Monday, February 03, 2014

Brass Ring by Dianne Chamberlain

I was really looking forward to reading this book, as my first Diane Chamberlain, Breaking the Silence, lingered in my mind for days after reading it. I had Googled her after, just to see what kind of books she wrote, and found that they were on of my favourite genres. One I usually call, Jodi-Picoult-style. When my usual book seller put this book on her web, I quickly bought it in hopes of feeling the magic I had felt in the previous book but after a few chapters..

..I'm not quite sure if I like this book or not.

Don't get me wrong, there IS a story here. A good one too. But the pace was a bit too slow for me and in the end, I found that I disliked Claire. I felt like she was taking advantage of her paralyzed husband, Jon. Jon on the other hand, felt a bit spineless (no pun intended) as he didn't seem to want to fight for Claire as she 'tried to find herself'.. in another man's arms!!

Maybe its because of our Muslim upbringing, but I've read other books that are worse and they don't disturb me as much as this one did. I just don't understand how you can't talk to your husband (whom you had teamed up to build a successful business-cum-counselling-thingey) abou something that has defined your childhood, your past and even your ownself yet get so eager to talk about it to another man you have just known?! To the extent of sneaking around and using your bestfriend as an alibi, without even telling her you were doing so. That's sneaky, not I'm-trying-to-cope-with-my-problems as Claire seems to want people to believe.

Well, yeah! This genre is based on so-called real life experiences.. but not if there doesn't seem to be any guilt in Claire who seems so selfish about her own problems, she was willing to ignore her wheelchair-bound husband who, though independant, clearly loved her furiously.

Randy, the other man, at first didn't seem important in this story. Until he turned into, well, the other man. I thought we were going to have a peak into his childhood with Margot and her twin. They seemed to have a good childhood (except for when her twin, why can't I remember his name?, died on the bridge that night) I was looking forward to it but was disappointed when I was only given a teeny weeny glimpse of his past. Other than that, I only saw Randy as someone not man enough to respect a marriage. My first impression was correct, Randy was NOT important at all and wouldn't have changed much of the course of the story if he wasn't there.

The only 'light' I saw was when the book centered on Vanessa. I felt like 'she' was more of the story than Claire even if it was Claire who dominates the book. Her feelings of betrayal towards Claire and her whole view of the world after what happened to her felt real enough to make me feel this book could be saved (and it might be the reason I'm still giving Ms Chamberlain another chance)

I think, if you are just getting to know Dianne Chamberlain, DON'T start with this book. I loved her other book very much so I still think I could give another try on her books. And I'm glad I didn't start with this one

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Guest List by Melissa Hill

Hmm.. I could never make up my mind about Melissa Hill. Her books are not that chick-lit enough that helps you to relax and unwind while you enjoy a good laugh or two.. nor are they serious life-changing slash deep thinking stories that makes you questions morals and all that stuff. Her books also do not have magic sprinkled here and there that makes you believe that fairytales are real. I’m always left feeling a bit unsure about her every time I read her books YET, I keep coming back for more..

..I guess thats the attraction then, huh?

The Guest List was recommended by a book seller I usually buy books from. Since she told me this book is her favourite of all Melissa Hill’s books, I quickly placed an order for this book to see how great it was.

Turned out, it isn’t something I’d say great. But it isn’t something I’d tell people to avoid either.
The story is about Cara, who’s been waiting for her boyfriend to propose to her after many years of relationship. She wasn’t the bossy type and she didn’t push Shane into it. It was more like she wanted to make sure there was a ‘them’ in the future.

The books starts with two over-the-top weddings they had just and were about to attend. One was her younger sister’s wedding whom their parents were still paying for even after a year.. and the other her college friend who had sent a ridiculous ‘gimme-money-for-my-wedding’ invitation to her. Because of these two weddings, they had (playfully?) agreed that when it was their turn, they were NEVEr going to overspend like that, and that they would prefer a personal and intimate wedding instead.

And then Shane proposes!

..then all hell breaks loose!

Her younger sister, Heidi, who had just wanted to announce her pregnancy (Ohhh, you get the spoilt-brat feel right away when she first appears in the book) was furious that Cara ‘stole the spotlight’ from her with her engagement announcement and throughout the book you’d be so annoyed at Heidi, you’d wanna smack her bottom for being so selfish and all.

Her mother was more of the bridezilla than Cara herself was entitled to be, pushing them to have a great big wedding, wanting her to wear the big poofy kind of dress her mother preferred and wanting to invite 300++ people that would dash Cara’s hope for an intimate wedding.

It didn’t help that Shane’s parents also wanted kind of the same thing, a big affair to show off their son and daughter-in-law AND to save their failing business. It came to a point where they weren’t talking to each other and that gave, even me, a headache.

