May 10, 2013

Book Review: Dead Ever After

Dead Ever After
Sookie Stackhouse, Book 13
Charlaine Harris

Released: 07 May, 2013

Gollancz, Paperback, 352 p.
ISBN: 978-05750-9662-2

On the back....

Sookie Stackhouse has one last adventure in store.

Life has taken from her a waitress in Merlotte's Bar, Bon Temps, to part owner; from social outcast to the heart of her community; from a vampire's girlfriend to the wife of one of the most powerful vampires in the state.  She has survived explosions, revolutions and attempts on her life.

Sookie has endured betrayal, heartbreak and grief... and she has emerged a little stronger, a little wiser, every time.

But with life comes new trials...

The question is, in the end: who will love, who will live, and who will be dead ever after?

*** May contain Spoilers ****

So what did I think of this, the not so final installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series?  Having just finished it about an hour or so ago, I have to say that I like it.  I tried to stay away from all the other reviews so that it wouldn't influence my own thoughts on this book.  Now, looking at other reviews, I see that there are mixed opinions on the success of the final book.  All I can say is that I'm just glad that I finally have some closure in the whole Sookie/Eric, will they - won't they, quandary.

For me, I liked they way things were resolved with Eric.  He's been such a manipulative undead so-and-so for a long time now.  He's made his bed, and now he has to lie in it.   Although it was strange that he really has no presence in this title.  He only has one or two meetings with Sookie.  Strange, but I thought Ms. Harris would have an Eric laden finale.  However, the vamps were mostly in the background of this book.  This was a huge surprise.  No one - except for Bill - was speaking to Sookie.  Pam had a few words, and so did Karin, but that was it.  

Bill's presence however, was well executed.  There was none of the anger, sadness, manipulations, etc., that have been the broody trademarks we've come to look for.  Bill was his old self in this story.  Not overly solicitous, nor was he moody and distant.  He was the Bill that we saw in the earlier books, the one that was a good friend to Sookie.  Sam's role in DEA was not so much an unexpected twist for me, but a welcome surprise.  I've always thought that this should be the ending he had.  I can't wait to find out if they stay together (sorry, trying not to give away spoilers to those that haven't read DEA yet ;-D ).  There was a stage while reading the book that I thought Sam might be a little 'altered' thanks to Sookie's use of the cluviel dor in Deadlocked.  It would have made a nice twist, but I'm happy enough with the way the story unfurled.

Pam's promotion was great, and I'm glad that she would like to keep Sookie in her life.  The introduction of Karin was a tad unexpected, but then, those who get sent to guard Sookie's house are always unexpected.  I did wonder why we didn't get even a cameo from Bubba?   He wasn't even mentioned!  As far as I can remember, he's still alive... right?!

It was great that a lot of characters from previous books got a final look-in here.  Some we loved, and others we loved to hate.  There are more than a few suspects in the 'who want's Sookie dead' club.  And I was surprised to see Arlene back, even if it was briefly.  The real twist in the tale for me was Claude, and what he's is involved with.  I really did get a surprise when his role in the events of DEA were revealed.   

A great way to end what has been a fabulous, and much cherished, series.

Book Review - Disappearing Nightly

Disappearing Nightly
Esther Diamond, Book 1
Laura Resnick

This edition published 2011

DAW Fantasy, Mass Market Paperback, 386 p.
ISBN: 978-07564-0766-7

From the back cover...

"I'm not a heroine; I just play heroines.  Also psychotics, orphans, vamps, hookers, and housewives..."

Thus begins the first fantastical misadventure of Esther Diamond, a struggling actress who seems destined to  attract supernatural mayhem.

When bizarre magical disappearances disrupt performances in the Big Apple, Esther receives a mysterious warning not to go on with her off-Broadway show.

Desperate to say on stage rather than resort to waiting tables, Esther turns to her new BFF, Dr. Maximillian Zadok, a 350-year-old mage whose day job is protecting New York from Evil.  Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery without losing her job, Esther and Max team up with a conjuring cowboy, a banker with stage aspirations, and a flock of fearless drag queens.  Also on the case is Detective Connor Lopez, a sexy cop who has a thing for Esther, but who fearsthat she and Max may be a bigger problem than the vanishing performers.
Since the show must go on - and the astronomical rent must be paid - Esther, Max, and their friends pursue Evil to its lair in their fearless determination to find the missing performers and restore harmony to the city that never sleeps. 

Here are some of my thoughts about this title at random.
** Spoilers might be included **

Firstly, I loved the cover art!

