Melody

Penguin Publishing Group | January 2017 | 400 pgs
Source: Library



Lisa Gardner's Find Her has left a deep impression on me. Fast-paced and charged with intensity, it was also one of the most complex psychological thrillers I read in 2016. Her latest release, Right Behind You (FBI Profiler Series, #7 [which works well as a stand-alone in my opinion]) was much more intense and complex as it was multi-layered with lots of twists and turns; and heartrending moments as it involved domestic abuse and childhood trauma.

Eight years ago, Telly May Nash who was only ten, bashed his drunken father to death with a baseball bat when he threatened to kill him and his younger sister with a knife after he had stabbed their mother. Although acted out of self defense, Telly already showed signs of RAD (Reactive attachment disorder) and disproportionate display of rage growing up with two alcoholic and drugs addicted parents. The counselor finally decided that the siblings are best to go to separate foster homes, thus the bond and contact between the siblings are lost until now - a double murder at a local gas station and the police has pointed it as Telly being the shooter after his identity was caught in the security camera. It also appeared that he had murdered his foster parents before gunning another two at the gas station upon further searching by the police.

Sharlah May Nash, now thirteen years old, is adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner. Rainie used to be a law enforcer too and Sharlah loves this about her new parents because they are all experts on monsters. When Sharlah knew that her older brother is on the run after his killing spree, she struggles to recollect the memories when they were children and what he had done with that baseball bat to their father. She knew Telly is her saviour, her protector, considering that he had taken up the adult role of taking care of her when their parents were too drunk in their own stupidity. But does she really know Telly after all these years? Has he become a serial killer?

Right Behind You will be one of the most unforgettable reads for me this year. For starters, it features a pair of profilers couple instead of the detectives we've so often read and although both are law enforcers, they're more into criminology as they've to study and analyse the criminals' behaviours and their mindsets. Fugitive trackers are another profession we so rarely read in books and I was glad they're an essential part of the investigation case here. And most of all, it is a story about Telly and Sharlah and how my heart ached for them so badly reading about their sad experiences and the childhood they've been through. This book has three segment consist of Telly's and Sharlah's narrations as well as chapters told in third person. I liked the writing format as I could get into the siblings' minds, so to speak, yet I also get to analyse from an outsider's view through the third person POV.

Another feature I liked is how the story is about family and trust despite it was dark and complex. And what's an investigation without some little help from our canine friends and I've to say Luka (formerly a police dog and now beloved pet to Sharlah) was the sunshine which brought some warmth to my heart reading about those dark moments. Highly recommended.


© 2017 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

St. Martin's Press | September 2017 | 336 pgs
Source: Library



I couldn't resist reading this third installment of Amory Ames mystery series after reading Death Wears a Mask. This novel mostly set at a manor at a quiet English countryside, Lyonsgate. 

Amory's husband, Milo, has intended to winter quietly in Italy. However, a letter from Amory's cousin has dashed their hope of visiting Italy. Laurel didn't state the reason for her urgent invitation to Lyonsgate but something in her tone intrigued Amory. Aside from Laurel and the Ames couple, there are also a few other guests who are invited as well. The manor they are staying belongs to Laurel's friend, Reginald Lyons and seven years ago, one of his guests was found dead by the frozen lake at Lyonsgate. However, this time around it isn't Reggie's idea with the invitation but the notorious socialite, Isobel Van Allen. Isobel left for Africa years ago after she published a book which shocked the British society. It was a thinly fictionalised account of what happened at Lyonsgate and the discovery of Edwin Green's death. Unlike the speculations, Edwin was murdered instead of suicide in the book and Isobel has decided to return to England to write a sequel to her scandalous first book. Whether or not if the same guests from seven years ago (with the exception of the Ames couple) have a secret to hide or they are intrigued by Isobel's comment about revealing what had happened in her upcoming book, they return to Lyonsgate with their minds full of questions.  

Alas, before Isobel could account anything more of that fateful night, she is found dead in her own room one early morning. Her manuscripts couldn't be found and it is clear that most guests aren't really sympathetic with her death, after all she isn't a likeable person and many feel she has brought her death upon herself. Beforehand Amory has already sensed the tension among the group and she is sure Isobel's death is more than meets the eye. If what Isobel claimed is true, then whoever murdered Edwin has struck again to silence Isobel. 

Once again, I found myself immersed in Amory's investigation in this third installment. Ashley Weaver always write the most interesting characters, even if some of them come off as mysterious or unlikeable. The plot was a good one, though I wished there was more developments of a few characters. I'm glad to see that the relationship between Amory and Milo has improved a lot since the second book, not that this is a spoiler since regular readers of this series will know that Milo still adores his wife in spite of his reputation as a ladies man. He is simply a natural charmer and has no devious intention against Amory; at least this is the impression I have of him and I hope it remains that way. Recommended for readers who love mystery novels with reminiscent of Agatha Christie's or Nick and Nora Charles. 


© 2017 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

Live Up to Your Name, Dr Heo is a story between two doctors from two different time period set in the present and the Joseon period.

