Book Review: From Dead to Worse (Charlaine Harris)

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Book #8 in the Southern Vampire Mysteries Chronicles

What I liked:

There were some stories that hopefully came to a close, and I was thankful for that. Alcide becoming packmaster was finally one of them. At this stage you need a large dose of being able to deal with a lot of fantasy, because the were war and Sam turning into a lion was quite a lot to handle. I also liked that Eric got his memory back to the time he spent in Sookie’s house, and hopefully they will get together some time soon.

Some of my favorite characters were included a bit more. Sam definitely springs to mind, as I really like him. I don’t I think that he and Sookie would work out, but he is an enjoyable, affable guy without too many chips on his shoulders, completely unlike the other supernatural creatures. We also had some more Eric. Reading the novels just proves what an excellent casting Alexander Skarsgard was for this character – the look and the attitude is spot on, and I honestly can’t think of anyone else who would have been a better fit.

The characters I appreciate less – especially Bill and Sophie-Anne, were featured very little or not at all. Bill really only had a few pages where he showed remorse and wanted Sookie back etc. etc. Sophie finally met her end, and I was really not that sorry to bid her farewell.

I was also really happy when they turned Bob back to his human form. That was stupid to the ninth degree, and I am glad it’s done. I’m fine with Amanda as a character, but this part was way too grating.

What I didn’t like:

The story escalates in incredibility and preposterous some more. I think the worst is Sookie being 1/8 fairy, and the inclusion of her grandfather Niall. There really isn’t a need for more supernatural beings at this point, and it is getting tiring to read about it.

The conclusion with Quinn – I thought he was a good character and thought he was both human and supernatural enough to deal with Sookie and all her shit. She basically ends up dumping him because he has family problems, and that is a really mean thing to do.

Jason and Crystal have to be two of the most boring and grating characters in these books. Hotshot was always a strange decision to include, and I hoped that after Sookie turned down Calvin Norris they would move on to better things. However, it was just another case of Poor-Sookie-needs-to-get-involved, and it was exhausting. The whole crushing of fingers business added some more stupidity – it was marketed as this dangerous treatment and ended up as a mild joke considering the Panthers heal so fast.

Sookie saving everyone – at the Were war, Eric and Sam and the New King, taking Octavia in, breaking Calvin’s fingers. Man, this girl loves the drama too much.

Rating: 7/10

From Dead to Worse was a much more enjoyable read than the previous book in the series. I generally liked everything more and getting to read about some of my favorite characters a bit more cheered me right up. I thought the idea of Niall and fairies are still an impressive waste of my time, and hope they disappear in the next book!

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Series Review: True Blood Season 1

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Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is a resident in Bon Temps, a small southern town. She lives with her grandmother and works as a waitress in Merlotte’s, who is owned by Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammel), a man with a secret, a murky past and a great crush on Sookie. Sookie’s life isn’t easy at all – she has telepathic abilities she struggles to control, and spends a large portion of her time having to try very hard and not to answer unspoken questions.

The world changed when vampires declared their existence after the successful manufacturing of True Blood, a synthetic yet effective form of blood. Provided with a food source that wasn’t alive, they could safely come out and live amongst their breathing counterparts. The world is still much divided – some people are obsessed with vampires and their super healing and hallucinogenic blood, others are wary and some like extremist church Fellowship of the Sun are extremely against their existence, citing them as an abomination sent from the devil.

Sookie isn’t quite a vampire fanatic, but she wants people to accept them because she understands too well the feeling of being secluded just because you are different. Merlotte’s gets its first vampire one night, and Sookie is immediately taken with Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), who seems to respond to her as well. She saves Bill’s life after he is attacked for the purpose of being drained of blood, and after his initial displeasure of a woman saving him they start a tentative relationship.

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Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) is Sookie’s brother. He seduces the ladies left, right and centre and lands himself in a spot of trouble when everyone he bangs ends up dead. Jason knows he’s innocent, but detective Andy Bellefleur doesn’t think so. Jason becomes hooked on V, an acronym for Vampire Blood, and the town drugdealer Lafayette eventually refuses to sell it to him. Desperate for more blood, he heads to vampire bar Fangtasia where he meets Amy Burley. She provides him with V and they become involved, although it quickly becomes clear the Amy isn’t nearly as harmless as she appears.

