Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflection - 2011


Year 2011 has been a busy and an interesting year.

I did a total of about 118 posts for this year.  Very little for some but quite a lot for me.  Quite a fair bit (about half?) of them were committed posts with deadlines for publications as these are new releases that publishers depend on for online publicity. It would also be interesting to note that half of the books I read this year were e-books.  I still very much prefer a printed version but I guess this shows that I am also open to other forms of publications. 

I also met a lot of interesting people through my blogging this year and even got to attend a seminar.  I look forward to learning from them as most of them are extremely experienced in this field which I am still very much a novice.

I enjoye the networking opportunities and events that I cover for this blogs and the plans to expand this is very much a reality through this new site and a revival of this old site.  While some might say blogging is history as they move on to other media platform such as twitter, etc, I would say, 'it's just the beginning'.

Happy New Year everyone :)  Thank you for dropping by and have a wonderful 2012 ahead.

Let me end by sharing with you this wonderful song by Lincoln Brewster, the message of which I hold close to my heart.  God bless.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cat O' Nine Tales by Jeffery Archer


Taken from the book jacket :

Cat O’Nine Tales is the 5th collection of irresistible short stories from the master storyteller. These yearns are ingeniously plotted, with richly drawn characters and deliciously unexpected conclusions and with the added bonus of illustrations by the internationally acclaimed artist, Ronald Searle.

I love the rich red cover of this book.  Very striking and attractive. A very much added appeal.  I wonder if the colour contributes to the sales volume of this book.  I wonder if any surveys were carried out on the appeal of covers vs sales of books.  Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, there are a total of 12 stories in Cat O'Nine Tales. Hm....shouldn't the title be Cat O'Twelve Tales then?  Perhaps it refers to nine lives a cat is supposed to have and I guess if you have been convicted of a crime and been behind bars, it meant that you have used up one life of the nine that you have. Is it? I don't know. Just thinking outloud.  Sorry, I digress again.

Back to the book, the stories are all part of the legacy that Sir Jeffery Archer gained while spending about 2 years behind bars for perjury from year 2001 to 2003. Some of these stories were told to him directly while some are stories that he picked up along the way. Whichever method he obtained the stories, they are all delightfully Jeffery Archer style and are all delightful read.

The stories all told of some crime of another.  Some of the prepetrators got away with the crime and some did not.  Starting with the 1st story The Man Who Robbed His Own Post Office (my absolute favourite) to the last, In the Eye of the Beholder, Jeffery Archer spins his tales in such a way that you forgot they are short stories and are surprised when one tale ends and the next begins.

I enjoyed my time with the book. Thank you, NS for lending this to me. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Read - The Gift by Cecelia Ahern


If you could wish for one gift this Christmas what would it be?

That’s the question asked at the back cover of the book where the synopsis normally is and with that you have to take a leap of faith and leap into the book to find out more. Having had good experience reading Cecelia’s novels here and here, I jumped right in.

The story of Lou Suffern is told to a boy by a police officer when the boy was caught throwing a frozen turkey into the home of his dad and his new family. While waiting for his mum to pick him up from the police station, Officer O’Reilly told him this story....everyday Lou Suffern battles with the clock. He always has two places to be at the same time and always has two things to do at once. One day on this way into work, Lou meets Gabe, a homeless man sitting outside the office building. Intrigued by Gabe, Lou gets him a job in his company. But soon, Lou begins to regret helping Gabe for Gabe’s very presence unsettles Lou – everyone likes Gabe and the things that Gabe said is very profound and Lou doesn’t like it. Also, how can Gabe appeared to be in two places at the same time?

The Gift is very different from Cecelia’s other novels that I have read. In fact, it reminded me so much of being written for a Hallmark Movie. It has this feel good feeling that tries to touch your soul with a moral message. It has its moment of fun that makes you smile, certain moments that make you shake your head with disapproval and also its moment of sadness that makes you sob while reading.

This is a great book to buy as a gift. Even the cover looks like a wrapped gift for Christmas. If you know of someone who is like Lou, you can present this as a gift to him or her.

But the question lingers on after reading The Gift,.... who is Gabe? Is Gabe short for Gabriel? As in the archangel Gabriel? For Gabe disappear at the end of the book as suddenly he appears and no one knows where he went.

