Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

No. of pages: 192
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying of ALS - or motor neurone disease - Morrie visited Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live. This is a chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.

Review: When Mitch Albom sees his old professor being interviewed on TV because he's dying, Mitch quickly gets in touch before it's too late. What starts out as a nostalgic visit, turns into a weekly Tuesday visit, where Morrie dispenses his advice and knowledge to Mitch.

I didn't really know what to expect from this book, but I've come away feeling quite touched by what was obviously a strong relationship between Morrie and Mitch. Morrie seemed like such a lovely old guy and even though he was in so much pain and his body was wasting away, he tried to keep a positive attitude about love, life and everything in between. Even though this is a book about something sad, you can't help but come away with something positive from it, but I'll admit, I did get teary eyed at the end. It was a great read, and I'd definitely recommend it!

Shocking Pink by Erica Spindler

No. of pages: 498
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: They were only watching.

The mysterious lovers the three girls spied on were engaged in a deadly sexual game no one else was supposed to know about. Especially not Andie and her friends, whose curiosity had deepened into a dangerous obsession...

Now, fifteen years later, someone is watching Andie. Someone who won't let her forget the unsolved murder of "Mrs. X" or the disappearance of "Mr. X." Suddenly Andie doesn't know who her friends are . . . because loyalty can be murder.

Andie. Julie. Raven. Three very different women bound by more than friendship.

Review: When 15 year olds Andie, Julie and Raven see a couple having disturbingly kinky sex in an empty house, they decide to watch to see what happens with the couple they dubb 'Mr & Mrs X'. But when 'Mrs X' is found dead, the girls are frightened, but when 'Mr X' isn't found, they move on with their lives. Until 15 years later, when 'Mr X' reappears, sending them scary messages to let them know he's back in town.

This is one of Erica's earlier books and is more 'Mills & Boon' than her current books, and I found it to be quite a different read to the others I've read by her. I did enjoy it, but found all the kinky sex a bit too much, and I didn't think there was enough of the thrilling story that I'm used to from this author. I would definitely recommend her later books, such as See Jane Die and Copycat.

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

No. of pages: 296
Rating: 10/10
Series: Dexter (Book 2)

Synopsis: Miami's best-dressed serial killer is back and on the prowl, at least he would be if he could shake off his permanent shadow. Ever since their paths first crossed, Sergeant Doakes hasn't let Dexter Morgan out of his sight. Dexter may well be the Miami PD's blood-spatter analyst, but Sgt. Doakes has a pretty good idea of how Dex likes to spend his free time and he's determined to catch him in the act. Dex hasn't killed in months and is getting twitchy. To throw Doakes off his scent, he's spending more time with Rita, his girlfriend. But no matter how many cosy nights they spend in front of the TV, Doakes is still watching. Then a body turns up, horribly mutilated and barely alive. To trap the torturer, Doakes and Dexter will have to work together, if they can trust each other. It's a devil's pact and one of them will have to be the bait...

Review: Dexter's back, but this time he's under constant surveillance from Sgt. Doakes, who is sure he's up to something. So Dexter turns to a 'normal' life, spending more time with girlfriend Rita and her two children. But when another serial killer moves to town and Rita starts thinking things are more serious between them, Dexter starts to feel incredibly suffocated...

I really enjoyed this one, especially as I didn't know any of the storyline from the TV show. I really like Dexter, and I find it weird that I can really like a serial killer, but he's so nice for a bad guy and you can't help finding him kind of cute, and pretty funny at times too. The storyline regarding the new killer was really good too, and pretty brutal when it came to the victims, which even I found slightly shocking and I've read lots of thrillers in the past. This is definitely my favourite so far and I can't wait to read the other two in the series!

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

No. of pages: 275
Rating: 9/10
Series: Dexter (Book 1)

Synopsis: Dexter Morgan appears to be the perfect gentleman. He leads a normal, quiet life working as a forensic officer for the Miami Police. He has a nice, shy girlfriend and is liked by her young children. But Dexter has a secret hobby. He's an accomplished serial killer. So far he's killed dozens of people and has never been caught, because he knows exactly how to dispose of the evidence. And there are those who would rather he wasn't caught at all, because Dexter is a serial killer with a difference. He only kills the city's bad guys. Then Dexter's well-organised life is thrown into chaos. Another serial killer is invading his territory - and he wants Dexter to come out and play...

Review: Dexter Morgan, blood splatter analyst during the day and serial killer at night. But a serial killer with a twist, he only kills bad guys that deserve it. However, when another serial killer encroaches on his turf and starts playing games with him, how is it all going to end?

I've seen the Dexter tv show, so knew pretty much all of this story, even the twist at the end. However, there are some things that are in the book that are not in the tv show, so there were a few bits which were new, and I found that overall, the book sheds more light on Dexter as a person, rather than Dexter the serial killer, which I really enjoyed. I can't wait to read on in the series, but I'm hoping that there will be storylines in the books that I haven't seen on the show!

