Monday, November 24, 2014

Release Day Party: Winter Wolf by R.J. Blain

Friends! Remember when I reviewed Inquisitor by R.J. Blain? And how I gushed about it? Well, I'm participating in her Winter Wolf release day party today, so prepare for more gushing!

Winter Wolf is the second in the Witch and Wolf series (the first book being Inquisitor). It features a whole new set of characters, but it's just as gripping and entertaining as the first.

The protagonist of Winter Wolf is Nicole, who's hiding a secret - she's a wizard. That means she can control electricity, and that if the Inquisition finds out who she is, she'll be executed. As a struggling actress without a voice, she's surprised when one day, she's picked for a major role. At the same time, a young man dies next to her, and several attempts were made on her life. Oh, and did I mention that her family is fenerec (werewolf) and that she wants to help to cure the plague that's killing them slowly? And let's not forget the serial killer!

Woah, that's a lot of stuff in one book. You might think that the pacing would be affected, but everything ties together in one seamless read. One event leads to another, and the consequences carry over.

Oh, and if you're like me, the name Winter Wolf is going to nag at you. Nag at you until you figure out the connection between this book and Inquisitor. So make sure you have both books handy!

I really enjoyed this book. There was a cast of smart characters, a world that's alike ours but with magic, and a great storyline. If you liked Inquisitor, you'd definitely like this book. I want to read more about this world - R.J. Blain has created two wonderful protagonists and supporting casts, and I would love to read a sequel where they meet!

Note: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Enchanted Book Promotion Blog Tours in exchange for a free and honest review.

Not convinced yet? Read this excerpt:

I slammed my car’s door, spun on a heel, and swore I would have a perfectly normal visit to the mall. All I needed was one little book. Even I could walk into a bookstore, pick up a novel, and leave without causing any trouble.

This time, I wouldn’t blow out the lights. There wouldn’t be a single power surge. I wouldn’t turn on every unplugged device in the electronics store on my way across the mall. In the ten minutes it would take me to get in and out, the only thing anyone would notice about me was the fact that I wore a high-collared sweater in late summer. I had a mission, and I would complete it without fail. The novel my agent insisted I read would be mine.

For a long moment, I considered turning around and getting back into my car. Dominic would forgive me if I didn’t start reading the book until tomorrow. I could call in a favor and ask someone to pick up a copy for me. Then I definitely wouldn’t run any risk of blowing anything up. If I had been smart, I would’ve just ordered the damned thing on the internet, but I had waited too long.

Fishing my cell out of my pocket, I unlocked the screen with a swipe of my finger. The charging icon mocked me. Despite running every battery-draining app I could find, the battery held a full charge. I opened another app, a devilish program capable of killing the battery in ten minutes. It wouldn't, not with me around, but if I was too busy keeping my phone topped up, maybe my mall shopping trip would prove to be mundane.

I shook my head, laughing at my foolishness.

No one would notice my phone. No one would notice me for more than a second. They'd notice my clothes, and then they'd file me away as yet another weirdo wearing something strange to catch attention. L.A. was full of people like that.

I had no reason to worry. Even if I managed to embarrass myself yet again by losing control of my powers, no one would know I was the cause of unplugged electronics turning on or unusual power surges.

Straightening my shoulders, I fixed my eyes on the line of glass doors and marched my way across the parking lot.

In and out. No blown lights. No power surges. No feeding power to unplugged electrical devices. No charging batteries for strangers. I was in control, and I would charge only my phone.

Making my way to the entry, I paused long enough to hold the door for a little old lady who insisted on making her way through the regular doors despite her walker. I couldn’t blame her. If I lived to be her age, I wouldn’t want to rely on automatic doors either.

She thanked me with a pat on the arm. Flashing her my best smile, I slipped inside.

Nothing happened.


I could handle ten minutes in the crowded corridors. Maybe if I told myself that enough times, I’d believe it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - The Land of Stories by Christ Colfer

Woohoo! It's Tuesday! That means that my relatives are coming tomorrow! So you won't see me until I come back on the 24th with R.J Blain's Winter Wolf Release Day Party!

