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[Book Review] Betrayal by Danielle Steel

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Title: Betrayal
Author: Danielle Steel
Publisher: Corgi
Published: February 28, 2013
No. of Pages: 400 pages
ISBN: 978-0-55215-905-0
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bought at: Periplus Pondok Indah
Price: IDR 69,000 (Bargain) — I redeemed a voucher
Buy the book at: Periplus | Bookdepository | Google Play
Goodreads: here
Opening sentence:
The two men who lay parched in the blistering sun of the desert were so still they barely seemed alive.

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Tallie Jones is a Hollywood legend. An ambitious and passionate film director, her award-winning productions achieve the rare combination of critical and commercial success. But she has little interest in the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, instead focusing intently on her work and family.

She has close, loving relationships with her daughter, her elderly father and Hunter Lloyd – her co-producer and partner of four years. Completing her trusted circle is Brigitte Parker – Tallie’s best friend and devoted personal assistant. They’ve been friends since film school, and Brigitte’s polished glamour and highly organized style provides a perfect balance to Tallie’s casual appearance and down-to-earth approach to life.

However as Tallie is in the midst of directing her most ambitious film to date, small disturbances start to ripple through her faultlessly ordered world. An audit reveals worrying discrepancies in her financial records, which have always been maintained by her trusted accountant, Victor Carson. Receipts hint at activities of which she has no knowledge. Someone close to Tallie has been steadily helping themselves to enormous amounts of her money. Her once safe world of trusted associates is suddenly shaken to its very core – and Tallie is in shock, trying to figure out who has betrayed her among those she trusts and holds dear…

thoughts

Saya sudah tahu nama Danielle Steel sejak lama, tapi baru kali ini punya kesempatan untuk membaca karya beliau. Betrayal merupakan novel DS ke-86. Bisa dibayangkan jika ada yang mengoleksi novel-novel karya DS, rak bukunya pasti penuh oleh karya DS.

Terus terang saya mengambil buku ini karena terpikat dengan cover-nya yang cantik. Sederhana tapi memikat. Mengingatkan saya dengan cover buku karya David Levithan yang ini:

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Betrayal berkisah tentang Tallie Jones, sutradara ternama di Hollywood yang tinggal bersama partnernya Hunt Lloyd selama empat tahun. Tallie dan Hunt telah sukses bersama-sama membuat film yang ngehits di pasaran. Ketika sedang mengerjakan sebuah proyek yang disponsori oleh investor Jepang, akuntan Tallie, Victor Carson, menemukan keganjilan dalam laporan keuangan Tallie. Ada penarikan uang tunai sebesar $25,000 per bulan selama empat tahun, ditambah tagihan hotel yang tidak dikenal oleh Tallie. Pada mulanya, Tallie mengira ada yang mencuri kartu kreditnya, tapi ternyata hasil audit Victor tidak salah. Ayah Tallie membantunya memeriksa laporan keuangan tersebut, dan Victor tidak mengada-ada. Seseorang yang dekat dengan Tallie mencuri uang tersebut.

Tallie memiliki sahabat sekaligus asisten pribadi selama 17 tahun. Brigitte Parker telah menjadi kaki tangan dan orang kepercayaan Tallie. Namun, kecurigaan juga jatuh padanya, karena ia yang mengatur keuangan Tallie.

Di tengah kebingungannya, Tallie menghubungi pengacaranya, Greg Thomas. Ia menyarankan Tallie untuk menghubungi kenalannya, Margaret Simpson, seorang investigator yang biasa menangani kasus serupa. Berdasarkan pengintaian dan hasil investigasi Meg, diketahui Hunt berselingkuh dengan janda beranak satu, Angela, yang menjadi korban kekerasan domestik. Sebelum berhubungan dengan Angela, Hunt pernah berselingkuh dengan Brigitte, sahabatnya. Tallie shock dan sakit hati mendengar hasil temuan tersebut.

Tallie mengkonfrontasi Hunt disertai bukti foto yang diambil oleh Meg. Mereka berpisah, karena Angela hamil. Meg menyarankan Tallie untuk menghubungi agen FBI bernama Jim Kingston untuk investigasi mengenai uang yang hilang tersebut.

