Posts Tagged With: Vampires

Dead Reckoning (Soouthern Vampires 11) by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead Reckoning (Southern Vampires 11)
Author: Charlaine Harris
ASIN: 978-0575096523
Publisher: Gollancz
First Published: May 2011
No .of pages: 336

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
There’s a reckoning on the way . . .  and Sookie has a knack for being in trouble’s way; not least when she witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is known to be two-natured, suspicion immediately falls on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but before she can investigate something else – something even more dangerous – comes up. Sookie’s lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam are plotting something in secret. Whatever it is, they seem determined to keep Sookie out of it; almost as determined as Sookie is to find out what’s going on. She can’t sit on the sidelines when both her work and her love life under threat – but as she’s gradually drawn into their plans Sookie finds the situation is deadlier than she could ever have imagined.

Review:
After the last two books, I was afraid the series was going a little off the boil, but Dead Reckoning seems to be bringing things right back on track. There’s still a little too much “fairy stuff” for my taste, but this one focuses mostly on vampire business, which is exactly where I want things to be.

To my great surprise, I find myself liking Bill an awful lot more than I have previously (from the very start, I wasn’t all that keen on him). Conversely, Alcide really annoyed me in this episode, when I’d liked him before – he just seemed to act completely out of character, especially for one who is now Pack Alpha. Eric, well he’s Eric and I’ve always liked him; and Sookie is just as fresh as a daisy and the ultimate girl-next-door with a spark of something extra that sets her apart from the rest. Ideally, I would have liked to see a little more of Sam (he’s always been a favourite of mine) and his complex friendship with Sookie, but perhaps that will crop up in Deadlocked.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Denied by Pat Brien

Title: Denied
Author: Pat Brien
ISBN: 978-1848764132
Publisher: Matador
First Published: September 2010
No. of Pages: 402

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis (Amazon):

The battle between good and evil has become a war between love and lust As the black clouds of the industrial age begin their creeping domination of Northern England, a brooding vampire, Bachell, settles on the outskirts of a bustling Lancashire town, searching for the perfect victim. Under a death sentence by a powerful female vampire, Maria, with whom he is obsessed, he has neglected his needs to a dangerous degree. Now he must either feed successfully or face a fate worse than death. And his perfect victim must be willing. Not only is the strong-willed but naive Katie not willing, she is soon to be married. This leads Bachell into a desperate game of manipulation and seduction, dramatically pitting the ideals and emotions of young love against the dark forces of sexual fantasy and lust. In the bloody aftermath, a group of vampire hunters head to Paris to destroy their enemies. However, with Maria reigning from the shadows, they find themselves having to make dark choices. As disaster looms, they seek the help of a shy, beautiful young man, whose deadly power stems from a tragic curse.

Review:
As someone who loves vampire fiction, I was very much looking forward to reading this new addition to the blood-sucking canon.

Denied showed so much promise, but despite having a slightly more original concept than most recent vampire novels (most of them for the teen market and angsty Twilight Saga rip-offs), but it seems to lose sight of its aims half-way through, with far too many threads that take too long to go pretty much nowhere.

The novel is split into two halves where it really should have been split into two books – Denied and its sequel, and it even leaves things slightly open for a further foray into the story without promising to do so. Even so, I don’t think I would personally bother picking up a sequel were one forthcoming.

None of the characters really ring altogether true and there are many stereotypes as well as characters that pop up in places with no real purpose, which is a shame, because if Denied had been tighter it could have been a riveting read. Unfortunately it was just too long for what was there.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 5)

Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampires 5)
Rating: 3/5 – Very good, well worth a read
You might like this if you like: Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
Sookie’s got just a month, before the next full moon, to find out who wants her brother dead – and to stop the fiend! Sookie Stackhouse enjoys her life, mostly. She’s a great cocktail waitress in a fun bar; she has a love life, albeit a bit complicated, and most people have come to terms with her telepathy. The problem is, Sookie wants a quiet life – but things just seem to happen to her and her friends. Now her brother Jason’s eyes are starting to change: he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time. She can deal with that, but her normal sisterly concern turns to cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population. She afraid not just because Jason’s at risk, but because his new were-brethren suspect Jason may be the shooter. Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who’s behind the attacks – unless the killer decides to find her first.

Review:

The fifth installment of the Southern Vampire series actually deals more with the Shifter community than the vampires, although the vamps are still involved.

It was always going to be difficult to follow the previous book as it was so good (well, how could it now be when it focussed on Eric so much?), but Dead as a Doornail does a pretty good job of living up to its predecessors. There’s plenty of action, with Shifters getting shot left, right and centre. I worked out who the culprit was pretty early on (I just didn’t know why they were doing it). Fortunately, there was more than enough there to keep me interested long after I’d figured out who the “bad guys” were.

