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Southern Vampire Series

    After Dark Review: DEADLOCKED

    Previously published on Fiktshun After Dark…

    Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)
    Author: Charlaine Harris
    Published: May 1, 2012
    Publisher: Ace
    (Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

    On Goodreads…

    With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

    Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

    ***

    HOW IT RATES…

    THE LONG…

    Deadlocked is the twelfth book in author Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires or Sooke Stackhouse series. Once again trouble lands right at Sookie’s door in the form of a dead girl. Well, not technically her door, but her boyfriend, Eric Northman’s.

    While Eric was the last person to be seen with her, there are any number of suspects. From Felipe de Castro or his entourage who are visiting, to Mustapha Khan, who just so happens to be conspicuously absent when the police show up, to any of Eric’s or Sookie’s enemies. And there are always plenty of those.

    Trying to find out who the killer is means figuring out the motive behind framing Eric. Is it to drive Eric and Sookie apart? To get Eric out of the picture to get to Sookie? To cast doubt on Eric’s ability as Sheriff? Or is it part of a much more elaborate and sinister plot?

    Deadlocked is a quick read, although the pace doesn’t really pick up until the very end. And while this twelfth book in the series moves the story along, ties up a number of loose ends and answers several questions that have been begging for them, it doesn’t bring the same level of excitement to the story as some of the earlier books in the series. And it seems to wrap up some of the storylines too neatly and conveniently.

    This installment in the series did scale back the violence, although there was some. It eliminated all but the briefest sexual encounter. And it once again had very few scenes with of one of the more exciting characters in the series, Eric Northman.

    More than anything this book felt as if it was winding the series down, moving it toward its conclusion. Even some of Sookie’s musings envisioned endings to many of the characters’ stories in a perfect world. And it took the story in a direction that may please some fans of the series and upset others, depending on just how they want Sookie’s story to end.

    Appearances, albeit brief, are made by some longtime favorite characters in the series. New obstacles to Sookie and Eric’s happiness are introduced. And happy endings are given to some of the many characters in the world and unhappy ones to others.

    With a few surprises, a few “Oh Sookie” moments, and an ending that will leave readers on edge as they wait to find out where this series will conclude, Deadlocked is a necessary, if not electrifying, installment in this series.

    So, what more can I possibly say about Deadlocked?

    I’m caught somewhere between it being just “okay” for me and a “liked.” I liked getting answers, even if they’re not the ones I want. I liked that the plot was moved along. And I liked when the pace picked up at the end.

    I just didn’t feel connected to the story. And I didn’t have fun reading it. The mystery didn’t have that quality that kept me riveted as some of the earlier ones did. I found myself more annoyed with Sookie than anything. I felt things were too conveniently wrapped up and I just didn’t care about how things ended for some of the characters.

    But more than anything I just missed Eric and Pam. My two favorite characters in the series. For the third book in a row I didn’t feel Eric’s presence. Whether that was the author’s intent or not, I can’t say. But it just feels as if he’s being pulled away from the story. He’s no longer the Eric that is always there for Sookie. Stopping by for a quickie doesn’t count.

    And his involvement in this story was negligible, even though it was about a girl found dead at his doorstep.

    While I understand trying to wrap up a story and close all loopholes, I felt as if some characters were brought back into the story for no logical reason other than to say goodbye. Some of whom I already thought I’d said goodbye to for good.

    I enjoyed Deadlocked more than Dead in the Family, but a bit less than the previous book in the series, Dead Letters. And while I will definitely take this series to its conclusion, no matter how heartbroken I know I’ll be about the direction this story seems to be headed, I will probably stick with re-reading just the first nine books in the series as I’ve done four times already.

    …AND SHORT OF IT

    Not enough Eric. While the author may have other plans for good ol’ Sookie, it is hard to see such an important character in the series play such a minor role in this book. Especially since the frame job surrounds him.

    Not enough excitement. While I admit that the violence was escalating in a rather shocking way in poor Sookie’s life prior to this book, there didn’t seem to be that much going on here. Even with a murder, an underhanded plot and a huge cast of characters.

    Not enough heat. While the scenes don’t have to be the steamy kind of hot, there should have been some heat. From somewhere. But there was just no fire or passion in any of the exchanges between any of the characters. The one brief booty call was rushed and not at all sexy. And without any intensity in the glances or fiery arguments, there just wasn’t any real spark.

