Thursday, 22 August 2013

Review: The End Of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

RATING: 4.5 napkins

During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others. (courtesy of

(courtesy of Goodreads)

Color me oblivious but I didn't realize this is non-fiction when I first started reading this, even after having read the blurb at the back of the book somewhere. All I remembered was that it was a book club that a son and a mother started, just between the 2 of them, after the mother got seriously ill. Something in my brain must have blocked out the part that it was actually Will and his mother's story. And I purposely didn't read any reviews prior to reading this as I want to know as little as possible about the book to not taint my reading experience. Yes that's how much I was looking forward to it.

So imagine my surprise when I realized it was non-fiction after I started reading it. Yes, yes, I know, crazy! Needless to say, my reading experience took a different turn after. It took me a while to finish this book, not because it was poorly written. It was more like me only being able to take a small dose of it at a time.

For a book lover like myself, I loved the connection between Will and his mother over their love of books. The number of books they covered was varied as they can get; from the classics to literary to spiritual to contemporary. Some of the books they talked about almost felt like it came out of an English lit syllabus that one's professor hands out in the beginning of the term. Because they're both highly educated with varied careers, their choices of books almost felt intimidating at times and can almost make one feel just ignorant, couple that with the fact that one can clearly tell that the Schwalbes inhabit a more privileged strata in our North American society. Nevertheless, every book they touched on are, or at least appeared to be, worth looking into and reading.

I loved how Mary's life story came alive in the book. For all the luxuries afforded her, her entire life, she sounded really down-to-earth, and with all the amazing things she has accomplished, her humanitarian deeds, we all can learn a lesson or 2, or 20, from the way she lived her life. She was a progressive thinker thru and thru, with a gentle soul. I didn't get the feeling that she actually considered herself a feminist, but I think, women, in general, should be thankful for women like her who showed what we are capable of doing if we put our minds to it. Actually, both men and women can learn something from her life.

I also loved how Will got to know her mother more thru their so-called book club, and anyone who's lost a loved one to an illness can certainly appreciate the opportunity that he had to connect with his mother and did something that they both truly enjoyed right to the end.

This is one touching memoir, a loving ode from a child to a parent. I'm pretty sure Mary, where ever she may be, feels that Will did her proud with this story.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

RATING: 4 napkins

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark. (courtesy of

(courtesy of Goodreads)

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

My only exposure to Mr. Gaiman's work, embarrassingly enough, is from the 2 movies that were made from his books; Stardust, which as far as I can glean, is only a Disney version of the book but I did end up liking, and Coraline, which I did like as well. Whether it's a good thing that this is a first Gaiman read for me or not, I'm not really sure. All I know is that I enjoyed this a lot for the vivid story-telling. And this may not make complete sense, but I almost likened the experience to watching the movie, Big Fish, a movie I truly enjoyed. 

It's such a simple story, and yet, not really. It's a childhood story from a memory of an older man. It's a mixture of reality and fantasy (or is it?). The viewpoint of the main character's 7-year old self is older for his age in some regards but then again, it's appropriate in some, keeping in mind this coming from the memory of an older version of the main character.

"What you remembered? Probably. More or less. Different people remember things differently, and you'll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not. You stand two of you lot next to each other, and you could be continents away for all it means anything."

I'm not even sure if there were lessons to be learned, if not learned at all, but I don't think that was the point of the story (or is it? hmmm...). All I know is that I was engrossed with the story the whole time...

"Adults follow paths. Children explore..." 


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Review: The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher

RATING: 5 napkins

Olivia Kaspen is a sharp tongued manipulator used to always getting what she wants. With just one exception-Caleb Drake, the one she foolishly let slip away. After a chance encounter brings Caleb back into her life, Olivia finds herself wanting a second chance with her first love, and asking herself how far she is willing to go to get him back. Her only problem is a red head named Leah, Caleb’s new love. Olivia must fight for what was once hers, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption. (courtesy of

(courtesy of Goodreads)

(Originally posted on Goodreads... with minor editing:p)

2 words for Ms. Fisher, WELL DONE!!!

