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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review - This Life Is in Your Hands: One Family, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone by Melissa Coleman













Title: This Life Is in Your Hands: One Family, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone 
Author: Melissa Coleman
Year: 2011
Page: 352
Genre: Non-Fiction - Memoir

FTC Disclosure: ARC from HarperCollins

Summary (from goodreads.com):

In a work of power and beauty reminiscent of Tobias Wolff, Jeannette Walls, and Dave Eggers, Melissa Coleman delivers a luminous, evocative childhood memoir exploring the hope and struggle behind her family's search for a sustainable lifestyle. With echoes of The Liars’ Club and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Coleman’s searing chronicle tells the true story of her upbringing on communes and sustainable farms along the rugged Maine coastline in the 1970’s, embedded within a moving, personal quest for truth that her experiences produced. 


First Sentence:
We must have asked our neighbor Helen to read our hands that day.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • This book was compared to Jeanette Walls' The Class Castle, which happened to be one of my favorite memoirs. So how could I not resist, even though I am not really interested in the self-sustaining/farming/homestead lifestyle (I kill even cacti.) 
First thought:
  • I wish I didn't read the jacket copy because I think it revealed too much, and kinda ruined the surprises (I made sure the description above doesn't have it.) Even the prologue might be giving away too much
Cover Art:
  • I think it's goes with the book very well, especially the green! And look at the happy child with the big plants!
Title:
  • I guess fitting though not as catchy as some others. I kept thinking it's called This Life is in MY hands (as opposed to yours)
Writing:
  • Some described her writing style as lyrical, so it's a little too flowery for my taste. I enjoyed the first half of the book better, and the second half seemed to have a slower pace and I got a bit bored and inpatient 
Plot:
  • I enjoyed reading about how the author's parents chose this lifestyle, and what it meant for their children. I definitely can't imagine myself living like so - I like my modern technology or even just a flushing toilet too much!
  • The story jumped between past and present a bit and it got a little confusing - I didn't keep track, but it didn't seem like all the past events mentioned were in chronological order. That could also be due to the fact that there were more characters mentioned in the book
  • The book ended a bit abruptly and I wish the author included an epilogue to explain why she decided to continue or not continue that lifestyle 
Characters:
  • The author was honest with her account - she didn't try to hide the facts that might make the readers think her parents and their friends (particularly the Nearings) were a little hypocritical in some of the choices they made - I don't want to include spoilers, but for those who read the book, you might remember the boy goats, the oranges, the winter trips, and so forth)
  • There were also lots of "interns" who lived with her family or nearby each summer, and I lost track of who they were even if they made repeated apperance
  • I don't know how I feel about her parents - I could understand why they chose this lifestyle and they seemed like loving parents, but is this lifestyle really best for kids? I also wish the author explored a little more on her parents' relationship in the later years about some of the decisions they made
Ending:
  • Okay, there WAS an epilogue in the book, but I think it could go into a bit more depth about the author's own adult lifestyle choice, and what she thought of her parents' decision. She seemed like a happy child, but what did she think of her childhood now that she's an adult and have her own children?
Emotion:
  • I think it would have more impact on me if I didn't know about the significant event that happened, and since I knew about it, I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for it to happen...
What I Learned:
  • I didn't know a lot about how hard it was to live a self-sustaining lifestyle, and why people would willing choose to do so - don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong to try to grow as much vegetables as you can, make you own this-and-that, but I guess the bigger question is where do you draw the line?
PS:
  • I am glad I read this, but I prefer Jeanette Walls' writing style which really engaged me. It took me 6 days to finish this book (reading "part time" only since I work full time) which is longer than my usual 2-3 days. 
  • I think a challenge in reviewing memoir is staying focus on how the authors deliver their stories, and not judge the choices or action they (or their family) made.
  • The author's parents' mentors, the Nearings, believed in spending 3 hours of doing each of these activities each day: HEAD (intellectual like reading), HAND (working like farming) and HEART (society like helping friends). While it sounds good in theory, I wish I only have to work 3 hours a day :) 
Read this Author again?
  • Perhaps, depends on what it is

Quote:

Looking down at his hands, he realized that they were his most valuable tool in this quest (p47)


"Most important for making this homesteading experience work, is having needs precede wants," Mama wrote in her journal that evening. (p104)

Overall Rating:
3 Stars. I kept trying to decide whether this would be a 3 or 3.5 Stars for me. I decided that it would be 3.5 if the writing was a little less flowery, if the second half of the book was a bit more fast-paced, and if the prologue didn't give away too much (not sure if the author wrote the jacket copy or not, and that gave away even more than the prologue).



