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There has been a lot of discussion about the new Charlaine Harris book, Dead Ever After, especially since the plot ending was prematurely revealed.  I have read all the Sookie Stackhouse books,but more out of sheer bloody mindedness than enjoyment.  I had planned to collate my notes for the outstanding reviews, but I simply don’t have the spoons or the inclination to edit and re-edit when there are so many better books to review.  So instead, here are some final thoughts on the whole shenanigans.

I believe that there is an unspoken agreement between the author and reader.  The author creates amazing characters and as the reader, we get to love them as much as the author does – with that there comes a bond of trust.  We trust that the author will do right by those characters and as long as that happens, the reader will forgive a multitude of sins right until the very end.

However, I also understand that inspiration is not a bottomless well and there are some times when characters have come to their natural end… or the author just gets bored with them.  This seems to have happened with Harris, who made no secret that she wanted to kill Bill off halfway through.  This was at the same time that True Blood started; a double edged sword creating an even bigger fan base while she was falling out of love with the characters.

You need to remember, that there is a new type of reader who grew up reading the Harry Potter books.  They expect the author to do right by the characters.  Sure, some may get killed, but it’s OK because the author loves the characters and has a *plan*, we just need to trust them.  These readers not only buy the books in hard back edition at the highest price as soon as they are released, but they watch the TV series and buy everything from the t-shirts to the perfume. They also suspend their criticism.  They forgave Harris for countless mistakes, the glaring continuity errors, rambling plot lines, the repetitive Debbie Pelt nonsense, and the weird personality changes of all the characters.  They truly believed that Harris would do right by them and that Sookie and Co. would get the ending that they deserve.

She didn’t.

For the last eleventy books Harris had been flipping the bird at her fans.  She could have been worthy of their trust and created a great final book that negated all of the shitty plot lines and errors (and if she didn’t feel that she could, she should have damn well got someone to help her).  In turn, these fans would have read her other books and stayed with her for the rest of her career.  Instead she has alienated them, not only with a book that seemed to lack any kind of passion, but also by letting down the characters too.

I don’t think that the uproar in the Sookie Stackhouse community is simply because Sookie ended up with Sam, but because the ends were tied up in such a lacklustre way.  People feel cheated because they were, and now they are having an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment, realising that the previous books were just as disappointing.  Readers don’t need to be treated like they are stupid, nor do they want to be mugged off.  All they wanted was for there to be a decent ending for the characters that they have grown with and loved.  That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

In thirteen books, Sookie showed very little growth.  She is still the same person who simply wanted to be normal.  Vampires not only allowed her to feel that, but showed her how to shield herself from other people’s thoughts (a fact that was dropped in and glossed over PDQ), so she really didn’t need vampires any more.  All she wanted to do (as we were told over and over again) was to lie out in the sun, make coffee, put her hair in a pony tail while wearing her Merlotte’s t-shirt. She stopped fighting for her relationship with Eric, in fact, I am not entirely sure that she fought for it in the first place; nor did she show any understanding of vampire politics or a desire to learn about it even when she was up to her armpits in it.  Her idea of growth was that ridiculous word a day calendar.  Ending up with Sam was obvious, but the lack of run up to the relationship was disappointing.  The fate of the vampires was secondary and many of the Eric fans would have been placated if there was more of an explanation and tidier ending.  Like many times in this series, Harris simply relied upon glossing over a lacklustre plot line.  I wouldn’t have put it past her to have tried a Dallas style ‘and it was all a dream!!’ ending.

It would have been better for the series if Harris had created 6 kick ass books that didn’t resort to rambling plot lines of repetitive details about Sookie’s day to day activities while she still liked the characters.  While I might not necessarily enjoy Laurell K Hamilton’s books, I respect her for saying that she wanted to hold off writing another Merry Gentry book because she felt that the character had come to a natural end.  This is how you respect your characters and readers.

So instead of spending best part of £10 on Dead Ever After how about these books.

