Tag Archives: mystery

#15 True Blood Omnibus – Charlaine Harris

15 Feb

The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Books 1, 2 & 3 of 13

True Blood Omnibus - Charlaine Harris

True Blood Omnibus – Charlaine Harris

Goodreads rating: 4.19/5 (1400+ ratings)

My rating: 4/10

Why it’s on the list: I love True Blood the TV series, and had already read the first book, Dead Until Dark, and wanted to continue the series.

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Romance

The True Blood Omnibus is made up of the first three books of The Southern Vampire Mysteries:

  1. Dead Until Dark (Published May 1st, 2001)
  2. Living Dead in Dallas  (Published March 2002)
  3. Club Dead (Published May 2003)

I’d previously read, and reviewed Dead Until Dark, so won’t talk about that in this post but check out that review for a basic rundown of the series.

Although I quite enjoyed Book #1, unfortunately I felt like Books 2 & 3 just combined into one long, boring, badly written novel. It reads like a constant circle of; Sookie is in love with Bill > Sookie is angry at Bill > Sookie gets in a fight/is attacked/is taken and is injured > Sookie saves herself > multiple male vampires/werewolves/shifters come to look after her > Sookie wants to have sex with said vampire/werewolf/shifter > Sookie goes back to Bill. And so the circle of Sookie’s life continues.

Unlike the TV Series, where you feel real danger for Sookie, the books make the fighting or tense scenes really quick and like Sookie gets out of bad situations much too easily. The only thing I liked about the books was that Sookie is generally a strong woman (most of the time) and knows what she wants.

The writing is really, really, bad. Sometimes I had to go back and re-read sentences multiple times before understanding what Harris was trying to say. This could be reflective of my reading skills, but somehow I don’t think so.

I will continue to read the series, as I hate to start something and not finish, however if you haven’t started this series yet, I wouldn’t bother and suggest you just go watch True Blood which is awesome.

-H-

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#8 Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

3 Jan

The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Book 1 of 13

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

Goodreads rating: 3.95 (212,100+ ratings)

My rating: 7/10

Why it’s on the list: I’m a huge fan of the True Blood TV Series, which is based on this book series, so I thought i’d read the books too.

First published: May 1st, 2001 by Ace Books

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Vampire (if that’s even a real genre!)

For those of you who’ve watched True BloodDead Until Dark is literally just Season 1 of True Blood.

If you haven’t seen True Blood (you totally should), this series is about Sookie Stackhouse, who lives in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. In the Dead Until Dark world, Vampires are trying to assimilate with humans, however there is still lots of negative stigma revolving around them. They are not treated equally, and in the South particularly, there is a lot of hate directed towards them.

A vampire named Bill moves into Bon Temps, as the vampire scene is kicking off, and Sookie and Bill become an item, which has got the whole town talking. What does a pretty, young, blonde girl like Sookie see in the ‘scary’ old vampire. Coincidentally, around the same time Bill moves into town, a whole spate of horrific murders are committed, leading to a mystery with a cool twist.

If you happen to have seen True Blood before reading this book, you will know everything that’s about to happen, and the series practically mirrors the book to a T. If i’d read the book first, i’d be happy with that, but watching the show first makes it a (obviously) predictable read.

I still recommend it, especially so that you can continue reading the rest of The Southern Vampire Mysteries. 

-H-

#6 Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

10 Dec
Murder on the Orient Express - Front Cover

Murder on the Orient Express – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 4.04 (53,800+ ratings)

My rating: 6.5/10

Why it’s on the list: Like Death on the Nile, this was the 3rd of my brother’s favourite Agatha Christie books.

First published: January 4th, 1934 by Collins Crime Club

Genre: Mystery/Crime

Another Poirot novel, Murder on the Orient Express is set on a train (unsurprisingly). Stout Belgian detective Hercule Poirot boards an unusually packed train, with a variety of other passengers from a wide range of countries and backgrounds. A Count and a Countess, a princess, some maids, a car salesman and a Colonel are just a few of the characters who make up the remainder of the first and second class carriage along with Poirot.

After another passenger is murdered, and some pieces of evidence are left behind, Poirot is called upon by the Orient’s owner to investigate the murder. The train is stuck thanks to the snow, and Poirot determines that no one could have got on or off the train, which means one or more of the passengers is the murderer.

Carriage Layout

Carriage Layout

I liked the layout of the book, which had separate ‘parts’, and when each passenger was giving evidence, they were in different chapters, for example, ‘McQueen’s evidence’, which made it easier to follow and also gave you more of an insight into the characters. The edition of the book that I read also had a diagram of the first and second class carriage so that you could see where people were in relation to the victim. I ended up referring to the diagram quite a bit as I was reading the evidence.

I won’t tell you anymore, as I really don’t like reviews that give away important plot points, however I will say that I was disappointed with the ending of this mystery. As usual, I had my suspects, and as usual, I was wrong. But that’s not what annoyed me. The ‘cop-out’ nature of the solution irritated me, and it was too far-fetched in my mind. Unlike other Poirot novels (eg. Death on the Nilewhich seem more realistic and likely, and are clever murders.

