Tour’s Books Blog

August 24, 2011

Four Short Reviews: Paranormal and Paranormal Mystery

Well, when you get lots of heat and humidity – though nothing like they’ve had in the mid-west and south – it does encourage loafing around and reading.  I was the mood for mysteries and paranormals and we have some winners and losers and a couple of recommended reads.

  • Title:  Dead in the Family
  • Author:  Charlaine Harris
  • Type:  Paranormal/fantasy
  • Genre:  Sookie Stackhouse #10 – the never ending story
  • Sub-genre:  Fae, vamps, shifter and their coming out of the closet
  • My Grade:  C- (2.7*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 100,000+ $15-$17
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  acquired through and online book swap site

OK, I haven’t read a Sookie Stackhouse book in years and now I remember why.  I just got sick of Sookie.   What is it with her and men – or perhaps males would be better?  It’s like she allows herself to be emotionally abused – not to mention physical abuse and misuse.  I know lots of folks follow this ft the ‘love story’ aspect of the novels, but jeeze, if this is ‘love’ with vampires, spare me.

The ‘two natured’, namely were, have come out to the public.  Werewolves, being the largest group, have taken the brunt of the backlash.  Vamps are already out, but the weres seem to worry folks more because they work and live like ordinary humans.  Sookie, a telepath with some fae blood, is not quite unique, but she talents are very rare.  The plot, such as it is, revolves around Sookie and her efforts to to keep her romance with Eric going under difficult circumstances.  Mostly, he’s off the radar for one reason or another for much of the book.  First because of concerns about the new leader for Louisiana, Victor, who is looking for reasons to force Eric out, and second because Eric’s maker, an ancient Roman called Appius, shows up and demands his assistance with his ‘young’ vampire, the last living Romanov.

A ‘child’ of a vampire must do its makers bidding and Eric is drawn from Sookie into trying to control the vicious Alexander Romanov, so looks frail and childlike, but is actually an insane killer.  Sookie is also involved with the Long Tooth Pack of werewolves and the fact that Sam, the owner of the bar where she works and a long time friend, has come out as one of the ‘two natured’.  Despite his family’s long time history and his own military service, he gets a lot of backlash.

The ending is bloody and inevitable, but the plot is weak and lightweight.  The real question is ………….. Is Dead in the Family worth the $15-18 hardcover price or the $9.50 to $11 trade paperback price?  Nope.  Obviously, if you are a dedicated fan, you’ll disagree, but this is a family drama that has run its course and is, thankfully coming to an end soon.  Get it from the library or buy a cheap used used copy.  Nothing original here.

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  • Title:  Dead Reckoning
  • Author:  Charlaine Harris
  • Type:  Paranormal/fantasy
  • Genre:  Sookie Stackhouse #11 – the never ending story
  • Sub-genre:  Fae, vamps, shifter and killing a bad guy
  • My Grade:  D+  (2.5*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 100,000+ $15-$17
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  acquired through and online book swap site

I have this feeling that the combined plots of Book 10 and Book 11 could easily have been one much better book with a little editing work.  That said, I think one Amazon reviewer hard it right when they called Dead Reckoning a ‘bridge book’.  It could also be called Much Ado About Nothing, With Bloodbath.

Dead Reckoning picks up pretty much where Dead in the Family leaves off, Sookie is trying to adjust to having her Great Uncle Dermot and self-centered cousin Claude living in her house.  One thing she does is get them to help her clean the attic.  With Sam’s help, she finds an antiques dealer to come look over what’s worth something.  She’s also dealing with a fire bomb at Sam’s bar, a bunch of new competition that’s stealing his clientele, and the escape of an insane person who wants Sookie dead.  You know, the usual.  Bill Compton, former boyfriend and neighbor is healed now, but not in love as his ‘sister’ a woman turned by the same maker as his, healed the silver poisoning he had.   She overhears and leaves (though I wonder if we’ll see her again fighting against Bill).

Claude and Dermot are adjusting, or Sookie is adjusting to them in her home, though Claude remains a self-centered narcissist, at least Claude is becoming a better person, even if he is half fae.  Sookie, who apparently makes ‘impulsive life changing decisions’ a habit, severs her bond with Eric when her witch friend, Amelia, comes to renew the wards on her house.  Then the alpha of the Long Tooth Pack, Alcide, is asleep in her bed because now that the bond is severed, he wants a chance at Sookie for his pack – and himself.

While lots is happening, nothing has any real emotional impact.  It’s frustrating that long awaited denouement with Victor ends as it does.  It feels like everyone is infected with Sookie-itis, a short term solution thinking disability.  You’d think a 1,000 year old vamp would have more sense.

