ISBN-13: 9780751547184
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Paperback, 496 pgs
Source: Purchased 

Kelley Armstrong has a new series out and in this first book of the series mystery is the main focus of the story. Although her urban fantasy signature is present (Wicca, gargoyles, a few sinister-looking ravens and crows and some folklore here), it doesn't really play a major plot to the story (perhaps at a later stage) though it does add more intrigue to the overall atmospheric setting set in a mystic town in Cainsville, Illinois. 

In Omens, our heroine Olivia Taylor-Jones is a young woman who has everything in her life but all is shattered after learning that she was adopted and her biological parents are notorious serial killers. Though her fiancé, James Morgan, is still willing to marry her at some point; Olivia feels it is better that she finds out the truth of her parents and what had happened at her own pace. Thus, their relationship drifted away while Olivia flees to Cainsville to escape from the media frenzy as well as to find some answers of her past. 

As much as Cainsville and its residents offer Olivia some space to breathe, there are secrets and not to mention some strange occurrences (or signs) lurking around the small town. And this is also where Olivia starts having some premonitions and finds herself reading omens; a special "ability" she found she couldn't explain after moving to Cainsville. And then there is Gabriel Walsh, a lawyer who once represented her biological parents and a man Olivia finds mysterious yet charismatic in his own way. He offers to help Olivia investigate her parents' cases again and though Olivia needs his help, she isn't really sure of what she thinks of him. 

I really enjoyed reading Omens, despite the measured pace in the beginning and that the focus is more on Olivia's search for answers to the murders than anything else. Since this is the first book I think we can expect more developments as the story progresses. The characterisations are intriguing; I liked it that Olivia has backbone and doesn't shun from obstacles. As for Gabriel, like Olivia I still have some doubts about him but I have a feeling my opinions of him might change as the story goes. All in all, it was a good read and I look forward to reading Visions, the next book of this series. 


Jekyll and Hyde. They may be fictional characters but what they (or he) have suffered - a rare mental condition called Dissociative Identity Disorder, is one of the most controversial psychiatric disorders, for there is no clear consensus on diagnostic criteria or treatment. With no knowledge of this medical condition nor having read the classic sci-fi written by Robert Louis Stevenson (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), I watched this drama with a fresh perspective, knowing that with the romantic comedy element it'd be a totally different spin of tale and not to mention entertaining.  

Goo Seo-jin (starring Hyun Bin), our tortured hero in this drama, seems to have everything - looks, intelligence and wealth. He is also in line to become the next CEO of Wonder Group, the conglomerate his family owns which consisting of a theme park, Wonder Land, and Wonder Hotel which oversees by his cousin. As much as Seo-jin is capable, he is also considered as cold and ruthless in everyone's eyes. His alter ego, Robin, on the other hand is kind, gentle and compassionate. This split personality began 15 years ago and Seo-jin has consulted Dr Kang (starring Shin Eun-jung) for a while. She believes Seo-jin's condition is triggered by an incident when he was a boy. On that fateful night, he and his childhood friend, Yoon Tae-Joo (starring Sung Joon), were kidnapped and their attempt to escape had led to a tragedy. It is believed that Seo-jin had abandoned Tae-Joo out of desperation to save himself and no one knew what happened to Tae-Joo thereafter. Dr Kang believes Robin is a manifestation of Seo-jin's guilt and has thought of a treatment to "cure" him until she was attacked and was held captive by her abductor. No one knew why and both Seo-jin and the police are desperate to find her. 

Jang Ha-na (starring Han Ji-min) returns to Korea to join the circus show at Wonder Land. She has dreams to revamp the circus back to its former glory, but she has problems with Seo-jin since he thinks the circus show is no longer the theme park's attraction and they are merely a waste of money and manpower. Despite his dislike for Ha-na, he has saved her from dangerous situations a few times and judging by the circumstances we all know it is Robin who has made his appearance but Ha-na didn't know that and thinks he has a twin brother who's keeping on a low profile. She fell for him gradually, because he reminds her so much of a boy who'd saved her when she was a teenager. 

