31 July 2009

Cover: THE BOOK OF TOMORROW by Cecelia Ahern

I have six more reviews lined up to write and I was planning to write one of them tonight, but it's been a looong day so I just decided to post some news instead. I've come across the UK cover for Ceclia Ahern's next novel The Book of Tomorrow, which will be published in October and is described as "a mesmerising and magical tale of seeing your future laid out before you" (click to enlarge).The above mentioned UK cover is on the left and the supposedly US cover is one the right. The UK packing will apparently be "stunning and original" - I suppose it'll be double layered or something?
Which one do you prefer? Personally, I really couldn't decide, I think they're both lovely.

This piece of info should be especially useful to Rebekka who runs a brilliant Cecelia fansite - click here to visit it! :)

Review: DO NOT DISTURB by Tilly Bagshawe *****

"Honor Palmer has always been a fighter. First, for her father's love, approval or even just his attention. When that failed, Honor switched her efforts to saving the family hotel that shares her name. Palmers, a beautiful old jewel of a building nestled on the coast of the Hamptons, used to be the most glamorous destination in the world. Now Honor wants to restore its reputation, its glitz and its guestlist. But there's a new boy in town with a different plan.
Lucas Ruiz is no stranger to struggle. He's worked his way up from the grimy hotel laundries of Ibiza, via Sweden and London, and now as manager of the new hotel on the block, he wants to bring modern boutique-chic to the States. He's got no time for the faded traditions of Palmers - or the ball-breaking girl who's trying to save it.
As Honor and Lucas prepare to go head to head to get the rich and famous checking in, the locals are busy checking out the backstairs gossip. Blackmail, adultery and the dirtiest of dirty tricks are all in a day's work behind the scenes of the five-star facades. Whisking you through the doors of the world's most exclusive hotels, Do Not Disturb is a blockbusting romp that's smart, sexy and more than a little scandalous."

Firstly, I'm not writing a summary for this one because it would take me forever as the book is quite long and there are also sooo many characters and subplots. Namely, this is a proper bonkbuster set in the lives of the filthy rich, featuring two strong characters, both hotel managers, who are mortal enemies at first, but after learning that they've both been destroyed by the same man, they eventually join forces to bring him down.

That would be a very rough summary, but there's a lot more happening in the book. There's adultery, drugs, sex tapes, fighting and all sorts of other scandals. The action in the book is spread over five years and it's a tad bit long, but it was never boring as there is always something going on.

Obviously, this book not a masterpiece, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I thought it was well-written with regards to the genre and there was a lot of witty dialogue (the book really cracked me up several times). Be warned, there's also a lot of swearing so it's not for the faint-hearted, but that's something I persoanlly don't mind in a book at all, I actually think it makes characters more real. Speaking of characters, I found all of them quite well-portrayed in the book; I particularly liked how they were all so driven and passionate and yes, ruthless, but I think their personalities added to the story and made it more exciting - characters like that just can't be boring!

This book is incredibly trashy, but I mean that in the best possible sense of the word, haha! I feel like it shouldn't be a 5/5 as it's so trivial, but on the other hand it was great escapsim and pure fun and I can hardly find any fault with it. I highly recommend this one as the perfect summer read! Ms Bagshawe has written a few other books too and I'm quite excited about reading both Flawless and Adored - just watched a video of the author talking about the latter and she says there's nothing real about it, just fun and escapism, which sounds just perfect to me!

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 5/5

30 July 2009

Sophie Kinsella's next book will be about ...

Yep, you guessed it - Becky Bloomwood! The queen of WIT LIT confirmed it in an interview:

Q. What is your next book about?

A. My next book is going to be a Shopaholic book, but beyond that I'm not giving anything else away at this stage.

I know many, many people have been hoping for another Becky novel so there you go, this should make you/us all very happy! I'm obviously looking forward to reading about Becky's further (family) adventures too, it should be great fun as always! :)

29 July 2009

Review: THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY by Marian Keyes ***

"At 66 Star Street in Dublin, someone is watching over the lives of the people living in its flats. But no one is aware of it – yet . . .

