♛ Scarlet Carousel | oo4

{Installation} – [oo4]

You trust us to find her? Your trust is cheap.

February 2017
South Korea

“Here, this is the source of our system’s hijack, Mr Yamaguchi.”

The aforementioned ran his eyes across the network protocol and address. “A one-man operation?”

“Indeed. Helluva a genius this one is. Shall I get rid of him? Your call, Sir.” His proud lackey rubs his hands together, eager for mission. He shifts his weight from foot to foot – the only sound that could be heard in the Yamaguchi headquarters.

Yamaguchi grits his teeth and lets his thoughts fill the silence. Finally, he lets out a deep chuckle and says, “Let this go on.” He swivels around to face the vast skyline of metropolitan Seoul.

“But Sir, this man has obtained crucial information –

“Let him pass system security for a whee bit longer.”

“Sir, our database has been compromised –
“You heard me.”

“Sir, for someone to hack into the system, he’s not simple to begin with…”

“I have made myself very clear. You may go.”

Puzzled, his subordinate hastens to retreat. Meanwhile, the stack of sheets containing the hijacker’s information goes alight with a flick, and disappears amongst dark wisps of smoke. Within minutes it is nothing more than ashes in Yamaguchi’s wastebasket.

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“For God’s sake what this lady needs is the hospital!” Eiji does not follow the party up the flight of stairs leading towards a dimly lit private apartment.

In Pierre’s arms, her arms and legs droops like a lifeless ragdoll.

Pierre grits his teeth. “Keep this up and you’ll be the one needing a medic.”

Eiji’s head snaps up. He charges forward. Reina quickly blocks the stairway with her frame and shakes her head vehemently. “We need to lay low,” Reina lays a hand on Eiji’s forearm an leads him up the stairs, “as we’re clearly on the run now. Showing up at the public hospital would only cause a hoo-hah we don’t need.”

Pierre lets out a low whistle. “Thank god someone here’s got brains.”

Eiji’s fists clench at the other man’s remark, but with Reina’s soothing hands running up and down his arms, he could no longer stay angry.

A swift intercom call later, they are introduced into a dark studio apartment. The world outside is cut off by a sharp, almost inaudible click of an automatic door security system. As the door shuts quietly behind their backs, Reina registers a monochrome space with patches of greys and startling implants of scarlet red. Beyond the walls, nothing from the inside can be heard even to anyone pressing a stethoscope to the cold metal of the door. Hence nobody, save for Eiji, would ever have heard Reina’s soft, surprised gasp as she first lay eyes on Jae – a tall stranger of which she could only make out the sharp contours of his deepset eyes, high cheekbones and strong jaws. In the dim of the lights, he looked even darker in a full suit of black, eyebrows in thick slashes of rich chocolate brown furrowed in an inconspicuous frown. So natural was this look of intense concentration that this man did not appear to be frowning at all, until you took a closer look at the lines at the base of his forehead.

Taking her gasp as an indication of fear, Eiji steps protectively closer to Reina, and this movement leads Jae to frown in their direction. He immediately recognizes the face from a recent seige of the nation’s identity databases – a Reina Yamaguchi who Pierre asked to keep tabs on.

This close, Jae is stirred by the girl’s dark, startling beauty. Keeping his cool, he steps one forward, deliberately closing the distance between them. He takes one look at the unconscious girl in Pierre’s arms, then back at Reina and Eiji. “If the pair of you so much as breathe a word to anybody outside of this room, you two are as good as dead.”

With a chin-tilt, he gestures for Pierre to go forth into another room. “I’ll be attending to the wounded. The two of you need to remain on this couch, within our sight.”

From the room, Pierre replies, “the female identity is verified. You can just discard the boy.”

“Hey we came here together and I’m not leaving without Reina!”

Jae sighs gravely as he pushes both of them onto the couch. “Oh Pierre, why the heck did you bring the boy here.”

“I couldn’t run with one girl’s body and securely ditch another. The pretty one is too fragile to be of any help.” Pierre steps back into the room, wiping his hands on a bloodied towel.

“Could the two of you not speak as though we don’t exist?” Reina points back and forth between Eiji and herself, emphasising their presence.

“Yup, pretty one’s got guts and brains,” Jae confirms, “and so I’d expect you to know how to shut your trap. If you guys try to run, you’ll only escalate your deaths. Not to mention your room-mate’s.”

