Friday, May 30, 2014

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell

Synopsis :

Nico O'Neilly seems to have everything -  a stellar career, a well-respected husband, and a teenage daughter whom she adores - but is suddenly finding that the romance has gone out of her marriage, and she is tempted to find refuge in the arms of a younger man.  But will this derail her secret ambition to become the first female CEO of Splatch-Verner?

Wendy Healy is the president of Parador Pictures. Wendy's hard work has propelled her to the top of the cut throat movie business.  But her nonstop career has made her too busy to notice that her marriage to her metrosexual househusband is about to unravel.

Victory Ford has created a fantasy career as one of New York City's top designers, but when she begins dating a cosmetics billionaire, she not only questions what it's like to find love but what it's really like to succeed in big business.

When I read Lipstick Jungle years ago, I liked it.  When I read it again recently, I changed my mind.  It wasn't as how I remember it.  It somehow felt very shallow and the ladies in the book annoyed me to high heaven. 

If roles are switched and Nico who is very much the female version of a successful corporate man is now named Nicholas (for example), I would have disliked him very much for cheating on his spouse. How does the author then expect readers to like Nico for doing the same?  Just because she's a female?

Wendy on the other hand, is being divorced by her 'never been in love' with her house husband who is seeking custody of the children.  Am I expected to root for Wendy and sympathize with her situation just because she's female where as if roles are switched, I would be expected to sympathize with the spouse?

You can say I am equally confused by Victory.  What is she seeking? Love? Money? or both love and money? Well, she seems to find it in her billionaire so what else is she complaining about?

I find the writing surprisingly very chaotic and timeline rather confusing which seems to have escape my attention the first time I read it. Maybe it's not too bad a book except that I am more critical now in my opinion.   Let me know if you think the way I do about Lipstick Jungle.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hanna's Daughter by Marianne Fredriksson

Synopsis :

Sweeping through one hundred years of Scandinavian history, this luminous story follows thre generations of Swedish women - a grandmonther, a mother and a daughter - whose lives are linked through a century of great love and great loss.  

Resonating with truth and revelation, this moving novel deftly explores the often difficult but enduring ties between mothers and daughters, the sacrifices, compromises and rewards in the relationships between men and women, and the patterns of emotion that repeat themselves through generations.  If you have ever wanted to connect with the past, or rediscover family, Hanna's Daughter will strike a chord in your heart.

Hanna's Daughter did not strike a chord in my heart.  It however gave me a heartburn after digesting it over a few weeks.  It was a rather slow digestion and I wasn't really keen to partake of it but having made m commitment and having paid for the book, I really want to see it through and thus get my money's worth.

The only relief I got was from the wonderful cover of embroidered linens of casings which are so antique looking but yet still so stylish.  However, that's where the relief ends.   However, there's no regrets as Hanna's Daughter allowed me a glimpse into lives of women from culture that's totally different from mine. Yet, no matter which culture you are exposed to and how different it might be, there are similarities that cannot be ignored nor denied.

Readers can't help but felt sorry for Hanna who was raped at thirteen and gave birth to her first child. Johanna wasn't really her mother's daughter as she can't really relate to her and felt more close to her dad who lost his life when she's still young.  Following the same pattern, her daughter Anna can't really understand her and thus begins a life long conflict between women who are forever linked and whose tie cannot be broken.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz

Synopsis :

A year had passed since little Danny's death - a year since his mother began the painful process of acceptance.  But tonight, Tina Evans swore she saw her Danny in a stranger's car.  Then she dreamed that Danny was alive.  And when she awoke, she found a message waiting for her in Danny's bedroom - two disturbing words scrawled on his chalkboard : NOT DEAD. 

Was it someone's grim joke? Her mind playing tricks on her? or something more? For Tina Evans, it was a mystery she couldn't escape.  An obsession that would lead her from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the cold shadows of the High Sieras.  A terrible secret seen only by The Eyes of Darkness

This is it! This is one of the books by Dean Koontz that I read many, many years ago.  It was during that time too that I was hooked on Dean Koontz and can read one title a day.  However, I was still in college then and couldn't afford this habit of mine so I rented the books from book rental stores and that is who I do not own many titles by him.

It was only recently that I bought this title and a few others.  The Eyes of Darkness brought me back to those many years ago as a college student, devouring Dean Koontz over the weekends and in between classes.

What can I say?  Titles such as this is what Dean Koontz are famous for.  Intriguing and terrifying, readers would be swapped along the tide as the story unveils itself in ways that only certain authors who are great storytellers can do.  While others might say it's a bit slow, I would say it's at just nice a pace and while some might say the storyline is rather absurd, I just want to remind them that it is a paranormal thriller.

If you have not read any of Dean Koontz's title, this would be a good introduction on some of his better works.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King


Synopsis :

Twenty-five years after saving a Down's syndrome kid from bullies, Beav, Henry, Pete and Jonesy - now men with separate lives and separate problems - reunite in the woods of Maine for their annual hunting trip.  But when a stranger stumbles into their camp, disoriented and mumbling something about lights in the sky, chaos erupts.  Soon, the four friends are plunged into horrifying struggle with a creature from another world where their only chance of survival is locked in their shared past - and in the Dreamcatcher.

