Sunday, 28 December 2014

Reading week in pictures: All the Light We Cannot See

On the currently reading list, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I'm liking this so far. An easy book to read with 2 main characters. Book blurb on Goodreads is here.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Blurb (from Amazon):

After a long and eventful life Allan Karlsson is moved to a nursing home to await the inevitable. But his health refuses to fail and as his 100th birthday looms a huge party is planned. Allan wants no part of it and decides to climb out the window... Charming and funny; a European publishing phenomenon.

Sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn't want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not...

Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving a suitcase full of cash, a few thugs, a very friendly hot-dog stand operator, a few deaths, an elephant and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan's earlier life is revealed. A life in which - remarkably - he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.

The One Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a charming, warm and funny novel, beautifully woven with history and politics.

My say: A delightfully humorous account of centenarian Allan's adventures. I liked the creative links with history and the witty style of humour. Note that this style of writing may not appeal to everyone.

Recommendation: an easy, light-hearted read.

My rating: 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Reading week in pictures (& other stuff)

Another instalment of Reading week in pictures. I was so entranced by The Night Circus by Erin Morgentsern that I didn't take any pictures :(

This is A Hundred Foot Journey - continuing the journey through the iPad.

Michelle Phan's recently published Make Up.

I also managed to fit in an excellent production of Wicked, the musical. It was fantastic - definitely a recommend! It wasn't what I was expecting.

And a beautiful rendition of The Nutcraker by the Australian Ballet.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Reading week in pictures

My reading week in pictures. Currently reading The Hundred Foot Journey on the Kindle and A Storm of Swords I: Steel and Snow in physical copy. Loving both at the moment.

The Hundred Foot Journey

Goofy and A Storm of Swords

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Reading Challenge

If you're wondering, yes, I have readjusted my reading challenge goal down to 30. I doubt I'll be able to meet by the end of the year though... Yes, sad face 😢 I'll try my best though!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Blurb (adapted from Amazon):

If you had a second chance at first love… would you take it?

It's been three years since Adam's love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it… and three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

My say:

Oh-My-Gosh… I LOVED this book! It just drew me in like no book recently has. I actually am quite perplexed because this style of writing wouldn't normally be my cup of tea. But Gayle Forman really went all out in this sequel to If You Stay.

Where She Went is written from Adam's perspective, set 3 years after the end of If You Stay. Adam and Mia have drifted apart. He is now the lead singer of a famous rock band. She is a rising star at Julliard.

Adam's life on the surface is great. His band has taken off. He has a beautiful celebrity girlfriend. But life hasn't been the same since Mia left. By chance he ends up at Mia's concert and they spend the night exploring NYC, rekindling their friendship and revisiting the past. Emotions run amok in Where She Went. What can I say? There is sadness (lots of it!) but there is a strange beauty in these feelings Adam is experiencing.

Can a sequel be better than it's predecessor? Yes it can!

Recommendation: buy buy buy this book. It is so worth it. If you loved If You Stay, you MUST read this.
My rating: 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Blurb (adapted from Amazon):

For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, decisions might seem tough, but they're all about a future full of music and love, a future that's brimming with hope.

But life can change in an instant.

A cold February morning… a snowy road… and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one.

As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

My say:
I picked up this book after seeing the movie trailers on tv. I'm always intrigued when popular books are made into movies. But weird as it maybe, instead of enticing me into watching the movie, the movie trailer made me want to read the book!

And I'd have to say I was happy I did. I thought the story writing was unique. The present day follows Mia's accident and her time in hospital. But while she is unconscious, she has an out of body experience, being able to see what is happening around her. Whilst this in itself is a different perspective on things, it's the flashbacks throughout the book that let's us get to know Mia and the relationships with the various people in her life, especially Adam. I thought this was really smart writing.

My rating just fell short of a 5/5 because I felt there was something missing in bringing the whole book together. I also felt, at the point in time, that the ending was quite abrupt. But then I read the sequel, Where She Went, straight after so I understand things a lot better. For those who don't have the luxury of reading the second book though, you may have this same experience.

Recommendation: A great book that will get you hooked on Gayle Forman.

My rating: 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim

Blurb (adapted from Amazon):

Avicenna Crowe's mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.

The police are called, but they're not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid.

But Avicenna has inherited her mother's gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne's disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city's dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.

My say:

This review will be a little disjointed. I read The Astrologer's Daughter a while ago but haven't had the time to write this but here goes…

"Only the strong-willed can change what's in the stars. It's always, and only ever, up to you".

