Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon


Privilege exists, and sometimes it's deadly.

When beautiful but aloof Claire Harkness is found dead in her dorm room one spring morning, prestigious Armitage Academy is shaken to its core. Everyone connected to the school, and to Claire, find their lives upended, from the local police detective who has a personal history with the academy, to the various faculty and staff whose lives are immersed in the daily rituals associated with it. Everyone wants to know how Claire died, at whose hands, and more importantly, where the baby that she recently gave birth to is - a baby almost no one, except a small group of girls in her innermost circle, knew she was carrying.

At the centre of the investigation is Madeline Christopher, an intern in the English Department who is forced to examine the nature of the relationship between the school's students and the adults meant to guide them. As the case unravels, the dark intricacies of adolescent privilege at a powerful institution are exposed, and both teachers and students emerge as suspects as the novel rushes to its thrilling conclusion.

Armitage Academy is the boarding school. Greenville is the town where it’s situated. Suspense is what this book brings to the readers. Satisfaction is how you feel after reading it :)

This book is through the eyes of adults – the teachers in the school, the investigative detectives, etc. It started with the death of Claire Harkness and it ended with her death as well. Through it all, readers are kept wondering what happen to the baby and that she just gave birth to and who killed her and who.

The author managed to covey across to the readers some intense emotions. While you might think that Claire Harkness has everything a girl would want – beauty, etc. she craved the very thing that eluded and family and people who see and love her for who is instead of her looks. The author also managed to covey across the intensity of grief, regret and anguish of a mother who realised too late of her lost.

Amidst all these are the traditions of the academy that students and teachers tried to hide. Traditions that have been around for more than 50 years that can be cruel and deadly.

Great suspense thriller which I truly enjoyed. I reviewed The Twisted Thread for

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Night Fall by Nelson DeMille

Synopsis :

On a Long Island beach at dusk, Bud Mitchell and Jill Winslow conduct their illicit love affair in front of a video camera, set to record each steamy moment. Suddenly, a terrible explosion lights up the sky. Grabbing the camera, the couple flee as approaching police cars speed towards the scene.

5 years later, the crash of TWA Flight 800 has been attributed to a mechanical malfunction. But for John Corey and Kate Mayfield, both members of the elite Anti-Terrorist Task Force, the case is not closed. Suspecting a cover-up at the highest levels and disobeying orders, they set out to find the one piece of evidence that will prove the truth about what really happened to Flight 800.

This is what I would call a ‘dark horse’. To think that this book has been sitting on my shelf for at least 5 years and I never read it. Makes me wonder what other treasures I have in my collection.

I’ve never read Nelson DeMille and have not heard of him. Such, when I was given this book, my interest wasn’t piqued and I actually read the 1st chapter but never progressed on further as I was attracted to other titles that I have and I also thought that it could not be that good judging by the title and cover. Well, it didn’t have that great a title and the cover wasn’t really that interesting too. However, I should not have judged the book by its cover :) This is a great book! Full of suspense, it has, in my humble opinion, all the ingredients that a great thriller is supposed to have – a great storyline, an interesting main character who’s both endearing and obnoxious at the same time and a twist in the plot which I always love.

The ending to Night Fall is equally sudden and unexpected and really brought my attention level up a notch. While I understand that this book is based on actual incidents (both the flight and the other incident at the end), I think the author successfully painted a realistic picture of the investigations and what might have happened without drawing any conclusion. It also ended in such a way that gives opportunity to a sequel as well as new investigations on the other incident at the end which I can’t reveal without giving away the twist and interesting take on it. Could that have happened due to this particular investigation? Could it have taken place to prevent the truth of what happen to Flight 800 from getting out? Probably not but still, it’s food for thought.

‘A true master’ says Dan Brown on the cover. I agree.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Irresistible Forces by Danielle Steel

Synopsis :

For 14 years, Steve and Meredith Whitman have sustained a marriage of passion and friendship.  Meredith, an investment banker, has achieved partnership in one of Wall Street's top firms. Steve, a gifted physician, chose an urban trauma ward over big money.  The only thing missing in their lives is children.  Steve longs for them but Meredith isn't ready, especially now that she has been offered a top position at an exciting high-tech company in San Francisco.

