As the year comes to a close, I took a look back at the books I read and remember those reading moments which evoked various emotions in me. There are some excellent books which left me in thoughts till present, and there are some not-so-good books that I wished I'd liked them better but glad that I read them nonetheless. Without further ado, here is a list of my top reads this year (sequence not in any order and not necessarily published in 2016):

The Trespasser by Tana French
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
I See You by Clare MacKintosh
Yesternight by Cat Winters
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen
Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton
Redemption Road by John Hart
The Longest Night by Andria Williams
The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Favourite Cover:
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

New-to-Me Authors I discovered and liked this year:
Dani Atkins, Tammy Cohen, Jeannette de Beauvoir, John Hart, Jeannie Lin, Clare Mackintosh, Gilly MacMillan, Emily St. John Mandel, Nicole Mones, Naomi Novik, Andria Williams, Ashley Weaver and Cat Winters

Summary Stats:

Total Number of Books Read: 64
Total Number of Female Authors: 48
Total Number of Male Authors: 9
Total Mystery/Thriller: 35
Total YA: 9
Total Historical/Fiction: 13
Total Graphic Novel: 3
Total Romance: 4

Happy New Year & Happy Reading! 

© 2016 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.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | July 2016 | 288 pgs
Source: Library

Eight years ago, Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her own bedroom when she was thirteen years old. Her mother, Anna, was unaware of the kidnapping as she was sleeping downstairs. Jane, who was ten then was the only witness but given her age and her confused state of mind due to shock, it is natural to dismiss what she witnessed as unreliable. Julie is never found and the Whitakers started to move on with their life slowly until one day a young woman knocks on their door. Julie seems to be miraculously alive and is now back home, finally. As Anna tries to reconnect with Julie she begins to find loopholes and her lies. When a former detective turned private eye starts contacting Anna and shares with her some information he has gathered, Anna begins to wonder about Julie's identity and what does she wants from them if she is not their daughter. 

Good as Gone has a great intrigue opening with the fateful night of Julie's kidnapping. The story then progresses with the Whitakers picking up their life and focuses on Anna's sorrow and guilt despite eight years have passed. While Anna's husband, Tom, is ecstatic and his faith in Julie never wavers after they have found her, Anna begins to show signs of doubts and unease. It is this moment when the author begins to play with Anna's mind as well as the readers. Anna's perspective begins to intertwine with a various of flashbacks which would lead readers into wondering if Julie is who she claims she is. Personally I felt it was a good concept but the writing style was a bit tricky but if you break away from the story for a while and think about it, it is not difficult to figure out the whole picture. 

I couldn't say this is a fully suspenseful story though and is more to unlocking-a-mystery kind of story with a family dynamics theme as background. This book will also question readers how well they know their family members and that some things may not seem as what they are. There are some scenarios which I found to be a bit unbelievable, but I presume this was the author's intention to create more intensity and mystery to the storyline. I enjoyed reading the book, but it wasn't enough to captivate me from the suspenseful angle. 

© 2016 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.

Entourage is a remake of the U.S. drama series of the same title, with South Korea's tvN bought publication rights in 2015. 

Basically, this is a story about the entertainment industry and how this industry works from the top rank down to staffs who run odd jobs. 

The core characters include five men with different ranks and backgrounds. Cha Young-Bin (starring Seo Kang-Joon) is a rising star actor and is working very hard to clinch more movie contracts that could make him famous. Staying under the same roof with him is his three other friends who have known one another since young. Ho-Jin (starring Park Jung-Min) is now Young-Bin's manager and his life revolves mostly around Young-Bin. Cha Joon (starring Lee Kwang-Soo) is Young-Bin's cousin and an actor who is struggling to make a name for himself but often being duped by many for his stupidity. Geo-Book "Turtle" (starring Lee Dong-Hwi) is unemployed and spends most of his time playing online games; he spends most of his time with Cha Joon since both of them seem to have nothing much to do. Kim Eun-Gab (starring Cho Jin-Woong) is CEO of a management company and Young-Bin is one of his treasured actors. 

