Monday, September 26, 2011

The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate

Introduction: I will go directly to the point... I love this book! It touched me... made me realize and understand certain aspects of life. I feel for the characters... I just wish all of them will eventually find love, since they already have friends who will stand by them at all points of their lives.

Overview: As 28 year old New York paralegal Rebecca Strand's widowed father lays dying, he confesses a secret: he had an affair 26 years earlier when Rebecca was just a toddler. Now he wants Rebecca to deliver the secret stash of letters he wrote, but never mailed, to the daughter he fathered. Rebecca's lawyer boyfriend, Michael, is adamant that she forget the woman exists. He's sure the woman will be an opportunist who will demand half of Rebecca's father's million-dollar estate. But Rebecca, now without any family in the world, can't help but wonder about her one living relative. With her relationship with Michael in tatters, Rebecca drives from New York City to Maine to find Joy Jayhawk, who operates a Weekend Singles Tour service out of an orange mini-van that her regulars dub "The Love Bus." Enter a cast of lovable, colorful characters, from Joy's eccentric mother to the singles on The Love Bus, and a sexy carpenter for whom Rebecca finds herself unexpectedly falling in love...

My Opinion: This book tells a story of a woman who wanted to have a sister. Actually, its about a woman who wanted to belong... who wanted to be accepted as herself and not to try hard to fit in. When Rebecca found out about her half-sister from a death-bed confession of her father, she was determined to find her. Only however, Joy is not as positive about this whole "I have a sister" revelation as her. But the best thing that this portrayed, is that we cannot always get what we want... especially not if we give up at once. We have to try hard for the people we care about. The relationship stories of Joy and Harry and Ellie and Tim... showed very contrasting faces of love. It tells us when to keep holding on, and when to give up. The seek for love by the ladies of Divorced Club of Wiscasset is hilarious yet inspiring... their bitterness to their failed marriages and their hope of finding the "right one".

This book... is about love... for family, for friends... and for that someone who will treat us the way we deserve to be. :)

My Rating:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dracula by Bram Stocker

Introduction: I have never read any classic, and was obliged to do so when the reading group I recently joined suggested that we read and discuss Dracula (as our Halloween gig ;p). I would really prefer the original version of Dracula by Bram Stocker, but its unavailable for me at the moment. So I decided to read the one edited by Jan Needle.

Overview: The story of the notorious vampire Count Dracula, lord of the "un-dead", who rises from his coffin at night to suck the blood of the living is, undoubtedly, the stuff of nightmares. A lunatic asylum, a bleak Transylvanian castle, an ancient cemetery...these are the dark backgrounds to the even darker deeds portrayed in this most bloodcurdling of tales.

My Opinion:  Although I didn't have the chance to read this book before a week ago, I certainly know the story as this has been made to a movie or a TV show or even became as a hand-down story from my parents or relatives. Dracula is indeed one of the most famous horror novel ever written. Set in the 19th Century Victorianism, it depicts how at that time men (without thinking twice) weep and risk their lives protecting the virtue of a lady they highly respect and adore. Although it was sad how they failed the battle against Dracula when Lucy died and became one of the "un-dead", atleast it showed their brotherhood and pure spirits in their struggle to rid Mina of the same fate. It wasn't really clear whose the protagonist in the story since Jonathan, Van Helsing and Dr. Seward seems to equally grace the story, each having their own remarkable identities. But I guess this made the story even more interesting as you can sympathize not only with one character but everyone in the story. I love Mina's character particularly her being a determined and brave lady, her being knowledgeable about things that surprises the men, and her love for her husband. This book is easy to read (since it has already been translated to suit the younger generations) despite the heavy setting, and the illustrations made a clear shot to my imagination. The headings in red, white pages with ‘blood-soaked’ borders and detailed pencil drawings are very dramatic and complements the story. Yet another book that kept me glued to my seat (well, bed literally).

My Rating:

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Last Song by Nicolas Sparks

Introduction: I decided to take it light for a couple of days because I know I will be busy with work. So I grabbed a book by Nicholas Sparks knowing that its going to be an easy read. I dont mean it any other way simply that Sparks' books had always been easy to follow type - predictable, true... but always heart-warming.

Overview: Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.
The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels—first love, love between parents and children — that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.

My opinion: This book is exactly what I expected. From the first few pages, I already know how this is going to end.I dont actually like Ronnie's character at first (maybe that's because I am a daddy's girl). I hated how she treats her father, although understandably so... that's because she blames him for ruining their family. But as she evolved in the story and get to know her better, I started liking her. And although this book is exactly how I predicted it to be... and I didn't mean it in a bad way... it still filled me with loads of emotions in the end (knowing hoe melodramatic I can be :p). I know this story will be all about finding true love, seeking forgiveness, desire for second chances to make things right... and realization to never give up hope. I read so fast during the first few chapters only to be unable to finish it at once. I had to stop many times towards the end of the novel to wipe my tears. I was touched by this book, not mainly by Ronnie and Will's love story though... but by Ronnie and Steve's story of a great love shared between father and daughter. It left me with a feeling of gratitude to life - for all the things I have, for the things I lost... and for granting me a family others can only wish for.

