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review 2019-02-19 07:58
Book Review - Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris
Club Dead - Charlaine Harris

As expected, the book follows Sookie Stackhouse, the telepathic waitress from Bon Temps through another set of adventures filled with tension, mystery and a healthy dose of supernatural. After the mishaps from the previous books, the romance gets pushed on the back burner. Vampire Bill seems less interested in Sookie and spends most of his time in secrecy, writing something on his computer, then disappears.

“The sweetest part of being a couple is sharing your life with someone else.

But my life, evidently, had not been good enough to share.”

To make matter worse, a man shows up at the bar she works and tries to kill Sookie. The plot thickens when she finds out that Bill was kidnapped by the Mississippi vampires and it’s all related to his mysterious computer files.

Another of my favorite quotes happens when Eric stops by to inform Sookie that Bill was kidnapped and sneaks into her bed while she sleeps:

“My eyes flew open, and I pushed back against rock-hard shoulders. I let out a little squeak of horror.

“It’s me,” said a familiar voice.

“Eric, what are you doing here?”

“Snuggling.”

The only predictable action in this book is that Sookie goes to Jackson, Mississippi to investigate. After reading the first two books, I wouldn’t have expected it to go any other way. Of course, she’s going put herself at risk trying to save her first love, despite learning he was planning to leave her for an old flame. Her adventures in Jackson take her to Club Dead, a nightclub where vampires and shapeshifters hang out together. To top it off, it’s a full moon, so violence ensues!

The story is well plotted with unexpected twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat while reading. Sookie is in great form and only seems to grow stronger as a character while going through these supernatural adventures.

Although her romance with Bill cools off, the story introduces Alcide Herveaux, a new supporting character that might become a love interest later on. The way he’s portraited in the book, Alcide seems like a good candidate to replace Bill. He’s easy on the eyes, a good man and a werewolf. But in order to be likable, he has to be flawed and he is. He’s doing daytime jobs for vampires to pay his father’s debt and has a psychotic ex-girlfriend. How could you not root for him?! In this book, we find more about the shapeshifters and the werewolves, mostly due to Alcide who fills in a lot of the blanks in Sookie’s knowledge of the supernatural world. Unlike vampires, the rest of the supes have not revealed themselves to humanity. The weres and the shifters are well organized and have their own structured society.

Above mystery and adventure, Mrs. Harris adds humor to all her books. How could you read this with a straight face:

“They found the corpse in the closet of Alcide’s apartment, and they hatched a plan to hide his remains.” Eric sounded like that had been kind of cute of us.

“My Sookie hid a corpse?”

“I don’t think you can be too sure about that possessive pronoun.”

“Where did you learn that term, Northman?”

“I took ‘English as a Second Language’ at a community college in the seventies.”

At times, the characters say unexpected thinks that shock you. And by characters, I mean Eric, the powerful vampire who likes to get a reaction from Sookie any way he can:

“I have always been very fond of you.” He’d always wanted to have sex with me. “Plus, I want to fuck you.”

The book doesn’t rely on obscenities and crude language to shock the reader. Perhaps that’s why when it happens, it’s unforgettable and sure to make you blush. 

Source: www.summonfantasy.com/book-reviews/book-review-club-dead-by-charlaine-harris
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review 2019-02-19 07:55
Book Review - Living Dead in Dallas, by Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris

Although I recommend you read the series in order, the book can be read as a stand-alone. The author explains her universe at the beginning of the book and there are several references throughout the book that get explained for those who skipped the first book. Basically, once a Japanese group created synthetic blood, vampires all over the world “came out of the coffin” and joined mainstream society. This kind of explanation and other references happen in other books from this series too. To be honest, I found this a bit annoying. I say this from the perspective of someone who read the books in order and finds the same things explained over and over again and keep thinking ‘Yeah, I knew this already. Why do you keep telling me this in every book?! If you said it once, it’s enough!’. But I get why she did that and since it’s just a couple of sentences I didn’t find it off-putting.

Just like the first book, this is a fast-paced and action-packed mystery-adventure novel with a complicated romantic relationship that hints at a love triangle later on. The action takes place in a universe where supernatural beings live among us and often wreak havoc in the human world. The characters are generally well written in such a manner that even the bad guys have you rooting for them every now and then. I loved this book as much as I did the first one.

