Melody

 

Michael Joseph | 6 August 2020 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 

"We are all the same in the dark.
My mother said that to me when she kissed me good night.
She meant that in the dark, all that's left is our souls." ~ Pg 215

Julia Heaberlin really knows how to write a gripping atmospheric suspense. Not only that, her writing has a literary prose and there's an edge and depth in her characterisations that makes this thriller such an exceptional reading experience.

Told from three narratives, this is a slow burn mystery that demands the reader's attention and patience and let me just say it's all worth the wait. The reader is first introduced to Wyatt Branson, who lives alone in the desolation of his old family house. Once tried and sentenced for his sister's disappearance, he is later cleared of wrongdoing due to lack of evidence but he'll be forever associated with the case and remains a suspect in the eyes of the people in his town. His isolated life is then disturbed when he finds a girl dumped in a field of dandelions. Wyatt believes she's a sign from his missing sister, Trumanell; and the more he's some bittersweet sentiments about dandelions. He knew there's only one person whom he could tell about the girl.

And this leads the reader to the next narrative of young police officer, Odette Tucker. Odette and Wyatt have known each other for years and given different circumstances they might still be happily in love with each other but sometimes, things aren't what you expected and unfortunate incidents could tear a person and relationship apart. Odette still think of Trumanell and seeing the girl Wyatt brought to her has once again reminds her of Trumanell and the unsolved case. On top of it, she feels a bond with this girl considering of their handicap - she having lost a leg and the girl an eye. She makes it a mission to unravel the mystery surrounding the girl and why she seems to be fleeing from someone. 

Five years have passed then and Angel/Angie is thankful of Odette for her kindness and for getting a prosthetic eye through her help. In this last narrative of Angel, the reader finally get to know about her past and how the long-buried secrets of the legendary cold case would eventually unearth throughout the years. 

Julia Heaberlin is a new-to-me author and I fell in love with her writing style and her storytelling skills after reading this book. She knows how to get your attention from the beginning and her characterisations are simply outstanding, never mind if they're flawed. Despite the slow burn, there's still an edge of suspense and intensity which makes you curious and feel connected with the characters as the story progresses. Julia's writing is beautiful and poetic at times and she's defined beauty and strength at its best through the portrayal of Angel and Odette. A twisty and an extraordinary psychological thriller which would make you think long after you close the book. 
© 2020 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
Avon Books UK | 10 December 2020 | 384 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

Amber and her husband, Nick, are preparing for a divorce and they are trying to sell their house quickly so they can move on with their lives. Amber has already found a new relationship and she's looking forward to staying with her new man once the house is sold. Amber's mother-in-law, Barb, isn't pleased with all the arrangements and thinks Amber is a mistake in Nick's life. Needless to say, Amber and Barb couldn't get along although they try to act civilly to each other. 

As much as Amber's real estate agent's efforts in putting Amber's house up for viewing and so forth, there isn't any potential buyers so he's suggested an open house to try and attract more interest. Amber grudgingly agrees seeing there isn't any choice and although she's not comfortable overseeing some strangers walking about her house, she could at least know how many of these potential buyers are going into her house through her doorbell camera app. Amber has counted thirteen people entering her house, but then only twelve leave. Thinking she must have counted or seen wrongly, she dismiss the thought until her two young sons told her they've seen a man in their house. Could it be real or did her anxiety has rubbed off onto them, thus planting this seed of doubt into their young minds? 

The Open House immediately grabbed the reader's attention with the suspense of the missing thirteenth person and whether if we should doubt Amber's belief that there's indeed an intruder in her house. The reader is also introduced to a few unreliable characters surrounding Amber's life; each of them either has an agenda or a secret to hide. There are also subplots and red herrings which are linked to the main mystery but unfortunately the ending fell flat and it was a disappointment as I thought the storyline was grabbing until each twist seems more like a shock value than a plausible outcome. Overall I liked the idea and the suspense of this story but the ending was a bit too much in my opinion. 


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Melody

HQ Digital | 7 January 2021 | 234 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

Attorney Olivia Sinclair feels blessed with her life. With her retirement drawing near, she is looking forward to spending more time with her family until someone sent her a video showing her husband, Richard, sleeping with a younger subordinate. Ironically, Olivia handles many divorce cases herself and she thought she's seen them all and would recognise any marriage in trouble. Feeling betrayed, she is ready to leave Richard but what she didn't expect is that the subordinate turns up dead later and she's being suspected for the murder. 

As Olivia races against time to try to find evidence to prove her innocence, a cold case twenty years ago is being brought up due to the similarity method of murder. Olivia has already lost her faith and trust in her husband but would he had gone so far as to commit a crime and lead the accusation to her? 

This was a fast paced read and the author has captured the setting and the characters' emotions perfectly as the story progresses. From the beginning, the reader learned that Olivia is a strong character who would never let herself go down without a fight; partly due to her profession and that she believes in equality and justice. Richard's infidelity has further fueled her fighting spirit and most importantly, she has to find out the truth, including the cold case and why there are similarities between the two murders? While the plot isn't new and it's not hard to guess the perpetrator if you read carefully, the strength of this story lies in the characters, their narratives and the fast pacing which all makes this a captivating read. At the end, the author stated that this is the first book in the Olivia Sinclair series and although I couldn't think of the direction where Olivia may take us, I suppose we shall all have to wait and see. 


