Gollancz | October 2019 | 480 pgs
Source: Purchased

Leigh Bardugo is a well-known author under the YA fantasy genre. This book is her adult debut and the story revolves around magic, ghosts, mysteries and secret societies mostly set at Yale University. 

Our heroine, Galaxy "Alex" Stern is an extraordinary character. She is raised by her mother single-handedly and dropped out of school early. Since young, she has the ability of seeing ghosts (or the "Grays" as referred in this story) and was cast as a misfit. The rejections and impressions from her peers led her to a state of self aversion; and this later pushed her towards the shady world of drugs. But bad things didn't stop there, she continued to encounter more dark and brutal incidents until she's given a chance to attend Yale, ironically thanks to her "special" ability. 

Yale has several secret societies and each of these eight Houses of the Veil has their own rules and regulations pertaining to their activities. The members are often yield as the future rich and powerful people; but some of the occult activities they perform might not be as simple as one thinks. The League of Lethe is formed as an oversight body for these societies' activities, monitoring the rites and practices of any societies trafficking in magic, divination or otherworldly discourse. Prior to entering Yale, Alex is assigned to a mysterious man named Darlington so as to learn some things about Lethe and the secret societies before becoming a Dante. 

But Alex's life continues to be a tough one. Now there's a dead girl on campus and Alex thinks there's more than meets the eye despite the police and campus administration's statement that her death is nothing more than her own bad misfortune. To find the truth, Alex made a pact with a Gray, and soon realise he has one mystery to unravel, too. 

Well, this book wasn't an easy read in all aspects (it's filled with many dark and some disturbing issues); and it's even harder to review as my feelings for this book is mixed. I liked the premise; and I thought the characters are intriguing but for some reason I just couldn't connect with Alex. Her life journey, especially her teenage years, was so dark and so sad. I think the main thing that got to me was the slow pacing and the world-building, though interesting, took me a while to get immersed into it. It was long and at times complicating and it was only towards the half of the book did things start to get a little more intriguing and tense but by then I couldn't wait to be done with the book. The ending left the reader with a longing for its sequel and I hope the next book will be better with a faster pace and more showing than telling.

Note: This is a scheduled post as I'm currently taking a short break off of blogging. Comments and blog-hopping will resume once I'm back from my break. Have fun and happy reading! 📚

© 2019 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.
Ashwood & Rose Llp | June 2019 | 314 pgs
Source: Authors 

I'm a fan of K-dramas; and I do listen to a few K-pop groups. Thus, when the authors of Comeback: A K-pop Novel asked if I'd like to read and review their book, I knew I couldn't pass this up. After all, this story centers around the exciting world of K-pop industry. 

Emery Jung, also known as M with rising K-pop boy group NEON, is preparing for their comeback performance when he meets a girl whom he'd lost contact two years ago. Alana Kim, stylist coordinator to girl group, LilyRed, didn't expect she'd literally run into M with a cup of hot tea. And so, their awkward chance reunion begins their journey where they'll learn more about each other alongside the ups and downs they're going through while pursuing their dreams. 

For starters, this book is not all about the fame and glam behind the entertainment industry. In fact, it dictates the realities of a life of an idol and one's self discovery and healing after experiencing the loss of a loved one. The former describes Emery, and as we know, name and fame come with a price and that's freedom. And very often, their private life is also being scrutinised and monitored. However, his biggest burden is more towards his family; whereby he feels he has disappointed his father for not going along his wishes of pursuing a business career instead of the entertainment industry in which the span of being an idol is short-lived and that anything could happen. As for Alana, her older brother's suicide has left her raw and hollow, leading her to abandon her love of music until she met Emery again. 

This book focus much on the brotherhood among the NEON members, the love struggles between Emery and Alana and most of all, the courage of pursuing one's dreams and love. The reader also gets a glimpse of the insider's K-pop industry but not so much of the Seoul setting though, which I felt a little disappointed. Nevertheless, it was still an entertaining read and I'm curious what the authors will have in store next.

© 2019 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.
Quercus | November 2018 | 416 pgs
Source: Library 

Fans of mysteries and suspense should be familiar with Elly Griffiths' Dr Ruth Galloway series and the Stephens and Mephisto series. The Stranger Diaries, however, belongs neither of these two series and is a good fit to readers who are new to her works. What's better, this story has a modern Gothic tone and has a "book within a book" concept which I'm sure the latter will appease many booklovers. 

Clare Cassidy, our main protagonist, is a single parent to a 15-year-old girl and an English teacher teaching at Talgarth High. Talgarth High has its history but the most famous among all is the story of the deceased reclusive Gothic writer, R. M. Holland, as well as his wife, Alice Avery, who is believed to have fallen to her death and whose ghost is still roaming the old building of the school at its present day. Before the school, the old building was once called Holland House and R. M. Holland actually lived in this house. Holland was famous for his short story, The Stranger. When Clare is not teaching, she'll work on the biography of R. M. Holland. She's fascinated by him as a person and not to mention his works. 

