The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks #tlcbooktours

I love chocolate.

And perhaps that may be the only reason I joined this book tour.

I hadn’t heard of Karen Brooks before, although she is an author of quite a few other books. But the title had “chocolate” in it and here I am.

This chocolate of 17th century London though isn’t exactly the chocolate we are used to today.

It is a drinking chocolate and before our main character Rosamund gets involved, it doesn’t exactly sound very palatable. But we are getting ahead of ourselves…

Rosamund’s story is a bit of a fairy tale one. She works in a small inn in a small village and is abused by her stepfather and stepbrothers. And one day when she is fleeing her stepbrothers, she quite literally falls in the path of the wealthy Sir Everard Blithman who happens to be traveling through the area. Sir Everard is so taken with her, mostly because she resembles his late daughter, and pretty much buys her hand in marriage. Sir Everard is going to open a chocolate house and Rosamund becomes an important part of the business and it is booming. However, this is a family full of secrets, which Rosamund, to her horror, gradually uncovers.

I loved all the history that is brought into the book – the plague, the great fire of London, as well as the beginnings of the chocolate that we love today. Brooks brings in all the sights, sounds and smells of 17th century London, and it is rank and vile for most of it. But luckily, there is the chocolate house and its spices and flavours.

Rosamund was, for me, a bit too perfect and sweet. And as I prefer to take my main characters with a pinch of saltiness and flaws, it was hard for me to fall for her unlike all the rest of the characters in the book who are so taken with her.

But it was an enjoyable read, best with a stash of chocolate nearby to dip into whenever the craving hits.

 

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and

publisher Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this book.

  
 
Grab a copy of the book: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
Find out more about Karen Brooks: WebsiteFacebook, and Twitter.
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The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang #tlcbooktours

 

 

The Dragon Republic picks up where The Poppy War ends and the reader is thrown right back into the war zone.

(I’m trying to keep any spoilers for the first book out of this post, so please bear with me).

The Poppy War was, for me, an amazing read. For too long, much of the speculative fiction I read didn’t reflect myself or my culture, so to read this very Asian dark fantasy novel, it blew my mind. It made me think of all those (somewhat cheesy) myth-based Chinese TV series I grew up watching as a kid in Singapore – Journey to the West, Nezha – and all those Chinese movies like Red Cliff, Three Kingdoms, that my Dad watched.

So I definitely was excited to get my hands on the second book, The Dragon Republic. And it was just as awesome.

The focus here is very much on Rin, as she comes to terms with her actions in the first book. It’s still very much dark and war-centric (there are navy battles!) but the pace is less back-breaking than the first.

And Rin, well, she’s still Rin. She’s headstrong and determined. She makes horrible choices sometimes and terrible things happen to her. But that’s what makes her human, despite having a god’s powers. This second book is very much her story. It feels a little like the other characters are sidelined, and I was a bit disappointed with that, especially as the rest of the Cike don’t play much of a part.

Sometimes second books can be a big letdown and this one was absolutely not one of those. The Dragon Republic was exciting and complex, it was full of energy and passion and all kinds of darkness, and it kept me in good company on a 16-hour plane ride to Singapore.

 

 

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and

publisher Harper Voyage for sending me a copy of this book.

Check out the rest of the stops on the tour

Grab yourself a copy of this book: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
Find out more about author RF Kuang: WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney #TLCBookTours

 

 

 

 

 

Think Grumpy Old Men. In a nursing home.

Well, at least one of the old men is grumpy.

And that is Joel Monroe, who is in his 70s and held ‘prisoner’ at Hilltop Nursing Home. His roommate Miller, who has been in a coma, dies, and Joel, still grieving for his wife, whose bed Miller had taken over, is overcome with grief.

It doesn’t help that the nursing home has stuck him with Frank de Selby, a former soap opera actor who is full of questions, rather flamboyant and optimistic. Joel is determined not to like this new roommate but once he gets to know the real de Selby (real name Frank Adams), he realises that while they are very different people, he quite likes Frank.