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Melody

St. Martin's Publishing Group | 27 August 2019 | 320 pgs
Source: Library 

This is the 4th installment of Vivien Chien's Noodle Shop Mystery series. In this book, the reader learned that the protagonist, Lana Lee, has already settled nicely in her role as a manager at her parents' restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House set in Cleveland, Ohio. Her relationship with Detective Adam Trudeau has blossomed and they're planning for a romantic getaway. The Asian community in their neighbourhood is organising its popular Night Market festivities in which a variety of food trucks and the likes would line up the streets for their businesses. Lana is excited to man the booth with their head chef, Peter Huang, and she's looking forward to the evening until there's an explosion. 

It turns out that a nearby food truck, Wonton on Wheels, was the one getting hit and the explosion has killed one of its proprietors and injures a few others in the nearby vicinity. There are a few speculations surrounding the accident. While some have pointed out that there's family dispute between the couple, there are others who speculated that it might be due to money matters or even an insinuation for insurance claim which has gone terribly wrong. Regardless of whichever it claims to be, the suspect falls onto the immediate family members and one of their relatives who just showed up in town. 

As Lana digs into the case, she also find herself being caught in her own family drama when her mother's sister, Aunt Grace, comes to visit. Now Lana's mother and Grace's personalities don't really click and Lana always find herself being caught in the middle. 

There seems to be a common theme in this installment (family relationship and drama) and Lana, together with a few of the regular cast, continue to be a delightful read and it was a pleasure seeing their developments as the series go. For this reason, I'd recommend reading from the first book though it isn't a must and the author managed to cover the background well so it could be read as a standalone too. All in all, it was an enjoyable read and I've to say the covers always make me crave for the food. 

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Melody
Bookouture | 21 October 2020 | 326 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

It's been a year since young Abi was missing from the neighbourhood in Teddington. Ava only left her young daughter in the pushchair for five minutes to check on her phone and by the time she returned, she found the door of their house opened and Abi was nowhere to be seen. No one had seen her on that fateful day and till present, her body is never found, leaving Ava and her husband, Matt, in unresolved grief and the difficulty of not knowing. 

When their neighbour, the Lovegoods family, decided to throw a housewarming party after their renovation project, Ava doesn't want to go as she doesn't know the Lovegoods well on top of her grieving. Matt eventually managed to get her to go; plus their good friends, Bella and Neil, are invited too. And little do they know that the party would be the beginning of a catastrophe as no one would imagine a little throwaway comment could lead to distrust and suspicion among the couples. Is it really Ava's negligence that is the cause of Abi's disappearance? Or did someone know more than that but is not telling? 

I've to say The Housewarming is a combination of mystery and domestic drama more than a psychological thriller as it focus more on the dynamics between Ava and Matt, as well as their good friends, Bella and Neil. We also read about Ava's emotional behaviours and how her life has been ever since Abi went missing. It's a nightmare for every parents, and Ava's fear and anxiety was palpable throughout the book though it could be seen as slow pace and repetitive to some. The tension was then raised towards the middle as suspicion started to pile up, and this is where things started to get a bit exciting and there are moments that will make you reflect and think about how one's decision made under a circumstances might change the course of events thereafter. While the story isn't what I expected, it was an emotional-gripping book that made me feel for the characters.

© 2020 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

Century | 19 March 2020 | 384 pgs
Source: Library 

Decades ago, a boy was found living alone in the woods. He had no recollection of his past, who his parents were, or how he ended up in the woods. His only friend was David, who's about his age and lived nearby the woods. After the police found him and with no one to come forward to claim him, this boy who is then named Wilde, was turned over to the foster system and later becomes a private investigator after spending some years with the military taking part in secret missions. Despite having a normal life now like the others, Wilde still prefers to live alone in his Ecocapsule house in the woods (which is fully high-tech and reminds me so much of a setting in a sci-fi movie) and has issues with intimacy and connecting with others. He still misses David, who died in a car accident years ago, though he's in touch with David's mother, Hester Crimstein. Hester may be a widow in her seventies, but she is a famed defense lawyer and a TV personality on cable news, Crimstein on Crime.

Naomi Pine, a high school girl, often gets bullied in school until she goes missing one day. Matthew, who's Hester's grandson, approaches Hester for help, who in turn seek for Wilde's expertise. But before they have any findings, Naomi is found hiding at her home basement a few days later. No one knew her reason for doing so, though they all point to peer pressure in school or being abused at home. Everything seems back to normal for a while until she disappears again. It may seem like "the boy who cried wolf" fables, but when another of her classmate, Crash Maynard, is missing, things become complicated as Crash's family belongs to the rich and the privileged and they have a vast connection behind them, including a politician campaigning to become president. Now Wilde has to find the two missing teenagers but what he unravels later would go far beyond the missing cases. 