Clare and Ella Elphick are good friends and colleagues until the murder of Ella shocked the whole school and shattered Clare's world as well. To add intrigue to the murder, a note was left behind with a quote from The Stranger. DS Harbinder Kaur and DS Neil Winston are called to look into the case. To complicate matters, someone had left personal remarks on Clare's diary, indicating the possibility that the perpetrator is someone close and nearby. There are a few suspects in school, ranging from the department head to a delinquent student; all who seem to be flawed characters and have some agendas in mind. And when another dead body turns up with the same note behind, Harbinder knows she has to dig further and quickly before everything becomes a re-enacting scenes from The Stranger

The Stranger Diaries was a wonderful read in every aspects. The author has done a wonderful job in creating the Gothic tone in this well-crafted psychological suspense, despite I felt the perpetrator's motive wasn't convincing enough but nevertheless still make a good read. The creep factor was the highlight of this book and the author has skilfully input this into the atmospheric setting of the old school as well as The Stranger (which was fully disclosed at the end of the book, much to my delight). As much as this was a plot-driven story, I felt it was very much a character-driven one as well. Narrated by Clare, Harbinder and Georgia (Clare's daughter), the reader gets to read about their most inner thoughts and some of the things which the others don't know about. I've to say I was most drawn to Harbinder but she's not the type whom one would find easy to approach initially. She's sharp, perceptive and fearless. She's also living with her Punjabi parents whom I found to be down-to-earth and doting towards their two grownup children. I hope there'll be a series featuring Harbinder and Neil as they've already grown on me. 

As this is a buddy read with Lark, I hope you'll check out her review, too. (Thanks, Lark, for suggesting this book!) Below are my answers to her questions surrounding this book:

1. What did you think of R.M. Holland's short story The Stranger and how Griffiths tied it in with the rest of the novel? Do you think it added to the overall mystery?
The Stranger was an intriguing read itself, and I think the concept of tying it with the rest of the novel was both a clever and marvellous work by the author. It definitely adds some depth to the already suspenseful storyline. 

2. Clare is an avid diary writer. Have you ever kept a diary? And how would you feel if a stranger started writing in it?
I used to keep a diary when I was in primary school but it was only for a short period of time. I remember it was quite a popular trend back then but sadly, I'd outgrown it as the time passed by. To be honest, I think I'd freak out if a stranger wrote on my diary. Then again, the stranger wouldn't stand a chance as I'll keep it locked in a drawer, ha.

© 2019 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.
Century | August 2019 | 464 pgs
Source: Library 

The Family Upstairs was one dark and bizarre story about two dysfunctional families and how events and consequences will impact and alter the lives of those affected thereafter. 

The novel opens with our lead protagonist, Libby Jones, receiving a letter from a solicitor stating that she has inherited a property in Chelsea. Libby is an adopted child and she assumes it is the house her birth parents were living in when they died. Libby's life has been simple and mundane; she lives in a small flat and works in the sales department at a kitchen design company. It is no wonder the news detonated like a bomb to her. 

On the other end, Lucy is struggling to make ends meet. Being a single parent with two young children is tough, but she's a survivor and most importantly, there's someone she has waited for twenty five years and she's hoping that their path will cross one day despite all the circumstances. 

In another timeline narrated by another character called Henry during the 1980s, he shares his story with the reader about his family living at 16 Cheyne Walk and how the Thomsens family waltzed into their lives and turned their world upside down, eventually leading into a family tragedy. 

So what does these three different characters have in common and what do they've to do with one another? This is the mystery of this novel and one which I've to applaud the author for the wonderful execution and the suspense she has thrown in to her readers from the beginning till the end. The characters are wonderfully fleshed-out and you'll feel either disgusted or empathy towards some of them. 

The house and its atmosphere plays an important part to the story, too. And although it's definitely not haunted, it's the centre in which all things have arisen and ended there. There're some very dark issues here, but they're essential and are tied up to the story so while it wasn't easy to read them, without them there wouldn't be this story -- a story which had blown me away in all aspects! Highly recommended.

© 2019 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.
Swoon Reads | August 2018 | 320 pgs
Source: Library  

In the city of Morriston, there are a few superheroes who have special powers since they were young. No one knew how they've gotten their powers; but one thing they are positive about it is, they know they can always rely on these few superheroes to save them should circumstances happen. 

Abby Hamilton's view of the superheroes aren't that complicated as compared to others. To her, they're ordinary people like her. After all, her older brother, Connor, is Red Comet and she's seen all the good and the not-so-good sides of him so you can say she's kind of immuned to them. Red Comet is quite a popular superhero in Morriston and it is no wonder many teenagers idolised him, including Abby's bestie, Sarah. 

So far things are going on well until Iron Phantom appears in their city. Abby first met him through an unforgettable and a horrifying state after he'd saved her from a mugging attempt. But Iron Phantom, in the residents' eyes, is nothing but a supervillain who caused an uproar by burning city hall and then vanished (or perhaps in hiding). Abby has her doubts though, after all Iron Phantom couldn't be that bad given how he'd saved her on that fateful day. 

Back in school, Abby is excited about having a major part in a musical. It is also at this moment when Iron Phantom starts to show up randomly in her life and makes her wonder if they're in the same school. As she gets to understand more of Iron Phantom, she begins to see him more of a vigilante after he's convinced her that Morriston is under a new threat and what he'd done before is simply a diversion and he needs her help if they want to uncover the secrets surrounding the city. 

This was a fun and entertaining story but I thought the story doesn't really match the title. Iron Phantom isn't a supervillain (even the blurb stated he's a vigilante) so perhaps it's more of a metaphor and I've to admit the title is indeed eye-catching. Aside from this, the action scenes are minimal (well, except towards the end) but there are lots of interactions among the characters, thus making this more of a character-driven kind of book. There's some teenage angst and romance element added as part of the feature; and it's not hard to guess who Iron Phantom is. The concept was interesting though I wished there was more explanations given to the superheroes' powers than a hasty mention. All in all it was enjoyable but I think it'd make a more engrossing read if there was more punch to the superheroes'/villains' world and their dynamics.

© 2019 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.