This second book follows the adventures of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse of Bon Temps, Louisiana, as she is ”borrowed” by Dallas vampires to use her telepathic skills to help find a missing nest member. Vampire Bill accompanies her to Dallas to keep her safe which he fails to accomplish. Similar to the first book, there is a murder mystery subplot that needs solving. As expected after the first book, the action is unpredictable and rolls like a rollercoaster while the end result is exhilarating.

Sookie is a fun, relatable character. Although a bit naive at times, she’s portrayed like a strong, down to earth person despite all hell breaking loose around her. I find her very like-able with her quirks, self-deprecating humor and great appreciation of the absurd.

This time, Sookie is attacked by a maenad to sent a message to Eric Northman and wounded badly. When she is in pain while a healer is tending to the wound, Eric does his best to distract her.

“By the way, I haven’t heard an ‘I’m sorry’ from you yet.” My sense of grievance had overwhelmed my sense of self-preservation.
I am sorry that the maenad picked on you.”
I glared at him. “Not enough,” I said. I was trying hard to hang on to this conversation.
Angelic Sookie, vision of love and beauty, I am prostrate that the wicked evil maenad violated your smooth and voluptuous body, in an attempt to deliver a message to me.”
That’s more like it.”

Humor is present throughout the story, mostly in dialogue form between Sookie and Eric. One of my favorite quote from the book takes place right after Eric throws himself on top of Sookie to protect her from bullets during an attack:

“Glass shattered, vampires roared, humans screamed. The noise battered at me, just as the tidal wave of scores of brains at high gear washed over me. When it began to taper off, I looked up into Eric’s eyes. Incredibly, he was excited. He smiled at me.

Eric: “I knew I’d get on top of you somehow,” he said.

Sookie: “Are you trying to make me mad so I’ll forget how scared I am?”

Eric: “No, I’m just opportunistic.”

I wiggled, trying to get out from under him, and he said, “Oh, do that again. It felt great.”

If you like reading a compelling mix of mystery, fantasy, and complicated romance drizzled with snarky comments, then you’re in for a treat!

I love how Mrs. Harris manages to make mayhem, bloodshed and bizarre situations entertaining. 

Source: www.summonfantasy.com/book-reviews/book-review-living-dead-in-dallas-by-charlaine-harris
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review 2019-02-19 07:41
Book Review - Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris

I loved this book immediately because it’s aimed at a more mature audience rather than other books I had read in the same genre, like Twilight by Stephanie Mayer. I find the vampires in this universe to be better developed, with hidden agendas and more well-rounded characters than their counterparts aimed at teenagers.

What I liked most is the way this book was plotted like a mystery. You throw in a couple of murders, set out an investigation combined with character development and the beginning of a love story, mix in plenty of tension, setbacks, and adventures, solve the murders in the end and you get a great book! I’m sure this was due to Mrs. Harris previous experience with writing mystery books.

This being said, it is a fast-paced, action-packed novel that keeps you on your toes. There were very few dull moments if any. If there was something I didn’t like I’d say it was the murderer. At the end of the book when the killer is revealed, although it’s no one you anticipate, it feels a bit meh. But to be honest I didn’t read the book to find who the murderer is, that’s just a subplot.

The action is set in a fictional small town called Bon Temps, somewhere close to Shreveport, Louisiana. The story is written in the first person and follows Sookie Stackhouse, a 25-year-old barmaid at Merlotte’s, the local bar and grill. Sookie lives with her grandma and has a unique ability (telepathy) that she considers more of a curse. Here’s a nice quote on how she makes fun of it:

“My brother, Jason, came into the bar, then, and sauntered over to give me a hug. He knows that women like a man who’s good to his family and also kind to the disabled, so hugging me is a double whammy of recommendation.”

Long story short, she’s a telepath and can hear what everybody around her is thinking without the option of turning it off. That impairs her social life and leaves no room for a love life at all. When she meets Bill Compton, the first vampire who comes to Bon Temps she’s instantly attracted to him because she can’t hear his thoughts and she finds this soothing. Sookie’s thoughts on that:

“Not one man in a million would have allowed me the time without speaking. I opened my mind, let my guard down completely, relaxed. His silence washed over me. I stood, closed my eyes, breathed out the relief that was too profound for words.”

Trying to put her ability to good use she enlists his help to investigate a couple of murders. That gets them both in a lot of trouble and its fun to see how they get through these misadventures.