The only one supporting Cara and telling her to plant her feet firm on what she wanted was her glamorous sister-in-law, Kim. At times, she had to be the peacemaker between Cara and her family, while fending off the morning sickness she, too, was having (making Heidi even more mad about the whole thing).

Another sort-of supporting pillar for Cara was her estranged oldest sister, Danielle. Danielle had left home when Cara was small so she never really got to know her sister. They’d meet once in a few years but it wasn’t enough to make them close. Cara always wondered what happened to Danielle and her family (particularly her mother) that made her run away hundreds of miles from home. Though Danielle did not really want Cara to have her wedding near her now-home, she still helped with organizing it, even though she knew it meant she had to face her mother again.

Ohh, and she also had her boss, Conor, a classic rich bachelor, in her corner to support her.
After a bit of a drama from Shane’s parents, the whole lot finally agreed with Cara and Shane’s wishes so a Caribbean wedding was finally in order.

You’d think that was the end of the drama eh.. but there was another twist coming. A twist I would’ve love if I hadn’t read about it in a Chicken Soup book a few years ago.. and thats the only reason it didn’t spark as much as it should have for me. It felt a bit stale..

I also felt like the story was a bit rushed. The wedding drama took too much space in the tale while the 'twist' drama which I'm sure is more interesting, only took a few chapters towards the end. It would've been nice if both main dramas in this tale were better entwined.

The book as whole is.. well, ok. Won’t be my first choice if I wanted something simple yet entertaining but I guess one day, I might give it another try, just to see if I have a different opinion of it =)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Night Shift by Stephen King

.. "At night, when I go to bed I still am at pains to be sure that my legs are under the blankets after the lights go out. I'm not a child anymore but.. I don't like to sleep with one leg sticking out. Because if a cool hand ever reached from under the bed and grasped my ankle, I might scream. Yes, I might scream to wake the dead..

..the thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn't real. I know that, and I also know that if I'm careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle."

And thats just the foreword!!

Of course, this just made me even more eager to start immersing myself into the book, but a tiny bit of me was afraid I’d be disappointed (as usually comes with high expectations). Guess I didn’t need to doubt it in the first place!

It felt GOOD to be scared this way!

All stories were awesome! As in the case of Jerusalems’s Lot, I haven’t read Salem’s Lot yet, but I could still follow the tale here.. and am somehow more curious about Salem’s Lot that it may now be on my On-The-Look-Out-List.

As for the other stories (omitting a few, though), here are my two-cents worth

Graveyard Shift - Imagine the noise of tiny feet you hear scurrying on you ceiling (in this case it was the basement) were actually mutated rats in all kinds of stages that some of them have wings. I'd move out ASAP!!

I Am The Doorway - This tale is the sister of The Astronauts Wife. Imagine battling with aliens who have 'infected' you, turning you into their own personal spy? I could just feel the eyes growing on each digits of my fingers, blinking every now and then. even I'd be paranoid and won't trust the government to help me

The Boogeyman – NOW I know why the closet is a scary place. Had been fooled by Monsters Inc for a while there.

The Mangler – Which reminds me of a not-so-childhood terror (I was 17-18 then!) of an old sewing machine of my late granma. One of them (my granma had lots of them) had apparently switched itself on one night and the steady hum of the sewing machine was heard throughout the night. When my mum bought its sister home, I had actually had this nightmare of this sewing machine coming up the stairs and knocking on my door, ready to sew me up! Ohhh, this tale also had a referance to IT, another favourite of mine!

Grey Matter – A lesson on NEVER to consume anything that is past its expiry date! I also loved the fact that IT was ‘featured’ in this tale.

Trucks - Sound innocent enough? Not when motorized vehicles weighing tonnes, get a life of their own and start to overtake the world!! And I thought this story would sound stupid..

Sometimes They Come Back - Dealing with bullies who don't seem to wanna go away.. even after they were killed in an accident, they still came back..

Strawberry Spring – Didn’t see it would end that way! Nice (but scary) touch..

The Ledge - Lesson here, don't mess with someone elses wife, especially if he's somehow mafia-like. If you still want to, make sure you practice you balance, as he might see it fit to punish you by challenging (more like threatening you to do so or else!) you to walk all around his penthouse ONLY ON THE LEDGE which is what, 6 inches wide?

The Lawnmower Man - Gross to imagine yet you can't help laughing at the image (while at the same time wishing you could unsee it)

Quitters Inc – Not really horror in paranormal way, but in a believable way which is even more scarier

I Know What You Need - A tale that would appeal to all stalkers, wishing they had his ability..

Children of The Corn - Now I know why people talk about the movie.. so of course now I'm curious about how it looks on the telly since the tale is just a few pages long.

