Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner: ARC Book Review

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Synopsis from GoodreadsLisa Gardner’s next thriller following her runaway New York Times bestseller Find Her takes her wildly popular brand of suspense to new heights.

Is he a hero?

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Is he a killer?

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

All she knows for sure: He’s back.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

Publisher: Dutton Books

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

Date Read: January 31, 2017

Pages: 421

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

REVIEW

 

A crime thriller with a HEART!

Thriller is another genre that I have barely scratched the surface of. I am not by any stretch of imagination a connoisseur in the subject, but that doesn’t necessarily make my opinion invalid right? I know a good book when I read one, at least I could take pride in that. Anyway, Dutton Books asked me if I would love to review Lisa Gardner’s new thriller. I have never read anything by her (I know! Have I been living under a rock?) and so when an opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it. Let’s just say, Lisa Gardner is now included in my Autobuy Authors List. 

Right Behind You took the words clever and gripping into a whole new level. I finished the book in two and half days, which seldom happens nowadays (insert life and work here), so I guess that must have at least amounted to something. Right Behind You is a satisfying and joyful thriller ride. You have to give it to Lisa Gardner to capture her readers’ attention and be able to sustain the momentum until the very last page. It was impossible to put down, I was reading through traffic, inside the elevator, whilst cooking, literally every chance I get. It was in the way the story was narrated that captivated me. It shifts to first person narration to third person without losing its magic, if for anything, it added to the texture and flavor of the book. And there is always beauty in anticipating the twist, in solving the puzzle along with the characters in the book. It is as if you are there with them. The characters are distinct. Especially Telly Ray Nash and Sharlah, these two though flawed had redeeming qualities of their own, they are enigmatic yet somehow you will be able to relate to them. Telly Ray Nash’s character was something consistent and not at the same time, I don’t know how to put it but when you are reading his character, you will develop some sense of faith in him. Even if the first chapters presented him in a bad light you just can’t help but to somehow root for him. The characters’ connection to each other made the story cohesive, not one character who is dispensable, every single one played an important role. And yes, even the dogs!! Ahhh I love love love how the dogs are incorporated in this book! Luka and MollyWog! Ahhh those two made this book even more enjoyable to read! Lisa Gardner’s writing was clean and polished, she was able to draw out the proper emotions and set the proper mood, and not many authors can do that. It is literally the book that will have you zoned out while reading it. Nothing matters in the world but the story in the book, and that is something truly noteworthy.

Right Behind You isn’t just about the revelation of who did what, it was more than what it conveys. It is a mystery thriller with a HEART. And I wouldn’t lie, I really teared up at some parts. I’m not even sure what really won me over, is it because of the depth of the story or the way it was cleverly written. All I know is, this definitely wouldn’t be the last Lisa Gardner book that I will read. It was well-thought out. It was about a book tackling abuse, violence and (gruesome) murders. Each chapter will leave you with immense need to know what’s going to unfold next, and as cliche as it may sound I had to hold my breath at some chapters, that’s how gripping and intense it was. The only thing that prevented me from giving it full five star rating was some parts have become repetitive to a fault, especially the one explaining about Telly Ray Nash’s condition or mental state also what happened eight years ago. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves crime thrillers.

 

Rating: rating_4stars

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Penny In London by Fisher Amelie: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: You know how everyone says when one door closes another one opens? At the time, you find this statement obnoxious as all get out because a) you don’t really know what the future holds, it certainly hasn’t been a cakewalk so far, and b) the thought of change is unbearable. You feel like your life is falling apart and everyone around is feeding you clichés like they’re made out of kale or quinoa or whatever the trend health food is right now. You don’t want kale clichés, you want double-chocolate fudge realisms, and you want them now. You just want things the way they were, but then something happens, a moment, an instant that sets you out on a path toward happiness you never knew could exist, and suddenly you think, huh, I don’t think I want double-chocolate fudge anymore. I think I’m in the mood for this heaping serving of strawberry cheesecake sitting in front of me…with a side of kale. And a pair of split pants, but we won’t get into that right now.

