Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman


Fragile Things is a collection of poetry and short stories by author Neil Gaiman.  I remember too late that I vowed not to read another Neil Gaiman book as I just can't relate to what he wrote.

Having said that, there are 2 stories in this book that I like and that's October In The Chair and Strange Little Girl.  I really do not know how to describe the stories but really, I think only hard core fans of Neil Gaiman would be able to understand his strange twisted stories.  He's really one of a kind.

I didn't finish reading this book.  I gave up half way through. This post will serve as a reminder to self not to read another Neil Gaiman unless in total desperation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Wives of Bath by Wendy Holden


A Tale of Yummy Mummies with flat brown tummies

Synopsis :

Four parents-to-be seem antenatally sorted, Flash Hugo and Amanda have booked a chic private clinic and royal maternity nurse. Right-on Jake and Alice want an all-natural home birth with whale music and three hugging nappies.

But nothing goes quite to plan. Amanda finds motherhood less glam than the stars make it look and disappears back to her career. Which leaves Hugo with the child and without a clue what to do. Alice has problems too. Bringing up baby to Jake’s eco-fascist standards means home-made organic everything and a recycled cardboard cot.

Will nappiness bring happiness to anybody? Not before bedhopping spouses, beastly bosses and bitchy nursery mothers have all done with dreadful worst.

Review :

This is a delightful chic lite with a focus on chic lite mums and chic lite dads and if you put the chic lite babies into the picture, it doesn’t necessary gives a perfect chic lite family. Instead, things can be really not what it seems to be.

The focus on this book is more on Hugo (instead of Amanda) and Alice (instead of Jake) and how they cope with their individual babies. It is not easy being a working father if your wife is busy chasing her career in another part of the work. Hugo found that out the difficult way. Alice realised that it is rather difficult to bring a baby up the eco-fanatic way and her baby had to make do with a bottle filled with sand as a toy as Jake has given away toys the baby received as presents to charitable organisations.

I enjoyed this book as it’s fun to read and time certainly passed quicker with a book especially in boring airport waiting lounge.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Associate by John Grisham

Synopsis :

Kyle McAvoy grew up in his father’s small-town law office in York, Pennsylvania. He excelled in college, was elected editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, and his future has limitless potential.

Kyle has a secret, a dark one, an episode from college that he has tried to forget. When the secret falls into the hands of the wrong people, Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn’t want – even though it’s a job most law students can only dream about, an associate with the largest law firm in the world. In addition to practicing law, he is expected to lie, steal and take part in a scheme that could send him to prison, if not get him killed.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and villains, from Baxter Tate, a drug-addled trust fund kid and possible rapist, to Dale, a pretty but seemingly quiet former math teacher whom shares Kyle’s ‘cubicle’ at the law firm, to two of the most powerful and fiercely competitive defence contractors in the country – and featuring all the twists and turns that have made John Grisham the most popular storyteller in the world.

I quite like The Associate. I don’t love it but find it an enjoyable read. For some reason, John Grisham’s novels in recent years lack the thrill and complexity of his earlier works. Books such as Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill and The Chamber, among others, are just so classically intriguing that I can read them over and over again. I won’t want to read The Associate again that’s for sure.

In terms of characters, I quite like Kyle McAvoy. While I think he’s down to earth and extremely level headed even being forced into such a volatile situation, I also find him very detached and has not much substance. No doubt that he is brilliant but where is the passion? where is the character? On the other hand, I felt that his dad, John McAvoy has better character and would have more stories to tell and more to offer. I wonder if John Grisham would be interested develop a sequel featuring both father and son in another legal adventure?

The other characters are just basically supporting the storyline and have no lasting impression and lasting impact on me at all. Plot wise, it’s quite interesting but rather predictable. The only wildcard was Baster Tate and I wonder if John Grisham has another message he wants to share by Baster’s conversion to Christ on one chapter and have him killed off the next.

At the end of the day, I always have to make this call. Do I recommend this to you? In this case, I might actually have to flip a coin to decide. Heads for yes and tails for no and the result is........


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Err... perhaps it’s best you flip the coin yourself. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fear by Jeff Abbott

Synopsis :


‘I killed my best friend. I didn’t mean to, but I did. This is my story’.