One of them is ready to take the plunge and fall in love; another is torn between two very different lovers. For some, secrets they want to stay buried will come to light and for others, the unveiling of those secrets will have tragic consequences.

Fate is on its way to Star Street, bringing with it love and tragedy, friendship and heartbreak, and the power to change their lives in the most unexpected of ways . . ."

A small piece of warning: this review will not contain spoilers as such, but it will feature basic info about the characters and subjects that are tackled in the novel. If you do not wish to know anything about the novel until it's officially published, then please refrain from reading this review, which (as I said) will not be intended to spoil the book for anyone.
This will probably be a loooong review so I'll bold the most important bits for the tl;dr crowd, but feel free to just scroll down or close the page if you wish to remain surprised about everything regarding this novel.

Right, well, this book isn't out until October, but I was lucky enough to receive a proof of it, which in itself made me too happy for words (you can't even imagine), but I regret to say that the book didn't quite live up to my expectations (which were admittedly very, very high).

Firstly, you should know that this is *not* a chick-lit book, or at least I couldn't find any elements of chick-lit in it. I couldn't quite label it as it doesn't really fit into any of the specific genres (maybe general fiction?), but it appears that our beloved author is trying something new? Hmmm ...

The novel tells the story of people who live in the four apartments at 66 Star Street in Dublin: Maude & Matt, a strange couple; Katie, who is dating Kendall; a taxist Lydia and her Polish flatmates Andrei & Jan; an 88-year-old Jemima and her adopted son Fionn. Plot-wise, I must admit I rather struggled to read the first 500 pages and I was seriously wondering where the author was going with all that as it all seemed so random and unnecessarily detailed. I was all sort of confusing and (dare I say it) kinda boring. Sadly, I didn't find neither the characters nor the events interesting and I would've probably given up on it if it wasn't *the new MK*. Luckily, the novel really picked up in the last one hundred pages and then I really couldn't put it down so it made it all worth it, but I can't say that it wasn't a bit of a struggle.

Two things that make the novel unique and intriguing (but at the same time rather confusing at first) are the structure of the novel and narration. The so-called chapter titles are marked by the countdown of days so the so-called first chapter is Day 61 and then it ends with the last minutes of Day Zero. Now this would make it appears as if the story is going backwards (as I thought at first), but it's actually not - the story is moving forwards and the so-called chapter titles just mark the countdown of the remaining time (to put it vaguely).
Furthermore, the narrative voice is something special too and you don't really find out who the narrator actually is until the very end. Maybe you can guess it, but its identity and 'mission' aren't directly revealed until the last page (if you ignore the epilogue). Personally, I'm not sure if that was the best idea - I think the novel wouldn't be so confusing if more about the narrator was revealed earlier as that would've made the first bit easier to read, I guess. The plot itself may be a bit boring, but I quite enjoyed the narrative voice and its witty comments (written in a different font).

The two main problems that I had with this otherwise well-written novel (obviously, it's MK!) are the apparent randomness of the first 500 pages and especially the serious lack of humour.
Our beloved Ms Keyes is famous for making us all laugh out loud despite the grim subjects her books often tackle (e. g. Angels literally had me in tears, I don't think I've ever laughed so much because of a book), but I regret to say that this book hardly made me smile (even that was due to the narrator) and sadly the laughter was seemingly replaced by indifference, which was an unexpected disappointment. The novel had its moments, but I really missed the signature Keyes humour. As I said, maybe the author is trying something new - or maybe I just failed to be amused.
Furthermore, as I've mentioned before, I personally found the first 500 or so pages surprisingly boring, but then the book suddenly picked up and some serious drama occured, which shed more light on the events described before so that was good and more Keyes-like, but I would've never attributed the first 500 pages to Ms Keyes.

