The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks – ČuvarAfter reading the last book that I’ve read entitled Second Life by S.J Watson which undeniably gave me an ambiguous thoughts and feelings about it, I realized I was feeling something light to read next. Something that I know will get me in some way. I was scrolling through my ebooks and Nicholas Sparks name was waving at me and I said to myself why not.

The Guardian tells a story about Julie Barenson who was widowed at the young age of twenty-five but her husband left her a letter telling her that he has gotten her a puppy, a great dane that she named Singer, for her to have as a company since she has no family and also a promise that even though he was already gone he would still always be watching over her. Now four years later, the twenty-nine year old Julie started dating as she feels like she’s ready to commit again. But who to choose? Richard Franklin who is a sophisticated engineer who treats her like a queen or Mike Harris who is down to earth and happens to be her husband’s best friend?

————————————- NOTE: MAY CONTAIN SPOILER! —————————————–

For me, the beginning was a little slow but I wasn’t really greatly bothered by that. I liked the fact that the story has a dog involved in it, maybe it’s the dog-lover in me. I absolutely adored Singer, him being a Great Dane and of course his personality. I loved how Julie gradually realized her feelings for Mike. I really loved the fact that Julie and Mike has been friends for years before they even recognized their true feelings for each other. I am such a sucker for that. I really dig that. I found myself smiling and feeling so kilig with their interactions.

As for character development, I may be blinded with all the romance but I thought I didn’t see much of that. The plot and the twists, I didn’t find them shocking or new. In other words, it has been predictable. It was nothing that I haven’t read before but I didn’t mind that as it’s the details in the story that I am always interested about.

One other thing that I loved about this novel was when I discovered that this story was not entirely just romance. The first half yes it was all romance – cheesy and sweet – but the latter half was thriller. Can you believe it? If you have been a long time reader of mine, you know me and my love for thrillers. It was the part that I did not expected. I did not see that coming at all. I really felt like I was in my element while reading that part.

All in all, The Guardian is a fun and entertaining read. I enjoyed my journey reading this. Will I recommend this? Yes, especially if you’re someone who likes romance and thriller and the mixture of it, this may be a treat for you.

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Second Life by S.J Watson

aaSecond Life is a psychological thriller written by S.J Watson who is the same writer of the successful novel Before I Go To Sleep which I remember I liked.

The book is about Julia who is living a happy life in London with her husband, Hugh, and a teenage son, Connor, when suddenly her world is shaken up when her sister, Kate, was murdered in Paris. She’s convinced that the police isn’t doing the best they can to catch the culprit, so Julia decides to take matters into her own hands. She finds her sister’s filofax and inside sees something that might be a username and a password for a website that her sister frequented. Aware of the danger, she dives into the world of cybersex, living another life by trying to pretend she’s Kate which to her seems like a good idea in the hope that she may lure her sister’s killer into captive. But soon realizes she’s falling more than what she bargained for.

This is one of those books that you’ll either love or hate. I found the first part really slow moving and repetitive to the point that turning the pages and continue reading has become a real struggle for me. I’m a fan of thriller books because of the suspense, the thrill, the mystery and the feeling of adrenaline pumping through your veins which is undeniably addicting. But I didn’t feel any of that on the first half of this book which was frustrating for me.

I don’t know what’s the aim of the author for the readers to feel about Julia but for me I found her character so hateful. I don’t know if she’s dense or just plainly stupid. Even though she knows what the consequences she may have out of a certain decision but she still do it anyway. She knows that she may put her family’s welfare into danger especially her son’s but she still can’t stop herself from doing it which may have to do in a topic that this book touches on, addiction. It shows how addiction can affect one’s mental state, behavior and decision making skills.

On the second half of the book, the story slowly picked up then the twists and turns struck one after the other. It was the part that has partly satisfied the thriller-enthusiast inside me. The scenes has become gripping and exciting, one of those can’t-put-down-the-book moment until one final bomb thrown and boom! That finally spoiled it for me. The finale left me dumbfounded. I remember being wide eyed with furrowed eyebrows and the words “WHAT?! That’s it? That’s all?” came out of my mouth enough for everyone in my house to hear. It was a huge cliffhanger. I dislike cliffhangers like that because it leaves me unanswered questions. Did she or did she not?

