Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

I love this week's teaser tuesday! I'm a huge fan of Kristin Hannah, and I'm so glad I managed to get my hands on a copy of her latest book (I think it's her latest book).

I won't waste anymore words. The teaser is:

"My audience wanted the fairy tale, so I gave it to them, and ours is an age of Disney tales, not Grimm's; evil has become animated lions and singing octopi. These new fairy tales are perfect for me." (Page 180-181)

Wheee, I love fairy tales!!

What is your teaser this week?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Savvy Chic by Anna Johnson

I saw this book... a few years ago I think. It was a month or two before I left Japan, so about 3 years? Anyway, I tend to be cautious about buying books (unless I'm in an airport bookstore, then it's "take a risk), and prefer to research about a book before I get it. This was one of the books that I put on my mental "to Google" list, and then promptly forgot about, with the excitement of moving to a new country.

When I saw this book in Scribd, and got a chance to read it as a part of the subscription library, I jumped at the chance. And well, I'm glad that I didn't plonk down the (rather substantial) amount of cash for this book back then.

Don't get me wrong, Savvy Chic is a nicely written book and I would have loved it - if I had a more bohemian style. While I admire the style, it's not something I wear, and the lifestyle is not something that I live. Which makes the book more or less useless to me.

I would have just enjoyed the book if it weren't for the fact that I disagreed strongly with a few points.

One piece of advice is
"When you throw a housewarming have each friend bring you a beautiful, completely individual wineglass and plate."
Admittedly, this is coming from a Singaporean point of view, but no. If I throw a housewarming, it's to celebrate my new house, and not to get something from my friends. If they ask what they should bring, that's another matter, but I won't demand things. I'd rather buy the wineglass and plate one at a time, while at flea markets and stuff.

Another would be her advice on bargaining. She advises you to bargain, but then remember, the store-owner has to make a living too! It's all very contradictory, and it confused me.

And there are other points, but those I disagreed with because I'm not bohemian, so it's really a personal thing.

Bottom line, if you're bohemian and proud of it, get the book. You'll probably love it. If you're like me, then you may just want to borrow the book first, to see whether it's worth it. Sure it's well-written and amusing, but if you're not going to use the advice, what's it for?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Long Summer's Day by R. F. Delderfield

I was approached to review this book because I had read (and loved) Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Are these two books similar? Well, they're both really long, and they tell a story of a period of a time rather than any one character.

Long Summer's Day follows Paul Craddock, who, after an injury, buys Shallowford and becoems Squire Craddock. The novel follows his life after becoming Squire, and how he impacts the tenants and inhabitants of valley, and how they impact him. While Paul is undeniably the top dog, so to speak, other main characters include Claire, Ikey, Rudd, and ok, there are a lot and I'm not going to list them here. It's through the collective story of these people that you get a sense of England in the early 1900s, and how they were (resisting) change.

My favourite character of this book is probably Claire. Although she did not feature prominently in the first half of the book (apart from the first few chapters), I liked her because of her generous nature. She has a really loving spirit, and is unflinchingly honest.

Curiously, I didn't like Grace, the feminist and women's suffrage campaigner even though, when I think about it, the two of them are quite alike. They both know what they want, although they want different things. Perhaps it's because most of the novel is seen through Paul's eyes, and Grace hurts Paul quite badly emotionally. Or it could because Grace was somehow too unique, and I didn't like her because I didn't understand her.

This is a long, winding read, and it's at its best when the author is just letting the story speak. At certain times, the author tries to give an overview of how all the character feels through a bird flying or something like that, and for that moment, it goes very close to the bother of pretentiousness. But thankfully, such moments are few, and the book is a lovely read because it manages to tell the tale of many people in a straightforward manner.

I would definitely recommend to fans of long reads like Fall of Giants. It's not a fast-paced adventure, but rather, follows the meandering road of a man's life.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

I heard about this book from Book Whales (click to read her review), and it intrigued me. Happily, the library had a copy ^^

The Murder Complex follows Zephyr James and Meadow Woodson, two very special individuals in a dystopian society run by an organisation (a government? Which is the correct term?) called the Initiative.. Zephyr is a Ward, which (as far as I can tell), means that he's an orphan and does the dirty work like clearing the corpses that build up. However, Zephyr has a secret - he kills people. He doesn't know why, but every now and then, he wakes up with a body lying next to him. Meadow is trying to help her family survive by taking a job with the Initiative. Thankfully, her father's training helped her to pass the test. But when Zephyr and Meadow meet, they discover (apart from the instant attraction on Zephyr's part) that something is going on behind the scenes. And it involves them.

Here's what I liked about the book:

Meadow's character. She's trained to survive (and that includes killing when necessary), and her character is exactly what you'd expect. She doesn't have a "hidden soft-side" or go teary-eyed and sentimental at the drop of a hat. In fact, she's quite hard-hearted when need be, and I thought it was very appropriate for someone with her background. Kudos to the author for not trying to soften her.

Zephyr and Talan's friendship. Talan is a friend of Zephyr, and I really liked seeing how these two people had such a strong bond. No, there wasn't any romance, just friendship. It was really really refreshing.

The mystery. There is a mystery in this book (though it's not a murder mystery), and I like how it unravelled. There were quite a few twists and turns, which made the book very addictive.

But, there were some things that I wasn't so crazy about. Like:

The instalove (Sorry Book Whales, I'm going to disagree with you here). I feel that, at least on Zephyr's side, the instalove was fairly strong. I mean, Zephyr has been dreaming of Meadow even before he met her, and he keeps talking about how perfect she is. Thankfully, Meadow didn't do the same, so I only had to endure this for Zephyr's half of the book.

The treatment of Meadow's mom. Without giving away spoilers, let's just say that I found the treatment of Meadow's mom to be too contradictory. Her character, and her relationship with Meadow seem to flip flop, and since it was part of the action-packed finale, was rather unconvincing.

Overall: I liked the book. I'll even read book 2 is I can get my hands on it (this feels like the start of a series). There might have been some things that I'm not crazy about, they weren't so major as to thoroughly dissuade me from continuing the series, or reading other books by this author.

If you're looking for a different opinion, try the review over at A Page of Heaven