Melody
St. Martin's Publishing Group | August 2019 | 320 pgs
Source: Library 


The title may sound like a non-fiction but this is actually an uplifting and inspiring story that explores about family, forgiveness and love. 

Cassie Hanwell is one tough woman. Being the only female firefighter with the Austin Fire Department, she works extra hard not only she loves her job but also as her life focus ever since her mother left her and her father on her sixteenth birthday. That day changed her mindset about trusting people and while she's good in dealing with emergencies, she's never good in connecting with others although she has a great comradeship with her colleagues. She's on her path towards promotion until two things turned her world upside down. First, upon seeing the city councilman who's going to present her with a valor award and he was the guy who's hurt her badly in high school. Then, her estranged mother called and said she needs her to move to Massachusetts given her eye problems.

"Choosing to love -- despite all the ways that people let you down, and disappear, and break your heart. Knowing everything we know about how hard life is and choosing to love anyway . . . That's not weakness. That's courage." ~ Pg 59

Cassie is reluctant to forgive her mother given she'd left them years ago. On top of it, she didn't want to leave her current place but her career with the Austin Fire Department is gone (she refused to apologise to the councilman after what he'd done to her on stage). Through her superior's recommendation, she ends up at Lillian Fire Department in Massachusetts; a smaller station which pale in comparison in all aspects and worst of all, the chief doesn't really think highly of women firefighters but is willing to take her in because they're short-staffed. So Cassie ends up moving into her mother's house and start her new life. 

Cassie soon finds out that she's not the only newbie but there's a rookie who's joining Lillian FD, too. Being the only female and her capabilities in doubt, Cassie works extra hard to prove herself and along the drills and other works, she discovers that Owen Callaghan (who is often called the "rookie" more than his name) is nothing like his other subordinates. For starters, he treats her as an equal and even better, acknowledge her skills. Back at home, her relationship with her mother is lukewarm but as the days go, she soon finds out the real reason behind her mother's request. 

This book evoked so much emotions in me during my reading journey. I admired Cassie's spirit and I think she'd made all women proud for undertaking a male dominated job and excelled in it. Her relationship with Owen, as well as the moments with her mother are both bittersweet to read. There may be some scenes which are cheesy or cliché, but to me how the book made me feel and reflect usually have me overlook them. I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely check out the other books by this author.


© 2019 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 | July 2019 | 448 pgs
Source: Library 


(This review contains little spoilers of the first book, Kill the Queen.)


This is the second installment of Jennifer Estep's Crown of Shards series and the story picks up right where it left off in the first book. 

Three months have passed after the royal massacre at Seven Spire palace in the kingdom of Bellona. Lady Everleigh "Evie" Blair managed to overcome a conspiracy at the last minute but she couldn't save Queen Cordelia from her death. Now that Evie is the new gladiator queen of Bellona, not only she has to gain confidence from the Bellonan people that she'd be competent in her new role but also to think of Bellona's future and what she should do to prevent the Mortans from attacking them again. Why, she'd nearly died from poison from a recent secret assassination if not of her enhanced sense of smell and her immunity to magic. 

For diplomatic reason as well as to secure an alliance, she travels to the neighbouring kingdom of Andvari despite dangers are lurking everywhere. But King Heinrich of Andvari wouldn't let things off so easily for her; after all one of his sons, Prince Frederick, and a respected lord were killed in her land during the royal massacre. 

To complicate matters, it seems there are more dark magic works and conspiracies even in Andvari court and she is keen to flush out the traitor even if it means she has to sacrifice her love for Lucas Sullivan, the bastard prince of Andvari, even though she isn't sure if they even have a future together given their status. 

I've to say I enjoyed this installment more than the first one. While the first book was very much on the world-building and the characters (well, it still is in this one), this latest installment was more onto emotional struggles and of course, lots more conspiracies and not to mention some romance element, too. I'm also glad to see a stronger Evie here as she portrayed her new role as a Winter Queen while still trying to maintain her good old self. And, are you fascinated by gargoyles like I do? Well, they're both deadly and adorable creatures here, depending on the circumstances. All in all, this was a very satisfying read to me. Crush the King is the title for the next installment and I'm so looking forward to it, which will only be available in March 2020.


© 2019 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
Faber & Faber | July 2019 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 


Set in Baltimore during the 1960s, this novel centers around two mystery cases and a woman's ambition amid the various difficulties and challenges faced during that time. 

Thirty-ish Madeline "Maddie" Schwartz is supposed to be a happy housewife. Although her marriage to Milton is far from being perfect, at least their marriage is leaning towards the twentieth year. Despite this, she feels a little restless and bored with her life. She decided to leave her marriage (not divorced) and pursue her dreams working in a newspapers firm. Maddie may have no skills and experience for that matter, but she knows how to make use of opportunities and she got a job (even if it's an assistant position) after helping the police find the body of a murdered girl. 

