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

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

[MPOV] Surviving Tomorrow

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3/5
Publisher: Aeristic Press, 25 & Y, Valeron and Boralis Books
Published: Jun 1st, 2020
Edited by: Brian Thomas Schmidt
Genre: speculative fiction, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy, anthology

Thanks to Peter J. Wacks and team for this e-book in return for my honest review.

SURVIVING TOMORROW is a collection of 29 stories about survivors 
by writers like Neil Gaiman, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Cory Doctorow,
Robert Silverberg, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Andrew Mayne,
Scott Sigler, Orson Scott Card, Alan Dean Foster, A.C. Crispin, and more.
All profits go to providing COVID-19 tests directly to the front lines of this crisis.


Surviving Tomorrow is a collection of 29 short stories from various author's like Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Scott Sigler and many more. With such anthology, we have the chance to read many types of stories in various genre's and writing styles since it's from different authors. Overall, it's such a refreshing read about survival in one form or another and getting into momentum to read it as fast and as many since I can stop at any section easily and won't get hung up LOL! It's a mixture of dystopian, science fiction and speculative fiction kinda anthology which suit many palates or taste buds. I have enjoyed going through each story and liked that it is brief (although there were a few which was more of a novella) and not as over-empowering. Definitely great for a fast and easy kinda read.

This anthology is in support of COVID-19 relief and tests provided directly to the frontlines of this crisis. To know more, please click on the website below:

Thursday, 27 August 2020

[MPOV] Ghost Knight

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.71/5
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
Published: 2012
Author: Cornelia Funke
Translator: Oliver Latsch
Illustrator: Andrea Offermann
Genre: Young adult, mystery fiction, fantasy, paranormal

#tbntbookchallenge:
8) Read a ghostly book OR a food memoir

I've picked this ghostly book for #tbntbookchallenge and I have not regretted it at all. I had a few in mind but this hardcover was the prettiest of them all! Thankfully, a spark joy cover with a spark joy story!

Jon is an 11 year old boy going through a hard time accepting his mother's boyfriend, Matthew. His father has passed away earlier on and he doesn't want Matthew to replace his father. He has even nicknamed Matthew as The Beard. With more trouble and mischief, his mother finally sent him to a boarding school. Unfortunately a new trouble started brewing at this boarding school when Jon is being hunted by a ghost who kept calling him Hartgill! Coincidentally, his mother's surname is Hartgill. He found comfort with a new friend named Ella and together they embarked in an enthralling journey of ghosts, mysteries and murders.

As it's a book for young adults, I have expected it to be a breezy read. I did not expect it to be distinctly English and yet easily absorbed. I could imagine the story itself with a little help from the many lovely illustrations. Overall it was an entertaining book which I've thoroughly enjoyed. As the print on the cover says it: 'A perfect English ghost story.'

I liked that it touches on relevant issues faced by many young teens and the way it intertwined, coming in full circle was a really good one. Jon having trouble accepting a new stepfather but in the end having to solve the mystery with the said stepfather, who would have thought that? A strong female character, Ella, helped to balance the story as Jon's partner in crime, touché!
"My best friend is a girl," I said. "And you know her uncle. In fact, you're going to marry him."
It did slow down a bit at times especially when Jon was overthinking but the overall momentum was good enough to keep me entertained. I honestly liked the illustrations which were simple yet adorable!
I saw Longespee leaning against the wall. He looked so much like a living man that it was hard for me to believe he'd been dead for centuries.
"You are my squire, Jon Whitcroft," he answered. "You can call me any time. And I, you."
I have yet to read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy (I've watched the movie many times as I love it!) which has been on my TBR pile for a long time. I guess it is time to bump it up! Anyway, if you are looking for something light yet with some mystery, Ghost Knight is a good pick :-)

Friday, 21 August 2020

[MPOV] The Magnolia that Bloomed Unseen

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.5/5
Publisher: Kindle
Published: November 7, 2019
Author: Ray Smith 
Genre: Romance, historical fiction

"You've seen the woman in the photo. The woman screaming ..."