Heo Im (starring Kim Nam Gil) is an oriental physician well known for his acupuncture and moxibustion skills. Although his medical skills are well recognised by civilians as well as the royals, his lowly status (he is born to a concubine) often earns him much lower respect as compared to his peers despite his skills is the best among all. However, his fate is about to change when he accidentally finds himself travels through time to present Seoul.

Choi Yeon Kyung (starring Kim Ah Joong) is a cardiac surgery third year resident who only believes in modern medicine despite her grandfather is an acupuncturist. Emotionally scarred by her father's accident when she was a child, she vows to become a doctor so she could save people's lives. Her initial encounter with Heo Im was full of misunderstandings and mistrust as their personalities and ideologies in medicine clash. However as the time goes by, she begins to see him in a new light and their love blossoms. But Heo Im doesn't stay in Seoul forever; he has a help mission he hasn't accomplished in Joseon and he accidentally found out that by impaling pain to his body or a narrow escape from death he could be able to time travel to and from Joseon. And this time around he wants to remedy his past mistakes and to prove his worth even though there's a war with Japan and that he might never return to the modern day for good.


I was totally immersed in this time travel medical drama. I loved the premise and thought it was rather refreshing to see the cross between oriental and modern medicine and how each works differently yet effectively according to each patient's health condition and considering the circumstances. I may not be a huge fan of time travel genre but I thought this was quite well done, with a balance between medicine, time travel and romance. I liked the overall concept of the old versus new (referring to the time period here) and likewise the traditional medicine versus modern medicine in this package, and finally not forgetting the age-old definition of love and the compassion for humankind.


© 2017 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

St. Martin's Press | September 2016 | 336 pgs
Source: Library



I really enjoyed reading Ashley Weaver's debut mystery, Murder at the Brightwell, which was set in the heart of 1930s high society London. In that novel, Amory Ames has successfully solved a mystery with some assistance from her charismatic husband, Milo, who is also known to be a ladies' man. After what happened at Brightwell Hotel and the things they'd gone through together, Amory is looking forward to reconnecting with Milo but soon find herself drawn into another investigation, hence this book is it.

When Serena Barrington, an old friend of Amory's mother, invited Amory for a dinner at her house one evening, Amory knew she couldn't turn Mrs Barrington down considering her insistence and the fact that they have not crossed paths in years. It soon became clear that Mrs Barrington needs Amory's help to look into the disappearance of her valuable jewelry which have gone missing at a dinner party. With a few regular guests always being invited at Mrs Barrington's parties, she has absolutely no idea who would be the culprit unless they lay a trap to lure him or her out.

With the notorious Viscount Dunmore hosting a lavish masked ball at his house, Mrs Barrington and Amory decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to set their plan in motion. However, before they could lure the thief they are all aghast to discover that one of the party guests is murdered. Is the murder connected to the thievery? Amory intends to find that out herself, together with her old ally, Detective Inspector Jones, whom she knew since the Brightwell case. Meanwhile, she has also caught the attention of Viscount Dunmore as he tries to court her persistently while at the same time rumors about Milo and a French film star begin to swirl around the society.

With the Golden Age mystery elements and a spunky heroine as the draw to this series, I was also enchanted by the author's writing style and her storytelling as she creates intriguing characters and compelling scenarios in each of her book. While I was curious by the mystery, I was also concerned about the relationship between Amory and Milo as the latter often leave Amory with doubts of his faith and love, although to be fair he does show his care and affection towards her at the most unexpected circumstances. Like Amory, I was quite perplexed by Milo's unpredictable state of mind at times but I suspected that this mysterious side of him would come to light eventually as the series progresses. This is a delightful and an addictive series I have come to love the more I read them.

Series in order (though each works as a stand-alone):
Murder at the Brightwell #1
Death Wears a Mask #2
A Most Novel Revenge #3 (Review forthcoming)
The Essence of Malice #4 


© 2017 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

Grove Press | October 2017 | 366 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss


This part coming-of-age, part memoir chronicles Chinese-born writer, Xiaolu Guo's journey from her homeland in Shitang (a fishing village where her grandparents reside) to the West. For those who aren't familiar with Xiaolu Guo, she is the author of A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (her first novel written in English and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction) and her latest release, I Am China, which I adored (one of my top reads in 2015.) There are a few other titles which I didn't list here.

Xiaolu Guo has learned the hard life since young when she witnessed her grandparents' depression and poverty back then. She left for Beijing to study in 1993 and vowed never to return to that stifling backwater again. It is also through this determination and her curious mind to seek a life beyond the borders limits to where she is today.

Filled with many snippets of memories, nostalgia and what influenced Xiaolu Guo, this book is her personal record of the journey she has travelled and the things she has experienced which allow her readers to learn and to understand more about her.

Reading this book also gave me a glimpse of China between the 80s and 90s. (I'd only visited Guangzhou and Shenzhen and that was about ten years ago.) It was interesting to see how the Cultural Revolution shaped the Chinese, and how their economy has changed throughout the years. Although I rarely read nonfiction or memoir, I found myself enjoying this book and that I've learned so much more about Xiaolu Guo.