    A nerve-wracking conclusion. Well, the ending certainly delivers. It created that twisty knotty feeling that was missing throughout this read. The way things left off will make many readers very nervous about what to anticipate in the last book. The last ten percent of the story was exciting. And the ending will definitely keep readers guessing about what’s to come.

    MY FAVORITE BITES…

    I’d loved two vampires. Bill had broken my heart. Maybe Eric was on the way to doing the same thing.

    ***

    I began to think I was spoiled. There was no such thing as boring sex with Eric.

    I wondered if he’d dance for me, if I asked him nicely. I was having a very pleasant fantasy about that when Claude reemerged on the stage, still in his spangled tights and boots.

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    Review: Dead Reckoning

     

    Dead Reckoning is the eleventh book in the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. It was released in the U.S. on May 3, 2011 in hardcover, audio and eBook formats.

    It is currently available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in all formats.

    Published by Ace Books, the print edition is 336 pages.

    Goodreads description:

    With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit – and the twisted motive for the attack.

    But her attention is divided. Though she can’t ‘read’ vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam well – and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master.

    Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human – and that there is a new Queen on the board . . .

    ***

    Once again, Sookie Stackhouse, our favorite telepathic barmaid at Merlotte’s in Bon Temps, Louisiana has managed to land herself right in the middle of a dangerous situation.

    When someone attempts to firebomb Merlotte’s, Sookie isn’t so sure the target is Sam. Business has been slumping, possibly due to the less than successful coming out of the two-natured, but even Sam doesn’t have nearly as many enemies as Sookie does.

    And while things have been quiet with the fairies after most of them returned to their world, those that remain are definitely up to something. And that includes her cousin Claude. She just hasn’t figured out exactly what they’re planning.

    With Victor looking for any excuse to take Eric out of the picture, things between the two of them have been strained. Still not one hundred percent sure of her feelings for Eric due to the blood bond they share, Sookie is trying to figure out if what they have is real. And when Eric refuses to reveal a secret he’s been keeping, something even Pam thinks she should know about, she’s ready to take drastic action.

    As if all this wasn’t bad enough, when she finds out something shocking about her grandmother Adele, she doesn’t know how much more she can take.

    From having her job at risk due to the slowdown at Merlotte’s, to knowing her enemies are just looking for another shot at her, to living with Victor’s threat around every corner, to questioning her relationship with Eric, to sharing her home, and sometimes her bed, with two faeries, Sookie realizes she is going to have to make a few changes.

    ***

    Dead Reckoning is the fast-paced, wickedly entertaining and truly tormenting eleventh installment in the Southern Vampire series. This story grabs right from the start with the attack on Merlotte’s. And it just keeps going. Right up to the second to last page.

    As with every book in the series, trouble manages to find Sookie no matter what she does. This time she suspects it comes in the form of an old enemy that has returned. A few of the loose ends from Dead in the Family are tied up and the story comes to a close without a cliffhanger. Although this doesn’t make the ending any less torturous.

    Many questions still remain about the fate of Sookie and Eric’s relationship and the true motivations of Claude and Dermot. And a whole slew of new questions are added to the list.

    In Dead Reckoning the cast of characters is smaller, with the focus placed back on Sookie, though some of our favorite and not-so-favorite characters do make an appearance. And although it continues down a bloody path, it’s a much less dark one than some of its predecessors.

    Author Charlaine Harris continues to captivate readers with her addictive series that is always humorous, often violent, positively steamy at times, and unbelievably tormenting for readers as they await each book’s release.

    What’s not to like in a series filled with sexy but lethal vampires, swoon-worthy and fiery tempered weres, drop-dead gorgeous but devious and plotting faeires and a damsel that is always in distress, whether she wants to be or not?

    Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

    On a personal note:

    This was the installment I was waiting for. I love it and hate it – in a good way. Dead in the Family left me feeling like something was missing. This book kept the plot simpler and resolved some of the loose ends from DITF that made me crazy.

    It does wrap up nicely at the end without a cliffhanger, but there are still so many questions that need answers and a another curve ball that was thrown into Sookie’s ever complicated relationship with Eric.

    I was hooked right away. I did not put the book down until the moment I was smacked in the face with that big whopper of a curve ball. If you want to know what that is, you’ll have to read it. I will not give away spoilers.

    I loved that there was more time spent on Sookie in this book and less on some of the secondary characters. Although I did wish there was more of Pam…and as always, more of Eric. Can’t get enough of his story and presence.

    I would really love an entire book from his perspective as I can’t always imagine what that Viking is thinking and I would so like to get a peek inside his mind. (I said mind. This is a wholesome blog after all.)

