Saturday, June 23, 2018

Windfall



Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.  - excerpt from book.

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith talks about friendship, love, family and most importantly self-growth. A change in luck is all it took to change the fate of the characters in the book. The main character herself is one with issues and throughout the book she faces her flaws when pointed out by other characters. Events trigger her which causes her growth in the story. I love Alice's interaction with other characters as her personality shines from it. Her thoughts greatly depict her actions which makes her a realistic character. As for the people around her, they play a crucial part in shaping her, guiding her and also influencing her actions. Every time she interacts with Teddy, there's always an outcome that pushes the story forward. I felt I could understand the characters quite well even though they are not exactly fascinating or over the top.

As for the plot it's quite smooth having minor events/incidents happening occasionally hence it was not boring to read through. The story line wasn't predictable but it isn't too surprising at the same time. I would say the book is entertaining enough that I won't stop reading when I'm in a good mood yet it's not a great page turner. The aspects that I love about this book is how the author addresses issues that comes with easy money, family issues when you lose your parents and also the fear of having too good of a life. I think even though these issues seems small it shouldn't be ignored, it's definitely a good lesson to learn for the target audience of young adult contemporary. I would recommend if you like this author but it wouldn't be a great introduction for the author. It's a book that is between good and great, just needed a little bit more to push it to great. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Truly Devious



Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. - excerpt from book.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is the first of a trilogy which will absolutely be your new favourite this year. I first came across this book from Epic Reads webpage and there was a link to read the first two chapters. The summary itself was already exciting so no harm in reading that. The first chapter itself got me hooked and I cannot wait to get my hands on the book since last year. So I waited patiently until the book reaches my nearest bookstore and when I've gotten it, within 3 days I finished it and I just wanted the next book desperately.

The characters in this book are so unique with mysterious backstories. I'm totally intrigued by all of them and often want more of their history revealed. Whenever our main heroine interacts with someone I'm just on my toes, excited for the story that keeps moving forward. One would say that these characters are too good to be true but yet they have flaws that make them somewhat realistic. Their actions fit what a typical teenager would act and yet it still amazes me. Every action and reaction is unpredictable from each character which is one of the main driving points of this book.

The plot alternates between the past and present which makes it super exciting as every chapters kinda ends at a cliffhanger sort of atmosphere. You'll keep reading for more and more as the story builds up with the character's actions. There is nothing but mystery in this book as the plot thickens, twist after twist will capture your attention. This is one roller coaster ride that you can't get enough of. Even though the timeline alternates, you'll never get lost in this smooth flowing plot. 

I cannot stress how much I love a good murder mystery and this book just blew my mind. From the well written characters to the unpredictable plot, this book just ends with a jaw dropping cliffhanger (at least it is for me). I was in such a reading slump and then this wonderful book brought back my love for reading. I love the excitement of reading each chapter and trying to solve the mystery on my own but it was a tough one. Although it's not like Sherlock Holmes  as this is a modernised version but the fact that it's a mystery that is hard to solve and left hanging at the end certainly brings nostalgic emotions related to reading Sherlock. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie's work and you will not regret it, only one warning that I can give is that this book is first and the next one will be next year.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians




When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 
 
On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers. - excerpt from book

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is the first book to the trilogy about Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young. Now these two met in New York and there they have their own life until Nicholas's best friend is getting married and Nick decided to bring Rachel to the wedding. Little did she knows that this is the biggest wedding of Asia and also meeting Nick's family for the first time. Let me tell you, when I saw this book a few years back I was not impressed with the title itself so I did not pick it up. With a movie to be out soon and having an all Asian cast and director, the hype was on and naturally I had to read to find out about the buzz.

Of course the trailer only shows you glimpses of the book which felt exciting and extravagant, but let me tell you the book is so much more detailed and I'm pretty sure it won't all be included in the movie. With 527 pages and fonts that are not too big, it's definitely one long story to be told. Rachel and Nick is the main characters but many others have stories of their own. Hence the point of views are written in everyone's that is mentioned at the start of every chapter. I find this quite fun to read but sometimes I wished there was more happening for Nick and Rachel in parallel timing. You could easily tell what personalities these characters have and there is not much growth for many of them as they are only side characters. The interactions between Rachel and everyone else is often quite intriguing because it's fun to read about how she experiences Singapore and also how others react to her presence as Nick's girlfriend.