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Sookie feels the need to clear her brother’s name, and quickly establish that all of the deceased ladies had previously had some sort of dealing with vampires. Bill agrees to take her to Fangtasia, so that she can listen to the thoughts of the humans there to maybe find out what is going on. It is at Fangtasia where Sookie meets Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) a prominent figure in the vampire community. He is Bill’s boss and very old and powerful, and everyone defers to him. Sookie saves Eric and his right hand Pam (Kristin Bauer) from a police raid and when Eric establishes Sookie’s powers, he uses her to find out who’s been stealing from him. Bill is forced to kill the offending vampire and as punishment he is ordered to turn a young girl into a vampire.

This however, does not prove Jason’s innocence, and when Amy is found murdered next to him in bed, he is finally charged with murder. Can Sookie prove Jason’s innocence? Who is actually behind the brutal murders? How will Jason cope knowing he was zoned out and couldn’t prevent Amy from being killed right next to him? What will Sookie do when she finds out that Bill turned an innocent girl into a vampire?

Rating: 6/10

Look, I don’t think I will offend anyone by stating that this is one of the worst pilot seasons ever made. The acting is atrocious, there is no chemistry, and the characters are annoying as hell. Tara Thornton is probably the most annoying person ever written. There is a very fine line between honesty and rudeness, and she is quite often on the wrong side. The actress irritated me endlessly and the character was devoid of any associability for me. I am not overly fond of the casting of Sookie Stackhouse, but made peace eventually with Anna Paquin as she puts effort in and improve with time. The casting of Sam Merlotte worked out very well and he is what I thought Sam would represent. I also think the casting of Alexander Skarsgard as Eric was perfect because physically he IS Eric and his acting is some of the best in True Blood. Stephen Moyer is a thorn in my side – the way he pronounces “Sookie” makes me faintly mad with irritation. He joins the dubious acting side of the cast and pretty much irritated me the entire season, but since the character in the books are just as annoying, maybe he was just doing his job.

Bon Temp is also very much like I thought it would be. It is dinky and run down and the residents are dancing the narrow line if when crossed could be rated hillbilly. Some characters I enjoyed plenty: Lafayette, Arlene, Hoyt and Terry. They are all unique or sweet and make the show liveable. Lafayette especially intrigued me because while he is obviously gay and a bit of a transvestite, everyone knows not to ridicule him or mess with him. Andy Bellefleur is exactly what I hoped he would be: a bit of a bully in desperate need of affirmation.

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True Blood isn’t exactly as the books written by Charlaine Harris, but there is enough in for you to know what is going to happen eventually. I liked most of the changes, although I didn’t really enjoy the extreme transformation Tara went through – her role in the story completely changed and her nature as well. I don’t think all the sub plots of True blood is really necessary – Tara’s whole drama with her mother (why are we interested and what influence does it have on the plot development?), Jason’s incessant banging and subsequent troubles were way too exploited, even though I eventually grew fond of his vacant expressions.

True Blood season one was absolutely dinky and painful in some places and tries desperately hard to be dark, broody and sexy, and fails most of the time. I persisted through the tortuously slow first episodes and the last are more palatable. I am watching Season two now, and it already improves on many of the first’s mistakes.

Recommendation: Vampire Diaries is by far the more enjoyable between these two series, but if you’ve had your run of VD and needs something new in a dying genre, give it a try, but don’t get your hopes up for instant addiction.

Book Review: Dead to the World (Charlaine Harris)

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With Bill travelling Peru to continue building the vampire database the vampire queen of Louisiana wants, Sookie Stackhouse is rebuilding her life in Bon Temps without him. She has a lot to focus on – her brother is dating a shape shifter, she is still working on her self-control to not read people’s minds, and she is also dealing with the snide remarks about her previous relationship with the vampire.

Sookie finds Eric Northman on the side of the road one night, stumbling, clad only in jeans. There is obviously something very wrong with him – he can’t remember anything about his life or even his position as the Sheriff of Vampire area 5. Pam and Cho show up, and they ask Sookie to look after Eric while they try and catch the witch that cast the spell on Eric. Jason, Sookie’s brother, negotiates a massive fee for Sookie’s help, and the vampires reluctantly agree because they know the witches have put a large price on Eric’s head should he be delivered to them.

The offending witch is Hallow, a powerful, underhanded and corrupt woman who drinks vampire blood and that, combined with her powers, makes her a formidable enemy. Pam tells Sookie that the witch wanted profits from Eric’s vampire bar, Fangtasia, as well as Eric for a lover, and when he refused, she cast the spell on him.