Cerita Betrayal klise menurut saya: sahabat yang berselingkuh dengan kekasih tokoh utama. Banyak repetisi di novel ini. Dan yang agak mengganggu adalah cara penulisan DS yang kurang detail. Di novel ini, saya tidak bisa merasakan kesedihan Tallie, bagaimana ia sakit hati karena ulah Hunt dan Brigitte. Terasa datar saja.

Novel ini page turner—lumayan membuat saya penasaran tentang kelanjutan investigasi terhadap Hunt dan Brigitte, tapi di tengah-tengah saya agak jenuh membaca buku ini. Menurut beberapa review, novel ini kurang greget, dan saya setuju dengan pendapat tersebut. Karena saya juga baru pertama kali membaca karya DS, saya belum bisa membandingkan buku ini dengan buku lain karya beliau.

Saya masih penasaran dengan beberapa judul yang menurut teman-teman bagus.

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Until next time

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[Book Review] The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson

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Title: The Christmas Wedding
Author: James Patterson, Richard DiLallo
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: 2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-446-58543-9
No. of Pages: 266
Category: Fiction
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Bought at: Periplus.com Price: IDR 49,000
Opening Sentence:
ONLY TWENTY-FOUR DAYS until Christmas, and this Christmas is going to be one you won’t forget.

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The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill’s wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby’s four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven’t celebrated Christmas together since their father’s death, but when Gaby announces that she’s getting married–and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day–she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn’t Gaby’s only surprise–she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

thoughts

I saw this book in Periplus, but somehow I didn’t pick it up. Then I remember that I wanted to read Christmas themed novels this month and, luckily, onread.com provides free copy to be read online. But, onread.com pissed me off. Every 3 pages there’s a sign “too many people are reading right now” and I had to go back to the beginning.
I decided to purchase this book online. Luckily, Periplus still had the copy. I’m so lucky that the cheap copies are sold out. I bought this book for IDR 49,000, so it’s like a small victory for me.
It’s a short, heartwarming novel about family reunion on Christmas eve.

Gaby, Summerhill, 44, a teacher, a mother of four, a widow for three years, sent a video message to all her children, announcing that she’d get married on Christmas. She didn’t reveal the groom, just expected her family to gather together on christmas. It’s been three years since their last reunion. Gaby wanted to do it again.

Claire, Gaby’s eldest daughter, had issues in her family. Hank was a pothead, and her son, Gus, was found drunk outside a mall. Hank slapped her face once when she said he’s an asshole. He was irresponsible and short-tempered, blaming it on the weed.
Gus did not do well at school. His grades are sliding down to the very bottom of the pit. He was getting friendly with the bad crowds. Claire taught remedial class. Sadly, Hank didn’t do anything to help.

Lizzie had to take care of Mike, her husband, due to serious illness. Emily’s a busy woman, and Seth was upset because his recent work was refused by his publisher, Knopf.

This book is sad and funny at the same time. I like Marty, Gaby’s brother in law. They had a thing. And there’s Jacob, a Jewish rabbi, who asked Gaby to marry him. Tom, who grew up with Gaby, was also interested to be Gaby’s second husband.

My favorite part is when Marty helped Gaby to teach remedial class. He taught the kids to love reading. I agree with Marty that we don’t have to like anything. Even the books that we hate can give something.

I love reading Christmas-themed books because they always give me a good feeling. I like this book, but I like Swimsuit better. I have tried reading other romance books by James Patterson. Not a huge fan though.

The Christmas Wedding is about one divorce and two weddings. The ending is sweet and touching.

quotes

If you don’t change, you’re stuck in a rut. (p. 8)

You can be the strongest person in the world and still make some bad decisions and have a pretty miserable life. (p. 27)

Be a giver, not a taker. (p. 34)

I read somewhere that cancer often disappears if you just sit very still. (p. 92)

Life is a temporary situation. (p. 116)

How can you read To Kill a Mockingbird or The Things They Carried and completely understand the book but not in any way feel the book? (p. 118)

If you’re not reading – with your heart as well as your brain – you will be one stupid grown-up. (p. 120)

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Need a second opinion?

