Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | April 2016 | 272 pgs
Source: Purchased

The story begins with Charlie Price's funeral in Paris, and among the mourners are our two protagonists - Aubrey Boroughs and Lena Whitney. Both girls didn't know each other but they have one thing in common, and that is they are both Charlie's girlfriends. When the two girls found out this shocking truth about Charlie's two-timing them, they decided they should find out more things about his death and the Charlie they didn't know. After all, Aubrey and Lena's personalities differ and it seemed Charlie took on different roles to suit their personality. Aubrey is pretty and cool as a cucumber, while Lena is wild, spontaneous and clingy. 

As much as Aubrey and Lena dislike the idea of "working together", they also knew that they need each other to fill in Charlie's "loopholes" (as in his timeline dating them) and what they have missed by comparing notes. Their search for answers take them across Europe and Asia; their journey becoming more complicated and risky as they find themselves in situations which question not only Charlie's true self but each other's credibility too, for it seemed each girl harbours secrets of her own. 

Charlie, Presumed Dead is a YA suspense and it tells a tale about deception and revenge. The plot is filled with intensity but not fully believable in some circumstances. I found Charlie's method of "death" to be the most far-fetched among all, but I won't elaborate for the risk of spoilers. However, what makes this book a page-turner is the voices of the two girls (we get their narrative alternatively) and the exotic settings as they take readers to places like Kerala, Bombay and Bangkok. While the suspense was great, there are certain parts that are dubious or improbable to believe in my opinion. Still, it was an entertaining read and I've learned something about the various lifestyles and cultures through the protagonists' journey.


William Morrow | May 2016 | 768 pgs
Source: Publisher

I have to confess I'm not really a chunkster reader. Thick volumes intimidate me in general. Imagine how many good books I might have missed given this silly mentality, but I have heard so many good things about The Fireman and plus I have the ARC and the Fireman Readalong as motivations, I figured it was time to read it. 

Now as much as I hate to admit it, I have mixed reactions about The Fireman. I suppose I shall start with the things I liked about the story. For starters, I think the idea of a new plague - Dragonscale (or Draco incendia trychophyton, to be exact) is brilliant. Dragonscale is a highly contagious and deadly spore that tattoo its hosts with black and gold marks across their bodies before causing them to burst into flames. I liked the uniqueness of this theme and most of all, our protagonist, Harper Grayson, who is both brave and remarkable not only in her profession (as a nurse) but also her own righteous self too. I also thought that the opening was very intriguing and introduce readers to the scary world the author has created. Then, there are issues about humanity and survival, which I felt is the core of this story and thought-provoking in many ways. 

Now a few things which I didn't like and/or baffled me: While I liked the idea of this new disease and the scary world, the plot seemed to come to a halt towards the middle of the book. This is where it was focused on too many dialogues with little actions and at times I found myself distracted, which also had me skimmed through some pages. There are also a cast of characters here whom Harper would befriend with given the circumstances, and though some of them aren't likeable, they do contribute some highlights to the story. And finally, there is the Fireman, a mysterious and compelling character based on the title though I didn't understand why this story is focused more on Harper than him, until I got to the end and wondered if that was it. And that ending. To be fair, I think I may have expected too much from this story (or perhaps it is the chunkster issue, which is my bad) and given the glowing reviews I have seen around, it appears that I am in the minority. That said, The Fireman has a refreshing theme unlike others and I will continue to check out Joe Hill's future releases. 


Penguin Publishing Group | February 2016 | 416 pgs
Source: Purchased 

Find Her is the 8th book of Lisa Gardner's Detective D.D. Warren series but in my opinion could be read as a standalone. 

Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren is on restricted duty due to an injury of her left shoulder from a previous case. With physical limitations and a restriction from firearms, she leads her team investigation through her expertise and supervision minus the running work. She isn't pleased, and most often it leaves her feeling frustrated as if she feels she is not doing her job efficiently and effectively but of course she has to make do with it given the circumstances. 

