The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

No. of pages: 221
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: The Notebook, a Southern-fried story of love-lost-and-found-again, revolves around a single time-honored romantic dilemma: will beautiful Allie Nelson stay with Mr. Respectability (to whom she happens to be engaged), or will she hook up with Noah, the romantic rascal she left so many years ago? Decades later, after Allie develops Alzheimer's, her beau uses "the notebook" to read her the story of the great love she can't remember.

Review: I wanted to read this, like many people, after I saw the rather popular film, and I doubted the book could live up to how lovely the film was. I was wrong! The book is beautiful, both the style in which it's written and the story itself. I was so glad to see that very little had been changed in transition from book to film, and that in itself is pretty rare! Both Allie and Noah are incredibly loveable characters, and I'm so glad that Allie makes the choice she does, although it is pretty predictable that she will. I will definitely be buying more books by this author in the future!

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

No. of pages: 518
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: The Time Traveler's Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals - steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

Review: This has been my favourite book for about 4 years now, it has a perfect blend of science, romance and drama. I love the way it flicks around in time, you get a real sense of how it must be so disorientating for Henry to randomly be shoved into a place in time and not know why he's there. I love the interaction with an older Henry and a young Clare, throughout the whole book you see so many different facets of their relationship and how it evolves over the years that Clare is growing up. I adore the writing of this book and find it hard to believe it's a debut novel! There's lots of humourous little comments, and she describes things so fantastically. I just love this book so much, and can only hope the film version will be as good when it's released this year!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

No. of pages: 230
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud. What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

Review: I've read this book several times after first picking it up at the library when I was 15. I like it as much now as I did then, and I still find it as moving. You go through the book following Melinda as she starts a new year at school, something traumatic has happened to her but that's not even referred to until half way through the book, and not revealed until the end. All you really know is that all of the students in her school think she's really weird, and some of them seem to hate her. It's really a book about being an outcase teenager, how hard it is, especially when you're trying to cope with so much. It's very easy to read, and written in a casual style. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading Young Adult books, and I'd also recommend the film as that's equally as good.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

No. of pages: 208
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven weaves together three stories, all told about the same man: 83-year-old Eddie, the head maintenance person at Ruby Point Amusement Park. As the novel opens, readers are told that Eddie, unsuspecting, is only minutes away from death as he goes about his typical business at the park. Albom then traces Eddie's world through his tragic final moments, his funeral, and the ensuing days as friends clean out his apartment and adjust to life without him. In alternating sections, Albom flashes back to Eddie's birthdays, telling his life story as a kind of progress report over candles and cake each year. And in the third and last thread of the novel, Albom follows Eddie into heaven where the maintenance man sequentially encounters five pivotal figures from his life. Each person has been waiting for him in heaven, and, as Albom reveals, each life (and death) was woven into Eddie's own in ways he never suspected. Each soul has a story to tell, a secret to reveal, and a lesson to share. Through them Eddie understands the meaning of his own life even as his arrival brings closure to theirs.

Review: I thought this was a very curious view of heaven, you meet 5 people who explain to you the meaning of certain things that happen in your life. Eddie's journey after his death is very sad, he learns about things he never knew about in his human life, but were pivital in what happened. As well as following his journey through heaven to the 5 people, you're also told about Eddie's past birthdays and also told a little about various years of his life. I thought it was well written, I liked the way it was telling 3 threads of a story yet didn't feel like it was jumping. It was a very easy read and although not one of the best books I've ever read, it was certainly very enjoyable.

Keeping The Dead by Tess Gerritsen

No. of pages: 349
Rating: 8/10
Series: Rizzoli/Isles (Book 7)

Synopsis: When medical examiner Isles studies an X-ray scan of Madame X, which everyone assumes is a newly discovered Egyptian mummy, at Boston's Crispin Museum, she realizes the mummy isn't a priceless artifact but a recent murder victim, gruesomely preserved. Rizzoli focuses the police investigation on Dr. Josephine Pulcillo, a young archeologist recently hired by the museum who may have something to hide. More victims soon turn up, including a tsantsa (shrunken head) in a hidden museum chamber and a corpse resembling a well-preserved bog body in Pulcillo's car. After Pulcillo disappears, Rizzoli and Isles must scramble to find her before she becomes another trophy in the killer's growing collection.

Review: The next book in the Rizzoli/Isles series, and it was pretty good. Tess obviously did a lot of research into Egyptology and mummy type preservation and it shows fantastically in the story. My two little disappointments with the book were that I guessed a few of the big plot lines way in advance of the ending, but also that there wasn't as much gripping action in this one compared to previous books in this series. All in all, I thought the book was good, I'll definately be buying it when it comes out in paperback for my collection, but it didn't get the 5/5 that a Tess Gerritsen book usually gets.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

No. of pages: 346
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: With only months left to live, 16-year-old Tessa makes a list of things she must experience: sex, petty crime, fame, drugs and true love. Downham's wrenching work features a girl desperate for a few thrilling moments before leukemia takes her away. Although Tessa remains ardently committed to her list, both she and the reader find comfort in the quiet resonance of the natural world. Although Tessa begins to see herself within the natural continuum, she still feels furious with her lot.

