Sunday, December 19, 2010

Harper Connelly Books 2-4

Grave Surprise
by Charlaine Harris

While providing a demonstration for a professor and his class, Harper runs across the grave of a girl she had searched for years before and had not found.  What follows is a dangerous journey to find the killer and figure out why that killer lured Harper to that grave.

Ice Cold Grave
by Charlaine Harris

For the past few years, boys have been mysteriously disappearing.  Initially shrugged off as having run away, the new sheriff thinks something more sinister is going on and calls on Harper Connelly and her special "talent" to find the truth.  What Harper finds is a mass grave filled with the remains of tortured boys.  She also finds out that the killer is not too happy to have had his burial ground found, and now he wants Harper dead.

Grave Secret
by Charlaine Harris

Brought in to simply tell a family whether or not the now-dead patriarch was murdered, Harper comes across the body of assistant who had died around the same time and makes a pronouncement: the girl had died in childbirth and not appendicitis.  Now the family of that patriarch needs to find the child and discover if she is the heir to a fortune, or just the daughter of some random guy.  During her search, she also finds clues to solve the crime of her sister's disappearance eight years before.  But can Harper figure out all the clues before it's too late?

Final thoughts:  The first two books in this series were pretty good.  They had a mystery, drama, and a pinch of the supernatural.  However, the third book (Ice Cold Grave) was when Charlaine Harris seemed to get writer's Tourette's.  Where the first books had been tame enough to recommend to older teens, this third book suddenly became curse central with f-bombs dropped left and right.  Harris also seems to find it necessary to go into great detail about the torture and rape of the dead boys.  Finally, she decided to drop in a semi-incestuous, and very graphically described sexual relationship between Harper and her stepbrother.  The last book felt like Harris was giving up the series (possibly after complaints about the third book) and just wanted to tie up the loose ends.  It was a hasty, messy way to conclude Harper's story and the last few pages were a throwaway to give some closure.

Rating: 3/5 for the series as a whole.  Grave Surprise: 4/5.  Ice Cold Grave: 2/5.  Grave Secret: 3/5

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Grave Sight

Grave Sight
by Charlaine Harris

Harper Connelly makes a living finding bodies and figuring out how they died, but she's not a cop.  When she was young, she was struck by lightning, which gave her the ability to sense the dead.

Yup.  That's right.  She can sense the dead.  They buzz in her brain until she's right over them and then she sees their last moments.

Cemeteries can give her a peaceful buzz or a major headache.  The more recent the death, the louder the noise.  The more violent the death, the scarier the picture.

And while she can see a murder victim's final moments, she can never see the killer.  But that's ok with her.  She doesn't want to solve cases (except for that of her younger sister's disappearance and probable murder); she just wants to find the body, declare the cause of death, get paid, and get out of town.

Unfortunately, while the residents of Sarne need her services, she's very unwelcome while she's there.  And when she finds the body of a dead teenage girl whose mother is murdered soon after the discovery, she now becomes a key person in an investigation where no one wants her around, and someone really seems to want her dead.

With the help of her friend/coworker/stepbrother, can Harper solve a town's mystery when the town doesn't want her around?

Final thoughts:  Nice change of pace from the Sookie Stackhouse novels.  This book is aimed more at older readers (think college and beyond), so it's off my normal YA review path, but it's still decently written.  Now that the basic premise has been set, I'm sure the next books in the series will have less exposition and more plot.  Decent read all around.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, December 10, 2010


by Ally Condie

In the Oria Province, everything is planned.  The moment you are born, you are tracked.  From your first day on Earth to the day you die, your life is mapped out for you.

The Officials track everything you do and plan your day for you.  They send food trays to each person at mealtimes with the exact amount of nutrition necessary and then check the trays when you dispose them to make sure you ate everything.  They watch your sleep and follow you on outings.  They build a physical and psychological profile of you to help them predict your attractions, friendships, and reactions to events.  They know what you're going to do before you do.

Nothing you do is truly private. 


Cassia has always believed in the system.  She was raised with it and has always been a good follower.  On the day of her Match to her future mate, she is eager, happy, and proud.

And when the screen that is supposed to show the image of her Match in another province stays blank, leading to the realization that she's been matched to her best friend, Xander, things couldn't be more perfect.  She gets to marry the one person who knows her better than any other and she gets to continue living in the same province as her family.

But when she goes to view Xander's profile on the microcard, another face appears.  It's the face of another boy she's known most of her life and now Cassia faces the difficult choice: to follow the rules and stay with her Match, or follow her heart and be with Ky.

She has to choose carefully because every misstep is punished and the Officials have no tolerance for changes in the plan.

Final thoughts:  I love this book!  BUT!  I think the dystopian novel is taking over vampire novels as the next "big thing", and I worry that the market will get flooded with bad copies.  Not as violent as The Hunger Games series (Cassia is more of a thinker than a doer, unlike Katniss), the stakes are just as high.  Everything Cassia does affects everyone around her.  Of course, my big pet peeve with this is that it appears to be a trilogy.  I hadn't realized that when I started and now have to wait for the next book to continue the story.  Can no one write one, solid novel anymore?

Rating: 5/5


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