Through the stories of the main characters, several more serious topics are tackled (possibly spoilerish?), namely anxiety, dementia, rape, cancer, death and suicide. I thought these subjects were handled quite well (not surprisingly), but I wish most of them didn't occur until nearly the end of the book as I thought the beginning quite lacked action. I must admit that finally revealing these subjects made me feel for the characters more than I did at first, when I was quite indifferent to them.

I fully expected to rate this novel at least 5/5, but alas I cannot as I just didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the author's other works. It breaks my heart to say this as I think Ms Keyes is brilliant, but I've decided to be honest - no offence, please. Perhaps I would've enjoyed it more if I read it again now that I know what the deal is, but I don't see myself doing that. However, I think spoilers might help make the novel more enjoyable so feel free to let me know if you want some, hehe. I do hope other fans will enjoy the novel more and I look forward to reading other reviews as they come - it should be interesting to see what readers make of it! Nonetheless, I wish Ms Keyes great success with this book as well as in the future.

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover (of the proof): 5/5

Guess who's back?

Hey, everyone, I hope you all had a fantastic week - I sure did! I got back last night and I still haven't managed to catch up with all your posts, but am fully planning to in the following days. You can also expect several reviews reviews soon as I've been quite productive as far as reading goes. :)

During my short absence, I was nominated for several awards and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank a few people and present my nominations for the awards.

Firstly, a million thanks to Alicia, Dot, Book Chick City and Novelicious for the Heartfelt Blog award!

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know that feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt award is all about: feeling warm inside!

The Rules:
  1. Put the logo on your blog/post.
  2. Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.
  3. Be sure to link to your nominees within the post.
  4. Let them know about the award by commenting on their blog.
  5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award
My nominees are (in no particular order) ... *drumroll*
Chick Lit Reviews & News
Confessions of a Bookaholics
Dot Scribbles
Serendipity Book Reviews
Book Chick City

I've been nominated fro the One Lovely Blog award by the lovely Alicia, which I'd like to pass on to the following people.
Chick Lit Reviews & News
Confessions of a Bookaholics
Dot Scribbles
Serendipity Book Reviews
Book Chick City

Congrats to the nominees - I adore your blogs and follow them regularly, as you already know! :)

Thanks again for all the awards, I really appreciate it, and thank you all for reading my blog!

Must dash now, will post more later!

21 July 2009

Buh-byeeee, darlings!

Luckily, the time has come for me to say goodbye - for a week! Yep, I have a plane to catch in a few hours (haven't even packed yet) because I'm going on a holiday today, woo! I'll be quite busy though - just look at the pile of books I have to read (click to enlarge):
No, I'm not crazy and yes, I know it's pretty much physically impossible to read that many books in a week (I *am* planning to attend to other things too, even though I'd be perfectly content just reading 24/7), but I'm taking a lot of books just in case - you never know what might come up! As you can see, there are some fantastic titles (all of them actually) there and I'm soooo excited about reading them finally!!!

By the way, can you see the book at the bottom of the pile? Not sure? Okay, let me zoom that for you:
Ta-daaaaa, yes, yes, yessss, it's the proof for the new Marian Keyes novel, which comes out in October. Isn't it gooooorgeous? It doesn't match any of the covers discussed below, but I absolutely adore it! And it's a massive book too, both in size and length (over 600 pages)! I wasn't sure if I should take it with me, but goodness know I wouldn't be able to wait to read it next week. Initially, I was planning to take Anybody Out There? by MK first, but now it looks like that book will just have to wait for a bit more, boo.