When Florence "Flora" Dane goes missing one spring break and couldn't be found, the homicide department thinks it would be a cold case with no evidence and some clues leading to nowhere. Until 472 days later, she is miraculously found thanks to a careless mistake her captor made. Jacob Ness became her ugly past but he always exist in Flora's mind, even after five years she is still trying to reacquaint herself with the rhythms of her life. Though that kidnapping incident has left her scarred, it has also made her a stronger person. She took self defence classes and learn how to protect herself. However, she is also attentive to other missing girls cases, in particularly the disappearance of Stacey Summers, who used to be her friend. 

When Flora is assaulted by a bartender one night, she fought hard and left Devon Goulding badly burned and dead. While some may think of her act as self defence, D.D. Warren wonders if she is a victim or a vigilante who takes matters into her own hands. Then when another girl disappears, Flora knew she has to find her even if it means endangering herself. 

Find Her is one of the most complex psychological thrillers I've read this year. Aside from the intensity, there are layers upon layers of the plot and then of course, we have Flora Dane who is a mystery herself. Just when I thought I knew her feelings at some point, she veered me off in another direction at times and left me with more questions instead of answers and I loved stories (and characters) like this because you just never know what to expect. 

The issues covered here are dark, as most often crime cases are but in this case, it takes readers to another level of dark - it detailed the harsh brutality of being held captivity (in this case a coffin-like box) and most of all, it questions readers about the monster in us and how fine the line is between good and evil. But of course there is some positivity in this story as well and I liked how courageous Flora is when facing all kinds of danger. She is a survivor and in all aspects I think it is a good example of staying positive when one faces obstacles. 

And then there is D.D. Warren, who is still tough as nails in spite of being a restricted duty officer. I am sure her capabilities under normal circumstances will continue to amaze me through her devotions of her profession. 

Overall this is one taut psychological thriller and I know I will be looking forward to reading more books by this author. 


Harvill Secker | July 2015 | 352 pgs
Source: Purchased

Leonora Shaw hasn't been in contact with her schoolmates for ten years. Now at twenty-six and a crime fiction writer, she is intrigued by an email inviting her to attend an old friend's hen party. Clare Cavendish is getting married soon but it is Clare's friend, Flo, who is coordinating the party. Nora and Clare used to be best friends, but Flo on the other hand is a complete stranger to her. Nora isn't sure if she wants to go, after all it has been ten years and it would be awkward, but she sees her other friend, Nina da Souza, is on the emailing list as well. In the end, Nora decided to attend, for she knew she is also very curious why Clare has chosen to invite her to the hen party but not her wedding. 

Unlike any other bachelorette parties, Clare's hen party is held at Flo's aunt's glass house in the woods. It is remote and the telephone connection is bad, but Flo assures them that they have all the privacy and people rarely step their foot there, at least not during winter periods. While the rest of the group doesn't really bothered by the fully clear glass house, Nora couldn't help feeing scrutinised but most of all, she doesn't really know the group except for Clare and Nina. 

The mystery comes in when there is a murder in the glass house. Suddenly, everyone becomes a suspect and as Nora lies on the hospital bed after the bloody aftermath, she has to rely on her memories (which she couldn't remember) what had happened and the motive of the murder. 

Told in a first person narrative by Nora, In a Dark, Dark Wood is an absorbing read and I could see why this book would make a good book club discussion. Fast-pace and foreboding, this is what made it a page-turner though I didn't really feel connected to the characters. Most of them are unlikeable and leave a reader with doubts, but I suppose this is how it goes with the story's direction and the thrills it evoke as we read further. As much as I was enticed with the premise, I felt there is something lacking with the logical sense of some circumstances but then I am not going to delve into them for they would be spoilers. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this debut novel by Ruth Ware (and all the more with her latest release, The Woman in Cabin 10) and I know I will be looking out for her future releases.