After all the reviews I've read about this book, I knew I had to be ready for it, knowing myself. Having read it, I agree, for the most part, with the reviewers who talked about the feelings that this book will evoke out of a reader. It is definitely one heck of a ride! I'm embarrassed (or not) to say it but the ending had me in tears, yes, TEARS. And I don't even like reading about love triangles!

A while back, I told myself that I'm not really that keen on New Adult (NA) books since almost always, drama abounds unnecessarily just for the sake of drama. Well, without me realizing it, my reads have slowly started teeming with them, call me oblivious. Then afterwards, I realized why I'm reading more in this genre now. When well written, I found it does not really feel that NA anymore. It just becomes a well written story, period. And to me, this book is a perfect example. 

The way Ms. Fisher wrote, I got to know Olivia, the heroine, understood her motivation even if I didn't agree with it, went thru whatever she's going thru even though I couldn't fully relate to her, and by the end of it, only wanted the best for her because I think I finally got her. Then there's Caleb, the hero, who in my mind can do no wrong from the beginning, even despite some of the things he did, yes, because, again, the way Ms. Fisher wrote, I understood. It doesn't make it right, but I understood. Not exactly sure what it was, but I just adore him. Now Leah, the 3rd side in their triangle of a mess? I don't like her, but neither do I dislike her completely. She did what she felt she needed to do. Again, in a sad convoluted way, I understood. How about that! 

I know I'm repeating myself, but to me, that's how well written this is, that I was able to sympathize, if not empathize, with the characters, whether I like them or not, whether I can relate to them or not. 

I get it why the other readers couldn't put this book down once they started. You get enmeshed in the story from the beginning, the going back and forth in time flowed smoothly, and you just want to know what happens basically. And funnily enough, because I felt I've given myself sufficient warning about the roller coaster of a ride that this book will take me along, I really thought I was prepared for and ready to shrug off whatever angst it throws at me. But no, I still wasn't. Oh, the emotions, and the twists in the story!!! Maybe it was just me, but I didn't see some of the stuff coming at all! And the ending! I want to say it's almost fitting, given the situation. Such is life, I suppose, fictional or real... sigh...

Wouldn't necessarily jump right in to read the next 2 in this series, just to give my reading emotions a break. Besides, I'm not prepared to read Leah's story, and crazy or not, I'm even thinking of skipping it just because I want to get to Caleb's story right after Olivia's. Ok, no, I won't skip. But I do know that I need to be ready for Caleb's because if Olivia's had me in tears, I can only imagine what it would be like reading Caleb's...

Needless to say, a new Tarryn Fisher fan here indeed!


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Top 5 Favourite Ukulele Books

I know...I know....This is a book blog, and not a music-oriented one. Since I love both books and ukuleles, however, I thought I'd do a post that combines both of my obsessions. Makes sense, right?...Right?

I would admit that this post is partly to encourage anyone reading this to pick up a ukulele and start playing (if you haven't done so). It really is the easiest and the most fun instrument to play:) With that being said, here are my fave books on the topic.

(Background: I'm self-taught, and picked the uke for the first time in 2009. My ukulele book collection is by no means extensive. These are just the ones I love.:) The books I have are for beginners to more advanced players.)

5) The Complete What Ukulele Players Really Want To Know by Barry Maz
This is a great introductory e-book for the beginners who want to know the basics, such as what to look for when buying an ukulele, what strings are good and how to change them, and all that fun stuff. This doesn't teach you chords or anything like that, but does have a small section on music theory. Great read even for intermediate players. Barry Maz wrote this book as if he's talking to you as a friend:)

4) Ukulele Method Books 1 and 2 by Lil' Rev
Great beginner's books for the self-learner. Clear explanation of chords and strumming patterns, with songs to go along with the lessons.. Highly recommend these two.

3) Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps by Fred Sokolow and Jim Beloff
Bought this when I first just started playing, but I'm still working through this book. I honestly think that if you can master this book, you are an Ukulele Jedi.

