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.
Melody
Penguin Publishing Group | February 2020 | 336 pgs
Source: Purchased 


In November 1982, twenty-year-old Vivian Delaney had gone missing from The Sun Down Motel. She was working as a night clerk there. She'd always wanted to leave her town in Illinois and go to New York City to become a new person. She often viewed herself as the problem daughter; and after her parents' divorce she figured she could simply leave home but a hitching ride had landed her at The Sun Down Motel. Without much money and the need to find accommodation, she agreed to become a night clerk at Sun Down after the owner learnt about her situation. But Sun Down wasn't a popular place; and Viv was spooked by its creepy atmosphere and some paranormal activities after working there for a few nights. Despite her fear, Viv decided to find out about the secrets surrounding Sun Down and soon learned that there's something more terrifying than the ghosts there. 

Thirty-five years later, 20-year-old Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv's disappearance. Since watching her mother grieved in silence and finally losing her to cancer, it dawned on Carly that life is short and she has questions she needs to find answers to -- such as her aunt Viv's disappearance and why there wasn't much media coverage or a statewide search? With these in mind, she decides to move to Fell, NY, and visit the motel where her aunt was last seen at. Despite years have passed and things have changed, Sun Down remains as what it is since 1982. And Carly will soon find herself ensnare in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt. What lurks behind Sun Down and why Viv and Carly decided to stay despite everything? 

Creepy atmosphere, unsettling and intriguing. These are the three main factors that had me hooked to this story from the beginning till the end. Reading this book was a treat because it combines a mystery and a ghost story -- two of my favourite genres and on top of it, I adore Simone St. James' writing (she has a knack for writing Gothic stuff.) I've been a fan after reading The Broken Girls (and a few others, too) and I'm glad to report this was as good as TBG. The setting, the characterisations and the plot are all so mesmerising that I couldn't even choose a favourite (even the ghostly parts are good, though they're sad.) The same applies to Viv and Carly since I find both of their life stories and their investigative findings equally interesting through the dual timeline and narratives. While there are some parts which I find to be a bit unbelievable, it didn't deter my reading pleasure so this shows how much I enjoyed the book. As always, it's fun to buddy read with Lark and please do check out her review, too! 

Below are her questions to me pertaining to this book: 

1. Who did you like better or thought was a stronger character, Viv or Carly? Why?
I thought Viv and Carly are equally strong characters and they stand on their own. However, Viv's voice may be a bit more catching considering she's the core of this story. That said, both of them are special in their own ways and I liked them a lot.  

2. Being a night clerk at the Sun Down Motel seems like a pretty bad job to me. Would you do it? What's the worst job you've ever had?
I've to say I'm not much of a night owl so night shift jobs are absolutely out for me. I think my worst job is working as a temporary position selling drinks at a theme park (that theme park was long closed). I was waiting for my GCE O-Level results and like many of my schoolmates, I figured it'd be good to earn some allowances while passing the time at the same time. While it wasn't a bad job, the challenges lie in dealing with some difficult customers and not to mention transporting the beverage cylinders from one point to another (never mind if there's hand trolley. It's still challenging especially if there's a slope!) That said, working in servicing industry is never easy and I appreciate the staffs for their hard work. 


© 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 Voyager | May 2020 | 416 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

This is the last book of Jessie Mihalik's Consortium Rebellion trilogy and well, I was sad to see it end (but what a fun trilogy it was!)

Catarina von Hasenberg is the youngest member of her High House and is often being underestimated by her family though her bubbly personality mask a clever mind and a fierce determination. In the previous book (Aurora Blazing), the von Hasenbergs are still reeling over the treachery and the capture of the oldest son and heir so Catarina figures she'd be the best person to go undercover at a rival House's summer retreat so as to gather information and find out whoever is behind her brother's capture. 

