Posts Tagged ‘Vampires’

Vampires and Werewolves and Sidhe, Oh My!

This summer has been a busy one, with lots of travelling – which means a lot of time to read but not much time to talk about it.  I think I’ve let about four books go by without posting a thing about them.  So I thought I’d just mention them briefly because they were all great, though wildly different, and merit a mention.

The first was an Emma Campion galley I won called The King’s Mistress, about Alice Perrers, who became entangled in a web of court intrigue after becoming the mistress of Edward III.  I love this type of historical fiction and I’m not all that familiar with this time period so it was interesting to get a chance to learn more about the Plantagenets and Lancasters while seeing through the eyes of a woman who was vilified for her affair with the king.  The story was engaging and I really enjoyed it, but when the tension began to mount I didn’t experience the delicious fear and constant anxiety that books like The Other Boleyn Girl evoked.  Alice made it plain the many dangers she faced throughout her life but I was more curious about what was going to happen than anxious.  The writing itself was beautiful and Alice was a strong and admirable protagonist.

For a change of pace I turned to an urban fantasy that was featured on the Nook’s weekly Free Fridays promotion – the first in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Darkfever.  It’s about MacKayla Lane, a woman in her early 20s who travels to Dublin, Ireland after the brutal and unsolved murder of her sister.   In the hopes that the local law enforcement will renew their efforts to find the killer if a family member is there in the flesh, Mac settles into the city where her sister’s life was cut short and unwittingly stumbles into a dark and magical world where faeries roam the streets disguised as humans and entire blocks are swallowed from memory.  She finds an unlikely partner in Jericho Barrons, a rich and eccentric book store owner with a few mysteries of his own, who tells her that she is a Sidhe seer – someone who can see the fae.  Not only that, but she can sense magical artifacts and freeze all manner of fae creatures with one touch.  Mac discovers that her sister was also involved with the Sidhe somehow and as she learns more about her abilities and continues the search for her sister’s murderer she becomes all the more bound to Jericho and his quest for an all-important Sidhe artifact that, according to Mac’s sister, is the key to everything.  Darkfever was a fast-paced urban adventure with a fantastic array of exotic and dark faeries – and these are no Tinkerbells, mind you.  I loved the tension and banter between Mac and Jericho.  It was just a lot of fun and great storytelling.  I’ll definitely be continuing the series.

Also a Nook Free Friday title, Cry Sanctuary came next.  Also an urban fantasy – werewolves this time – and the first in the Red Rock Pass series by Moira Rogers, this book was another speedy, brain candy type of adventure.  Werewolf packs live in secret all over the country and most are run by greedy alphas who abuse their position and power and terrorize their subordinates to get what they want.  Red Rock is place that provides sanctuary to any wolf who seeks a different way of life.  Abigail Adler escapes an abusive alpha with the help of her close friend, who risks everything to get her out of harm’s way, and the two of them find shelter in Red Rock.  The story follows Abigail and Keith Winston, a Red Rock wolf newly returned from Europe, fighting in the war between werewolves and wizards, who rescues her and her friend while they’re on the run.  As a newly turned werewolf Abby has a lot to learn about her new life and Keith, who is instantly and almost irrationally attracted to her, hopes he will be the one to act as her guide – but it has to be her choice.  Keith was my favorite character in the story, I absolutely loved him.  Part knight, part cowboy, all badass.  And I didn’t hate the hot scenes where Abby gave in to his charms.  Can’t say I blame her really.  Another really fun urban fantasy and I look forward to the next Red Rock book.