2)) 101 Ukulele Tips: Stuff All the Pros Know and Use by Fred Sokolow and Ronny Schiff
So much info in less than 100 pages. Cannot rave enough about this book. Not only does it have great tips (ie.#52 Record yourself.), but I finally understood a bit about the whole Circle of Fifths because of this book.

1) Ukulele Exercises for Dummies by Brett McQueen

My current #1 fave because this book has improved my finger-picking a lot! The book is divided into three sections, and you can pick and choose which part you want to concentrate on. First part deals with strumming, second deals with finger-picking and last section deals with mastering the fretboard. So many great exercises, and I love the fact that you get to listen to the samples online.

And there you have it. My top ukulele books. I purposely didn't include song books coz that's really very subjective (depending on what music you like).

If you're a uke player, drop us a comment below. :) Would love to hear from you!


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Surviving Raine by Shay Savage

RATING: 4 napkins

As the captain of a schooner catering to the elite on the Caribbean Seas, Sebastian Stark does his best to avoid any human encounters. Interacting with people isn’t his thing, and he prefers the company of a bottle of vodka, a shot glass, and maybe a whore. There’s no doubt he’s hiding from a checkered past, but he does well keeping everything to himself…

…until the night his schooner capsizes, and he’s stuck on a life raft with one of the passengers.

Raine’s young, she’s cute, and Bastian would probably be into her if he wasn’t suffering from alcohol withdrawal. As the days pass, DTs, starvation, and dehydration become the norm. Even the most closed person starts to open up when he thinks he’s going to die, but when she realizes their traumatic pasts are connected, it’s no longer the elements that have Bastian concerned.
He has no idea how he’s going to Survive Raine.

(via Goodreads)

(Originally posted on Goodreads, with errors... hehe... and modified a little for this blog)

I hesitated starting this book thinking I need to be in the right frame of mind based on the reviews I've read. After reading it, not sure why I waited.

This could have easily been '5 napkins' for me but certain things just brought it down a notch.

I liked Raine. She cried a lot but I think she's a pretty strong heroine, especially considering how young she is. She's only 20, and I'm totally aging myself but that is young in my book, hah! She handled the relationship well, I thought, and she was the anchor in that relationship. (pun intended... hehe)

For a change, the tiny beef I have is with the hero. In my mind, Bastian is not your typical hero. He's probably one of the most obnoxious, damaged, broken hero I've read of late. His insecurities, although it didn't annoy me and actually broke my heart at times, were at the forefront for the most part of the story and considering his age (he's 29), it almost felt like it stunted his emotional growth. At the same token, as weird as this may sound, what he did before he met Raine almost made sense because of his ugly upbringing. (Mind you, the whole thing almost felt like those 90's arcade games made into B-movies with gratuitous violence, but I digress...) And does that make it more forgivable? That and what he did for her while they were in the island (w/o giving anything away)? In my mind, I'm not sure, oddly enough. Hmmm... Oh, and yet, despite it all, I did feel the heartfelt effort on his part to make himself deserving of her (sigh)... 

It wasn't a long read yet I still felt it dragged a bit by the 80% mark. And I'm sorry but I probably could have done away w/o the epilogue. It was clearly a segue to a new story, and not really meant to reinforce the HEA. Actually, for me,  it was more like HFN ending, and I still would have been ok with just that.

Oh and I did learn some survival stuff. You just never know, right?:p

Over all, I did enjoy the writing, it was written from a male's POV (which I'm now finding I'm a fan of, in romance novels, as long as it's done properly), I appreciated how the relationship blossomed, and I liked the details about how their lives are entwined. I do look forward to reading more contemporary romance from the writer.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Review: Real by Katy Evans

RATING: 4.5 napkins

A fallen boxer.A woman with a broken dream.A competition…IS HE FOR REAL?He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me? (courtesy of 

(via Goodreads)

For a debut novel, I say this is way better written than most. It's not the best written and I did have some issues with parts of the story but the story-telling did capture me.

