Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

Mariel suggested this week’s question.

Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?

I suppose I am a perfectionist when it comes to books handling and maintenance. I hate seeing my books with bended spines, and I am definitely not a dog-earer (I love bookmarks and have been collecting them for quite a while). Although I do not wrap my books with clear plastic cover sheets (it would be great if they are), I definitely keep them in pristine condition.

I think it would be great if all library patrons are more considerate and treat the library books with care. Several years back, I was dismayed to find a book I borrowed had a few pages being ripped off, and the worst thing is that the pages which were missing are considered 'critical' scenes to the story. Can you imagine how stumped (or angry) I was at that moment? Personally, I have no comment on how other readers treat their own books, but I think they should be more considerate when treating the library books, after all they are meant to share.

A BIG thank you to Alice and Julia for presenting this award to me! It is always nice to hear from fellow blog buddies that they enjoy reading my blog. Alice and Julia are two of my good blog buddies (not to mention good friends too!), so it goes without saying that I find their blogs addictive too! Thanks for everything, ladies!

Although I would like to pass this award to all my blog buddies, however this time around I will highlight two new-to-me blogs which I find them addictive too. They are Violet Crush and A Guy's Moleskine Notebook.

Side note: Naida of The Bookworm is creative enough to come up with this award, and don't you think the button is lovely?

Time really flies, eh? I remember on this same day last month, I was staying in the hospital after having given birth to my second daughter, Kai Lin. But I am not going to mention about my hospital stay in this post, because currently my thoughts are on the confinement lady and the assistance she had given me during the one month while I was on confinement.

I got to know her through my younger sister's recommendation. My sister had given birth to her second child in March and it was the first time I met the lady when we visited my sister then. My first impression on her was that, she was polite and quiet. I think she is in her forties (till now I do not know her age and her full name, although she told us to call her 'Ah Khim' but I insist on calling her 'Auntie' as a respect) and she has a motherly aura around her. I told her I would like to engage her and gave her an amount as a deposit on the spot. I also gave her directions to my house, after all she is not local and her home is in Malaysia.

During my discharge from the hospital on 29 Sep, I remember telling my husband that I was quite worried about 'Auntie' finding her directions to our place because the journey is quite complicated and one has to cross an overhead bridge to take a public bus after leaving from the designated MRT station. I told 'Auntie' to give me a call if she has any problem but it seemed like I worried too much because she had no problem finding our place at all. Her wits impressed me, and that was my second opinion of her.

She set to work immediately after arriving at our house; running a shower for the baby and myself and not to mention to prepare a pot of red dates soup for me (in Chinese tradition, women who have given birth are recommended to drink red dates soup instead of plain water to prevent water retention and bloating in the stomach). To tell you frankly, I was awed by her efficiency and diligence. Because of 'Auntie's' assistance, this explains why I had time to read and review books during my confinement period. She had everything all taken care of; I felt so pampered and spoilt. I know some of you might say it is her job after all, but I think it is her overall attitude that says it all. And to top it off, she is initiative too.

'Auntie' is not really 'a woman of few words' as I had thought initially, but that is because we do not know each other well when the first time we met. She is actually quite a chatty person once you get to know her well. I treated her like a family member and did not know I was so used to her company until her last day with us last Sunday. Her departure had really hit me hard. I was misty-eyed when she packed her things and bid us goodbye. She refused to take a picture despite my coaxing, saying that she does not like taking pictures. So I can only count on my memory as a remembrance, but I know the image will slowly fade away as the time goes by. I guess I am just being emotional, oh well. . .

Goodbye, 'Auntie'. I will miss you!

Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

My teaser sentences for today [Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter (Pg 63)]:

"Jane Austen lived here during the last eight years of her life and this is regarded by many to be her literary home. . ."

Our tour guide is chuntering away as she leads us through the seventeenth-century red-brick house which has been turned into a museum, and although I'm trying to focus, my attention keeps drifting.

Musing Mondays

Todays MUSING MONDAYS post is a question from “Scobberlotch” who asks:

How has the economy impacted your book buying? Do you think it’ll change the reading and book-buying habits of the country? Will it increase your library visits? Will it make you wait for the paperback edition instead of buying the hardcover?

