Melody


ISBN-13: 9780804176958
Publisher: Random House LLC
Publication Date: 3 March 2015
Format: Hardcover, 320 pgs
Source: Purchased 



In Wilderness, in short, tells a story of the encounter between two lonely damaged people in the wilderness and how, despite their differences in everything, finds a strange connection in each other and begins an obsessive and a dangerous love affair. 

Set in the 1960s, the story opens with our female protagonist, Katherine Reid, leading a blissful life. She has a doting husband and they work together in an ad agency. Tim will be the main person to get projects and handle most things while Katherine will mainly focus her attention on the designing part. And the most glorious thing is, they are expecting a baby! 

But, that glorious moment is short-lived, as we can later tell from Katherine's depression as she'd lost her baby. Their blissful marriage collapsed and it is no later that Katherine learnt she's only got six months to live. She decided that fleeing from the city and her past would be a good way to spend her last remaining months; thus she answers to a property ad and soon finds herself in an isolated cabin on a mountaintop. 

Danny MacLean, our other protagonist, is a twenty-year-old Vietnam veteran who lives not far from Katherine's cabin. Haunted by war and his past, he becomes fixated on Katherine. What started out as an observation and curiosity soon leads to an obsession that gets more intensifying the deeper they go. 

I wished I could express my thoughts clearly and eloquently after closing this book but at this moment while typing this, my mind was a blank because I was still reminiscing over the author's beautiful writing and this haunting, unforgettable story of Katherine and Danny. I found their emotions so raw and pristine and one couldn't help but to... empathise with them? 

The author has wonderfully captured their voices and emotions into words that I felt they were not fictional characters but flesh and blood people like you and me. I didn't know what to describe of the feelings they'd for each other - are they two disturbed minds who were there at the right time or is there something more to it? And at times, I couldn't tell if what they felt or did was right or wrong, just that their worlds simply collided and exploded. Katherine's life is somewhat wasted by her sorrows and sickness, while Danny is haunted by the war; the death of his best friend and Army mate and then hearing that his high school sweetheart had gotten engaged. 

I think this is the kind of book which you either love it or hate it. Subjects aside, there is also not much dialogues given their (cat-and-mouse) situations; at least not in the first half of the book. On the contrary, the second half was full of mixed emotions and intensity, and yes there were actions too which made me feel like I was reading a thriller of some sort. The conclusion was a dynamic one; an ending which I'd suspected and expected. So was it a beautiful story? Yes and no. It was a very unusual love story, but then there is nothing beautiful and romantic about obsessive love, no matter how harmless it may seem to be. For this, I blamed it on Danny's PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which according to the author's note, was unrecognised at that time. 

Finally, I shall leave you a few quotes which give you a gist of the author's writing: 

"None of us - not them, not she herself - is meant for solitude. We crave attachments. When we can't make them among live things we attach unnaturally to something else." ~ Pg 132 
"Desire can be a comfort to slide into, a warm bath that gently nudges you and rocks you. But when it quickens, it's a knife." ~ Pg 133 
"This time is different. As are the rest, each from the others. Different in the way all clouds are different. Or all people. Or all fingerprints. He knows that that's the way of it, no two will ever be the same." ~ Pg 186

Melody

ISBN-13: 9780062363237
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2 June 2015
Format: Paperback, 304 pgs
Source: Publisher




Do that title and cover image intrigue you? Well it definitely did to me. As you know, I love reading a good psychological suspense. Thrown in with a horror element and that's always a bonus to me; after all I don't watch too many horror flick so I can only indulge myself in books. Weird, I know. 

Anyway, A Head Full of Ghosts tell a story of the Barretts family and how their family is torn apart when their fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. From the start, readers have the unsettling feeling as the younger sister, Meredith (Merry), recalls her past living with her family fifteen years ago in an interview with a best-selling writer. 

