Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Friday, 24 July 2020

[MPOV] Before the Coffee gets Cold

My rating: 4.5
Goodreads rating: 3.77/5
Publisher: Hanover Square Press (HarperCollins)
Published: November 17, 2020
Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Translator: Geoffrey Trousselot
Genre: Literary fiction, magical realism, time travel

What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer's, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

The above taken from Goodreads.

A special thanks to Edelweiss and Hanover Square Press for this e-book in return for my honest review.

This book has 4 short stories which revolves around a small cafe, the premise of the time travel. It's about 4 couples having issues with their relationships; with their significant other hoping to travel back in time to sort it out. Unfortunately, there are a few rules to adhere to such as not being able to change the present time and to drink up the coffee before it turns cold. With ideas of their own, each one was able to go back in time hoping to get some answers, if not relieving their regrets in order to move forward. Clang - dong ...

It's a simple premise with a simple story-line that is uniquely interesting and yet not foreboding that it engages it's audience. I liked the simplicity of it which gave the stories a realistic magical feel. It did started off with a little hitch, not sure if it's due to the translation but eventually it was relatively smooth until the end. Such heart-warming tales of life and regret, each one as heart-wrenching as the other. The way it was plotted with a well rounded closure made each story more engaging for me. Clang - dong ...

It is an easy read, definitely for those who wants a change of reading pace as it's easily finished in 2 seatings. Nothing ambiguous with a straightforward time travel albeit with many rules that I did enjoy. In fact, time travel is a genre not many authors could easily produce with ease. This is one exception. Short and sweet simplicity at it's best. Clang - dong ...

Drink the coffee before it gets cold - Kazu

“When in the presence of someone with whom you have a bond, and to whom you have entrusted your feelings, it is hard to lie and get away with it. The truth just wants to come flowing out. This is especially the case when you are trying to hide your sadness or vulnerability. It is much easier to conceal sadness from a stranger, or from someone you don't trust.” 

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

[MPOV] Shadow of the Hunter

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.53/5
Published: May 28th, 2020
Author: Su Tong
Translator: James Trapp
Genre: Chinese literature

Thank you to Sinoist Books and Netgalley for this e-book in return for my honest review.
Prey, Predator, Predator, Prey.
On this street, the hunters are also the hunted.

The people of China tell of an ancient tale, where the mantis hunts the cicada, unaware of the yellow bird behind him. In a small corner of her many cities, a random act of violence sets off a spinning top, entwining the lives of three people.

Baorun, the compulsive bondage expert, is forever aided and abetted by Liu Sheng, a brash troublemaker, to indulge in his obsessions; and the lady Fairy Princess, ever-youthful, becomes the target of the pair’s escalating antics.

As the years pass, many things begin to change, but in the dysfunctional world of a mental hospital at the end of Red Toon Street, just who is prey, and who is predator?
The above taken from Goodreads.

I don't read much Chinese literature hence I was skeptical to read this initially. At the start, I did find it quite an effort trying to get through the book as it kept mentioning about losing one's soul. It was kinda hard to trudge on and when it reached the 80 yuan bickering between Baorun with Fairy Princess, it slowly progressed to a more bearable story-line.

Thankfully, this is a well translated book with a simple yet poetic justice approach that made this book work. However, I did find there were too many fillers that sort of lengthen the book itself hence it is a rather thick read. It had me flipping through a lot wondering when it will end. Aside from that, it was illustrated nicely of the surroundings and plots with a straight worded descriptive prose.

It basically is about 3 person, split into 3 parts with their individual point of view. Baorun is from an average family with parents who doesn't heed the ancestors and a grandfather who was indirectly abandoned. A rude boy from young, he realized his potential in tying all kinds of knots. Liu Sheng is from a well respected family, well brought up with a good future. Fairy Princess, is the love interest of both Baorun and Liu Sheng, has a poor upbringing. An incident happened that led to Fairy Princess being tied up by Baorun and eventually raped by Liu Sheng. However, the event turned in to Liu Sheng's favour thus causing Baorun to be jailed instead. 

Overall, the book shares the indifference in culture, filial piety and civic consciousness of a small town. Most believing in their upbringing, praying to the God and respecting their ancestors and elderly. Bad luck and untoward wrath will come upon those who ignore. It sure seems like a book of mindful teaching with a philosophical approach to me, with Confucius, Buddhism and Christianity addled into this book.

I would recommend this book to someone who can patiently read through the story and understanding the moral of it all. It may be dark but it sure has lots of hidden messages and teachings to be digested. All in all, it eventually became a nice book to dwell on. I especially liked the third part, Fairy Princess' perils and dilemma. The ending was truly unexpected yet worth the effort to finally finished reading it. That twist though... so reminded me of Murakami's style of writing.

