Matched by Ally Condie (Book Review #164)

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 07/03/18

My 20th book this year)

Society has rules for every aspect of life, every choice, every step, how well you respond and react to things are recorded and when you turn 17, you are “matched” with your best possible partner across the provinces. For a better future, a better community, the best results, the best predicted outcomes for every individual.

Cassia is paired with Xander, her best friend since forever, such a rare outcome for people from the same province to be paired. But still, just like all the other matches, they both get a microchip filled with everything about themselves for their pair to know. Cassia’s microchip seems to have a problem, more than once face appears on hers. She knows the other face as well. She knows Ky. These types of mistakes almost never happen. Now Cassia is unsure if her match is perfect after all, because people usually only see one perfect image.

Cassia’s life seems to entwine with both Xander and Ky. Her heart is confused. She knows Xander is her perfect match, but she wonders about Ky. She begins to doubt society and its rules. The way it controls every aspect of life, up to and including the death of each individual when they turn 80 years of age.

Cassia needs to sort herself out. Follow the rules and continue the way she is supposed to live, or rebel, break the rules and lose everything and everyone she cares for.


I love dystopian societies, I love the way life could have turned out completely different to how we live now. People DO follow rules, people also break rules, but to what extent can people be controlled in life?

This book made me stop and think. Dying on your 80th birthday. Knowing it is your last day, being able to live a healthy lifestyle up until this day, being able to prepare to say goodbye to loved ones. Is it better than not knowing?

Having your partner chosen for you according to statistics. Your perfect match. You are told who to be with, your meals are made up for you depending on what nutrients your body requires. Your job is chosen for you, all you do is listen and follow instructions. But is this really a life worth living? Having no actual choices in what you do, how to feel, how to behave.

This novels’ biggest fault was how easy it was for Cassia to have feelings for Ky, just by seeing his face appear on screen. I would have preferred a more elaborate way for them to have feelings for one another. Then Xander and his reactions were too docile.

I would recommend this book to others, but no with great enthusiasm. I am very much willing to read book two of the series, so I guess this was a job well done for Ally Condie.

Written by Ling Lee (07/03/18).

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Variant by Robison Wells (Book Review #163)

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 05/03/18

My 19th book this year)

Benson Fisher has been in and out of foster care, but all of a sudden he’s been offered a scholarship to a private school. With his erratic lifestyle, lack of friends and family he accepts.

Upon arrival he hopes his life may change for the better. Yet as soon as he gets on site he begins to realise things aren’t what he had hoped. The teachers are nowhere to be seen, the students run the school. Lessons are nothing like normal schools, seemingly random and useless. Students get punished for not following the school rules. If you try to escape you go to detention which essentially means death, because every student who has been to detention have never been seen again.

Benson needs to survive, needs to find out what is going on, needs to get out of here without getting taken to detention. All he can find out from the others is that this school must be part of some experiment but no one can work out what for or why.


The first half of this book was everything that I was hoping for. Being thrown into some sort of experiment without any easy way out. Learning to survive and to form bonds to aid his plans for escape. Violence, trust issues, fear, gangs, then friendships. Then all of a sudden the book hits an almighty turn and the whole concept of this story is completely thrown off track.

I absolutely hated the turn in the story. Up until that point, I was deeply drawn into the plot and was excited to keep reading. Then I felt angered that such a promising book could be ruined with this newly revealed secret.

I enjoyed seeing Benson develop friendships. But the gangs didn’t work in my opinion. I get that this is all about the experiment, but then if you are not picking faults, the first part of the book was great reading material for those dystopia lovers.

I’m torn on my rating. I would have given a much higher rating if the twist turned out differently. But the first half of the story worked so well I couldn’t bring myself to give less than a 3 star rating. I guess I have no choice but to read book 2 of the series just to find out how this all ends. I wont be recommending this series but I still want to find out the outcome.

Written by Ling Lee (05/03/18)

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The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (Book Review #162)

I rate this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 01/03/18

My 18th book this year)

Anna Fox has Agoraphobia, which leaves her housebound and very much afraid of the outside world. She cannot step out of the house without feeling extreme anxiety and fear, she can’t even open her windows.

She spends her time watching the neighbours, she knows their daily routines. Then one family move out and a new family move in. As always, she watches them intently until she sees something horrific and reports it. But Anna is an alcoholic, she is also taking many drugs that can cause hallucinations and many other side effects. No one believes her story, but Anna is sure what she saw was real and she wont just let it be. She fights to prove what she saw was real, against all the odds and no body to support her she will not give up.


