Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review and 2017 New Year's Resolution


Another year has come and gone.

At the last count, I have reviewed a total of 52 books for the year to date. Sadly, it is a drop of 22 books, 1 book shy of hitting the same number as the year before.

Year 2016 @ 52 (-22 YOY)
Year 2015 @ 74 (-23 YOY)
Year 2014 @ 97

Review: Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop


4 stars for Marked in Flesh (The Others book 4) by Anne Bishop.

It has been more than a month since I last read a book. So I am delighted and excited to finish this book in time to share this last book review for the year.

Truth be told, I am not sure if I have made the right choice reading this book initially as the last book 3 Vision in Silver somehow falls short of expectations due to story regression and whatnots. However, when in doubt, always go with the familiar. And so, book 4 of The Others series it is.

I am glad to say that once again, I have enjoyed immersing myself in this dark and mystical world of The Others where we have Namid's claws and teeth, the old forms of terra indigene who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. And then, there is Namid's creation, the cassandra sangue, both wondrous and terrible, for which without them, there will be no story to begin with. Together, they make a wonderful urban fantasy tale.

Judging from the way the author wraps up this book, I reckon that the next instalment should be as interesting if not more. I am so looking forward to the next book 5 Etched in Bone.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15) by Janet Evanovich


3 stars for Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum book 15) by Janet Evanovich.

The storyline is still good going but sadly the inevitable has finally happened, that is, I no longer find the humor as appealing as it used to be. I wonder if it is just me or ...

.. And by the way, I have given the last of the Between-the-Numbers Novels, book 14.5 Plum Spooky, a miss. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In my case, the gain is time!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: C is for Corpse (Kinsey Millhone #3) by Sue Grafton


4 stars for C is for Corpse (Kinsey Millhone book 3) by Sue Grafton.

It is a done deal. But reading this work in progress investigative report for the truly departed makes me think otherwise.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe


4.5 stars for Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe.

This is every mother's worst nightmare come true.

Distance. Culture. Language. You name it, the story has it. Across the vast ocean from one end of the globe to the other, from Manchester in the UK to Chengdu in the Sichuan province in China, it is indeed Half the World Away. But when physical barrier no longer becomes an issue, the breakdown in communication and cultural differences become everything that stand in the way of reaching out to a loved one.

Having visited Chengdu before, I can relate easily to what the author is trying to bring across in her story. I love the way the author brings this big city to life with its spicy fiery food, the custom of adopting a Chinese name and the hustle and bustle of a typical day in the park to name a few.

Equally impressive are the little details, simple as it may seem, that add charm to the story. The author has either done a fantastic job in her research or she has gone the extra mile to visit this city where the sun never shines.

If you like mystery stories that revolve around family life, then this one is for you.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: B is for Burglar (Kinsey Millhone #2) by Sue Grafton


4 stars for B is for Burglar (Kinsey Millhone book 2) by Sue Grafton.

Good story. Great writing.

I am totally clueless right until the moment author Grafton chooses to expose the perpetrator.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review: The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins


5 stars for The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.

This book has been sitting on my list of to-be-read ever since last December when it secured a whopping 106,149 votes out of a total 268,373 votes cast and emerged the winner in Best Mystery & Thriller 2015, Goodreads Choice Awards - the only major book awards decided by readers.

When I finally pick up the book and decide to have a go, I surprise myself by finishing it in three days, less to be exact. It seems like a lifetime ago since I lap up a book in so short a time..

The Girl on The Train is a winner right from the start. The first person narrative draws me in subtly and before I know it, I am all tangled up in the twists and turns of the plot. I feel as if I am part of the mystery, connected in one way or another as I set off on my journey; a girl on the train, going back and forth without point or purpose, watching and observing, constructing and deconstructing the lives of strangers from within a moving train, and suddenly I discover a different world, I discover myself. I am Rachel, the narrator.

The success of this thriller lies very much in the brilliancy of the author to story pace. It is common knowledge that pacing is critical to a good story but not all authors can or are able to pull it off effectively. In this case, author Hawkins does it so seamlessly - her decision on what happens, when it happens and how quickly the events transpire - that I cannot resist but keep the pages turning and turning until I make it to the end of the tale.

