2015, Ace Books, Aurora Teagarden Series, B Rating, B-Minus Rating, Charlaine Harris, Double Review, Harper Connelly Series, Lily Bard Series, Midnight Texas Series, Paranormal Mystery, Posted by Emily, Sookie Stackhouse Series, Urban Fantasy
I’m a way-back Sookie fan (pre-HBO series, people). I remember toting my oldest child, now 12 but then about 2, to the library and discovering Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse series. I was smitten. After I read Sookie, I discovered Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series, her Harper Connelly series, and her Lily Bard series. And yes, I devoured them all. I enjoyed some of these books and series more than others, but I always enjoyed Harris’s writing style, so when the chance arose to review two books from her latest trilogy, I quickly signed on. Read on for my thoughts on the first two books in the Midnight, Texas series.Midnight, Texas, Book 1 Publisher: Ace (Penguin) Source & Format: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley; digital Official Summary Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town. There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own). Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth.
You may have caught on from the mention of my daughter’s ages in the introduction, but it has been a long while since I’ve read anything by Charlaine Harris. Not by design, mind you, but more because I thought I had read them all. I am not very good at tracking new releases and watching for authors to publish – and honestly, my TBR pile is the size of a small nation, so I tend to forget to check and see what is new by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past. In this case, I was quite pleased to discover Harris had a new series and eagerly started reading Midnight Crossroad with absolutely no idea what the book was about. Would there be vampires and mind readers like Sookie? Martial artists and detectives like Lily Bard? People who can communicate with the spirit world like in the Harper Connelly series, or mysteries to solve like in the Aurora Teagarden books? Imagine my joy when I got a little bit of everything! Yep, I know it sounds a little crazy, but somehow, all these aspects are part of the Midnight, Texas series. And on top of that, I got to see and catch up with folks from all her previous series, or at least from all the ones I’ve read. In fact, while I know for certain that the four series I mentioned have some sort of carry-over into this new series, there are probably more subtle references to prior books I’ve missed that those who are more up to speed with Ms. Harris’s writings would catch on to.
Even before I caught on to the subtle tie-ins to her previous books, reading Midnight Crossroad felt very familiar. There is a certain “feel” to a Charlaine Harris book. This is a difficult thing for me to explain, but I’m gonna try. (Sheesh, the things I do for you guys!) By the “feel” of her writing, I mean that Ms. Harris has a very distinct style. Her writings come across as having a rather Southern feel to me – kind of a sultry, subtle feel. It’s not really “lazy,” but while there may not seem to be a lot of THINGS happening in a scene, things are surely happening and you suddenly realize you almost missed it. Oh, and the blunt honesty of the characters’ thoughts and actions is so different. There is nothing flowery about their thoughts, nor are their thoughts qualified or justified. Harris just writes their thoughts like they really think, the good and the bad, and you realize no one is perfect (bless their hearts), everyone is flawed, but you can still like them anyway. They even tend to live what comes off as kind of mundane, boring lives, but underneath, you start to catch on that there is more to each of them than what you first think. Much more.
I’m trying hard to be kind of subtle myself with this review. I am not going to give away much about the actual plot. I hate spoilers, and the blurb for this is so delightfully vague, I’d feel guilty giving anything specific away. I will say that nailing down one genre to classify this book is difficult. While it was touted as urban fantasy, I thought it was more a quirky mix of mystery, suspense, and paranormal. Oh, and the “urban” in urban fantasy is quite a myth since this book is set in the smallest of small towns imaginable. For romance fans, there is not much of that aspect in Midnight Crossroad, but there is a small glimmer of a relationship developing that may progress in future books (or at least I hope so!).Bottom Line
I’m not sure this would be the best series to start with for those who haven’t read Charlaine Harris before or for those who crave a lot of action and adventure. I liked this book because of all the tie-ins to her previous series and the “coming home” feeling of reading a familiar and beloved author after a long hiatus.
If you have read and liked Harris’s non-Sookie series, I’d recommend Midnight Crossroad for sure! If you haven’t tried any books by Harris, you may want to start with the tried and true Sookie Stackhouse series or the Harper Connelly books, my personal favorites.
