2019 is not a bad year to me, at least in books and reading-wise. Let's see, I'd read a total of 113 books - 68 English books and 45 Chinese books. Most of the latter consist of urban legends fiction by Ling Jing (笭菁) and I'm so glad to have discovered her books. As for English books, I'd read/discovered a few great ones as well. As cliché as this sounds, each book is different and special in its own way; thus my top ten reads are mostly based on how "unputdownable" and how they made me feel after closing the book. Without further ado, here's my top ten list in alphabetical order by the authors' last name (titles are linked to reviews).  

- No Exit by Taylor Adams
- White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht
- My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
- The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell 
- The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang
- The Rumour by Lesley Kara
- The Hunger by Alma Katsu
- How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik 
- Deadland by William Shaw

Honorable Mention:

I rarely read non-fiction, but I've to say the above book was such a pleasure to read and I've learnt so much from it. Do yourself a favour and go read this book! Trust me, you'll benefit from reading this. 

Onto another topic, I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank my friends on Instagram for following and liking my pictures. Here's a collation of my top nine pictures which have received the most "likes" in 2019. Are you on Instagram? We can be friends there . . . Look for my IG handle: melody_lee 

Last but not least, since today is the last day of 2019, I'd like to wish you a very Happy New Year and here's hoping for more great reads in 2020!

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

Elevators are part and parcel of our life given today's many high-rise buildings and the like. In this novel, author Linwood Barclay weaves a riveting tale about the catastrophe of elevators "accidents" and the threats it impose that all deem too frightening and plausible.

It all started when four people boarded an elevator at Lansing Tower in Manhattan. Instead of stopping at their designated floors, the elevator proceeded to the top, in which it paused for a few seconds before it began to descend floor by floor. Just when the four passengers thought the elevator would eventually stop at a floor, it suddenly plummeted. As much as it was a horrific tragedy, it was speculated that it was nothing more than an unfortunate random incident until two more elevator incidents occurred in different locations in three consecutive days. A coincidence? Probably not. At least journalist Barbara Matheson, detectives Jerry Bourque and Lois Delgado think there's something more than meets the eye and each is eager to dig into the mystery which had killed a few people, including a top entertainment industry figure, a lawyer and a renowned Russian scientist. 

The NYC mayor, Richard Headley, finds himself in a difficult position as not only he has to find answers to the Russian ambassador but also to fellow New Yorkers, especially those who lives or works at high-rise buildings since they've to rely on elevators and to cease them from operating for investigations would not only cause inconvenience but also creates panic and chaos in this vertical city. 

As the story progresses and intensity escalates, it appears that the elevator mishaps aren't the only focus as more elements (a few speculation issues such as politics, terrorism, extremist group, relationships, etc etc), background information and subplots are gradually filled in to form a wider and a more complex perspective. Truth be told, while I appreciate these additions and I think some readers would probably enjoy them, I personally feel they kind of weaken the main storyline - the escalator catastrophe. To be fair, although they still linked to the escalator catastrophe ultimately, they seemed scattered and this more or less had diverted my attention. Nevertheless, it still made a compelling read as it kept me engaged till the end. 

© 2019 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.
Lake Union Publishing | June 2019 | 368 pgs
Source: Library 

The book opens with five MacAllister siblings returning to their family owned camp to read the will left by their late father. Each sibling has different views of what to do with the estate but they didn't expect that their father had an entirely different plan. They learned that they couldn't do anything to the property until they unravel the mystery surrounding Amanda Holmes. 

Twenty years ago, 17-year-old Amanda Holmes was found washed up on shore in a rowboat with a gash to the head. No one was charged as the police couldn't find any evidence and the case was left unsolved. Each sibling, however, is flawed and harbours a secret and as the story progresses, the reader will learn that each holds a piece of the puzzle to the mystery but the biggest question is, would this group of siblings work together to find the perpetrator or would their secrets tear the family apart? 

Catherine McKenzie's books are a great joy to read because each of her book is different and full of surprises. Books about dysfunctional families and secrets rarely bore me as it explores the complicated human relationship and how one would react under stressed circumstances. In this novel, the author has crafted a suspenseful tale about the dynamics between the MacAllister siblings and the murder of Amanda Holmes through multiple narratives and a series of timelines dictating the siblings' movements on that fateful night. The characters are fleshed out and many aren't likeable; and most of all they made me think about how well do we really know about our family members and the secrets which may separate or bind us forever. This was a twisted and a twisty read; and I enjoyed the intrigue and the author's wonderful storytelling skills.

