It has only taken seven books, but this one actually had some potential.  Of course there were still plot discrepancies, character inconsistencies, dodgy grammar and so on, but it was OK.

The main news from Bon Temps is that Jason and Crystal got married in a ceremony where Sookie promised to stand in for him if he screws up (or screws around) and you know that it won’t be long before she has to pay the price for his stupidity.

Sookie is finally off to the Rhodes summit and is working for the Queen of Louisiana whose territory has been decimated thanks to Hurricane Katrina.  Her position is also weakened because the Arkansas vampires believe that she had murdered her husband and she so hasn’t inherited his wealth yet.  So times are tough and it gets worse when the Arkansas contingent at the summit are being killed off with Sophie Anne being framed for the murderer.  Naturally, Sookie decides to poke around.  With the subtlety of a sledge hammer, Harris continually references unclaimed luggage being left in the suites, and as someone who remembers the 70’s and 80’s bomb threats in the UK, it was obvious that there was an imminent bomb attack.  Sookie is able to use her talents to help rescue survivors of the blast, hinting at what she could do if she went public with their talents.

Sookie finally realises that she has to decide who she is going to ally herself with, as both the supernatural and human communities want to utilise her talents.  Her love life ends up in the toilet as she is pushing Quinn away, while creating a blood link with Eric.

Having so many characters, and multiple plot lines showed the potential of the book, but in her usual fashion, Harris continued to underestimate the reader and cut corners leaving me feeling short changed at the end of the book.

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Did you know that the most common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight?  However, just because you want to lose a few pounds, doesn’t mean that you should deprive yourself as you often end up craving that food, making it even harder to keep to the diet.

Cocktails have a whole load of empty calories, relying on sugar syrups, cream and sugar dipped fruit – no wonder they are so yummy!  This is where Skinnytinis can come to your aid.  These cocktail recipes give you do-able alternatives to your regular ‘full fat’ versions. Some of them are substituting diet versions of coke, ginger ale etc as well as sugar free syrups and light fruit juices.  There are traditional recipes such as the Skinny Fuzzy Navel (115 cals), while there are more modern recipes using flavoured vodkas like the Candy Apple Martini (147 cals) is yummy.

The book also gives you advice on how to cut the calories when you are on a night out as well activities that will help you lose weight.  You can also go to the website http://www.skinnytinis.com/ where you can find out the calories of your favourite tipple.

This is a fun book with great Bewitched style graphics.  If you like making your own cocktails, it will give you some ideas on how to cut the calories.  Of course, there will never be an alternative for the cream laden White Russian, but there are lots of other options available to help you have a healthier night out.  Remember, a little of what you fancy does you good!

This book was sent to me to review.

Definitely Dead

This book relies on you having read the short story ‘One Word Answer’.   I am not a fan of authors who put key plot info into short stories, as if you come late to the series you rarely bother with short stories and end up confused.  It would have been so easy to put in a sentence explaining that not only had Hadley (Sookie’s drug addict cousin) been murdered, but she was also Sophie-Anne’s (Queen of Louisiana) lover and  had been turned into a vampire.  Of course, that would be too simple and we really need to have eleventy unnecessary descriptions of Sookie making coffee.  Gah.  ‘Definitely Dead’ centres around Sookie’s visit to New Orleans to tie up Hadley’s estate.

In New Orleans, Sookie befriends Hadley’s landlady, Amelia, who also happens to be a witch.  Of course Bill and Eric aren’t too far behind and Bill (with a bit of pressure from Eric) admits that Hadley had boasted to the Queen about Sookie’s powers, who in turn ordered Bill to spy on Sookie using whatever means necessary, seducing her was a bonus.  Come on, did anyone think that Bill was a good guy?

Her problems from Bon Temps follow her as she and Quinn (who she is now dating) get kidnapped.  Now, guess who is behind the kidnapping … go on, guess…? It’s the Pelts!  Of course it is, because a family who tortures together, stays together.  After a fight, they end up having a (not so) civilised chat where Sookie admits that she killed Debbie and the Pelts pinky swear that they will keep Sandra under control and curb her murderous intentions – right, because that’ll stop her.  This story line is getting old, but knowing Harris, she is going to continue to flog it. *yawn*

The political marriage of Sophie-Anne and Peter Threadgill (King of Arkanas) spectacularly falls apart, culminating in a bloody fight.  During the fight Eric kisses Sookie before she witnesses Threadgill being killed by Sophie-Anne’s friend/bodyguard, Andre.  Bill then saves her life and she escapes with a wounded Quinn.  At the apartment, Bill declares his love for Sookie and she storms back to Bon Temps along with, Alicia and Bob, a fellow witch, who she had turned into a cat during sex (!).