Review: I expected this book to be very sad from start to finish, full of Tessa dying slowly, and whilst in a way that was true, it was also about living. The writing brings through the emotion of every situation, and you can feel the pain of her family, especially that of her dad as he tries to protect her. Her list of things to complete before she dies changes frequently, but each thing is deeply important to her. Even though I knew what was coming at the end, it was still sad and deeply moving and I have to admit, I did shed a tear or two.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

No. of pages: 168
Rating: 4/10

Synopsis: At 18 years old, after a shockingly brief interview with a doctor, Susanna Kaysen was sent to a psychiatric hospital where she spent most of the next two years. It was 1967, and this extraordinary account examines the 'parallel universe' of life on the teenage girls' ward. The outside world romping through the late 1960s is set against the extraordinary, the funny and the tragic events in the lives of the girls inside, brilliantly exploring the sane and insane, illness and recovery.

Review: To be frankly honest I found this pretty boring and at times quite tedious to read. There was no depth to the story, it was disjointed and randomly shot off in different tangents and there are chapters just full of random rambling. It almost felt as though this wasn't really a book about her time in the ward, but merely a chance to say "they were wrong and I wasn't crazy". The film is a millions times better and I would recommend that over the book, however, the book tells you what happens to some of the other girls after she leaves the ward and you don't find that out in the film. Not something I would bother to re-read.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

No. of pages: 554
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: Nine-year-old Liesel lives with her foster family on Himmel Street during the dark days of the Third Reich. Her Communist parents have been transported to a concentration camp, and during the funeral for her brother, she manages to steal a macabre book: it is, in fact, a gravediggers’ instruction manual. This is the first of many books which will pass through her hands as the carnage of the Second World War begins to hungrily claim lives. Both Liesel and her fellow inhabitants of Himmel Street will find themselves changed by both words on the printed page and the horrendous events happening around them.

Review: I've had this book lying around for about 6 months, I'd see it on my shelf and pass over it for something else to read. What a huge mistake that was. This is one of the best books I've ever read, and there wasn't a main character within its pages that I didn't come to love in some way or another. Even though this is a fictional story, you really get a feel for what it would have been like to live during the war, and the kind of fear everybody felt. The style of writing was brilliant, so easy to read, and I loved the little comments made by death throughout. But I do feel like this book sucked me in, surrounded me with wonderful characters, and then spat me out on my ass near the end, I'd describe it like somebody giving you a lovely hug, then abruptly slapping you on the face.

Highlight to read spoilers: You find out about half way through the book that Rudy is going to die, and although I was very sad about that, I kind of just moved on and hoped too many others wouldn't when the bombs inevitably hit, but with horror I read as everyone but Liesel died, and that was devestating. The saddest part for me was when Liesel was looking at the bodies of her loved ones. As she kissed Rudy and admitted that she loved him, it was painful to read. But I also feel that the sadness and shock from everyone dying also helps you appreciate the fact that Liesel lived, and not only did she live, but she lived a happy life, and it was many years before Death collected her. The fact it ended with him giving her book back, well that was just brilliant.

Living With The Dead by Kelley Armstrong

No. of pages: 372
Rating: 8/10
Series: Women Of The Otherworld (Book 9)

Synopsis: Robyn Peltier has always lived a normal life. So when her boss is murdered and she is named prime suspect, she is way out of her depth. As the bodies pile up only her friend Hope, and Hope's somewhat spooky boyfriend Karl, are on her side. Hope, meanwhile, has a few secrets of her own. Namely that she is half-demon, and her 'spooky' boyfriend is actually a werewolf. Hope also knows that Robyn has accidentally stumbled into a bloody supernatural turf war. And the only way she can keep her friend alive is by letting her enter a world she's safer knowing nothing about ...

Review: Several things about this book were very different, for a start, Robyn is human, and has no supernatural powers, infact she knows nothing about the supernatural world, and secondly, this book flicked between several characters instead of being from one point of view. I thought these changes would make it hard to like, or at least harder to read, but I was completely wrong, Armstrong pulled off the change amazingly well, and it was refreshing to have a different style of book to read. The story itself was as fast paced as previous books, and has left me eager to read the next book in the series, which is sadly not released yet! It's definitely something I will be looking forward to this year.

Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong

No. of pages: 476
Rating: 8/10
Series: Women Of The Otherworld (Book 8)

Synopsis: Hope Adams, tabloid journalist and half-demon, inherited her Bollywood-princess looks from her mother. From her demon father, she inherited a hunger for chaos, and a talent for finding it. Like full demons, she gets an almost sexual rush from danger - in fact, she thrives on it. But she is determined to use her gifts for good. When the head of the powerful Cortez Cabal asks her to infiltrate a gang of bored, rich, troublemaking supernaturals in Miami, Hope can't resist the excitement. But trouble for Hope is intoxicating, and soon she's in way too deep. With a killer stalking the supernatural hot spots of Miami, Hope finds herself dangerously entangled, and has no choice but to turn to her crooked werewolf ex-boyfriend for help. What started as a simple investigation has spiralled into chaos. And Hope finds chaos irresistible ...

