Melody

Scout Press | January 2017 | 304 pgs
Source: Library



I have never tried white water rafting but after having read The River at Night I have more or less understand much about this recreational outdoor activity and not to mention how challenging (and yes, dangerous) they can be especially for a novice, such as for our four protagonists in this book.

Winifred Allen's life has always been simple and quiet but she still feel crushed by the death of her younger brother and the end of a fifteen-year marriage. Her work as a graphic designer doesn't seem to be any better and when she began to feel stifled by this thing called life, her three best friends coax her into going for an outdoor adventure as a getaway for their annual girls' trip.

Pia is optimistic and a daredevil among the girls, while Rachel and Sandra are more realistic and level headed. Wini feels most connected with Sandra, partly because Sandra understands her and knows all the right words to say, unlike Pia or Rachel. While they are enthusiastic about the trip, Wini feels otherwise. She isn't sure about hiking and rafting in the remote Allagash wilderness. Pia assured her that an experienced guide would be with them and that they have nothing to worry about.

What seems like an exciting excursion suddenly becomes a nightmare after a freak accident leaves the women stranded in the wilderness without their raft and their surviving kits. As they stumble and wander deeper into the woods, they will soon find out that they are not alone. Saviours or not, the women know that they must get out of the wilderness before death gets to them.

The River at Night has all the elements I want in a thriller - actions, intensity, fear factors and not to mention a setting in the remote Maine wilderness. The author skilfully captures the voices of the four protagonists, although Wini remains the narrator throughout the story. But what really drew me in was the setting and that harrowing rafting journey; and then of course, that terrifying turn towards the conclusion (it was something out of my expectations, but didn't lessen the thrill nonetheless). I don't remember reading such a book with that kind of adrenaline rush and had me on edge from the beginning till the end. It is definitely a book not to be missed if you are a thriller reader who wants some adventures to go along with the thrill. 


© 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

Sphere | December 2016 | 407 pgs
Source: Library




How Will I Know You? may seem like any other suspense thrillers but the topics in this book are often thought-provoking and mostly revolve around families, causes and consequences and a murder case with implications pertaining to race.

In a close-knit community of a small town where everyone seems to know everyone's life, they are shaken by the news of teenage Joy Enright's death. Believed to be drown in a frozen pond, the autopsy later revealed that she was strangled first before her body was found at the edge of the pond. Her death is a mystery to all; her parents couldn't understand who would want to harm their daughter and her best friend, Harper, is puzzled over Joy's cool demeanour towards her before her death. Joy's mother, Susanne, has a little secret involving her younger teaching assistant, an African American named Martin Willett and things began to escalate quickly after he is accused for causing Joy's death.

The story's background also tells another tale of Tom, who is a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town police chief, Doug, who is in charge of Joy's case. Doug is adamant about Martin being guilty but Tom doubts his own perceptions as well as his father-in-law's belief. As the story moves along, the truth unravels towards the end will make us question everything we thought we know about the ones we love.

While this is very much a suspense thriller, I thought it was also a story about family dynamics and of perceptions which would either make or break a person. The characters here are well defined and the mystery surrounding Joy's death was a huge draw to this story as readers are well aware from the beginning that Martin is wrongly convicted but what really happened and why? I also liked how the story was told in both 'Before' and 'After' the incident, as well as Martin's narrative throughout some parts of the book, allowing readers to get into his mind and to understand what he has gone through being a person of colour. Overall it was a great read and I would be curious to find out what the author would come up with next.


© 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

HarperCollins Publishers | March 2016 | 368 pgs
Source: Library



This is a story about a dysfunctional Plumb family surrounding four adult siblings and how one accident would disrupt the normalcy of their lives and endanger their joint trust fund they called "The Nest". This lump sum was set aside by their now-deceased father; it was supposedly a conservative amount but has expectedly soared along with the stock market and each sibling would be entitled to his/her share but it wouldn't be available until Melody, the youngest sibling, turned forty. Of course their father had his own plans and principles when the time for distribution of funds is concerned; he had given a great deal of thought and believed that the trust he established would allow his children to value hard work and be financially independent before they'd received the funds too early which would in turn lead to lassitude and indolence, which he didn't want and intend to.

Each sibling has been looking forward to the day they would get the fund; after all each has his/her dreams and goals to meet and some extra money might help with their existing problems, whatever they are. Unfortunately their hopes are dashed when their eldest sibling, Leo, got into an accident and to make matters worse it involved a nineteen-year-old girl whom Leo decided to have a little fling but ended up losing her foot after the horrific accident. "The Nest" ended up in that girl's hands to keep her quiet and this causes an uproar within the siblings and creates more complexity to their already tensed relationship.