After reading Lamb a few months ago I’ve been dying to read another Christopher Moore book.  And of course with my incurable vampire obsession I decided to go with You Suck: A Love Story, which chronicles the new un-life of Tommy Flood after being turned into a vampire by his undead girlfriend Jody.  Tommy’s not exactly thrilled with his new situation and as he struggles to come to terms with being a bloodsucking fiend the pair get themselves in all kinds of shenanigans.  The ancient vampire who sired Jody is after them (you would be too if you were covered in bronze by Tommy’s biker neighbors and turned into a statue) and Tommy’s former Safeway stockboy co-workers have been compelled by a blue hooker (long story) from Vegas to hunt them down.  They decide to accept the dark and brooding (but hopelessly perky) goth Abby Normal to be their minion and run errands for them during the day.  There are whole chapters of Abby’s diary that are absolutely hilarious, and luckily since I’m fluent in angsty-teenage-girl-diary-speak I could understand it all with ease and appreciate it from a former angsty teenage diary author myself.  The book is a laugh-out-loud witty, outrageous, and ridiculously funny window into the mind of a genius wordsmith.  It’s definitely not as emotionally driven as Lamb, although it’s hysterically funny as well, it’s more like a romping adventure.  Unfortunately after I finished it I found out that it’s actually a sequel (Love Bites is the first book).  I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be, based on all the references to events that felt more like I should already be familiar with rather than backstory.  But I’ll just go back and read that one before continuing on with the next book, Bloodsucking Fiends

What are you reading?

ARC Review: Dracula In Love

Dracula in Love: The Private Diary of Mina Harker

Karen Essex
Hardcover, 384 pages
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
August 10, 2010

 * I received a complimentary galley from the publisher.

If you’ve ever read Bram Stoker’s Dracula then you’re already familiar with the story of the Mina Murray, her husband Jonathan Harker, and the infamous Count that comes between them. But if you think you know the whole story, wait until you’ve heard it told through Mina’s lips. In Essex’s version, she sets the record straight and recounts what really happened, starting with her engagement to Jonathan and his subsequent business venture abroad.

As a teacher and former student at Miss Hadley’s School for Young Ladies of Accomplishment, Mina knows just how lucky she is in finding a caring and respectable man like Jonathan Harker.  When Jonathan is called away to Styria on business with a new client, she leaves the school to spend the remainder of her engagement in Whitby with her wealthy friend Lucy Westenra, newly engaged herself.  Though anxious to begin her new life as a married woman, Mina is deeply troubled by spells of sleepwalking and frightening, illicit dreams about a stranger that somehow feels familiar to her.  During one such spell, she wakes to find Lucy in the arms of her fiance’s friend, Morris Quince, and Lucy confesses that they’ve been having an affair and plan to marry. 

Mina tries to talk some sense into her friend and convince her that Quince doesn’t truly love her, but soon receives word that Jonathan is ill and must leave Lucy to travel to Styria and bring him home.  While she’s away Lucy is admitted to the asylum where Dr. John Seward, another friend of her fiance’s, treats the infirm and insane (mostly women who have been diagnosed as nymphomaniacs after exhibiting what we would consider to be normal sexual behavior today).  Too late, Mina finds out that her dear friend has died under the doctor’s care and after reading a pair of smuggled letters detailing the horrific ordeals she was forced to undergo, Mina vows to find out what really happened to her friend by volunteering her time at the asylum while Jonathan is treated by Dr. Seward and his colleague Dr. Von Helingser after contracting brain fever abroad.

But Mina soon finds herself in the same position as Lucy when her sanity is questioned and she becomes a patient in the asylum, subjected to imprisonment, drugs, and torture, all sanctioned by her now husband Jonathan who thinks it’s for her own benefit.  After almost dying from the “water cure” Mina is rescued by the mysterious stranger from her dreams, who brings her into a world of magic, blood, and immortality.

Like all things vampiric, I’ve been fascinated with the story of Dracula since I was little.  Before I even read the famous Stoker tale I was enthralled by Coppola’s film version and it was thrilling to get to hear Mina’s point of view.  It was a fresh and unique take, enchantingly dark and bewitching.  I loved the origin of the Count and the depiction of the vampires that seduced Jonathan as daughters of Lilith and Mina’s relationship with the Sidhe, ancient fairies from Irish folklore.  The references to the red-haired writer who kept nosing into the story made me smile. 

