Melody

St. Martin's Press | October 2017 | 384 pgs
Source: Library



This story is set in the 1940s between Hickory, North Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland where the people are affected by the WWII and many of their young men were sent to fight the war. With their life restraint with food and gas rations, they all try their very best to get by while hoping that the war would end quickly with victory. This is the backdrop of the story and at its heart of it is twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello and her journey as one mistake has altered her life forever. 

Tess is living with her mother in a little Italian neighbourhood in Baltimore. The DeMellos and the Russo family have known each other for years and Tess is engaged with Vincent Russo and they are planning for their wedding once Vincent has his own pediatric practice and Tess has graduated from nursing school. Both of them have been hanging on to these dreams until Vincent is sent to Chicago to help with the infantile paralysis epidemic there. A couple of weeks he has promised has turned to months, and while Tess has been understanding all this while she couldn't help feeling a little insecure given this difficult time with minimal communication. When her best friend suggested a short trip to Washington as a break, she decided to give it a go after much thought but an evening of drinks has turned her life upside down. 

Pregnant and filled with guilt, Tess decided to end her engagement with Vincent. She fled to Hickory, North Carolina without telling anyone except her best friend and her mother, hoping that the baby's father would offer her some financial assistance. To her surprise, Henry Kraft offered her marriage and she agreed, after all what does she has to lose? But living in the small, rural town in Hickory isn't easy. Many of the Hickory residents treat Tess like an outsider despite they all admire and respect Henry. The Krafts own a family furniture factory and while Tess doesn't have to worry about her life financially, she feels unhappy and trapped in the marriage with Henry treating her like a stranger. Most of all, he is secretive and often stays out all night. Tess also finds some stacks of money hidden in their bedroom by chance and begins to question herself about the man she married. Henry seems like an honorable man but is it simply an act? And most of all, what is he hiding away from her? 

The Stolen Marriage isn't a psychological suspense or a crime thriller although there is an element of mystery interwoven in the story. The author has done a great job in her research and setting up the story and issues like interracial marriage, out of wedlock pregnancy as well as the polio epidemic are some of the difficulties faced during that time period and I could imagine what it was like living in the 1940s. The characters are well developed and fleshed out and I couldn't help but feeling emotionally invested while reading about Tess's journey. The ending surprised me but it was a good closure, though. All in all it was an addictive read and I'll be sure to check out the other books by this author.  


© 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

A grim reaper and a woman who is able to foresee death; toss in with a few complicated murder cases and that is Black. Yes, these about sum up what this drama is about and I have to say I enjoyed this drama immensely.

Black (starring Song Seung-heon) is a grim reaper whose soul has taken over the dead body of a detective, Han Moo-gang. Also known as reaper 444, Black is known to be cold-hearted and ruthless in the underworld. Why his soul possessed Moo-gang's body remains a mystery but is also part of its core of the story as it slowly unfolds.

Go Ara played as the woman who could foresee death by the dark shadows surrounding the victims' bodies. Kang Ha-ram has had this ability since young and she sees this more as a curse than a blessing. After losing her father and with a mother who doesn't show her enough attention, Ha-ram lives alone and with a pair of sunglasses as her companion, her life is a simple one as long as she pretends she doesn't see all those dark shadows around her and that she minds her own business. Her peace of mind is shattered after knowing the death of her teenaged crush, Moo-gang.

What follows is Black having to get used to the mortal world and engaging Ha-ram as "his eyes" so he could locate other lost roaming souls. Ha-ram, on the other end, is happy enough to see Moo-gang is back on his feet again although he seems cold and distant towards her. As the duo work together, the crime squad has a few cases on their hands which Black later discovered are connected to Moo-gang's and Ha-ram's childhood.