This isn’t the first time that I have read something that has an open-ended finale and I don’t have anything against that as long as it works. It’ll give the readers their own interpretations, their own assumptions and they have to work on their own imaginations as to what might have happened next and that’s a good thing. It’s like the authors leave that part in the minds of the readers. But this time, in this book, I just don’t think it worked on me.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I think it’s not that bad after all actually. Maybe my dissatisfaction at the time of reading rooted from the immense curiosity that I have as to what might happen next, I was so engrossed to know what will Julia do and then I was left hanging.

All in all it’s not too bad of a read, maybe it’s just too slow moving for me, the adrenaline rush, the kind of thrill and suspense that I seek isn’t there. If you don’t mind reading characters like Julia who is not your typical kind of heroine or protagonist then might as well give this a read. I read reviews that some people actually loved this book.

July Books Round-Up

My relationship with reading has been on and off since the latter half of last year and I can come up of a thousand reasons/excuses as to why, so I wouldn’t even dare and waste time for that. But July has been different, maybe that was because I was just bored to death or I was just drowning in an ocean of stress – both, actually – that I had seek refuge and escape thru the world of reading and as usual it didn’t fail to provide me those. I have contemplated of sharing my thoughts about the books just like I always did but I wasn’t really feeling it at the time, so I didn’t stress about it and just kept on reading.

So here are the books I’ve read for the month of July:

The Enchantress by Michael Scott
– This has been a long time coming. This is the last book in the author’s series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. I love this series so much, it made me a fan of reading. Yep. That happened. If you like adventure, fantasy, magic and mythology with a lot of disgusting and creepy looking creatures – at least, in my imagination- and if you don’t mind reading a six book series, read this.

Find Her by Lisa Gardner
– I was definitely on my element when I read this. Mystery, thriller, suspense … screams me. My favorite genre. I remember this has toyed with my mind. If you’re like me, who just loves thriller, give this a try.

Undercover by Danielle Steel
– I absolutely enjoyed this book. The first part may have been a little slow for me but it definitely made up on the latter half. If you know me, you’ll know romance and action is a pretty famous combo for me.

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
– Honestly, I have a torn heart for this. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either. It has a little bit of romance and a little bit of mystery but the climax I think is what killed it for me. The twist in the end, I found it a bit lacking. I think it’s still a decent and entertaining read.

After You by Jojo Moyes
– I have to say that I was a little hesitant to read this after the heart-wrenching, soul-breaking mess I had experienced when I read Me Before You. I even hadn’t watch the movie yet, I guess I just don’t want to go through it again. But of course with so much curiosity eating me up, I gave in and I didn’t regret. I don’t want to spoil anything if you hadn’t read it. Just read it.

Zero Excuses: Hot to live a Beautiful Life and be Cool as F*ck by Gabriel Machuret
– This has been the greatest book I’ve read so far this year. One of the books that I’d very much want to have the physical copy  of. It’s a light read, it’s practical, it’s funny, it’s true. This book made me feel so guilty about a lot of things. From start to finish, if not all then a big chunk of it strongly resonated to me. So relatable.

Six books for a month is already plenty right? But I thought I have read more than that. I hope I can read more this coming month.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Related image“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” – William James

I learned about this book through an instagram post of a youtuber that I have been watching for a while. She posted a picture of a page of it and it certainly seemed interesting to me. This is one of those books that I would want to have the actual book in reach and whenever I feel negative, I’d turn to this and read the parts relating to what I’m  feeling.

This book is – like the title says – about not sweating the small stuff because they’re just small stuff. It contains strategies on how you can find your peace, balance, acceptance, kindness and happiness in times of internal turmoil. And I believe that the strategies provided are really doable that we can adapt in our own daily lives.  I also found myself a lot of times smiling to learn what the strategy that the author suggested to solve the conflicts/problems that I can relate to. The simplicity of his solutions are kind of mind blowing. Don’t sweat the small stuff indeed.

The thing that I liked the most about this book is how easy it is to read. It doesn’t look or sound like an academic book. I also like the fact that the strategies are concisely written in a conversation kind of way. It’s like a friend giving you advises about the negativities, problems, concerns or worries that you have and what you can do about it. Also the author himself gave personal insights and examples as to how he adapt or utilize these strategies in his own self and life. This book gave me new perspectives about some things and it also is relatable.

Will I recommend this? Totally. Why wouldn’t I? There’s  a ton to learn from this book. If you’re like me who likes to read self-help books from time to time, this is definitely a good book to read. Just like what the author claims,

“Each strategy is simple, yet powerful, and will act as a navigational guide to point you in the direction of greater perspective and more relaxed living. You’ll find that many of these strategies will apply not only to isolated events but to many of life’s most difficult challenges.”