Some notable quotes:
Without their graves, ancestors become lonely souls and wandering ghosts, so how can they help you get your soul back?
When they tie someone up, it's like trussing  a pig; they're not nearly as good as you. Everyone says when you tie someone up it doesn't leave any marks.
Life is cheap and so is love; both can be discarded for money.
Whoever lights the first stick of incense for a newly dedicated bodhisattva will enjoy its protection for their whole life.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Books read in 2nd quarter of 2020

Here's a tabulation of books I've read in the second quarter of year 2020. Total books read is 8 as compared to first quarter of 10 books. I've been making good progress, hoping to achieve my target of 30 books this year :-)
I have slowed down in my reading especially during the 3 months lockdown aka MCO. Hopefully I'm able to pick it up since starting to go back to office and having to take the commute!

Thursday, 9 July 2020

[MPOV] Until It's Over: A Novel

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.61/5
Published: 28th July 2020
Author: Nicci French
Genre: Thriller, mystery, crime, suspense, fiction

Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow Paperbacks for this e-novel in return for my honest review.

There are 2 parts to this story with an epilogue at the end. The first part is from the victim's point of view and the second part is from the killer's. This novel is about a group of 7 housemates who are good friends with each other. Astrid (a bicycle messenger), Pippa (a lawyer), Owen (a photographer), Mike (ex-military), Dario (an addict) and Davy (a contractor) rented rooms from Miles who owns the house. It all started when Astrid met with an accident where a car door opens suddenly and she hits it while cycling home. The driver of the car was found dead the next day and a string of unfortunate events started to crop up with police linking it eventually to Astrid.

Part 1 sounds innocently enough with a few drama here and there whereas part 2 is much more sinister and dark. However I did feel that the point of view could have been done alternately instead of splitting it as is. It somehow felt lacking of it's usual thrill when the killer was revealed prematurely. I would have liked being kept guessing until toward the end LOL! Well, that's just me :-)

It was not as intense as their other books and I did not expect this to taper off midway. Thankfully it did picked up towards the end when the police found some connection elsewhere and slowly linked it back to who did it. The epilogue though was unnecessary for me. In fact, I've read it wrongly and mistaken that Emlyn was a female!!! Don't ask me why...

As usual, it's well written with some suspense that kept me reading and feeling intrigued. I wouldn't have known who the killer was as I kept guessing it wrong. When it was revealed so early, I was like 'what???'!!! Spoilt all the fun!!! Oh well, we can't have it all right?

Anyway, if you are looking for a light, straightforward and different kind of crime fiction, this is for you. I have read some of their other works and they are sinisterly disturbingly good! Nicci French is a pseudonym for Sean French and Nicci Gerard, a husband and wife team who write many mystery fiction together. They also do write separately. 

Good fences make good neighbours.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

[MPOV] Airport - Code Red

My rating: 2/5
Goodreads rating: 3.65/5
Published: July 14th, 2016
Author: James Patterson, Michael White
Genre: Crime, thriller, mystery fiction

James Patterson’s BookShots. Short, fast-paced, high-impact entertainment.

A major terrorist cell sets a devastating plan in motion. Their target? One of the world's busiest airports – London Churchill International Airport.

Retired SAS Captain Matt Bates and ex-Delta Force officer Chaz Shoeman find themselves caught up in the attack. And they are London’s only hope at stopping an atrocity that could kill thousands.

The above taken from Goodreads.

#tbntbookchallenge:
6) Non hefty reads month! Read a slim volume of poetry OR a novella

A book about terrorism, religious bombers and war veterans. Truly fast paced with action packed plots. It is a one seater kinda read as it's non-stop and packed a punch but it wasn't for me. More so with the limited reading time and a not so attractive genre for me. Also it's written with a more macho action theme with lots of war and fighting techs so having a tough time trying to digest it all.

'One of her mobile phones trilled.' First time encountering 'trilled' for such interpretation. Overall it wasn't my cup of tea hence the very slow time taken. Below a notable quote from the novella:
The hundreds of hostages are still at her mercy. She watched their terrified, pathetic faces and felt nothing but contempt. She was sick of the stink of them. They all deserved to die; all the Infidels deserved to die and the Caliphate would rule supreme as foretold, as Allah had intended it to be.

Monday, 22 June 2020

[MPOV] Daring and the Duke (The Bareknuckle Bastards # 3)

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 4.29/5
Published: June 30th, 2020
Author: Sarah MacLean
Genre: Historical romance, regency romance, fiction

I have received this e-ARC from Edelweiss in return for my honest review.

