Chatto & Windus | 30 January 2020 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 

Set in India at a basti (slum) consisted of the Hindus and the Muslims community, this story gives readers more than a glimpse about the various struggles of the residents living there as they go on with their lives. At its core of the story is 9-year-old Jai and his two friends, Pari and Faiz, whose lives are about to take a turn after learning the missing of their friend, Bahadur. 

Jai is a fan of many reality cop shows so it's no surprise that he's decided to find Bahadur through the few things he'd learnt from those shows. Together with Pari and Faiz, they search the neighbourhood, the night bazaar and even travel on a railway at the end of the Purple Line regardless of the dangers lurking around. They know they might get lost, or even meet up with the wrong people should they are not careful, but they're unstoppable especially Jai, who believes that their friend could be found through their persistency. But when more kids begin to disappear around their basti, they soon realise that they're both powerless and helpless with their poor situation and the indifference and corruption of their local police system. Division between the Hindus and the Muslims community widens as their distrust of each other arises since they could find no answers regarding the disappearance of the children. Intersperse with the mystery is the children's belief of the djinns and a vengeful woman ghost who look out for the girls from the perpetrators after her daughter died and the killer was never found. Whether if they're true or merely urban legends, Jai and the other children find some hope in these stories amid the sad reality and chaos in their little settlement. When tragedy hits home after Jai's sister is missing, Jai and his family's life would never be the same alongside with the other families who have lost their children. 

Deepa Anappara's writing was engaging from the beginning as she vividly described the (unnamed) slum and the residents' living lifestyle through Jai's eyes. Despite the saddened mood of a slum, Jai's narrative was often light-hearted and there were times their conversations were a little humorous, too. (Unfortunately my copy didn't come with a glossary list of the words they used so half the time I'd to guess or Google them myself.) The story could get a bit repetitive surrounding the missing children and how Jai was trying his ways to find them, but I came to understand the purpose as the story progresses as it highlights their helplessness as there's a social status difference between the rich and the poor, and how this division will colour the lens of justice and other things as well. This was a coming-of-age story, but it was also a heart-rending story based on hard facts about the missing children in India, gender discrimination and the social divisions that lead to some inequalities. 

Last but not least, I want to thank bookblogger and friend, Lark, for reading this book with me (check out her review here). Here's her questions to me: 

1. What did you think of the ghosts and their stories? And why do you think the author included them?

Ghost stories, urban legends, myths . . . we're all fascinated by them not only because they're mystical but in some ways there might be some truths in them. Take an example of the vengeful woman ghost, Junction-ki-Rani, in this story. Her story is true to the children in this book and they think her existence acts as a balance to the injustice they face in reality, as they believe her ghost was looking out for them as she searched for her daughter's murderer. I think the author was trying to portray the hope of the children amid their situation and the unfairness of all. 

2. From roti to gulab-jamun, the author describes a lot of street food in this book. What's your favorite kind of 'street food'?

I love street foods. You can learn a lot about a country's culture through their foods and I think street foods represent a significant part of urban food consumption and the lifestyle of the country citizens. I've too many favourite street foods to list; and I love exploring them when I visit other countries. My most memorable street foods experience was in Taiwan. One of their famous street foods is stinky tofu and you can smell them even from a distance. I tried one eventually but I'd to pinch my nose to eat it (the taste wasn't that bad actually.) And well that'd be my first and last time to eat the stinky tofu. 

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Last year wasn't a good reading year to me. I read only 42 books (full books list here); which is 22 books lesser as compared to 2020. Aside from the pandemic and that life happens, I suppose procrastination also played a part of my slow reading progress. Now that the new year is here and it's always good to make some new goals and new resolutions, I've decided that I'll try to read as many books as I can but without too much pressure (although I need to work on the procrastination issue, hehe). 

As I read many suspense thrillers than other genres, it isn't surprising to see that the titles of that genre take up most of the slots (perhaps I need to work on reading more of the other genres, too). Without further ado, here's my Top Ten Reads of 2021 (not in any order and the titles aren't necessarily published in 2021. They are linked to my reviews for easy reference). 

- The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

- Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams 

- He Started It by Samantha Downing 

- Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg

- A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

- Grave's End by William Shaw 

- The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood 

- The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor 

- Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert 

Honorable Mention

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

There you have it. What books are you looking forward to reading this year and do you have any new reading goals or resolutions? 

© 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.

Here's the list of books I read in 2021. My Top Ten Reads of 2021 will be posted the following day and I apologise for the delay. The list is sorted out in alphabetical order according to the authors' last name for easy reference.  

The Turnout by Megan Abbott
Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams
The Push by Ashley Audrain 

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea
He Started It by Samantha Downing 

Crush the King by Jennifer Estep

His and Hers by Alice Feeney
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman

What You Never Knew by Jessica Hamilton
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins 
Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier 
Over the Falls by Rebecca Hodge

Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg 
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan 

林投劫 by 笭菁
水鬼 by 笭菁
魔神仔 by 笭菁
(The above three Chinese books are part of a horror series by Taiwanese author, Ling Jing)

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson 
A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight 
Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie 
回到月亮许诺的那天 by Misa (Chinese romance)
祸害成夫君 by 莫颜 (Chinese romance)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Falling by T.J. Newman 

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse 

Shiver by Allie Reynolds 

Survive the Night by Riley Sager 
Grave's End by William Shaw
The Trawlerman by William Shaw 
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone 
A Fire in the Night by Christopher Swann 

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood 
The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor 

Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert 
A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams 

© 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.

Simon & Schuster UK | 1 January 2021 | 304 pgs
Source: Library 

This was the last second book I read in 2021. I'm late in posting my "favourite books of the year list" so I'll probably do this in the next few days, my apologies to my dear book friends. Now onto the book review. 

To begin with, this book was action-packed. A plane with one hundred and forty-three other passengers on board bound for New York. What they and the crew didn't know is that tragedy would strike soon except their pilot, Bill Hoffman, who's received a threat after the plane is in midair that his family is held hostage at their own house. Bill's choice is simple, according to the (Middle Eastern) kidnapper named Sam that all he has to do is to crash his plane or his family will die. Bill not only has to make this tough choice but he's also not allowed to tell anyone including the crew. On top of it, he may have to kill his co-pilot as instructed. However, Bill does has one reliable crew member in his team and she's none other than Jo, a long-time flight attendant who has a nephew working in the FBI. What will be their plan and would they be able to save everyone and not crash the plane in the end?

The story, though not new, was quite an engaging read but unfortunately I found it rather cliché and unbelievable at times. The characters, though interesting, were often stereotyped and are one-dimensional. However, I did like Jo and find some of her actions brave and commendable. Despite my lukewarm reaction to the book I still find it an entertaining read. I think I'd probably enjoy this a bit more if it was put onscreen and it seems like my wishes are answered according to this source.

It's Year 2022 while writing this and I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and may the new year brings you and your family happiness and good health. 

© 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.