“Noemie? You know where she is?” Reina stands abruptly. Suddenly, the couch tilts back and Eiji is flung onto the floor. “Hey!” he gets back on his foot and looks befuddled.

“Watch it. My home is booby-trapped everywhere to disarm intruders. If you don’t wish to be caught off-guard, don’t make sudden movements. The trick is – stay still, don’t leave the premises unless you’re with Pierre or me. Also, the studio with the red door is out-of-bounds.” Jae throws out the warning before leaving the room.

Eiji tugs Reina down to his side and pulls her close. “You guys are insane!”

“Are we? Your roommate is insane. This Noemie. Tell me, why would she stalk me in the middle of the night, dressed like a whore.” Pierre questions.

Reina frowns in concern. “You met Noemie? Is she safe? She was supposed to meet me at my dad’s bar but was uncontactable all night.”

Pierre slips a hand into his jeans and pulls out the device. “Because I have her cellphone. And she has mine. We had a confrontation but I didn’t hurt her, or see her after. I was hoping to find her in that apartment to return it.

“We stay together in that apartment…” Reina lets her voice trail off. The room they shared was now ransacked and destroyed.

“And we don’t know who that girl is.” Eiji chin tilts to gesture towards the room where Pierre had carried the injured girl earlier.

“The main thing now is to make sure that girl lives to tell the story.” Jae says as he returns with 2 Styrofoam cups of water. “Drink up, you look like you need it.”

Thirstily, the two downs them. Reina wipes her mouth with the back of her hands and says, “Thanks. I really need to know if Noemie is safe. Can you find her?”

Jae takes the empty cup and thrashes them. “If she’s important, we’ll look for her, dead or alive.”

“Of course she’s important! Don’t even mention dead. I can’t hear it. If you brought us here, you must know what happened to her.” Reina’s eyes start to fill and Jae has to look away from them.

“Give me a reason we have to bother with you kids fouling up our plans.”

“We have no such intentions. If you know where Noemie is, would you find her? For me?” Reina pleads with desperation in her eyes. She searches Jae’s face to no avail – a cold hard emotionlessness is all he shows.

Jae fights an urge to let down his guard; in his defense he’s not usually weak when it comes to girls. In Reina’s records, she was an actress with accolades to her name – a girl like that could charm the pants off a man without lifting a finger.

Jae shrugs. “You trust us to find her? Your trust is cheap. Lesson number one: don’t finish your drinks so quickly.”

It takes them 2 seconds to digest this piece of news. In the next instant, they had fallen into deep sleep.

In the makeshift surgery room, Jae grits his teeth and frowns in concentration. With doctor’s precision, he weaves the stitch needles in and out of the fresh wound. Pierre hands him a hot sterilized napkin, which he dabs on the face of the wounded girl.

“Jae. You think we can get much out of her when she’s conscious?”

“I think she’s as innocent as those two out there. One less life on my bad karma, one less load on my conscience.” With an inbuilt flashlight on his Swiss army knife, Jae examines her pupils. “Any idea where this girl comes from?”

Pierre shakes his head as he winds up the bloodied sheets and tucks them away in the washer, and quickly checks the security screen with cameras reflecting all zones of Jae’s apartment. Huddled on the couch, the screen showed Reina and Eiji fast asleep.

“I’m still confused. Are you gonna tell me what’s all this about? First you check up on this Reina Yamaguchi. The next moment you show up with her, plus an almost-dead chick and a dumbass.”

“So that girl is Reina Yamaguchi?”

“Yea. What’s the story? Start from the beginning.”

“Okay, so, a briefcase full of bio-hazardous drugs should have been on that flight to Vegas an hour ago, but nobody showed up to hand them over to me. I couldn’t leave for Vegas. My guess is, peddlers of the patented drugs killed my messenger. I got shot in the alley, hence my bleeding head if you haven’t noticed. Out of nowhere, I found a girl who’s been following me. I thought she had shot me in the first place, but turns out she’s just a very sexy whore. Her name’s Noemie Matsumoto. We had a scuffle; I tried to get information out of her. She acted all girly and weak in front of me so I let her go. Then our phones got swopped, and I know I got that girl into trouble because if she picks up any of my calls at all, she’s dead meat. That Reina Yamaguchi had been calling the whore’s cellphone the entire night, so I figured she knew something. When I got to their shared apartment, I found her,” he points to the makeshift surgery table, “and none of us know who the fuck is she. Their apartment got torn apart.”