Neither Steve nor Meredith had reckoned on the frustrations of a bi-coastal marriage. Weekends together fall prey to their hectic schedules. Alone in San Francisco, Meredith is spending long hours at the office with her charismatic boss. Steve is working late shifts at the hospital, grabbing an occasional dinner with a new colleague. Almost unnoticed, Steve and Meredith began living separate lives. And despite the best of intentions, irresistible forces begin to tear them apart.

...and they didn't live happily ever after. Having been a fan of Danielle Steel, and this being the 2nd book that I read after an absence of many years, it’s rather disappointing from my perspective.  In a way, I kinda know where the story is going.  I read on hoping that the author would surprised me with something different. Unfortunately, this wasn't so. 

Meredith is the persona of many career women in the world today who puts career ahead of family. She actually says that she doesn’t want children at all. Later she claims that she might want children with her boss but not her husband. I find her rather obnoxious! Meridith's boss, Callan Dow's intention is pretty clear to me.  Delicately put, he has every intention of getting close to her in a personal way and Meredith allows it to happen. To call it irresistible force is kind of sweeten the situation. She and Callan really deserves one another. Steve is no better. He lets his wife pushed him around too much and he doesn't seems to think highly of himself and his profession as a truma doctor just because his wife makes more money being in corporate woman than him, a doctor who saves lives.

I also find the writing is too draggy. Readers do not need day by day descriptions of what Meredith and Callan did in their ‘roadshow’. We don’t not need to know what they ate all the time and what they wear. It would be better if the focus was on Steve instead of giving him ‘airtime’ only towards the end of the book. It just drags on too much.

Is this a love story? Not likely. More like a ‘lust story’. I know that this situation is faced by couples and nothing new and what can I expect from such a title?  Rather a disappointing book from by Danielle Steel. She always has been one of my favourite authors. I am seriously having second thoughts.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of The Game by Tilly Bagshawe

Synopsis :

The Blackwell family were an enigma, rich and powerful beyond compare. Kate, Tony, Eve and Alexandra had a life of dreams, but their dreams were born of greed ambition and murder.

Now that tainted legacy passes to the next generation. Lexi Templeton, kidnapped and abused by her captors – will her terrifying past force her to bring down the very empire that created her? Robbie Templeton, Lexi’s older brother, once despised by his father and confused about who he really is. Max Webster, the only child of scheming day the Blackwell billions will be his. Only Lexi Templeton stands in his way.

Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game chronicled the lives of a family cursed by their own power and success. Now the story continues, twisting and turning to a mind-blowing climax.

Master of the Game was a masterpiece by Sidney Sheldon more than 20 years ago. I remember the story quite clearly as I have a copy of the book. I left it at home when I left for university and there are times when I went back home for holidays, I would dug it out to read and finished it before the holiday ended. Such, the story of Jamie McGregor and Kate and Alexandra and Eve is very clear in my mind. I admire the way Sidney Sheldon wrote - fast and furious, short and simple, Sidney Sheldon is indeed a master at his game.

Such, I expect Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game to be the same. It should be a realistic expectation and the author should not have any excuse of not fulfilling this expectation. Let’s just say that if you can take up the pen of Sidney Sheldon, then you should deliver.

So, do I think Tilly Bagshawe delivers? The answer Unfortunately, it is not to my expectation. I’m sure she tries her very best and it was pretty good. I would even go as far as to recommend it to fans and I do like part of the story but at the same time there are something about the book that I don’t like. For example, she made certain character which I felt has much potential, too weak and there’s also no ‘villian’ worth his/her salt like what MOTG has to offer. Lexi, Alexandra’s daughter has great potential but there’s something un-likable about her. Max, Eve’s son is more likable and can be a real ‘villain’ but was made out to be too weak. Gabe McGregor, the new character introduced by the author doesn’t make any lasting impact and impression.

I do like the ending though....the possibility of a third book is there and that’s good enough for me.

p.s. by the way, if you're wondering if you can read this without reading Master of The Game, the answer is yes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Marshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson

Synopsis :

When Kendra Tamale returns to England from Australia she rents a room from Kyle, a separated father of two, and begins a new job. She’s looking forward to a fresh start and a simple life.

