Monday, February 28, 2011

Save The Date by Jenny B Jones

Synopsis :


When Alex and Lucy pick out wedding invitations, they wonder if they can be printed in vanishing ink.

Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all–except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress.

Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs.

Bound to a man who isn’t quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line–and maybe even her life.

When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, “I do”?

First time reading Jenny B Jones. I enjoyed Save the Date. It’s light and witty. Reminds me of Sophie Kinsella but Jenny infused the story with Christian values here and there. Very different from what I experienced when reading Karen Kingsbury but equally soul enriching.

I love the main characters. I think they are so cute together. Each time I read about the encounter and conversation exchange between Alex and Lucy, I had a smile on my face. They are really made for each other and complement each other so well. Can we have more of Alex and Lucy’s stories please?

Jenny also highlights a women's home called Saving Grace in this book. According to the dedication page, this is a real place - a shelter for young women who has graduated from American foster care system.

It’s a wonderful book. Do go and get your copy.

Save the Date is published by Thomas Nelson.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Yet another excellent book by Jodi on human relationship. I read this quite immediately after this.

This time she brought us to the lives of Hollywood Mega Star, Alex River and his wife, Cassie Barrett, a renowned anthropologist. To the world, they seemed to have it all. Having met on set of a motion picture while in Tanzania, they fall in love under the African sky and had a fairy-tale wedding all within weeks of meeting.

But like the synopsis says, ‘when they return to California, something altered the picture of their perfect marriage. A frightening pattern took shape – a cycle of hurt, denial and promises, thinly veiled by glamour. Torn between fear and something that resembled love, Cassie wrestled with questions she never dreamed she would face: How could she leave? Then again, how could she stay?'

Picture Perfect starts with Cassie waking up in a graveyard with amnesia, not knowing who she is. From there it moved on to her discovering that she was married to Hollywood superstar and subsequently brought us back to when and how they met and how she ended up with amnesia. The book also introduce Will Flying Horse, native American who just moved to LA to be a cop and he ‘ran into’ Cassie in her amnesia state and very quickly became part of her life. Jodi also shared some of native American’s tale which she tried to relate to the story.

For a good part of the book, readers would not know why Cassie ended up with amnesia (and it’s an important fact) and when the knowledge was made known, you would feel for Cassie and understand the actions she took and the final steps that she decided on towards the end of the book. The ending actually made me cry for as much as I hate Alex, I can feel that he really love her and he’s hurting as much as she is and he that understand why Cassie has to do what she did. There’s no other way.

I borrowed this book from the local library and enjoyed it tremendously.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Holiday Read - The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham



I'm off to a short family holiday and I'm hoping that I can complete this book during the trip.  Wouldn't you agree with me that time waiting for flights and in the plane are the best time to catch up on your reading.  Once you reach the destination, it's one activities after another unless it's a trip to the beach.  That would then be a different story.

As you can see from the bookmark peeping out, I have just a bit go before reaching the end.  Should I consider packing another book in case I read this even before my holiday ends?  Should I try an e-book instead?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards

Synopsis :


Twenty years ago, a teenage boy, Callum Hinds, went missing in England's Lake District. His uncle was suspected of having done the boy harm and interviewed by the police. When he committed suicide close to his cottage in the Hanging Wood, everyone assumed it was a sign of guilt. But the body of the boy was never found.

Now his sister, Orla Payne, who never believed in their uncle's guilt, has returned to the Lakes, and taken up a job in an atmospheric residential library, close to her father's farm, the upmarket caravan park where her step father works, and the Hanging Wood. She wants to find the truth about Callum's disappearance, and-at the prompting of Daniel Kind-tries to interest DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of Cumbria's Cold Case Review Team, in the case. Hannah is reluctant, leading Orla to demand whether she cares about justice. Hannah does care, and when Orla dies in strange and shocking circumstances, she determines to find the truth about what happened to Callum-and to Orla.

Hannah's investigation brings her back into contact with Daniel, while she tries to resolve her troubled relationship with bookseller Marc Amos. But their personal lives have to be put on hold when another death occurs, and Hannah finds herself racing against time to prevent a shocking murder as the past casts long shadows on the sunlit landscape of the Lakes.

The Hanging Wood is a pure English murder mystery book. I was captivated by the mysterious and eerie cover of a shadow of a girl on water. The synopsis also sounds quite promising. For some reason, after I’ve finished reading the book and even when I was reading it, I kept on thinking how similar this is to Midsomer Mystery Murder Series that I used to watch on TV and to me, DCI Hannah is more like a female version of Inspector Barnaby. The landscape is somehow similar – English countryside, a few murders, a hint of who the suspects are, a hint of romance between the lead characters, a possible scandal and shocking reveal of who the murderer is or murderers are.

I enjoyed the book to a certain extend but find that it lacks certain excitement. Perhaps reading it in digital format in its entirety does contribute to the fact that I took my time with it. I normally read to relax and staring at the PC is somehow not relaxing for me. It took me more than two month to read this 250+ pages. There’s a lot of first for me in reading this. This is my first review of a book read in its entirety in digital format. This is my first time reading and reviewing a Martin Edwards’s book. This is also my first review for NetGalley.com. Classified under the Lake District Mystery Series, The Hanging Wood will be published by Poisoned Pen Press in April 2011.

