Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

Synopsis :

Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father, Andrew, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and her own search-and-rescue bloodhound, which she uses to find missing persons. But as she plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can’t recall.

And when a policemen arrives to disclose a truth that will upend the world as she knows it, Delia must search through these memories – even when they have the potential to devastate her life, and the lives of those she loves most. Vanishing Acts is a book about the nature and power of memory; about what happens when the past we have been running from catches up to us… and what happens when the memory we thought had vanished returns as a threat.

Vanishing Acts was told from the point of view of the 5 main characters. They are Delia, the woman whom the book centres upon, Eric, her fiancée who’s also a lawyer and an alcoholic, Fitz, her best friend who is in love with her, Andrew, her father and Elise, her mother. Each chapter would have one person telling the story from their perspective and mostly from was left off the previous chapters.

Although the story behind Vanishing Acts is intriguing and rather heart wrenching, I actually find it quite boring as well and I only read on to find out what happened in the end although I have an idea and I was right. The characters do not appeal to me and for some reason, I didn’t like Delia the character and finds her rather abrasive. Like the previous works of Jodi that I have read, namely Second Chance and Picture Perfect, this book also made reference to and draw from Native American beliefs, rituals and references to the spirit world.  Is this Jodi's trademark?

In my opinion, if you are new to Jodi Picoult, do not start with this book. You might have a wrong impression of Jodi from this. If you are familiar to Jodi’s work, I am sure you would agree with me that while Jodi is a great writer on human relationship and tackles controversial subjects, this is not one of her best work.

I didn’t buy my copy but borrowed it from the local library.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sons of Fortune by Jeffery Archer

Synopsis :

In a hushed maternity ward, an infant dies, while twin brothers thrive. By morning, one mother is told that her only child is doing fine, while another learns one of her twins has died.

Twins separated at birth, Nathaniel Cartwright and Fletcher Davenport will be raised in different worlds, and both will thrive among the best and brightest of their generation. In an era of violent change, free love and blind ambition, Nat goes off to fight a war, while Fletcher enters the political arena. With each choice they make – in love and career, through tragedy and triumph – their lives mirror one another...until a high-profile murder case brings them together. Until a high-stakes political battle turns them into rivals. Until a decades-old secret is suddenly exposed...and two powerful men must confront the truth and its final consequence.

That was a very promising synopsis. When I first read it, immediately I knew I want to read this book. Having read lots of Jeffery Archer’s since way back to my school time, I have confident that this book will deliver – like the others had all these while. I was not disappointed.

The story started with the birth of these 2 boys and then to their formative years and goes straight into their young adult days and into the current scenario. It explores how they met and what they had in common as well as the differences. I can safely say (without giving away the storyline) that they were not aware that they are brothers until much later into the story.

Like most of the other novels by Jeffery Archer, there were elements of law and politics but it’s written in such a way that a political novice like myself would find it extremely to comprehend and to follow. I can’t help but favour one of the brothers as my favourite character but I won’t tell you which one as I am sure you would want to discover them yourself.

I paid full price for this book and enjoyed it so much that I look forward to reading it again in the future.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A new shelf for my books!

This photo is taken using my phone which unfortunatley did not turn out very clear but it's a new bookshelf that I bought over the weekend to house all my books.

The 'old' shelf is too small and I have books stashed all over the house from my room to my study room to the guest room and even in the kitchen.  Saying that it was rather messy is an understatement.  Finally, I can now put them all at the same place but it's quickly running of of space by the time I was done arranging them.  I need another shelf!

The books wasn't really arranged in any particular order at this point as I couldn't wait to get them on the shelf fast enough!  After which, I just sat and stare adoringly at them!  Am I the only one or do you do that too?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham

Synopsis :

X marks the spot – and when the spot is a corpse’s naked back and the X is carved in blood, DI Tom Thorne is in no doubt that the dead man is the latest victim of a particularly vicious contract killer. This is turf warfare between North London gangs. Organised-crime boss Bill Ryan is moving into someone else’s patch, and that someone is not best pleased. For Thorn, a tenuous link between two cases become two pieces of the same puzzle; past and present fuse together to form a new and very nasty riddle.

This is the 2nd book written by Mark Billingham that I read. Unfortunately, there are very limited Mark Billingham’s titles in the stores where I’m from. After a period of time, I managed to find his books in the local library and at the same time came across some of them in local warehouse sales such as this and from outlet such as this.

The Burning Girl had a great start. It was real promising and DI Tom Thorne started off enthusiastically with new sidekick, Carol Chamberlain, a retired DCI who is now a member of the Crinkly Squard – a unit made up of former officers brought back to work on cold cases.