© 2017 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

William Morrow | October 2017 | 432 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss


Gilly Macmillan's latest release, Odd Child Out, continues DI Jim Clemo's story from the previous novel (What She Knew) where he took a mandatory leave after a case which still leaves him shattered. Though he is back into the workforce in this book, he still see his psychologist, Dr Francesca Manelli, from time to time and is slowly getting his act together when another assignment is handed out to him. 

Noah Sadler, a white teenage boy is found floating unconscious in the Feeder Canal. The person who was last seen together with him is his best friend, Abdi Mahad and he is an immigrant son of a Somali refugee. The Mahads had left for England from their immigrant camp many years ago and they have called Bristol their home until the tragedy happened. Aside from the sensitivity of the race issue, what makes this case complicated as well is Abdi is not talking about what happened on that fateful night no matter how the police and his family prod him. Whether if he is traumatised or guilty no one knows. Abdi later disappears, and get caught up by his fascination over a photo he has seen in Noah's father's exhibition before Noah's passing. His search for some answers relating to that photo is another highlight and mystery of this story. 

Odd Child Out may be a psychological suspense but yet it is also a story about friendship, family, race and identity and amid these elements media takes the center role where Emma Chang, former family liaison officer turns journalist (and DI Clemo's ex-girlfriend), is meticulous in digging her way through for a story and lead to a further clash with her former lover. Without saying or giving away too much about this story, all I can say is this is both a suspenseful and a heartbreaking story and a look of the Somali community through the eyes of the Mahads. A truly riveting suspense driven by a cast of interesting characters and I hope to see more of DI Jim Clemo in Gilly MacMillan's future releases. 


© 2017 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

Penguin Publishing Group | July 2017 | 352 pgs
Source: Publisher via Netgalley


Final Girls has been receiving a lot of hype since its release and I think it is well worth it as it was such a chilling and thrilling read (Why, even Stephen King quoted this on its cover: "The first great thriller of 2017 is here.")

Quincy Carpenter, Lisa Milner and Samantha Boyd are known in the press as the Final Girls; a film-geek speak for the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie. Lisa had lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam walked away alive after a sicko dubbed as the Sack Man assaulted her during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and finally our protagonist, Quincy, who managed to escape from Him (the perpetrator she refuses to call by name after all these years) after she fled from Pine Cottage after he had massacred five of her college friends ten years ago. Now the three Final Girls are attempting to put each of their nightmares behind them. As much as they knew each other by name and those horrendous events they had gone through, in reality they have never met.

Quincy is doing well at present though; she has a caring boyfriend Jeff, a popular baking blog and a caring cop who checks on her occasionally ever since he saved her life all those years ago. What makes her life easier to get by is she has no recollection of what really happened that night at Pine Cottage. Like a few missing puzzles, she could only remember the before and after of that horrendous massacre; what happened in between was lost on her and she has no intention of remembering it. Then Lisa Milner was found dead with her wrists slit. Sam Boyd then appears on Quincy's doorstep claiming concern over her after those years laying low. Quincy quickly forged a friendship with Sam but as the days go she realises that Sam is relentless in bringing out that rage which had buried deep inside her since that fateful night. As dire consequences happen one after another after Sam moves into her house, Quincy begins to question everything including Lisa's death and what really happened to her and her five friends at Pine Cottage.

Final Girls was one great psychological suspense with a cast of intriguing characters. What made this such a compelling read is aside from the characters, the plot and the writing style keep the reader engrossed throughout the story. And personally I felt the two parts narrations really brought out the intensity as the reader will see two sides of the story - the present in Quincy's POV and the other in third person narration as flashbacks of what happened at Pine Cottage as the story moves towards the closure. This book had me on edge all the time and while I was curious over the friendship between Sam and Quincy, I was also eager to find out what really happened at Pine Cottage. I could easily picture this story makes its way onto the big screen because it has the combination of a slasher flick (think Scream and the like) and suspense. A fresh voice in the psychological thriller genre and I'll definitely be looking forward to more by this author.


© 2017 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

Based on the American television series of the same title, this Korean drama remake will satisfy anyone who loves a good, exciting police procedural and crime thrillers featuring a group of elite agents from the National Criminal Investigation (NCI) to solve crime cases through their expertise of criminal profiling, criminal psychology, white hacking and the like. The cases they solve range from domestic and violence to complex psychological ones.

As the agents work through their expertise in solving each case, a few also portray a personal and vulnerable side of them as some cases involve their friends and family members, or even having been gone through some horrific situations themselves which still left an impact on them before joining NCI.