There was your typical insta-lust, or I should say insta-insta-lust (yup, that fast), between Remy and Brooke, the hero and heroine, but the relationship didn't happen immediately. As a matter of fact, there was quite a build-up to that relationship which contributed to a lot of angst through out the book. It was getting too much at one point that even I was getting frustrated myself, also considering how it was repeatedly told how much Brooke is pining for Remy (I'm being Rated-G when I say "pining"), and I meant repeatedly. But I suppose all that angst is what made the relationship even sweeter, and hotter, when they finally decided to give their relationship a chance.

There were certain parts of the story where you definitely have to suspend your disbelief. There's the nature of his profession and the lifestyle it apparently affords Remy and his crew. But I'm mainly talking about his medical condition (that's all I'm going to say). I understand Ms. Evans has done some research in this area. Yet somehow, it still felt a little romanticized for me, and I'm sorry to say this, almost irresponsible especially around how he self-manages his condition with the aid of his crew. But I suppose, it could be possible the way he did it so moving on...

Brooke was not necessarily the heroine I usually identify with, especially in certain parts. A couple of the things she did were just too fatuous for my taste.

Now, because I tend to be hero-centric with my romance novels, Ms. Evans definitely did right by me with Remy alone. I think his character was developed well (so was Brook too, I may add, but for some of her actions). For me, he's the right mix of the alpha heroes I tend to favor in these kinds of books. And he has the most swoonalicious lines!! (grins)

Considering my itty-bitty thing with some of the story details and how I feel just ok about Brooke, Remy was definitely a big factor in bringing my rating up that high. For REAL!... hehe...


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Review: The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

Rating: 1 napkin 

(Disclaimer: I am not a part of the target audience for this book, being decades past my teen-age years. I am just someone who reads books from all genres.)

I will start off by saying kudos to 17-year old Beth Reekles for being able to write a novel, and for being able to reach such a large number of readers on Wattpad. 

With that being said, what follows is a short review, because frankly, I feel like I've devoted too much time to this book already just by reading it and actually being able to finish it.

Reading this was quite painful for the following reasons:

- I didn't like Elle/Shelley AT ALL! I was honestly hoping that Noah would get it together and realize that other girls are way better for him...ANY OTHER GIRL! One who would actually care when he storms out and leaves his house for a few days!!!!!
- The story dragged because of the reason above. I was seriously hoping for another POV just to escape the "Oh mah gash! I'm pretty? Boys like me? Girls are jealous because I can talk to Noah." nonsense. Seriously, I would've been happy to read what the school janitor thinks of all these.
- Noah was smirking soooo much I was afraid his face would stay like that forever.

The only reason I finished it is because I kept hoping and hoping it would get better. And yes....the last chapter made me happy....mwahaha! Hello, Harvard!!!;)

PS: Random House, can I get a refund?

(This review was first written on Goodreads.)


Friday, 12 July 2013

Review: Tangled by Emma Chase

RATING: 5 napkins

Drew Evans is a winner. Handsome and arrogant, he makes multimillion dollar business deals and seduces New York’s most beautiful women with just a smile. He has loyal friends and an indulgent family. So why has he been shuttered in his apartment for seven days, miserable and depressed?

He’ll tell you he has the flu.

But we all know that’s not really true.

Katherine Brooks is brilliant, beautiful and stubborn. She refuses to let anything, or anyone, derail her path to success. When Kate is hired as the new associate at Drew’s father’s investment banking firm, every aspect of the dashing playboy’s life is thrown into a tailspin. The professional competition she brings is unnerving, his attraction to her is distracting, his failure to entice her into his bed is exasperating.

Then, just when Drew is on the cusp of having everything he wants, his overblown confidence threatens to ruin it all. Will he be able untangle his feelings of lust and tenderness, frustration and fulfillment? Will he rise to the most important challenge of his life?

Can Drew Evans win at love?

Tangled is not your mother’s romance novel. It is an outrageous, passionate, witty narrative about a man who knows a lot about women…just not as much as he thinks he knows. As he tells his story, Drew learns the one thing he never wanted in life, is the only thing he can’t live without. (courtesy of

(via Goodreads)

Can I just say I totally <3 this book?!?! YES, I do!