As I haven't watched the U.S. version I couldn't comment anything about it but this remake is not a drama which I think would appeal to all. This black comedy drama, aside from the entertainment industry, focus much of its attention on men's friendship (there are some occasional swearing and rude gestures but not too much that would bother me) as well as the tension between managers and staff. There is little romance so if you are going for that you'd be disappointed. Despite these, I quite enjoyed this drama although it took me a while to warm up to the characters. Young-Bin was charming yet at times I found him to be a bit indecisive, thus missing a few contracts. Ho-Jin was a great manager who put Young-Bin above himself; I think he was the only one person whom I really like if I've to choose among others. Cha Joon and Turtle, though funny, they sometimes gave people the impression that they are good-for-nothing. That said, they are also the ones who brought out the most laughter amid everything. 

Overall it was an interesting drama; one which allows me to take a deep look inside the entertainment industry and how directors, managers and artistes interact with one another within their jobs. 

© 2016 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.

Faber & Faber | January 2017 | 352 pgs
Source: Purchased

Peter Swanson's previous novel, The Kind Worth Killing, left quite a deep impression on me and it's one of the best thrillers I'd read last year. When I learnt that he has a new release out I was excited and anticipated for his new book to release and that day finally came.

The story opens with our protagonist, Kate Priddy, leaving for Boston from London to stay in her second cousin's apartment in Beacon Hill. She has agreed to the idea of the apartment swap with Corbin Dell, who has just been transferred to London due to a job posting and they agreed to do the swap for six months. Kate doesn't want to leave her apartment; in fact she doesn't want to leave London at all given that she has panic attacks which often caused her to distrust herself. She has had these attacks ever since she is traumatised by her ex-boyfriend's attack and the suicide he had committed thereafter. Kate's mother thought the apartment swap would allow her to walk out of her dark shadows and see things in a new light, again. Kate has never met Corbin, but he is her mother's cousin's son so they are considered family, even if they are distant.

When Kate moved into Corbin's apartment, she is intrigued by a few of his neighbours. Some appears to be overly warm and friendly, while others seem to be contented to live in their own worlds. But what most shocked her is discovering her next-door neighbour has gone missing upon her arrival. No one knows what happened to Audrey Marshall, since she keeps to herself most of the time but a neighbour, Alan Cherney, claims he saw her occasionally from his apartment window and that Audrey seemed to know Corbin intimately as well. What they didn't know is that Alan also fancies Audrey and he had spied on her often.

With Kate's unreliability state and Corbin's mysterious transfer to London, readers are left with speculations and will plough through the story hoping to find more clues leading to the conclusion. The characterisation played an important role to the story as each has his/her flaw and each holds a puzzle to the story. There were times I often questioned myself who is telling the truth and who is not. The last remaining nine chapters seemed to fly past quickly as they offer readers the full events of what's happened and how.

I enjoyed this suspense thriller, but personally I felt The Kind Worth Telling packs a bigger punch when intrigue and shock value are concerned. While I don't mean this novel lacks any of them, the overall impact wasn't as great as compared to TKWK; however if you are first-time reader of Mr Swanson's books you would be captivated by his storytelling and his characterisations. I know I'm already a fan of his books.

© 2016 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.

Also known as Man Living at My House, this drama is a story about family, first love and finding one's loss. 

Hong Na-Ri (starring Soo Ae) works as a flight attendant. Her mother passed three years ago, leaving her a land and she's been living all on her own with no other family members except her uncle, whom she rarely contact. 

As a city girl and with a job which requires frequent travel, she only returns to her rural hometown to visit her mother's grave during her death anniversary. That day is no different, except she spots a young man at her mother's grave, who later introduces himself as Go Nan-gil (starring Kim Young-kwang). He also informs her that he married her mother a few years back and that the land is his after his wife's passing. Thinking that he conned her mother into marriage and the land, Na-Ri decides to move into the countryside house and find out more about this man who claimed he is her stepfather. 

Go Nan-gil, on the other hand, is someone more than he claimed. He definitely has an agenda but no one has to know that, and of course he has every reason to do so. As the story progresses, we see a new side of Nan-gil and his past, as well as his relationship with Na-Ri. I'd my doubts about Nan-gil initially, but I knew my impression on him wouldn't lean towards the negative considering his honest attitude towards his customers being a dumpling restaurant owner and how he genuinely acts towards Na-Ri whenever she encounters some problems. 

Their relationship is further complicated by an entrepreneur who has been eyeing for their land for ages; and on top of it his estranged son, Kwon Deuk-bong (starring Lee Soo-hyuk) is interested in Na-Ri and he will do everything to fight the battles for her, even if he has stopped practising law for a while. 