“Right, this is not confusing as hell. Who do you think wants those drugs?”

“Man you have no idea. If news had been leaked, countries would pay gazillions for these drugs as investment in biological warfare. These new anti-retroviral drugs are deadly. You don’t need internal ingestion to kill an entire population within seconds. When genetically altered, these viruses can be timed into action, so if you want a person, or a society, to die at a specific time and date, that can be made possible.”

Jae curses under his breath. “And that stuff was carried around in a briefcase?”

“Discreet huh. At the moment the drugs are unnamed, manufactured by a private South Korean organisation nicknamed Cave, which coincidentally also sold the satellite database system to the government.”

“Really? Coincidentally, I was skyjacking the government satellite system earlier. Guess what? Complete access.” Jae winks.

“Nice.” Pierre holds up a hand for high-five, and follows Jae into the red room where his devices were stored. “I was hoping to find out more about Cave through the drugs transaction. Did you find out more?”

“See? Sceenshot here says interference on my skyjack was from a source name Yamaguchi. I was totally blocked after that. Considering my system is still up and running I’m surprised they didn’t try to shut me down completely. My guess is, Cave built this the database for the government, but for Yamaguchi to hack into government files and change records. Afterall, Cave sold the system to the government many years ago. So Cave is in fact working for Yamaguchi. Coincidentally, that girl outside shares the last name.”

“But when you ran a check on Reina there was nothing on her.”

“Not her. Her family.”

“Family. So you’re saying…”

“We need to find out more about her family. Then we need to find Cave’s headquarters.”

“Jumping into conclusions aren’t we. I like that. Where do we start?”

“Before we go anywhere let me look at that gunshot. That sniper got you good.”

[DIARY] LOVE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS

31 days into 2015 and it has been surreal. I’ve been thankful each day for the people I’ve met, especially to those I’ve learnt to count on for simply being there.

The obstacles in my current career are finally levelling out. I’m beginning to understand why some of my colleagues would fall in love with this jet-setting lifestyle. Don’t be fooled – good money and free travel comes at a price. When I tell my friends about the hardships we face on a daily basis, everyone rethinks the facade of a glamorous lifestyle we lead. A certain kind of sadism cannot be denied (of me) since I’ve stayed beyond my 2-year bond not for the money but the sheer intensity of hard work involved. I love challenges and when they come my way, they become means of making me a better person, because the process of clearing major hurdles forces one into endless introspection.

I like to think that what I’ve really done in this past 2 years was to experience the world, gather my thoughts on living, get to know a lot more people. And then I really want to write them down. Whilst I will leave my job, the journey is not over. For those who can live vicariously through my words someday I hope you know that life is about giving and receiving experiences, not the things you buy or get to keep. I also know that life is not about making sure something or somebody stays in your life as long as possible when you know they are not yours to keep.

2015, I don’t expect you to be awesome. I foresee bad days, heartaches, disappointment and yet another emotional roller coaster ride. But I trust myself to know that when 2015 comes to an end I’ll emerge triumphant with battle scars that makes me both imperfect and wiser. This is what we have to do.

Accumulate experiences like it is the air you have to breathe, for in time to come we’ll have our own stories to tell. Tell yourself to keep going, run the extra mile, and don’t be afraid to fight losing battles, or to lose. Never lose sight of who you were. Never forget who was there for you when you needed them the most. Most importantly, never fall out of love with yourself. Love who you are, and appreciate who you’re not. Embrace and acknowledge all your imperfections. Because the most imperfect people have been through the worst.

“I am not a graceful person. I am not a Sunday morning or a Friday sunset. I am a Tuesday 2 a.m., gunshots muffled by a few city blocks, I am a broken window during February. My bones crack on a nightly basis. I fall from elegance with a dull thud, and I apologize for my awkward sadness. I sometimes believe that I don’t belong around people, that I belong to all the leap days that didn’t happen. The way light and darkness mix under my skin has become a storm. You don’t see the lightning, but you hear the echoes.”
Anna Peters

I want to hear some good stories when December 31st comes round.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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[BRISBANE] A FRESH NEW START

Back at my favourite hideout in Brisbane: The Passion Tree Cafè. This time round I skipped the shaved ice and had my froyo cravings satiated. Regrettably it wasn’t the best of days for the girl serving my froyo. I get it, we all have our bad days right? Paulo Coelho’s biography saved me from boredom; I had to tune out the incessant chatter all around me, mostly in Korean, but hey not complaining. Anything’s better than listening to repeated broadcasts of year-end tragedies and disasters on BBC. An hour later I hit the streets to check out Aussie’s post-season sales.

