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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Melody
Abacus | November 2019 | 336 pgs
Source: Library 
Translated from the Japanese by Giles Murray 


Keigo Higashino has written two series featuring Detective Galileo and Detective Kaga respectively, as well as a few other stand-alones. Although I've only read three of his books (including this) so far, I've enjoyed his writing style, the riddle-like mysteries and the well crafted plots. This is the second appearance of Detective Kaga after the previous book, Malice

Detective Kyochiro Kaga of the Tokyo Police Department has just been transferred to a new precinct in Nihonbashi area of Tokyo. A newcomer himself, he is assigned to investigate the murder case of a woman who was strangled to death. Although Kaga gives people the impression of down-to-earth and easy-going, deep down he is a meticulous man who has a sharp eye in details and logic, and most of all he knows how to get people to talk through his gentle and cordial demeanour. 

The victim was a 45-year-old divorced woman named Mineko Mitsui who moved to Nihonbashi a few months ago. Upon initial interview and investigation, Kaga understand from a friend of Mitsui that she was supposed to meet at Mitsui's house at 7pm but had last minute pushed their appointment to an hour later due to an unforeseen circumstances. When she reached Mitsui's house, she found the door unlocked and Mitsui was sprawled dead in the living room. The police couldn't find any forensic evidence but Kaga did notice a few interesting items in the house which spurs him into looking at some of the businesses at the Nihonbashi area. As Kaga visits the shops and interviews the owners subsequently, he comes to learn a bit of their stories even if some appear to be unrelated to the case. In the end, Kaga succeeded not only in solving the case but also impressing the reader with his patience and his scrupulous attention and methods applied during his investigations.

As much as this is a crime fiction, it has an intriguing array of characters which would make an interesting study of human behaviorism. Each segment in the book tells the story of a character and although they are rather short and some may appear unconnected to the case, the reader will soon understand about the linkage and the actual role they play towards the end. This wasn't a fast-paced read in terms of actions and thrills but it was an intriguing whodunit and a clever detective whose perspective is very different from his peers. 


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Melody
Hodder & Stoughton | October 2019 | 304 pgs 
Source: Library 


Since young, author Lindsay McCrae has the passion for the natural world. Having grown up in Cumbria on the edge of the Lake District National Park was a privilege to him; and he'd take every opportunity as he could to explore the local woodland and riverbank. By age eight, he had already decided he wanted a career filming wildlife. His obsession with wildlife led him to write a letter to the BBC's British wildlife programme Springwatch when he was fourteen. Springwatch is a series that annually showcases the best of British wildlife and young Lindsay had wrote to them detailing how perfect the Lake District would be for a part of their series. The location was basically his back garden; which was home to badger setts, fox dens, birds' nests and a large pond. His letter even included a map detailing the locations of all the wildlife he'd discovered. Lindsay didn't expect a reply from them and imagine his surprise and glee when they replied to say they wanted to make a little film with him that'd appear on the programme. This experience has further fueled his passion and ambition of filming the wildlife.  

Even in his last few years at school, Lindsay would spend every spare moment filming. After leaving school at eighteen, he'd lost his academic motivation and all he wanted to do is watching the outside natural world. Due to his making his Springwatch film and his name had been mentioned so frequently within the BBC Springwatch office, he got a job as a runner. His stint thereafter led to camera-assisting jobs where he gets hands-on experience with professional gear. His career kicked off after a few years and by then he'd travelled all over the UK and had started spending more time filming abroad. 

His dream and the opportunity to film in Antarctica came when he received an email from a producer at BBC Natural History Unit. But it wasn't an easy decision for him initially given the eleven-month duration being living in the harsh environment and being apart from his new wife and she being pregnant. But she was supportive although it gave him second thoughts. Then again, he'd already committed prior to the news so there was no option other than to be apart for the birth and the baby's first seven months. 

After this introduction of Lindsay's dreams and the various obstacles he'd to overcome before he set foot on the other end of the world, the adventure begins when he recounts his experience filming alongside the lines of emperor penguins and in blizzards at times, as well as the amazing things he'd seen through his work. His musings and observations have made me learned many things about our cute and resilient birds, their habitats and their extraordinary lifecycle, such as they will trek up to 100 miles over solid ice to reach their breeding grounds (and there are breeding colonies which can contain up to several thousand individuals). As many of us know, they've an unusual reversal role whereby the males will incubate the eggs for over two months while the females return to the sea to feed. Aside from the many fascinating sights and experiences mingling with the emperors, Lindsay also shares with the reader about his living base station, the interactions with a few of his colleagues and of course, the technical details and difficulties filming the birds. I've always fascinated by emperor penguins and their lives in the Antarctic so this nonfiction/memoir was a joy to read. 