I wished there had been a little more of how Jason fared with his first “change” and the differences this was going to make in his life. Comparatively little was made of that aspect and I felt Harris kind of missed a trick there.

And you have to feel for Sookie – the poor woman never seems to get a break. Even her New Year Resolution is to “not get beaten up this year” and with the company she tends to keep, that’s something of a tall order!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 4)

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 4)
Rating:
4/5 – Excellent
You might like this is you like: Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires, paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
Sookie comes to the rescue of a naked, amnesiac vampire – and ends up in the middle of a war between witches, werewolves and vampires! Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s pretty. She does her job well. She keeps to herself – she has only a few close friends, because not everyone appreciates Sookie’s gift: she can read minds. That’s not exactly every man’s idea of date bait – unless they’re undead – vampires and the like can be tough to read. And that’s just the kind of guy Sookie’s been looking for. Maybe that’s why, when she comes across a naked vampire on the way home from work, she doesn’t just drive on by. He hasn’t got a clue who he is, but Sookie has: Eric looks just as scary and sexy – and dead – as the day she met him. But now he has amnesia, he’s sweet, vulnerable, and in need of Sookie’s help – because whoever took his memory now wants his life. Sookie’s investigation into what’s going on leads her straight into a dangerous battle between witches, vampires and werewolves. But there could be even greater danger – to Sookie’s heart, because the kinder, gentler Eric is very hard to resist.

Review:
This is actually my favourite of the first four books in the series. Seeing a vulnerable, sweet Eric is wonderful – it’s a whole new side of him that we haven’t seen before (of course, is it really him when he has no memory of who he is? Or is this actually the real Eric?), and who could blame any hot-blooded female for softening towards him? I know I certainly would!

But amnesiac Eric isn’t the only draw – there’s such a lot going on in this installment that it’s real seat-of-the-pants stuff: We have Witches, Weres and Vamps all battling it out and poor Sookie is caught right in the middle of it; Jason going missing is another major event that will change the course of his and Sookie’s lives (as well as the course of the series) completely; and Sookie has to really step up and do things she never thought she’d have to do – she really shows she’s made of steely stuff!

It really is jam-packed full of a plot so good I didn’t want it to end and it’s left me gasping for more, so I’ll be going right ahead and continuing with the rest of the series instead of taking a little break as I had planned!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 3)

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 3)
Rating:
4/5 – Excellent
You might like this if you like:
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
There’s only one vampire Sookie Stackhouse is involved with – at least voluntarily – and that’s Bill. But recently he’s been a little distant – in another state distant. His sinister and sexy boss Eric has an idea where to find him, and next thing Sookie knows she’s off to Jackson, Mississippi, to mingle with the underworld at Club Dead. It’s a dangerous little haunt where the elusive vampire society can go to chill out and suck down some Type O – but when Sookie finally finds Bill caught in an act of serious betrayal she’s not sure whether to save him, or to sharpen some stakes.

Review:
For me, this is where the series really starts picking up the pace! More happens in this installment than in either of the previous two and its damned exciting to boot!

For a start, we get a little more of Eric (sexy, brooding, mysterious vampire), less of Bill (Sookie’s slightly dull vampire boyfriend), and the introduction of Alcide (sexy werewolf who’s just a tad more “normal” than the vampire crowd Sookie has been hanging around with!). All this adds up to some great sexual tension – who will win Sookie’s attentions, if any of them? There’s also another appearance made by Bubba (who, although not a main character is one of my personal favourites!), which always adds a little sparkle to the storyline, even in the instances where he’s only there for a few pages.

There’s also a glimpse at how being part of the supernatural world is affecting Sookie’s abilities to function in the more human one. She’s being taken away from her job at Merlotte’s more often to do work for the vampires; as a result, her finances are suffering a little, so following on from that, Sookie is more than a little tense when it comes to the daily grind (aren’t we all when we have money troubles?). It all goes towards establishing her as being very realistic, and her temper flares reinforce that too – she’s no shrinking violet, nor is she the classical heroine – she’s a gal that has to live in the real world and knows how tough that can be sometimes. These little flashes of “normality” make the thick of the action all the better.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 2)

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 2)
Rating:
3/5 – Very good, well worth a read
You might like this if you like:
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn’t enjoy it). The point is: they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges – and soon Sookie’s in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She’s supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed. But that’s easier said than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly . . .

Review:
It’s been such a long time since I read the first few books in this series that it really is like coming to them fresh, and it makes not one jot of difference that I’ve been watching the HBO show based on them (True Blood) as the second series deviated rather wildly from the events of the second book, retaining only the basic elements of the plot – removing some parts and developing some areas that were barely mentioned in the source material as well as adding in some other things that didn’t happen in the book at all.

