Sunday, August 27, 2017

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan | A Book Review

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I had the chance to read this book because a friend had it. It was still wrapped in plastic fresh from the store when he handed it to me to read. Thank you Dars for lending me this book. I was so amused and entertained. You are a master Kevin Kwan. I finished this book in one sitting, probably around 4-5 hours. I could not let it go until I reached the end of the book.

This book was such a hoot. There were a lot of very funny lines that I just can't help but laugh out loud. My friend, who was watching TV beside me was raising her eyebrows at my noisy reaction to this book. I just can't suppress the sound of my laughter. Since, this was not my book, I had to take pictures of my favorite lines. My most favorite was the one about bok choy. I had to stop and laugh to my heart's content after reading that line. It was just so freaking hilarious. I can vividly picture it in my mind and the picture was just so funny.

This is a glimpse into the life of crazy rich asians. Their lifestyles, mind set, biases and how they see the world of ordinary people separate from their own. They are super rich that it will drive you mental. The older generation of these unassumingly rich Asians are way more frugal and wise in spending their wealth. They don't like to make a fuss. They want their lives to be a secret, a mystery. They do not want to be plastered in the papers or talk about their businesses. For example, they would rather walk nine blocks from the airport to the hotel than get on a taxi even though, they have tons of money that they can actually afford to buy the hotel if they have to. On the other hand, the younger generation of this ultra rich asian families splurge as much as they can. They thrive on luxuries and comfort. The enjoy their jet-setting lifestyle and lavish parties. They are connoisseur of designer brands and expensive cars. They spend money faster than you can blink.

The two main characters of this story Rachel and Nick are both of Chinese descent but they met in the US. Rachel grew up in the US while Nick was schooled in London. These two are from opposite ends of the wealth hierarchy. Rachel had the surprise of her life when she met the family of Nick in Singapore. The phrase "crazy rich asians" came from Rachel's mouth. No word could be more appropriate to describe the complications that came with meeting Nick's family and all other things attached to them.

No wonder this book is such a hit. This is hilarious, witty and very realistic. I felt even more attuned to the story because I happen to be in Singapore at the time of reading this book. The ambiance added more to the drama and the entertainment value of the story. The mention of places and food in this book which I have become familiar with made me more connected to the story. It was such an experience and I am looking forward to the other books from this author. Definitely, Kevin Kwan can charm his audience.

I give this book 5/5 sticks of chicken satay or no, make that a whole stretch of hawker stalls of delicious Malay, Indian and Chinese food. This book was truly a treat. Congratulations Kevin Kwan!




 
NEVER, EVER wear green chiffon unless you want to look like bok choy that got ganged-raped.
- Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians - 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Age of the Ashers (The Petros Chronicles #1) by Diana Tyler | ARC | A Book Review

Age of the Ashers (The Petros Chronicles #1) by Diana Tyler | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I read this in June but was unable to write a review right away in time for the launch of this book. I was in another city trying to find some luck and hopefully build a life there. As it turned out, it was not yet time but I will go back and try again. Now, I am back in my home turf and comfort zone. The next dilemma is to find what to do next.

I love mythology! I also enjoy any forms or variations of retellings of any mythological stories. So, I was so thrilled when the author sent me a message on Instagram asking if I wanted to read her new book. Of course, I said yes, without even thinking. I am thankful that I did because this was an enjoyable story.

My one observation that was hard to ignore was that it took a while for the revelation of who the ashers were. What their significance in this story is? The author took her time. I was so impatient to know who are these ashers and what's their story. Once that was out of the way, I fully understood the story and what the previous chapters were about. The story came full circle to me. The author made a good job of rousing my curiosity by giving me glimpses of events beforehand whose significance were not yet known to me.

This also reminds of Percy Jackson books. There are similar things in this book to that, such as the clueless main characters. Like Percy, Chloe had no idea she had abilities or that she came from a long line of people who are gifted with special abilities. The part about the Underworld also reminds me of one of Percy Jackson's quest to go into the Underworld. 