I am so glad to have finish reading this book in time to catch the movie on the big screen. Yea, it is after all not too late for me to catch the train, the one that has just started running since last Thursday.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone #1) by Sue Grafton


4 stars for A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone book 1) by Sue Grafton.

I am happy, no, scratch that, I am elated to have discovered the start of yet another - good plot, great writing - mystery series.

Kinsey Millhone is now my latest kick-ass detective. For a private investigator with a no-nonsense attitude, one who owns few personal belongings and even fewer personal attachments, surprisingly, Kinsey comes across very much alive; a real life character. To quote "You try to keep life simple but it never works, and in the end all you have left is yourself". How philosophical..

Judging from the way the author chooses to title her books, I can say with absolute certainty that there will be at least another twenty-five more books to go before the curtain comes down on this alphabet series; definitely a discovery worth rejoicing. Yay!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey


5 stars for Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

Hauntingly charming, this outstanding debut novel is filled with bitter-sweet memories of old and at the same time, packed with a poignant longing for truth.

It is hard to imagine how I will think and feel and talk when the one day comes where memory fails, time crawls to a standstill and all that remains is a series of mysteries muddled up between the present and fragments of the past. That is why I think the author does a remarkable job of putting herself in Maud's shoes and seeing the world through her eyes.

Second to none of its kind, Elizabeth is Missing has my full attention right from the start and leaves me reeling from the sheer force of the story upon completion; an old lady who finally gets what she wants, to be heard and understood. Why wait? Pick up this book today and get ready to be blown away.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Review: The Second Husband by Louise Candlish


3 stars for The Second Husband by Louise Candlish.

A well executed story but a painful one at that, of a woman who plays multiple roles.

This story is perhaps a reality check on relationships where people throw caution to the wind and simply follow where their hearts lead them regardless of consequences. I'm not sure what intention the author has in mind but the message that glides across from reading this novel is that people in the UK do live with their families but it is either with the stepmother or stepfather, not exactly a rosy family picture.

Much as I enjoy the story setting and polished prose, it is equally exhausting and frustrating to be reading about a woman who constantly mourns after an ex-husband, has endless fights with a seventeen-year old adolescent and is oblivious to the fact that she has lost ground even before the battle has started.

Read it if you think you have the stomach for it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot


5 stars for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

This remarkable debut comes recommended by a booklover buddy of mine. The title alone is enough to intrigue me such that I have it up on top priority to be read right after Towers of Silence which I am halfway through then.

As dictated by the book title, yes, this is a story about Henrietta Lacks, her immortal cells and her descendents.

Born in 1920, Henrietta Lacks died from a vicious case of cervical cancer in 1951. Since then, her (cancer) cells have been living outside her body far longer than they ever lived inside of her. The term immortal human cells refer a continously dividing line of cells all descended from one original sample, cells that would constantly replenish themselves and never die.

Considering the evolution of medical science and with it, the ethical debates relating to human-subject research and inevitably, the legal issues regarding the ownership and commercial use of biological materials and products derived from humans, it is amazing how the author manages to condense years of her research materials and hundreds of hours of interviews into a single book.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Review: Towers of Silence (Sal Kilkenny #5) by Cath Staincliffe


4 stars for Towers of Silence (Sal Kilkenny book 5) by Cath Staincliffe.

From a professional point of view, each mystery solved is a job well done. And Sal, as a private investigator, has succeeded in getting to the root of the towers of silence. However, the outcome has been devastating rather than satisfying. So, it comes to pass that sometimes "ignorance is bliss".

On a separate note..
I find myself keeping a lookout for the next book in line the moment I hit the halfway mark in this book 5. Sadly, I sense the series turning into a cul-de-sac as neither book 6 nor 7 can be found in the library I often frequent.

Not for lack of trying but I will have to put aside the detective in me for the time being. Because it is so not my style to miss two running books in the series and skip to the whichever one available next. So much for now.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan #1) by Kelly Gay


2.5 stars for The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan book 1) by Kelly Gay.

It has been quite some time since I last read an urban fantasy tale. This book is supposed to be a welcome change for me as it is packed with off-worlders characters, sirens included!

The protagonist is in her thirties instead of the usual early to mid twenties age bracket written in most if not all urban fantasy novels. This alone appeals to me to continue reading beyond the first couple of pages.