Daring and the Duke is actually book 3 of The Bareknuckle Bastards trilogy. The Bareknuckle Bastards consisted of Devon, Whit and Grace. The first 2 books were about Devon and Whit. This one is about Grace's eventual romance with Ewan and the finale. A closure for both in the end after many mishaps, face-off's and misunderstood conditions due to their late father's evil plan. 

I didn't realised this is book 3 but the title caught my eye LOL! As it was written with much detail, at some point it had me curious and want to know more! I didn't feel left out or anything as it was recapped nicely. With some loosen tease here and there, it got me worked up feeling intrigued, wanting to find out exactly what happened between Ewan and Grace.

The downside is, with much detail, it became repetitive. It was written in each other's point of view with both droning on and on about their past, each other's features, their current angst or regret or revenge and hope for the future. Hence I kept reading the same plot thoughts again and again which was kinda dragging for me at some point. However when they have passed all those bickering and started accepting each other, that moment on the flow was more fluid and more entertaining.

As the story progresses with Ewan using a different tack to get Grace, it gets better with some action packed too. I actually liked the story itself with Grace playing indirectly hard to get and Ewan's not so Duke's attitude trying to charm her. It sure feels right although the world Grace has built was somewhat similar to Kathryn Harvey's Butterfly. Though set in a different time with different characters, both owned similar 'prestigious pleasure ladies club' :-)

Some notable quotes:
You are a queen. Tonight, I am your throne.
He wanted to learn her maps - over slate tiles and around smokestacks - and hear ever tale she had to tell about the last twenty years. He wanted to make new maps. New tales.
He was a planet. She was the sun.
"Title first, last, and always," he said. "Heir, first, last, and always."
All in all, it's a 'happy ever after' historical novel with a different trope that is quite interesting and entertaining. If you liked a little extra spice in your romance then this is up your alley.

Some new words for me:
Megrims - depression, low spirits
Factotum - an employee who does all kinds of work
Bacchanal - a wild and drunken celebration
Arborist - tree surgeon
I loved you the moment I set eyees on you a lifetime ago, but what that was - it pales in comparison to how I love you now.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

[MPOV] Rosemary OR Too Clever to Love

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 4.46/5
Published: 11th May 2020
Author G.L. Robinson
Genre: Historical romance, regency romance

I've received this e-ARC from BookSirens in return for my honest review.

Rosemary is a young governess looking after Marianne Fairchild. Upon her father's death, Marianne has been left to her uncle, Earl of Tyndell, acting as her guardian until she marries.  Both Marianne and Rosemary have to shift over to the Earl's High House as her current house has been left to another cousin. Staying with Dear Uncle Giles (Marianne call's her uncle that)  proved to be difficult at first but slowly as they adapt, everything begins to fall into place nicely including a blossoming love between the Earl and the governess.

This is another prim and proper romance novel, no hanky panky of any sorts which was as subtle as it can be. There were some typos and lengthy fillers but overall a delight to read with a mixture of literature, music and some delightful banter with a little action towards the end. 

It has a typical attraction which slowly blossoms into love kinda story that has been written with a simple yet imaginative style. I've enjoyed how the shy attraction and innocence of romance grew without the rage of sex LOL! Definitely a nice change from the current modern takes. The drama may be a little predictable but it still has the effect it desired, a happy ever after ending :-)

A new word for me:
Encomium - a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly

Some notable quotes that caught my attention:
Here was a woman of education and opinions, forced into a situation of servitude. He suddenly felt sorry for her.
I'll be all prunes, prisms and proper for Dear Uncle Giles!
We love a person only on account of borrowed qualities - Pascal

Thursday, 28 May 2020

[MPOV] The Kite Runner

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.3/5
Published: May 29, 2003
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Asian literature, family fiction

#tbntbookchallenge:
5) Read a book set in the Muslim world OR by a Muslim writer

This novel is about Amir, narrated from his point of view, from his childhood days in Kabul with his best friend Hassan to his adulthood in USA where he settled down and married Soraya. It's a journey about friendship, brotherhood, family, dignity, honour, and regret.

This was the author's first book in which I find that it was written fluidly, as though it is his own memoir. So much details incorporated but with clarity that only a person who has witnessed firsthand would know. Apparently part of it was from the author's experience, the remaining plots and characters in the book are a work of fiction.

There were a few harrowing moments like when Amir was on the run from Kabul to Pakistan with his father and when Amir returned to Kabul to look for Hassan's son. Not forgetting what happened to Hassan when they were still boys that led to Amir's self-distancing and regret. All in all, it was an emotionally charged novel and upon reading chapter 13, it was the hardest as it made me cry. I loved how it ended, that tiny little hope that made it all worth it.