This is a very promising start of an interesting series. This piqued my love for all things mythology. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. I am looking forward to getting to know more of the Ashers and of Chloe and Damian. I also love how the story started to unfold. Chloe's visit to the museum started the turn of events and I think it was just so apt that her discovery of her true self and identity would start from there. The secrets of the museum unlocked Chloe's family secret also.

I give the book 4/5 museum passes. I am looking forward to more of Chloe's adventures with Ethan, Damian and Orpheus as she unravels her family's secret and her role in the prophecy to save Petros and bring back the Ashers.

     
She marveled at the miraculous way hope could transform people, even if it was founded on nothing but delusion.
- Diana Tyler, Age of Ashers - 



Thank you again, Diana Tyler for the ARC. 




Starr Lost (Starr Fall #2) by Kim Briggs | A Book Review

Starr Lost (Starr Fall #2) by Kim Briggs | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!


This is the second book of the Starr Fall series. The author was so generous that she gave me a copy of this book to review. Thank you again, Kim Briggs. I am also honored to be a part of your exclusive team of bloggers and reviewers - Kim's Rising Starrs.

The story picked up right where Starr Fall left off. The story focused more on Starr and Christian's developing relationship. How they crossed the line between two strangers in high school to people who trust each other with their lives. Christian is now heavily invested on Starr. Starr also is now so attached to Christian. This story also talked about Starr, Christian and their friends' plan to try to bring down the Organization. They wanted it to pay for all the crimes it has committed, especially for taking the young lives of Starr's two best friends.

A lot of revelations were in this book. Feelings, family secrets and other things. The ending was also very shocking and it left me thinking, how in hell did that happen? Definitely, the series is promising to be more suspenseful and I can't wait to read the next book. With that being said, I think I liked the first book than this one but the host of revelations had me wanting for more. The best part of this book was the ending. It was such an "OMG" moment.

One other thing I liked about this book was getting to know more of Starr friends--Di and Frank. These two put life into this story. Their personalities helped made the story less of a monotone. I am looking forward to still having these two in the next book. I am looking forward to their wisecrack comments and conversations.

I give this book 3/5  blueberry muffins. I am rooting for Starr and her friends to put a face  and name on the man behind the Organization and to expose them to the world for all the bad things they have done. This actually reminds me of the TV series Nikita. Nikita (Starr would have been like Nikita if she had accepted the Organization's offer) was trained by Division to become an agent. Division is similar to the Organization. It recruits and trains mostly orphans, addicts, and runaways to become agents for this super secret government organization. Division takes care of highly classified operations within the US and around the world. Later in the series, the head of Division turned rogue and started doing assassination assignments by whoever is willing to pay the price. I am hoping that the Organization is not a government sanctioned secret operation because it would a Herculean feat for Starr and friends to bring it down.




I envy these carefree people living their busy lives, with places to go and money to spend.
- Kim Briggs, Starr Lost - 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Where Jasmine Blooms by Holly S. Warah | A Book Review

Where Jasmine Blooms by Holly S. Warah | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I felt like such a slacker knowing that to date, I have only posted two reviews for this month. I have a lot of catching up to do. I have a lot of reviews to write. As I have mentioned in one of my posts, I was in another city for the past seven weeks trying to find opportunities but unfortunately, it was not enough time. I have exhausted my funds. I don't want to call it a failed undertaking because I have learned a lot about myself from my experiences there. I am very thankful for the kindness of new-found friends for all their help. I have now become so familiar with the feeling of being shown so much kindness that I can't help but feel like I'm dying. Yes, you can kill people with kindness. I have been in the receiving end and I attest to the truth of this saying. It's a feeling of being thankful at the same time embarrassed at being given so much kindness that you felt like you don't deserve any of it. So, to all those people, thank you so much. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and I am not sure how I will ever repay all of you. I am humbled.