The Last Rung On The Ladder – A tale I think does not really blend in with all other stories in this book. But a pleasant surprise nonetheless as it deals with reality.. a sad one..

Battleground – One I looked forward to reading just because I’d already watched the short silent movie of it and was curious on how it’d look on paper.

The Man Who Loves Flowers - How lovely the world would be if everyone is in love.. but what if the person is a serial killer? *Ok, thats a definite spoiler there!*

One For The Road - Another Salem's Lot prequel (or sequel, maybe?) Really should try to find THAT book now

All in all, its one of the best compilations I’ve ever read, highly recommended to those who won’t mind losing one or two nights worth of sleep!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Death Sculptor by Chris Carter

My third Chris Carter book.. and am hungry for more!

"Good job you didn't turn on the lights"

I didn't think much of those words (written on the back of the book) until I came to the part where it's meaning was revealed.. ooohhhh, goosebumps!! And not to mention how fast my heart was racing when the significance of those words sunk in. Just made me clutch my book tighter to read on.. after making sure every other light in the house was switched off (and making up my mind to not switch them on no matter what noise I hear in the night!)

I said this before, and I'm saying this again.. I'm having a full blown crush on Chris Carter books. This book didn't disappoint me. I had bought this book months before but had a hard time not to rush into reading them, and it was worth the wait =)

My only complaint is the cliffhangerS (minor mostly, but still..) at the end of almost every chapter. But then again, it won't be a Chris Carter book without that, huh!

This time I think I'm getting to know Hunter's partner, Garcia, a bit more, physically (I never could imagine him in my head while reading before). Maybe its only me, but I feel as if the other books focus too much on Hunter (well, he IS supposed to be the main character anyway), sidelining Garcia.

The description, as usual, was vivid enough to help the imagination throughout the book and Captain Blake is still my most favourite captain in the world, as long as I don't have to work with her. =D Alice's role was also refreshing, having a female on the immediate task force, but having two geniuses (instead of only Hunter) around gave me a headache. It doesn't help that I agree with Garcia when he said he felt dumb having both of them around.. when I have such a soft spot for good ol' NORMAL Garcia.

Ohh.. one thing helped me get over my 'crush' a bit though. "Cos YOU'RE time is about to run out" I was never quite the grammer police, but this teeny weeny mistake has at least put my feet on a much firmer ground so I won't be too much head over heels with him :p


That was my review on Goodreads. In here, I'll of course add a little more =D

I bought this book months ago. Had to have it pre-ordered since my usual book 'provider' didn't have it in stock and then I had to wait a few months for it. Even when I got it, I didn't immediately rush into reading it as I wanted to save it for much later.. when the need for a psychological thriller would be at its peak muahahahahaahaa *evil laugh while thunder and lightning rolls all around the perfectly darkened sky*

It did not disappoint me!!

Even the first chapter made me shiver with those words I'd typed earlier

"Good job you didn't turn on the lights"

How sick is that? To have the killer taunting you, making sure you knew he/she was IN THE ROOM when you went in earlier. Then to see how crazy the killer is, and how he tortured his victim.. I'd need therapy for years if it happened to me especially knowing how the book got its title.. having the killer 'sculptor' the victims body parts to make a statement!

And not just once!

Not for the faint of heart. The description is VERY vivid that no imagination is required. You'd feel you tummy squirm up just by reading those chapters.

Since I've read his previous books, I tried to look deeper into each chapter, to see what clues I'd find but still the ending wasn't something I had imagined. I had to look back and go through the chapters (after I finished the book) to find all those clues. that were oh-so-subtle, I had missed! Can't believe I did then when I had prepared myself for all possibilities.

I already love the usual characters in the book so, unlike what I wrote in Goodreads, I actually don't like Alice that much haha.. Aside from the too-many-genuises excuse I gave, I also don't like that because of her, Garcia seems like the fifth wheel in the team (well, more like the third but you get what I mean). And she does seem to try too hard to show her worth, making it seem like she's forcing herself on the team..

..or maybe I'm just jealous!

Still, Alice aside, I had a hard time getting used to my surroundings after I finished the book. To me, its THAT good. Left me thinking about the case even while I cooked/bathed/etc. Wish there were more of his books here..

Bravo to Chris Carter.. you are now definitely on my radar!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Thinner by Stephen King

Image Googled since I'm too lazy to take a picture of my own copy
The review below is from my Goodreads review.. with tiny alterations. So here I'd like to say I'm giving it a 3.5 star instead of just 3 coz I really did enjoy the book =)


The only reason this book is getting only a 3-star rating from me is because I've read most of my best books from the King so this is just in comparison to some of his other books.