    I’m glad to see Bubba again. I always miss him when he hasn’t made an appearance, even if I’m not too keen on his preference for cats. And I’m happy that certain characters didn’t make their appearance until closer to the middle of the book. It was nice to have so much time with just a few of my favorites.

    There are two scenes in the book that made me chuckle. The first involves an unexpected visitor in Sookie’s home – you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to when you read it. And the other is one of those, “Oh, Sookie what were you thinking” scenes, which happens right after a chase through the rain.

    The only things I would change about this book are that it ended way too soon and it left me with too many questions. But that’s just me being totally selfish and impatient.

    As much as I want this series to go on and on – and believe me I do – I am dying to know what happens right now. Even if it doesn’t resolve as I’d like it to – which I don’t think it will – I don’t want to have to wait.

    I am left in shreds once again at the end of this installment and now I begin the long wait for book twelve. And, yes, I am still hopeful of a happy ending for Sookie and Eric.

    ***

    The author is offering a peek at Chapter One on her website, HERE.

    There is also an excerpt from Chapter Three being offered by Penguin, HERE, for those who want a longer look.

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    Random Thoughts: Ahhh…Sookie

    What I lovingly call the Southern Vampire Series seems to be more commonly referred to as the Sookie Stackhouse books or even the True Blood series. But however you choose to think of the series, if you’re a fan we have one thing in common – we never want it to end.

    What started with Dead Until Dark is now approaching it’s eleventh full book, Dead Reckoning. And with only a few more books planned in the series, I, for one, am getting nervous about what might happen to my favorite waitress and my favorite vampire – and no, it is NOT Bill Compton.

    I will try not to give away too many spoiler-y things, but I can’t have a book blog and not talk about Charlaine Harris and her amazing series.

    I only discovered this series about a year-and-a-half ago. It was highly suggested reading by a friend of mine – yes, the same one who insisted I read the sparkly vamp series that shall not be named – but I didn’t immediately take her up on her recommendation.

    I thought the only southern vampires I would ever want to know and love belonged to Anne Rice. Why would I want to know anything about another vamp when I had Lestat in my life?

    But as the list of young adult vampire stories dwindled, I thought I would give this recommended adult series a try. I was assured that it was not a southern romance novel bodice-ripper in disguise where vampires replaced the traditional male leads.

    And I knew, just a few pages in, that I would really enjoy this book so instead of buying them one by one, I bought the eight book set for the Kindle and read all eight books, plus book nine, in one very long, sleepless reading marathon.

    And when I finished, can you guess what I did next? You can, can’t you? Of course. I re-read the entire series. But this time I bookmarked all my favorite parts so I could analyze and refer to them again and again. Obsessed much? Oh yes.

    If you’ve read the series, book nine, Dead and Gone, contained a line at the end from Pam that had me checking the discussion groups for hidden meaning. And there was a big question mark about Eric’s actions, too.

    See, Dead in the Family had not yet come out, and of course I started reading the series when the last remaining available book had a questionable end. All other books were wrapped up quite nicely and tied up with a pretty bow. Not so with Dead and Gone.

    That was October 2009 and it was a long wait until May 2010 for that next book. So you can only imagine just how tortured I felt during those long, cold winter months.

    Eric Northman

    I knew I liked Eric from the start, but I think I started falling in love with Eric in book three, Club Dead. He was always, and still is, all sorts of bad and good, contained in one tall, Scandinavian package. I had a very different image in mind, but now that I’ve watched the series I only see Alex Skarsgård, which is not a bad thing.

    But from Dead to the World on, there was no one else I wanted Sookie to end up with. Not the shifter. Not there Were. Not the tiger. Not the were-panther. And definitely not Bill Compton.

    Why not Bill?

    If you’ve only watched the HBO series, you may think I’m crazy for not thinking Bill is the perfect beau for our dear Sookie. He’s kind and considerate, and even though he’s lied to her there is no question that he loves her.

    But if you’ve read the books, Mr. Bill Compton is not such a sweet, attentive and gentile southern gentleman. Aside from all the lies and how he’s behaved with his ex, Bill is so wrapped up in creating his computerized vampire database that he neglects Sookie much of the time. What girl wants to play second fiddle to a computer?

    And although he has made attempts to get back into Sookie’s good graces, he is actually kind of pathetic and a little bit of a stalker.

    I’ve had a few choice names for Bill during the course of my many reads through the series – many of which I can’t print here and get my PG rating on the blog – but creeper has a nice ring to it.

