Berkley | 18 February 2020 | 315 pgs
Source: Library 

Former NYPD detective Shana Merchant had a brush with death thirteen months ago after she was abducted by a notorious serial killer. Flawed and not fully emotionally healed from the abduction, Shana's condition has improved a little after seeking treatment from a therapist, who's stopped seeing her as a patient ever since they'd started seeing each other. He's now her fiancé. 

Since Shana's condition has gotten better, she's now back to work in her fiancé's sleepy hometown in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York, and find herself working with local investigator, Tim Wellington. He's received a call from a Sinclair family that one of their family members is missing. Shana and Tim are assigned to travel to the island to gather more information with the assurance from their department that more manpower would be dispatched thereafter. However, Shana and Tim gather little information except to learn that Jasper, the missing man, has left no traces except a blood-soaked bed which he'd shared with his girlfriend. His girlfriend claimed she didn't hear anything, but that's maybe her mind is fuzzy from the drinks they'd had the previous night. 

Tim's initial guess is that they're dealing with a runaway case, but Shana doesn't think so after interviewing the Sinclairs (including their caretaker and the girlfriend) and find their dynamics complicated and on edge. To complicate matters, Shana and Tim find themselves cut off from the mainland and police's manpower as the storm strikes the island, leaving all of them stranded and with a possibly restless murderer around. As Shana continues to find the truth and secrets surrounding the Sinclairs, she is soon faced with more uncertainties as Tim's reliability is thrown into question and her biggest challenge is finding faith in herself again as her trauma-fueled flashbacks are returning and she has no one to rely on but herself. 

The setup of this story was great - chilling, atmospheric and with a touch of Agatha Christie vibe. The dynamics and the complexity relationship of the Sinclairs, combines with the claustrophobic setting, made a riveting read and all the more seeing Shana battling her own demons. The Sinclairs make up of a cast of unusual characters and while not all are unlikeable, their morality is most often questioned and what motivates Jasper's disappearance remains the crux of this thriller. There's also an exploration of Shana's relationship with her fiancé; considering she was his patient before. All in all, this was an intense thriller which captivated my attention from the beginning till the end and I'm glad to note that Shana will make her appearance again in the next book, The Dead Season

© 2021 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.

Headline | 21 January 2021 | 432 pgs
Source: Library 

The weather has been getting warmer over here and while I couldn't do anything about it, I could indulge in a book set in a cold place and let my imagination run wild. While a murder plot isn't what I'd had in mind, I thought it still makes a good temporary fix considering how much I like reading a locked-room mystery. 

The book opens with Milla getting an invitation for a reunion in the French Alps resort from one of her friends whom she didn't contact for ten years. She and Curtis go way back and they were all at the height of their snowboarding career then until Curtis's younger sister disappeared. While Milla doesn't want to be reminded of the past, she does miss Curtis and has been wondering how he's been doing. She is glad to find their other three friends are also coming along, until they reach the destination and find it totally deserted. Thinking it is off-season, they dismiss the unsettling feeling until their icebreaker game turns menacing. 

As they question themselves and the purpose of the trip, it turns out that no one really knows who has sent the invite and that someone wants them to be there for solely one purpose - to find out the truth surrounding Saskia's disappearance since her body has yet to be found. As the group of five struggles to find ways of leaving the place with limited manpower and resources, their biggest fear is that they didn't know who to trust and that their secrets ten years ago are about to come to light. 

Atmospheric and filled with intensity, this debut novel by Allie Reynolds easily captured my attention not only of the chilling premise but also the theme surrounding the story - snowboarding. Ms Reynolds was once a freestyle snowboarder in the UK top ten at halfpipe so it was a treat and an eye-opener to read about the experiences and challenges of snowboarding alongside the suspense (my deepest respect and admiration to all the athletes who train hard for their love of sports no matter how risky some of them can be). 

The balance between intrigue and intensity was effectively narrated by two alternative timeline and while this is a common trope used in many thrillers, this will remain as one of my favourites as far as (writing) style is concerned. The cast of characters are also well depicted through their personality and exchanges; as well as who they are and how they behave under a hyper-competitive and a dangerous environment. A captivating debut novel and I'll be sure to look out for the author's future releases. 
© 2021 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.

This week, allow me to take a break off of book reviews and let me introduce you to three K-dramas which I watched lately. (Currently watching Mouse and Navillera which are still ongoing.)

The Penthouse: War in Life (Season 1 & 2)

If you're into melodrama with a cast of secretive, unreliable characters, then look no further as this story will blow your mind with the twisty plots and developments as each episode goes. 

