Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Red Dust - A Path Through China by Ma Jian

Synopsis :

In 1983, at the age of thirty, dissident artist Ma Jian finds himself divorced by his wife, separated from his daughter, betrayed by his girlfriend, facing arrest for “Spiritual Pollution,” and severely disillusioned with the confines of life in Beijing. So with little more than a change of clothes and two bars of soap, Ma takes off to immerse himself in the remotest parts of China. His journey would last three years and take him through smog-choked cities and mountain villages, from scenes of barbarity to havens of tranquility. 

Remarkably written and subtly moving, the result is an insight into the teeming contradictions of China that only a man who was both insider and outsider in his own country could have written

I have high expectation of this book.  I shouldn't have.

However, having said that, it's was a nice companion for me during a recent work travel.  While I travel in the comfort of trains, cabs and planes, Ma Jian travels by foot, buses and whatever means that he can through deserts and mountains.  While I enjoyed the delicious company paid meals, Ma Jian have tea, grubs and whatever that was offered to him during this travel and whatever can salvage or buys.

I read how he had to sleep in the tree when he was lost in the jungle or out on the field in the dessert when he took a wrong turn whereas I was in the comfort of the five stars hotel room that I was put up in.

I should perhaps not have expectations but have gratitude instead.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Forgotten by David Baldicci

Synopsis :
Army Special Agent John Puller is the best there is. A combat veteran, Puller is the man the U.S. Army relies on to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. Now he has a new case-but this time, the crime is personal: His aunt has been found dead in Paradise, Florida.
A picture-perfect town on Florida's Gulf Coast, Paradise thrives on the wealthy tourists and retirees drawn to its gorgeous weather and beaches. The local police have ruled his aunt's death an unfortunate, tragic accident. But just before she died, she mailed a letter to Puller's father, telling him that beneath its beautiful veneer, Paradise is not all it seems to be.
What Puller finds convinces him that his aunt's death was no accident . . . and that the palm trees and sandy beaches of Paradise may hide a conspiracy so shocking that some will go to unthinkable lengths to make sure the truth is never revealed.
This is the second book by David Baldacci which features Army Special Agent John Puller.  However, it my first introduction to this character and I can say  he's a pretty acceptable character.  Reminds  me a bit of John Reacher, the character of Lee Child but different as well.
It didn't take me long to read The Forgotten.   While it's not overly exciting, it was pretty much thrilling.   Other than John Puller, the author also introduces a mystery man  which adds some hint of uncertainty and mystery as to who he might be and where he stands.
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Forgotten.  I can say it's now one of my favourite title by David Baldacci.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

Synopsis :

The Crime: Armed robbery to the tune of nine million dollars
Dom Rizzi robbed a bank, stashed the money, and did the time. His family couldn't be more proud. He always was the smart one.

The Cousin: Joe Morelli
Joe Morelli, Dom Rizzi, and Dom's sister, Loretta, are cousins. Morelli is a cop, Rizzi robs banks, and Loretta is a single mother waiting tables at the firehouse. The all-American family.

The Complications: Murder, kidnapping, destruction of personal property, and acid reflux
Less than a week after Dom's release from prison, Joe Morelli has shadowy figures breaking into his house and dying in his basement. He's getting threatening messages, Loretta is kidnapped, and Dom is missing.

The Cupcake: Stephanie Plum
Stephanie and Morelli have a long-standing relationship that involves sex, affection, and driving each other nuts. She's a bond enforcement agent with more luck than talent, and she's involved in this bank-robbery-gone-bad disaster from day one.

The Crisis: A favor for Ranger
Security expert Carlos Manoso, street name Ranger, has a job for Stephanie that will involve night work. Morelli has his own ideas regarding Stephanie's evening activities.

The Conclusion: Only the fearless should read Fourteen

 Thrills, chills, and incontinence may result.  

The above synopsis basically sums up the whole book.   It's not so much about the content where  this series is concerned but about the way it's been written...the interactions between the different characters, the behaviours of the characters, the synergy and the craziness of the collaboration, 

Once in a while I do need a craziness fix and I can always depend of Stephanie to deliver that.  For some reason, I can't seems to find anyone else within my circle and even outside my circle that read this series. Maybe in years to come, I will get tired of Stephanie but for now she still very much entertains me.

