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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

Review: Charlaine Harris – Last Scene Alive

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dead-over-heels-charlaine-harrisThis book starts off a few months after the end of the last one, with Aurora still grieving the massive loss at the end of the last book. She decides that she has had enough of living her life under a cloud of misery and that she needs to start getting back to normality. How convenient, then, that her old flame Robin gets in contact with her and wants to meet up.

At first, she thinks it’s because his new movie (which incidentally is based on the murders that she uncovered in the earlier books) is filming in her town, but it turns out that he really did just want to see her. I guess you can probably tell what happens over the course of the book, with Aurora falling for Robin all over again, and getting over Martin by getting under someone else…

Unusually, it’s not actually Aurora that discovers the dead body in this book, but she still ends up front and center. Seriously, if I was involved in this many murders, I’d consider moving to a remote island to live by myself. The victim this time is the lead actor in the movie, who happens to be playing the character of Aurora and was recently dating Aurora’s old flame Robin. Aurora also has to cope with a weird new employee at the library , discovering a terrible secret at the end of the book and leading to yet another murder.

But of course, even though she’s not the police, or even a private detective, she still manages to be the one who identifies the murderer, like a normal member of the public would be able to consistently solve crimes faster than the police. But I suppose you have to accept some far-fetchedness when you’re reading a murder mystery series, kind of like Midsomer Murders.

3-5

Review: Charlaine Harris – A Fool and His Honey

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dead-over-heels-charlaine-harrisI had two very conflicting reactions to this book. The story was fast paced and thrilling and wouldn’t let me stop reading until I had finished. It’s the quickest I’ve read a book in a long time. But then there was the writing, and you could definitely tell that this is one of Harris’ earlier books. There is a lot of repetition, and detail in places where it is not needed (like too much focus on her hair or her glasses). It kind of distracted from the energy of the story, but not enough so that I didn’t enjoy it.

Aurora is at home when the man delivering her wood goes mad and starts dancing naked around her garden. Now this wasn’t actually an important part of the story and we only find out why right at the end. Although the explanation felt like an afterthought, so I think it would have been better without it. After this man has been taken away by the police, a relative of Aurora’s husband Martin turns up on the doorstep with a new baby. Only no-one knows that Regina was ever pregnant. Martin and Aurora go out for dinner, but when they return, Regina is missing, there is a dead man on the steps of the house with a hatchet in his head, the baby is hidden under the bed and there is a strange man hidden in Aurora’s house.

Martin and Aurora decide that they need to find Regina or a relative of hers so that they don’t have to look after the baby, so they return to Martin’s hometown in Ohio, to his old family home on a farm in the middle of nowhere. The drama escalates from here, building to a thrilling (and heart-wrenching) conclusion.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in the series now, which surprised me, because I didn’t really enjoy the last book. Only 3/5 though due to the almost amateur-style writing.

3-5

Review: Charlaine Harris – Dead Over Heels

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dead-over-heels-charlaine-harrisWell this is the first book I’ve ever read in digital instead of as an actual physical book, and it’s totally put me off buying a kindle. The actual book was going to cost £30, but the kindle version was only £9.99, so I bought it on kindle and read it on my phone/iPad. Yes, it was quite convenient because I always had my book with me, and yes, my bag was a lot lighter without carrying a book around all the time, and yes, it gave me something to do all the times I was sat waiting in my car. BUT, the experience of reading a book just isn’t the same when you don’t have an actual book. I love the feel and smell of a book, and I love being able to easily tell how far through the book I am. Location 3097 of 13807 means absolutely nothing to me, thank you kindle.

Anyway, enough of my book-obsessed ramblings and on to the book. Unfortunately, for the second book in a row by one of my favourite authors, I was disappointed again. Harris seems to have a tendency to repeat what’s happened in the previous books over and over again in subsequent books, especially near the start. The first couple of chapters always seem to be a reintroduction to Aurora and her family. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m reading a series of books, I tend to know what I’ve just read, so this gets a bit tedious.

This book (the 5th in the series), starts off with a body falling from a plane and landing in Aurora’s garden. Now most people might be extremely freaked out about this, but Aurora seems to take it in her stride, and after other odd attacks start happening (including on her friends), she obviously ends up starting her own little investigation. The middle part of the book did get quite interesting, but it wasn’t as good as the first omnibus that I read earlier this year. Not good enough to make me want to read the next one straight away, I’ve got something more exciting lined up.

