Friday, August 6, 2010

Mini reviews of my six summer reads

I've been away from blogging for my whole summer vacation, so I'm really behind on my book reviews. Since I won't have time to write detailed reviews of each book I've read on my holiday, I'm just going to write a few words about each one. Maybe you'll be tempted to pick one of these up!

Leopard Rock by Tarras Wilding


Roo Beckett knew there had to be a catch when she won first prize in a prestigious wildlife fim-making competition. A month's mentorship in the beautiful South African game reserve, Leopard Rock, with renowened film-maker Wyk Kruger, seemed simply too good to be true.

Sure enough, after her free-loading, fashion-magazine colleagues decide to tag along, Roo's solo African adventure doesn't have the best of starts. But that's the least of her worries. Lost in the African outback, Roo's soon struggling with a bigger and more unexpected problem - her attraction to the mysterious Wyk himself...

My thoughts:

I bought this book earlier this year in when I was visiting South Africa. The story is based in the Johannesburg area at a game reserve and as you can imagine, it paints a beautiful picture of the South African wildlife and nature - something I just can't resist. The story in itself is cute and interesting and perfectly light for a holiday read - recommended.

The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde


Two weeks before Christmas, Diana Duprey, an outspoken abortion doctor, is found floating in her pool, a bruise the size of a golf ball visible through her dark curls. A national figure, Diana inspired passion and ignited tempers, never more so than on the day of her death.

Her husband, Frank, an attorney in the D.A.'s office for more than twenty years, had fought bitterly with her on the day of her murder. Yet to reveal the nature of their fight would cost him not only his career but something greater still—a relationship he will go to any lengths to protect. Diana's daughter, Megan, a college freshman, had also quarreled with Diana that day, and her role in her mother's murder will prove more significant than she ever could have anticipated. The Reverend Stephen O'Connell, founder of the town's pro-life coalition, obviously had issues with Diana, but his anger extended beyond the political to the personal—namely, Dr. Duprey's involvement with his own troubled teenager. Meanwhile, the detective on the case grapples to make sense of it all. His investigation implicates many in this town and reveals a series of gross miscalculations, each one challenging what we know, or think we know, about community, fidelity, justice, and love.

My thoughts:

I've seen this book around in the library but haven't been interested enough to borrow it. I actually found the book at the villa we rented in France and had an opportunity to have a better look. Soon I found out that I couldn't put the book down!! The characters are complex and the realtionships difficult, just like in real life. The key to the mystery was kept hidden till quite the end which was a huge plus as well. The book has many heavy issues going on which makes you think of ethics and might disturb some readers. A page turner!

Two Lipsticks and a Lover - Helena Frith Powell


French women are innately elegant and sexy. How do they do it? Author Helena Frith Powell goes undercover in her book TWO LIPSTICKS AND A LOVER to transform herself from a Fulham frump to a sensual French woman in just one year.

This edgy and hilarious guide takes Helena on a journey where she unlocks French secrets and learns:

-> The best way to have an affair
-> Style tips from French female icons
-> How a little Flaubert keeps you sexy
-> Exercise tips without breaking a sweat
-> How seduction must be in the forefront of your mind at all time
-> How French women age with elegance and without botox

My thoughts:

I've actually read this book before but since I was holidaying in France and found it at the apartment where we were staying, I decided to refresh my memory. The book has some fun tips how to be more glamorous and more like the sensual French woman but its also a good reminder to take care of yourself - not for others but for your own well being. That's something us moms tend to forget at times. I think everyone can learn from the French about that! Helena tells us that one of the French women's secrets to being slim is that they can eat a lot one day but then they will ration their eating the next day. After watching the French women at the supermarket crazily stocking up on the croissants, cakes and baguettes, I'm still inclined to think that the secret to their thinness is genes!!

Rumour Has It - Jill Mansell


When newly single Tilly Cole impulsively quits her London job for a fresh start in the small town of Roxborough she finds she's arrived in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue and rampant rivalry for the most desirable men. Tilly has no intention of joining in – she's just happy with her new Girl Friday job.

Then she meets Jack Lucas.

Jack is irresistible… and he's got his eye on Tilly. But there are shocking rumours about his wicked reputation. Tilly doesn’t want to be just another notch on anyone's bedpost. But is she being mature and sensible – or is she running away from the love of her life?