It's also very easy to follow the series. Just go by the numbers :)  Next up would be Finger Licking (whatelse but) Fifteen.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis :

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagine

 How could I let this book vegetate in my shelf for so long. I think this is one of the books that came into my possession when a friend migrated back to her home country about three(?) years ago.  Such a hidden gem.

Before I fall is like Gossip Girls meet Groundhog Day.  Yup, it's a time loop book with  Sam waking up to the same day over and over again and each time she tried to live the day differently and ends it differently, she still wakes up to the same day. One time she was a total bitch - insulted her besties, stole her mum's credit card and went on a shopping spree and at slutty with a teacher.  Another time she acted saintly by trying to 'rescue' everyone around her.  Along the way, she learned a lot about her friends and herself and she did that all on the same day.

It was pretty sad toward the end when she and I realised that there's one thing she can't change and that was how she would end.  I pretty much bawled my eyes out.

Movie adaptation starred Zoey Deutch will be released in March 2017.  I hope it does justice to the book.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Girl In Times Square by Paullina Simons

Synopsis :

Lily's life is turned upside down with the disappearance of her flat mate, incredible revelations about her family and a personal discovery, all of which will affect her forever. What if everything you believed about your life was a lie? Meet Lily Quinn. She is broke, struggling to finish college, pay her rent, find love. Adrift in bustling New York City, the most interesting things in Lily's life happen to the people around her. But Lily loves her aimless life until her best friend and roommate Amy disappears. That's when Spencer Patrick O'Malley, a cynical, past his prime NYPD detective with demons of his own, enters Lily's world. And a sudden financial windfall which should bring Lily joy instead becomes an ominous portent of the dark forces gathering around her.

But fate isn't finished with Lily. She finds herself fighting for her life as Spencer's search for the missing Amy intensifies, leading Lily to question everything she knew about her friend and family. Startling revelations about the people she loves force her to confront truths that will leave her changed forever. 

Paullina  Simons is an author that is not known to me.  I have not seen any of her titles.  I can't remember how I got this book.  All I know is that it's a trade paperbag and as thick as a hardcover and it's taking up precious space in my shelf.  That's why I read it...to clear it out of my shelf.

With such 'un-noble' intention, I should be rewarded with a crappy book but instead I was very much surprised and taken by the wonderful story that unfolded itself to me.  Lily is a strange but strong character.  I love the chemistry she has with Spencer and I like the fact that they did not let age, society and family came in between them.  

They became my 'friends' for the 2 weeks that I took to read this book.  I can't bring the book out as it's massive and heavy which is good too as I get to enjoy their story leisurely.

I bawled my eyes out at certain chapter especially towards the ending.

I  very much enjoyed The Girl in Time Square.  I hope there's another book about them as promised by the author in her official site.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Confession of a Karaoke Queen by Ella Kingsley

Synopsis :

Maddie Mulhern is suddenly in charge. Her parents - former 80s pop duo Pineapple Mist - have left for the summer on a nostalgia tour, entrusting her to manage their struggling karaoke bar, Sing It Back. Panicking over the dodgy finances, Maddie takes a gamble: she signs up for a fly-on-the-wall reality TV series. With her faithful staff (divalicious drag queen Ruby, shy barman Simon and wannabe actress Jasmine) she'll transform the bar into a huge success. Simple. Right? 

Executive Producer Evan Bergman knows that scandal sells. It's no coincidence that he hires cool, attractive Nick Craven as director. Evan wants drama on screen - and he'll do anything to get it. As the series builds to a live finale, will Maddie see the truth in a Careless Whisper? Will Nick be able to keep his Poker Face? One thing's for sure: we all do things at karaoke that we regret ..

I bought this book without really knowing much about it.  Just that it's a chic lite and I need such book to clear my head on and off.

Confessions of a Karaoke Queen is quite a fun read.  It wasn't that good but it wasn't that bad either.  Somewhere in between would very be the way the describe it.  Because it's a chic lite, there wasn't much character development and the story line is basically just Maddie trying to revitalise the karaoke joint owned by her parents without their knowledge (they are away on holiday) and the way she though would work would be via a reality show and 'get down on it she did'. (cue Kool and The Gang :)

Along the way, what's a chic lite without a love interest?