Sweet Stranger and Me is a perfect drama for audiences who go for the romance genre; and even though there is some intensity regarding the land disputes they are considered mild in my opinion. I think female audiences would be wowed by Nan-gil's charismatic character because he portrays quite an alpha bad boy image but yet he isn't entirely one to speak of due to his simple mannerism. Overall it was a sweet romantic comedy and a great distraction to me considering I've been reading a few thrillers lately. 

© 2016 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.

Amazon Publishing | October 2016 | 349 pgs
Source: Library

Secrets and insanity. Yeah, I think these about sums up what's happening in this story. I've to admit I'd have given this book a miss (perhaps it's the cover) if I didn't read the reviews from a few of my book blogging friends. 

This story is told from two POVs - Julie Prentice and John Dunbar and a non-linear time frame. Julie is the bestselling author of The Murder Game* and is happily married with two kids. However, she is bothered by a stalker and has since moved to Mount Adams in Cincinnati. But the new place doesn't offer her much peace as she has hoped. With a tight knit community and a set of (ridiculous) rules to comply, she feels like an outsider except for John, whom she feels an instant connection with since she has moved into Mount Adams and it makes better that they just live across from each other. They run together often, too, but that's because Julie has no running partner and that it's always safer to run in pairs, especially after what Julie had gone through to shake off from her stalker. 

John Dunbar, on the other hand, sympathies Julie's situation yet he is drawn to her (more like BFF) although he loves his family and is a devoted father, too. His friendship with Julie begins to bother his wife and with that tight knit community it's easy to blow things out of proportions even if a small act could appear innocent and harmless. 

Fractured is one addicting fast-paced psychological thriller. Well, I can't really say it's a hardcore thriller since it seems more like a case of character study packed with some marital issues. Most of the characters are unlikeable, though I did sympathise one or two of them. Mount Adams itself is an interesting setting where everyone seems to know what's everyone doing (thanks to a self-nominated Chairwoman/housewife who seems to think she is responsible and owns the whole of Mount Adams with her controlling rules and regulations) and I think this overall atmosphere adds more intensity to the already foreboding setting. Readers are aware that some bad things have happened but don't know what and why until the truth hit them as the story slowly unfolds. This is a well crafted layered story; one I didn't expect and although it is good storytelling the characters left me feeling sour and hollow.

* The Murder Gamewritten by Catherine McKenzie as Julie Apple (yes, she's Julie Prentice in Fractured) is another book readers wouldn't want to miss. A fiction based from a fiction, how cool is that? 

© 2016 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.

St. Martin's Press | October 2015 | 336 pgs
Source: Library

Murder at the Brightwell is Ashley Weaver's debut and the first book of her Amory Ames series.

Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who have married Milo Ames for five years. Milo is charming, but he is notorious for his playboy reputation and his carefree behaviour. Amory was supposed to be engaged to Gilmore Trent but being a foolish young girl that she was she chose Milo as she felt he was reckless and exciting while Gil was calm and reassuring. She was attracted by Milo's charming unpredictability but their relationship has turned lukewarm over the years. However, her relationship with Gil remains amicable and they have not contacted each other in a while until he turns up at her house one day unexpectedly.

Gil Trent doesn't want to trouble Amory but he thought she might help change his sister's mind regarding her relationship with her fiancé, Rupert Howe. When Rupert was found dead mysteriously, all speculations point to Gil as he seems to be the person who has something against Rupert. Amory may have accidentally overheard Gil's heated disagreement with Rupert, but she believes Gil isn't the kind who would kill a person out of spite. In order to clear Gil's name, Amory decides to do her own investigation. It is also at this time that Milo turns up at Brightwell unexpectedly and causes a bit of flutter within the group.

Although Amory doesn't like some of Gil's and Rupert's acquaintance at Brightwell, she thinks no one has enough reason for murder but with so many incidents happening thereafter she is not so sure anymore. She decides to seek a little help from Milo; for she finds him useful especially gathering information with his charms and eloquence from the few aristrocrats' wives. When another guest is found dead, Amory is sure there is something more than meets the eye and she is more determined to unravel the truth.

Murder at the Brightwell is a delightful read set in the 1930s amidst the upper class British society. It has a tad of Agatha Christie feel and I found myself immersed in the story quickly due to the smooth flow and that the mystery really intrigued me. Amory is a likeable character full of modesty and courage; and her relationship with Milo fuels up the story and would keep readers rooting for them despite the cool demeanour behind them. All in all it was a satisfying read and I'll be looking forward to the rest of this series.

