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.