– and I’ve felt that. Really. No kidding. I’m a great worrier, I worry all the time. I worry even on the small things, small things that in minutes snowballs to bigger and more things which then stresses me out and produces negativities. See? This book is perfect for people like me and to everyone of course. This also made me feel like I’m just a normal human being and that I’m not the only one who goes through small and big experiences in life.

Breakneck by Erica Spindler

The thing about me and book series is that I just couldn’t wait, so when I finished reading Copycat I immediately started reading Breakneck which is the second installment of the Kitt Lundren series.

Detective Kitt Lundgren and Detective Mary Catherine (M.C) Riggio partnered up again to a crime that involves young adults who are seemingly involved in illegal activities. After called up to Matt Martin’s apartment who was found dead as if he was sleeping on his bed but with his neck broken, partners Kitt and M.C were at a lost as they couldn’t find a motive because the young man’s criminal record was clean. Until at the night of M.C’s engagement party, her fiance Dan Gallo was shot on the head and not long after that M.C found her cousin, Tommy Mariano, dead on his bath tub with a shot also on the head. Then more bodies of young adults found. The case has become too close and too much for M.C that it eventually affected her and her relationship with Kitt. M.C must know who to trust and to decide whether to uphold the law or take it on her own hands.

Breakneck is the second book in the series but it can be read on its own. Breakneck was more focused on M.C and I think her character have shine in here and was explored more brought by the so much emotions that have put on her way. She showed how tough she can be, trying to hang in there despite all the things that she was going through and she also showed how fragile and vulnerable she was, always tempted to breakdown but of course being the woman that she was, she just wouldn’t let it happen. This book also showed another side of Kitt Lundgren’s character. I like how she always has M.C’s back, supporting her and always reminding her to not let the case consume her ‘cause Kitt had been there and knew that it was no good place to be. It also seemed to me that Kitt was more relax in here yet have the same fire to catch the suspect.

In this book, trust was a sensitive issue. You just don’t know who to trust. The story threw the characters in a series of doubt. I also like the idea that the matter involved in the story which was cyberthief, hacking and cracking, can be applied on this modern day which gave the readers lessons to learn and I  applaud that.

Breakneck is another fast-paced and thrilling read penned by Erica Spindler and another book that didn’t disappoint. It had me guessing as to who the culprit was, and when you thought you had him, turn to the next page and you’ll find out your wrong. I actually liked the twist in the end which is a big clap clap. It was an enjoyable read from the beginning up to the end. Would I recommend it? Of course I will because why not? It’s a great read.

Copycat by Erica Spindler

Surprise, surprise! Here I am again with my crime-thriller addiction and when you say crime-thriller, Erica Spindler’s name will always pop in my head because if you do not know already she’s my favorite.

I hadn’t read a book in over two months because I was not feeling it but lately I longed for the feeling of excitement, mystery and thrill that reading gives you and crave for the satisfaction when you finished a book. Since I was in a rut with reading, choosing a book to read was no easy feat so I asked myself what kind of book does hold my interest best, what kind of book makes my blood rush with excitement and yes, you guessed it, thrillers will always be at the top of my list.

So, I brought out Copycat and it surely didn’t disappoint. Copycat is the first book for the Kitt Lundgren series. It is about Detective Kitt Lundgren who has led the investigation about the serial killer she named as the Sleeping Angel Killer, who killed three ten-year old, blonde-haired and blue-eyed girls. No evidence, no witnesses and the killer calls them his ‘perfect crimes’ which have put Kitt’s career in jeopardy when she have let the killer slipped out of her hands. Then five years later, the Sleeping Angel Killer was back. Kitt noticed slight variations from the past killings and then the unthinkable happened when the killer himself called Kitt and offered to help her catch his copycat.

“A good investigator always let the scene and its evidence tell the story.”

One of the reasons why I love Erica Spindler’s books is that she has the ability to catch the reader’s interest and curiosity in just the first paragraph of the book. That’s proven at least in my case because that happens to me if not every time then most of the times that I have read her books. I’ve felt pity and amazement with Kitt’s character.  I’ve felt bad for her whenever she was having a meltdown, made me feel like I want to give her a hug but I was amazed with her as well because of how strong she was for handling and dealing with the situations she was in. I have had a love-and-hate relationship with Detective M.C Riggio’s character, Kitt’s partner, during the first half of the book maybe because she was too ambitious, slightly inconsiderate and always by the book kind of gal but I’ve grown to like her for the latter half of the book.

