May 5, 2017

Book Review | All The Little Liars

US Hardcover edition
All The Little Liars
Aurora Teagarden #9
Charlaine Harris

Published in Hardcover 2016
This edition published in January 2017

PIAKUS, paperback (format B), 244p.
ISBN: 9780349416236

Librarian Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small town: four children, including her fifteen-year-old brother, Philip, have vanished from the school football field. What's even more worrisome is the dead body found at their last known location. While the local police comb the county for the missing children, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the two incidents have something to do with a group of school bullies? Are Aurora's father's gambling debts related to the disappearance of her brother? Or could it be that Philip himself, new to town and relatively unknown, is the one responsible? With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother ...if he's still alive. 

When Poppy Done to Death came out I was okay that the series wrapped up with Aurora's news.  It was done, complete, and I didn't need more.  Fast forward thirteen years (!!) and the news dropped that Charlaine Harris was continuing her Aurora Teagarden series and although I was excited - she is a great character - my main thoughts were "why?".  

Flash forward, again, to yesterday when I received the paperback edition in the mail.  Instead of jumping right in and devouring it as soon as I'd opened the package, it just sat on the coffee table where I'd placed it.  As I cleaned up before going to bed, I picked it up and put in on the bedside table thinking that I'd look at it at some point.  Then, when I was all snug under the blankets, I realized that I hadn't brought in the book I was hoping to read and instead All The Little Liars was there so I grabbed it and started to read...

... and nintey minutes later I was done.

It was OK.  Really, nothing style-wise had changed in the 13 intervening years.  All the characters felt the same, Aurora, Robin, Phillip, Aida and John, Phil and Betty Jo.  A similar style of mystery coupled with Aurora's inability to leave well enough alone... well, you know how it goes.  Basically, this could have been written 12 years ago for it felt so familiar.

However, there were two differences - Aurora's pregnancy, and her finally standing up to her father and his ex-wife, Betty Jo.  Now, we all knew going in that Aurora was pregnant - this little tidbit dropped in the last book - but Aurora had never stood up to her father about his shitty attitude and lack of responsibility towards his offspring or spouses.  Oh, she may have thought about the things that she'd like to have said, but they never passed her lips... until this book.  It is probably the biggest change in her character.  Is it only because she's pregnant that she's grown assured enough to finally speak her mind?  Well, I'll find out in the next book if it's a character trait that will stick.  I hope it does because self assured Aurora is pretty damn great.

Of the mystery itself, that was well done.  I had an inkling who might have been involved, and I was sort of right.  The disappearance of Phillip and friends was a great way to reintroduce Phillip to the readers, as well as his lackluster parents.  In earlier books Phil and Betty Jo came off as sanctimonious prats, but now the blinders are off and we see them for the self absorbed jerks they are.  I wasn't surprised to find out that Phil was in hot water with gambling debts to some rather unsavory characters (hmmm, will this be a future story arc perhaps?) or that Betty Jo had run off to a commune to get away from not only Phil, but the repercussions of his gambling strife.  Great potential drama, but not worth the aggravation.  I'm really hoping that we don't see more of them in future books.

So while All The Little Liars was a fast paced book, there was just something about it that left me feeling a tad disappointed.  It's been almost 24 hours since I finished it, and I still haven't been able to pinpoint where it fell down for me.  All the elements were there, but for some reason I just wasn't as into it as I'd expected to be.  I'm really hoping that's because I've been reading so many cosy books recently that it's just cosy overload.  I'm definitely going to be rereading this (and all the previous books) before the release of book 10 later this year.

For now, I give All The Little Liars

I hope you enjoyed my quick first thoughts on All The Little Liars.  Let me know in the comments if you have read it, and what your thoughts were about Charlaine Harris picking up the series 13 years later? 

Until next time, my lovelies

May 2, 2017

Book Review | Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
Persephone Books #38
Julia Strachey

First published in 1932 by Hogarth Press
This edition published in 2011 by Persephone Books

Persephone Books, paperback, 119p.
ISBN: 9781906462079

It is a brisk English March day, and Dolly is getting ready to marry the wrong man. Waylaid by the sulking admirer who lost his chance, an astonishingly oblivious mother bustling around and making a fuss, and her own sinking dread, the bride-to-be struggles to reach the altar.