However, Catarina's wish of working solo is dashed when her overprotective older sister, Bianca, assigns Alexander Sterling as her bodyguard (or lovers in public to steer away unnecessary attention). Bianca and her acquaintance with Alexander was explained in the last book, so it's understandable to see why Alexander is so adamant about following her request. And since Catarina possesses a strong individualism, it was interesting to see their differences gradually led to a solid alliance and then attractions when they finally acknowledge the unspoken sparks between them. 

I enjoyed this finale slightly more than Aurora Blazing, partly because it has more actions and there are stakes that are running high. Catarina was a strong character that easily captures a reader's attention through her warm and feisty personality, but she has secrets which she'd kept since young -- an experimental project done on her by her father to mold her into a super soldier. While she gave others a false impression that the experiment failed, the contempt she'd carried continues till her adulthood, though her other siblings feel the same towards their father, too. 

While I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi, this combination of interplanetary adventures and romance was a joy to read. Recommend to read from book 1, Polaris Rising, as there are some events and threads which are interwoven into the books' plotlines.


© 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 Voyager| October 2019| 400 pgs
Source: Purchased 

I was hooked by the first book (Polaris Rising) of this Consortium Rebellion trilogy featuring three siblings from High House von Hasenberg so I dived into this second installment with a high expectation (if you love sci-fi and romance, perhaps you should try reading this trilogy. Could be read as a standalone but I'd suggest reading them in order). 

Bianca von Hasenberg did her duty by marrying for convenience and when her husband died unexpectedly, many speculated if she's something to do with his death but in truth, she did nothing but one thing for sure, she's definitely living her life happier and freer than before. However, politics and power will always exist and when their oldest brother disappears after an attack, Bianca decides to search for him despite their father's order and this led him to sending Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security to bring her back.  

Bianca has a vast of connections, and in no time she's able to trace the links to rival House Rockhurst territory. But Ian is persistent and infuriating like no one else; and of course he eventually caught her after some chase across the universe. Bianca stand her ground in finding her brother, even if it means allowing Ian to follow her around and take charge whenever they encounter some obstacles. But most of all, would she be able to believe in love again after an unhappy marriage? 

Aurora Blazing was an enjoyable read in terms of the world-building and the family dynamics in the High House von Hasenberg, but it was a slow burn compared to its first book. However, it was justified considering Bianca's backstory and how she came to be that person today both physically and mentally. Ian was another intriguing character, but he received much lesser attention compared to Bianca, thus adding a sense of mystery around him. Their interactions took up most of the story; and it wasn't a surprise to see that their romance took a while to blossom considering their stubborn and hotheaded personalities. While I still liked Polaris Rising a little more than this book, the characters development and the plot remain as good and I'm currently reading the last book of this trilogy, Chaos Reigning, which features the youngest daughter of High House von Hasenberg. While I hate to see this series come to an end, I'll be curious to know what she has in store next.


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Melody
William Morrow | July 2020 | 320 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 

Having read three of Paul Tremblay's books and enjoyed them, I figured I couldn't turn down this latest release by him, especially since the theme hit a little too close to reality in a way. 

Massachusetts residents are living in worrying and fear. In just a matter of weeks, they've been overrun by a mysterious, insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, this disease has a short incubation period of an hour or so and once the person is infected, he'll quickly lose his mind and is driven to bite and infect others (which reminds me a bit like zombies but well, they aren't walking deads). With the hospitals being inundated with the sick and dying, the commonwealth has no other option but to have the state quarantined and under curfew. 

Natalie, who's eight months pregnant, is waiting for her husband's return from his grocery trip when horror strikes. In an attempt to save her husband who's being bitten by their infected neighbour, Natalie suffers the same fate as she, too, is bitten. Unlike her husband who is viciously attacked, Natalie's condition isn't considered fatal but she has to get to a hospital within an hour to receive a rabies vaccine, although it isn't a cure but it might buy her some time. Dr. Ramola "Rams" Sherman is a pediatrician and she happens to be a friend of Natalie. She agrees to bring Natalie to the hospital, knowing that she'll be breaking some safety protocols but aside from racing against the time, their biggest challenge would be the journey itself as they'd be faced with various kinds of dangers and most of all, how far would one go for survival, and for a friend? 