We have always read about the war in Afghanistan in the newspaper or watch it on the news but through this novel, I was introduced to Afghanistan before the war. It truly was a beautiful country with such wonderful culture and legacy. Too bad that the war has destroyed most of it. If you are like me, curious of it all then this novel is up your alley. Also Malaysia was mentioned once towards the end ;-)

Some notable quotes:
"For you a thousand times over."
"There is only one sin and that is theft... when you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth."
“Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don't have to say anything”
"A boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand up to anything." 
"I read once that, in Malaysia, they use kites to catch fish." 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

[MPOV] Rakes and Roses (Mayfield Family #3)

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 4.1/5
Published: February 2nd, 2021
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Genre: romance, historical romance, fiction, regency romance

Lady Sabrina was pregnant and a victim of abuse when she first encountered Harry Stillman at a party. Her husband, Richard, suddenly died of a heart attack after that and she had a miscarriage too so everything was left to her. A widow with her life and business rosy and flourishing until she met Harry again 6 years later. She found him in an alley beaten badly so she had taken him to her house to be healed. Slowly but surely, their friendship has started to grow the more they see each other but Sabrina has a secret which she does not want anyone to know including Harry.

My first proper romance after so long! And mind you, I've actually enjoyed it very much. I liked the innocence of it with a tinge of sexuality. The flow of the story was simple, not as dramatic yet exciting especially towards the end. I do, however, felt that the prose was a little too 'English' for me as it's long winded at some point with Harry and Sabrina's thoughts go round and round. In a way to elaborate or clarify the situation but it did felt a little too much for me at times. Other than that, it was a prim and proper regency romance novel.

The story itself was quite relatable such as abusive marriages, women empowerment, alcoholics and gamblers. Though it's set in regency era, it's still relevant now hence I can empathise the situation they were in. Also most romance novels nowadays are filled with sex plots to make the chemistry happens but I find that proper ones do too. This novel proves it with both Sabrina and Harry having so much attraction to each other without the usual sex before marriage plots. I liked that the innocence of it has been preserved here.

If you love romance novels, you should give this a try. You may think proper romance a nay in our current era but then wouldn't it be nice for a change to have something different. I do find it refreshing and fits regency era perfectly.

A few notable excerpts:
The door clicked closed behind Molly, and Sabrina moved to the window. It was a quarter moon tonight, the crisp sharpness of the outline making the night look like black ink against bright white paper. Sabrina was grateful for her life, her freedom, and her opportunities, and yet was she happy?
"I believe the only people who cannot change are those who are unwilling to face the pain behind the poor choices they have made. Certainly, there are those people. You, however, are not one of them."
"I managed to find a loophole in the will meant to keep me in. I was widowed without an heir for my husband and nothing he owned was entailed upon a male relative. The fact the he died before he found a way to keep me under someone else's power gave me a freedom very few women will ever know. I will never give up my power again. The very potential of the risk that would be is unacceptable to me. So, yes, I am lonely sometimes, but, no, that loneliness will not drive me to give up my rights to myself ever again."

Friday, 1 May 2020

MPOV: Revenge of the Elders of Zion

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.75/5
Publish: May 12th, 2020
Author: Dan Sofer
Genre: Dark comedy, satire, thriller

I've received this e-ARC in return for my honest review.

This novel is about David who lost his film company to a family friend, Preston, who has actually tricked and stolen it as he hated Jews. David, at the spur of a moment of revenge, then formed a secret society named The Trio with his best buddies, Mitchell and Jordan. He was hoping to join in the big Jew league, Elders of Zion, but it didn't exist. Instead, he and his buddies were caught in a Muslim Elders of Zion which led to a heist that includes the police but got tangled with another secret society, a Christian one called the Knights Templar. Suddenly The Trio becomes famous and both societies want them to do their respective dirty bidding. As it becomes more complicated with more casualties, The Trio got more than what they had bargained for with the police hot on their heels!

It started off a little slow with David licking his wound and planning a revenge. Slowly but surely though, The Trio's journey became more dangerous with more casualties involved. It has made the story more enjoyable with the various paths crossed and some tangled romance with a few tease of funny flair. Although some plots were predictable, it was still enjoyable and had me flipping fast to know the ending.

The thrill of the adventure leading from one secret society to the other was definitely engaging. I've enjoyed how The Trio wriggled their way from the Muslims to the Christians to the Tsarlandia and even the police! And it is all for the Faberge Eggs collection and the Holy Prepuce! The adventure may seemed far-fetched or over exaggerated but that's what makes this novel tick! With the author's writing flair and good plotting, this novel honestly was enthralling!

The goofiness of the characters and the overall comedic scenes had me thinking of Seth Rogen as David and Amy Adams as Amy / Mary! If you have enjoyed stories like The Princess Bride, Good Omens and Catch-22, you might just like this one!

Finally, here's an excerpt of David's thought:

Thursday, 23 April 2020

World Book Day!