To begin with, the blurb is a little misleading as it had me thinking that the plot would revolve around Wilde. After all, as the title suggests, he's the boy from the woods. Now that I'd this issue put behind me, I thought I could focus on the missing cases but well, it seemed there's a much bigger picture behind the missing persons mystery and this took a while for the reader to finally work out where the direction goes because there are threads and layers surrounding the core of the story, alongside the various issues of today's society (such as the influence of social media, school bullying, the difference among social class and even political play). Back to the characters, while Wilde is the lead character, the superstar of this book was Hester in my opinion. She's feisty and kickass but yet behind that strong personality, she's actually a sentimental person who still mourns for David and is drawn to police chief, Oren Carmichael. There are a few other interesting characters too, such as Naomi and Ava (the school's art teacher), which I felt their roles are underrated. And then, there's Wilde's past which was never fully explained (perhaps there's plans for Wilde in Coben's future books? I can only hope.) In a nutshell, this was a compelling page-turner with some twists that I didn't see coming. 

Last but not least, I'd like to thank Lark for this buddy read. Please do visit her blog for her review and our Q&As. Here's my answers to her questions: 

1. If you could change anything about this book, what would it be?
I'd like to have a more detailed feature on Wilde and Naomi. I'm curious about Wilde's past and would love to learn more about that missing part. As for Naomi, she entered the scene first but yet there's actually very little focus about her. I get it that she was a missing person, but then it'd be good to  know her more in-depth as a person rather than a missing high school girl. 

2. Coben focuses a lot on the powerful influence social media can have on society in this book. Do you agree with him, and do you think that influence is mostly positive or negative?
With social media platforms everywhere in our world today, it's hard not to take notice or to be swept away by the flow. I think there are both good and bad sides of social media influence, depending on the context and motive and how they're portrayed (positively or negatively). The social media could bring people together, but they could also be seen as a malicious tool to destroy given a purpose. There are certainly both sides of influences and it all depends on one's mindset and how strongly one believe or disbelieve.

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Melody


William Morrow | 27 October 2020 | 528 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 


The book opens with our protagonist, Tabitha Hardy, being held up in a cell and is on remand for the murder of Stuart Rees. Tabitha has recently returned to her old hometown in Okeham to refurbish her house left by her late parents. Stuart's body was first found in her shed by her handyman friend and while Tabitha has a history of depression and traumatic stress which was caused by a sexual abuse when she was fifteen, she has no recollection of murdering Stuart despite he abused her years ago. With no one to turn to for support, Tabitha knows she can only depend on herself to fight the case when her legal counsel advises her to plead guilty for manslaughter with mitigating circumstances. Despite having no knowledge of the law, Tabitha strives on defending for herself for the need to prove her innocence and to find the truth. Together with Michaela, an ex-cellmate and now her McKenzie friend, they attempt to solve the case just when everyone thinks she is insane and that she has no chance of overthrowing the trial. 

Truth be told, I'd had a bumpy reading experience initially due to the slow pace and on top of that, Tabitha wasn't a person whom you could warm up to easily given her erratic temperament. However, as the story progresses, I find myself intrigued by Tabitha's story both present and past and not to mention her meticulous findings despite being confined in a small cell. So, while she may not be a likeable character, I still find myself rooting for her eventually.  

I'd end this review by saying that Nicci French (pseudonym of English husband-and-wife team) has written quite an engaging thriller with a perfect combination of suspense and courtroom drama. Would recommend if you're a fan of these two genres. 


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Melody

Rock Point | 27 October 2020 | 144 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

Boba, also known as bubble tea, is originated in Taiwan and has taken the world by storm with a variety combination of teas and different kinds of flavourful syrup. Of course, these drinks won't be the same without the tapioca balls and in this book, the two authors give readers more than a glimpse what lies behind the secrets of making boba tea. 

Tea brewing itself is an art; so to learn how to make boba tea, it is important to know the various kinds of tea leaves (i.e. green tea, black tea, Oolong) and the right temperature to brew them (the longer you brew, the more bitter taste it is). I'm a big tea drinker myself and my favourites are green tea and Oolong so it is no surprise that my boba tea choices are: honey green tea, Golden Oolong tea and Oolong milk tea. Of course, I do try out the others at times for fun or depending on moods but those will always remain as my go-to drinks. 

Back to the topic, this book also covers the essential equipment needed of making boba teas as well as how to make various flavoured syrups, sweeteners, toppings and not to mention homemade tapioca balls, etc. If you're a lover of fruit teas, this book has some recipes too, such as strawberry, mango, watermelon, kiwi, pineapple, pomelo, and cucumber teas). 

In a nutshell, this book is a must-have for boba tea lovers and with their easy-to-follow recipes, you can create your own drinks anytime and however you like. I need to get a copy of this since my ARC didn't show the photos (probably due to my e-reader app) but most of all, I want it so I can refer to it anytime.

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Melody


Montlake Romance | June 2017 | 523 pgs
Source: Purchased 

This is the first book of a series featuring Detective Angie Pallorino. I've read two of Loreth Anne White's standalones and really enjoyed them. There's something about her writing and she pay attention to the details which add depth to her stories. 

