A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle (Book Review #168)

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 31/03/18

My 24th book this year)

Meg, her brothers and mother have been waiting for their father to return from a “special” job. Nobody knows anything, just that he lost all forms of communication and hope is all they have to hold on to.

Her younger brother Charles Wallace has the ability to read her mind and has a strange way of understanding everything in the world. He knows about Mrs Who, Mrs Which and Mrs Whatsit. The 3 ladies know where their father is. They are all waiting for the right time and place to save him… in another dimension.

***SPOILER ALERT***

An unexpectedly short story. Strange. I didn’t know what to expect and was nicely surprised at the other dimensions travelled via the wrinkle in time.

I didn’t like how the story abruptly ended and had such a simple solution.

I enjoyed the glimpses into other possible dimensions. Anything and anyone can be out there. I have an open mind to all ideas and I found this quite interesting. I didn’t like how IT was, how the darkness was.

I don’t think I could recommend this book. But I am still interested to see what the movie version has to offer. In saying that, I am considering book 2 of the series.

Written by Ling Lee (31/03/18).

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A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (Book Review #167)

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 29/03/18

My 23rd book this year).

Kinsey is a private investigator. Hired by Nikki who is on parole for killing her husband. Nikki claims she didn’t do it. But she wants to know who did.

There are exes, children, friends, co workers, Kinsey needs to narrow down the list and listen to her gut instincts.

She soon gets roped in and then a body appears. A body who could have had useful information for her. It could also be coincidence. Kinsey isn’t going to quit on the job, even when she begins to fear her findings and worry for her safety. She just wants the truth, but what is the truth going to cost her?

***SPOILER ALERT***

Very pleasantly surprised at this 1st book of the Kinsey Millhone Series. Minimal violence and gore in a book involving crime and murder. I really appreciate the way the story unravelled. Without the need for sudden flips in the story. I loved the flow and pace. I loved how all the loose ends were tied up. I love the ending the most. I realised I was actually holding my breath just before the epilogue. What a great end to an easy to read crime story.

I liked how we were introduced to the characters. I felt their characters through the pages. I can’t say I liked Kinsey’s character but the book worked.

I would definitely recommend this book and series to other readers. I am very much looking forward to picking up the 2nd book of the series and I am excited to know there are many more books to read.

Written by Ling Lee (29/03/18).

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The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor (Book Review #166)

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 26/03/18

My 22nd book this year)

Eddie is twelve. In 1986, Eddie and his best friends Gav, Nicky, Hoppo and Mickey hang out and play outdoors like most youngsters do.

They come across a secret code for one another with the use of chalk and stick men drawings. It was all fun and games until their messages led to a dismembered dead girls’ body.

As all news eventually fades, this story is soon forgotten about. Life moves on, they all grow up and some are no longer in town. Then 30 years later, one of the gang receives a stickman drawing through the post with an unpleasant message. One of them suddenly wants to meet up after over a decade without communicating. He comes back with a message for Eddie. “I know who killed her.”

More stick men drawings appear. Eddie isn’t the only one getting these messages. None of the gang know where these messages are coming from but they know something sinister is catching up with them.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Firstly, wow, to the vivid and violent images scattered throughout the book. It felt like a really bad situation had been caught on camera, a still picture, the author decidedly focusing on this moment in time to describe in too much detail, the gore, the blood, the broken human body. Very unexpected and unpleasant for me but it might be what others enjoyed about this book.

The plot sounded great. I wish there was more history to the chalk drawings. How they came up with their secret codes, what they tried out when they first used the code.

I didn’t like how most of the gang had something terrible happen to them. The twists were quite extreme and some scenes were unnecessary for this story… the scene at the park with Sean and Eddie. So disturbing. It should definitely be changed for a different scene.

The characters were all odd. I didn’t connect with any of them, nor did I like any of them.

The best part of the story was the prologue. Quick, to the point, precise and totally gripping, but it slowly unravelled into not quite what I had hoped for.

Yes, I would still recommend this book. As for reading more by this author… probably not.

Written by Ling Lee (26/03/18).

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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Book Review #165)

I rate this book 1.5 out of 5 stars.

(Finished Reading: 21/03/18

My 21st book this year)

This book is about the Buendia Family whose patriarch founded the village of Maconda. Maconda is in the middle of nowhere, isolated yet the village continues to grow. The Buendia Family grows with it and then life is lived much like in the olden days. Many generations unfold within the story as love and loss is told in a flow of images that have helped nourish Maconda and its residents.

***SPOILER ALERT***

There really is very little to talk about after painstakingly finally reaching the end of this story. I absolutely hated the majority of this book. The characters throughout each generation had the same names which made it extremely confusing.

I think the basis for this story is love and loss. The difficulties that every family face behind closed doors. Good and bad characters stem from anywhere no matter your upbringing.

The only part I enjoyed was the introduction to the story when the first Buendia man’s son glimpses the travelling gypsies. Where the mysteries of the outside world are intriguing and interesting to their remote village of seclusion.

Throughout most of the book I felt the urge to just put the book down and to stop wasting time. The language and translation left me feeling calm and peaceful but the storyline itself just didn’t work for me. Apologies to the author and for other fans of this book, I guess I just don’t know how to appreciate the classics yet. I definitely cannot recommend this book to other readers and I think I wont be picking up another classic for a while.

Written by Ling Lee (21/03/18).

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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.

***SPOILER ALERT***

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.

***SPOILER ALERT***

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.

***SPOILER ALERT***

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.

***SPOILER ALERT***

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.

***SPOILER ALERT***

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?

***SPOILER ALERT***

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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