Charlaine Harris has a very easy-to-read style of writing – it almost sounds like an old friend speaking to you in your head and as the plot unfolds, the action rolls over you in waves and before you know it, you’ve read half the book when you only planned to read for 20 minutes or so.

As a lead character, Sookie is instantly likeable and she’s flawed enough that she comes across as being entirely plausible, even with her mind-reading skills. It’s during this book that I begin to find Bill just a touch less likeable. Not that I actively disliked him – it was more a gentle growing of “I’m not so sure about this guy” with nothing really specific on which to put my finger. Eric, on the other hand, becomes more intriguing… Neither of them actually plays a huge role in the plot though, as it focuses more on the humans and the hatred that causes some “religious fanatics” to act in extreme ways. The progress of the story lies squarely on Sookie’s shoulders and she’s a strong enough character to carry it along to its conclusion.

There was one tiny element I felt Harris could have explored further – the Maenad. Her part in the book was almost entirely inconsequential and, in fact, it could have been almost entirely omitted from this second installment. Still, it didn’t detract from what is an enjoyable read that definitely makes me want to continue with the rest of the series.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 1)

Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 1)
Rating:
3/5 – Very good, well worth a read
You might like this if you like:
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much – not because she’s not pretty – she’s a very cute bubbly blonde – or not interested in a social life. She really is . . . but Sookie’s got a bit of a disability. She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he’s tall, he’s dark and he’s handsome – and Sookie can’t ‘hear’ a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting all her life for. But Bill has a disability of his own: he’s fussy about his food, he doesn’t like suntans and he’s never around during the day . . . Yep, Bill’s a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble – of the murderous kind. And then one of Sookie’s colleagues at the bar is killed, and it’s beginning to look like Sookie might be the next victim . . .

Review:
Well, that’s my first book of the year finished. As this was a re-read it went a lot more quickly than I think it would ordinarily have done, but it was great fun revisiting “old friends” and refamiliarising myself with the residents of Bon Temps. I think I’m going to enjoy re-reading the first four books, but I can hadly wait to progress to the subsequent sequels!

It’s not as full-on sexy as the TV series (True Blood) but there’s still a fair old bit of steamy romping, although Harris doesn’t go into minute detail (she doesn’t need to!) and it plays an integral role in the plot, so it’s not gratuitous.

Sookie could have been a “too-good-to-be-true” type of goody-goody, but she’s not and I love that she’s so flawed (she has something of a temper on her at times; she’s stubborn, wilful and headstrong) and although the mind-reading is important to the plot, it’s not dwelled on too much – it’s just accepted that this is part of who Sookie is and that she often finds it something of a chore to deal with. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will instantly identify with her.

As with my first reading, I found Bill a little tedious (I also do with the show, to be honest) and find the mysterious Eric a lot more interesting and fun, but he’s still quite likeable, despite his coldness and stand-offish nature.

And I had almost completely forgotten about Bubba – it was such fun to be reminded!

If you’re a fan of supernatural fiction you could do a lot worse than to pick up at least this first book in the series. Harris has a touch that is light enough for the funnier moments but strong enough for the darker ones too – it’s a fine balance, but she hits the mark and keeps you hooked into the action from start to finish.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Synopsis (from Fantastic Fiction):
Written by a direct descendant of Bram Stoker and a well- known Dracula historian, Dracula: The Un-Dead is a bone- chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker’s own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Written with the blessing and cooperation of many members of the Stoker family, Dracula: The Un-Dead begins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula ‘crumbled into dust.’ Van Helsing’s protégé, Dr. Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, son of Jonathon and Mina, leaves law school for the stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of Dracula, directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself.

The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents’ terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he experiences evil in a way he had never imagined. One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a quarter-century ago is being hunted down. Could it be that Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge? Or is there another, far more sinister force at work whose relentless purpose is to destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula?

Fast-paced, full of suspense, and rich with historical detail, Dracula: The Un-Dead is the answer to every vampire fanatic’s prayers.

Review:
As a fan of the original novel, I looked forward to the publication of this novel and getting my greedy mitts on a copy to read, hoping it would live up to its promise. Although I tried not to let my expectations get the better of me, there was always going to be a fair bit of anticipation building up.

Unfortunately, I never felt the characters really got fully developed in this sequel, but then, it always had BIG shoes to fill following a classic like Dracula. Bathory could have been a far more interesting character had she been more conflicted and had I been made to feel any warmth towards her in her pre-vampiric life, and the “reveal” of a certain character was far too obvious far too early on (i.e. as soon as the character appeared!). Mina came across as being a bit of a martyr, Van Helsing was practically insane and Arthur Holmwood was, to be honest, a bit of an ass. Quincy was rather naive and unconvincing for me, but the one character I actually did warm to was Seward, despite his drug-addled persona, or perhaps because of his vices and flaws – I only wish there had been more of him!