Wow this book was terribly slow going. The first 40% was a complete waste of time. The so called scene setting was bland, boring and completely unnecessarily dragged out. Then we get to the story, the main part is still told in an unexciting tone.

But the twist… I can’t say that I liked it because it was absolutely out of the blue. I guess the final 10% was the only part worth reading. I cannot possibly recommend this book to other readers. I have no idea how it is rated so highly and is one of the so called top suspense books of 2018. Many apologies to the author for not being able to appreciate your efforts, but this book was a disaster for me. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

Written by Ling Lee (01/03/18).

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Book Review #161)

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 26/02/18

My 17th book this year)

Thomas wakes up and has no idea where he is. He knows his name is Thomas, everything else is a blur, no clear memories, no people in his life, no recollection of family or home. He is surrounded by many boys, mostly in their teens. Most of them aren’t exactly welcoming or friendly, neither do they answer his many questions of his location and reason for being there.

Thomas soon realises this will be his new homestead. He must find a way to fit in and survive, just like all the others. They live inside a huge maze. They need to find a way out. Some have been there for two years and have found no clues as to where the exit may be.

Thomas has new ideas. Thomas has gut instincts of what to do, maybe he’s been here before. But his mind is blank and all he can do is gather information from the others and to try to make the most of his situation.

The maze is awful. With deadly creatures called Grievers roaming the passageways, the maze runners try everyday to find new clues and changes in the maze to help aid their escape. They must find their way back to homestead each evening before the enormous stone doors close up for the night keeping them safe and captive overnight from the deadly Grievers attacks.

Since Thomas has arrived, the routine and precision of the events in the maze change drastically. The others don’t know whether it is a good or bad sign. Many are wary of Thomas, but some soon think he may be able to help them solve the maze once and for all.


I thought this plot was absolutely captivating and amazing, yet the execution of the characters and the story itself was a bit of a let down.

I really enjoyed this, but that is probably due to my weakness for all dystopian novels. I love the uniqueness, the creativity and the possibilities of what could become our future. If you can focus on the story rather than the flaws, you will enjoy the flow of the book. The excitement and the suspense at each turn of the page.

The characters were rather bland and not much relatable to. Chuck is the sweetest character. Everything that happened to Thomas just seemed too coincidental and too easy considering how the others have been trapped for such a long time and he appears and just knows what to do.

Telepathy in this book really ruined the story because it seems totally irrelevant and unnecessary. So I guess this is where other readers have made the most criticism. However the plot itself was enough for me to give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.

I absolutely hated the Grievers. There should have been more of a variety of obstacles to cross and more monsters to deal with. It felt like the author couldn’t decide whether to write this book for young teens or a slightly older audience. The violence is too much for young teens, yet the way the story unfolds suggests a younger audience.

I love the idea of the maze, the moving walls, the unknown outside of the walls, the possible dangers, the life threatening possibilities, the hope and the need for survival. I would recommend this book to other readers and I am very much willing to give book 2 a read. I don’t think this book deserved it’s low reviews of under 3 stars, but many people like to criticise rather than to appreciate with an open mind, the authors version of a new world.

Written by Ling Lee (27/02/18).

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After the Lie by Kerry Fisher (Book Review #160)

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 24/02/18

My 16th book this year)

Lydia has kept a secret since she was 13. She’s now married with two children and a good husband, but still she keeps her secret, her lie. She thinks it can be kept in the dark forever.

All of a sudden, the one who knows her secrets just appears and settles right into their lives and she has no way to avoid it. She tries harder than ever to keep her secret buried but somehow the truth always gets out. Chaos is brought upon all those involved. Now they just need to decide between them how best to let the darkness go and to make the most of what their present and futures have to offer.

So much love, so much deceit, a rollercoaster of emotions and the strength to hold on.


The lie itself wasn’t “big” enough to be the secret of the story. That’s what didn’t work for me. I guess it depends on what generation you grew up in and how open minded you are as a person. But I didn’t think this was the sort of secret that cannot be shared with a spouse.

Setting aside my main problem, the book itself was lovely to read. I enjoyed the flow and style of Kerry Fishers’ words. I found myself smiling at the “naughty” dogs antics, rolling my eyes at the teenagers responses, feeling the tension when Lydia’s mother opens her mouth at every turn in the book. I guess it’s all about parents trying to do what they think is best for their children, but ultimately it may not turn out to have the best outcome.