However, Maddie does have some little insider's tip from Ferdie Platt, a black policeman and she pursues the source until the perpetrator is finally put on trial. Maddie has a secret affair with Ferdie and although she is comfortable with him, she knew they couldn't declare their relationship openly considering their race and all the consequences they've to face should words get out. 

Maddie continues to work her way up and she decided that she needs a bigger story to leave her mark on the male dominated industry. She already has her eyes set on Cleo Sherwood, a young black woman who died in a lake years ago and she intends to find out the cause and the perpetrator even though news of her disappearance and death received minimal coverage. But Maddie's drive come off too strong and often she fails to look beyond her own needs and what she unravels will do more harm and hurt to the people surrounding her, including the victim's family. 

The story begins with a bang with Cleo's thoughts after she was dead. Further reading reveals a few issues such as racial tension, gender inequality, religion and class differences which make an interesting aspects to the story but alas, my attention started to wane halfway through the book. There are too many narratives, including a few random people Maddie met during the course of her investigations and although it was interesting to hear what they thought, I felt they didn't really contribute much impact to the story and seemed more like fillers to me. Maddie was an interesting character; and her ambition and drive were admirable but for some reason I couldn't find myself connecting with her. Although this is not my favourite Laura Lippman book, I did enjoy reading the twisty ending, the historical aspect and the portrayal of Baltimore set in the '60s. 


© 2019 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
G.P. Putnam's Sons | June 2019 | 320 pgs
Source: Library


Lana Stone and her partner, Tyler, have been trying for a baby for a while but no such luck. The IVF treatments aren't successful either so the last option is to go through an agency for an egg donor. Getting an egg donor isn't easy, and Lana's wish is to find a Bulgarian so that they could share the same roots. And as much as Tyler is supporting in every sense, the stress of getting pregnant has finally taken its toll on their relationship as Lana's mind and conversations are all about the baby. Tyler decides to leave Lana at this stage despite she's in the middle of the donor egg cycle, claiming that both of them need some break. Needless to say, Lana is mortified but that feeling is quickly replaced by exhilaration as she soon learned that she is pregnant. 

Lana should've informed Tyler at that time but she didn't, thinking he must've found someone. It is also at this moment that she's interested to know more about the egg donor, though she understand the implications it'd cause if she's not careful and reveal her identity. Lana didn't expect she'd find her easily, but Katya Dimitrova seemed to have found her way to Lana as the latter recognised her face from the agency's record. Not willing to lose her, Lana decides to watch her from a distance but a circumstances bring them together and an unexpected friendship is born. 

As Lana gets to know Katya without revealing her identity, she finds that Katya is a free spirited girl who lives life at the edge. She loves attention from men and she's not shy at voicing her thoughts. Lana may not agree to her lifestyle, but she's still fascinated by this college girl who has brought out her fun self she's left a decade ago. Just when Lana gets to know her a little better, Katya disappears and it seems she might be the last person to see her before she went missing. With no clues from the police, Lana decides to do some investigations on her own but she isn't prepared for the secrets she's unearthed. 

I'd say this novel is a light domestic thriller as it focused much on the character developments more than the suspense itself. The sense of foreboding is still present, but this is more of Katya's story as the story progresses. The narrations of Lana's present and Katya's past are both intriguing to read (and Tyler's too, although his leaving Lana both annoyed and perplexed me) and ironically, the reader gets to learn more about Katya right after she disappears while Lana's presence seems more like a supporting role. There are some red herrings as well as a few men surrounding Katya become suspects, but Katya's characteristics seems to portray she may be the cause of her own fate. So who's the perpetrator here? I think not all readers will take the ending as it is, but personally I think it is well executed which explain everything. 


© 2019 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
G.P. Putnam's Sons | July 2019 | 438 pgs
Source: Purchased 

If you're into K-dramas, you should've heard of the drama "My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox", starring Lee Seung-gi and Shin Min-ah. I loved that rom-com fantasy; and it introduced me to this Korean mythology (click here if you wish to learn more about gumiho) although I'm more familiar with the Chinese version of the same creature. 

In this book, eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung arrives in Seoul with her mother for a new life. Being a gumiho forbids them to stay in the same place permanently and for years the two women have no qualm about their hunting life (preying on men on full moon so they could devour their energy in order to survive). Miyoung may have to feed to survive but she has her own rules when it comes to choosing her prey. Through the help of Nara, a young shaman, she captures criminals and the like through Nara's vision and although this doesn't make her less of a murderer, she feels she is doing a justice in some ways. 

