Melody

Random House | May 2014
Source: Library


OK, I've to admit my curiosity was piqued after reading several positive reviews of this book. With the story mostly set in Singapore and that it was written by a Singaporean author, I felt the more I should read it. For this review, allow me to use a few Singaporean slang (or Singlish) since I felt it appropriate considering that's the prose of this book (don't worry, the author includes footnote). 

To begin with, Crazy Rich Asians is a fun read. So what is the story about, har*? Basically, it's a story about some very rich families and their family dynamics and most of all, a love story between a crazy rich guy, Nicholas Young, and a clueless woman, Rachel Chu, who doesn't know his family background, lah*. Actually there shouldn't be any problem when love is concerned, after all what matters most is your love for your partner and vice versa, right? Wrong! At least not when Nicholas' family is concerned. Given their power, wealth and their society status, it seems natural to want someone who is of a good match in terms of wealth and background. Although Rachel holds a good position as a college professor (like Nicholas, except they are in different departments teaching at NYU), what sets her apart is her nationality (she's a Mainland Chinese) and that she comes from a single parent family. The real challenge begins when Nicholas decides to bring Rachel to Singapore to attend his best friend's wedding and "all hell breaks loose" when his family members (including a string of extended meddling relatives) decide to know (dig, to be precise) more about Rachel's background and there are enough gossips, clashes and backbiting to rip a person apart. 
"Well, first of all, you must understand that there are two kinds of Chinese. There are the Chinese from Mainland China, who made their fortunes in the past decade like all the Russians, but then there are the Overseas Chinese. These are the ones who left China long before the Communists came in, in many cases hundreds of years ago, and spread throughout the rest of Asia, quietly amassing great fortunes over time." Pg 33
Aside from the complications of the couple's love relationship, this story also gives readers more than a glimpse of the mindset and status of these rich Chinese families; about the difference of old money and new money, and some conservative mindsets when family roots are concerned.

Urm, so Crazy Rich Asians may seem like a chicklit fiction (I don't like this definition, lah*) to some but it was actually quite a funny and entertaining read (at least to me) and an "eye-opening reading experience" (to foreigner readers). While there is nothing new about the family dynamics issue (Aiyah*, I suppose it happens everywhere), it is the culture, the society, the language (as well as all those local dishes mentioned) that set this novel apart and made it such an interesting read. There's also a second book, China Rich Girlfriend, and although it looks interesting (it follows Rachel's story and her birth origin), I guess I'll read it when the mood strikes, lah*. (I'm blaming it on my TBR pile and a library book I've borrowed lately.)

* har / lah is a common and a favourite form of expression to emphasise especially towards the end of the sentence. They don't really mean anything. 

* Aiyah - "sigh," "well," "oh man...," or "blah".

For more Singlish, visit this link.


© 2016 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


Bloomsbury Childrens | August 2012 | 432 pgs
Source: Purchased


I took a little break from thrillers featuring unlikeable and unreliable characters and dived into this YA fantasy series; a story about the journey and adventures of an eighteen-year-old girl who is trained as an assassin and has slaved at the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier until she is given a chance to win her freedom - to represent the Crown Prince of Adarlan in a to-the-death tournament. The winner will be the King's Champion and will abide by his orders for future (assassinating) missions.

Calaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most notorious assassin, and perhaps the greatest in all of Erilea. Calaena knows it's a lose-lose situation no matter which path she chose - it's too torturing working at the salt mines (she has some scars to prove) and she couldn't fathom the thoughts of serving the King who has ruined her country but at least she has the chance of gaining her freedom. And so there begins her training before the duel comes. During her time spent at the training, she gradually became friends with the Crown Prince, Dorian Havilliard, and the Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall. While the former loves teasing her, the latter is cold and calm though he is protective of her.

When the other competitors are a threat to her, especially a particular sly and arrogant soldier named Cain, Calaena soon realises that there is something dark and sinister which is the real threat, for her competitors ended up dead one by one and they all died gruesomely. No one knew how or why they were murdered but Calaena is certain of one thing, that some evil force is at work and she intends to find out the truth before she is the next target.

Although I am late in reading this series, I am not new to Sarah J. Maas' work; after all I enjoyed her Court of Thorns and Roses series and can't wait for the third installment to release next year. This first installment of the Throne of Glass series wowed me in many levels. The world building, the plot and the characterisation are all very well done. I enjoyed reading the interactions between Calaena, Dorian and Chaol. Calaena's friendship with Princess Nehemia was also an enjoyable read, as I felt Calaena needs some female companionship and a friend among all the alpha males even though she is not a weakling herself. No, I definitely think Calaena is far more superior when her skills are concerned and nothing could stop her since she has nothing to lose and with that strong dignity of hers. But that is not all, I also liked the idea of the Fae world and the magical element amid the political empire, despite the King banished and outlawed all traces of magic.

I can see why this series is so popular and makes a great fantasy series -  the world building so well constructed by the author, the development of the core characters and finally that wonderful storytelling which had me glued to the pages from the beginning till the end. I can't wait to find out what's in store with the rest of this series.

© 2016 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

Scholastic Inc | August 2015 | 224 pgs
Source: Purchased



The year is 1976, Pennsylvania. 10-year-old Sunny Lewin is supposed to spend her summer vacation with her family at a beach house, but there's some issue at home and she ended up flying down to Florida herself to live with her grandfather for the summer. She is disappointed at first, but thought Florida might be a fun place to visit, after all she could visit Disney World. But her grandfather's place is no fun for a 10-year-old girl; it is a place called "Pine Palms" and is a retirement community for people over 55. Fortunately for her, she met a boy her age there. Buzz's father works as a groundskeeper at Pine Palms and Buzz knows all the fun things to do there (facing off against alligators when they go golf balls picking, rescuing runaway cats and reading all the superheroes comic books they could find).

Sunny Side Up is very much of a reminiscent kind of story and about the simplicity of life living in the late 70s. What I liked about the story:

  • the simple introductions of a few superheroes and their qualities 
  • Grandpa's witty remarks and his positivity outlook on life
  • Pine Palms is very much of a low-end resort with golf course and pools (but no swimming as there are alligators. Hmph!) 
  • the tight-knit community where everybody knows everybody and looking out for one another

Finally, the message behind this story over the issue involving substance abuse (drug or alcohol abuse problem), in which Sunny's elder brother is facing and that young readers who are facing these same problems today should reach out to family members and teachers/school counsellors and seek help should they find themselves or anyone having this issue instead of feeling ashamed and scared; and most of all thinking that it is something that has to be kept as secrets. Overall it is a heartwarming story and is suitable to middle grade children without the heavy undertone of the issue mentioned.


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Melody

This (2014) drama basically tells a story of how a (intentional) misconstrued news report ruins a happy family. 

Ki Ha-Myeong (starring Lee Jong-Suk) and his older brother have always look up to their father who is a heroic firefighter. However, a fire at a waste facility destroys the happy family. The Ki family is further broken by the news report that their beloved father might have fled from the scene since his body was never found. The brothers are adamant that their father would never do such things but alas, there isn't any evidence to prove their point. Ha-Myeong's older brother is detained in a police cell one night after he tried to argue with the anchorwoman whom he felt had reported the news unfairly for the sake of viewership. 

The night he is detained, Ha-Myeong's mother decided to end her life together with Ha-Myeong. Ha-Myeong is saved by a kind elderly man, Choi Gong-Pil, who suffers from memory loss and thinks he is his eldest son, Choi Dal-Po, who passed thirty years ago. Ha-Myeong doesn't mind the deception, after all he has no family and he treats Gong-Pil as his father. He is then officially adopted by Gong-Pil and lives his life as Dal-Po. Ha-Myeong also befriends Choi In-Ha (starring Park Shin-Hye), who is Gong Pil's granddaughter and though they are "uncle and niece" relationship they are in the same age range. In-Ha has "Pinocchio Syndrome" and whenever she tells a lie she will hiccup. She idolises her mother who is a successful anchorwoman, but they rarely contact each other since her parents divorced. Ha-Myeong soon learns that In-Ha's mother is none other than the anchorwoman who had destroyed his family and he vows to bring justice back by becoming a reporter himself, but he also finds himself having feelings for In-Ha and it's not kinship. 

(I especially loved this scene, whereby In-Ha unknowingly brought a faulty umbrella for Dal-Po but is saved by the traffic cones over their heads, a witty yet sweet gesture by Dal-Po. It beautifully captures of their young love during their high school days.) 

(Their grown-up version and work as rookie reporters at rival networks)

Well, I was impressed and was filled with various emotions after finishing watching Pinocchio. It has all the elements I had hoped for in a melodrama like this - suspense, thought-provoking issues, complex relationships and romance. And most of all, I loved the storyline and the issues raised on misconstrued reports (to gain news impact and viewership at someone's cost? Are the reports we read based on facts or merely rumours/assumptions?) A reporter's job not only gather and report news but also carries the responsibility of giving informative as well as honest and accurate news timely. And I loved the spirit of the young reporters in this drama; they show us what it takes to be a reporter through many things they have to do to ensure those news are reached to you timely. And then, there is the romance between Ha-Myeong and In-Ha, which is both heartwarming and fluttering at the same time. Overall it was a touching drama with a great storyline in my opinion. Actor Lee Jong-Suk's latest drama in "W" was a joy to watch (a comics hero!), but this drama left a deeper impression on me.  


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Melody

Penguin Publishing Group | August 216 | 304 pgs
Source: Purchased



Told in two alternating voices and time periods, this story is about the friendship between two girls and how an incident in the past caught up with them.

Edie is bold and beautiful whereas Heather is shy and awkward. When Heather first met Edie, she knew she is unlike any other girls in school. Edie is not only wild and beautiful, she's also the only girl who would look beyond Heather as who she is and show her what good friends are supposed to be. For a while, they have a wonderful friendship until Edie falls in love.

Seventeen years later, Edie moved to London and is a single mother. Life is hard but she got by, until Heather appears and enters into her life once again. Heather's arrival is perfect as that is the time Edie is overwhelmed by the needs of a new baby and sinks into a dark despair. Heather not only saves her but is also proving to be a good helper in taking care of little Maya.

As the days go by, Edie has the feeling that someone is watching and stalking her. Edie begins to wonder about Heather's barging into her life then; could it really be a coincidence?

Watching Edie is an intense read and I enjoyed the writing style told in the past in Heather's voice and Edie's present. This allows readers to learn about each character's development and climax build as the story progress and the truth begins to reveal from the past. This is quite different from your typical psychology thriller as although there is still enough suspense to capture your attention; it is very much of a what-really-happened kind of suspense with two unreliable narrators. Overall I enjoyed the story well enough, but not enough to wow me.


© 2016 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.