Although each agent is brilliant in his/her own role, I've to say Team Captain Kang Ki-Hyung (starring Son Hyun-Joo) left a deep impression on me not only of his brilliant acting but also of his role as the lead profiler who guide his team through his sharp insight on how a criminal's mind works as well as offering support as and when needed. Other supporting roles such as profilers Kim Hyun-Joon (starring Lee Joon-Gi), Ha Sun-Woo (starring Moon Chae-Won), Dr Lee Han (starring Go Yoon); and white hacker Nana Hwang (starring Yoo-Sun) as well as the media specialist Yoo Min-Young (starring Lee Sun-Bin) complement the group and no one is a minor role in my opinion as each plays an important part in solving a case.

After watching this I've a deeper understanding of how a profiler works and I truly have great respect and admiration for them given the challenging tasks they have to face everything they solve a case.


© 2017 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

Touchstone | July 2015 | 304 pgs
Source: Library



Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley lives by herself in a secluded small town on a mountain in Tennessee. Although she feels lonely at times, she seeks comfort in her mystery books until she finds a woman moving into the long-empty house across the pond. 

Jennifer Young is on the run from her old life and together with her four-year-old son Milo, they take refuge in a quiet town so she could get on with her new identity and a new beginning. She is reserved and mysterious to the residents and soon she catches Margaret's attention simply because she has occupied the house of a woman named Barbara, who was about Margaret's age and they used to talk sometimes. Acting like a sleuth herself, Margaret sets on befriending the younger woman by hiring her as her massage therapist, hoping that as the days go by Jennifer would open up and tell her her story. But Jennifer isn't keen to talk about herself or her family, thus in order to get Jennifer's attention so that she would keep coming to her house, Margaret decides to tell Jennifer her story when she was a nurse with the Army Nurse Corps during World War II as well as her friendship with a fellow nurse named Kay. Margaret has never told anyone about her story, because it consists of a secret she wouldn't even think of herself. As if that isn't enough, Margaret begins to seek out someone from Jennifer's past to learn of her history that would lead to some consequences both of them couldn't imagine. 

The New Neighbor may sound like a mystery novel but basically it is a story surrounding two women and their secrets as well as their different views being on their own. For Margaret, years of loneliness and curiosity has drove her into finding a friendship in Jennifer but that persistence has led to an obsession. As for Jennifer, her needs for isolation became an impossible task as she soon realises that the basic needs to socialise with people and to hunt for a job are both essential if she is to survive in a new environment. In a nutshell, Margaret and Jennifer seek each other out for different reasons and this is where the story begins to unfold. 

This story was beautifully written and was a little suspenseful in a way, but not in the form of a psychological thriller. In fact I'd say this is more of a literary fiction with a sense of melancholy. I can't say I loved the story but the author has a way with words and the story did make me feel for Margaret and Jennifer; thus overall it was a satisfying read. 


© 2017 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

Crown/Archetype | June 2017 | 304 pgs
Source: Library


The story opens with our protagonist, Audra Kinney, fleeing from her abusive husband as she takes their two children with her in a car. As they make their way across Arizona to their destination in California taking back roads to avoid attention, a local sheriff pulls her over with an accusation of committing a traffic offense. Audra, who is trying to keep a low profile, stops her car and before she could react the sheriff begins to ransack her trunk and pull out a bag of drugs which she has never seen before. Audra is then forced to be detained by the sheriff while he calls his colleague, a deputy officer, to take away her children to somewhere safe so they could interrogate her properly. 

However this is not what the sheriff and the deputy officer have in mind. They plan to take away her children to seal a deal and they will frame Audra for false accusation and possession of illegal drugs. It is their words against hers and Audra, who used to have a history of alcoholism and depression two years ago, will find herself fighting her way for freedom and most of all, to get her children back. But no one believes her except a man named Danny Lee, whose wife had encountered the same experience five years ago but Danny wouldn't have the chance to see them again as his wife committed suicide and their girl couldn't be found.  

Here and Gone was a compelling read; it is also a story which I could imagine would be every parent's nightmare. My heart went out to Audra as I felt her worries and her fear. I rooted for her throughout the book and I was glad she was a fighter. Danny was a more intriguing character given his ethnic Chinese identity and his gangster-like past which got him into troubles at times. The two of them makes an odd combination, but Aura and Danny have the same goal of finding whoever who took their children thus they find trust in each other eventually. This book was a refreshing break from the other books I read lately since it was about corrupt authorities (a rare feature from what I read but such a disheartening thing to think of!) Though it was a fast-paced and intense thriller, it was also an emotionally driven story surrounding a few innocent children and their mothers who are wrongly accused. I'd had a wild reading ride as I followed Audra from places to places as she raced against time to either escape from her past or to find her children. Sean, her eight-year-old son, was quite street smart and I loved how the way he protected his younger sister with the dangerous situations they were in. Definitely not an easy read with a topic of kidnapped children (fortunately they were not abused) but this will be one of those books which will make you want to keep your children safe and close.


© 2017 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


Mira | January 2017 | 368 pgs
Source: Library



This is my third Kubica book and I've to say this book was a bit different from her other two books I read in terms of the pacing and the overall story structure.