On a particular full moon night, Ahn Jihoon brings his dog out for a walk and they end up deep in the forest. Jihoon's fear of the dark came true when he encounters a goblin. Just when he thought he'd not come out of the forest alive, a girl came to his rescue. She's none other than Miyoung. However, she'd violated the gumiho rules and lost her fox bead during the rescue. Without the fox bead in her body, her fox essence will deteriorate even though she's holding on to it. 

And as fate would have it, Miyoung is a newcomer in Jihoon's school and they're in the same class, too. Miyoung doesn't want to acknowledge him initially, but Jihoon is patient and persistent. He has no fear of this mysterious girl, despite he's heard stories about the mystical gumiho from his grandmother since young. It is no surprise their brief acquaintance became friendship, then a longing for companionship considering they're similar in a way - lack of parental love. However, as much as they're attracted to each other, it is clear that their love is doomed from the start. How could a gumiho and a human fall in love, given all their differences and not to mention a feud which already started decades ago?

There are so many things I loved about this book. The mythology, the characters (hands down, Jihoon is my favourite character among all), the plot and of course not to mention the banter between Miyoung and Jihoon. I also enjoyed the sections in between about the history of the gumiho and her journeys. There's a reason behind her coldness and ruthlessness and these information definitely add a few perspectives to this intriguing story (and I need to mention there's also a glossary list of some Korean words and their meanings at the end of the book for easy reference as the author input them into the story for a more authentic voice). Yes, I was sorry to see it end, but Lark and I had a fun time devouring and exchanging views about this book (and oh, there's a sequel coming in summer 2020! We'll definitely read this together then for our buddy read. Right, Lark? 😃). 

Finally, here's my answers to Lark's questions: 

1. What aspects of Jihoon's character did you like the best?
His persistence and his easy-going demeanour. Although sometimes his persistence may come off as a little strong, but his intentions are good (e.g. trying to befriend Miyoung despite her continuous indifferent attitude).

2. What did you think of Miyoung's mother and their complicated relationship?
Miyoung's mother was a complicated character. She's cold and she could be ruthless, but after reading some of her past stories I actually felt sorry for her. Her complicated relationship with Miyoung (or Jihoon, for that matter) arises from her past and her fear of history repeating itself. On top of these, her somewhat lack of communication with Miyoung further widen the gap between the mother-and-daughter relationship, although deep down she still cares for her a lot. 

There you have it. Now go visit Lark's blog to read her review and the Q&As.  😃

© 2019 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
奇幻基地 |  May 2018 |  304 pgs
Source: Library

This is book 5 of the second urban legend series by Ling Jing (笭菁). All her books read as stand-alones and her stories are based on various urban legends added with some imaginations and other elements of her own.

Note: The main characters in this series are different from the first series as the author felt a change for new blood is necessary to offer a new and different perspective. 

Urban Legend origin: Anatoly Moskvin, a Russian philologist, historian and linguist, was arrested in 2011 for exhuming several dead girls bodies (aged between three and fifteen) from local graveyards before mummifying the bodies himself, had them dressed up and posed them around his home. 

Summary: Young girls are being abducted and despite the police searches and investigations, they came up with nothing. It's as if these girls had vanished into thin air. When a member of the urban legend society discovered that the tomb of her late niece was being vandalised, it didn't cross her mind that someone was trying to dig up the body until the members stumbled upon a dark shadow behaving suspiciously around the graveyard one night. Their discovery led them for further investigations, and they soon have a suspect who seemed to fit the bill of the bodies stealer but they couldn't dismiss the thought that things have been going on too smoothly for them. Did they catch the wrong person? 

My thoughts: This was such a horrifying story! And I don't only mean the dead bodies but the thought of someone going all the way of digging and dressing them up and treat them like live persons! Super creepy! That said, the story also added a mystery angle so aside from the horrors, the reader wouldn't know about the perpetrator and his motives until towards the end. I thought I'd guessed the perpetrator correctly but apparently I was in for a good surprise. Once again, the author has portrayed the meticulous and resourceful side of the characters and I've to say I like them more as I follow the series. 


© 2019 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
Titan Books | June 2019 | 368 pgs
Source: Library 

"Who's the wolf in the woods now?" Pg 343

Christina Henry's latest book -- a retelling tale of the Red Riding Hood is more than a dangerous encounter with the cunning wolf in the woods; for the wolves in Christina's imaginary world is far more darker and grimmer as it's set in an apocalyptic world where danger is lurking everywhere. 

Red (her real name is Cordelia) is travelling alone towards her grandmother's house after the Crisis came and took away many lives. Known as The Cough, this highly contagious disease has killed countless of people and for those who survived, they are being sent to quarantine camps but Red knew better. She doesn't want to go to a breeding ground where the disease may be quietly spreading. She's lost her parents already; she doesn't want to feel helpless and being controlled by the government military. The outside world may be brimmed with people with evil thoughts or who have lost their humanity due to the Crisis, but she has an axe and she has nothing to lose. 

