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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Book Review - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty


The Husband's Secret

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

I saw that this book made it to many blogger's Top 10 in 2013. I had read her other book, What Alice Forgot (see review here) and liked it okay, thinking it'd be a stronger story if it was shorter.

I have the exact feedback for this book - at almost 400 pages, it was just a bit too long. I do like the story better than What Alice Forgot, as I enjoyed discovering how the three seemingly unrelated characters intertwined in the story. There are also many "what if" questions that made you wonder how you'd react, such as - [POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD] Would you open a letter written by your husband now or later, if you were supposed to open it upon his death? What would you do if your daughter was murdered and the killer was never found? What if your husband and best friend fall in love? [/SPOILER]

This book is still a bit chicklity and once again, it reconfirms that it's not really my genre (I don't know why I keep trying). Not the worst I'd read though. But like most books in this genre, it was a little predictable and I was able to guess the husband's secret early. Thus I think some tighter editing and maybe a little less foreshadowing would turn this into a better read.

3.5 Stars.


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



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

Book Review - Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky


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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

I like reading about other occupations. So when someone said they enjoyed reading this book about a guy who worked in hospitality, I thought it'd be a fun read, especially since I enjoy traveling (which means, mostly staying at hotels).

I was a little disappointed that the author had only worked at a couple of hotels, though he did work in a few different positions from valet to front desk to manage of housekeeping. There were some good to know do's and don'ts for guests (especially if you want "free" upgrades), and made you appreciate the hard job the staff has to do (especially for housekeeping!) But I don't know if this needs to be a full book size as I got a bit bored in the middle.

Not bad, but not the best memoir out there. 3 Stars.



Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



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

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Books Read in 2014


Will be updated throughout the year.
What I'd read in the past years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. (Reviews started in 2010)
Wow, I've blogged for 4 years as I started in Jan 2010! Totally forget about that.

Fiction:

  1. My Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (3.5 Stars)
  2. Night Film by Marisha Pessl (3.5 Stars)
  3. Margot by Jillian Cantor (3 Stars)
  4. The Manufactured Identity (Manufactured Identity #1) by Heath Sommer (3 Stars)
  5. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (4 Stars)
  6. The Color of Earth (Color Trilogy, #1) by Kim Dong Hwa (3.5 Stars)
  7. The Color of Water (Color Trilogy, #2) by Kim Dong Hwa (3 Stars)
  8. The Color of Heaven Color Trilogy, #3) by Kim Dong Hwa (3.5 Stars)
  9. What I had Before I had You by Sarah Cornwell (3 Stars)
  10. The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith (2 Stars)
  11. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag (4 Stars)
  12. Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (2 Stars)
  13. That Part was True by Deborah McKinley (4 Stars)
  14. Arranged by Catherine McKenzie (3 Stars)
  15. Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett (3.5 Stars)
  16. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (3.5 Stars)
  17. The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #11)by Jeffery Deaver (4 Stars)
  18. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikryby Gabrielle Zevin (4 Stars)
  19. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (5 Stars)
  20.  Chemistry for Beginners by Anthony Strong (4 Stars)
  21. Thirty Rooms to Hide In: Insanity, Addiction, and Rock 'n' Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic by Luke Longstreet Sullivan (3 Stars)
  22. We Were Liars by e Lockhart (3.5 Stars)
  23. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (3 Stars)
  24. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (3 Stars)
  25. The Magician's Elephantby Kate DiCamillo (2 Stars)
  26. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (3.5 Stars)
  27. All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr (3 Stars)
  28. Made for You by Melissa Marr (3 Stars)
  29. One Plus Oneby Jojo Moyes (2.5 Stars)
  30. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (3.5 Stars)
  31. Afterworlds by Westerfeld (2 Stars)
  32. Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult (2 Stars)
  33. Points and Lines by Seicho Matsumoto (4 Stars)
  34. 早上七八點鐘的太陽/ 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  35. 吻所有女孩 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  36. 她的二三事 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  37. 同門 by 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  38. 紫色平原by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  39. 我倆不是朋友 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  40. 四部曲 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  41. 大君 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  42. 櫻唇 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  43. 迷藏 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  44. 禁足 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  45. 噓 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  46. 特首小姐你早 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  47. 剪刀替針做媒人 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  48. 雪肌 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  49. 漫長迂迴的路 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  50. 電光幻影 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  51. 愛情只是古老傳說 by 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  52. 忘記他(短篇)by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  53. 你的素心 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  54. 蜜糖只有你 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  55. 靈心 by 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  56. 畫皮/ 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  57. 被愛,卻孤獨 by 橘子 (3 Stars)
  58. 朝花夕拾 by 亦舒 (5 Stars) ISBN: 9787510400681
  59. 外遇 by亦舒 (4 Stars)
  60. 流金歲月 /. Liu jin sui yue/ 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  61. 實在平凡的奇異遭遇  by  亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  62. 尋找失貓 by 亦舒 (4 Stars) - short stories
  63. 悄悄的一線光 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  64. 我情願跳舞 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  65. 月是故鄉明 by 亦舒 (2.5 Stars) - essay
  66. 如果你是安琪 by 亦舒 (4 Stars) - short stories
  67. 黑夜旋律 by 譚劍 (3.5 Stars) 
  68. The Red Finger by Higashino Keigo 紅色手指 by 東野圭吾 (3.5 Stars)
  69. In the City of Dawn by Higashino Keigo 黎明破曉的街道 by 東野圭吾 (3.5 Stars)
  70. The deceased drank the water by Soji Shimada 死者喝的水 by 島田莊司 (3.5 Stars)
  71. 長相思(卷一):孤月下,許君心 by 桐華
  72. 長相思 (卷二) : 人依舊,終離別. by 桐華
  73. 長相思 (卷三): 思一寸,愁千縷 by 桐華
  74. 長相思(卷四): 笑問月,誰與共 by 桐華
  75. 長相思(卷五):生相依,死相隨 by 桐華
  76. 長相思(卷六): 長相守,不分離 by 桐華. 
  77. 死愛恨一念間 by 劉墉 (3.5 Stars) CH 895.14L7406s



