Melody

Atria Books | 4 May 2021 | 384 pgs
Source: Library 

48-year-old Jennifer Barnes receives the most shocking news when she goes for her doctor’s appointment after a series of symptoms that's plagued her for months. She has glioblastoma - a brain cancer and that she has only six weeks left to live. The test result reported that there's a high dose of lead in her blood and that this may have already started a year ago as the tumor started to spread gradually. 

While Jennifer is reeling from the news, she's also curious about how the lead got into her body in the first place. She knew that plumbing that contains lead can contaminate water, or they could be leached into food or drinks as well. Jennifer could only suspect her husband because he's been pestering her for a divorce for a while and she didn't give in to his request. It isn't that she still has feelings for him, she's just angry that he has had an affair and he's leaving her for a much younger woman. 

Her adult triplets, on the other hand, took the news differently. Emily is the eldest and a fraternal triplet unlike Aline and Miranda. Emily has her own family and issues but she's willing to stand by her mother's side physically and emotionally. Aline and Miranda aren't close with their mother, but Aline agrees to look into the lead issue (she's in bio research field) and even the imprudent Miranda moves into Jennifer's house although one might wonder about her reason and think of her financial difficulties. But despite everything, the daughters feel that Jennifer is being paranoid in doubting their father, and this leads Jennifer wondering if her condition has worsened as she starts imagining things. Or is it not? 

I've read and enjoyed a few of Catherine McKenzie's previous novels so I was excited to read this latest book but regrettably I didn't feel the same thrill and excitement I'd had with her other books. To begin with, I didn't feel any connection with the characters. Perhaps they're all unlikeable characters, but still Jennifer's sensitive role didn't allow me to fully empathise with her either and I think it might be more or less to do with her voice in this story. While I understand this is more of a domestic drama than a psychological thriller, I was fazed as well as saddened by the dynamics of this (dysfunctional) family. Unfortunately, I couldn't discuss the issue without spoiling the story but nevertheless, this still made an interesting read based on the identities and characteristics of the characters. Although this book isn't a favourite, I'd still look out for McKenzie's future releases. 
© 2021 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

Michael Joseph | 21 January 2021 | 400 pgs
Source: Purchased 

If anyone ask me how would I describe C.J. Tudor's books, I'd say they're brooding and foreboding; and that she sure knows how to get her readers invested in the characters she's created. 

The Burning Girls started with a bang with an explosive prologue which the reader will soon know it's a flashback. What follows thereafter is our protagonist, Reverend Jack Brooks learning that she has to transfer to a small church in Chapel Croft until they've found a replacement. Jack doesn't want to go, partly of her 15-year-old daughter Flo, but they've given her no choice. 

Jack and Flo soon learn that Chapel Croft is far more than a quiet English countryside and it has a dark history surrounding the Sussex Martyrs during the religious persecutions of Queen Mary in 1556; whereby eight villagers were burnt at the stake, including two young girls. Each year on the anniversary of the purge, the residents will set alight of some small twig dolls they called Burning Girls to commemorate and honour the martyrs who died. As much as Jack is intrigued by this age-old tradition, she's more concerned about the suicide of her predecessor, Reverend Fletcher and the disappearance case of two young girls thirty years ago. No one knows what happened to Merry and Joy after all these time, but the residents assume that they'd simply run away from home and have gradually accepted their disappearance. 

As Jack and Flo try to adjust to their new life in this close-knit community, bad things start to happen. For starters, someone is sending her mysterious twig dolls, then Flo claims she's seen the apparitions of the burning girls in the chapel. And of course, the question that plagued Jack regarding Reverend Fletcher's suicide and why no one wants to talk about it. As much as Jack wants to find out the truth, she's also concerned about Flo's safety and well-being especially with her interactions with two teenage delinquents and a guy whom Flo just got acquainted with. And then, there's someone from Jack's past whom she tries to avoid has come to Chapel Croft for her.  

As you can see, there are multiple layers and subplots to this pacey story and despite the various threads Tudor has laid out, the conclusion was nicely tied up in a bow. The atmospheric setting was well done - from the creepy old chapel to an abandoned old building in the woods filled with graffiti of various evil symbols. The portrayal of the characters are vivid and believable; and I liked how Tudor created Reverend Jack Brooks to be a flawed, complex character with strength and weaknesses, as well as her role as both a (woman) vicar and a mother with different perspectives. Without saying more, this was an intense and a riveting suspense which I'm sure would thrill Tudor's fans and gain new readers as well. 

Last but not least, I want to thank Lark for reading this book with me as part of our buddy read "assignments". Please visit her blog for her review and the Q&A. Here's her questions to me:

1. This is the second book by C.J. Tudor that we've read together--which one did you like better, The Chalk Man or The Burning Girls? Why?
I enjoyed both of the books, but I think I loved this one a bit more because of the atmospheric setting, the characters (in particularly Reverend Jack Brooks and Flo) and the various genres/issues implemented into this story. (Click here for Chalk Man review.)

2. How do you feel about the role that the legend of the burning girls played in this novel? (Too much, or not enough?)
I'd expected that there'd be more backstory of the legend of the burning girls, but regrettably there aren't much elaborations about them as I thought the martyrdom might add more intrigue and depth to this story. Then again, this is only a part of Chapel Croft history and not the main core of the story so I'd let this pass. 😉

© 2021 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 | 7 September 2021 | 288 pgs
Source: Publisher via NetGalley 

I enjoyed Christopher Swann's previous novel (Never Turn Back) so much so that I requested this book after seeing that it's his latest release. 