Merry and Marjorie, despite their age difference of six years, are quite close and will share secrets with each other. Marjorie will always tell Merry made up stories and Merry love hearing them. However, when Marjorie's stories began to get weird and dark, Merry wonders if Marjorie is just trying to scare her or if that there is something sick and wrong with her. After all, there are times Marjorie plays (unexplainable and impossible) tricks and leaving weird notes to her. 

Seeking help from Father Wanderly seems like a solution to their dad, John Barrett, but their mother isn't convinced by everything and thinks that seeking medical assistance might be more favourable. Then, when a TV producer approaches them to have their story aired, they figured why not since the money would help the family, considering the messy state they are all in. 

While this may sound horrific to some, what makes this story stands out is not the bits of gore and horror but whether or not should we believe in Marjorie, since she'd told Merry that she'd push it along seeing how freaked out her parents are, seeing her state. Plus, she decides it helps the family, with the extra money coming from the TV show. 

The writing style and the characterisations are great; and Merry's account of what's happening in an interview to the author in between the real events allows a satisfying reading experience, allowing readers to question themselves if there's real evil at work or if Marjorie is the ultimate manipulator as they read along. This is more than a horror story in my opinion; this is a sad yet beautifully crafted story about a disturbed family and misconception and I closed the book with a heavy heart. 
Melody

ISBN-13: 9780062350657
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 16 June 2015
Format: Paperback, 336 pgs
Source: Publisher



Kit Finn wants a little excitement in her life. Although being an interior decorator entitles her to meet all walks of life, she feels she needs to do something bold and adventurous to spark up her life, especially since she's broken off with her boyfriend and it's not like she's responsible for anyone. Thus, when she literally bumps into an attractive stranger at her hotel while having a vacation in the Florida Keys, she thinks he may be the man who would fit into her adventurous scheme, after all he told her he isn't interested in a committed relationship either. Despite anything, she gives him her name card. It seems natural and she didn't give much thought to it. 

Back in New York, Kit once again commits herself to her work until she receives a call from the man she met in the Florida Keys - Matt Healy. He said he's interested in meeting up again and suggested dinner at his apartment. Thinking there may be a development in their relationship, she said yes. However, the man who answers the door isn't the man she's going to meet although they share the same name. And this weird encounter is just the beginning of a chain of events which later result in the death of two persons surrounding her. Who is the mysterious man she met in the Keys? Why did he lead her to another Matt Healy and thereby expose his role as an identity thief? Kit is perplexed, but what most scares her is finding herself being stalked and then having her apartment being broken into and ransacked. 

As Kit tries to piece the puzzle together, she soon finds herself being caught in a treacherous plot and the only thing she could untangle herself from this complicated web is to find out the true identity of the man who has deceived her and all the truth behind his schemes. 

The Wrong Man is a page-turning psychological suspense filled with twists at every turn. Like Kit, I had no idea what was happening and the more I read, I somewhat got the gist of where this may go but it was the characters who have me pondering all the time. Of course the biggest question is who is the man who deceived Kit in the Keys and I felt that's the main drive of the story - finding out who he is and the purpose of his lies. And as much as I sympathised Kit's situation, there are times I wanted to yell at her for taking the other directions instead of running to the police and tell them the whole truth right from the beginning. But I suppose from another perspective that would portray her to be a strong heroine who wants to take matters in her own hands. I liked that in a heroine, although I have to admit there are times I was annoyed by her fickleness in the man she met in the Keys. But, this was just a minor peeve from me and I understand this was simply part of a ploy to the story. All in all, this was a good read and I look forward to this author's future releases. 

Melody
June. Can't believe half of the year is almost gone. It just seems like yesterday we celebrated the new year. So far, it's been a mixed year for me. There are good memories, but there are bad and unforgettable ones as well. As for the latter, I'm going to grit my teeth and tell myself to move on, despite it is so hard at times, but I'm glad I have a supportive/encouraging husband whom I can lean on any time.  