The best part of Dead Reckoning are the bits that fill in Sookie’s fae inheritance – and why everyone suddenly wants Sookie, especially her fae family.  Eric is infected with male-a-hole syndrome, but finally reveals why Appius told Sookie Eric would never be hers anyway at the end of book 10.

Is Dead Reckoning worth the $15-18 discount price?  NO WAY!  This is used book, library stuff unless you are a die hard fan who must have it NOW!  Wait 6 months and look for a cheap used copy.

Charlaine Harris is ending the series at Book 14, so only 2 to go.  Series that run this long are hard to keep interesting and fresh.  There’s a lot of repeating old mistakes, and even more ‘fluff’ padding, and the characters become so damn predictable.  While Harris is an able storyteller, she’s so familiar with Sookie that, like Stephanie Plum, she never seems to evolve into a more thoughtful and mature character.  The shallowness of things grows boring, as does her repeating old mistakes.  Harris is making a good decision by wrapping this up.  It’s overdue.

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  • Title:  Baited Blood
  • Author:  Sue Ann Jaffarian
  • Type:  Paranormal mystery
  • Genre:  Book 2of the Madison Rose vampire mystery series
  • Sub-genre:
  • My Grade:  B+  (4.1*)
  • Rating:  PG-13 to NC-17
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 100,000+ $10-$12
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from an online bookstore

Madison Rose is now a paid employee of the Los Angeles vampires, working mostly directly with Simon LaCroix, a charismatic vamp that was turned centuries ago.  The Dedhams, Dodie and Doug, have given her a room in their house and act rather like her surrogate grandparents.  For someone raised on the hard and heartless system of foster care, this is the closest thing to family and emotional security Madison has ever known.

Mike Notchey, police detective, knows all about vamps, and what might be considered a push-pull relationship with them and with Madison  He’s convinced Madison is sleeping with sexy Colin Reddy and possibly Simon LaCroix as well, so he refuses to be involved with her, despite their mutual attraction.  When Madison wakes to find a body in the Dedham’s pool with a makeshift stake through the chest, she wakes Doug and Dodie with the scent of her own blood and Mike gets called in.  The man in pool is a vamp, but he’s not dead, just very badly injured.

Supposedly suffering from amnesia, after reviving him, Keleta claims no knowledge of his maker – a person who branded him with the identical mark that Dough Dedham carries.  Keleta is given to the care of two other vamps for training – and to watch him.  The next morning, Madison finds another body in the pool – but this one is a dead vamp, and he too bears that makers mark.  The vamps are on the hunt for the woman who made Doug and trying to figure out who is trying to threaten Simon’s leadership.

Naturally nosy, Madison is given further incentive to look into things when she gains access to a vamp data base.  She also learns more about vampire society and how different groups are operated.  Simon’s rule in LA came after a period of virtual lawlessness and debauchery, often involving humans, that was attracting the unwanted attention of the police.  One of those humans was Mike Notchey’s sister, which is why he is so repelled by the idea that Madison might be playing around with the male vamps.

Madison stumbles on several different things, separate events that all lead to the person responsible for the vamp killings – and the twisted reasoning behind it.   But Madison does pay a price.

Sue Ann Jaffarian has a real gift for creating multidimensional characters.  Madison Rose, with her troubled past and emotional baggage has learned to compartmentalize her life in order to cope.  She finds herself having to face that again here.  But she’s human, and not a candidate to become a vamp (Humans that can make the transition to vampire have a mark on their palms called a Bloodline.  She doesn’t have one, so she can’t be converted.), so making her life with vamps is at best tentative.  It’s an interesting dilemma for one relatively young.  Jaffarian has a large cast of characters here and she manages them well, though several were relegated to bit parts here.  Who did it was obvious to me, but then it usually is.

Is Baited Blood worth the $10-$12 asking price?  I think it is.  Well above average, but in some need of a comic relief type character to help carry the story with a bit more wit and verve.  Neither noir nor cozy, this sits in that middle ground of solid mystery, the characters just have fangs..

**************************************************************

  • Title:  A Taste of the Nightlife
  • Author:  Sarah Zettle
  • Type:  Paranormal Mystery
  • Genre:  Book of the Vampire Chef series
  • Sub-genre:
  • My Grade:  C+ to B- (2.9*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 80,000+ $7.99 – deals available
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from and online book store

I originally wrote this review for a Paperback Swap blog, and it was finally used, so I’m removing it.  To see my review, please go to here.

 

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