I love stories that span cultures, traditions and even religions beliefs. I am hungry for stories about other cultures, especially those that are often viewed as radicals like people born in the Middle East, etc. I think those people have a lot of stories to tell but they just don't get a lot of chance to tell them to the world. This story is a great example. This is a story of three women. Three women of diverse culture, origin and beliefs. These three were forced to deal with each one's eccentricities and learned to live with each other because they were bound by love, family and marriage. In the end, they all wanted the same things in life, in spite of their differences. This is a very touching story of Arab people who were originally from Palestine. How they came to the US and live a new life knowing they have family left in the war-torn confines of Jordan.

It was my first time to read a story where some of the characters where from Palestine. It was refreshing and a learning experience to be able to understand their experiences living or being caught in the cross-fire between two opposing countries, both in ideology and in their fight in protecting their territories. It was a sad plight, knowing they can't even visit the places where they used to frequent as a child. It was heartbreaking to hear that these people are depending on the government for their daily sustenance because there are very few or no jobs that they could find because of the turmoil their land is going through. I sympathize with them. We often hear of news about Israel but we seldom hear information about the plight of the other side of the conflict. This is an eye-opener for me. Both sides had their own casualties and difficulties because of this age-old conflict. The people who are mostly affected are the ordinary citizens trying to survive. I hope this conflict ends before generations are lost and the hatred gets passed on to the next generation who will inherit these lands. That is if there will be anyone left. God forbid.

This story also delved into the intricacies of the Muslim religion. The traditions and celebrations of Muslims have to fulfill in order to keep their faith. The prayers, the celebration of Ramadan, how marriages are done, etc. It's a peek into the life of those non-Muslims who married into the Muslim community, whether they converted or not. 

I was fascinated with this story, because it brought me to new places and let me witness new experiences. Yes, this story strengthened my dream to one day visit the Holy Land. Part of the pilgrimage will take me into some of the places mentioned in this story that Palestinians are no longer able to visit freely. Only tourists are given the privilege. Someday, when I will finally have the opportunity to walk in the streets of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, I will remember the fascinating characters of this story which will just make the trip even more memorable for me.

I give this story 4/5 Muslim prayer mats. This story reminds me of the stories written by Khaleed Hoseeini. This story resonates with the same theme of love and family. And just like the rest of us, Palestinians have the same hopes, wishes and dreams. We may have different beliefs and cultures but we all strive for one goal and that is to have a better life for our family. And like the three women in this story--Zainab, Margaret and Alison Mansour, we only wants what's best for the people we love. Wherever the jasmine blooms is where her roots find nourishment to grow and nourish. This is the story of all Muslim US immigrants. Just like the jasmine and Zainab, wherever you are in the world, no matter how far or remote you are from the land of your birth, as long as you have your family near, it will always feel like home. Yes, home is where the heart is. It's not necessarily anchored to a specific physical place.

 
Would she ever live in the one place she truly belonged? Or would she only be a visitor, a traveler carrying her homeland around in her heart?
- Holly S. Warah, Where the Jasmine Blooms -


Thank you again, Netgalley for the review copy.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For by Sara Pascoe | A Book Review

Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For  by Sara Pascoe | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I have to admit, I like stories about witches. In fact, my favorite TV show is Charmed. I remember hurrying home from school so I could watch it every Monday night. I just love those Halliwell sisters. 'Til this day, I still watch it on the web if I have a chance, because unfortunately, I did not get to finish the whole show. So, it's not a surprise that I chose to read this book.

Do you remember bumbling your way through something new? Like a new hobby, or a new craze or your first time to wear high heels? Channel that experience and picture it. That is exactly how the main character--Rachel or Raya, felt in this story. She has to clumsily learn and work through her new abilities as a witch. Sometimes, she had to learn the hard way. This is a coming-of-age story of Raya as a witch.

The story started slow. It started to get really interesting when the powers of Raya manifested. What sets it apart from the other witch stories is that the story takes you to  some places and times in history. It was for me a learning experience about another culture. Being transported to an exotic place set in an earlier era is always exciting for me.