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book Review - Still Life by Joy Fielding













Title: Still Life 
Author: Joy Fielding
Year: 2009
Page: 384
Genre: Fiction - Murder / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense 

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads.com):
Beautiful, happily married, and the owner of a successful interior design business, Casey Marshall couldn't be more content with her life, until a car slams into her at almost fifty miles an hour, breaking nearly every bone in her body and plunging her into a coma. Lying in her hospital bed, Casey realizes that although she is unable to see or communicate, she can hear everything. She quickly discovers that her friends aren't necessarily the people she thought them to be - and that her accident might not have been an accident at all. As she struggles to break free from her living death, she begins to wonder if what lies ahead could be even worse.

First Sentence:
Less than an hour before the car slammed into her at a speed of almost fifty miles an hour, throwing her ten feet into the air, breaking nearly every bone in her body and cracking her head against the hard concrete, Casey Marshall was sitting in the elegant, narrowing dining room of Southwark, one of South Philadelphia's more popular white-tablecloth restaurants, finish lunch with her two closest friends and stealing glances at the beautiful secluded courtyard behind their heads.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I found this while browsing the library shelves. The premise sounded interesting. I have heard of the author's name somewhere but haven't read her books before, so I thought I'd give this new author (to me) a try as I LOVE discovering new authors (to me) Once I found a new author, I usually go and read more of their books!
First thought:
  • A bit predictable, but kept me engaged!
Cover Art:
  • I liked that it is a bit mysterious
Title:
  •  Fitting to the story
Writing:
  •  I read the first half of the book in one setting, and would have kept reading if I didn't have to go to work the next day. So yeah, I'd say quite engaging for me. Note though, I am NOT into literature or "beautiful prose" or lyrical / flowery language.
Plot:
  • Even though I was able to guess some of the twists, it still kept me reading. Though if remember right, when I read some of the reviews BEFORE I read the book (to see if this book was worth reading), one review included spoilers without disclosing it! So I found out one MAJOR twist before I started :( So that probably ruined it a bit... I don't mind reviewers including spoilers in their reviews -- in fact, sometimes I intentionally searched for reviews with spoilers - especially if it is a book I am not interested in reading but want to find out what happened, e.g. Twilight Book 2-4 -- but I appreciate the spoiler warning when I DON'T want spoilers! 
  • The book also jumped between past and present - but instead of having alternate chapters, the past and present intertwined in the same chapter, or the same paragraphs sometime. So you had to pay close attention or it could get a bit confusing
Characters:
  • They were okay, maybe a bit too stereotypical, so none of them really stood out to me so I think the premise of the book won me over rather than its characters
Ending:
  • Since I read this over a month ago, I couldn't quite remember how it ended but I must have thought it ended okay or I would have made a note if it was a really outstanding ending or a very disappointing ending.
Emotion:
  • As I read, I kept thinking how I would have reacted if I was in a coma and was able to hear everything... how would I try to communicate with the others? It must have been quite frustrating if your brain and body are not in sync
What I Learned:
  • If I ever write a story that alternates between past and present - make it clear!
PS:
  • Despite the negative points I mentioned, I actually like this book more than I thought I would
Read this Author again?
  • I probably would if I find another premise that interests me


Overall Rating:
3 Stars. Not bad.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption by James Keene, Hillel Levin













Title: In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption
Author: James Keene, Hillel Levin 
Year: 2010
Page: 256
Genre: Non-Fiction - Real Crime

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads.com):

The unforgettable true story of a young man facing a ten-year prison sentence who was offered an impossible mission: coax a confession out of a fellow inmate, a serial killer, and be free to walk

Jimmy Keene grew up outside of Chicago and was destined for greatness on the football field. By the time he reached his twenties, he was rubbing shoulders with famous actors, porn stars, and the children of powerful politicians. But a few costly mistakes left him with a ten-year prison term and no chance of parole. Less than a year into his sentence, Keene was approached by the prosecutor who put him behind bars. He had convicted another man, Larry Hall, for murder and was fighting his appeal. He offered Keene a deal: Enter one of the most dangerous prisons in the U.S., befriend Hall, and get him to confess to the murder of two young women and tell him where he buried the one whose body was still missing. If he succeeded, Keene would get an unconditional release. If he failed, he’d have no choice but to ride out his term. If he was found out, he could also be killed. A story that gained national notoriety, this is Keene’s powerful tale of peril, violence, and redemption. 