My thoughts:

I loved Rumour Has It! Jill Mansell had me glued from the very first pages. It's a cute and heartwarming story which you won't want to put down. Mansell has created really lovable characters who you'd love to be best friends with. Excellent chick-lit.

The Perfect Lie - Emily Barr


Lucy lives in Cornwall. She has a partner, and a job in a waterside pub, and she has friends. Her life is perfect: it just happens to be a lie.

One day, she climbs a cliff to rescue a child. A stranger on the beach points a camera at her, and the footage ends up on television. Lucy’s life unravels, and she flees across Europe, desperate to stay one step ahead of a figure from her past.

My thoughts:

Out of all the books I've read in July, I liked this one the least. However, that does not mean that it was a bad book, it simply wasn't my favourite. Saying that, Emily Barr had me hooked to the mystery of what had happened to Lucy - what was so terrible that she had to constantly be on her toes? The dark undertone of the book kept me reading till the end.

This is Where I Leave You - Jonathan Tropper


The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family-including Judd's mother, brothers, and sister-have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd's wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd's radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch's dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it's a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family.

My thoughts:

I remember loving Jonathan Tropper's How to talk to a widower, so I was really looking forward to reading this one. I'm not sure if I've ever heard of sitting shiva (seven day mourning period) before and found it interesting to learn more about the Jewish tradition. Tropper writes humorously but the book is not only funny, it's also heartbreaking and very true. The Foxman family is a bunch of weird individuals whose lives give you a glimpse into different kinds of relationships, life is never easy for anyone. If you're easily offended, then you might not enjoy this book.. I adored it.

Have you read any of my summer reads? Do share your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Orbis Terrarum 2010 Wrap-up

The Orbis Terrarum Reading Challenge was the first challenge I took part in and it was very exciting! I love traveling so reading around the world was a treat for me. Here are the rules of the challenge in case you still want to take part, the challenge ends in November, so there's still time!

Orbis Terrarum 2010 Challenge Rules:
*The Orbis Terrarum Challenge begins April,1st 2010(you are welcome to join later) through the month of November.
*For the challenge each reader is to choose 8 books (for the 8 months of the challenge).
*Each book must from a different country, I have decided to go by the country of origin of the author, or the country he/she lives in is fine as well-meaning NOT the country the book is set in!
*You don’t have to have a list, that means you can change your mind at any time. As long as there are 8 books you have completed the challenge.

Here are all the books I read:

1. United Kingdom: Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella
2. Sri Lanka: The Road from Elephant Pass - Nihal de Silva
3. New Zealand: Novel about My Wife - Emily Perkins
4. North America: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
5. Cambodia: The Road of Lost Innocence - Somaly Mam
6. Pakistan: Half Life - Roopa Farooki
7. South Africa: People Like Ourselves - Pamela Jooste
8. Iran: Rooftops of Tehran - Mahbod Seraji

Thanks again to Bethany of Dreadlock Girl for hosting this wonderful challenge!

Rooftops of Tehran - Mahbod Seraji

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji was my last Orbis Terrarum reading challenge book and it's for Iran. I'm actually sad I've read all the eight books required, it's been so much fun!! Thanks so much to Bethany of Dreadlock Girl for hosting this fabulous challenge. I'll be sure to take part next year. If you're hearing about this challenge for the first time, then I'm sure you can still join and read around the world!

Blurb from Goodreads:

In a middle-class neighborhood of Iran’s sprawling capital city, 17-year-old Pasha Shahed spends the summer of 1973 on his rooftop with his best friend Ahmed, dreaming about the future and asking burning questions about life. Pasha is also wrestling with a crushing secret: he has fallen in love with his beautiful neighbor, Zari, who has been betrothed since birth to another man. Despite Pasha’s guilt for loving her, the long, hot days transform their tentative friendship into a rich, emotional bond. The bliss of one perfect, stolen summer is abruptly shattered in a single night when Pasha unwittingly guides the Shah’s secret police to their target: Zari’s intended. The violent consequences awaken Pasha and his friends to the reality of life under the rule of a powerful despot, and lead Zari to make a shocking choice from which Pasha may never recover.

My thoughts:

I love this book! I've read many books based in Iran but none have been set before the revolution. Seraji's accounts on the happenings of that time period were both facinating and enlightening.

Rooftops of Tehran is a sad story but not one without hope. It's all about friendship and love and it really paints a picture of the Iranians as generous, loyal and kind people. The bond Pasha shares with his friends is truly remarkable and draws the reader into the story. I really enjoyed the way Seraji writes, emotionally and heartwarmingly and it's just a really flowing read.