I love fairy tales retellings and Christina Henry has took this classic onto another level with this thought-provoking story. I liked Red a lot; she's a strong-willed woman who will never think of her prosthetic leg as her weaknesses. She may be stubborn, but she has valid reasons and I loved how protective she was towards her older brother (despite their squabbles) and the two children she's met along the journey. 

The author has created a terrifying world with The Cough and the Crisis and although it's all fictional, I couldn't help but to think all these scenarios seem probable and it'd be disastrous if it happens. Seriousness aside, I think this book was a great read and despite the sad events and situations in this story, there is still a glimpse of hope and humanity left and this is what I'm hoping for for books like this.


© 2019 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
Scared E Cats Books | April 2019 | 214 pgs
Source: Author

This is the first book of J.P. Choquette's "Monsters in the Green Mountains" series. Set in Vermont's wilderness -- a place called Shiny Creek Trail, it is a perfect hiking trail for many hikers and hunters alike but there was an unfortunate incident happened in 1897. An 18-year-old boy was reported missing during his hike with a group of friends and till the present day in 1917, his body is still not found, leaving behind many questions unanswered as well as fuelling the interest of many hikers who want to unveil the mystery behind Shiny Creek Trail. 

In September 1917, a group of four friends decided to hike at the place looking for answers. Paul Rogers and Allan Warning are photojournalists and they thought this trip might give them something to feature about and help a bit with their career. Allan's wife, Deidre, is excited about the trip but Jane, who is Paul's wife, is skeptical but eventually decided to give it a go. The hike is supposed to be an adventure but it ended up leaving one person dead and two others missing. Paul ends up in Vermont State Hospital for the Insane, for he claimed there is some monster -- a man beast, roaming in the woods. Is Paul really delusional? Or did they encounter something horrifying in the woods? And this begins his plan in escaping from the hospital right to the end of searching for Jane and his friends in Shiny Creek Trail. 

Told in multiple narrations (mainly on Paul and Jane) and alternating between the beginning of the hike and two months later after the incident, the story mainly delve into the territory of the unknown as well as the complexity of friendship among these four friends and their state of minds when confronting unexpected circumstances. It is a survival story with a vague hint of supernatural element, although I think it revolves more on the legendary monster reminiscent of the Bigfoot. Overall it was a fast-paced read and if you like intrigue with a little mystery, then this is the book for you.


© 2019 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
Harvill Secker | August 2019 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 


I've read all of Ruth Ware's books (except The Death of Mrs Westaway) and I've to say she's at her best creating a gothic and creepy atmosphere. This book has a few of my favourite features: intrigue, suspense, an isolated remote location and an ambiguous hint of supernatural element. 

So the book opens with our protagonist, Rowan Caine, writing a letter to a Mr Wrexham appealing for his help. Rowan is currently in a cell awaiting trial for murder and she thinks Mr Wrexham might help clear her name than the other lawyer they'd assigned for her. But she needs Mr Wrexham to first hear her story and the tale begins. 

I'll try not to delve too much into the blurb since it's best to dive into this book "blind" and all I can say about this is, Rowan works as a live-in nanny for the Elincourts family at their luxurious 'smart' house they called Heatherbrae House. It is located at the Scottish Highlands and is rather remote, but the Elincourts have remodelled the old house from the predecessors and now it is equipped with all the modern conveniences of various technologies one could think of. Rowan is impressed by the overall package the Elincourts offer, but she definitely didn't anticipate that this dream house will soon become her worst nightmare. 

I've to say the writing style and the suspense are the strength of this story. Ruth Ware surely knows how to build intensity well and this book already had my full attention right from the beginning despite the slow-burn and that I didn't really like any of the characters here. Rowan was a complicated character whom I couldn't really describe through words. She could be infuriating at times; yet there are moments that you couldn't help but to feel sorry for her, too. There are also certain scenarios which may make you think about her credibility; and all these factors are what most drawn me to the story. 

Onto the weaknesses, truth be told, I think this story would be perfect if not of a certain factor leading to the ending. The ambiguity works well in my opinion though, but I felt that particular factor was a little letdown despite the huge buildup of intrigue from the beginning. Still, this was a compelling story which I found hard to resist; and last of all I'll never look at smart houses the same way ever again.



© 2019 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
Farrar Straus Giroux | May 2019 | 336 pgs
Source: Library 


I didn't really enjoy Maurene Goo's previous book (I Believe in a Thing Called Love) as much as I'd anticipated. However, I do like the way how she manages to capture the emotions and thoughts of the teenagers' mind into words so I'm giving her latest book another try. 