Detective Angie Pallorino would never forget about the perverted rapist, who is still at large, had violently mutilated his two victims years ago by etching crosses onto their foreheads after sexually assaulted them. Alongside the pain and regrets is the loss of her working partner who had died while they handled a domestic abuse case which had gone wrong. Despite anything, Angie is keen to prove to anyone that she still has the drive and determination in moving to the male-dominated homicide unit. Angie may be goal-oriented and fearless, but she do have some issues which make her vulnerable and want to be in control. With a schizophrenic mother and the loss of her partner, Angie numb herself through anonymous sex. And this situation leads her to meeting James Maddox, who later turns out to be her temporary partner for a joint investigation task after two more victims are found; both sharing some eerie similarities of her earlier unsolved rape cases. 

As Angie's private life collides with her professional ambitions, she is more determined to put that night behind her but Maddox, on the other end, is intrigued by this mysterious woman who had left an impression on him. Angie doesn't want him as partners, but he plays an important role in her job evaluation and most of all, she wants to solve the cases badly, especially if the perpetrator might be the same one she's missed earlier. As their search for clues and the killer intensifies, so does their desire for each other although Angie is in denial given her traumatic past. 

There's a lot going on in this story and there are layers amidst layers before the big reveal comes. As mentioned before, the author pay attention to details and this includes not only the characters development, their inner thoughts and the investigations but also the graphic descriptions of the violent and grotesque crimes mentioned. While this isn't one I'd recommend to the queasy or faint-hearted, from the other perspective it adds authenticity of a true crime. 

Angie and Maddox have their issues, too. Both are flawed characters and from a romantic angle, I enjoyed reading about their exchanges and how they managed to overcome their own demons through each other. I can't say I enjoyed the brutality of this story, but I do love the characters and how everything unravels towards the end, including Angie's secret past (which I chose to be vague for your own book-unveiling). Meanwhile, I'm eagerly awaiting for the other two installments to arrive.  

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Melody
Avon | October 2020 | 400 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

Cherrie Forrester seems to be living a lovely life with her charming young son and a boyfriend who adores her. What others didn't know is that she's also the daughter of a notorious serial killer (famously known as Mr Bones) who had been sentenced to jail 25 years ago. Cherrie has reasons not to think about the past not only she's Mr Bones' daughter but also, she feels guilty in helping him in a way by luring the boys into his car. She was eight then. 

Cherrie thinks her past and secrets would be hidden safe forever, until the disappearance of a boy and a podcast link them to her father's crimes. Despite Mr Bones is convicted, many people are still intrigued by him and his young daughter, Leigh-Ann. Cherrie tries to remain low profile, but the podcast has doxed her as Little Bones, leaving her both enraged and helpless. To complicate matters, Cherrie's son goes missing during their trip to an amusement park. Cherrie fears someone may seek revenge over the past crimes as she searches frantically for her son while dodging from people's curiosity and allegations that she might be involved in her son's disappearance. 

Little Bones started out with a bang and I found the concept and the identity surrounding a serial killer's daughter's was quite enticing from the thrillers aspect but while it has an interesting premise, Cherrie came off as more annoying (in her behaviours) than intriguing for a character and it was a disappointment given that there's so much potential in this story. To be fair, there are a few gripping moments but there are also others that went on a bit too long and repetitive. The ending may not be a surprise to some readers and while this isn't a bad thing, I find it lacks some elements which constitute a great thriller. That said, it was considerably promising for a debut thriller and I'll be curious of the author's next book.



Today is Mid-Autumn Festival day whereby families will gather together, eat mooncakes and drink tea while the children will light up the lanterns as they enjoy their walk under the moonlight. In the past, we used to have paper lanterns but they burn easily if we aren't careful. These days, children are seen carrying battery-operated lanterns and they come in all forms of shapes and designs (of course cartoon characters remain a favourite among children). If you ask me, I'd still prefer paper lanterns. No reason, just because I'm kind of a tradition person, ha. Even for mooncakes, I still prefer to have a piece of traditionally baked mooncake with lotus seed paste among a variety of choices, which ranges from snow-skin mooncakes to different kinds of paste fillings (e.g. durian, which is quite popular among locals). The picture below shows my favourite mooncakes; and I wish I could eat them anytime instead of only once a year (pout). 


Reading-wise, my progress has been slow and I just finished reading The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White. It's the first book of a trilogy featuring Detective Angie Pallorino and gosh, this book is not for the faint-hearted given the subjects but the writing is great. Loreth really pay attention to all the details in her writing and her characters are well-developed and fleshed out. Review forthcoming. 

Recently this K-drama has received lots of raves and I can see why. Flower of Devil, starring Lee Joon-gi and Moon Chae-won, is a story between a man with a secret past and identity and his detective wife. I loved the storyline, and most of all, I was captivated by Lee Joon-gi's acting as he had really brought the character to life through his lively performance - action and emotionally wise. I won't say too much about the storyline, just that I'd highly recommend watching this! 