So World Book Day falls on 23rd this month and not forgetting that Kuala Lumpur has been named by UNESCO as World Book Capital 2020!!! Please encourage your family, loved ones and friends to read, read, read! Just pick up a book and read, no harm done........ only adding more vocabs, knowledge or fantasy into your brain!

Just so you know, I've read 10 books in the first quarter of 2020!
Definitely hope I can achieve my goal of 30 books this year! I have been setting them at 35 for the past 2 years but somehow I can never achieved it! Always short of a few due to reading slump........ what a bummer.

If you like to dress up your e-reader when reading then you can check out Nyc Nat Nook's booksleeve! Current size available is 4" x 6" which fits any standard size e-readers:

Sunday, 19 April 2020

MPOV: Ikigai

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.8/5
Published: April 2016
Author: Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
Translated: Heather Clearly
Genre: Self-help, non-fiction

The people of Japan believe that everyone has an ikigai – a reason to jump out of bed each morning. And according to the residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa – the world’s longest-living people – finding it is the key to a longer and more fulfilled life. Inspiring and comforting, this book will give you the life-changing tools to uncover your personal ikigai. It will show you how to leave urgency behind, find your purpose, nurture friendships and throw yourself into your passions.

The above taken from Goodreads.

#tbntbookchallenge:
4) Read a non-fiction book on meditation OR mindfulness
Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years - Japanese proverb
Ikigai roughly means 'the happiness of always being busy'. It's a simple analogy of staying happy and having a fulfilled life to live to a hundred years old. According to the book, the keys to longevity are diet, exercise, ikigai and strong social ties. Not forgetting 'hara hachi bu' which means to fill your belly to 80% so as not to over eat. Also stress is one of the main killer of longevity and sleep is a key anti-aging tool. 'A sound mind in a sound body' with 'a positive attitude and a high degree of emotional awareness' also help in maintaining a healthy fulfilling life.

Both authors have collected various researches and findings related to ikigai and compiled it into this book. With so many outcomes, even if it's not 100% proof worthy, I did find it agreeable as it's logically true. Their study leads them to various places especially to the famous Village of Longevity - Ogimi, Okinawa, where the residents live a very long and fulfilled life. They included their stay and outcome at Ogimi in the book, halfway towards the end.

I liked the objective of this book with many researches and fact findings shared with so many references to actual results. They all shared the same end in mind which is to find one's life purpose and to live a long healthy life. They have shared many ways, thoughts and therapies to achieve both those purposes.

My take on this in summary: Self-discipline is of utmost importance and single filed mind is the best to be fully productive as opposed to multi-tasking. We may have many ikigai's but doing it one at a time, fully focus at each one and diligently is the best. Too many distractions in life such as soc-med will disrupt our concentration so to tone down our mind and hone our skill by doing meditation and ritual of sorts like a simple exercise, yoga, qigong and tai chi to name a few.

Points to note: a healthy diet consists of natural antioxidants such as tofu, tuna, carrots, cabbage and seaweed with lots of white and green tea preferably sanpin-cha (jasmine tea) are encouraged. Apparently sanpin-cha helps to reduce the risk of heart attack, strengthening the immune system, helping relieve stress and lowering cholesterol.

Hector and Francesc ended this book with a summary:
Stay active and don't retire; take it slow; don't fill your stomach; surround yourself with good friends; get in shape for your next birthday; smile; reconnect with nature; give thanks; live in the moment & follow your ikigai.

Some notable quotes:
One way to reach a state of mindfulness is through meditation, which helps filter the information that reaches us from the outside world. It can also be achieved through breathing exercises, yoga and body scans.
He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how ~ Nietzsche
Sunday neurosis, for example, is what happens when, without any obligations and commitments of the workweek, the individual realizes how empty he is inside. He has to find a solution. Above all, he has to find his purpose, his reason for getting out of bed - his ikigai.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. ~ Aristotle
Other studies indicate that working on several things at once lowers our productivity by at least 60% and our IQ by more than 10 points. 
The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for ~ Washington Burnap 
References shared in this book:
Logotherapy: It helps you find reasons to live (Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl)
Frankl realized he had been the first patient of his own practice. He had a goal to achieve and it made him persevere during his detention at Auschwitz.

Morita therapy: Accept their emotions without trying to control them (Morita Therapy and the True Nature of Anxiety-Based Disorders by Shoma Morita)
Morita therapy is not meant to eliminate symptoms; instead it teaches us to accept our desires, anxieties, fears and worries, and let them go.

The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.

Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe
To use the principle of "compass over maps" as a tool to navigate our world of uncertainty.

Anti-fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better."

