Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris

No. of pages: 295
Rating: 9/10
Series: Harper Connelly (Book 2)

Synopsis: Harper is summoned to Memphis to demonstrate her unique talent, but there are still plenty of sceptics, even as Harper stands atop a grave and announces there are two bodies buried there. The police are convinced there's something fishy going on when the grave is opened to reveal the centuries-dead remains of a man, which they'd expected (that being his grave, after all) and a dead girl, which no one expected - except Harper, of course. And suspicions are raised even further because Harper had failed to find eleven-year-old Tabitha Morgenstern when she was abducted two years before. Harper and Tolliver need to find the real killer to prove Harper's innocence, especially after their nocturnal visit to the cemetery in hopes that Harper can sense something more is followed by the discovery, the following morning, of a third dead body in the grave . . .

Review: I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as I did Grave Sight, but it was still very good. Harper and Tolliver go to Memphis to show a University class her talent in an old graveyard, but when she steps onto a grave and finds not one, but two bodies buried there she's confused. Then she realises that the newer body is that of 11 year old Tabitha Morgenstern, an abducted girl who she failed to find the year before and she becomes suspicious. It couldn't possibly be a coincidence...could it?

The story was a little slower going in this book I felt, and so that's why I gave it a 4.5/5, but it was still really enjoyable to read. It was interesting to watch Harper and Tolliver's relationship develop and change, and I'm curious to see where that goes futher in the series. I enjoyed trying to guess who the murderer was, and thought the ending was written well even though I had figured most of it out. If you enjoyed the first book, you'll definitely enjoy this one too, it's a great series to read.

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

No. of pages: 263
Rating: 10/10
Series: Harper Connelly (Book 1)

Synopsis: Harper Connelly had a lucky escape when she was hit by lightning: she didn't die. But sometimes she wishes she had died, because the lightning strike left her with an unusual talent: she can find dead people - and that's not always comfortable. Everyone wants to know how she does it: it's a little like hearing a bee droning inside her head, or maybe the pop of a Geiger counter, a persistent, irregular noise that increases in strength as she gets closer. It's almost electric: a buzzing all through her body, and the fresher the corpse, the more intense the buzz. Harper and her brother Tolliver make their living from finding the dead, for desperate parents, worried friends . . . and police departments who have nowhere else to look. They may not believe in her abilities, but sometimes the proof is just too much for even the most sceptical of police chiefs to deny. But it's not always easy for someone like Harper, for the dead *want* to be found - and too often, finding the body doesn't bring closure; it opens a whole new can of worms.

Review: This is the first book I've read by Charlaine Harris, and what a great introduction to someone who I'm sure will become a favourite. I love her style of writing, it's so easy to read, but it keeps you gripped throughout. Harper and Tolliver are great characters, and you feel like you really get to know them during the book. Harper was hit with lightening when she was 15, and since then, she's been able to sense dead bodies and tell what they died from. So she and Tolliver, her brother, travel around the country tracking missing people, for a fee of course. When they go to the Ozarks to find a missing, but believed dead, teenage girl for the county officials, it's just another job...until they get accused of murder. As a result, Harper goes on a mission to find out what's really happening in this small town, with some shocking results.

The story was great, and I couldn't put the book down, not even to go to sleep. Harper's talent is interesting to read about, as is the story Charlaine weaves through the book. I loved the relationship between Harper and Tolliver, and thought it was written really well. I guessed a little of the ending, but was plenty surprised by some of it too. I would really recommend this, it's very enjoyable. I will definitely be finishing the rest of this series and can't wait to get my hands on the Sookie Stackhouse series by the same author also.

Touching Evil by Kay Hooper

No. of pages: 358
Rating: 10/10
Series: Evil Trilogy (Book 1)
Special Crimes Unit (Book 4)

Synopsis: Sometimes evil lingers so close, you can feel it....

Seattle police sketch artist Maggie Barnes has an extraordinary gift. She listens as traumatized crime victims describe their ordeals — and then uses those horrifying recollections to draw dead-on sketches of the assailants. Some cops think Maggie is telepathic, that she can actually enter the victims’ minds. Only Maggie knows the truth behind her rare talent ... and she isn’t telling. But her secret may be exposed when a madman seizes Seattle in his terrifying grip. He abducts women and blinds them, leaving them barely alive. The police have one hope: the lone victim who might recover her sight. But they don’t know that Maggie has her own dark connection to the monster — an eerie link that may stretch back to a string of unsolved murders. To stop the escalating terror, Maggie will have to push her abilities to the breaking point — even if it means confronting a predator whose powers seem to have no bounds....