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Dinner was: Roast Chicken Supreme! I’ve just learnt that the PieFace round the corner of my hotel is open 24 hours … yay to a happy belly any time of day! Savoured it whilst filling in my diary for 2015.

Skipping all the fluffy resolutions I do every single year with less than half fulfilled 365 days later – maybe I’m just jaded by impracticalities of ideals we set for ourselves but fall short of, so freaking often.

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In a few hours I’m heading to Christchurch, New Zealand. As much as I’m not looking forward to spending my last few hours of 2014 in the air, or counting down to 2015 35,000 feet in the sky, it’s pretty exciting to be chasing time down south, where time passes faster than it does in Southeast Asia (by a whole 5 hours). Being faster than time – a fresh new start to what I hope to emulate for the new year.

Hello 2015 I think I’m more than ready for you! Who else is with me?

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S Probably won’t be updating as often in the days to come as I’m heading to Bangkok for a getaway with my favourite ex-colleagues. Follow me on instagram @silhouettekiss for faster updates teehee.

Sleep a Little, Dream a Lot

This weekend I’m finally able to catch up on some reading to feed my obsession with caffeine. If you’re looking to set up your own café, coffee-house or coffee-bars in future (well, one can always feed their dreams), you’ve got to check these books out.

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Complete Book of Coffee: The Definitive Guide to Coffee, from Simple Bean to Irresistible Beverage, Including Over 100 Classic Coffee Recipes
An illustrated guide to the history of coffee, where and how the beans are grown, the types of roast and grind and, above all, how to brew and drink it. This is my new bedtime story!

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Cafe Life London: An Insider’s Guide to the City’s Neighborhood Cafes
A profile of 34 independent cafés in London, coupled with great photography and quick, practical insights.

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The Coffee Boys’ Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Up and Managing Your Own Coffee Bar
Haven’t actually started on this yet. This is The Coffee Boy’s distillation of experience in setting up their coffee businesses. Somewhat of a marketing, economics type book. My next bedtime story!

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These perhaps, are the reasons why I sleep so little and dream so much.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Pick of the Week

pick of the week

Karl Pilkington brandishes his unique class of intelligence once again in The Moaning of Life, a humourous take on the human condition and crucial ever-evolving global issues. In Trust Me, I’m Lying Ryan Holiday does an exposè of popular blogosphere; hook, line and sinker of the biggest liars in social media. Onto a lighter read, award-winning Jane Lovering is back with Hubble Bubble, in which wishes come true in twisted ways when 5 women dabble in witchery.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Book Review: Selling Scarlett

I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and here it is!
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Published April 13th 2013 by Barkley’s Books

SYNOPSIS:
Elizabeth DeVille doesn’t belong at a party like this–one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.

Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.

When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter’s den of vices, she’s a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in a record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn’t have, and she’s come up with a foolproof way to get it.

Follow Elizabeth–code-named Scarlett–to the lush Nevada brothel where she’ll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that’s not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil’s mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.

MY REVIEW:
Ella James’ brilliant stand-alone is just the right kind of provocative. Hunter West charms you off your feet and in many parts leave you swooning. Scarlett, or Elizabeth DeVille, knows fully well how to play her trump card of innocence. Volleying between the point-of-views of the different characters keeps up the fast pace where the plot thickens

“I’d gotten my first glimpse of Elizabeth DeVille. She’d had her hair in a pony-tail that stuck up off the side of her head, and she’d been wearing short red shorts and a light blue tank top with a whale on it. “You like whales?” I’d asked her when I finished with the car. Her face had gone all soft and pretty, making me feel more like one-hundred-and-three than the twenty-three I was, and she’d shrugged. “Yeah, but not a lot more than any other animal. I just like saving things.”

Semi-professional poker player, and full-time playboy, Hunter West doesn’t commit to relationships. At Love Incorporated, the brothel in Vegas owned by his best friend, Marchant Radcliffe, Hunter pays for love as he prefers “no strings attached”.

“I think of him as part tiger. He’s languid to the point of appearing almost lazy, and yellow or green, those eyes are framed by ridiculous lashes, set in a strong face with prominent cheekbones, full lips, and a sensuous smile.”