Thursday, 9 April 2020

MPOV: Silenced for Good

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.5/5
Publish: April 14, 2020
Author: Alex Coombs
Genre: Thriller, mystery, crime fiction

Detective Hanlon is addicted to violence. She likes the rush, the danger, the losing control...

When Hanlon is suspended from the force for assaulting a suspect, she escapes to the remote Scottish island of Jura, home to the mysterious Corryvreckan whirlpool.

But wherever Hanlon goes, violence is sure to follow.

As soon as she checks into The Mackinnon Arms, Hanlon senses something isn't quite right about the staff at her home for the week.

Sure enough, within days of arriving, the body of a member of staff is found floating in the sea. While police believe she was claimed by the local whirlpool, Hanlon isn't so sure.

As she pieces together the evidence, dark secrets begin to unravel. Can Hanlon work out what is going on before another floating body is found...?

The start of a gripping new crime series, perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza and Lisa Regan.

The above taken from Goodreads.

Thanks to Netgalley and Boldwood Books for this e-ARC in return for my honest review.

I was attracted to the cover first and then the summary of the novel which I had hoped it would be as intense. However it has actually turned out to be the opposite.

Basically it's about a woman cop, who is on suspension over her use of power and excessive violence, sent on a vacation to loosen up but had instead stumbled upon 2 deaths, a sex party and drug dealings.

I didn't enjoy it as much especially with the way it was written. It did feels like the author was trying very hard to impress the readers with the beautiful landscape of the story. It makes the novel more overbearing with words which became quite a handful to read at times. At one point, it was unrealistic for a first timer not to be hooked on drugs but I could be wrong since I've not had any before.

Thankfully the actual gist of the story was interesting and I did want to know the ending especially with so many suspects. It did some twist and turns which had me guessing who did it and eventually leading me to think it has to be her but I never expected them! When the story proceeded towards the end, it gets so much better with more intensity. I am satisfied with that ending but I would think there would be a sequel. I'm sure there will be more of Hanlon as an over-stressed has-been ex-cop.
The sea's the sea where it's the Baltic or the Atlantic.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

MPOV: Crooked Kingdom (The Six of Crows Duology #2)

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.6/5
Published: September 27, 2016
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy fiction, young adult

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets - a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

The above taken from Goodreads.

This is the closure I've been waiting for. After 2 failed attempts to bring down Jan Van Eck and Pekka Rollins for cheating and lying to them, the third time is either a charm or a fool which Kaz had to risk taking. The deal is the deal. Brick by brick.

Leigh Bardugo is smart. She made sure every plot is just right, not more not less. The way she planned the events and the characters with precision that I can't even complaint. As per book 1, I totally liked the way she wrote the story, each with their own point of view which is why I did not get lost even with so many characters in it!

Although Kaz seemed to be the most brutal but he's still a kid with a fear to confront with and still has compassion for his loyal buddies. He's actually the most vulnerable of them all and I so feel for him. Especially when he wanted to touch and be with Inej but his fear keeps taking over the better of him... gosh that was filled with anguished broken sadness!

With a few unexpected plot twists, the momentum felt here was not as great as book 1 but it still gives the depth and closure I wanted. I would have wanted more of some and less of others but then it can't be perfect or we would not have enjoyed it at all. The love, the loss and the lack of it all made the book worthwhile to finish!

Some notable quotes to end this post:

Thursday, 12 March 2020

MPOV: Six of Crows (The Six of Crows Duology #1)

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.46/5
Published: September 29, 2015
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Fiction

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

The above taken from Goodreads.

#tbntbookchallenge:
3) Read a children's book OR a YA book that's been on your TBR

This book has been on my TBR pile for ages so when I saw this challenge, I just had to go with this after pondering it for a few days. Oh boy, it's definitely worth it as I was taken into a new world, a magical universe that I was so into it!

Kaz aka Dirtyhands recruited a small crew to handle an impossible job in favour for a huge payout which will make all of  them rich beyond their wildest dreams. The crew accepted it without much qualms as they have faith in Kaz. Also being able to pay off their respective debts and be free is the key motivation for Jasper, Nina and Inej. Matthias wants his pardon and out of jail card. Wylan, on the other hand, just wanted to belong somewhere. Each with their own delectable skills, albeit some doubts about the job, they managed to get through it all as a team and not forgetting their ruthless impossible journey!

I loved how the story progresses with each character building and Leigh Bardugo has planned the plots so seamlessly that everything felt so real! Though Kaz is the protagonist, the story was told in 6 different viewpoints, each reliving their true background with more depth that I was impartial to them. The way she has written it was so easily understood, without much confusing flair. I can so imagined it overall especially Kaz whom I thought Jared Leto would fit easily. Also Zoe Kravitz would be the perfect Inej. Dave Bautista would be an excellent Matthias!