Lucky (not her real name) is a successful K-pop star and she is touring around Asia for her performances. Hong Kong is her next destination and she has her eyes set on making her debut on The Tonight Show in America. But with her name and fame, she often find it a challenge to sneak out to do the things she loves. However, on one particular night she has a craving for a hamburger so she decides to sneak out secretly. But then she hasn't thought about the sleeping pills and the anxiety pills she'd taken earlier. 

Jack Lim is interning at his father's bank while waiting to get into college. But his passion is photography and to fuel his love for this, he took up a side job taking pictures for a tabloid magazine. No one knows about his side job except his roommate, Charlie. So Jack has received news that a certain male celebrity is staying at a fancy hotel and on his way out after the assignment, he runs into a girl wearing the hotel's slippers. Appearing dazed, he decided to help the girl, not knowing that he's spending some time with a bigger celebrity (well, he's not into K-pop so he has absolutely no idea who she is.) When Jack finally realises who she is towards the end of the evening, he wonders if he should fulfill his dreams or protect Lucky's privacy and miss his chance for the work he loves so much.

This is a cute and sweet story which I find is a great escapism from my usual reads. The story plot is simple and the reader get to read Lucky's and Jack's story over the span of one day in the city of Hong Kong. I'm not a fan of insta-love but I can see why Lucky and Jack are attracted to each other. And through Lucky's experiences, the reader also get a glimpse of the life of an idol and some of the sacrifices they've to make behind that glamorous image which I feel is a fact surrounding the K-pop industry today. Character-wise, I think the developments were great and although this was more of a character- than a plot-driven story, it was still an entertaining read. 


© 2019 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
Riverrun | May 2019 | 480 pgs
Source: Library 

Although this is the second installment of DS Alexandra Cupidi series, I'd think this counts as the third since the main character in The Birdwatcher (presumably the prequel?), appeared in this book as a supporting character. As with the previous book (Salt Lane), I enjoyed this book immensely and I'm glad to report I've added William Shaw as one of my favourite authors. 

The book opens with 17-year-olds Benjamin and Joseph (also known as Tap and Sloth respectively) stealing two mobile phones from a bloke whom they assumed is harmless. It turns out that the man is dangerous and that the phones hold a significant deal which he couldn't miss. Now he is on the trail of the two boys and he'd do anything to get his phones back, even if it means murder. 

On the other end, DS Alexandra Cupidi and her partner, Constable Jill Ferrier, are called to an investigation involving a severed arm which was stuffed inside an art exhibit at a Margate art gallery. Cupidi couldn't find any clues as to pointing it as a homicide case; and although she couldn't understand the artworld and how they view the artworks, she couldn't dismiss the thought that something is very wrong behind that particular artwork! As Cupidi and Jill continue digging for more information, they find themselves loaded with more questions than answers. Who does that arm belongs to and is the owner dead or alive? And what's the reason behind for putting that arm into an artwork? 

What seemed like two different cases in this book is actually one whole picture pieced beautifully by the author's superb writing style and his brilliant storytelling. As with the first installment, I found myself immersed in this story full of intrigue and suspense, yet there's a dose of heartwarming scenes as well as I was moved by the friendship between Tap and Sloth. Both of them are so different from each other in terms of personality and race, but their family status and the misfit they face in school drew them together and become tight friends. 

Another factor which drew me to this series is the professional partnership between Cupidi and Jill. I've learnt quite a few things about Cupidi in the first installment; and this book allows me to take a deeper look about her relationship with her 17-year-old daughter (Cupidi is a single parent) and a part of Jill's personal life and thoughts as well. 

Despite the two different story directions and the two sets of characterisation, I've to say both are equally engaging and well executed. In some cases when such circumstances happen in the books we read, we more or less favour a certain character or setting more than the other but in this case I can't pick a favourite and this shows how much I enjoyed this book (series). Highly recommended to all fans of suspense and thrillers. 


© 2019 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
Random House Publishing Group | January 2019 | 320 pgs
Source: Library 


This book was brought to my attention thanks to Jenclair's review. I've to admit I rarely seek out nonfiction or guidebooks alike but I'll pick them up if they received good reviews and/or if fellow bookbloggers recommend them. Hence, here it is. 

Now the book title sounds like a textbook but do not let it deter you from reading it. Benjamin Dreyer is Random House's longtime copy chief and obviously he knows all the works and styles of writing good English. Contrary to the seriousness of the book title it may sound, Dreyer's writing doesn't come across as too dry or boring and although there is a certain level of authoritative tone which I find is inevitable, there are also some parts that show his witty side as he shares with the reader about the experiences he'd encountered when working with authors or conversations with the people he'd met with. 

