St. Martin's Press | August 2018 | 320 pgs
Source: Library

In her first installment of the Noodle Shop Mystery series (Death by Dumpling), Vivien Chien introduces us Lana Lee; an Eurasian woman who helps her family run the Ho-Lee noodle restaurant at an Asian Village in Cleveland, Ohio. When a man was found dead after consuming their noodle house's shrimp dumplings, Lana knew it was no accident considering almost everyone knew of his allergy to seafood. Worst of all, Lana was the one who delivered the food to him so she had to find out the truth surrounding his death. During the investigative course, she met detective Adam Trudeau and although they didn't admit it, they've some feelings for each other. 

In this second installment, Lana is left in charge of the restaurant while her parents left for Taiwan for an emergency family matter. She has had plans to look for a job and even landed herself an interview, and it seems she has no choice but to remain where she is. Meanwhile, she has gone on a few dates with Adam and wonder if they're officially a couple. These are what has been occupying her mind until her friend and her new husband are found dead in their souvenir shop, which is just next door to their noodle restaurant. Once again, Lana finds herself in the midst of the mystery. 

Lana knew she shouldn't meddle into the case; after all Adam did mention about his concern especially if it involves her safety but Lana knew there is more than meets the eye. She knew the couple wasn't the suicidal type and on top of it they were newlyweds so there is no reason for them doing so despite the speculations. So to find out the truth surrounding her friend’s death, Lana decides she should look around for more information. It is also at this time that two women began to show up respectively; each claiming to be the ex-wife of the dead man and they're here to settle the shop property. While Lana is skeptical about their statements, she soon finds something more about her friend’s husband which makes this case more mysterious and complicated.  

I was pleased to say that I was captivated by this series so far and Lana continues to intrigue me with her wits and her straightforward demeanour. I'm also interested to find out more about her relationship with Adam as the series go and hopefully the third installment will see both of them has moved on to the next level.  

As for the mystery plot, it wasn't fast paced as compared with thrillers as it focused more on the characters (developments) but the mystery still keep you guessing till the end. Overall it was a satisfying read and I wonder what's in store for her next installment, Murder Lo Mein

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Sphere | June 2018 | 384 pgs
Source: Library

Three Little Lies, in a nutshell, is a story between three friends, secrets and deceptions and how the past caught up to them.

Ten years ago, Ellen and Karina were best friends. Their life revolved around nothing but school and gossips, until the Monktons moved into their neighbourhood. The two girls were fascinated by their bohemian lifestyle, but most of all they were fascinated by the two boys, Daniel and Nicholas, as well as Sasha, the girl who looked about their age. The three girls became friends later, and were often invited to the Monktons' for parties. Karina had a crush on the older boy, Daniel; although the girls knew it would be nothing more than just friends. Until something happened on a fateful night that it not only tear Karina's life apart but Daniel's as well.

In present time 2017, Ellen and Sasha are working adults and they share an apartment together. They've lost touch with Karina and Daniel became a past. When Sasha has gone missing without a trace, Ellen fears the worst. Is her disappearance got to do with that fateful night so many years ago? Worst still, the police won't take Ellen's words seriously as they thought Sasha's disappearance is nothing more than a decision considering Sasha has a past of disappearing without a word. But Ellen knew Sasha and believes this is something out of the norm; but as she digs further she couldn't help but to think of the memories that held them together ten years ago. What's with the Monktons all those time and why would Sasha disappear without a trace?

I've heard that the author's first book, Friend Request, has received some good reviews and although I haven't read that book, I decided to try with this latest book of hers since it was available at the library. Perhaps I'd jumped into this with a high expectation, but I wasn't swept away by the story. The author's writing was good though, and together with the fast pacing I was able to tear through the book easily. I think the focus was much on the character developments and although this isn't the issue, I couldn't fathom the decisions made by some characters and thought things would've been different if they all aren't being swayed by reckless emotions. The twist wasn't too hard to guess, but that's probably because the suspect involved only a few people. Despite my lukewarm reaction to this, I'm still curious with Friend Request so I'll read it at some point.

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Here is a list of books I read in 2019 (sorted in alphabetical order by the author's last name.)

Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall
在没有你的世界沉睡 (Sleep in a World Without You) by Misa
秋的猫 (Autumn Cat) by Misa
总会有一天 (Would One Day) by Misa

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Penguin Publishing Group | March 2018 | 384 pgs
Source: Purchased

My blogger friend, Lark and I, decided to kick off the new year by reading Alma Katsu's The Hunger together and boy, what a good book it is! If you are familiar with the true event of the series of misfortunes and tragedy that struck the wagon train known as the Donner Party set in 1846-7, this book will interest you as it is a retelling of that historic event with a horror twist. The author mentioned that the names, locations, and dates have remained but much else has been changed to fit the story. I won't go into details of the true event on this review but if you're interested to read more, please click here

During that period, a group of ninety people, consisted of men, women and young children as well, travelled from Springfield to California via route West; each family harboured a different dream in the hope of finding a better life. Amid the travel, the disappearance and the death of a small boy rippled their once peaceful atmosphere. To make matters worse, talks about an Indian tribe that is rumoured to perform human sacrifice to appease the devil further disturb the party. Tamsen Donner, the wife of George Donner, who took up the leadership role of the wagon party, wasn't spare either as some thought of her as a witch; both in concocting herbs and/or bewitching men. Whether it was her curse, their later ill-advised choice of an untested route through uncharted terrain or just plain bad luck, they soon found themselves stuck in dire and dangerous situations where aside from their fear and hunger, human nature under desperate circumstances is equally potent in setting one against another and before long they would all head into a disastrous route of no return. 

