this point, you won’t settle for just two stories, she ends them with Connections which is more from a mum's perspective. What a good end to the journey.

Classified at chick lit, the stories are short enough to be read in between stops but still satisfying enough for you to enjoy. Loved it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Agatha Christie - 120th Anniversary

I didn't know today is Agatha Christie's 120th Anniversary.  It's such a pleasant surprise to see that the creative folks at Google did a doodle in honour of her anniversary. 

Agatha Christie is one of my favourite mystery author.  At one time, I attempted to read all of her mystery stories and although I didn't managed to do it, I did read quite a lot of them!

The above is taken from Google page.  I love it.  Most of her detectives and sidekicks are represented here. 

I could be wrong but, from left to right, I think they are :

G - Hercule Poirot
O - Hasting
O - Tuppence Beresford
G - Ms Marple
L -Tommy Beresford
E - Adriadne Oliver

Thank you Agatha Christie for the many wonderful mystery books.

p.s. it is the royal butler who posted the above.  PurpleQueenFairy has nothing to do with it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Second Time Around Books from USA

These are my purchases at a recent book fair held in Kuching. Books sold here are all second hand books, creatively called ‘Second Time Around Book’. I guess second time around sounds much better than second hand. These are books from libraries and private collections from the United States.

There were lots of books for children and novels and non fictions for adults. The royal family went there on the 2nd last day and spent around RM100 (about US$35). For that amount, we bought these 7 novels and a few books for young adults. One of our best buy would be a hardcover copy of the ‘Magic Tree House Series’ – Blizzard of The Blue Moon. I don’t know who’s more excited, PurpleQueenFairy herself or the princess. The copy is practically brand new.

Books there were priced between RM4 (US$1+) to RM10 (US$3+) except for certain titles which might cost slightly more especially hardcover books for children. Other than that, the rest were very affordable and a great incentive for anyone who wishes to stock up on their reads or to build up their home library.

Not to mention with Christmas round the corner, it would be great opportunity to buy some as gifts except some folks might not be keen to receive second hand books as gifts. Would you mind?

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

The Skin Map is both an adventure fantasy story and treasure hunt with a touch of science fiction. It would appeal to those interested in all these elements. I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be since this is my first time reading Stephen Lawhead and fantasy fictions has never been my interest. I am pleased to say that with The Skin Map, I was captivated right from the start. I enjoyed Kit and his interaction with his great-grand father and the quest that he never expected to embark on. The writing is interesting and even the title at the beginning of each chapter was captivating. I am glad I read this and was rewarded with an interesting ending.

I am especially interested in the ley line and ley travel as explained by the author and the theories that inspired this work. This is the first of the Bright Empires Series created by Stephen Lawhead. He is an acclaimed author of mythical history and fantasy fictions. Having read The Skin Map, I am looking forward to exploring his other works.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Precious - Gone with The Wind & Scarlett

Today, I would like to share with you my favourite story of all time. It is none other than Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This book was first published in May 1936. That’s like 74 years ago! I bought mine during a church sales sometime in 1984 paying only RM6 for it. Having owned the book for more than 20+ years, I think I must have read it about 5 times over the years. The last time was about 4 years ago.

And Katie Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler. What a long name and what a character! How does one describe she who is so simple and yet so complex. And Rhett Butler. Every womens' dream man. I couldn’t get enough of Scarlett and Rhett, and was basically quite dissatisfied with how the story ended in Gone With The Wind and always wish for some continuation.

My wish came through in 1991 when the estate of Margaret Mitchell commissioned Alexandra Ripley to write the official sequel entitled Scarlett. I read Scarlett in the mid-1990s (can’t really remember when) when I rent the book from a similar establishment such as this. I always wanted to get a copy of Scarlett for my personal collection but I didn’t want to get a brand new copy since my Gone With The Wind wasn’t exactly brand new and I didn’t want it to suffer any inferiority complex. Haha..  I know, it’s just a book but still!

Such, it was an extremely pleasant surprise when I managed to find a pre-owned copy in Book Castle (in Kuching) last year which I immediately bought for RM9.

While most people felt that Scarlett didn’t measure up to Gone With The Wind, I like and enjoy it. It gave me such satisfaction that she survives and survives well even during the times without Rhett in her life. And sentimental fool that I am, it also gave me such pleasure to read the maturity of their love for each other. Overall, it gave me the continuity that I was looking for after Gone With The Wind.

Can I hope for a third book? Perhaps one that portrays a more elderly Scarlett with a focus on her daughter, Cat and her other children? As for now, I can just start wishing again. Perhaps it might come true again one of these days!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

Remember my Dorothy Koomson’s collection? Well, I’ve read all of them and will be sharing them with you one at a time over the next few months. Let’s get started with The Chocolate Run. No particular reason why this is first.

Let’s have a look at the synopsis:

Amber Salpone doesn’t mean to keep ending up in bed with her friend Greg Walterson, but she can’t help herself. And every time it ‘just happens’ their secret affair moves closer to being a real relationship, which is a big problem when he’s a womanizer and she’s a commitment –phobe.

