Crooked Lane Books | 8 June 2021 | 304 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 

Heather Evans returns to her old home after her mother's baffling suicide. While clearing the stuff she's discovered something alarming about her late mother and the things she'd kept - stacks of letters from the notorious serial killer, Michael Reave (a.k.a. The "Red Wolf"). Reave has been in prison for over twenty years and it seems that her late mother had been secretly corresponding with him for decades. Reave is known of his gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women although he's always protested his innocence. 

When a young woman's body is found and the modus operandi is similar to Reave's, Heather decided that she needs to find out about her mother's past and her communications with Reave. Her info sharing of her mother's correspondence with Reave with the police lands her a visit to the prison as everyone hopes that Reave will talk and hopefully shed some light on the recent murder. While Reave remains vague about his past and doesn't seem to offer anything useful relevant to the recent case, he does speak in riddles about some Grimm's fairy tales, in particularly the Red Riding Hood. As Heather communicates more with Reave, she learns that her late mother and Reave do know each other way back when they were living in Fiddler's Mill, a hippy commune in the 70s. Now Heather's biggest question is: what is the relationship between her late mother and Reave and what's her role in all these mayhem?

This story was incredibly dark and broody in some ways which suits the serial killer theme. There was a part about animal cruelty which I quickly skimmed over; and the rest was quite an atmospheric read especially some references to the Red Riding Hood and Reave's past as a boy and his relationship with a mysterious man. Despite an intriguing opening, the story was a slow burn and Heather sometimes made poor, dubious decisions that frustrate the reader. I also feel some characters are not fleshed out enough but the portrayal of Reave as a boy and how he tells his story to Heather in a mythological way was rather fascinating. I may have dived into this book with a high expectation so I was a bit disappointed with the execution and some of the characterisations which I feel would make a better read should they are more well elaborated. That said, if you're into atmospheric books then this one may be of interest to you. 
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G.P. Putnam's Sons | 3 August 2021 | 352 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 

Megan Abbott is good at writing complexity relationship in her female characters and in this book she brings her readers into the world of ballet whereby the dynamics of a family is about to change after a stranger break into their once well-constructed ties. 

Dara and Marie Durant are trained as ballet dancers since young. Their mother was once a famous ballet dancer and owned a ballet studio but an automobile accident claimed her and her husband's lives. The ballet studio is then passed on to the sisters; and together with Dara's husband, Charlie, they run the studio with the sisters as trainers and Charlie oversee the administration part. Charlie was once their mother's prized student but he'd stopped dancing after an injury. There are, of course, some challenges operating the studio and with the annual Nutcracker performance coming up, the trio feels the stress as not only do they have to make preparations but they're also a bit tight with the financials, too. When a fire broke out and destroyed part of the studio, they've no choice but to engage a contractor for the renovation. 

Enter Derek, a charming smooth talker who not only coax Charlie into signing some projects agreements but also seems to have Marie captivated. Derek's arrival has not only shaken Dara's equilibrium but also messes up the balance of their routines. Dara feels his hold on Marie has put a strain on their sisterly bond; and most of all she feels he has an agenda. As the story slowly unravel, Derek's pushover leads to the unveiling of some secrets surrounding the Durants' past, forcing them all to face a shocking truth which may crumble their worlds. 

The Turnout is one taut mystery and it consists of some issues which may unnerve the reader at times (like machoism and sexual innuendos). Megan's writing is engaging as always, and what I love most about her books is the sensitivity and the attention she put in when writing about her (female) characters and their emotions. Aside from the family dynamics and Derek's agenda, the ballet world is an interesting read too. There's a Chinese idiom: "Ten years of practice for one minute on stage", which says a lot about these ballet dancers' hard work and the pain they've to face (those pointe technique!) Although this is not my favourite Megan Abbott book, it still makes a riveting read.  
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Crooked Lane Books | 7 September 2021 | 336 pgs
Source: Publisher via NetGalley 

Fourteen years ago, Bryn Collins moved to a quiet place far away from the city in Tennessee to escape and to heal her broken heart after learning that her fiance, Sawyer, had left her for her younger sister, Del. Surrounded by nature and living like a farmer, Bryn thought she's finally found peace and has gradually let go of the past until one day, 14-year-old Josh comes knocking at her door, claiming that he is her nephew and that his mother is missing. Sawyer had passed during a plane crash accident and Josh has no one to turn to, but his mother had left him a note about his aunt in case anything happens and so here he is. 

Bryn would be lying if she admit that she isn't bothered by Sawyer's and Del's betrayal. To this day, she still didn't understand why Sawyer would do such a thing to her. She has no qualms about Del's reckless behaviours though; after all she's always been living a wild and a carefree life. As Bryn wonders about her whereabouts, she is confronted by Carl and learns that Bryn had owed him some money. Carl has always been a hoodlum since they were teenagers; and he threatens Bryn that he wouldn't let things off easily if she couldn't bring Del to him within a week. Bryn and Josh then travel across the states till they stop at Colorado, where they finally find the shocking truth amid the annual Mountain Games competition. 