Narrated by Quinn Collins and Alex Gallo alternatively, these two characters found themselves onto a different journey when unexpected circumstances are thrown into their path. Quinn is a twenty-ish young woman living with her roommate in downtown Chicago when one day she finds her disappears from their apartment without a trace. Esther Vaughan isn't one who wander about or one who loves living a wild life so Quinn question over Esther's disappearance and how well she really knew her roommate after she has discovered a few haunting letters addressed to "My Dearest" among her possessions. Is Esther hiding something from her? 

On the other end, eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher at a coffeeshop in a solitude small-town Michigan. Living with his alcoholic father and occasionally running errands for a woman with agoraphobia, Alex has been living a mundane life until a young woman steps into the coffeeshop one day. Drawn by her mysterious and her quiet temperament, he soon becomes friends with her but the girl whom he named Pearl doesn't share much of her info with him. Who is she and what's on her agenda? 

Don't You Cry is not a fast paced book filled with intensity like other psychological suspense; this is more of a character-driven story and allows the reader to take time to know the characters as the story slowly unfolds. Truth be told, I wasn't sure where the story direction is initially because Quinn and Alex don't seem to have any connections with each other. Their search in finding the truth surrounding the two young women in their life seems to be their common ground and that's it. However, the story did take a turn and surprised me in the end as it wasn't something I'd expected. Overall it was a suspenseful read and if you don't mind the slower pace then this book is for you.



© 2017 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

HarperCollins | September 2017 | 352 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss



Unfolding over the course of 24 hours, Best Day Ever is a domestic thriller that tells a pair of couple's marital woes and their psychological tug of war which led to a twisty conclusion. 

Paul and Mia Strom seem to be a perfect couple in everyone's eyes. Paul works in an advertising firm holding a managerial position and Mia is a beautiful, stay-at-home housewife. They have two perfectly healthy young boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. Mia used to work as a copywriter but quit her job after marrying Paul. Paul ensures that the family is well fed and that Mia could concentrate on her role as a housewife. Being a perfect husband he is, he plans a weekend getaway at their lake house just the two of them; and it would be the best day ever for them.  

However, tension arises before they get to their lake house. To complicate matters, Paul doesn't see eye to eye with their lake house's neighbour, Buck. He even wonders if Buck and Mia are having a secret affair. But that's not all, Paul seems to have anger issue and is unfaithful to Mia on several occasions. Mia finally decides that enough is enough and that she should take matters into her own hands and take back the freedom she's always craves; after all Paul is nothing as compared to her parents' financial status. On top of that, Mia's father despises Paul and didn't approve of their marriage in the first place. 

Best Day Ever is a page-turner and will question the reader how well you really know the person whom you are closest to. To begin with, Paul is a narcissist, a womaniser and a male chauvinist who loves control over everything else. A few chapters in, he sent off a bad vibe to the reader through his dark ugly thoughts and bad behaviours. Paul may be an unlikeable narrator, but being the focal point his role is what set the pace of this story and like watching a train wreck the reader knew something bad would happen yet it's hard not to see the other way and read what's going to happen next. Mia, on the other hand, is a character whom the reader could not underestimate. She may be meek in the beginning, but one could never tell if she has a hidden agenda. 

As this is told over a course of 24 hours, there is a strong sense of urgency and intensity when deceptions and doubts begin to set in both Paul's and Mia's mind. While there was closure towards the end I couldn't help feeling a bit raw over everything happened in the book. This is another domestic suspense novel you have to read if you are a fan of this genre. 


© 2017 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

Kensington | April 2017 | 320 pgs
Source: Library



I read Charlie Donlea's Summit Lake a while back and thought it was a good read but his latest, The Girl Who Was Taken, was even better.

In August 2016, Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald disappeared from a beach party in their small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. Both are high school seniors and though they aren't the best of friends, each is popular with her own cliques of friends and while Megan is a good student with big dreams, Nicole is wild and an attention seeker who would do anything for the sake of fun and rebellion. Two weeks later, Megan miraculously escapes from a secluded bunker which kept her hidden from the world but not Nicole who remains missing.

A year later Megan shot to fame through her book about her harrowing escape and how her survival becomes an inspiring story to many. Nicole's older sister, Livia, still feels regret for not answering Nicole's call on that fateful night and as a fellow in forensic pathology now, she is hoping that one day soon Nicole's body and answers will be found through evidence of forensic science and a closure for good. What Livia didn't expect is a young man's body lying on her exam table and he is the first clue to Nicole's disappearance since Nicole was acquainted with him before tragedy strikes. Casey's death isn't a suicide as speculated by the police and the more Livia finds out through her job she finally came to a conclusion that Casey was murdered but what happened to Nicole? Driven by this new discovery and that urge of finding the truth surrounding Nicole's disappearance, Livia approaches Megan and hoping that she would help her out in giving her a more specific account of what really happened that night and if their cases are connected to a few other missing girls as well.