Frank shares that his family has left him alone after learning that he’s gay. Joel reveals that he has been thinking of killing himself.

Sharing secrets and escaping the nursing home to get a pint in a bar and these two roommates become great friends, the kind that seem as if they’ve known each other forever.

I loved how different the two men were from each other. And how they learnt from each other and grew, in their own way.

The Great Unexpected is a charming and amusing read, a poignant tale of friendship and ageing.

 

For more information about Dan Mooney and the book, check our his author website, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, look at the book’s Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

 

Thanks to  TLC Book Tours and publisher Park Row Books for sending me a copy of this book.

Moon Rush: The new Space Race by Leonard David #TLCBookTours

 

I’ve read many works of fiction that are set in space, watched many movies and TV shows set in space, but I’ve never really read much nonfiction about space.

And you can rest assured that you are in good hands here with journalist Leonard David, who has been reporting on space-related news for over 50 years.

The race to the moon began in the 1960s, between the Soviet Union and the US. But today it is a very different landscape – in January, the Chinese landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon; a spacecraft from an Israeli nonprofit crash-landed on the moon in April; India’s moon-lander is scheduled to take off later this year; or how about Japan, which plans its own lunar rover to land next year? The race to space is definitely back on and this book is published just at the right time to tell us all about the history behind it all, as well as what’s upcoming developments that we can expect in lunar exploration.

 

Some fascinating tidbits of information were gathered from my reading of this book.

Such as:

“Three sealed samples, one each from Apollo 15, 16, and 17, remain unopened, intentionally saved until technology and instrumentation has advanced to the point that investigators can maximize the scientific return on these unique specimens.”

I couldn’t help wondering when exactly that would be. How, for instance, could anyone decide, oh we should open this year, when who knows what kind of scientific advancement could happen next year? It’s not like science and technology is going to stop improving (or at least I hope not) so who makes that decision and how do they make such a decision?

Reading this book made me wonder, would I go to space if that were an option in the future? Would I want to go to the moon? I don’t know if I would. I don’t think I like the idea of hurtling up in a spacecraft powered by rockets (that’s probably why the first astronauts were pilots). How about you? Would you want to be a space tourist?

 

I received this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

 

Pick up a copy of the book: National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

National Geographic’s 100 Dives of a Lifetime – Review

 

 

 

I have to admit that scuba diving scares me. I had many chances to learn – I’m from Singapore and lots of people in Singapore scuba dive and there are so many lovely spots in the region to scuba dive at. But I never did. There’s something about the open water that puts a tremble in my hands. I love to swim – and I’m quite a good swimmer – but I like to swim in a swimming pool, where I can see the bottom and the walls and know where things start and stop. The open sea is not for me.

But I do love the sea and beaches and got to live for a year right across the beach in Brighton, England, and that is still one of the best years of my life.

My kids also have a fascination for things underwater. And my 5-year-old and I sat down and went through the book together, he marveling at all the wrecks sharks and rays, me mesmerized by all the corals and the manta rays. And who knows, maybe one day my kids will learn to scuba dive and go and explore some of these amazing and beautiful places.

So you don’t have to be a diver to appreciate a book like this. The beautiful photos are impressive but the book also opened my eyes to many places I’ve never heard of, like Wakatobi National Park in Indonesia which looks like a gorgeous beach resort (and which I’ve bookmarked as a possible future travel destination!). I was intrigued by the various shipwrecks that I would never have heard of if not for this book, like the S.S. Thistlegorm, a WWII steamship on the bottom of the Red Sea. There’s the remote, relatively untouched Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, where Charles Darwin once stopped at. And even a missile silo in Royal City, Washington, where divers can “indulge your inner James Bond”.

This was a great book to pore over and dream up travel plans with.

 

 

 

I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for a review.