    Perhaps, however, you feel that Bill’s wrongs are redeemable. And I am definitely open to hearing arguments in his favor – but from the book ONLY, as TV Bill is a much different Bill and TV Eric is much less lovable.

    The other men in Sookie’s life…

    Sookie has not had much luck with men. The poor dear.

    Her boss Sam, seems like a nice, safe choice. He’s kind, he likes her and they could potentially work as a couple, barkeep and barmaid happily-ever-after. But he’s had some pretty bad luck with, and piss-poor taste in, the women he’s chosen to be with. And even though he may like Sookie, I just don’t see them working in the long run.

    Many fans love Quinn, but Sookie said it best when she said that she needed to be put first. And that’s something that Quinn would never be able to do. Not with his loopy mother and sister. A big tough guy still tied up with those apron strings.

    Don’t even get me started on Alcide and his psychotic ex.

    So who does that leave for poor Sookie? Calvin. Ick. NO. I will not have her end up with Calvin. Nice-ish guy. Creepy situation, though. She cannot move to the crossroads and live in a fancy trailer and become nothing more than a housekeeper and a breeder. After all she’s been through she deserves more. She may want children but Calvin is not the way to go.

    I can’t imagine her with anyone fae after Dead and Gone. And I think after All Together Dead, there is no hope for a Sookie-Barry love connection – not that I hoped for one in the first place. Will Sookie hook-up with her cousin’s ex-hubby? I hope not. So…

    Eric is the logical choice but…

    I’ve read Charlaine Harris’ blog and from what she implied it doesn’t look like there will be a permanent Sookie-Eric match-up. She said that Sookie would not be going vamp and I can’t imagine Eric loving Sookie quite so unconditionally if she was elderly. But a girl can still hope.

    Because…Eric loves her. She loves him, even if she won’t admit it. They are perfect for each other – both strong-willed, stubborn and determined, both independent and Eric has always been there for her. From far and wide he has come to her rescue, except that one time. He has never tried to change her. He really is the perfect vampire.

    Our Sookie

    As the series has progressed, our once sweet, bright and sunny Sookie has grown dark. I’m concerned just what this means for our girl, but the sweet and caring person she was in the first book is long gone. I was actually a little scared of the Sookie I met in Dead in the Family.

    Surrounded by death, causing the death of others and hanging out with violent beings has definitely taken its toll. I am afraid to read the first chapter of Dead Reckoning and have yet to read the Goodreads description, which I will include below, as I don’t think I’m quite ready to be teased or potentially horrified as to how much darker things will get.

    I am still hopeful that things will turn out well in the end for Sookie and can’t wait until May 3rd which is just around the corner. And I hope, hope, hope I will have time to read this series again before then.

    A quick note about DITF

    During the trial phase (a.k.a. false start) of my blog last spring, I had “reviewed” DITF and I may have mentioned it was my least favorite of the books. I still loved the book, but had a couple issues with it.

    One, I wanted more. More everything and especially more Eric. And I felt like further detail about Eric’s maker could have been added as I was expecting to see and learn so much about him, but everything on that front came and went so quickly. Sorry, but I can say no more without spoiling.

    Two, the major questions I had from the previous book seemed to be glossed over. I thought they were rather huge issues and yet nothing came of them in this book. I felt needlessly tortured for all those months for nothing. Of course if the author has other plans to resolve those issues in Dead Reckoning or a later book, then all will be forgiven and I will be ecstatic – or sobbing uncontrollably – when all is revealed.

    What’s up next

    I think we’re all on the edge of our seats to find out what’s going to happen in Dead Reckoning. Although I refuse to peek at the Goodreads description or the first chapter, I have included it here, but have been squinting while pasting in the details and grabbing all the links so I would remain in the dark.

    I read the sneak peek of the chapter of DITF when it was first available and it only made me more anxious so I refuse to do that to myself this time around. But for you lovely blog readers, here are the extras.

    Dead Reckoning, the eleventh full book in the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris will be released in the U.S. on May 3, 2011. It is available for pre-order online in hardcover and eBook formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Published by Ace, the print version is 336 pages.

    A look at the first chapter of Dead Reckoning, the eleventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse series is available HERE.

    Goodreads description:

    “With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit – and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can’t ‘read’ vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam well – and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human – and that there is a new Queen on the board . . . “

    ***

    And for those fans of the HBO series, a “Waiting Sucks” teaser for season 4 with my favorite vamp:

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