As the story slowly unfolds, the mystery of Dr Kang's abduction unveils and Ha-na would soon realise the man she loves is none other than Seo-jin; whom Robin shares the body and mind with. 

I've to say the premise was a great one. The beginning part was filled with mystery as we wanted to know the identity of the abductor and the reason behind the abduction. Once the truth is unveiled, we began to see the different side of Seo-jin and Robin; and how Seo-jin slowly changes from a cold, ruthless man to someone who really feels and cares for others. But of course the big question is: What happens to the love between Ha-na and Robin? Despite Seo-jin has became a better person, he is still not the same man she'd loved initially. Plus, Robin wants to live and be a real person, not hidden behind Seo-jin's mind and appear only at a certain timing and when circumstances are called for. 

But of course, being a drama as it is, we'd see some events which would change Ha-na's views and be moved by them, including myself. So, did I like this drama? Absolutely. And what was the most satisfying part of watching it? Surprisingly it wasn't the suspense (well, it was intriguing but that wasn't the most important part, at least not to me) but seeing the transformation of Seo-jin and how it ended, given the complicated situation. I'd had various scenarios flashed across my mind regarding Ha-na's love interest but I thought the ending was the most satisfying one.  

(Jekyll, Hyde, Me Teasers with English subtitles)


ISBN-13: 9780593069189
Publisher: Bantam Press 
Publication Date: May 2014
Format: Hardcover, 444 pgs
Source: Purchased

This is the 4th book of the Lacey Flint's series. In this installment, Lacey quit the force from a detective to join the marine police unit. Aside to recover from the trauma the previous cases had led her, she feels she wants a safer, quieter life too - to allow her to think things and her relationship with DI Mark Joesbury, who has gone missing in action for an undercover assignment. 

But of course, life has its own way of turning things and before Lacey could find any peace living alone on her boathouse, she found a dead body floating on River Thames near her home; her body wrapped in burial cloths. Needless to say, this discovery shook Lacey to the core, especially knowing that the corpse was deliberately left for her to find after further investigation. As much as she didn't want to return to her profession she knew she couldn't (and shouldn't) let this case goes unresolved and let the woman died without giving her a justice. However, there are loads of questions surrounding the investigations; as no one knows why the corpse was wrapped in that way and further searches have shown it has got nothing to do with religions or honour killings. 

And as if the case isn't complicated enough, there are speculations about Mark Josebury's involvement in a cop shooting incident and whether if he's gone over the dark side after his most recent undercover assignment. After all, there's a very fine line between the good and the bad and some coppers could be bent given some circumstances and the law and rules they've known so well. Lacey, on the other hand, knew there must be some explanations behind and she intends to find that out, too. That said, like Lacey, I still believe in Mark; and I know whatever he has done or need to be done it's always for good reasons. 

As the story slowly unfolds, we will soon learn more about people-smuggling, as well as people-trafficking are some of the issues the world is still facing today and why they could be so hard to wipe off completely, especially if they are immigrants who are trying so very hard to escape from the hardships they are suffering and would pay any price to make their escape possible. And of course behind these sad situations there are some twisted people who'd do anything for whatever reasons they believe in. 

A Dark and Twisted Tide is not something I'd expected from a conventional thriller, but the intensity and suspense are all there. There are also some dark elements thrown in in a sense that makes you wonder about the assignments the undercover officials have to go through and to what extent they've to do to make their aliases believable. And lastly, not to mention the immigrants victims who are murdered not knowing the real reasons why they are lured and then disposed of cruelly. It was a compelling read, but there's also sadness behind the intensity. And after reading this installment I found myself liking and respecting Lacey and DI Dana Tulloch more than ever. 


ISBN-13: 9781783297627
Publisher: Titan Books 
Publication Date: 6 February 2015
Format: Paperback, 400 pgs
Source: Purchased 

The Canadian setting of this thriller took place between the 80s and 90s. Told from a first person POV, this is a story about Evie Jones' obsession of finding the truth surrounding the murder of her childhood friend, 11-year-old Lianne Gagnon; who had disappeared after she was last seen hopping into a man's car and was found murdered twelve days after her disappearance. 