As much as I truly enjoyed reading this book, I have to say that I was wholeheartedly disappointed with the ending.  I don’t want to give too much away but I just couldn’t comprehend how Mina could make the choice that she did.  Granted it was a selfless and noble act, but after being manipulated and ill-treated by all the men in her life, especially those that should have cared for her and protected her, she baffled me in the end.  After finishing the book I was angry and upset the rest of the night  I couldn’t stop thinking about it, running the ending through my mind over and over to try to make some sense of it and come to peace with it, and for the life of me I couldn’t do it.  I guess that speaks to the power of the storytelling that I couldn’t get it out of my mind, but I almost felt cheated, robbed. 

Maybe it’s just me, and most people would agree with Mina’s choice.  I would love to know.  Overall, still a wonderfully dark story, and so much fun to revisit such a classic and cherished tale.  I still recommend it but if you’re left feeling unsatisfied at the end, my sincere apologies.

ARC Review: Infinite Days

Infinite Days

Rebecca Maizel  
Paperback, 336 pages
St. Martin’s Press
August 03, 2010

 

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of Rebecca Maizel’s debut novel Infinite Days, the first in her Vampire Queen series, from St. Martin’s Press and once I started reading it was difficult to put down.  It tells the story of Lenah Beaudonte, a 500-year-old vampire with an insatiable appetite for death and destruction.  She’s ruthless, uncontrollably violent, and lacking any sense of compassion or humanity.  She’s the queen of the coven she’s created to provide her with eternal protection and companionship and her rules are followed without question. 

But even though she’s surrounded by opulence and every luxury that money can buy, her only desire is to become human again, to escape the constant pain and misery from which only blood can provide temporary relief.  Her maker, Rhode, learns of a ritual that will give Lenah her wish but only at the cost of his life.  When it’s done, Lenah has awoken to a new life where she can truly live as she’d been meant to in the 15th century before Rhode set his sights on her and turned her into a monster.

Her new life is that of a sixteen year old student attending a prestigious boarding school on the East coast of the United States.  Though at first she has some trouble adjusting to her new, mortal state, she soon gains the friendship of an art student named Tony who helps her adjust to life in the 21st century.  With her soul back, she no longer finds comfort in violent thoughts and begins to at last find peace and happiness in her new home.  Things start to get complicated when Lenah catches the eye of the popular and gorgeous Justin Enos, whose girlfriend Tracy won’t give up without a fight.  Still mourning the loss of Rhode, Lenah is hesitant at first but finds that she is inexplicably drawn to Justin despite the problems their relationship could cause. 

But her social life is the least of her problems and Lenah knows that soon her coven, expecting her to rise from her one hundred year hibernation on Halloween night, will begin to search for her.  The magic that binds them together will ensure that they will stop at nothing to find her and bring her back to their home in England.  But unbeknownst to them, their queen is human again and Lenah fears for her mortal life and the lives of those she’s come to love at her school.  She knows what her beloved coven will do to them once they’re found, because only a short while ago she would have done the same things herself and taken great pleasure in it.

Infinite Days is a thrilling, touching, and enthralling book, and quite unique in its take on vampires (just when you thought the subject had been exhausted, right?).  Maizel’s vampires are animated by the oldest of black magics.  Immortality and great power are small and insignificant benefits compared to the endless suffering and pain they experience night after night.  Bringing death and destruction to others is the only short relief they can find.  And though their senses are heightened, they cannot truly feel anything they touch except for the smallest hint of texture or temperature.  All they can smell is blood, heat, and fear.  They are numb to everything else and can’t even experience the release of weeping.  Small wonder they’re evil by nature. 

Another unique component to the story that I was fascinated by was Lenah’s love of herbs and flowers and their various magical properties and uses.  There’s a scene that I loved that takes place in the greenhouse on campus where she’s explaining some of these properties to Justin.  When she comes to a particular edible flower he leans in and opens his mouth so she can place it on his tongue for him to swallow.  Fabulous.

