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

Honorable Mention

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

Horror: 4
YA: 2

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

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

© 2018 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Gallery Books | September 2018 | 320 pgs
Source: Library

I've not read anything by Christina Lauren but I've heard a lot of good things about this book. For readers who love a friends-to-lovers kind of story, you'll probably love this. 

Hazel Bradford first knew Josh Im when they were in college. Ten years later, she still thinks he's good-looking and proper in all sense while he thinks of her as wild, crazy and funny at times. Needless to say, their personality clashes and Josh doesn't think Hazel as his kind of gal. Plus, he has gone out with Tabitha for two years although it's a long distance relationship. It is strange how fate has once again brought this two together. Hazel is an elementary school teacher and when her good friend, Emily, invited her to her house as a get-together, she doesn't have much thoughts until she saw Josh there. It turns out that Josh is Emily's brother. 

Despite the awkwardness, Hazel continues to hang out with Josh like any other friends. And when Josh later found out that his girlfriend is cheating on him, Hazel thinks it isn't a bad idea to go on a double date. However, no matter how many dates they've gone, they just didn't click with each other's friends. But of course by that time their connection and tacit understanding struck them both that they may have a chance with each other after all.  

This book was a great escapism after all the thrillers I read. On top of that, I loved it that the relationship was based from the foundation of friends first and that Hazel and Josh are two interesting characters who're relatable; the former who was not afraid of being herself while the latter was kind, sensitive and stable. They're the typical opposite-attract type of couple and I couldn't like them more because of who they are and how comfortable they're with each other. Their witty dialogues, Josh's Korean heritage and the different situations they were in made this such an entertaining read and I enjoyed the whole book in spite of the predictability. I'll definitely be looking out for more books by this author.  

© 2018 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
HarperCollins Publishers | October 2018 | 480 pgs
Source: Library

This first novel of the Crown of Shards fantasy series tells a story of a royal family dynamics, politics and conspiracies with the combinations of magic and a hint of romance. 

Lady Everleigh Blair lost her parents since young. Although she's seventeenth in line for the throne, her role in the royal court of Bellona is nothing but an assistant to the cook master. In their realm whereby one's magical power determines one's worth (i.e. magier, master and morph), Evie is considered the lowest since she's a mutt with no magical power. Her only strength is her enhanced sense of smell and the ability to be immuned of magic but no one knows of the latter since her late mother had warned her to keep it as a secret for her own good. 

Bellona is a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition so it is not uncommon for a woman to have battling skills. Evie is no warrior, but her cousin Vasilia, who's the crown princess, is a skilled warrior and once upon a time they were close with each other until Evie learnt that it was all a lie. Evie steers clear from her path thereafter, and Vasilia couldn't care less considering she has big plans ahead. Although Vasilia's mother, Queen Cordelia, intends to marry her off to the prince of Andvari for Bellona's benefits and further securing the ties between the two kingdoms; Vasilia, on the other end, has already planned to assassinate the Queen and take the throne by force. 

After the massacre, Evie escapes with the help of her secret immunity. For survival and a plan to avenge for the Bellona people, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. While the troupe perform to amuse, several of them are actually highly trained warriors. There, Evie met a few interesting people, in particularly Lucas Sullivan, a magier who seemed to have some secrets of his own. As she trains with the troupe, she soon learn more about the troupe leader, Serilda, who used to be the late Queen's royal guard and how the troupe came about. 

I was totally fascinated with the world building and the cast of characters in this book. Add in a dose of magic and some actions and I was hooked. There's nothing that I didn't love about this story; except that Evie may be too much of a risk taker at times. Then again, a warrior is one who shouldn't be afraid to take risks, especially if she has the best of heart for others. I also enjoyed the banter between Evie and Lucas; although there isn't much romantic chemistry between them, yet, I'm hoping to see there's some changes in the next installment, Protect the Prince.  

