5 for Friday – October 19

It’s my last day of working overnights and I have to tell you that I have really missed you guys.  Sleeping when everyone else is awake has seriously cut back on my Twitter time, and more changes at work are ahead.  A promotion (yay!) is moving me to a permanent 4am-1pm shift.  I’ll be able to sleep close to human hours, but I am going to have to find a new time to troll my dirty Tumblr.  Don’t worry! I won’t abandon my sexy men.

5. I am crying on the inside as I tell you that the release of book three in the Crossfire series is delayed.  (*sobs*) That means we now have to wait an extra five months to see if Gideon and Eva can sort through their crazy-cakes and make it work between them. Reflected in You definitely left me wanting more.

Entwined With You (theoretically) ends my suffering May 7th.

4. My girl Amanda Bonilla has a new novella out, called The Sweetest Torture.

Thirty years ago, when the sultry and headstrong Cait left Logan Paige, the Alpha cougar shapeshifter of his Montana pride, his entire world came crashing down. He couldn’t explain where he’d been the previous night or why there was a strange woman in his bed…because he had no memory of the night before. Wounded and betrayed, Cait refused to listen to Logan’s excuses and walked straight out of his life…determined to exact her revenge on the sexy cougar who had crushed her heart. With a little help from her influential father, she made sure that Logan’s business, as well as his life, crumbled into ruins. Hell hath no fury, indeed.

But now it’s thirty years later and two of Montana’s most powerful cougar prides are on the brink of war. A tenuous peace is reached, but it’s dependent on Cait and Logan marrying on All Hallow’s Eve. Spitfire Cait has her own plans of revenge…using her feminine wiles to turn Logan into a purring kitty lapping cream at her feet. And Logan has his schemes to regain control and dominate like the Alpha he is…

When they realize that the erotic passion between them is still so intense, Logan and Cait will have to decide if dwelling in the past is worth sacrificing the future…

It’s a freebie at ARe.

3. An update on the Chronicles of Nick movie.  Sherrilyn Kenyon now has the script for it in her hands and is working on it with the producers.

What I am really waiting for is info on the Dark Hunters series. Bring on Acheron!!!

2.  Charlaine Harris has released the cover for Dead Ever After, the next (and final) book in her Sookie Stackhouse series.

I will be shocked if Sookie ends up with anyone but Sam, but I suppose only time will tell. Dead Ever After is out May 7th.

1. Is there a Twilight tv-show in the works?  Maybe. There’s talk of “TV show or film spin-off, merely set in the same world as the one in the movies but not featuring the main trio.”

Maybe they’ll focus on the wolf pack. What do you guys think? Are you down for more Twilight or should the franchise call it quits?

Gotta run!

XOXO,
Jen

Review: Deadlocked

Reviewed by Jen

Even if Charlaine Harris had not already announced the imminent end of her Sookie Stackhouse series, you would still know after reading this book that Sookie’s story is drawing to a close. Deadlocked is really the beginning of the end, answering questions, wrapping up storylines, and setting us up for our long-suffering heroine’s happily ever after.

As the book begins, there’s a storm cloud sitting over Sookie’s relationship with Eric.  Will he stay with her or will he agree to marry the Queen of Oklahoma? And even more pressing, will he survive his King’s inquisition into Victor’s disappearance?  The King’s arrival coincides with the death of a were-woman on Eric’s front lawn in an elaborate set-up to frame him.  But why?  In turns, it seems like vampires, shifters, or even the Fae could have something to do with it.

But this book is about so much more than that. Like I said, Harris is tying up loose ends.  From the aftermath of the door closing to Fairy, to what’s going on with Alcide’s pack.  From Tara’s babies, to Bill’s lingering love for Sookie. From that magical fae wish, to whatever happened to Quinn.  Even a shout-out to Barry the Bellboy.   And Sam –who I’ve long believed will be the man holding Sookie’s heart when everything is all said and done– we get some movement on his story too.

I like this feeling that we’re headed toward something.  The ending was big and I have to say, at least for me, surprising.  I enjoyed the book, but the resolution of the fae storyline was not fleshed out enough for me.  I needed a better explanation for that bombshell.  And I felt like the Eric-Sookie drama has been drawn out too long. I’ve always loved Eric, but at this point, there is nothing left of the relationship for me to root for.  I guess that’s the whole idea, but the point felt belabored.

I do think this one is stronger than the last two installments. I believe that the last book is going to give Sookie the happy ending she deserves, and this one gets us half-way there.