© 2016 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.

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 (, 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.

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 (, 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.

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 (, 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.

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 (, 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.

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 (, 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.

Page Turner is a 3-episode mini drama featuring three youths and their journeys towards their dreams. 

Yoo-Seul (starring Kim So-Hyun) is a talented pianist and has won various competitions. However, she is unhappy with her life and most of all, her mother who seems to care nothing but her performance. Her mother was a piano instructor before but gave up teaching after being mocked by her student, Jin-Mok (starring Shin Jae Ha) and his family. Jin-Mok and Yoo-Seul attend the same high school and needless to say, they are enemies/rivals. Yoo-Seul's life then took a turn after an automobile accident which led her blind, and she has stopped playing piano since then; turning herself into a bitter and dejected person. 

On the other end, another youth Cha-Sik (starring Ji Soo) is pinning his hopes on setting a new record for pole jumping. His ambition leads to an accident and with his dream dashed, Cha-Sik decided to switch his dreams to playing piano after some encouragement from his mother. Cha-Sik then befriended Yoo-Seul and became her guide in school. Seeing Cha-Sik's enthusiasm in playing piano, Yoo-Seul decided to give him lessons after school. Meanwhile, Jin-Mok's attitude towards Yoo-Seul changed and together with Cha-Sik, they will help Yoo-Seul to rekindle her passion in playing piano again. 

I totally loved this mini drama (wished it was longer!). Though short, the characters and the plot are quite well developed and not to mention inspiring as well. It is also a story of friendship and living your dreams despite the difficult circumstances life might throw in the way. Such stories may sound old to some but that determination/motivation(s) and that passion for something we love will always remain an inspiration. 

(Trailer credits to KBS World TV)

© 2016 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.

Imprint | October 2016 | 384 pgs
Source: Purchased 

The Lovely Reckless is a YA contemporary romance filled with complex characters, fast street racing scenes and enough suspense to keep me racing through this book from beginning to end. 

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux is a cop's daughter. Her father works as an undercover with the Regional Auto Theft Task Force and his job is to bring down those car thieves and cracks their operations. Frankie leads a privileged life in the Heights with her mother and her stepdad until a reckless drunk driving forces her to leave her beautiful life behind. Frankie is a good girl who lives by her parents' standards but the death of her boyfriend haunted her and she wishes she has remembered the face of the assaulter who had killed Noah. Her reckless behaviour leads her to moving in with her dad; where she will transfer to a public school in the Downs where fistfights and illegal street racings are not uncommon within the neighbourhood. 

Marco Leone is the complete opposite of Frankie's perfect late boyfriend. He is tough, but he also oozes charm and confidence which Frankie couldn't ignore. Frankie doesn't want to get involved with him, but an incident has thrown them together and Frankie begins to see a new side of him the more they spend their time together. However, Marco does some wrong things but for some right reasons and this has put a strain to their relationship. After all, Frankie's dad is a cop and he has all the rights to put Marco behind bars no matter whatever his reasons are. Then, there is the case which Frankie needs to remember who had murdered Noah and what risks she should undertake to make things right again. 

The Lovely Reckless has a nice combination of romance and actions enough to set my heart racing. Issues like stereotypes and misconceptions are presented into this story so that not everything is black and white as we see. This was a wonderful love story but the emotions it evoked is more memorable.

© 2016 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.

Jung Hye In (starring Kim Ah Joong) is one of Korea's top actress. She has a eight-year-old son but he was kidnapped on the day she announced her retirement. She is estranged with her current husband although they appear blissful in the eye of the media. After her son's abduction, she is being contacted by the kidnapper to carry out a mission on a live reality show as per his demand. The reality show would have ten episodes and she is required to fulfil each mission given out by the kidnapper until the last episode. She would only get to see her son alive should she reaches that stage.

I couldn't even imagine how scary this is should it happen in reality. And being a mother myself I could totally relate to Hye In's fears and guilt. "Would this not have happened if we're being more observant and careful?" How many times have we asked ourselves this question should anything happened to our children, even if sometimes it was only a spill of drinks or if they have fallen with a minor scrape?