Review: Hope is a new character in the series, having only just popped up in the last book, so I knew I wouldn't feel as connected to her as I have done with the other characters that are in the forefront of the series. I don't really feel her supernatural power brings much to the table, I prefer most of the other ones, although it was interesting to read about a much different power. All in all, I think this was my least liked book so far in the series, I didn't dislike it, but I think the other ones are more interesting to read, both the stories and the characters.

No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong

No. of pages: 438
Rating: 10/10
Series: Women Of The Otherworld (Book 7)

Synopsis: No Humans Involved stars necromancer Jaime Vegas. She's on a television shoot in Brentwood, Los Angeles when weird things start to happen. Invisible hands brush her arms, she sees movements out of the corner of her eye, unintelligible fragments of words are whispered in her ear. Jaime's used to seeing the dead and hearing them clearly. But now, for the first time in her life, she knows what humans mean when they say they're being haunted. Jaime is determined to get to the bottom of this, but she doesn't realize how low her investigation will take her, or what human-based horror she will uncover. As Jamie delves through the dark underside of Los Angeles she'll need as much Otherworld help as she can get to survive unscathed. But Jeremy, the alpha-werewolf is there by her side to offer his protection. And maybe more than that ...

Review: Jaime is my other favourite woman in this series, so it was good to finally read a book from her view, and it was as great as I expected it to be! It was nice that there was a more in-depth look at Jeremy too, as he's a very understated character and doesn't really get delved into too much in previous books. The story itself was a tad darker than previous ones, involving the murders of children, and them being trapped in their spirit forms. But it was written brilliantly, and I really enjoyed it. I would definately recommend this series to fans of supernatural horror type books :)

Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

No. of pages: 495
Rating: 9/10
Series: Women Of The Otherworld (Book 5)

Synopsis: Eve Levine - half-demon, black witch and devoted mother - has been dead for three years. She has a great house, an interesting love life and can't be killed again - which comes in handy when you've made as many enemies as Eve. Yes, the afterlife isn't too bad - all she needs to do is find a way to communicate with her daughter Savannah and she'll be happy. But fate - or more exactly, the Fates - have other plans. Eve owes them a favour, and they've just called it in. An evil spirit called the Nix has escaped from hell. She feeds on chaos and death, and is very good at persuading people to kill for her. The Fates want Eve to hunt her down before she does any more damage, but the Nix is a dangerous enemy - previous hunters have been sent mad in the process. As if that's not problem enough, it turns out that the only way to stop her is with an angel's sword. And Eve's no angel...

Review: This one was very action packed, and showed you around Armstrong's view of supernatural heaven and hell, and it was very interesting. I liked the appearance of the Angels, and some of the tasks Eve had to go on. Probably not my favourite, but I really liked it and definately think it was great fun to read.

Broken by Kelley Armstrong

No. of pages: 444
Rating: 10/10
Series: Women Of The Otherworld (Book 6)

Synopsis: Book 6 in Kelley Armstrong's supernatural series marks the return of werewolf Elena Michaels from Bitten and Stolen. When half-demon Xavier calls in the favour Elena owes him, it seems easy enough - steal Jack the Ripper's 'From Hell' letter away from a Toronto collector who had himself stolen it from the Ripper evidence boxes in the Metropolitan Police files. But nothing in the supernatural world is ever as simple as it seems. Elena accidentally triggers a spell placed on the letter, and manages to tear an opening that leads into the nether regions of Victorian London. Toronto may be looking for a tourism boost, but 'Gateway to Hell' isn't quite the new slogan the city had in mind...

Review: I accidently skipped over book 5 because I was so eager to read about Elena again, and I must say, not only is she my favourite female in this series, but this book was the best one yet! Lots of action, and a great storyline to keep you immersed the whole way through. I love the fact Jaime was in it, and can't wait to get to her book in the series, hopefully she finally gets with Jeremy! All in all, I'm loving this series loads, and can't recommend it enough!

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

No. of pages: 202
Rating: 6/10

Synopsis: What would possess a gifted young man recently graduated from college to literally walk away from his life? In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his emaciated body was found in an abandoned bus by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Review: I wanted to read this after watching the film that was based on this book, but I think I would say, the film is better. The book would have been much better if it had been written chronologically and without wandering off to talk about other people who have "walked into the wild" and not survived. The author even wrote a whole chapter about himself, which I had no interest in, so skimmed past. It all just seemed so irrelevent to the story about Chris McCandless. But I can understand why Chris did what he did, to just lose everything material and get away from civilisation must be nice, but one tiny mistake cost him his life, and that is what is very tragic about this story. I've given it 3/5 just because I disliked the format of the book, but the actual story of Chris McCandless is 5/5, but I'd recommend the film rather than the book.
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