Generally, this book offers lessons on the ins and outs of punctuation (are you confused on how and when to use semicolon? Well, you can find the answers here!) and grammar, the appropriate way of writing numbers, proper nouns, a list of frequently/easily misspelled words, as well as a few others which are essential and relevant to good writing. Dreyer's guidelines are clear and precise, and truth be told, I don't think I've ever enjoyed reading a guidebook that much like this. And I think (yes, it's OK to begin a sentence with "And" or "But") with the commonly use of social media, emails and other communicative tools aside from the usual formal writing, it is necessary for the writer to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Long story short, this is a book for everyone who wants to improve their writing skills as well as for anyone who has a passion for the language itself. 


© 2019 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 | January 2019 | 304 pgs
Source: Library 


Fourteen years ago, Ellery Hathaway was kidnapped by a serial killer, Francis Coben. She was the only survivor among his other victims; and the credit went to Reed Markham, an FBI agent who managed to save her from the killer's closet all those years ago. Once a shocking news and a face recognised by all, in present day Ellery has grown up and ditched her old self, name and all, to become a police officer in sleepy Woodbury, Massachusetts. Woodbury is a small, quiet neighbourhood with a low crime rate until three people disappeared in three years - all around Ellery's birthday when she was kidnapped those years ago. 

When Ellery mentioned this information (aside from her true identity) to her superior and colleagues, no one thinks the cases are connected. Ellery and her superior somewhat has a complicated secret relationship and without his support, she has no choice but to contact agent Reed Markham. Now Reed may have made his name and fame from the Coben case, but a wrong judgement of an assignment put him on a temporary leave. With his career stalled and his marriage in shambles, Reed agrees to help with Ellery's investigation of the missing persons. When Ellery receives a severed hand around her birthday, she couldn't help wondering if someone knew her true identity. Is this someone connected to the missing persons cases? Once again, Ellery and Reed find themselves get sucked into a case which reminds them of Coben and a killer who can't seem to let go of the past. 

This first novel by Joanna Schaffhausen was a riveting read with a cast of intriguing characters. Ellery was a strong character and I admired her determination in finding the truth of the cases, although sometimes I find her judgement are clouded by her emotions. The dynamics between she and Reed was an interesting read and from Ellery's perspective I think it was nice to have someone on your side, especially one who is your savior and understand the things you've been through. Overall this was a good read and although it wasn't hard to guess the perpetrator, it didn't lessen my reading experience and I'll definitely check out the next book of this series.  


© 2019 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
Albert Whitman & Company | April 2019 | 416 pgs
Source: Library


In the kingdom of Yan, soothsayers are treated like criminals. Magic was outlawed centuries ago and if they are found or if anyone has contact with them they'll be punishable by death. Princess Hesina knew of the consequences should she be seen contacting one, but she has no choice. She believed her father, King Wen, was murdered and in order to find some clues she has to engage the aid of a soothsayer named Silver Iris. 

Through the information provided by Silver Iris, Hesina is to find a convict who'll represent her in court. Skeptical at first, Hesina knew she has nothing to lose but to seek help from Akira. Akira proves to be an intelligent investigator aside from his stealing habits; and soon Hesina trust him the same like her advisor-cum-brother, Caiyan. Despite they've no blood relation, Hesina treat him and his twin sister, Lilian, like family. 

Aside from the challenges of finding the truth and risk getting caught, Hesina soon discover that there are secrecy and conspiracies hidden in their own court. With so many things at stake, will she be able to find the truth and to seek justice for her father? 

This debut YA fantasy by Joan He surprised me on many levels and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I was enamoured by the world-building and even the characterers were an intriguing cast. Hesina may be the main character but I was more intrigued with Akira given his past and his mysterious demeanour. The story also added some interesting aspect of the palace politics of an ancient Chinese dynasty and all these elements made this an intriguing read to this reader. The only little complaint I've is the ending left me wanting for more and I hope the sequel wouldn't be a long wait. 


© 2019 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 | August 2019 | 464 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Karin Slaughter is one of the best authors I've come across for writing dark and compelling suspense thrillers. Some of her books aren't always easy to read but she captures the realism and sensitivity behind her stories which will make you think and feel for the characters. 

The story begins with a bang with a kidnapping scene. Michelle Spivey, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control, was kidnapped when she and her teenage daughter were out at a shopping center parking lot. The police are still trying to locate her but to no avail. 

One month later, two explosions were heard at Emory University. Situated in the busiest city in Atlanta, there are also hospitals and the CDC within the neighbourhood. The explosions led medical examiner, Sara Linton, and her partner, Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rushed out from their place to investigate the scene. Unfortunately, the explosion incident was simply a conspiracy act to lure Sara out; and in no time Sara was abducted by a team of assailants who has a secret agenda which the reader wouldn't know until later. Devastated, Will approaches his boss and colleague, Amanda Wagner and Faith Mitchell, to devise a plan and hoping to persuade them into allowing him to go undercover in order to save Sara. 