Unlike the title suggests, Cunning Single Lady isn't about the heroine who is out to seduce men but is more of a story about romance, friendship, and rekindled relationship between a husband and wife. 

Ae-Ra (starring Lee Min-Jung), our heroine, works in a family restaurant where she meets university student, Jung-Woo (Joo Sang-Wook). They fell in love and eventually got married. However, Ae-Ra isn't pleased that Jung-Woo quit his job to start his own business. She fought with Jung-Woo over this issue for countless times until she decided for a divorce. 

After they have separated, Ae-Ra struggles with her life while Jung-Woo eventually becomes a successful IT entrepreneur. They met again in his company in which Ae-Ra works as an administrative intern in which she hopes to gain back his recognition and sees her as a different person but Jung-Woo isn't fazed by her until a fellow intern begins to show interest in Ae-Ra. 

Gook Seung Hyun (starring Seo Kang Joon) may be eight years Ae-Ra junior but he is attracted by her direct approach in life and work itself. No one knows he is also younger brother of the IT firm's director, Gook Yeo Jin (starring Kim Kyu Ri). Yeo Jin is traumatised by an accident which caused the death of her fiancé but she begins to find hope in life after knowing Jung-Woo.

(Seo Kang Joon as Gook Seung Hyun)

I didn't expect much from this drama initially; truth be told the title doesn't really sound appealing, right? Honestly, I was intrigued by this drama due to actor, Seo Kang Joon, who acted in The Cheese in the Trap and well, let's say his role there caught my attention. Like Cheese in the Trap, Seung Hyun's love for a woman is one-sided and once again I couldn't help but to feel sorry for him (No, this isn't a spoiler for Cheese in the Trap.) 

I liked how this drama focus on the difficulties between a couple (especially married couple) and what it takes to overcome obstacles through mutual respect, understanding and lots and lots of communications. Jung-Woo may feel jealous of Seung Hyun's attraction for Ae-Ra but ultimately it is his own heart that portrays his true self towards Ae-Ra. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this drama towards the end; my heart was torn between Jung-Woo and Seung Hyun as although I wanted the couple to rekindle their relationship, I also want Seung Hyun to have his love reciprocated. Ultimately, what most matters is I enjoyed this drama and I found myself searching for more dramas starring Seo Kang Joon. I will be watching Splendid Politics (aka Hwajung) next and this time around it is a historical drama set during the Joseon Dynasty period, with a rage of political battles and of course, romance.

(Pic Image credit to Pixabay)

Last week was my 10th year blogiversary and once again, I was amazed how fast time has flown by and that I am still around in this blogging community (there was a time I stopped blogging for a year and I thought it was the end of it.) Like many fellow bookbloggers, my reason for this blog is to share my love for books and also that through this exchange, we get to share our views of the books we read and most of all, to diversify our reading not only in genres but in other cultures, too. 

To my bookblogging friends and regular readers, thank you so much for following my blog all these years! And to readers who are new to this blog, a Big welcome to you and I hope you will enjoy reading my blog. 

I shall end this post with a few great quotes about books and reading:

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. ~ Vera Nazarian 
I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense. ~ Harold Kushner
If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. ~ Haruki Murakami 
There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it. ~ Edward P. Morgan 

Harvill Secker | June 2016 | 352 pgs
Source: Purchased

I am aware that many readers who have read Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood are enamoured by her storytelling and the intense premise. I didn't jump on the bandwagon when the book was first released (though I wished I had now); I waited a while to buy the book after reading several rave reviews and by the time my mood called for it, her new release - The Woman in Cabin 10, is released. I decided to read her latest book and here it is.

Let me start off by saying the enclosed setting kinds of reminds me of Agatha Christie's work - And Then There Were None. Though both are classified as locked room mystery, what makes this book different is it comes with an unreliable character and instead of multiple murders, this one focus more on one mysterious missing woman. I don't know about you, but I am always drawn to locked room mystery; that claustrophobic feeling with nowhere-to-run plot never seems to get old to me and I always enjoy the thrill it gives me throughout my reading experience.