Christmas is drawing near and before ending this post, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and may your new year be filled with joy and good books! 😃📚

© 2019 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.
First Second | February 2019 | 256 pgs
Source: Library

I don't think I've seen many graphic novels about women's health, pregnancy and motherhood. Although guidebooks of the same are always informative and useful, what makes this graphic novel stand out is it not only follows Lucy Knisley's personal transition into motherhood but also illustrates the history and science of reproductive health.

Lucy first shares with the reader a little history about herself as a young adult upon receiving pieces of advice relating to contraception, reproduction and sexual health from various sources. While some are misconceptions and myths, Lucy went on to do some researching as she realised there were more to learn about the intertwined history and science of taking care of a woman's body. 

After her marriage, Lucy decided it was time to get pregnant but conceiving turned out to be harder than anything she'd ever attempted. Thereafter, fertility problems were followed by miscarriages and sent her in a bout of depression. Through the support by families, friends and the readers online, she eventually walked out from the gloom and try to get pregnant again. Lucy then continues to chronicle her pregnancy journey till the difficulties she met upon delivery. I find the part from Lucy's husband's perspective regarding her surgery and hospitalisation especially moving and heartwarming although seeing what Lucy had gone through had me worrying for her at one point. 

As informative and moving it is, Lucy also incorporates some humour into her story so it also made a light-hearted read. She has done her research well and I think any reader will benefit from reading this book. This is my first Lucy Knisley graphic novel and I'll definitely check out the rest of her works. 

© 2019 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
St. Martin's Publishing Group | June 2019 | 304 pgs
Source: Library 

In a nutshell, this latest stand-alone psychological thriller by Kelley Armstrong is about the lengths one woman will go in order to save a child.

Thirty-year-old Aubrey Finch has been separated from her husband and she only gets to see her young daughter during weekends. Her husband, Paul, is a criminal defense attorney and Aubrey works in a library. Despite her financial status, Aubrey never ask Paul for money. This is partly due to self belief that she has hidden her dark ugly past from Paul so therefore she doesn't deserve his kindness and empathy. Her secrets eventually led to a strain in their relationship, although Paul didn't really know about her past until later. 

Like any other weekend, Aubrey is spending her time with her daughter at a park when her sight rest upon a young mother and son. They chatted a bit but didn't exchange any personal information about themselves. Two days later, Aubrey saw the same young son wandering alone but before she could reach him, she witnessed a man came out from his car and took him. With the boy's mother nowhere in sight, Aubrey figured it should be a kidnapping case and called the police. The police told her no one has reported a missing child; and while this news sent Aubrey into doubts, she knew something is definitely off and decided to take things into her own hands. Her actions, however, have made the police and the people around her question her credibility and her mental state. Is she an attention seeker? Or is she delusional because she doesn't have primary custody of her daughter so she is losing her mind and start to imagine things? But as Aubrey ignores the accusations and continues digging, she knew there's always a cost and that her continuous digging may put her into danger given her dark past. 

Kelley Armstrong is a versatile writer as she writes different genres ranging from young adult novels, fantasy, crime and suspense thrillers. I may not have read all of her novels, but I've enjoyed those that I'd read thus far. This book, however, lacks a little punch partly due to the plot which I find is quite commonly used (which isn't a bad thing but just feel that I've read something familiar at some point). Despite this, I've to say the author has done a great job in portraying a single parent's struggles as well as a mother's fear of losing her child. And of course, there's Aubrey herself with her intriguing dark past and her fighting spirits, which I think made up for the average intensity and suspense. 

© 2019 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.
Ebury Press | July 2019 | 384 pgs
Source: Purchased 

If you're given the opportunity to stay at a high-end apartment and get paid for apartment sitting, even if it comes with a few ridiculous rules, would you do it? Jules Larsen, our protagonist, sees an ad for an apartment sitter and decided to apply for it. With her dire financial situation and her heart being broken by her ex-boyfriend, she decided to try her luck at the Bartholomew; one of Manhattan's oldest and high-profile buildings. Jules is enamored by the overall structure and splendor of Bartholomew, but there's something a bit off with the rules, though. Her interviewer told her there would be no visitors and no nights spent away from the apartment. And because most of the residents are rich and famous, discreet and privacy are to be expected so no disturbing and interactions with them if possible. As much as the rules are strange and absurd, Jules accepts the terms and decides to move on with her new life. 