Elizabeth finds him intriguing despite his reputation and like the preyed in the cat-and-mouse, she can’t stay away. Entangled in the suspenseful web of lies, she is victim to the scandalous politics surrounding the brothel. In Hunter, she begins to find a surprisingly sexy appeal.

“It’s kind of surprising, considering he spends most of his time in Vegas, playing poker (professionally, of all things), man-whoring, and tossing back his family’s infamous Louisiana bourbon.”

Sexual tension, laced with the deceitful plot that kept me at the edge of my seat, makes this novel a winner. Elizabeth’s retention of innocence in the face of a new kind of awakening strikes me as comedic…except the training she receives at Love Incorporated takes her to a whole new level.

“With the exception of Hunter West, who’s been my own personal porn since that fateful night Mom’s Porsche broke down, I don’t find that many men attractive. Maybe I am a lesbian, but I don’t think so.”

Whilst agreeing with many readers that due to the myriad of sub-plots and other characters I found this book confusing, it has nevertheless been an enjoyable read. Definitely looking forward to her sequels in the Love, Inc series!

London Lovin’: Notting Hill

Autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet, light rain smattering wet droplets on my leather outer. Can you imagine how happy I was to see the ‘travel bookstore’ with a blue door on Notting Hill?

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Mostly I was busy snapping pictures, head in the clouds, wishing I could step into a bookstore and meet my personal Hugh Grant.
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William: I live in Notting Hill. You live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are, my mother has trouble remembering my name.
Anna Scott: I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.

The romantic comedy still gives me the chills! Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant has this electrifying chemistry that not a lot of onscreen couples (or real-life ones for that matter) have quite managed to produce.

So here I am, my camera not quite capturing the charm of Notting Hill. Its exquisite nature doesn’t scream urban city or first-world sophistication. What I love is its tame English elegance – a popular setting for numerous films and novels.
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Comprising Ladbroke Grove, Portobello Road, North Kensington, Westbourne Grove and Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill is essentially a large district that an afternoon of exploration on foot is not gonna cover.
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A Singaporean Chinese Restaurant! Gosh 😀 a piece of home
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And here I encountered Patisserie Valerie
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Also, I found what I was looking for: Book Warehouse and Waterstones.
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FYI Novels by G.K. Chesterton (The Napoleon of Notting Hill), Colin MacInnes (Absolute Beginners), Michael Moorcock (the Jerry Cornelius quartet), RC Sherriff (The Hopkins Manuscript), and Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty) have exclusively featured Notting Hill.
As did the films The Knack …and How to Get It (1965), Performance (1970), with Mick Jagger, Notting Hill (1999) and Lava (2003).

Am ending off this post with Ronan Keating’s hit. I love the feels that the song brings.

I’m a ’90s kid and this is so nostalgic.

Book Review: I Heart Hollywood

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Publisher: Harper
Date Published: December 1st 2009
My Ratings: 7 / 10

This fast-paced sequel to I Heart New York races Angela Clark through a whirlwind week in Hollywood. James Jacob, Hollywood star and heartthrob has made special requests for her to conduct the exclusive interview, and as days progress, she finds herself in deep shit with tabloids, paparazzi and Perez Hilton.
Embroiled in a scandal with misleading photographs to prove, even her boyfriend Alex Reid and best friend Jenny is convinced of her infidelity.

Meanwhile a shocking truth about James Jacobs is hers to reveal to the world, a secret that will save her career and love life. Except, the secret is not hers to tell.

In a series of hilarious misadventures, she survives crazy LA, only after puking in the bushes of a Hollywood star, getting dead drunk more than a few nights in a row, and finally getting herself out of the fire.

As always, tragedies are blessings-in-disguise. She, or rather James Jacob and his personal assistant-slash-something-more Blake, takes us on a ride through LA’s Chateau Marmont, Fred Segal, Melrose Avenue, Rodeo Drive and The Ivy.

A super fun piece by Lindsey Kelk, which took me a day to complete because I couldn’t stop reading. Thumbs up!

