Saving Sindia by Peggy Edelheit

Good books are really worth curling up with especially on rainy weekend nights. This weekend, I curled up with a one of Samantha Jamison mysteries, Saving Sindia.

REVIEW:

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What is it about?

Samantha went on a solitary vacation in the Ocean City. But as she was expecting a peaceful, away from chaos vacation, odd things began to spring up – a mysterious note that says she’s the lucky chosen one, a woman she bumped with in the boardwalk by the ocean who knew her real identity despite the heavy disguise, and a man who drove a Mercedes car, just to name a few. Then Sam found herself in the midst of mystery that she needed to help solving.

What I Think About It

Peggy Edelheit has a different approach in writing mysteries. The scenes in every chapter are not too heavy – they were as if the mysteries are just part of Sam’s everyday life (which I suppose is really the case owing it to the fact that she’s an author of mystery books). I guess what I am trying to say is that, the scenes and the mysteries in them are just coming naturally. I also loved the little lesson learned portion after each journal entry that I ended up highlighting some of them, although I didn’t enjoy the journal entry parts. I didn’t quite grasp the relevance of them. The chapters were short, which I appreciated, although I suspect that’s also the reason why the story seemed slow-paced (or maybe I am just too inpatient in finding out who or what Sindia really was). And yeah, I also had to admit that I missed the sleuth trio, Martha, Betty and Hazel. I’d never forget their epic skunk shooting back in that Sam’s another mystery A Lethal Time.

Recommendation:

Saving Sindia is a mystery novel that I can categorize as a light read. Comparing to the hardcore mysteries like that of Grisham, Clancy or O’Shaughnessy, Edelheit’s books have this distinction. It’s mystery, and it’s light. Perfect for a lazy afternoon or if you just want to chill. 

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Brown Sugar in Minnesota by Joe Field

Right after reading a book about a murder in Oklahoma, I just finished reading a book about drug bust operation in Minnesota. This book, Brown Sugar in Minnesota made me think of the recent events taking place in my country.

REVIEW:

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What is it about?

Cooper Smith is a radio reporter relatively new to Minnesota Public Radio. Young and enthusiastic, he is also afraid of the radio station’s “first in, first out” policy – since he is one of the new employees, he would also be one of those who gets laid off first, if the station needs to do so unless he produces a big-shot story. Then he stumbled upon the story about the shipment of heroin called Brown Sugar. His utmost desire of keeping his job coupled by the anguish upon losing a friend in making the story, Cooper goes beyond what investigative journalism normally does and sets out to help turn down the bad guys.

What I Think About It?

When I read that the book is about drugs, I thought of our newly-elect president and his now-famous line – “My God, I hate drugs.” Brown Sugar in Minnesota brought me to the realms of drug syndicate –  how they operate, manipulate and market their product. I guess what I am trying to say is that, the author must have hone through intense research on this (well, he’s a reporter so it could have been easy). Cooper is one brave media man. But of course, the fact that he lost his friend in the process of getting his big shot story affected him big time in the way he handled things. Not to mention his personal connections, because most members of his family is in the authorities, and his ever supportive fiancee who works for the Governor. With this kind of set-up, Cooper has nothing to fear, in my opinion. He just needed to prove himself in order to save his job. There wasn’t too much action though. As a crime book, I anticipated much of guns and highway chases. The highway chase at the very near end was satisfying, though.

I was moved by the part wherein Cooper interviews the heroin addicts in the rehab. Though I kept in mind that I was reading fiction, I can’t help but wonder why there are people who still chose to do illegal drugs. I don’t judge them – I am just at awe about the satisfaction they say drugs give them, only to regret it in the end.

Recommendation:

Brown Sugar in Minnesota is not for bedtime read, because you won’t be able to sleep. You’d hate yourself for putting it down. You’d want to know soon what happens to Cooper in the end.

(This review also appeared in Amazon.)

Oklahoma Winds by Cary Osborn

The thing about me reading a mystery book is that I can’t put it down until the mystery as been solved. This is exactly what happened as I read Oklahoma Winds.

REVIEW:

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What is it about?

