Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

Synopsis :

Wolf Hadda’s life has been a fairytale. From humble origins as a Cumbrian woodcutter’s son, he has risen to become a hugely successful entrepreneur, happily married to the girl of his dreams.

A knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison while protesting his innocence, abandoned by friends and family, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later, prison psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo makes a breakthrough. Wolf begins to talk and under her guidance is paroled, returning to his rundown family home in rural Cumbria.

But there is a mysterious period in Wolf’s youth when he disappeared from home and was known to his employers as the Woodcutter. And now the Woodcutter is back, looking for the truth—and revenge. Can Alva intervene before his pursuit of vengeance takes him to a place from which he can never come back?

A stand-alone novel from the always masterful Reginald Hill, The Woodcutter is a treat that both lovers of the Dalziel and Pascoe series and newcomers to this writer’s work will devour.

I told myself that I’m going to take my time over this book. Probably read 50 pages a day and I would be able to complete it in about 10 days.

I read it in 4 days.

It is very good.

I am a newcomer to Reginald Hill’s work and I greedily devour what he offered in The Woodcutter. It’s a extremely captivating and one of the best psychological thriller I have every read. It was slightly confusing when the book started with some incidents from the past which I didn’t understand. It was only when I completed the book and go back to the beginning that I can understand what that was about (I think).

While some readers might feel that this book is about revenge, I feel that it's more than that.  Wolf is above revenge.  He seeks justice in the way he sees fit.  He seeks closure to a life he lost and most of all, he seeks answers but the answers he seeks might not be the answers he's looking for.  

Much as the book is about Wolf, it is also about his wife Imogen who is also a pretty interesting character. The relationship between Wolf and Imogen go much deeper than just husband and wife but readers won’t know of it until the every end.

Do get hold of this book if you have the chance. You will not be disappointed.

The Woodcutter will be published by HarperCollins on 1 August 2011. I review this for NetGalley.com.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tombstones and Banana Trees by Medad Birungi (Preview)

Medad Birungi faced pain few imagine yet speaks of forgiveness all can experience.

'My story changed beyond all recognition.  Everything that was made ugly by pain and anger was turned to beauty by one simple revolutionary thing - forgiveness'.

Medad Birungi was once a boy who begged to die by the side of the road, a teenager angry enough to kill, a man broken and searching, yet today he is a testimony of God's transforming power.  In his life story, Tombstones and Banana Trees : A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness, Birungi charts his outrageous journey through suffering abuse, despair and revenge to unexpected forgiveness and healing.

Birungi grew up with a violent father in the war-torn country of Uganda in the 1960s.  His childhood was scarred by extreme proverty, cruel suffering and unbearable sorrow that few of us can even imagine.  yet from that trauma came the lesson that we can all appreciate: the impoverishment of life without Christ, the redemption of the cross and the revolutionary power of forgiveness.  He story deals in nothing less than pure, God-given transformation. 

Through his story of healing, Birungi calls readers to find healing for their own emotional scars.  He reminds them that when they forgive others they are doing something truly radical - changing relationships, communities and countries.  They are welcoming God into the hidden corners of the human soul, where real revolution begins, inspiring others to start again and work for reconciliation.

Tombstones and Banana Trees will take readers back to their own tombs and funerals and help them ask how God might turn them into a new births and celebrations.  Their eyes will be opened to the revolutionary change that God Himself has in store for all.

Berungi will be available for phone interviews in July and he will also be travelling to the United States in October.  Keep an eye on this spot for the review of Tombstones and Banana Trees.

Tombstones and Banana Trees is published by DavidCCook in July 2011. For more information, go to wwwdavidccook.com and http://www.worldshinefoundation.org/.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Fair - 2nd Time Around Used Books

advertisement in local newspaper

2nd Time Around Used Books, a company that sells second hand books inported from the USA, is currently having a 'mega sales' in Kuching.  Called 'Book Fair Version 2.0', this is the second year they are organising such sales on a big scale.