What I loved about this drama is because it has all the elements I love - fantasy theme, intricate suspense plots and last but not least, romance. The story is well crafted and there are lots of twists and turns when the murder cases are concerned and what amazed me is while each of the case seems isolated (and mind-boggling at times), they are all linked nicely towards the end. And I especially enjoyed the tender moments between Black and Ha-ram; Black may be in denial over their so-called relationship but his concern and his actions speak volumes and I think it is romantic despite their exchanges stated otherwise. All in all it was a great fantasy and suspense drama alongside a great cast of characters. I was sorry to see it ended and would have given this a 5-star rating if the ending was better explained but nevertheless still a satisfying one. 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

Crooked Lane Books | September 2017 | 288 pgs
Source: Library


Liza Cole is a suspense thriller novelist and was once hailed as a promising author after one of her books became an international bestseller. Unfortunately, her subsequent books didn't sell as well as all have hoped and Liza could only think of these two things which are constantly on her mind - her wish to be pregnant and the disappearance of Nick Landau, her husband's best friend and law partner. David, her husband, seems distraught over Nick's disappearance and as much as he supports Liza undergoing a fertility treatment, his mind and attention aren't entirely focused on her and she knew that. Meanwhile, Liza is also pressurised from her editor to write a book that could land her back on the bestseller list and her deadline is approaching. With so many things on her mind, Liza begins to find escape and comfort in Beth, her latest heroine of her book. 

Beth is a new mother and she suspects her husband, Jake, is cheating on her while she is home caring for their newborn, Victoria. Jake, on the other hand, feels Beth is experiencing postpartum depression and booked her an appointment to see a psychiatrist. While Beth continues to spy and stalk on her husband's lover once she has found out he has an affair, she couldn't resist being attracted by her psychiatrist. Although she still loves Jake, she couldn't help feeling a bit triumph that she could play at this game, too. Still, she couldn't get her husband's lover off her mind and she decided that murdering her is the only way that could solve the problem. 

While Liza and Beth are two different women with different characteristics, Liza soon finds herself get caught up by Beth's story until the lines between reality and fiction blur. Meanwhile, Nick's body is finally found in a river with David labelled as a suspect. Liza knows she has lots of questions concerning the few people surrounding her, including herself, which may lead up to the truth of Nick's death and she has to find the answers quickly; just like Beth has to find a resolution to her committing a murder. 

Without revealing too much, all I can say is my emotions were going everywhere reading this mind-bending novel within a novel. It was gripping and intense, and both stories were also well executed with each story being told alternatively. Readers who worry that they might get confused would be glad to know that the fonts differ with the two stories and that Liza's story always have her name printed in the beginning of each chapter. 

As much as this is a psychological thriller, I can also say that this story is a case of characters study as well, as Liza and Beth have their flaws and they keep me wondering throughout the book. It is not hard to figure out the truth once you have your mind set on the story, though to be fair I think the author has left enough clues for her readers. This is a well constructed suspense with two parallel stories which left me thinking about it long after the book is closed. 


© 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

Holiday House Publishing | September 2017 | 400 pgs
Source: Library



Set in a near-future society (in this case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where mixing human DNAs with animals genes is used to be a norm, fashionable statement but is now considered as an unrecognised act and a violation against humanhood. This genetic transformation through injections of the animal's genes to the human's body is called Spliced and those who are spliced are called Chimeras. They often bear some characteristics of the animal of its genes they are affected, if not by its appearance, e.g. having a faint coat of fur on parts of their body or having a different skin tone and texture, etc. Still, they are humans overall, just that they are something different. 

Sixteen-year-old Jimi and her best friend, Del, have known each other since they were children. Jimi lives with her mother and her elder brother, Kelvin. Her father had passed due to a flu pandemic and Del lives with his father, who is a cop and he could get abusive at times. They are all aware of the chimeras; and most of them steer clear of them to avoid any trouble. At that time a law for the Genetic Heritage Act (GHA) hasn't been passed and as long as they keep their distance from each other they are safe. 

