Thursday, February 28, 2013

Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Synopsis :

Claire Webster has exactly the life she planned, complete with gorgeous husband James, cosy London flat, and a great job.  But just hours after the birth of their first child, the bubble bursts when James abandons her for an older woman.

With a baby she doesn't know what to call,a wardrobe two dress sizes too small, and her self-esteem at an all time low, Claire decides there is only one place she can run to, and that's back home to Dublin.

Thankfully her family are still themselves:her father bewildered, her sisters dippy as ever and her mother still completely incapable of cooking anything edible. Sheltered by the love of her rather quirky but protective family, Claire realises that despite her grief, 'Life , against its better judgement, goes on'.  So she lets it. And gradually she begins to get better.

So when James eventually comes scuttling back he's in for a shock.  Is there room in her life for him now? And, if she's honest, how much does she still want that 'perfect' life back in London?

Watermelon is one of the earlier work of Marian Keyes.  It's about Claire, the eldest of the Walsh's sisters.  The other sisters have their own book too.  There's Rachel in Rachel's Holiday and Maggie in Angels and Anna in Anybody Out There? (my favourite :) and last but now least Helen in Marian Keyes latest release, The Mystery of Mercy Close which I have not read yet.  I have read the others so I probably will be showcasing them here one by one but not in any particular order except how I like it to be.

While the other books have their issues to deal with, Watermelon is about the breakdown of a marriage - Claire's marriage.  Her husband of a few years decided to call it quits right after the delivery of their first baby.  While she's still in the hospital.  Talk about scumbag and low blow.  For a woman, it doesn't really get any worst than that.  Claire did the only things he can think of at the moment, she went home. To rant and to heal.  And rant and heal she did.

The whole book is practically an outlet for Claire to rant and ramble on.   I can imagine Claire in front of me and just rambles on and on and on.  But because the author is very good in this area, the rambling was quite bearable and quite interesting at times. Marian Keyes just have the talent of putting things in perspective and while she allows Claire to deal with her issues, it was done with much humour thrown in and things don't look half as bad as you might think it is.

The synopsis gives an impression that much time has passed from the moment James left Claire to James eventual return. In actually fact, just about a couple of months have passed.  Maybe because Marian needs to wrap things up for Claire, I felt that Claire is very much on an express train where her emotions are concern and I think she realizes that too.  A bit unrealistic in my opinion but hey, it's by Marian and I just love her work so I'll be happy recommend this and any of her other books to you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Time to Mend by Sally John & Gary Smalley

Synopsis :

Max and Claire Beaumont seem to have the perfect marriage.  They live in a beautiful home, have four wonderful children and everything else that success and money can buy.  Yet beneath this picture-perfect exterior, Claire's life is falling apart.  She can no longer hold her peace and keep up appearances. After all the silent years, she must speak the truth.

As their lives unravel, deep needs and even deeper hurts are revealed. not only the wounds between husband and wife, but family wounds as well.  Will this time of soul-searching and conflict bring them closer together - or tear their marriage apart?

It's a strange irony to leave home in search of a safe harbor. Yet that is often where the journey begins...especially when it is time to mend.

I bought A Time To Mend when Logos Hope sailed into town about 2 years ago (Goodness! has it been that long?). I haven't read anything by Sally John before but Gary Smalley co-wrote The Redemption Series with Karen Kingsbury and till today, it's still one of my favourite series of such nature so I thought I give it a try.  Another reason was also because there wasn't much choice

I don't regret reading A Time To Mend but I could have done without it too.  It was an okey book, wasn't up to my expectation but I did come away with better understanding of the theme.  The overall theme of this series - Safe Habour refers to the need of feeling completely safe in relationships, be it emotionally safe or physically safe.  Claire did not feel safe.  She blames it on husband Max for the insecurity she is feeling but as she deals deeper into her past, she feels that she need to shoulder part of the blame as well.

I don't really like Claire and I don't really understand her.  Perhaps in another time, another season I might understand her better but right here and now, I don't but I try to as there could be many Claires around us.

In a nutshell, mistakes were made, dangers were faced, hurts were faced, temptations were encountered, forgiveness were extended and at the end of the day, the family and relationships were mended. 

A Time to Mend is book #1 in the Safe Habour Series.  Book #2 is entitled A Time to Gather and book #3 is entitled A Time to Surrender.  I don't have either so unless I do, I won't be doing any review on them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One-Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell

Synopsis :

Bee Bearhorn had a number-one-hit single in 1985 – and was never heard of again.  Fifteen years later she is found dead – and nobody seems to care.

Ana Wills has always daydreamed about the exotic half-sister she hasn’t seen for years.  When she comes to London to clear her flat, Ana begins to unravel Bee’s life : her missing cat, her secret country cottage and her mysterious weekends away.