The story starts out really great. But, it becomes not that great anymore after the first half of the book and I find myself skimming through the pages in a bid to get it over and done with.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Review: Stone Cold Red Hot (Sal Kilkenny #4) by Cath Staincliffe


4.5 stars for Stone Cold Red Hot (Sal Kilkenny book 4) by Cath Staincliffe.

No two cases are ever the same. I marvel at the brilliancy of the author to continue spinning cases that have me on my toes.

In this fourth instalment, the missing person case is like the Pandora's box of secrets. As the story unfolds, the skeletons in the closet take on their queue numbers and tumble out one after the other, leaving me breathless and stone cold. Needless to say, red hot is another story (case) altogether.

A well paced and definitely mind absorbing great read.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review: My American Duchess by Eloisa James


3 stars for My American Duchess by Eloisa James.

This is author Eloisa's first American heroine. The fact that it is a stand-alone novel attracted me to read the book though I am no great fan of the historical romance genre.

Much to my surprise, I find myself enjoying the story, especially the part on the rented pineapple; totally unforgettable!

Publisher: Avon
Publication date: 26 Jan 2016

@}--->>--->>-----

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. He wouldn’t even consider Merry Pelford, a madcap heiress who has made herself infamous by jilting two fiancés.

Besides, Merry is in love with his dissolute younger brother—and this time, the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar.

But as Trent and Merry discover, love has a way of complicating their perfect plans . . .

*Blurb from author's website*

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: A Look Inside Alzheimer's by Marjorie N. Allen, Susan Dublin and Patricia J. Kimmerly


4 stars for A Look Inside Alzheimer's by Marjorie N. Allen, Susan Dublin and Patricia J. Kimmerly.

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has been a topic of interest to me of late. Perhaps it is the increasing awareness of this disease through the various media or simply the inevitable process of aging that sets me thinking, I find myself drawn, like a moth to a flame, to books written on the different forms of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease and even more so, early onset Alzheimer's.

If you ask around, it will seem that almost everyone knows someone with Alzheimer's disease, but the sad reality is, only a handful of people truly understand the disease itself.

A Look Inside Alzheimer's is an excellent guide to everyone and anyone. It is written - in layman's terms - from the bottom of the hearts of those who have been diagnosed with AD and how they have to learn to overcome the day-to-day challenges of memory loss, confusion and difficulty in understanding questions. Here, the caregivers also share their pains in seeing their loved ones succumb to the disease day by day and how they learn to cope as the disease progresses.

The following statement, taken verbatim from the book, is indeed well said. "If people were demented, they were considered insane, but AD is a form of dementia and dementia is not insanity. It is a neurological disease."

I think this book should be read by all.

Publisher: Demos Health; 1 edition
Publication date: 18 Sep 2012

*** Favourite quote 1 ***

At present, it's a matter of accepting the inevitable and finding the routine that will allow appreciation of what life offers.

*** Favourite quote 2 ***

It is important to educate people that AD is not a loss of self. It is a gradual change in self that eventually affects the physical and cognitive abilities but retains the inner emotional connection.

~ A Look Inside Alzheimer's
Marjorie N. Allen, Susan Dublin and Patricia J. Kimmerly

@}--->>--->>-----

A Look Inside Alzheimer’s is a captivating read for friends, families and loved ones affected by this mind-robbing disease. Individuals with early-stage Alzheimer's disease will take comfort in the voice of a fellow traveler experiencing similar challenges, frustrations, and triumphs. Family and professional caregivers will be enlightened by this book and gain a better understanding of this unfathomable world and how best to care for someone living in it.

Susan and Patricia share their accounts of their own transformation and deterioration with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease and Marjorie shares her perspective as the wife of a person living with Alzheimer’s Disease. The book addresses the complexity and emotions surrounding issues such as the loss of independence, unwanted personality shifts, struggle to communicate, and more. The three life-stories intertwined along with boxed quotes from professionals in the field make this book special.

*Blurb from Goodreads*

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review: Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing by Althea Press



4 stars for Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing by Althea Press.