Sookie has another problem to deal with when Shirley Hennessey, Jason’s boss, calls to ask where Jason is because he isn’t at work. Worried, Sookie checks up on him, but although his truck is at home, he is missing. The police don’t seem too overly worried about this, as Jason is known to do whatever he wants.

Sookie takes it upon herself to find her brother. The options of his whereabouts are endless. When the police find tiger tracks near his house, they think he was mauled to death. Sookie also knows that Pam and Cho could very well have taken Jason hostage as insurance while she takes care of Eric, and Sookie is also worried that Hallow and her coven might have taken him.

With Eric having no idea who he is, devoid of his charming but offensive personality, he and Sookie soon become lovers. Pam and Cho propose a plan to take out Hallow and restore Eric, but will they be successful? What will the vampire do when he is his old self again and knows that he has become Sookie’s bed mate? Can Sookie find Jason alive and well?

Rating: 6.5/10

The Fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series comes in at nearly the same pace as the previous three. I have to say that I wasn’t as completely enchanted and having fun as with the other books. Sookie really gets around a whole lot and she doesn’t discriminate when it comes to sleeping partners, and that is starting to grate on me. I think she blatantly ignored it most of the time that her brother was missing, because hey, she was banging the hot Viking vampire.

There were a lot of things happening in this book that could have been explored to great detail – Hallow, Jason’s disappearance, an inbred wolf community, Eric losing his memory, the fairy rocking up. Everything was swept under the rug most of the time and not really written to what it could have been.

Hallow turned out to be so disappointing. She was the complete reason that Eric lost his memory, but her character was underdeveloped and she was destroyed as a by-product. I also think the fairy was incredibly lame. Why include her if you are not going to completely incorporate her completely?

Oh yes, and regarding Eric’s memory: It would have been way more fun if Eric had pretended to lose his memory – it jibes perfectly with his character and is something he would do. THAT could have been a plot twist.

Debbie Pelt’s demise was something I found petty pleasure in. No matter my irritations with the heroine, I am still on Sookie Stackhouse’s side and want her to live happy and safe. Debbie was very evil and deceptive about it, and I really like Alcide, who deserves better.

Bill is still his annoying self, and he has tons to make up for in the future books. Talk about moody, difficult and obsessed – and people say Eric is the difficult vampire in here?!

I am definitely continuing with these books, but I do hope that there is a developing story line somewhere. So far the books are completely separated from each other and there is no continuing story line, which is something that can make the books much more enjoyable.

Book Review: Living Dead in Dallas (Charlaine Harris)

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Sookie Stackhouse is still dating the vampire Bill Compton, and still works as a waitress in Merlotte’s bar in Bon Temps, a small town in Louisana. With Bill’s new position in the vampire ranks they can live in relative surety that the Sheriff of the vampire Area Five, Eric Northman, will honour their relationship and not try and seduce Sookie.

Sookie’s friend and co-worker Lafayette is found murdered in the sheriff’s car, although Andy Bellefleur was taken home by his sister that night, suspicion does arise that Andy might have murdered the black, gay man, two unacceptable qualities to the primitive minds of some of the Bon Temps residents. Andy’s sister, Portia, asks Sookie to read the minds of the people and maybe find the true killer that way. Although Sookie doesn’t like the Bellefleurs much, she agrees to avenge her friend’s murder. Sookie starts looking for a secretive sex-club that has started in Bon Temps because Lafayette had bragged about attending one of their get-togethers, and was murdered shortly after his first visit.

Sookie is summoned by Eric for a job, and on the way there she is attacked by a maenad, a demon that wants Eric to offer up a tribute to her. The maenad attacks Sookie as a message to Eric, and both Bill and Eric are worried about the maenad’s presence, something Eric admits can be troublesome. The two vampires clean up Sookie well enough and promise to find an appropriate offering for the maenad to placate her.

Eric explains the mission: he is “loaning” her out to the Dallas vampire community to find Ferrell, one of their coven mates who went missing. Sookie agrees to head over to Dallas to read the minds of the humans there and search for Ferrell if Bill can accompany her.

In Dallas, Sookie learns about a new fanatical cult that is determined to rid the world of vampires. She is betrayed and kept captive in the cult’s basement, and a strange, suicidal vampire helps her escape and carry the news to her friends.