As Jules tries to settle down at the Bartholomew, a few residents caught her attention. One of them is an author whose book she had read with her older sister, Jane, during their childhood. The others are the bubbly and easy-going apartment sitter named Ingrid and a young, good-looking doctor called Nick. Despite the requests from the interviewer, Jules and Ingrid quickly become friends. Jules has to admit Ingrid reminds her a bit of Jane due to their personality. Jules misses Jane and with her disappearance eight years ago, Jules thinks she's gone like her late parents since there's absolutely no news of her. 

Jules and Ingrid hit it off despite they only knew each other for two days. It is also at this time that Ingrid confides that there's something strange going on in the Bartholomew. Bartholomew is a very old building with a hundred-year-old history; it has witnessed many kinds of death. But the most famous is the pandemic flu which had taken many lives as well as the suicidal of the builder. Jules is captivated although it didn't really scare her off, until Ingrid disappears without any warnings. Knowing that she wouldn't just leave without saying goodbye, Jules begins to search for the truth, including digging into the Bartholomew's dark past. She then finds out that Ingrid isn't the only apartment sitter who's missing from the Bartholomew; and what she unravels thereafter will chill not only Jules but the reader as well. 

Once again, Riley Sager has delivered a compelling and an unputdownable psychological thriller in Lock Every Door. It was a dark and atmospheric read given the Bartholomew's history; and Ingrid's disappearance and the secrecy hush within the residents added much intrigue to the story but alas, the ending wasn't what I'd expected and it was a letdown in my opinion. Nevertheless, Riley's writing and his storytelling still shine and I can't wait for his next book, Home Before Dark, to be released in July 2020. 

As this is a buddy read with Lark, please do check out her review as well. Finally, here's her questions to me about this book: 

1. How do you think Lock Every Door compares to Riley Sager's other novels? And which of his books do you like best?
Riley Sager's books are always so compelling and addictive. His writing style is solid and in my opinion there's never a bored moment or dragging parts in his books. His books capture your attention through the story progression as the intensity escalates and the characters developments are equally brilliant. Lock Every Door is no exception. The writing and suspense are tight and taut here; it was only the ending which disappointed me as I was expecting other directions. My favourite will be Final Girls. It was atmospheric and a true psychological thriller in every sense. 

2. Several characters in this book try to justify their evil actions by saying it's for the 'greater good' or that they're doing it to save another person's life. (Like Charlie.) Do you think that a noble end goal can ever justify doing the wrong thing?
I think it depends on what the ends or goals are and what means are being used to achieve them. Generally, most people think if the goals and the means to achieve them are both good and noble, then the ends justify the means. However, from the perspective of the victim/sacrificer, it is an unfair and selfish treatment and ethically, I feel that person has the right in his own say, too. Generally, this is a difficult question to answer to, but I can definitely say the ends do not justify the means in this story.

© 2019 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! What've you been up to while I was away for a little blogging break? I hope you've read some good books, or have done something fun and memorable. Me? I'd had a little vacation with my family at Kuala Lumpur, doing nothing but eat, shop, explore and sleep. I didn't read despite I brought two books with me. I know, it's unbelievable for a book lover but I was too tired to do anything after a day's outing (all those walking about . . . which was a good thing. Or maybe I'm getting old, haha.) Anyways, I'd had fun and now that I'm back, I've lots of catching up to do . . . such as reading, commenting and blog-hopping (and of course, other routine stuff in life.) And speaking of reading, I've several (it's an understatement) library books which I'd borrowed before and after my vacation trip. I don't know if I'm able to finish them all before the due date, so we shall see. 

My current read is a combination of mystery, fantasy and romance titled (神都听见了吗?) (Did God hear it?) by Song Ya Shu (宋亚树). The story centers around two protagonists, a forensic pathologist and a numerologist specialises in feng shui and warding off the so-called otherworldly evil spirits. Their path cross when a death involving dark magic was suspected, and despite their personality and opinions clash, they soon realise that they need each other to help the police find the perpetrator as more similar cases began to arise. I'd finished reading the first book and am almost done with the second book of this duology. I loved it a lot and I'm hoping this would be translated into English in the near future. (Don't you love those covers?)
Off topic and out of curiosity, do you read the author's afterword (or acknowledgement and any other information) first before reading the book? I do, and I especially love to read about the author's thoughts and experiences when writing about that book. I'd only stop reading when there are warnings of spoilers ahead. What about you? 