© 2018 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Penguin Publishing Group | August 2018 | 352 pgs
Source: Library

Julia's life is flat and boring. After a painful breakup with her boyfriend, she set her mind on proving herself at work and hopefully her boss will start to notice her hard work and assign her some important tasks. Bryce walks into her life literally when she is preparing for a presentation and a gust of wind blows her papers everywhere. After Bryce has helped her pick up the papers, he asked to meet her for a drink which she said yes. That drink leads to another meeting and soon Julia finds herself saying yes to being his girlfriend. It's hard not to like Bryce; after all he's handsome, charming and he knows how to make Julia feels special and different. Bryce then brought Julia to his church; introducing her to his so-called family and encouraging her to engage in his church's activities and to follow their teaching and principles. Everything sounds promising except that Bryce doesn't share about his past and that there's something a little off with the Reverend and the followers' belief. And despite Julia's doubts, Bryce always manage to convince her in the end. 

Julia slowly become isolated from her family, friends and eventually her job. After marriage, it become worse as Bryce doesn't seem like the man he used to be. Is it possible for her to leave, given that Bryce has already had plans for their relationship? 

Although this latest novel by Rena Olsen is marketed as a psychological thriller, it read more like a women's fiction with domestic abuse issue. I've to say the plot was quite predictable and I'd some issue about Julia and the ending. First off, I felt Julia jumped too fast into the relationship right from the beginning. Sure, Bryce may seemed like a perfect man initially, but this didn't give Julia a good reason to lose control of her decisions. I knew then that the relationship isn't going to work and after the marriage it only got worse. At that point, I felt no motivation to read further (this explains my slow progress) but there's something about the author's writing that made me continue reading. As for the ending I felt it to be rushed and that some questions are left unanswered. That said, this may deem to be a suitable read for readers who love a domestic drama rather than a suspense/thriller. 

© 2018 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
William Morrow | August 2018 | 416 pgs
Source: Library

Have you heard of the term "dark sky park"? I haven't until I read this book. Basically it's a park that offers dazzling views of the Constellations and the Milky Way with minimal lightings so as to keep the area as natural as possible (for more information click here.) In this story, the author had chosen Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City, Michigan as the model for the fictional Straits Point International Dark Sky Park. 

Thirtyish Eden Wallace is a photographer who'd lost her husband, Bix, to a car accident. Before Bix's death, Eden is a person who doesn't have much drive or motivation when her ambition is concerned. This is partly due to Bix's job as an Army, which often requires him to travel and with her following around, it is hard to settle on something permanent. Now that Bix is gone, Eden finds no reason for any motivation and also plagued by night terrors there isn't a night she goes to sleep without the lights on. However one day, she finds paperwork in her husband's effects indicating that he reserved a week under the stars in a dark sky park meant for their tenth anniversary. Despite her paralysing phobia of the dark, Eden proceeds to the destination. 

What she thought was a private retreat in a guest suite at Straits Point International Dark Sky Park turns out to be a group stay as there was a mistake made by the reception. Eden isn't keen to be stuck with six twentysomethings for their college reunion, so she decides to stay for a night and head home the next day. However, one of the six was later found murdered and Eden's hope of going home is dashed. While they are forced to remain at the guest house for the investigation, Eden discovered that the group's friendship isn't what she has thought initially as they each seem to harbour some secrets of their own. Now everyone becomes a suspect, including Eden herself. But what most bothered Eden is aside from the tricky situation she's in, she also discovered some secrets surrounding Bix before his death.  

Under a Dark Sky was a brilliant locked-room mystery which had my attention from the beginning till the end, especially given the setting and not to mention a cast of intriguing characters. Eden was an interesting character, to say the least, and she carried lots of emotional baggage since the death of her husband and the things she's gone through thereafter. The rest of the characters are a mysterious lot, and while I was curious to know the murderer and his/her motive, I've to say this book was actually very much about Eden as there's also a storyline about herself and her late husband that are woven into the murder mystery's core. A gripping read and I'd recommend this book to readers who love a good mystery (or two). 