A friend introduces me into the world of Young Living (YL) 100% pure essential oil somewhere last October. Though I attended their talk and tried out one of their oils, my interest isn't fully piqued until beginning of this year when I purchase more of their oils and find myself loving them more and more. Five months later, I decide to take the plunge and join as a YL member.

Though a YL member and equipped with an Essential Oils pocket reference book by Life Science Publishing (compliments of my friend), I find myself hungry for more information from other guidebooks written or research done with no reference whatsoever to YL. The thing is, I want a clear and unbiased view on the uses, applications and powers of nature's remedies without the influence of any one particular brand.

With the above in mind, I proceed to do my share of research and readings online. It is then that I realise that the more I read, the more confused I get. A good example is on the topic of ingesting essential oils. While some are strong advocates when it comes to ingesting the so-called therapeutic grade essential oils, others clearly warn against doing so. In the end, I find myself researching on books to buy instead and that is how I land up with not one but two essential oil reference books; this being one of them.

Having read this A-Z reference on essential oils, below is my take on this guidebook:-

Pros
(1) Pleasing layout with coloured chapters.
(2) Easy to use and navigate.
(3) Clear and concise explanations on uses and application methods, blending and precautions.
(4) Covers 168 common ailments with suggested homemade remedies.
(5) Includes profiles of 75 essential oils.
(6)Provides reviews on 10 most popular essential oils brands and their products.
(7) While the book does not recommend ingestion of essential oils, it does not condemn doing so; instead it encourages readers to do proper research prior to using essential oils internally.

Cons
(1) Non-exhaustive coverage on the profiles of essential oils. To name a few, Cistus, Wintergreen and Palo Santo are not mentioned in the book.

(2) No information on ingestion of essential oils. Taken verbatim from the book "While this book does not recommend ingesting essential oils, after proper research, you may decide it is right for you."

In my opinion, the book is plainly taking the easy way out by putting this huge disclaimer out there. To that end, it defeats my purpose of buying this guidebook because the very act of purchasing this book is the result of having conducted this so-called proper research.

(3) Not much information is provided on the 10 popular essential oils brands and their products except awareness of the brand name itself.

All in all, I am pleased with the wide coverage of ailments and recipes offered for natural remedies. However, this book can have done better by providing more information with regard to ingesting essential oils.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Dead Wrong (Sal Kilkenny #3) by Cath Staincliffe


3.5 stars for Dead Wrong (Sal Kilkenny book 3) by Cath Staincliffe.

Sometimes there is no compelling reason for wanting to read on about a certain character or its running series...

Sal Kilkenny is your run-of-the-mill private investigator. There is nothing spectacularly exciting about the work she does nor is her private life particularly interesting. But I enjoy reading about Sal and the cases she works on. Somehow, it makes me feel real; her lack of social life, her love for her job, her reason for wanting a flexible working schedule and the pangs of being a single parent.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review: Go Not Gently (Sal Kilkenny #2) by Cath Staincliffe


4 stars for Go Not Gently (Sal Kilkenny book 2) by Cath Staincliffe.

I have a good time reading this book 2 of the Sal Kilkenny series; the writing and story build-up is definitely two notches higher than the first one. For some reason, the topic in question is close to my heart and keeps me going to venture down the dark halls of sinister medical care.

Go Not Gently is a well-thought-out story. I cannot help but keep thinking about the ripple effect which so often happen in real life as it does in the story. Does the act of hiring Sal, a private investigator, set in motion the chain of events that leads to subsequent happenings?

Though I am a little put off by the helpless way things turn out towards the later part of the story, the twist inherent in the last two paragraphs of the book more than make up for the shortfall. I cannot stress how much I love the way the story wraps up.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt


5 stars for Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

Our time on Earth is anything but finite. But what if...

Tuck Everlasting, a timeless story, will always hold a special place in my heart. I do not think I will ever get tired of rereading it. Cross my heart and hope to die.

I first read this book at the tender age of fourteen, at a time when I feel as if I have all the time in the world and there is hope yet to be. Even then, the story has made a deep and impressionable impact on my young mind and I remember with vivid clarity the sense of loneliness and sadness that descends upon my whole being when I finally finish reading this enchanting novel.