Non-Fiction:

  1. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky (3 Stars)
  2. The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change by Matthew May (3 Stars)
  3. The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century by Claire Prentice (3 Stars)
  4. Still Life in Watercolour by David Webb, Ray Campbell Smith (4 Stars) - beginner
  5. 金庸小說版本追昔 by 陳鎮輝 (1.5 Stars)


Graphic Novel:

  1. I love you, How about you? 你愛我嗎?張小嫻.水瓶鯨魚

Children's Books:

  1. Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlics


Did Not Finish (DNF) - Fiction:

  1. 鬼打牆 1 and 2:剝皮女屍 by 天下霸唱 
  2. The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
  3. The Circle by Dave Eggers


Did Not Finish (DNF) - Non-Fiction:

  1. I Want to Be Her!: How Friends and Strangers Helped Shape My Style by Andrea Linett, Anne Johnston Albert









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

KID Book Review: Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlics

Brady Needs a Nightlight

Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlics

Normally I don't read children books... but of course after my son is born, I have to start! He seems to be interested in books so far - at least he thinks they are yummy since he keeps chewing on them! Though lately he likes flipping the books by himself, even if I am not around. And I note that he even knows to turn the book right side up all by himself!

When TLC Tour asked if I want to review this book, I agreed as I don't know anything about children books. As a child, I read mostly children books in Chinese, so apart from a few famous ones in English (some of the translated into Chinese), I just don't even know where to start. (And nope, I didn't read any Dr Seuss until the last 1.5 years!)

This is a very cute book - I mean, Brady is a bat, but he is not at all spooky or scary! The illustrations were nicely done by Gregory Burgess Jones, and I like the verse (I like verses that rhyme! So much more fun to read out loud). Plus I like fireflies - seem how cute that one on the cover is?

I think when my son gets older, especially when/if he starts getting scared in the dark, this would be a fun and useful book to read together! Even if he have this fear, this is a still great bedtime story too.

Fun fact - the author is also a Pediatrician!



Don't forget to check out the other tours!

Brian Barlics’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 6th:  Savvy Verse and Wit
Tuesday, January 7th:  Allison’s Book Bag
Tuesday, January 7th:  Mental Foodie
Wednesday, January 8th:  Book Dilettante
Thursday, January 9th:  Cherry Blossoms
Friday, January 10th:  Not in Jersey
Monday, January 13th:  Read Lately
Tuesday, January 14th:  Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, January 15th:  Simply Stacie
Thursday, January 16th:  Melissa Northway
Friday, January 17th:  Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, January 20th:  Babblin’ Brooke
Tuesday, January 21st:  Musings by Maureen
Wednesday, January 22nd:  Quirky Bookworm
Thursday, January 23rd:  Red Headed Book Child
Monday, January 27th:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Note - Received a free copy from TLC Tour in exchange for an unbiased review.



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

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013... onto 2014

Happy New Year!!

45.

I am surprised that I actually read 45 books this year (I thought I read less). 32 Fiction and 13 Non-Fiction (including 2 graphic non-fiction). In 2012, I read 29 books. I am still way behind to my usual 100 books a year. Hey, if I count all the kid books I'd read...