Starting from 23 July to 7 August, readers in Kuching will have a choice of thousands of titles for children, youth, novels, self help books, etc.  The books are expected to be priced around RM9.90 or slightly more or maybe even less.

The organiser is also giving away vouchers for purchases above a certain amount and organising lucky draws and children's contest during this time.

Be sure to check them out in Crown Square (or sometimes known as Crown Tower in Jalan Pending) from 10 am - 9 pm for these 2 weeks.

I haven't had a chance to go to the sales yet but I bought these last year.  I will go and check them out maybe later today. 

See you there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Original Sin : A Sally Sin Adventure by Beth McMullen

Synopsis :

SHE HAS A LICENSE TO KILL. AND CARPOOL.

Seeing Lucy Hamilton, you would think she is just like any other suburban stay-at-home San Francisco mom. She takes her three-year-old son Theo to the beach, playground, and the zoo. She makes organic applesauce, folds laundry, and plays on the floor with Matchbox cars until her knees ache. What no one knows about Lucy, not even her adoring husband Will, is that for nine years she was known as Sally Sin, a spy for the USAWMD (United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction). And that’s just the way Lucy wants to keep it – a secret.

Ian Blackford, a notorious illegal arms dealer and Lucy’s long-forgotten nemesis, returns to the USAWMD’s radar, and they are forced to call Lucy back to action to lure Blackford out into the open. As she races to unravel the mystery that surrounds Blackford’s return (and get dinner on the table), she realizes that the answers she needs lie in a past that she’s tried very hard to forget. In a race against time, Lucy must fight to save herself, her family – and, oh yes – the world.

I can’t believe that this is a debut novel. It’s a great spy mystery for ladies – a cross between chick lite meets female version of James Bond….no…not quite right. It’s more of a female version of Jason Bourne.

Initially I thought this book might be rather tacky and there was a slight regret that I offered to review it. I couldn’t be more wrong! It’s a fabulous book…fun and exciting to read. I love Lucy Hamilton aka Sally Sin. She witty, smart, pretty but that she’s rather paranoid with safety and for good reason after being a spy for nearly a decade. She’s a woman with a past that she’s not aware of and is hinted here and there and especially at the end of the book.

Ian Blackford, the nemesis is an interesting character too. Handsome, sexy, charming and dangerous…lethal combination. Both Lucy aka Sally and Ian seems to have a ‘thing’ for each other although they did not admit so openly but through actions and mannerism, it’s not difficult to guess.

I am so glad I read this even though I read an e-copy. I wanted to go and get a printed copy now but I don’t’ think it’s available at the local bookstore yet since it was only published this week. If you happen see this in your local bookstore, get the copy, trust me, you will not regret it.

I hope the author will sell the movie rights to the right studio. I am looking forward to the movie version of this. I am also waiting, impatiently for the next book. There will be a next book, right? I mean, Sally and Ian still have so much offer and now that I have a dose of them, I want more.

Beth McMullen graduated from Boston University with a degree in English Literature and an MLS from Long Island University. After landing a gig with Reader’s Digest, she eventually realized she’d rather write books than condense them. She lives in Davis, California with her husband and their two children.

Original Sin is published by Hyperion. I review this for NetGalley.com.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Flowers For Her Grave by Judy Clemens

Synopsis :

Casey and Death are on the run…again. This time, Casey needs to make her disappearance permanent. After obtaining new identification and throwing herself off the grid, she travels to Florida to begin a new life as Daisy Gray, fitness instructor for a moneyed, enclosed community.

But even while keeping her head down, it doesn't take long for Casey to find herself in the middle of trouble. One of the residents is attacked, and Casey is the one to find her, bleeding on the tile floor of the locker room. Despite heroic attempts to save her, she dies, and the community is thrown into turmoil. The cops are at a loss, unable to find anyone who might want the woman dead. Casey, despite Death's encouragement to "get the hell out of Dodge, or, Florida," feels partially responsible, and won't let the murderer get away with it. Besides, where else is she going to go? Is she going to abandon this life so soon, and try to forge another?

