G.P. Putnam's Sons | 7 November 2023 | 368 pgs
Source: Purchased 

I've not read Ali Hazelwood's books until now and what a delightful read this book is! 

18-year-old Mallory Greenleaf has been playing chess since young but after the sport led her family apart four years ago (the truth is later revealed in the book), she's sworn off playing chess and focus on taking care of her (sick) mother and her two younger sisters as she works as a car mechanic to pay the bills. Although she's given up on playing chess, a chance request eventually led her to play in one last charity tournament and she begrudgingly agrees to it. Little did she know that she'd be playing against Nolan Sawyer, the notorious "Kingkiller"/current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess. 

After she beat Nolan which shocked and rocked the chess world, Mallory is offered a fellowship that allows her to play professionally. Torn between a battle between financial and her sentiments towards playing chess, she finally decides on a practical approach by accepting it. 

Mallory gradually finds her momentum and her passion back the more she play, and she also can't help feeling drawn to Nolan, who appears to be cold and aloof but is actually a reserved and a considerate person behind that mask. As Mallory practises hard for the next tournaments, she'll soon find out that changing the misogynistic attitudes in a chess world mostly dominated by men is as challenging as the sport itself. Would she be able to change the perspective as she reconcile with what happened four years ago? 

I've to admit I know nothing about chess and this book has been an eye-opening experience to me. Through Mallory’s journey I learned a lot about chess and that it isn't simply about your opponents and strategies but there's also a lot of hard work involving analysing, studying and well, more studying. Of course patience plays an important part, too! I loved Mallory as a character; and all the more as how responsible she was being the eldest sibling. My heart ached for her considering how she acted so much matured as compared to the others of the same age.

Onto Nolan Sawyer. I liked how he was protective towards Mallory, although he wouldn't say it out loud but his actions said everything especially during the interview. And, I loved the interactions between him and Mallory; and his teammates too. Ali Hazelwood has captured the cast of characters well and I enjoyed seeing the characters grow as the story gradually come to an end, in particularly Mallory. This brilliant girl. . . I rooted for her all the way from the beginning till the end and I'm glad she didn't disappoint. This book warmed my heart and well, you can bet I'll be looking forward to reading more books by this author in future. 

I've been slacking in my blog updates, blog hopping and commenting lately and I apologise for that. I think procrastination and watching K-dramas also play a part in that too, although I enjoy doing the latter and don't want to feel guilty for doing that, LOL. 

So what've I been watching lately? Vigilante and Memorist. Both are crime thrillers and while the former has a dark superhero vibe, the latter has a supernatural element (imagine a detective who could scan others' memories through touching). Both are great dramas in my opinion, but I felt there are too many suspense layers and red herrings in Memorist that I felt disconnected at times. And who wouldn't love a superhero who takes justice in his own hands in Vigilante? All the more that actor Nam Joo Hyuk is eye-candy dressed in police uniform! 

Finally, I'll be taking a short break off of blogging and I hope you've a wonderful Christmas holidays ahead! 🎄
© 2023 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.
Bantam | 12 September 2023 | 288 pgs
Source: Library 

Most people will avoid buying a haunted or a murder house, but not Sarah Slade. A self-help writer and therapist, she believes that renovating Black Wood House will give it a new life and not to mention that it might help to boost her fame both for her blog and her book. However, her husband thinks otherwise but Sarah's mind is set. This decision further put a strain on their already rocky marriage but Sarah is adamant. 

After they've moved into the house and begins the renovations, they start to experience a lot of strange occurrences. Such as, the contractor injured himself while doing the plumbing (an unfortunate accident?) or unexplained footsteps in the attic when no one is around (spooky!). Granted, it's an old house but Sarah couldn't shake the feeling that she's also being watched. On top of that, her neighbours and the community shun her like a plague and Sarah started to feel frightened after finding threatening notes meant only for her. Despite everything, Sarah wants to find out about the murder that happened in her house and if it is connected to the threatening notes she's been receiving lately. 

I've to confess I've mixed feelings about this book but let's start off with the things that I liked first. I loved the spooky, atmospheric element. A haunted/murder house usually draw me into the story and all the more with the main character being unreliable and harbour secrets and a dark past. Now onto the things that gave me doubts. I'm not sure if this book is leaning towards the horror genre or the psychological suspense genre; and ultimately a reader who chose either one might be left feeling a tad disappointed,  depending on one's expectations. Well, at least this reader was. 

Finally, Sarah. I did not understand her behaviours and actions at times and if there's one thing which made me dislike her more, that is she's stolen someone's (who's close to her) boyfriend and made him her husband. That said, the ending was a surprise (which led me to question some issues) but overall I enjoyed the author's writing. 
© 2023 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.

Berkley | 22 August 2023 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 

Jane is a midlist writer who's not happy with her life - her stagnant writing career, the house mortgage and even her marriage, too. There's only one person on earth who could keep her alive but they've lost touch. Thalia, her best friend and classmate during their Creative Writing days at Oxford, had disappeared from her life since that fateful night a decade ago. Jane thought she's lost Thalia for good, until she sees her name at the top of the New York Times bestselling list.