Jim Butcher – The Dresden Files.  Harry Dresden is a wizard, it says so in his yellow pages ad.  He helps the police with any weird shit activity which involves vampires, witches, wizards and other creepy things.

Kim Harrison – The Hollows Series.  Rachel Morgan is a kick ass bounty hunter who has just handed in her notice so has a life expectancy of -5 minutes.  She ends up moving in with her vampire friend Ivy and Jinx the pixie and becoming an independent bounty hunter.

Ilona Daniels – The Kate Daniels Series.  Kate is a mercenary investigating the murder of her friend, rubbing shoulders with vampires and weres and scary things that go bump in the night

This is a new series and a spin off from the Chanse MacLeod detective books.  Paige isn’t your normal cozy mystery heroine; she drinks, gets lairy, swears like a trooper and is ready to kick some ass which was refreshing.  I like a character who can drop the f-bomb without wanting to star it out.  The only element that I wasn’t too keen on the fact that she likes to smoke pot, commenting on how it helped her with her creative process and writing her articles.  Maybe I am too conservative, but it didn’t really add anything to her as a character 😦

Paige is working for the Crescent City Magazine in New Orleans and is suffering from a stonking hangover after a particularly boring fashion event.  Unfortunately the person who she was supposed to interview, Marigny Mercereau, had been killed and now instead of conducting a fluffy interview, she has to find another angle for her story and can’t resist investigating.

It turns out that Marigny was short of cash and decided to write her memoirs and blackmail those who might not want to see their antics in print.  So, Paige sets out to interview members of the New Orleans fashion scene to dig up some secrets.  However the main clues to the murder came from a copy of Marigny’s book which she had emailed to Paige before her death.  The culmination of the mystery happened within a couple of pages; annoyingly there weren’t that many candidates for the murderer so it was fairly obvious who the perpetrators were.

As this is a spin off book from the Chanse MacLeod series, I did wonder if I was missing some of the elements by coming to this book cold.  We were introduced to a handful of her friends, most of whom seem to be from the previous series, as well as a long running plot about Paige’s past which will be interesting to find out more about.

This book was a pleasant read and I think that I’ll add the first Chanse MacLeod book to my ‘to-read’ list too.

I was sent this book as part of the CLP Blog tour

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.

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 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.

Hooked on Murder

Molly Pink co-ordinates events at Shedd and Royal books, but ends up stumbling upon the body of Ellen Sheridan, leader of the crochet group and her late husband’s old business partner.  Soon she is being targeted by the policewoman in charge of the investigation whose judgement is clouded by jealousy over Molly’s relationship with Detective Barry and feels like the only way she can get herself out of the sticky situation is to do some investigating herself.

What I liked about this book was that she takes up crochet and it documents her journey into learning different techniques and the slippery slope into yarn addiction.  As a way of de-stressing she joins a crochet group who are struggling to make a blanket which is to be auctioned off for charity, as with most groups there’s a huge amount of politics to be tip toed around, not to mention the rivalry between crocheters and knitters.

I found Molly quite a tragic figure, while she was doing her best to carve out her own life, it seemed like the world couldn’t help but give her a few kickings along the way, not to mention a boyfriend who just wanted a housekeeper and a cook on tap.

The murder mystery part itself was cleverly made (even though the murderer was a peripheral character that was barely mentioned, which as a reader sometimes feels like a cop out) and it was only when there was a face off between the characters that everything fell into place and it went into scary movie territory – the ‘don’t go into the basement on your own’ kind of thing 😉

I would say that it was an enjoyable book that was OK, but didn’t necessarily hit all of the buttons.  Still, as a crocheter I liked the descriptions about the way that they made the blanket and the crochet vs knitters show down.   Let me know what you think!

Betty has her own website http://bettyhechtman.com/and Facebook page as well as photos of the crochet patterns – so get your hooks out!!

