Melody

Disney-Hyperion | June 2016 | 400 pgs
Source: Library


There are two sides of seventeen-year-old Arista. By day she is Lady A - a notorious blackmailer in the London city who sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events to collect and sell secrets whoever who pays the most for the information he wants. Behind her mask and lovely gowns, Arista is merely a slave to her abusive master, Bones, who had trained her to be a thief since she was five. Her partner-in-crime, Nic, is also another slave who works as her bodyguard whenever Lady A goes to her "businesses". 

Arista is then approached by Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who operates like Bones after the latter attempts to dispose her for good. Wild is well aware of Lady A's capabilities but Arista is not sure if she wants to escape from a hellhole to another hellhole despite Wild promises of split profits and freedom until he saved her from a fire in Bones' property. It seems Arista has no choice but to partner with Wild until her encounter with Grae Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant whom she has met once during her servitude to Bones. 

Grae and Arista are attracted to each other, but the former has no idea of her identity and while Arista feels sorry about her lies to Grae, it is nothing as compared to the scheme which Wild has wanted her to deal later - to infiltrate into the Sinclair's household under the disguise of a young widow in wait for Wild's instructions as the merchant has owed Wild a favour. Little does she know that the transaction she is going to deal would crush not only the Sinclairs but her future with Grae. 

Tangled Webs has an interesting premise set in 1725, London. Here we have a feisty heroine under disguise and her role as a notorious blackmailer sounds very intriguing isn't it? Alas, I've to say my excitement ends there as I felt the characters are one dimensional and underdeveloped. I liked the characters, in particularly Arista and Grae but they aren't fleshed out and I didn't feel any connection with any of them although I sympathised with Arista as well as a few others who are under Bones' grasp. The attraction between Arista and Grae seemed more like insta-love to me and while I've nothing against it, it just feels unreal to me (maybe in fiction but not in reality, I suppose). Truth be told, I think this story has potential but it fell short when characters development and story dynamic are concerned. I liked the story but it wasn't enough to wow me. 


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Melody

Penguin Publishing Group | January 2017 | 400 pgs
Source: Library



Lisa Gardner's Find Her has left a deep impression on me. Fast-paced and charged with intensity, it was also one of the most complex psychological thrillers I read in 2016. Her latest release, Right Behind You (FBI Profiler Series, #7 [which works well as a stand-alone in my opinion]) was much more intense and complex as it was multi-layered with lots of twists and turns; and heartrending moments as it involved domestic abuse and childhood trauma.

Eight years ago, Telly May Nash who was only ten, bashed his drunken father to death with a baseball bat when he threatened to kill him and his younger sister with a knife after he had stabbed their mother. Although acted out of self defense, Telly already showed signs of RAD (Reactive attachment disorder) and disproportionate display of rage growing up with two alcoholic and drugs addicted parents. The counselor finally decided that the siblings are best to go to separate foster homes, thus the bond and contact between the siblings are lost until now - a double murder at a local gas station and the police has pointed it as Telly being the shooter after his identity was caught in the security camera. It also appeared that he had murdered his foster parents before gunning another two at the gas station upon further searching by the police.

Sharlah May Nash, now thirteen years old, is adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner. Rainie used to be a law enforcer too and Sharlah loves this about her new parents because they are all experts on monsters. When Sharlah knew that her older brother is on the run after his killing spree, she struggles to recollect the memories when they were children and what he had done with that baseball bat to their father. She knew Telly is her saviour, her protector, considering that he had taken up the adult role of taking care of her when their parents were too drunk in their own stupidity. But does she really know Telly after all these years? Has he become a serial killer?

Right Behind You will be one of the most unforgettable reads for me this year. For starters, it features a pair of profilers couple instead of the detectives we've so often read and although both are law enforcers, they're more into criminology as they've to study and analyse the criminals' behaviours and their mindsets. Fugitive trackers are another profession we so rarely read in books and I was glad they're an essential part of the investigation case here. And most of all, it is a story about Telly and Sharlah and how my heart ached for them so badly reading about their sad experiences and the childhood they've been through. This book has three segment consist of Telly's and Sharlah's narrations as well as chapters told in third person. I liked the writing format as I could get into the siblings' minds, so to speak, yet I also get to analyse from an outsider's view through the third person POV.

Another feature I liked is how the story is about family and trust despite it was dark and complex. And what's an investigation without some little help from our canine friends and I've to say Luka (formerly a police dog and now beloved pet to Sharlah) was the sunshine which brought some warmth to my heart reading about those dark moments. Highly recommended.


© 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

St. Martin's Press | September 2017 | 336 pgs
Source: Library



I couldn't resist reading this third installment of Amory Ames mystery series after reading Death Wears a Mask. This novel mostly set at a manor at a quiet English countryside, Lyonsgate. 

Amory's husband, Milo, has intended to winter quietly in Italy. However, a letter from Amory's cousin has dashed their hope of visiting Italy. Laurel didn't state the reason for her urgent invitation to Lyonsgate but something in her tone intrigued Amory. Aside from Laurel and the Ames couple, there are also a few other guests who are invited as well. The manor they are staying belongs to Laurel's friend, Reginald Lyons and seven years ago, one of his guests was found dead by the frozen lake at Lyonsgate. However, this time around it isn't Reggie's idea with the invitation but the notorious socialite, Isobel Van Allen. Isobel left for Africa years ago after she published a book which shocked the British society. It was a thinly fictionalised account of what happened at Lyonsgate and the discovery of Edwin Green's death. Unlike the speculations, Edwin was murdered instead of suicide in the book and Isobel has decided to return to England to write a sequel to her scandalous first book. Whether or not if the same guests from seven years ago (with the exception of the Ames couple) have a secret to hide or they are intrigued by Isobel's comment about revealing what had happened in her upcoming book, they return to Lyonsgate with their minds full of questions.  