Esther Diamond is a great leading lady.  Smart, funny, strong, independent and willful.  Just how I like my heroines.  She is very much aware of our hunky detective, Connor Lopez, and it's sweet to watch them tiptoe and flirt around each other as they try to suss each other out.  Det. Lopez is gorgeous, smart and sees just enough to know that he's not getting the full story out of Esther and Max.  He knows something is going on with Esther, but just can't quite put his finger on the cause.  I wonder how long it will take him to finally figure out the truth?

Some of the names the characters sported were quite corny, but that's part of what made them so memorable.  I mean, who could forget a woman with a name like Golly Gee?  Is it any wonder with a name like that that she was such a diva!  The drag queens were a laugh and a half.  Fabulous names, and not your stereotypical queens either.  Loved the meeting between the gang and Lopez at the bookstore.  Our Johnny-come-lately mage, Lysander, was such a stick in the mud.  Someone really needs to pull that stick right out of his tush.  Oh, and Hieronymus - yet another great name - is wonderfully annoying as the lisping assistant mage.  

I could keep going on about how this book engaged me, but it would be simpler (and a whole lot shorter) if I just put it down like this:

  • great characters
  • fast paced
  • wonderful storyline
  • great moments - such as Connor's revelation to Esther about how his brother's have dodged the 'matchmaking and nagging mother' routine
  • all the secondary characters have enough of a personality to have a life of their own outside of their part in the dialogue.

  • too many voices at times!  All those secondary characters seem to overwhelm a reader (especially if you're reading into the wee hours of the morning like someone I won't name ;-D )
  • what happened to Matilda?  She was such a vocal and fiery character - getting into verbal tussles with Esther - then, poof!.... she disappeared about half way through?  I thought she might have had a hand in it at one point.  Can't have a great character you love to hate, then loose them part way through.
  • I also didn't like the way Lopez portrayed Esther to his mother during that phone call
  • There was not enough of Det. Lopez in the story.   Perhaps in the next book he's got more page time
  • I didn't think that both our main characters, Esther and Lopez, needed to have the annoying, nagging mothers.  Overkill!
  • Our resident mage, Maximilian, is very bumbling at times.  For a 350 year old, you'd think he'd have a mind, and tongue, as sharp as a razor.
  • Okay, I'll say it.  Hieronymus was a prat!  Enough said.
  • No romance!  All we got was one lousy kiss!

So, these are my thoughts on Disappearing Nightly.  A wonderful start to a collectable series.  When I first started reading it last night, I was struck by how similar in style it was to Carole Nelson Douglas' 'Delilah Street' series.  If you like Esther Diamond, then you'll love Delilah Street.

May 5, 2013

Merry Gentry Wallpaper

Had Merry Gentry on the brain recently.  Hope you enjoy!

Feedback would be appreciated ;-D

New books on the way

Last Friday night I couldn't sleep, so I decided to do a little online retail therapy.   While online I lost track of time, too busy scrolling through the pages of books on Book Depository.  Before I knew it, it was nearly 3:20am and I still hadn't been through the checkout!  So, it was nearly 4am before the lights went out - and I'm paying for the lack of sleep tonight - but I did find some more books to add to my already overflowing bookshelves.

In preparation for future book club selections, I hunted around to find a few series that sounded good  - and that I'll be OK putting aside for a little while - and, most importantly, that I hadn't read before.

* Discount Armageddon - Seanan McGuire
* Under Wraps - Hannah Jayne, and
* Darkness Unbound - Keri Arthur

As well as these, I also bought the second book in the Esther Diamond series by Laura Resnick, 'Unsympathetic Magic'.  Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, since I still haven't read book one yet for book club, but it never hurts to be positive ;-D

Then there were 3 titles that are part of series that I've already started to read. Who could resist revisiting the very cool alternate world of Blud with 'Wicked as She Wants' by Delilah S. Dawson.  Then there was 'Dead on Delivery', and 'Dead Letter Day' by Eileen Rendahl, the next two books in her A Messenger Novel series.  And last, but certainly by no means least, is a replacement copy for LKH's 'A Kiss of Shadows'.  My original copy is falling apart (see below pics) due to very frequent re-reading (and what I'm sure was a poor gluing of the pages to the spine).  I have to be very careful when I open it these days as the pages are just sitting there :-)

My poor book!
It's finally beyond repair.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get the same UK cover - and I really liked that cover, too.  I've had to settle for the US cover.  I just hope that the spine doesn't crack on this copy when you try to read the book!   Hopefully, this should keep me going for the next couple of weeks.  I'm back off to restock my wishlist!  Hope you've found a great book, or three, to read this week too.  Happy reading ;-D