Thankfully I am feeling much better now and am back blogging again, I have a huge backlog of reviews that I have hand written, so there are lots to cover and when better to start than a Bank Holiday 🙂

Fundraising the Dead, this is the first book in the Museum Mystery series and as someone who loves antiques and museums, I was really excited about this book,  but I really struggled to get into it.  Nell is a fundraiser at the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society and hours before a large event, she is cornered by Marty, a Board Member, who says that part of her family’s legacy is missing.  Soon Nell discovers that there is more stuff missing and things get worse when the only other employee who knows about the thefts turns up dead.

I am not sure why this book was such a slow starter, maybe it was the relationship between Nell and Charles (the Society’s Director), who just had baddie written all over him… or it was the long descriptions of meetings which never seemed to lead to anything (yes, I know that it part of the work of a fundraiser, but to repeatedly go over the details – it felt like I was there, and not in a good way).  The book started to turn around when Nell, Marty and Jimmy got together to trap the thief,  however the culprit was so obvious that he could have been wearing a sash saying ‘I steal stuff to maintain my lavish lifestyle, ask me how’.

What irritated me most was Nell’s character.  On one hand she is portrayed as this professional woman with high standards, on the other, she is this sexually liberal woman who is willing to have a ‘I’m using him as much as he’s using me’ relationship with her boss, only to act all hurt when she figures out that Charles has been using her (and anything else in a skirt).  Then in a blink of an eye, she is flirting with the handsome FBI agent.  It just seemed disjointed as if the writer took all the stereotypical behaviours of a single 30 something woman on TV and smooshed it into a character.

In all, it was an OK book, but it will be a while before I read the next book in the series, and then only when I am going through a book drought.

The author’s website http://www.sheilaconnolly.com

This is the fourth book in the Booktown Mysteries, featuring Tricia who owns ‘Haven’t Got A Clue’ – a bookshop specialising in mysteries.  Her sister, Angelica, has just launched her career as the new Martha Stewart with her cookery book and on the eve of her book tour there is an explosion in one of the other bookshops in the street.  The owner, Jim, is killed, and Angelica’s boyfriend, Bob, is injured and will not co-operate with the police and is very tight-lipped about the whole matter.

With Angelica away, soon Tricia finds herself taking care of Anglica’s shop and café, attempting to take care of an increasingly hostile Bob, dealing with mourning shop manager, as well as collecting for a fund for Jim’s mother and trying to figure out what happened.  She certainly has her hands full!

This is my favourite book in the series, I had really hoped that Tricia and Captain Baker’s relationship would move on, but instead he put things on hold to take care of his ex-wife who became sick.  To top it all, Revolting Russ has gone from being an irritant to verging on being a stalker.  I can only hope that Captain Baker’s behaviour is a way of illustrating that he and Tricia are made from the same cloth – she deserves a little happiness.  I loved hearing more from Miss Marple, she sounds just like my cat (although a little less set on world domination).

I feel sorry for Tricia, given that she is always trying so hard to help other people – and they rarely seem to appreciate it. The murder plot itself was very clever and as always the reveal showed that there was a lot more at going on in the town that meets the eye.  What I enjoy about this series is that the additional goings on in the town is not just to add colour, but creating sub plots that evolve in the background throughout the series. It also adds updates of what happened in previous books, like Ginny and Eugenia, to prove that even though the crime has been solved, that there are repercussions.

Like the last book, it seems to be that the men are the most disappointing, other than Mr Everett who is an absolute star.  The rest all seem to be lacking (especially Bob and Revolting Russ).  The murder victim, Jim, seems to have been a complete ass in spite of the love of a good woman and even Captain Baker is losing brownie points because of the way that he is treating Tricia.

The final scene revealed that Tricia isn’t totally taken for granted and I loved what happened with the delivery man.  It certainly left a lot of room for new plots and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This book was very kindly sent to me by Lorna Barrett, thank you.

For fans of this book, Lorna Barrett is the pen name for Lorraine Bartlett and she has a new book series coming out in the autumn called ‘A Matter of Murder’, a craft themed mystery which looks brilliant.  Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

Crafty Book Worm

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