Hmm... seriously I have not thought of this before, but I do not think the economy will have much impact on my book buying. My book buying rules are very simple:

  • I will buy my favourite authors' books;
  • The books are recommended by fellow blog buddies;
  • I am intrigued by the blurbs.

I have not been to the libraries for a long time (I am not sure if I will read and return the books on time; and I like to read at my own pace nowadays), but I do visit used bookstores and then, there is BookMooch.

As much as I love hardcovers, I hardly buy them because I find them bulky and inconvenient to carry along, so paperbacks is still my favourites.

As for whether or not if the economy will change the reading and book-buying habits of the country, I think there is a possibility but then it will depend on how much of a bookworm that person is.

ISBN-10: 155166951X
Publisher: Mira
Published: 1995

From the blurb:

Mitch Peabody was learning pretty fast that the life of a private detective was not all it was cracked up to be. Cheating husbands, suspicious wives, unsuspecting mistresses -- case after case left him cynical and disillusioned. This was nothing like the world of tough-talking detectives and smart-mouthed, stunning dames he'd envisioned . . . until she walked through the door.

Right down to her stilettos, Mae Sullivan was a knockout with a lethal body -- and a lethal family to go with it. There was something not quite on the up-and-up about her, but she came with a case he couldn't afford to refuse . . . and left him with a case of lust like he hadn't had since high school. It didn't take long for him to fall for her, hook, line and sinker. But was Mae only interested in catching the double-crossing crooks who murdered her uncle . . . or did the lady want to catch him?

It has been some time since I have read a romance novel. So the other day, I pulled out this book from my to-be-read pile because I have read a lot of good reviews about Jennifer Crusie's books.

So what made me pick up this book? Well, I love reading anything about private detectives. There is just something alluring about them, be it the heroes or the heroines. In this story, Mitch Peabody is engaged by the heroine, Mae Sullivan, to find out the death of her Uncle Armand and the mysterious disappearance of his diary.

After seeing nothing but numerous divorce cases, Matt is getting a little tired of his so-called job although it does not hurt he is doing so to win a bet. Just when he thought life is getting him to nowhere, Mae walks into his life (or into his office) and asked him to investigate a case. Mitch is intrigued by her at first glance, but that is because Mae is nothing like the women he met. Mae has the looks but most of all, she has a smart mouth. Mitch is not sure if he should be attracted or annoyed with her witty trait, but he is sure interested to find out more about her, besides the case that is.

What the Lady Wants is a fun read, after all Jennifer Crusie's books are known for their humour. The barb exchanges and the chemistry between Mitch and Mae are entertaining; however as much as I enjoyed this book, Mae's whiny attitude put me off at times. Still, her mob relatives are great supporting characters and they add some 'spice' to the story. I would recommend this book to any readers who wants a sheer escapism and a quick read.

Friday Fill-Ins

1. Right now, I'm feeling pretty good.
2. A beautiful scenic place is where I want to be.
3. How does one describe love?
4. My family keeps me on track.
5. Please don't stop reading.
6. My two daughters fills me with joy.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on the TV shows, tomorrow my plans include having a family and friends' gathering at our place and Sunday, I want to spend time with my family!


Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

Monica suggested this one:
Got this idea from Literary Feline during her recent contest:

“Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.”

I am a great fan of romance novels, although it seems it has been some time since I read this genre. Actually, there are several literary couples that I like from other genres too. However, one of my favourite literary couples have to be the ever independent and opinionated Elizabeth Bennet and the arrogant Mr. Darcy. I just enjoyed reading the tension between them from the beginning and how they have fallen in love at the end. (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

Another literary couple that comes to mind is Whitney Stone and Clayton Westmoreland. The heroine reminds me a little of Elizabeth Bennet because of her strong personality; but most of all, it is simply a wonderful and moving love story that captured my heart. (Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught)

I am sure I would go on and on with the list but I feel the above-mentioned literary couples are the most unforgettable amongst all.

What about you?

ISBN-10: 038549081X
Publisher: Anchor Books
Published: April 1998
311 pgs

From the blurb:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....

