Thursday, January 29, 2009

REVIEW: Last Scene Alive: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This is the 7th book in the Aurora Teagarden cozy mystery series.

Several months have passed since the events of the previous book, A Fool and His Honey, and Aurora "Roe" is beginning to feel the weight of the world slowly being lifted from her shoulders. She's starting to accept her new life as a widow, albeit with the occasional emotional outbreak now and then.

But there's no time left for healing or contemplation as the little town of Lawrenceton, and Aurora herself, are pushed into the spotlight as by the movie crew that's moving into town for the on-location shoot of Whimsical Murders, the TV movie based on the grisly serial killings which took place in Lawrenceton ten years earlier. The book and screenplay were written by none other than Aurora's ex-love interest Robin Crusoe, who along with Aurora, was a major participant in the events that took place back then. Though Roe has already refused to allow her name to be used in the movie, Lawrenceton is a small town where everybody knows everyone else's business, and no one has forgotten the events which took place those so many years ago right here under their very noses.

So Robin comes pulling into town along with the movie crew and his supposed new flame, Celia Shaw, as reported by the tabloids. The seriously overdone Ms. Shaw is playing none other than the lead role in the movie, the part of Aurora herself. As if that weren't enough, Barrett, the cool and aloof son of her recently deceased husband, has a starring role as well! Aurora finds herself wondering if things can get any worse... just as she thought she was beginning to heal. *sigh*

The ensuing story has the usual elements longtime readers of the Aurora Teagarden series have come to know and love. Aurora is wonderfully quirky, and the small town folk are nosy but nice. But we are also starting to see a side of Roe that has only been briefly peeked at in past books. She's becoming older, wiser, and more introspective. And as I noted this subtle character shift, I picked up on it even further in the next book, Poppy Done to Death, the eighth and final book in the series, which I will also be reviewing in the next few days.

In terms of Roe's personality and emotional standpoint, this book is truly the Six of Cups of the Tarot. Roe is picking up the pieces after a major, heart wrenching upheaval, rebuilding, looking inward, and moving on. I realize not all my readers read the Tarot, but the imagery of the Six of Cups was so strong for me personally while I was reading that I just had to bring it up. I found myself really reaching out and relating to Roe on an emotional level that I haven't necessarily reached in past books, or if so, only briefly. But Tarot reader or no, this book definitely marks a major turning point in Roe's life which is probably all you need to realize.

But look at me! I've gone on and on about the emotional and interpersonal side of things and not said a thing about whatever murder or mystery is happening within these pages! LOL Well, with all the movie folk in town, you can bet there's gonna be trouble down at the OK Corral. ;) And it's none other than Ms. Celia Shaw who turns up dead. Going out with a bang! To the head that is... her recent Emmy all bloodied and lying next to her on the couch! But as it turns out, Celia and Robin haven't been an item for awhile now. And while Robin's been putting the moves on Aurora much to her delight, her stepson Barrett has been slipping it to the late star. Even though there are plenty of people who wouldn't have minded seeing Celia dead, Barrett is not one of them! But he's moved to the top of the suspect's list anyway. And no matter whether he likes her or not, Roe is going to do her damnedest to protect Martin's son and prove his innocence!

NOTE: Fans of Charlaine Harris who haven't yet read the Aurora Teagarden series will be happy to know that they are being re-released by Berkley. So they should no longer be so hard to find. Look for them at Amazon or wherever you buy or trade books.

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Thursday, January 08, 2009

REVIEW: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah & James Howe

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

A spunky little tale of a vampire rabbit, as told by Harold, the Monroe family dog who lives with him. Yes, you heard me correctly, this particular rabbit is also a vampire! He sleeps all day (well, so do my own rabbits! LOL), and when he wakes at night he sneaks out of his cage and drains the juice from all the vegetables in the house.

Bunnicula, thus named because he was found in a movie theater during a showing of Dracula, has already managed to endear himself to the whole family—Mom and Dad Monroe, kids Pete and Toby, and of course Harold the dog. Unfortunately, Chester the cat isn't quite warming up to the little guy, and he resolves to do his darnedest to prove the truth to the family: that this cute little bunny is actually a threat to their very existence. "Today vegetables... tomorrow the world!" Chester exclaims.

This book is actually the first in what was later to become a successful children's series. Though it wasn't until after the death of Deborah, co-author of the husband/wife team, that the Bunnicula books were published.