This book started off rather promisingly. I thought Casey’s a rather unique character who has much strength as well as vulnerability. I don’t know this character well as this is the 3rd book in this series and I have not read the first 2 but from what I gathered, she has gone through some very traumatic experience and is wanted by the police. Through it all, Death is with her. Who is Death? It is death itself, but portray as a character that only Casey and those who are not afraid of death can see and hear. Death, in this book is rather endearing and provides much comic relief to the readers and while Casey kept on asking him to leave her alone, she also seeks him out at times for advices.

While the story starts off rather interestingly, the story kind of go down the hills after Casey started her job as a fitness instructor in a residential community. The investigation of ‘whodidit’ was rather amateurish. It was very clear that the killer would be someone within the community and it wasn’t really that challenging to guess ‘whodoneit’. Just follow the clues, conversations, etc and you will be able to guess too.

Did I enjoy this book? In a way but not so much that I would seek out the author’s other titles.

Flowers For Her Grave will be published by Poisoned Pen Press on 2nd August 2011. I review this for netGalley.com.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado


You’re the only you God made. If you aren’t you, we don’t get you. The world misses out.

That is one of the statement taken from Cure for the Common Life that impacted me. In this book, Max Lucado shares that we have a special uniqueness that God has made us for. ‘It is a zone, a region, a life precinct in which you are made to dwell.’ God tailored the curves of your life to fit an empty space in his jigsaw puzzle.

According to Max, if we’re like 70% of working adults, we haven’t found our ‘sweet spot’ yet. We don’t find meaning in our work and we don’t believe our talents are used. What can we do? We’re suffering from the common life and we desperately need a cure.

Written in the fashion of Max Lucado, this book is divided into three sections, Use your Uniqueness, To Make a Big Deal out of God and Everyday of your life. While it’s quite easy to read with Max sharing using examples from both the bible and the world, it is quite difficult for me to really understand what is is trying to share. While I got his message in general, I have difficulties following some of the teachings. At the end of the book, there’s a worksheet for readers to try to put into actions the techniques that Max shared in the book to find out ‘sweet spot’.

Among the books by Max that I have reviewed in recent times, this is the one that I like the least as I can’t really relate to it. Perhaps, I am reading it at the wrong season in my life. Perhaps I need to read it again...sometime in the future...in His time.

Cure for the Common Life is published by Thomas Nelson.

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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bookfest @ Malaysia 2011 - One Book One World

image showing KLCC is taken from BookFest @ Malaysia 2011's web

BookFest @ Malaysia 2011 is one of the biggest book expositions in Southeast Asia will be back for the 6th consecutive year in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), from 27 August to 4 September 2011. With a theme of 'One Book One World', it is organised as a platform to showcase millions of books by local and international authors as well as exhibiting an exemplary range of the latest stationery products.

You can expect more than hundred of publishing houses, books and stationery distributors from different regions such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia to take part in the mega event.

I have never been to a BookFest before.  I would love to though, now more than ever except that I'm not expected to travel there during this period.  Flights during this period would be pretty expensive due to school holidays.  I wonder if I can find a sponsor :)

You can find out more about the BookFest from http://www.bookfestmalaysia.com/

Other than Bookfest @ Malaysia, the other bookfests are in Singapore in Hong Kong.  I don't mind travelling there too!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Long Gone by Alafair Burke

Synopsis :


After a layoff and months of struggling, Alice Humphrey finally lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District. According to Drew Campbell, the well-suited corporate representative who hires her, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy, and eccentric owner. Drew assures Alice that the owner will be hands off, allowing her to run the gallery on her own. Her friends think it sounds too good to be true, but Alice sees a perfect opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial film maker.

