Melody

HarperCollins Publishers | August 2017 | 512 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss



This is my first Karin Slaughter standalone book and wow, what a compelling read! 

Twenty-eight years ago, Samantha and Charlotte Quinn witnessed the murder and death of their mother. Zach and Daniel Culpepper, who broke into their house were actually looking for the girls' father, who is also Pikeville's most well-known and notorious defence attorney. His clients involve robbers, rapists and even murderers and for this, Rusty Quinn has often received death threats but nothing is serious until this tragedy. After their mother's death, Sam and Charlie Quinn fled for their life but each meets with a different destiny as one fight back while the other escape. Nevertheless, that fateful day remains a permanent scar for both Sam and Charlie, physically and emotionally as they grown into adults and each goes on her own way. And the Quinn family is never the same, again. 

Now twenty-eight years later, like a good daughter Charlie follows Rusty's footsteps as a lawyer. Then a mass shooting incident left Pikeville in shock and in rage. Charlie isn't supposed to be at the scene, but she did and it left her traumatised by the sheer violence of it and worst of all being the first witness of the school tragedy. Kelly Wilson, the seventeen-year-old schoolgirl is found guilty for murdering the principal and an eight-year-old girl. As all evidence points to Kelly, Charlie is left with a bit of doubts as the murder weapon couldn't be found and on top of it Kelly's intellectual mind appears to be slightly lower than her peers. Faced with this tragedy which reminds her of the past, Charlie turns to her estranged elder sister, Sam. And both of them will soon discover that Kelly's case would unleash the shocking truth which destroyed their family many years ago. 

Well, let me say The Good Daughter surprised me on many levels. Not only it was a good psychological suspense filled with intrigue and twists but it was also filled with heart, too. I've to confess it wasn't an easy read either, as there was violence and it made me ache reading what happened to the young victims as well as the Quinns sisters. Ms. Slaughter knows how to craft her story well and it shows in her writing, the tone and yes, the character development (of Charlie and Sam) too as this is very much about Charlie's story alongside the mass shooting incident. Reading about the Quinns family also struck a chord of various feelings in me; first empathy followed by a wave of melancholy which left a lump in my throat towards the finishing. It is rare that a crime thriller have that kind of effect in me. I'll have to check out her other stand-alones and her series books as well. 


© 2017 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Melody

Grand Central Publishing | June 2017 | 288 pgs
Source: Library



Small Hours is Jennifer Kitses' debut novel and a compelling domestic drama that explores a couple's search for a new life and how a misstep devastates the family thereafter. 

Two years ago, Tom and Helen fled their home in New York to live in Devon; a former mill town and now an exurb. With its quiet community and away from the pressures of the city, they (especially Helen) are hopeful that this new place would give them some bliss and some peace where they could raise their young twin daughters who are three. Before the move, both Tom and Helen struggled to keep their jobs during the economy crisis but failed. Both of them eventually found something but not without a price. For Tom, a 90-minute train ride is essential for his journey to and from work aside from a demanding boss at a newswire firm. While Helen has the flexibility of working at home for her designing projects, her job often requires her to work last minute changes on short notices regardless of the hours. As they juggle between work and family, the stress begins to take a toll on them until Helen snaps over an incident on one fateful September morning. Tom, on the other hand, has been trying to keep his infidelity a few years back under wraps until it comes to a stage whereby he has to make a decision whether or not if he should let his "other family" go or to remain as part of his life. 

Small Hours is an addictive domestic drama which tells what many working parents are facing today - to find balance between work and family on top of the financial stress. However, it is also a story about secrets, bad choices and decisions and how they will destroy the fragile equilibrium of a family bliss if one is not careful. Tom and Helen, both in their early 40s which is neither too young nor too old, are stuck in a situation where they don't have many job opportunities that work in their favours. Most of all, there aren't much communications in between their busy life so it is not surprising to see one party succumbs to temptations while the other break under pressure. While there aren't twists and turns (or murder) in this novel, it was interesting (and intriguing) seeing the story unfolds through Tom's and Helen's story alternatively in a span of one fateful September day until the conclusion. It was thought-provoking in a way, and I was glad I picked this up.


© 2017 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Melody


Harvill Secker | June 2017 | 384 pgs
Source: Purchased


First of all, I want to thank Lark (Lark Writes...on books and life) for reading this book with me and it's been fun doing this buddy reading and comparing notes with her. (I'm definitely looking forward to our next buddy reading, Lark!) Without further ado, here's my review of The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. 




For seventeen years, Isa, Kate, Thea and Fatima are each occupied with their own life after leaving Salten in Reach, except for Kate. After all, Kate lives there all her life with her late father, Ambrose and her stepbrother, Luc. The old mill house by the marsh once brought these girls, who are now women, many unforgettable teenage memories. They are close like sisters, and they enjoyed their countless Lying Games which had fooled so many of their peers and adults alike but one thing is clear, which is no lying to each other. Their high school days at Salten House are full of scandals, and people steered clear of them, knowing they are liars and not to be trusted. The lies they weaved varies from harmless to shockingly ones, until an incident surrounding a mysterious death had them leave the school and they never looked back since. 

Now Isa, Thea and Fatima have put their days at Salten far behind after they left Reach, until they received a text that said "I need you" from Kate. They don't use that three little words except in direness situations, so they knew in their heart something have happened and they have to go back to Salten and to Kate to confront their past. It turns out that a human bone was found, and the police is investigating it. What really happened in Salten? And why does Kate needs them now after all those years of silence?  

