Bad Things by Michael Marshall

No. of pages: 454
Rating: 9/10

Synopsis: A heart-stopping tale of secrets, lies and our culpability in our own misfortunes. On a beautiful summer's afternoon four-year-old Scott Henderson walked out onto a jetty over a lake in Black Ridge, Washington State. He never came back. John Henderson's world ended that day, but three years later he's still alive. Living a life, of sorts. Getting by. Until one night he receives an email from a stranger who claims to know what happened to his little boy. Against his better judgement Henderson returns to Black Ridge, unleashing a terrifying sequence of events that threatens to destroy what remains of everything he once held dear. Bad things don't just happen to other people -- they're waiting round the corner for you too. And when they start to make their way in through the cracks in your life, you won't know until it's far too late...

Review: A gripping storyline that kept me from putting the book down until I had finished it. The day his son Scott went out on to the jetty changed John Henderson's life forever. He manages to continue with some semblence of a life, but really he's just walking the walk. Until the day someone tells him they know what happened to his son. There starts a nightmare John never could have imagined. Keeping you gripped the entire way through and surprising you with the unravelling story every step of the way, John comes to find out the terrible truth behind Black Ridge and its residents.

I enjoyed how this story had three parallel threads that start seperately, but all end up all entwining together, which means the story is fast paced throughout. The main character was lovable, and it was easy to become very attached to him, as well as having good secondary characters too. All were very well written and each aspect of their personalities is slowly revealed through the book, so you understand them more as each situation arises. The story itself was very interesting, and didn't go in the direction I thought it would at all. I changed my guesses on who the bad guy behind it all was throughout, but was surprised when it was finally revealed in the ending. It's a great book to read if you like fast paced thrillers.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

No. of pages: 271
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: Beauty has always been embarrassed by her nickname - she is plain and awkward compared to her two elder sisters, Hope and Grace. But what she lacks in beauty she can perhaps make up for in courage. When their merchant father returns from a failed business trip to the city where they once lived, he tells his daughters a strange tale: how on his way home he lost himself in a winter storm, and stumbled out of it into the summer garden of a magical castle. Innocently he picks a rose, and a fearsome Beast roars at him that his life is forfeit . . . unless one of his daughters will take his place. He will not hear of it when Beauty declares that she will return to the castle in his stead, but she is determined to go. 'He cannot be so bad if he loves roses so much', she says. 'Cannot a Beast be tamed?' This is a captivating retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast.

Review: A beautifully written take on the classic story Beauty and the Beast. When Beauty's dad gets lost in a storm, he stumbles upon a grand castle that gives him shelter, but as he leaves the next morning, he can't help but pick a beautiful rose for his daughter. A furious Beast confronts him, and tells him his life is now forfeit, but as the elderly man begs for his life, the Beast tells him he can sacrifice one of his daughters in his stead if he so wishes. Beauty insists upon being the one to go to the castle, but doesn't expect what is waiting for her there. Can the Beast really be tamed?

I was really looking forward to reading this as Beauty and the Beast has been a love of mine since childhood, but it exceeded even my expectations. The language is which it was written perfectly suited the tale, and the 'modern' aspect kept filmly inline with the original story. Some aspects were changed, but it only made the story more interesting and realistic, rather than so fairytale like. It was all around a fantastic book, I didn't dislike one thing about it, so if you're a fan of Beauty and the Beast, then this is definitely something you will enjoy.

Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry

No. of pages: 434
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: 'Stephen Fry is one of the great originals. This autobiography of his first twenty years is a pleasure to read, mixing outrageous acts with sensible opinions in bewildering confusion. That so much outward charm, self-awareness and intellect should exist alongside behaviour that threatened to ruin the lives of innocent victims, noble parents and Fry himself, gives the book a tragic grandeur and lifts it to classic status.' - Financial Times

Review: Moab Is My Washpot follows Stephen Fry through his first 20 years of life. Mostly focusing on his life at boarding school, then following him as he gets himself into deeper and deeper trouble, ending with how he managed to turn his life around and become the well known and adored actor he is now.

Written in a very intelligent manner as you'd expect from such an intelligent man, this book gives you a huge insight into his past and what made him the man he is today. I didn't know much about Stephen Fry's past before reading this, and was quite surprised to see how frank he had been about everything that happened to him. There is a lot about his struggling sexuality, his need to steal and his love of knowledge, but you can also feel the confusion of a teenage boy trying to figure out where he belongs in the world. It was incredibly interesting to read, and it took me quite a while to finish as there's just so much to take in from the book. There's a fair amount of sexual references which might bother some people, but I didn't mind it. I'm glad to have caught a small insight into Stephen Fry's life, and it's just made me love him all that much more.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

No. of pages: 754
Rating: 9/10
Series: Twilight Saga (Book 4)

Synopsis: To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs. Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life - first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse - seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed...forever?