Martin Edwards is a British lawyer and is an award-winning author of fourteen other titles. His website is http://www.martinedwardsbook.com/ and he also blogs at http://www.doyouwriteunderyourownname.blogspot.com./ He currently lives in England.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reaching out to older adults - an interview with author Missy Buchanan

With so many authors focusing on churning out books for young adults, it's refreshing to come across books written just for those in their golden years.  Missy Buchanan is one such author.  Her  books are Talking With God in Old Age and Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body.  I was sent a copy of Talking With God in Old Age for review which I will post soon. 

In the meantime, here is a interview sent to me which would be a good introduction to who Missy is and why she writes what she writes.

Q: What made you decide to start ministering to and writing books for older adults?
Well, as a middle-aged adult, I never had any intention of becoming an author of books for older adults. But because of the journey that my own aging parents were on, I realized how they had become disconnected from their church as their lives changed. They started off as active older adults and then that circle got smaller as they had more needs and physical limitations. As I would visit them at their retirement community, I would also see so many others that were just like them. They needed spiritual encouragement. And so that’s why I got started. The first book began as a project just for my own parents. I wrote devotions and kept them in a loose-leaf notebook. But others started asking for them and things just spiraled from there.

Q: What do you think children need to know about their aging parents?
What I realized personally was that I had been so caught up in my parents’ physical needs that I had neglected their spiritual needs. They were no longer connected to their church, at least in regular worship attendance, and that had been such a huge part of their lives. I almost made that mistake of just totally missing that, and that was the point where I began to write. I looked and there were other books written about older adults but not very many that were written to them and for them. So the first thing I would tell their children is to pay attention not only to their physical needs but also to their spiritual needs.

Q: What is your opinion about role reversal with children and their aging parents?
I hear the whole idea of role reversal where the older parent becomes a child and the grown children become the parent, and I understand what they are talking about because my own parents became more dependent on me. But I think that when we refer to it as a role reversal, and we begin to think of our aging parents as children, we strip away their dignity. We rob them of respect and we overlook the fact that they are not children. They have had a lifetime of experiences that a child has not had. And I think that is an important difference that grown children need to think about and pay attention to. It’s more of a role shift in responsibilities and not a role reversal. I know how much it hurts an aging parent to feel like they are being treated like a baby or like a child.

Q: Other than aging adults, who else has benefited from your writing?
A friend of mine in an assisted living facility asked me to bring some books for one of her tablemates. Her tablemate explained that these books were for her adult children. “They don’t understand what it feels like to grow old, and I can’t seem to make them understand, but your books say it better than I ever could.” My books are all written in the first person as if an older adult is speaking directly to God. There are a lot of adult children that are buying them for themselves and older adults buying them for their grown children.

And I’ve heard of different youth groups that have been reading my books in order to better understand what it’s like to grow old. Instead of just mocking their older peers, they are learning that they share a lot of the same feelings—feelings of insecurity, feelings of fear. As a result of reading the books, one youth group in Tennessee has even adopted the residents of the senior living center across from their church.

Q: How can faith change our idea of growing older?
So many see aging as a punishment, and they dread it so much. But even though it is difficult to be limited by an aging body, they need to look at it as a gift that God has given them. They still have so much to give. They have great wisdom to share and stories to share. I always tell my older friends that their story is not yet over.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Softly & Tenderly by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

Synopsis:


Happily married and owner of two successful boutiques, Jade longs to begin a family with her husband, Max. But when she discovers that Max has an illegitimate son, who he wants her to help raise, Jade’s life is turned upside down.

She flees to her childhood home, a rambling Iowa farmhouse with enough room to breathe. There, while her mother’s health grows fragile, and the tug of her first love grows stronger – Jade begins to question everything she thought she knew about family, love and motherhood. In the wide-open landscape, jade begins to see a future that doesn’t rest on the power of her past but in the goodness of God’s tender mercies.

This is the 2nd book in a 3 books series. The first was The Sweet By and By. I didn’t read the first book and thus going straight into book 2 took some effort in knowing about previous events that was vaguely mentioned in book 2. It would have been great to follow the series starting with book 1 but even without reading the 1st book, Softly & Tenderly manage to hold its own.

I enjoyed the book. I like all the characters portrayed - their complexity and their simplicity. I especially like Jade’s mother-in-law, Jane whom I think is really an amazing woman. She does what she does out of love and protection for her family but not everybody will be able to identify with what she did and not everyone will approve. There’s a lot of Jane in the world we live in. I also like Jade’s ex-husband, Dustin whom I thought through his action at the end of the book shows that he’s a real man! I would have loved to read more about him.

Jade is also an interesting character and I thought that Jade is such a pretty name and such I didn’t like it when her mother called her Jade-o. I would have loved to get to know her better.

This Songbird Series is written by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck. The first book that I read from Rachel Hauck is Dinning With Joy which I also enjoyed. The concluding book to this series entitled Love Lifted Me will be available end of year 2012. I can’t wait to read it.