The Girl Who Was Taken wowed me in many ways. For starters, it was a fast-paced and a very suspenseful read. I was sucked into the story quickly and while I was intrigued by Nicole as a person as well as her disappearance, I was also drawn to Livia as a fellow in forensic pathology and the challenges she has to face on job as well as her wish in finding her younger sister. The author has done a great job in detailing Livia's profession and while I was fascinated by all the works and challenges, I was also aware that it isn't a job for everyone as it requires both courage and meticulousness (and not to mention a strong stomach) as well. Overall it was a compelling psychological thriller mixed with a dose of forensic science and I can't wait to find out what is in store in Charlie Donlea's next book. 


© 2017 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

Mira | September 2016 | 288 pgs
Source: Library



Once again, I've the pleasure of having Lark as my reading buddy and this time around she had chosen Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra, who is an Australian author. This is a story about two different young women; one disappeared while the other is an impostor. 

In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared on her way home from work. On the surface, Rebecca seemed like any other ordinary girl who enjoyed life; she'd been having a good summer break with her best friend, Lizzie, and crushing on an older boy at work. Then before her disappearance, she has a feeling of being watched and that she could feel a presence in her room at night. No one knew what happened although Lizzie claimed Bec was not being herself before her disappearance. The case remains unsolved. 

Eleven years later, a young woman took over Rebecca Winter's identity after she was caught shoplifting and in desperation claimed to be the missing Bec. The impostor bore some resemblance to the missing Bec so no one suspected anything and soon she is living the real Bec's life. The impostor has nothing to lose as she has an unhappy life and didn't feel loved by her family. However, her new life is short-lived as soon she notices that her welcoming family and friends aren't quite as they seem and most of all, whoever took Rebecca Winter is still at large. What really happened to the real Bec and what would the impostor do under this circumstances?

Only Daughter is one of those suspense novels that leave you entirely clueless and curious from the beginning and you couldn't help but to keep reading until that final page. This story is told from two POVs alternatively - 16-year-old Rebecca Winter before her disappearance in third person narrative and the impostor in present time in first person narrative. Both characters are intriguing in her own way and while I felt sorry for the impostor's life and that she has to resort to impersonation to have a new life, it is the real Rebecca who I was really interested in from the beginning. She is a bit mysterious and most of all I felt something is off with her parents but yet I couldn't put my finger on what really bothered me. While I felt some parts seemed a bit far-fetched, still it has that foreboding feel and will keep the reader riveted until that very last page. Overall it was a suspenseful read though I felt some parts need more developments. 

And finally, here are my answers to Lark's questions related to the book: 

1. What did you think of the ending, and did you see it coming? (Because I didn't!)

I certainly didn't see that ending coming! It was a good twist, but I've some questions on the motive and didn't fully understand why but that said, it was a very suspenseful thriller. My curiosity towards the two Rebeccas was what drove me flipping the pages quickly! 

2. Between the real Bec and her impostor, which character did you end up liking better?  

Hmm. That was a good question and one which is difficult to answer without giving much thought. Honestly, I sympathised with both of them; each girl faced some difficulties in her life but most of all, it seemed the impostor suffered the most because of what she's been through with her family whom she felt unloved by them. As for the real Bec, she may seemed to have everything in life but she lacked emotional happiness. I think both girls have their strength and flaws and it is difficult for me to pick a favourite character. 

Now go visit Lark's blog to read her thoughts and my questions to her relating this book! 


© 2017 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


Penguin Publishing Group | September 2017 | 352 pgs
Source: Publisher via Netgalley


I read Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You in 2015 and enjoyed her writing style and most of all the sensitivity and the insightfulness when portraying her characters and crafting her story. This second book is no exception and once again I found myself immersed in Celeste's storytelling and her interesting cast of characters set in Shaker Heights, Cleveland. 

The Richardsons is an upper class family consists of six members. William Richardson works as a lawyer and his wife, Eleanor, is a journalist with one of the local papers. Shaker Heights has its own history and for all Eleanor knows her family roots are there. One can say Shaker Heights is a well-planned suburb and the Richardsons are quite happy with the community there until Mia Warren and her teenaged daughter, Pearl, enter into their lives. 

Mia, a single mother, is an artist and together with her daughter they travel from places to places until Shaker Heights becomes their latest resting place. They rent a house from the Richardsons and soon the four Richardson children are drawn to this enigmatic mother-daughter pair. Pearl soon quickly adapts to their new environment and has found friendship in Moody, the third child of the Richardsons family. Mia remains quiet and reserved until a coworker at a part-time place where she works confides in her about her baby daughter, May Ling Chow, whom she left at a fire station out of desperation due to her poverty condition, decides to have her baby back but an old friend of the Richardsons, the McCullough couple (the wife had had a few pregnancies but couldn't keep her babies) has decided to adopt the homeless baby and soon Eleanor and Mia find themselves on opposing sides as the custody battle divides the once peaceful community. As if that is not enough, Eleanor is determined to unravel Mia's past but that obsession will soon come with a price. 
What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love? ~ Pg 280

Once again, Celeste Ng has delivered a taut and an insightful piece of work centering around secrets, identity and the ferocity pull of maternal love. The story begins with a slow start, basically the introduction of the Richardsons and Shaker Heights but towards the middle the reader will embrace the change of direction and momentum as lots of things happened quickly. The characterisation is the huge draw of the story and I found myself invested in Mia's story and why Eleanor Richardson is relentless in pursuing Mia's mysterious past despite of consequences there might be. Celeste Ng has portrayed a multiple aspects of the role of a mother which is both moving and thought-provoking and although I liked her previous novel, I've to say I liked this one better. 