It did started of kinda slow but slowly in building up the momentum and there were many highs after that. If you enjoy fantasy with such unique characters, this is one you should not miss. I've not read Leigh's famous Grishaverse novels i.e. Shadow and Bone trilogy but now I'm intrigued and curious of her other books. I can't wait to start on Crooked Kingdom, the second and final book for this duology.

Some notable quotes:
It's time to pay your debts, Kaz. You never get something for nothing.

Brick by brick, I will destroy you!

The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.

Trickery is not my native tongue, but I may learn to speak it yet.

I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.

When they took everything from you, you found a way to make something from nothing.


Thursday, 27 February 2020

MPOV: Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.48/5
Published: May 26, 2020
Author: Abigail Wilson
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery, regency romance

In this new Regency romance, Elizabeth knows she must protect her heart from the charm of her new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life.When the widowed Lord Torrington agreed to spy for the crown, he never planned to impersonate a highwayman, let alone rob the wrong carriage. Stranded on the road with an unconscious young woman, he is forced to propose marriage to protect his identity and her reputation, as well as his dangerous mission.

Trapped not only by her duty to her country but also by her limited options as an unwed mother, Miss Elizabeth Cantrell and her infant son are whisked away to Middlecrest Abbey by none other than the elder brother of her son's absent father. There she is met by Torrington's beautiful grown daughters, a vicious murderer, and an urgent hunt for the missing intelligence that could turn the war with France. Meanwhile she must convince everyone that her marriage is a genuine love match if her new husband has any hope of uncovering the enemy.

Determined to keep her son's true identity a secret, Elizabeth will need to remain one step ahead of her fragile heart, her uncertain future, and the relentless fiend bent on her new family's ruin.

The above taken from Goodreads.
Thanks to Netgalley for this e-ARC in return for my honest review.

An interesting plot where a forced marriage of convenience took place between Adrian and Elizabeth. When a murder happens at Middlecrest Abbey, Adrian and Elizabeth spent lots of time together trying to solve it to find the murderer. With lots of enthralling adventure together, the masquerade eventually turns into a reality with both Adrian and Elizabeth falling in love!

The adventure, the mystery, the treachery... I'm surprised to find such exciting plots in this historical romance! I honestly loved the way it was written with much gusto and yet paced accordingly. Abigail Wilson is truly a wonderful author, able to get me on my toes and have my full attention until the end! It's a sex-less romance book too so it caught me by surprise as it's still as romantic and engaging! A sexy yet elegant read at that.

From the start, I'm not sure even why but I have Liam Neeson in mind as Adrian. The way he speaks and behave just had me there as Adrian and the whole book seems more realistic, imagining Liam plotting through the story LOL! Adrian is so endearing and understanding (not forgetting very handsome as it was repeatedly mentioned by Elizabeth) that I was so annoyed with Elizabeth for thinking too much!!!

This is the only part I wasn't completely happy about, Elizabeth's doubtful mind! Most of the time, I felt like shouting at her, telling her to move on and be honest with Adrian! Gosh, it sure tires me to even just think of it! I know, it's just part of the story, LOL! I rarely get so emotional reading a book but this definitely riled me up! So it's that good ya...

All in all, it's a wonderful love story worth my time reading it and totally enjoyed it to the tee! Here are a couple of excerpts...

*Adding Abigail Wilson into my favourite author list*

Monday, 24 February 2020

MPOV: The Sea

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4/5
Published: February 14th, 2020
Author: Sophie Jupillat Posey
Genre: Short story, novella, fiction

Forty-year-old Amos Heinig avoids family, society, and emotional conflicts. People bring far too much drama, as if he doesn't have enough of his own. The ultra-realistic nightmares he's been having for as long as he can remember have made his isolationist existence nearly unbearable. After each bizarre, visionary dream in which the wild, untamed ocean rises up and destroys humanity, he wakes in his bed, drenched in seawater. All he wants is to forget the dreams and avoid the sea at all costs.

Surprising himself, he attends his nephew's birthday party and reconnects with his relatives. During the party, he learns that his sister not only knows about his strange visions, but that the gift runs in the family. In his worst nightmare, Amos discovers his own unique legacy as the lines between dream and reality become muddled. He alone recognizes the dire omens for humanity. Amos’s empathy is tested in the most terrifying way possible and a new, urgent purpose catapults him into action.

Can a force of nature, subject only to time and the tides, ever be patient, persuaded, let alone subdued? Or will Amos's efforts only delay the inevitable desolation and ruin of the entire human race?

The above taken from Goodreads.
I've received this e-ARC from BookSirens in return for my honest review.

This was an unexpected short read for me. It turns out that this novella is more about saving the earth with a hero in direct liaison with Mother earth. He's trying to convince her not to destroy the human race as humans have been destroying the earth slowly but surely.