I was wondering why I have not read this book when I realised that the book is written in year 2001 and I was quite over reading Stephen King by then.  It was very much in the late 80s that I was into Stephen King.  I used to owned a copy of 'It', my absolute favourite title by Stephen King other than 'The Shinning'.  I read It about three times over the years (that's what you do when you love to read but don't have much pocket money to spend on the habit) before I lend it to a friend and that's the last I saw of it.

It was with much fascination that there are mentions of incidents from It in this book and I really thank the author for bringing back memories of It (and Pennywise the clown) and how thrilling that title was.

Back to Dreamcatcher, it started of quite confusingly for me but the essence of Stephen King, the master horror storyteller proved to be in evident and he made the story works in ways that other authors might not be able to. Some might say it's rather cheesy once the 'horror' is revealed but for me it was still scarily entertaining right to the last page.

There is actually a movie adaptation starring Morgan Freeman with the same title.  I watched the movie right after I read it and for some reason the book and movie compliments each other but being a reader, books always win. :)

Stephen King writes very differently nowadays and I can't say I enjoy his current titles but Dreamcatcher is somewhere in between old and new and I can say I quite like it and enjoyed it but what I really like to do is to get hold of a copy of It.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

 Synopsis :

Life is good for Mma Ramotse as she sets out with her usual resolve to solve people's problems, heal their misfortunes and untangle the mysteries that make life interesting.  And life is never dull on Tlokweng Road.  A new and rather too brusque advice columnist is appearing in the local paper.  The Mokolodi Game Reserve manager feels an infectious fear spreading among his workers, and a local doctor may be falsifying blood pressure readings.  To further complicate matters, Grace Makutsi may have scared off her own fiance.  Mma Ramotswe, however, is always up to the challenge.

Blue Shoes and Happiness is the seventh book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which features Mam Precious Ramotswe and set in Botswana.  I would recommend this series any opportunity I can.  I really enjoy the serenity that this series carries with it.  While it is not blue skies and roses all the time, it certainly comes close to having a good relaxing massage when reading this series.

In Blue Shoes and Happiness, Grace Makutsi nearly made a booboo when she wasn't careful with her speech and she thought she lost the man that would be her husband.  Mr Polopetsi took it upon himself to help Mma Ramotswe in solving a case in the game reserve.  She wasn't very happy about it.  

Mma also tried to go on a diet in this book as she seems to be rather sensitive and pressured when the people around her seems to feel that she needs to do so and make fun of her build.  Even the doctor whom she is investigating as well as the client who came in to ask her to investigate the doctor told her so.

An enjoyable read as expected.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

Synopsis :

Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum has a big problem on her hands: Seven-year-old Annie Soder and her mother, Evelyn, have disappeared.

Evelyn's estranged husband, Steven, a shady owner of a seedy bar, is not at all happy. During the divorce proceedings, he and Evelyn signed a child custody bond, and Steven is demanding the money guaranteed by the bond to find Annie. The money was secured by a mortgage on Evelyn's grandmother's house, and the True Blue Bonds Bail Agency wants to take possession of the house.

Finding a kidnapped child is not an assignment for a bounty hunter. But Evelyn's grandmother lives next door to Stephanie's parents, and Stephanie's mother and grandmother are not about to see their neighbor lose her house because of abduction.

Even though Stephanie's plate is full with miscreants who missed their court dates, including old nemesis and violent drunk Andy Bender and an elusive little old lady accused of grand theft auto, she can't disappoint Grandma Mazur! So she follows the trail left by Annie and Evelyn-- and finds a lot more than she bargained for. Steven is somehow linked with a very scary Eddie Abruzzi. Trenton cop and on-again, off-again fiance Joe Morelli and Stephanie's mentor and tormentor, Ranger, warn Stephanie about Abruzzi, but it's Abruzzi's eyes and mannerisms that frighten Stephanie the most. Stephanie needs Ranger's savvy and expertise, and she's willing to accept his help to find Annie even though it might mean becoming too involved with Ranger.

Stephanie, Ranger, Lula (who's not going to miss riding with Ranger), and Evelyn's lawyer/laundromat manager set out to find Annie. The search turns out to be a race among Stephanie's posse, the True Blue Bonds' agent, a Rangerette known as Jeanne Ellen Burrows, and the Abruzzi crew. Not to mention the fact that there's a killer rabbit on the loose!

Strap on your helmet and get ready for the ride of your life. Hard Eight. The world of Plum has never been wilder

I took the synopsis from as I thought it's quite a good summary of the book than on what's at the back over of the book.

Much as I enjoy Stephanie Plum (I always think she's another version of Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic Series)  I am slightly bored already so I am moving away from this series for a while so this would be the last of the post of Stephanie for quite a while.

Hard Eight is slightly different as Stephanie was asked by her mum's neighbour to look for her grand-daughter, Evelyn and Evelyn's daughter whom both have gone missing.  Things took a turn for worse and Stephanie suspect that Evelyn's daughter might have been a witness to a murder.

Valerie, Stephanie's sister who has been around since the last book was rather 'helpful' too.  This is the book when Stephanie introduced her sister to Albert Kloughn who will become a member of the family a few books down.

Ranger lend a hand in helping Stephanie and ended up doing more for Stephanie than she anticipated.  It was a rather good end (for me) for the time being while I take a break from this series.