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Pick-a-Shelf: Monthly -Archive > 2017-06 - Southern Book Reviews

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Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) | 2801 comments Mod
It's time to get immersed in Southern charm and start reading those books set in, about, or with authors from The South. There are a lot of great books on the list from classic to contemporary, and I look forward to hearing about how the ones you picked to read turned out. If you are like me, though, you will probably end up reading a book that you didn't even have on your list, lol.

Anyway - review away!


message 2: by Karin (new)

Karin | 794 comments The Julius House by Charlaine Harris 3 stars (set in Georgia, shelved Southern at least 10 times)

Aurora Teagarden, engaged to be married, has been given the Julius House by her fiance and is overseeing its repairs and maintenance with some help with friends of Martin in the weeks leading up to her wedding. No ordinary house, the Julius family went mysteriously missing 6 years prior, and have never been found. However, Mrs. Julius' mother had been granted the right to sell the house with the money to be put into estate. Aurora, naturally, takes to searching for clues and perhaps even bodies while Martin is busy travelling with work. You can read more of the summary on the main page of this book.

This was enjoyable, and somewhat better than the first two book. While the basics of the missing family and possible murders, etc, remains the same, this is still very different than the movie. I saw the movie first, and found book 2 wasn't as good as the movie. This one, however, I liked equally as much, despite the major differences.


message 3: by Karin (new)

Karin | 794 comments A Fool and His Honey by Charlaine Harris 3 stars (shelved Southern at least 5 times)

After an odd incident with a handyman gone bonkers in her yard, Aurora (Roe) Teagarden has an unexpected guest- her husband Martin Bartell's niece, Regina shows up with her new baby that no one knew she was expecting. Roe and Martin have an important dinner they can't reschedule. When they return home to find a dead man's body, Regina missing and the baby hidden, they are flummoxed. What's more, the next morning they stumble across a sleeping man who has been hiding behind their couch. Desperate to find Regina, and suddenly caring for a baby with absolutely no prior experience, they return to where Regina was living to see if they can find her.

This is an enjoyable read, and, one again, quite different than the movie based on it (A Bundle of Trouble), so if you have read all of the series be prepared. They are both enjoyable in their own way.


message 4: by Tien (new)

Tien (tiensblurb) | 8406 comments Mod
I didn't know there were movies based on this series?! I've still yet to read them too... sounds pretty average easy reads though so I don't think I'm in a rush for them.


message 5: by Karin (new)

Karin | 794 comments Tien wrote: "I didn't know there were movies based on this series?! I've still yet to read them too... sounds pretty average easy reads though so I don't think I'm in a rush for them."

They are made for TV movies on the Hallmark channel over here. I'm not sure if those make it over to Australia or not.

They are pretty average, easy reads. I like the movies better, but they have been changed quite a bit and updated, but I started watching the movies first. Still average movies, nothing brilliant or anything, but clean cut (more clean cut than the books, actually, although I'd still lean toward cozy mysteries for them).


message 6: by D.G. (new)

D.G. | 1370 comments I read The Restorer (Graveyard Queen, #1) by Amanda Stevens , which is as southern as you get, specially if you listen to the audiobook. I totally loved it (rated 4-stars). The atmosphere is great (set in Charleston, a city I simply love), the love interest is broody and grrr! and the whole plot is so gothic. Totally recommend it! I'm dying to start book 2. :)


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3390 comments Mod
You're right, Lyn. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter wasn't on my list. But I''m very glad this month's shelf led me to choose it, because I really liked it. My review here .


message 8: by Bea (new)

Bea | 4358 comments Mod
I read Cold Mountain, which is set in the VA - NC area where I grew up. I was fascinated by the experiences of Inman and Ada. Even though the storybook ending of the man gets the woman and all is well did not manifest, it was still a nice ending...with resolution for Ada and Ruby that felt real.


message 9: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1044 comments I read Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse, #5) by Charlaine Harris and enjoyed it although it isn't as good as the previous book. I liked the fact that the story highlighted some of the more negative aspects of the various supernatural groups, which have, until now, been presented in a generally positive light.

Sookie is, once again, catnip for every supernatural male in the area. While she is a smart, witty and resourceful heroine, it is not clear why so many of them have the hots for her.

Looking forward to the next one.


message 10: by Tien (new)

Tien (tiensblurb) | 8406 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "Sookie is, once again, catnip for every supernatural male in the area. While she is a smart, witty and resourceful heroine, it is not clear why so many of them have the hots for her. "

I can't remember which book actually divulged her 'background' and that should explain to an extent her 'attraction'


message 11: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1044 comments Tien wrote: "I can't remember which book actually divulged her 'background' and that should explain to an extent her 'attraction'"

Thanks Tien. It will be interesting to know the reason.


message 12: by Joyce (new)

Joyce (eternity21) | 567 comments Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard, #1) by Charlaine Harris

I read Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris I went to this series because I had finished all the Sookie books ( I miss them). I didn't enjoy this one quite as much probably because I usually go for the supernatural types. But I do like a good mystery.

It is set in Shakespeare, Arkansas. The main character Lily Bard is a housecleaner and errand person etc. She will clean just about anything you ask her to clean including one client's dog. She has a mysterious background of which you do find out about in the book. She sees someone using her garbage cart to carry something out and goes to investigate and finds the body of the Landlord who also lives in her building. She gets unwanted attention from the police. She does eventually help solve the murder.