If you're familiar with Paul Tremblay's works, you should be aware of his creativity and his taut writing style when it comes to constructing a dark, horrifying story like this one. His characters are fleshed out and intriguing; the topics may be gruesome or unthinkable but in this case he also adds the humanity issue for the reader to ponder about -- to save or not to save under dire circumstances? And what would one do to survive? This was one fast and a compelling read (and such a timely one given the current pandemic situation) as the story took place over the course of a few hours so the reader could feel the sense of horror and urgency in parallel with the two characters. 


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Melody
MCP Books | April 2020 | 480 pgs
Source: Author


Salem, once known for the terrifying and dark horrors of witch trials, is the setting for this story although witchcraft and the likes are not the theme here. It is 1803 and the Puritan village in Massachusetts is now the wealthiest town in America. Captain Isaac McCallister is well known to the residents in Puritan, but that is partly due to his five harrowing years of slavery in Algiers. Now he is one of the successful tradesmen although the experiences he'd been through still haunts him. 

Eleanor Hampton is an eccentric young artist who's living with her mother and sister at Boxwood Cottage of the same village. She's independent and opinionated; but her tough demeanour could easily be misunderstood by others considering she's lost her father a few years back and she has to take on his role to support the family. Isaac's return has rattled her world because he's her father's step-brother and there's been a long-standing bitterness between the two families. On top of it, they've been living on his estate and Eleanor fears he'll claim back what's his and have them evicted. But as much as their heated exchanges and their family feud, Eleanor is drawn by his gallantry and his determination. To safeguard the welfare of her family, Eleanor offers her companionship as an exchange of their settlement but Isaac surprises everyone with his marriage proposal instead. Eleanor initially doesn't care much as she thinks nothing more about romances, but she didn't expect her feelings towards him changes the more they're together and when unexpected circumstances arise which involve a murder, Eleanor knew she will need that determination and courage to face down the threat out of Isaac's past. 

Heart's Blood, no doubt is a historical romance, but the setting was well written with lots of background information and this is no surprise given that Alice Von Kannon is an author and historian who's written for both History and the Discovery Channel. Although I enjoyed learning more about the two characters and their dynamics, the pacing was a bit slow from the start but I've to say they're well developed and fleshed out. Isaac's traumatic past wasn't an easy read, but yet it was a crucial part of the story which tells another side of him and how those experiences had altered his path thereafter. I don't think I've ever read a historical romance much like this book which is rich in history and adventures so it was quite a refreshing experience.


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Melody
Lake Union Publishing | June 2017 | 335 pgs
Source: Purchased 


Eleanor Harper used to work as a crime reporter until she finds the overall ordeal is too much to bear. When she knew that Cliffside Manor is looking for a new director, she decided to give it a try. Cliffside Manor is an exclusive, isolated retreat for the artists and writers where they could stay for a short period of time without being bothered by the outside world. Eleanor knows little about the retreat, but she is aware that it used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium founded in the 1950s by a local philanthropist called Chester Dare. Unfortunately, Chester and one of his daughters, Chamomile, had passed during an accident and Eleanor remembers interviewing the other daughter, Penelope (the present director who is retiring), back then when she was still a new journalist. Eleanor eventually got the job but what she didn't understand is, why would Penelope commit suicide after giving her the role? 

As much as Eleanor is perplexed and shocked over Penelope's act, she knew she has to stay on at Cliffside to welcome the fellows (in which the artists and writers are called) and assure that things are running as normal. As she gets to know more about the fellows as the days go, she is intrigued to learn that almost each of them has some connection with Cliffside Manor in one way or other, including herself considering she interviewed Penelope two decades ago. Eleanor begins to wonder if Penelope had intended to bring them together with a purpose but for what reason? 