The addition of Bram Stoker himself as a characterin procedings was a nice touch and I enjoyed his interaction with the other characters and the action as the plot unfolded. It made for an interesting blend of fact and fiction as certain aspects of his real life was mingled with this fictitious horror.

Despite all this, it was nice to read a twist on the original tale and see some of the reasoning and justification in Dracula’s actions when seen from his point of view. If you do read it, try to delve in without too much expectation and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised, but if you want a masterpiece you’ll be disappointed.

A decent enough read for fans of the genre, but nothing spectacular.

Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

dead until dark

Synopsis from Amazon:

Small town Louisiana has a big problem – or rather a number of big problems. And now some of them have come knocking on Sookie’s door …Sookie is an unassuming cocktail waitress in an (outwardly) unremarkable town. She’s quiet, keeps to herself and doesn’t get out much. Attractive as she is, her hidden ‘talents’ send men running. For some reason her mindreading skills are just a bit threatening …Then the unreadable Bill appears on the scene. Tall, dark and handsome, Bill seems to be the man of her dreams. Except he’s not technically human. Bill is a vampire and a vampire who keeps seriously bad company, some suspected – unsurprisingly – of murder. Things get a bit close to home when a co-worker is murdered and Sookie starts wondering whether she will be next …

Well it is fair to say Charlaine Harris really does know how to write a good story. This is the first book in her Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is a waitress in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. Yet she has a gift; she can read people’s minds, which makes her the strangest person in the community. But things are set to change in this sleepy town, as vampires are now legal beings and are trying to “go mainstream” and live in amongst humans. This is good news for Sookie – it gets her a boyfriend – a tall, dark, handsome vampire. But not everyone is happy with having vampires roaming around, and soon there are girls dying, girls who Sookie works with and who associate with vampires. With fear and death all around, Sookie fears she will be the next victim….

This book had action right from the first page to the last. Harris weaves a great web of suspense, suspicion and fear. She writes in several characters, all of whom could be committing the crimes. The deaths themselves were gruesome. She had no fear in writing a realistic murder. I liked how she wrote about vampires too. She stuck to the traditional ideas about vampires – such as them keeping out of sunlight and feeding on humans. Although I thought it was interesting that she invented “fang-bangers”: those who wanted to be bitten by vampires; I thought that was original.

I liked Sookie. She seemed strong and sensible, and fairly likable. I loved her Gran though – her interest in the vampires was fairly amusing. I couldn’t figure out her brother – his character kept changing. That makes me wonder if he will feature more further on in the series. Of course, the other key character was Bill. For a vampire, I liked him. I couldn’t work out how vampires don’t have emotions but do fall in love but I liked how he was written. He was dangerous, and he showed that, but he had affection too.

My complaint would be the amount of sex in the book. There was a lot. It did seem that when they weren’t out investigating, they were having sex. I didn’t think the book needed quite that level of intimacy – in a way it did spoil the book for me a little bit. However, I did enjoy the book for the most part and would recommend it. It didn’t take long to read; it was gripping and exciting; and Harris keeps her status as one of my favourite authors.

8/10

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Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

breaking-dawn

Synopsis:

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs. Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life – first discovered in TWILIGHT, then scattered and torn in NEW MOON and ECLIPSE – seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed…forever?

This is the final part of the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. I was wary to begin with because it is a large books – 755 pages, and because I had heard some negative reviews about the book. However, although not as good as the other three books in the series, this is an enjoyable book, and worth reading.

For the final installment we attend the wedding of Edward and Bella, and then the honeymoon – which has interesting consequences. Faced with therepercussions of the honeymoon, the Cullens group together ready to face the Volturi – the vampire royalty. But this is not a fight they can win alone, so they call upon all friends and alliances for the final fight…

Interestingly, a section of this story is narrated by Jacob. I liked this. Although not my favourite character, he is vital to the storyline and Bella’s life. It was fascinating to read the book from a werewolf’s point of view, especially someone as close to the protagonist as Bella. It was well written and I enjoyed it.

There were, however, story lines in this book that I didn’t like/wasn’t convinced by. The main one is the Jacob and Renesmee story. It just didn’t work for me. Although these are fantasy books, for me that was just pushing a little too far towards the extreme.

My favourite character throughout the whole Sage has been Edward. I just love him – the way he looks, how he thinks, how he loves, just a great character. I would love it if Meyer did go ahead and publish Midnight Sun, Edward’s version of the Twilight book. In addition to Edward, I loved Renesmee – everything about her except the name. That too was a little far-fetched for me, however her character was adorable – just too cute.

For the most part, I loved this book. Maybe it was a little too long but it was engaging and fun. A nice way to end the Saga. I definitely encourage people to read this series if they haven’t – they are really good books.

8/10

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