© 2017 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

Park Row Books | May 2017 | 352 pgs
Source: Library



The story opens with our protagonist, Amelia Winn, surviving a hit-and-run accident after she had seen one of the patients off to the hospital car park. Stacey was sexually assaulted and had gone for the necessary medical checks and examinations and Amelia, being a nurse, felt Stacey needed some emotional support and that the least she could do is to see her off to the car park. Unfortunately Stacey died and Amelia became deaf after her inner ear nerves were affected.

Two years later Amelia moved on but the death of Gwen Locke shattered her inner peace all over again. Like her, Gwen was a nurse and they were even friends at one time. Amelia found her body in a dense bush by the river which was deep in the woods near her cabin. From Gwen's wounds it was clear that she was murdered but no one knew why. Gwen was well liked by her friends and coworkers so it was hard to even speculate for a reason. As Amelia tried to do some detective work on her own, she realised that there was a motive behind Gwen's death and that she would be the next target of whoever murdered Gwen as she has stumbled upon some secrets she was not supposed to know.

Not a Sound stood out in my opinion not only it was a fast paced whodunit psychological thriller but more of the protagonist who was hearing impaired and her service dog, Stitch. The author has done a great job in detailing Amelia's hearing condition and the challenges she faced in life. Not being able to hear is a sad thing and my heart went out to Amelia while reading all the difficulties she had to go through in her life. It was a good thing that she could lip read and has Stitch by her side, but there are still some things she couldn't be able to tell completely even with the help of technology, such as a person's tone without seeing his expression. I understand from the author's note that Heather was born with a profound unilateral hearing loss so I can imagine her situation while reading about Amelia. The whodunit wasn't hard to guess if you follow through the plot but as mentioned before, what made this book a readable one is Amelia and Stitch. I often marvel at the capabilities and the duties of a service dog so reading about Stitch warmed my heart to an extent. I would highly recommend this book if you want a good suspense with unforgettable characters.   


© 2017 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

Penguin Publishing Group | June 2017 | 384 pgs
Source: Library



An old house demolition in London which led to a discovery of a tiny skeleton which is believed to have been buried for years. Journalist Kate Waters first came across the headline "Baby's Body Found" at the bottom of the News section in Evening Standard when she was checking for the bylines of friends. She almost missed that section since the coverage was minimal and the papers was focused more on the London Olympics instead. Intrigued with the news and determined to write something more than a few vague paragraphs, Kate began searching and unravelling the mystery of the baby's death and her tasks led her to three women and how she got sucked into a family drama involving secrets and the lies someone has to cover up over a span of forty years. 

To be honest, I think the plot was brilliant and that twisty ending totally surprised me. However, what made me plod through this book slowly is the multiple narratives involving four women. I've to admit it took me a while to get used to the style and although it was an emotional read involving a baby, I didn't really feel connected to the characters (well perhaps with the exception of Kate). Kate was an interesting character who shows a great devotion and persistence in her work and that was my impression of her. I understand she was first featured in this author's first book, The Widow, though these two books aren't connected. I'd have to check that out since there are several good reviews of it on Goodreads. I suppose another thing that slowed down my reading is the pace of the story and at times I felt it dragging. Then again, this might be a personal view and that it's more of a character-driven kind of story so this may work well with readers who are into that style. That said, I thought the ending was a good one as I didn't see it coming.



© 2017 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

HarperCollins Publishers | June 2017 | 304 pgs
Source: Library


That creepy cover. No, this isn't a horror novel and although it has dolls as a theme, this story is actually about a case of a little girl's disappearance.

Lissie and Janey Woodham were out playing at their yard when the elder sister, Lissie, left 4-year-old Janey behind to chase after a puppy. Thinking Janey was back in the house, Lis didn't take notice and by then a few precious hours were wasted. Their mother, whom others called Miss Sorrell, is a doll maker and a doll collector herself. Together with her best friend and neighbour, Evelyn, they make and repair dolls and Miss Sorrell even makes her own portrait dolls which bear the hallmark of a Sorrell leaf; a special indication to differentiate her dolls from others. Their mother had made a doll for each daughter; and many speculated that Janey or whoever kidnapped her took her doll too because it couldn't be found.  