Right, that's it then.Take care, my lovelies, and I'll see you all in a week!

ps: Where and when is everyone else going on a holiday?
And what books are you planning to read there? :)

19 July 2009

Review: CROOKED PIECES by Sarah Grazebrook *****

"Maggie seems to be going up in the world. Compared to living with her large and impoverished East London family and watching her mother being worn down by life and childbearing, working as a maid is a big improvement. Meeting very different people like the Pankhursts, Maggie is introduced to a completely different world, one in which people talk about women getting the vote and organise impressive rallies and demonstrate at Parliament. Then when she meets and begins 'walking out' with a handsome police officer, it seems like a whole new horizon has opened up for her.
Drawn into the workings of the suffragette movement, Maggie is soon caught up in a darker side of the increasingly militant cause. The brutal treatment she and her fellows suffer might make them all more determined to achieve their goal, but just how much is Maggie prepared to sacrifice?"


Judging by the plot summary, I fully expected to really enjoy this book, but I didn't expect to be blown away - and I was, by everything, the plot, the characters, the writing, it's all so amazing and fitting.

The beginning of the book is perhaps a bit slow and I admit I found the narrative somewhat difficult to follow as it's quite old-fashioned (the book takes place a hundred years ago, which is reflected in the writing), but as I got sucked into the story, I started enjoying the narration too and it actually really added to the whole reading experience and made it more believable.

The plot is fascinating to say the least. I discovered a lot of new things about the suffragettes by reading Falling Angels and it's amazing how similar it occassionaly is to Crooked Pieces, which shows that both authors researched the subject well. Both novels deal with suffragettes in London at in the 1900s, they both feature fierce women who get sent to the same prison (Holloway) for standing up for themselves (albeit violently) and they also have several characters (namely the Pankhurts) and even events in common (e.g. Women's Sunday). I really loved Falling Angels and I felt that these two books really complemented each other well and provided different views on the suffragette movement, even though this subject was far more prominent and crucial in Crooked Pieces.

I consider myself a feminist and thus I obviously support gender equality, which is almost self-understood today, but I imagine that very few people actually realize what a hard battle women (in this case the suffragettes) fought in order to be able to vote and work and study and speak their mind etc. Oh yes, as clearly illustrated in this book, it was a brutal fight (literally) and I just wish people would respect their efforts more instead of simply dismissing them or calling them crazy or whatever. Looking back now, some might say that they went too far or that their fight was too violent when really they were just incredible and strong women who realized that being all ladylike and nice won't get them anywhere so they decided to take matters into their own hands. They demanded to have equal rights as men and demanded the vote to symbolize this, but no matter what strategy they chose, their requests were always declined. Yes, I suppose we could say they crossed the line several times by breaking the law, but their battle was unprecedented so they had no one to look up to and thus fought the best way they could. I'm aware that the suffragette movement had its downsides and negative consequences, but personally I truly respect those women who were brave enough to stand up for themselves and demanded to be treated as human beings.

Apart from providing fascinating insight into the life of suffragettes and their battles, the novel also features a wonderful love story between a suffragette and a policeman, which is like a bond between two mortal enemies. Maggie and Fred fall in love against all odds and their relationship is just so sweet. I really liked how their relationship developed from a small crush into love and I was happy that Maggie finally found some happiness as her life has always been miserable and this seemed like the one thing that made it all better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but I admit I wasn't too fond of the cover at first - I just thought it was boring and the girl looked sort of posessed, heh. But after finishing the book, I discovered that the cover is actually quite fitting and a cutey little cover would just ruin everything. This book is anything but cute, it's brutal and fierce and mostly powerful, which I suppose is reflected in the cover (if only it wasn't green as I cannot stand that cover but okay).

As for characterization, I can't say Maggie is my favourite character ever, but she was definitely well portrayed. Yes, she had her flaws, but on the whole she was a great and strong yet kind protagonist. The first-person narrative provided sufficent insight into her thoughts so that her actions and motivations were understandable, although not always admirable.

All in all, I really truly enjoyed this novel very much and I could discuss it all night as it raises some very important points about gender equality, the suffragette movement, the life as it was a hundred years ago etc. I'm hardly surprised that the book became the July Book Club Choice - it really does provide a lot of material for discussion. I wish I had a book club to properly discuss it with, heh. I'll be adding it to the list of my all-time favourites as I would strongly recommend it to *everyone* in order to learn more about this important movement that is often criticized and not respected. You'd be suprised how fascinating the suffragettes really were and honestly, you couldn't possibly wish for a better book about the subject!