I liked this book. I can't say I loved it though, largely because I didn't feel like the story was really smooth reading and I was left wanting more.

The idea of astrology, being able to look to the stars coupled with some basic facts, was compelling. It was what grabbed my attention when I initially heard about this book. But I think what made this book worthwhile was Avicenna's (Cenna) discovery and growth. She learns about her mother and their past while using her 'inherited' skills as an astrologer to uncover some long buried secrets.

The things I struggled with in this book are very nit-picky. I felt it strange for the police to leave a young girl home alone when it appears there is foul play in her mother's disappearance plus a home invasion that spooks her. Avicenna's relationship with Simon Thorn also left me with more questions - maybe there'll be a sequel?

Recommendation: An easy read. Mystery with a twist.

My rating: 

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Brief blurb:
The Husband's Secret follows a few characters intrinsically linked by a secret from the past. Cecelia Fitzpatrick finds a letter addressed to her by her husband, John Paul, which is only to be opened after his death. Cecelia is curious but John Paul's reaction is even more bewildering. What is he hiding? 

To read the Goodreads blurb, click here.

My say:
I really wanted to like this book. But it just didn't click for me.

In the beginning, I thought this was because I couldn't make the connection between all the characters. What does Cecelia have in common with Rachel? How does Tess fit in? Needless to say, it is John Paul's secret that link the three women in a way that they wouldn't have dreamed of. When everything starts to fall into place, I however started to feel even more disconnected. While I understood why the story unfolded like it did, it just felt like all rationality broke loose. None of the characters had the strength or resolve to stick to their beliefs and morals.

In the end, it's the innocent who suffers the most - an almost full circle of pain and suffering.

Recommendation: Alright for a light read.

My rating: 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Messiah Code by Michael Cordy

Brief blurb: 
The Messiah Code by Michael Cordy is a thriller that brings together science and religion. On one hand you have an ancient brotherhood awaiting a new messiah. On the other side of the spectrum, you have Dr. Tom Carter who is revolutionising the science world with his new DNA technology. In an assassination attempt gone wrong, these two worlds are brought crashing together. Can Tom's work help find the new messiah? Can Tom discover a miracle to save his dying daughter?

To read the blurb on Goodreads, click here.

My say:
I like a good thriller. While there were a few parts of the story that had me thinking "really?", I was happy in the most part to ignore those little holes and enjoy the story-telling. I really enjoyed the science side of the story. There has already been a great leap in understanding the human genome and the part certain genes play, but is it possible that miracles aren't random, that they are due to your genetic makeup? While I personally don't believe this to be true, it did get my imagination churning. I thought Cordy did well linking the two different elements, science and religion, together. The unveiling of the "messiah" was a bit of an anticlimax because you just sort of knew. In a way, The Messiah Code reminded me of The Da Vinci Code, and not because of the similarity in the names.

Recommendation: I thoroughly enjoyed being taken for a ride and definitely recommend this for those itching for a good thriller.

My rating: 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Has anyone read the book The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais? I recently watched the movie starring Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri and Charlotte Le Bon. It has got to be my favourite movie this year and one of my favourites of all time. I absolutely loved it!

I loved the storyline and the moral behind the story. It's not just about food, but also the clash and coming together of different cultures. The characters were excellent. You will laugh but love Om Puri's Papa and his thriftiness or stubbornness. Helen Mirren plays an excellent Madame Mallory. And Hassan and Marguerite (Manish and Charlotte), I could just watch their chemistry sparkle over and over again.

So, has anyone read the book? I bought it on my kindle so it is on my reading list (which is currently really long!). If you've read it, I'd like to know what you think. If you've read it and watched the movie as well, what did you think? Does the movie compare with the book? Please let me know!

And if you haven't seen the movie, here's the trailer...

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

My say:
I first heard of this book from one of Ingrid Nilsen's monthly favourites and I was curious to learn more. Read the blurb on Amazon and bought this for my Kindle right away!

Sam Kingston is popular. She's 18 years old, loves to party, has a popular/cute boyfriend. Then on a rainy Friday night in February, she dies in a car accident.

"They say when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me."