I've to say this book was atmospheric and suspenseful. The characters are intriguing and fleshed out and I enjoyed reading about everyone of them, be them likeable or not. Eleanor's interactions with the fellows and a few of the staff at Cliffside took up most of the plot, but there was also a sense of foreboding, too, given the history and the dark past of Cliffside as the reader would later find out as the story progresses. I was totally captivated by the suspense and the ambiguous sense of things that go bump in the night, but I wasn't prepared for the conclusion that left me feeling. . . well, stumped. That said, it was still an enjoyable read and I'll definitely look forward to more works by this author. 

* This book was chosen by Lark for our buddy read some time ago but then the pandemic happened, forcing our libraries to close so our buddy read plan being pushed back. Lark managed to get her copy now that their library allows for curbside checkout, but ours remain closed until further notice (I hope the pandemic situation will get better for all of us; best of all, if there's a vaccine to it). Nevertheless, I'm glad we were able to read this book and I hope you'll visit Lark's blog after reading this (Thanks, Lark, for suggesting this book!) Below are Lark's questions to me on this book:

1. Of the five visiting artists--Cassandra, Brynn, Diana, Henry and Richard--which did you like best? And why? 
All the characters seemed fine to me, although I've to admit I didn't like Brynn due to her rude and arrogant demeanour. My favourite character among the artists will be Henry. He was kind and easygoing and I could feel his sincerity right from the start he stepped into Cliffside. 

2. If you could only use three words to describe this book, what three words (or phrases) would you choose?
Atmospheric. Suspenseful. Mind-blowing.


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Melody
G.P. Putnam's Sons | June 2020 | 368 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 


Gillian McAllister's latest release is written in sliding door concept - a dual scenarios depicting the path the protagonist has decided to take after an unfortunate incident. 

Joanna and her friend, Laura, are having the best of their time at a bar when a stranger, who called himself Sadiq, invites them for a drink after their casual acquaintance earlier. Joanna didn't mean it to happen, but Sadiq seems eager to chat and when Joanna ignores him, he tries to grab and pull her towards him. Shocked, Joanna doesn't know how to react for a while until she moves away from him. But that isn't all, after Joanna leaves the bar she got the feeling that Sadiq is following her. While hurrying down the staircase she thought she caught a glimpse of Sadiq's red trainers and that's where she makes a snap decision; she turns and pushes him. Only that it isn't Sadiq but a random jogger and he tumbles down the steps and lies motionless, facedown on the ground. 

What happened thereafter is two scenarios - "Reveal" and "Conceal", depicts the cause and effect depending on Joanna's choice. If she calls the police, the man will live but that would put her own innocence at risk. She might be charged of assaulting and with no witnesses around, it'd a tough case to fight. But if she leaves quietly and pretends nothing has happened, the man will die but would she be able to go on living with guilt as she lies to her husband and friends? 

The Choice was a captivating read that not only the readers will find themselves get caught up by the dynamic plots but will also question themselves at the end in regard to the moral dilemma surrounding this story. While this isn't a typical psychological thriller, it sure is a thought-provoking novel that tells the different consequences through a split-second decision and how it'd change the life between the perpetrator and the victim. While I find this sliding door concept to be a refreshing read, personally I'm not a fan of it as I think it takes away some of the thrill and the focus (the real action of the event somewhat feel lost to me, if that makes sense.) 

Character-wise, Joanna didn't really leave a deep impression on me since I didn't really feel connected with her (maybe it's the concept) but I did feel what she'd gone through with both scenarios. That said, I'd still recommend this book if you love this kind of concept.


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Melody
Park Row | June 2020 | 352 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

I've enjoyed Kimberly Belle's previous novel "Dear Wife" so much so that I knew I couldn't miss this latest release by her. 

Charlotte used to work as an attendant at a gas station where she met Paul and they fell in love. Paul is an architect who had lost his ex-wife to a drowning accident four years ago. Charlotte's marriage to Paul had caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town; aside that Paul is eleven years her senior, there are also talks about her humble past and his late wife's mysterious drowning which has made people wonder considering she was a skilled swimmer. Charlotte has chose to believe in Paul and ignore the others and of course, it'd absolutely do no good to her baby after she finds out that she is pregnant. 