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5

In My Mailbox #2

The time has come again for me to share which books I got (inspired by The Story Siren). Yep, some fantastic books arrived this week (mostly YA) as evident from this photo (click to enlarge):

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn
The Elite by Jennifer Banash
Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
(never read anything by her and everyone loves her, plus the cover is adooorable)

I won't be doing an IMM post next Sunday because I'll be away, but there should be one as soon as I come back because I'm expecting some reeeeally fantastic books in the next couple of weeks and I'm so excited! They tend to take aaaaages to arrive (sucks living in continental Europe) and I'm always so damn worried/paranoid that they'll get lost or something so I do hope they all arrive by the time I come back.
Anyway, that's it for this week's installment of IMM. :)

16 July 2009

cover change for the new Marian Keyes

As we all know, Marian's next novel is called The Brightest Star in the Sky and it's out in October, but it appears that a different cover will be used, not the one that was originally planned. Below you can see the old cover on the left (black) and the NEW cover on the right (gold).

What do you think? Is it an upgrade or a downgrade?

Personally, I much prefer the old one (it's absolutely gorgeous!), even though the new one isn't too bad either, I guess ...?

14 July 2009

Review: TWENTIES GIRL!!! by Sophie Kinsella!!! *****

"Lara has always had an overactive imagination. Now she wonders if she is losing her mind. Normal twenty-something girls just don't get visited by ghosts! But inexplicably, the spirit of Lara's great aunt Sadie - in the form of a bold, demanding Charleston-dancing girl - has appeared to make one last request: Lara must track down a missing necklace Sadie simply can't rest without. Lara's got enough problems of her own. Her start-up company is floundering, her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, and she's just been dumped by the love of her life. But as Lara spends time with Sadie, life becomes more glamorous and their treasure hunt turns into something intriguing and romantic. Could Sadie's ghost be the answer to Lara's problems and can two girls from different times end up learning something special from each other?"

(summary TBA)

Oooh, how long I've waited for this book! It was actually my most anticipated novel of the year and I'm glad to say that it totally lived up to all the hype and expectations! It arrived on Friday (words can't describe how happy I was), I started reading it on Saturday evening and finished it on Sunday afternoon (obviously went to sleep etc. in between). It's not a small book, it's over 400 pages, but I so wish it could've lasted longer.

The book had me hooked from page one, which immediately cracked me up. This one's a bit different to other Kinsella novels, possibly due to the supernatural element, which I know sounds strange, but the author totally makes it work! At the same time, it's a typical Kinsella, i.e. very, very, very hilarious (grammatically incorrect but still true). I was reading it with a permanent grin on my face and occassionally I just had to close the book because I was laughing so hard.

Kinsella's heroines are always so funny and loveable, and Lara is certainly no exception. Furthermore, Kinsella always, repeat: ALWAYS creates dreamy leading male characters and yes, I developed a crush on the guy in this novel too - typical (Luke Brandon is still my number one though, hehe). I may have kinda fallen in love with him during their London sightseeing and oooh, don't even get me started on the London Eye scene (before Sadie showed up, lol), which was just amazing and unforgettable (the scene of my dreams, hehehe).

All in all, I adored the characters - they were all wonderfully portrayed and they all contributed to the story. I thought Sadie was a bit annoying at times, but she pushed the story forward and on the whole she turned out to be quite a loveable character too. The plot was far fetched, yes, and a bit slow at first, but it all worked out in the end, everything connected and the ending was awww. It even has elements of mystery in it, which was quite refreshing and enjoyable, and it made the book even harder to put down, hehe.