Unfortunately, the story kind of went downhill toward the middle of the book and continues downhill from there till it ends. That’s how I felt and I didn’t really like the ending. Perhaps, this is just not my cup of tea and someone else might enjoy it.

The story is very different from Sleepy Head as the focus of crime in this book is gang related. I was also quite annoyed with DI Tom Thorne. I hope he realises in future books that he’s not always right and he can be played left right and centre by other characters without him knowing. His action of getting intimate with the wife of the suspect....tsk...tsk....I thought he would know better too and certainly playing with fire over his career. And his dad...what exactly happen to him towards the end? Perhaps I will find out if I read the 3rd title under his series, Lifeless.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who Is My Shelter? By Neta Jackson

Synopsis :

Every woman needs a safe shelter.

The tables have turned and Gabby's estranged husband--who threw her out when she didn't live up to his image of a "corporate wife"--needs her in a way neither ever expected. He's begging for reconciliation, but Gabby has moved on, finding purpose and a future in the House of Hope. Not only has she found shelter for herself and her sons there, but she's able to help provide shelter for homeless moms and their kids.

And yet . . . there's a hole in her life. Is God leading Gabby down a new path and giving her something--and someone--new? Or is He redeeming what she thought was gone forever?

Reading Who Is My Shelter? is like reading someone’s diary or a letter or an email. It was written from first person's perspective and written in a rather passive manner. Initially, I thought it was a rather boring book and I didn’t like the main character, Gabby Fairbanks. However, as I continue on, I was caught up by her daily lives working in a woman’s shelter home and the on goings in House of Hope, a housing scheme for single mothers.

The more I read, I more I can imagine Gabby as a friend or a sister and I’m hearing an account of her life through her diary or an email from her! Perhaps the author can consider converting the story in such a format just to make it different?

I find Gabby as the main character very real - she is out of her comfort zone and she tries as best as she could. She had many issues, one of which involves praying openly in front of others (sounds familiar) and she is suspicious of people whom she just met. The author also made her very human by her worldly outlook on lives and even her interest and confusion on relationship with a man who doesn’t share the same faith as her.

Classified as a Christian literature, the message of forgiveness is quite apparent and that life is never perfect but quoting from the book, ‘God can use anything. Even the pains in our lives, to do something good’.

I was so engrossed with the storyline that I was surprised when I reach the last page. I actually didn't want the book to end!  This is the 4th book by Neta Jackson under her Yada Yada House of Hope Series and the first book by Neta Jackson that I ever read. It's published by Thomas Nelson on 1st March so it’s still very new. Go and get your copy now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Talking with God in Old Age – Meditations and Psalms by Missy Buchanan

Synopsis :

In Talking with God in Old Age, Missy Buchanan sensitively addressed the worries, fears and frustrations of older adults and extends hope, encouraging them to maintain an open dialogue with God. Each reading feature :

• A candid conversation with God
• A related passage from Psalms
• Easy to read print

Seniors grappling with the aging process will readily identify with these reflections and will find reassurance of God’s presence. Caregivers, family members and others seeking to understand aging loved ones will gain insight into the thoughts and emotions of the elderly frail.

My review :

Talking with God in Old Age allows us a glimpse into the minds and hearts of the older adults. It is a very frank portray of what the older adults are thinking and are feeling. It is quite an eye opener as things that we (younger generations) take for granted can be such a challenge for those in their golden years.

Each chapter is only 2 pages long and each chapter addresses an issue that older adults might face and ended with a verse from Psalms to provide encouragement relating to the issues mentioned. Some of the issues are very practical, some are quite heartbreaking and some can be pretty funny and cute. Whichever the issues are, they are real for the older adults.

For example, one of the issues was ‘Real Person on the Phone’ which addresses the frustrations the older adults felt when they rushed in their walker to answer a call and it’s mostly telemarketers calling or when they made a call and there was an automatic answers at the other end asking them to ‘push one for this, and two for that’ and this annoys them tremendously. Very cute but very realistic. It reminds us not to get impatient when it took a while for the older folks to answer our calls. :)

The writing is also very easy to read and like the synopsis says, the prints are certainly much bigger than normal prints! There are 100 pages but over 42 issues are being addressed.

It’s a good book to have and could only be written by someone who has experienced with the elderly. This is a follow up post following the interview with Missy Buchanan.

Go and get a copy. It's great as a gift for an older adult or for someone who works with the elderly or just for anyone who needs to know what the older adults are thinking and feeling..

Special thanks to B&B Media for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Inheritance of Beauty by Nicole Seitz

Synopsis :

Beauty, like truth, is enduring. But only one can set you free. Maggie Black came of age in the lush, fragrant low country of South Carolina--spending her days with her beloved brother and the boy she would grow up to marry. But when a stranger arrived one summer, Maggie couldn't imagine the evil he would bring with him. And though she escaped with her life, the ramifications of that fateful summer would alter all of their lives forever.