The thing that I love the most about this book was how it toyed with my mind; it had me guessing as to who the killer was and that’s a big thing for me ‘cause did I say that I love that? This book has a lot of suspicious characters; it had me thinking/guessing and was even paranoid for every character’s move. I love and hate it at the same time when my assumed killer turned up dead because I need me to have another guess as to who the culprit was which always add up to the thrill and excitement. I just love the mystery that this book has offered.

The story line for me was great, it was fast-paced but I have to say though, the twist in the end I found not really that satisfying or should I say I didn’t saw that one coming at all. It was beyond my guesses and surely I was not a fan of that. In my head it kind of had no sense and just kind of popped up out of nowhere. I was actually shocked when I read about it or maybe I thought I just didn’t paid enough attention with the clues, I don’t know. I wasn’t really that convinced, maybe it was just me but that’s another important thing for me in crime-thriller stories. The killers/suspects reasons as to what compelled them to do such things has to be convincing for me, that’s one way I found closure with the story.

But aside from that one thing, I enjoyed everything else about it. Would I recommend it? Of course, I will. I’m actually curious as to what other readers think about it, especially about the twist in the end. Those feelings I’ve craved for when I was still in a rut with reading, everything was met with this book and I couldn’t be happier that I am back to reading and that this book didn’t disappoint me. Give this a read, and if you did, let me know what you think.

the life-changing magic of tidying by marie kondo

A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming.

This book has been a long time coming; I have put off tending to this book for the longest time. Clearly, I’ve discovered this book through social media and the internet because we all know that everyone has  talked about it, add in when the minimalism trend became in then it boomed even more.

At first, I thought it is a book just about tidying and decluttering but obviously, it offers more than that. I came to understand it more and more as I was reading it and I actually have found myself nodding to this and that, muttering to myself that “Yep, that’s me.”, “Yes, I do that too.”, and “I am so guilty of that.” I got interested about it for this very reason that she said “You, on the other hand, have been led to read it, and that means you probably have a strong desire to change your current situation, to reset your life, to gain happiness, to shine.” And also this “…one of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity.” because “If we have confidence in our decisions and launch enthusiastically into action without any doubts holding us back, we will be able to achieve much more.

While I was reading, Marie Kondo struck me as someone who is obsessed with cleaning and organizing starting from a very young age. She has like dedicated her entire life to tidying, studying it, teaching it and putting it into practice. Then comes her theories and it actually all made sense, her techniques all has bases and when you really think about it, it all are pretty simple. I got to say she really knows her stuff.

These are the tips that I’ve learned based on KonMari’s method:

1. The major rule is to ask yourself whether your things sparks you joy or not. If it is something that gives you joy then keep it, if it is not then discard it. She said to “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge to discard the rest.

2. Remove everything from the closet, drawer, cupboards or whatever it is that you want to tidy and put them all to the floor. That way you’ll see and touch/hold every item, making the process of deciding what to keep and what to discard easier and more effective.

3. Do not get victimized by the thought that you might need it one day or that you might read or reread it later because she emphasized that that is more likely not going to happen. (This has to be my favourite tip of them all because this is me every time.)

4. I completely agree when she said that it’s better to tidy up in one fell swoop rather than doing it gradually because that way you can instantly see and feel its effects. “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set. A change so profound that it touches your emotions will irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits.

See? This book does not only offer you the tips and tricks on how to declutter your space but also gives you the psychology of it. She have went on and on about the positive things and the positive effects that you’ll get in a tidied and organized home not just environmentally but also physically and mentally which is the best thing. Although I got a little weirded out when I got to the part wherein she talks to her house and her things, thanking them for serving her their purpose, for doing their work which I am not completely against to if you do that. I am also really grateful for the stuff that I have that’s why I use them with care as much as possible as my way of showing my gratitude to them for making me feel beautiful and for making my life easier and convenient.

Now, I totally get it why this book has become so handy for the people who support the minimalism lifestyle. Don’t underestimate this book; you’ll get a lot from it. This is another must have as a physical book for me; I really want a copy of it.

…tidying can transform your life.

If you want to organize your place and/or your life as well, then you’ll find a lot of tips and motivation in here because her tips doesn’t only apply to things, it can also be applied to your life too. You’ll feel really inspired at the end of this book because I did. No wonder that this has become a total hit. I, of course, recommend for you read it.