5 Did Not Finish (all fiction).

To be honest, even though I'd marked a few books as 4 Stars or 4.5 Stars, none of them really jumped out to me so much that made me wanted to recommend it to everyone (remember Still Alice? The Help? Human Bobby?)

Don't get me wrong, i enjoyed them, but they were not that life-changing. I suppose the two 4.5 Stars books - my two top rated ones - did have a bit of an impact. But they just didn't make me go wow.

For 2014, I decided that I need to read more books that'd INSPIRE me. Be they fiction or non-fiction. I guess I just didn't quite feel inspired this year. I have already borrowed a bunch of books from the library (oops, I wasn't supposed to!) so hopefully they'd be a good start! And really, I'd just keep on being a mood reader, and pick whatever that strikes my mood.

The book I'm reading right now is The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. I didn't mean to pick this as my first book (I had another book in mind), but this was actually the last book I started in 2013, and hope I'd finish before the new year...

I did manage to blog every book I read in 2013, so I am happy about that! I want to keep this goal in 2014. Hopefully I can be a bit more active in blogging non-book related posts too, but I just feel a bit weird posting more personal stuff here since this is primarily a book blog. And being an introvert, I just didn't think my life is that interesting that others would want to read about it (no twitter here) :p

Want to know what books I'd read in 2013 and how they were rated? Click here. You can see links to each review there too.

How about you? Do you have any plans on what you wish to read this year?

By the way, if you have any books that inspire you, I'd love to hear about them. Please! :)



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

Book Review - Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

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Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

A vibrant, food-themed memoir from beloved indie cartoonist Lucy Knisley.

Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a
gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her
obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and
funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus
far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons
learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is
bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them
treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original
inventions.

A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion
for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a
book for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food
as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the
earth, rather than an enemy, a co
mpulsion, or a
consumer product.


I love reading about food. I love reading memoir. But I haven't read a lot of graphic novels, but I am very glad I read this!

This is a refreshing and cute book. And the author/artist reminded me of myself a bit, especially with her views on food - she loves the exotic/gourmet food, but her guilty pleasure is French fries from McDonalds... yes I know they are bad for you but they are probably one of my favorite fries (given that I only eat them once a year at most, I don't feel so bad about it...) The biggest difference between us is that she actually cooks/bakes in the kitchen, while I dream that I can.

It was fun to read about her relationships with her parents and their impact on her regarding food. Her other stories about food and friends are also heartwarming. At the end of each chapter there are also recipes she drawn - very cool.

My favorite though, has to be the last chapter when she drew about her behind-the-scene experience at one of the best restaurants in the US (if not the world) - Alinea in Chicago. If there's just ONE restaurant I can try in the US, this is where I'd pick (read about the memoir written by the chef and business partner of Alinea I'd reviewed earlier here). Apparently she got invited to the kitchen after one of the owners saw her drawings about her actual eating experience at the restaurant (which I want to read!!). I was so jealous that she got to see the action! Though it seems there were equal amount of cooking and cleaning back there - which is good... who wants to eat from a dirty kitchen?

4 Stars (this is more like 4.25... not quite 4.5 because it just lacks a bit of depth, but it was a very enjoyable read nevertheless.)


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



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

Book Review - My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf


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Book Review - My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

From Goodreads:
You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. 
In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.




I am quite fascinated by true crimes and serial killers - what makes them tick and why they kill. So when I heard about this from another blog, I quickly added it to my TBR. Because I'd been very busy lately, I thought I'd end the year with something light - not the subject matter of course, but that I'd read graphic novels instead.

Sometime between 1996 and 2002, I read a book on Jeffery Dahmer - I didn't blog back then obviously so I do not remember much about it apart from some of the sickening details of his crimes. This book gave us a glimpse of what he was like in high school, which may or may not have provided some insight on why he did what he did. 

The author/artist, who went to school with Dahmer, did say so in the beginning that "pity him, but don't empathize with him" (p11.) I agreed with his sentiments - you kinda wondered "what if"... but it really didn't excuse all his wrongdoings.

The author/artist also did some research to fill in the holes of the story - mainly with stories and interviews from the media (interviews with Dahmer and his parents etc), as well as memories of a few who went to school together. It was quite an interesting to read his research/reference notes at the end, which I appreciated. 

I would have to say though, the title, "My Friend Dahmer" is a little bit misleading because I really did not think they were friends. Acquaintance,  yes. Friends, no. Dahmer was more his (and his actual friends') object of amusement. Though it seemed like Dahmer did enjoy the short-lived "friendship, probably because that was one of the few occasions where someone would pay attention and talk to him, even if it was not with the best intentions. 

3.5 Stars




Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



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