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon
Deadlocked
by Charlaine Harris
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Ace

Review: Dead Reckoning

Reviewed by Jen

Have you ever noticed that every time an enemy of Sookie Stackhouse bites the dust, another is waiting in the wings to make her life miserable?  If you think about it, our girl has got a lot of carnage in her wake: from Lorena… to the vamp who killed Hadley… on to Andre and Debbie and Appius Livius. But you cut off the head of one beast and another grows in its place.  Our beast du jour for Dead Reckoning is our old pal Victor.  He is making life more and more miserable for Eric, and he’s an ever-present threat to Sookie.

And he’s not the only one.  Someone has firebombed Merlotte’s; some drugged out thugs are sent to snatch Sookie; and that’s just the beginning!  Sookie has to figure out who is targeting her, while helping Eric come up with a plan to get out from under Victor.

Emotions are running high.  There’s a schism between Eric and Pam, and Sookie knows she has something to do with it.  (The basis of their discord, when it’s finally revealed, is real kick to the gut!)  At the same time, Pam is trying to gain permission to create her first vampire child. And there are major developments in the blood-bond issue between Eric and Sookie.

Sookie is coming to see how much she has changed since the supes have come into her life. Much of what she’s done has been necessary to her own survival, but she’s not sure she likes who she’s become. Things are strained between her and Eric. I’ve been Team-Eric for as long as I can remember, but the cracks are forming. That’s an understatement, really. We see what can easily be the mechanism to separate them once and for all. But things are left unresolved. I just wish Harris would just rip the band-aid off already. I’ve softened towards Bill, though I can’t see the two of them ever reconciling –and we even have a surprise appearance from another potential suitor. But when all is said and done, I feel like we’re just getting more groundwork laid for Sam as an eventual HEA. Sure, he’s got a girlfriend here, but he is now firmly ensconced as Sookie’s best friend. I feel like it’s just a hop, skip and jump from becoming something more.

I can’t wrap up without acknowledging that Sookie makes some great new discoveries about her family history. And we finally know where her telepathy comes from. (A fun surprise, I thought.) We have resolution on the main story arc, but the relationship issues are left hanging in a most frustrating way. I just didn’t feel like the book was as cohesive as some of the ones that came before it.  The best books in the series were obvious in what they were about: whether it was the vampire summit, the evil witches or what-have-you.  The weaker ones tend to meander from event to event, or perhaps more accurately… from disaster to disaster, in Sookie’s life. Almost 4 stars.

Review: Dead in the Family

Reviewed by Jen

This book begins in a very dark place for Sookie Stackhouse.  Her body and soul have been ravaged by the torture she endured in the Fae Wars.  Claudine is dead. Bill is on death’s door.  And Amelia is going back to New Orleans.  But Sookie isn’t one to let herself stay down for long.  With the love and support of Sam and Eric, she is slowly recovering.  And that’s a good thing, because more trouble lies ahead.

Victor, the second-in-command to the new vampire King of Louisiana, has it in for Eric –and by extension, Sookie.  She and Eric are married by vampire law and the blood bond between them is strong. Essentially, she is both a strength and a weakness for the Viking vampire.  Victors games are forcing Eric and Sookie to spend more time apart than she’d like. And she’s quickly becoming a target for Victor’s aggression.

To make Eric’s life more complicated, his maker pays a surprise visit, with a new “child” in tow.  Eric has mixed feelings for his sire, Appius.  There is affection there, but also fear of the control his maker has over him.  Eric’s new “brother” comes in a child’s body. He’s bat-shit crazy –and a bed partner for Appius.  It’s creepy all the way around, but Eric has no power to influence the situation and Sookie has even less control.

While all this is going on, there is an unidentified Fae lurking on Sookie’s property. She must deal with that threat; help the weres with the mystery of who killed one of their pack; and lend a hand to her young telepathic cousin, Hunter.  Oh yeah, and Claude is back, asking to be Sookie’s new roomate.

It wasn’t a bad book. Fans finally get the Sookie and Eric coupledom that has been dangled like a carrot for so long. There’s plenty of action. But there is something intangible missing from this installment. Maybe it’s the change in Sookie, the loss of her innocence and optimism.   Maybe it’s the lack of sexual tension in her love life… she’s got her man and the anticipation is gone.  I’m not sure.  But it was still good stuff and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Almost 4 stars.

Review: Dead and Gone

Reviewed by Jen

They’ve been talking about it for a while, but now the weres of the world are revealing themselves.  And they’re getting mixed reaction.  Most of the folks at Merlottes are accepting (except Arlene and her friends from the Fellowship of the Sun.) But Sam’s step-father freaked out when his mom revealed herself and he shot her, which means Sam has to leave town to deal with family business.