Top 10 reasons why I love this book:

10. It's different that it's told from the hero's POV.
 9. It's totally hilarious, I actually laughed out loud at some of the scenes, which I rarely do lately.
 8. The dialogues were really witty.
 7. The writing was done well, the whole story flowed smoothly. For a debut romance novel, I say, brava!
 6. It has the right amount of steam, and boy did it sizzle! I will say that I was a little concerned in the beginning about how it would all read considering it's supposedly a male's POV, but there's definitely nothing to be concerned about.
 5. Although it was your typical insta-attraction, it wasn't love at first sight, so it was nice to see the relationship develop.
 4. All the characters are likable and that includes all the supporting characters as well.
 3. Mackenzie, the hero's niece, I think deserves a special mention.
 2. Kate, the heroine, definitely does womanhood proud. She's smart, intelligent, strong, feisty, and feminine all at once. Can't blame anybody for falling in love with her, seriously, unlike some heroines in some of these romance stories.
 1. And lastly, saving the best for last, we get Drew, the hero of the story. Oh, Drew, Drew, Drew. He's arrogant, overbearing, crass at times, irreverent and totally unapologetic, yet he's sweet, sincere, supportive, funny, and will just totally melt your heart. Well, he melted mine. ((grins))

The whole book read like a movie. That doesn't necessarily work for everybody, but as far as I'm concerned, it totally did...

Let's just say there is nothing, and I mean, nothing that I don't like about this book. End of story.


Have you read it? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Agree to Disagree: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire


Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match. (courtesy of 

(via Goodreads)

Leftie: Ok, I happen to be the one who ended up liking this book. I should also say that I feel like I need to explain myself further. 

First off, I'm not too big on YA (Young Adult) /NA (New Adult) genre, especially YA. And this what this book is classified as, I think. 

For me, the emotions in this book are just real intense for a YA/NA genre. Reading about Travis, the book's hero, is like seeing into the making of an alpha male that women swoon over in adult romance novels, and reading about someone young with that trait was a little disconcerting at times I must say. Then there's Abby, the heroine. I can easily go off-tangent just trying to describe how I feel about this young girl. How I feel about this girl will change from one minute to the next, that I know. 

I think the writer did try to provide some context as to why these 2 characters felt and acted like they did, although it wasn't enough for me to fully understand where they were coming from. Then I go back to the emotions again. It felt un-natural to have such intense emotions at that age. Yet it also felt natural when I try to remember what things felt like at that age. If  real adults are going thru the same issues, they would have been told to seek help, yet these 2 young characters dealt with it on their own acting like it's the most natural thing and nothing to be concerned about. And this is what I think disturbed a lot of the readers out there who felt very strongly against this book, especially the issues around anger, jealousy and promiscuity. 

Then there's the whole campus setting that felt very parochial, or maybe it's just me, because I went to university in the city and not a college town. It just felt high school-ish for me and too clique-ish.

I know I would not have liked this book at all if I read this in my teens or 20's. Remembering how I was then, this book would have probably earned a lot of head-shaking and eye-rolling from me, especially Abby. But I'm not in my teens or 20's anymore so in the end, I realized I like this book for the way the writer got me enmeshed in the story and the characters. I say that alone makes it a good fiction for me. It evoked emotions in me (whether my current self or remembering my young self), that's for sure.

Reading a story about it is one thing, but imagining your child (I don't have any) or someone in your care going thru the same thing is a totally different ball game. So as much as I like this book, I will never recommend this book to young girls (not that I'm surrounded by any, thankfully). After all, fantasy/fiction is one thing and reality another.

Rightie: I decided to give this book a try after Leftie's 4-star rating on Goodreads...well, let's just say I told her over the phone that I'm sending a virtual e-reader on top of her head after I read this dang book. AAAAAARGHHHH! This book brought out so many emotions in me, and none of them were good! 