(Here are some pictures I took from the book.) 


__________

* This is one of the few library books I'd borrowed before the government declared all non essential businesses to be closed and to stay home, practise social distancing and mandatory mask wearing when outdoors. The circuit breaker measures have extended till 1st June given the numbers have not been going down these past few days and we can only hope for the best and that things will get better soon. How are you coping with the current circumstances? Is the place where you're staying reopen already? Take care and stay well and safe. 


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Melody
Park Row | May 2020 | 336 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 


1995, Grotto, Iowa. 16-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves after her family reported her missing. Based from the injuries of her body, the police suspected she was assaulted and then murdered. Her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola, were the first to discover Eve's body and initial speculation was pointed to her then boyfriend, Nick. The two girls knew about his abusive behaviours towards Eve although Eve had tried to keep mum about the issue. But Nick had an alibi and as much as Nola was family to Eve, her strange characteristic and her obsession in animal dissecting practices easily make her a suspect but there wasn't any sufficient evidence pointed to her either. Maggie's father was the chief investigator who was in-charge of this investigation but with no clues and evidence the case was ultimately left unresolved. 

Twenty-five years later, Maggie's father retired and has amnesia. Maggie is now a detective herself and even though she is married and is pregnant with a seven-month baby, it doesn't deter her from doing her job. Maggie has not forgotten about that fateful night and what happened to her best friend so when a new piece of evidence surrounding Eve was found, Maggie knew she has to reopen the case and to find out what really happened to Eve. As Maggie investigates, she begins to encounter problems as not only she receives strange items but also someone tries to burn down her barn. Apparently someone wants her to stop the investigations but Maggie has delved into the case too deeply. Plus, she has to check out something which she'd missed two decades ago. 

Told in three narratives between the present and the past, this story explores the complex relationship between friends and family (how much do you know them, really?); secrets and deceptions, as well as teenage angst and abusive relationship. The characters are mostly flawed and while some are sympathetic, I've to say many of them have secrets and thus make the reader hard to like and believe them and this is where there are red herrings, twists and turns because every turn of events will make you change the suspect and have you wondering about their motive. This is my second Heather Gudenkauf book after Not a Sound and both books are compelling and unputdownable in my opinion, though I liked this one a little bit more due to the intriguing characters. 


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Melody
Custom House | May 2020 | 320 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 


Catherine House -- an elite school with a strict selective admission and policy hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania. Each year, they select the extraordinary pupils and these lucky selected ones will be given free tuition, room and board. However, all these come with a price and the students will have to leave their materialistic values and disconnect with the outside world for three years but they can earn points to "buy" the things they want and most of all, they're assured that in return they'll graduate from Catherine with a bright future of sublime power and prestige. 

Our protagonist, Ines, enter Catherine with a hope that the school will reform her into a better person than what she was in the past. There, she meets her roommate, Barbara Pearce (a.k.a. Baby) and the two become friends quickly. Baby is the polar opposite of Ines; she's studious and she's also obsessed in getting into a specialty concentration class for their study of a certain material they called plasm. As Ines continues her life at Catherine with indifference, Baby's sudden death hit her and soon she learns that there's something more than meets the eye behind the school's strange protocols but what most intrigue her is the tightly knit group of pupils they called the concentrators and their mysterious curriculum. She knew that the concentrators are carefully selected pupils and their projects in their respective labs are kept under locks at all times. What lurks behind these closed doors and is Baby's death connected to them?

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.You are in the house and the house is in you . . .

I didn't know what to expect of Catherine House initially. It was a slow burn with a strong focus of the characters and their interactions amid the mysterious and atmospheric Catherine. Right from the start, the reader suspected that there's something off about Catherine but couldn't pinpoint what. I felt I was reading what's inside Ines's head and some teenage angst most of the time but that's fine since Ines was an intriguing character. I didn't like her, but I didn't hate her either and she simply has that kind of indifferent attitude which lead you into thinking that she's not bothered by anything but actually she keeps her thoughts to herself.  