Alas, before Isobel could account anything more of that fateful night, she is found dead in her own room one early morning. Her manuscripts couldn't be found and it is clear that most guests aren't really sympathetic with her death, after all she isn't a likeable person and many feel she has brought her death upon herself. Beforehand Amory has already sensed the tension among the group and she is sure Isobel's death is more than meets the eye. If what Isobel claimed is true, then whoever murdered Edwin has struck again to silence Isobel. 

Once again, I found myself immersed in Amory's investigation in this third installment. Ashley Weaver always write the most interesting characters, even if some of them come off as mysterious or unlikeable. The plot was a good one, though I wished there was more developments of a few characters. I'm glad to see that the relationship between Amory and Milo has improved a lot since the second book, not that this is a spoiler since regular readers of this series will know that Milo still adores his wife in spite of his reputation as a ladies man. He is simply a natural charmer and has no devious intention against Amory; at least this is the impression I have of him and I hope it remains that way. Recommended for readers who love mystery novels with reminiscent of Agatha Christie's or Nick and Nora Charles. 


© 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

Live Up to Your Name, Dr Heo is a story between two doctors from two different time period set in the present and the Joseon period.

Heo Im (starring Kim Nam Gil) is an oriental physician well known for his acupuncture and moxibustion skills. Although his medical skills are well recognised by civilians as well as the royals, his lowly status (he is born to a concubine) often earns him much lower respect as compared to his peers despite his skills is the best among all. However, his fate is about to change when he accidentally finds himself travels through time to present Seoul.

Choi Yeon Kyung (starring Kim Ah Joong) is a cardiac surgery third year resident who only believes in modern medicine despite her grandfather is an acupuncturist. Emotionally scarred by her father's accident when she was a child, she vows to become a doctor so she could save people's lives. Her initial encounter with Heo Im was full of misunderstandings and mistrust as their personalities and ideologies in medicine clash. However as the time goes by, she begins to see him in a new light and their love blossoms. But Heo Im doesn't stay in Seoul forever; he has a help mission he hasn't accomplished in Joseon and he accidentally found out that by impaling pain to his body or a narrow escape from death he could be able to time travel to and from Joseon. And this time around he wants to remedy his past mistakes and to prove his worth even though there's a war with Japan and that he might never return to the modern day for good.


I was totally immersed in this time travel medical drama. I loved the premise and thought it was rather refreshing to see the cross between oriental and modern medicine and how each works differently yet effectively according to each patient's health condition and considering the circumstances. I may not be a huge fan of time travel genre but I thought this was quite well done, with a balance between medicine, time travel and romance. I liked the overall concept of the old versus new (referring to the time period here) and likewise the traditional medicine versus modern medicine in this package, and finally not forgetting the age-old definition of love and the compassion for humankind.


© 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

St. Martin's Press | September 2016 | 336 pgs
Source: Library



I really enjoyed reading Ashley Weaver's debut mystery, Murder at the Brightwell, which was set in the heart of 1930s high society London. In that novel, Amory Ames has successfully solved a mystery with some assistance from her charismatic husband, Milo, who is also known to be a ladies' man. After what happened at Brightwell Hotel and the things they'd gone through together, Amory is looking forward to reconnecting with Milo but soon find herself drawn into another investigation, hence this book is it.

When Serena Barrington, an old friend of Amory's mother, invited Amory for a dinner at her house one evening, Amory knew she couldn't turn Mrs Barrington down considering her insistence and the fact that they have not crossed paths in years. It soon became clear that Mrs Barrington needs Amory's help to look into the disappearance of her valuable jewelry which have gone missing at a dinner party. With a few regular guests always being invited at Mrs Barrington's parties, she has absolutely no idea who would be the culprit unless they lay a trap to lure him or her out.

With the notorious Viscount Dunmore hosting a lavish masked ball at his house, Mrs Barrington and Amory decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to set their plan in motion. However, before they could lure the thief they are all aghast to discover that one of the party guests is murdered. Is the murder connected to the thievery? Amory intends to find that out herself, together with her old ally, Detective Inspector Jones, whom she knew since the Brightwell case. Meanwhile, she has also caught the attention of Viscount Dunmore as he tries to court her persistently while at the same time rumors about Milo and a French film star begin to swirl around the society.

With the Golden Age mystery elements and a spunky heroine as the draw to this series, I was also enchanted by the author's writing style and her storytelling as she creates intriguing characters and compelling scenarios in each of her book. While I was curious by the mystery, I was also concerned about the relationship between Amory and Milo as the latter often leave Amory with doubts of his faith and love, although to be fair he does show his care and affection towards her at the most unexpected circumstances. Like Amory, I was quite perplexed by Milo's unpredictable state of mind at times but I suspected that this mysterious side of him would come to light eventually as the series progresses. This is a delightful and an addictive series I have come to love the more I read them.

Series in order (though each works as a stand-alone):
Murder at the Brightwell #1
Death Wears a Mask #2
A Most Novel Revenge #3 (Review forthcoming)
The Essence of Malice #4 


© 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.