While I felt the plot was intense based on the thrill angle, what I found lacking is the credibility and the confusion at some point. While I got the whole idea why it happened and why some characters are involved, this story requires one's full attention to understand what's really happening and who's involved with who. However, I did find the characterisations interesting and Detective Cha Seung In (starring Ji Hyun Woo) stood out among the rest because of his relentless and his intelligence. Having lost his mentor while investigating a case a few years back, Detective Cha still feel the loss and remorse for not catching on more of his senior's movements. Due to that incident, he is more inspired and determined to solve this kidnapping case (which they are connected). The production crew who put the reality show together is also another highlight of this story for without them everything would be impossible.

While I was quite taken aback by the kidnapper's identity, it didn't come as a surprise once you understand his concerns and the whole picture of it. Overall it was satisfying but I thought some parts would have done better (yep, including that ending.)

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Harlequin | June 2013 | 288 pgs
Source: Library

Set in AD 848 during the Tang Dynasty, this historical tale is about adventures and a whirlwind romance between a thief-catcher and a sword dancer and how they are caught in a web of injustice and revenge. 

Li Feng is used to living an isolated life with a dangerous edge to it. When she was four, her parents were wrongfully sentenced to a crime they didn't commit. Li Feng is later raised by a Wudang master, Wen Shifu, who taught her sword fighting. She later became a sword dancer, after she has left Wen Shifu to join a dance troupe as they travel from village to village. Li Feng always carries a jade pendant wherever she goes, for it is something her mother had passed to her before fleeing from whoever who wants her life. 

Zheng Hao Han is the most feared thief-catcher among all who is known for his relentless and his determination to capture all bandits and outlaws in the name of justice and order. Born in a middle-class family, Han's father was once a magistrate and had wished his eldest son would follow his footsteps but alas, Han isn't interested in becoming an official. He feels he could still pursue justice in his own way without following the tainted views of some officials who would do anything for power and greed. And when he heard of a shipment of jade and gold has been stolen and the magistrate had issued an arrear warrant that singled out a band of travelling performances as the culprits, Han and a few other thief-catchers are all waiting for the chance to pounce should there be any suspicious movement. In the midst of chaos, Li Feng caught Han's attention and their cat and mouse chase begins. 

I totally enjoyed reading this historical romance - the plot, the actions, the characterisations of Li Feng and Han as well as their exchanges, the struggles they faced between a "thief" and a thief-catcher, and finally their attractions towards each other. Li Feng is a butt-kicking heroine who has a strong sense of determination and Han is full of righteousness and sees most things as black and white. Therefore, when he meets the spirited and vengeful Li Feng, he is tossed with the question between setting things right and upholding justice after finding himself in love with her. Should he betray Li Feng for the sake of justice or follow his heart and join her in the rebellion? Just as I thought their love was impossible, I thought the ending was very satisfying and the issues they faced was beautifully resolved, too (Hey, it's a Harlequin romance but still the resolution was clever in my opinion.) 

© 2016 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.

Hodder & Stoughton | September 2016 | 480 pgs
Source: Purchased

The Trespasser is the sixth installment of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series and if you are already a fan of her works you should be aware that her books have that literary edge alongside the police procedural and this is one reason why I love her books so much - they are well written, descriptive and offer much insights of the police works we rarely get to see from other crime thrillers. Yes, and that's what makes her books stand out from the others. Not only that, I also love the characterisations in all her books, even if they are secondary roles. And another good thing is, these secondary roles do become French's lead characters in her next book. 

In her previous installment (The Secret Place), readers are introduced to Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran. They are now partners in The Trespasser; and while they are in  the Murder Squad, the cases they are assigned to are usually predictive and unchallenging, such as domestic cases. Now the new case they are assigned to seems like one of those but some instincts told them that this case is more than meets the eye. 

The twenty-ish old victim, Aislinn Murray, suffered from a fatal head injury at her house. On that fateful evening she was supposed to have a romantic dinner date but apparently something went wrong. While most speculated it was a murder committed in a fit of passion and have a suspect in mind, Conway and Moran think there is something about this case which they couldn't put their finger on. To complicate matters, Conway feels she has seen the victim before but she couldn't remember what. As the story slowly unfolds, Conway and Moran soon learn that something bigger is playing in the center of their case and what really happened will not only rock these two detectives' worlds but to the reader as well. 

Did I mention that Tana French's characterisations are amazing? I felt this latest installment was topnotch when characterisations are concerned. The mystery and the plot are there, and while they are captivating I've to confess it was the characters that made this story comes alive and yes, even believable. Tana French not only penned an intense suspense in this novel but she also offered enough doubts and betrayals, hypothetical theories to have readers' minds racing like our two detectives here, and questioning all of them along the way. The Trespasser was suspenseful but it was also intelligent and an emotional one as well. I loved this book, a lot. I think this book has surpassed In the Woods, which is my favourite French book and this said a lot.

