Melody

Square Fish | May 2016 | 352 pgs
Translated from the German by Anthea Bell
Source: Purchased



For readers who have read Kerstin Gier's bestselling Ruby Red Trilogy and loved them would be delighted to see her new book - Dream a Little Dream, the first book of The Silver Trilogy. I am new to Gier's books and I figured this book would be a good start of getting to know more about her stories and her writing; plus a story about dreams usually makes an intriguing read, isn't it?

Fifteen-year-old Olivia "Liv" Silver is used to be on the move all the time. Her parents are divorced and Liv, together with her younger sister, Mia, got to live with their mother who is a professor of literary studies and her job requires her to travel frequently as to teach at different universities almost every year. Their latest destination is London. But that is not all, they are going to move into their mother's partner's house; and Mr Earnest Spencer himself has two teenage children - Grayson and Florence. And the two Silver sisters are going to attend the same school as them.

While Liv tries to fit into her new school life, something strange happens when she found out she has gotten into Grayson's dream one night after she had borrowed his sweater. It is a strange dream with mysterious doors but what most intrigued her is finding herself in a graveyard and watching Grayson with his three other friends who tried to conduct a dark magic ritual. Liv thinks nothing about the dream thereafter, but the boys seem to know a few things about her in real life, especially things they couldn't possibly know. How could that be unless they are all in the same dreams?

Dream a Little Dream may be a book about dreams but it has a paranormal/fantasy theme to it. There are some scenes about demonic works but they are not elaborated and I felt there wasn't much elaborations of the world building so I had only this vague understanding that the mystery was revolving around the resurrection of a demon who could grant their wishes if they are to give their oaths and fulfill the seals stated in an ancient book. I thought the overall premise was intriguing but alas, it fell short of character developments and the world building as I had mentioned earlier. However, the good thing is I enjoyed reading the exchanges among the characters and I thought Liv was quite a courageous young lady who isn't afraid to go out of her way to solve a mystery, even if it is a dangerous one.

There is also romance in this story and though there is no triangle love, I felt the romance between Liv and Henry (one of the four popular boys) was a bit rushed. That said, I did like the way Grayson was being protective of Liv, though his main intention remains a puzzle to me and I sensed no romance between them. All in all, it was an enjoyable read given this was the first installment. I am very curious where this story will go given the cliffhanger and hopefully the second installment would be better with the character developments as well as that world building. 
Melody
 

Based on a webtoon of the same name, Cheese in the Trap is a romantic comedy featuring the relationship and the university days of lead characters, Hong Seol (starring Kim Go-eun) and her senior, Yoo Jung (Park Hae-jin), as well as a few other characters surrounding them. 

Hong Seol is a diligent girl who works hard not only for her studies but for her family, too. Although her family opens an eatery shop, life is not a bed of roses and she does part-time jobs to make ends meet. During a students' gathering, she met Yoo Jung, who is a senior but their encounter didn't leave a good impression on each other. Yoo Jung is everything Hong Seol isn't; he is good-looking, excel in his studies as well as athletics and most of all, he comes from a wealthy family.


Despite their differences and their opinions of each other, they later became friends and then finally a couple. Many of their friends do not understand why Yoo Jung will fall for Hong Seol, including Hong Seol herself but she is positive that their relationship will work and that most importantly she does like him. However, Yoo Jung doesn't seem as what he looks for he has a dark side with people who hold grudges against him.

Cheese in the Trap may be a romantic comedy but personally I felt it was more of a character study. Needless to say, Yoo Jung is one of them but we also get more than a glimpse of other supporting characters' behaviours when they are tossed with certain circumstances. Jealousy, rivalry competition, envy is amongst the most common emotional traits we see in this drama. But that is not all, there was also the sentiments portrayed by secondary character, Baek In-ho (starring Seo Kang Joo), who has fallen for Hong Seol despite she and Yoo Jung are together. In-ho and his elder sister, Baek In-ha (starring Lee Sung Kyung) are long time friends of Yoo Jung, but there is a (bad) history between them and viewers would come to know how their relationship came about as the story progresses. 


Speaking of In-ho, he is the character I loved most in this drama. Used to be a childhood friend of Yoo Jung, he has dreams of becoming a pianist but a fight damaged his hand. Even after recovery, he has lost hope in pursuing his dreams; and Hong Seol (whom he fondly called her "Dog Fur" because of the mass of her hair) was the one who encourages him. In-ho is also the only character whom I felt changes the most from the beginning till the end. I liked the way he was towards Hong Seol - warm, caring and protective.

