Aunty Lee's Delights by Ovidia Yu
Published by Harper Collins on September 17th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Cultural Heritage, General
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This delectable and witty mystery introduces Rosie "Aunty" Lee, feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home-cooking restaurant
After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could have become one of Singapore's "tai tai," an idle rich lady. Instead she is building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee's Delights, where spicy Singaporean meals are graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore's tourist havens and one of her guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two events are likely connected.
The murder and disappearance throws together Aunty Lee's henpecked stepson, Mark, his social-climbing wife, Selina, a gay couple whose love is still illegal in Singapore, and an elderly Australian tourist couple whose visit may mask a deeper purpose. Investigating the murder are Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim, who quickly discover that Aunty Lee's sharp nose for intrigue can sniff out clues that elude law enforcers.
Wise, witty, and charming, Aunty Lee's Delights is a spicy mystery about love, friendship, and food in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities coexist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly consequences.
I chose this for my South-East Asian author task for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.
It was an enjoyable murder/mystery book which follows the investigations after a body is found off Singapore. Aunty Lee – a mix of Jessica Fletcher and Agatha Raisin – decides to “help” the police with their investigations once the victim is found to have been a customer in her cafe.
The characters in this book are great, with some you love and others you loathe! The book is a gentle, cosy mystery with no guts and gore to it. But its a lovely read and one which I enjoyed.
Once again, this is a book that I probably wouldn’t have discovered it without the Book Riot challenge!
Hide and Seek (DI Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge
Published by Penguin Books (UK) on 8th September 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Crime, Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: ARC, Kindle
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I was absolutely over the moon when I received the notification from NetGalley that I had been selected to receive an ARC of Arlidge’s latest book in the Helen Grace series. Little Boy Blue finished on a cliffhanger and this book picks up from where LBB left off.
Obviously I can’t say too much about the story as the book isn’t released until next month, but what I will say is that it is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!! It picks up the storyline really well, and the events which unfold once again leave the reader on the edge of their seats wanting to know what will happen next.
Thankfully, Hide & Seek wraps up the story started in LBB, but the ending will still have you racing to know what happens next.
Another fantastic book from MJ Arlidge who is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite authors!!
No Way Back Published by Penguin UK on August 11th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Crime, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, General, Suspense
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A treat for fans of DI Helen Grace: an ebook short story from Top Ten Sunday Times bestselling author M. J. Arlidge.
Jodie's arriving at her third children's home. She's only fifteen.Maybe this time will be different. She'll be safe. Looked after.
But the truth is Jodie has no one left to protect her.She must defend herself. She must change.
PRAISE FOR M.J. ARLIDGE:
'Helen Grace is one of the greatest heroes to come along in years' JEFFERY DEAVER'The new Jo Nesbo' JUDY FINNIGAN
'Fast paced and nailbitingly tense ... gripping' SUN
'DI Helen Grace is a genuinely fresh heroine ... MJ Arlidge weaves together a tapestry that chills to the bone'Daily Mail'Chilling stuff' Fabulist
'A chilling read' My Weekly 'A grisly, gripping thriller' Sunday Mirror
'Gruesomely realistic, intriguing and relentless. Arlidge's fledgling army of fans is about to grow' Sunday Sport
'Eeny Meeny debuts one of the best new series detectives, Helen Grace. Determined, tough and damaged, she must unravel a terrifying riddle of a killer kidnapping victims in pairs. Mesmerizing!' Lisa Gardner
'Expertly pulled off. It has a devious premise. DI Helen Grace is fiendishly awesome. It's scary as all hell. And it has a full cast of realistically drawn, interesting characters that make the thing read like a bullet' Will Lavender
'A fast-paced, twisting police procedural and thriller that's sure to become another bestseller' Huffington Post
I’m a huge fan of MJ Arlidge and have read and reviewed all his books released up until now. With the exception of one, I have loved them! I’m also eagerly awaiting the 6th book in the series – Hide and Seek – which is due to be released next month. So when I spotted on Twitter that there was a new short story out, I bought it straight away.