2-5

Review: Charlaine Harris – The Julius House (Aurora Teagarden #4)

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charlaine-harris-aurora-teagarden-e1335464844842Usually in a series the books get better and better, but unfortunately with this one the opposite seems to be true. Up until more than half way through this book, I was actually finding it very boring.

For a start (and this may sound rather harsh), no-one died. For a murder mystery, you usually expect a bit of excitement at the start. Instead, we listen to half a book of plans for the wedding and having the new house renovated, most of which was not really book-worthy. There was the mysterious appearance of two of her fiancé’s friends, but that’s not too exciting (at least at the start).

Then when we get half way through the book we finally get to the wedding, and it seems like Harris just decided she couldn’t be bothered to write about it, as the entire wedding and honeymoon was detailed in less than two pages. For a book that has spent 100+ pages in the build up to the wedding, I found this very disappointing.

The book wasn’t all bad though, and after the non-wedding, the excitement starts building up as Aurora starts looking for the family that mysteriously went missing 7 years ago from the house she just bought. There’s drama at the end as Aurora once again makes the stupid mistake of entering the house of a murderer alone and you can guess what happens then!

I was definitely hoping for a better book than this, and it did leave me feeling a bit like I’d not read anything worthwhile. That’s the end of the omnibus for now, until I decide to buy the second part. Rather than being impatient to carry on reading the series, I’m actually glad to be having a bit of a break from it, which is not my usual impression of Charlaine Harris.

2-5

Review: Charlaine Harris – Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (Aurora Teagarden #3)

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charlaine-harris-aurora-teagarden-e1335464844842

This book was the my least favourite of the series so far, I was a little disappointed by it to be honest. There was still an essence of Charlaine Harris, but you could really tell that it was one of her earlier books, the plot was just not very strong compared to other books of hers that I have read.

In this book, Aurora has started to shadow her mother at her real estate business, and it is while she is showing a house to the new man in town and his sister that they discover a woman dead in one of the bedrooms. Although this is supposedly a massive trauma, Aurora still can’t help falling for the man that she’s showing the house to, even though she’s already in a relationship with the local minister. Lucky for her though, the minister finds out that he can’t have children, which gives Aurora a quick get out so that she can start dating the new man – how convenient!

I didn’t particularly like this part of the storyline, I can see why she might want to break up with the minister, but there was no scene, they just said goodbye and that was it. I also don’t get why she would drop everything for this completely strange man that she’s just discovered a corpse with!

Obviously, this being a murder mystery book, Aurora has to get nosy and try to figure out who the murderer was, and when she finally figures it out, she goes out to his house alone to try and steal the evidence. This seemed odd to me; I know Harris wanted to create a big dramatic scene, but why would you try to steal the evidence from the murderers house? And not tell anyone you were going there? Cue the big scene, where Aurora is saved just in time by her new beau, but unfortunately not before she is beaten so badly she lands herself in hospital.

And wouldn’t you just know it, she wakes up in hospital with an engagement ring on her finger…

There’s another 5 books in this series, so I can’t see everything working out quite to plan! Especially not with Harris as the author. The next book is called The Julius House, hopefully it’s better than this one was!

3-5

Review: Charlaine Harris – A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden #2)

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charlaine-harris-aurora-teagarden-e1335464844842It’s been a very miserable day here today, so instead of going out for a walk with my camera this morning like I was planning on doing, I tucked myself up with my book and some good music. The books within this omnibus series are not actually that long (less than 200 pages), so I finished this one in a few hours this morning. I think Charlaine Harris’ style of writing helps too, the story is so fast paced that it keeps you turning pages and you lose track of time!

This book starts off a few months down the line from the end of the first one, and the first couple of chapters catch you up with everything that’s happened. Aurora has very luckily (or unluckily) been left a house and over $500,000 by one of the volunteers she works with at the library. It comes as quite a shock to her as they were not very good friends, but she soon settles with the idea.

