Category Archives: edelweiss

Review: The Evening Spider

evening spiderThe Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Each time I pick up a psychological thriller to read, I wonder why I did… I really don’t have the stamina for the suspense with these things. It’s because they make it sound so plausible, most times, that it’s pretty scary that your next door neighbour could possibly be just like these crazy characters. The Evening Spider appeals because it sounded a little like The Asylum by John Harwood which I enjoyed quite a bit plus the ghost story spin with alternate perspectives in time made me think that I could really like this book.

The beginning of the novel was promisingly chilling and mysterious in tone. It began with Frances Barnett, in 1885, who was speaking directly to her brother (though it read more as if she was writing a letter to him) and promising to reveal how or why she was committed to the Northampton Lunatic Hospital; alone, helpless, and friendless. All through the novel, I kept wondering what she’s done to deserve this exile from society and believe me, I’ve imagined the worst! The twist to this mystery, however, was totally unexpected. Even though Frances isn’t a character you’d like (she seems standoffish or maybe just unable to find her place in society), I find her to be more open in her story and more easily understandable than her future counterpart, Abby Bernacki.

If you are mother, you would know that zombie-like period in the early baby stages. Even now, the memory of what those times were like is but a blur in my mind. Reading Abby’s perspective was something similar to that… everything was clear a mud. I guess, the author has achieved this effect brilliantly though it made the reading experience a little frustrating. Without giving too much away, the ending of this perspective was disappointing even with the subtle twist –it’s so subtle that you really have to read between the lines and made up your own mind what’s going on.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed maybe about 75% of the books mostly to do with the historical perspective which I reckon was done really well (character and plot). I’ve enjoyed the investigation part that Abby took on and even when she was willing to open her mind to something supernatural but again I feel the not-so-conclusive ending lets me down. I still think it’s worth the read even just for the historical part.

Thanks William Morrow Paperbacks for eARC via Edelweiss in exchange of honest review

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Review: A Curious Beginning

a curious beginningA Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Historical mysteries featuring unconventional heroines are one of my favourites. On the top of my favourites are Phryne Fisher, Maisie Dobbs and Adelia Aguilar. Each of these series were unique in their own rights: Phryne Fisher’s mysteries are set in the 1920s and are such good fun to read, Maisie Dobbs are set in the same era but carry a more serious undertone with a rather Hercule Poirot sort of approach to the mysteries, and Adelia Aguilar is set in medieval England but with such a peculiar character, she appeals to you just as much as Phryne Fisher.

A Curious Beginning began well enough as we are introduced to Veronica Speedwell’s awry thoughts as she buried her aunt. It wasn’t long, however, before I found that she tries too hard to shock people and this really annoys me. I like shocking, unusual / unconventional heroines but in Veronica Speedwell’s case, it didn’t seem natural… it felt like a put-on act. There were also too many repetitions about her sexual adventures and her rule of keeping clear of British men… Say it once or twice but no more, please. I am sad to say that I do not like Veronica Speedwell.

On the other hand, I do love Stoker! I love his physique. I love his rudeness (you all know he’s hiding something, right?). I love the mystery of his past! I enjoyed most of the interaction between Veronica and Stoker and since I have a predilection for “circus” in fiction, I love that part of the story. The big twist or the reason Veronica is on the run, unfortunately, wasn’t a surprise to me. I was disappointed that the story was not more unpredictable.

The cover and the author were the first things to draw my interest. I’ve enjoyed Deanna Raybourn’s historical romance and really thought A Curious Beginning has good potential. It was a fairly easy read and I still enjoyed Raybourn’s prose; I’ve loved the world building in this novel. So, casting annoying main protagonist aside, A Curious Beginning was an entertaining read.

Thanks to NAL via Edelweiss for eARC in exchange of honest review

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Review: Pharaoh

pharaohPharaoh by David Gibbins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Dell via Edelweiss

I’m slightly obsessed with ancient Egypt (thanks to Stargate) so when I saw this book on Edelweiss, I really thought it could be a fun read. For one reason or another, I didn’t find out that this was the 7th instalment of Jack Howard series until quite a bit later and as I just don’t have the time or energy these days (new house & job), I was hoping this book could just stand on its own.

For the most part, reading this book by itself really wasn’t an issue. As the blurb on Goodreads would tell you, this book alternated between 3 timelines though mostly not on the Present Day. Therefore, it tends to be a non-issue reading this as a stand alone as the stories could be enjoyed as short stories that are somewhat linked throughout the 3 timelines.

The ancient Egypt timeline was actually quite short so the bulk of the novel is taken up with the 19th century timeline which was had interesting characters and pretty good plot. This part of the novel, as far as I’m concern, is what saved the book from a 1 star rating. The present timeline with Jack Howard and co was rather lack-lustre. There was not meaty substance; no character development and filler type of story which was neither here nor there. There were a few times that I got caught thinking, ‘oh, here we go, a CONFLICT’, just to be deflated a few seconds later.