For someone who’s relatively new to the YA genre (and can’t take too much of it at once), I was relieved to find a welcome respite from all the teenage schoolyard drama during all the chapters from Lenah’s vampire past that are woven into the story.  We get to learn a little about the men that she chose to join her in the ranks of the undead and serve her in the coven, and it leads nicely into her search for redemption after centuries of causing pain and bringing death to countless innocents.  Plus it was nice to have a main character who’s a vampire for a change (are there really no more Lestats out there?  Say it isn’t so…).

I was very excited to read this book and I loved each and every page.  I was very attached to the characters and actually a little torn about how I wanted everything to turn out in the end.  I highly recommend it to fans of vampire fiction (especially of the YA variety) and I’ll be waiting impatiently for the next Vampire Queen book.

2010 LA Times Festival of Books

 

In April I attended the LA Times Festival of Books for the first time and it was such an amazing experience I thought I’d share the highlights with you.  My cousin (who is co-authoring the fantasy novel I’m currently working on) flew down from Northern California for the event and when we arrived on Saturday morning my first impression was the sheer size of it!  As we made our way across the gorgeous UCLA campus we crossed a sea of booths and passed through throngs of fellow book lovers.  I’ve never seen so many people gathered to talk about reading and writing, and the buzzing atmosphere was contagious.

Over 400 authors were in attendance to do readings, speak at panels, and sign books.  The first panel we went to was called Science & Humanity: From the Past to the Future and it featured Brian Fagan, Michael Shermer, and Richard Wrangham, who discussed their books about human evolution, pre-history, and sociology.  Brian Fagan was my first archaeology professor at UC Santa Barbara and it was largely due to him that I decided to major in anthropology.  All three authors had fascinating things to say and after the panel I bought Fagan’s new book, Cro-Magnon, and we chatted about his days at the university as he signed it.

 

Then we hit the YA Stage to catch the tail end of Blood, Fangs, and Temptation: Everything Vampire with Heather Brewer, Rachel Caine, Melissa de la Cruz, and Richelle Mead.  I’ve read Vampire Academy and Glass Houses is in my TBR pile so it was interesting to see the authors in the flesh and hear them discuss their books and writing in general.  I’ve been obsessed with vampires since I was a kid so it’s delightful to see that they’ve made a comeback into popular culture. 

We couldn’t stick around to get any of their books signed because we had to book it to our next panel: History Through Fiction’s Lens, with Gabrielle Burton, Thaisa Frank, and Indu Sundaresan.  This was another riveting panel about historical fiction, one of my favorite genres.  The authors were so different, but each brought their own unique perspective to the discussion and it was obvious that they were all equally passionate about their research.  As someone who aspires to write in this genre someday it was assuring to hear Indu say that when writing historical fiction, mistakes are inevitable – you just have to focus on creating a realistic setting to bring your characters, and their stories, to life.  I bought copies of Gabrielle’s Impatient with Desire, about Tamsen Donner of the ill-fated Donner party, and Indu’s The Twentieth Wife, about the Moghul Empire in India.  It was a pleasure meeting them both.

The author I was most excited to meet was Christopher Rice and I almost missed my opportunity, but by a small twist of luck I managed to not only meet him and get a copy of his new book signed, but he was nice enough to take his picture with us.  We’d missed the panel he was on so we ran over to the area where he was signing only to find it empty.  I was extremely disappointed but I talked to a volunteer and she confirmed that we’d missed the signing, but then someone else asked which author I was looking for and he happened to walk by the tent just then.  The volunteer called him over and he happily offered to sign my program.  When I said that I’d meant to buy his new book for the signing he said he and the other authors on the panel were just about to go buy each other’s books and suggested that we come with them.  I was so grateful and thrilled to meet him because I’ve been a fan since his debut novel A Density of Souls.  He was such a sweetheart!