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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JAMES JACOB: Cam Gigandet
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SYNOPSIS:
Celebs, sunshine and beautiful boys…enough to lead a girl astray? Angela Clark can’t believe her luck! she’s an English girl living in New York with a dream job at hip magazine The Look and a sexy boyfriend. Her latest assignment takes her to Hollywood to interview hot actor and fellow Brit James Jacobs.Thrown in at the deep end she heads west with best friend Jenny dreaming of Rodeo Drive and Malibu beach. Soon Angela discovers that celebrity life in Hollywood is not all glamour, gloss and sunshine. Despite his lady-killer reputation, the only person who seems genuine is James. Then a paparazzi snaps them in an uncompromising position and suddenly Angela is thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons! Can she convince all those close to her — especially her boss and her boyfriend — not to believe everything they read? And will Hollywood ever win Angela’s heart?

Book Review: I Heart New York

Whenever I’m done with a grueling day at work, a piece of light, fun chick-lit (or the likes of it) brings back the cheer in me. Lindsey Kelk’s humour is not at Sophie Kinsella’s, but rather, in a homelier manner her characters are likeable, relatable and slapstick funny. I couldn’t help liking Angela Clark. She is neither stupid nor ditzy. And the ballsy take-no-shit in her makes me want to follow the rest of her adventures to Paris and Las Vegas. FYI I’ve also ordered the rest of the I Heart series!
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Angela Clark finds respite in New York after finding her fiance in the backseat semi-naked with another woman, at her best friend’s wedding. Worst thing is…EVERYONE knows about it but her. She traipses off to a new continent with nothing but 2 pairs of underwear and suitcase full of mismatched clothes. There’s nothing an overhaul can’t do, right?

This was an easy book to read. At the heart of the novel, a girl just needs time off to discover what she really wants in life. I would have totally done the same thing, to leave everything behind and start afresh in a new place. She makes a new best friend from the hotel concierge desk – Jenny – who takes her on a whirlwind ride in the new city, and as she takes on a bright revamped outlook on life, she draws people with her new vibrant personality, and men flock to her side. What a laugh, when she has to keep a blog detailing all the juicy secrets of her life and both her dates find out about it.

Getting to know the cast in I Heart is much like meeting a new set of friends whose lives appear totally typical but whom are in fact as screwed up as the rest of us. Reading I Heart New York was like cruising down the Big Apple for the first time: walking down Saks at Fifth Avenue, ogling at Macy’s and Bloomingdales, fighting vertigo on the Empire State Building. New York’s magic comes alive amidst frenzied dates to band gigs, late nights in Manhattan and detours to Boston. I must say, I’m definitely awaiting the arrival of the rest of the installments in the series!

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release: September 7th 2010
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Popular Culture, Romance, Big Apple
My Rating: 6 / 10
Recommended for: Travelers, summer reads, light reads

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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TYLER (the perfectly dreamy handsome & rich businessman): Kevin Zegers
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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SYNOPSIS:

Angela Clark is in love—with the most fabulous city in the world!

When Angela catches her boyfriend with another woman at her best friend’s wedding, she’s heartbroken and desperate to run away. With little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins, and her passport in hand, Angela decides to jump on a plane for . . . NYC!

Settling into a cute hotel and quickly bonding with benevolent concierge Jenny—a chatterbox Oprah wannabe with room for a new best friend—Angela heads out for a New York makeover, some serious retail therapy, and a whirlwind tour of the city. Before she knows it, she’s dating two sexy guys and blogging about her Big Apple escapades for a real fashion magazine. But while it’s one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it’s another working them out for yourself. Angela has fallen head over heels for the city that never sleeps, but does she heart New York more than home?

(Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, get ready for the summer debut of the year…
When you’re running away from a broken heart, there’s only one place to go…
Adjusting tiaras at the foot of the aisle, Angela and her best friend prepare for the wedding of the year. But events don’t go as planned. And when a girl is in possession of a crumpled bridesmaid dress – and can’t go home – New York (for the very first time) seems like an excellent idea.
Angela’s new friend Jenny Lopez gives Angela a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps, and a makeover. Who hasn’t dreamed of starting afresh with a sassy New York wardrobe, a new haircut and a trip to the make-up counter?
Before she knows it, the new Angela is getting over her broken heart by having dinner with two different boys. And, best of all, she gets to write about it in her fabulous new blog. But it’s one thing telling readers all about your romantic dilemmas. It’s another trying to figure them out for yourself!
Warm, funny and unputdownable, I Heart New York is an unforgettable debut)

Book Review: You Don’t Have to say You Love Me

Neve Slater’s self-esteem is buried somewhere underneath her size 32 waist-line. She battles to fit herself into a size 10 in order to finally attract the attention of her love interest William, and decides to enter a ‘pancake relationship’ with the sex-god celebrity journalist Max.