Review: This is a really great thriller book, I've read it several times now and enjoy it every time. Maggie is a police sketch artist with a special talent, and when women start being viciously attacked, raped and blinded, she feels it's her duty to stop the evil that's doing it...even if she has to sacrifice herself. The characters are very well written, and you really feel like you get to know them and their motivations for doing what they do throughout the book.

The story kicks off right from the very first page, and keeps going every step of the way throughout. The attacks are pretty violent, and Kay manages to write them very well. I also really enjoyed the paranormal aspect, and thought it fit in well with the story. Although part of a trilogy within a series, each book can be read independently as it's the paranormal unit that connects the books rather than the same characters everytime. Kay Hooper writes her books in sets of 3 within the general series of the Special Crime Unit books and the titles are connected in each trilogy. The Evil trilogy is the only set of books I've read, but I'm hoping to get the Shadow trilogy which is the first 3 books of the Special Crime Unit series. I would definitely recommend these to anyone who likes a fast paced thriller with a paranormal twist throughout.

Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

No. of pages: 280
Rating: 9/10
Series: Heavenly (Book 1)

Synopsis: I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do - I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.

Review: This is the first book I've ever read by Jennifer Laurens and I was blown away by how great it was. The story is mainly about Zoe, she's fed up with her troubled life since her autistic sister Abria was born, and has turned to drink and partying to escape from it all. Then a handsome guy starts popping up around Abria anytime she's in trouble, and Zoe comes to realise she's seeing an angel. She slowly starts falling in love with him, and he with her, but how can they be together when he's an angel, and she's mortal?

I have to admit, this story gripped me from the first page and I couldn't put it down until I was finished with it. The story was realistic, and evolved really well, drawing me in and making me feel for the characters. I enjoyed reading the romance evolving, as well as Zoe growing up and becoming a woman. I'll be honest, I don't believe in heaven or God, so I was a little apprehensive about that aspect of the story, but it was beautifully written and enjoyable to read. I'd really recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA books, you won't regret it, and I can't wait for the follow up book!

The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom

No. of pages: 407
Rating: 1/10

Synopsis: When Conrad Harrison impulse-buys a big old house in Wisconsin, his wife Jo doesn't share his enthusiasm, reluctant at the idea of leaving their LA life - so Conrad is left to set up their new home as she ties up loose ends at work. But Conrad's new purchase is not all that it seems. Soon Conrad is hearing the ghostly wailing of a baby in the night, seeing blood on the floor and being haunted by a woman who looks exactly like Jo. With his wife away, Conrad becomes obsessed by the pregnant girl next door, Nadia, who claims to be a victim of the evil in the house. The crying leads him to a bricked-up body, and the mystery of the Birthing House unravels, pulling in Jo, Nadia and leading Conrad to a nightmarish conclusion...

Review: This is quite simply the worst book I've read in a long time and I would advise people to not waste their money on it! The first third of the book is filled with pointless and quite cringeworthy sex scenes, and a lot of unnecessary swearing. After that it starts to tell the story, which whilst a good premise, just wasn't written well at all and it still had the random sex scenes scattered in. I didn't connect to any of the characters and feel like they changed so dramatically from scene to scene it was not realistic in the slightest. My biggest dislike was the way some of the characters talked, substituting 'dare' for 'there' as the only accented word in a sentence, it was just poor writing in my view. The ending was terrible too, so all I can recommend is to avoid this book at all costs!

Dead Run by Erica Spindler

No. of pages: 466
Rating: 9/10

Synopsis: "I'm in trouble, Liz. I've uncovered something . . . They're watching . . . "

That panicked message on her answering machine is the last time Liz Ames hears from her sister Rachel, pastor of Paradise Christian Church in Key West, Florida. Compelled to uncover the truth about her sister's disappearance, she heads to Key West. Within hours of her arrival a successful banker jumps to his death. Then a teenage girl whom Rachel was counseling is found brutally murdered. The ritualistic style of the killing is hauntingly similar to that used by the notorious "New Testament" serial killer -- now on death row. Could the teen's murder be related to Rachel's disappearance? Is a copycat killer at work? And why do the police refuse to help? For answers, Liz turns to Rick Wells, a former Miami cop who worked the fringes of the "New Testament" investigation. Together they peel away layers of deception to reveal a terrifying adversary -- and the unspeakable evil at the heart of this island paradise.