If you are a fan of Ruth Ware, you would know that she has a way of building the suspense and intensity from the beginning until the truth is revealed. Though The Lying Game still has that aura of mystery and suspense, the attention here focuses more on the characters development and the tight-knit relationship and trust among the four women. It also has a strong sense of parenting love and this often shows on Isa's fussing over her six-month old baby (which I found to be a bit overwhelming at times.) 
While the pacing was a tad slow (until towards the last third of the book) and different from Ware's previous two books (In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10), the surprise at the end still threw me off and that was a good thing. Overall it was a good read and I can't wait to hear what the author has in store for her next book. 

Before ending this review, Lark and I asked each other two questions and here's my answers to her questions:

1. What did you think about this Lying Game that the girls played, and would you have played it when you were their age?
There are two forms of lies - one with an intention to deceive/harm others while the other with a well-intention purpose. And then there are some who think lying is fun, to gain attention and to see how a person would react to their false statement. Our four characters here belong to the last but they didn't realise that the lies they spun could sometimes hurt a person's reputation and worse, has led to a huge consequences. And I think they've gone too far if someone was hurt because of it. 

Truth be told, I was quite an introverted person when I was their age. Telling small lies, such as forgotten to bring our homework etc might have worked at times but I doubt we could get away if we spread something outrageous and malicious in school (during our secondary school days, everyone almost "knew" everyone on the same class level and bad news always spread the fastest, not that someone had done something really bad then.) So while telling small lies are inevitable at times (e.g. "inventing" anything to distract my daughters), I don't have the mind (or guts anyway, present or past) to play something outrageous or malicious that would hurt a person. 

2. And what makes Woman in Cabin 10 your favorite Ruth Ware novel?
I always have a thing for locked-room mystery. Woman in Cabin 10 satisfied all my reading expectations of a psychological suspense thriller. It has an unreliable character who thinks there's a murderer on board on their exclusive small cruise liner and that claustrophobic feeling with nowhere-to-run was such a thrill to read. I felt that the plot was well crafted too, and it kept me on edge throughout my reading journey. 

Please visit Lark's blog to read about her thoughts on this book and her answers to my questions. 


© 2017 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Melody

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | January 2017 | 304 pgs
Source: Library



SFPD homicide detective Gavin Cain is overseeing an exhumation work when he receives a call from his superior, Lieutenant Nagata. The casket they are digging and a cold case will have to wait. Cain has finally found something which might shed some light on the case they have been working on for years, thus he is perplexed why he is being called for until he realised it is a request from San Francisco's mayor, Harry Castelli. 

When Cain meets Harry, the latter shows him a short note and four photographs he received. The four photographs offer some depictions of what's happening when they were taken, though the actual event isn't clear and they could only speculate. But that's not all, whoever sent these stuff to Harry wants him to take his own life or worse revelations will come by the end of the week. As Harry races against time with FBI agent Karen Fischer to unravel the truth and hunt for the blackmailer, they would soon realise that there is more than meets the eye and that the casket he is digging may connect with Harry's case. 

I read Jonathan Moore's The Poison Artist a while back and was impressed by his storytelling and his writing style. The Dark Room continues his signature of the above and I've to say TDR was more tense and have a multi-layered plot which I didn't see coming from the beginning. Part suspense and part police procedural, I was hooked from the opening featuring a determined homicide detective Cain while he opened up a cold case thirty years ago. With a few pages in, the reader could tell that he is an uncorrupted cop who would not allow himself to waver and crumble under pressure, and certainly not from the powerful mayor Castelli. Aside from that, he is also a considerate and attentive lover when his girlfriend, Lucy, is concerned. One could easily see why considering Lucy was one of the victims and the only adult survivor of a school mass shooting four years ago. That incident led Lucy from a shining talented pianist to a timid woman who hides in her house 24/7. Cain's camaraderie with his two other subordinates and their investigations add intrigue to the story and I found these scenarios are just as intense as the plot as they encounter difficulties and danger as they dig deeper. I'm glad to hear his next release, The Night Market, will be released in January 2018. I'm definitely looking forward to that. 


© 2017 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Melody

Orion | November 2016 | 368 pgs
Source: Library



Lovemurder is the second book of the Valerie Hart Series and though I haven't read the first book I found myself engaged in this compelling thriller featuring San Francisco Homicide detective Valerie Hart. 

When Valerie got called to a crime scene the last thing she expect is to find herself seeing Katherine Glass again. Known for her beauty, intelligence and ruthlessness in crimes, Katherine is being convicted for six counts of assault and murder. While Katherine is put behind bars, her other accomplice known as The Man in the Mask (or 'Lucien Chastain' if that is what he is named) is still at large. The latest murder case bears all the hallmarks of the previous six victims; and as if that is not enough there is a note from Katherine's ex-accomplice addressing to Valerie with implications that sent shivers down her spine. Valerie had seen the footages of their previous crimes six years ago and till today it still haunts her. But she is a cop and to stop more killings she has no choice but to confront Katherine, again, and get her to decipher the messages which the killer has sent her.  

Lovemurder is one compelling serial killer thriller. Each character is flawed and that nothing here is all black and white. Valerie and Katherine are two interesting women who will make the reader wonder about their inner world, their personal demons and their state of mind. Valerie is a devoted detective and despite after six years Katherine still get under her skin. Katherine is an intelligent and a manipulative woman who seems to understand the fragility of a person's mind and one who knows how to make good use of it. 

Lovemurder is not only a dark, riveting thriller but also an exploration of Valerie's and Katherine's mind. Their exchanges is one of the engaging parts of this story, alongside the killer's murder attempts. Katherine's ex-accomplice, however, is more of a shadow and his identity is a mystery; and although I understand his real self would be revealed towards the end it didn't come off as a surprise to me. The plot and the characterisation are well balance so overall this book kept me on edge. I'll be interested to read the The Killing Lessons, which is the first book of the Valerie Hart Series (these two books can be read out of order since the cases are standalone). 


© 2017 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.