Author Spotlight – Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris

Author Review – Charlaine Harris
by Catherine H. Armstrong

Just yesterday someone asked me to name my favorite book.  Well, I was stumped!  I really don’t have a favorite book.  I’m not even sure I could name my top ten favorite books, though there are a few titles that I know would be right near the top; like To Kill a Mockingbird, for instance.
No, for the most part, I don’t have a favorite book.  I do, however, have a lot of favorite authors.  Right now, one of my favorite authors is Charlaine Harris.  It seems that everything she writes pulls me in and makes me want more.  No, she’s not succeeded in writing “The Great American Novel,” but she tends to have a way of telling a story that makes the reader want to know more about the characters and simply just want…more.
Harris is most recently known for her Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse Series, about a telepathic young waitress in Louisiana.  This series works under the premise that the Japanese have developed a blood substitute that has allowed vampires to “come out of the coffin” and live alongside humans without being a threat to the human population.  Yes, it stretches the imagination and readers do need the ability to suspend reality for a little while, but somehow Harris makes these books work.  In fact, they work so well that HBO has developed a very successful television program, True Blood, which uses the foundation of Harris’ books to create the television program’s storyline.
Another fun series by Harris is the Harper Connelly series of books about a young woman and her step-brother who travel the country helping people understand how and why their loved ones have died, and even where the bodies can be located.  Similar to the telepathic Sookie Stackhouse, the main character – Harper Connelly – has an unusual gift in that she’s able to sense the location of dead people, and can even tell you how they’ve died.
For those who are less able to suspend reality and prefer something a bit more believable, Harris also has a couple of more “normal” series under the mystery genre: The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, and The Lily Bard Shakespeare Mysteries.  Both of these series are more mainstream  and enjoyable for those who prefer something a little less…bizarre.  Aurora Teagarden is a librarian who has a knack for discovering dead bodies and solving crimes.  She’s smart and witty, and an all-around enjoyable main character.  She’s the kind of character you can enjoy and then pass along to your mother or grandmother and know that either of them will enjoy it, too.
The Lily Bard Shakespeare series is also a more realistic series of mysteries about a young woman in the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas.  Lilly has had a difficult past and has moved to Shakespeare to become a different person with a new life.  Like Aurora Teagarden, Lily Bard has a knack for finding dead bodies and solving crimes.  As much as she tries to escape the violence of her past, it seems to be that it’s her past that makes her best equipped to solve the crimes of the present.  
As with most books in a series, it’s always best to start at the beginning.  While Harris does a good job of bringing new readers into the fold, there’s just nothing like getting to know a character from the first pages of the first book and seeing how that character evolves with each new book release.  With that in mind, readers should consider starting each series with the first books in each as listed below.
Southern Vampire Mysteries:  Dead Until Dark (Book 1)
Harper Connelly Series:  Grave Sight (Book 1)
Aurora Teagarden Series:  Real Murders (Book 1)
Lily Bard’s Shakespeare Series:  Shakespeare’s Landlord (Book 1)
For more information about Charlaine Harris or her many enjoyable novels, visit the author’s website at www.charlaineharris.com.
What do you like to read?  Do you have a favorite author and, if so, who and why?  Leave a comment below and help me (and other readers) discover our next favorite authors.

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