Haters gonna hate, but I'm convinced that Kinsella fans will adoooore this story. Yes, it's not very deep blah blah, but it's just such an incredible feel-good read and I just can't praise it enough! I'm gutted that I finished it so fast and now I'll have to wait like a year or so for the next Kinsella book, boooo! :(

overall rating: 5/5 (d'oh, was there ever any doubt whatsoever)
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 5/5

ps: It's safe to say Sophie Kinsella is my favourite writer - I've read and bought ALL her books and thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them, which is something that I can't say for other authors that I also admire. This woman is just brilliant! :)

12 July 2009

In My Mailbox #1

I've decided to jump on the In My Mailbox bandwagon! IMM is usually posted on Sunday and you're meant to say which books you received in the past week (idea by The Story Siren).
I've had a fantastic week book wise and here's what I got:
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Please Forgive Me by Melissa Hill (proof)
The Last to Know by Melissa Hill
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (proof)

I've been waiting for these for aaaaages (long story) and to say that I was overjoyed and blissful when they finally arrived would be the understatement of the year, lol. I started reading Twenties Girl and I'm loving it (d'oh)!!! *happy dance*

ps: I urge everyone and their monkey to head over to Chick Lit Reviews & News and post pictures of your bookshelves here! C'mon, it's fun! :)

11 July 2009

Review: IF I STAY by Gayle Foreman ***

"'Just listen,' Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. 'Stay,' he says.
Everybody has to make choices. Some might break you.
For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they're all about a future full of music and love, a future that's brimming with hope. But life can change in an instant. A cold February morning ... a snowy road ... and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all. Gripping, heartrending and ultimately life-affirming, "If I Stay" will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you've lost - and all that might be. "


Firstly, this book had so much potential, but in my opinion it just failed to deliver. The opening was very promising and gripping - first there's this lovely picture of family idyll and then BANG everyone's worst nightmare. I found the descriptions of that scene quite haunting and horrifying (one word: asparagus) and I don't think I'll be able to forget them soon as the whole situation was so tragic. But I'm afraid that after that the book just didn't develop in the way that I'd expect it too under those kind of serious circumstances.

I'll admit the story is original as far as Mia's character goes, but other than that I found it quite average and cliche at times. There's so much you could do with a powerful story like this, which essentially broke my heart, but the novel itself almost left me indifferent. Personally, I found the present days scenes rather gripping (most of the time), but I found the retrospective quite boring. Sure, certain scenes were emotional and important, but I felt that most of them hardly contributed to Mia's final decision, I just didn't see the connection.

I guess that the book was just too short to convey the message it aimed to. I mean, it's almost a novella at 207 pages with a large font and double spacing. I'm afraid that neither the writing (which is quite average) nor the plot (especially the retrospective scenes) failed to make Mia's decision clear and understandable. Personally, I've no idea really why made the choice she did (except for the cliches that were mentioned) and even when I thought the story ended far too soon and on a very light-hearted note, as in everything will be alright, whereas I think the future that lies ahead would realistically be very difficult. I thought the author was just taking the soft option and ending things before they became too much to handle.

All things considered, I completely agree with this reviewer (clearly, we are in the minority as everyone else seems to love the book): the narration seriously lacked emotion. Mia has just suffered an incredible loss and yet I can hardly see her being bothered by that. It's like she accepts it almost immediately, which to me seems quite not only implausible but also unnatural. She barely thought about what *actually happend* (a horrible tragedy) as I would expect her too and instead the story was full of things that didn't really seem to matter at the time, and that rather bothered me.

Ultimately, I don't agree with Mia's decision, I mean I don't think I'd choose that same option myself seeing what she was faced with, and I felt the reasons she implied were not powerful enough. Perhaps my problem is that I see things far too realistically and tend to ignore the message, but even if that's the case, I'm afraid this book wasn't good enough to make me not only see, but also understand the main message. Sadly, this was a disappointment and the rating below is quite generous due to the originality and promising opening, but other than that I was left unimpressed.