Sookie is taking care of the bar, when Crystal turns up dead.  That sparks the big mystery of the book.   But it’s far from the only thing going on.  There’s plenty happening on the relationship front.  Quinn is out, but he makes a surprise appearance to speak his case.  Of course, the end of their relationship opens the door for Sookie to finally act on her feelings for Eric.  This was a long-time coming and their reunion is intensely satisfying.

And if all that weren’t enough, there’s a war among the fae. And Sookie’s relationship with Niall is making her a target.  The bad-fairies are hunting her. And it all comes to a resounding crescendo as the book draws to a close.  The scenes in which Sookie faces her enemies are gut-wrenching. The circumstances surrounding her rescue are unexpected and powerfully poignant.  Her torture at the hands of the Fae shocked me. Bill’s self-sacrifice spoke volumes about his love for her. And while I still don’t want them together, it makes it entirely impossible for me to hate him anymore. Beyond that, Claudine’s death had to be the very worst part of the book for me. She’s always been such a positive force in Sookie’s life. The tragedy was only compounded by her pregnancy.  And who could forget the last words Niall speaks? (**sigh**) This one was really tough to read, but worth it. 5 stars.

Sookie Stackhouse: Short Stories & Novellas

Reviewed by Jen

The following provides a brief rundown of all the short stories and novellas featuring Sookie Stackhouse and where they fall chronologically in the series.

Dracula Night (Sookie 4.1*) – Sookie is invited to a party at Fangtasia to celebrate Dracula’s birthday.  Eric practically worships the Prince of Darkness and it seems all vamps hold him in high regard. It’s a very fancy affair and Eric goes all-out, in hopes Dracula will show up.  During the party,  a man does step forward claiming to be Dracula. But Sookie determines he is an imposter and stakes him.  (It was a cute short story, but contributes nothing to the ongoing story arc.)

Fairy Dust (Sookie 4.2) – We learn a little bit more about the fairy Claudine in this very short story.  Claudine visits Sookie at Merlotte’s and offers her a job, reading the minds of humans.  We learn Claudine is one of three triplets. But now her sister, Claudia (who is referenced as Claudette in later books), is dead and she wants Sookie to help figure out who killed her. Claudia worked at a strip club with the third triplet, Claude.  He is extremely attractive, kind of rude, and gay.  Sookie pinpoints the killer and goes on her way.  This story is less than two dozen pages, and you don’t need to read it to keep up with the ongoing arc.  I do, however, remember wondering if I missed something when Sookie spoke about Claude like she knew him in Dead as a Doornail.  Well, mystery solved. She met him here.

One Word Answer (Sookie 5.1) – Remember Sookie’s long-lost cousin Hadley? We’ve never met her, but she’s been mentioned several times in the series. She ran away as a teen and Sookie hasn’t seen or heard from her in years.  With the appearance of an unusual man (named Mr. Cataliades) at her home, Sookie finds out that Hadley is dead and has left everything she had to Sookie.  To make matters more interesting, we learn Hadley had become a vampire before her death and was a consort, of sorts, to the Queen of Louisiana. In the course of this short story, Sookie figures out how Hadley died and orchestrates quick justice for her killer.   She also meets the Queen, herself.   The aftermath of Hadley’s death plays out in Definitely Dead.

Lucky (Sookie 6.1) – Remember Greg Auburt, the insurance agent who helped out Sookie when her house caught fire? Now he needs help. It seems someone has been breaking into his office at night and going through his files.  And that’s no small feat because he uses magic to ward the office. Amelia and Sookie work together using Sookie’s telepathy and Amelia’s magic know-how to figure out who is responsible.  It turns out to nothing nefarious. But Greg’s spells designed to protect his clients have been using up all the good-luck in Bon Temps and the other insurance agents are suffering. One connected the dots and had broken in to see his files. Now Greg realizes he must change how he runs his business. (This one has no bearing on Sookie’s ongoing story.)

Gift Wrap (Sookie 8.1) – What a fun little story this was! It’s Christmas Eve and Sookie finds herself all alone. Amelia is in New Orleans. She’s on the outs with Jason. And she doesn’t have a boyfriend. So instead of feeling sorry for herself, she goes on a hike. Not far from her home, she finds an injured man who tells her he is a were who had been attacked. Sookie brings him back to her house to tend to his wounds and one thing leads to another.  After a great night together, Preston is gone, leaving only a note of thanks. We find out at the end he was really a fairy, there as a favor to Sookie’s great-grandfather. Niall had made the arrangements to ensure Sookie had a very Merry Christmas!

All of the above short stories were previously published in various anthologies but were re-released together in A Touch of Dead.