Years pass and still, the story remains in the back of my mind. Rereading the novel now brings back an achingly familiar yet strangely distant feel. Familiar because fundamentally, I experience the same sense of loss and sadness as I did years ago when I finish reading the book. The distant feel, I guess, stems from the fact that though it is the same story, I see things in a different light now.

I am glad that I have read Tuck Everlasting when I am younger, at an age of wonder when I can easily connect to the characters which enable me to really appreciate the content. Because of that, I believe that the story will live on in my heart for a long long time - and perhaps forever - as it is truly a novel that is hard to be forgotten. Never mind that the book may be out of sight because it will not be out of mind.

Tuck Everlasting has fascinated me when I read it the first time and I trust that it will continue to intrigue me as and when I read it again.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: Killer Instinct (Charlie Fox #1) by Zoë Sharp


3.5 stars for Killer Instinct (Charlie Fox book 1) by Zoë Sharp.

If not for Lee Child’s beaming recommendation, I will definitely not have picked up Zoe Sharp’s novel at all.

True to author Lee's favourable mention, this is a thriller not to be missed. The story is convincing and the writing is plain brilliant with scenes flowing fluidly from one to the next. The female protagonist, Charlie, is down-to-earth and as real as can be. The part I like best is the - emotional - baggage that Charlie carries, like it or not, it is what makes Charlie who she is in present day.

The only grievance I have is that towards the later half of the book, the plot gets a tad too predictable; I can see all too clearly where the path is leading to and how it is going to end.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Review: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan


5 stars for Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

This is an intensely moving novel, beautifully and powerfully written. It is a poignant reminder for all of us to cherish and spend time with our loved ones.

A splendid novel suitable for readers of all ages, the story revolves around a 12-year old girl coping with loss and learning to move on.

Counting by 7s is truly a remarkable story and I highly recommend it to readers alike.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: Looking for Trouble (Sal Kilkenny #1) by Cath Staincliffe


3 stars for Looking for Trouble (Sal Kilkenny book 1) by Cath Staincliffe.

This is likely Cath Staincliffe's debut novel. Not too bad a story considering it is her first book but the editing can have been better.

The story is uneventful and does not excite me much intially. Then all of a sudden, a seemingly straightforward case of searching for a missing teenager spirals into more and I find myself turning the pages in a bid to unravel the mystery.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: Blink of An Eye by Cath Staincliffe


2 stars for Blink of An Eye by Cath Staincliffe.

This is the second book that I have read by Cath Staincliffe. While I love her Letters to My Daughter's Killer, the same cannot be said for this one.

This book starts off well with a family barbecue setting on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But all too soon, the sheer amount of trivial and inconsequential description make me lose interest. I stop reading at a quarter way in and simply flip to the last few chapters to see that my prediction of an ending rings true indeed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: Tideline by Penny Hancock


2 stars for Tideline by Penny Hancock.

The book blurb entices me to read the book. I read it and am utterly grossed out by the story; it is not my cup of tea.

For a debut novel, I will say that it is well written with the backdrop of 'creepy and disturbing' in mind. But I am not overly impressed by the messed up characters woven into the story, a woman who is not quite sane and a teenage boy whose elevator does not go all the way to the top floor.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publication date: 24 May 2012

@}--->>--->>-----

One winter's afternoon, voice coach Sonia opens the door of her beautiful riverside home to fifteen-year-old Jez, the nephew of a family friend. He's come to borrow some music. Sonia invites him in and soon decides that she isn't going to let him leave.

As Sonia's desire to keep Jez hidden and protected from the outside world becomes all the more overpowering, she is haunted by memories of an intense teenage relationship, which gradually reveal a terrifying truth.

The River House, Sonia's home since childhood, holds secrets within its walls. And outside, on the shores of the Thames, new ones are coming in on the tide...

*Blurb from FantasticFiction*

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Die Trying (Jack Reacher #2) by Lee Child


2 stars for Die Trying (Jack Reacher book 2) by Lee Child.

I start on this book almost immediately after reading book 1 Killing Floor. To say the least, my love and admiration for Jack Reacher - and indirectly, the author - almost died in trying to read Die Trying.

Sadly, not only does this story pales in comparison to the author's first novel, I am sorely disappointed that the author has changed his stance from a first person narrative which is what entices me to read this series in the very first place to that of a third person.