First of all, I disliked the heroine Abby a, A LOT:( None of her actions made any sense to me despite the background the author gave her (which was so lame....I can't even....). She was weak and vapid. I honestly would have walked out from Travis's place after that thing he did on the sofa (No spoiler, ok? Heehee.) WTF?!?!

And Travis...well, I liked him well enough at first. Despite the issues I had with his obsessive and violent tendencies, I was able to tolerate him a bit...until the book went on and on, and his "tendencies" became psychotic behaviours. I guess it didn't help that his girl was supporting him in this(cafeteria scene). AAAAAARGHHHHH! And really...what's with calling Abby "Pidge" all the freaking time?!?! Did the author even explain this? I can't remember. I might have blocked some parts of the book in my head.

Sorry for all the exclamation points. This book brings that out in me...even just writing this is making my blood boil. I mean....that's about a day in my life I could never get back....waaaaaaaaah :(

And so, there you have it...two opposing views on one book. If you have read this book, what did you think?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Agree to Disagree: Naked by Raine Miller


Hello, Leftie here, we are introducing a new kind of post that will, without a doubt, you'll see every now and then in this page. We call it a "Agree to Disagree" and this happens, or will happen, when we feel the opposite about a book, strongly enough that we feel it merits a discussion, sorta'...

(via Goodreads)

In this book, we are introduced to Brynne, an American student studying in London and poses as a model on her off time, and Ethan who owns a security company and was asked by Brynne's father to look after Brynne because Brynne's father is some kind of an important person, I think, back in the US and I think something happened with Brynne in the past that if people find out it will cause some damage. Oh, and Ethan bought some nude photo of Brynne, and so start their story...

Leftie: That's me giving the description. That was the extent of how I will describe this book. If you can't sense how I feel by how I described it, then let me just further clarify that, I'm really sorry, but this book did not work for me. I should say that it probably would have worked for me if the whole story was not broken up into novellas the way this story was. It's a short read, just over a 100 pages, and for me, it just worked against the story. I didn't understand the characters' motivation since in my mind, everything felt out of context. Everything felt like it happened in fast-forward mode (FF4 in PVR mode, if I may add) that I didn't have time to buy into the characters' emotions, so in the end, it just earned a lot of eye-rolling from me.

A lot of people women loved this book, so I guess I'm in the minority about how I feel about this book(-let), lemme point that out now. But judging from the other reviews out there, I'm also not the only one who felt that this book(-let) will remind you of other more known books out there in the same genre (*cough-cough*, Fifty Shades by EL James... *cough-cough*, Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day, *cough-cough*). So having said that, there is definitely a high potential to like this book if you're a fan of those other books. Alas, not I...

Rightie: Oh Leftie, Lefite, Leftie...your attention span has always been better than mine. The reason I probably liked this book is because of the fact that everything was fast....zoom zoom! Wham bam! Thank you, ma'm!

Despite the book being only about 100 pages, I think the author did a good-enough job to make me sympathize with the characters. The heroine was likeable enough, despite her being able to fall asleep in a stranger's car....bwahaha!

And Ethan...well, I guess it helped that I had Daniel Craig in my mind the whole time I was reading it, despite the character being described totally different than my dear Daniel. I think Daniel works for any romance hero anyway, right? Oh Daniel....I mean, Ethan! You're crazy for what you did, but I can totally understand because, well, you fell in love....

And yes...I do agree with Leftie that the author might have been too inspired by some other works out there, but that's ok, Raine Miller. Just keep writing about Daniel....I mean, Ethan!

If you have read this book, what did you think?

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Review: I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

RATING: 3.5 napkins

I've lost it. The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus' family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate Poppy. Stay positive!!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier.  She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart.  Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers!  Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree.  He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.  

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages.  As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents... she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life. (courtesy of

(via Goodreads)

I've been reading Sophie Kinsella's work since Confessions of a Shopaholic. In my head, Ms. Kinsella's work is your typical chick lit, and over all, when I read any of her books, I know I'd get a good, easy, fun read out of them. And to me that's a good thing, but of late, it's also not becoming a good thing since the formula of (most of) her stories are becoming too familiar.