So, June also means school holidays over here in Singapore. Primary schools here have a month long holidays in June and December. I'm sure most working mothers are happy to take some days off in these two months to spend some time with their children, but for stay-at-home mothers (like myself) these months seem like any month to us (well, since we are with our children all the time.) And these two months are a headache to me as I rarely get any peace at home with my two girls around. Well, they aren't that terrible, in case you are wondering, but they can be so noisy at times and of course, there are always little petty squabbles around. A few stay-at-home mothers I knew share the same sentiments so I know I'm not the odd one who doesn't really embrace June and December, ha. 

That said, school holidays also mean trips for our family so on 2nd June we went to Hello Kitty Town located in Puteri Harbour, Malaysia. We bought a package with round-way coach transport with admission tickets so getting there was a breeze. The only down side was the rainy weather on our way back (fortunately it didn't spoil our fun.) Hello Kitty Town is a small indoor kind-of park so it didn't take us too long to complete the tour. 

It has seven fun stations with activities such as cookie decorating, badge making, photo taking with Hello Kitty and friends, solving a puzzle in a maze-like dimmed place in "Hello Kitty Black Wonder" where in the end each participant will get a certificate upon successful completion. It was loads of fun and I wish the place were bigger and that it's outdoor. However the fun didn't stop there, we are planning for another trip to somewhere else so we shall see. 
 
 


Well, June also means my reading progress will be slow but I will try to catch up on it whenever I can. Here's a list of what I'd read for the past five months:
My favourites thus far is those I highlighted in bold. Trust me, I'd a difficult time doing this though there aren't many titles but I know these are the titles I will list again without hesitation should anyone ask me about my favourite reads this year. What are yours? And what's your plan(s) in June? 
Melody

ISBN-13: 9780062379849
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 12 May 2015
Format: Paperback, 400 pgs
Source: Publisher



How many times do you check your smartphone a day? And how many hours do your surf online? What about those social media platforms? Do you have all the accounts to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc etc? Yes to all, some of you may answer. After all, we stay connected through our smartphones and computers in this time; we'd considered to be living under a rock if we don't, isn't it? That said, have you ever wondered what you would do without a smartphone or Internet? 

Evie Rosen, our heroine in this story, is given this ultimatum "off-line" experience after she is being terminated for abusing the company's rule by sending too many personal emails and texts at work. Before this, Evie has dreams of becoming a partner in a well-established law firm and thinking of getting hitched to her famous restaurateur boyfriend of two years. Unfortunately, the latter didn't want to commit into marriage and they broke off. But what makes it worse is stumbling upon his wedding photos on Facebook six months later they broke up and Evie wasn't sure if the problems lied on her or that he just changed his mind on marriage. As if that was not enough, her date scurried off after knowing that she had Googled him before their meeting together. All of these incidents have made her decided to put off smartphones and Internet for good, well at least for some time. 

Initially Evie felt anxious of the withdrawal from the Internet; it was unsettling to be so out of touch with the world, and not to mention it was undoubtedly getting harder to ignore the inconveniences of being computer-less. Then again, there was an undeniable calmness she hadn't felt in ages, and for that she felt a sense of peacefulness. From there, she starts things afresh by going back to the basics: communicating through phones instead of texting and emailing, meeting guys the conventional ways instead of online dating. She began to see things in a new light and learnt that she didn't unplug from life even though she'd unplugged her smartphone. 

Fun, witty and relatable, that's my impression of this novel after reading it. I have to confess Evie didn't warm up to me initially but her character grew on me the more I read about her and how she'd changed her mindset on certain things. I liked reading about her relationship with her grandmother; some of those moments warmed my heart and it was rather inspiring to see how her grandmother coped with news of her breast cancer through optimism. 

Well I don't think I would shut off Internet entirely, for there are certainly pros and cons for everything, including modern technologies. I can think of one very useful application such as FaceTime or video calls which allow us to talk and to see the faces as well. I certainly use this a lot communicating with my husband when he is away for his overseas business trips. Overall, I appreciate the conveniences of Internet, the connections of social platforms etc, and it is only an issue of not going overboard and making good use of it.