Like I said, The Gift is very much like a Hallmark movie and here’s a song from another feel good movie that I like and which I would like to present to you as a gift! The song is entitled The Christmas Shoes by Newsong. Enjoy :) 



Merry Christmas everyone.  May God's blessing be with you and those close to your heart.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Abduction by Mark Gimenez

Synopsis :

When hotshot lawyer Elizabeth Brice turns up to collect her daughter Grace from football practice, the coach tells her she needn’t have bothered, as Grace’s uncle has already picked her up.

The only problem is – Grace has no uncles.

And so begins a furious race against time to save Grace from unknown kidnappers. Grace’s internet geek father John leads the search, forced to unite with his terrifying wife and even more terrifying father Ben, a battle-hardened Vietnam Veteran.

Somehow they must find Grace before it is too late. But secrets from the past make the little girl’s survival more uncertain with every passing minute.....

The Abduction is interesting and it’s not just about rescuing an abducted girl but more the unexpected circumstances surrounding her disappearance. The author is extremely talented in bringing the suspense forward and keeping it so real that you would just want to keep on reading. Just when you thought you know where the story is heading, another curve ball is thrown at you.

The characters are well developed. You will like Col Ben Brice who turns to alcohol to escape his past. You will feel sorry for John Brice who has everything money can buy but not the love of his wife and you might feel angry at Elizabeth Brice for being such a tough nut but your opinion of her might changed further into the book.

Not many readers in this part of the world knew about Mark Gimenez. The local bookstores are just saturated with authors such as John Grisham, James Petterson, Sidney Sheldon. Let me tell you, go and read books by Mark Gimenez. He’s as good a writer as the others and even better than some.

I really enjoy his writing from the very first book which I read about 5 years ago, Colour of Law to The Perk and this. His other two books are The Common Lawyer and Accused (which is sequel to Colour of Law) which I have not read. To me, it’s just a matter of time before I do. And when I do, you can be sure I will share them with you.

This is the 2nd time I’m reading The Abduction since I bought it about 3 years ago. Go, get your copy and be thrilled.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Triple Dog Dare – One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Boys by Jeremy V Jones


In case you are wondering why boys are being left out after reading this, well, wonder no more because the publisher is also publishing a version for the boys.

Entitled Triple Dog Dare, this one year devotion book follows the same format and concept as Truth & Dare (for girls) but the style are written to appeal to boys age 9 to 12. Even the cover has a boy shooting a sling against a gigantic robot. Is it the modern day version of David vs. Goliath or just a depiction of a boy going against worldly things or temptations of the world like internet, mobile phones, books (pornography?) which the giant represents?

Anyway, here is what the back cover of the book says,

So you think devotions are nothign but boring 'quiet times' for wimpy kids and Good Two-shoes?  Think again.  Being a young man of God is all about action. Really. Remember how David knocked down Goliah, Daniel faced those lions, Paul survived a shipwreck and Jesus stood up for a woman about to be killed?  God made guys to take His Truth and do something with it, to man up and change the world.  Think of this book as your action plan to do just that.

These devotions will challenge you to live a bold, action-packed life for God.  Every day you'll read a few Bible verses and a short truth about being God's man.  But then you'll be challenged to put it into action.   You'll roll up your sleeves and take on dares like drawing a comic strip, collecting school supplies for needy kids or creating your own movie.  Are you up for the challenge? 

We triple dog dare you.

Since Christmas is round the corner and the new year is about to start, I think it would make a wonderful present for any boys.   This book is published by David Cook.  You can check it out at www.davidccook.com. 

Thank you B&B Media for this review copy. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love Finds a Way by Wanda E. Brunstetter


Love Finds a Way consists of 3 rather cheesy and short Christian romance novella. First, you have Blueberry Surprise which tells how love comes to Lorna, a young widow who’s not really ready to move on after her husband’s death a year ago. She’s still staying with her in-laws and working 2 jobs to keep herself occupied.

Upon encouragement by her colleagues and in-laws, she went back to school and there she met Evan Bailey, her new coursemate who’s looking for a Christian wife in a Christian college. How stereotype is that? I mean there’s no harm in wanting to be equally yoke but to purposefully look for a wife like that, sorry, I just can’t accept it.

The second story, called Grandma’s Doll is about Sheila who travels to her grandma’s hometown to choose something from the attic as a keepsake. She particularly wants her Grandma’s doll that she played with when she was young. However, grandma might have already sold the doll off to an antique dealer whom on the other hand had sold the business to a new person. There no prize to guess that this new dealer is young and handsome and no prize too for guessing what happen next when he offers to help Sheila find the doll.