Keyle’s six-year-old twins, Summer and Jaxon, have other ideas and quickly adopt Kendra as their new mother – mainly because she lets them eat mashmallows for breakfast. Kendra eventually becomes a part of their lives, even though she’s hiding a painful secret that makes her keep everyone – especially children – at arm’s length.

Then Kendra bumps into the man who shares her awful secret, and everything falls apart : she can’t sleep, she can’t eat, she’s suspended from work and then the kids are taken away by their mother. The only way to fix things is to confess to the terrible mistake she made all those years ago. But that’s something she swore never to do...

I love the cover of this book. It’s so sweet and endearing. Slightly pinkish and lavender tone. The book lives up to expectation too. So far, my encounter with books by Dorothy Koomson has been rather endearing as well. My Best Friend’s Girl was the best but I haven’t review that yet. I have to reread it first. The Cupid Effect and Chocolate Run were both good.

Having said that, beware, Marshmallows for Breakfast is more than just a girly-feel-good-book. It has a deeper and darker message and it won’t be long before you are caught in the pain of the characters as they share their hurt and sadness with you as much as their hope and dreams.

Kendra, the main character is a loveable person and with Kyle’s twins starving for some attention, it wasn’t long before she’s a fixture in their lives and theirs in hers. In a way, they all heal each other as Kendra is not the only one with secrets. The twins are so cute and Kendra is what they need to balance out their tipsy turvy world they are in. Kyle is so misunderstood and he’s trying so hard to be both mother and father to the twins in the absence of their mother. Ashlyn, Kyle’s wife is as much a victim and at the end, you just want to root and cheer for her to be able to overcome the addiction that took her away from her family.

Certain parts are pretty heart wrenching, especially pages 351 to 354 and especially if you are a mother.
Hint - this is one of those books you should not bring when you travel. Especially business travel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Max on Life by Max Lucado (Review)

I believe in forgiveness until he broke my heart and is demanding custody of our child. Forgiveness? Not likely.

I work sixty hours weeks for years because my boss promised me promotion. When the time comes, he passed over me for a new person. My resentment is making it very difficult for me to be even civil with him.

I am single and loving it. Someday, however, I want to settle down and have a family. I have seen enough bad marriages to make me wonder what I can do to have a good one. How can I select the right mate?

How can I be the good mum God wants me to be?

Sometimes, I just feel like snapping at anything that moves! How do I get out of a bad mood?

With the current world turmoil, my friend says he’s sure Jesus is coming soon and so he quits his job and spends his day praying and waiting. It sounds noble but also a bit crazy. Is this the right thing to do?

How can I be free of the fear that God might not forgive me? I am always afraid that I’m not perfect enough.

These are some of the questions found in Max on Life. As a pastor, Max Lucado received thousands of questions and wrestled with plenty of his own. Big questions about life and faith, heaven and hell and closer to home, dilemmas about sex, money, career, family, etc. In this book, Max answers all these questions – all 172 of them in a very down to earth, honest and biblical way.

There’s not one question in this book that you personally have not ask anyone or yourself before and there’s not one question that you wish you had the answers at that point of asking. The answers are from Max are just amazing. Like the jacket of the book says, the answers are ‘Vintage Lucado – Simple without being simplistic. Knowledgeable without being know-it-all. Direct but compassionate, honest and authoritative and always deeply practical. Full of challenge and comfort’.

For easy references, the author sections out the contents into Hope (God's grace, etc), Hurt (conflicts, relationships), Help (prayer etc), Him/Her (romance, sex, etc), Home (family lives, children, etc), Haves/Have-Nots (money, work, etc) and Hereafter (heaven, hell, life and death, etc).  This is a book not to be read in one sitting but over time. I have put in my personal notes for future references and there are some questions and answers that I would like to revisit.

The pink tab is my post it note :)

Published by Thomas Nelson, it retails at US$24.99.  Go and get your copy today!

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, June 10, 2011

The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy

Synopsis :

It's her destiny to die young. The man who loves her can’t live with that.

Promise is a talented young singer with a terminal illness, is counting on fame to keep her memory alive after she dies. Porta is an aging sorceress and art collector in search of immortality.