Based on my experience on Pharaoh, this is not a series that I’d be willing to explore without sparkly recommendation from a trustworthy source. I wonder if there are any fans of this series out there who can tell me if earlier books are good?

My thanks to Dell via Edelweiss for the opportunity to read & review eGalley

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Review: The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession

bookmanThe Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was a good premise, a good mystery but I was disappointed with the predictability of it all. I was hoping for a twist or two or of at least being surprised which unfortunately, I wasn’t at all. There was a point where something I expected happened and I was actually that disappointed that I had to stop reading for a few days. In saying that, it wasn’t a hardship at all to read. It was a pretty enjoyable and relaxing read. I especially enjoyed the love story between Peter and Amanda -a very sweet and endearing romance.

The story is told from 3 different time period settings which took a bit of getting used to, in the beginning. Each is very different in either characters and / or localities so each was enjoyable in its own merit. The only downside was that as we reached a peak moment in one period, we move on to another time period in the next chapter so the momentum was lost. It was as disconcerting as falling on your ass whilst crossing the road during peak traffic!

Whilst I appreciate the author’s effort on tying up loose ends, there was just the one instance where I thought was completely unnecessary and out of place. It was a “really…?” *roll-eye* moment. The tough issue with this type of book is the ending. You could either go controversial and copped a lot of flack as well as praises or… conservative that it’s anticlimactic enough for readers not to feel unsatisfied. Hence, the average rating.

Thank you, Viking Adult via Edelweiss, for the privilege to read & review this galley

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Review: Gameboard of the Gods

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Dutton Adult via Edelweiss

There is everything to love in this book!

The world: spick & span shiny High-Tech Dystopian country (the Republic of United North America) yet there are primitive settlements surrounding it, not to mention the Romanesque religions (the worship of many gods) incongruously rooted as part of life.

The kick-ass heroine: Absolutely gorgeous chick, intelligent and super strong, she can literally kick ass! I defy you to not love this goddess! um, no, that’s not at all a spoiler

The player hero: With a handsome face and tons of charm, women fell at his feet left, right, and centre. And yet… no one knew of his inner struggles, his dreams, his fears – his charm covers it all up.

The chemistry: The tension was just delicious! The attraction was pretty obvious and I am ever grateful for the alternate perspectives between Mae and Justin. They both have their own secrets that they bury deep inside until one encounter whilst each at their weakest, open a window into their souls exposing parts of the secret selves to each other. They are both experts at hiding their true feelings but how long can you deny yourself of the truth?

I’m sure I have missed a lot in my first reading of the book and I predict that this is one of those books I must own so I can re-read again and again because I’ll find something new at each readings.

A note to Richelle Mead fans, I’ve not read many of her works. I’ve only read the first book of VA (am not a fan of Rose, sorry!) but am enjoying Bloodlines (I love Sydney & Adrian) but Age of the X is more my style! As I understand it, it is quite different from her other works but I love it & I can’t wait for the next instalment!!

Thank you Dutton Adult via Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review eARC

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Review: Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Random House Publishing Group via Edelweiss – get your own copy from The Book Depository

Goodman has brought alive the 19th century world through his descriptions of how it would have looked like, how it would have smelt, and also the feelings our 2 heroines would have felt as seeing / smelling such sights. It is wonderful to have some perspectives as to what these 2 amazing women would have seen and lived through. I was most appreciative with the fact that due to the differences in background, Bly and Bisland had different views of the world and therefore, their own individual unique ways of approaching lives.

This book reads like a narrative switching between the 2 women and their respective travels interspersed with some interesting tidbits and historical insights to things and / or people these women seen and / or involved with. For example, the backgrounds of the paper and magazine which Bly and Bisland respectively worked for, descriptions of Bisland’s experience in Japan and Hong Kong and the comparative rickshaw and sedan rides, Bly’s adventurous into investigative journalism, and so on.

At the beginning, I loved Bly and her sense of adventure however at about midpoint of travel, some of the things revealed about her deflated my excitement about reading of her trip. Nevertheless, I still admired her for her accomplishment but I may not think her as a friend. That is, I don’t think the combination of our personalities will find us as close friends. Elizabeth Bisland, on the other hand, I found quite discouraging at the beginning of her travel. However, I found her to be someone closer to my own heart.

Non Fiction is not usually my cup of tea however I found this historical travelogue to be entertaining and I was, of course, cheering for Bly & Bisland to show the world what women can do should they put their minds and wills to it. A highly recommended read to all!

Thank you Ballantine Books and Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review galley

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Review: A Study in Revenge

A Study in Revenge by Kieran Shields
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Crown and Edelweiss -get your own copy from The Book Depository

This review is in relation to the second book in the Archie Lean series. Whilst my review will not contain spoilers from the first book, I would recommend that you read the first book (The Truth of All Things) as it will provide much background to this book.