Miles Kendrick is in a witness protection program, hiding from the mob and constantly haunted by his best friend’s death. With the aid of psychiatrist Allison Vance, Miles is trying to hold onto his sanity and to recall the events of that tragic night.

But when Allison is blown to pieces by a bomb planted in her office, Miles becomes caught up in a deadly conspiracy beyond his worst nightmares. Targeted by Dennis Groote, a deranged FBI agent, Miles must run for his life – and force himself to remember the terrible truth about the death of his best friend.

Fear is an ok book for a thriller. It’s not that great but quite enjoyable and readable although can be quite confusing as it moves very fast from beginning to the end.

Miles is likable as a character. A man haunted by his guilt and caught in something that he has no control over. Due to his guilt, he kept on seeing his best friend, Andy, admonishing him in everything that he does. After Allison’s death, he sees her too but he knew that these are all in his mind.

Dennis Groote is also a guilty man. He went through a family tragedy due to his work. For now, he has no control over the fate of the most important person in his life – his daughter, Amanda who is in medical care. He was relentless and desperate in his investigation, hoping that he would be set free from the guilt. Instead, his guilt multiplies as Amanda became a pawn in the ‘hunting game’.

An author with about a dozen titles under his name, Jeff Abbott has a new book entitled Adrenaline.  I might just go and get a copy.  He blogs at http://blog.jeffabbott.com/.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One For The Money by Janet Evanovich

Synopsis :


Stephanie Plum is down on her luck. She’s lost her job in New Jersey’s most down-market lingerie store, her car’s on the brinks of repossession, and her apartment is fast becoming furniture-free. Enter Cousin Vennie, a low-life who runs a bail-bond company. If Stephanie can bring in vice-cop turned outlaw Joe Morelli, she stand to pick up $10,000.00

But tracking down a cop wanted for murder isn’t easy. And suddenly Stephanie has another problem on her hands. Benito Ramirez, a prize-fighter with more menace than mentality, wants her to be his friend – and he won’t take no for an answer. Soon Stephanie begins to know exactly what it feels like to be pursued and the best person to protect her just happens to be on the run.

Wow...two Stephanie Plum book in a month with one more on the way.  One for the Money is the first book in the Stephanie Plum series. When I saw it on the bookshelf of the local library, I made no attempt to resist it since I’m quite hooked on Stephanie Plum at the moment having just read Lean Mean Thirteen.

In this fist book, we were introduced to how Stephanie became a bounty hunter and why. We were also introduced to her relationship with Joe Morelli and the history that they had.  Ranger also made an appearance although very briefly only as we can see that the author really wanted to develop the chemistry between Stephanie and Morelli.  We mustn't forget Lola too and in this first book, she was still a hooker.

There’s a lot of firsts in this book and as a new fan, I was thrilled to read how it all began. A must read for all fans, old and new. While the plot isn’t that complicated and the thrill wasn’t really there, the fun and comedy would be an antidote for anyone looking for a cure in boredom. If you are not a fan (yet) and are looking for some fun read, I would recommend this to you. 

At the same time, you might be interested to know that a movie version of this book starring Katherine Heigl is due for release next week, 27 January 2012, if not mistaken.  I'm not sure if it would make it to the big screen where I am at and I'm not sure if I would like the movie adaptation but you can be sure I would keep my eye on the DVD release or when it goes cable.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Something New by Dianne Christner

Synopsis :

Dreams Aren’t Always Worth the Sacrifice

Lil Landis dreads a lifetime spent on the farm. . .instead she dreams of turning her flair for cooking into a successful career as head chef. There’s only one problem. Her Conservative Mennonite father would rather see her settle down as a wife and mother. As Lil struggles against expectation in pursuit of her goals, her once clear plan becomes muddled with hardship—from her guilt over leaving her depressed mother alone for a restaurant job to worry over her family’s failing farm. Then there’s Fletch. . . .

Fletch Stauffer’s good intentions toward an old friend backfire when his job providing veterinary service at the Landis farm becomes undercover work filming a documentary to expose animal cruelty. But as Fletch is drawn deeper into the deception, he finds himself falling for spunky Lil—and at odds with his dream.

Will determination cloud both Lil and Fletch’s thoughts until what matters most disappears? Or will their misguided goals open paths to something new?