Review: This is the other book in the series that had to grow on me, initially I thought it was ridiculous, but now I rather enjoy the story. As Bella graduates school, it's time to face life as an adult and all the decisions that come with that. Things don't quite turn out as anyone expected though...

I hated this the first time I read it, it seemed so incredibly far-fetched and so unlike the other books that it's hard to stomach. But the more I read it the more I can accept the story, though there are still bits I dislike, hence the 4.5/5. The ending in particular annoys me, there's so much build up and then just nothing.

Highlight for spoilers:
Whilst the character is very cute, I cannot stand the name Renesmee, I think it's awful and ruins the flow of the story. Also, I find it silly that she cut out any sexuality, yet had a half-breed baby eating its way out of Bella's stomach as she's dying, again just cannot understand the reasoning behing that. The ending with the Volturi was pointless, why was there so much build up, just to have them walk away?

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

No. of pages: 628
Rating: 10/10
Series: Twilight Saga (Book 3)

Synopsis: 'Bella?' Edward's soft voice came from behind me. I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, and kissed me again. His kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine - like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Review: My favourite book of the series, it has a bit of everything - love, hate, drama, action, and lots of angst. With Bella having to sneak off to see Jake due to Edwards disapproval, things are tense in Forks, which of course is not helped by Victoria's continuing desire to murder Bella in revenge. Things come to a head when Bella is forced to chose, does she want vampire Edward, or werewolf Jacob?

I like how this book is mainly about indecision. Does Bella want to be vampire or human, with Edward or Jake? You really feel how torn Bella feels throughout the book, and you feel her pain once the decision is made. This tends to be the book that divides fans, half want Bella to be with Edward and half with Jake. Whilst I can see how cute Bella and Jake are, I'm definitely in the Bella and Edward camp, they are a great couple.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

No. of pages: 563
Rating: 10/10
Series: Twilight Saga (Book 2)

Synopsis: I stuck my finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape. 'Shoot,' I muttered when the paper sliced my finger. A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut. It all happened very quickly then. 'No!' Edward roared. Dazed and disorientated, I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm - and into the fevered eyes of the six suddenly ravenous vampires. For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of an evil vampire but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realise their troubles may just be beginning...

Review: I really disliked New Moon the first time I read it, but each time I re-read it I enjoy it more. It starts with Bella having an accident, which results in Edward and the Cullen's leaving Forks. After falling to pieces, Bella turns to Jacob Black, and they become firm best friends, until events out of their control make it impossible for them to even talk to each other...

Initially I disliked this book because for most of the story Edward and Cullen's are gone. But the more I read it, the more I enjoy the developing friendship between Bella and Jacob. I also enjoyed finding more out about the residents of La Push, and the life there. Whilst not the best book in the series, it's still enjoyable to read.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

No. of pages: 434
Rating: 10/10
Series: Twilight Saga (Book 1)

Synopsis: When 17 year old Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father she expects that her new life will be as dull as the town. But in spite of her awkward manner and low expectations, she finds that her new classmates are drawn to this pale, dark-haired new girl in town. But not, it seems, the Cullen family. These five adopted brothers and sisters obviously prefer their own company and will make no exception for Bella. Bella is convinced that Edward Cullen in particular hates her, but she feels a strange attraction to him, although his hostility makes her feel almost physically ill. He seems determined to push her away; until, that is, he saves her life from an out of control car. Bella will soon discover that there is a very good reason for Edward's coldness. He, and his family, are vampires; and he knows how dangerous it is for others to get too close.

Review: This was my fifth read through this book, so as is probably obvious, I adore this series. Yes, it's a little cheesy and the writing could have been better in parts, but it's fun and something easy to get in to. Bella moves to Forks to be with her dad after her mum remarries, and finds it hard to settle in a places she hates. But then she meets the mysterious Cullen family and life becomes more interesting for her, although she can't understand why Edward seems to hate her so much. When she discovers his secret, it all falls into place, and they start a relationship, even though some of his family object. But when Bella's life is threatened, Edward can't help but think he should have listened to his family, if only to ensure her safety...

The storyline is fun to read, although realistically a little creepy in places, such as stalker Edward watching Bella sleep, only in a book could that be perceived as romantic! I think the characters are great, and very lovable, especially most of the Cullen family. The romance between Bella and Edward is cute, although can get a little cheesy at times, but I guess that's all part of the fun. The action at the end makes the book more interesting, showing that it's not all roses in Bella and Edward's life. A fun book, enjoyable if you don't treat it as a potential classic, because that it'll never be.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

No. of pages: 533
Rating: 7/10
Series: Millenium Trilogy (Book 1)

Synopsis: Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

Review: I have mixed feelings about this book, some aspects of the story were really good and kept me gripped, others made me want to put it down and never pick it up again. When Mikael Blomkvist is sued for libel, he needs to get away from his life for a while, so he accepts a job offer from Henrik Vanger to find out what happened to his great-niece Harriet Vanger when she disappeared 20 years earlier. He is positive she was murdered and wants to know how, but doesn't hold out much hope of anything after so long. So when Mikael actually stumbles across a new lead, Henrik is very surprised, and as Mikael starts to get closer to what happened to Harriet, it's clear someone will do anything to stop him finding out.