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Melody
Crooked Lane Books | October 2020 | 288 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 

To many outsiders, Ethan Faulkner may seemed like any ordinary man who leads a simple life with a dog for companionship. He has a successful teaching career and he intends to lead a peaceful life as it is, until his younger sister, Susannah, barge into his life again after all the years she's gone missing on him. Ethan and Susannah have a traumatic past which still haunt them at present and their avoidance of talking about the past has only makes that memory more vivid and painful. 

Years ago when they were teenagers, a young woman had knocked onto their door and pleaded for help. Their parents let her into their house, not knowing that she was on the run from two men who were pursuing her. The men barged into the house, and Ethan's father even put in a good fight but alas, Ethan's parents eventually died from gunshots. Susannah was left injured and Ethan's life is never the same again. Their mother's brother, Uncle Gavin, took care of them but his shadowy life often led Ethan wondering about his morality but so far he hasn't seen or heard anything bad about his uncle although he suspected it was all kept under wraps. 

While Susannah's return sparks Ethan's curiosity, he is more bothered by Marisa's nosiness over his past. Marisa is simply a random woman whom he'd met in a conference and had a one-night stand but eventually become his new colleague. When he tries to break it off with Marisa due to her persistency in discussing about his past, things become nasty and Marisa retaliated by spreading fake news about him. Ethan is vexed over her actions until she turned up dead and suddenly he becomes the suspect. Ethan doesn't want to confront his past, but Marisa's interest and her death leave him no choice but to dig up the painful memories once again in order to find the truth. 

This book surprised me on many levels and it was such a treat to see how the story unravels through the author's engaging writing style and the fleshed out characters. While the pace may come off to be a bit slow and unclear in the beginning, it has a good buildup of suspense and intensity. Towards the middle, the story direction changes, and changes again just when I thought I'd some of the things figured out. This is an intriguing and a well-constructed story about family and friendship, as well as vengeance and consequences. Although this is my first book by Christopher Swann, it definitely won't be my last. 

© 2020 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
BooksGoSocial | October 2020 | 150 pgs
Source: NetGalley 


“I can’t sleep. Not since June 16th, 2018. Not since what happened…”

Becky Braithwaite is traumatised by the accident of her older brother, Jordan, two years ago and the unfortunate tragedy has led her to having insomnia since then. Now a university student at Wessex, she intends to put the past behind her but it isn't as easy as she's thought. 

For starters, she keeps receiving calls from an unknown number and when she answers them, the other party refuses to speak. Then, there are times that she thought someone is stalking her and when she turns around, no one is there. And the most troubling is, someone left her a note and a book titled "You Killed Him" and after a wild goose chase, these items have mysteriously gone without a trace after she returned. Is her mind playing tricks on her given her mental condition, or is there someone out to get her? 

First off, the storyline was gripping and the unreliable narrator theme always appeal to me. Becky's insomnia condition sounds terrible and this made me worried about her and yet this also led me wondering about her credibility at the same time. The first half focused on her life at the university and her relationship with her flatmates as well with a glimpse of her troubled past although it is vague and not much information is given (which is understandable perhaps due to the pace of the plot). The second half was better intense-wise but I was a bit disappointed with the ending given it was rather abrupt. That said, the author has done a good job in creating the claustrophobic atmosphere of uncertainty and the character's distrust in herself, her fear and anxiety so this made an interesting case of character study alongside the suspense. 


© 2020 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
Quercus | January 2020 | 400 pgs
Source: Purchased

Tiffy Moore has broken off with her boyfriend and she needs a flat fast. With her limited finances, she could only rent a cheap flat but most of the units she's seen are either messed up or so run-down that she wanted to give up hope until one ad caught her attention. It's a one-bed flat and though the rental meets her budget, she has to share not only the flat but the bed as well. Before you think otherwise, the rental requirements are pretty decent and straightforward. That is, Tiffy will occupy the flat during the evenings as she'll be at work in the day. She's not met up with the flat owner but she's went through all the necessary procedures with the owner's girlfriend who helps oversee the whole arrangement. Now her accommodation problem has finally resolved and she's happy although her two close friends think she's crazy to accept such an arrangement. 

Leon Twomey works as a palliative care nurse and since he mostly work night shifts and that he needs money badly for his brother's legal case (there's a little backstory how he was wrongly convicted), he figured renting out his one-bed flat wouldn't pose too much of an issue. His girlfriend has met up with the tenant personally so there wouldn't be any insecurities or jealousy issue standing between them. Communication-wise, it's simple too as they'll leave Post-it notes to each other. But, as much as these two people trying their best to get on with their lives, fate and circumstances seem to have their own plans and since this book is a romance, you could very well imagine what'd happen next. 

ClichĂ© or not, I love it when a romance makes me feel some warmth and romantic (but of course), moved and some humanity that move beyond the characters' relationship. This book has it all. I liked how Tiffy and Leon didn't know each other in the beginning and instead, communicate and get to know more about each other through their little notes here and there. I also liked it that they're able to see eye to eye on several things and being there for each other during their most vulnerable moments despite their differences (never mind if their first meetup was disastrously embarrassing but hey, nothing is perfect, right?) And finally, how helping others (these secondary characters are fun to read as well) together have sort of bring them even closer and made them see through many things in general, including their own. All in all, this book was an entertaining and an escapism read and I welcome this little distraction especially in these gloomy times.