First Sentence:
In life, people can take a few wrong turns that destroy them.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I like reading non-fiction crime books. Saw this while browsing at the "new books" section in the library and thought it was interesting. For some reasons I thought it'd be a memoir (since the author's name is on the front) but it's written in 3rd person instead.
First thought:
  • I could not finish the book...
Cover Art:
  • I liked it. It at least attracted me to pick it up!
Title:
  • I liked it also, sounded exciting!
Writing:
  • For some reasons, I just couldn't get into the book, and this type of book is usually right up my alley. I wonder if I would have liked it better if it was written in first person instead (which I seem to prefer?)
Plot:
  •  I read about 65 pages so roughly a quarter of the book. From what I remembered, it moved a little slow for me because where I stopped, the main protagonist had just started his "mission". Granted, I probably should have kept reading as this was probably the point where it got interesting, but since I was bored, and had to return it to the library, I stopped instead
Characters:
  • I didn't really care about the main protagonist or his family, so that was another reason why I decided to stop this book. He might have became a hero or redeemed himself later, but it was a little too late for me. 
Ending:
  • Since I didn't finish the book, I couldn't tell you if I liked it or not!
Emotion:
  • I got bored, hence I stopped reading it...
What I Learned:
  • I think if I was in the right mood to read it, I might have like it better. I definitely prefer faster-paced books. I don't always have to like the people in the book (I used to read a lot of real crime and I definitely did NOT like the serial or mass murderers!) but if that's the case, I need engaging writing to keep me interested
PS:
  • I read that Brad Pitt's production company bought the movie rights. Maybe it's one of those I'd enjoy watching the movie more than the book - like the Millennium Trilogy (read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but will watch the movies instead for the rest of the series) and Harry Potter (read 4 books, watched 1 or 2 movies... but after all movies came out, will probably just watch the movies in one go.)
Read this Author again?
  • Probably not...

Quote:
You can get the best education in the world at being a criminal. (p42)

Overall Rating:
0 Star. Did Not Finish.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eagerly anticipated... for 2 years?

I recently found out that Molly Wizenberg will be writing a 2nd book. It is tentatively titled Delancey - "It’s about a marriage, in a sense: about a man and a woman and the restaurant that they, however uncomfortably, gave birth to. It’s about what we do for the people we love. It’s about growing up. And most of all, it’s about a small business that we made with our own hands, on our own terms, and the community that came with it, a life that I had no idea would be ours." For more info, see her post here. I love reading her blog too.




But it probably won't be published until spring 2013!!! That's 2 years away!!!


If you haven't read her first book, A Homemade Life, I highly recommend it! One of my favorites memoir (and not about a dysfunctional family!) I love food, but I am a terrible cook (no patience! And I blamed it on my chemistry class that I NEED to follow the recipe directly or the kitchen will explode!) But after reading this book, I itched to learn to cook. Okay, so far I still haven't really cooked... but I have started making ice-cream, I read about food blog, I collected recipes - getting ready for the day I will start cooking...



Book Review - The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang













Title: The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir
Author: Kao Kalia Yang 
Year: 2008
Page: 274
Genre: Non-fiction - Memoir

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads.com):
Destined to touch every reader's heart, this riveting memoir parallels thousands of untold Hmong stories.

First Sentence:
From the day that she was born, she was taught that she was Hmong by the adults around her.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • Book club March read
First thought:
  • Learned something new
Cover Art:
  • Not the most attractive cover design, but relevant to the book
Title:
  •  Not something I would have chosen (is there enough such a word?). I like having something about "home" in the title but I think it could have a more interesting title.
Writing:
  • Some parts of the writing were a bit too slow and flowery for me. Some other reviews said her style was lyrical or poetic - well, usually it isn't really a style I like... 
Plot:

  • The prologue was written in 3rd person, and I thought it would have been better without it. I usually am picky about prologue though because it usually gives away too much (I know it's supposed to be a hook, but I don't want to know the ending before I even start the book!) In this case, since it is a memoir, a 3rd person / poetry like prologue just seemed a bit out of place (and didn't wow me. If I were to pick up this book and read the first page to see whether I'd borrow/buy this book, I probably would have put it back.)  
  • I enjoyed the first half of the book - it was more about the author's grandparents, parents and uncle/aunts, and her early life in Laos/Thailand. In Minnesota (MN), there is a large Hmong population but I didn't know a lot about their culture, so it was a rather interesting read
  • The second half of the book focused on their life in MN and more of the author's own story (as opposed to her families in the earlier chapters). The pace slowed here, and the last few chapters on her grandmother dragged on. I understood she wanted to pay tribute to her grandmother who played a significant role in the book and in the author's life, but the pacing was just a bit off. 
  • Some details were repeated throughout the book and they got redundant. I supposed if you are a slow reader, it is a good reminder, but since I finish this in a few days, it might easier for me to pick up on the repetitiveness 
  • The author also included some Hmong legends in the story - the Tiger and Yer story was a bit creepy though - no offense!
  • There were also some plot holes but probably could have been explained easily - e.g. if the Van Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand was in such poor conditions, and the refugees had no jobs... whom did they borrow the camera from (since there were pictures from that period in the book)? Where did they get matching outfit for the children? Also later on when they lived in MN, they were able to connect with some relatives back in Laos - but how? Since Hmong people do not have a country they could call theirs, and they lived all over in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam etc?


Characters:
  • The grandmother was a memorable character
  • While she was not mentioned a lot, the author's older sister Dawb also left an impression with her love for her little sister. It would be interesting to hear from Dawb's perspective
  • I could identify what the children (the author and her siblings) had to go through when settling in a new country - adults would tell you to study hard, and then the children would think why the adults didn't study hard themselves so they won't have to rely on the children to become interpreters and translates? Dawb, as a 5th grader, had to put a resume together for her parents, and told them "to try" was not good enough on a resume, and that they needed to sound confident. 

Ending:
  • I wish the last few chapters of the book were written differently 
Emotion:
  • Definitely heart-wrenching to read what Hmong people had to go through during the Vietnam war
  • Adjusting their lifestyle in the MN wasn't easy either - while I did not come from a third world country like they did and was used to modern convenience like a flushing toilets, the inner struggle is familiar
What I Learned:
  • I didn't know much about Hmong and especially their role in the Vietnam war, and why there is such a large Hmong population here in MN. I now have a much better understanding
PS:
  • I wish the captions of the pictures in the book were matched to the pictures - instead of having a list of the captions on one page, and you ended up having to flip back and forth to match the caption to the pictures
Read this Author again?
  • Potentially, depends on the topic.

Quote: 
"Mother, you gave birth to me. You wanted to give me a chance at life. That life was ruined by the war. Now I have two girls. What would happen to me in America is not as important as what would happen to my girls here. You love me. I love my daughters as you love me, Mother." (p79)

Overall Rating:
4 Stars. Definitely learned more about Hmong. 
 



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book Review - The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee













Title: The Silver Metal Lover 
Author: Tanith Lee
Year: 1981
Page: 304
Genre: Fiction - Young Adult, Fantasy / Sci-Fi

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads.com):
Love is made of more than mere flesh and blood....

Tanith Lee is one of the most thought-provoking and imaginative authors of our time. In this unforgettably poignant novel, Lee has created a classic tale—a beautiful, tragic, erotic, and ultimately triumphant love story of the future.

For sixteen-year-old Jane, life is a mystery she despairs of ever mastering. She and her friends are the idle, pampered children of the privileged class, living in luxury on an Earth remade by natural disaster. Until Jane's life is changed forever by a chance encounter with a robot minstrel with auburn hair and silver skin, whose songs ignite in her a desperate and inexplicable passion.

Jane is certain that Silver is more than just a machine built to please. And she will give up everything to prove it. So she escapes into the city's violent, decaying slums to embrace a love bordering on madness. Or is it something more? Has Jane glimpsed in Silver something no one else has dared to see—not even the robot or his creators? A love so perfect it must be destroyed, for no human could ever compete?



First Sentence:
I grew up with my mother in Chez Stratos, my mother's house in the sky.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I was browsing in the library, and came upon a book called Metallic Love. I was going to try reading some fantasy/sci-fi type of books and this caught my eye - "the legend of their tragic romance lives on". It wasn't until I got home I found out that Metallic Love is #2 in a series, and that Silver Metal is #1, so I thought I'd better read the first book first.
First thought:
  • Probably liked it better if I read it as a teen...
Cover Art:
  • Not something I'd pick based on the cover, but fitted the story well. 
Title:
  • Like the cover design, not something that'd attract me but fitted the story.
Writing:
  • Easy to read. 
Plot:
  • For a moment, I was a bit crept out - what, in love with a robot? Ummm... but as I was reading the book, it kept reminding me of Twilight. Well, if it's okay to have a relationship with vampires or werewolves, then why not a robot? This book was first published back in 1981, so definitely not copying Twilight's concept of the forbidden love.
  • The story line was fine, I kept reading to find out what happened and didn't guess the ending. Though I felt like it's something I'd have enjoyed reading more as a teen when idealistic was more important that realistic :)
Characters:
  • Jane, the main female protagonist, definitely reminded me of Bella in Twilight - at least in the crying and whining aspect :)
     