With Christopher Rice

The rest of the day we wandered up and down the aisles of booths, meeting debut authors and picking up literature on writing associations.  We’d been too busy to eat lunch or drink any water so needless to say, we were exhausted as the day wrapped up and we headed home.

We got there earlier on Sunday to attend our first scheduled panel of the day – Publishing: The Editors Speak Out, with Sarah Crichton, Eli Horowitz, and Jack Shoemaker.  It was wonderful to hear about the publishing industry from these insiders’ perspectives and they each gave great advice and provided some insight into the ups and downs of the business.  The next panel we went to was also about publishing and we picked up some more tips that will surely come in handy when we start shopping our manuscript. 

Dionne loaded down with bookish goodies.

We hit some more booths next and remembered to eat lunch this time, copping a squat on the grass next to the Cooking Stage to watch Anne Byrn, the Cake Mix Doctor, whip up some tasty looking desserts. 

 Then it was back to the YA Stage to see Michael Reisman, Margaret Stohl, Tracy Trivas, and Heather Tomlinson at Making the Magic Happen: Writing Young Adult Fantasy.  This was a particularly interesting panel since it was all about our genre, although our novel is decidedly NOT for young adults.  Each author read a short passage from one of their books and answered questions from the audience.   

After reading Empress Orchid last year I was excited to see Anchee Min’s name on the list of authors attending the festival.  I bought a copy of her new release, Pearl of China, and waited in line for a chance to meet her.  Unfortunately the experience was quite a let down.  Unlike all the other authors we’d met so far, who greeted us with smiles and chatted personably, she didn’t say a word and barely cracked a smile.  Also unlike the other authors who personalized their autographs by including our names and a short message, Min just signed her name.  All this is fine, you never know if she was just having a bad day or if she gets nervous at events like that or who knows what, but it was kind of a turn off.  Hopefully the book will make up for it. 

Soaking up the glorious atmosphere.

Overall, the festival was absolutely thrilling and inspirational and we vowed to make it an annual tradition.  I can’t believe I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade and had never even heard of it before this year!  It was wonderful to see so many fantastic authors up close and personal and get to meet some of them.  I hope to be able to attend the festival as an author as well as a reader sometime in the future.

What bookish events have you been to?

Book Review: Over My Dead Body

Over My Dead Body

Michele Bardsley  
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
May 05, 2009

 

Simone Sweet didn’t exactly have an easy life, and that was before she became one of the undead and moved to the paranormal community of Broken Heart, Oklahoma.  She carries a dark secret from her past, one she isn’t proud of but would repeat in a heartbeat (if only her heart was functional) in order to protect her daughter, Glory.  She’s perfected the art of putting on a happy face but it’s all for show.  In reality, she’s built a wall around herself and isn’t quick to let anyone get past her inner defenses. 

But when her tentative friendship with townie Braddock Hayes starts to bloom into something more, Simone may have to let her guard down and learn to trust him after her daughter is kidnapped by a covert military team dedicated to finding and exterminating paraterrorists.  In order to save Glory, she will have to give her full cooperation even if it means causing the deaths of hundreds of supernaturals, not to mention the man she’s fallen head over heels for. 

Part of Bardsley’s Broken Heart Vampire Series, these books are fast and easy brain candy.  Like all the ones that preceded it, Over My Dead Body was just so much fun to read.  Pure entertainment.  While there are some pretty horrific moments in this book, overall it was uplifting and left me smiling and feeling good.  I love that the main characters of each book, all single parents and most suffering from some kind of tragic past or emotional damage, find unexpected true love when their town is flipped upside down after a series of attacks by a sick vampire.

