Melody
Pushkin Vertigo | 4 August 2022 | 336 pgs
Source: Library 
Translated from the Chinese by Michelle Deeter


To begin with, this book was surprisingly a good read despite the darkness surrounding it. Set in Ningbo, China, this story revolves around three children and how a chance incident set a chain of events that would alter their lives thereafter. 

The book opens with Zhang Dongsheng bringing his in-laws to a sightseeing site where he pushes them off the mountain. His relationship with them has always been somewhat strained considering of the difference of their background. His marriage has also turned rocky due to accumulated negative emotions (and his wife as well) and his purpose of staying civil to his in-laws is because they're wealthy, until the idea of murder struck his mind. He thought he's got off scot-free, but little did he know that his actions have been caught on camera by a trio of friends who just happened to take pictures nearby. 

14-year-old Zhu Chaoyang is a quiet boy and a whiz at math. Being the only son in a single parent family, he's grown up to be independent and sensible. An outcast in school, he's recently find some joy in his life after Ding Hao, a former schoolmate, reacquainted with him alongside with an orphaned girl, Pupu, whom Ding Hao knew from the same children's home. Both of them are runaways and Chaoyang allow them to stay with him since his mother's working place is far and she's rarely at home. Their simple life becomes complicated and harrowing after they witnessed a murder which they'd captured on camera. What follows is a no return path which no one, including the reader, would ever imagine until the finale that will lead you questioning the outcome. 

This is a multilayered suspense that is best read without knowing too much from the beginning. My above summary only covers half of the story as so many things have changed and transpired after these characters meet and their exchanges develop to something dark and sinister. The prose was simple and read easily; and there's a good balance between the characters developments and the plot so it was a fast-paced read to me (This would definitely make a good fit for bookclubs and buddy read discussions.) Also, I always find pleasure in reading translated works not only for the diversity but also the exploration of new-to-me authors, which is the case for me with this book. I hope there'll be more translated works of this author in future. 

Note: There's a TV series of this book and it has received rave reviews from audience in China and abroad as well. 
© 2022 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
Minotaur Books | 2 March 2021 | 368 pgs
Source: Library 

Having read Alex Finlay's The Night Shift and enjoyed it, I was eager to pick up Every Last Fear in which Goodreads listed this as one of the most anticipated books of 2021. 

The story begins with the discovery of four bodies of the Pine family at a rented house in Tulum, Mexico. The local police didn't find any evidence of foul play and later proclaimed it as a freak accident after checking the gas line, which they believed was a gas leak that caused the deaths. The only survivors of the Pine family are the two older sons, Danny and Matt, who weren't at the scene when it happened. 

Before tragedy struck, the Pine family had been in the spotlight after a true-crime Netflix documentary had made them infamous. Danny, the oldest son, is currently serving a life sentence for murdering his teenage girlfriend, Charlotte. The true-crime documentary, however, suggesting that he may be wrongfully convicted (which aligns with the Pine family's belief) and the producers behind are trying ways to unravel the truth. The FBI, on the other hand, has their own theory and speculations so they assign the case to Special Agent Sarah Keller to look into it and to liase with Matt for some questioning as well as to inform the news to Danny. Prior to leaving home and arriving in Tulum to recover his family members' bodies, Matt encountered some harrowing incidents that made him wonder if the death of his family members are linked to Danny's case. Despite the danger and limited information, Matt is determined to uncover the truth even if means confronting his every last fear. 

Told in multiple narratives between the present and the past, this was a riveting read about secrets, deceptions, conspiracies and family drama. I was hooked throughout not only by the plot but with the characters, too. They're all fleshed out and well developed and I even liked a few characters, in particularly Matt's younger sister, Maggie. Her intelligence and her determination in piecing some of the clues left me both in awe and with admiration. FBI Agent Sarah Keller first caught my attention in Finlay's second book, The Night Shift, so I was glad to see her feature in this debut (hopefully there's a series in future?). Overall, I enjoyed this suspense thriller and all the more reading it with my book buddy, Lark (check out her review and the Q&A here.)

Last but not least, here's my answers to Lark's questions: 

1. What were your favorite and least favorite things about this novel (characters, writing style, twists, etc.)? 
My favourites will be the characters and the twists (it's hard to choose just one). Although likeable characters aren't a must to me, in this case they made this story much more easier to read if you've some characters to root for. My least favourite would be the last few chapters towards the ending. It felt a bit rushed to me but nonetheless still a satisfying wrap-up. 

2. If you had to describe this novel in just three adjectives, what would they be?
Riveting, compelling and addictive. 
© 2022 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
Grand Central Publishing | 26 October 2021 (Reprint Edition) | 336 pgs
Source: Library 

I'm sure many readers of the YA and romance genre would be familiar with Colleen Hoover's books. Her books are usually emotionally charged and although I haven't read all of her books, I've enjoyed those that I'd read. Verity, however, is a suspense thriller and while it was intriguing, it has a disturbing and unsettling vibe so readers would either love or hate this book depending on one's reading preference. 