When the dead body of a young lady intern was found in the archives  processing room, everyone wants to believe that it was just a mistake, or maybe a brutal accident. But Sydney, the archivist feels like there is something more to it, and it gives her the reason to believe that she is also unknowingly fighting for her life. So she sets out and does her own investigation. Could the crime be linked to the disappearance of a certain girl in the same town several years ago? And as Sydney finds out the truth, she may also find not only Irene’s murderer but also, her own.

What I Think About It

Mystery books are my favorite genre when I was in college. Oklahoma Winds is a book that I could line up with those of John Grisham and Perry O’Shaughnessy, minus the lawyers. The first thing I liked about this book is the female main character. Okay… not to be sexist or anything, maybe it is just something that fascinates me for some reason, or maybe because I am a woman too. Sydney signifies a strong female personality – independent and reliable. I also like the fact that the book not only mentioned an archive, but it became a significant place that everyone would remember. Hardly any new books I’ve read have the words “Facebook” and “library”, and I appreciate the fact that the author kind of tries to remind everyone through her book that, “hey, there’s still archives and library, you know?” Well, maybe it isn’t quite a pleasant reminder because of the gory thing that took place in the archive processing room, but still.

The fun part, of course, is that Sydney tries to do some investigating on her own. I might have done the same, if I saw my intern lying dead in the place where we work, and the authorities are next to clueless about what’s going on. Although I have always noticed this in most of the mystery books that I’ve read. The story kept me guessing until the end on why Irene the intern was killed, who murdered her and why.

Recommendation

If you are a John Grisham or Perri O’Shaughnessy fan, then this boom is absolutely a must read for you.

(This review also appeared in Amazon.)

The Children of Swan: The Land of Taron by Coral Walker

It’s another adventure that sci-fi fans should not miss. Children of Swan is indeed an awesome read.

REVIEW

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What is it about?

Jack awoke one morning with his sister Brianna pounding on his door to tell him their mom and dad are missing. Much to his surprise, his parents’ bedroom are left with no trace – no bed, no furniture, nothing. So they decided to report the incident to the police and soon, Jack and Brianna, along with their little brother, Bo, find themselves being hauled away by the social services. Only they were brought in a strange facility where they learned the truth about their parents – they were from the land of Taron and was never really Earth inhabitants.

What I Think About It

The “parents are missing” part of the book reminded me of one of R.L. Stine’s YA novel, Missing (I must be reading quite a lot) and since I am R.L. Stine’s big fan, I went under the impression that The Children of Swan is going to be as impressive. Well, my first impression lasted. I like the super creative imagination of the author, like the Land of Skorpias, the Wona woman with mystical superpowers, and two teenagers whose parents are actually coming from a different planet. The entire universe is just too big and I can’t help but think that maybe, everything that’s been mentioned in the book are totally possible.  Jack and Brianna’s situation is unimaginable though. In real life, I mean, how can you possibly accept the fact that your parents are alien?  Are they considered humans?

Recommendation:

Sci-fi fans out there, do not miss this gem! You have to read this for that another superb space adventure.

(This review also appeared in Amazon.)

The Shong Wars: Declaration by George P. Lung

This is another epic fantasy book for my bedtime read, and my fascination for this kind of book is getting stronger.

REVIEW

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What is it about?

The Shong is known to be warriors of extraordinary powers, serving the Mongol elite troops. Zhang Ma is a young prince of the Shong, though not by blood. Naturally, his older brothers are fond of belittling and challenging him to prove himself worthy of the name and honor. Until his adoptive father assigned him the task of finding the girl who might be their only key to dominate the world. As Zhang’s journey of finding the girl progresses, he also realizes that he should do everything in his power to protect the girl.

What I Think About It

I am not sure which era this story has taken place, it wasn’t mention in the book. But the names and the scenes of battle heavily reminded me of Korean epic telenovelas that have recently gone famous in the Philippines. I imagined Zhang to be wearing that Korean old costume. 

As in all the epic fantasy books I’ve read (well, there’s just a few of them), the main character is always the mediocre creature without enough experience, who only rely to his instincts and trusts that he would be saved from tight spots by someone he used to save because he is a merciful prince. Okay, I have nothing against this and I write romance. The main character’s introductory qualities must be in a formula that epic fantasy authors are following in writing their masterpieces. I liked Zhang, though. True leaders must not just be tough, he also has to have a heart.