While Amber struggles to accept her new feelings for Greg, she also realises that her closeness to Jen, her best friend, is slipping away and the two of them are becoming virtual strangers. Slowly but surely, as the stark truths of all their lives are revealed, Amber has to confront the fact that chocolate can’t cure everything and sometimes running away isn’t an option.

The Chocolate Run is a delectable tale of lust, love and chocolate.

Delectable indeed.

This book is about Amber, Greg, Jen and Matt (Jen’s boyfriend) and how the lives of these friends intertwine with each other. I get a feel that this is the trademark of Dorothy Koomson. It is also obvious in her other books like Goodnight Beautiful and My Best Friend’s Girl. They affect each other’s life not just in a superficial way but rather deeply. We have Amber and Jen, Amber and Greg and also Jen and Greg. Matt played a pretty minor role.

This book is also about commitment phobia and your worst nightmare coming true in certain relationships. Those who have gone through it would be able to identify with it.

While, to me, this is not Dorothy’s strongest book, it was quite addictive – like a box of chocolate, and like a box of chocolate, you didn’t know what you’re going to get. The twist that was thrown in by Dorothy about three quarter into the story was quite unexpected. I certainly didn’t see that coming and it certainly brought about a new dimension into the storyline and made the story what it is.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t impact me as what My Best Friend’s Girl did but it’s still quite a good read.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Last Testament by Sam Bourne

It’s time to talk about The Last Testament after The Righteous Man

Let’s get the synopsis out of the way :

An Iraqi boy loots an ancient clay tablet from a long-forgotten vault in the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities.

At a rally for the signing of a historic deal between Israel and Palestinians, an assassin pushes through the crowd towards the Israeli PM. Bodyguards shoot the man dead. But in his hand there’s no gun : only a blood-stained note .

A series of apparently random killings follows as tensions boil over, Washington calls in star peace negotiator Maggie Costello. Maggie finds herself in an impossible situation, especially when she discovers the murders are not random. Someone is killing archaeologists and historians – those with secret knowledge of the ancient past.

*stare blankly*

I actually don’t know where to start. It’s actually quite a confusing book for me. First, readers have to take note of timeline and venue. To compute these into some form of sequence can be quite challenging for my brain cells which would normally be half functioning when I read. (hahah…well, we read to relax, right?) I found myself having to flip back to the earlier pages just to get a sense of the sequence. Sometimes the timeline is in months and sometimes just over a few hours so, yes, too complicating for me.

Maggie Costello being the main lead in the story is not a very endearing character. I was quite annoyed with her time and again. Having fouled up her last negotiation case, she went on sabbatical and took up couples counseling back in Washington. She thought that she can redeem herself by agreeing to take up this case and travel to Tel Aviv. The very reason that she was taken off the last case was the very reason that she’s been assigned this particularly case although she was not aware of it initially. I didn’t like Maggie Costello at the beginning of the book and I didn’t like her toward the end.

If you like politics and thriller, then this would be up your alley. Unfortunately, I felt I took a wrong turn with this one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

If You Could See Me Now by Cecilia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern is the bestselling author of P.S. I Love You. I have not read P.S. I Love You but I have watched the movie countless of times and each time, I would cry buckets. The first book that I read from Cecelia Ahern is Rosie Dunne (later published as Love, Rosie and subsequently published as Where Rainbow Ends) which I read in 2006. I thought it was a very creative book especially the way it was written. I shall share Rosie Dunne with you some other time. Today belongs to If You Could See Me Now.

The version I got was from Hyperion International Edition. It took me a long time as the fonts are real small.

The synopsis :

Everything in Elizabeth Egan’s life has its place. Order and precision keep life under control and keep Elizabeth’s heart safe from the pain she has suffered in the past. Being a mother to her 6 years old nephew leaves little room for error until one day, when Ivan comes into their lives. He is everything that Elizabeth is not – carefree and adventurous. And just when Elizabeth is starting to trust him, it turns out that Ivan isn’t all who she thought he was.

With that, the story of Elizabeth and Ivan begins. It was revealed in Chapter 3 that you can’t actually see Ivan. At that point, I was wondering if this is a ghost story but it would not be the gene of Cecelia Ahern if it is! Unless it’s a romantic ghost story like what Danielle Steel did once with The Ghost. Ivan started off as a friend of Luke and subsequently Elizabeth’s. An friend who loves pizza, and olives and Fridays among others. And Ivan came to both Luke and Elizabeth because they needed him. For you see, Ivan’s an 'imaginary friend' from the lane of Ekam Eveileb where there's a group of 'friends' with various job functions. While Luke is aware of that, Elizabeth is not. She can see him and actually thought that Ivan’s as real as you and me and mistakenly thought that he is the father of one of Luke’s friend.