  • And Silver, was just like Edward - he was more perfect than human! 
  • I found Jane and Silver's relationship interesting though because Silver kept reminding Jane (and us) that he wasn't human, and won't experience the same emotion that human did, for example, he won't get hurt by the things Jane said. Made you wonder what it's like if we were emotionless
Ending:
  • I liked how the story end. 
Emotion:
  • I probably would have cared more about Jane/Silver had I been younger. I felt about them the same as I felt about Bella/Edward - I know others would be touched by their love but it was not the epic love story for me
What I Learned:
  • I feel old as I read YA books :p
PS:
  • I decided not to read Book 2. I didn't mind giving this a try, but that's enough robot love for me
Read this Author again?
  • Would depend on the story. The author primarily writes fantasy / sci-fi /horror and they aren't my usual genre.


Overall Rating:
2.5 Stars. Not a bad read, just not really for me.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself by Rachel Lloyd













Title: Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself
Author: Rachel Lloyd
Year: 2011
Page: 288
Genre: Non-fiction - Memoir

FTC Disclosure: A free advanced reader copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review

Summary (from goodreads.com):
At thirteen, Rachel Lloyd found herself caught up in a world of pain and abuse, struggling to survive as a child with no responsible adults to support her. Vulnerable yet tough, she eventually ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. It took time and incredible resilience, but ?nally, with the help of a local church community, she broke free of her pimp and her past.

Three years later, Lloyd arrived in the United States to work with adult women in the sex industry and soon founded her own nonprofit—GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services—to meet the needs of other girls with her history. She also earned her GED and won full scholarships to college and a graduate program. Today Lloyd is executive director of GEMS in New York City and has turned it into one of the nation's most groundbreaking nonprofit organizations.

In Girls Like Us, Lloyd reveals the dark, secretive world of her past in stunning cinematic detail. And, with great humanity, she lovingly shares the stories of the girls whose lives she has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.


First Sentence:
She likes swimming, SpongeBob, Mexican food, writing poetry, getting her nails painted (light pink is her favorite color), and Harry Potter books (plus she thinks Daniel Radcliffee is "fine").

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I liked reading memoir, and I liked reading about certain social issues. This book sounded inspiring - the author overcame her past to start the non-profit GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Service, so I wanted to learn more about her.
First thought:
  • Different to what I expected.
Cover Art:
  • Okay. Not very eye-catching. I understood the intent of using images of different girls on the cover, but it does not have much impact on me. Perhaps if all photos were in black and white? Not sure if I like the mixture of color chosen.
Title:
  • I felt "Girls Like Us" fitted the book well, but the long subtitle was a mouthful.
Writing:
  • Okay, didn't find it as engaging as others
Plot:
  • I thought this was a memoir. It was more like part memoir, part sociology, part stories of the other girls instead. 
  • The different chapters jumped all over the place and not written in a chronological order which made it a bit confusing at times. The author's own story about her past didn't come until much later. I wish it focused more on Rachel's story since this was supposed to be a memoir. Not saying the other girls' stories or the statistics quoted were not worth reading or valid, but if that was the main focus of the book, then it should not be written or advertised as a memoir. I think the book would deliver a stronger message if it had a better focus - a real memoir, or a "case study" of different girls, instead of a combination
Characters:
  • There were definitely some heartbreaking stories in the book and made you wonder why some people havd kids if they were not going to take care of their children. There were many stories though and at times it got a bit repetitive (sad but true that a lot of the stories ended up having the same theme) and you lost track of all the different girls mentioned
  • Because of all the other going-on in the book, I didn't think we got to know the author as much as we could have, compared to other memoirs. I wish she would have elaborated more about her story, and especially the part about how she started her non-profit and how she made it successful - there could have been lots of lessons learned there for others who wished to do something similar
Ending:
  • I read this a couple of weeks ago and didn't really remember the ending - so I guess nothing too unexpected or disappointing.
Emotion:
  • While some stories were a bit depressing to read, I thought I'd be a bit more emotional when I read this book.
What I Learned:
  • The author stressed not to use the term "prostitution" (especially when it came to underage girls) but use commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking instead. 
PS:
  • Important message, but could have been executed better
Read this Author again?
  • Maybe. Depends on the topic.