Two Blondes (Sookie 9.1, Death’s Excellent Vacation) – Sookie and Pan take a road trip to visit the casinos in the Mississippi Delta. But it’s not just a pleasure trip. Eric’s boss Victor wants the women to scope out whether Russell’s territory is vulnerable for takeover.  (This short story clearly takes place after Dead and Gone, though Sookie seems to be suffering the ill effects she is dealing with at the beginning of Dead in the Family.)  As Sookie and Pam meet with the vampire owner of an area strip club, they realize they’ve been set up. And they have to take some unusual measures to escape. Let’s just say Sookie’s dancing skills get a good workout.

*Dracula Night is often refered to at Sookie 7.1, though chronologically, it seems to take place before Dead as a Doornail, so I consider it 4.1.
**There are other short stories set in the Sookie Universe, but these are the ones which actually feature Sookie and the characters featured in the books.

Review: From Dead to Worse

Reviewed by Jen

Sookie Stackhouse was hoping for a little peace and healing in the wake of the deadly vampire summit she barely survived. But when she’s not dealing with vampire drama, she’s getting pulled into problems of the were community.

As our book begins, Sookie hasn’t heard from her boyfriend Quinn in weeks.  And she’s been avoiding Eric and the blood-bond that is now between them.  With an unexpected call from Alcide, she finds out that were-women are being killed…  his girlfriend, Maria-Star among them. He suspects the pack-master Patrick Furman and he asks Sookie for her help to get to the bottom of it.  Of course, Sookie uses her gift and manages to figure out who is really behind the attacks, but not before she is targeted twice herself.

Shortly after this is put to bed, there is yet another upheaval in the vampire structure of Louisiana. We find out what happened to Quinn. And I have to say, of the all things Sookie has done and the decisions she has made over the course of the series, how she deals with Quinn in this book has to be the biggest WTF moment for me in the series.  Her decision to break up with him was patently unfair.  I mean, if she didn’t like him anymore or just flat-out didn’t want to be with him, that would be one thing. But to fault a man for caring for his family is just crap.  And for her to say she needs to come first… As if any of her other suitors would put her first. Every one of them would worry about themselves, their pack, their Queen or their entourage before her.  I’ve never understood this and found it abrupt and out of character.  Obviously, Harris needed to clear the path for Sookie to be with Eric, but this just did not work for me.

We also had a few odds and ends here: big developments in the Jason and Crystal front; some movement on the Amelia/witch front; the emergence of new members in Sookie’s family; even a little lingering something on the Debbie Pelt storyline (that should have died with her a couple of books back.) And of course, it all ended with new leadership in both the were and vampire communities.  I love Eric, but what happened with Quinn left a bad taste in my mouth even after the book was over.  4 stars.

Review: All Together Dead

Reviewed by Jen

I’ll admit it.  Relationships are generally my favorite part of any book.  But I actually loved this book for the action.

A few months have passed since the events of Definitely Dead.  Sookie is still seeing Quinn, though their schedules have not allowed them much time together.  Now, Quinn hopes to change that.  With a promise that he is going to take a month off to spend with Sookie, the two finally consummate their relationship. (I have to say here, that while Eric does raise my flag, I really like Quinn. He is good to Sookie and good for her too. But I digress…)

Before he can take that vacation, Quinn needs to work that big vampire summit in Rhodes. (If you’re interested, a Google search informed me that is in Michigan.)  Sookie needs to be there too, as a consultant for Sophie Ann, the Queen of Louisiana.  There are a lot of vampire politics at play.  Sophie Ann is facing a trial for killing her husband. Barry the telepathic bellboy is there as part of the Texas vampire entourage. Eric, Pam and Bill are there with Sophie Ann, as is Andre her right-hand man. The vampire summit is fantastic.  Harris plots out a captivating series of events, many of which seem unrelated at first.  Then they congeal into a larger master plan.  No detail is meaningless. Even the slightest developments mean something and tie in to the explosive end-game. And believe me, it is explosive.

This isn’t to say the book is only about the action. There are major relationship developments, some with long-term effects.  Quinn is Sookie’s main man here. But Eric is right there, his presence a constant reminder that there is unfinished business between him and Sookie.  And a chain of events in the course of the book brings him even further into her life than he was before.  This is where they establish the blood bond that carries over into future books.  As an Eric fan, I have mixed feelings on it. In one way, it brings them together, but at the same time allows Sookie and the reader to question how much of their relationship is real and how much can be credited to the bond.

I can’t say enough good things about All Together Dead. It’s one of the very best in the series. 5 stars.