Catherine, on the other hand, was a great subject by itself and I was curious by its atmospheric setting. Vikt√≥ria, the director who runs the school, was another mysterious character whom you know you should tread with care as she could be a formidable disciplinarian but at the same time she also left you in doubts of her agenda. In spite of the slow buildup of suspense and the unclear direction where the story is going, I actually find this tactic to be quite effective as it blends with the unsettling feeling and that atmospheric setting until the last quarter of the book in which things started to unravel real fast and leave your mind whirling. Although this is the first novel by the author, I loved the voice of this book and I'll be looking forward to her future releases. 


© 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
Synopsis (from Wikipedia):
Itaewon Class is a 2020 South Korean television series starring Park Seo-joonKim Da-miYoo Jae-myung and Kwon Nara. Based on the webtoon of the same name, it is the first series to be produced by the film distribution company Showbox. 
Itaewon Class tells the story of ex-convict Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) whose life has been turned upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully and his father is killed in an accident. Following his father's steps, he opens his bar-restaurant DanBam (Sweet Night) in Itaewon and, along with his manager and staff, strive towards success and reaching greater heights.

My thoughts: 

If you haven't watched Itaewon Class, please put this onto your to-watch list. I'd finished watching this last week and I'm still suffering from withdrawal symptoms (OK, I may be exaggerating a bit but you get what I mean). IC is not only plot- and character-driven but it is also an inspiring coming-of-age story in my opinion. This story is also diversified in a way that it features two supporting characters who portray as a Guinean-Korean citizen and a transgender identity and I've to say both of them, including the rest of the cast, have overall made this a very engaging drama. 

Park Sae-Ro-Yi was a very likeable character right from the beginning. He's righteous, determined and most of all, his relationship with his father really warmed my heart. His belief in justice may land him into troubles at times, but he stand on his own belief and wouldn't succumb to anyone even to the rich and powerful Jang's family. He'd a history with the Jang's since his teenage years and it was the death of his father that brought out the rage in him. He decided to fulfil his late father's dream and opened up his own eatery business.

Jo Yi Seo played an important role in Park Sae-Ro-Yi's life as she offered her advice and helped Park when he faced difficulties running his bar-restaurant, DanBam, in Itaewon. As an influencer, Jo had many connections and fans and although DanBam couldn't defeat Jang's conglomerate eateries businesses easily, Jo had foresight and together with Park's few loyal subordinates, they'd overcome the hardships and difficulties which the Jang's laid for them. 



While IC was all about determination, motivation and justice, there was some sweet and touching moments too between Park and Jo as their relationship progressed throughout the story. For Jo, it wasn't a smooth love journey as Park had a girl he liked since high school and they remained close despite time and circumstances changed (never mind if the girl was working with the Jang's). But Jo's faithfulness and persistence in Park and DanBam never wavered; and it was gratifying to see all things come into place as the final scene close. Highly recommended.


© 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 | May 2020 | 320 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 


Lucy Foley's previous psychological thriller, The Hunting Party, was an absorbing read and a reminiscent of Agatha Christie's and I'm glad to report that this book is no exception. The story is set in an island off the coast of Ireland and it depicts the secrets and resentment within a group of acquaintances and how their past deeds are later revealed and justified amid a wedding reception. 

Julia "Jules" Keegan is the publisher of a successful online magazine and she is set to marry the handsome Will Slater, who is the rising star of TV show, Survivor. Given their status and the intention of an extraordinary wedding, they decided to hold it in an island and all preparations will be organised by a local couple, Aoife and Freddy, who have the necessary skills to meet their expectations. But what everyone expected to be a perfect wedding will become a nightmare as the weather turn nasty but that's only the beginning. As they mingle around and drink more champagne, some of them will soon realise that secrets can't be hidden forever and their ugly past will quickly catch up on them no matter how hard they've tried to keep it covered. 

This book was compelling in a way that you know you've no one to root for but yet you're anxious to know where the story will lead and how the characters are going to meet their fate. Aside from the suspense, I think this story gives the reader a good look of humans behaviorism under various circumstances through the eyes of a few narrators here (the new couple, the bridesmaid and the best man, as well as a plus-one and the wedding planner). The switching between the past and the present usually work for me as I enjoy that thrilling anticipation during my reading journey and it's always fun to guess the perpetrator(s). Lucy Foley has once again written a riveting and an atmospheric read which had my full attention from the beginning till the end and I'm glad to say her name is now added onto my favourite authors list. 


