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..........

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Sew: Face Masks

I have been diligently sewing of late. Somehow wasn't in the mood for cross-stitch nor crochet. I've been sewing face masks for the family since it is the new normal to wear a face mask whenever we are out. So a reusable face mask is the best choice for the environment hence I've been sewing fabric face masks. What I've used:
  • 100% cotton fabric
  • elastic band
I have been sewing based on the first pattern where I've gotten the template from Crafts Passion. And then I discovered a tutorial from Maker's Habitat which I have preferred so gonna make more based on the second one! So excited and looking forward to more weekends of sewing!
American cotton fabric which I've bought aeons ago!

Cotton fabric from Fabric Fanatics

Cotton fabric from Fabric Fanatics

Cotton fabric I've bought from aeons ago!

Cotton fabric from Maker's Habitat

I just loved these bees from Fabric Fanatics!

My haul from Maker's Habitat

My haul from Fabric Fanatics

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.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

RMCO: Back to office

Finally, my 'work from home' era has ended and I'm back to office this week. It was a harrowing thought at first having to travel to work via public transport but thankfully, it has been a pleasant experience thus far. 

In this 'new normal', scanning of QR code or writing in the log book where ever we go to plus wearing our face mask is becoming the norm. Face mask has in fact evolved as one of our daily essential to bring along! I've decided to sew my own face mask for a more environment friendly use. Thankfully I have some 100% cotton fabrics so sewing a few to test it out. The only problem I encountered now is the elastic band as it's not feasible for long use and it hurts my ear. So I'm looking for other ways to make it less painful to wear :-)

Face mask pattern is from www.craftpassion.com

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.

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