Not a special book, but something easy to read. I wouldn’t recommend this book with much enthusiasm yet nor would I tell anyone it wasn’t worth the time. Depending on my mood, I would probably give another one of her books a read sometime.

Written by Ling Lee (24/02/18).

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks (Book Review #159)

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 20/02/18

My 15th book this year)

Vanessa is still obsessed with her ex-husband. He blames her for the breakdown of their marriage, but he was the one who fell for Emma. Vanessa can’t seem to stay away from her replacement. She likes to watch what she does, stalk her, harass her. She keeps telling Emma bad things about her ex-husband and now everyone involved just thinks Vanessa has lost her mind and cannot let go.

There is a much deeper and darker story behind what seems obvious. Many secrets are told, but who is telling the truth and who has twisted the truth?


Not even close to what I expected from this book. Such hype about this being one of the books of 2018, yet I found the deep dark secrets not very inspiring.

I get how Vanessa feels, I get how she would become somewhat obsessed with how, why and who is “better” than her. I understand how she becomes irrational when she remembers all the goodness from their past. But then the twist completed spoilt the book. I would have preferred a straightforward book with a less complicated ending. Not all books need a twist and then another twist to make it successful. I think the author tried too hard and ending up spoiling what could have been a much better novel in a much simpler story.

Disappointed in this book. Disappointed by the characters but it wasn’t all a waste of time. Apologies to the author but I do not agree with the majority on this one. I wouldn’t recommend this book to others nor would I advise them not to give it a go.

Written by Ling Lee (20/02/18).

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Book Review #158)

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 14/02/18

My 14th book this year)

Daniel is introduced to the “Cemetery of forgotten books”. His father tells him it is a secret that he must keep to himself. He must also choose a book and vow to keep it safe so that it will never be lost forever. Daniel comes across a book by Julian Carax. The next person he shares the name of the book with immediately offers him a nice sum for the book. Daniel decides he wants the book for himself. He gets lost in the story and becomes fascinated with Mr Carax. Over time Daniel finds out there is someone out there destroying other copies of this book. Daniel is determined to find out why, even when his life is threatened by the uncovering of this story.

As we watch Daniel become a teenager, then mature into adulthood, we live through his awkward encounters with a girl much older than him and how his heart gets broken. He then spends his spare time fixated on Mr Carax and his complicated story.


I can’t say that I fell for this story as much as other readers have. I didn’t get the image of the beautiful city of Barcelona. I didn’t feel the excitement as the story was told, but I still somehow enjoyed the book.

The story itself was interesting but it took a while for me to realise what the story was really about. I loved the twist in the story when we learn the truth about Julian Carax.

I absolutely adored Fermin. The beggar who was given a second chance in life. His friendship with Daniel and his dedication in helping Daniel with his mission to uncover the truth about Carax.

I didn’t get the “wow” feeling. However I felt the pull of wanting to uncover the story. I don’t think I would recommend the story to others, but if someone asked if it’s worth reading I would tell them “yes” but not in a hurry. Not my usual choice of book, but I picked it up because of its’ rating and because of its’ mention on many book lists.

Written by Ling Lee (14/02/18).

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Heartsick by Chelsea Cain (Book Review #157)

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 07/02/18

My 13th book this year)

Archie Sheridan, detective on the “Beauty Serial Killer” case for almost a decade was captured and tortured for 10 days by hers truly, Gretchen. Brutal, violent, twisted, she is great at psychological destruction. She changes her mind, instead of killing him like all the others, she calls 911 and turns herself in, to save his life.

Archie is so mentally broken that he can’t just let go. She still holds control over him from prison as she makes a deal to give up names and locations of other bodies, only if Archie comes to see her. 200 bodies. If they want to uncover them, then Archie must hold himself together, see her again and remain mentally stable.


Gripping, compelling and totally twisted read. One of the more detailed and gory reads of this category. Extremely disturbed killer who happens to be a beauty. Using this to her advantage, manipulating her “lovers” to help her commit these horrendous murders. She enjoys the torture and enjoys the slow deaths even more.

Archie is still disturbed by his 10 day imprisonment, yet he is asked to come back onto the team to help uncover another serial killer. It just didn’t seem plausible when we se events through his eyes. He is no longer mentally stable. I would have preferred to find out more about Archie at a much earlier stage in this book.