Annette’s Book Spot here

Kuroneko Book Club here

Until next time

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[Book Review] A Virgin River Novel by Robyn Carr

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Judul: A Virgin River Christmas
Penulis: Robyn Carr
Penerjemah: Nicodemus Wuri K.
Penerbit: Violet Books – Kompas Gramedia Group
Terbit: 2011
Tebal: 400 halaman
ISBN: 9789790816572
Kategori: Novel Fiksi
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Beli di: Gramedia Plasa Semanggi, Harga: IDR 20,000
Kalimat pertama:
Marcie berdiri di samping Volkswagen hijau-limau miliknya, menggigil di tengah dinginnya udara November, mentari pagi hampir nyaris belum muncul di ufuk timur.

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PADA NATAL TERAKHIR, MARCIE SULLIVAN MENGUCAPKAN SALAM TERAKHIR KEPADA SUAMINYA, BOBBY. NATAL TAHUN INI, IA DATANG KE VIRGIN RIVER UNTUK MENEMUI PRIA YANG TELAH MENYELAMATKAN SUAMINYA DAN YANG MEMBERINYA WAKTU TIGA TAHUN UNTUK MENCINTAI SUAMINYA.

Marinir Ian Buchanan membawa tubuh Bobby yang terluka ke ambulans di Fallujah empat tahun yang lalu, kemudian menghilang sesaat sebelum bantuan datang. Sejak saat itu, surat-surat yang Marcie kirimkan padanya tak pernah terbalas.

Marcie melacak keberadaan Ian di sebuah kota pegunungan kecil di Virgin River dan menemukan seorang pria yang terluka secara emosional, sama seperti Bobby yang terluka secara fisik. Tapi itu tak membuatnya lari dari tujuannya. Sejak Marcie memaksa masuk ke dalam kehidupan keras dan penyendiri pria ini, ia menemukan jiwa yang manis namun terluka dibalik sikap kasarnya.

Ian tak tahu apa yang membuat seorang janda muda itu begitu bersikeras memaksanya untuk menengok kembali masa lalunya dan, yang lebih buruk lagi, masa depannya yang tak pasti. Tapi inilah, setelah semuanya, masa-masa keajaiban dan mungkin, hanya sebuah kemungkinan, waktu untuk mengusir hantu masa lalu dan membuka hatinya.

thoughts

Saya biasanya menghindari buku-buku Harlequin dan novel yang unsur romance-nya kental. Namun, sepertinya saya harus mencoba membaca buku-buku not my cup of tea, apalagi novel tema Natal memang dikuasai oleh genre romance, jadi saya pikir ini saat yang tepat untuk membaca genre ini.

Novel A Virgin River Christmas saya temukan secara tidak sengaja di antara tumpukan buku obralan di Gramedia Plasa Semanggi. Setelah browsing, ternyata Virgin River itu serial namun bisa dibaca secara acak. Karena saya terlanjur membaca A Virgin River Christmas duluan, saya terpaksa menyelesaikannya sebelum membaca buku pertamanya terlebih dahulu.

Ceritanya tentang Marcie, janda muda mendiang Bobby yang meninggal setelah mengalami luka dan cacat karena perang Irak. Marcie ingin berterima kasih kepada Ian Buchanan yang telah menyelamatkan Bobby.
Erin dan Drew, saudara Marcie, melarang Marcie bepergian untuk mencari Ian karena cuaca musim dingin mulai memburuk. Namun Marcie yang keras kepala tidak bisa dilarang. Ia pergi ke arah pegunungan untuk mencari Ian.

Dalam perjalanannya, Marcie bertemu dengan Doc dan Mel, dokter dan perawat yang memiliki bar. Marcie yang mulai kehabisan uang dijamu dengan baik dan hangat oleh Doc. Bahkan Preacher, si koki, memberi Marcie bekal untuk dibawa dalam perjalanan.

Berkat bantuan seseorang, Marcie berhasil menemukan Ian yang penampilan dan perangainya berubah. Ian mengusir Marcie, namun Marcie berkeras. Ia tinggal di mobil Volkswagennya. Ian menemukan Marcie pingsan dan membopongnya ke dalam rumahnya. Setelah siuman, Marcie diminta istirahat dan dirawat dengan baik oleh Ian. Setelah ini bisa ketebak kemana arah cerita ini.

Saya nggak menyangka bakalan menyukai buku ini. Natal selalu membawa kehangatan dalam keluarga, itu yang saya rasakan. Dan ternyata, banyak penulis yang merasakan hal yang sama.

Ada beberapa dialog yang saya rasa agak berlebihan, seperti

Oh, Ian, kau perhatian.
Tetapi demi Tuhan, nyanyianmu seperti nyanyian dewa.