Max’s social reputation as a full-time jerk with the ability to charm the knickers off any woman was Neve’s sure-fire guarantee that she would never fall in love with him. So to gear up for WIlliam’s return to the country and back into her life, Max offers to be her ‘pancake boyfriend’ —- the first pancake relationship in her life which is bound to be imperfect and not made to last.

‘We both got so obsessed about that first pancake being thrown away that we forgot something really important,’ Max explained. ‘That first pancake tastes just as good as all the other ones. It’s not its fault that it was first in line and the pan wasn’t hot enough so it got a bit lumpy and misshapen.’
‘And when you’re really famished that first pancake tastes better than all the ones that come after it,’ 

Here we have a pair of perfectly compatible man and woman too busy coming up with excuses for how they should not be together, that they fail to see how right they are for each other. Happens a lot, no?

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“That was the worst thing about having a relationship with someone, even a pretend relationship. You opened up, let someone in, and when it was over, they had all the ammunition they needed to completely destroy you.” 

You don’t have to be a snarky bitch to love their verbal sparring and offhand flirtations. Manning’s fabulous plot is moulded by her wonderfully written prose with comedic interjections that made this novel so enjoyable. The shallow man-whore becomes the tamed romantic. The nerdette with oversized hips gains confidence through her unlikely pancake soulmate, and when WIlliam inevitably returns to the country, Max has to let go of Neve, to whom he eventually confesses that

“We don’t stop, not even when we reach the finish line. It’s a journey for life, Neve.”

I fell in love with the book cover (with the lips) the moment I’d laid eyes on it, and I’ve never even heard of Sarra Manning until I bought the book on impulse. I fell in love with it further when I found out that the male character Max has the typical outlook of a bad-boy I personally would love, with a secret mellow side he only shows to a selected few. Personally, I felt that Manning’s novel gives off a more realistic vibe in comparison to the plethora of chick-lit on popular best-selling shelves. I fell deeply in love with the book somewhere past the middle point with the ferocity with which Max was delivering the duties of being Neve’s trial lover. His conviction was the reason this make-believe relationship stood apart from commercialized versions of love. It was literally as if he was telling Neve: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.

“She was so fed up with unrequited love and platonic love and all the other kinds of love that weren’t passionate, romantic, can’t-live-without-you, I-have-to-have-you-right-now, the-beat-of-your-heart-matches-the-beat-of-mine love.” 

This book is about finding your way around unfamiliar grounds and learning to push past perceived boundaries that any physical characteristics has limited you to.

Author: Sarra Manning
Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Corgi (February 3rd, 2011)
Rating: 8.5 / 10

If this were to be made into a movie…

NEVE SLATER – bookish, good-natured fat girl: Scarlett Johansson
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MAX – celebrity journalist, smooth-talking ladies’ man: Justin Timberlake
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CELIA SLATER – the bubbly, devious younger sister: Karlie Kloss – always encouraging, fun, and effortlessly perfect
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WILLIAM – the long-time friend who is unattainably perfect: Matthew Lewis
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SYNOPSIS:
Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don’t get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve’s heart since university. But William’s been in LA for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he’ll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.

So she’s not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she’s an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she’d better get some, well, experience.

What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia’s colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he’s such a man-slut, and so not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him. Because William is the man for her… right?

Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve’s lost her heart – but to who?

Book Review: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

Do not read this book on an empty stomach, for it will leave you foraging for every last morsel of chocolate in the refridgerator.

With the promise of being introduced to the world of The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan has left me more than hooked: I literally devoured her novel in 2 sittings, with a couple of Reese’s peanut butter cups and a bag of Mars PODS to go along. 20130912-072626.jpg

What’s promised is rightfully delivered: Paris is ever so picturesque, and French cuisines ever so mouth-watering. Jenny Colgan successfully reignites the spark of Parisian magic in contemporary chick-lit by infusing the element of top-secret home-made luxury-chocolate recipes (plus we all know it’s every girls’ dream to be able to guiltlessly binge on chocolate, not a hot Parisian with dreamy French accent).