© 2016 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.

Black Swan | April 2016 | 384 pgs
Source: Library

First and foremost, this book wasn't an easy read. Writing my afterthought was even harder as I felt my emotions were all over the place. Then there are also the various issues which make you shudder and think about the situations and what you would do if you were the characters in this book. 

Sarah, Amira, Paula, Ewan and Charlie. These are the five characters who are co-workers working in the same department office. Gill, their Executive Manager has been coasting during the last couple of years and thus, productivity and profitability have suffered as a result. Gill is ultimately asked to go and her position is replaced by a much younger Rachel Masters. Now Rachel isn't a person to mess around with; she meant business and have high expectations from her subordinates. Gone is the casual and informal atmosphere in the department; the department at present is so tense that any 'small talk' with Rachel would make them break out in a cold sweat and then fill them with deep resent and anger should they are being talked down by her. Rachel also takes up the divide and rule style of management so it is natural of the staff to be competitive yet wary of one another. When the MD decided that a team-bonding weekend is a great way to build up the department's morale and have some little fun knowing one another at the same time, the staff no longer feel the bonding and trust as before because something has changed ever since Rachel filled up Gill's position. 

On the other end, there is Anne Cater who is looking at an old case when she was a junior psychiatrist. The present news of the murderer and what happened fills her with dark memories of the past involving two young damaged siblings, Laurie and David. Anne and another junior psychiatrist, Dan Oppenheimer, were in-charge of the Child L and Child D case respectively. Both of them reported to Professor Ed Kowalsky. Looking back, Anne is once again filled with deep regret of the wrong judgement made by Prof Kowalsky and how that mistake have made someone committed a murder under a triggered stressful situation. 

I mentioned before this book wasn't an easy read given the subject matters and how it messed my mind with these characters and their doubtful minds. Most of the times I found myself holding my breath and dreading the outcomes because I just couldn't trust any of the characters; each of them has flaws and agendas and on top of it Rachel's attitudes simply make one's blood boils. As much as I was bothered by these, I have to say this is one great and fast-paced psychological thriller. I loved Ms. Cohen's writing style and how well-crafted this story is. I also liked it that it has an office setting which made me reminiscent of my past working life and how believable some of these characters are.

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Based on a five-part series novel of the same name and with the time period set in the 19th century during the Joseon Dynasty, this drama tells a coming-of-age story between a young Crown Prince and a girl who disguised as a young man due to her family matters involving the nation's politics. 

19-year-old Crown Prince Lee Yeong (starring Park Bo-gum) has never been interested in the nation's affairs and what's happening in the palace; his cold and aloof attitude is most commonly known to all minister officials and court servants especially after the passing of his mother, the late Queen Yoon. 

Hong Ra-on (starring Kim Yoo-jung) is a 18-year-old girl who earns her living by doing some street performing and writing love letters on behalf of her mostly men clients. Her mother has abandoned her since young for her security purposes (this issue will come to light as the story progresses) and she has little memories of her father who had left home years ago. 

A chance encounter with the Crown Prince has set her heart race for a different reason, for she has mistook him as the lover of one of her male clients, in which is a misunderstanding as from the other end the Crown Prince is trying to find out who is fervently writing love letters to his younger sister, Princess Myung-eun. The next time when Ra-on encounters the Crown Prince, she has became one of the eunuchs in the palace due to an unfortunate incident and their destiny begins from there.

This drama appealed to me on many levels and the main attraction to me is the differences between the Crown Prince and Ra-on not only of their positions but also the disguised gender when Ra-on first met him. Since this is also a story about power and greed, needless to say there are lots of conspiracies and backstabbing in the foreground but I have to say the highlights of this drama is the friendship and sacrifices of the two friends surrounding the Crown Prince and then of course, the forbidden love between the Crown Prince and Ra-on. 

I found myself warmed up to the character of the Crown Prince rather quickly despite his arrogance in the beginning; and of course it doesn't hurt to say he was very charismatic and an eye candy so to speak. Ra-on amazed me with her optimism and her outlooks in life despite several unfavourable circumstances but in the end she always managed to overcome them. I loved the ending but left me wondering about her (ambiguous) position.

(My novel box-set, which I have yet to read)

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