One thing that really capture my attention from the book is the use of multiple dialects/slang that are spoken in Singapore. It truly made me feel more at home even though I only live in the neighbouring country but sometimes visit Singapore, hence being able to relate to the language is truly enjoyable. I would say that many incidents are happening at one time and there isn't enough pages to fit everyone. I'm pretty sure this could be a Singapore drama series just as easy where there are many plots the author could have expanded on. The story-line is quite smooth with many plot twists to keep you on your toes.  You'll just keep reading because you'll want to know how Rachel deals with Nick's family, how will they treat her and how is Singapore like.

I have one complain though, that everything in the book seems way way too exaggerated in terms of the wealth of these people but at the end of the day we have to remember it's all fiction, just enjoy the book as it is. With the ways things ended, the story has just begun and I'm looking forward to read about Rachel and Nick's growing relationship and the many obstacles that will soon to follow. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Million Worlds With You


A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.
  - excerpt from book.

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray is the final book in the firebird series. I finally picked up this book, it has been sitting long on my shelf as I dread the ending of it. Catching up right where the book left us at the second book's ending, things are just way too exciting. We jump into action and adventure without much of a break for my favourite characters. This round they are slightly different people from the previous as they have grown and also went through some terrible experiences. Much of their actions are influenced by their new found attitude which was understandable and realistic. I love that we get to visit some old worlds and also have new ones. The author has done such a good job maintaining the difference between all the parallel worlds. It's the minor difference of the characters that get  me the most in a sense that one small detail can change so much of reality. The instance of what ifs are the core of the story.

I often sigh when it comes to Marguerite and Paul because their love is just so dreamy and real at the same time. I love all the interaction they have and I want so much more for them but alas this book is more focused on Marguerite saving the worlds. As she journeys through and discovers all the different versions of herself she learns to grow even more. At times she can be quite annoying but it fits well with her character. Seeing all the characters' consequences come into full view in this book was such a joy. A slight disappointment for me would be the lack of involvement of my favourite side character. But still with the growth and actions the plot moves forward with ease.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Country Escape



A Country Escape by Katie Fforde (courtesy of Pansing Malaysia)

Even though I read chick lit but sadly I limit myself to only a few of authors such as Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Cecilia Ahern and a little more. This author was my first attempt and when I looked at the ratings on Goodreads I was surprised. I went in without expectations and greatly enjoyed this book. It was a good page turner at certain chapters and it will calm down the pace a bit. I find this a very good slice of life story as the characters make the story move forward.

Our main female character quit her job in the city and move into a farm to run it. Little did she know with the little experience, what type of obstacles she would meet. Fortunately for her she has supportive people to help her out, build her character and  also be a part of the reason for the plot to carry on. The male character was a good surprise with his mysterious attitude and agendas, throughout the book I could not figure him out at all. The heroine is one special lady, I totally love her personality and always enjoyed her interactions with the male character. 

The story is told from Fran's point of view and it's a good tone of voice. The stories of how she overcome her obstacles unfolds at a good pace and then suddenly a plot twist happens. This plot twist was a good one as you will not see it coming and you can't predict what the result of it would be. You will be cheering Fran on and wishing something would happen between her and Anthony. You'll get frustrated whenever she's frustrated. I'm amazed that a simple story like this could capture my attention so well and influence my emotions. Overall, this is one good slice of life book with a simple yet important message about life. I do recommend this book to those who maybe, sorta got bored with writers that are over-hyped and way too famous. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hero At The Fall



Firstly thank you so much to Times reads for sending me this copy.

This book took some time to as I was trying to complete the second book first. Continuing where the  second book left us, we jump right into action giving you much excitement but then it just goes on and on with the same pattern, exciting then long winded then back to exciting moments and etc. With this pattern I often get bored and would try to speed read where I end up skipping descriptions that were just not needed in my opinion. 

I would say that the introduction of a few characters were good but the main cast was just too scattered and with not much growth. As for our main heroine, the point of view was hers hence the readers get a full force of her actions and thoughts. Many a times I would not agree with her, shaking my head from left to right. Maybe I was too harsh or too strict of her because I wanted more from her. Although she had many conflicts and decisions to make, it did not make the situation any better for us readers because you could also see her thoughts running in circles before she truly grows as a person. As for the side characters, there was one who caught me by surprise because he did not act the way he was introduced in the second book. He definitely had the most growth in the book and his conversations were so entertaining to read. I would often be on my toes when it came to the characters that I liked but then sometimes it will just disappoint me.