Saya palingan cuma nyengir setiap kali menemukan dialog semacam ini. Namun secara keseluruhan, cerita tentang Marcie dan Ian ini menarik dan membuat saya nggak mau berhenti baca. Saya malah jadi nagih ingin membaca semua novel seri Virgin River ini.

Novel ini membawa nostalgia natal dan membuat saya kangen ingin natalan di gereja.

quotes

Sebenarnya, jika kau tak makan sebanyak itu, kau takkan merasa makan sebanyak itu. (hal. 60)

Setiap hari ia selalu bertanya kepada dirinya sendiri mengapa ia harus mendapatkan medali untuk tindakannya menyelamatkan pri untuk hidup dalam tubuh yang lumouh. (hal. 71)

Aku bukan jemaat gereja atau anggota persekutuan atau apa pun namanya. Itu saja. Aku pergi ke gereja hanya untuk mendengar musiknya. (hal. 186)

Bintang itu adalah iman. Sebuah keyakinan bahwa ada suatu kuasa yang lebih besar daripada kita yang, jika diberi kesempatan, akan menuntun kita mencapai tujuan kita. Bintang itu adalah makna, tujuan, janji bahwa kita akan dikaruniai pencerahan kudus. (hal. 190)

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Need a second opinion?

Resensi Harlequin here
All About Romance here
Natuschan here

Until next time

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[Book Review] The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the “roaring twenties”, and a devastating expose of the “Jazz Age”. Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920s, to encounter Nick’s cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the mystery that surrounds him.

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Once upon a time in 1920s, when women wore short skirt, bobbed their hair, smoked and drank excessively, and listened to jazz, there lived a man whose name Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby is a tragic love story coated with crimes and corrupted minds. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, left his hometown to pursue his dream in New York. He met Daisy, his cousin, and her husband, Tom Buchanan, who had an affair with Mrs. Wilson. Nick was introduced to Jordan Baker and she mentioned about the notorious Gatsby who happens to be Nick’s neighbor.

One day, Nick was invited to Gatsby’s lavish party in his mansion. They were a lot of prominent people at Gatsby’s house. Nick met Jordan and they were curious about the host. Instead, they met an owl-eyed old man in Gatsby’s library.

Finally, Nick sat at a table and met a young man who looked familiar, Gatsby, who often called people “old sport”.
Nick saw Gatsby for the first time when he was standing on the lawn, reaching out for the distant green light.

Soon they became friends and Nick was dragged into Gatsby’s luxurious life, and he became suspicious of Gatsby’s source of income.

Gatsby appeared to fetch Nick for lunch. He told Nick about his past. They met Wolfshiem at a restaurant, which sharpened Nick’s suspicions about Gatsby’s illegal business.
After lunch, Nick met Jordan. She told him that Gatsby is in love with Daisy.
The reunion was set up and their destiny has been changed since then.

The Great Gatsby is a dark tale of a lonely man. Behind the glamorous life that Gatsby has, he is a lonely man. One said loneliness is the cruelest thing in the world. Gatsby is a sad man. He’s never been happy.
The green light that Gatsby tried to reach is a symbol of his dream that he can’t have.
The eyes of T.J. Eckleburg are scary. It’s like the “all seeing eye of God” or the eye of providence. Whatever you do, God sees everything. It gave me goosebumps.

Overall, The Great Gatsby is a great read. Why didn’t I read this earlier? I want to read it every year to get a better understanding. Classics reading is fun.

Now I’d like to talk about the movie.

With the promising cast, this movie fulfilled my expectations. I was surprised that Jay-Z was taking care of the music. Justin Timberlake’s Suit & Tie suddenly popped in my mind. The Great Gatsby’s music is fun, modern and beautiful.

Leonardo plays Gatsby perfectly. Carey is also perfect as Daisy. I read somewhere that Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, ScarJo, Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman are among actresses Baz was reportedly considering casting as Daisy Buchanan.

Tobey is not bad, but I had Joseph Gordon Levitt in mind as Nick.
I also read that Ben Affleck was offered to play as Tom Buchanan, but later he dropped it for “Argo”.

The sanatorium is a brilliant addition. The portrayal of Nick as a troubled-soul is beyond my imagination.