I have mixed feelings reading this book. On one hand I was quite bored but on the other hand, I was quite interested in the whole Mennonite culture which is totally foreign to me. I don’t think I would like Lil as a friend in real life. I find her a bit one dimensional and very emotional and lets her emotion detects her action. However, I do appreciate her dreams of having a successful career and being independent from her family. I also don’t really like Fletch. I would be real impatient with him in real life. However, like the saying goes, walk a mile in their shoes and then you would understand them better. Instead of walking a mile in Lil and Fletch’s shoes (especially Fletch’s red shoes), I follow them as their love blossom admist much challenges both culturally and from the family.

This is not one of those hopelessly romantic love story but more of a practical love story, extremely clean and with a good dose of biblical verses but wasn’t too many that it’s overwhelming.

Something New is second book in the Plain City Bridesmaid Series by Dianne Christner, with the first book being Something Old which focus on Kathy (a good friend of Lil) and I guess the third book would be about the other friend, Megan. The title for the third book? Something Blue?

Something New is due for release on 1st February 2012 by Barbour Publishing Inc. I review this for NetGalley.com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Overlook by Michael Connelly

Synopsis :
A body has been found on the overlook near Mulholland Drive. The victim, identified as Dr Stanley Kent, has two bullet holes in the back of his head from what looks like an execution-style shooting. LAPD detective harry Bosch is called out to investigate. It is the case he has been waiting for since being recruited to the city’s Homicide Special squad.

As soon as Bosch begins retracing Dr Kent’s steps, contradictions emerge. While Kent doesn’t seem to have had ties to organized crime, he did have access to dangerous radioactive substances from just about every hospital in LA County. What begins as a routine homicide investigation opens up into something much larger and more dangerous – and much more urgent.

Not really.

What I meant is that the synopsis exaggerates slightly and the sense of urgency wasn’t really there. The development of the story was quite gradual and Harry Bosch turns out to be a pretty decent and obnoxious at the same time. His works well with Special Agent Rachel Walling of the FBI and I believe this is not the first time they are working together.

For someone who’s reading Michael Connelly for the first time, I approached this book with great interest as he’s a pretty well known author with many thrillers under his name. I was left pretty disappointed as the book wasn’t that thrilling and to my expectation. What I enjoy however, is the twist (I live for a twist in story!) from where the story developed to how it ended although I must say I have a slight idea that it would go that way and I’m pretty glad I was partly correct! :-)

However, there was what I felt was a factual error on the author’s part when he referred to the Hong Kong Disneyland as Disneyland China. There’s no Disneyland in China (at least not yet, anyway) although technical HK is part of China but its name is Hong Kong Disneyland.

The Overlook was originally created by the author as a 16-part series for the NY Times Magazine. This edition that I read was expanded and revised substantially beyond that initial serialization.

Thanks NS, for lending this to me.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Morality for Beautiful Girls (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) by Alexander McCall Smith

Synopsis :

In this third volume of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the irrepressible Precious Ramotswe faces supreme problems at home and at work.

With her detective agency in financial difficulty, Mma Ramotswe takes the difficult decision to share offices with her husband-to-be, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. Even though Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors could do with a little help, it is Mr Matekoni himself who requires her attention...

If that wasn’t enough, the agency is facing some of its most puzzling cases, the government officials whose sister-in-law is trying to poison his brother, the beauty pageant whose contestants aren’t as good as their looks and the strange young boy, found naked and wild and smelling of lion.

Morality for Beautiful Girls is the second book in the series that I read, the first being Tears of the Giraffe which I enjoyed almost a year ago! This time round, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni is unwell and the reason why he’s feeling so was not revealed (maybe in later books) and Mma Makutsi step up to the occasion and assisted Mma Ramotswe with not just the detective agency but also Mr J.L.B. Matekoni’s garage. Mma Makutsi’s brother who is sick and dying is staying with her in her room but Mma Ramotswe wasn’t aware of it as Mma Makutsi didn’t share this with her. Instead she, after being given a promotion to Assistant Manger and subsequently Acting Manager (in Mr J.L.B. Matekoni’s absence) dedicated herself wholeheartedly into running both the garage and the agency. She is even able to control the 2 apprentices of Mr J.L.B. Matekoni whom Mma Ramotswe viewed as being rather lazy.