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sparkles by Louise Bagshawe

Sparkles follows the lives of the Massot family after the disappearance of Pierre Massot, the charismatic and secretive head of the family. The vastly wealthy Massot owes House Massot, Paris’s greatest jewellery firm.

7 years after his disappearance, his beautiful young widow, Sophie decided that she and her son, Tom and the family firm must move on to survive and declared him dead.  Not everyone is receptive to the idea. Certainly not 18 year old Tom who is doing poorly in Oxford and Pierre’s mother, Katherine also opposed to this declaration. Hugh Montfort, the CEO of rival firm, Mayberry couldn’t be happier when Sophie whom the world deemed to be a meek housewife decided to take charge of the affairs of House Massot for Hugh has big plans to takeover House Massot. However, like everyone else, he underestimated Sophie. From there, the saga moved on with lots of twist and turn and we read that things are not what it seems and people are not really who they said they are.

Totally 599 pages, this is my second book after Tuesday’s Child. However, Sparkles, to me is more of a family saga novel rather than the light and easy read of Tuesdays’ Child. While Sparkles is captivating and motivates you to read on to find out what happened in the end, the characters are not as interesting as I would like them to be. The storyline was rather interesting especially the twist on who exactly Pierre is was quite brilliant. However, I felt that the ending was rather ‘convenient’ for everyone when it ended when it did.

I also felt that the author is rather careless with some facts. For example, the night that Pierre disappeared, he went home to his family, his son Tom was having a bath and his wife Sophie was with his son. Then Pierre disappeared for 7 years and Tom was said to be 18 years old. This means that Sophie was still bathing Tom when he was 11 years old.  Are there 11 year's old that need bathing?  I didn't like that.  There are also a few other inconsistencies throughout the book which to me shouldn’t happen and made me wonder how can such celebrated author be so careless.

To a certain extend I enjoyed Sparkles and would look forward to read another of Louise Bagshawe’s book which I have.

Friday, February 4, 2011

First Lady by Michael Dobbs

Synopsis:


Michael Dobbs returns to the subject that made him a household name - the high drama and machinations of the political world. This is House of Cards for the 21st century, an insider's view of the dynamics of power by a writer who has had a privileged seat at the court of government for many years. This time the king maker is a woman, Virginia Edge, mid-thirties, attractive, self-sufficient, ambitious. Knowledge is power and she gleans it from the Other Half Club, a lunching group for Opposition parliamentary wives, and the gay network at Westminster. This is the story of her transformation from dutiful political wife to masterful manipulator of the entire political process at Westminster. She is a woman who is driven by the failings of men and the greed of others to take over their system and undermine it, to repay them in kind. In this battle, she has two great allies - the intuition and determination of a wronged wife, and the blind ineptitude of Westminster men. But, as Ginny discovers, there is a high price to pay for reaching to the very top...

I want to write about this before I forget the details. I actually read this last year so it’s been quite sometime.

The main character for First Lady is Ginny Edge, a wife of a young MP, Dominic Edge, from the opposition political party. Ginny got to know if her husband’s affair with an aid while she overheard the conversations of two of the other wives while in the washroom. She decided that she doesn’t want to be in that humiliating position again and instead of playing the passive wife, she decided to take ‘control’ of her husband’s career.

In Ginny’s attempt to become the First Lady, some act of trickery and unethical manoeuvring took place in the political world which might or might not shock the readers. She has in her camp, a gay Muslim political aid who helps her willingly and an editor of a tabloid who admires her but helps her grudgingly.

Along the ways, we are exposed to Ginny’s past and what she is capable of. I find this book rather entertaining. I was worried that the details of politics would put me off. Fortunately, it didn’t.

So, did the book ended with Ginny becoming the First Lady? I’m not telling. You must read it for yourself!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Four Blondes by Candace Bushnell


I bought this book because of Candace Bushnell’s fame as the author for Sex and the City and Lipstick Jungle. I read Lipstick Jungle but not Sex and the City. I must also confess now that I have not watched any of the TV series nor SATC series nor the movie. I thought I would give Four Blondes a try to see if I would like it. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it. It is just not my type of read. However, they do have potential to be developed into a sleek and sexy movie or TV series but as a book, it is lacking the ‘wow’ factor.

Four Blondes consists of four short stories about four different women, all of them blondes, naturally. The four stories are totally not related. I find the stories pretty insulting to blondes as the characters were portrayed in very typical bombastic manner.

First up we have Janey, a beautiful B-list model who scams rent-free summerhouses in the Hamptons from her lovers until she discovers that getting a man isn’t the same as getting what she wants.

The second story is about Winnie and her husband James. She is a high-powered magazine columnist and he’s a literary journalist and their lives are thrown in a crisis when expectations are not met.

Third, we have a Cecelia, a modern day ‘Cinderella’ who marries a prince and realises that life is not a fairytale after marriage and she wants anybody’s life except her own but learns that she has to accept it because it’s hers to keep.

And lastly, we have an American writer who travels to London in search of an Englishman who can provide her with the love she can’t seems to find in Manhattan and she needs to find it before her time runs out.

Buy and read ONLY if you are a fan of Candace Bushnell.