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 4/5

ps: Found another review I rather agree with, it's by Meghan McCarthy and it was posted in the comments on the Visual Bookshelf on Facebook under this book's profile (click). It says:
I understand what the author was trying to convey with her novel, but I'm sorry to say that it was very poorly executed. What probably would have been the most deeply affecting moment in the book was rendered only minutely shocking due to its being toward the beginning of the book before the reader could be truly invested enough in the story and characters to actually care.
The main character, instead of being endearing, complicated, or compelling, was mostly just frustrating.
SPOILER: The ending, which was supposed to be artistic, stopped the story before it was able to reach a real conclusion. It was as if someone had switched off the television right before the big finish of a movie and the audience is left wanting. The author builds the anticipation for this moment up for almost the entire (albeit short) book, only to leave her readers high and dry.

7 July 2009

Review: I HEART NEW YORK by Lindsey Kelk **

"When you're running away from a broken heart, there's only one place to go...the summer debut of the year. Adjusting tiaras at the foot of the aisle, Angela and her best friend prepare for the wedding of the year. But events don't go as planned. And when a girl is in possession of a crumpled bridesmaid dress - and can't go home - New York (for the very first time) seems like an excellent idea. Angela's new friend Jenny Lopez gives Angela a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps, and a makeover. Who hasn't dreamed of starting afresh with a sassy New York wardrobe, a new haircut and a trip to the make-up counter? Before she knows it, the new Angela is getting over her broken heart by having dinner with two different boys. And, best of all, she gets to write about it in her fabulous new blog. But it's one thing telling readers all about your romantic dilemmas. It's another trying to figure them out for yourself! Warm, funny and unputdownable, I Heart New York is an unforgettable debut."


Firstly, it should be clear that the blurb above praises the book far too much as it's hardly good, let alone great or unforgettable. It's cute but boring.

I guess what I liked most about this novel is that it is occassionally witty - but it only made me chuckle a couple of times and not laugh out loud so it should not even be compared to Sophie Kinsella as there really is no comparison whatsoever.
The opening scene of the book was the best, really quite funny and it also had potential, but then it all went downhill. It was all too perfect: a girl comes to NYC, finds BFFs immediately, two most gorgeous guys in town fall head over heels in love with her and her silly blog is a total win. And yep, that's pretty much all there is to the story. No drama, no dilemmas, no twists, nothing. Action is almost non-existant too and I felt the ending was rushed. Furthermore, I didn't like neither the main character nor the others; the men were just too perfect ... Basically, everyone was really one dimensional. There's "drama" at the end, but it's really uncalled for and resolved far too quickly. Oh and commas, argh, a bunch of them were either missing or put in a wrong place. I know that's silly, but I can't help judge a book by that too.

The book wasn't really horrible kind of bad, it's cute and all, but it's just not my cup of tea as it's just too damn simple. I'd recommend it if you like a really, really easy read - as the main character says (and I expect she's just echoing the author's words), her wish is to just write, nothing necessarily deep or meaningful, just something that will help escape from their every day troubles. I really don't want to sound mean as I'm glad that other people enjoyed the book (according to Amazon), but it just didn't work for me. Props to whoever designed the gorgeous cover as it really saved the book and I'm sure the book will sell.

overall rating: 2/5
plot: 2/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 2/5 | cover: 4/5

4 July 2009

Review: CHANGE OF HEART by Jodi Picoult ***

"June's first husband was killed in a car crash. Against all the odds, her daughter was uninjured and, in another miracle, June found love again with the policeman who rescued them. Six years on they are a happy family, June pregnant with their own child. But now June's second daughter is dying without the new heart she so urgently needs. And her first daughter, along with her husband, is dead, killed by Shay Bourne, an itinerant workman they welcomed into their home. The crime was so heinous that Shay has been given the death penalty for the first time in 69 years in New Hampshire. Shay is going to die, and he is looking for redemption. He wants to give June's daughter his heart ..."