Finally, I'll be doing a last buddy read with Lark before the year ends and the book is Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. Of course, we'll be doing more joint reading in the coming year and I'm always looking forward to them as it's so much fun reading together with a friend. I'll end this post with a few pictures from my vacation. 

© 2019 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post and the attached pictures have been stolen and are used without permission.
奇幻基地 | January 2019 | 320 pgs
Source: Library 

This is book 8 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: This is a well-known Taiwanese urban legend happened in 1995. A group of five men was grilling a fish they caught and before consuming it, they heard a voice asking them, "Is the fish meat tasty?" To their horror, they realised the voice came from the fish and what most terrifying was, they could see the shape of an old woman's face on its body.

Summary: After the horror of the urban legend episode, the Taiwanese were wary of consuming fishes for a while but there are still some people, especially tourists, who are fascinated by the tale and are keen to visit the place where the event happened. When a group of visitors finally witnessed the devil fish, this sparks the curiosity of the citizens if there's a hidden message behind this strange occurrence, especially if it doesn't come in one but tonnes and tonnes of them could be seen swimming near the shore; some even bearing the faces of their deceased loved ones. Out of reminiscence, some families began to keep those who remind them of their late family members as pets, but little do they know that they've unleashed an unthinkable nightmare upon themselves. 

My thoughts: After reading this book, I did a little Googling and found a few videos which show the said devil fish. I've to admit it did look a little like there was a human face on its body. Onto the book, aside from all the horrors, it also states a bit about the environmental issues and how pollutions are threatening the lives of the sea living animals. I think this is one of the important subjects we've to look into and reflect upon alongside with the global warming issue. Overall, I thought this was actually quite a sad story, whatwith the environmental issues and the characters who are reminded of their deceased loved ones. 

Note: This is a scheduled post as I'm currently taking a short break off of blogging. Comments and blog-hopping will resume once I'm back from my break. Have fun and happy reading! 📚

© 2019 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.
Gollancz | October 2019 | 480 pgs
Source: Purchased

Leigh Bardugo is a well-known author under the YA fantasy genre. This book is her adult debut and the story revolves around magic, ghosts, mysteries and secret societies mostly set at Yale University. 

Our heroine, Galaxy "Alex" Stern is an extraordinary character. She is raised by her mother single-handedly and dropped out of school early. Since young, she has the ability of seeing ghosts (or the "Grays" as referred in this story) and was cast as a misfit. The rejections and impressions from her peers led her to a state of self aversion; and this later pushed her towards the shady world of drugs. But bad things didn't stop there, she continued to encounter more dark and brutal incidents until she's given a chance to attend Yale, ironically thanks to her "special" ability. 

Yale has several secret societies and each of these eight Houses of the Veil has their own rules and regulations pertaining to their activities. The members are often yield as the future rich and powerful people; but some of the occult activities they perform might not be as simple as one thinks. The League of Lethe is formed as an oversight body for these societies' activities, monitoring the rites and practices of any societies trafficking in magic, divination or otherworldly discourse. Prior to entering Yale, Alex is assigned to a mysterious man named Darlington so as to learn some things about Lethe and the secret societies before becoming a Dante. 

But Alex's life continues to be a tough one. Now there's a dead girl on campus and Alex thinks there's more than meets the eye despite the police and campus administration's statement that her death is nothing more than her own bad misfortune. To find the truth, Alex made a pact with a Gray, and soon realise he has one mystery to unravel, too. 

Well, this book wasn't an easy read in all aspects (it's filled with many dark and some disturbing issues); and it's even harder to review as my feelings for this book is mixed. I liked the premise; and I thought the characters are intriguing but for some reason I just couldn't connect with Alex. Her life journey, especially her teenage years, was so dark and so sad. I think the main thing that got to me was the slow pacing and the world-building, though interesting, took me a while to get immersed into it. It was long and at times complicating and it was only towards the half of the book did things start to get a little more intriguing and tense but by then I couldn't wait to be done with the book. The ending left the reader with a longing for its sequel and I hope the next book will be better with a faster pace and more showing than telling.

Note: This is a scheduled post as I'm currently taking a short break off of blogging. Comments and blog-hopping will resume once I'm back from my break. Have fun and happy reading! 📚

© 2019 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.
Ashwood & Rose Llp | June 2019 | 314 pgs
Source: Authors 

I'm a fan of K-dramas; and I do listen to a few K-pop groups. Thus, when the authors of Comeback: A K-pop Novel asked if I'd like to read and review their book, I knew I couldn't pass this up. After all, this story centers around the exciting world of K-pop industry. 