© 2020 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
Bookouture | September 2020 | 384 pgs
Source: NetGalley


We've read many suspense or crime thrillers which are often based from the victim's perspective but rarely from the perpetrator's. Flowers for the Dead surprised me not only it is a story about the perpetrator but also, I've learnt the meaning of various flowers at the beginning of each chapter. 

Adam Bourne is a serial killer who has murdered a few women whom he thinks they're his lovers. Adam would set his eyes on a particular woman, then he'd start to "serenade" her by leaving them flowers, doing their chores without her knowing that she is being stalked. Adam's initial thoughts is to find love through these gestures but what he's done has crossed the line and sent a danger signal to the victims. But eventually the victims always have no chance of saving themselves, because Adam is always one step ahead of them and the police as well. Laura Weir is his latest target, and he intends to make hers his and this time around, he'd make sure that Laura would begin to see his sincerity behind his every moves. 

Adam's sinister mind and acts began to take a turn when the reader read about his past as a boy. Unlike the monster he is at present, young Adam was actually a shy boy who had full of love and admiration of his grandmother. Growing up with a father who was always at work and a mother who always belittle and abuse him, Adam sought solace in his grandmother's fairy tales and learned the language of flowers since she loved gardening so much. Through her grandmother's love and attention, Adam was able to endure all the nonsense and abuse inflicted by his mother but his tolerance and his mind eventually snapped after a love confession to a girl gone wrong and that his grandmother passed from a terminal illness. 

In many ways, this book read as a crime thriller but Adam's sad past also made this an intriguing case of character study as we watch how little, shy, eager-to-please Adam gradually becomes an obsessive and a frightening serial killer. Adam was, no doubt, a perpetrator but before that, he was also a victim so the reaction towards him wasn't only one-sided. On the other end, Laura Weir and Detective Sergeant Michael Bishop have their own stories as well so overall this was quite an engaging read and of course the best thing to me was, knowing the meaning of flowers. 


© 2020 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
Thomas & Mercer | August 2020 | 283 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

Lindsey, Kendra and Dani are best friends for years and what most rare and special is, they live near one another and even their teenage boys are good friends, too. But an unfortunate tragedy happens, leaving one dead, another in a coma, and the third too traumatised to speak. This incident has not only changed the dynamics between the three women but also leads them to question what had happened on that fateful day and why a gun was involved? Is it an unfortunate accident or is there something more than meets the eye? 

As the three women struggle to adjust to their life and questioning themselves, they soon discover that the accident was only the beginning and more unexpected and troubling issues arise as the police investigation begins. These discoveries have further implicated their present fragile friendship and most of all, create a crack among their own family as self-blame, doubts and suspicion set in. 

Narrated by the three lead female characters, this is not only a story of intrigue and suspense but is also a story about friendship, motherhood and secrets. The three women's narratives give the reader a more-than-a-glimpse of their strengths as well as their vulnerable side; the challenge of raising a child as well as the fear of losing him but as much as the author has done a good job in portraying them, I've to say it took me a while to figure out who was who after when the characters are more developed and fleshed out (they seemed so alike and well, perhaps that explains how close-knit they are.) 

Aside from the suspense, this book also makes the reader wonders how well do we really know our friends and family members. Overall it was an enticing read with an interesting cast of characters; and the thought of what secrets our children may be hiding or thinking would send chills down your spine.


© 2020 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
Avon | August 2020 | 380 pgs
Source: NetGalley 


It all started when Jade and Tomas moved into their new house near the river in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Their neighbour, Emma, is an attractive woman who has her own dental practice. She's in a relationship with a divorcĂ© called Alistair whom she knew on Tinder. When these two couples met over at Tomas's house to get to know one another, Jade is positive that Tomas will cheat on her. Tomas isn't unfaithful, for Jade suffers from paranoia and she is always thinking that Tomas is the kind who would cheat behind her back. Her wild imagination eventually bring out the revengeful streak in her; and using her forensic scientist knowledge (she's now retired) to plan for Emma's downfall, she has unknowingly started a cat-and-mouse game which would inadvertently involve their partners. 

This dark, twisted and twisty psychological thriller was a fast read with its short chapters but I wasn't enamored by the writing style. There are three narratives but they are written in second person format so it seems like each narrator is talking to another character. It's definitely not my favourite style of writing and it was confusing in the beginning but it got better as the story progresses. 

However, as intriguing as the characters and storyline are concerned, what the characters did may seem overly dramatic and implausible in some areas so if you can suspend your disbelief, it is still a readable thriller which will have you at the edge of the seat. 


© 2020 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 | September 2020 | 368 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 

Sydney Green was born and raised in Gifford Place, Brooklyn. Gifford Place is a cosy neighbourhood where everyone seems to know everyone else and though Sydney's life isn't as rosy, but at least she is happy. That is, until the gentrification begins.