© 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
I'd like to thank a few overseas friends who had emailed or messaged me and asked me how I'm doing and coping with the number of coronavirus cases escalating daily and the recent implementation of "circuit breaker" measures here. Well, I've to say it is hard not to feel anxious and worried but I'm trying to keep a positive mind and I'm hoping that we'll all win this battle soon. Whether if it's anxiety or a reading slump, I find myself reading lesser nowadays since there's always cooking to do (I'm sure many of you are able to relate but I've to say my cooking skills have definitely improved a lot!) and some (good) distractions at home since the schools and tuition centres have closed and all lessons have now been moved online. There are pros and cons, that's for sure, but if all these measures will help to flatten the curve, then let's all do our part and stay home. 

So aside from reading a bit, I'm also slowly catching up on K-dramas which I haven't been doing for a while. I'd finished watching Crash Landing on You (which I loved) and am currently watching another drama hit, Itaewon Class, which is based on a webtoon of the same name and I'm enjoying watching this, too. I'm not sure if I'd share my thoughts on these two dramas later (we shall see) but I do have a book review coming up soon. 

Meanwhile, I hope you stay well and safe! Here's some cartoons to make you laugh in this stressed situation. 




Melody
Penguin  Publishing Group | September 2019 | 336 pgs
Source: Library 


Emily is heartbroken after her boyfriend decided to end their relationship. They'd been through some financial hardship and Emily had helped to support her then boyfriend through law school until the ungrateful brute decided he'd be better off without her after he'd become successful in his career. With no job and nowhere to live, Emily moves to a small town in Willow Creek, Maryland, to help her older sister recover from an accident. 

Emily enjoys her time at Willow Creek but she didn't expect she'd get roped into volunteering for the local annual Renaissance Faire as a tavern wench alongside with her teenage neice, who is already one of their acting participants. While Emily is sceptical with her acting skills and some other things, she feels encouraged by the other participants and the enthusiastic residents except for a man who played a pirate and he is supposed to be the love of her life in their fictitious world. 

Right from the beginning Emily has get off on the wrong foot with Simon, who's also in-charge of the fair. She thinks he is too uptight and lacks flexibility; and finding faults with her unreasonably. Simon, on the other hand, has no time with Emily's lightheartedness approach towards the faire. It is no wonder he is serious in his work since he is continuing the family legacy and as much as he finds it tiresome at times, there is a reason for him to get through this annually as the reader would find out eventually. And as much as Emily finds Simon annoying, she finds herself attracted by his pirate persona -- a man who's passionate not only in his life but towards her as well. But what confuses Emily is, Simon continues his pirate-like charm outside the faire grounds sometimes and this makes her wonder if he is continuing with their act or if his feelings towards her has changed? 

I really enjoyed this light and fun romcom which had me laughing at times (I've to say Simon's pirate persona was quite swoon-worthy. I don't know why, but the image of Captain Jack Sparrow kept popping into my mind while reading this. Go figure.) With the gloom surrounding us lately, this book managed to distract me from reality for a while and made me think of all the wonderful things and not to mention the power of love and family. And I loved it that Emily and Simon, this two sworn enemies, who had had their fair share of unhappiness and unfairness in life, managed to walk out of their gloom and find love again through understanding and respect. Another thing I loved is the (small community) atmosphere of Willow Creek, the Renaissance Faire element and even the supporting cast which all contributed to this delightful read. The next book, Well Played, will feature Emily's newfound friend in Willow Creek and I hope it'd be another fun, romantic read like 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
Little, Brown and Company | September 2018 (Reprint) | 352 pgs
Source: Library 

This second installment of Joe Ide's IQ series was packed with more actions and intensity as we follow Isaiah Quintabe's investigation of a new case as well as unraveling the mystery of his older brother's death. 

For ten years, Isaiah still hasn't really let go of the news of Marcus's death. How could he when Marcus was a perfect role model and the only family he had had? He's never stopped his search for the driver who was responsible for Marcus's death; and the feelings of rage and despair nearly drove him to an edge until he received a call from Sarita. Isaiah has had a crush on Marcus's girlfriend since he was a teenager. But knowing that she's out of bounds and their expectations differ, Isaiah could only admire her from afar. She has not contacted him since Marcus's death until now and it seems she needs his help. 

Janine is Sarita's half sister and they aren't really close. Partly due to physical distance and the difference of mindset, Janine is often portrayed as the "wild" girl of the family. She's given up her studies to become a DJ, but given it's more of a gig so she's been running around clubs and having the best of her time. Her boyfriend, Benny, is a gambling addict and he has owed the loan sharks a number of debts and it seems Janine is in trouble too since she's also into it. There's a saying that love is blind, and this describes Janine's current relationship perfectly as she'd go along with Benny despite the dangers, even if it means going against the gangsters and blackmailing them. 