Well, this what not at all what I expected.  After watching a few book reviews on YouTube, I was expecting to find a book seething with emotion, angst and drama - instead I got a story that centers around an oddball family as they muddle their way through the morning of Dolly Thatcham's wedding.

Dolly seems to float through the events under a haze of rum, and Joseph (the ex) hangs around the house like a stray dog, while her family is just tedious.   Little sister Kitty is a gaudy, poor imitation of her beautiful elder sister, and is starting to become man crazy.  The descriptions of her makeup alone would send any gentleman running in the opposite direction!  Then you come across the terrible twosome - her brothers, Robert and Tom.  Robert is continuously going on about Captain Blood, or telling his OCD brother, Tom, to "...go and put your head in a bag." as Tom continuously nags, and manhandles, his brother about changing his socks of all things!  Very odd.

Mrs Thatcham is a disaster as organizer of the household during this stressful time.  She mixed up her buffet orders, double books bedrooms (so to speak, but with funny results), and is oblivious to anything but the goal of marrying off her daughter.

In one of my favourite scenes, Joseph finally unloads on Mrs Thatchum in regards to what Dolly did last summer.  It was probably made up, but there was almost a malicious hint of truth to parts of it that would have made a great addition, and twist, if the story had of been longer.  We only see Owen, the groom, once and that is at the end when Dolly and Joseph were arguing alone in a room and he barges in at the wrong moment.  There is such potential in this book and it is frustrating to see great moments fall by the wayside.

At only 119 pages, I sped through this.  The writing was simple and straightforward, the plot uncomplicated, but that lack of emotion and drama - especially when the ex turns up desperate to speak with the bride before her wedding! - was strange.  Where was the alcohol fueled rant from Dolly about her current situation?  About her discovering that Joseph, the ex, was there?  The wavering of courage and doubt about walking down the aisle?  There was none of that.

So, while not what I was hoping for, CWFTW was still an entertaining way to spend an hour of so, and has me intrigued enough to track down a copy of the adaptation to see what the changed, and how they adapted this into a full length movie.

I'm not sure if I'll collect any more Persephone Books.  They are crazy expensive, especially in Australia, but if you could recommend one last book I should buy what would it be?  Leave a comment and let me know ;-D

And until next time,

May 1, 2017

Pre-birthday splurge

Yeah.  So, this was a thing over the weekend.  Money has been a little tight - still have to pay my electricity and telephone bill this week - but with my birthday coming up I wanted to treat myself to a book or two since my family don't buy me books because they are never sure what I've got, or want to read.  

Enter the smart phone.  I was browsing the Book Depository and Awesome Books websites on Saturday night and after about an hour of idle searching it was a shock to discover that I had 10 books heading my way!  Okay, two were for my mum for Mother's Day, but daammmmn!

Sunday afternoon.  I'm online again and poddling about Awesome Books - again! - adding books to my wishlist (and the cart) when I hit on the 'genius' idea of buying up some more Penguin English Library (PEL) editions to add to my collection.  Yeah, really bright idea.  Bought a further 8 books, and then jumped on AbeBooks to find some OOP PEL editions and ended up spending more money as I found two (and bought a third book anyway)!

So, here is a list of what I bought on this birthday binge of shame...

As you can see, I must have lost my mind for a few hours!  In truth, these are books that I've wanted for a long time - and that I will be reading in the future - so I don't feel too guilty about buying them as a majority of them are used books in great condition.  However, I probably could have timed this splurge better ;-D

In the meantime, I have not been reading as much as I would like.  Everyday chores like laundry, mowing the lawn, gardening, cooking, etc., have been a priority.  Hoping to read Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen this month.  I read Emma last May and loved it, so finger's crossed I have the same reaction to S&S.

Since I've spent way too much recently on books, I'm going to concentrate more on my massive TBR pile (300+ books I think) and get a chunk of that read before I allow myself another book order.  I'll settle for reading 20-30 titles.  It will be a challenge, but with winter only a few weeks away, and the colder nights, I'm hoping to snuggle up with some good books over the coming weeks - there's nothing on TV anyway ;-D

Have you had a huge book splurge?  If you have, let me know how many books you got so I don't feel so bad ;-D

Until next time,