Rating: B- (3½ stars)Buy Digital: Kindle | Nook Buy Print: Amazon | B&N
Midnight, Texas, Book 2 Publisher: Ace (Penguin) Source & Format: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley; digital Official Summary There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous. Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular—and very wealthy—clients dies during a reading. Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…
In my review of Midnight Crossroad (Book 1), I mentioned the subtle, “lazy” feeling in Ms. Harris’s writing that I know and love, and I found that same style (thankfully) in Day Shift. They both have a lush, sultry Southern feel, with blunt characters living arguably rather boring lives, but there is more action and suspense in Book 2. The groundwork has been laid, characters have been established, so things are allowed to move faster. And they do.
However, don’t get me wrong, while the mystery and suspense aspects develop further in this book, it is still in no way a suspenseful cliffhanger-type of a book where there is constant activity and adventure. It is still a slower paced read, full of nuances and layers. With all the recounting of day-to-day things, it’s easy to think the folks in Midnight live boring lives. People go to the restaurant and eat. They go to work, make dinner, talk to their pets, and look both ways when they cross the road. Every time. It doesn’t seem like things are really happening, but a few pages later, you realize that there is meaning in everything and things become more complex in a “sneak attack” kind of way.
In this series, like past series I’ve read by her, Harris excels at layering the characters, book after book, chapter by chapter. They are more complex, not one dimensional or static, and develop throughout the series. For example, while I started to catch on in Midnight Crossroad, in Day Shift, you really start to figure out that the residents of Midnight, Texas are NOT at all what they first seem. Again, it’s hard to explain without giving too much away, but there are some very, um, well, DIFFERENT people residing in Midnight. It starts to make sense why they would choose to live in the middle of nowhere, in a town with a population that can be counted using just your fingers and toes.
In addition to the lovely feel of Ms. Harris’s writing and the interesting people of Midnight, there is another dose of the “way-back” machine. Yes, another character from a prior series pays a visit to Midnight in Day Shift. In fact, there may be others I didn’t catch, so let me know if I missed anyone else who was new to this book and in a prior Harris series (I’ll look for your comments, fellow Harris readers ).
While I loved and appreciated the “old home” feel of this book, I don’t think this book (or the first book) is for everyone. Those looking for lots of action, romance (er, yes, Sexy Time), and humor may not find this book enough of any of those things. I know I’ve said it before, but think subtle. I myself don’t always read a slower paced book like this, but I can appreciate them from time to time. I actually liked that I could put this book down and read it over a few days instead of one marathon session. In fact, I looked forward to reading it multiple nights in a row and dwelled on it a little longer. Kind of strange that a book that didn’t GRIP me (instead, it almost comforted me) actually made me think about it more than one I devour in a night and then move on from immediately to the next, huh?Bottom Line
This book is, in my opinion, a necessary read for those who’ve started the Midnight, Texas trilogy with Midnight Crossroad. If you read Book 1, surely you must read this one too! Day Shift could be read as a stand alone, but why go that route if you don’t have to? The way we get to slowly learn about the characters over time as layers are peeled back one at a time is kind of delicious and addicting. I can’t wait to see what I find out about Midnight, Texas and the people who live there in the final book, Night Shift (due out next year)!
Wine/Beverage Pairing: I’m pairing both these books with Small Town Brewery’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Seems a perfect fit – the small town aspect is sooooo Midnight, while the kookiness makes this read not for just anyone.Buy Digital: Kindle | Nook Buy Print: Amazon | B&N
More Books by Charlaine HarrisGoodreads Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Nook
Goodreads Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Nook
Goodreads Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Nook
Goodreads Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Nook
Midnight Crossroad Giveaway
To enter for your chance to win, you must:
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- Returning to an author you have read in the past and enjoyed is like eating your favorite comfort food. This series gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and left me with a desire to reread books from Ms. Harris’s previous series. Hit the comments and tell me about your favorite comfort reads that either gave you a warm fuzzy or triggered some rereading.
Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 11:59 PM (CDT) and the winner will be notified via email on Thursday, May 7.