Let’s go back to the party. I was in awe while watching the party scene. The over-the-top glitzy glam party is extravagant, yet exquisite. Gatsby is ridiculously wealthy. He’s the Stark of the ’20s, perhaps, a rock star in that era.
I read a book about Hollywood tell-all titled “Full Service”, but it happened in the ’40s. I think it’s a lot like that.

I love the soundtrack, especially Lana Del Rey’s Young and Beautiful. It’s hauntingly beautiful.

I think Jay and Daisy are the new Edward and Bella, the new ‘it’ couple.

And, oh, I’m always fascinated with flapper fashion.

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[Book Review] The Bride Stripped Bare by Anonymous

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A woman disappears, leaving behind an incendiary diary chronicling a journey of sexual awakening. To all who knew her, she was the good wife: happy, devoted, content. But the diary reveals a secret self, one who’s discovered that her new marriage contains mysteries of its own. She has discovered a forgotten Elizabethan manuscript that dares to speak of what women truly desire, and inspired by its revelations, she tastes for the first time the intoxicating power of knowing what she wants and how to get it. The question is: How long can she sustain a perilous double life?
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

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Before 50 Shades of Grey, there was The Bride Stripped Bare. I’ve never been a fan of erotica and (sorry, no offense) I loathe 50 Shades of Grey. It takes more than a month to finish this book. But actually, The Bride Stripped Bare is not bad at all. It’s worth my time.

The story was told from the 2nd person’s point of view, which is rare. The main character remained anonymous until the end. I found out that it’s actually based on the author’s experience, as well as people around her.

This fictional anonymous memoir started off with a letter from the author’s mom to the publisher saying that her daughter disappeared. The police thought about suicide, the mom insisted that her daughter faked her death.

And the memoir began between the sheets of a Marrakech honeymoon. She was a good wife, and  her husband, Cole, was a decent guy. Soon she found out that her husband cheated on her with her best friend (such a cliche chick lit formula). Things got worse and the mutual feeling started to fade away.

Then her (sex) adventure began. She wanted to fulfill her fantasies, having a double life. She met a young handsome Spanish actor, Gabriel, who was a virgin. Gabriel fell in love with her. When things got intense, our nameless heroine was gagged and decided to cut him out of her life. One big mistake, she gave her phone number to Gabriel, even invited him to her place once when Cole was away. Gabriel was obsessed with her, leaving uncountable messages on her phone.

To escape from Gabriel, she had impulsive sex with taxi drivers. And her body craved for more. This time included a girl. But, suddenly, she felt disgusted with herself, and threw those people out of her hotel room. She lost her bag and most of her belongings. She was paranoid, knowing the thief had her real name and address. She felt threatened.

Our nameless heroine didn’t expect the sudden flame in her marriage. Out of the blue, the bed was warm again. But it didn’t last long. When she made love with Cole, she was thinking about Gabriel. Cole was dominant and selfish.

Then she got pregnant. Cole was suspicious about Gabriel. Things got cold again. She wanted Gabriel. After the phone call, she flew to Spain and she found Gabriel at a bull fight arena. Their eyes met, and you know what happened next.

Despite her wild adventures and the what not, the story has a tragic ending (or can I say tragic cliffhanger?) Comparing to Anastasia and Christian, I’m more sympathetic with our nameless heroine. Though I never tolerate adultery, I can understand the urge of freedom and finding her own happiness. She was a lonely wife. Even after having a baby, she was still lonely. Loneliness is the cruelest thing in the world, some say.

The Bride Stripped Bare was written beautifully. I admire Nikki Gemmell’s writing technique that she’s able to invite readers to become a narrator of the story. Comparing to 50SoG, The Bride Stripped Bare is much better, carefully written, and, of course, readable.  Will I read another erotica? No. I have stacks of books waiting to be read. Erotica is not my forte.

Will I recommend this book to anyone? If you’re a fan of 50SoG, you should read this book.

Quotes

You have to find something to do that you love, to fill up your life. (p. 309)

It feels magnificent to be doing something so foolish and impetuous and reckless and rash, to stop all the censoring of yourself. (p. 318)

Men are more comfortable with imperfection and weakness, it’s less threatening, of course. (p. 334)

The arrival of a first child is a magic, miraculous episode in any relationship, and a mother-in-law shouldn’t intrude on that. (p. 341)

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