Aside from all the action and adventure, it’s interesting to read about all the changes in Broken Heart since the Consortium took over and essentially turned it into a paranormal community – how the kids adjust to a nocturnal lifestyle, managing blood donors for the vampires, policing and protecting a fledgling hodgepodge of supernatural creatures, etc.  Besides vampires, Broken Heart is also home to werewolves, Roma, and faeries, with the occasional dragon, fate, and deity popping their heads in.  Over My Dead Body features the appearance of the first pixie in over a century in the form of a haughty little creature called Flet.

Simone is a likable character that I instantly connected with, and I enjoyed reading the little excerpts from Brady’s journal that are scattered throughout the book.  Some old friends, including Patrick, Patsy, Gabriel, Damian, Jessica, and Ruadan, make appearances and some interesting new characters (like a recently deceased elderly comedian turned vampire named George) are introduced. 

The first in the series, I’m the Vampire, That’s Why, is still my favorite but this one was definitely up there.  The first chapter grabbed my attention and didn’t let go until the last page.  I was so frustrated when things weren’t going Simone’s way and I was rooting for her the whole time.  If you have a sweet tooth and need some brain candy, give these books a try!

Have you read any of the Broken Heart series?  What do you think of them?  What are your go-to brain candy books?

And many thanks to Robin for letting me borrow this one!

Book Review: Marked

Marked

P. C. Cast  
Paperback, 320 pages
St. Martin’s Press
May 01, 2007
 

Once again, apologies for the lag time between reviews!  Things have been really hectic and I’ve been so busy I’ve let some things slide through the cracks.  I actually finished Marked over a week ago so this will be more of a mini review with the summary provided by Borders.com:

Enter the dark, magical world of The House of Night, a world where vampyres have always existed. Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has just been Marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night, a school where she will train to become an adult vampire. That is, if she makes it through the Change–and not all of those who are Marked do.

 

Sadly after about a week and a half after reading this book, not a lot of details jump out at me to pass on to you.  I didn’t absolutely love it, but I did enjoy reading it and I got sucked into the story from the first few pages.  Some of it seemed a bit too cookie-cutter for my taste (a hot vampire fledgling that sets his sights on the main character, an antagonist that is nasty and mean to the MC for no apparent reason, etc.) and I kept wishing that the teenage lexicon wasn’t constantly getting slammed in my face (if Zoey made any more smartass parenthetical remarks or used the words “poopie” or “boobies” one more time…), but it was really hard to put the book down because I was so drawn into the world PC & Kristin Cast created.

I loved the concept of the vampyres worshipping the ancient Greek goddess of night and all the ties to Cherokee rituals and beliefs.  And I’m really intrigued by the differences that make Zoey stand out from the other fledglings (completely filled in Mark, bloodlust, etc.) so I hope I find out the reason for that eventually.   The characters that make up her new group of friends at the school are great and provide a lot of delicious sarcasm and witty retorts.

The end was incredibly climactic and actually got pretty intense at times and it definitely left me wanting to continue the series and find out what happens next.  I’m hoping that as the story progresses and Zoey gets older and (hopefully) wiser, the writing will reflect that as well (Hmmm…deja vu, didn’t I just say that about Percy Jackson?). 

After reading Vampire Academy I found that I liked this book better and will probably read the next one before continuing the other series. 

But again, I didn’t love it as I hoped I would.  Ever since reading the Harry Potter and Twilight series I’ve been searching for more YA books that would captivate me just as much and so far I’ve been unsuccessful.  It makes me wonder if those were just flukes and YA really just isn’t for me. 

Have you read this series?  What did you think?  Can you recommend any YA books that will change my mind?

Book Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy

Richelle Mead
Paperback, 336 pages
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
August 16, 2007

 

Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir are no ordinary runaway teens.  Lissa is a Moroi, a living vampire with incredible powers of healing and compulsion as well as the ability to use elemental magic.  Rose is a Dhampir, half human and half vampire, who’s fiercely protective of her best friend and will do anything to keep her from harm.  The pair have fled St. Vladimir’s Academy and have been on the run for two years when the story unfolds.

