Category Archives: Recommendations

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

I love mystery novels and if its a mystery series… so much the better. You get attached to the characters by the time you read the last chapter and the knowledge that your association with them is going to last for a couple of books more, is vastly reassuring. I devoured Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series a long time ago. When I began the Aurora Teagarden series, I had no idea it was penned by Charlaine Harris. When I had finished the first book Real Murders in the series, I was intrigued but mildly nauseated with the ending. I decided I won’t read any more. But the next day, I started the next book in the series. And I was hooked. The protagonist of this series is a tiny, bespectacled single librarian with the charming name of Aurora Teagarden, who has a penchant for reading about famous murders and murderers. And in each book, a murdered body turns up somewhere in her vicinity and she finds the murderer with her trademark blend of snoopiness and spunk.

Apart from the superbly handled mystery aspect of the books, what I like the most about this series, is how the heroine Aurora blossoms as the series progresses. She becomes more self possessed, more outspoken, comes to possess an outstanding array of spectacles and becomes increasingly more lovable. I love the way Harris has handled the part where Aurora grieves for her first husband, Martin Bartell and how she emerges a stronger and more mature woman from her misery. I like how the mysteries sound at the outset, as if the perpetrator is a person unknown but how slowly one small thing fits into the other and the killer is revealed to be very much a resident of Lawrenceton, the fictional town where the book is based. The supporting characters are also well sketched out and Harris gently draws the reader into their world, so that you really feel for the characters and find their everyday doings interesting, as if they are people living in your own street. As I write this post, I am down to my last book in the series, the tenth! Need I say more… go and read this book!

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Read Lisa Jewell’s Then She Was Gone yesterday. Started it in the evening and I couldn’t put it down till I had finished it. Then I couldn’t sleep because the story kept buzzing around in my head. I completely forgot that we were in the middle of the Corona pandemic. It is that kind of book… completely absorbing.

The story revolves around Laurel, a middle-aged mother whose teenage daughter Ellie, simply disappeared from the face of the earth ten years ago. Ellie was pretty, smart, charming and her mother’s darling. Police investigation revealed nothing and it was assumed that Ellie was just another teenage runaway. But Laurel refused to believe it. She becomes obsessed with finding out something, anything about Ellie to the point of the ruin of her marriage and alienation of her other two children. Her husband Paul and she part ways. Her other two elder children move out. She exists, just filling in her days, waiting…

Suddenly, ten years later she meets Floyd, a charming mathematician who makes her come alive again. Things which had meant nothing to her for so long suddenly become important…cooking, looking good, reaching out to her family. Her life has meaning again. Then she meets Poppy, Floyd’s nine year old daughter who bears an uncanny resemblance to her Ellie. The book is told from different POVs… Laurel, Floyd and Ellie. Dear reader, I pity you because I have already read the book and you haven’t! Sorry, got carried away 🙂 The author cleverly switches between POVs, keeping you gripping your seat. It was Ellie’s POV that kept me sleepless for a long time. Then there is a fourth POV. Whose that? Hey…that would be telling! READ THE BOOK!!!

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Just finished reading My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. And let me tell you, whatever kind of books you might love, you will gobble this book. I finished it in a day, would have finished it in half if people would have left me alone 😑 Coming to the book, is it a thriller, a really weird love story, a domestic suspense? Heck, I don’t care. I loved it. I wish I could erase it from my mind so that I could have the delicious, wicked fun of reading it all over again! The story revolves around Millicent and her husband, who is incidentally the narrator of the story. The couple is happily married and still in love after 15 years of togetherness. They have two great kids and a lovely home. But something is missing. The spark has gone out of their romance. Most couples experience this at some point of their relationships but I can bet nobody would have tried what this couple does to reignite their relationship. They do something together, something huge, something unspeakable, they murder young woman. Why? Umm..read the story. The way Downing has weaved the story, the couple’s reasoning seems completely acceptable. Help, am I turning into a psychopath! Bet you feel the same way when you read this book.

The narrator loves his wife madly, even after so many years of marriage she remains something of a mystery, a woman he shouldn’t have got. He would do anything for her. Isn’t that what is every woman’s dream. From helping her cook, to picking up the kids from school to stalking prospective women to kill, the guy does it all. But surprisingly, the way Downing has drawn him, you do not hate him; he is actually endearing, he is human. 

As the story progresses, the narrator along with the readers slowly discovers who his wife really is. And what a ride it is! If I tell you about Millicent, it would rob you of the dark fun of finding out for yourself. Suffice it to say, you will not regret it. And you will start looking at everyday, common things which your partner does with new eyes. Oh, and your neighbours. Almost everyone you meet! You just have to read this book! 

The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough

This book is for the days when you feel you have read everything. No plot, no character seems to hold your attention and you keep on impatiently hopping from book to book. At such a time… read The Ladies of Missalonghi. Colleen McCullogh’s writing flows along gently and almost before you know it, you are hooked. Another of her books, The Thorn Birds is more critically acclaimed. Now, I have read them both and I much prefer this one. I must have read it atleast ten times.

Nothing really spectacular happens in the book. The heroine of the book, a thirty three year old spinster called Missy is somebody you would never give a second glance to. She is plain, dark and always attired in brown, poor but respectable. She lives with her overbearing mother and aunt in a house called Missalonghi. Incidentally that is her name! The three ladies live an extremely dull and uneventful life. Our Missy yearns to have a life, to go out alone and walk in the “valley”, to own a cat, to get married. 

And then along comes Una, a spirited, gorgeous widow who minds the library owned by one of Missy’s distant aunts. She lends Missy love stories wrapped in brown paper. Because even at thirty three Missy is not allowed to read that kind of books. Talk about stagnation! The two become fast friends. Una’s sparkling personality rubs off on dull, brown Missy. She tricks John Smith, the man she adores, into marrying her. She sheds her brown uniform and attires herself in sparkly, indecent red, like one of those scarlet women of Caroline Lamb Palace. She gives her wealthy, snobbish relatives who frankly never even knew she existed a piece of her mind sending the ladies into hysterics! She dyes Alicia’s (the clans darling young lady who is incidentally the same age as Missy) gorgeous hand me down apricot dress brown and she does it with cowdung 🙂 Go Missy! This book is a real gem. And it has a startling climax. Want to know what? Read the book…NOW!!!