I was so glad when this book ended.  Usually when an established series is set elsewhere, it adds a little extra, but no.  It was boring.  The book seems to be sorting out different plotlines that needed to be cleared up.  In short,

  1. Sookie had to have an interim boyfriend after Bill and
  2. find out that she had fairy blood which is why every supernatural being is all lusty after her and
  3. that Sophie Anne had known about that (thanks Hadley) which is why
  4. Bill went to Bon Temps on her orders and ‘fallen in love’ with Sookie.
  5. The Pelt situation also had to be resolved (but we all know that it hasn’t)
  6. There is a new superbeing in the mix – Amelia the witch!

These books are now following a predictable pattern and I wonder how many people would read these books if it wasn’t for True Blood?

 

This is the first book in the ‘Legends of Regia’ series.  Forest is a Halfling able to shape shift and shunned by most of the magical people in Regia.  Her mysteriously unknown father was powerful enough to have secured her a place in college despite her status and after graduating, she was assigned to monitor a portal on Earth into their world – a lowly position for her abilities.

She is summoned back to Regia which is on the verge of civil war between the vampires and werewolves.  She is told about the mission that she has to execute, which if it is successful, could lead to a promotion, acceptance with the big wigs and a Royal favour.  She has to act as a bodyguard to Prince Syrus, who was thought to have been killed in an attack, but was instead blinded.  With the civil war looming, the King and Queen have decided that now is the time for him to visit the man who blinded him to see if he can reverse the spell.  It gets worse for Forest, as he is also a vampire, her mortal enemy.

Before they can start their journey, she has to hide him in her cottage.  During this time Forest realises that Syrus is not the playboy that had previously assumed and they go from hatred, to begrudging respect after she sees how Syrus can fight regardless of his blindness.  He also learns not to goad her and finds out about Earth helped by Forest’s collection of Earth contraband ‘relics’.

They end up embarking on a journey (even though unbeknownst to them it had been aborted) travelling through lands owned by elves, vampires and werewolves meeting wizards, shapeshifters and orgres along the way.  There are several different storylines where we learn about the internal politics of each of these lands and how they all intersect.

There is also the concept of life mates for shifters – an unbreakable attraction that happens when two people make eye contact.  As a shapeshifter, when Forest meets her life mate, he can only see her true self and not her shifting looks, which Syrus does under the influence of human blood, but as he is blind, he can’t make the eye contact and make the connection.  Forest discovers this before they leave on their journey when she finds that she cannot shapeshift in front of him.

I really enjoyed this book, and the cliff hanger at the end had me aching to read the next installment.  While the journey of the love story is as old as story telling itself, the way that it was handled along with the concept of life mates allowed it to feel exciting and interesting.   The characters were all well rounded and it was clear that there was room for growth with the sub characters as well. Hinting at the political situation in each of the different lands, not to mention, Forest’s connection to each one as well as her father’s plans for her, shows that there is a lot of scope for future books without it seeming obvious or stale.  A great winter read, go read it!

Finally, this a copy of this ebook was sent to me, however, I loved it so much that I would have bought it

http://tenayajayne.com

http://tenayajayne.blogspot.com

Here is a little break from reviews with an answer to a question that I often get, how do you find new books?

I know what it is like, you have found a new series of books and if you are lucky, there are quite a few to read, but what happens when you finish?! Dun dun duuun.  I hate not having a stack of books ready and waiting for me (is this the sign of an addiction?) and as I suffer from chronic pain, I can’t pop down to the bookshop and browse the shelves, so I do it all on the internet.  So here are six ways to find new mystery titles.

1. The publishers

Many books have excerpts in the back of similar titles.  This is often a great way of finding out whether you like an author.  You can find more details and get updates about new titles from the publisher and if you pop onto their websites you can sign up to their mailing lists.  One of the larger publishers of cozy mysteries is http://berkleysignetmysteries.com, which has monthly updates, but be careful – they often have spoliers dotted about.

2. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter

There are several group blogs where a different author posts every day.  At the http://www.cozychicksblog.com/  there is Leann Sweeney, Kate Collins Maggie Sefton, Deb Baker, JB/Jennifer Stanley, Heather Webber, Lorna Barrett, Dru Ann Love.  Then there is http://killerhobbies.blogspot.co.uk/  featuring Joanna Campbell Slan, Monica Ferris, Linda O. Johnston, Mollie Cox Bryan, Chrystle Fiedler, Betty Hechtman.  Both of these sites have daily updates and competitions.  Don’t forget there is Facebook and Twitter too.