Graham Glenn may have tossed her in, but Oliver Finn made her feel again.

Date Published: July 23, 2016

Publisher: Self-published

Date Read: October 10, 2016

No. of Pages: 244

Source: Author provided me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Setting: London

 

Review

The first book I have read by Fisher Amelie was Callum and Harper which instantly became an all time favorite, I fell in love with the characters and the story. And so I was beyond ecstatic to start yet another book by her – Penny In London. I have been in a Fisher Amelie drought for the longest time and now it finally rained.

Penny in London  will take us to Penny’s journey on losing love, finding it again and everything else in between. There are moments that made me laugh out loud and there are moments that my chest felt so heavy for suppressing my tears because I was reading in public and I wouldn’t want them to think I’m on the verge of a meltdown. So yeah, to say this book brought out different emotions would be an understatement. Fisher Amelie’s brilliance is still apparent in this book, it was an easy yet delightful read. Maybe the only issue I had was, I wish it was longer, I wish there were parts that should have been expounded more so as to bring forth the impact it was trying to effect on its readers. There was something that I was looking for, nonetheless, it was good – it captured my attention and finished it in a day, which doesn’t happen often *insert adult life here and all the responsibilities I’m trying to run away from, haha!*.

Penny’s character is relatable in more ways than one. There is this sense of feeling that you couldn’t help but feel for her, happens to the best of us, I suppose. I loved how she developed into an independent woman after what happened with Graham. Oliver’s character, on the other hand, was a little hard for me to comprehend. I was trying to dissect his whole persona to come up with a spot-on conclusion on his character but came up short. His character was a little inconsistent, there are traits that contradict one another and I was finding it hard to reconcile them. The depth of his despair and how he handled situations  were also a little lacking for me. Again, maybe I was looking for something more.

The story was divided into stages of grief, which served as a good mood-setter (if that is a thing), it somehow gives you the overview or at least what to expect from that chapter. And can you guys give me a pat on the back for knowing about the plot twist from the very beginning? I swear I was pumping my hands through the air whilst saying “I so knew it!”. Don’t get me wrong the book wasn’t predictable, I don’t know, but I just had that deep feeling that that was the big plot twist of the book. And I was so happy to know I have been right all along. *insert smug face, haha kidding*. So yes, despite the fact that this is a fun and easy read, there is that big twist that you have to watch out for, come back to me if you saw it coming too, or if you didn’t, that’s also amazing! I love me some books with unexpected twists. This book is wholesome and decent, something that is hard to find these days, it focused on the story rather than the steamy parts, us romance readers, know all too well. I love that it didn’t try hard to include unnecessary steamy situations just so it could sell. It was just right as it is.

And yep I had that biggest smile at the ending. It was so cute and heartwarming. I wish there were more pages so I could relish it for much longer. So go ahead, treat yourself with a light and funny read and pick this book up! You’re welcome.

 

Rating: rating_4stars

 

I don’t believe in regrets, not really. I mean, in the heat of a moment I may strongly wish I hadn’t done something but to be honest, I believe all our decisions help mold us into the persons we’re supposed to become. Think about it, if everyone made flawless decisions, how could any of us truly understand life, and all it’s accompanying beauties? If we never suffer, how can we recognize joy for what it is? If we never witness another’s struggles, how can we submit ourselves to helping them? No regrets help shape us into selfless people. After all, the only regrets people really speak of are surrounded by a hesitation to love or allow love.

Penny In London by Fisher Amelie

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang: Book Review

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Synopsis: Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

Publisher: Hogarth

Date Published: February 2nd 2016

Date Read: July 2016

Number of Pages: 192

Source: Won from a YouTube giveaway.

 

REVIEW

This book will lure you into this pit of calmness and plunge you into this unsettling abyss that will stay in your head for days, yes days. It is a book you won’t easily forget. It will inhabit your mind like a guest who has overstayed their welcome. 