At 40% mark, I find myself skipping chunks and promptly flip to the last chapter for the conclusion.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child


5 stars for Killing Floor (Jack Reacher book 1) by Lee Child.

Killing Floor is the best thriller I have read to date. It is a story that is guaranteed to blow you away as it does to me.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review: US by David Nicholls


Did Not Finish US by David Nicholls.

This book is totally not what I have expected. I look forward to a funny, light-hearted novel but this... this is just not it. Heavy-hearted. Slow-moving. Overbearing description of European cities. In short, boring.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Review: Hunted by the Others (H & W Investigations #1) by Jess Haines


2 stars for Hunted by the Others (H & W Investigations book 1) by Jess Haines.

There is basically nothing wrong with this story, what with a plot involving the Others - vampires, werewolves and mages - co-existing with the humans, except that I have read way too many a tale on this genre that this one comes across as watching a B-rated movie - chessy and kiddish. One more thing. It may have helped some if the protagonist on the book cover is more flattering. Go figure.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: Shopaholic Ties the Knot (Shopaholic #3) by Sophie Kinsella


2 stars for Shopaholic Ties the Knot (Shopaholic book 3) by Sophie Kinsella.

After the first two books, the novelty of a story revolving a shopaholic has worn off. In this instalment, though the author has moved on to create a flow to the overall theme, I am not impresssed.

Frankly speaking, I do not think my expectation is too high or unreasonable. I am only looking for a good story, some laughs and hopefully a bit of surprises here and there in this third book of the series which, unfortunately, fall short of.

If you ask me, this book is a no-good for me right from the start. Why? Because the book title is a dead giveaway. It kills off any surprises, if there is any to begin with. Oh, why doesn't the author choose a name which is less obvious?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Shopaholic Abroad / Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic #2) by Sophie Kinsella


4 stars for Shopaholic Abroad / Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic book 2) by Sophie Kinsella.

An enjoyable story though not as humorous as the first one. But still, a good one.

I must say, I can't agree more with the protagonist, Rebecca Bloomwood, on her point number three with regard to shopping abroad that 'Foreign money doesn't count, so you can spend as much as you like'. It is so not true but yet so real because that is exactly how I always feel when making my purchases in a foreign currency!

*** Favourite quote ***

Shopping anywhere is great—but the advantages of doing it abroad are:

1. You can buy things you can't get in Britain.

2. You can name-drop when you get back home.

3. Foreign money doesn't count, so you can spend as much as you like.

~ Shopaholic Abroad
Sophie Kinsella

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic #1) by Sophie Kinsella


5 stars for Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic book 1) by Sophie Kinsella.

A girl has got to read this book!

The Confessions of a Shopaholic is a relaxing and highly entertaining read. It is never for a moment monotonous but chock-full of colourful imagination, creative comeback and hideously embarrassing yet hilarious situations.

I simply love this story and have a whale of a time reading it and then, an equally hard time putting it down. Now I wonder why I didn't read this series earlier to think that it has been sitting on my to-be-read list for as long as I can remember.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult


1 star for My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

Perhaps the story is overrated. Perhaps my expectation is too high. Perhaps I read the book at a wrong time. Perhaps there are too many perhaps. Bottom line is, I do not enjoy reading My Sister’s Keeper and I am probably one in a handful of oddballs who feel this way.

This book comes highly recommended by not just one friend but more. I trust their recommendations and I really want to like this story but sadly, there are more things to dislike than like in this book.

While I am usually fine with different characters weaving in and out telling their side of a story, I do not appreciate it when that is crafted on top of a story unfolding amidst overabundance of flashbacks that spin the story around and back. It definitely makes reading tiresome and confusing.

The science of tomorrow to save the children of today. Yes, the topic in question is excellent and has untapped potential to make a phenomenal story. Unfortunately, I am frustrated and bored to tears by loathsome characters, particularly that of a self-serving individual who does not see beyond what she chooses to see, whose world practically revolves around one daughter and who is more than willing to move Heaven and Earth at the expense of all others.

And then, don't get me started on the rest of the fluffy characters acting as fillers. These padding do nothing to beef up the story except adding oil to fire to create an even bigger hole in the already flawed characters and speed up the story's descent in a downward spiral journey. But these are not all. The final death blow to the story is dealt when the author tries too hard by giving the ending a twist.