3. Author Websites

Some authors have their own websites which are regularly updated.  These can be a great way to get more information on books, maps of towns, even background information on the characters.  Here are some examples of author websites

http://www.haileylind.com/ – The awesome Art Lover’s series

http://www.julietblackwell.net/ – The Lily Ivory Witchcraft series as well as the Haunted Home renovation series

http://victorialaurie.com/ – Victoria writes both the Psychic Eye and Ghost Hunter books.  She is in my Top 3 author list and if there was ever a series of books that should make it to TV, it is these.

4. Sample Chapters

Sometimes, authors have the first chapters of books on their websites. I have found so many brilliant books this way, where the characters wheedled their way into my head and I had to read them straight away!  The following authors have been particularly great.

Angie Fox with The Accidental Demon Slayer

Kalayna Price with Grave Witch and Once Bitten

5. Other customers recommend…

If you buy your books online, both Amazon and the Book Depository have an ‘other customers recommend’ list of books which is on the whole very useful.  There are also review websites like Good Reads and blogs like mine, but you have to be aware that you might come across some spoilers.

6. Free eBooks

I’ve recently started reading ebooks thanks to my new ipod.  In fact, I haven’t read a single regular book in a month because I have been downloading dozens of free books. Why did I not know this sooner!  Anyway, most of these are hidden away in Amazon and if you are based outside the US like me, it is a little easier to find the free books on the US site.  The best thing about this, is that you discover books that have not been published in the traditional sense.  I loved Witch Way by Heidi Hall and a few pages in I was buying the next two books.  Of course there are always some iffy books, but as they are free, or at the most under £2, it is not the same as spending £5.99.

So those my secrets for finding new authors to read.  Happy Reading!

So here we are again, book 5 in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  There are two threads to this storyline.  The first is that shape shifters are being shot and Jason, who has recently been bitten, is considered the main suspect supposedly wanting revenge.  Of course, this is completely wrong as Jason is having fun with his were-pantherism, so Sookie takes it upon herself to go searching for the culprit.  In the course of the story, both Sam and Sookie get shot, but what is frustrating is that the perpetrator(s) were so easy to pick out.

The second thread is based on werewolf politics, which is just as brutal as vampire politics.  Alcide wants Sookie’s help, but doesn’t want to ask for it (more about that in a bit).  She is forced to see the real nature of the people around her when her house is burnt down and who would be prepared to help her and more importantly, who wouldn’t.

So what is happening to the main characters?

Alcide is now obsessed with manipulating Sookie.  He asks her to come to the funeral of the head wolf as she is “friend of the pack”; but what he really wants is for her to read the minds of the pack as his Dad wants to run for head wolf position.  When he tells her his plan minutes before the ceremony, he adds that he knows that Debbie had been at her house and guesses (rightly) that she murdered her.  Sookie tells him that he doesn’t have to resort to blackmail as she’s happy to help, but that doesn’t stop him.  Throughout the book, he just gets worse, I am surprised that he didn’t walk up to her and pull her pigtails to show that he likes her as he’s resorting to such playground tactics.  Clearly on the rebound, he invites Sookie to live with him after her house burns down and seems to think that because he fancies her (get in line, pal) that her gifts are his to use as he wishes.  Big mistake.  Not even the vampires blackmail Sookie to get her to do stuff (yet).  She attends the wolf leader battle for him and didn’t leave when she found out just how brutal it would be (although some warning would have been nice, what with the whole fighting until the death and celebratory public sex, ick).  Given his personality change, of course he will blame her for not saving his Dad and will go back to dating insane were-ladies in the next book.

He is almost like a male version of Sookie, he has terrible taste in women and keeps on returning to them, only to be manipulated by them again.  He’s also fickle with his affections.  Sure, he’s attractive and you know, alive, but he’s also a supernatural being.  I think that part of this book is showing Sookie that there’s more to weres than them being in touch with their fuzzy side every month.  Their animal side is always there and their brutality is on a par with vampires, maybe even more so as their leadership battle and ‘celebrations’ show.

Jason is getting used to being a were-panther and as he has fewer brains than a panther, he seems to enjoy this side of him.   The Hotshot crowd are willing to keep an eye on him thanks to his relationship with Crystal and her Uncle Calvin’s crush on Sookie.  It’s clear to everyone but Sookie that Hotshot is rife with inbreeding and Calvin is mating with any pure blood to try and stop the genetic faults like some kind of Hapsburg King, clutching at straws.  He really wants to mate with Sookie so she can dilute the bloodline too and he’s not afraid to use Jason as leverage.  He gets shot and spends most of the book in hospital, so initially Sookie visits him to keep on his good side, but then continues more than necessary and even kisses him.  With the naivety of someone blessed with good looks, great tan, big boobs and short skirts, she muses how nice it was to bring pleasure to him just because she was pretty.  Agggh, this is what makes me so furious with these books.  Just when I think that she finally starts to get a grip and she’s not completely brain dead something like this happens, showing that she has as much depth as a puddle. Of course, Calvin won’t be impressed when he realises that all the ‘affection’ is just the Sookie brand of friendliness.