Check out the rest of the tour stops here

Pick up your copy from: National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Everything We Lost

 

Sometimes I join a book tour having already read an author’s work, or sometimes it’s because I’ve heard of the author and want to read her books. Occasionally, it’s a completely new-to-me author and I’m just intrigued by the premise of the book. Other times, I haven’t the faintest idea why I decided to join the tour.

And this is one of those times.

 

When the package arrived, I was actually out of the country, so when I returned, I had to scramble and read this book with my jet-lagged brain (I was in Singapore, 15 hours ahead of California). So maybe I hadn’t been concentrating hard enough but suddenly I realized that this book wasn’t quite what I had imagined it to be.

There were UFOs. Or rather, the possibility of UFOs. And conspiracies.

This was rather unexpected.

And at first, I wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not.

Everything We Lost is best described as a coming-of-age although it’s touted as a “psychological thriller”.

In 1999, 16-year-old Nolan disappears.

It is ten years later, and his younger sister Lucy returns to Bishop, California, where their mother still lives, in search of answers.

She starts to have some memories of the lead up to his disappearance. And begins to uncover more about the truth of what really happened.

We learn that Nolan and his obsession with all things UFO has made him an outcast among his peers – and an embarrassment to Lucy. But what really happened to him and what was Lucy’s role?

As I wondered what I had gotten myself into with this book, I realized that I was actually kind of hooked. And I had to force myself to put the book down and go to sleep that night. That is, after all, the sign of a good read, isn’t it?

Geary does a fantastic job with the storyline, as we see it from both Lucy and Nolan’s points of view, throwing up more and more questions about a variety of things like extraterrestrials and mental illness.

Perhaps it is the books that defy categorization that are the ones that provide the best fodder for thought.

It definitely was in the case of Everything We Lost. 

 

I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for a review.

Check out the other tour stops here

 

Pick up a copy of the book: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
Connect with the author: WebsiteFacebook, and Instagram

TLC Book Tours: The Lost Ones

With so many thrillers/crime novels out there, it seems to be getting more difficult to create a unique protagonist, a different storyline.

But I must say that The Lost Ones opens with an intriguing premise. An early morning phone call. A meeting with some strangers at a cafe. Nora Watts, cautious, suspicious, because of her line of work and her own experience.

A married couple meets her to tell her their daughter is missing.

That Nora's daughter is missing.

The child she gave up for adoption as a newborn 15 years ago has disappeared. The police define her as a chronic runaway and can't be bothered. Her adoptive parents reach out to Nora as a last hope.

And Nora is suited for this kind of thing. She works as a receptionist/researcher for a private investigator. She has an ability to tell when people are lying – which obviously helps her in her line of work.

She also has a painful and violent experience in the past which has contributed to her inability to trust anyone – not her employees nor her sponsor – with the whole truth.

Nora at first is reluctant to be involved with this case – it digs up too much of her past. But she soon realizes that she's not the only one looking for Bonnie.

Nora is quite a character. She's got skeletons in the closet – perhaps more like demons than skeletons – and she's tough. She's the kind of person who doesn't give a damn what you think of her. She steals from a woman who is only just being kind to her. She's cold towards almost everyone except her beloved dog. And surprisingly – although on hindsight, maybe it's not surprising – violent.

And Kamal's Vancouver setting reflects that too. I've never been to Vancouver but have always thought of it as a picturesque, very wet city. So Nora's far more gritty and dirty version of Vancouver is intriguing, and completely apt.

The story is rather convoluted – perhaps a little too hard to believe at times – but it offers a rather exciting and thrilling read if you can suspend belief for a bit and sink into it. And that I did, and it was for an invigorating read, filled with all the grey and damp of Vancouver. It made me long to read this in chillier temps, snuggled under a comforter with a steaming hot cup of tea.

Strangely it is titled "Eyes Like Mine" in the UK.

I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for a review.

Check out the other tour stops here.

Pick up a copy from: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Connect with the author:Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter