Harper | 15 February 2022 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 

Two female employees are working late in their offices of fashion conglomerate Claudine de Martineau International (CDMI) on a Sunday night. Lucy Barton-Jones is the HR director and Shay Lambert is the newly hired legal associate whose aim is to work hard for her financial woes. On that fateful night both of them meet at their thirtieth floor elevator lobby on their way home, each preoccupied by her own thoughts. But when the elevator open its door on the ground floor, one woman is found dead. What happened inside the elevator and is it murder or suicide?

While the book synopsis sounds like a locked-room mystery, it's actually read more like a legal thriller with an unreliable character. The author has nicely weaved an intriguing suspense with multiple intricate relationship and issues within CDMI. As most of the story progression somewhat revolves around Shay's profession and her findings, so there's a lot of legal jargon which would either bore or enlighten the reader. I'd no issue with this as my main focus was more onto the mystery and the lead character. Given her dire circumstances and labelled as a suspect, surely there must be something more than meets the eye. 

The first half of the story was fast paced and compelling as it depicts the action and covers some of Shay's past; the second half was bogged down by several aspects surrounding CDMI's operation mode and the like but the pace was quickly picked up once again towards the relevation. While it was a slowburn thriller, one of the strengths is the authenticity in the legalese since the author is a former lawyer. Overall it was an intriguing read and I'd recommend this if you're a fan of legal thrillers. 
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Counterpoint | 9 August 2022 | 240 pgs
Source: Library 
Translated from the Japanese by Asa Yoneda

This is a collection of five short stories about five different women who had walked through the path of grief, heartache and harrowing experiences but all had come out from their journey a different person and onto their ways to recovery.

The first story "House of Ghosts" was a melancholy story about Secchan and Iwakura in which their parents own a restaurant and a pastries shop respectively. Secchan has an interest in carrying on her family's business but Iwakura is the opposite. A chance visit to Iwakura's house leads Secchan to see him in a new light and has evoked much feelings in her especially after she's witnessed the ghosts of an elderly couple who used to live there. This isn't a horror story but one which will lead you into thinking about the simplicity of life and the warmth surrounding the relationship between people. This was one of my favourite stories in this collection. 

The other three stories, "Mama!", "Not Warm at All" and "Tomo-chan’s Happiness" explore the change of each characters after they've encountered some life-altering events which leave emotional scars on the characters but managed to walk out of their nightmares through the help of another person and/or a situation that change their mindset. 

"Dead-End Memories" was another favourite of mine and one which left a deep impression on me. It was a well written story about how Mimi managed to walk out from her heartache after witnessing her fiancé cheated on her. Her acquaintance with Nishiyama and their interactions were the highlight of the story and Nishiyama's free-spirited ways and advice play an important part in Mimi's overall perception of happiness. That ending brought a lump to my throat. 

Although these stories may seem simple and not that intriguing to an extent, the beauty lies in the author's writing and the way she could weave an ordinary day-to-day life stories into something thought-provoking and moving. Happiness, the other theme in this collection, may seem unattainable to some but it's always been there if we decide to pause and reflect on the tiny moments which make us happy. 
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Berkley | 16 August 2022 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 

I chose this book to kick off the new year. After all, nothing could go wrong with a romance and that title sounds cool, isn't it? 

Our heroine, Phoebe Walsh, is a PhD candidate studying and analysing true crimes and the writers who write them as part of her dissertation. She's so obsessed with the genre so much so that she could imagine some homicide cases to a mysterious or a bad situation. She's imaginative and a little paranoid like that. 

With her father's passing and to clean out his house before reselling, Phoebe returns to her childhood home in Florida where she reacquaint with her younger brother whom she hasn't contacted in a while. Perhaps her late night arrival isn't a good idea given her over imaginative mind as she couldn't help but to think of all the bad scenarios when a guy approaches her and offers to help her move her desk (yes, she attached her desk onto her car's roof). Turns out he's her neighbour, Sam, but that didn't help in her lowering her guard around him. 

As cliché as this goes, Phoebe begins to see him in a new light as the time passes and her relationship with her younger brother deepens as they begin to share their thoughts and ideas for his proposal to his girlfriend. For a romcom, it was a fun read but I've to admit I'd a different expectation prior diving into this book as I thought Sam would be featured as a mysterious "dangerous" man and Phoebe would unveil his "mask" through several misunderstanding and "bad" encounters before she finds his true identity, ha. Phoebe wasn't a character whom you'd warm up to easily given her characteristics but once she'd let her guard down, she could be as good-natured like her younger brother, Connor. Overall it was an entertaining read and I quite enjoyed a few occasional true crime references throughout the book. 
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First of all, Happy New Year to you! 2022 has been an average year to me in all aspects; and all the more reading-wise since I'd barely hit the 50 mark in numbers. Nevertheless, reading and finding new-to-me authors are always a joy and as usual, I look forward to reading more books and sharing my thoughts of them with you in 2023. 

Since I hadn't been reading too many books in 2022, I thought I'd do something different this time around and instead of posting my Top 10 Reads, I'll list out the best of my best list and the ones which have left a deep impression on me (not in any order).

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara 
This book evoked so much emotions in me. Aside from the Indian setting, I've learned a lot about their living lifestyle (residents living in the slums) and the social status difference between the rich and the poor, and how this division will colour the lens of justice and other things as well. A sad but yet a thought-provoking read. 

Counterfeit by Kristin Chen 
This was a fun read; all the more if you're a (luxurious) handbag lover. Aside from the dynamics between the two main characters, there's also a message behind this story involving counterfeit handbags and illegal labour. I loved the light and darkly comic prose though I wished the dialogues have quotation marks! 

Bad Kids by Zijin Chen 
My best exploration of new-to-me author. I loved this book so much that I began my search of his other works (sadly, only found another titled The Untouched Crime since they're both translated works). At its core, this book highlights the human nature and how circumstances could force one to do something unthinkable. Recommended! 

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan 
A compelling read and the balance between the suspense and the characters developments are good. This was one great suspense thriller that you need to dive into it without reading too much information about it. 

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon 
Jennifer is a great author in all aspects. Love her atmospheric settings and all the more her cast of intriguing characters. Her stories always give an element of surprise, and this book was no exception. I was drawn into this book not only for the suspense but also the author's writing and how she executed it like a fine art.

Happy 2023! Happy reading! 

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Here is the list of books I read in 2022. The list is sorted out in alphabetical order according to the authors' last name for easy reference.  

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong 

The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian 

The Heights by Louise Candlish 
Counterfeit by Kristin Chen
Bad Kids by Zijin Chen 
反转 by 凑佳苗

First Born by Will Dean

Beneath the Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett 
The Night Shift by Alex Finlay 
Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay 
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The Disinvited Guest by Carol Goodman 

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins 
Verity by Colleen Hoover 

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson
The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell 

The Dare by Lesley Kara 

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim 
The Dragon's Promise by Elizabeth Lim 

Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie 
The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon 
The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan
The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan 


The Retreat by Sarah Pearse 
Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough 
The Power of Regret by Daniel H. Pink
The Maid by Nita Prose 

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager 
Nine Lives by Peter Swanson 
水之焰 by 松本清张 

请你拥抱我的恶梦 by 兔子说

天亮之后相爱 by 烟波

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