So begins the story of Molly Valle, who at forty-eight thinks she knows all that life has to offer a single, middle-aged woman - namely, men’s dismissal and disrespect. But when handsome activist John Pressman arrives in her Mississippi hometown, he challenges her self-doubt along with nearly everything else in her world. Soon, Molly discovers a strength and beauty she never knew she had—and a love so powerful, it can overcome the most tragic of consequences.

The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen is a love story, an adventure novel, and a self-realization journey. It reignites the truth that many women—and men—have unconsciously extinguished: you are special and worthy of love, and it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.

Thank you to Ray Smith and Netgalley for this e-book in return for my honest review.

This romance novel is about Molly and John, told from Molly's point of view from the moment they met until that tragic day. RC is a writer/journalist whom Molly has met when he was still schooling. In her advance years, Molly has appointed RC to write her story, her biography.

It has been a short romantic journey from the day Molly and John met, albeit a tumultuous one during the apartheid movement filled with racism obstacles. The Magnolia that Bloomed Unseen is unlike any other romance novels so do not expect a happy ever after ending.

It's written in alternate point of views between Molly, John and RC though mostly from Molly. It did digress a lot about insecurities, self-worth and appreciation to life with how their relationship brought out the best of each other. As it was set in Martin Luther King's era, racism and the treatment of coloured people then were the centre of the plot.

Though it was well written with a clear, distinct prose, well described and mesmerizing, at some point some parts were kinda slow and it did droned on a little too much that it felt repetitive for me. Fortunately, the story itself did intrigued me and I wanted to know the ending which turned out to be unexpected for me.

Overall, this novel is like any other romance novels written by a male author. I just had not expected the depth and the message it carried. It has hit a spot for me as a middle-aged woman after reading this novel and made me realized my many hidden dreams. I guess it is time to rethink my future again.

Some notable quotes:



Wednesday, 12 August 2020

[MPOV] Who Wants to Marry a Duke? (Duke Dynasty #3)

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.07/5
Publisher: Kensington Books
Published: August 25th, 2020
Author: Sabrina Jeffries 
Genre: Historical romance, regency romance

A past kiss with adorably bookish Miss Olivia Norley should be barely a memory for Marlowe Drake, the Duke of Thornstock. After all, there are countless debutantes for a handsome rakehell to charm beyond a young lady whose singular passion is chemistry—of the laboratory type. But Thorn has not forgotten—or forgiven—the shocking blackmail scheme sparked by that single kiss, or the damage caused to both their names. Now Thorn's half-brother, Grey, has hired the brilliant Miss Norley for her scientific expertise in solving a troubling family mystery. And the once-burned Thorn, suspicious of her true motives, vows to follow her every move...

For Olivia, determining whether arsenic poisoning killed Grey's father is the pioneering experiment that could make her career—and Thorn's constant presence is merely a distraction. But someone has explosive plans to derail her search. Soon the most unexpected discovery is the caring nature of the reputed scoundrel beside her—and the electricity it ignites between them...

The above taken from Goodreads.

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

A lady of science unexpectedly gotten tangled with a handsome duke at a ball and was coerced into asking for her hand in marriage. They met again 9 years after she has rejected his proposal and yet their attraction for each other has not ceased. She is on her way to be a prestigious chemist whilst he is a rakehell but their paths crossed again when she was hired by his half-brother to uncover a family mystery. Slowly but surely they became tangled again and this time with much to desire upon!

This turns out to be an engaging and enthralling read! A third book from the Duke Dynasty, it was well written that I could follow through even though I have not read the first 2 books. I have enjoyed how the story panned out and I didn't expect such an adventure with some 'Agatha Christie' in a regency romance novel! Not forgetting the leading lady has spine, strong willed with ambition that made the difference.