But her inner peace is shattered after she found a woman's body floating around the same spot where Paul's late wife was tragically drowned. Charlotte didn't know the woman since she didn't see her around, but she recognised her talking to Paul the day before. When she questioned Paul about her, he claimed that he didn't know her even though he told the police he's never met the woman, which Charlotte knew was a lie. As much as she wants to cover for Paul and give him the benefit of the doubt, she couldn't help but to wonder about his lie and the reason behind it. How well does she know Paul? And why did Paul travel all the way to an isolated cove to find an old childhood friend, Jax? As Charlotte unravels the mystery upon mystery, she didn't know if she should trust Paul or worse, is he a murderer? 

I suppose I'd high expectations of this book after reading Dear Wife and despite the author's writing remains engaging, this story failed to captivate my attention as much as Dear Wife. For starters, I didn't feel connected with Charlotte. The plot was all right, though I felt it'd been done several times and the feel of suspense lessened after I'd a sense where the story is going. Though it was narrated between Charlotte's present and some flashbacks of the teenage past of Paul's and his friends, the development of the latter felt rather rushed. That said, the author's writing is good and I'll look forward to her future releases and reading her older books as well.


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Melody

Synopsis: (from KoreanDrama.org)
This drama is about a married couple whose betrayal of one another leads to a whirlwind of revenge.
Ji Sun Woo (Kim Hee Ae) is a family medicine doctor. She is married to Lee Tae Oh (Park Hae Joon) and they have a son. She seems to have everything, including a successful career and a happy family, but she is betrayed by her husband and others. Meanwhile, Lee Tae Oh dreams of becoming a famous movie director. He runs an entertainment business with the support of his wife Ji Sun Woo. Even though he loves his wife, Lee Tae Oh falls into a dangerous relationship.
My thoughts:

This drama was actually based on BBC's drama series Doctor Foster and has received the highest viewership and ratings in Korean cable television history to-date. Since I didn't watch Doctor Foster, I couldn't compare the two but I've to say watching The World of Married Couple was as exciting as reading a domestic thriller; the only difference is your dislike for the characters intensify since we are seeing all the actions on screen rather than using our imaginations; and not to mention it easily evokes our emotions, too. 

To begin with, I've to say the first half of the story was very good. It'd me at the edge of my seat (and gritting my teeth) most of the time. Sun Woo didn't seem to be a woman who's unreasonable or one who would act rashly; after all she gave Tae Oh a chance to admit his infidelity but the latter denied and lied. After she'd found further proof of his infidelity, Tae Oh didn't seem to be remorseful and even retorted that there's no wrong in loving and that he loves her and his mistress at the same time. (Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too, right?) To protect her son and her career, Sun Woo decided that divorcing him and gaining the custody of her son are the options, but alas Tae Oh decided to return to their hometown even after he'd married his mistress and has a young daughter. You'd think that he must have gotten over his ex-wife at this stage but unfortunately that wasn't the case. And this is when things start to get heated up and the start of their revenge. 


It was easy to feel empathy towards Sun Woo despite everything, afterall she was the victim and actress Kim Hee Ae has portrayed her role wonderfully through her superb acting skills. Likewise to Park Hae Joon who played Tae Oh; a selfish, despicable man who has no bounds when his own benefits are concerned. And above all, my heart went out to their poor teenage son, who felt like he was a pawn between them, or a "tool" to get to the other. 

As much as this story was centred around the complex (obsessive?) relationship between Sun Woo and Tae Oh, there was also a subplot about another couple (who's their friends and neighbours) with trust issue. Overall, this story depicts the complicated relationship between Sun Woo and Tae Oh, the challenges of a single working mother and at the same time allows the viewers some discussions about the aspect of marriage and how divorce are being looked upon depending on one's culture and the society. I enjoyed the drama, but it could be dramatic at times and again, I loathed Tae Oh for all his doings yet I couldn't help but to pity him towards the end. And speaking of the ending, I was deeply disappointed and it left me feeling baffled. That said, it was still an intense and an entertaining drama with a good acting cast.


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