Melody

HarperCollins Publishers | October 2016 | 400 pgs
Source: Purchased


The year is 1925. Alice Lind, a travelling psychologist, travels from her home town in Portland to a rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon, to administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren as designated by her employer, the Oregon Department of Education. Alice has always believes in the science of psychology, and that any psychological issues they face would be explored and treated through treatments and further consultations. However, her views are to be challenged by one girl.

Seven-year-old Janie O'Daire looks like any other girls her age; except she is a mathematical genius and that she claims her name was once Violet Sunday. One of Janie's account includes Violet grew up in Kansas decades earlier and that she drowned at age nineteen. Perplexed by Janie's "stories", Alice wants to believe what she has heard is no more than products of Janie's vast imagination but yet something tells her it is unlikely so. To complicate matters, Janie's parents are divorced and Janie's mother isn't helpful when it comes to seeking assistance for young Janie. She turns down all psychological help and thinks everyone views her Janie as a "nutcase" or worse, trying to get her away for some scientific research. Janie's aunt, who stays with them and is a teacher herself, is more open minded but she does has her reservation when she initially meets Alice.

Aside from Janie's excel in mathematics, Alice also found out that Janie's account tallies with all the events which her parents had jotted down on their journals since she was two; when she started to tell them snippets of who she was or what she had done in Friendly, Kansas. The strangest thing is, Janie has never travelled outside Gordon Bay once. Intrigued by Janie's stories, Alice decides to do some investigations on her own and what she found out not only changes her perspective on reincarnation but also revealing the truth surrounding her own past as well.

Yesternight was a great novel; both in the historical and mystery aspect. The story is packed with that atmospheric and foreboding feel and made me edgy throughout my reading journey. It was also a great character-driven story, given that the characters are well explored and developed, especially Janie and Alice since this book is mostly about them. Aside from this intriguing story, the author has also captured the struggles and the frustrations Alice faced whereby they are living in an era where prized female education and career are far less than we do now. It was extremely sad to see these young women's life being wasted despite their talents. Even if Alice is a successful psychologist, at times she feels small working in a field dominated by men and thus, she is always cautious about her work so that no mistake would endanger her professional reputation.

Similarly, this story reminds me a lot of a non-fiction I read six year ago. The book - Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss, is based on a true story and you can read my thoughts of this book here.


© 2016 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

Cemetery Dance Publications | August 2016 | 126 pgs
Source: Library


As the title suggests, this anthology consists of six chilling stories; in which these are entries of a short story competition run by Hodder & Stoughton and the Guardian to celebrate the publication of Stephen King's The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. These six stories are selected by Stephen King himself and he was so impressed with them that he recommended they be published in one book and here it is. 

The first story, Wild Swimming by Elodie Harper tells a harrowing tale of a lone tourist visiting a place called Vaiduoklis where it was believed that the old village there was sunk during the Soviet days. The story is written in an electronic mail format and after reading this I don't think I'd dip my toes in (let alone swimming) in any lakes (absolutely no reservoirs!), local or overseas. 

Eau-de-Eric by Manuela Saragosa is a story surrounding the relationship between a mother and daughter and the latter's obsession with a teddy named Eric, which she named after her dead father. Sounds creepy, isn't it? 

The third story, The Spots by Paul Bassett Davies revolves around a leopard and the observation as part of Maximilian's assignment. The first phase was to count the leopard's spots. Max's determination in fulfilling the task will push him forward despite the danger and readers will learn that there's something more fearful than the feline itself. 

The Unpicking by Michael Button reminds me a little of the animation film Toy Story whereas all the toys come alive but of course the similarity ends there. Out of boredom they decided on an evening's entertainment and it had led to something horrific than the other games they'd played. 

La Mort de L'Amant by Stuart Johnstone is the last second story of this anthology and it is about an encounter between an older man and a young policeman. What caught my attention to this story is the usage of a few lovely quirks of language which formed the spine of this story amid the somber mood. 

Finally, The Bear Trap by Neil Hudson is a tale about the trap a twelve-year-old boy, Calvin, laid for a threatening trespasser who barged into his father's farmhouse one day. This story has that mournful feel not only of the ash storm which had clouded over the place thereafter but also Calvin seemed to be living on his own for a year after his father left the farm to get Uncle Jake. 

Although not all of these stories fall under the "bump in the night" category, each is unique in a way and makes you think that a person's dark mind could be even scarier than those of the paranormal. I couldn't name a favourite but I've to say Wild Swimming left a deep impression on me. 


© 2016 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


Random House Children's Books | November 2016 | 384 pgs
Source: Purchased




This is a story about love, fate and the universe. Wait, you'd probably wonder: What has the universe got to do with what seems like a YA love story here? Everything. It revolves around this Earth, the connections among people, humanity, and of course the characters in this story. 

Natasha believes in science and facts, not fate. She definitely does not foresee herself meeting a boy and falling in love with him. To be in love requires chemistry between two people and that definitely falls under the science department, isn't it? But Natasha isn't worried about love and relationship, she has more things to worry; such as her family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica after her father's DUI which led them being discovered for undocumented immigrants. Natasha doesn't want to leave America; how could they when they have spent most of their time and life here, doing what everyone is and living the days as they go by. 