In a nutshell, this story is about power, wealth, ambitions and revenge surrounding a few residents living in a luxurious apartment named "Hera Palace". These various families are ambitious and like comparing and playing mind games while their children attend the same prestigious music school and like their parents, they'd do anything to outdo the others until someone died. The cause and effect of that murder quickly escalates into something more sinister as it brings out the darkness in these residents' mind; leading them to playing cruel games and more murders. 

Season 1 was exciting, but Season 2 got a bit old with what looked like more revenge and unbelievable plot twists (spoiler alert: resurrections of some characters so they could surprise and plot their plans of revenge and the games go on. Seriously?) And that's not the end of it as there'll be a Season 3 and it'd most likely air in June (?) 2021 if according to plans. I don't know about this upcoming season as it feels like a big stretch to me (hopefully, there's a sense of redemption and closure in some of these characters' awful actions.) That said, the cast performance was great and despite the over-exaggerated plots (and lots of yelling and throwing tantrums) at times, it still makes a (fun?) and an addicting watch if you're into twisty plots and twisted characters. (3.5 out of 5 stars round-off for both season)

Beyond Evil

This crime suspense drama won my approval with its intriguing premise, perfect story execution and not to mention the excellent performance of the cast. 

This story surrounds two detectives and depicts their differences from their background, personalities and their ways of solving cases. Lee Dong Sik (played by Shin Ha Kyun) works as an officer at Manyang Police Substation in a small city and beneath his quiet demeanour, he is actually a sentimental person who hasn't got over his traumatic past as a suspect of his sister's murder. In a village where the residents never tell and remember, it is hard to gauge their minds although they're quick to support one another should an outsider tries to invade into their lives. 

Detective Han Joo Won (played by Yeo Jin Goo) feels the unity of the Manyang residents after he is transferred to the same police substation and is assigned as Dong Sik's superior (also his partner). Joo Won comes from a distinguished background given his role at Seoul Police Station and that his father is nominated to be the next Commissioner General of the National Police Agency. 

The dynamics between Joo Won and Dong Sik is explosive, but a serial murder case forces them to work together; which in turn also raises some suspicion among the police staff if Dong Sik is involved and whether or not if Joo Won can be trusted considering he's an outsider. 

Despite the slow beginning, this story would capture your attention once the momentum picks up and questions will be raised as each character becomes unreliable and their actions blurry as the story progresses. There are lots of twists and turns as expected in this kind of story, but the draw lies in the two lead characters and the atmospheric Manyang with its close-knit community; which is full of secrets as it turns out eventually and how it'd impact everyone even after there's closure. Highly recommended! (5 out of 5 stars)
© 2021 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.


Harper Voyager | 17 March 2020 | 432 pgs
Source: Library 
Crush the King is the last installment of Crown of Shards series and not surprisingly it was packed with more actions, more magic, and of course more murderous machinations and courtly intrigue surrounding rival kingdoms, Bellona and Morta. 

In the previous two installments (Kill the Queen and Protect the Prince), the reader read about how gladiator Everleigh Blair had took the throne of Bellona after the mass murder of the royal family, leaving her the last Blair to continue with the legacy and to lead the kingdom despite her role and her lack of experience. While Everleigh may be lacking in some courtly matters, she is after all a warrior trained gladiator but she has immunity to magic, which is her strength considering she also could "smell" magic and destroy them if necessary. Everleigh has never forgotten about the Seven Spire massacre and has vowed to take revenge and that time has finally come with the arrival of the Regalia Games, whereby the warriors, nobles and royals from all the kingdoms will come together to compete in various sporting events. 

Everleigh may have a grudge against Maeven who had murdered the last queen, but she is more wary of her half brother, Maximus, the conniving king of Morta who doesn't take humanity kindly and will dispose anyone who gets in his way. Although Maeven is his half sister, she's also considered a bastard sister to Maximus so he often give her a cold treatment, which in turn leads to another interesting segment to the already complicated courtly machinations. 

This installment may be the last of the series, but I felt the ending leaves some possibility of a future book featuring the world of Crown of Shards and true enough, the author will have an all-new trilogy coming out in July 2021 featuring a new heroine (well, not new if you read this series). Truth be told, I was actually sad to see this trilogy has come to an end. It was like reading an adventurous coming-of-age story although this isn't categorised as YA genre. It was great to see how Everleigh has matured over the time and see her ambition changes for the sake of Bellona and the people. Her relationship with her friends was one of the fun things to read alongside the battles and they definitely deserve some attention considering they're Everleigh's entourage when plotting and fighting are concerned. I also find the worldbuilding fascinating; and not to mention the magic elements and the Strix creatures which give magical power to anyone who drinks their blood. I'd recommend this series if you like an extraordinary fantasy. 
© 2021 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.