Everything is perfect until the morning Alice arrives at work to find the gallery gone—the space stripped bare as if it had never existed—and Drew Campbell’s dead body on the floor. Overnight, Alice’s dream job has vanished, and she finds herself at the centre of police attention with nothing to prove her innocence. The phone number Drew gave her links back to a disposable phone. The artist whose work she displayed doesn’t seem to exist. And the dead man she claims is Drew has been identified as someone else.

When police discover ties between the gallery and a missing girl, Alice knows she’s been set up. Now she has to prove it—a dangerous search for answers that will entangle her in a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and force her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family . . . secrets that could cost Alice her life.

Long Gone is by far the best suspense thriller I have read as an e-book. It didn’t start of as such. In fact it was a web of confusing connections between a few characters and the crimes that's been investigated. Incidents that you thought happen in isolation are actually related in some way. 

As the saying goes, ‘All road leads to Rome’. In this book, all investigation leads to Alice Humphrey. I like Alice who is the main character. She’s likable in many ways and readers would be convinced that she was framed . Who does it and why would be in the mind of many readers including myself.  I have my own theories and am glad that at least one of my theories was proven correct.  The plot to Long Gone is quite original. At least, I have not read anything similar and enjoyed it.    The only thing that confuses me and which I felt wasnt' really necessary was the investigation on the missing girl.  I wonder where the author is going with that.

This book is highly recommended.  This is the first time I read a book by Alafair Burke.  I have not even heard of her before this but the next time I come across her book, you can be sure that I will certainly get a copy. 

Alafair Burke is the bestselling author of six novels, including 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection in the Ellie Hatcher series. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal law and lives in Manhattan. Long Gone is her first stand-alone thriller.

I review this for netGalley.com

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Same Life, New Story - Change Your Perspective To Change Your Life by Jan Silvirous (Preview)


I didn't receive my copy of Same Life, New Story from Booksneeze.com after a wait of nearly 6 months.  It might be lost in the mail. Such, I can only do a preview and not a review.

Book Description

Move from what is to what can be by changing how you think and talk to yourself.

Using powerful character studies of ten women from Scripture, as well as modern-day stories from her work as a professional life coach, Bible teacher Jan Silvious helps women choose new stories instead of dumping, or wallowing in, their old lives.

Naomi, Leah, Rahab, Deborah, Hannah, Anna, Jehosheba, Abigail, Naaman's servant girl, and Elizabeth round out the cast of characters who, with their own stories, help readers find new perspectives with amazing results.

Chapters include:
  • Realize it's time
  • Don't be held hostage by the past
  • Ask yourself good questions
  • Change your "I can't" to "I can"
  • Delete the drama of the day
  • Forget the "What might have beens"
  • Discover the power of wisdom and courage
  • Get past the resistance of fear
  • Choose to bounce back
  • The last chapter has not been written yet
I read from other reviews that it's a great book.  Maybe I'll get a chance to review it one of these days.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Busy Weekend - new books to review

It's going to be a real busy weekend.  Among other stuff, 3 books just arrived for review. :)


1. An Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of Mirror Ball by Matt Redman - I also know Matt as a worship leader, songwriter but not as an author.  This would be pretty interesting.  In this newest book of his, Matt reminds us that even when we fell insufficeint to reflect God's glory, God can show through us as light radiates through a prism.  Living in this truth will transform how we view our worlds, our relationships and our daily lives. 

2.Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado - in this book, Max offers practical tools for exploring and identifying your own uniqueness, motivation to put your strengths to work and the perfect perscription for finding and living in your 'sweet spot' for the rest of your life.

3. An ARC of Tombstones and Banana Trees by Medad Birungi and Craig Borlase - the true story of Reverend Medad Birungi, a Bible teacher, lectuere, pastor and founder of World Shine Ministries, an organisation that evangelizes, disciples and intercedes in prayer in Uganda and around the world.

I better get started :)

Here's a song by Matt Redman that I like.  Hope it will be a blessing to you this weekend.