Review: The Gun Seller (Hugh Laurie)

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Genre: Crime, Thriller
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 1996
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 340
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Blurb:
When Thomas Lang, a hired gunman with a soft heart, is contracted to assassinate an American industrialist, he opts instead to warn the intended victim – a good deed that doesn’t go unpunished.

Within hours Lang is butting heads with a Buddha statue, matching wits with evil billionaires, and putting his life (among other things) in the hands of a bevy of femmes fatales, whilst trying to save a beautiful lady… and prevent an international bloodbath to boot.

REVIEW:

I have so many mixed feelings for this book! On one side, I love the humor and sarcasm infused within the book. It was truly written with the persona and voice similar to that of Dr House from the House series where Hugh Laurie is hugely known for.

On the other hand, I’m beginning to realise that spy novels aren’t really my thing.

The Gun Seller is about Thomas Lang, an ex army man, who finds himself in the middle of a secret organization set to create war in order to sell one of their defense weapons. That’s the gist of the book and Lang was blackmailed to enter the organization. Along the way he questions the justice in his actions and involvement that plays around with the lives of other people. There were a lot of politically incorrect statements intentionally set within the book. Laurie questions the stability of a government and what it means to actually take care of the millions of lives under your protection.

“Having a vote once every four years is not the same thing as democracy.”  

I truly enjoyed this solely for the numerous times I laughed out loud at the cynical sentences and sarcastic comments about life, love and money.

“It is the middle of December now, and we are about to travel to Switzerland – where we plan to ski a little, relax a little, and shoot a Dutch politician a little.”  

The plot is a bit too slow for me, but no doubt this book would probably appeal more towards male readers who have interests in movies like Die Hard or Mission Impossible. Since I am neither a fan of these, I didn’t get to enjoy the book in its entirety.

I do however would recommend this if you’re looking for a good laugh and some misadventures that reminds you of Dr House if he were an international spy. Imagine all the cynicism and sarcastic comments directed at pretty girls… And I do hope you enjoy this more than I did!

RATING: ★★★☆☆

Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons (Carolyn Jess-Cooke)

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Genre:
Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: August 13, 2013
Format: Hardback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 288
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Blurb:
I first met my demon the morning that Mum said Dad had gone.

Alex Connolly is ten years old, likes onions on toast, and can balance on the back legs of his chair for fourteen minutes. His best friend is a 9000-year-old demon called Ruen. When his depressive mother attempts suicide yet again, Alex meets child psychiatrist Anya. Still bearing the scars of her own daughter’s battle with schizophrenia, Anya fears for Alex’s mental health and attempts to convince him that Ruen doesn’t exist. But as she runs out of medical proof for many of Alex’s claims, she is faced with a question: does Alex suffer from schizophrenia, or can he really see demons?

REVIEW:

“I feel the human mind is a jigsaw puzzle that I will never be able to solve.”  

This book blew me away.

If you’re looking for a mild cross-over between Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend and Gone Girl, The Boy Who Could See Demons is something worth checking out.I found a hardback copy of this book at a local bookstore called BookXcess, and after remembering someone recommending it to me on Instagram, I picked it up.

And man was I glad I picked this up.

This book is truly something different. It focuses mainly on mental health issues among children and adults, and its consequences to the patients’ every day lives. What made it so enjoyable to read was the alternate POVs between Alex Connolly, the 10-year-old boy who claims to be  friends with a demon called Ruen, and Anya, the child psychiatry assigned to treat Alex. The alternate chapters giving views from both child and adult were so flawlessly done that I breezed through this book easily. I felt so deeply connected to Anya who lost her daughter, Poppy, to schizophrenia and also to Alex, who felt so out of place in his school and life that he has no friends other than Ruen.

This book will grip you hard as the plot thickens towards the end. You won’t be able to put it down because while you’re reading about the terrible living situations of patients suffering schizophrenia, you’re also rooting for Alex and his mom to come out from whatever hell hole they’re found themselves in. What Alex goes through feels so raw and emotional that I can’t help but to empathize with him and hope that Anya will be able to help him in the end.

Alex’s friendship with Ruen was written so well that there were many disturbing moments described. How Ruen tried numerously to influence Alex to do terrible things and leading him to think the worst of himself. It reminds me of how every one of us has a demon with us that can whisper such negative things and bring us to destruction if we gave it the control to.

“Nobody needs to be taken to Hell to experience it. We just grow despair inside the soul until it becomes a world in and around a human.”

The ending blew my mind away. It was totally unexpected and I applaud the author for doing such a wonderful job in keeping the plot suspense and full of surprises. We arrive at a reality of sorts where everything we sense and perceive is questioned as real or imagination.

“Sometimes the imagination is the true predator.”  

I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking to learn more about mental illnesses and have a little thrill thrown into the mix!

RATING: ★★★★★

Diversity Spotlight #6

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Hey guys, welcome to another installment of Diversity Spotlight Thursday created by Bookshelves & Paperbacks ! If you’d like to view my previous posts on this tag click the links below:

Diversity Spotlight #1
Diversity Spotlight #2
Diversity Spotlight #3
Diversity Spotlight #4
Diversity Spotlight #5

The questions included in the diversity spotlight Thursday are:

  1. Diverse book you enjoyed reading
  2. Diverse book that has been released and you want to read
  3. Diverse book yet to be released and you want to read

Here are my picks for this week!