Talk about denial. Elizabeth’s been in denial all her life. She’s at denial about how her mother has gone on an adventure when she (mother) left home leaving behind a husband, young Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s baby sister, Saoirse. Elizabeth’s in denial about Saoirse as well - she just couldn’t accept that her sister is an alcoholic and that she left Luke the way their mother left them. Elizabeth’s father is in denial all his life and waits for his who that will never return and missed out on the two girls who needed him. I guess you can say that that’s the theme of the story. It’s also about friendship and the fact that Elizabeth can see Ivan when it’s supposed to be only children who can see him shows that Elizabeth never really grew up and she needs to do that in order to live her life the way she should, letting go of the past and living life for now.

But at certain point in the book, I would Ivan real? Can he be with Elizabeth for the rest of her life? Is it possible? He is after all from the land of Ekam Eveileb, a land that we are familiar with :)

I don’t really like Elizabeth but Ivan stolen my heart right from the start. Here’s what he said to Elizabeth at one point and I can read this over and over again.

“Life is made up of meeting and partings. People come into your life every day, you say good morning, you say good evening, some stay for a few minutes, some stay for a few months, some a year, others a whole lifetime. No matter who it is, you meet and then you part. I’m so glad to meet you and I thank my lucky stars for that. I think I wished for you all of my life but now, it’s time for us to part”.

It was stated at the back cover of the book that the film rights to If You Can See Me Now have been bought by Walt Disney Pictures. I also discovered from imdb that Hugh Jackman has been cast for the role of Ivan in the 2011 movie release. Now, that’s something to look forward to.
Cecelia, the daughter of Ireland’s Prime Minister is so talented and so pretty too. I’ve enjoyed her books tremendously and I am looking forward to adding more of her works to my collections.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Monsters Of Gramercy Park by Danny Leigh

This book was a gift. I am very sure of that.

Let me share with you the synopsis:

Wilson Velez is a gang lord in solitary confinement, slowly losing his mind. Lizbeth Greene is a celebrated crime novelist whose inspiration is beginning to run dry. When Lizbeth decides that writing a book about Velez could revive her ailing career, she begins to visit him in prison. Gradually, she becomes drawn into Wilson’s dark world and the pair engage in a complex and fascinating dance of attraction and rejection. For Lizbeth needs Wilson to kick-start her career while Wilson needs Lizbeth to get out of solitary confinement.

I didn’t’ like the book when I first read it. However, I was intrigued by the relationship between Wilson and Lizbeth, the differences, the similarities, the dependency, the betrayal. I was curious to know how it ended and it wasn’t how I expected it to end but then I couldn’t know how else it should end either. Can I say that in a way, I was sad for both of them?

The title of this book is actually the title of the story written by Wilson Velez and it’s this story that is more interesting. One of the reasons that kept me faithfully reading page after page was the interest to see where this story within a story was going. It certainly wasn’t Lizbeth Greene nor was it Wilson Velez but more the gargoyles of Gramercy Park.

Monsters of Gramercy Park was first published in 2005. There’s nothing much I can find out about the author except that he lives in London and has worked as a musician and a journalist.

Would I recommend this book?

Hesitant to say yes – just for the gargoyles.

Forced to say no – because I don’t want you to hate me.

In the end will say – why not? If you have time and nothing to do. It’s not that bad after all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How they ended up in my collection

If you are familiar with SS2 town square in Petaling Jaya in the early 2000s, you would know that there are 2 shops there that you can borrow books home for a fee. One is called Walk-in-Rent-A-Book and the other was called Novel House.

The concept is very easy. You go in, browse for the books that you like. They do have a huge selection of books from English to Chinese and even comic books for rent. Once you have selected the book or books of choice, pay a deposit and a fee (the fee varies from book to book) and then you can take the book home for as long as you wish. When you are done with it, you bring it back, check it in and collect back your deposit.

While it might not appeal to some people, the concept does work and is an extremely worthwhile arrangement especially if you love to read but don’t want to spend lots of money buying the books or you don’t want to collect these books. It’s also quite a good way to check out authors that you are not familiar with. I have got to know of works from Dean Koontz and many others from such establishments. Quite similar than going to the library except that these are private enterprises and you don’t have to be a member or register your name or anything. Now, let’s say for some reason you like a particular book and decided that it’s a keeper, you can choose not to return the book and just keep it. You will then forfeit your deposit which ranged from RM10 to RM30 depending on the book.

My entry here is about these 2 books that I rented from Novel House sometimes in year 2006. When I wanted to return them after a month or so, I was shocked to discover that the shop has 'chaplap', tutup kedai, close shop or whatever term you fancy.  Instead, it has been converted to a textile shop. When I asked the sales person in the textile shop, they said they have been there for nearly a month. That means, Novel House closed its business around the time I rented these 2 books. As there are no forwarding contacts, there’s no way I can get my deposit amounting to RM40 back. Needless to say, I was pretty upset over it. I could have gotten a brand new book with my RM40.

And that was how these two ended up in my collections. If they are living beings, they would be suffering from rejection syndrome as I didn't want to keep them in the first place.