This book was written a tad too long as there were many parts that I felt were draggy and some parts that needed more actions. It felt like you're reading a timeline that is quite long but in the end it's just a short span of time. Time is not clearly written hence I get lost at recalling how long the charactes were travelling in the desert. Comparing the plots to roller coasters ride that don't have loops is how I'll put it. It just goes up and down continously. I would applaud that nothing was predictable in the plots, which salvage my attention and patience in completing the book.

Overall it ended well and satisfying for me but I was not truly amazed. For a desert theme fantasy book, I think there could be more places of improvements. I am quite critique as I've been spoilt by many good fantasy writers that drives story with just strong personalities, or characters with very unique backgrounds. The characters in this book was not built to leave any memorable moments. I can tell you that even if I can't recall a book from start to end, the unique plotlines or characters are the ones that stick with me. I would recommend if you're not a picky reader on fantasy but for me I think I'll stay off arabian nights/desert themed fantasies for now.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Crooked Kingdom


When you can't beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem
, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world. - excerpt from book

Ending with much suspense, this book continues right where Six of Crows ended. Kaz and his crew have to fight for their life and freedom. The game is not in their favour as they were outplayed by Wylan's father. As they struggle to get out of the pinch, a new heist is planned. Leigh has done a good job capturing my attention and knowing that this is the last book, I was so excited to finish it. There were so many things that I did not expect at all. With multiple character viewpoints just like the first book, you never want one character's part to end just yet.

We're pretty set with who these crew of people are, but there were quite a bit of the past revealed and not to mention the notorious Kaz has more of his revealed. I absolutely enjoyed how each character look at the situation and how they perform the task needed without too much questioning portraying their trust and loyalty to Kaz. There's also some growth for the characters as the incidents slightly changes their fate. I love their interactions with each other, especially Kaz and Inej, Nina and Matthias. Their relationships really gets you emotional because you'll be rooting for them strongly. I can never get enough of the scenes between them and wished for so much more. I find that the one that surprised me would be Wylan as there's so much revealed compared to his mysterious background in the first book. Leigh really does an awesome job when it comes to tying all the characters together with their personalities that compliments the story.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Traitor to the Throne



This is not about blood, or love. This is about treason.

Amani has always been more gunpowder than girl. But as the Blue-Eyed Bandit her powers have gone from strength - as has the rebellion she risks her life for.

Then a brutal kidnapping leads her straight to the Sultan's palace, and she is forced to return to her desert-girl's instincts for survival. Betrayal, cunning and espionage are a way of life here - and Amani finds she fits right in.

But with the ghosts of her past swirling all around her, Amani's greatest fight may be to keep her own secret heart and desires under control...- excerpt from book

Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton continues right where we left off in the first book and it had an interesting start. I wouldn't say my attention was instantly captured but the action was good. I enjoyed the book a little but I read real quickly through most parts and focused more on conversations and only when it's exciting. There was quite a number of plot twists that caught me by surprise and it was really really good. The author have done a great job planning the story that leads to those incidents. All characters have such important roles to play in it.

The heroine is a well established character in the first book and you would expect less from her. In this book there is just little growth to her as she still lives up to her Blue Eyed Bandit role but then situations does not permit her to be herself and that's when she had to change to survive. I love her interactions with certain characters with moves the story forward with ease. The introduction of new characters into the story also brought a breath of fresh air to it. These new characters are unexpected and they all play really important roles. Sometimes you wished there was more interaction of them with Amani. One thing that disappointed me was the absent of some other characters which I liked in the first book.

This was a really thick book and there was just enough action. I expected more to happen but the timeline was short and we can't have too much happening actually. But still I felt that there was a lack of incidents and also too much focus on the main heroine. The book would be more exciting if there was another point of view introduced. Maybe I expected too much hence I got a tad disappointed. Overall this was a good second book with a good ending that will want you reading the last book. The only reason why I speed read was because I have the last book on my hands and I just wanted to breeze through this book. I think I  might not do it enough justice but then again with speed reading I skipped through parts that were what I felt unnecessary in the stories. If the first book didn't capture you then I think there is no point in continuing the series.
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