Truth: I watched the movie first, though only snippets of it, but it was enough to make me interested enough to find the book.. which sadly took me, what, 7 years?!?

What would you do if you were suddenly losing weight after years of telling yourself you'd do so? I'd jump with joy at that (especially when it takes almost no effort at all) BUT only if I didn't keep thinking of a 100++ year-old gypsy who came up to me saying only one word, "Thinner"

So even from the start, there wasn't this fooling-myself sentiment, Billy Halleck was sure it was the gypsy's curse and as the king (no pun intended.. hmm, on second thought, I guess it was subconsciously on purpose) of imagination-you-sometimes-wish-you-didn't-have, you are then brought on a journey on Billy's mind..

All his fears every time he loses another 3 pounds actually brings a smile on your face when you think of how much of a jerk he actually is. Blaming his wife, blaming his friend - the judge, blaming everyone until finally he admits he does have fault, though now he had diminished it to almost nothing after putting everyone else to blame too. The only innocent victim of all this must be his daughter.

Though I have to admire his guts on taking time off work to go find the old gypsy and to plead his case. The young gypsy Gina was one of the strongest (impression-wise) characters, left quite an impression on me even if she only appeared in a few pages. Another character was Ginelli, a not-so-innocent victim who made the book even more interesting with his role in it once he was actively featured in the story. 

I was hating Billy even more towards the end when he had decided on how to take off the curse.. but the King had just another trick up his sleeve that made me feel like a horrible person when I realized I loved the actual ending of the book.

So bravo to the King.. who just made me lose another night's sleep for 'just one more chapter'. Please DON'T lose your imagination for us, eh..

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This book has restored my faith in vampires!

Came across this book when it was recommended to me by Goodreads. I noticed a few friends had read this book and given 4-5 stars so of course I was immediately on the look out for it. Lucky me, the online store I usually buy my books had this on sale. I helped that the cover was eye catching too =)

I thought it was going to be a quick read, being a children's book and all, but boy was I wrong! I'm the type who usually speed reads the book first time around. Only books I deem worthy would be reread on a slower pace for me to enjoy each and every little piece of it. This book however, demanded me to slow down and enjoy every word, from the start to finish.. and NOT because it was confusing. More like it was full of 'colours' that rushing through the text made me feel like I'll miss those small details that make the book unique.

It was indeed enjoyable reading about Bod and his 'family', about him having a living-and-breathing friend for the very first time in his life, about him going to school (which we mere mortals take for granted). It wasn't hard to imagine the lessons he had with his graveyard family.. of fading, of fear and horror. It was also not that hard to be able to see everything through lil' Bod's eyes.

I have a great respect for his guardian Silas.. and loved him right from the very start.

And I love the realization I had of how many Jacks are used in fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

The ending (not the one climax of the story where Bod met Jack for the last time) was very sad for me. The narration of how he was starting to lose his gifts tugged my heart. I felt as if I was letting go of my own little brother into a world he barely knew, excited as he was. Knowing that Silas assured him that he would always be there (and how he promised that if he ever needed help, he would search for Bod anywhere he is) made me love ol'Silas even more.. and how his 'mother' waited to be the last person to say goodbye to him was kinda heartbreaking..

This book if going to be the one I'm going to reread over and over again. One of the best books ever, so thank you Mr Gaiman for your vast imagination that resulted in this special piece of literature..

'Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you're grown you'll see the world
If I'm not mistaken
'Kiss a lover
Dance a measure
Find your name
and buried treasure
'Face your life
Its pain, its pleasure
Leave no path untaken..

Monday, January 06, 2014

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

(Image Googled.. not that good of a photographer haha..!)
I must have had my expectations a bit too high!

I'd seen this book almost everywhere, which is why I finally bought it. However, I did put off reading it for almost a year.

It is quite a relaxing read though not the can't-put-down type. I took a week to finish this book, and not for the lack of time to read. Its just that with so many bookstores promoting this book, I was convinced I had a gem in my hands.. instead it was just a normal won't-hate-but-not-declaring-love-either kinda book

I love the narration, though. Very well thought out and you don't need to imagine much to find yourself right in the middle of the story. The alternation between Lilian's memories and the present was also nice, and not too overwhelming as some books tend to be nowadays.

But ooohhh, I especially love the snippets of Lilian's book at the beginning of each chapter. The recipes 'she' provided also made me imagine I could whip up my own batch of candies (had the laziness not set in!).

And yes, the idea of an old fashioned sweet shop would make any ol' romantic smile right through the end of the book. The setting was nice enough.. in a quaint village, ol fashoined in a sense. Gave out a nice picture in your head about the surroundings so thats a plus there.. BUT, the story, though not that much predictable but not much to shout about too..

Still.. It was nice while it lasted. I'd give three stars maybe..?!