It's no secret that I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan, but that doesn't mean I think all her novels are masterpieces, and I'm afraid this is one of those rare few that I didn't enjoy as much as I would have hoped to.

I didn't even intend to read this book when it was released because I've read the reviews saying the novel was full of religious symbolism - I'm an atheist myself and religion irritates me more than it fascinates me. I figured this book was not my cup of tea, but I thought the main dilemma was very interesting so I thought I'd give it a try.

I can't say I didn't enjoy the novel as such as it was typically well written. However, what bothered me that there was too much pointless talk about religion (I still don't know what the point of the Gnostic Gospels was because I entirely skipped that bit) and too many random miracles (the last sentence actually made me roll my eyes). Personally, I thought that part was completely unnecessary, but I guess the main moral dilemma wasn't enough to fill the whole book. Furthermore, I thought that the book was slow-paced and that hardly anything was going on, apart from miracles, which didn't excite me at all. I'm afraid I wasn't too keen on any of the characters, which is quite rare for me (OK, except for the yummy *British* doctor). I also found the main twist (what really happened that day) to be underdeveloped - I thought the revelation about the husband was quite shocking, but it just flew out of the window really.

On the plus side, the novel raises some interesting points about death penalty, which is a controversial subject in itself and Picoult provides some fascinating facts about it. Oh and yeah, the readers get to experience it first hand - ooh, that was kinda brutal.

I think I disliked this novel more than I enjoyed it, but I can't hate it because it was written by Picoult and we all know she's fantastic, I'd never read all the other books if they weren't written by her. But I'm afraid this just wasn't my cup of tea and I kept reading only because I wanted to find out how it will all be resolved. Sadly, I can't say I was too impressed.

It's funny how this novel is a complete opposite to my review of Handle with Care, which I posted somewhere back in December 2008. I finished the proof and couldn't stop raving about it! Here's what I wrote:

I really enjoyed this beautifully written yet poignant novel about the O’Keefe family: mum Charlotte, dad Sean, the disabled child Willow and her older sister Amelia. Due to Willow’s disability, their daily lives are anything but normal, but despite all the struggles they all adore Willow. Charlotte wants to provide the best possible life for Willow but knows that won’t be possible without a lot of money, which she is determined to get, even if that means opposing everyone, hurting her family and suing her best friend Piper, the obstetrician who supposedly failed to diagnose Willow’s condition (the brittle bone disease) soon enough for the pregnancy to be terminated … Each character is given a voice to describe their point of view and as the story unfolds, things keep breaking – not just bones, but also hearts, families, friendships and other things. Unfortunately, some breaks can be fatal …
This really is an amazing and a thought provoking novel, which tackles several controversial topics (e.g. disabilities, abortion, adoption etc.) and raises many difficult questions ... As a huge Picoult fan, I had high hopes for this one and it actually exceeded my expectations. This novel is in several ways reminiscent of My Sister’s Keeper, Picoult’s most famous book, but it also has bits of her other novels mixed in, making it a typical Picoult bestseller. Highly recommended to the old Picoult fans as well as to to readers who are just getting to know this incredible author – this really is Picoult at her best!

Just to show I really am a Picoult fan, but Change of Heart just didn't work for me, same as Vanishing Acts, Salem Falls, The Tenth Circle.
On the other hand, I really truly adored My Sister's Keeper, The Pact, Mercy, Nineteen Minutes, Plain Truth, Picture Perfect!
I still want to read Perfect Match, Harvesting the Heart and Second Glance, but I don't think I'll bother with Keeping Faith, heh.

2 July 2009

Twenties Girl trailer!!!

A trailer for Twenties Girl has just been posted on Sophie Kinsella's Facebook page!!!

I've been told my copy is on the way and I cannot wait to read it!!! Funky music too!

ps: Pardon the excessive use of exclamation marks, but they're just necessary in this case - can't you tell I'm a bit excited here?!?! :D