I can't gush enough about this book and recommend it to everyone. If you're still not sure if you'd enjoy reading this book, check out two other bloggers' reviews:

S. Krishna's Books
Book Addiction

Apparently Mahbod Seraji's next book is about a man with four wives who feels that he's been deprived of love for all of his life!! I seriously can't wait for it's release!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In My Mailbox - 28th June

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren. Mailbox Monday, which I've enjoyed participating in, is being hosted for the last time by Marcia at The Printed Page. Thanks so much for hosting this meme Marcia, I've been a regular and loved it! In both these memes bloggers share the books they've recieved.. which I have to admit has caused my wishlist to expand a bit too much..

Actually, I'm cheating a bit because I got this book weeks ago from my boss but I forgot to mention it. Technically she's not my boss at the moment because she's on leave with her baby, but I can't wait for her to come back to work because she's the best boss anyone could wish for! :) And she reads in English which is not that usual in Finland - so I have someone great to exchange books with!

Perfect Match - Jane Moore

Anything fun in your mailbox?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Midsummer and a Finnish leech

Midsummer is a much loved celebration in Finland. Midsummer's Eve is always on a Friday and it's a holiday for everyone. Even all shops close at noon. You could say that Finland shuts down for Midsummer because almost everyone takes off and travels to the countryside to summer houses for rest and relaxation. I say almost everyone because this year we decided to stay in the city. Last year we went to a summer house with my in-laws which was fun but it's also tiresome driving back and forth hundreds of kilometers for just a weekend.

Today is Midsummer's Day and we decided to go trekking to Noux National Park. It's been a while since we were there. At first I was quite enthusiastic about it but once I got there and was attacked by the mosquitoes, I wasn't so sure. At that point I was most scared of spotting snakes..

Whilst walking along, I suddenly felt something sting me beneath my hair. I grabbed what I thought was a mosquito and was shocked to see a LEECH on my hand. Here's a close up of the slimy thing.

I have had a bit of a leech phobia ever since we were in Borneo and the horrid creatures latched onto me on our jungle walk. I've been happy not to see any leeches since then. Actually, we've gone to this particular national park in Finland for seven years and I've NEVER seen a leech in that time - nor anywhere else in Finland, so it was quite a rare occurance. I wish I could say that I was calmly posing for this photo while the leech wiggled on my nail but the truth is that I was screaming hysterically because I was terrified of it sucking my skin again!

Thankfully that was the only slimy creature we came upon and the rest of the trek went quite peacefully - if you don't count a few lost tourists we had to help out!

A collapsed bridge

Is this the right way?

Wooden planks on marshy ground

Even a teen needs to get in touch with nature now and then :)

 Happy Midsummer to all! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Love the One You're With - Emily Giffin

Ellen has been married for around a year to the perfect guy, Andy. He's thoughtful, cute and even wealthy and on top of all this, his whole family loves her. But when Ellen bumps into her old flame, Leo, she starts doubting her marriage and the life they've built together and pondering on the question what if..

When Leo calls her and asks her to do an assignement with him Ellen finds herself agreeing, all the while knowing that she's getting herself into deep waters by doing so.

Emily Giffin's novel is both heartwarming and bittersweet. I'm sure many readers will find that Ellen is very easy to relate to in her journey to discover she wants. Ellen analyzes everything to the core, making it quite an emotional book - she goes from lust to desperation and back again. I found both Andy and Leo attractive in their own ways and could see why Ellen needed to find closure. And frankly, I did feel that the life she'd settled into sounded a bit boring.

The story is very predictable but Giffin writes in such a way that she still managed to keep my interest throughout. Andy's family seemed a bit too perfect in my opinion and I kept thinking how sad it was that she was questioning the marriage only after being married for such a short while. I'm not sure I can recommend this as a light summer read because it can get tiresome living  throughout Ellen's struggle and frustration. But saying that, I'd happily read more by Giffin!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mailbox Monday - 21st June

Mailbox Monday is a meme where booklovers share the books they've recieved throughout the week. Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. I was happy to recieve two books, the first one through Bookmooch and the other from my lovely friend at work!

Ten Thousand Sorrows : The Extraordinary Journey of a Korean War Orphan by Elizabeth Kim

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs - this is the sequel to The Friday Night Knitting Club

What interesting books were you lucky to get?