Perceval Grey is the American Sherlock Holmes. Unlike Holmes, however, he needs also work in the face of Society’s prejudice to the colour of his skin (being of Mixed Indian heritage). When he is intrigued, he will commit his all to be able to present the solution, up to the point of it being an obsession. His focus in his work is admirable and yet, he is Not Sherlock Holmes. The presentation of his solutions just isn’t as brilliant as Holmes.

Archie Lean is a dedicated Deputy of the Police. He is not only dedicated in his duty to the State but also to the people. He would pursue to the best of his abilities the mystery presented until such time that the culprit may be apprehended. I really like Archie, he’s an all-round nice guy type. He’s the ‘Watson’ sidekick to Grey and is mostly appreciated for his ‘brilliantly asinine’ comments.

To begin with, the plot / mystery in this book didn’t appear to have any relation whatsoever to the first book (nor is it necessary to know the full extent the mystery of the first book) however, it really wasn’t til the end and just now, that the title clicked into place –A Study in Revenge! The book opens with a gruesome scene of a corpse having been dug up, burnt to crisps, and surrounded with occult markings. It was followed by a missing ‘artefact’ heirloom, alchemical legends, folklore and tragic romance. There are no coincidences in mysteries, of course, all things are related and will, ultimately, reveal the secret within.

I have really enjoyed this historical mystery though you’d have to be patient as threads are being explored until they are woven to form an obvious tapestry in the last pages of the book. If you like Sherlock Holmes or Mistress of the Art of Death, you may enjoy this book / series.

Thank you Crown and Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review eARC

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Review: The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi

The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi by Lauryn Chun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eGalley courtesy of Ten Speed Press via Edelweiss – get your own copy from The Book Depository

My background, though of the Asian variety, is not Korean. In fact, I remember not liking kimchi in my teen years. We had some Korean guests who stayed with us for a few months and when they made kimchi, *phew* the smell was just overpowering. I don’t quite know when it is that I began to appreciate the taste of kimchi (yes, despite the aroma) however my obsession started sometime earlier this year, due to this book: The Ancient Garden: A Love Story.

Each time I read (it was a pretty chunky book so it took me some time to read), they were always eating kimchi and most of the time, accompanied by beer. So I found myself, drooling & craving over kimchi at 7am (on my commute to work, before I had breakfast). Since then, I would have kimchi at least once a fortnight if not a week. If I wasn’t eating out to eat kimchi, I would probably have eaten it more often ;p Hence, my curiosity over this book.

I found out that kimchi is basically just means pickles but there is whole variety of them. Originally, I thought it refers only to the cabbage ones but there are numerous types of kimchi for different seasons to be served with different types of dishes. Of course, I was drooling pretty much through this book.

It was beautifully put together; a clean neat layout with photos of fresh ingredients and yummy dishes. There is a bit of background on the author, a background on kimchi and some basic explanation to what they are, the methods, and how to store. Then follows many kimchi recipes which really tempted me but which I will never attempt as they are all very time consuming.

The last chapter was dedicated to cooking with kimchi. At first I thought, ooh, this might be interesting but then proceeded to grimace through the recipes like Egg Benedict with Kimchi Hollandaise, Kimchi Risotto, Grilled MILKimcheeze Sandwich, Kimchi Grapefruit Margarita, etc (with the exception of the fried rice, yum!). After a few nights contemplating Kimchi Risotto though, I’m kind of sold on that idea and broached the subject with hubby. Unfortunately, he wasn’t impressed. Nonetheless, it’s something I’m going to try when hubby is not dining at home 😉

Overall, a book I’m happy to have for my coffee table but may attempt only one or two recipes (due to time constraints). It was great fun to read for a noob kimchi fanatic.

With thanks to Ten Speed Press and Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review this book

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Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Book 1

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Book 1
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Book 1 by Denise Mina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Vertigo via edelweiss – get your own copy from The Book Depository

I absolutely adored the novel (despite the one truly violent despicable act which had me flinching). There was so much in the book that you wonder how you can really condense that in a graphic novel. Indeed, this graphic novel is only the first one and contained only half of the novel.

Lisbeth is absolutely scary looking yet also vulnerable. She’s definitely one you would champion for despite her looks. Bjurman is just a disgusting pig and was depicted in such revolting exactness. Mikael is not attractive as he’s made out to be in the novel. Just like I was disappointed with the casting (Swedish movie), I wasn’t totally impressed with this Mikael either. He was so much more in the novel!

The condensed storyline is well done. Although, I have to admit that it’s been a while and I’m a little bit vague but most of the important bits are surely there. The snippets of “trivia” though are different. In the novel, the snippets are in relation to finance / economy however the snippets in the graphic novel are in relation to violence against women. If you’ve read all the novels, you would know that these snippets can be found in book 3 (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet s Nest). Despite this deviance from the first novel, I actually really liked this as it fits a lot better with the storyline.

If you loved the novel, you will not be disappointed with the graphic novel as it is quite faithful for the most parts. If you’ve not read the novel and are daunted by the size, do check out this graphic novel and I guarantee that you’ll most probably be driven to pick up the novels 😉

Thanks to Vertigo & edelweiss for the privilege to read & review eARC

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