Quote:
I tell Tiana, that you've never seen a cow, never even seen a picture of one or had one described to you, and someone tells you that a horse is a cow. Of course you'll believe them. If you haven't had proper love and care, then a substitute will feel like the real thing, because you've got nothing to compare it to. (p58-59)

Overall Rating:
3.5 Stars. Important issue but could be delivered better
 



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - A World I Never Made by James LePore












Title: A World I Never Made  
Author: James LePore
Year: 2009
Page: 288
Genre: Fiction - Suspense / Murder / Mystery / Thriller

FTC Disclosure: I was contacted by Pump Up Your Book. I received a free copy in exchanged for an unbiased review.

Summary (from goodreads.com):
Pat Nolan, an American man, is summoned to Paris to claim the body of his estranged daughter Megan, who has committed suicide. The body, however, is not Megan's and it becomes instantly clear to Pat that Megan staged this, that she is in serious trouble, and that she is calling to him for help.

This sends Pat on an odyssey that stretches across France and into the Czech Republic and that makes him the target of both the French police and a band of international terrorists. Joining Pat on his search is Catherine Laurence, a beautiful but tormented Paris detective who sees in Pat something she never thought she'd find-genuine passion and desperate need. As they look for Megan, they come closer to each other's souls and discover love when both had long given up on it.

Juxtaposed against this story is Megan's story. A freelance journalist, Megan is in Morocco to do research when she meets Abdel Lahani, a Saudi businessman. They begin a torrid affair, a game Megan has played often and well in her adult life. But what she discovers about Lahani puts her in the center of a different kind of game, one with rules she can barely comprehend. Because of her relationship with Lahani, Megan has made some considerable enemies. And she has put the lives of many-maybe even millions-at risk.

A World I Never Made is an atmospheric novel of suspense with brilliantly drawn characters and back-stories as compelling as the plot itself. It is the kind of novel that resonates deeply and leaves its traces long after you turn the final page.


First Sentence:
Dad, I don't own you or anybody an explanation, but I think you'll appreciate the irony of a suicide note coming from a person who has abhorred tradition all of her life.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • Murder / mystery / thriller / suspense has always been one of my favorite genre. I have been reading  less of this genre lately (used to be 99% of what I read). I am always on the look out of authors I haven't read before. The premise sounded interesting so I thought I'd give it a try. 
First thought:
  • Not bad for a debut.
Cover Art:
  • Not too memorable but fitted well with the story.
Title:
  • I liked it fine enough.
Writing:
  •  Easy to read
Plot:
  • Started off promising, but then it got predictable. I was able to guessed most major plot lines. That's the bad side of having read a lot of books in this genre... after a while it became easy to guess who-dunnit.
  • There was also a slight supernatural element in the story that I didn't know how I felt about it. It played a role in the plot but in the end it made you wonder why this detail was incorporated into the story?
Characters:
  • Pat Nolan, the father, and Catherine Laurence, the Paris detective, were likable enough characters but I didn't feel attached to them.
  • Megan Nolan, Pat's daughter, was probably a character I liked least... can't go into too much without giving too much away.
  • I found that the minor characters were more interesting and wished they played a bigger role, such as Catherine's uncle, the friends who helped Megan out
Ending:
  • Okay ending - wasn't mind-blowing (like the Six Sense) but also didn't make me felt like I wasted my time reading it
Emotion:
  • Felt a bit like a TV movie as I was reading the book
What I Learned:
  • Gypsies were mentioned in the book, and upon finishing it, made me want to learn more about them!  

Read this Author again?

  • Maybe. Depend on the premise. Not bad as a first book, but I hope the author's future books would have more twists


Overall Rating:
3 Stars. Not a bad first effort.



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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Disappointed

My second most anticipated book in 2011 was Where She Went by Gayle Forman (sequel to If I Stay). I am a bit picky about YA books, but I enjoyed If I Stay as I could relate to Mia, the main protagonist somewhat.

Have to say though, just like my most anticipated book for this year, Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, I am disappointed with this sequel. Not a bad book, just didn't quite live up to my expectation :( I will do a full review later.

Sigh.