Kandide And The Secret Of The Mists by Diana S. Zimmerman

No. of pages: 268
Rating: 8/10
Series: The Calabiyau Chronicles (Book 1)

Synopsis: When Kandide is crowned queen of the Kingdom Calabiyau after her father's death, she becomes keeper of the Gift, the key to survival for all life. Like her father, she promises to be a great leader of all the Fée, despite her consuming vanity, a fitting characteristic in a land where physical perfection is cherished above all else. But then her wing is crushed in a terrible accident and she is exiled to the Mists, the uncharted territory to which all the flawed Fée are banished. Kandide must not only come to terms with her own horror at what she has become, but must also learn to survive in the dark, hostile land of the Mists. Encounters with dark magic and hideous beasts are just the beginning of her troubles. Within Calabiyau, there is a presence far more deadly that threatens her family and her people. Can Kandide prevail over injustice, wickedness, and greed to save the land she loves?

Review: A fantasy story set in the world of Fée, centering around Princess Kandide, as she becomes Queen. Kandide is very beautiful, but she knows it, she's vain, arrogant and selfish, so when she awakens after an accident with a bad injury, she's is banished to the Mists, where Fée who are not perfect are sent. She soon comes crashing down to earth when she releases she's alone in the dark scary woods with no way home, and no one to help her...

This is not my usual kind of book, but I throughly enjoyed it. It's aimed at young adults, so it was very easy to read and follow the story without confusing any of the numerous characters and I feel it holds a very good message for readers about 'perfection'. The characters were written well, with a wide variety of personalities so everyone will find at least one character to like, I must admit I liked most of them, and thought they were all written well. As the story continues over a series this book ends on a cliff hanger, so I'd be very interested to read the sequel to see what happens next!

Bone Cold by Erica Spindler

No. of pages: 506
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: She thought the nightmare was over...

Twenty-three years ago, Anna North survived a living nightmare. A madman kidnapped her, cut off her pinkie, then vanished. Today Anna lives in New Orleans, writing dark thrillers under another name. She finally feels safe.

But it was only just beginning.

Suddenly Anna's quiet life takes a frightening turn. Letters start to arrive from a disturbed fan. Anna is followed, her apartment broken into. Then a close friend disappears.

Anna turns to homicide detective Quentin Malone, but Malone's more concerned with the recent murders of two women in the French Quarter. But after a third victim is found—a redhead like Anna, her pinkie severed—Malone is forced to acknowledge that Anna is his link to the killer...and could be the next target. Now Anna must face the horrifying truth—her past has caught up with her. The nightmare has begun again.

Review: Anna North is still living in terror of the man that kidnapped her 23 years previously, so when she starts getting weird letters, and red headed women start getting murdered, she becomes very worried, but is it too late to stop what has already been set in motion?

Another fantastic thriller from Erica Spindler, I couldn't put it down! It was fast paced and I really liked how the story weaved together, fitting all the pieces into place. I kind of guessed part of the ending, but there was still a few surprises in store that even I could not have forseen, and for these kind of twists Erica Spindler is well known. I've enjoyed every one of her books that I've read, and highly recommend them!

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

No. of pages: 304
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: There is a passage early in Augusten Burroughs's harrowing and highly entertaining memoir Running with Scissors that speaks volumes about the author. While going to the garbage dump with his father, young Augusten spots a chipped glass-top coffee table that he longs to bring home. "I knew I could hide the chip by fanning a display of magazines on the surface, like in a doctor's office," he writes, "And it certainly wouldn't be dirty after I polished it with Windex for three hours."

There were certainly numerous chips in the childhood Burroughs describes: an alcoholic father, an unstable mother who gives him up for adoption to her therapist and an adolescence spent as part of the therapist's eccentric extended family, gobbling prescription medicines and fooling around with both an old electroshock machine and a paedophile who lives in a shed out back. But just as he dreamed of doing with that old table, Burroughs employs a vigorous program of decoration and fervent polishing to a life that many would have simply thrown in a landfill. Despite her abandonment, he never gives up on his increasingly unbalanced mother. And rather than despair about his lot, he glamorises it: planning a "beauty empire" and performing an a cappella version of "You Light Up My Life" at a local mental ward.

Review: When Augusten's parents divorce, his mother starts having another 'mental episode' during which he gets sent to live with his mother's psychiatrist Dr Finch and his rather crazy family. This is the true story of those years, almost unbelievable with events most people couldn't even imagine.

This book is so crazy, I could easily believe it's a work of fiction, but the fact this actually happened to someone is mind blowing. The main characters were weirdly endearing, even though they were slightly mad, in particular I liked Natalie and Hope, although I pitied them too. I really feel sorry for Augusten, being abandoned by your mother can never be easy, but into a house full of mad people must make it 10 times worse. I would recommend this book, if only to realise how normal your own upbringing was!
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