As the story progresses, the reader would find out why Michelle and Sara are being targeted by the assailants and the truth will hit anyone's gut because this group of people used to be in paramilitary units and they fight for a cause which they think is rightful and having the power to control. In other words, it's a white supremacist domestic terrorism and the author has painted a frightening world which is not far from realism. As you may have guessed, this is a fast-paced and action-packed story and you'll feel for the characters as you read further. Despite this is the ninth installment of the Will Trent series, it works as a stand-alone. I may not have read all of Karin Slaughter's books but so far I've enjoyed those I read.

© 2019 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 | October 2017 | 560 pgs (Large Print)
Source: Library 


Amber Patterson always feels she's a nobody and she's tired of her life. But, she's had her eyes set on the rich and beautiful Daphne Parrish and she intends to use her as her path towards power and money. Knowing Daphne had a sister who died from cystic fibrosis and has set up a fund foundation in her memory, Amber feigned the same fate with an nonexistent sister with the same illness. It didn't take long for her to blend into Daphne's life, and in no time they become best friends. 

But Amber has set her goal far; being associated with the Parrishes isn't enough for her. She wants more and she intends to steal Jackson, Daphne's husband, and be the next Mrs. Parrish. But Jackson is a devoted husband and only has his eyes on Daphne; and then there's also their two young daughters who Amber has to please. Amber has worked out a plan but her past may bring her down if she's not careful. 

At its core, this domestic suspense is about obsession and revenge. Divided into three parts, Amber's voice took the first part and Daphne's the second. The last part is written in third voice and wrapped up the overall story. Amber's voice, I think, will irritate many readers because she was passive, manipulative and most of all she didn't seem remorseful. Daphne, on the other hand, appeared more sincere and compliant in the beginning but perspectives started to shift once we get to know more about Daphne as well and unfortunately, this is also when the story started to go downhill. 

Having read many suspense thrillers with unlikeable and/or unreliable characters, I think some of their actions or motives could be justified depending on circumstances but in this case I just couldn't fathom the logic and the truth behind the outcome. Suspense-wise, it was not a bad one but the ending left me feeling more than unsettled. I don't agree with the resolution (if one has to call it that) at all and thought that the bigger, underlying issue (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers) should be rectified instead of being deemed as an "accomplishment".


© 2019 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 | January 2019 | 400 pgs
Source: Purchased


"Some people, given just the right amount of pressure, taken out of their usual, comfortable environments, don't need much encouragement at all to become monsters." ~ Pg 64

There's something about the remote wilderness and the snowbound situation that are so widely featured and we find irresistible in books, especially thrillers. I'm a sucker for such books, and they remind me so much about Agatha Christie's mysteries novels, which I loved. Anyway, this was a buddy read with my blogging friend, Lark, and I hope you'll enjoy reading our thoughts on it (click here to Lark's blog.) 

So in this story we have a group of nine old college friends meeting up at a remote hunting lodge in the wintry landscapes of the Scottish highlands. It's kind of a tradition for them to gather and to celebrate the arrival of the new year but no one expects that they'd be snowbound. Heather and Doug, the lodge manager and the gamekeeper, have ensured the guests meet the needs until a guest goes missing. They never found the guest but Doug did find a body. By the look of the body it seemed it was no accident and this speculation sent Heather in a frenzy state. You see, Heather had experienced something which made her chose to work far away from the city. Doug is the same, but what he'd gone through was far more complicated and traumatic. 

Onto the nine friends, we've the beautiful and perfect couple, Julien and Miranda. Married couple Giles and Samira are happily devoted to their 6-month-old baby. Mark and Emma, another couple with the latter more as a new addition than old college-mates. And then there's gay couple, Nick and Bo. Finally, there's Katie who's single and a successful lawyer. But that's not all, there's an Icelandic couple who had booked the lodge earlier as well, much to the group's chagrin. So what's the dynamic amid this group of people and what really happened?

This book was unputdownable right from the beginning. Though I found the multiple POVs a bit confusing initially, I got over it pretty quickly once I had familiarised with the characters and that the story was well under way. Aside from all the drama and suspense, one interesting aspect of this story is the identity of the victim isn't revealed until the last few chapters. While I'd had a good guess over this, I was still surprised by a few circumstances as the story progresses. Overall it was an engrossing suspense; and all the more better I read it with Lark as we'd fun discussing our thoughts thereafter. 

As like our previous buddy reads, we'll ask each other some questions on the book and here's my answers to her questions:

1) In your opinion, did telling the story from multiple viewpoints add to the plot, or subtract from it? Which character's POV was your favorite? And who was your least favorite character?

This is a good question. I love reading different POVs as you can find out a lot about the characters and what they're thinking. However, they can be tricky as having too many might lead to confusion. I suppose it's fine as long as the viewpoints contribute to the story; and what's more it's fun to analyze the characters and see if we're right about them towards the end. 