It will leave you with inexplicable feeling that you just couldn’t
easily shake off. It is true what they say, after you read it, there
will be times that it will linger in your head like some mistake in
the past you probably regret doing or some cringe-worthy conversation you had.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting it in a bad light. What I’m
saying is this book is disturbing and weird but in the good kind. I can’t
put a proper name to what I exactly felt after reading it but it is
somehow proportionate to feeling of having your brains wrap around
something you can barely fathom. It was like there was this
otherwordly element to it that you just could not easily forget.

This book gave off the Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami vibe to it.
So for fans of Haruki Murakami, I think you will enjoy the works of
Han Kang. There was this certain uniqueness and a hint of something
scandalous that made it all jive into this perfect masterpiece. The
contrast of pensive sadness and the unspeakable abomination masked by
subtleties is what makes this book a cut above the rest. It is
definitely a different reading experience. It is odd as it is
interesting. There was this sense of unease yet there was also a feeling of odd satisfaction, there was no way around it, it was what it was. Shocking to the conscience and somewhat understandable at the same time. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The book was divided into three parts, with different point of views. Each part was distinct from each other yet they all mixed together perfectly to tell a brilliant story. I loved how the author made flawed characters, how they go about with their lives and how their flaws contributed to the whole story. How they invite you unto their minds and made you see it through their perspective, how they invite you and you stayed longer than you have expected. This book will lure you into this pit of calmness and plunge you into this unsettling abyss that will stay in your head for days, yes days. It is a book you won’t easily forget. It will inhabit your mind like a guest who has overstayed their welcome.

There is something about stories about twisted or unconventional marriages that appeal to me so much, and The Vegetarian took the cake. It took twisted and unconventional into a higher level, one I could not fully wrap my head around. There was this feeling that I wanted to read so much more and then a part of me felt satisfied how it ended. It was a mixed emotion at best. I may not have given it full five stars, but I definitely enjoyed it, and added Han Kang to my favorite authors, she writes so beautifully. You will not miss her play on words, how they seemed so simple yet brings so much impact. I know this book isn’t for everyone, some would love it some will hate it, but it is in the beauty of how one would perceive it, how much one could take and be able to grasp the message it was trying to send. This book took another angle on mental illness and painted it in the best light possible, odd but very relevant.

This is the first book that I have read that was translated to english from the original korean, and it did not disappoint. This made me feel that I am missing out on a lot of things and from now on I vow myself to read more of it.

Rating: rating_4stars

“Her life was no more than a ghostly pageant of exhausted endurance, no more real than a television drama. Death, who now stood by her side, was as familiar to her as a family member, missing for a long time but now returned.”
― Han KangThe Vegetarian

Chronicle of A Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Book Review

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Synopsis: ‘ON THE DAY THEY WERE GOING TO KILL HIM, SANTIAGO NASAR GOT UP AT FIVE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING TO WAIT FOR THE BOAT THE BISHOP WAS COMING ON’

When newlywed Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Román are left to their wedding night, Bayardo discovers that his new wife is no virgin. Disgusted, he returns Angela to her family home that very night, where her humiliated mother beats her savagely and her two brothers demand to know her violator, whom she names as Santiago Nasar.

As he wakes to thoughts of the previous night’s revelry, Santiago is unaware of the slurs that have been cast against him. But with Angela’s brothers set on avenging their family honour, soon the whole town knows who they plan to kill, where, when and why.