I do love Poirot though, and I do recommend this book to any Agatha Christie fan/mystery lover just because you must read the book to believe it!

Past reviews

“The great Belgian detective’s guesses are more than shrewd; they are positively miraculous. Although both the murder plot and the solution verge upon the impossible, Agatha Christie has contrived to make them appear quite convincing for the time being, and what more than that can a mystery addict desire?”The New York Times Book Review, March 4th 1934

Bits & pieces

  • Christie herself was involved in a similar incident in December 1931 while returning from a visit to her husband’s archaeological dig at Nineveh. The Orient Express train she was on was stuck for twenty-four hours, due to rainfall, flooding and sections of the track being washed away. Her authorised biography quotes in full a letter to her husband detailing the event. The letter includes descriptions of some passengers on the train, who influenced the plot and characters of the book, particularly an American lady, Mrs. Hilton, who was the inspiration for Mrs. Hubbard. [Source]
  • In Sex And The City Season 5 episode “The Big Journey”, Carrie and Samantha take a trip from New York to San Francisco in a cross-country train. Carrie booked a first class deluxe suit in the train, but when they arrive they are surprised to see how small it is. Samantha then quips, “I’m starting to understand why there was a murder on the orient express.” [Source]
  • There is a history of criminals copying crimes from Agatha’s books (whether the criminals knew or not). There was a murder very similar to Murder on the Orient Express committed in West Germany in 1981. [Source]
  • Her last public appearance was at the 1974 premiere of Murder on the Orient Express. [Source]
  • The Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul has an Agatha Christie Room where, it claims, she wrote Murder on the Orient Express. [Source]

Notable quotes

“If ever a man deserved what he got, Ratchett or Cassetti is the man. I’m rejoiced at his end. Such a man wasn’t fit to live!” – Mr Macqueen

“She is cold. She has not emotions. She would not stab a man; she would sue him in the law courts.”  – Miss Debenham

“There is a large American on the train,” said M. Bouc, pursuing his idea – “a common-looking man with terrible clothes. He chews the gum which I believe is not done in good circles. You know whom I mean?” – M. Bouc

“No,” said Mr. Bouc thoughtfully. “This is the act of a man driven almost crazy with a frenzied hate – it suggests more that Latin temperament. Or else it suggests, as our friend the chef de train insisted, a woman.” M. Bouc

“I like to see an angry Englishman,” said Poirot. “They are very amusing. The more emotional they feel the less command they have of language.”  – Poirot

“If you confront anyone who has lied with the truth, they usually admit it – often out of sheer surprise. It is only necessary to guess right to produce your effect.”Poirot

“If you will forgive me for being personal – I do not like your face, M. Ratchett.” – Poirot

#1 Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

20 Nov

Goodreads rating: 3.95 (27,200+ ratings)

My rating: 8/10

Why it’s on the list: I have a brother who is 15 who loves Agatha Christie, and owns about 30 of her books. He recommended this one as his second favourite Christie book (his first shall be revealed at a later time!). Of course, I had to read my brother’s 2nd favourite Agatha Christie book!

First published: November 1st, 1937 by Collins Crime Club

Genre: Mystery/Crime (duh!)

When Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective, boards a cruise up the Nile, he encounters wealthy heiress Linnet Doyle and her husband Simon on their honeymoon. Simon’s broken-hearted ex, Jacqueline, is also aboard.

However all is not as it seems on the old cruise ship. When Linnet is found murdered, Poirot has a shipload (so punny) of characters to interrogate to find the killer. From a maid, a nurse, and a lawyer, to an Erotic novelist, archaeologist and a few socialites, each character has their own variety of quirks and curiosities, and I was constantly rethinking my theories of the murder. Was it the jealous, heart-broken lover yearning for her ex? Or was it the lawyer who didn’t want to be caught stealing? Well, of course I’m not going to tell you who, how or where the murder took place, you’ll have to read to find out!

The best thing about a mystery novel? The guessing game it entails and the inevitable excitement when the killer, and HOW the murder is carried out, is revealed. I can tell you that I didn’t guess correctly!

With love, multiple murders, theft, violence, and the slight humourous quip from Poirot, this book is hard to put down, and at only 288 pages, is a quick, easy read.

Notable quotes

‘How absurd to call youth the time of happiness — youth, the time of greatest vulnerability!’

‘You cannot go back over the past. One must accept things as they are. And sometimes, Madame, that is all one can do — accept the consequences of one’s past deeds.’

Past reviews

“Hercule Poirot, as usual, digs out a truth so unforeseen that it would be unfair for a reviewer to hint at it”. – Caldwell Harpur, The Times Literary Supplement, 20th November 1937

“You have the right to expect great things of such a combination [of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot] and you will not be disappointed.” – Isaac Anderson, The New York Times, 6th February 1938

-H-

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