Del, on the other hand, thinks the idea of being a chimera is cool. He still misses his dead pet salamander and as the days go the thought of getting himself spliced grows. Although Jimi sympathises the chimeras and the contempt they are receiving, she still doesn't understand why Del is obsessed with the idea until one day Del goes missing and it struck her that Del's relationship with his father has worsen and she fears he may get himself spliced to spite his father, considering the latter harbours strong negative feelings towards the chimeras. Jimi's search for Del intensifies as the story progresses and she befriends a few chimeras along the way through a few mishaps which has made her think differently of them and humanhood as a whole. By then, the law for the GHA has passed and the chimeras are no longer viewed as humans. In short, they have lost all the rights of a person and are viewed as mixies, or even animals. Given this circumstances, humans have the right to discriminate or mistreat them and it fuels Jimi's determination in searching Del, with the help of her new friends. 
"...what's so great about being one hundred percent human anyway? You look at what humans do to each other, what they do to chimeras and to animals and to the planet. Chimeras are people, regardless of any law, but for some of us, 'human' just isn't a club we want to be a part of." ~ Pg 104
"I never meant to leave humanity, and I don't think I did. To me, being a chimera is about more fully joining the rest of the world, not about being any less of a human. And it's about being able to choose who and what you want to be." ~ Pg 239

Intense and emotionally driven, Spliced allows readers to imagine the future world of the genetics engineering and most importantly, the meaning of humanity. The characters are fleshed out and developed and I found myself cared for some characters the more I got to know them. The first part of the story focused much on the friendship between Jimi and Del, as well as the uncertainties and the tension between the residents and the chimeras. The second part sped up and focus more on the interactions between Jimi and her new friends, their search for Del and lastly, the risk and the challenge they have to face with the chimeras haters, who would do anything to wipe them out. 

While reading this book, it occurred to me how timely this story is with the underlying tone of bias and the subject of discrimination. I rooted for Jimi all the way; for her courage, her fierce determination in searching for Del and lastly, her compassion and her protectiveness in her new friends, the chimeras as a whole. There is a small twist I certainly didn't see at the end, but it didn't alter my overall view of the story. Although it seems to have a closure, I'm hoping there is a sequel to it. 
"Humanity isn't about DNA. It's about kindness and decency and treating others with compassion. ... It's time to stop bickering about who is a person, who qualifies as human and remember what it means to be human at all." ~ Pg 352

Note: Jon McGoran has written several thrillers for adults and this is his first book for young adults. He has also written a few books under pen name, D. H. Dublin.


© 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

Simon & Schuster | April 2017 | 336 pgs
Source: Library



I've always love reading a locked-room mystery and what's more the setting of this story is in a luxurious cruise, Queen Charlotte, which is on its maiden voyage to Southampton. 

At its core of this story is the murder of eighty-six-year-old Lady Emily Haywood and a priceless Cleopatra emerald necklace, which, according to legend, places a deadly curse on whoever brings it to sea. Before Lady Em set her foot on board the cruise, she'd already made known to whoever's concerned that she'd be wearing the necklace. Although it was bought by her late husband, it is also a known fact that the necklace was a tomb loot. Lady Em had then decided to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution after giving some thoughts about it and it seems there wouldn't be such a case considering the circumstances.

On board the luxurious cruise are several passengers who are connected to Lady Em in some ways; they're her personal assistant who's been working with her for twenty years, as well as her financial adviser whom she has known so well due to a long working relationship with his family, beginning with his grandfather. There're also some passengers who are on board either thanks to a stroke of luck (like winning a lottery or winning a church raffle) or some simply conducting some lectures engaged by the entertainment director for the cruise trip. These are people from all walks of life and although each projects a respectable demeanour, some of these passengers harbour a secret and most importantly, they've a hidden agenda and their personal evil goal to fulfill until the death of Lady Em ruined their plans. To complicate matters, there's also the ship owner who intends to keep things quiet since he has invested lots of money and efforts in publicising Queen Charlotte, which is believed to have outdone the splendour of Titanic minus the ill-fated tragedy, that is. 

Unfolding over the course of six days on board the cruise, this is an addictive mystery filled with intrigue and a cast of unlikeable characters who would make you doubt their credibility as the story unfolds. While the mystery itself is intriguing, it is actually the characters who stand out the most in its entirety and I'd had a fun time analyzing them alongside with my guesses. 


© 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.