1. Diverse book you enjoyed reading

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Goodreads: When Dimple Met Rishy by Sandhya Menon
My Review

Oh my god, this book! This book was such a gem that I instantly fell in love with the characters, their ambitions, their love for their family and traditions. This book was such a fresh breath of air where we get to see more Asian based characters going through the average teenage dillemma: first loves and starting out college.

I truly enjoyed this book from beginning until the end, so I truly recommend this to everyone!

 

 

2. Diverse book that has been released and you want to read

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Goodreads: The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

This book is finally out! But it’s yet to arrive in Malaysia 😦 I really cannot wait to get my hands on this. I love books that centers around the struggles of a PoC character to defeat the stereotypes and stigma surrounding their race or skin colour.

In The Hate U Give, it’s inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and I hope to learn more about it through this.

 

 

 

 

3. Diverse book yet to be released and you want to read

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Goodreads: I Believe in a Thing Called Love (Maurene Goo)

Publication date: May 30th 2017

Another YA contemporary about Asian characters! From the blurb it sounds super fun: an Asian girl wanting to find love before she gets started in college. Sure it sounds cliche, but the thing that makes this unique? Korean Drama Love Advice! I am not a K Drama junkie but oh do I love Korean drama love plots. They’re so cheesy and romantic, makes you all bubbly and warm inside.

#GoblinLover

I do hope this turns out fun and wonderful. If the character is bimbo-ish and just desperate for high school drama, I reckon I won’t be enjoying this as much. (I hated To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, so you get my drift)

That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading and see you in the next Diversity Spotlight installment 😉

 

Product Review: TheAvailableBook Bookmarks

Hey there book dragons! For this post, I’ll be doing a quick product review for some bookmarks I got in the mail recently. TheAvailableBook was kind enough to send me 6 beautifully done bookmarks to use and review.

When I first saw their IG profile, I was super excited because their designs are very pretty!

The designs are printed on thick glossy and their standard size can be used for any book size including the small-ish mass paperback.

I love the wonderful quotes that they use on some of the bookmarks.

Yay for The Fault in Our Stars!

This has got to be my favourite bookmark of the entire batch.

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My only comment about this bookmark is probably the material on which the designs are printed on. Glossy paper can get a bit sticky at times and the designs can fade with time. Perhaps it’d be better to use thick embossed paper or any thick printing paper.

It would also be cool if they can branch out and do customized designs. Either ways, I wish them all the best in their business!

If you’d like to purchase these, you can visit TheAvailableBook ‘s IG profile and place your order. It’s around RM15 (including postage) for any 3 bookmarks 🙂

I’d like to thank them for sending me a batch to review! If you’d like me to do any bookish items review, please contact me here to discuss further.

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi (Shandya Menon)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: May 30, 2017
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Page Count: 320
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Pre-order from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

Blurb:
A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

REVIEW:

THIS BOOK WAS SUCH A GEM!

When Dimple Met Rishi had me all mushy and glowing inside! I truly loved the wonderful Indian representation in such a modern YA Contemporary. It felt like reading a truly positive YA novel but instead of the usual white characters, we have Dimple and Rishi. Both Indian teenagers finding a place to fit in a place where neither feels truly at home. With a rich cultural background and strong family influence, When Dimple Met Rishi provides us with a unique outlook into one of the many Asian cultures that aren’t very well-known.

Ever since Wing Jones, I’ve come to appreciate Asian characters in YA Contemporaries. I’m so happy more diverse authors are reaching out to introduce their readers to the many wonderful cultures this Earth has to offer. And this book met every expectation of mine!

Strong, level-headed and ambitious teenage girl who happens to be a geek and goes get what she wants: checked.

A respectful teenage guy who appreciates his Indian roots and traditions while coming from a wealthy family, who happens to be humble and holds on tight to his family values: checked.

I’ve enjoyed the plot of this book, it was well written and had a good pace to it. It wasn’t draggy and while cliches still existed that reminded me so much of Hindi films, I think it complimented the book well! The characters were very well developed too. I immediately took a liking to Dimple for her fieriness and high ambitions to become a successful coder. As a working professional girl myself, I feel the need for publishers to provide more books to young girls encouraging them to dream and be whoever they want to be despite the stereotypes or stigma. When Dimple Met Rishi is such a wonderful testament to pushing girls outside their comfort zones, in believing in love and chasing after what you desire.

The book questions peer pressure and finding courage to stand up for what you believe in, which is wonderful I must say.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a sweet, romantic read with a wonderful dash of diversity in the mix! This book comes out May 30, 2017 so keep a look out!

I’d like to thank the author for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

RATING: ★★★★☆

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 407
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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia, MPH Online

Blurb:
Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

REVIEW: (Contains spoilers!)