This is a prequel to the Helen Grace series, and as such really needs to be read after the main series of books in order to give the necessary background and context. Without wanting to give away too much about the stories in the series, it covers Helen’s time in a children’s home immediately following the death of her parents.
It’s a very short book – 40 or so pages, which I read in about 20 minutes. But priced at 99p it’s not the biggest financial outlay and it was an entertaining story. I could have done with it being longer – but that’s only because I love Arlidge’s writing so much and wanted to get more into the characters. But even at such a short length, it still packs a punch.
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Published by Spiegel & Grau on 2010
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Social Science, Penology
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NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES * #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187-424--one of the millions of people who disappear "down the rabbit hole" of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman's story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison--why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they're there. Praise for Orange Is the New Black "Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can't unbind."--People (four stars) "I loved this book. It's a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love "This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter."--Los Angeles Times "Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre's usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you."--USA Today "It's a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one--both for the reader and for Kerman."--Newsweek.com
I’m a huge fan of the Netflix TV series of the same name, so I was keen to read the original book which sparked the OITNB craze.
This is a good read. You can definitely pick out characters from the TV show from the book – although some names have been changed. The Piper in the book is even more privileged and princessy that the one from the Netflix series, and although prison is not an experience you would choose to go through, she does seem to have a relatively easy time of things.
It’s an easy read, but it ends very suddenly which left me surprised. I suppose in real life you don’t have the luxury of scripted cliff-hangers, and being so closely associated with the TV series, you kind of expect more from the book.
It’s a good read. But I think I’ll go back to re-watching the series on Netflix!
Buy Me the Sky by Xinran
Published by Random House on April 7th 2016
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"'Fast-paced and punchy ... accomplished' Independent With journalistic acumen and a novelist's flair, Xinran tells the remarkable stories of men and women born in China after 1979 - the recent generations raised under China's single-child policy. At a time when the country continues to transform at the speed of light, these generations of precious 'one and onlies' are burdened with expectation, yet have often been brought up without any sense of responsibility. Within their families, they are revered as 'little emperors' and 'suns', although such cosseting can come at a high price: isolation, confusion and an inability to deal with life's challenges. From the businessman's son unable to pack his own suitcase, to the PhD student who pulled herself out of extreme rural poverty, Xinran shows how these generations embody the hopes and fears of a great nation at a time of unprecedented change. It is a time of fragmentation, heart-breaking and inspiring in equal measure, in which capitalism vies with communism, the city with the countryside and Western opportunity with Eastern tradition. Through the fascinating stories of these only children, we catch a startling glimpse of the emerging face of China."
Xinran is a somewhat obvious choice for completing “X” on my 2016 Author A-Z challenge, but it’s an author whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Buy me the Sky, Xinran’s investigations on China’s “one child policy”.
This book follows the first generation of only children, to see what impact the policy has had on their family life. However, without exception the stories turned out to be detailed exposés of selfish children, their ineffectual parents, and how Xinran could sweep in at a moment’s notice to save them both. The stories were formulaic and I have to say that by the time I got 60% of the way through the book, I had given up.
Personally it would have been more interesting to follow the second generation of only children. The ones who were truly alone without aunts, uncles or cousins. I’m sure this must have changed the dynamic even further. But this wasn’t a book I could get into – despite my love of all things China.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
on 2nd May 2013
Genres: Action & Adventure
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A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts — The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic.
As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini — the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik — the gentle giant; Inigo — the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen — the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.
As part of Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge I had to read a book published in the decade in which I was born. For this challenge I chose The Princess Bride by William Goldman, published in 1973 – the year I was born.
I’m afraid this comes under the same category as Stardust by Neil Gaiman for me – LOVED the film … HATED the book!
I’m not much of a fantasy reader – so maybe that’s why? But I just couldn’t engage with this. Even the characters I so love in the film seemed flat and uninteresting on the pages. I also couldn’t get into the back-and-forth, narrator/editor style of the book. The epilogue/additional content (Buttercup’s Child) was also unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the story for me.
I know I’ll probably get hung, drawn and quartered for a 1* review of this favoured classic. But I do love the film – honest! The book just left me flat.