Sookie has some of the best lines and her snarky side shines through:

“Eric appeared to be counting my eyelashes. I tried to keep my gaze on my hands, to indicate modesty. I felt power tweaks kind of flow over me and had an uneasy feeling Eric was trying to influence me. I risked a quick peek, and sure enough, he was looking at me expectantly. Was I supposed to pull off my dress? Bark like a dog? Kick Bill in the shins? Shit.”

Source: www.summonfantasy.com/book-reviews/book-review-dead-until-dark-by-charlaine-harris
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review 2018-12-17 00:06
Nightshift (Midnight Texas #3) by Charlaine Harris
Night Shift - Charlaine Harris

People are committing suicide at the Midnight crossroads. Once is tragic, twice unlikely and three times definitely more than a coincidence

 

There’s a dark presence under the crossroads. It’s been there for centuries - but it’s waking up. The inhabitants only clue to what it is and what it wants is in a book that none of them can read. They’re running out of time and the dark voice Fiji hears is growing louder

 

Meanwhile Olivia’s family may have finally caught up with her - with lethal repercussions and increased suspicion about the true motives of her neighbours




I really do like the concept of Midnight - a small town in rural Texas where the supernatural gathers, where people with secrets gather to build their new life. Over the last few books this has developed further as the members of the community have grown closer together. And this is something Charlaine Harris has always been very very good at: building a community, building all those little social interactions, those visits and family histories and little gossips that gives a real sense of community

 

This does, in some cases, slow the pacing as various characters discuss their issues with each other, then discuss those issues with other characters and all pry into each other’s business - especially since we have a lot of characters all with their own back stories and issues (which I, again, really like). But it works here because the overall story of this small town is the community that has been built here. So I don’t mind that we spend what appears to be a truly unnecessary amount of time discussing Lemuel’s human life even though it adds absolutely nothing to the plot. Or that we have Manfred’s old cronies from Las Vegas living nearby. Or the time spent gossiping around tables discussing what Chuy and Joe are (which is not known for most of this book and these are somewhat peripheral characters - which is a little weird given what they’re facing). It works because that’s what these books are.

 

I do think Olivia’s story is a little…. Weirdly convoluted. But hey, it’s not completely out there so I can run with it.

 

At times it seems the characters are somewhat distracted from the main plot, largely waiting for Lemuel to translate a convenient book he’s found - convenient in that it has all the answers and plot convenient in that it’s written in a convoluted ancient language for no good reason (and, honestly it makes little sense and really is just a method of drawing out the main plot so they can focus on the smaller side plots and relations. But it works).

 

The plot itself does have those convenience issues and does sort of circle slowly towards the ending rather than run for it - and it has some weird road bumps with Olivia’s story kind of running mundanely across the main supernatural - there’s something dark and evil under the crossroads plot line.

 

 

But the plot was interesting, contained a lot of hooks and some nice diversions and was an excellent vehicle for these characters and the world. Especially Fiji - this book does a really good job of developing the town witch, bringing her past and letting us explore her character but also her growth as she both hardens and decides to live up to her potential: there’s definite character growth there. And her cat is awesome too.

 

I am a little bemused why everyone is super suspicious that Madonna manages to keep her restaurant open with limited custom, yet Bobo has a pawn shop, Chuy and Joe have a combine antiques/nail salon and Fiji runs a new age shop. I mean… there’s not enough custom to keep a restaurant open (despite half the locals eating their regularly) but a magic shop does?

 

There are some… unfortunate lines in this book. I’ve said before that this series has massive improved on the other worlds in terms of less problematic depictions of marginalised people - we have multiple female characters with Olivia and Fiji and even the more minor characters of Madonna and Lenore all feel decent and quite respectful and Olivia and Fiji actually grow together and like each other and may even come close to friends. We have Madonna and Teacher and Chuy and Marie as POC and Joe and Chuy as a gay couple and, while not perfect, they’re so much better than what I’ve seen before. We even have a female vampire who is angry at a man FOR GOOD REASON and this is actually acknowledged as reasonable!

 

 

 

Read More

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/nightshift-midnight-texas-3-by.html
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text 2018-10-30 23:35
Halloween Bingo - Shifters
Dead And Gone - Charlaine Harris

The were and shifter community decides to reveal themselves to humans in Dead and Gone which made it the perfect pick for the Shifters square. It's also the last square I needed for my card.

 

 

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