The Nest has received a variety of mixed reviews ranging from some readers' raves to a few others' rants but personally I found this to be an addictive read. The story of the Plumb family reminds us about the harsh reality of life, the foundation of a family and how trivial issues such as money could tear relationships apart. Though the story is nothing new, what made this stand out is the characterisations and the decisions they made seemed to "snowball" into something uncontrollable, which in turn made this such a compelling read (never mind some annoying characters) as each rears their ugly head. However, the direction of the story is not negative (or depressing) as one may have thought though I wished the (bittersweet) ending is... well, a bit more complete. Still, it was beautifully written and thought-provoking in many ways.


© 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

HQ | December 2016 | 384 pgs
Source: Library


The cover quoted this as The Girl on the Train meets Rear Window. As I haven't read the latter I have no idea what it is about but I did read the former and it was an intense read. With this in mind I began my reading journey with some expectations and hoping that it would surprise me and turn out nothing like TGOTT (not that it is not good, just hoping for something different) and I wasn't disappointed, at least the writing style is concerned.

Set in East London with a new-build apartment and an estate marked for demolition, we see the social divide amid the neighbourhood and the opposite feelings of some of the residents living there. However, this is not about the apartments but one particular woman named Lily Gullick. A keen birdwatcher, she loves looking for them through her binoculars at her apartment until her observation begins to shift to her neighbours. And when she sees something suspicious in a neighbouring block, she decides it's best to keep the information to herself, at least temporarily. But the following day, an elderly woman is found dead in her flat. Lily has spoken to the elderly woman once the previous night and she couldn't help but to link what she saw at the next block might have something to do with the elderly woman's death. And this prompts her to do some investigation of her own until she thinks of nothing but this unsolved case; not even her husband Aiden could deter her from doing so.

As intriguing as this may sound, I found myself disappointed with the story but first I will focus on the things I liked about this book. Lily is an unreliable narrator to start with, and as old as this may sound I haven't gotten tired of unreliable narrators, yet. They are the main thing that keep the story moving and not to mention keep readers on edge. Plus, the writing style is a bit different here. Told from Lily's perspective, the chapters read like a journal yet they connect smoothly and didn't really feel like journal entries.

Onto the disappointing note, I found the story going towards another direction and lacks credibility after reading more about it. At times I found some parts confusing but I persevere, hoping there would be a turn but sadly it still didn't spark my interest. Lily was an interesting character, but I didn't really feel connected to her (maybe in the beginning but then she got on my nerves; plus the story direction may have killed it). That said, I still find there is potential with the author's writing. This book simply wasn't a good fit to me.


© 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

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | October 2016 | 336 pgs
Source: Library




This book explores the horrors behind human trafficking, prostitution and how one night will send a family (or two) into destruction.

When Richard Chapman decides to host a bachelor party at his house for his younger brother, Philip, before his big night weeks later, he thought it'd be a night filled with entertainment and a few harmless fling among the men (well not him, he thinks). His wife and their nine-year-old daughter are off at his mother-in-law's for the weekend and he knows life will be back to normalcy come the new week. But things are not what they expect; the party has gone horribly wrong and two men are dead in Richard's living room. The two girls they have hired (so called strippers but are in fact sex slaves under a mobster's ring) are believed to have killed their Russians bodyguards before fleeing for their lives.

While we have Richard's and the full story told in third person, we also get to read about Alexandra's story through her narrative in between the chapters. Alexandra's story is a sad one; filled with her bittersweet dreams of becoming a ballerina and how she was tricked into selling her body for the sake of survival. She was fifteen when she was abducted by her late mother's ex-boss; Alexandra and her grandmother thought he was doing his late employee a favour by taking care of Alexandra's welfare. By the time they left Moscow for America (Alexandra is actually an Armenian) she realised it was all a well-planned scheme and there was no escape.

The Guest Room was a riveting read as it was fast paced and has the intensity of a thriller. There are villains here, but they are more "behind the scenes" and there is no easy or straightforward answer behind some of the issues raised in this story. I also liked how the author infused this story with some humanity and morality; while there are despicable characters, there are also characters whom you couldn't help but to feel sorry for them. As this story revolves around human trafficking and prostitution, it was heartbreaking to read about Alexandra's story (as well as a few girls who suffered the same fate as her) and how terrifying her story reflects the reality even in today's world.


© 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.