When Raya's powers started to fully unfold, the story also started to peak. I think the highlight of the story is when Raya embraced her gifts. When she accepted who she is, it's when the story flew it's heights. I especially liked that part. I also liked Oscar's witty comments and replies to conversations. Oscar added more life and character to the story.

I give this story 3.5/5 black cats. I enjoyed the story and I am looking forward to the next location of Raya, Oscar and Bryony's adventures. I am looking forward to meeting new and exciting characters just like in this story.

 
Why does it seem like my life is always interrupted for other people and their problems?
- Sara Pascoe, Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For -



Thanks again Netgalley for the copy. 

 

The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield | A Book Review

The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield | A Book Review  by iamnotabookworm!

I have been MIA for about three weeks. I have another endeavor which I'm trying really hard to work out.  I am currently home away from home and I am hoping that this is going to be the break that I have been waiting for. I am praying that the Lord will have mercy on me and finally grant me this fervent wish.  I have asked the help of all my prayer warriors and from all the angels and saints in heaven to help pray for me also. 

One other reason which contributed to my being MIA from the blogging and the book world is that some keys on my laptop (technically my brother's which I borrowed) are not working. And they turned out to be the most used keys. What a pain it is! I have to resort to using the on-screen keyboard which is not as easy as the usual. I think it would take me a very long time to finish this review.  So, I might as well get on it.

Oh, did I mention that this review was supposed to be due the first day of August? Yes! I am way past the very dead deadline.  I have sent an email to ebooksforreview.com of my challenge. And this has been truly testing my patience and resourcefulness.

Like the story, we would never know how the smallest thing could affect or alter an aspect of our life. Just like the on-going challenge I am experiencing. I never thought that I would ever have this kind of problem and it affects me greatly because the laptop is my partner in this blogging and book reviewing lifestyle. I felt handicapped by this. The Smallest Thing is about a 17-year old girl who can't wait to leave her small town and live and breathe London. Until, a series of deaths in the neighborhood lead to more complications and heartbreaks. If you ask me, what happened in this book was not really a small thing. It was very huge and had affected the life of the main character Emmott and her small town deeply, that made her grow into a mature and selfless woman. 

I can relate to Emmott very closely. I think we have been all under a similar situation where we made plans for our future and have painstakingly and religiously took care of the details but then by some fortuitous event abruptly change all those plans. And all those other backup plans we prepared for such eventuality don't even apply. And the most heartbreaking thing of all, is we are forced to change the direction we are heading. We are not only forced to alter our plans but scrapped it all and do something else. The exact opposite. Even, start over. And much to our surprise and relief, everything works out in the end.

The story is very realistic. It truthfully mirrors real-life. Like how diamonds are made, we too have to undergo a similar process of polishing by going through high pressure and extreme temperatures to bring out our shine and be the best of what we are. We become strong because we have been tested and have survived situations we thought we could never get out alive. And like in the story, the simplest gestures often mean a  whole lot to others. Yes, a random act of kindness goes a long way. It gives hope to some. And for some people, they just need the tiniest spark.

My only wish was that it ended with a clear note on Aiden. He was key to the change in Emmott's character so it's just fair that his character should deserve a better picture of how he turned out in the end of the story.   

I give the book 4.5/5 Big Ben Towers. This is a very unassuming book but it packs a punch. It may say small but it would fill your heart with overwhelming emotions. Emmott started out as a typical teenager who can't wait to spread her wings and be her own person, like we were all were. Then, ends up doing the opposite because it was the right and the best thing to do. The situation demanded that she think beyond herself and she rose up to the challenge.

 

I don't have much to offer--a friendly face, a kind word, and a simple human touch, the smallest thing--but it's better than nothing.
- Lisa Manterfield, The Smallest Thing - 



Thank you again, Kathy of ebooksforreview.com for the copy. Sorry for the delayed post.