Imagine if you are living in the near future, where women are ripped off from freedom and are no longer in control of their bodies, what would you think? Or better still, what would you do? This is exactly what happens in the Republic of Gilead, whereby women are being treated like breeding machines and their movements are strictly controlled. They are divided into different classes and each has her own role to play; e.g. the Wives held the highest 'rank' amongst all women as they are the wives of the Commanders, the Marthas are like housekeepers while the handmaids will do whatever the Commanders or their Wives ask them to do, but basically their role is to procreate and if they failed to do so in two years' time, they would be labelled as 'Unwoman' and/or to be sent to the Colonies.

In this story, it is about a woman called Offred. In a narrative tone, she tells her tale about her role being a handmaid and the kind of life she is living. Actually, Offred is not her real name. All handmaids' names begin with an 'Of' followed by their Commanders' names; this is to tell that they belong to a certain man (Commander) and they are nothing but objects.

Before this happens, Offred used to have her own life, her husband and a daughter. However, there is not much mention about her past life although the readers are given a glimpse of how the society has changed bit by bit and how these women's life took off a drastic turn as they are not allowed to read or write; even the basic stuff like money, bank accounts etc are being wiped off.

Margaret Atwood has crafted a frightening yet thought-provoking tale in The Handmaid's Tale. Though it is a fiction, what really terrifies me is that one never knows what elements in this story will become a reality in future, e.g. the nonentity of paper money, the massive role of surrogate mothers etc.

I could not say I like or dislike this story, but the author's prose, the premise and the characters are the main factors that allowed me to keep on reading. One of the things I quite enjoyed is the author did not really tell the story in a straightforwardly manner but let her readers guess and find out what happens as they read along. The only thing that disappoints me is the ending, because I would want to see it all nicely wrapped up. But maybe that is not so important, as I would like to think this book serves more like a reminder to us, telling us we should be grateful for what we have and to appreciate life and the people around you. This is a powerful book that I would not forget in a while.
Rebecca Reads
The Bluestocking Society
Things Mean A Lot
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)

I would also like to thank Alice for passing this award to me. Alice's blog is one of the coolest blogs I ever know and I am very happy to call her my friend. Thank you so much for everything, Alice!

I am going to take the simplest way and pass this award to all my blog buddies (you know who you are!). Thank you for reading and for your friendship! You guys rock!

Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

My teaser sentences for today:

"The night is mine, my own time, to do with as I will, as long as I am quiet. As long as I don't move." ~ The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Pg 37)

Musing Mondays

THIS week’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about a “reading” survey, and what it had to say…

I recently read an article (here), that I found through BiblioAddict’s blog, that talked of "why women read more than men". In it, author Ian McEwan is quoted saying:

“When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.”

Do you believe this to be true? Why, or why not?

Maybe, but personally I do not think it is true (at least my frequent visits to the bookstores tells me so). I wonder if it is because women have more options to choose from (e.g. romance, chick-lit genres) and also, I read it from somewhere that romance is one of the bestselling genres so perhaps these are the reasons why it appears that women read more than men. But then, there are some men who read romance too (if only they do not appear to be embarrassed by it).

What do you think? I would love to hear your opinions.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is celebrating its 10 years of literary abandon this year! Wow, how time flies! For all writing lovers (and to anyone who is interested as well), I am wondering if you have signed up for this big event that is happening in the month of November every year? If you have not, then what are you waiting for?

I first signed up as a member two years ago, and I really enjoyed the fun and the thrill of writing a 50,000-words novel in a month. I could very well remember some of those nights I pounded on the keyboards ferociously as if there is no tomorrow when my husband thought I was insane to do such things to torture myself, haha. But I feel it was a great accomplishment, never mind if the so-called manuscripts have dozens of typographical errors or if they are grammatically incorrect. I still feel I had completed a goal, even though there is no reward but a downloadable certificate and a button to certify that you are a winner!

No matter how much I love to join, unfortunately I would have to give it a miss this year with the new baby and all... (night typing will be replaced by night feeding!) but I will be a good cheerleader and cheer you on!

