ISBN-13: 9781594746260
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Publication Date: 16 July 2013
Format: Paperback, 320 pgs
Source: Personal Library

It's only seventy-seven days left before asteroid 2011GVwill plow into planet Earth and destroy everything. And Detective Henry "Hank" Palace is no longer a policeman. No, he didn't quit his job. The federal Department of Justice has simply dissolved the Adult Crimes Unit and the rest of the detective divisions but there are still cops around the neighbourhoods to ensure that there is no public disturbance. 

That said, Detective Palace isn't entirely a free man. He's still worried over his sister Nico, who has decided to leave home for some absurd reasons that have to do with the asteroid and the belief that a special mission she's into would help save the Earth. And on top of that, an old friend who's used to be their babysitter has approached him one day and claimed that her husband has gone missing. 

Martha believes Brett, an ex-state trooper, is an honourable man; one who is responsible and loyal. Thus, she's devastated that he left her without a word. She's sure Brett is somewhere, and that he has reasons for his leaving. Detective Palace begins to look for clues and information surrounding Brett, and he learnt that Brett's "retirement" from the troop began after an unsolved case. As the more Detective Palace digs, his finds lead him to an encampment place where the refugees staying there have their own set of rules, and Detective Palace has to use his wits to get some clues from a few of them.  

In this second installment, author Ben H. Winters has weaved a gloomy tale of the New Hampshire city; a sorrowful setting with people scrambling for survival, for suicidal, for the things they have not done but would do so under this circumstances. They are all in a state of countdown mode, and it's a matter of doing things one deems is worthy, regardless the morality. 

This story may be Detective Palace's case of searching for a missing person, but in whole I think it's very much of a story of family love and promises: Brett's promise to Martha that he would be with her until doomsday, and then the promises Detective Palace and Nico had made when they were children. Their stories had struck a chord in me differently. As with the first installment, the humanity issue remains the top element of this story but the emotional feelings it evoked have doubled in this second installment.  

I'm really very curious on how this trilogy is going to end. And what's good about this book is it could be read as a standalone, though it's always the best to start with the first book. As for the final installment, I really didn't know what to expect. I guess I'll stay hopeful like Detective Palace's sister, Nico, for now until I get to it. 

ISBN-13: 9781402298684
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: 13 January 2015
Format: eBook, 323 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Set at the turn of the 20th century in Waterloo, Iowa, The Magician's Lie is a historical mystery revolving magic, a female illusionist who called herself the Amazing Arden, and a murder which everyone thinks she had committed. 

The story opens with Arden performing her famous illusion of the Halved Man - cutting a man into half and then having him comes out alive and whole. This illusion is one trick she'd performed endlessly without fail but on that fateful evening, something dreadful happened. Someone behind the stage found her husband trapped in one half of the box dead after the performance. Needless to say, Arden becomes the prime suspect with a motive to kill. After all, in the opening of the story she did think of killing her tormentor. Surely her husband is the one who tormented her? 

Officer Virgil Holt of Janesville Police Department witnessed her amazing performance together with his colleague, Officer Mose Huber on that same evening. Mose thinks a little magic may distract Holt of his medical problem, but little do they know that they are to face a tricky case involving magic. Is Arden truly meant to murder her husband? If she has claimed she's innocent, then who had killed him? 

As Officer Holt interrogated her, Arden insisted that she is no murderess, and she began to tell him about her past; starting since she was a girl, her relationship with her mother and a cousin called Ray, the reason they moved to Janesville, how she came to be an illusionist, and finally what happened on that fateful evening. As Officer Holt is caught up by her story, he couldn't help but to wonder if what she'd told him is the truth or simply just lies. After all her expertise is tricking people, isn't it? 

The Magician's Lie is both a fascinating and intriguing story in all sense. For starters, the magic setting is enough to captivate readers. After all, who doesn't love a good magic performance, even if it is only told in paper. Then, there is the characterisations, the plot and even how the story is executed (flashbacks and present, which I thought was very nicely done.) As much as I was intrigued with the murder case, I was also very much intrigued with Arden's past. Like Officer Holt, I followed her story with eagerness, not knowing what to expect, and whether or not should I believe the story she's telling. And speaking of Officer Holt, he is a righteous man given his position, but deep beneath he has full of doubts, including his personal life. In the end, I felt nothing but sympathy towards him. 

In conclusion, this story is simply fascinating. My whole reading journey is tinged with anticipation, be it Arden's story or the reveal of the real killer. I have to say the ending surprised me, but it was a good surprise. Recommended for readers who love historical and mystery. 


ISBN-13: 9780062340078
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 27 January 2015
Format: Paperback, 304 pgs
Source: Publisher

Deceit. Lies. Secrets. Before you open this book you get this idea that this story is about the lead character, Emily Coleman having something to hide, to the extent of changing her identity. She leaves her husband and little Charlie one day. No one knows why. 

As the story progresses, there are flash back of Emily's past from the day she was born, and how she felt towards her twin sister, Caroline. She is the eldest twin and during the delivery, their mother, Frances, went into shock after learning that she'd another baby in her womb. She'd made preparations for only one baby, not two. Despite her denial and reluctance, she accepted the other twin though her devotion is still towards Emily. As for their father, he is apathetic towards them as they grew over the years. The feelings he'd had for his wife has faded since her pregnancy. And since he couldn't leave Frances physically so he'd left her emotionally. 

Since babies, Emily and Caroline are two different girls despite they are twin sisters; one is calm and kind while the other is flighty and neurotic. As they grew older, their differences became more prominent; Emily will be the one whom everyone likes to hang out with, while Caroline will shock people with her speech and behaviours. They drifted apart after Emily's marriage but Emily still does keep in touch with her mother so she knows Caroline is doing fine in the fashion industry. Despite the years passed and the distance, Caroline still feels jealousy towards Emily. 

Emily, on the other end, appears to have a blissful family life. Thus it is puzzling why she chose to live a new life and this is where the intrigue comes in. This story is narrated in both first and third person; flashbacks and present alternatively throughout the story. The first person POV is Emily's new identity and tells us her journey living as Catherine Brown; how she knew her flatmate Angela to finding a job in London. While I didn't find the whole POV settings and scenarios confusing, what I have to say is I was both intrigued and disappointed with the characterisations and the plot. The characters are interesting, no doubt, in particularly to Emily and Caroline but they aren't likeable characters to me, though I felt sympathy towards Caroline's life growing up and then what Emily had encountered. Still, Emily's secrets is the drive of this story and this is what makes it a page-turner. 

And as much as the closure is neat and nice, I wasn't totally satisfied with the ending and/or Emily's secrets. I had had expected something more but it didn't go towards the direction I was anticipating. Nevertheless, this book still makes a good psychological thriller and author Tina Seskis' writing style is simply engrossing. 
Here is a list of book(s) I read in 2015. They are sorted in alphabetical order by the authors' last name.

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

ISBN-13: 9781594746741
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Publication Date: 13 May 2013
Format: Paperback, 336 pgs
Source: Personal Library

I have to confess I'm a huge fan of mystery & crime, but not so in science fiction. Movies, however, is another matter. This fiction piqued my interest due to all the rave reviews I have read from the blogging community, and since this has the mystery element, I thought if the sci-fi part didn't interest me, at least I have the mystery part to keep me interested. And after having read the book, I was glad to say I wasn't disappointed, both the mystery and the sci-fi part. Yes, that speaks a lot, isn't it? 

Now back to the book. First of all, I liked the title. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'd know that I'm a big fan of crime thrillers. Flawed protagonists intrigue me the same way they solve their cases. What makes The Last Policeman stands out among the rest is the pre-apocalyptic setting, and the protagonist, Detective Henry "Hank" Palace of the Concord Police Department, is definitely not flawed. To me, he is more than a detective; he is a hero in my opinion. 

Despite learning that the asteroid is going to hit the Earth soon and that the whole world would be wiped out, Detective Palace didn't let this calamity get to him. Although he feels the dread, he carries on with his duties like usual, hoping to solve the cases as best as he can, such as the latest suicide case of an insurance man, Peter Zell. While the rest of the law enforcement team thinks Peter Zell ended his life due to depression with the news of the asteroid and everything, Detective Palace didn't think so. He goes in search of finding answers to Peter's death, more determined than ever. 

While The Last Policeman is very much of a detective story, I think at its core it reflects on how people react and behave under stressful and critical situations. While there are peeps who scrambled or resort to taking their own lives, there are also peeps who try to lead their lives like normalcy and/or live it to their fullest (yes, I'm thinking of Detective Henry Palace). While the topic is sad and seems like a hopeless situation, still it is interesting to look at the human behaviours from another angle. 

And then there is the conscientious Detective Henry Palace who feels obliged to examine the question of motive in a new light, and the end of the world changes everything from a law-enforcement perspective. I admired his determination, his strong sense of justice despite the calamity. He does what he can, and dig harder should he meets a dead end; he still has a purpose, from the start to the end.  Yes, you can say I've found another favourite literary character. I'm hoping the author would continue writing Detective Henry Palace even if this trilogy ends. I'm sure many readers will agree with me on this. 

* This book won the 2012 Edgar Award in the category Best Paperback Original. 

A melodrama about love and revenge, Hotel King tells a story about a heiress who's in search of finding her father's murderer and a man who seeks revenge to his "mentor" who'd raised him with deceit, and how they've fallen in love despite all obstacles which are thrown in the their paths. 

The story opens with two young boys, Jayden (starring Lee Dong-wook) and Ju-han (starring Jin Tae-hyun), who are street beggars and they failed to provide their earnings to some crime gangsters. Needless to say, they'd a good beating from them but being the eldest one, Jayden fought back and accidentally shot the leader. His savior, Lee Jong-goo (starring Lee Deok-hwa) is a crippled man who took him under his wings, trained him to be a hotelier and told him that he is to seek revenge from Chairman Ah Sung-won, who's a top hotelier at that time. He also told Jayden that Chairman Ah is his father. 

With this thought in mind, Jayden plans his move to get close to Chairman Ah but he died before Jayden could do anything. Rumors claimed that Chairman Ah was hit badly by depression, but Jayden thinks otherwise. Then came Ah Mo Ne, the daughter of Chairman Ah and she's there to claim what's remaining of her father - their prestigious seven-star hotel, Ciel. And this begins the drama and romance between Jayden and Ah Mo Ne. 

I thought the premise is quite intriguing; plus there's a cast of characters who are interesting in their own way. One could see different characteristics through each of them, and let your emotions be evoked by their behaviours. I liked how the mystery is wrapped around initially and have you wondering about a few characters, but the suspense was dragged for too long and there are scenes which I felt was unnecessary. 

That said, I liked how the characters of Jayden and Ah Mo Ne are played out. Their dislike towards each other in the beginning to towards their goal in finding out the truth adds a warm touch to this melodrama. I liked seeing the change in Jayden and Mo Ne; the former from a cold-hearted man to someone who feels remorseful, and the latter from an airheaded heiress to someone who feels for her employees. Secondary characters such as Ju-han and his adoptive mother (starring Kim Hae-sook) portrays a bittersweet relationship between mother and son, but what perplexed me is the relationship between Jayden and his "mentor". To avoid spoilers, all I've to say is it's unbelievable. 

Overall I enjoyed this melodrama but felt it'd be better if it's not dragging. The ending is a satisfactory one but personally I felt it was somewhat anti-climatic. Still, I've to applause for the excellent acting skills of the cast, especially Lee Dong-wook who played Jayden. It pained me whenever I watched him cry. Yes, he may be a cold man with a strong competence but he's a human after all. 

Finally, as today is the last day of 2014, I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a great and wonderful year ahead!