Will Sookie find the missing vampire in Dallas? How will the Fellowship retaliate? Who murdered Lafayette and can they be apprehended to clear the Sheriff’s name?

Rating: 7/10

Another short and quick read, Dead in Dallas is exactly the type of addicting literature that I love. It is so fast to get through, it is just on the right side of fluffy to not break your brain but keep you interested, and it has the supernatural element alongside the romance. I really like that each book has an entirely new story – the complete set of books don’t run one theme the entire time. It keeps the books fun with a new adventure each time.

I am becoming such a fan of Sookie Stackhouse. She isn’t insanely book smart but she is street smart and sure of who she is, and believes enough in herself to stand up for who she is and what she believes in.

Eric Northman is such a hilarious brat of a character. The word “NO” is not in his realm of understanding and he couldn’t care less about the trivialities of the human nature. I respect him because while he is underhanded in his attempts to seduce Sookie he waits for her clearance and respects her “NO”, which is very surprising.

Bill Compton is a bit of a pain in my ass sometimes, although I generally enjoy him. He is very possessive but at the same time leaves Sookie in danger and won’t change his most annoying ways.

The books are well written in this series and that scores major points with me. I haven’t found any grammar mistakes or any ridiculous repeated phrases.

My only issue is a ridiculous one, and it is that the vampires have to sleep during the day. I mean that could really have not been in the books, you know? Would have made things a lot more fun!

Have you read these books? What did you think?

Book Review: Dead Until Dark (Charlaine Harris)

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Sookie Stackhouse lives in Bon Temps, Louisiana, where she works as a waitress in Merlotte’sBar. Although pretty, she is regarded as “mad” because of her ability to read people’s thoughts. She works with her friend Arlene, and her boss, Sam Merlotte, has a crush on her, although he is always very respectful about it and her gifts.

After the successful manufacturing of synthetic blood vampires are out in the open and everyone is aware that they exist. There are three viewpoints on their existence: they must die or they are treated like gods or people are somewhat indifferent about it. Sookie in between thinking they are celebrities and not caring about what they do. She is excited when she meets Bill Compton, a 173 old vampire who is trying to fit in between humans. Initially she saves his life, then he saves hers, and they are soon romantically involved.

A series of murders on young women in Bon Temps happen and everyone starts suspecting the vampire. Bill explains to Sookie that a vampire would drain the body of blood, making sure not to waste a droplet of it. She believes him, but the fact remains that there are people in town who would hurt vampires – shown when another vampire dwelling is burnt down overnight.

Sookie’s brother Jason becomes a suspect because he had sexual relations with all the victims. He begs Sookie to use her mind reading abilities to find the killer, but that means that Sookie needs to embrace her powers and not suppress them, as she usually would.

As Sookie investigates the murders, she heads to a vampire bar, where she meets the mysterious vampire Eric Northman. He is obviously in some position of power as Bill respects him, but Sookie is unimpressed by his attitude and looks. Eric notices that Sookie is immune to his “glamor”, a form of compulsion, and this only makes him more curious. Realising what she can do, he soon requests her to help find a criminal that stole from his pub.

Will Sookie’s help be enough for Eric? Who is killing the girls in Bon Temps? Is Sookie and Bill’s relationship safe in their two perilously balanced worlds?

Rating: 7/10

So here it is: a little miracle on my blog. I have finally managed to get my brain back on a level where I can read new material. I reread the Nora Roberts Inn Boonsboro trilogy last week, and it was enormous fun, but it didn’t result in any literature post as I’ve already done it.

Zoë suggested that I read these books – a form of romance she actually likes, and I decided to give it a try.

This book had some good things going for it: The characters are all strong, the female lead can protect herself as well and also her boyfriend if needs be, the story is original. I like the direction that the author took – what if vampires existed and humanity knew about it? I like the length of the book (short) – a thick novel would not have worked with the material.

I enjoyed Sookie Stackhouse (you were completely right there, friend). She is no genius and obviously a bit cooked, but she is fearless and will stand up for herself and say what she wants.

This was a fun, sexy book, easy to enjoy and no one was breaking their brains trying to understand the plot and subplot and who is related to who (I love books like that, but sometimes you need to revert to the simple life of vampires)

I had a nice giggle with the whole vampire version of AIDS – I have been overthinking a vampire’s reaction to infected blood for ages and I am glad some author tried to give a way as to the effect it would have on vamps.

Recommendation: I don’t think a lot of men will enjoy it, so girls, go give it a try!