If you are residing in Singapore, there is a kick-off party on 1st November (Saturday) at 2.30pm-5pm at Geek Terminal ( They have contests, goodie bags (while stocks last) and stickers from the main HQ of Nanowrimo. (Please click here to let the Municipal Liaisons (ML) know you are signing up.)

Have fun and good luck!

Booking Through Thursday

Okay–here was an interesting article by Christopher Schoppa in the Washington Post.

Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.

But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.

So, the question is his: "What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?"

Till now I do not know how many unread books I have in my shelves (and in our storage room as well), but I know some of them have been with me for quite a number of years.

One of my co-workers ever said this to me: "I don't buy books until I've finished reading them. I don't like them taking up my space." Well, for me (and I am sure for all of you booklovers too), it is completely the opposite. Not surprisingly, the books pile up as the years pass by. Actually I am quite proud of my acquisitions throughout these years. I treat them as a collection; it is the same like some people collect limited edition toys or antiques (just that the values are different!).

I wish I can go through all the piles and list out the books which have been waiting patiently for my reading all these years, but I think the following list will have to do:

  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • The Villa by Nora Roberts [2002]
  • Hot Ice by Nora Roberts [1987]
  • Ritual Sins by Anne Stuart [1997]
  • Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton [1983-present]

What about you? What books are sitting on your shelves?

ISBN-13: 9781416960591
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: September 2008

From the blurb:

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends - her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

First of all, the protagonist's name is not Alice. Alice is just a name given by her captor, Ray. Ray gave her this name because there used to be another Alice before her; she was perfect in his eyes until she had decided to run away. Ray had no choice but to kill her.

The narrator (as known as the 'current' Alice) had been under Ray's captive since she was ten. She was abducted during a field trip when she was left on her own. She is fifteen now; and throughout these years she had been nothing but a 'good' girl to Ray. She knew there is no way of escaping and if she does, Ray will burn down her parents' house. Alice believes he is capable of doing so; thus she lives her life as if she is a living dead girl, for her heart is already numbed and long dead. Though she feels hopeless, she also knows that time is running out for her as she could not remain as Ray's little girl forever as the days passed, for one day Ray will go out and look for another girl to replace her role and everything will start again like a cycle.

Living Dead Girl is not an easy read, based on the plot but it haunts and intrigues you at the same time. Although there is nothing graphic about the abuse in this story, Elizabeth Scott manages to pull you into the story and make you feel as if you are entering into the narrator's mind and experience her pain and hopelessness. You would wish you could tear Ray into shreds, because that was how I felt throughout reading the book. I have great admiration in Elizabeth Scott's way of writing in putting the sentences simply but yet you could still feel the power (and the hopelessness) in them. Here are some of the examples:
"Once upon a time, that moment was when a little girl's world ended."

"Never grow up. Like something out of a story, maybe. Try saying it while a hot, heavy hand pinches, testing to make sure you're still child enough. Try saying it when you can't grow, when you're forever trapped where someone else wants you to be."

"I have been smashed and put back together so many times nothing works right. Nothing is where it should be, heavy thumping in my shoulder where my heart now beats."
I could not foresee the narrator's future until there is a turning towards the end. And this is where I saw some hope in her and got to know her real name.

Other blog reviews:
Becky's Book Reviews
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)

First, I want to thank Alice for dedicating this orchid picture to me. Isn't it beautiful? Alice is a "photo-holic" and I always enjoy viewing her pictures... Thanks again, Alice! :-)

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Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

My teaser sentences for today:

"I know what the once upon a time stories say, but they lie. That's what stories are, you know. Lies." ~ Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (Pg 55)

ISBN-13: 9780747598848
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Published: 2008
Illustrated by Chris Riddell

From the blurb:

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod's family.

The graveyard is supposed to be a scary place, isn't it? But definitely not in Bod's (short for 'Nobody') opinion, for this is where his home is ever since he has been adopted by the Owenses - a couple who had wanted a child of their own and had been dead for a few hundred years.