© 2018 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Hello! So I'm back. Our vacation was a great one. For the inquiring minds, we went to Taiwan. It was our third trip and our last trip was three years ago. Regardless of the various countries and how many times we visited, all I can say is each experience is special and different because of the people we met. I'm glad to say we'd been lucky with the tour guides we had and this time is no exception. The places we visited were fascinating; some eye-opening while some simply amazing. I'd been posting some pictures on Instagram for the past few days so if you've followed my account you may have seen them. Anyway, I attached a few pictures I posted on IG for anyone who missed it. :)

Top to bottom
- Morning walk at Flying Cow Ranch. I've to say this is my best 'artistic' shot among all. :D
- View of Taipei City from hiking at Elephant Mountain. Phew, those stairs! (photo credit: my husband)
- Popular shopping district at Ximending 
- Rainbow Village (there's a history about it which you can read here)
- One of the orchid pics taken at Taichung Flower Expo

Onto bookish topic, I only finished a book (With You Always by Rena Olsen) while I was on the trip. Actually I'd started reading it beforehand and it was a slow progress, so to speak. It was a domestic thriller and review will be forthcoming. Before writing this post, I'd just finished reading a Chinese romance titled Waiting for You Yesterday (我在昨天等你) by Taiwanese writer, Misa. It's a library book but it'd caught my attention during a visit to a bookstore in Taiwan. It's a story about family, friendship as well as love rebirth. It's also a story filled with heartfelt sentiments which had me in tears in the end (note to self: will be checking out more of her books in the near future). Onto another book, I'm currently reading Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep; it's a first novel in the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series that combines magic, murder and adventure. Sounds exciting, isn't it? And it has a gorgeous cover too.

So did I miss anything while I was away? I definitely miss reading all your blog posts and am curious to know what you've been reading. I'm still slowly catching up on reading my library books as well as blog hopping/commenting; after all some part of my mind is still on the trip, ha. Happy reading! 

© 2018 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Penguin Publishing Group | October 2018 | 512 pgs
Source: Library

We are all aware that Bram Stoker is the author of the timeless classic horror, Dracula. Dacre Stoker, Bram's great-grandnephew, together with author J.D. Barker, cowrite this prequel inspired through Bram's journals and notes and tell readers not only about the origins of the scary vampire which haunts our dreams but also a story of Bram and an enigmatic woman who bound them together. 

The year is 1854. Seven-year-old Bram Stoker is a sickly child and spend most of his time in bed in their Dublin's home, tended by a caretaker named Ellen Crone. The Stokers hired the young woman by chance after their previous caretaker left in a haste; and while the Stokers are skeptical of Ellen's enigmatic behaviours in the beginning, they soon get used of her characteristics given how Bram seem to get better under her care. Although Bram has a few other siblings, it is Matilda, his sister who's a year older, whom he share a deep bond with. As much as both of them adore Ellen, there are times that they couldn't put a finger on Ellen's actions and why she would leave the house for a few days and then return as if nothing happens. But what most perplexing is her appearance as she could be glowing today and then haggard the next. To unravel the mystery surrounding Ellen, Bram and Matilda did a little investigation and learned of her unknown side. 

Back to the present in 1868 when Bram is an adult, we "find" him secured in a locked room at an abandoned abbey trying to fend off some monster which is on his trail. With time running out and hoping that help would be on its way, he hurriedly writes down all the events right from the start till what have brought him to the present and this begins the tale of Dracul

Dracul is both a horror and a love story at its best. Told from two timelines through various sources like journals, diary entries, letters and notes, as well as a segment on a few narrators who also play an important role in this story (e.g. Matilda and Thornley Stoker, and Dr Arminius Vambéry who has some knowledge in vampirism). I find all the characters intriguing here; and I've to say Matilda was my favourite character among all. She's feisty since a young girl and we continue to see her bravery side and determination right up to her adulthood. Then, there's the close-knit relationship she had with Bram that I find rather heartwarming at times. 

And if Bram is the leading role, then Ellen is the star of this story. There is so much I wanted to talk about her yet it wouldn't be fun if I indulge all her mysterious side and secrets; likewise the plot. As you can tell, I enjoyed the wild ride immensely. "Wow!" is an understatement of how I felt after closing this book and I hope you'll pick up this book quickly.

Note: This is a scheduled post as I'm currently on vacation. Blog hop and comments will resume after my return. Happy reading! 

© 2018 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.