Publisher: Penguin Books

Date Published: February 29, 2008

Date Read: March 2016

No. of Pages: 122 pages

Source: BookSale

REVIEW

Haunting and Strange.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a proof that one need not write a long book to tell a great story. This book may be 122 pages long, but it was condensed and all aspects of a great book wasn’t compromised. This is my second Gabo book, first being Memories of my Melancholy Whores about an unconventional love story of a 90 year old and a young woman, if I remember it correctly a 14 year old girl. It was so intriguing, I read it in one sitting. I knew then, I need to read more of Gabo’s works. So when the opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it and started with Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Resh (@thebooksatchel on instagram) posted about #MarchofMarquez wherein people are going to read Gabo’s works the whole month of March to honor his birthday. I decided to join in, best decision I have made. As I was in this murder/historical drama vibe because of Burial Rites, I opted to read this book, and did it quench my thirst? Yes it did!

I loved how the book depicted the beliefs and culture they had back then. How important honor was, far more important than anything. The plot gripped me in this inexplicable way that I could not help but finish this book in a day. Gabo’s writing style is always a cut above the rest, he has this distinct way of saying things as it is, plain and simple without sugarcoating and using flowery words. Just straight to the point. Based from the two books I have read, he has this unique plots making every story original and his very own. Only Gabriel Garcia Marquez can do that.

The characters were all well written as well. They are very distinct from the other,making the book all the more interesting. The book was told through recollections and testimonies of those who witnessed Santiago Nasar’s death. Some corroborated that of another, some will really test your skill on deciphering who was telling the truth or who was telling a complete lie – making the reader more eager to know what truly transpired that unfortunate day. It left me with this gnawing feeling, yet I was satisfied with the whole read. It is the kind of book that even when you already knew what happened, you will still be rooted to your spot and will hold the book dearly in your hand, seeking for those bazillion questions you have inside your head. The tension that builds up was ever present and wasn’t compromised at all. This book is just pure genius. I highly recommend it for Gabo first timers.

Rating: rating_4stars

“…I caught the smell of a warm woman and I saw the eyes of an insomniac leopard in the darkness…”
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezChronicle of a Death Foretold

frankly TWISTED: The Lost Files by Kevin Eleven: Book Review

Synopsis: BOOK TWO of THREE

Many often think that they know the character as well as motives behind Brooklyn’s own 23rd precinct. Well, the fact of the matter is that they don’t as detectives find that scratching your head are the keys to figuring out exactly where it could have all went wrong. Moreover, this just so happens to be the dilemma of Parkside avenue’s finest as they now find themselves entangled within a twisted end at every single corner. However, what they haven’t realized is that someone amongst their own ranks has been leading them astray and is the cause of them backtracking as a result…

Date Published: July 21, 2015

Publisher: Flowered Concrete

No. Of Pages: 176 Pages

Date Read: March 2016

Source: Provided by an author for an honest review.

REVIEW

The publisher contacted me asking if I could review their new book on  crime/detective fiction in exchange for an honest review. I ultimately agreed for multitudes of reason, one being I am huge fan of crime/detective TV series like Criminals Minds, Scandal or CSI. Those kind of stuff always amaze me. So it is a no brainer to read something like it. Second reason was I wanted to widen my reading experience and be as diverse as possible. This is actually my first read under this genre and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t as complicated or as convoluted as I expected a book such as this to be. It was a perfect book for beginners such as myself. To be upfront this isn’t a book that I would have picked up on my own, it was definitely something out of the usual ones I read, but because the whole premise piqued my interest I gave it a try. I was not disappointed.

The book was about the interrelated webs that happened inside BKPD 23rd precinct. And to warn you, not everything is what they seem. From start to finish the book gripped me, I finished it in a day, it was a quick yet entertaining read. What I liked about this book was its element of surprise. That twist was well-played. Very fitting to its title, if you ask me. The characters are distinct from each other. They have their distinct voices and characteristics that some you will learn to love and some you will learn to hate. And I could not discount the fact that the book isn’t solely the play of testosterones, I loved Deb Lane’s character being thrown in the mix, a very valiant female protagonist. Her character and how badass she can be surely appealed to me. Books definitely needs more of this.