I enjoyed this new flawed character. Looking forward to reading more in this series. I might try to get another one in before next month.


message 13: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 793 comments I read Miss Julia Hits the Road by Ann B. Ross. This is number 4 in a series about the widowed Miss Julia, a southern lady who in the first book had a big shock when her dead husband turned out to have left a little son she didn't know about. But she took it in her stride and these are winning comedies about a stubborn and often wrongheaded southern lady with a heart of gold. They're not really mysteries although a lot of readers seem to shelve them that way.

In this book, Miss Julia has to ride on a motorcycle to raise money for charity. The charity has been formed to save the homes of her servant Lillian and her neighbours who, it's pretty clear, are not white. The downside of this book is the way these characters are shown as innocent and gullible to the extent of being almost like children. Miss Julia is a stereotype too, of course - but two wrongs don't make a right, as my mother was fond of saying when we were growing up. They're entertaining books but I hope the rest of the series will show African American characters in some different roles.


message 14: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 1328 comments I finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Here is my review:

I was a bit ashamed I'd never read this novel, everybody else seems to have done so, I was likely one of the very few who hadn't yet. So I decided it was time for me to read it, too. I have to admit I was a bit scared - I don't know why, but I had this feeling that it would be a boring novel. It's strange, really, because all of my friends seem to love it.

Anyway, it was far from boring. It took me quite a long time to read it (6 days for a 385 pages book), but that's only because of work. Certainly not because it was boring. On the contrary, it was very interesting and kept me glued to the page, so much so that it was sometimes difficult to get back to whatever else I needed to do.

The story is excellently told by the author who really lets us hear Scout's voice. I really felt I was reading the thoughts of an 8-year-old girl living in Alabama in the 1930's. I never felt Lee's voice behind Scout's. In this respect, the author was amazing. She was also great in telling a story of racism, intolerance, prejudice, but also the story of a little girl and her brother and friend, the story of life in a small town in the South, the story of little Scout's "coming of age" (obviously she's not technically of age at the end of the novel, far from it, but she's definitely more mature and has a glimpse on the adult world vs. the innocent childhood in which she was wrapped before).

I don't think I will ever want to read Go Set a Watchman, and that's exactly because I loved this book. I thought the ending was perfect - of course I'm curious to know what happens to the characters next, but I don't really want to know. I don't want to spoil a great story and a beautiful ending. I'm just not interested.


message 15: by Karin (new)

Karin | 794 comments Marina wrote: "I finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Here is my review:

I was a bit ashamed I'd never read this novel, everybody else seems to have done so, I was likely one of the very few who h..."


I'm so glad you liked this. While Go Set a Watchman is good in a different way, I agree that stopping here is a great idea. After reading Go Set a Watchman I could see why Harper Lee resisted having it published for so many decades.


message 16: by D.G. (last edited Jun 22, 2017 04:09PM) (new)

D.G. | 1370 comments I have no desire whatsoever to read Go Set a Watchman. Given that HL wrote it first, it seems to me that she had a different idea of the characters than when she wrote Mockingbird.


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3390 comments Mod
D.G. wrote: "I have no desire whatsoever to read Go Set a Watchman. Given that HL wrote it first, it seems to me that she had a different idea of the characters than when she wrote Mockingbird."

Agreed. And there seems to be some disagreement about whether she wanted to allow it to be published even now. So I've put it on my "No." list.


message 18: by Sassafrass (last edited Jun 24, 2017 03:37PM) (new)

Sassafrass (sass-a-frass) | 603 comments I read Sweet Tea and Secrets (*3 STARS*) on 6/21/17, it was ok. I tried to not be as harsh because it was more preachy than books I'm used to reading, but it an easy read. Very predictable but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

I also read Riveted (*4 STARS*) this month on 6/2/17. It's not on a "southern" shelf but the majority of it was set in Mississippi. It was an enjoyable read but I have few problems with it. It didn't mess with my enjoyment of the story, I just had a few things in the back of my mind about the lack of black representation in a book where the main character was half black.


message 19: by Christina (new)

Christina Byrne (cmbyrne87) | 144 comments For this month I read Beautiful Darkness. It is the second book in The Caster Chronicles. While it wasn't bad I just did not get into it quite as much as I would have liked to. Maybe it was because it has been quite a while since I read the first one? I don't know, but just didn't pull me in. Oh well.


message 20: by Elvenn (last edited Jul 11, 2017 06:57AM) (new)

Elvenn | 693 comments From this month's shelf I read Taltos by Anne Rice, the third book of the Lives of the Mayfair Witches series and, for a while, how their story ended.

The book starts as we witness a Mayfair family that's trying to recover from the chaos unleashed in Lasher, but unforeseen consequences of previous events have triggered changes within the family and the Talamasca and brought the existence of Lasher to the attention of Mr. Ash, an elusive millionaire.

Though there's some action in its first half, the book seems to be more about tying loose ends and explaining past events than bringing a new novel about the witches and it left me with the impression that I had read the conclusion of the story around its middle and that (with the exception of a few moments here and there) everything after that had been one long epilogue. Moreover, in this second half, the book didn't seem to maintain the same quality and when I reached the usual Anne Rice moment- when the (insert creature) tells its story-, I found it a bit forced.

In spite of this, I enjoyed the book a great deal and felt that, though with less depth than the first one and less violence than Lasher, it didn't disappoint as a closure.

Rating: 4 stars, 4.5 when I remember some of the other books I've rated with 4 stars lately...

Taltos (Lives of The Mayfair Witches #3) by Anne Rice


message 21: by Becky (new)

Becky (becnelli) I read To Kill a Mockingbird and loved it. I couldn't agree more with Marina's review above. In addition to those comments, I loved how the book progressed and didn't dive into the deeper issues until the second half.


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