Tara has landed herself with a dodgy vampire thanks to her boyfriend, allowing another vampire, Mickey, “use” her.  Sookie, asks Eric (who is still in the dark as to what happened when he was cursed) to sort it as a favour to her.  This is an easy fix for him and after a quick phone call and some fisticuffs, Mickey is sorted out.  Now Sookie has to explain what happened to Eric and makes a big deal about the amazing sex, as well as how he wanted to run away with her, which shocks Eric.  It turns out that part of the curse was that he was to be near the person that he loves, but not know her.  The aim of the showdown with Mickey was to show the power that sires have over their creations and how they can’t fight it (take note for further books)

Bill’s back and is displaying his true colours with pride.  Even when he hurts Sookie (again) she still believes that ‘he doesn’t really mean it’, not wanting to accept how horrible he is because she loved him.  At some point, she  is going to have to face up to that.  He’s a vampire. Duh.  He walks in on her and Sam kissing (which doesn’t mean that much as she seems to be kissing everyone), causing another fight.  Regardless of all the kissing, neither man seems to realise that they are both in the friendzone.

We have a new character too, Quinn the were-tiger who was MC/referee in charge of the werewolf battle for leadership.  Of course he immediately has lusty feelings towards Sookie (which is getting so boring now) and I expect that we’ll see him again.  There’s also a new vampire, Charles who is a pirate bartender on loan to Sam from Fangtasia when he got shot (really? Couldn’t the author think of anything better than a Jack Sparrow clone?)

The storylines were ropey and full of holes, I think (I hope) that the author was establishing some groundwork for future books with the complexities of the werewolf /shapeshifter communities, and showing that the vampires don’t have the monopoly on being a vicious breed.  If this book was to have a theme, it would be loyalties.  Sookie is still naïve enough to think that she can go along and do ‘good deeds’ to all and sundry and people will return the favour.  It doesn’t work that way.  No matter how she acts, the supernaturals will always want her to join their gang because of her talents and because they want to get into her knickers.  At some point, she will have to pin her colours to the mast and have done with it.  It is almost as if this book is a watershed, things just can’t carry on any longer.

I wish that I liked Sookie more, but she continually does things that negate any kind of personal growth.  On one hand she is wittering on about how she wasn’t going to rebound, but then she’s kissing every supernatural being she meets.  There are constant references to her reading books and that sodding word of the day calendar as if that in itself indicates her intelligence and common sense, but based on her actions she comes off as a brainless idiot, never mind the fact that she can use a new word.  I want her to become more savvy and aware of what is going on.  She chose to immerse herself in this life, yet she is unwilling to truly appreciate the laws and regulations and instead she is insisting on applying human rules to them which just doesn’t work.

After a good book in Book 4, this one was a disappointment I really hope that the next one will be better.

This is the fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  I had read an excerpt of this book in ‘Tempest Rising’ which had prompted me to purchase the box set when I saw the offer.  Now I realise that this is the best book so far and enjoyed it far more than the last three.  For me, I liked that Bill was off on his travels and we could see Sookie without all the angst that surrounds them both; we also saw the flickerings of more than one plot being woven together within the book which made it feel more challenging.

The book starts off on New Year’s Eve and once again Sookie is working in the bar grumbling that everyone else has stuff to do.  As she is driving back home she meets a half naked vampire walking along the road – it’s Eric and he’s suffering from amnesia.  After a quick chat with Pam and Co. Sookie ends up vampire sitting him and thanks to Jason, this time she’s getting paid for it.  She’s such a sucker for waifs and strays, I am surprised that her house isn’t jammed full of animals needing a home, but then again this might encourage more vamps…

There was an element of sadness throughout the book.   Sookie rapidly falls in love with Eric who is a ‘pure’ version of himself without his usual bravado and the power, wealth and influence that he has created as a buffer against the human world .  He constantly looks to Sookie for reassurance, love and affection, so she has the upper hand.  This is ideal for her, not only does she get to take care of and mother him, but she also has the benefits of being with a vampire.  In fact, it’s probably the closest she’d ever get to a ‘normal’ relationship with a vampire.  For Eric, he has the benefits of a relationship that is simply about love and he takes to it to such an extent that he said that he didn’t care if he ever got his memory back and that he wants to run away with her.  This is what makes this book so sad, they both have this fleeting moment of what a life together could be like, but of course Sookie would never stop him from getting his memory back and an Eric with his memory would find it hard to give up all the trappings he has accumulated.  To quote Nine Inch Nails, it’s something that they’ll never have.