My first Sabrina Jeffries and I find the story refreshing. Her take was a little too modern at times and yet thankfully it did had me wanting to finish it soonest just to know the ending, even though we knew it is definitely a 'Happy ever after' one :-) The way she portrayed the leading lady, though modernised yet induced with some feminine characteristics of that era.

I only find the couple talk or think too much especially during their coupling moments LOL! So much going through their respective minds during such ecstatic times! Oh well, I guess it sort of fitted in the perspective of their dilemma that made the story more endearing. 

That ending though, I was so hoping to know who did it! Instead it is open ended leading to the next Duke Dynasty book. It includes a teaser chapter of the next eligible duke, The Last Duke Standing coming in Summer 2021!!! Can't wait for it to debut soon so that I can have my closure, who did it?!

Some notable quotes for me:
God, he must have been a heedless arse nine years ago not to have seen her unusual qualities. Now he knew how to appreciate a woman as unique as she, no matter how badly she danced or what lapses she had in following societal rules.
But the rest of the truth is more selfish - I want to marry you out of a thoroughly ignoble impulse to have you in my bed whenever I wish. Does that make you feel any better about my marriage proposal?
It's clear I will never gain your respect, much less your love. And I find I require both of those for a marriage, after all.
And yes, he loved Olivia. She was the ink in his well, the quill in his hand.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

[MPOV] A Map of Days (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #4)

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.14/5
Publisher: Penguin Group
Published: Oct 2, 2018
Author: Ransom Riggs
Genre: Fantasy, young adult, paranornal fiction

The #1 bestselling series returns with a thrilling new story arc set in America!

Vintage photographs reveal the never-before-seen world of peculiar America with a stunning addition—full-color images.

Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.

Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.

Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.

The above taken from Goodreads.

#tbntbookchallenge:
7) Read an Award-winning Fantasy OR a book with Magical Realism

I am way overdue on this after having too many e-ARC's on queue! My bad as I was like 'keyboard trigger happy' requesting more than I should have during the recent lockdown! So trying to read as fast and as much as I can now since I'm also busy sewing face masks which is not helping much!

Anyway, I am truly surprised when I got to know of the fourth book as it had ended well for me in Library of Souls. So I did wonder what is there to share more in this fourth book and I hoped it wouldn't be another drag. Thankfully it didn't and it delivered a well rounded ending for me albeit a cliffhanger leading to book no. 5.

A Map of Days takes us back to Jacob's home soil in Florida, America. It is told from Jacob's point of view of his peculiar friends' visit and their impromptu adventure after discovering his grandfather's secret room. From there on they have encountered more helpful peculiars and also some evil ones who wanted to profit more. Their adventures had them travelling all over the US and Jacob is getting the hang of it, thinking he is reliving his grandfather's legacy.

It did started out to be a little mono dragging from one character to the other. However once they have discovered Abe's secret room, the pace started to pick up with the adventure kicking in. Lots of discoveries with lovely vintage photos to go with really does help the envisioning of the plot itself hence made it really realistic.

It has been a joy to read this which was engaging and had me reading until the end. With Abe's secret revealing more and more, it sure shows how much he hasn't told Jacob which lead to Jacob tumbling and rushing to find out more. When Jacob was more determined to lead the mission and stray away from Miss Peregrine, it did seemed like he's trying so much to be like his grandfather. However I totally didn't expect the ending to be as such as I wanted closure and not another book LOL!

Some notable quotes with reference to Jacob's dilemma:
"We're not their equals, Jacob. And you aren't, either. I mean, it's really great what you did for everybody in the Library of Souls, but just because you're a famous hero and people want your autograph doesn't mean you're as important as an ymbryne."

"Don't be purposely thick," said Enoch. "We could have started a war."

"You're not Abe Portman and you're never going to be. So why don't you just stop trying."

So here we are wondering when the fifth book will be out..........

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.


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