I was attracted to the cover hence the requisition and here I thought a novella, short and sweet. Well, I was wrong to assume as although it was short and sweet, it did carry some important messages especially with regards to saving the earth.

Overall, it was well written, well expressed with a melancholy feel. It's well rounded with a good intent which I've enjoyed. Having able to relate to it since it's also our current global warming issue, I think most of us can resonate with this.

Some notable quotes which you can gauge of the novella:


Friday, 21 February 2020

MPOV: The Princess Bride

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.26/5
Published: 1973
Author: William Goldman
Genre: Romance, fantasy, adventure fiction

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

The above taken from Goodreads.

#tbntbookchallenge:
2) Buddy-read a love story OR a book about redemption
Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Inconceivable! 
OMG, this 2 phrases were repeated non-stop! It actually made the book more funny and not annoying at all LOL! It's such an endearing read that truly had me engaged from the start until the end. I've not watched the movie so I had no idea what it was all about but I've heard many rave reviews from the book club I'm in. Also, this month's #tbntbookchallenge is to buddy-read a love story so I jumped on the Romance Book Discussion's bandwagon since it is their featured book for discussion.

This book is a summarized version of S. Morgenstern's The Princess Bride. According to William Goldman, it's filled with lots of unnecessary fillers which will bore any readers to death. His father read to him when he was young and he was so intrigued by it so he decided to gift the same book to his son. However, his son was so bored with it that he did not finished it. William found out why later on... unknowingly, his father had actually read all the good parts and left out all the boring ones.This has prompted him to recollect it all, only the good parts, and compiled it into this book.

The book started off with William's discovery of the good parts and what the book actually consisted that leads to this reconstruction. Interestingly, he has clearly summarized and explained in detail of what actually went on in the original classic part by part. He stayed true to the original story and only add in his thoughts, his narration so to speak, which was so quirky yet funny!

The story itself was predictable for some parts like who's the man in black and who hired the trios to kidnap Buttercup. I just couldn't fathom some parts like when the man in black rescued Buttercup, why couldn't she recognized the voice as Westley's. Also, Westley is the captain of his ship and he's not been back to his ship for so long so how come the pirates didn't come looking for him or sailed away? There were some mind nibbling here and there but then I guess it's just a story after all!

Some classified it as a love story but overall, it has everything! From adventure to sci-fi to thriller, it has every genre in bite size to fill everyone's palette. The ending though, I think some current authors have followed such satirical ending which I didn't like. It's open-ended, hanging, without a closure. Other than that, I've enjoyed this book tremendously!

Some notable quotes:



Monday, 17 February 2020

MPOV: Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)

My rating 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.18/5
Published: February 18, 2020
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Genre: Historical romance

Everything has a price...

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her...

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun...

The above taken from Goodreads.
I've received this e-ARC from Edelweiss in return for my honest review.

OMG! My first Lisa Kleypas and it has blown me away! Albeit a Ravenels no 6! Totally standalone and I could pick up the plots easily. I would say 80% was enthralling, 20% was a little slow especially during the wedding and honeymoon. Overall, it was engaging and exciting! Now I need to look up for more Lisa Kleypas and the previous Ravenels!!!

This book did reminds me of Fifty Shades of Grey LOL! Tom sure did feels like Christian but in a more humanly way. Cassandra is definitely more vivacious compared to Anastasia. It's a case of opposites attract and the attraction had many obstacles which made the novel more interesting. I'm in awe with all the scientific/mathematics included in a romance novel! This truly had me at wow!

I've enjoyed how it was written, plotted and paced. Lisa is definitely at her element and I can safely say that she's been added to my 'favourite romance author' list :-) It's her way with words, so naturally yet truly engaging. Had me wanting to finish it sooner but then life still has to go on LOL! I can imagine it while reading which is a plus point for me! And yes, Man of Steel's Henry Cavill was my Tom Severin LOL!!!

Some notable quotes:





Overall, I've totally liked that there were many references to famous authors and novels during then. Such awesomeness that it has been incorporated in which I felt the relevance of it and so realistic too. Definitely a novel worth reading!


Friday, 14 February 2020

International Book Giving Day and Happy Valentine's Day

It is International Book Giving Day today! Not forgetting it's Valentine's Day too! So kill 2 birds with 1 stone by gifting a book to your loved one today!

In view of this special day, there is a book giveaway to a lucky commenter on Nyc Nat Nook's Instagram! It will be picked by using a Random Number Generator! This giveaway ends on 29th February 2020 and the winner will be announced on 3rd March!

So go ahead and try your luck here but make sure to read the T&C first:
https://www.instagram.com/nycnatnook/

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