So, instead of going back to Devon, Ana tracks down Bee’s closest friends, mad Lol and strong, silent Flint, and together they set out to discover exactly what happened to Bee Bearhorn, the one-hit wonder…

I was attracted to this book while in the local library not because it’s new (which it is) but more because I recognized the author as the one who wrote 31 Dream Street which I read a few years back.  I enjoyed 31 Dream Street for it being really a feel-good book to curl up with on a raining day.  One-Hit Wonder, however, other than being written by the same author, does not share much similarity with 31 Dream Street.  It is very different in many, many ways.

Bee and Ana are half siblings.  They had the same mother but Gay, their mother married Bill, Ana’s father after Bee’s father left her for another man.   The last time Ana saw Bee was many years ago as you can say that Bee and her mother is estranged and her mother kinda prevented Bee from seeing Ana.  

The book focuses on Ana’s attempt to find out more about Bee and why she died the way she did.  The more she discovers, the more she realized that she didn’t know her sister at all and she wished that she did.   *Spoiler alert* Bee actually suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and guilt which led to her committing suicide and Ana and her friends finally found out why she did so. The book starts with a letter that Bee wrote to Ana and the book ends with the same letter as Ana read it for the first time as their mother kept the letter from Ana for about a year.

I didn't like the fact that Bee committed suicide. It's not something that I believe but yet, I know that it's a common social ills.  I believe that the author attempted to address this issue through this book but I don't think she manages it successfully.  It is very difficult to address such serious issue and I do commend her for it but in my opinion, it wasn't well written. 

Well, it's either that or I just totally misunderstood her intention.  Either way, it's not that bad a book to bring home with you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Read

I was presented with these early this morning by the big man :).    Thank you my love. <3 .="">

I can't really say it's a surprise as I was there together with him when the items were bought but I didn't know when I was going to receive them.  That was the deal - I choose what I like, he buys them and keeps them until the occasion calls for it.  It can be any of our many celebrations.  The surprise was that I didn't know I was going to receive two for today :)

One of them is by my favourite author who writes serious issues such as domestic abuse, etc and tells it through a story. The other book is by a fictitious author from a television series. He is an author in the series and helps a detective solves crime in the series.  He acknowledges that he is 'ragard' handsome.

Care to guess who they are or do you need more clues?

Here's wishing you and your love ones a happy and lovely Valentine's Day. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dim Sum for the Family by John Ng (Preview)

There's a series of 'Dim Sum' book in the market from Dim Sum Leadership to Dim Sum for the Family which I received as a present recently.  Thank you very much for the present. :)

 Dim sum refers to a style of Chinese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum is also well known for the unique way it is served in some restaurants, wherein fully cooked and ready-to-serve dim sum dishes are carted around the restaurant for customers to choose their orders while seated at their tables.

Such, I take it that for a book which titled itself Dim Sum, the principals will be presented in small bite-size and in portions that are easy to take in and to digest.   I will also take it that there will be some unique features to the book which makes it stand out from the rest of the other books of such gene in the market.

The author is Dr John Ng, President of Meta Consulting.  He is also the Chair of Eagles Mediation and Counselling Centre Board of Governance.  He has a PhD in Interpersonal Communication of Northwestern University, USA.

Guess what, he's going to be in town for a conference next month.  I better read up the book before then and when would be a better time than the forthcoming festive holiday.

Gong Xi Gong Xi :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The wind still blows

Gone With The Wind is one of my favourite book.  I bought the book in a church sales more than 20 years ago and I read it many, many time.  I also enjoy the sequel, Scarlett, which was not written by Margaret Mitchell, the original author but by another author, Alexander Ripley who was commissioned by the estate of Margaret Mitchell to do the sequel more than fifty years later.

While reading the paper recently, I came across this article on a trail or a tour that you can take to capture the magic and charm of the Southern era in  Gone With The Wind.  Aptly named Gone With The Wind Trail, the journey will start from Kennesaw and Marietta, north of Atlanta to the heart of Atlanta and finally, south to Jonesboro.

You will get a chane to visit The Gone with The Wind Museum in Marietta where you can view an original gown worn by Vivian Leigh who acted as Scarlett O'Hara in the blockbuster movie release in the early 40s.  You will also get to visit the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park as well as The Margaret Mitchell House & Museum where the author wrote the book.  The trial will then take you to Oakland Cementery where about 3,000 Confederate soldiers rested forever in unmarked graves.  The visit will not be complete without a trip to Jonesboro's Road To Tara Museum which has an extensive and impressive collection of memorabilia.

I got the above information and the title all from the article that I read and not through personal experience so I can't really tell you how it would feel to be on the trail.  Exciting and thrilling, nostalgic and romantic, I imagine.  I would give quite a lot to be able to make the trail if you can do so, go for it.

For more information, visit