My rating:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch

Introduction: Again, another book that asks us "what if you had a chance to do it all again? If you could leave your seemingly routined and monotonous life as a full time wife and mom to have a second chance with the one you tagged to be the love of your life, would you do it?" But to tell you honestly, I dont regret reading this book. Its cozy yet thought provoking, perfect for light reading.

Overview: Jillian has a life straight out of the women’s magazines she obsessively reads. She’s got the modern-print rugs of Metropolitan Home, the elegant meals from Gourmet, and the clutter-free closets out of Real Simple. With her investment-banker husband behind the wheel and her cherubic eighteen-month-old in the backseat, hers could be the family in the magazines’ Range Rover ads.
Yet somehow all of the how-to magazine stories in the world can’t seem to fix her faltering marriage or stop her from asking "What if?"
Then one morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past. She’s back in her Manhattan apartment. She’s back in her fast-paced job. And she’s still with Jackson, the ex-boyfriend, and star of her what-if fantasies.
Armed with twenty-twenty hindsight, she’s free to choose all over again. She can reconnect to the mother who abandoned her, she can use ad campaigns from her future to wow her clients, and she can fix the fights that doomed her relationship with Jackson.
Or can she?

My opinion: I always love reading books that tells about going back to the past to try to correct a mistake (or a decision) only to realize that our protagonists will never change anything at all anyway. But I particularly love the way this book is written, in a sense that when Jillian goes back to the past, she is really convince that it is a chance for her to change her fate and eventually end up not with the husband she chose seven years ago but the boyfriend she love even seven years after. She became unhappy with her current life because she believed that she will be happier with her ex boyfriend whose passionate and free-spirited. She got tired of the routines of being a house wife and a full time mother. This is a good read, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the ride back in time with Jillian - with her second chances and realizations.

I guess, this book tells us that regardless of the choices we made... there will always be moments when we will ask ourselves "what if?". So... it may not be history that needs changing after all :)

My rating:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Would I Be Without You? by Guillaume Musso

Introduction: I trusted to read this book partially because I loved the first book I read by Guillaume Musso (Will You Be There). But to tell you honestly, the beginning part was fab. But the ending... well the least I can say is that, "it just didn't impress me much!" :p

Overview: Parisian cop Martin Beaumont has never really got over his first love, Gabrielle. Their brief, intense affair in San Francisco and the pain of her rejection still haunt him years later.
Now, however, he’s a successful detective – and tonight he’s going to arrest the legendary art thief, Archibald Maclean, when he raids the Musée d’Orsay for a priceless Van Gogh.
But the enigmatic Archibald has other plans.
Martin’s pursuit of the master criminal across Paris is the first step in an adventure that will take him back to San Francisco, and to the edge of love and life itself.

My opinion: This is a really ‘different’ read, with no clear genre to categorize it with. It’s a love story, a police thriller and then turns towards the paranormal at the end. So a bit of everything, really.
Set in Paris and San Franscisco in the mid 90s, the story revolves around Gabrielle and Martin – a young couple who met during their younger days and fell in love. The story leaps forward to find Martin working as  a French policeman with a special interest in art crime. Martin and Gabrielle have not met since that summer twelve years before and it is clear that both their lives has gone pretty empty and lonely.
Martin is determined to capture the famous art thief Archibald Maclean who has outsmarted him for many years. His chase led him back to San Francisco.

It’s an interesting read, a unique plot line and although I had guessed a couple of the twists, it’s an entertaining read.

The story enters into the paranormal at the close, which was for me, a safe way of explaining some things and tied the story up quite well, but on a personal level I really didn't like. Anyway, I still enjoyed reading this book. Its different, and some of you might just like it.

My rating:

Monday, September 5, 2011

To The Moon and Back by Jill Mansen

Introduction: To tell you the truth, I hesitated reading this book after reading the exerpts. But I always believe in giving chances, in hope that the novel will touch my heart somehow:

Overview: When Ellie Kendall tragically loses her husband she feels her life is over. But eventually she’s ready for a new start – at work, that is. She doesn’t need a new man when she has a certain secret visitor to keep her company...
Zack McLaren seems to have it all, but the girl he can’t stop thinking about won’t give him a second glance. If only she’d pay him the same attention she lavishes on his dog.
Moving to North London, Ellie meets neighbour Roo who has a secret of her own. Can the girls sort out their lives? Guilt is a powerful emotion, but a lot can happen in a year in Primrose Hill.

My opinion: To The Moon And Back is a sweet romantic contemporary novel about love, loss, and second chances. This is a story of one girl's struggle to go back living after having lost the only man she can possibly love. Often times we are faced with this kind of dilemma, when its hard for us to move on simply because we put what we have lost in a pedestal... believing so much that no other thing can replace it. 

Although this book is full of clichés, personally I still found the book interesting because there were quite a few surprises on it, and I almost said "NOOO!" out loud a couple of times. In other words: typical "chick-lit", but I like those books, obviously or I wouldn't be reading them. :p

I like the idea of Ellie making her husband come back to engage a conversation with her. Its funny imagining talking to a make-believe husband, yet at the same time, its heartbreaking being in this situation when the only way you can be with the person you love so much is through your imagination. My favorite character was Roo, who undergoes a massive change during the book. But I liked her both before and after. She really is a bit too much - doing things we can hardly think of doing... and then drastically changing in ways we cannot even think possible! That's why I love her!

My rating: