Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Book Review #131)

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 21/09/17

My 24th book this year.)

The law states there is a maximum of two children per household. The population police help to enforce the rules with severe consequences if any family is caught with more than two.

Shadow children are those extra children, the third child of the family. Luke is one of them. He has never had a birthday party, never been out in society, never had a friend and has never been known to exist to anyone except his parents and two brothers. 

Life was hard before, but it only gets harder as a new housing development is built where the woods surrounding his house used to be. Now he can’t leave the house at all and can’t look through the window, can’t sit at the dinner table with the family and is essentially imprisoned in the attic in his house.

Luke begins to think about freedom. He suspects one of the the new neighbours are also hiding a shadow child. Now he needs to work out how to contact the shadow child, so he can interact with someone just like him.
***SPOILER ALERT***

I really enjoyed this first book of the Shadow Children series. The idea of the whole world’s population controlled, supposedly because of food shortage. But there are always those who oppose the government with their own ideas and theories. It makes sense because some families may not have children, therefore maybe some others can have more. Then there is the issue of potentially turning the entire population into vegetarians to reduce food being used on livestock for meat. 

Farmers are controlled as to what they produce and in what quantities, yet they must give most of it up leaving themselves with barely enough. Government keeps taking and taking more than their fair share. Some families are not happy about it. Especially those with shadow children. 

I love how being brave can be forced upon people, depending on their circumstances in life. How sometimes you have to do something terrifying in order to survive better. But life is all about survival. How to better the way you live. Shadow children remind us to appreciate what we have, as the freedom we have is such an amazing thing when compared with confinement.

Many people have otherwise critisized the faults in the book regarding food sources etc, but to read the book without deliberately looking for faults, this storyline is great. But will society ever come to this as a worldwide phenomenom?

Written by Ling Lee (22/09/17)

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A House Without Windows by Stevie Turner (Book Review #130)

I rate this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 20/09/17

My 23rd book this year.)

A young doctor, Beth, engaged with the rest of her life ahead of her and the perfect man to spend it with. Life was never going to be easy. Taken, imprisoned for almost a decade, she still has no hope of escape. She has a daughter, a sink, a toilet, a light bulb that is always on and the bed that she can sleep on. Beth’s daughter, Amy, has seen nothing outside of the walls of her “house without windows” but she is intelligent, she is an avid learner and Beth describes life outside to her as well as she can. Now Amy wants more, she wants to sit under a tree, look out of a window, walk outside, she wants to leave the “house” but Beth tells her not to upset her Daddy. Otherwise he will get angry. When Daddy gets angry, it’s not a happy day for anyone.
***SPOILER ALERT***

The outline of the story pulled me in. I expected a lot more detail, drama and time discovering what life was like in the house without windows. It was heart wrenching to see Amy grow up this way. Everything about life is seen through the eyes of her mother’s descriptions. The world is a beautiful thing when you stop to appreciate what you can no longer see. 

There wasn’t really any violence, torture or drama whilst Beth was confined. The two captives were cooperative and absurdly accepting of how things have been for them. 

Then the book takes a turn. When they have a chance at rebuilding and living their lives again, it seems as though almost nothing has happened and life almost resumes its’ course, 10 years later. Beth seems to have a bit of psychological difficulty but Amy is absolutely fine. 

Everything happened too perfectly, too smoothly. I expected much more distressing moments, awful situations and definitely more psychological problems. 

Then the ending felt too staged. I am usually most let down by the ending of books. This book was no different. Apologies to the author, I enjoyed the first 20-30% of the book. The rest just felt out of place and unnecessarily dragged out for the final scene. Sorry but I could not recommend this book to other readers. I am hoping my next read will be more thrilling and suspense filled.

Written by Ling Lee (20/09/17)

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review #129)

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars!!!

(Finished Reading: 09/09/17

My 22nd book this year.)

Kaz Brekker, criminal mastermind, willing to take on any task, an unimaginable risk taker. Just set the right price. Starting right at the bottom of the crews rankings, bullying, scheming, thieving, fighting, whatever it takes to climb the ranks, all for revenge for the death of someone very important to him.

For an excessively large sum, he has to choose his crew wisely. Being unable to trust anyone makes this an extremely difficult task. Breaking into the most secure military grounds known to their world, retrieving someone who knows a secret that can wipe out all existence if taken into the worng hands. 

The most unlikely crew are chosen. They must learn to get on, be a team and escape with their lives to claim their hefty prize, the other option is to fail and failing means an unsightly, painful death. 
***SPOILER ALERT***

Wow. How did I not read this book sooner? It’s been a while since I last found a book worthy of the full 5 stars. This book was incredible. Wildly imaginative and creative schemes. Amazing characters who came to life and all held their own personalities and traits. Everyone has their own story to tell and my heart strings were pulled every time Kaz Brekkers past unfolded. 

Too many twists in the story to count, but somehow if you choose not to criticise, this is an ultimate read full of adventure and breath taking moments. Definitely recommend this series to other readers and I am so excited to find out what happens in book 2. Go get reading… now!!

Written by Ling Lee (10/09/17).

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (Book Review #128)

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 06/09/17

My 21st book this year.)

Anne and Marco have a 6 month old daughter. The neighbours are having a dinner party and have invited them along but have asked for their daughter to not be present as they do not care much for crying children.

Marco is all excited about the party and is hit with disappointment when their baby sitter cancels on them. He persuades Anne to go with him anyway, but leave their baby, ALONE, at home. They agreed to check on her once every half hour along with taking the baby monitor with them.

When they finally call it a night, they return home, their front door is open and their baby has gone.
***SPOILER ALERT***

My head is still spinning from all the drama in this novel. Maybe the multiple ideas should have been separated into different books. 

I guess being a parent probably makes you approach the book with a different mindset. Everyone knows you don’t leave your baby unattended at that age. But both parents have deemed this acceptable. Then tragedy strikes and you don’t feel their distress as they allowed this window of opportunity for this moment to occur.

Then everything becomes a huge mess of who made the bigger mistake, who did the most wrong, who had the worst motive and who made the most wrong decisions toward this problem. 

I absolutely hated that the detective on the case was so opinionated on who the culprit was. How he had gut instincts that didn’t smoothly fit in with the story. Just random outbursts of who has done what and who else might be involved.

Every character were just characters. No one to connect with. No heart strings pulled, no one to feel sorry for, no single person to dispise until the final scene. 

There was too much over the top drama for me. It felt like the author tried too hard to be captivating. The story outline was interesting enough and I felt compelled to keep reading so I guess the book was an OK read. Apologies to the author but I wouldn’t recommend this to other readers, however I might try a different book by this author.

Written by Ling Lee (06/09/17).

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He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly (Book Review #127)

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 31/08/17

My 20th book this year)

Kit has always had a passion for chasing solar eclipses. His perfect other half, Laura, has the same interest so their lives revolve around it. 

One eclipse in particular changes more than just their own lives forever. Laura witnesses an awful event and calls the police. They thought the drama was over, but it became the beginning of all the problems they will ever face.

The victim, Beth, entwines herself into Laura’s life, which means Kit must put up with 2 emotional women in his life. 

Beth is becoming more and more drastic, straining the perfect pairs’ relationship. Kit wants her gone from their lives, but Laura is adamant to get her through this.

They get to the point where they fear Beth’s presence, change their names, flee from their home just to get away from her. But she knows how to find them, they both believe it’s just a matter of time.

***SPOILER ALERT***

A very clever twist in the story which was completely unexpected and made this book all the more enjoyable.

Laura, the weak woman who suffers severe anxiety attacks, who lives in fear from the victim she saved on the night of the Lizard Point eclipse.

Beth, the mentally unstable woman who wont leave Laura alone because she’s the only person who truely believes in the crime that took place. Beth needs both her friendship and support whether the couple want to help her or not.

Kit is just trying to protect Laura from anything and everything. With Laura’s weakness to helping every passing person in need, she has put her life at risk and Kit does everything he can to save them both.

A page turner. Written from different perspectives, in this situation we are reminded to listen to both sides of a story before making judgement. Sometimes things are not what they seem and this book gripped me as I sat waiting to find out what happens at every turn. 

I would definitely recommend this book to others who want something thrilling to read with an unexpected ending.

Written by Ling Lee (31/08/17).

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The Secret of Spellshadow Manor by Bella Forrest (Book Review #126)

I rate this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 26/08/17

My 19th book this year)

Spellshadow Manor, a school for ONLY those with magic in them. But those who are brought in by Finder are unwillingly enrolled. Once you are in the school grounds there is no way out. You must graduate or challenge a teacher and take their place among the members of Spellshadow Manor. Even graduation is a daunting thought. Every pupil who has tried to escape, or graduated, or taken from class, have never been seen again nor ever mentioned again. 

Natalie and Alex have ended up here. Alex cannot seem to muster up even a spark of magic but he is in class and must find a way to do something, anything. Whilst they struggle to keep up appearances and secretly plan their next to impossible escape, they make friends and adapt to their situation.

No one knows how to get out. But strange things have been seen and interesting things have been told. One of their friendship group is nearing graduation date, they are all desperate to find answers or the way out of SpellShadow Manor, alive.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I heard this was the next Harry Potter. Not even close. The ending was the only part of the book that got me excited to find out what’s next. 

I found this book quite dull. The ideas behind the story and the contents sound promising but somehow the whole book lacked excitement, intrigue and felt boring to read. I kept waiting for the “awesome” scene(s) but was hit with disappointment. Not enough depth and detail. 

I am willing to give book 2 of the series a chance, but I am not bursting with excitement. Nothing much to remember or to retell about this novel. Apologies to the author for not appreciating this book, but the 2nd in the series seems to be interesting so let’s see what happens next.

Written by Ling Lee (28/08/17).

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You by Caroline Kepnes (Book Review #125)

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 30/07/17

My 18th book this year)

Joe has a very disturbed mind. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. He has found the one. Guinevere Beck, she stops by the bookstore where he works. From this day on he decides he wants her and will stop at nothing to make her belong to him, forever. 

Ms Beck loves attention, loves to share her life online, on Facebook, email, twitter. Joe has all the means to find out literally everything about her. He stalks her every move until he by “chance” bumps into her and merges their lives in his twisted mind.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I really enjoyed this book but most of it felt “off”. I get how Joe is disturbed and how he believes nothing is his own fault. But then Beck falls for every step of his plan. Surely a supposedly normal girl would have a better “danger radar”. 

It was odd to know Joe’s every thought and plan. To anticipate how the outcome would be and for him to justify to himself how it is always someone else at fault when things go askew. 

I did get the thrill of needing to find out what happens next, but everything happened too smoothly. It would have been amazing if there had been more obstacles in his way and more difficult solutions. 

The ending was nothing like how I expected. I don’t know what to think of it. But I guess it makes sense as it give the author an opportunity for book 2. A brilliant book from a stalkers mind, but nothing else was particularly stunning. 

Written by Ling Lee (30/07/17)

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Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (Book Review #124)

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 24/07/17

My 17th book this year)

Grace and Jack, the perfect couple, a picture of wealth, intelligence, wit and many talents. Along comes the friends who are envious of their blissful romance and devotion to one another. Hosting dinner parties, home catered by the wonderful Grace, going on amazing holidays abroad. Is there really such thing as such perfection in any relationship? 

There’s a whole other story once the doors are closed and the rest of the world can no longer see. Grace’s life isn’t so picture perfect after all…
***SPOILER ALERT***

I found this book gripped me from about midway. I stayed up until 2.30am just to find out how it ends. The ending felt justified and acceptable and somehow made the story great. 

I would definitely recommend this book to others. Different scenes from the story kept popping into my mind and I felt some of Grace’s anxiety, fear and despair. 

It’s best not to read much into the reviews for this one and just dive right in to the book. It is so much more thrilling to have absolutely no idea what to expect. I love Jack’s intuitive mind and absolute mad obsession and enjoyment of fear. 

It’s strange how much a person can cope with in order to protect a loved one. Poor Grace, it was thrilling at every turn and every attempt at escape.

Written by Ling Lee (24/07/17).

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Venom by Fiona Paul (Book Review #123)

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 20/07/17

My 16th book this year)

Cassandra, one of the lucky elite young women, already engaged to marry a wealthy young gentleman, Lucas. Showered with luxuries, jewellery, maids and much more, everything except the freedom to follow her heart.

The streets and waters of Venice are full of beauty and mystery. Night brings secrecy, a world of courtesans, young women are found missing, some are waiting to be found.

Cassandra finds herself drawn into Falco’s world. A common artist full of secrets of his own. Appearing in the most unexpected places and capturing Cassandra’s heart. She finds herself torn between following her heart, or following the rules set out for their society, and being true to her fiancĂ©, Lucas.

***SPOILER ALERT***

This is the 1st book of the “Secrets of the Eternal Rose” series. Cassandra has always bent the rules and has been “different” to the other young women of Venice. She is a strong and curious character, full of fire and fight in her, she is determined to do the right thing when she discovers a dead body. But then Falco appears and turns her world upside down, showing her excitement and giving her the feel for freedom, all at the pretense of helping to discover who the murderer is.

I love the relationship between Falco and Cassandra, the pull of attraction but the uncertainties of how they feel for one another and what is expected of them from society.

Luca, Cassandra’s fiancĂ© is a whole different story. Bland and boring but then he makes an appearance in the book and turns out to be completely different to what we as the reader have been led to believe.

I love the descriptions of the landscape, the luxuries of their world and the mysterious nature of the book.

Something didn’t feel right when Lucas suddenly appears and the book just takes a tumble, it felt like a whole different story and a forced end to this wonderful 1st book of the series. I am very much intending to read book 2 yet I’m not bursting with excitement to recommend this book to other readers.

Written by Ling Lee (20/07/17).

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Book Review #122)

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 04/07/17

My 15th book this year.)
Cath lives in the world that we know as Wonderland. She is known for her delicious baked treats and also for being the daughter of the Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove. Having captured the interest of the King of Hearts she must choose between her dream of owning a bakery or to become the Queen of Hearts (every girls dream except her own). 

The King wants his Queen, but Cath’s eyes have wandered onto a very unlikely character, Jest the Joker. She battles her emotions and doesn’t know if she should follow her head or her heart. She wants the opposite of what everyone expects from her and life just keeps getting more complicated.

With magnificent characters brought to life, full of attitude, emotion, unexpected turns, malice, dishonesty, beauty and wonder, this book is a glimpse into “Alice’s Wonderland”. 
***SPOILER ALERT***

I absolutely loved this plot. Quite the unexpected ending which left much disappointment, but putting the ending aside, this book was full of life. 

Heartless made “Alice in Wonderland” all that much better. We get to know many characters such as the Mad Hatter, Jest the Joker, the Raven and many more. The first half of the book was magical and wonderful as we are pulled through wonderland, but then things began to change. The ending was too abrupt but it made sense as to the title of the book. 

I wish for the perfect fairytale ending and I kept believing it was going to happen. Even with what i saw as flaws, this book is well worth reading. I wish there was a follow on for this book. 

Written by Ling Lee (04/07/17).

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