That is, until she finds a skull hidden in the window seat of the house. She’s desperate to find out who it belongs to and conflicted about whether dear old Jane could actually have killed somebody, but then there is the harsh reality that someone else is looking for the skull too.

Somewhere in between her dates with the Vicar and working at the library, she starts digging around Jane’s things and getting to know her neighbours a bit better. There’s a dramatic scene at the end as we find out who the murderer was, while Aurora’s ex-boyfriend’s Wife is simultaneously having a baby and pointing a gun at the culprit to stop them from killing Aurora.

All’s well that ends well though, as Aurora decides to put Jane’s house up for sale and buy herself her own place with her small fortune, and she also receives a call from her old friend Robin Crusoe (yes, really), who she met under unfortunate circumstances in the first book – finding a dead body the first time you meet someone is not exactly the best introduction!

I think another 4/5 for this book, it would have been better if it was a little longer, and if there was more attention on the main plot than on the day to day activities like cleaning the house and doing the shopping. The next book is called Three Bedrooms, One Corpse. It’s another short book, which makes me very glad that this series is actually 8 books long, especially now I’m getting to know the characters a bit more.

4-5

Review: Charlaine Harris – Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1)

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charlaine-harris-aurora-teagarden-e1335464844842Apart from the fact that this book was so heavy (which made it very awkward to read), it was actually very good. Even if I’d not known it was written by Charlaine Harris, I think I would have been able to tell; she has a very specific style of writing.

You could really tell that this was one of her earlier books though (written in 1990), as the writing was less descriptive and the story slightly less developed than her other books that I’ve read. Saying that though, it was still a very well written book, and I couldn’t put it down once I’d started.

The story is about a small-town woman called (you guessed it) Aurora Teagarden. She’s a member of a group called ‘Real Murders’, a rather odd group of people who meet once a month to talk about historical murders and discuss the case and the culprit. That is, until one of the group is murdered before the start of one of the meetings and other people within the group start dropping like flies.

It’s a race against time to find the murderer before other people are killed. What makes the murders more strange is that they are all based on murders that have been discussed in the group, so it’s almost a certainty that it is one of the group that is responsible.

The story builds up and up until a dramatic couple of chapters at the end where we find out who the murderer is, and it’s not who you are led to suspect for the whole of the book, it really shocked me!

I think I’ll give this book 4 out of 5, if only because I’m comparing the book to other Charlaine Harris books that I’ve read and it wasn’t quite as good. If you’ve read this, would you agree?

Next up is the second book in the series, A Bone to Pick. I look forward to getting to know Aurora a little more, and as it’s set in a small town I’m anxious to see who will die next…

4-5

Now Reading: Charlaine Harris – Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1)

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charlaine-harris-aurora-teagarden-e1335464844842It’s no secret that I love Charlaine Harris, but for some reason I’ve had this book on my shelf for a long time and never read it. I think it’s probably something to do with the fact that it’s an omnibus, so it’s actually four books in one and it weighs a ton! It’s a good job I’m using a big handbag at the moment!

I wouldn’t be able to decide which Charlaine Harris series is my favourite so far (Lily Bard, Harper Connelly or Sookie Stackhouse), but I’m sure I won’t be disappointed by this one.

Now Reading: Charlaine Harris – Shakespeare’s Landlord

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photo-16Book number 2 on my 100 book reading challenge is Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris. I’ve read two sets of books by Charlaine Harris – the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series, and the Harper Connelly series. I absolutely loved both sets of books and couldn’t put the books down once I’d started.

I’ve now got two other sets of books from Charlaine Harris, The Aurora Teagarden series and the Lily Bard series. I got the Lily Bard series for Christmas from my parents, so I will be reading that one first. The review on the back of the book sounds pretty impressive:

“Harris writes about Lily with a quiet compassion that is compelling. A fine writer has written her best book yet.”

The books are considerably shorter than the last book I read, and given how much I liked her last books, I think this’ll catch me right up on my reading challenge.

On a totally unrelated note, my replacement iPod came today. Apple issued a recall for some first generation iPods, and mine was included. It had been in a drawer for 3 years, but I dug it out and sent it off, and the replacement arrived 7 weeks later. I was quite surprised that the iPod I got back was an 8GB new model, it’s way better than the one I sent them, and will be perfect for in the gym!