Yoo Jung, on the other hand, is a guy whom you will like initially but his "hot and cold" behaviours will mess with your mind. Apparently, he had some issues when he was a teenager but I'm not going to delve into that. I had some doubts about him all the while while watching this drama; that is, is he really true towards Hong Seol?  

And that ending... I wished I'm able to discuss it with someone. (Well, if you've watched it, do share your views with me via email.) I'm currently watching Cunning Single Lady, an older drama (2014) starring Seo Kang Joo (again). His character here is a rich, easygoing guy who has fallen for a colleague - a divorcee and an older woman who is eight years his senior. 


(All pic images credit to Google Images and KDrama Stars)

Melody

Bantam Press | June 2016 | 352 pgs

Source: Purchased


Sharon Bolton is one of my favourite authors. I adore her Lacey Flint series and while this book, Daisy in Chains, is a standalone, in my opinion it is very much on par with her LF series and what most drawn me to this story is the charismatic serial killer, Hamish Wolfe. 

Now Hamish is not your typical monster in any other thrillers. For starters, he is good-looking, charming and used to be a leading cancer surgeon before he is convicted of murdering three women. As for the fourth woman, her body is never found and no one knew if she's alive or dead for she seemed to have disappeared into thin air after her family reported her missing. Why she is under Hamish's crimes is because she shared the common "evidence" of the other three victims - that they were all large sized women. While most of the UK nation fears and despises Hamish, there are people who feel he is innocent. Despite the label of being a murderer, Hamish gets countless letters from his "fans" every day; many of them are women and they proclaimed that he is the man of their dreams. 

Maggie Rose is one of the women who is fascinated by Hamish but for a different reason. She is a successful lawyer and a bestselling true-crime writer. She is also reclusive and enigmatic and doesn't do interviews nor does she release her photograph to the media. No one really knows what she is like but in truth, Maggie looks to be forty and has a head of blue hair - bright, turquoise-blue hair that falls a little below her chin. But that is not all, Maggie is also well known of taking a few high profiled cases and had overturned the convictions. However, she is selective so that's why to-date she has only taken less than ten clients. Sandra Wolfe, who is Hamish's mother, approaches her after Maggie has saved her dog and invited her to meet the rest of the group who stands by Hamish. 

On the other end, DS Pete Weston is the one who has had Hamish behind bars and he is going to make sure that Hamish remains in his cell for the rest of his life. However, Pete's personal life is less than rosy for his wife has left him for another man. That man is DCI Tim Latimer, who happens to be his superior. 

What follows thereafter is the acquaintance between Pete and Maggie, and how they began to look into Hamish's case subsequently. Maggie has been taking some notes about Hamish all this while and though she has speculations about his innocence it is only a matter of time that Hamish would convince her through the letters he sent her. 

Daisy in Chains is an extraordinary psychological thriller; one which I felt is intense and highly addictive once you started reading it. The plot and the characterisation are excellent in my opinion; and I found myself both crept out and fascinated by Hamish Wolfe at the same time. I don't think I've ever read a character very much like him. Intriguing, calm and charming, Hamish is the type of villain whom you'd feel some empathy at some point and then have you wonder if he is the man whom he claims he is. I couldn't blame Maggie if she decided to take on his case. Hamish is that kind of man - dangerous yet convincing so there are some doubts about him. 

The story also contains some articles, correspondences between Maggie and Hamish, emails between Pete and Maggie, Maggie's notes on Hamish and two psychiatric reports on Hamish; all in all which I felt add interest to the already intriguing plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I think Hamish Wolfe will probably make it onto my most-intriguing-character list this year. 

By the way, reading this book had me wondering about the fascination of some women (both fictional and in reality) towards the bad, evil men. Why is it that there are women who find them appealing? An article in Daisy in Chains (pg 82 - 83) stated: 
"It isn't hard to understand the appeal of a relationship to a man serving time. A wife, or long-term girlfriend, will be an advocate for his cause, driving forward any appeal process. A steady relationship, and its accompanying permanent address, is considered a big advantage when the possibility of parole comes up. A regular visitor will bring money, food and other desirables. Letters and phone calls provide a much-needed break from the monotony of prison life. A prisoner with a woman, especially a good-looking one, gains automatic status within the prison, and there is always the erotic frisson of stolen sexual encounters during visits.
How though, does one explain the appeal for the woman? Why would any woman commit emotionally, and legally, to a man with whom she cannot possibly build a future? Esteemed psychologist Emma Barton explains it as the modern equivalent of medieval courtly love. 'Courtly love isn't real love,' she says. 'It's a romantic ideal. The perfect suitor adores his lady, gives her unconditional love and devotion, and expects nothing in return.' ... She doesn't have sex, but she has sexual tension in abundance and, for many women, it is the thrill of expectation, rather than the act itself, which is so very delicious. Desire is never replaced by duty-sex."