Daniel's parents are from South Korea but have moved to America with the help of a relative who'd been doing well for himself in NYC. Daniel and his older brother, Charlie, were born in America. Daniel has always been the family's good son, unlike Charlie. He is also a good student too; and one who live by their parents' high expectations although he does have his own dreams. But seeing Natasha changes all that. There is something about her that makes Daniel think that love at first sight (or second sight) exists and that it happens despite Natasha's skepticism. 

As Daniel and Natasha connect through their conversations, they found out that not only love is magical and involves chemistry (yep, definitely science here) but also the endless possibilities in the universe. These led them (as well as this reader) into pondering about the every moment in our lives might have brought us to a single moment which may change our life or see things in a new light. The possibilities are endless... which one would we be it? 

I also loved Nicola Yoon's insightful views when she wrote about immigrants, whether they are undocumented or not. What really makes this novel about connections is aside from the two lead characters, readers also get to know the perspectives from a few people surrounding Daniel and Natasha and how they will impact them, or vice versa. I found myself teary-eyed when I turned the final page because it was a moving story and a meaningful one as well.



© 2016 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

When I first started watching this drama I didn't know that it only has 4 episodes; still it was an enjoyable one and I wished it was much longer. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Go Ho (starring Kwon Yoo Ri) faces the struggles what many single women feel today - having a successful career and finding the right man to fall in love with. This expectation might not sound like a difficult feat but it seems Go Ho lacks of luck when these both are concerned. For starters, her job being an advertising executive often demands her time and efforts yet they aren't always rewarding. Her superior, Kang Tae Ho (starring Kim Young Kwang) is someone who demands devotion in their work and while at times she feels exhausted she still marvel at his capabilities for putting their team together. On top of it, she is still stumped by the harsh fact that her boyfriend dumped her and he couldn't give her a valid reason. 

Then things started to change when her old flame joined the company and became her new superior. Suddenly a few of her male colleagues started to look her way and trying their best to win her attention, including her ex-boyfriend and ex-superior who are rivals when it comes to meeting their sales targets. Each of these men has their strengths and flaws and Go Ho has to find the right man who would understand her and make her heart flutter at the same time. 

There isn't much melodrama when it comes to the story but for those who enjoy a sweet and romantic drama this is it. And since this is such a short drama, there isn't much room for characters development and it might seem more of an insta-love to some but at least one character has harbour his feelings towards Go Ho for a while to make their love believable. 


© 2016 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

Harlequin | August 2013 | 384 pgs
Source: Library




I enjoyed Jeannie Lin's The Sword Dancer so much so that I sought out her other books from the library. I decided on The Lotus Palace, since it features a world of the imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with the courtesans set during the Tang Dynasty, 847 AD. 

The story opens with our heroine, Yue-ying as a maidservant at the Lotus Palace which is one if the larger establishments in the pleasure quarter of the North Hamlet, also known as the Pingkang li. There are courtesans, courtesans-in-training along with their "foster mother" who make sure all things are properly care for; and of course there are also maidservants for the most well-known courtesans. Yue-ying is one to Mingyu, and she has served as her personal attendant for the past four years. Yue-ying might be a servant, but she is street-smart, practical and of course, loyal to her mistress.

Bai Huang, an aristocratic playboy frequents the Lotus Palace and although Mingyu is a beauty and is well versed with poetry and words, it is Yue-ying who has caught Huang's attention. Although Yue-ying is born with a birthmark on her face, she is by no means ashamed of her appearance for beneath her flawed mark she exudes courage and strength. After seeing countless beauties and enjoying their company, Huang knew at first glance that Yue-ying is a different girl and the more he sees her living in the shadow of the infamous Mingyu the more he finds her intriguing. When a murder happened not far away from the Lotus Palace and a well-known courtesan is killed, Huang knew something is amiss especially seeing Mingyu is fretful and that she has disappeared shortly. Huang approaches Yue-ying for her help since she is the best person to know the inside-out of the courtesans' world, but also there is this hopeful wish that he would get to know her alongside their investigations. 

Once again I found myself enticed with Jeannie's storytelling and the characters she had created in this book. The Lotus Palace has all the right blend of history, romance and mystery that would satisfy readers who enjoy historical and romance genres. I think what made this a fantastic read is aside from what mentioned above, there is the incisiveness of the social commentary and the difference of class which add some interest to the story. Most of all, I was moved by Huang's persistence and the way he sees things differently from others. He has flaws and his past might not be glory, but seeing about his progress not only raises Yue-ying's hope in him but also satisfy the readers' expectations as well. 

I think the most satisfying moment was about them working together to gather information while searching for the killer and anyone who is suspicious on their radar. This gradual unity allows them to see many things beyond them; challenging each other and making the other a better person through the different things they each encountered and sharing about their experiences. Family values are also part of the element in this story, as we see the relationship between Huang and his family and the struggles he has to go through with his father for being with Yue-ying due to their different  background. I enjoyed The Sword Dancer, but I liked this book even more. Needless to say, I'll continue to seek the rest of Jeannie Lin's books.


© 2016 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.