The final story is the shortest. Entitled Matchmaker 911, it’s about how a dad tried to match make his daughter, Wendy to a young and handsome paramedic whom he met in a hospital cafeteria one day as he felt that his daughter needs a man in her life.  He began to make fake 911 calls and it wasn't long before he got into 'trouble'.  The funniest among the 3 stories.

There you have it, 3 stories summarised in a few paragraphs and about 250+ words. Save you the trouble of getting the book. 

I review this for Netgalley.com.  This book is published by Barbour Publishing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Truth & Dare – One Year Dynamic Devotions for Girls by Ann Margret Hovsepian


Dare to Put Your Faith into Action!

Truth & Dare is a devotional book targeted at girls from age 9 to 12. It is very thick as it caters for 365 days. The usefulness of this book is that it doesn’t start of any particular day or month of the year. Instead it started with a ‘weekend’ and users can start using it any weekend they choose to whether it’s in December, January, February or any time of the year.

Truth
Every devotions start with a verse that would be relating to the topic of the day. For example, on the topic of ‘Who’s living your life?’ the bible verse is Galatians 2 : 20 which says ‘I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live yet not I, but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.’

That would be followed by a couple paragraph of explanation on this title and the related verse.

Dare
Then comes the dare, which for this topic is – Give Jesus control of your life!

This would be followed by a triple-dog dare which has 3 things that the author would dare the user to do like dare 1 – write down 5 good qualities you have and thank God for being the One to help you grown in this area; dare 2 – with your parents, look up the lyrics of ‘crucified with Christ’ a song by Philips, Craig & Dean. Can you make those words your own? dare 3 – ask an older Christian what this verse means to him or her.

Journaling
There would be a section at the bottom for the user to write down what she learnt from this devotion.

As the whole thing is very structured, it is very easy to use and what was written in the journal section is useful for future reflections and a good way to chart spiritual growth.

I also find that the topics are quite universal and across all age that even adults can use some of them for small group reflections and studying of the Word of God.

I think it would make a wonderful Christmas present for any girls. This book is published by David Cook. You can check it out at http://www.davidccook.com/. Thank you B&B Media for this review copy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Husband Material by Maeve Haran

Synopsis :

What makes a good husband material? Someone who’s kind? Someone who’s brilliant in bed and puts the rubbish out afterwards?

After 16 years of marriage to the charming but unfaithful Giles, Amanda’s sure of one thing : she isn’t going to make the same mistake twice. So when she, literally, bumps into charismatic property developer Angus Day in his cobait blue sports car there’s no way she’s going to fall for that charm baloney again - even if he does offer to pay for her damage.

This time she’s going to choose someone suitable. Like the delightful Luke Knight, a caring, sharing new man who helps old ladies across the street – rather than throwing them into it. Amanda is smitten and despite the misgivings of her daughter Clio, she wants him to be her very own knight in shining amour.

Amanda is in her 40s and she is looking into dating again after her divorce. Her 16 year old daughter encourages her to and even put a singles advert for her in the paper. She finds herself attracted to Angus Day but is he too charming for her? Then she was introduced to Luke Knight and is attracted to him too. She now has a choice between Knight and Day (night and day), get it? Haha...:)

The book is quite enjoyable if taken at face value and not to be analysed too thoroughly. The characters are lovable especially Clio and Isobel (Angus’s mother) and the whole book does take on an air of fairytale like which is pretty unrealistic. Having said that it does touch on a few social issues like what might happen when a single mother takes on a new man, the danger when a mother brings a new man into her life and into her home. It also brought to light the concern and struggle of single mum in trying to give the basic to her family while not able to offer them treats and holidays and how devastating it can be to her and her children when her ex-husband has a new family.

First time reading Maeve Haran. I bought Husband Material in a warehouse sales quite a while ago. I quite enjoy it. I think I will keep it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Love, Honour and O’Brien by Jennifer Rowe

Synopsis :

She stared into the speckled mirror, wondering how she had come to this. How could she, Holly Love, apple of her parents' eye, competent manipulator of invoices in Gorgon Office Supplies, have ended up alone and starving in a dead man's flat?

How indeed? Most reluctant heroines would throw in the towel at this point. But Holly Love is made of sterner stuff. She's sworn to track down the cheating swine who ripped her life apart, and make him pay. But as she tries to keep her head in the face of a bizarre mystery, a gloomy old house, a hearse driving Elvis impersonator and a gang of vengeful thugs not to mention a garrulous and possibly possessed parrot Holly is forced to come to terms with a great truth. However bad things seem, they can always get worse.