Otherwise this book was absolutely thrilling. I desperately wanted to know what happened when Archie was in Gretchen’s hands. Beyond twisted. Made me wonder whether this kind of killer exists in our real world. How scary would that be? The relief in remembering this book was fictional, a big deep breath is taken at this realisation. No such killer is out there.

I would definitely recommend this author and book to other readers. Great read, I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Written by Ling Lee (07/02/18).

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Book Review #156)

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 05/02/18

My 12th book this year)

Jason has a beautiful family and is proud of where he is in life. Daniela, gave up the chance of being an infamous artist to build a family with Jason, leading to their wonderful son Charlie. Jason thinks about “what if” sometimes, when he dwells on the possibilities of his career if he had continued on the route of metaphysics.

Like any other ordinary day he carries on in life, then all of a sudden everything he knows in life is taken from him as he is chased, beaten and knocked unconscious. When he finally wakes up he cannot distinguish between reality and a complete nightmare that he has fallen into. He is greeted by an amazing team of people who are somehow part of him, then he realises the most important people in his life no longer even know who he is. Daniela thinks he is a stranger and Charlie doesn’t even exist. Jason cannot tell is he has lost his mind or just lost his way in life. All he knows is he is desperate to have his normal life back with all its good and bad.


What a complex concept. The first time I have picked up a book in regards to this subject. Strangely complicated yet somehow the idea seems to be plausible.

I absolutely loved all the possibilities and outcomes that we shared in Jason’s multiverses. The “what ifs” in life and the ultimate knowing that you might be able to have a perfect life, but it’s not your life if your didn’t take every step of your past to get there.

An absolutely stunning book that held my attention every step of the way until the epic finale. Aside from this the novel in itself was enough to make up for it. I am very much looking forward to another version of a parallel universe. This book by Blake Crouch has definitely caught my attention on this complicated subject. I will definitely be recommending this book to other readers.

I am restless as to what book to start on next as the last 2 books I have chosen have been amazing. Fingers crossed I will pick up another 5* to add to my list.

Written by Ling Lee (05/02/18).

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Book Review #155)

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 01/02/18

My 11th book this year)

2045, the world is running out of renewable resources, the cities, towns, everything within the world is crumbling and living conditions are slowly deteriorating.

Everyone now escapes reality, spending most of their waking hours in the realm of virtual reality (VR). Where anything and everything can happen. You can be renamed, with a new identity, you build your own living space, you go to any place within this realm so long as you have accumulated enough game credits which are the equivalent of money in real life.

Living in bliss where surreal life replaces your everyday problems and lets you escape to wherever your imagination leads you.

The realm of VR has a secret that people have been trying to solve since the maker of the game died. For years people have tried without success until one gamer finally cracks the first code. Now the world believes the secret is real and they fight to the death both in game and in real life to reach a mysterious egg that has been planted within the game that leads to the ultimate unknown prize.


What an incredible read. I fell for this novel and I fell straight into the story. I wanted to be one of the gamers. To experience VR MMO. Such a unique insight into the world of gaming. I wish I were born a decade earlier to appreciate the other game references and consoles. At a point in my past, I also loved to play online games. Not to the extent of those in this story but gaming was such an enjoyable way to escape the stress of everyday life. But to be in virtual reality and spending all your waking hours doing literally anything you wanted just feels too good to be true.

You understand how the future of Earth is deteriorating and will eventually get to the moments in this novel, then you put yourself in their place, you would need to escape reality.

I felt the suspense as the codes slowly unravelled. I felt the stress of competing for the ultimate prize. I hated the baddies and I understood how the gamers could no longer face the reality of being out in the open air, to see real people, to talk to real people. In game, people only see what you want them to see, you can be whoever you choose to be. I always wondered if such a thing might happen in the future. This book allowed me to take a glimpse into living life in VR.

The only part of the book that I didn’t enjoy was the scene just before the third gate. Then I am pretty sure it is because I have never really appreciated the robot and transformer type games. I hope maybe this book can be rewritten one day for my decade of gaming so I can enjoy this novel all over again.

A very intriguing read. I have never read anything like it and had no idea what to expect. Just go get a copy and read it! I have already recommended this book to others even before I got halfway through. Well done to Ernest Cline. Thank you for sharing your imagination with us readers.

Written by Ling Lee (01/02/18).

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