So, what was the matter with Eric?  Well, we have a new supernatural on our hands – witches!  This brother and sister led group of powerful witches go around to successful businesses blackmailing the owners and threatening to curse their customers/business if they don’t get a cut of their profits and now they have arrived in Shreveport.  That isn’t the only problem.  Hallow, the main witch, generously said that she wanted Eric to be her love bunny and in return she wouldn’t take all of his profits.  When he refused, he got cursed.  Now Pam and Co. need to find the witch so she can remove the curse, while Eric who is a danger to himself, needs to keep his head down.

Now we get to learn about witches!  In fact, there are witches who have power and Wiccans who are about the religion, but this new group doesn’t care which sort you are.  They are on a recruiting spree and using their tried and tested business tactics to blackmail other witches to join them.  Sookie discovers that there are witches closer to home and decides that she has to warn Alcide (who is back with Debbie Pelt, again).  He introduces her to the Chief wolf and discovers that the second in command (who is also a witch) was missing.  She turns up dead and this is just the excuse that the wolf pack needs to join the fight. Hooray!

In the meantime, Jason is missing and what with all the witchy goings on, Sookie believes that they are behind it.  In trying to figure out Jason’s last movement she visits Hotshot, a village populated by were-panthers.  Crystal, Jason’s latest fling lives there and initially lies to Sookie, but her Uncle Calvin turns up and she starts singing like a canary.  Being of a supernatural disposition, Calvin takes a shine to Sookie and offers to protect her now that she doesn’t have a man to do so.  Lovely.

Sookie, now doing her bit for supernatural relations has bought together both the wolves and vampires and everyone is up for a fight.  They have devised a plan to invade the house where the witches are holed up, seize Hallow and reverse the spell on Eric.  Simple. Meanwhile, Bill who is back from his travels and happens to mention that Debbie was a part of the torture team from the last book and that she had known the state he was in when she pushed Sookie into the boot of the car.  This takes Alcide by surprise and he finally sees the light and publicly abjures her, meanwhile Debbie is furious.  The plan is for Sookie to stay at a safe distance, but of course she ends up to her armpits in blood and gore as vampires, witches and wolves rip each other to pieces.

Sookie takes Eric back home while Pam is getting the spell reversed, but the fun doesn’t end there.  They have a visitor and it’s Debbie Pelt who is not a happy camper and wants revenge.  She tries to shoot  Sookie, but Eric takes the bullet for her and in the moment that this distracts Debbie, Sookie shoots her dead.  Afterwards, Eric gets rid of the body and car just before he gets his mind back.  Once again Sookie is left alone.

It turns out that the witches weren’t behind Jason’s disappearance and Sookie has a brain wave.  She and Sam go to Hotshot where Jason is being held hostage.  One of Crystal’s admirers, jealous that she preferred a regular human, had taken him hostage with the intention of turning Jason into a part panther by repeatedly biting him.  Pow.  That was how quickly it was all resolved.  In what is becoming a pattern to these books, the main plot was usually concluded four fifths of the way through and then the mini plot gains a little speed only to fizzle out with a rush as if CH wants to get it all over and done with.  I don’t know why it is like this, it is not as if these books are huge tomes – a few extra pages adding more to the mini plot would have rounded out the story and it would have felt far less rushed.

Now everything is back to normal in Sookieland.  It is clear that this book is far more interesting because there is more of Eric and less of Bill.  His character is far more appealing and he actually has depth and doesn’t sulk, on the other hand Sookie hasn’t changed much.  I hope that now as all the supernatural beings have been introduced, she is allowed to have a bit of room to grow too.

This is the third book in the series and Sookie is suffering from inattentive boyfriend syndrome, who prefers the computer to her.  Bill then tells her that he has to go to ‘Seattle’, but her worst fears are confirmed when Pam, who I am really starting to like and is far nicer in the book than in the TV series, tells her that Bill wasn’t being entirely truthful – what a surprise.  It turns out that he had gone back to his old vampire lover and was going to pension Sookie off.  What a charmer.  However, before he could do that, he was going to visit Eric and Pam but he disappeared before doing so and they want to find him because his tinkering on the computer was actually something “really important”.

Going forward from the last book, we have new supernatural characters, including Weres in the form of Alcide.  He’s been blackmailed by Eric into going to Jackson with Sookie so she can read the minds of people who might know where Bill is.  He is everything that Bill isn’t, complete with a beating heart, but sadly he is hung up on his ex girlfriend who is engaged to someone else (and is also a nutjob).  Of course Sookie is still mourning for Bill which is why she if risking her life (again) to save him, but she is also starting to pay attention to all of the supernaturals who are making gooey eyes at her.

I was trying to figure out why Sookie irritates me. First of all, she has this ‘oh I am blonde, pretty, with hidden talents and big boobs – I also wear tiny clothes and I don’t know *why* all these men want me…’ thing going on for her.  Sure, in the first two books where she was getting to understand the world of vampires and discovering that her ‘disability’ is in fact a gift; but every supernatural from Sam to vampires and the weres all want to shag her, yet she still complains that the bigoted idiots who frequent the bar don’t like her.  However there was a line in the book that revealed the real source of my irritation.   Sookie was in the bar and had bumped into Tara who started reminiscing about their school days and in particular a raunchy dance that they did for a school contest, which Tara wanted to perform.  Sookie said how ‘it gave her (Tara) so much pleasure (to perform the dance) how could I deny that to her’.  This sums up Sookie and is what annoys me so much.  She will do whatever anyone else wants her to do, just because it makes the other person happy, regardless of her own ideas/feelings/morals/dignity.  If the rough sex that she didn’t really want to take part in gave Bill pleasure then she’d give in and do it, if Tara wanted to do a stripper dance in front of a bunch of vampires and weres on a full moon when tensions were running high, she’d do that too – hey, Sookie, if someone wanted you to do crystal meth because it gave them pleasure, would you?  Gah.

So here she is in Jackson with Alcide, Bubba and Eric on hand to look after her, but she still ends up getting fatally injured when she saves a vampire who was about to get staked.  Eric is on hand to give her his blood and she survives, finding herself recovering in the building where Bill is being held.  So after being hurt she has to go and save him, cue lots of fun and games.  It gets worse, just when she thinks that it is all OK, Alcide’s vindictive ex-girlfriend, traps her in the boot of a car with a starved Bill, who not only drinks from her, but also rapes her.  Congratulations Bill, on going to even deeper levels of scumbaggery.

Again, Eric is on hand to show that vampires aren’t all the same as Bill.  Even after Sookie risks her life finding Bill and then again when Bill finds her, she finds herself on the sharp end of the weres who are out for blood and have secured the help of a particularly brutal gang of humans.  Yet again, Sookie is being battered, at least this time Eric was on hand to help.

One question I have is, why, when Sookie is mauled by Bill, do they get her to drink the synthetic blood to help with the blood loss?  Surely she needs a blood transfusion rather than just eating blood which would have no more effect than eating a steak.  Of course vampire blood is different, but this glaring question bugs me …

Finally, I like the way that Eric sorts out her driveway and cleans up her house so discretely and kindly.  Of course he still wants to shag her, but he is also showing kindness – not something that old Bill the Berk would do… So I did enjoy this book fractionally more than the first two, but I would like to have more details about the supernatural world as it seems that Sookie is becoming more a part of that than the human world.  The author keeps on hinting at things, but only touching on the same details over and over again which is starting to get it is very frustrating.

I liked the end of the book where Sookie was having a good old chuckle to herself after rescinding the invitations to Bill and Eric to her house and relishing her new-found freedom.  Let’s hope that she keeps it up.

This is the second book in the Sookie Stack house series.  I have to admit that I am not champing at the bit to find out what happens, but I bought the set of 10 books for £19 and I am curious as to what all the fuss is about. We find Sookie trying to navigate her relationship with Bill, although it is becoming clear that he is not the best person for her.

First of all Sookie is attacked by a Maenad as a message to Eric Northman, demanding that she gets a tribute from him.  She is then taken to Eric who, along with a doctor and other vampires declares that Sookie needs a blood transfusion and have the poisoned blood removed, so it is a grand old Sookie picnic for the vamps.  This is the start of Eric gradually showing Sookie that he is an alternative and not all vampires are like Bill.

Then Lafayette, unlike the TV series, is found dead in Andy Bellefleur’s car (while he is in the bar on a bender).  So Sookie, being loyal and always one to defend the underdog, decides that she wants to figure out what happened to him.  She soon discovers that this all centres around an orgy that Lafayette went to, and his inability to keep gossip to himself.

This line of investigation is stalled when Sookie is shipped off to Dallas, it seems that her talents (no longer a disability) has made her hot property and she is to see Stan who has a problem with a missing vampire.  The trip to Dallas is interesting as we see how vampires travel by air, but we also shown how insulated Sookie’s life has been.