Ten years later, Evie still thinks of her friend's murder. And that curiosity heightens after she became crime reporter with the Toronto Free Press. The cop believes they have a name of the murderer - Robert Cameron, but he is never caught. There are speculations that he might be dead, but Evie believes he is hiding under different aliases. Then, there are some days Evie felt she is being stalked and someone is standing outside her balcony, as if watching her. Her childhood friend, David Patton, thinks she is in a constant state of paranoia and that the case she's investigating is getting to her. 

As Evie tries to piece the puzzle surrounding her friend's murder, she stumbles upon some information which would make her question about the people around her and most importantly, why Lianne Gagnon? 

The Devil You Know is neither written in a conventional thriller form nor a police procedural; for starters there are no quotation marks used for the dialogues here. While some readers may find this style creates a more intimacy to the storytelling, I found myself not getting used to it although it didn't really affect my reading. As much as this is a thriller, I'd say this is more of a case of characters studies as it shows us how some people reacted when they are being driven into a corner, or how much a person would do everything under certain circumstances. 

Although the intensity isn't as great and the pace is somewhat slow at the beginning, I continued to follow Evie's story because like her, I wanted to know who is Lianne’s murderer. Unfortunately, I felt the conclusion was a letdown although some questions are answered. As mentioned before, this is unlike other thrillers or police procedural so perhaps it is a book that allows us to think about the characters and their actions/motives. 

This is the author's first novel (she has one previous collection of short stories, How to Get Along with Women, which was nominated for the prestigious Giller Prize) and I'd be interested to read her next release. I hope it'd be something different from this. 


ISBN-13: 9780062302700
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 7 July 2015
Format: Paperback, 544 pgs
Source: Publisher

Egypt. Valley of the Kings. Tutankhamun's tomb. Do these fascinate you? If they are, then you are in for a good literate ride filled with history, adventures and not to mention a haunting tale of two young girls' journey to Egypt in the '20s and how a series of events have changed and shaped their lives.

Lucy Payne was eleven when she was sent abroad to Egypt to recover from the typhoid that killed her mother. With her father immersed in his academic work at Cambridge college, young Lucy had only Miss Mackenzie, her guardian, for their travels in Egypt. Miss Mack, whom Lucy fondly called, was not only "in loco parentis" (Latin for "in the place of a parent") but was also a great companion and a guide to Lucy.

There, she befriends Frances Winlock, the daughter of an American archaeologist and through her, Lucy learns and witnesses firsthand the intrigue of Egypt, its history and culture. She's heard enough stories about treasure hoards and the excavations in Cairo and Luxor; and that Egyptian antiquities dealers would drive up prices through inventing stories about the things they sell. There is one English archaeologist, Mr Howard Carter, who's in charge of an excavation in the Valley of the Kings and seems to have a wide knowledge when Egyptian history is concerned, Lucy finds him aloof, arrogant and mysterious as well. I found him interesting, but he wasn't really an amiable person in my opinion.

As the story progresses, we see through Lucy's eyes through her youth and her older age how Egypt was during the 20s and the intrigue and mysterious legends surrounding Egyptian history and culture. There, she'd also witnessed how the hunt and the discovery would make some people go to extra lengths to fulfill their desires. 

I was also fascinated (and horrified) to learn about the process of mummification through bits of information mentioned in the book. It goes without saying that the author had done a thorough research writing this book and did a wonderful job in it. I felt I was travelling with Lucy and the others through their journeys; and I liked Miss Mack for her sincere and bubbly personality. 

I've to admit it took me a while to find myself immersed into the story; granted it is about 540+ pages long (and an informative list of historical figures, places and provenance at the end of the book) and a cast of interesting characters who you'll either like or dislike. Some readers might also find the pace a bit slow as the pace is measured as the author seemed to take her time in building the story. However, Ms. Beauman has brought both the historical figures and the fictional characters to life through her storytelling and the Egyptology part is most intriguing. A must-read for fans of historical fiction and Egyptology.