Review: Erica Spindler really knows how to write mystery thrillers, and she's well known for the twists she throws into her books. Dead Run is no different, the ending is sure to catch you off guard, and I have to admit, I didn't have a clue the murderer was who it was. The story begins with Liz's sister Rachel, a pastor in Key West, going missing. With the police claiming that she must have just got up and left, Liz heads to Key West to try and find out what happened to Rachel. When people suddenly start dying violently, Liz is positive it must be connected to her sister's disappearance, but with the police brushing her off as a crazy woman, she decides to find out for herself what's happening on the Island with a little help from Rick Wells, a local bar owner who used to be a cop. What they stumble into is a deadly satanic game, and when Liz starts getting death threats, she realises how serious it is.

The story was gripping and was full of action right from the first page. She writes fantastically, the story flows so well and is very easy to lose yourself in. The only reason I gave it a 4.5/5 is because I've read other books by Erica and know them to be even better than this one. I would definitely recommend this to Thriller fans, and would also recommend See Jane Die and Copycat, my two favourite books by this author.

Never Say Die by Tess Gerritsen

No. of pages: 277
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: Twenty years after her father's plane crashed in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Willy Jane Maitland was finally tracking his last moves. She recognised the dangers, but her search for the truth about that fateful flight was the only thing that mattered. Closing in on the events of that night, Willy realises that she is investigating secrets that people would kill to protect. And without knowing who to trust, the truth can be far from clear cut...

Review: Before Tess made it big writing her popular Rizzoli/Isles series, she wrote romantic thrillers, and Never Say Die is one of them. It was originally published in 1992 and has been re-released in light of her new found fame. While not as good as her current books, you can definitely recognise her writing, and it's still a good story.

Willy Maitland is searching for her father who died when his plane went down during the war 20 years previously, but when people start dropping dead, she realises there's something that is trying to be covered up. Woven through this is Willy's relationship with Guy Barnard, who insists on helping her, but Willy suspects his motives. Some of the plot is fairly predictable, especially the romance aspect, but the thriller side keeps it moving along nicely and the ending is good. I would say I prefer her newer books which don't have the big romance aspects that the older ones do, but it was still really enjoyable to read, and I'll probably keep picking up her old ones.

Cut by Cathy Glass

No. of pages: 310
Rating: 9/10

Synopsis: Desperate to start a family, Cathy and her husband John volunteer as foster parents, and so begins their relationship with Dawn, a shy and polite thirteen-year-old whom Cathy treats as a daughter. When Cathy discovers she is pregnant with a baby of her own, their lives seems to be complete, but it soon becomes obvious that Dawn is going to be much harder to help than they had first imagined. Cathy awakes in the middle of the night to find Dawn standing over her baby's cot, and a nightmare begins. When Cathy asks Dawn about the scars covering her arms, Dawn insists there is nothing to tell. Cathy slowly discovers the terrible childhood Dawn has had, rejected by her parents, left to fend for herself, then subjected to violent treatment by her relatives. But Cathy soon realizes that Dawn's worst enemy is herself.

Review: This is Cathy's third book, but it's set before the other two, back when they first started fostering whilst trying to start a family of their own. Dawn was their second foster child, and she really opened their eyes to how some children have suffered, and the kind of trouble they get in to trying to relieve what they feel about themselves. I read this in one sitting because the writing style is just so easy and flows through so well, you almost don't realise so much time has passed because you get so engrossed in the book. The story is very sad and you feel for Dawn, but you can't help but admire Cathy and her husband John, because they went through a lot of worry and stress when caring for Dawn, but never gave up on her because they wanted her to be happy. Yet another well written book by Cathy Glass, and I will definitely continue to buy her future releases.

Blood Ties by Sam Hayes

No. of pages: 392
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: January 1992. A baby girl is left alone for a moment. Long enough for a mother to dash into a shop. Long enough for a child to be taken.

Thirteen years later, solicitor Robert Knight's stepdaughter wins a place at a prestigious London school for the gifted. The only puzzle is his wife Erin’s reaction. Why is she so reluctant to let Ruby go? Doesn't she want what's best for her? As Erin grows more evasive, Robert can’t help but feel she has something to hide, and when he stumbles on mysterious letters, he discovers she has been lying to him. Somewhere in his wife’s past lies a secret; a shocking secret that threatens to destroy everything…

Review: I find it incredibly hard to believe this is a debut novel, the writing is just so fantastic! Hayes knows exactly how to lead your thoughts in a certain direction, so you assume that you know how it's going to end, but then shocks you by giving you a completely different ending. The story is gripping right from the very start, and the various secrets that are revealed will stay with you long after you've finished it. I throughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be looking out for her new book, Unspoken.