When they get to Dallas, Sookie quickly shows her worth and they are all happy as the proverbial pigs in muck, especially when she goes on an undercover ‘mission’ with another human looking into the Fellowship of a Sun, an ultra-Christian group of anti-vampire nutjobs, who seem to have forgotten about Christian values and are all about killing, raping and beating people up.  Good times.  Of course Sookie is on the receiving end of this, but is rescued by a shapeshifter (an introduction of a new group of supernaturals) and then Eric takes care of her while Bill is off gallivanting.  Again he shows how tender he can be and also reliable too, how about that!

Battered and beaten, Sookie is then subjected to a vampire party, which Bill is loving every second of.  He completely ignores Sookie and is chatting up other female vampires, only for the party to be targeted by the Fellowship of the Sun.  Sookie realises just in time  and warns them, but only  the vampires heed her advice.  The scene is carnage, but she is kept safe – why? because Eric threw himself on top of her and took a bullet that was destined for her.  He then asks her to suck out the bullet ick.  Where is Bill?  Is he rushing forward to make sure that she is OK?  No, he is off on a blood crazed mission to chase after the Fellowship peeps who were responsible for the attack.  Sookie is not impressed as he promised that he wouldn’t kill anyone, and goes home alone.

The other half of the book features Sookie, who is still in a strop and not seeing Bill, distracting herself by donning the Miss Marple hat and trying to figure out who killed Lafayette.  Turns out that the rottenness inside of Bon Temps goes right to the core with an orgy featuring certain members of the town, probably encouraged by the Maenad.  She turns to Eric asking him to escort her and being a good sport, he turns up kitted out in lycra.  Of course he wants to be with her, but he isn’t going to force her – I think that he is an actions speak louder than words kind of man, I only wish that Sookie would pay more attention.

The concluding scene of the orgy was fairly grubby and it seems the author did too as she rushed through Sookie finding who the rest of the orgy-ers were, who had killed Lafayette, trying to escape, the Maenad having a hissy fit, Bill turning up like a bad smell and finally the resolution.

Bill and Sookie has a rollercoaster relationship one minute  they are screwing like rabbits and the other time they are arguing with Sookie going off in a strop.  One thing that I felt a little uncomfortable was the growing way in which Bill is wanting to have sex with Sookie all the time, even when she doesn’t feel like it – there is one sex scene when she asks him to “be sweet” and he says that he can’t.  That is a little too close to rape and control games for my liking and she just seems to accept that it is part of the way a vampire treats her.  Maybe this is because she is so naive or maybe it is inexperience or not having a decent male role model, but the way in which Bill treats Sookie is becoming less about love and more about control.

This is highlighted even more so when there is Eric in the picture.  He helps to heal her when she is poisoned by the Maenad; he takes care of her after her experience with the Fellowship of the Sun; he throws himself on top of her and takes a bullet for her – then stays around to make sure that she is OK.  He even humiliates himself in a pink lycra outfit when she needs to have help going to the orgy.  Each time he looks after her when she is scared and vulnerable and not once did he try to force himself on her, can’t say the same for Bill who is addicted to her blood – and can only get to it by having sex.  I hope that this is a subtle way of the author pointing out that Bill isn’t a nice guy who should be kicked to the curb.

This is also the book where we get to meet more mystical creatures, including the shape shifters, there’s more to this world than she realises and when she has barely seen the normal human world, this could be a culture shock. I suppose that this book is all about setting the scene for future books, which is why I am hoping that Book 3 will be better.

Sookie StackhouseI have been debating for a while as to whether I should read the Sookie Stackhouse books.  I had seen some of the TV series,  which were OK, but not something I religiously watched.   I had also read a sample passage from Book 4 in the back of another book (I love those as it’s a great way of discovering new books) and the style seemed OK, but the deciding factor was that I had found a set of 10 books for £19.99 at The Works, which pushed me over the edge 🙂

I have always loved the vampire genre with Dracula bring one of my all time favourites.  It is a genre that can be really, really good, or really, really bad.  Recently I have been dipping my toe into more Urban Fantasy/Mystery books including MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series and the Twilight books (don’t judge me!).  Like a true addict, I always like to have a new book in the wings and expanding into a new genre means that there are more books to choose from 🙂

First of all, I could see the attraction of making it into a TV series, but there were enough differences between them for me to forget about the plot lines that I vaguely remember.