Bod was only a toddler when he had first stumbled into their yards, with his parents and his elder sister being killed by a man called Jack. Bod is then given the Freedom of the Graveyard, where he could roam about the graveyard and is able to see the dead and the dark. Silas, who could always be counted upon to explain things no matter in the living or the dead world became his guardian. And then, there are the others like Mother Slaughter, Josiah Worthington, Miss Lupescu, the witty witch known as Liza Hempstock who was buried at the edge of the graveyard at Potter's field who are all friends and family to Bod.

Bod slowly grows up to be a young man under their care and guidance, but he wants to know the world of the living humans, and most of all he wants to find out the man who had killed his family and he is all ready to confront him (or whoever they are) when the day comes.

I just could not describe to you how much I enjoyed reading The Graveyard Book. I was so mesmerised by the plot (which I think is original) and the characters that I hated to see it end after I had turned to the last page. It brought a warm feeling to my heart, despite the graveyard setting and that most of the characters are dead. And I really, really love Neil Gaiman's idea of creating the living world as a dangerous one, because yes I think humans can be frightening and is capable of doing all kinds of horrid things, and sometimes what you think is scary is actually not what you think.

The other thing I loved is the ending; and I could not think of any other better ending than this is. The Graveyard Book is a wonderful fantasy and a bittersweet coming-of-age tale which fascinates not only to the young readers but to the adults as well. The illustrations by Chris Riddell are great too. I rarely re-read books, but I will read this book again if time and opportunity allow it.

Other blog reviews:
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)
ISBN-13: 9780099472285
Publisher: Random House
Published: 2004
Translated by Stephen Snyder

From the blurb:

In the Tokyo suburbs four women work the draining graveyard shift at a boxed-lunch factory. Burdened with chores and heavy debts and isolated from husbands and children, they all secretly dream of a way out of their dead-end lives.

A young mother among them finally cracks and strangles her philandering, gambling husband then confesses her crime to Masako, the closest of her colleagues. For reasons of her own, Masako agrees to assist her friend and seeks the help of the other co-workers to dismember and dispose of the body. The body parts are discovered, the police start asking questions, but the women have far more dangerous enemies - a yakuza-connected loan shark who discovers their secret, and a ruthless nightclub owner the police are convinced is guilty of the murder. He has lost everything as a result of their crime and he is out for revenge.

What would one do if he or she is being pushed beyond the limits? For housewife Yayoi Yamamoto's case, she murdered her husband, Kenji when she found out he has been spending all their savings in gamblings and on a hostess whom he fancied at a club. Masako Katori agrees to help her, partly because she felt her situation is very much like Yayoi's - having worked so hard and no one seems to appreciate them.

Masako is like a leader amongst the four; she takes the whole situation in stride and has everything all planned. She is also the most gutsy amongst them; perhaps that is due to the result of her working in a male-dominated office and she does not show her defeat easily, even though she is being asked to go in the end.

On the other hand, Yoshie and Kuniko are desperate to make ends meet so they agree to be accomplices since each needs money and Masako told them they will get a share once things have been settled.

Club owner, Mitsuyoshi Satake had a dark past but his heart is into his club business until a murder case ruined everything for him. Kenji fancied one of his hostesses but Satake thinks he is trouble, and someone witnessed them having a fight so that led him being a suspect.

Loan shark Jumonji is after Kuniko because she has several loan repayments to be settled with him but she made a deal with him in order to cancel her loans.

Then, like a domino effect things began to get out of hand as the four women sank deeper into various horrific consequences and could not seem to get out. Natsuo Kirino is an outstanding author; she had all the plots skillfully laid out as she took her readers into the four women's dark world, sharing their frustrations and pressures being Japanese housewives with not much position in the male-dominated society.

Out is not an easy read. It is dark, but yet it also leads one to think of the harsh reality of life and that money is often the culprit under all circumstances. I also had a hard time digesting the fact that what look like simple-minded housewives could resort to such horrific unimaginable crime. But then again, I sympathise with them in a way, because if the society (or their husbands) have treated them better and with some respect, I guess things might have worked out differently for them. I look forward to reading her other releases, Grotesque and Real World, both of them I have in my to-be-read pile.

Other blog reviews:
Bell Literary Reflections
Bookgirl's Nightstand
Estella's Revenge (Reviewed by Carl V)
In Spring It is the Dawn
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)


Booking Through Thursday

I’ve seen this series of questions floating around the ‘net the last few days, and thought it looked like a good one for us!