Jane begins her stalking journey on Thalia from following her social media feeds to attending a book convention in NYC where Thalia will be promoting her book, "A Most Pleasant Death". Jane is sure Thalia is writing about their story after reading the blurb, and she couldn't wait to meet her in person. She goes to great lengths in fulfilling her mission, too. She deceives her husband and even her book agent so that both are convinced that she has a reason to be at the book convention. And when she finally did meet Thalia in person, all the past memories and what happened on that fateful night come flooding back. 

I liked reading about the dynamics between Jane and Thalia. Besties or frenemies? They've so much emotional tug of war between them; at times I feel like watching a cat and mouse chase. Jane's narrative was so honest and well descriptive that you're afraid to get into her head sometimes, because they could be dark and disturbing and yet you couldn't tear your attention away. The first half of the story was slow, but it was a good introduction of Jane as well as her friendship with Thalia during the flashbacks; the second part was exciting after they meet and this is where the games really begin. Overall it was a great riveting read and I'd never have thought that this is the same author who wrote the Aunties series and Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. I look forward to reading more of her suspense books in the near future. 
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Melody Road | 6 December 2022 | 55 pgs (e-book)
Source: Library 

This novella by Peter Swanson is part of the Bibliomysteries series. So it begins when Henry and his wife, Alice, go for their honeymoon trip and stay in a New England lake house. Upon their arrival, Henry is immediately struck by a sense of déjà vu. After all, it reminds him of their house with shelves full of midcentury-American crime novels. However, there's one book that's caught his attention. The Honeymoon Trap is the title; and the more he reads it, the more he finds that the story has uncanny similarities with his own situation. Such as, the two characters in the book are newlyweds on a honeymoon after a whirlwind romance, just like Henry and Alice. And like the female character in the story, Alice is seen acting suspiciously and Henry soon become obsessed with their whereabouts both in the fiction world and in reality; eventually leading him to believe that murder might be the only way to get out of the trap which he believes he's in. 

This has a great premise. A story within a story, but what was that ending? It left me confused, and a bit perplexed because it made no sense to me. If you've read it, please let me know what I'd missed. 

(3 stars)

William Morrow | 17 October 2023 | 112 pgs
Source: Library 

This is another novella by Peter Swanson which I feel works great for a novel too with more in-depth plots and characterisations. 

In part one of the story, Ashley Smith is spending her time alone on Christmas Day and stumble upon a diary which she'd written thirty years ago in 1989. She was an American Art student studying in London then and was invited to spend the Christmas holiday with her classmate and her family at Starvewood Hall in Clevemoor. Ashley was impressed by Emma Chapman's manor house but most of all, she was attracted by Emma's twin brother, Adam. But there's something secretive about Adam; and Ashley was quite unsettled when she was told that she resembled a local girl who was murdered. 

The second part of the story is the present day in which Ashley reflects on the events happened thirty years ago and this is where the truth unravel and will make you gasp in surprise. I loved that ending; and not to mention the Gothic atmosphere of the English village in Clevemoor. An extraordinary festive read if you don't mind a little thrill to it. 

(4 stars)

Recently I watched this K-drama (The Perfect Deal) about a staged kidnapping case that gone wrong. Three friends (starring Yoo Seung Ho, Kim Dong Hwi and Yoo Soo Bin) met up for a drink after having not seen each other for a while. Two of them faced financial problems and after seeing the other drunk, they decided to "kidnap" him for ransom since his family is rich. But things didn't go well for them and their situation become complicated and even dangerous as the case involves more people and the secrets they're all trying to hide. By the time the two friends have realised their mistakes, they've already reached the point of no return. 

I couldn't recommend this drama high enough. Though short with only eight episodes, it captured the dynamics between the trio and show how desperation could drive one into choosing an unethical decision. Though what the two friends did are wrong and unforgivable, I felt sorry for them for the difficult (financial) situation they're in. If only they've chosen a better and a wiser route, perhaps their fate would've been different. 

(4.5 stars)

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Del Rey | 30 May 2019 | 416 pgs
Source: Library 

After reading John Marrs' phenomenal The One and loving it, I decided to check out his other books and came across this book. The blurb read: "Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide." Sounds absolutely intriguing, isn't it? 

So it begins with the backstory that manual cars would be abolished under the UK laws and replaced by self-driving cars (also known as autonomous cars) that's capable of travelling without human intervention. They could perceive the environment, monitor important systems, and control, including navigation. Drivers are now referred as the passengers; and although accidents still do incur under circumstances, choices made by the autonomous car are often weighted according to the victim's contribution and importance to society (e.g. an ordinary citizen versus a mayor, you get the picture.) This is a grey area and thus has sparked many people questioning about the moral issue though there's no official addressing to it. 

It then took someone to hack into the systems of eight self-driving cars and set them on a fatal collision course for worldwide attention. Each of these individuals carries a different role and secrets and it is up to the jurors, amongst them is Libby (who's one of the narratives and is not a believer of autonomous cars) to decide who should die or survive. 

This was an intense and a fast-paced read, so to speak. I was in awe of John Marrs' creativity of concocting a different take of autonomous cars in this thriller, although the reading journey was dark and a scary one. While there are thrills and somewhat a cinematic entertainment to the story, there are parts that allow the reader to think deeply about the morality issue and how terrifying that would be if it happened in reality. I find that the decisions/actions driven by keyboard warriors and mob mentality especially in social media was well written and thought-provoking, too. Overall it was a great read; and as much as I was impressed by the technology in every aspect, I think having no manual control of the car is terrifying and I'd think twice about taking a ride. 
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