Author Archives: lexiepiper

The Rose Labyrinth – Titania Hardie

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

Before his death in 1609, the brilliant Elizabethan spy and astrologer John Dee hid his most astonishing secrets, trusting his descendants would one day bring them to light. That time has come.
In 2003, Will Stafford inherits a strange legacy from his mother: a key and an ancient script with an enigmatic note. Intrigued, he travels Europe seeking answers to Dee’s riddles, unaware that someone is following every move. Back in London, Lucy King becomes entangled in Will’s cryptic labyrinth. As its mysterious twists take her from France to New York, and from literature to myth, in search of its hidden treasure, she has never been closer to the truth, nor in graver danger.

My Review

When Will Stafford’s mother leaves him a mysterious key in her will, he has to find out what the story behind it is. But what he finds leads into an awful lot of trouble, as religious fanatics are desperate for the story that is unravelling and will do anything for the information.

I really enjoyed this book, the tone in which it’s written is beautiful, the language really flows and just draws you in from page one. I found the contents of the story fascinating – John Dee, ‘The Rapture’, religion, Shakespeare, cellular memory – there are just so many aspects, but surprisingly they all fit together perfectly. It starts as several different threads and then as the book progresses, they all start to twine together and I really enjoyed how they started to slot into the story. I especially loved the descriptions of the various settings, it has definitely made me want to go and visit them myself one day!

The Rose Labyrinth has been likened to ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘The Labyrinth’, so I think fans of those books would enjoy this, but I think everyone could take something from this, it has a bit of everything for everyone and it’s a really great book.

4/5

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Bad Things – Michael Marshall

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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…

My 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 get 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.

4.5/5

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Beauty – Robin McKinley

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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.

My 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.

5/5

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Moab Is My Washpot – Stephen Fry

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

‘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

My 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.

4/5

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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.

My 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.

3.5/5

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Whisper Of Evil – Kay Hooper

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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 . . .

My 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.

4/5

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An Ice Cold Grave – Charlaine Harris

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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.

My 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.

5/5

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Grave Surprise – Charlaine Harris

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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 . . .

My 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.

4.5/5

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Grave Sight – Charlaine Harris

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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.

My 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.

5/5

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Touching Evil – Kay Hooper

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk

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….

My 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.

5/5

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