Review: Definitely Dead

Reviewed by Jen

If you managed to get through Club Dead without hate in your heart for Bill Compton, this book is designed to remedy that. Yes, yes, there is a lot going on in this sixth installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series, but I will always think of it as the book where Bill became dead to me. (I’ll come back to this later.)

Definitely Dead covers a lot of ground. In fact, the first half and the second half felt like they could have been two separate (albeit short) books. The first half doesn’t have much of a unifying theme, except that Sookie’s life is in transition. The big were-tiger Quinn is in Bon Temps, to pursue a relationship with her. They go out on a date and get attacked by weres. We find out Alcide is moving on with a sweet were woman named Maria-Star. Jason’s girlfriend Crystal miscarries her baby. And a whole bunch of other stuff… But the book starts to come together when Sookie is summoned to New Orleans by the Vampire Queen of Louisiana to put her dead cousin Hadley’s affairs in order. While there, she befriends a witch named Amelia, gets closer to Quinn, faces grave danger and becomes embroiled in vampire politics at the highest level.

But as many events as we’re seeing happen throughout the course of this book (and believe it or not, I left some out!)… the interpersonal relationships are what have stuck with me now that it’s over. I’m still sad and disappointed over Alcide. Though his part in the book is small, you feel the end of the possibility of a relationship between him and Sookie. I feel big warm and fuzzies for Quinn. I know not everyone likes him (and his overuse of the word “babe” can’t be ignored,) but he is charming and strong… and most importantly, he is good to Sookie. Being a good guy comes naturally to him. There’s not much of Eric here, though he is always a treat when he’s around…

And then there is Bill. Here we find out the true depths of his deceptions in his relationship with Sookie. Yes, he hurt her with his indiscretions with Lorena. But over the course of the last two books, Sookie was beginning to forgive him and, perhaps, see him as a friend. And then the truth came out. As many tough knocks as Sookie has taken in these books, none have hurt worse than this one. The foundation of her self-worth is badly shaken. And to me, any chance Bill had for a future with her is gone forever. I hope he chokes on a sunshine sandwich. 4 stars.

P.S. If the introduction of Hadley’s death leaves you feeling like you missed something, then you probably didn’t read “One Word Answer.” It’s a short story that details Mr. Cataliades’ visit to Bon Temps to inform Sookie of Hadley’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. It was originally released as part of the Bite anthology and was re-released in A Touch of Dead.

Review: Dead as a Doornail

Reviewed by Jen

I’d never want to stand in a bathing suit next to Heidi Klum.  Or sing after Aretha Franklin.  Who would? We’d all suck by comparison.  Much like any book with the misfortune of coming after the best installment of a series.  The first time I read Dead as a Doornail, I thought it was lame. It’s about Jason and Sam and problems with the shifters.  I want Eric and vampires and sex.  But with a little time and distance… and a patience born out of knowing what will happen next… I can look at the book a bit differently.  It’s still not my favorite in the series.  But the things that bother me about it now are totally different.

This book picks up just a couple of weeks after the last one ended.  Sookie is waiting to see if her brother Jason will shift into a were-panther in the wake of his attack.  And beyond that, she’s worried about how he’ll deal with it emotionally.  That situation resolves itself quickly, but an even greater problem presents itself. Someone is shooting shifters.  First some random girl, then Calvin (the leader of the panthers in Hot Shot,) and now, Sam.  The panthers suspect Jason is to blame, so Sookie makes it her personal mission to find out who the shooter is, to help protect her brother.

In the meantime, the leader of Alcide’s wolfpack is killed (in an unrelated accident.)  Alcide invites Sookie to the funeral and she quickly realizes he is seeking her help in his father’s bid to take over the pack.  We see a new side of Alcide in this book.  One that disappointed me greatly.   This was a guy who it seemed could really fit with Sookie. He is handsome and sexy. He is decent and loyal.  But he also blames Sookie for things that are not her fault. He manipulates. He judges. And he hurts her in the process.  I think watching him fall from the pedestal I placed him on bothered me more than the whole Lorena affair ever dead.

And this brings me to my real problem with the book.  Sookie gets kicked down too many times.  She is a target, over and over. Her home is destroyed.  She is sought for answers in Debbie’s disappearance. She is used and disappointed by Alcide.  She has to watch Bill move on.  She has to live with the memories of what happened with Eric, while he remembers nothing.  She has to shoulder responsibilities for Jason, the shifters, Alcide, her job, her friends… all while living with constant rejection and pain of both the physical and emotional varieties.

It’s not all bad.  We’ve got a great moment where Sookie finally tells Eric what happened between them. And we meet Quinn. (I’m aware not everyone is a fan, but I really ended up liking him down the road.)

I’m just ready for Sookie to get a little light back in her life. Almost 4 stars.