Bookouture | 21 October 2020 | 326 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

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

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

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

© 2020 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Century | 19 March 2020 | 384 pgs
Source: Library 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Montlake Romance | June 2017 | 523 pgs
Source: Purchased 

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Melody's Reading Corner (, All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
Avon | October 2020 | 400 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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