Now, some eighty years later, Maggie and her husband George are spending their remaining days in a nursing home, helpless as age slowly robs Maggie of her ability to communicate. When a mysterious package arrives, followed closely by a stranger whose identity haunts them, Maggie and George are hemmed in by a history they'd rather forget. As the truth reveals itself, George knows he must face the past and its lifetime of repercussions. It's the only way to free himself and his precious wife--if it's not too late.

I nearly pass up on the book! All I can say is - I am so glad I didn’t. It is an extremely enchanting story. Told from the view of the various main characters and flipping from current timeframe to the past, it was quite difficult to mentally lock the story in at first. However, once you have done that, it’s quite easy to follow the storyline. Maggie and George are so sweet together in their old age. They love each other for more than 80 years!

While I enjoy it on one hand, I question the title of choice as I don’t really see the connection between the storyline and the title. What is the inheritance of beauty? Love? Devotions? I just don’t feel the title accurately reflect the storyline. Something along what happen at the watering-hole might be more relevant...forgiveness, letting go, being set free?  Nevertheless, it’s a nice book with rather interesting twist towards the end.

I also love the cover. Very classic.  I read this book within one day courtesy of netGalley.com. The publisher is Thomas Nelson which is slowing but surely becoming my favourite publisher!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fade to Blue by Bill Moody

Synopsis :

Jazz pianist Evan Horne, settled into the San Francisco jazz scene, takes a gig in Los Angeles, where he's offered his most unusual job yet. Mega movie star Ryan Stiles hires Evan to teach him to look like he's playing piano for an upcoming film role. Evan stays at Stiles' lush Malibu home for the tutoring, but suddenly things go wrong with the arrogant, spoiled star. Stiles' adversarial relationship with the paparazzi explodes when a photographers is killed. Was it an accident or is Stiles himself a suspect? Evan wants out, but Stiles' manager dangles the opportunity for Evan to score the film if he stays. Stiles is cleared but when the film begins, another mysterious death occurs, and somebody is blackmailing the star. With help from his FBI girlfriend, Andie Lawrence, and Lt. Danny Cooper, Evan launches his own investigation to help clear Stiles. To further complicate things, Evan's old nemesis, serial killer Gillian Sims escapes from prison.

When I first start reading this I thought it was quite an awesome book even from chapter 1. For a first timer and a stranger to Bill Moody, Fade to Blue was chocked full of suspense right from the start – what’s the real reason behind Ryan’s interest in Evans? What was actually in the script to the new movie? These kept me guessing as I read. The suspense built up when the photographer went missing and then some bodies were found from there things get heated up. Unfortunately, the ending wasn’t what I expect it to be so - it was kind of let down. It went from an awesome book to an ending that was rather unexpected and was just ok. Even so, I enjoyed it and glad I managed to read it.

Fade to Blue will be published in April 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press. This is the third Evan Horne mystery. On another note, this is the 2nd digital book that I read from netGalley.com and it won’t be the last if they continue to represent books such as this! By the way, main character, Evans sure drink a lot of coffee. I was in chapter 13 when I realised that I should have count how many cups of coffee he had since chapter 1. So, for those of you intending to read this, do the count and let me know.

Now I feel like having a cuppa too!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Glamour by Louise Bagshawe

Synopsis :

Texan honey Sally Lassiter, English rose Jane Morgan and shy Jordanian Helen Yanna are best friends at an exclusive girls’ school. They form a bond which, they swear, will never be broken....

The three girls grow up, becoming co-founders of the exclusive GLAMOUR chain – a runaway success the world over. They are fabulously wealthy, adored and blissfully happy. Or are they? For all is not as it seems. The GLAMOUR empire is on the verge of collapse and the three women are embroiled in a bitter feud. What went wrong? What has changed? And, in the final showdown between three powerful beauties, who will emerge as the queen of GLAMOUR?

This was read after this and this and if I’m to rank them in terms of preference, I would rank Glamour in between the other two books. I do enjoy this book if read from ‘lite chick’ perspective. This book is totally full of girl/woman power. However, I do find it difficult to believe that someone as young as 16 years old and with no business experience can know so much about running business and setting up business systems, etc. I also find it rather convenient that everything change for all 3 girls immediately after the night of Sally’s 16th birthday party.

I do enjoy the characters and their differences and they do remind me of people I know and have worked with... IMHO, Sally Lassiter is all heart, Jane Morgan has no heart and Helen Yanna has no bone but all of them have big egos. I do not wish to elaborate further. :)

Best read while on holiday as it doesn’t do much to your brain cells. I bought this book from a warehouse sales for about US$2.00.