The issues I have with the book though, were, firstly, it could have been polished more. The backstory needs elaboration. Sometimes I got lost on who was being referred to. Another thing is, there are few unnecessary parts that the book can definitely do away. Lastly, I wish there was more to it. It felt a little short from what I had anticipated. I had wanted to see everything unravel in a grand way, more like ending the book with a blast. I guess I have to continue on with the next book to get the ending I really wanted. But all in all I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to people who is fairly new to detective fiction.

Rating: FiveStarsInline3.svg

 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: Book Review

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Synopsis: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Publisher: Michael Joseph (UK)

Date Published: January 5, 2012

Date read: January 8, 2016

No. of Pages: 481

Source: Bought it from Taiwan

 

REVIEW

 Haunting and scarring, yet you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Me Before You is one of the few books that will haunt you for a long time, or maybe forever. It is more like a slow burn, that will leave an ugly scar, but you will succumb, yes without an iota of hesitation. It is one of those books that you already know that there is something so tragic that will happen, but you like pain and sadness so you will go ahead and put on your bravest heart, and even then, even when you thought you are ready for the blow of the inevitable, you will still be left by no means unscathed. All your mental and emotional preparations proved futile, because there is nothing to prepare you for what will unfold.

I bawled like I have never bawled before. I think a big chunk of my heart will always feel that pain. It was sad, but the beautiful kind of sad, if that ever made sense. I started reading it expecting it to be just the ordinary book with sad ending, but then it was definitely a lot more than that. I was able to get a lot out of this book. I mentioned something on my blog about not finding a book that have “changed my life” yet, but after reading Me Before You, this may very well be the book that changed my life.

It was my first Jojo Moyes read, and it will definitely not be the last. I was reminded of Jessica Thompson’s writing when I was reading Me Before You another reason to love Jojo Moyes more. I also noticed that I love books set in England/London, there’s just something more engaging when it is set there.

Louisa Clark’s character resembles that of a lot of women out there, she’s like the amalgamation of every normal girl. I loved how the book painted her in such a way that makes her very relatable. In such a way that she’s very realistic, it is safe to say there is a Louisa Clark in every one of us. Determined and driven.

Will Traynor is a character that you will have to spare a few more moments to understand. His character sometimes made it hard for me to grasp what  he wanted to do with his life. I struggled to see things in his perspective, but this by no means affected the beauty of the book. Will’s character made the book deeper, made the whole book with so much sense and wisdom. His character though flawed was just what the book needed.

As the story progresses you will notice how the characters made an impact to each other, how they changed each other’s perspective. I love that in a book, when you get to feel the transformation of the characters and how their relationship developed, it is like you are actually with them and they are all real.

I truly commend how the book will rip your heart out, crush it beyond recognition, then try to put it back together, but you know it’ll never be the same again, that maybe small parts have been missing and you will forever feel that hollowness. But then you’ll feel renewed and uplifted all at the same time, which is quite contradictory but you can’t find a proper word for it – that’s exactly what I felt and so much more, and again I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rating: rating_5stars

“All I can say is that you make me… you make me into someone I couldn’t even imagine. You make me happy, even when you’re awful. I would rather be with you – even the you that you seem to think is diminished – than with anyone else in the world.”
― Jojo MoyesMe Before You

 

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

unnamed (4)Synopsis: First American Publication

This stunning and elegiac novel by the author of the internationally acclaimed Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has sold over 4 million copies in Japan and is now available to American audiences for the first time.  It is sure to be a literary event.

Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age,Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.

Date Published: 1987

Publisher: Vintage Books

Date Read: April 2013

REVIEW:

I have so many feelings after reading this book, but most of it was sadness, like a hole was left inside me. I can’t quite put my finger into it. This book was just painstakingly beautiful and true. I found wisdom in this book, like it has summed up life itself. It is my first Haruki Murakami novel and I was not disappointed. This book was beautifully written and carefully laid out. It was not written to please the readers, it was written from what the author truly feels and I think that is amazing.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Patience is the most important thing. We have to go on unraveling the jumbled threads one at a time, without losing hope.