VerenTech, a pharmaceutical giant, has plans to shift their headquarters to Gifford Place and with their vast backups and connections, it wouldn't be a difficult task given a little time and some money to get the residents out of the site. But, Gifford Place has history and most residents, who are Black, are not pleased with their tough approach and this has caused some paranoia and fear among the residents that they'd be chased out eventually. 

Sydney is frustrated as she turns her attention towards her walking tour project featuring her beloved neighbourhood. Her new neighbour, Theo, is a mediocre white guy who happens to be her assistant in researching the history for the tour and though Sydney finds him annoying initially, she couldn't help but be attracted by his helpfulness and his sense of righteousness as the days go by. Theo and his rich ex-girlfriend had bought a house together at Gifford Place but they broke off due to personality clashes (but basically because he's a bum); Sydney, on the other hand, worries over her financial status and her ailing mother so it seems they understand each other's plight more than the others. 

But as Sydney and Theo dive into Brooklyn history, they soon realise that their neighbours are vanishing one by one discreetly. Did they move out given the gentrification pressure? Or is there an unknown conspiracy theory going on? 

This novel was a slow burn but I enjoyed reading about the history of Brooklyn and the interactions between Sydney and Theo. Although classified as a thriller, I think this story comprises a few issues which provide food for thought, such as racism, gentrification and not to mention the division of social status. Alyssa Cole is a romance author so it's no surprise to see some romance elements here. It always delight me to find authors decide to try their hand on writing something different aside from their usual genre and I'm curious what Cole has in store next under the thrillers genre.


© 2020 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
Hera Books | August 2020
Source: NetGalley 


Lucy is a probation officer and her profession enables her to interact with various kinds of prisoners. Lucy has some  problems with one of them, though - a young sex offender called Simon Gould, and he is on a trial for an early release although Lucy doesn't support his release. Simon has a way of playing mind games with her and as much as Lucy doesn't want to admit, in truth he terrifies her. 

Lucy's best friend, Emma, knew all about the dynamics working as a probation officer. After all, she and Lucy met six months before at a Personal Development for Probation Staff conference and they've clicked from there. On one occasion when Lucy and Emma are drinking at a bar, they meet a psychologist named Paul Webb. Sparks fly between Lucy and Paul and soon they are in a relationship. Things are going on well until their whirlwind romance culminates in marriage, which surprised Lucy herself. Suddenly, Paul is like a changed man. No longer the sweet and understanding man, he becomes secretive and worst of all, wants to control Lucy's life. 

It is also at this time that Lucy finds herself being harassed by Simon's phone calls, or someone leaving a stalk of rose at the front of their house. But when Lucy reported these to her superior, it becomes clear to them that Lucy is too stressed for the job, and that Simon has never left the facility. Back at home, Lucy continues to live in fear under Paul's control until she finds stacks of old photographs of a young woman in Paul's drawer and began to question about his past. 

Intense-wise, this book checks the box and I was intrigued by the dynamic between Lucy and Paul. The author has done a good job in portraying their characteristics as well as their credibility, for my choice kept switching back and forth between these two characters (is Lucy sane, or does Paul has something to hide?) 

While the startup of this convoluted psychological thriller turns out strong and well, I felt the ending was a bit rushed and there are some loose ends which aren't fully explained. For example, what happened to Simon Gould since he was a terror to Lucy? And perhaps it's me, but I didn't fully grasp the meaning of the last few pages although I think it might be the author's intention of putting it that way. Overall, it was a decent read and the intrigue had kept most of my interest. 


© 2020 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 | March 2020 | 384 pgs
Source: Purchased 

First off, let me say My Dark Vanessa was NOT an easy read. Its dark and disturbing themes would unsettle any reader, yet it also features a few important and thought-provoking subjects which I think anyone shouldn't ignore. 

In a nutshell, this story is about the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a 15-year-old precocious, innocent girl and a 42-year-old magnetic yet manipulative teacher. Jacob Strane makes use of Vanessa's innocence and vulnerabilities and disguise his predatory and manipulative advances towards her as a twisted form of "forbidden love". Vanessa, being a pure in heart and a precocious girl, falls into his trap and eventually come out as a changed and an emotionally damaged woman who still sees their relationship as something innocuous even she's now thirty-two and working as a concierge clerk at a hotel. Vanessa's present life is in no way better than the past despite she hasn't been in contact with Strane for a while and she's seeing a therapist for grief after the loss of her father. It's until the news of Taylor Birch going public with the allegations of abuse over Strane that Vanessa finds herself back into Strane's life; for the latter wants her reassurance that she'll remain on his side, in which Vanessa has assured him that she has no intention of putting him in an unfavourable situation. Thereafter begins the flashbacks of Vanessa's school life and her interactions with Jacob Strane, who was her English teacher then; alongside alternating with the present 2017 in which the reader learn about Vanessa's struggles in life and that no relationship seems like "normal" after Strane. What most heartbreaking is, young Vanessa allows herself to see that their relationship is more of a forbidden romantic affair than an abusive one and these thoughts follow her till her adulthood though occasionally she still think about him and question what he'd done to her. 