The case remains unsolved throughout the years and Lis now has a college-aged daughter, Vanessa. She continues to live with Miss Sorrell while Vanessa is in another state working on her grant proposal on sleep-related research. However, Vanessa's proposal has to take a backseat as she's received a call from Evelyn that both her grandmother and her mother are in a hospital due to an accident in their workroom. Before this, she understood that a woman had turned up at Miss Sorrell's house with a broken porcelain doll in responding to her ad about Janey's special portrait doll. Every year on the anniversary of Janey's disappearance, Miss Sorrell will place a classified ad offering a cash reward and there's been no news until now. Is that really Janey's doll and is she really alive all these years? As Miss Sorrell's family tries to find out more about that woman with the doll and its authenticity, they'll soon learn that there's more than meets the eye and whoever knows the truth surrounding Janey's disappearance will ensure that the mystery will never be solved and will do anything to keep it hidden. 

I really enjoyed reading this story. Though not entirely a gothic story, I've to say there's still a little sense of creepiness surrounding the dolls what with their real-like looks and their scattered body parts waiting to be assembled (or wigs made from real hairs). Hallie Ephron succeeded in capturing a reader's attention with her suspenseful plot and intriguing characters through her writing skills and I've to say some information about the sleep research on directing dreams is another interesting aspect of this story. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author. 



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Melody

Penguin Publishing Group | May 2017 | 336 pgs
Source: Library


Eleanor Oliphant is an unusual woman. Living alone and with no friends, one would've thought her life must be terribly miserable and lonely. On the contrary, Eleanor doesn't really care what others think of her and is rather contented with her simple, routine life. Not a natural with social skills and sweet talking, she is often brushed off as being odd by her co-workers and even if they do talk to her their intentions are usually insincere or with motives. Eleanor has a crush on a musician named Johnnie Lomond and she often envision them being as a couple one day. It is a wishful thinking on her part, but he keeps her motivated in some way. 

Then her life takes a turn after she's met Raymond Gibbons. Raymond works in the same company as Eleanor although they are from different department. Eleanor knew Raymond because she needs his help with fixing her office computer; and being a new employee and a conversationalist at heart, Raymond will try to get into conversations with Eleanor whenever he sees her. Eleanor isn't interested in forming a friendship with Raymond initially, but both of them saw an elderly man fell and hurt his head on their way out of the office at the same time one day. While Eleanor isn't the one who accompanied Sammy into the ambulance, she couldn't help thinking of his condition and when Raymond suggest they visit Sammy together after work she knew she has no reason to turn him down. That one visit lead to another visit, and in no time Eleanor finds herself quite familiarise with Sammy and even Raymond. In the subsequent events, Eleanor changes bit by bit the more she's out with Raymond and interact with others. And towards the end, the reader will discover more of Eleanor and what makes her live in her own world and how she comes out from that abyss of loneliness and self-blame. 

I've to say Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is more than a fine book; it is a moving, uplifting book filled with heart and courage. She is an intriguing character but not one who finds approachable at first sight; she is aloof and it took me some time to warm up to her but I liked her for her guilelessness and her genuine self. This is a heartwarming story that made me laugh, cry and be inspired by Eleanor's courage and determination for walking out of her abyss and be someone different. This book is Gail Honeyman's debut and was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize. I'll be sure to follow her next release. 


© 2017 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

I'd been anticipating for this drama after seeing that poster and knowing that this would be a fantasy romance between a water god and a psychiatrist. It sounds intriguing, isn't it? On top of it, it is based on a manhwa of the same title by Yun Mi Kyung and though I haven't read it, I understand there's a slight difference from the original comic based on what I read from the drama forum.  


Water god, Habaek (starring Nam Joo Hyuk) is a charismatic yet a narcissistic deity of the Realm of Gods. Before his enthronement to be King of the Water Country, he is being sent to earth in order to locate some sacred stones to help him claim his throne. He finds Yoon So Ah (starring Shin Se Kyung) as there was a pact made between So Ah's past ancestors and the deities and that they will serve the water god for generations. So Ah, on the other hand, is a psychiatrist with her own practice but her life is a misery as she is saddled with debts and an unhappy past surrounding her father. Habaek and So Ah struggle to tolerate each other as expectations and their living lifestyle differ, but soon they'll discover that there's a lot more meaning to life and finally how they've come to a solution with their circumstances after they've fallen in love with each other.  

I suppose I'd expected too much from this fantasy because what turns out to be an interesting premise became a huge disappointment. I think the major issue lies with the worldbuilding (of the deities) as not much information or explanations are being made except for little snippets or flashbacks here and there. I thought the deities' world was interesting and it'd be so much better if there are more focus on them but alas, no. And there's also a character who's half-deity, half-human (starring Lim Ju Hwan) disguised as a CEO of a famous resort and I felt his role here are underrated. And then, there're some scenes featuring the disputes between a wind god and this half-deity which left me perplexed because I'd no idea why the wind god is continuously picking on him simply because the latter is a half-blood. Finally, while I found the romance between Habaek and So Ah sweet and romantic, they tend to drag at times. Despite my disappointment, I was perseverant in watching this through and I was glad I did because the final episode was quite a good one even though it was a little too late. My verdict is, if you're expecting a more fantasy theme and a fancy worldbuilding you'd be disappointed, however this will appease to fans of the romance genre so it is all about personal preference and expectations. 


© 2017 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.