In a nutshell, this is a thriller about Laura "Lo" Blacklock, a travel journalist who travels on board an exclusive small cruise liner (with only 10 cabins) and one night she saw a body being thrown overboard from the next door cabin (witnessed through the verandas). Worried for her "neighbour's" safety, she reported what she saw but there isn't any record of anyone checked into Cabin 10. And the strange thing is, no passengers are missing from the boat. Most passengers and the staff crew think she is paranoid, especially she was burgled before her cruise trip and the fact that she takes medications for occasional panic attacks. Thus, she is not exactly the most reliable witness, is she? But Lo did speak to her neighbour before that frightful incident happened; she even borrowed a tube of mascara from her. What can she do to make someone believes her, and who could she trust with a killer on board?

Since I haven't read In a Dark, Dark Wood, I couldn't compare the two books but I have to say I was totally engrossed with this story. Fast paced, intense and filled with doubts, I raced through this book with great impatience (which is a good thing) as I was anxious to find out the mystery. I have to say it took me a while to warm up to Lo though, for she isn't likeable for a first impression. She got on my nerves most of the times yet at the same time I also felt sorry for her; what she had encountered through her life and a stagnant career are enough to frustrate her. The plot was good in my opinion but I suppose the ending may vary with each reader, depending how he/she sees it. Well the story did has a closure, but there are a few questions which left me pondering. All in all, a great 'whodunit' mystery which makes me all the more curious about Ruth Ware's first book. 


Square Fish | May 2016 | 352 pgs
Translated from the German by Anthea Bell
Source: Purchased

For readers who have read Kerstin Gier's bestselling Ruby Red Trilogy and loved them would be delighted to see her new book - Dream a Little Dream, the first book of The Silver Trilogy. I am new to Gier's books and I figured this book would be a good start of getting to know more about her stories and her writing; plus a story about dreams usually makes an intriguing read, isn't it?

Fifteen-year-old Olivia "Liv" Silver is used to be on the move all the time. Her parents are divorced and Liv, together with her younger sister, Mia, got to live with their mother who is a professor of literary studies and her job requires her to travel frequently as to teach at different universities almost every year. Their latest destination is London. But that is not all, they are going to move into their mother's partner's house; and Mr Earnest Spencer himself has two teenage children - Grayson and Florence. And the two Silver sisters are going to attend the same school as them.

While Liv tries to fit into her new school life, something strange happens when she found out she has gotten into Grayson's dream one night after she had borrowed his sweater. It is a strange dream with mysterious doors but what most intrigued her is finding herself in a graveyard and watching Grayson with his three other friends who tried to conduct a dark magic ritual. Liv thinks nothing about the dream thereafter, but the boys seem to know a few things about her in real life, especially things they couldn't possibly know. How could that be unless they are all in the same dreams?

Dream a Little Dream may be a book about dreams but it has a paranormal/fantasy theme to it. There are some scenes about demonic works but they are not elaborated and I felt there wasn't much elaborations of the world building so I had only this vague understanding that the mystery was revolving around the resurrection of a demon who could grant their wishes if they are to give their oaths and fulfill the seals stated in an ancient book. I thought the overall premise was intriguing but alas, it fell short of character developments and the world building as I had mentioned earlier. However, the good thing is I enjoyed reading the exchanges among the characters and I thought Liv was quite a courageous young lady who isn't afraid to go out of her way to solve a mystery, even if it is a dangerous one.

There is also romance in this story and though there is no triangle love, I felt the romance between Liv and Henry (one of the four popular boys) was a bit rushed. That said, I did like the way Grayson was being protective of Liv, though his main intention remains a puzzle to me and I sensed no romance between them. All in all, it was an enjoyable read given this was the first installment. I am very curious where this story will go given the cliffhanger and hopefully the second installment would be better with the character developments as well as that world building.