Alma Katsu is a great storyteller. Taken the past event as the base of this story and through research and some re-imagination, she transformed the already harrowing experience of the original Donner Party into something more sinister with a horror element - something vague which question the reader what kind of horror that plagued them and pushed them to the brink of madness. Ms. Katsu's characters are fleshed out and she captured that foreboding and atmospheric feeling very well; meanwhile adding some backstory of a few characters so as to incorporate their emotions and how they will come to affect their outlook and judgement during their perilous journey. While many of the characters get more and more unlikable as the story progresses (a self-defense act I suppose), I do like one or two characters due to their characteristics. Overall it was a great read and I'd recommend this to anyone. 

Below are some questions from Lark and my answers surrounding this story. I hope you'll visit Lark's blog for her review and the Q&A after reading this post. (Thank you, Lark, for this buddy read again!) 

1. What if anything did you know about the Donner Party before you started reading this book?
I didn't know about the Donner Party until I came across this book and understand from other reviews that this was actually based on a true story. I was already fascinated by the blurb then and it was a great thing when Lark and I decided to read it for our next buddy read. Before starting the book, I Googled for more information regarding this unfortunate party and how their journey came about up till how it all ended up in tragedy. It was both so sad and horrifying. 

2. If you had to team up with 3 characters from this book in order to survive, who would you choose and why?
Without a doubt, I'd team up up with Charles Stanton, Mary Graves and Elitha Donner. I choose Charles because he was the most practical and level-headed among all the men there; and he chose to use words first than fists when there are any disagreements and confrontations. As for Mary and Elitha, I chose them because both of them are sensible and are not afraid to voice their thoughts, in particularly Mary. I've to say she's my favourite character among all.

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Penguin UK | September 2018 | 480 pgs
Source: Library

This is the eighth installment of DI Helen Grace series by M.J. Arlidge and although I haven't read any of this series, I'm glad to say it still work well enough as a standalone; though there are some past history about the characters (and/or events relating to the present) which I need to find out more to understand the whole picture. 

The story opens with DI Helen Grace trying to piece her life back together after some incidents occurred during her previous assignment. She returns to work to find there's a new addition to her Major Incident Team. DS Joseph Hudson isn't really a rookie when police work is concerned; and his transferral to Southampton actually bring some insights to the team although Helen has different thoughts. She thinks he is over enthusiastic at times but in my opinion I felt his zest adds some life to the ever so tense procedural work.  

Anyway the team is soon called out to search a campsite in a secluded woodland whereby a man is believed to have disappeared without a trace. They later found his body embedded with crossbow bolts hanging from a tree. The team has a few speculations; one of them targeted on a nomad who may have strong feelings with anyone or organisations which are against with the environmental issues. After all the victim worked for such related organisation and that nomad was once prosecuted for police assault over relating issue. Coincidence? Or something cult related judging the bodies were found? And then another victim went missing and suffered the same state, the team is sure something sinister is at work but what? 

While the MIT is busily investigating, journalist Emilia Garanita isn't free either as she tries all means to dig up info. It seems like she has a few run-ins with Helen in the past and again it is interesting for me to find out. And in spite of the length of the book, surprisingly I didn't find it as intimidating as I'd thought as aside from the engaging plot, each chapter is short so it makes for a quick read and have you turning a page, then another ... 

The interactions between Helen and Joseph (as well as the rest of the team) had me captivated throughout the book and it was a good sign considering this was my first-time read of this series. Helen is obviously a flawed character who has a past so this further fuel my interest since such characters always intrigue me, especially one who is a law enforcer. The introduction of DS Joseph Hudson adds some new perspective to the story and I'm eager to find out more about his work dynamic in future installments. As far as the mystery goes, it was never clear cut and had the reader wondering in various directions. I'll certainly check out the other installments by this author. 

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2018 is coming to an end and aside from the approaching of a new year (and making new resolutions?), that also means it's time for a reflection of the books I read and which titles have made it onto my top reads. Without further ado, here's the list of my top ten reads of 2018 (not in order):

Honorable Mention

Reading Statistics: 
Male Authors: 15
Female Authors: 52
Thriller/Suspense/Mystery: 52
Contemporary Romance: 10
Fantasy: 3
Historical: 2

Horror: 4
YA: 2

So there you have it. From the look of it, I read more thriller/suspense/mystery books than books from other genres so my reading goal next year is to have a more balanced read. I hope I can do it. 

What's your favourite books of the year? And since this will be my last post of 2018, I'd like to wish you a very Happy New Year

© 2018 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.