The beginning of the book starts with a lot of talk about financial journalism, of which I have no interest whatsoever, and I thought it was just plain boring to read about. I put the book aside, not sure whether I'd pick it up again, but I decided to give it another go in the hopes when I pushed past the financial section of the story it would pick up, and it did. Once it got to the start of the Harriet investigation it was enjoyable to read, there are lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing who it may have been that killed Harriet. The twist at the end of the Harriet section took me by surprise, and I really enjoyed finding out the truth of what happened. I loved the character of Lisbeth Salander, I thought the way she was portrayed was amazing, and she fast became my favourite of the story. With so many family members being talked about, most with the same surname, it can get a little confusing at times, but it's not too hard to keep the main group of characters straight. I wish they'd kept the Swedish title of Men Who Hate Women, I think it's more appropriate to the storyline, rather than The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, being that there is one very brief mention of said tattoo, and it's nothing to do with the book really. If they had cut everything about Wennerström and the financial stuff out of the book, and just kept in the Harriet storyline, then this book would be a 5/5 in my opinion, I just found that it clouded the story and just wasn't needed at all.

Whisper Of Evil by Kay Hooper

No. of pages: 392
Rating: 8/10
Series: Evil Trilogy (Book 2)
Special Crimes Unit (Book 5)

Synopsis: If you hear it, it's already too late....

Someone is stalking the little town of Silence. Three victims have fallen to a killer’s savage vengeance. Each of the dead men was a successful and respected member of the community—yet each also harbored a dark secret discovered only after his murder. Were their deaths the ultimate punishment for those secrets? Or something even more sinister? Nell Gallagher has come home to Silence more than a decade after leaving one dark night with her own painful secrets. Forced now by family duty to return, she has also come home to settle with the past. But past and present tangle in a murderer’s vicious attacks, and to find the answers she needs, Nell must call on the psychic skills that drove her away years before. She must risk her own life and sanity, and regain the trust of the man she left behind so long ago. For the killer she seeks is seeking her, watching her every move, preying upon her every vulnerability—and already so close she’ll never see death coming...

Review: The second book in the Evil trilogy, Whisper of Evil isn't quite as good as its predecessor, but still a great story to read. Nell Gallagher goes home to Silence, after running away without a word 12 years previously, to settle her father's estate after his death. When she gets there, the whole town is talking about the murdered men...and the dark secrets they kept whilst alive. So Nell teams up with the man she left behind, Max Tanner, and together they're determined to find the killer. But with Nell's psychic power constantly causing her to blackout, will they be able to find the killer before the killer finds them?

I enjoyed how this story progressed as the book went on, with so many secrets coming out, you're kept wondering what's around the next corner, and with the suspicion on everyone in the town, you're constantly looking for clues to who the killer could be. I didn't see the end twist coming at all, although it made sense one it had been revealed and I thought back on what I had read. The psychic visions aspect of it was interesting, it adds a nice touch to the storyline, and the romantic reconnection between Max and Nell softens it, so it's not so harsh. If you enjoy these kinds of books then Kay Hooper's Special Crimes Unit series is a good one for you to try, her books have slight connections, but can be read independently from each other with no problems.

An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

No. of pages: 280
Rating: 10/10
Series: Harper Connelly (Book 3)

Synopsis: In her third case, Harper and Tolliver, her stepbrother, are hired to find a missing grandson. But the truth is far worse than a single dead child, for numerous teenage boys, all unlikely runaways, have disappeared from Doraville, North Carolina. Harper soon finds the eight bodies, buried in the half-frozen ground, but then, still reeling from coming into contact with her first serial killer, she is attacked and injured. Now she and Tolliver have no choice but to stay in Doraville while she recovers, and as she reluctantly becomes part of the investigation, she learns more than she cares to about the dark mysteries and long-hidden secrets of the town: knowledge that makes her the most likely person to be next to end up in an ice-cold grave.

Review: I really enjoyed the third installment of the Harper series, and think this is definitely the best so far. Harper is hired to search for a missing grandson that is feared dead, but when she finds him, along with 7 other young boys, she realises she has stumbled into her first serial killer case. When she is attacked as they're about to leave town, she realises someone in this town is playing deadly games, and they've set their sights on her...

This book has the best storyline in this series yet, and it kept me gripped throughout. With regards to the murder aspect of the book, it's much darker and quite horrific to read, but it's still written so well. I thought the relationship developments within the story were interesting, although pretty obvious from what was said in Grave Surprise. Charlaine Harris really knows how to weave a story around you and keep you captivated until the very last page, her writing is fantastic and I'll definitely be looking into her other books.
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