Emery Jung, also known as M with rising K-pop boy group NEON, is preparing for their comeback performance when he meets a girl whom he'd lost contact two years ago. Alana Kim, stylist coordinator to girl group, LilyRed, didn't expect she'd literally run into M with a cup of hot tea. And so, their awkward chance reunion begins their journey where they'll learn more about each other alongside the ups and downs they're going through while pursuing their dreams. 

For starters, this book is not all about the fame and glam behind the entertainment industry. In fact, it dictates the realities of a life of an idol and one's self discovery and healing after experiencing the loss of a loved one. The former describes Emery, and as we know, name and fame come with a price and that's freedom. And very often, their private life is also being scrutinised and monitored. However, his biggest burden is more towards his family; whereby he feels he has disappointed his father for not going along his wishes of pursuing a business career instead of the entertainment industry in which the span of being an idol is short-lived and that anything could happen. As for Alana, her older brother's suicide has left her raw and hollow, leading her to abandon her love of music until she met Emery again. 

This book focus much on the brotherhood among the NEON members, the love struggles between Emery and Alana and most of all, the courage of pursuing one's dreams and love. The reader also gets a glimpse of the insider's K-pop industry but not so much of the Seoul setting though, which I felt a little disappointed. Nevertheless, it was still an entertaining read and I'm curious what the authors will have in store next.

© 2019 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.
Quercus | November 2018 | 416 pgs
Source: Library 

Fans of mysteries and suspense should be familiar with Elly Griffiths' Dr Ruth Galloway series and the Stephens and Mephisto series. The Stranger Diaries, however, belongs neither of these two series and is a good fit to readers who are new to her works. What's better, this story has a modern Gothic tone and has a "book within a book" concept which I'm sure the latter will appease many booklovers. 

Clare Cassidy, our main protagonist, is a single parent to a 15-year-old girl and an English teacher teaching at Talgarth High. Talgarth High has its history but the most famous among all is the story of the deceased reclusive Gothic writer, R. M. Holland, as well as his wife, Alice Avery, who is believed to have fallen to her death and whose ghost is still roaming the old building of the school at its present day. Before the school, the old building was once called Holland House and R. M. Holland actually lived in this house. Holland was famous for his short story, The Stranger. When Clare is not teaching, she'll work on the biography of R. M. Holland. She's fascinated by him as a person and not to mention his works. 

Clare and Ella Elphick are good friends and colleagues until the murder of Ella shocked the whole school and shattered Clare's world as well. To add intrigue to the murder, a note was left behind with a quote from The Stranger. DS Harbinder Kaur and DS Neil Winston are called to look into the case. To complicate matters, someone had left personal remarks on Clare's diary, indicating the possibility that the perpetrator is someone close and nearby. There are a few suspects in school, ranging from the department head to a delinquent student; all who seem to be flawed characters and have some agendas in mind. And when another dead body turns up with the same note behind, Harbinder knows she has to dig further and quickly before everything becomes a re-enacting scenes from The Stranger

The Stranger Diaries was a wonderful read in every aspects. The author has done a wonderful job in creating the Gothic tone in this well-crafted psychological suspense, despite I felt the perpetrator's motive wasn't convincing enough but nevertheless still make a good read. The creep factor was the highlight of this book and the author has skilfully input this into the atmospheric setting of the old school as well as The Stranger (which was fully disclosed at the end of the book, much to my delight). As much as this was a plot-driven story, I felt it was very much a character-driven one as well. Narrated by Clare, Harbinder and Georgia (Clare's daughter), the reader gets to read about their most inner thoughts and some of the things which the others don't know about. I've to say I was most drawn to Harbinder but she's not the type whom one would find easy to approach initially. She's sharp, perceptive and fearless. She's also living with her Punjabi parents whom I found to be down-to-earth and doting towards their two grownup children. I hope there'll be a series featuring Harbinder and Neil as they've already grown on me. 

As this is a buddy read with Lark, I hope you'll check out her review, too. (Thanks, Lark, for suggesting this book!) Below are my answers to her questions surrounding this book:

1. What did you think of R.M. Holland's short story The Stranger and how Griffiths tied it in with the rest of the novel? Do you think it added to the overall mystery?
The Stranger was an intriguing read itself, and I think the concept of tying it with the rest of the novel was both a clever and marvellous work by the author. It definitely adds some depth to the already suspenseful storyline. 

