• ISBN-13: 9780062122636
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: June 2012
  • Format: Trade Paperback, 480 pgs
  • Source: Publisher

At first glance, the cover of With My Body may seem like an erotica romance but after reading the blurb, I realised there is something far more than just sex and lust, for behind the sensuality this is a story about family, marriage, self-discovery and love. 

Written in second person point-of-view, the nameless character is a mother of three and she has what many women want - a husband who is a GP and one who will not let his family down. She is supposed to be happy with her life, but she is not. She realised that she and her husband have reached a point of stopping in the relationship; where they both are either too busy, or too swamped by everything else. There is not much romance or sparks left, so to speak. Deep inside, the woman is craving for a release and she can't help but to think of her ex-lover, whom she has kept hidden in her mind all these years. She didn't want to ruin her marriage, for she thinks her husband is a good man and all, and she will make sure that he will never know of her past as she revisits her memory (and a notebook whereby she had noted down lessons she had learnt from her ex-lover) where the core of this story is. 

The woman had a secret affair with an older man when she was about seventeen. She had accidentally came across a secluded house where she discovered the man, who had chosen the quiet and remoteness of the place from the city so he could write his second book. Initially Tol wants nothing to do with the girl but he is piqued by her naivety and in the end, he gave in through her persistence of seeking him out. And there begins their relationship and their secret affair. Through their affair, she has learned things from Tol that would make one raise eyebrows and frown. Tol seems to learn something from her too, as he finds out more about a woman's psyche. One could say their relationship is a complex one, and there are times I wondered about Tol and if there are other agenda behind his acts. But of course I would not spoil the story and say anything more about him. 

Though With My Body mainly looks at the discovery of sexuality of a teenage girl to a woman, there is one aspect which I think drives the greatest impact and that is the father/daughter relationship and the redemptive part which is surprisingly moving once the readers understand the intention behind it. 

Bold, honest and thought-provoking, With My Body will be one of the most unforgettable books on my read list. This book also includes an interview with author Nikki Gemmell and her insights of writing this story (which allowed me to learn more about womanhood, in all its complexity). 

  • ISBN-13: 9781442430358
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: January 2012
  • Format: Hardcover, 384 pgs
  • Source: Personal Library

I don't know why, but I just love this word - bittersweet. Although it is defined pleasure mingled with regret, it is often the regret that lingers the most in my mind, as this often reminds me that life is not perfect and that we should always treasure what we have and grab any opportunity 
that comes knocking your door.

Hudson Avery, the protagonist in Sarah Ockler's Bittersweet, is a talented ice skater. Before she competes for a competition, she learned that her father has been having an affair with another woman. And the sad thing is, her mother chose to live in denial, thinking that things would turn out better. Unfortunately, Hudson didn't think so and her father's affair has shattered her wish of becoming a professional ice skater, for he is the one who presented a pair of ice skate to her when she was young and offered her all the encouragement she needs. Thus, during the competition she intentionally performed like an ordinary ice skater instead of giving her best and thereafter, not to ice skate anymore. 

Three years later, she found herself inventing and baking scrumptious cupcakes at her mother's diner in Watonka, New York. The dining business is the only thing that keeps her mother going ever since she has split with her husband. After all, she is now the breadwinner but business isn't doing well. It is at this time that Hudson decides to skate again after she has been invited to enter a skating competition to win a $5,000 scholarship. 

However, she needs some practising and plus, she has to go to the rink if she really want to win the competition. Luck is on her side as Josh, co-captain of the school's hockey team asked her to secretly coach his team on the finer points of ice skating in exchange for some ice time at the rink. She agrees but the challenge now is aside from practising hard for the competition and coaching the team, she has to face Will, whom she had a crush on years ago and he is also the captain of the hockey team. While she is flattered that Will is attentive to her, she isn't sure if his feelings towards her is genuine or is he using her for the sake of the hockey team.  To complicate matters, she finds herself attracted to Josh but will he reciprocate her feelings? And, would she be able to keep the competition under wraps from her mother since it reminds her so much of the past? Finally, would she dare hope to win the scholarship after all these years?          

At its core, Bittersweet is more of a story about friends and family, commitment and dreams than pleasure mingled with regret. Sure, there is a dose of those but I was more glad that Hudson has come to realise what most matters to her and follow that direction. Bittersweet is not entirely a bad experience after all, if you have learned something from those experiences and become a better person. Now did I mention why I like the word - bittersweet?
ISBN-13: 978-0340977637
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: July 2012
Format: Trade Paperback, 544 pgs
Source: Personal Library

Broken Harbour is the 4th installment of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad Series. Her first book, In the Woods, has received many good reviews from readers and up to now, I still couldn't get that plot out of my mind. 

This time around, Tana French brought us to Brianstown (formerly known as 'Broken Harbour' to the residents living there); a ghostlike town where the residents would rather mind their own business and stay locked at home than going outdoors.  

Brianstown is supposed to be quiet, but now that peace is disrupted after a family was murdered. Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead, while the wife, Jenny is in intensive care. Detective Mick Kennedy and his rookie partner, Detective Richie Curran are assigned to this case and they learnt that Patrick was laid off. Their initial speculation is that Patrick was stressed and decided to kill them all before killing himself, but there are a few things that they have found and couldn't explain. For starters, why there are so many baby monitors lying around the house and why are there holes in the walls? Did someone break into the house and killed them all? If that is the case, then why didn't the Spain family reported to the police? Did they have something to hide, and what is it?  

As Mike investigates the case, he couldn't help but to think of his mother's suicide back in Broken Harbour when he was a boy when they went there for a summer vacation. He has been trying hard not to think of that past but this case has once again opened up his wounds and have his sister, Dina, off the rails as her mental state is a little unstable. 

Although Mike's past has nothing to do with his investigations, Tana French shows her readers the other side of Mike and how behind Mike's sharp, intelligent mind and being a star detective and all, he is simply an ordinary person just like you and me. This psychological aspect, aside from the police procedural part, is the highlight of this intense thriller and I have to say this is the best installment I read among the series to date. What I could say without spoiling the story, is that the ending had me totally stumped and I hope Tana French will write a sequel to this. I wish I could say more but this is it.