When Promise inexplicably survives a series of freak accidents, Porta believes that she may hold the key to eternal life.

Enter Chase, an autistic artist who falls in love with Promise and fascinates her with his mysterious visions and drawings.

Soon, all are plunged into a confrontation over the mystery and the cost of something even greater than eternal life...eternal love.

The Promises She Keeps starts with Chase who seems to be able to hear from his father who is presumed dead after missing in action in the war. Chase is autistic but draws beautiful trees which seems to capture the essence of a person’s longing (even strangers that he has not met).

Promise wants to live forever through her fame since she is dying but a few near death encounters left her very much alive and more energetic than before. Chase has a drawing of a tree for her too. He called hers the tree of life.

In the middle of it all is Porta who opens up an art gallery in town. Porta is connected to Chase and his sisters through their parents but this connection was not followed up.

There are quotes and reference made on the bible (especially by Chase) and I can see the symbolic references to the characters portrayed in the book to the book of life. Is Chase the sacrificial lamb? Does Promise represent everyone of us? Does Porta’s quest for immortality represent what the world is searching for? And the eternal love that Chase tells Promise, is that God’s eternal love for us? Chase goes around saying ‘I love you’ when he gave out one of his drawings. Is that Christ’s love for us when he sees the longings within us?

I have more questions than answers so I’m not sure if that’s what the author wants the reader to feel. I actually want to give this book more thoughts before I review it but I’m running out of time :) (laughing at myself as that’s what Promise felt) as I need to move on to other books.

Final verdict (at this point in time) – do read if you enjoys reading more into what a book is all about. Don’t read if you want a nice enjoyable story. I might update this post in future after I gave more thoughts to it.

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, June 7, 2011

That’s When I Talk to God by Dan & Ali Morrow

‘Every night at bedtime, Mom helps me put on my favourite monkey pajamas, gives me a drink of water and tells me a story. Then we snuggle close and she says a prayer before we go to sleep’.

That’s how the story of this little girl starts. She learns that talking to God is not just limited to bedtime but anytime of the day and on anything from thanking God for her best friend, for asking God to give her courage to do something and also asking for forgiveness. She also learns to pray for people who doesn’t know God yet.

I read this story with my own little girl and she loved the book as much as I do. The fact that it’s in purple, my favourite colour has already won me over. The illustrations are so colourful and attractive. I would have like it better if the fonts are a little bigger, not that they’re small now. Other than that, there’s nothing I don’t like about this book.

At the end of the book, there are 3 bible verses on prayers, one of which is the Lord’s prayer. These verses can additional teaching tools to teach children on talking to God. My little girl and I had a discussion on prayer after reading the book and I reminded her of the time her prayers were answered by God. :)

Published by David Cook, That's When I Talk to God is written by Dan and Ali Morrow. Ali’s father, Lee Strobel, author of Case for Christ wrote a note of encouragement and inspiration to the readers. This can also be found at the end of the book.

Special thanks to B&B Media Group for this review copy.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Final purchases from Popular Warehouse Sales in Kuching

Remember me talking about my favourite epic adventure here?

Anyway, was lucky to get hold of The Seventh Scroll, the 2nd book in the epic. Pay RM9.95 for it and there's actually 2 stories in the book, the 2nd entitled Gold Mine.  That's just a bonus :)  This book must be in storage for quite some times as the back cover's a bit 'aged'. 

And that concludes  my purchases for myself at the recent sales before I was being hustled into getting more Geromino Stiltion titles!

This book cost me around US$3

The sales ends 5th June 2011.  Do go and get great deals if you have not been yet.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Celebrating 100 posts!

I started this blog in year 2009 but managed only 3 months of active blogging.  I re-active this blog with a 'do or die' attitude towards August 2010 and happy to note that I have been consistant with my posting for the past 10 months.  Yeah!

So far I've done 100 posts.  This may be chicken feed to some of you established bloggers out there but for this girl who's working '3 jobs' (will share them with you some other time), it's an achievement that I am proud of. 

I really love to read and it just gives me additional joy to share what I read with you.

How shall I celebrate? Buy more books? Giveaway books? Any ideas?