2. Clare is an avid diary writer. Have you ever kept a diary? And how would you feel if a stranger started writing in it?
I used to keep a diary when I was in primary school but it was only for a short period of time. I remember it was quite a popular trend back then but sadly, I'd outgrown it as the time passed by. To be honest, I think I'd freak out if a stranger wrote on my diary. Then again, the stranger wouldn't stand a chance as I'll keep it locked in a drawer, ha.

© 2019 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.
Century | August 2019 | 464 pgs
Source: Library 

The Family Upstairs was one dark and bizarre story about two dysfunctional families and how events and consequences will impact and alter the lives of those affected thereafter. 

The novel opens with our lead protagonist, Libby Jones, receiving a letter from a solicitor stating that she has inherited a property in Chelsea. Libby is an adopted child and she assumes it is the house her birth parents were living in when they died. Libby's life has been simple and mundane; she lives in a small flat and works in the sales department at a kitchen design company. It is no wonder the news detonated like a bomb to her. 

On the other end, Lucy is struggling to make ends meet. Being a single parent with two young children is tough, but she's a survivor and most importantly, there's someone she has waited for twenty five years and she's hoping that their path will cross one day despite all the circumstances. 

In another timeline narrated by another character called Henry during the 1980s, he shares his story with the reader about his family living at 16 Cheyne Walk and how the Thomsens family waltzed into their lives and turned their world upside down, eventually leading into a family tragedy. 

So what does these three different characters have in common and what do they've to do with one another? This is the mystery of this novel and one which I've to applaud the author for the wonderful execution and the suspense she has thrown in to her readers from the beginning till the end. The characters are wonderfully fleshed-out and you'll feel either disgusted or empathy towards some of them. 

The house and its atmosphere plays an important part to the story, too. And although it's definitely not haunted, it's the centre in which all things have arisen and ended there. There're some very dark issues here, but they're essential and are tied up to the story so while it wasn't easy to read them, without them there wouldn't be this story -- a story which had blown me away in all aspects! Highly recommended.

© 2019 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.
Swoon Reads | August 2018 | 320 pgs
Source: Library  

In the city of Morriston, there are a few superheroes who have special powers since they were young. No one knew how they've gotten their powers; but one thing they are positive about it is, they know they can always rely on these few superheroes to save them should circumstances happen. 

Abby Hamilton's view of the superheroes aren't that complicated as compared to others. To her, they're ordinary people like her. After all, her older brother, Connor, is Red Comet and she's seen all the good and the not-so-good sides of him so you can say she's kind of immuned to them. Red Comet is quite a popular superhero in Morriston and it is no wonder many teenagers idolised him, including Abby's bestie, Sarah. 

So far things are going on well until Iron Phantom appears in their city. Abby first met him through an unforgettable and a horrifying state after he'd saved her from a mugging attempt. But Iron Phantom, in the residents' eyes, is nothing but a supervillain who caused an uproar by burning city hall and then vanished (or perhaps in hiding). Abby has her doubts though, after all Iron Phantom couldn't be that bad given how he'd saved her on that fateful day. 

Back in school, Abby is excited about having a major part in a musical. It is also at this moment when Iron Phantom starts to show up randomly in her life and makes her wonder if they're in the same school. As she gets to understand more of Iron Phantom, she begins to see him more of a vigilante after he's convinced her that Morriston is under a new threat and what he'd done before is simply a diversion and he needs her help if they want to uncover the secrets surrounding the city. 

This was a fun and entertaining story but I thought the story doesn't really match the title. Iron Phantom isn't a supervillain (even the blurb stated he's a vigilante) so perhaps it's more of a metaphor and I've to admit the title is indeed eye-catching. Aside from this, the action scenes are minimal (well, except towards the end) but there are lots of interactions among the characters, thus making this more of a character-driven kind of book. There's some teenage angst and romance element added as part of the feature; and it's not hard to guess who Iron Phantom is. The concept was interesting though I wished there was more explanations given to the superheroes' powers than a hasty mention. All in all it was enjoyable but I think it'd make a more engrossing read if there was more punch to the superheroes'/villains' world and their dynamics.

© 2019 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
St. Martin's 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 (, 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 | 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 (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Faber & Faber | 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 (, 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.
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 (, 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.