Once again, Isaiah finds himself partnering with Dodson, who is now into food truck business and a father-to-be. Isaiah and Dodson have come a long way and while Dodson has some reservations, he gave in eventually. So their search for Janine lead them to Vegas where they'll deal with various mobs and amid the mayhem Isaiah will unravel the mystery surrounding Marcus's death. 

I read the first book and find it enjoyable. This second installment was a lot more fast paced and there were more actions given the plot and the mob theme. While they were entertaining to read, I was more intrigued by the diverse cast of characters and their interactions which made this book such an interesting read. Isaiah continues to intrigue me; and I'm glad to see there's closure and justice pertaining to his older brother's death as this is what troubled Isaiah the most since the first book. I'll continue to follow this series with anticipation. 

© 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 | 288 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss 


I always look forward to a new Peter Swanson book. Aside from being suspenseful and unputdownable, most often his characters intrigue me and this book is no exception. 

Our protagonist, Malcolm Kershaw, is a bookseller and he loves mystery books, although he hasn't read them for a while now. He's lived by himself ever since his wife passed from an accident and it seems his life only revolves around the bookshop. But distraction comes when an FBI agent, Gwen Mulvey, comes knocking on his door one day and question him about a list of book titles which he'd compiled on his blog years ago. Titled "Eight Perfect Murders", Malcolm had chosen eight books featuring various crime acts which he thought were clever and seamlessly executed. There's nothing wrong about the list, but it seems someone has started using Malcolm's list to commit murders. While they don't mirror the original acts from the books, it isn't hard to pinpoint the hints and the similarities. 

(To the inquiring mind, the titles are: Agatha Christie's A.B.C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin's Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History. There's also a reason for naming these titles because they contain some spoilers and if you intend to read those titles, then perhaps you should do so before picking up this book.)

At this stage, Malcolm knew perhaps there's someone who's watching his every moves since the hints of targeting begins to get a bit too personal. To protect himself and to avoid being suspected, he decides to investigate on his own but is he ready for the truth? 

I thought this story was clever; and it'd definitely makes a bibliophile (or at least readers of the thrillers genre) very happy of the bookish references and yes, more titles to explore if you haven't read those eight books. Malcolm was an intriguing character; and it makes it more interesting to read because he's the narrator and at times you wouldn't know if you could trust their words. I'd fun following Malcolm's journey into his investigations; and I'd say the conclusion would leave many readers itching for a discussion. I wouldn't say more so I'd leave you with a favourite quote from this book: 
"Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don't just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself." ~ Pg 38 


© 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
Little, Brown and Company | October 2016 | 336 pgs
Source: Library 

Isaiah Quintabe a.k.a. IQ, is an intelligent young black man who wouldn't mind helping his neighbourhood at East Long Beach in solving cases which the police wouldn't take for a small token of gifts, or whatever his "clients" could offer him. He lives with his older brother, Marcus, and their relationship is close considering they only have each other. But that bond is shattered after Marcus passed due to a hit-and-run and his death leave Isaiah devastated and determined in finding the driver. With this mindset, Isaiah drop out of high school and continues with his investigation gig despite he is good in his studies.  

His sidekick, Dodson, is on another different league and it is through chance that bring them together. Their characteristic or moral standards may differ, but funnily they complement each other in a way that makes their so-called investigations work. It is also through Dodson that Isaiah is given his latest case -- a rap mogul who is being targeted and someone wants him assassinated. This won't be an easy case for both Isaiah and Dodson, especially if it involves the hit man's monstrous attack dog alongside with other suspects like a vengeful ex-wife and a few other notorious characters. 

Isaiah is an interesting character and he's dependable and straightforward, the boy next door. He's proficient in observing people and things, and together with his logical reasoning he's the remake of the modern Sherlock Holmes, but of course Isaiah is very much on his own and though he's not perfect, he still easily catches a reader's attention through his demeanour and his perspective of seeing things differently. There are two timelines in this story -- 2005 and 2013 in which we'll learn about Isaiah's younger past and his encounter with Dodson while the later year will portray more of his investigations into the rap mogul case. Both timelines are equally satisfying to read and the language used fits the authentic mood amid the tough neighbourhood. This is Joe Ide's debut novel and I'll be sure to check out the rest 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.