Over the Falls was a slow burn despite the theme surrounding whitewater rapids and kayaking but it was still an engaging read given the much focus on the characters developments and the interactions between Bryn and Josh. Del's disappearance is the mystery and also a drive to these two characters amid their issues and insecurities in general. Although the mystery intrigued me (and yes, there are some twists as well), I was most drawn towards the growing bond between Bryn and Josh as they race against time in finding Del and the real truth behind her disappearance. 

© 2021 Melody's Reading Corner (, 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.


Bantam Press | 1 January 2021 | 387 pgs
Source: Purchased 

There's been some hype surrounding this book when it was first released. Chosen as a Reese's bookclub read and a story centers around an abandoned sanatorium turned five-star luxury hotel set in the Swiss Alps, I just knew I've to read it. 

Elin Warner is taking her leave from her job as a detective due to PTSD issue when she receives an invitation from her estranged brother, Isaac, to celebrate his engagement with his fiancée, Laure. Laure is their long-time friend and Elin knew she has no reason not to accept; and most importantly she has something to ask Isaac regarding their younger brother's death which has plagued her for years. She's suspected Isaac was responsible for Sam's death, but she isn't sure given the time and her young age when the incident happened. 

Together with Elin’s boyfriend, Will, they arrive at the isolated getaway and straightaway Elin feels unease with the atmospheric building and it gets worsen with the threatening snowstorm. Elin also learned that the hotel is owned by the Caron siblings, Lucas and Cécile and the former is friends with architect Daniel Lemaitre, who'd gone missing after the hotel project went on with much protests from the locals. When Laure goes missing the following day, Elin's investigative instincts kick in and the situation got worse after they find an employee is murdered. With the storm and the avalanche, they are left on their own and Elin has to overcome her anxiety and her demons of the past in order to continue with the investigation. 

The atmospheric and claustrophobic setting both make a wonderful plot for this locked-room mystery. Sarah Pearse scored a perfect score in this department as she brings her setting to life through her vivid descriptions right from the old sanatorium to the modern luxurious hotel. Her cast of characters is intriguing though not all are likeable. The intrigue and the intensity are another draw but alas, the setup is weakened by the execution, the lack of connection between the sanatorium and the hotel and regrettably, the motive and the ending also leave much to be desired. That said, this is a debut novel and there's potential in the author's writing so I'll still check out her next release. 

Finally, I want to thank Lark for reading this book with me as part of our buddy read 'assignments' and please do check out Lark's blog for her review, too! 😊 Here's her questions to me regarding the book:

1) That isolated snowy setting is always a favorite of mine (and yours, too), what are some of your other favorite settings to read about in books?
Aside from the isolated snowy setting, I also love reading about the wilderness and the oceanic world. In short, anything to do with the beauty and the unpredictables of nature and I'm in. 

2) The cover classifies The Sanatorium as a "Gothic thriller" but it felt less Gothic thriller and more regular mystery to me. What do you think? How would you classify this book? 
I totally agree with Lark on this. It was atmospheric but doesn't really classifies as a Gothic thriller (not much focus on the sanatorium in my opinion and some parts aren't fully explained, too). Personally, I'd think a suspense thriller is more suitable to this book. 
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Lake Union Publishing | 1 August 2018 | 268 pgs
Source: Library 

Jane is working as a data entry clerk in an insurance company. At first glance, she's simple and meek and at times, insecure about herself. Her pretty face and her personality catches the attention of the company's manager, Steven Hepsworth; and likewise Steven caught Jane's attention but for different reasons. The real Jane is hardly a meek and insecure woman. In fact, she's a self-proclaimed sociopath and before moving back to Minneapolis, she had a great career as an import-export attorney and lived in a nice apartment in Kuala Lumpur. There's only one reason she's back and leading a double life - getting revenge for her late best friend, Meg. 

Meg and Steven were a couple until his hot and cold behavior and his emotionally abusive streak led Meg to end her life. Meg's death shattered Jane's equilibrium considering how close they used to be; and this has led Jane to lose all interest in life and decided to avenge for Meg. Jane is familiar with Steven’s gaslighting antics; after all she'd heard enough of his behaviours through Meg and she felt angry that her best friend had chosen to ignore or gave reasons for Steven’s behaviours. Jane has nothing to lose as she's prepared to bring Steven down along with his family members, but her encounter with an old friend/ex-lover complicates her plans. 

Whether if it was a case of character study of Jane (yes, she does has some issues) or a story about revenge, Jane Doe made a compelling read with the developments for both the characterisations and the storyline. Jane was an intriguing character; and I liked her fearlessness and her loyalty towards her friend. Her self-proclaimed as a sociopath may not portray her in a positive light, yet it didn't deem her as an anti-heroine either the more I learnt about her. There are some topics which are difficult to read but they delve into the issues of what some women are facing in the real world. Jane will appear in another book titled Problem Child and it looks like she's met her match with her teenage niece. 
© 2021 Melody's Reading Corner (, 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.