They’re quickly captured and taken back to the academy in rural Montana (where young Moroi are schooled  in magic and other academic subjects and Dhampir are trained to become their guardians, protecting them from the evil Strigoi, vampires who are no longer living and thrive off killing humans and Moroi), where Rose narrowly escapes expulsion.  Instead she’s forbidden to leave her dorm room except for classes and training sessions with Dimitri, one of the school guardians who becomes her mentor.  Distracted by her intense attraction to him, Rose struggles to keep her head and protect Lissa from jealous peers and vicious rumors circulating about them both. 

Harmless rumors and idle threats soon turn to violent pranks, and Rose must tap into her newfound ability to sense Lissa’s emotions and see through her eyes in order to protect her, not only from her enemies but from herself.  The girls face a host of dangers from psi-hounds, the dreaded Strigoi, and worst of all, high school drama as Rose searches for the key to understanding the strange link that binds her to Lissa and what it means for her best friend that she shares similarities with the famed (and less than stable) St. Vladimir.

YA is a really hot genre with adults right now and since I enjoyed Harry Potter and Twilight so much I thought I’d venture out and try a few more and see if they’re too my liking.  I’m a little torn on this one though.  As entertaining as it was, Rose and her nonstop tough girl act drove me absolutely crazy.  And her obsession with Lissa was borderline creepy at times.  I know they’re best friends and she’s training to be Lissa’s guardian, but after a while I was thinking, “Yeah, I get it, you’re fiercely protective of her and you don’t care whose face you have to smash to make your point!” 

But I really liked the overall premise  and some of the other characters (particularly Dimitri and Christian, the brooding, scandalized Moroi whose Strigoi parents were murdered by guardians).    Also, all the vampire cultural taboos were fascinating (e.g. a Dhampire letting a Moroi drink blood during sex is considered the dirtiest act of all, and the term “blood whores” was thrown around quite a bit).  I got a little tired of all the high school social debacles, but I have to admit that I couldn’t wait to see what happened next and how it ended.

Hopefully Rose will grow on me because I plan on continuing the series.  I’ll also be interested in seeing how it compares to the first books in the Morganville Vampire and House of Night series, which I got for Christmas.

Have you read this or the other aforementioned series?  What’s your opinion of YA?

Book Review: Definitely Dead

Definitely Dead

Charlaine Harris  
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated

March 27, 2007

Sookie’s vamp cousin Hadley has died, for the second time, and Sookie must travel to New Orleans to collect her possessions and take care of her affairs.  This proves to be a much more dangerous task than it should be after the Queen of Louisiana’s personal messenger is murdered in Sookie’s yard and she and Quinn, her latest gorgeous pursuer, are attacked by newly turned Weres. 

When she finally gets to Louisiana and begins to pack up her cousin’s things, she quickly realizes that the circumstances surrounding Hadley’s death are much more complicated than she thought after finding a gruesome surprise in the closet.  With the help of Hadley’s landlord, who is also a witch, they perform a powerful spell to try to piece together the last hours of the deceased’s life before more people are killed.

Not only does Sookie have to deal with solving the Hadley mystery and trying to save the newly married Queen of Louisiana from a dangerous plot, the Pelts are still hounding her for information about their daughter Debbie’s death.  And to top it all, Sookie finds out a shocking little secret about her heritage that suddenly makes things a whole lot more clear.

Another great Sookie Stackhouse book!  Although, through the first half of it I kept thinking I had accidentally skipped a book because of the way Hadley’s death was referred to.  It was as if I should already know all about it when I was completely in the dark.  That was a little distracting but I got over it soon enough when Quinn, the Were-tiger, entered the picture and things started to heat up.  The plot, that is! 

Eric and Bill were still around, although their roles were fairly small in this book.  I loved the parts when Sookie was at the Queen’s mansion interacting with her entourage (including a set of Saxon twins who never quite assimilated into the modern era).  After the last book in the series, which was predominantly about Weres and shifters, it was nice to finally be surrounded by vampire characters again. 

What can I say about this book besides I love the whole series!  They’re so much fun to read and Sookie is a wonderful character.  I can’t wait to read All Together Dead and see what’s been going on in Bon Temps lately.

Time for some updates!

Wow, December was absolutely crazy!  I went from San Diego to Las Vegas to Northern California back to San Diego to Texas and just got back from Cozumel yesterday.  Let me catch my breath!  Whew! 

Apologies for the lack of posts of late, but I have managed to squeeze in some reading time during all of my travels.  I just read The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt and Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris.  I’m halfway through Vampire Academy, almost done with The Twisted Citadel and slowly making my way through Under the Dome.  Stay tuned for reviews of those.

Christmas brought me a bounty of new, delicious books to consume (thanks Mom & Dad!):

  1. Under the Dome – Stephen King
  2. An Echo in the Bone – Diana Gabaldon
  3. The Heretic Queen – Michelle Moran
  4. Cleopatra’s Daughter – Michelle Moran
  5. The White Queen – Philippa Gregory
  6. Angel Time – Anne Rice
  7. The Source – James Michener
  8. The Last Days of the Romanovs – Helen Rappaport
  9. Blood and Ice – Robert Masello
  10. Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead
  11. Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Book 1) – Cynthia Holloway & Rachel Caine
  12. Marked (House of Night Book 1) – P. C. Cast
  13. Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier
  14. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
  15. Dracula the Un-Dead – Dacre Stoker
  16. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

It’s going to be a struggle to figure out which ones to read first! 

Also, very exciting, I received my first ARC in the mail when I was in Mexico!  It’s called Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff.  Some of his writing credits include The Wonder Years, Major Dad, and Disney’s Tarzan.  This is his debut novel.

Happy New Year to everyone!  2010 is going to be a fantastic year.

Book Review: Dead as a Doornail

Dead As a Doornail

Charlaine Harris
Paperback, 320 pages
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
April 25, 2006

 

Sookie Stackhouse is back in the fifth book of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries – and she just can’t catch a break.  First, her brother Jason – recently turned into a werepanther – is having a hard time assimilating into his new life.  When weres and shifters become the target of an unknown sniper, Jason becomes the prime suspect among the supernatural community of Bon Temps.  Sookie has to use her telepathic abilities to try to discover who the real murderer is before the pack condemns him to death.

When Sam is numbered as one of the shooter’s victims he enlists Sookie to ask Eric, the owner of the vampire bar Fangtasia, to lend Merlotte’s a bartender while Sam’s broken leg heals.  Still conflicted about what happened between her and Eric when he was under a witch’s curse, Sookie is reluctant to get involved.  Eric presses her for information about what went on before he recovered his memory and agrees to lend a hand only when she tells him what he wants to know.

She soon finds herself in the middle of yet another supernatural phenomenon when the packleader of the werewolves is killed in a car accident and his replacement is chosen after a series of contests in agility and strength. 

A bartending pirate, a devastating fire, an abusive new vampire who has his claws (or fangs, I guess) in Sookie’s friend Tara, another trip to the ER (after her oh so pointless New Year’s resolution of not getting beat up anymore), and of course the reappearance of her first love Bill, keep Sookie quite busy throughout the story.  Throw in some sexual tension with Sam, Eric and Alcide and you’ve got another great Southern Vampire Mystery. 

I love this series because it’s so fun and fast – pure brain candy.  I think I read this last one in about a day.  I’m glad Sookie isn’t quite so obsessed with Bill anymore, although she’s not quite over him yet, and Harris manages to keep throwing in new problems without the characters’ reactions getting old or overdone.  This one focused a little too much on shifters/weres for my taste but I loved it anyway, especially the parts with Eric and Sam.  If you liked any of the previous books it’s safe to say you’ll like this one too. 

These books always pull me into the story and leave me impatient to find out what happens next.

Have you read them?  What are your thoughts?