This is a rather refreshing book. First, it was set in the Blue Mountain in Australia and not in any towns or cities in the United States that you would come to expect. For the fact that I have been to Blue Mountain certainly added some interesting charm to the whole story.

Anyway, no matter where the setting is, Love, Honour & O’Brien is very delightful. I feel sad for Holly Love as she gets ready to start her new life being a married woman. Unknown to her, her ‘knight in shining amour’ is really a ‘crook in rusted tin can’. He promised to marry her but has ran off with her money. Knowing that she’s in for such disappointment makes me feel sad for her. At the same time, I sense some gumption from her and kind of know that she would be ok after she got over the shock. Somehow, I knew that Holly has the strength to get up and move on.

Get up and move on she did after her private detective died on her and she ended up taking over his practice and his talking parrot and finding herself some true friend in the person of a psychic and an old lady who watches detective shows every night.

I enjoy this book and all that the characters bring with it. Although some of the characters are just too quirky and rather lame and some of the plot too coincidental to be real but it’s amusing and fun to read and rather entertaining thoroughly. I would love to read the second book and see how Holly fares as a detective. Very well, I’m sure.

Love, Honour and O'Brien is due for released by Poisoned Pen Press on 15th January 2012. I review this for NetGalley.com.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An Interview with Carlos Parra Diaz, author of Hope Underground

Have you read Hope Underground?  Are you inspire by the stories of the miners?  Here's an interview with Pastor Carlos Parra Diaz that was sent to me by B&B Media Group.  May you be further inspired.

Q : In Hope Underground, you mention several instances that suggest God’s intervention. Did you personally experience God’s presence while there and, if so, how did it affect you?

A : This recognition of divine intervention throughout the entire process of the rescue has been the consistent perspective of the miners, their families, the rescue personnel and millions around the world. For myself, I had always believed that God is real, a living God who chooses to be close to those who love Him. But during my weeks at Camp Hope, I experience for myself just how real God is and how deeply He loves the human beings He has created. And how directly involved He is in the daily lives of His children.

Q : Through no fault of their own, all 33 miners were thrust into the world spotlight. Since then, how have their lives been altered?

A : The miners have moved on with their loves. Some have taken new jobs. Others have retired from mining completely. Many of them have travelled extensively since their rescue, sharing their experiences with audiences around the world. While their lives have returned to some semblance of normalcy, they have all experienced a profound change, so that none of them will ever return to the lives they lived before.

Q : You made the decision to present the miners with a special gift while they were trapped in the mine. Could you tell us a little about that?

A : Yes. I had already presented Bibles to each of the families at Camp Hope, but I wanted to do more. In my mind was the thought that a Bible would be one way I could help the miners in the prolonged wait facing them. The comfort of God’s Word and His promises could help the miners bear up under the various physical, emotional or spiritual difficulties that were bound to appear.

Q : After visiting with the miners following the resuce, which of these visits do you feel had the greatest impact on you?

My visit with Jose Henriquez, the ‘pastor’ of the trapped miners, was a special pleasure for me. He was among those I’d been able to speak with while they were still underground. He’d shared with me about their difficult survival during those first 17 days when they had no contact with the outside. It was Jose who, from the beginning, proposed to the group that they set aside a certain time each day for prayer. All had accepted and when they came together to pray he would recite certain Bible texts he knew from memory. But his repertoire of memorized verses were soon exhausted. The group longed for a Bible so they might read more of God’s Word. Like all their other needs at the time, this seemed like a wish that would not be fulfilled. Then four days after they’d been found alive, the miniature Bibles arrived below. A direct answer to their prayers. Jose told me their communal prayer time at midday and 6 pm were greatly enriched because they were all able to read God’s Word for themselves at any moment of the day they felt a need. An those moments, he added, were many.

Q : What lessons in faith can be learned from the mine collapse?

A : God was able to get our attention and call humanity back to Himself. Through the miracle of the San Jose Mine resuce, witnessed by people all over the world through the media, God has issued a call to his creation, every human being, to make a decision while there is still time to do so. Jesus Christ laid down His life on the cross as a substitute for sinful humanity, as a guarantee of salvation and eternal life, free of charge, to anyone who will receive this precious gift. By reminding the world of His reality and His love, even in the depths of the San Jose Mine, God is once again offering every human being the opportunity to make a very simple decision : Will you follow God? Or will you reject Him?

For most people, this spectacular rescue is already yesterday’s news. However, for the millions who prayed for a miracle, this event has become a spiritual heritage for the whole world, a stirring reminder that God listens to the pleas of His children.

http://www.hopeunderground.com/.