Right now, I'm reading The Land of Stories. I got this from BookOff a while back but had no time to read it. But since I'm a sucker for fairy-tales retold, I had to buy it. Well, no more procrastinating, I'm reading it now.

My teaser:
"The world will always choose convenience over reality," the Evil Queen said. "It's easier to hate, blame, and fear than it is to understand." (Page 380)
What is your Teaser Tuesday?

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Consolation of Economics by Gerard Lyons

Randomly picked this book up at the National Library because *ECONOMICS*. I really wonder what people think of my borrowing history, it's like 9 comics (me and my bro), then one "Consolation of Economics".

Anyway, this book is supposed to be a "lucid and accessible expert's attempt to look objectively at the changing global economy." So my review will focus on how "accessible" and "lucid" it is, not on how sound the economics is (I shall leave that to the experts, because I can't find any obvious problems here).

I must say, the book is surprisingly readable. I would think that as long as you've taken an introductory economics course, you will be able to understand what the author is talking about. Terms like "nominal" and "inflation" do appear, hence the "introductory knowledge needed" thing I just said. The author does a good job of explaining new terms too, like when he talks about soft power (he uses a slightly different definition than the norm).

As for how international the book is - well, it's complicated. The book clearly looks at the global economy - China and India (particularly China) are discussed in depth, and Japan is talked about many times as well. Even Singapore made its fair share of appearances (way more than I was expecting). But, since this book is orientated towards readers in the Western economies (it is about how the shift of power to the East isn't necessarily detrimental to the West after all), there is slightly more focus on the UK, EU and the US.

The book itself is divided into 9 parts, and includes: a brief history of economics, China's economy, the 2008 Financial crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the G7 and the G20, and lots more. You'd notice that the book is very very current, since it was published this year. I dare say that in a year or two, when some of the current crisis have played out, the book might not be as relevant, but for now, this is one of the most accessible books on modern economics that I've read.

My favourite part of the book was, surprisingly, the last chapter, which looks at the future of economics. It references something that I learnt last semester, that younger economics prefer Game Theory, but older economists look at things like unemployment, fiscal policy, etc. So to read about Mr. Lyons' opinion was really interesting to me.

All in all, this is an excellent and accessible book. Read it now (in 2014), because it contains information about current events. A year or two down the line, and a new edition might be in order, so get your hands on it quick.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mademoiselle by Rhonda K. Garelick

Even though I don't own any Chanel, and barely understand fashion, for some reason, I'm always fascinated by Chanel. I suppose that's how far the Chanel mystique extends.

This book aims to be a fair and comprehensive biography of Chanel, no small feat since Chanel had no qualms about lying (and changing her lies) about where she came from. What impressed me was that the book acknowledged Chanel's mystique right from the start. It's as though it says "I'm trying my best to be impartial, but Chanel is really charming, so remember that."

I can't quite remember what the other Chanel biographies I read contained (and I left the book in Singapore/lent it to my teacher), but I'm pretty sure that I learnt a few things that I didn't know before. For example, Chanel's connection to the Nazi's and her very strong anti-Semitic views are unflinchingly described, and there is no attempt made to excuse her for what she said. The author notes the mode of thinking of the set Chanel mingled with, but that doesn't become a convenient excuse for why Chanel held those views. After all, Chanel was an intelligent and savvy businesswoman.

Another thing that I liked was the amount of detail in the book. For every lover or close friend of Chanel, there is a short biography. It might seem like a digression or too much to some people, but I enjoyed reading about it as it helped me build up a more complete picture of the times Chanel lived in.

Finally, the book ends with a short description of Chanel's legacy and her impact on fashion. And in my ebook ARC from Netgalley, there's about 100 pages of footnotes, so those wanting to go deeper into the story will have a lot of sources they can start chasing.

I won't turn into a Chanel convert just because of a well-written biography, but my fascination with her still continues.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.