Oh, how I detest the writing style, the horrible characters and the story.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Review: Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14) by Janet Evanovich


1.5 stars for Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum book 14) by Janet Evanovich.

I think I need a break after this one. The Plum stories seems to have taken a nosedive of late.

Even though I flip through each and every page of this book, nothing registers. I only vaguely remember something written about a diva and how much I dislike the plot.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the next main story be good, else I will be bidding adieu to the series.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5) by Janet Evanovich


1 stars for Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum book 13.5) by Janet Evanovich.

Good grief.. It seems like yesterday that I finish reading a between-the-numbers novel. I thought I am done with one to last for quite awhile but boy, how wrong am I for here it comes again..

Seriously, I do not understand the purpose of these short stories, except to exasperate us readers?

My opinion? This is definitely a book Evanovich's fans will have no qualms missing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13) by Janet Evanovich


5 stars for Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum book 13) by Janet Evanovich.

Thirteen books in a row and the Plum - main - stories are still going strong. Great work there, author Evanovich!

I find that the more Plum books I conquer, the more I feel that the relationship between Stephanie and the two men in her life can be summarised as destination and journey - a rather complicated one which puts her (and me) at a crossroad always.

On one hand, I cannot wait to reach the final destination in Stephanie's love life, on the other hand, I want to keep travelling this journey with her. I want it to last yet to end. What irony!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Review: Plum Loving' (Stephanie Plum #12.5) by Janet Evanovich


1 star for Plum Loving' (Stephanie Plum book 12.5) by Janet Evanovich.

Oh no! Not again..

It is not that I am against the between-the-numbers novel but after a taste of the earlier book 8.5 Visions of Sugar Plums, I am certainly not looking forward to this one.

Needless to say, skipping the book is an easy way out but it is never an option I want to consider as I do not want to miss no action in this Plum series. So, I put my fast-as-lightning speed reading skills to good use and survive this short story through gritted teeth and pursed lips.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Review: Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum #12) by Janet Evanovich


5 stars for Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum book 12) by Janet Evanovich.

Thus far we know that Stephanie has feelings for two men and does not know how to choose between them. Well.. I'm not exactly sure if I belong to Camp Morelli or Camp Ranger either. So, that makes two of us!

In this instalment, it is good to know and be reminded that the Man of Mystery is, after all, a mortal. No, not Batman. And definitely not any one of the rest Superheroes either. Just like that, it becomes crystal clear to Stephanie on the one who holds the key to her heart.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review: Eleven on Top (Stephanie Plum #11) by Janet Evanovich


5 stars for Eleven on Top (Stephanie Plum book 11) by Janet Evanovich.

Stephanie Plum is one of those golden long-standing series with a plot that actually moves along and makes me look forward for more.

To date, I am happy with the series. However, as at this book in time, I do have a grievance. And a BIG one. That is, I am getting antsy with Stephanie and her mentor-protector-and-friend relationship with Ranger. Where is it all leading to?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Review: Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum #10) by Janet Evanovich


5 stars for Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum book 10) by Janet Evanovich.

When life gets a tad too monotonous, a tad too stressful and a tad too hard-to-handle, I tend to think of Stephanie Plum, my go-to Romantic Suspense series.

Ten Big Ones is certainly an uplifting, entertaining read. I wave goodbye to all my worries and troubles the moment I immerse myself in Plum's world.

The one character that the author has me there is without a doubt, the Man of Mystery. I love almost everything about him, from his Bat Truck to his mysterious Bat Cave.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: Grave Visions (Alex Craft #4) by Kalayna Price


4 stars for Grave Visions (Alex Craft book 4) by Kalayna Price.

An enjoyable, entertaining read that is worth the long wait of 3.5 years.

Grave Visions is a good story with snippets of interesting tidbits that help readers refresh their memories about the fae and faerie, that is, after discounting the one annoying character, the Winter Queen whose power and greatness I certainly do not see eye-to-eye on.

On the topic of Death.. ah... I never know Death, also known as the Grim Reaper or soul collector or what have you, can be one such mystical yet charming character until the Alex Craft series. Yes, I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of him in the next instalment.