What was the last book you bought?

Name a book you have read MORE than once

Contest by Matthew Reilly.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Thought-provoking stories always make me see life in a different angle. Sky Burial by Xinran and My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult are two examples of them.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

Most of the times, it is through recommendations and of course, the interesting blurbs. But there are also times that I bought a book because of its attractive cover.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Fiction, without a doubt.

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

I will say both are equally important. But a gripping plot will definitely attract me to read further.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

This is tricky, because I have too many most loved/memorable characters to list. But if I have to list one memorable character, it would have to be Detective Cassie Maddox from Tana French latest book - The Likeness. She is one extraordinary heroine, and a gutsy undercover to boot.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

Out by Natsuo Kirino, as well as The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

The Likeness by Tana French. I started reading it last month; I would had finished it earlier as I was also preoccupied with Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles at the same time.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

I did. I always try to give the book a second chance though by reading a few more chapters, but if it still does not hook me, I will just give it up.

ISBN-13: 9780340924785
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 2008

From the blurb:

Still traumatised by her brush with a psychopath, Detective Cassie Maddox transfers out of the Murder squad and starts a relationship with fellow detective Sam O'Neill. When he calls her to the scene of his new case, she is shocked to find that the murdered girl is her double. What's more, her ID shows she is Lexie Madison - the identity Cassie used, years ago, as an undercover detective.

With no leads, no suspects and no clues to Lexie's real identity, Cassie's old boss spots the opportunity of a lifetime: send Cassie undercover in her place, to tempt the killer out of hiding to finish the job.

Plenty of murder cases turn into battles of wits, but this was different. My real opponent wasn't the murderer but the victim: perfectly matched against me in every way, too close to call . . .

The previous instalment, In the Woods had left a deep impression on me. Never mind if Rob Ryan, the protagonist's mysterious past is not really solved (I understand there is a controversy on this issue), for I think Tana French has her reason for doing so and this might be just one of her styles. Anyway, I enjoyed the story. When I knew there would be a sequel to it, I was overjoyed.

Although this story is about Detective Cassie Maddox working as an undercover, it actually revolves more on Lexie Madison's life being a graduate student and her close relationship with her other four friends. They live under the same roof and are co-owners of the old house which was left by one of their families. The latter further dictates how close they are.

However, Lexie has her own secrets and one minor mistake has led her to her own death. Cassie fits into Lexie's world perfectly; and she is determined to find out the killer for she is certain he or she lives amongst them but she is getting too emotionally involved, as you would read from the passage below that reflects her thoughts:

"When you're too close to people, when you spend too much time with them and love them too dearly, sometimes you can't see them."

I think this is one price to pay when an undercover is working way too deep into the case. Sometimes, they get too involved so much so that it muddles their minds and ruin their judgements if they are not being careful. But I think the scariest part is the sacrifices an undercover has to made whenever there is a call for it, e.g. doing drugs; not that Cassie is doing them that is.

I liked Cassie; she is one heck of an undercover. She has guts, and she is not really afraid of consequences. Reading about her relationship with Sam shows her vulnerable side, for there is a time she is tied between work and love and she has to make a choice.

The Likeness is a mesmerising page-turner. It is more than a whodunit story; it focuses more on humanity issues and then of course, the friendship 'Lexie' had with her mates.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best crime thrillers I read this year. I would highly recommend this author to anyone.

Other blog reviews:

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How is everyone doing? I surely miss reading all your blogs! Also, thank YOU for the well wishes! For the past few days, I have been doing nothing but spending time with my baby, napping and catching up on my reading. Life could not get any better! Just imagine I will be doing these for 16 weeks, as this is the amended maternity leave (used to be 12 weeks) implemented by the government on 17 August this year. I hope I would not turn into a couch potato by then, haha.

My baby is doing well. She sleeps a lot during the daytime, and well night feeding is no joke! But I guess I will get used to it.

Also, I apologise if I do not get to visit your blog as much as usual, but I will try to whenever if I get the chance. Till next time!