Melody

Entertainer is a story revolving around music and the journey of four young lads' challenges while pursuing their dreams and most of all, an arrogant, ambitious manager who has to start his career all over again after a downfall from a prestigious entertainment company and how he has carved out a career for the four newbies in the music industry through hard work and obstacles.

Shin Suk Ho (starring Ji Sung) is the manager who used to work as a director for KTOP but rivalries and a defamatory drove him out of the biggest entertainment company. With nowhere to go and feeling dejected, he thinks he has lost all directions and motivations until he heard a song sang by a high school student, Jo Ha Neul (starring Kang Min Hyuk) through a school speaker. Moved by the song and his voice, Suk Ho decides that this young lad might be the answer for his future. 

Ha Neul, on the other hand, has decided not to sing anymore as he wants to honour his late parents' wish and on top of it he is falsely accused of sexual harassment by his female schoolmate and is now on probation by the court. He was on the verge of suicide until Suk Ho stopped him and told him that he would make him a star and that he would help him to clear his name. 

Suk Ho sets up his own entertainment company, Mango. He also found another three members to form a music band. Though Mango is small and nameless, Suk Ho manages to uphold the business and bring attention to the newly formed music band through the help of a long-time female friend and a songwriter. However, their hopes are quickly shattered as someone from KTOP wouldn't want Suk Ho to succeed and would do anything to bring them all down. 



I've to confess the main reason I was attracted to watching Entertainer is because of actor Ji Sung. I was wowed by his performance on Secret and Kill Me, Heal Me and I'd had high expectations with his latest drama. Although Entertainer didn't have too many melodrama moments and might even be considered slow paced at times, what truly makes this drama stands out is the spirits and determination of Suk Ho and his band members as well as the passion of pursuing one's dreams. There isn't many romantic moments here though Suk Ho and Ha Neul's sister, Geu Rin (starring Hyeri) do have feelings for each other and their little gestures for each other did warm one's heart (I loved it that Suk Ho treasures the green umbrella which Geu Rin gave him during his depression; and the book she gave him - Daddy-Long-Legs, kind of reminds him that they are very much like Judy and Mr John Smith and that she doesn't really care much about their age difference.) 

All in all it was quite a heart-warming, inspirational story though I wished there are more thrills and more romantic moments. Ji Sung's acting skill continues to wow viewers through Suk Ho's character; a role that reflects his zest and his remorseful feelings at the same time.


(All pic images credit to Google Images)

Melody

Sphere | May 2015 | 384 pgs
Purchased


To begin with, I Let You Go is Clare Mackintosh's debut and what a great debut it is!

On a rainy afternoon, five-year-old Jacob is on his way home with his mother and during that short moment of releasing his hand to brush the strands of wet hair from her eyes, Jacob dashes across the street on his own and out of nowhere a car comes speeding by and knocks into Jacob. The driver drives off without acknowledging anything while Jacob's mother screams in desperation and devastation. Jacob didn't live and the driver is never caught. 

What follows after is Jenna Gray has moved from Bristol to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast to start things afresh. Haunted by the accident and from the loss of her child, she is hoping that a new environment will help her escape from her painful past. 

On the other end, the hit-and-run case headed by DI Ray Stevens isn't going on smoothly and without any clues and evidence after six months the superintendent decides the case as closed. DC Kate, who is working together with Ray, thinks otherwise though and the two of them decide to pursue the case discreetly. Aside from this, Ray also feels torn between his career and his family as there are times he couldn't make time for his eldest son when there are troubles in school and this causes a strain between him and his wife, Mags.

There are many layers to this story and while this is a psychological thriller, the writing style and the plotting are unlike any others and this is one reason why I found myself so engrossed with the book. The characterisation is another great draw of the story as they are well developed and add intrigue to the overall story. I couldn't even begin to describe how many times the story caught me by surprise and how my emotions felt like a roller coaster ride. There were heart pain, anger and then sadness as I devoured those pages looking for a closure - a good closure and most of all, justice and law.

I Let You Go is a well written, well crafted story and is one of the best psychological thriller/police procedural I read this year. And oh, I need to mention that Clare Mackintosh will have a new release out in July 2016 - I See You. That would be on my to-buy list, without a doubt.