The game of Cheau is something I detest, though. It felt ruthless and inhumane. Though Zhang was kind enough to protect the prisoners in his side, which I think is one of Zhang’s admirable traits.

Recommendation:

The Shong Wars: Declaration is a book to add to your collection of you are a fan of epic fantasy novels.

(This review also appeared in Amazon.)

Goodbye Bombay by Gry Fisner

So let me take myself back into reading romance. Goodbye Bombay, though it was a romance book for me, it covered a lot of different things about a married woman’s life.

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REVIEW:

What is it about?

The story opens with Christine telling her friend Phoebe about her wanders in Bombay, India twenty years ago. As fascinating as it was, it appeared that her life wasn’t that easy. She was constantly neglected by her husband, and add the fact that she was in the foreign land, she couldn’t help but wonder where she belongs. Until she met Sam, a gorgeous looking Indian, and despite being married, she fell in love with him.

What I Think About It? 

The way this book was written reminded me of Me Before You and Love, Rosie. I am not sure why, but maybe because all the books have touches of Brit culture. Anyway, I loved how Christine talked about her life in India. It made me feel like I was the one listening to her stories – it felt like it was spontaneously written which not many books feature. This kind of approach is kind of new for me and I think it was truly superb.

I can’t imagine myself being in Christine’s shoes, especially when she was in India. I mean, I think it would be cool if it would just be me, but imagine towing her daughter and her entire life in a foreign soil without knowing where to begin really. I felt the sense of belongingness she badly wanted to find, as she tried to fit in the Indian crowd (it also made me keep n mind to check the country’s culture when it comes to dress code before people whisper about me). But then I still couldn’t decide if allowing herself to fall in love with some was ever a good idea, despite the fact that she was often neglected by her husband and as obviously galvanizing behind her back.

Another thing that made the book interesting for me is India itself. Most books I’ve read are set either in the U.S. or in some parts of Europe. This book, however, showcased India effectively, in my opinion. The description of the country was so vivid that I could imagine what it says.

Recommendation:

Story wise, this could be something in a very slight semblance of Paulo Coelho’s Adultery. Goodbye Bombay is something that you may want to add to your bedtime reads.

The Quest of the Thirteen by John DeFilippis

I haven’t read an epic fantasy book before, so I should say this is my first time. And as much as I wanted to have myself confined into reading romance, horror and suspense, I realized that adventures when it comes to book reading is quite satisfying too. The Quest of the Thirteen is another breath of fresh air into my now wide-ranging genre of book collection.

Review:

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What Is It About?

The Kingdom of Mavinor needs a new king, or at least, that’s what Onestus, the current King of Mavinor thinks. Gone were the days when he could protect the walls of his kingdom, due to the lessened strength and capability to join the battle because of his age. Having no children to succeed to his throne, he assigned The Scribes of the kingdom to look through The Scrolls on how to choose the next ruler of kingdom. Then they found out about Haggiselm, the old Mavinor ruler and his quest for the warriors to determine the rightful heir to the throne. Onestus then chose thirteen warriors and assigned them the ultimate quest of finding the Medallion of Mavinor, and whoever find it shall succeed Onestus in ruling the kingdom.

What I Think About It

Like I have mentioned, the book is a breath of fresh air for me since it is my first time to read epic fantasy. I thought this would bore me off, but it surprised me because it caught my interest. It was a struggle for me in the first part, yes, and it didn’t help that I have this impression that epic fantasy books have a knack of using heavy but not too Shakespearean English words. At first I imagined myself watching that old Ten Commandments movie, but as I made progress, I find myself like I am watching episodes of Once Upon a Time. I love the fact that the author used light words, and this is advantageous for epic-book-beginners like me. Needless to say, I ended up reading the book up until the end. I should add that this is not the kind of book I would normally have for my bedtime read, but it worked.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommendation:

If you are a big fan of epic fantasy books, then this is definitely a gem to add to your collection. If you are like me, who haven’t read epic fantasy all his life but need a new genre to read, I’ll recommend this as well. It’s not too light nor too heavy so you’ll absolutely enjoy it.

(This review also appeared in Amazon.)