I think my favourite POV in this book will be Miranda. She was the most interesting person among all and she was the kind many women would envy and hate for her beauty, confidence and arrogance. She wasn't my favourite character, though, but her story was ever so "colourful" and dramatic. And my least favourite character would be Julien. 

2) Did you have a favorite line/quote ... or moment from the book? 

Yes; it's right up at the beginning of this post. The quote says everything about the characters here and I couldn't agree more.


© 2019 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
奇幻基地 |  February 2018 |  304 pgs
Source: Library

This is book 4 of the second urban legend series by Ling Jing (笭菁). All her books read as stand-alones and her stories are based on various urban legends with some imaginations and other elements of her own. 

Note: The main characters in this series are different from the first series as the author felt a change for new blood is necessary to offer a new and different perspective. 

Urban Legend origin:  Hong Kong, 1989. An eatery received a food order call and had one of their staff to deliver the food. However, the boss discovered some hell bank notes among the stack of money he'd collected the next day. The same incident happened the following day and thinking the staff was playing a prank on him, he decided to make the delivery himself and had ensured it's genuine money he collected. He kept the money aside from the others but the next day what he found was, as you guessed, hell bank notes. He reported this incident to the police and this led to the discovery of four corpses in the apartment. But what most shocking was although the forensic concluded these bodies had been dead for a week, the food found inside their stomach were recent. And the hell bank notes had the fingerprints of the same deceased. The report later revealed they died of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Summary: When one of the characters encountered the same incident as the urban legend origin, the members of the Urban Legend Society decided that they'd visit the delivery address again for further investigation. However, the place couldn't be found. Before this, there are news of some delivery staff who had gone missing and they wondered if the two are related. When they did find the place again, they discovered there's more than meets the eye surrounding the death of the deceased and their guess is murder. But they didn't realise that they'd stepped into another dimension until later and they've to find their way back or they'd be trapped within forever. 

My thoughts: This story was scary from the origin's perspective. Imagine the eatery's boss suspected nothing and have the staff continued to deliver the food, does that mean the case will never surface? Onto the fiction, I think the feature of the other dimension connects well with the urban legend origin. What appeared to be a supernatural event became a horrific murder case and I liked how they're all interlinked and solved in the end. My verdict is, you can never know what humans are capable of doing and in some ways they're more terrifying than ghosts. 


© 2019 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
Scout Press| May 2019| 336 pgs
Source: Library

Erica Ferencik's first novel (The River at Night) takes readers to the remote Allagash wilderness whereby hiking and rafting were part of the activities the characters had to play. In this second book, she transports us to the Bolivian jungle in which contact with the outside world is minimal and that threats come in all forms of shapes and sizes. 

Our protagonist, Lily Bushwold, thought she'd escape the miserable life of living in foster homes and is looking forward to her teaching job in Cochabamba until she realises the gig falls through and she is stuck with a cleaning job. Together with a few girls they stay in a local hostel and occasionally Lily will resume her stealing habits. Her life begins to take a turn after meeting a man named Omar. Omar grew up in a remote jungle village in Ayachero but decided to make a living in the city of Cochabamba. Lily and Omar fell in love; but that bliss is short-lived as Omar has to return to Ayachero after hearing the death of his young nephew. Killed by a jaguar, the Ayachero residents decided that a hunt is inevitable and they want Omar to join in with their mission. Omar leave the choice to Lily as to whether or not to follow him; and ultimately Lily chose to go with him as she thought it'd also be an eye-opening experience for her. 

Lily would never imagine what'd be in store for her in the following months. Aside from the wild and deadly creatures, she also faces the threat of lawless poachers as well as various infectious diseases which may take away one's life easily if they aren't careful. Lily's excursion into the wilderness suddenly becomes a fight for survival and would she be able to walk out of Ayachero alive given all the unforeseeable challenges? 

This was a totally different take from the author's first novel. While both books' have the wilderness theme as their setting, this book didn't have the unreliable and complicated characters like her first book. This was a straightforward thriller with Mother Nature and nasty creatures as threats; and of course there are villians as well in the form of poachers and the likes. After reading several thrillers with unlikeable and unreliable characters lately, this was a refreshing read in which I didn't have to guess the whodunit but to live vicariously through Lily's experiences in the Bolivian jungle (after all I doubt I'd have that kind of courage or skills to step into this wilderness no matter how tranquil and beautiful the place might be). Character-wise, Omar was easy to like from the start. He taught Lily many things; and he was so protective of her that it'd melt any girl's heart. Lily, on the other hand, took me a while to warm up to her but she won me over gradually and I found myself rooting for her for the obstacles and challenges she's to face later. Overall I enjoyed reading this book and I'm really curious where the author would take us in her next book. 


© 2019 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.