My friend Leilani sent me this book because it was about a bunny, and she knows how much I love bunnies, as well as paranormal books. It's very much a children's book, even more so than the Darren Shan books I think, but it was entertaining to me nonetheless, and the pictures that go along with the story were so adorable! I know this book can really be enjoyed by another bunny lover like myself so I have just the person in mind. Actually, I have more than a single person in mind, but alas, it is to my BookObsessed birthday partner to whom it's traveling next. As a quick, light read, I hope she's able to pick it up soon and enjoy it as much as I did. :)

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

REVIEW: Charmed & Ready by Candace Havens

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

And so with the new year, the book count shall start anew at #1. :)

Bronwyn is a Witch, and Charmed & Deadly is the second book in the Bronwyn the Witch series featuring Bronwyn herself. This time around, Bronwyn, who regularly does security detail for the Prime Minister, has now been asked to take this next job as a favor to him for a friend. And what a delicious flavor... ahem, I mean favor, it is. ;) Rock star and heartthrob Zane is getting zapped by creepy Goth guys with strange eyes and black cloaks at his concerts, in addition to some other weird things have been happening to him. So now Bronywn's on the job. Zane's really a great guy though, and quite fun to be around, on the A-list at all the hottest clubs in London and LA. So now Bronwyn is trying to keep her client from getting killed while also trying to keep her boyfriend Sam from getting too jealous, especially since she seems to showing up in all the tabloids on Zane's arm!

I really enjoyed this book, and wonder why I waited so long after reading the first one, Charmed & Dangerous, to pick up this one. Most likely just too many other commitments and I forgot how much I enjoyed it. I really like Bronwyn and relate well to her character on so many levels, the least of which is her potty mouth. LOL

Charmed & Deadly, along with the other books in the series, is written in journal format. I feel this sometimes hinders the progress of the book at times however, particularly when Bron is telling the story of something that's happening in the here and now, but because it's supposed to seem like she's writing it in her journal after the fact—or in some other instances when there's a bit of a time warp—you have to assume she's writing these entries no matter where she is. But that's probably just me being overly picky with things. Because I can also see how the author might be using the journal outlet to allow Bronwyn to express herself in ways that might be more difficult to do otherwise. So I suppose it's a give and take. In that regard, it doesn't really detract from the story line, and the action just keeps on going non-stop, but it may cause some readers to say hmmmm.

This book is actually classified as a paranormal romance, but it's more of the MaryJanice Davidson chick-lit classification, or even urban fantasy possibly, as opposed to Christine Feehan. More chick lit and kick-ass girl than mushy, gushy, you are my hero crap! LOL Overall, a most excellent read and a definite thumbs up! :)

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 the Year in Review

Hi everyone! And Happy New Year!! I hope you're all having a wonderful 2009 so far.

2008 was an especially slow reading year for me as I only managed to read 37 books! =:-o That's less than half of what I usually read, which is generally somewhere in the 80s. Granted, five of those 37 were "chunky" books, chunky books being those over 350 pages. And it would've actually been six chunkies if I'd managed to finish Witch Ember, which itself is 489 pages. But alas, with all the house stuff going on, prepping in preparation for putting it on the market, plus going through 40 years of accumulated "stuff" (I never used to throw anything away but I am NOW!)... all that really hasn't left as much time this past year for reading.

I suspect I may still be a bit slow for the beginning part of this year, depending on how quickly the house sells and whatnot since it's now officially on the market, but I hope to get back into the groove of things once I get settled out west. :) We're actually planning to drive our RV cross country—3000 miles Boston to San Francisco—while the bulk of our belongings will be shipped and held in storage. But we figured this would be an ideal time to see all those parts of the country we've never seen before as we're primarily a coastal tribe. ;) And this way the bunnies, who also like to go camping, can join in the fun along with us as we become a gypsy caravan for a month or so (longer if we can't find a place to live once we get there)! LOL

Speaking of Witch Ember which I mentioned above, I'd been reading that since the end of November, but long book that it is, I had to temporarily put it aside so that I could squeeze in a few other things I owed and needed to get read in a particular time frame. Fortunately, I left off at a major break point—the beginning of Part 3—so it shouldn't be too difficult to pick up again soon. But for now, I'll be bringing you a few reviews on some books I needed to read for... well... ummm, I can't rightly say right now, but suffice to say, someone will be blowing out birthday candles this month and these books will be joining in the festivities. ;)

Alrighty, so now that all that's outta the way, I can get back to the review I was working on for Charmed & Ready, and update my Currently Reading list with the other book I'm reading now. So look for all that later today. Ta ta! :D