Monday, September 25, 2017

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I'm so glad that I started this NetGalley book on my off day, when I decided not to go out because this book was un-putdownable!

Emma in the Night starts when Cass comes back after having disappeared three years ago. But right from the start, one can tell that Cass is an unreliable narrator, because she talks about how she has to make people believe that Emma is alive.

The other narrator is Dr. Abigail Winter, a forensic psychologist working for the FBI. Cass and her sister Emma's disappearance has always haunted her because she recognises that Cass and Emma's mother is a narcissist, like hers. So when Cass reappears and claims that her sister is still being held captive, she knows that she has to get to the bottom of the case.

The book alternates between Cass and Dr. Winters and this leads to constant tension. Cass reveals a bit of the past, Dr. Abigail shows where the investigation is going, and bit by bit, the truth starts to come out.

Where this book excels is in its depiction of Cass and Emma's family and how dysfunctional they are. Cass is not the perfect character, but as I read on, I really felt for her. In most cases, I would probably dislike her because come on, her first action is her lying to her family and that is not a save the car moment, but because I saw how damaged she was, I ended up rooting for her even through her worst actions.

Despite the fact that I really enjoyed this book, I'm finding it hard to write to put this into words. It's quite hard to write details about the plot or characters without giving spoilers away, so I'm just going to end by encouraging everyone who loves thrillers to give it a go.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Alice in Wonderland Tea

It's a rare Sunday post from me! Well, I finally have something book-related that is not a review that I wanted to share. I suppose I could share this any day of the week but I have this "weekdays are for reviews" mentality. Anyway, I bought these today: 


Alice in Wonderland tea!! Even though I really shouldn't be buying more (because I already have way too much to drink), I just couldn't resist these!


I really love the details on the packaging, from the top of the box


To the little message on the lid.

I decided to open up one packet of Alice Grey Tea (which is basically Earl Grey Tea) and I really love the design on the packet too. Is it bad that I want to save everything?


I thought the tag at the end was cute as well.


The tea was delicious too. It was very fragrant (I could smell the oil once I opened the box), but it didn't taste too overpowering and I really enjoyed my mug of tea. Yes, I use a mug because a cup simply isn't enough. I can't wait to try the breakfast tea too(:

By the way, each box cost me about 200 yen, which I find really cheap. If you're in Japan, you can check out the nearest Kaldi - that's where I found these. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

I can't remember how I heard of this book but it was on hold and the words "Stoker and Holmes" meant that I was definitely going to give it a shot. Oh, and it's not the Stoker and Holmes that you're thinking about.

The Clockwork Scarab stars Mina Holmes (Sherlock Holmes' niece) and Evaline Stoker (Bram Stoker's sister) who are forced to work together to find out who is behind a series of murders.

And I do mean forced. The two girls have completely different personalities and they clearly don't like each other. Most of the investigation also proceeded independently, though I do like how there was a slight thawing of their frosty relationship at the end (not quite a friendship because that would be unbelievable).

So about these murders: someone is murdering well-bred young ladies and leaving a strange Egyptian scarab near their bodies. Irene Adler (yes, the Woman) is tasked by the Crown to solve the case and she, in turn, recruits the two protagonists.

The story is told through both Mina and Evaline's point of view, which I quite enjoyed. Both their voices are very distinct and being able to get into both their heads meant that I liked both of them. I probably prefer Evaline a little bit more, as Mina has a much clearer superiority complex, but I liked both girls and I look forward to seeing how they, and their friendship, develop.

The only character I didn't quite get and basically thought was useless was Dylan. He was so obviously from the future (guess it the minute I saw him) and didn't really have a presence in the story. He did provide a key piece of information but I thought the other two male characters were more entertaining.

Since I mentioned 'the future' and that the girls are related to Holmes and Stoker, I guess it's pretty obvious this book is set in Victorian England. This society runs on steam, not electricity, and I really enjoyed the little details about how it worked. There isn't any info-dumping, but I had a pretty good sense of what it was like by the end of the book.

All in all, I enjoyed this. It's the first book in a series and I would definitely pick up the second (when I remember), because I'm curious to know how these two girls will change over time. If you like mystery, steampunk and you're a fan of Holmes and/or Stoker, you'll probably enjoy this book.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Planted by the Waters by Leslie Quahe

This book was given to me by one of my friends!  It's a collection of stories from Leslie Quah's life. The title is a reference to Psalms 1:1-3, which says:

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates Day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields it's fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers."

But to be honest the title reminds me more of the song:

"I'm gonna be like a tree, planted by the waters, trusting in the Father to keep me strong"

Which is based on the Psalm so all's good, I guess?

Like I mentioned at the start, this is a collection of Leslie Quah's experience and how the Lord has always been taking care of him. Each story is short, so you can use it as a quick method of reminding yourself about the goodness of the Lord.

The only thing I wish was different was in how the stories were connected. I think the stories are told in chronological order, but they are not connected so it's like *boom* Harley Davidson, *boom* pro golfer, and I'm like "when did you learn to ride a motorbike or play golf?"

Apart from that minor quibble, I thought this was a really good book! It's an encouraging read and Leslie's faith is something that we all can learn from.