Lowen Ashleigh is a writer but her fame is mediocre considering she has anxiety of dealing with social media and people. Her current life is stagnant with her mother's passing and dealing with financial issues until an opportunity arises. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, wants her to write the remaining of Verity’s bestselling series as his wife is unable to write due to an unfortunate accident. It is actually not a bad deal in Lowen’s opinion; afterall she gets to write and "hide" behind Verity’s fame, and the offer is attractive, too. 

Under Jeremy's request, Lowen moves in to their house temporarily as she sort through Verity’s notes and familiarise with her works. In the midst of sorting through her notes, Lowen stumbles upon Verity’s autobiography, in which she chronicled her relationship with Jeremy from the moment they met right to their marriage, as well as her feelings and struggles with their young children. And judging from Jeremy's behaviours, it seems like he doesn't know anything about Verity’s autobiography and Lowen intends to keep it that way as her feelings towards Jeremy intensifies the more they live under the same roof. 

This book is marketed as a romantic thriller (my library copy labelled this a romance with a heart logo), but personally I didn't see anything romantic about this complicated relationship. The author's writing was engaging and the intensity was great, but I didn't feel anything for the characters except a heavy sense of foreboding and . . . disturbing. The premise was dark yet refreshing from a different perspective, but I didn't love this story despite it was a page-turner. And that ending just blew my mind and left me quite flabbergasted. This book will stay in my mind for a long time, but I hope Colleen Hoover will write something different for her next attempt. 
© 2022 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 | 10 May 2022 | 304 pgs
Source: Library 

The story starts off with a bang with our protagonist, Hannah Rokeby, gaining an interview with Professor Rob Parekh through her manipulative/blackmailing email. Prof Parekh is heading The Innocence Project at the University of Virginia and his team (consisted of some law students volunteers) are trying on a case to free Michael Dandridge, who is convicted of rape and murder of Sarah Fitzhugh. Hannah has an agenda alright, but it has nothing to do with righting the justice or freeing Dandridge. In fact, she's doing the opposite - she's going to make sure that Dandridge will never walk out from the prison, ever. 

This is simply one side of the story. On the other end, the reader get to know the backstory of Hannah’s mother, Laura, through her diary entries as she chronicled about her past, her romance and the death of her lover. The police had closed the case of his death as accidental, but Laura suspected murder although she has no proof. All these have hit her hard and eventually Laura become depressed and drink to drown her sorrows. The relationship between Hannah and Laura is complicated; there are times that Hannah finds Laura too much of an emotional burden, yet she couldn't turn her back to her. As the story progresses and the two stories intertwine, you'll soon realise that things are not what you've expected initially. 

What made this a compelling read in my opinion is the balance/combination between suspense and the character-driven aspect of the story. All the characters are intriguing in their own ways; and the slowburn of the suspense worked well in this case for that big reveal in the end. Hannah may be bold and determined in many cases, but she's also manipulative and a cheater to get her ways so that made her an unpopular protagonist. I don't want to say too much so suffice it to say it was a twisty suspense thriller that had me hooked throughout. 
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Melody
The Borough Press | 9 June 2022 | 288 pgs
Source: Purchased 


I'd so much fun reading this book; despite it was more of a women's fiction (which revolves around the friendship and "entrepreneurship" between two women) set in a world of luxurious bags and their fake counterparts. 

Ava Wong is married to a successful surgeon and is taking an indefinite career break from her profession as a lawyer to take care of her young son, Henri. What seems like a picture-perfect life is actually a facade as Ava is in fact having difficulties in taking care of Henri (who has some developmental issues) and her husband is working far too much to take notice of her struggles and the family as a whole. 

Enter Winnie Fang, who is Ava’s old college roommate but left Stanford in a shroud of scandal. Ava has lost contact with Winnie, but they met one day and Ava is instantly fascinated by Winnie’s new self and her wealth. Winnie used to be quiet and awkward but now she's exudes confidence and charm and most of all, she's dripping in designer accessories so life must be more than great for her. Either out of boredom or desperation, Ava soon finds herself confiding in Winnie and what's more, the latter seems to know how to make little Henri happy. As they get closer and Winnie needs a favour surrounding her handbags business, Ava couldn't say no and before she knew it, she's wading deeper into Winnie’s shady business (of making and selling counterfeit luxurious handbags) and she has to make the ultimate decision to cut and run or risk it all. 

Luxurious handbags are many women's favourite fashion accessories, so while it was fun reading from that angle, counterfeiting is not and all the more so when these factories are making them and hiring illegal, (and sometimes) underage employees in which these features take up a minor part of the story. And I've to say I learned a lot about the world of counterfeit handbags and their manufacturing after reading this. Also, Ava and Winnie are both intriguing and interesting characters. Their friendship and entrepreneurship are the highlights alongside Ava's coping with cranky little Henri and her life. Overall the prose was light, darkly comic and entertaining; my only complaint was there's not a single quotation marks for dialogues and while they're not hard to distinguish, it isn't my favourite writing style. I'll be curious to find out what's in store for the author's next book. 
© 2022 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.