Part suspense and part spy thriller, this story revolves around a retired history professor finding retreat in an isolated North Carolina mountains after the death of his wife and how his quiet life is turned upside down when a teenage girl barges into his life one day and claims that she is his niece. 

Nick Anthony has not been in contact with his younger brother for years and their relationship is gradually explained as the story progresses. Despite the distance, he is still shocked when he learns that his estranged brother and sister-in-law died in a house fire and that he has a niece who's managed to find him amid everything else. Annalise couldn't trust anyone, but she knew that she should seek her uncle's help especially learning that her parents' death wasn't an accident and the mysterious information she was told to pass on to her uncle before their death. And on top of it, she's being pursued by a bunch of hired private military contractors for the piece of information she's carrying. Nick doesn't know what kind of business and who his late brother had been dealing with, but he's adamant to find out about his hidden past as well as to protect Annalise from any harm. But what the reader didn't know is, Nick has his own hidden past, too. 

While the plot isn't new, I've to say I enjoyed reading about Nick as the main character and his relationship with Annalise. There are, of course, some intense moments and the cat-and-mouse chase but surprisingly, I was more focused on the interactions between uncle and niece; and Annalise for her courage and her fighting spirit. I liked this book but not as much as Never Turn Back but overall it was still a satisfying read.

© 2021 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

 

Michael Joseph | 7 January 2021 | 320 pgs
Source: Purchased 

For starters, it's hard to read this book, let alone writing my thoughts. The story is dark and unsettling; yet one couldn't avoid looking at some of the issues raised.

As a girl, Blythe Connor is raised lacking warmth and attention from her mother, Cecilia. Now that she'd grown up and married, she's aiming to be a woman unlike her mother and most importantly, she doesn't want sad history to repeat itself. After Violet is born, she makes sure she gives enough love and attention to Violet. She's sure nothing would go wrong if she's doing all the right things to her first child and hopefully, Violet would grow up to be a happy and healthy girl unlike her unhappy past. 

As the days go by, Blythe soon notices that there's something about Violet that she can't put her finger on it. Her husband, Fox, thinks otherwise and believes that Blythe is either imagining things or motherhood is tiring her out. As Blythe thinks about Violet's characteristics, she also couldn't help wondering about her childhood life as well as the mental wellness and upbringing of the women in her family heritage. Her grandmother, Etta, suffered from mental illness and as a result, Cecilia was raised without much mother's love and this in turn, affects Blythe’s life growing up. Blythe begins questioning herself if she's following the path of the women of her family generations - that they couldn't and didn't have the capacity of filling the role of a mother. Or perhaps as what she fears, there's really something wrong with Violet? 

Unreliable narrator. Motherhood. Nature versus nurture. These are the few elements that nudged at my mind as I read the book and the more I read, I felt a sense of dread, unease and sorrow as well. Blythe was a complex character; and of course this extends to Violet as well as I didn't know what's really in that little mind of hers. Is she capable of doing bad things, or if genes and characteristics could pass down from generations, affecting one's role of being a mother? And then, there's the issues of expectations and stereotypical role as a mother. How do one look at motherhood and is there even a right or wrong way of bringing up a child? 

There's so much to talk about this book and I could see why there's so much hype surrounding it when it was released. Perhaps it's just me, but I didn't quite like the storytelling style which was written in second person narrative. Although there's some interpretations of Cecilia's life in between chapters, there's no indication of what's past and present though to the author's credit, it wasn't hard to figure so it's simply a personal view/preference. Overall it was a thought-provoking read and I could see this as a good fit for discussions. 
© 2021 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

Hello my dear readers! To begin with, I'm so sorry that my posts have been sparse lately. This applies the same to my blog hopping and commenting and for these I want to say sorry, too. Life has been hectic and it seems like this has somewhat affected my reading momentum in some way. Of course, there're also some personal stuff that was taking away my attention and I just want to say, never underestimate the small mundane things that we're taking for granted. No, there's nothing wrong with my health although I'd be thankful if my usual old problems will just go away, ha. Now that I've got these off my plate, let me share with you what I've been reading lately.

I'd finished reading Ling Jing's (įŽ­č) first installment of her new series (林投åŠŦ) featuring a variety of supernatural characters. I loved her two urban legends series and although I was sad to see they'd come to an end, it was good to see Ling Jing has quickly started on a new series; this time around surrounding a family of supernatural characters (humans included) helping to solve some mysterious cases. Like the urban legends series, the author would base from the origins and have the story twisted accordingly to her imaginations. This first installment revolves around a woman who was murdered but was led to believe as a suicidal hanging case. The fiction then extend its plot by recreating her character as a ghost seeking for truth and revenge. And that's where the family will come in as they'll help to solve the case, but they'd not meddle with fate and any karmic forces which may link to the victim and the perpetrator. I like the idea of this new series and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more. 


I'm currently reading The Push by Ashley Audrain and it's an absorbing read about the exploration of motherhood. While there's psychological and family drama, I'd say this is more of a case of characters study as well as the values, expectations and challenges of women becoming mothers. I can't say more as I'm only into half of the book, but it's definitely a powerful and a thought-provoking book that fits for discussions. 


My library visits have become an irregular routine since the safety regulations often change as and when accordingly to current situation, thus I'm currently turning my attention more to my TBR pile and book acquisitions although I'll still borrow books whenever I can. Here are some of my recent book buys: Hostage by Clare Mackintosh, The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon, Beneath Devil's Bridge by Loreth Anne White and The Boys' Club by Erica Katz. 

Hope you've a great day and happy reading! 


© 2021 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.