If interested, you can expect elaborate and vivid descriptions of chocolate making processes. The tale of an artisan chocolatier – Thierry Girard – springs to life, the Parisian Willy Wonka whose chocolatier is the highlight of the story. His brief but significant relationship is revealed in italicized snatches of flashbacks, inserted between the modern, blossoming love affair between Girard’s son Laurent and the novel’s heroine, Anna Trent. As much as we can smell love in the air, the thick scent of ‘rich dark chocolate’ is so often repeated and emphasized, reflecting the chocolatiers’ dedication to their craft, as Colgan never lets us forget that the story is set in the culinary capital of Paris.

I’ve enjoyed the novel thoroughly from cover to cover – her simple and deftly delivered prose were easy on the eyes and thus would be a comforting light-hearted pick-me-up. However, I hardly had to think while reading for the words were fairly simple and the plot somewhat predictable towards the end. The bittersweet aftertaste from the novel is something I was expecting from the description of the bitter chocolates that Parisians found tasty — totally unlike the overly-sweetened milky creamy American commercial brands — and that, I felt, perhaps foreshadowed a non-sugarcoated ending to this unconventional chick-lit.

Publisher: Sphere
Release: 14th March 2013
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Food, Paris, Romance
My Rating: 7 / 10
Recommended for: Holiday-goers, summer reads, weekend reads

If Chocolate Shop was ever to be made a movie, I would cast:

ANNA TRENT: Blake Lively
Noon By Noor - Presentation - Fall 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

LAURENT GIRARD: Henry Cavill
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CLAIRE (French Teacher): Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood

THIERRY GIRARD: Fat Russell Crowe
ACTOR RUSSEL CROWE ON NBC NETWORKS THE TONIGHT SHOW.

SYNOPSIS:
As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate – and herself – than she ever dreamed.

September Reads

These couple of chick-lit came in the mail from Book Depository!
A cosy, much-desired break from heavy literature. Can’t wait to lose some sleep over them.
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Easy – Tammara Webber
Hubble Bubble – Jane Lovering
I Heart New York – Lindsey Kelk
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – Jenny Colgan
Unsticky – Sarra Manning

“Sometimes we get so used to not really feeling anything, just going with the flow, that we forget how it feels to be really happy or sad.” 
― Lindsey KelkI Heart New York

Book Review: The Food of Love

I’ve truly learnt a lot of Italian phrases from Anthony Capella and here are some of my favourites:

“…what your first Italian date told you to say to anyone who got fresh with you..”
1.“Cacati in mano e prenditi a schiaffi”
lit: Take a shit on your hands and then smack your own face

2.“Lei e’un cafone stronzo, vada via in culo”
lit: You’re a piece of shit, so get back up your own arse!

2.“Guardone ti sorella e allupato ti bagnasti”
lit: It turns you on to watch your sister and me

And many more laugh-out-loud quotable Italian phrases. ♥
“Si nonnema teneva ‘o cazzo, ‘a chiammavamo nonno”
lit: If my Grandmother had a dick, we would have called her Grandpa

That, combined with the hilarity of cross-cultural language crises, a love triangle, and irresistibly mouth-watering descriptions of Italian cuisines, is the reason why this book is Awesome with the capital A. Recommending this to food-lovers and those seeking to immerse in an Italian adventure.

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Publisher: Viking Adult
Release: July 15, 2004
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Food, Paris, Romance
My Rating: 7 / 10
Recommended for: Holiday-goers, summer reads, weekend reads

If The Food of Love was ever to be made a movie:

LAURA PATTERSON: Hayden Panettiere
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TOMASSO MASSI: Milo Ventimiglia
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BRUNO: Zachary Quinto
Heroes

 

SYNOPSIS:
In Anthony Capella’s delicious debut novel, Laura, a twentysomething American, is on her first trip to Italy. She’s completely enamored of the art, beauty, and, of course, food that Rome has to offer. Soon she’s enamored of the handsome and charming Tommaso, who tells her he’s a chef at the famed Templi restaurant and begins to woo her with his gastronomic creations. But Tommaso hasen’t been entirely truthful he’s really just a waiter. The master chef behind the tantalizing meals is Tommaso’s talented but shy friend Bruno, who loves laura from afar. Thus begins a classic comedy of errors full of the culinary magic and the sensual stmosphere of Italy. The result is a romantic comedy in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxanne that tempts readers to devour it in one sitting. Evoking the sights, smells and flavors of Italy in sensuous prose, this lively book also features recipes for readers to create (or just dream about) Bruno’s food of amore.