Sookie isn’t a character that I immediately liked.  She seemed far too lightweight for my liking, with her only depth being her ‘disability’ of being able to read minds.  Sadly, it is this that she blames for her lack of education, social and sex life and why she is a bar maid.  I would have liked to have seen if there was more personality, but the constant descriptions of what she was wearing and then wondering why men are looking at her like a piece of meat, really didn’t help her case.  For someone who has an insight into human nature, she is remarkably naive and stupid (in spite of the repeated claims about her intelligence), set on sunbathing and wearing skimpy clothes.  There really isn’t any depth there, so don’t look for it 😉

The town of Bon Temps has undercurrents of homophobia, racism and general intolerance running through it.  Her family is dead (except her brother – more about that later), so she is relatively alone in the world.  Held back by her telepathy she has been unable to get close to anyone and has lacked any kind of male role model to show her how a man should treat a woman.  From the opening sentence, it is clear that she is fixated upon vampires as a species well before meeting Bill and I wonder if she would have fallen in love/hooked up with any vampire and even moreso when she discovers that she couldn’t hear their thoughts, as she seems to crave peace and normality.

As Sookie is able to listen to other people’s thoughts, the whole town has dismissed her as crazy, and being the accepting bunch that they are, have done a stirling job in alienating her. This has also compounded her loneliness and obsession with vampires.  There are only a few people accepting of her gifts, but only when it suits them – and even then, they don’t want the rest of the town knowing she is helping them.

This is the worse kind of small town, the residents are bigoted, ignorant and highly volatile if their daily life is threatened; even bordering on mob mentality that is reminiscent of the witch trials.  Sadly, there really aren’t that many human characters who are decent people.  Sookie’s Grandma was one of them and Sam just about scrapes in, but only just. The town’s atmosphere gets worse with the appearance of a vampire and the encroaching vampire world and I imagine that this is only the start of the erosion of Bon Temps…

Bill is the first vampire in Bon Temps, who Sookie rescued after being ‘seduced’ by a pair who were offering him blood, but instead wanted to drain him of *his* blood due its magical properties and high market value as a drug (come on, how can someone who is that old be that careless and lacking in street smarts.)  Sookie in turn fell in love with him (or maybe she fell in love with his lack of thoughts) spurred on by the idea of finally have sex, only after she was nearly killed by the people who had assaulted Bill.

While the TV series seemed to show  a relationship between Bill and Sookie, in the book, Sookie was more of a blood donor to him than a lover.  From the first time we see Bill he is putting himself in a dangerous situation to drink some human blood and it is clear that this is what drives him.  I think that Bill is a manipulative wanker.  At one point she asked him not to bite her during sex because she was getting anaemic and feeling sick and he whined that it didn’t feel the same and then complained that she tasted different when she took vitamins.  Hell’s teeth, after hundreds of years of immortality, vampire men are still self centred whiney characters bent solely on getting their rocks off, regardless of the damage to the ones that they supposedly love.  Yeah, you can tell I don’t like Bill 😉

The main story line of the first book is that women who are sleeping with vampires are being killed off, including Sookie’s Grandmother who walked in on the murderer while he laid in wait for Sookie.  Her brother, Jason, is the main suspect, especially since he had also slept with the victims and filmed his S&M activities too.  What a charmer.  In fact, Jason is the human equivalent of the vampire, but rather than blood, what drives him is sex.  It seems that he is just as brutal as vampires when it comes to that.   I wonder if this is the author showing us; that humans can be just as hedonistic and driven by instincts as vampires are.

We get to see a glimpse of the vampire world as Sookie, with her Miss Marple hat on, wants to go to a vampire bar.  Here we are introduced to Eric, who seems to want to be ‘respectable’ in going mainstream, but also doesn’t apologise for the vampires and their ways.  Unlike Bill, at least he admits his differences instead of whining about wanting to fit in, then using ‘vampire ways’ as a cop out for not revealing things.

I think that vampires are perfect in the profession of PR, and in Sookie’s world, they have excelled.  They have managed to convince everyone that they aren’t the undead – oh no, it’s a virus that makes them seem dead.  To top it all, Sookie, despite frequently shagging a man without a heartbeat who fought in the Civil War, believes it.  Then has a wobbly when someone points out that he is dead.  Good. Grief.

The murder mystery part was moderately complex, although when Sookie was ‘investigating’ and listening to everyone’s thoughts, the murderer who was frequently mentioned everywhere else, was skipped over which was something of a pointer for the reader.  I will try and hold off long-lasting judgement about the series until I have read the next book.  This book was an OK read, in that it was a quick, light, fluffy read, although I did feel empty and unchallenged afterwards.  Unlike some books, after I finished I didn’t crave to know what happened next or had questions about Sookie’s world.  However as I have the box set waiting for me, maybe it will grow on me!

Oh and finally, I did not like the murder of the cat, sure, kill off humans – but you don’t kill the animals…

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