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.

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.

A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag

tami hoagThis was one of the last books that I’ve picked up in my favorite second hand bookstore some time last year mainly because the cover gave me a slight creepy feeling and it was a pretty thick book which what I was going for at the time.

A Thin Dark Line is about finding the truth and giving justice. People of Bayou Breaux has been terrorized with fear when the mutilated body of the murder victim, Pam Bichon has been discovered in which the prime suspect was set free because of technicality. Nick Fourcade, the detective assigned with the case was suspected of planting the evidence and a number of people was convinced because of his tarnished past. But Nick was so determined to find out the truth and to give Pam justice and so is Annie Broussard, the deputy who found Pam’s body.

I liked how the story started, I thought the epilogue was written in a unique way that has really captured my curiosity. I remember feeling so frustrated as I was reading, the book also showed an ugly side of the law and the people who should be upholding it. But the frustration was more for Annie and how she was treated or should I say bullied by her colleagues for her conviction of a crime she witnessed. The way her coworkers played her, chewed her, looked down on her, those made me want to slap those officers in their faces left and right and give them a fiery flying kick. Those people really had gotten on my nerves. The book also had me guessing as to who the culprit was which I like of course, I had a few changes in mind which added to my frustration and enjoyment. The author’s misdirection was on point. The twist in the end was something I did not see coming which was a plus but I found it not that impactful for me. I also thought that the story was a bit dragged on maybe that’s why the thrill and anticipation wasn’t held on that much.

A Thin Dark Line didn’t disappoint me. All in all, it was a great and enjoyable read. The characters were believable and the differences in their personalities made it more interesting. All the loose ends were nicely wrapped – a huge CLAP CLAP for that – and with that I felt so contented and satisfied. Not supplementing my curiosity and/or not answering all of my questions in a story is the thing that I hate the most. Will I recommend it? Of course, I will. It’s a good book to read. Tami Hoag is definitely an addition to the list of crime-thriller authors that I like.

Rate: 👍👍👍👍

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

81XwkjrFvTLI know, I am so late in the bandwagon with this one and that was because when this book was at the height of its hype, I was actually busy reading other books. Though I wasn’t really behind with the knowledge that this has been compared with Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’ so much which I haven’t gotten to read yet and I’m not really sure if I ever will but I’ve seen the movie and honestly, until now I still don’t know how I feel about it. Maybe that was one other reason why I sat this aside to read for quite a while.

While I was reading it, I kind of had a glimpse as to why this has been compared to Gone Girl. This book has been a mess from start to finish. No, it’s not the story or the book itself, I’m referring to the characters. Wow, can they get any messier than that? There are six main characters, three females and three males. The story were told interchangeably between the three females – which is nicely done – to whom I must say, all has a thing about motherhood or being a mom.

Personally, I found this book slow-paced in the beginning that made me kind of just forced myself to read it through then it got interesting when it started to play my mind. I found myself guessing here and there, speculating this and that, suspecting him and her. This didn’t just toyed my mind, it also toyed my feelings. I had a love and hate relationship with the characters especially Rachel. Their mentality and choices frustrated me big time like a lot. This is a psychological thriller indeed. It was gripping towards the end but there was something about the ending that didn’t really flatter me.

I could say that this is a decent and well-written book considering that this is the author’s first thriller book. It isn’t really that bad. All in all, it was an enjoyable read even though I was really ambivalent throughout the story which I think kind of added to the thrill while reading. There were also a lot of interesting surprises. Would I recommend it? I think so, if you are looking for something to pass time, you can read this in one sitting. But if you are a fan of Gone Girl or if you liked it so much, maybe lower you expectations with this one. There were similarities yes but bear in mind that this is a different book, different story. Just don’t expect it to be exactly the same with Gone Girl because they are not.