In I've Got Your Number, the base of the story is a bit of a stretch for starter. When you lose your phone, I don't think your first reaction would be to usurp a found phone and immediately claim it as your own, even temporarily. No? But by doing something normal like that, I suppose you won't get the premise such as the one in this book.

Then, you get Poppy, Ms. Kinsella's typical heroine who makes dumb choices out of desperation (in her mind), surrounds herself with friends who have questionable morals but she still loves them nonetheless, gets too caught up with her own neuroses sometimes,  redeems herself by the fortuitous results in the end thereby totally endearing herself after all. Then there's Sam, Ms. Kinsella's typical hero who has enough dimension to capture your attention, may be slightly flawed with his impatience and a bit of arrogance but totally gets the heroine therefore making him the perfect hero for the heroine. Then, stir in a bit of a dilemma where the heroine saves the day, inadvertently or not. Then let's not forget the use of obscure words such as pusillanimous in dialogues. Thesaurus much?

But you know what, despite all that, I found myself enjoying the story and the characters by the end of the book; which is the case in all of Ms. Kinsella's books that I've read so far, and on top of that, it continues to make me look forward to her next book. So in the end, I guess something about her writing and story reaches out to me as a reader. It keeps me engaged or guessing enough to make me want to finish the book. And like I mentioned earlier, the characters redeem themselves enough that in the end, I end up rooting for them rather than strangling them...

What does this all mean then? I guess if you're a fan of chick lit, I think you'll enjoy this book enough. You'll laugh enough, you'll get the build-up to the (light) romance, and it's not a bad way at all to keep you occupied while sunning yourself in the beach or having a quiet time in your backyard sitting on a lounge chair.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Review: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

RATING: 4.5 napkins

In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean, desert, Masada. Only two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom comes to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets — about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and who they love. (courtesy of

(via Goodreads)

This is a story about 4 women during a very specific time in Jewish history. I don't have any knowledge about this particular time of Jewish historybut it didn't take away any pleasure from my reading experience at all. Ms. Hoffman did indicate at the end of the book about the type and amount of research that went into this book. Even if she didn't, I probably wouldn't have cared the way she built this specific time and place in my head. The use of practical magic layered with their people's history and faith threw me off a bit in the beginning but the more I read, I thought it further gave texture to the story, added a different dimension.

I thought it was beautifully written. All 4 women were strong in their own way. I love how each of their story wove to form a kind of tapestry. I could easily talk about each one of them in detail, and talk about how each of them came to be, the pivotal things in each of their lives that would forever change them, about love found and lost, but I might as well tell the whole story if that's the case so I won't.

Heading towards the ending, there was no doubt what was to happen and all I could do was brace myself for the impact. It was heart-wrenching. 
I admit I shed a tear or 2 over the ending. After finishing this book, I had to decompress a little to let these women get out of my head. And seeing that I had to make a conscious effort to let these characters go, that's how I know how much I liked this book. It wasn't an easy read, that's for sure, but for me, it was worth it. Ms. Hoffman can definitely write.


Sunday, 30 June 2013

Top 5 All-Time Faves (Rightie's Version)

For us book lovers, picking an all-time favourite book is like picking a favourite child. However, I will list here those that I return to over and over....books that never cease to please me, and truly deserving of 5 napkins. After all, don't we all have those books that are like old friends?

(N.B. I will not post the synopsis of the books, because if I do, this post will be about 20,000 words:P This is a succinct list, y'all!)

5) Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Despite being written for a young audience, Harry Potter and JK Rowling captured the hearts of all ages. What's not to love about this series? It has magic, dragons, great characters, and Hogwarts.

4) Lord Of The Rings series by JRR Tolkien
Tolkien created such a vivid world, filled with such well-developed characters, that every time I re-read the books, it always feels like a visiting an alternate universe that I don't want to leave.

3) The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Very inspiring and reminiscent of Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince.

2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I must admit that I didn't get to read Jane Eyre until last year, and I regret not reading it before! This is one of those rare books that I immediately re-read favourite parts as soon as I finished it. Jane is my favourite heroine to date, for her tenacity and braveness, and Mr.Rochester will forever be one of my favourite heroes (despite his flaws).

1) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I discovered this book when two authors in a magazine listed this as a must-read. And so, I'm telling anyone who has not read this book to go buy it now. This was Donna Tartt's first novel, but it has the quality of being written by a veteran novelist.
 I re-read this book every year. What impressed me most about this book is not the plot itself, but Tartt's well-written characterization of the group of students whose academic life was greatly influenced by a certain professor.

So, here is my list. What is your top-five?


Monday, 24 June 2013

Review: Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day

RATING: 5 napkins

Let me preface this post by saying that most of the romance reviews will probably come from me (I can almost hear Rightie's voice saying, "Probably?"). What can I say? I <3 romance stories. It's what got me reading in my early teens, and even though I stopped reading them for a long while, let's just say my affair with romance novels has been re-kindled, or should I say re-kobo'ed? HARHAR... So I thought it's only fitting that my first post is about what's got to be one of my most fave in this genre.

Bared to You

Reflected in You

Entwined with You

(all images via Goodreads)

I'll be frank when I say that when I read the first book, it kinda' reminded me of the other trilogy books (they that shall not be named) that came out just around the same time. After all, the reason I even heard about this book is because of its association with those other books. But after finishing the first book, I realized Sylvia Day has no need to ride in the coat tails of the other writer. Ms. Day is a prolific romance writer in her own rights.

To put it shortly, the series is about a story of 2 broken people, Eva and Gideon, trying to make their relationship work while going thru their individual healing process. As simple as that. Oh, then add the extra drama in between.

By the end of the first book, I was vested enough in the characters that I knew I'd be reading the rest of the series to find out what happens to them.

The second book further explores their relationship but now with more twists, courtesy of their pasts. Throughout the book, I couldn't help but fall in love with Gideon more and more. He's like your ultimate alpha hero. And Eva, despite her painful past, definitely shows some backbone, makes no excuses for the good things in her life, and knows how to fight for her man. It was nice to see the characters and their relationship slowly grow.

The third book, as far as I'm concerned, is the best one in the series so far. There are no extreme highs or lows in this book but considering what Eva and Gideon have gone thru in the first 2 books, I thought it was just right to see their relationship plateau a little, and just see it grow more as they go thru mundane tasks. There are still unresolved issues, with all the death, parents and friends. There were what appeared to be extraneous details or drama, but what may be extraneous in this book, I trust Ms. Day will make its purpose known in the 4th and 5th book (a controversy as it turned out as this series was originally supposed to be just a trilogy... but hey, you won't be hearing any complaints from me, that's for sure). 

The ending is not your typical grand HEA, but with all 3 books, the ending is always on the hopeful note.

If nothing else, if I have to summarize why I love this book (and series) in one word, then that's easy. GIDEON. (swoon)


Sunday, 23 June 2013


     There are literally thousands of book blogs out here in the wonderful world of cyberspace. Many have been around for ages. Many have brought us book nerds great things to add on our To-Be-Read lists. Many have introduced us to amazing writers and stories. 

     Alas, there are also many out there who have made us shake our heads with their one-star for books we loved, and five-stars for those that made us cringe and think, "what a waste of paper". 

     This is why two sisters, myself (Rightie) and Leftie, have decided to create our own book blog. We decided that, perhaps, there might just be space for one (or two) more voice out there. A place where we can write about own views on books from different genres and areas of interests. Hopefully, someone out there can make use of them, like an unused napkin....

      Our rating system will be as follows:
1 napkin= Please throw it away and flush it down the toilet.
2 napkins= It would've been in the trash if not for some okay parts.
3 napkins= It can go either way. 
4 napkins= It's on the top shelf.
5 napkins= It's on a special place, easily accessed for a re-read.

     Most reviews will be done individually by either myself or Leftie, except for some books where we have differing opinions. We will then discuss the book together in the post. Fun, right?

     That's it for now. Hope you all stick around and enjoy this literary adventure with us.


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