Like a recurring nightmare, Sam "wakes" up on the morning of her accident. Each time she does something different, changes an outcome, but each day ends the same. Initially, I have to admit, I didn't quite like Sam. I found her shallow and irresponsible. But perhaps that was Lauren Oliver's plan all along because as the story moved along, I came to like and even admire Sam. Each time she relives that fateful day, she learns more about herself and the people around her. She comes to appreciate the little things in life. It's probably a weird thing to say, considering she's reliving the same day over and over again, but throughout the book, there's a growth in Sam that warms you to her character. 

"So many things become beautiful when you really look."

I think this really sums up Before I Fall. Such a beautiful moral behind it all. I felt the ending was rather too abrupt. I had to reread the last few pages a couple of times to really understand the ending. Suffice to say, this was a book that made me laugh, smile and tear and I'd highly recommend it!

My rating: 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My say:
I had read many good reviews of the book and I told myself I'll buy it when I've gone through my stack of to-reads, which realistically could have taken forever. Then the movie came out. While I knew the basic analogy, the advertisements for the movie moved me - I wanted to watch this.

"But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying."

I'm not sure about you, but I find it difficult watching a movie after reading the book. Often, the book is so much better than the movie. The plot. The portrayal of the characters. You build a picture in your mind of what the characters look like. You take to heart the storyline. Then you watch the movie and everything falls to pieces. The characters are nothing like you imagined. The movie is missing bits and pieces of your favourite scenes (I understand some things or feelings cannot be portrayed the same way in a movie but don't you still feel betrayed?!). So I thought … I'll go watch this movie and then read the book.

Oh my gosh, I balled my eyes out at the cinema. How could you not? Even reading the many blurbs, reviews and watching how many movie trailers, I never expected the ending to be what it was. I was completely moved by the movie, so much so I bought the book straight after.

"As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep; slowly, and then all at once."

And I love it as much as the movie. Let's just say about 90% of the book is reflected in the movie. Maybe more. Even down word by word in some of the script. It's beautiful as can get for a YA novel. You just want to laugh and cry with the characters. You love Hazel for her strength and her vulnerabilities. You love Augustus for his stoic humour and charm. Even when the battles get tougher and the story becomes more heart-wrenching, they still manage to draw you along their journey. A great book.

My rating: 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Finding Emma and Emma's Secret by Steena Holmes

My Rating: 3/5

Finding Emma is about 3 year old Emma being taken from her family. Without giving away too much of the storyline, Finding Emma essentially follows  Emma's family as they deal with her loss. It is now 2 years since Emma had been taken. Her mother, Megan, won't give up hope, seeing Emma everywhere. Her dad, Peter, is trying to find peace by, what I personally perceive, as giving up. One sister is regretful, believing Emma's disappearance is her fault. The other is struggling to find attention.

The story also follows Emma (or Emmie) and the older couple she's been living with. Whilst guilty of taking her, you cannot help but feel for the older couple as their circumstances unravel. Regardless of the circumstances, they really do love her and have taken good care of her. The story ends with Emma being reunited with her family.

While I found myself immersed in this book, there were a few things that bugged me. The relationship between Megan and Peter baffled me somewhat. While I realise such circumstances could be straining on any relationship, the relationship between Megan and Peter was often conflicting and confusing. You cannot have hope of finding your daughter if you are trying to metaphorically bury her all the time and chastising your wife for having hope. Megan coincidentally gives up hope when things look to be the brightest. Other than those little things, the book was an ok read.

 Emma's Secret is the sequel to the story. Emma has been reunited with her family, but can she forget the family she's known for the last 2 years? Similar to the first book, I enjoyed the book albeit a few niggly bits in the storyline. Again, Megan and Peter's relationship was quite confusing.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Book 1 of the A Song of Ice and Fire series down and onto the second volume!

My rating: 5/5

My say:

This really was a surprise. With all the hype behind the tv series, I thought I would read the books before I watched the series. I always feel a little apprehensive reading a hugely popular series. One part of me is so keen to jump onto the band wagon while the other me is very critical. Just because it is so popular, doesn't mean it's for me...

The first book however didn't disappoint! It was well written and not too difficult to follow, despite the complex and layered storyline and the many characters. The characterisation itself was wonderful. There's a character for everyone - someone to hate, someone to love, someone to admire. Personally I loved young Arya Stark, who is feisty and strong-willed, and her step-brother Jon Snow, a strong character who is an outsider despite being of Stark descent. Also can't help liking Tyrion Lannister. A warning to some - some scenes maybe too graphic for some so definitely not for the faint-hearted!

Definitely a book to immerse yourself in.