My Dark Vanessa is a well-written piece of work despite the dark and disturbing theme. The author has done a great job in capturing the atmosphere of Browick School and its school system, as well as the characters' thoughts and emotions (especially Vanessa's fragile state of mind, both as a teenager and an adult). While this storyline comprises issues such as sexual abuse, power and manipulation, it also depicts the pressure the abused victims have to face as they brave in front of the public for justice and support though there are also some who are quick to judge and think otherwise. Although this is a work of fiction, sadly what happened in this story DO happen in reality and there are victims who are like Vanessa, who feel it's their fault instead of the men who manipulate and abuse them. This book isn't a fun read (I'd  to set the book aside to take some breaks before continuing my reading) but it's also a powerful and a thought-provoking book which portrays the issues of today's society. 

Last but not least, I want to thank Lark for "walking" through this dark reading journey with me. This book is our most difficult read among our buddy reads to date but we don't regret reading it. We decided to skip the questions this time around but we'll still continue with this feature for our next buddy reads. And finally, do visit Lark's blog for her thoughts about this book!  


© 2020 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
Harper | August 2020 | 368 pgs 
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 


Final Cut is a psychological thriller that explores themes such as identity and memory.   

Alex is a young documentary filmmaker on her way to a quiet fishing village in Blackwood Bay to shoot a new film. Her assignment is simple as all she needs is to have the residents to record and tell their own stories; more like an observation of the residents' life and the little things happening around them. Blackwood Bay may look like a quaint village at first glance, but actually there were a few unfortunate incidents that happened ten years ago -- a girl who committed suicide and another two girls went missing. Alex knew about them; after all she knew these girls after having lived there since she was young. She intends to find out more about the mystery behind these girls' fate, though her appearance and her work at Blackwood Bay have already put tension and raise suspicions in the town which is already on edge. 

But, there's also some backstory about Alex's past which the reader will find out as the story progresses, like her dissociative amnesia and how her partial returning memories will impact on her findings and have the reader question about her credibility as well as the people surrounding her. What really happened to those girls ten years ago and why is Alex still drawn to the village despite the things that happened there? 

Final Cut has a great premise and in exploring the character's traumatised mind and the consequences that follow especially since her findings involve assumptions and snippets of her returning memory, which may or may not reliable, thus enabling her an unreliable narrator in the process. While there's much potential and intrigue in the premise and the beginning of the story initially, the storyline fell flat towards the middle and from there it became repetitive as Alex seemed to be doing the same thing and kept asking questions which no one knew (or were willing) to tell her. With not much resolution in sight, it lost its intensity and momentum and while the pace picked up in the last few chapters, my interest had waned and the ending was meh to me. Overall, I loved the first half of the story, but the other half was simply disappointing. 


© 2020 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Melody
Kensington | July 2020 | 368 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 

Forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore and her psychologist partner, Lane Phillips, have made their first appearance in Charlie Donlea's previous novel, Some Choose Darkness. While this is the second book of the Rory Moore/Lane Phillips series, it could be read as a stand-alone.

On 21st June 2019 in Peppermill, Indiana, two students are found brutally murdered at an abandoned boarding house situated near the prestigious Westmont Preparatory High School. The boarding house is a popular late-night hangout among selected students who are invited to participate in some sort of a dare game so as to earn recognition and carry on the "tradition" to the next batch of unsuspecting juniors. Initial investigations led the police to suspect Charles Gorman, who is the students' chemistry teacher after they found his manifesto detailing what he'd do to some of his boisterous students. But before the police could take further actions, Charles commits suicide but ended up in a vegetative state. Without an affirmative statement, the police shut the case based on his manifesto although some questions remain unanswered. 

The case is later picked up by Mack Carter a year later for his podcast channel he called The Suicide House and it has since attracted many listeners to discuss the theories and conclusions about the discoveries made during the episode to the Internet and social media. Journalist Ryder Hillier intends to piggyback on the success of Mack's podcast and pull him in onto her plan to work together; after all she had sounded the alarms first and had done her research and posted all her findings in her true-crime blog. But just as they thought they've found a student who was present on that fateful night, he is later believed to have committed suicide before they could get anything out from him. Earlier, there were two students who had done the same near the boarding house and with so many puzzling threads floating around, this is when Rory and Lane come into the picture to look into the case which seems to be related to the two gruesome murders a year ago. What really happened on that fateful night a year ago and what dark secrets lie inside the walls of Westmont High?

Be prepared to take a wild reading ride in this psychological thriller because there's a lot of stuff going on here. There are multiple POVs and characters alongside Rory and Lane; then there are flashbacks and journal entries which dictate the perp's inner thoughts and not to mention Rory and Lane's findings. However, the reading experience got better once I was into the story as I find they're all nicely linked and it was good to know each respective background though it could be confusing initially. While it wasn't hard to guess the perpetrator in the end, the strength of this book lies in the dark and foreboding atmosphere as well as the author's engaging writing style. I look forward to reading more of this series. 


© 2020 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.