Well, this book has been…interesting to read. I’m not exactly jumping head over heels for this book. So a fair warning to ya, this is gonna be a rant. Because I didn’t enjoy this as much as I was hoping to. I may be one of the few who found this book to be over-hyped and believe that this book is just not for me. And I was so caught up in the hype, waiting for its publication date. But unfortunately, Caraval was a huge disappointment for me.

What I Liked About Caraval:

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”

Because I still believe each book has its merits, I’ll point out what I like about this book before telling you what about it that irked me.

I like the world building and writing in this one. Garber has done well in that, at least. It was fairly easy to imagine the wonderful world that is Caraval and its unique and magical characters. We have a beautiful island where Caraval is held and where all the mysteries and wonders take place.

With breath-taking views and splendid architecture that comes alive at night, Caraval has a pretty descriptive and interesting setting.

The writing is also alright for me. Whilst the plot isn’t my favourite part of the book, the writing does have its own special essence that made me continue reading it despite considering to DNF this multiple times.

“No one is truly honest. Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”  

What I Disliked About Caraval:

I wasn’t a huge fan of Scarlett and Donatella Dragna in this. Nor was I of any of the main characters. Though I loved the details of the performers and the way they brought themselves about in the game, the MCs weren’t anything special in my opinion. I found the Dragna sisters to be whiny and spoilt, and despite growing up in an abusive environment where their father is the true villain here, I’m surprised that Scarlett wasn’t made out to be a little bit brighter. This is a game of high risks, but to have the MC scared and paranoid the whole time when she should have tried to solve all those clues in a more efficient way just pissed me off. Yes she did eventually solve them and found Tella, but wasn’t her feelings for Julian more important?

It certainly felt that way…

Because what’s more cliche in a YA book than 2 MCs hating each other in the beginning only to fall in love after a week of knowing each other? God forbid, we teach the young-lings that going off on an adventure with a random stranger is a good idea.

The whole plot didn’t really work out for me. It felt like the romance was more of the focus in this book. That and Scarlett’s insistence of getting married to the Count and running away to her happily ever after, instead of figuring out how to save her sister from Legend’s grasp.

The ending seemed a bit abrupt and it felt like the story wanted to save everyone from dying. But I guess that kind of manipulation and deception is what made people like this book.

The one thing I truly felt made this book overrated is its comparison to The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern). I’ve read The Night Circus and I can honestly say Caraval doesn’t even begin to compare with it. The Night Circus had so much depth, plot and wonderful characters in spite of the amazing love story woven into it.

So no, Caraval is unlike The Night Circus.

So those are my thoughts on Caraval. I won’t be apologetic for having an unpopular opinion on an over-hyped book. It just didn’t work out for me. Though I won’t continue with the series, you could still give it a try. If you’ve read this do let me know what you think of it and what made you like it!

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

Review: Wing Jones (Katherine Webber)

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Genre:
Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication date: January 5, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 384
Add to Goodreads
Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia, MPH Online

Blurb:
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

REVIEW:

“Neither of us belonged with anyone else, so we belonged together.”  

I’m beginning to believe in YA Contemporaries again after reading Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. Stories about misfits or teenagers who feel out of place in the social hierarchy are something I love rooting for. And Wing Jones is definitely a book I root for endlessly.

I stumbled across Wing Jones in places that most people find book recommendations: Instagram. I was blown away by how beautiful the cover and spray painted edges are. But most of all, the story attracted me the most. The journey of a girl of African and Chinese heritage finding her potential through running got me hooked, and though I am neither biracial or athletic, I do love books that promote diversity and finding your own strength in the darkest of times.

I also love it when the characters are simple and the author doesn’t focus much on their sexual orientation, and whilst I respect LGBT themed books, it’s nice to see authors taking a different approach in addressing issues that teenagers face in adapting to difficult social situations. I love how Wing is a child of inter-racial marriage and while it seems a tad bit far fetched that both her paternal and maternal grandmothers are living under the same roof, the prejudice she faces in school is very real and daunting. I’ve had friends who are children of inter-racial marriages face these problems in school and throughout college: never really finding your place in the social chain because of the way you look.

“So I do what I do best. I keep quiet.”  

Wing Jones is such a well-written book about believing in yourself and accepting what makes you unique that I felt uplifted throughout the book. There are difficult moments in the book involving Wing’s older brother and her family’s impending financial crisis. But her grace and perseverance are what made me love Wing so much. For a 16-year-old, she seems very mature and knows what she wants. And while she has a lot of insecurities like all teenage girls do, she found the ability to see the beautiful side of herself and bring happiness to her family.

The situations faced by Wing are so real and emotional that I wish all YA contemporaries are this matured and realistic. Because teenagers need to learn that life is difficult, and you can never take it for granted or be lazy to reach your highest potential.I am a girl of high ambitions and dreams, and I wish my juniors could have the same drive and fire within them to go out and get what they wish for. God forbid, we need more girls like Wing in our society.

Overall, this book is a wonderful read and I would highly recommend it if you want to read something heart-warming that will leave you feeling happy at the end. I thought the ending was too brief for my liking, but I did enjoy the book in its entirety.

RATING: ★★★★☆

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?