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

No. of pages: 478
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: When a plot of land is being developed in Vermont against the will of a local Native American tribe, strange things begin to happen - and Ross Wakeman, a paranormal investigator, is asked to get involved. He's a desperate drifter who's taken up ghost hunting in an effort to cross paths again with his fiancee, who died in a car crash eight years ago, but he has yet to experience anything even remotely paranormal. Then Ross meets Lia . . . As a seventy-year-old murder case is reopened, a shocking secret about a crime of passion long past is revealed.

Review: Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors, but I find her books a little hit or miss sometimes. This book was definitely a hit, I thought it was a great book, and read it in 2 sittings because I just couldn't put it down. The story is about Ross, a ghost hunter looking for the spirit of his dead fiancee, he's basically given up on life, but then he stumbles into a situation that reminds him what living is all about. One thing I love about Picoult's books are how she takes numerous seperate stories and somehow threads them all together in the end, and she does that well in this book. A few things were a little predictable, but it doesn't take away from the story in any way.

The only thing that annoyed me slightly in this book, was the character that kept using big words from the dictionary that I didn't have a clue what they meant, and I just thought it was unnecessary really, unless the aim was to have people reading the book alongside a dictionary. But other than that the book was well written, and very easy to read. I enjoyed the supernatural aspect with the ghosts, and I liked how the story flowed well, with regards to the relationships developing. This is definitely one of the better Picoult books, and may just be a close favourite to My Sister's Keeper for me now.

Bringing Down The House: How Six Students Took Vegas For Millions by Ben Mezrich

No. of pages: 293
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: Real-life all too rarely offers stories that are quite as satisfying as fiction. "Bringing Down the House" is one of the exceptions. Cheating in casinos is illegal; and card-counting - making a record of what cards have so far been dealt to enable the player to make some prediction of what cards remain in the deck - is not. But casinos understandably dislike the practice and make every effort to keep card-counters out of their premises. "Bringing Down the House" tells the true story of the most successful scam ever, in which teams of brilliant young mathematicians and physicists won millions of dollars from the casinos of Las Vegas, being drawn in the process into the high-life of drugs, high-spending and sex. "Bringing Down the House" is as readable and as fascinating as "Liar's Poker" or "Barbarians At the Gate", an insight into a closed, excessive and utterly corrupt world.

Review: I really enjoyed this book, it's fast paced and filled with plenty of drama to keep the pages turning. Mezrich's writing style is very casual and easy to read, and he keeps up a good pace through out the book. The story itself has been likened to Ocean's 11 and I can kind of see why, only this actually happened, which made it all the more gripping. I don't think I'd ever have the guts to pull of the stunts that their MIT group did, but they sure got their reward for it, with lots and lots of money. I also think it's amazing how they counted cards, whilst keeping up an act and chatting to people around them, and to do them convincingly, it just seems crazy. There was nothing really that I disliked about the book, I just marked it 4/5 because I've read better things this year, but I'd definitely recommend it, especially to people who have an interest in the Vegas or gambling lifestyle. I'd also recommend the film which is equally as good.

Life On The Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

No. of pages: 226
Rating: 6/10

Synopsis: Mom, I went to the store. See inside the fridge. I watered the plants. I cleaned out Peter's cage. I tidied the sitting room. And the kitchen. And I did the washing up. I'm going to bed. Your live-in servant, Claire. "Life on the Refrigerator Door" is told exclusively through notes exchanged by Claire and her mother, Elizabeth, during the course of a life-altering year. Their story builds to an emotional crescendo when Elizabeth is diagnosed with breast cancer. Stunningly sad but ultimately uplifting, this is a clever, moving, and original portrait of the relationship between a daughter and mother. It is about how we live our lives constantly rushing, and never making time for those we love. It is also an elegy to how much can be said in so few words, if only we made the time to say them.

Review: I liked the style in which this book is written, as notes that have been left between a mother and her teenage daughter on the door of their refrigerator, although it's style makes it a very quick read. Obviously with the book consisting of just small notes, there's no real depth to the story, you don't know enough to become attached to the characters, and that's a shame, because people who are living through a bad situation with cancer could find this book a great comfort if it were more 'story-like'. But I do think there's a moral in this story, that we're so caught up with rushing through life that we never take a second just to slow down and talk to the ones we love, and how it's important to do that before it's too late. It's something I was glad to have read, but probably not something I'll pick up again.

Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman

No. of pages: 283
Rating: 7/10

Synopsis: Jorie and Ethan Ford are a golden couple blessed with an 11-year-old son, Collie, living a decent, quiet life in small-town Massachusetts. Ethan is a pillar of the community--a handsome, good man, whose life revolves around his family, his work as a carpenter and his roles as volunteer fireman and Little League coach. Since he first walked into her home-town, her life and her bed 13 years before, Jorie has never lost the feeling that she is special, singled out by fate to live a charmed life with a man she still desires and a son she adores. And then, on a glorious Monday morning in June, Jorie's fate turns and her life as she knows it is changed. One wonders whether the hand of fate will offer her any kind of salvation and if she can come to terms with the unimaginable.

Kat Williams, Collie's next-door neighbour and best friend is mature beyond her years. In her short life, she has had to cope with the loss of her father, a distant mother and a sister who attracts, and dispenses with, boyfriends as flies to a light, but who has taken to self-mutilation to heal her numbness. Is Kat the only one who can instinctively feel when something, or someone, is wrong? Charlotte, Jorie's best friend since childhood, knows when something is amiss, but her own terrible losses and lack of self-worth cause her to mistrust her feelings and internalise blame.

Review: This is a book that has me torn, I almost gave up on it after a few chapters as the writing style was just so different for me, Hoffman writes so descriptively it's almost enchanting, yet 3 sentences on how beautiful a flower looks is just not for me, yet I decided to push on and I'm glad I did as the story drew me in, almost against my will. The story seemed so real, Jorie not some perfect heroine, but a woman torn about forgiving her husband for the terrible thing he did. The relationships are really put across well, even with such a range of people, issues and emotions. I was very surprised at the ending, I expected it to go in a completely different direction, but after reading it, it was the perfect ending, and you're left feeling glad it ends the way it does.

I gave it a 3.5 because I really disliked the writing style, and it's a shame, because the story is actually a very good one. If there's such a thing as being too descriptive, this is it. I just found it very unnecessary really, it was just too fussy and I felt like it slowed down an already pretty slow moving story. But the characters are really well developed, and like I said the story is a good one, so I would recommend this to people who don't mind lots of descriptive writing.

The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose

No. of pages: 465
Rating: 8/10
Series: The Reincarnationist (Book 1)

Synopsis: This is an epic thriller of secrets, history and murder. In Rome, 2007 AD: Witness to a suicide bombing, Josh Ryder walks away uninjured, but with a terrible gift: flashbacks to a past he doesn't recognise, in centuries he's never lived. When an ancient tomb is uncovered, a priceless relic is stolen. Realising the relic is connected to his strange memories, Ryder sets out to recover it. In Rome, 386 AD: Julius races to the burning Temple of Vesta to rescue one of the last Vestal Virgins, the High Priestess Sabina. So begins a love affair that will span the centuries as Sabina and Julius vow to protect a treasure that holds the secret of the afterlife. But danger is everywhere - in the past and in the present - and there are those who will stop at nothing to reveal the secret that could alter the course of human history forever...

Review: This is the first time I've read anything by this author, and she has a fantastic writing style, she really knows how to draw you into the story right from the first page. The story is fast paced and really interesting to read, flicking between modern day and ancient Rome, as Josh Ryder is experiencing flashbacks to his past life as Julias, a priest who is trying to escape persecution. The whole plot is about reincarnation, and Josh trying to prove it exists. The book switches between the past and the present very well, and it's easy to distinguish which period you're reading, and you become just as attached to Julius and Sabina as you do to Josh, if not more so!

There were two things I disliked about this book though, and that's why I've given it a 4/5. The first thing is the random introduction of another character who has flashbacks partway through the book. She just randomly appears and you almost feel like you've missed how she's a part of the story. The second thing was the ending. I hate it when endings are left open and the storyline is not completely wrapped up. Whilst you find out the full story of Julias and Sabina in the past, the story based in the present is just left open. You don't find out the ending to the biggest plot line, which I found kind of annoying.

So overall, I'd recommend this book if you like fast paced thrillers which flick between different times and storylines, however if like me, you like the story to be completely wrapped up, perhaps this isn't for you.
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