The cases that Mma Ramotswe solve this time round weren't that captivating but reading about the culture of Botswana once again is indeed refreshing. The characters are generally the same, the problems they face are the same, their fears and happiness similar to anyone else in the world but the way they carry themselves are different. The sense of respect and importance of culture are just so visible throughout the book.  There is a certain pride of who they are that I greatly admire.  You have to read it to know what I mean.

Anyway, Morality for Beautiful Girls is another good read. With only 200+ pages, I completed it when I flew in and out of the city for business a few weeks back. This is an ideal book to bring along for short trips.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Synopsis :

Mistake 1 - Dickie Orr – Stephanie was married to him for about 15 mins before she caught him cheating on her with her arch-nemesis, Joyce Barnhardt. Another 15 mins after that Stephanie filed for divorce, hoping never to see either one of them again.

Mistake 2 – Doing favours for super-bounty hunter Carlos Manosa aka Ranger. Ranger needs her to meet with Dickie and find out if he’s doing something shady. Turns out, he could be. Turns out, he’s also back with Joyce Barnhardt and it turns out that Ranger’s favours always come with a price.

Mistake 3 – Going completely nutso while doing the favour for Ranger and trying to apply bodily injury to Dickie in front of the entire office. Now Dickie has disappeared and Stephanie is the natural suspect in his disappearance. Is Dickie dead? Can he be found? And can she say one step ahead in this new dangerous game? Joe Morelli, the hottest cop in Trenton, NJ is also keeping Stephanie on her toes – and he may know more about her than he lets on....

This is my 2nd Stephanie Plum adventure. Having enjoyed Ten Big Ones, I thought another adventure with Stephanie would be fun and fun it was.

Stephanie is really an interesting character. On one hand she tough but on the other hand, she’s quite soft and she just takes everything that comes her way in stride. However, she’s really lucky that she has Ranger on one side of her (who has the resources to watch out for her - literally) and Joe Morelli on the other side. I don’t know long this scenario would last but while she’s Joe’s girlfriend, she seems to have some chemistry with Ranger.

I love her family too. :) Grandma is another interesting character and in this book she’s having fun helping Stephanie with her bounty hunting job and also going out on dates! We must not forget Lula, the filing clerk in the firm where Stephanie works who is now dating Tank, Ranger’s right hand man. When did that happen?

I have no idea what the title means.  Published in year 2007, fans would certainly enjoy this book but hurry up in catching up as Stephanie is on her 17th adventure now.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunrise (Book 1 of Sunrise Series) by Karen Kingsbury


Sunrise is the first book of the Sunrise Series by Karen Kingsbury. While Sunrise still charts the story of Dyane Matthew and Katy Hart as well as the lives of the Baxter family. However, Karen tries to steer away from the Baxter and give opportunity to other characters featured in her previous stories in Firstborn Series. In particularly, we can see that the focus shifted slightly to the Flanigans.

In this book you will read about the preparation and the wedding between Dyane Matthew and Katy Hart and especially Dyane’s determination to keep the wedding a secret after his disastrous encounter with the paparazzi in Firstborn Series. They certainly found their new beginning in Sunrise and you would love to read about their wedding which happens towards the end of the book.

John Baxter might be looking at a new beginning himself as his friendship with Elaine grow closer and his family acceptance of Elaine in his life. While he knows that he will always love Elizabeth but perhaps it’s time to experience a new beginning?

In the midst of all these renewed hope and celebration, Sunrise actually started with a tragedy. Cody Coleman almost die of alcohol poisoning in the home of Jim and Jenny Flanigan. From there, the truth that most of his football team (even the captain) of Coach Jim Flanigan have a drinking problem, gave readers a glimpse of the deadliness of teenage drinking and driving and how lives can be destroyed by such irresponsible act.

Through all these Bailey is also facing some issues of her own on BGR issues but this wasn't really explored and might only be highlighted in the books to come.

Sunrise of about new beginning and the love and faithfulness of God which is new every morning. If you have read and liked Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, you would embrace Sunrise Series with open arms. However, if you have not read the earlier series, you will be equally blessed by this book.

The second book is entitled Summer.  I don't have this book :( sad....