Jun 27, 2012

Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #10) Audio Version

As you can see from my recent blog posts, I have spent alot of time recently getting caught up on the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris in preparation for the final book coming out next Spring. I promised my BFF that I would get them all read, as she did recently, so we cold discuss! Because I have so many other books I'm also reading it took me much longer than it did her. She is being very patient with me and I'm almost there!

DEAD IN THE FAMILY, which is Book 10 in the series was a real education in family history, and I'm not just talking about Sookie here. Area 5 Sheriff Eric Northman - and Sookie's current lover - spilled everything about his lineage in the vampire world in this book, which explained a whole lot about Eric and his past. For the first time, his maker comes into the story, as does his 'young' undead sibling. Just when things seem to get a little normal for Sookie and Eric, these two come a calling and normal goes out the window. They occupy much of Eric's time and Sookie notices right off that Eric is just not his usual sexy self. But she must be careful because if Eric's sire orders him to kill Sookie, he must comply or reap the consequences.

But other issues arise to keep her mind from over analyzing the situation with Eric. When the Were's converge on Sookie's property for a monthly ritual, and inform her that there is a fresh corpse buried at the back of her property, Sookie gets very nervous.  Thing is, Sookie already knows of one body buried on her property, but who did this new body formerly belong to?

My Thoughts

I have to say that this installment is one of my favorites of the series. What I like about this series as a whole is that eventually everything is out in the open. It may take a few books, but things do come out. The fact that there is another body on Sookie's property was a great way to remind the reader that there was already one body buried there from several books ago and with the discovery of this new corpse, it was inevitable that old secrets would rise to the surface.

I thought it was high time we learn more about Eric's past and boy, did we! The fairies were also a big part of this book as well as the budding relationship between Sookie and her young cousin, the son of her dead cousin, Hadleigh. The boy brings yet another supernatural element to the story because we've recently learned that as young as he is, he also has a 'disability', as Sookie calls her telepathy. I found the motherly side of Sookie to be very becoming and showed a whole other side to our heroine.

As I plow through these last books, I am wondering what my next literary guilty pleasure will be? I'm so glad I've taken the time to read these crazy books. They may not be your usual cuppa tea, and that's why I put off reading them for so long but now I accept them for what they are and just have fun with them. I call them my 'in-between' books. Because sometimes we just need something light and fun in our lives!

As usual, Johanna Parker does a great job with the narration. I never thought I would enjoy listening to books as much as I have been lately. Choosing the right reader is the most important aspect of an audio and they picked the perfect one for this series!

DEAD IN THE FAMILY, Sookie Stackhouse #10
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: May 2010
Length: 9 hr 32 min
Rating:: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source: Audible.com

Jun 26, 2012

Review: Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #9) Audio Version

Charlaine Harris has provided me with my favorite guilty pleasure for a few years now, as I've read through the Southern Vampire Series and followed Sookie through her trials and tribulations of living her life among the Supe world. That's why it is quickly becoming bittersweet as I get closer to the inevitable end. 

In DEAD AND GONE, the ninth book, Sookie's brother, Jason, suffers a terrible loss, along with a heartbreaking betrayal and once again, Sookie finds herself in the middle of all of the turmoil. Not only are the Were's dealing with the repercussions of coming out to the rest of the world, the faeries are in an all out war amongst themselves. Since Sookie's newly discovered great-grandfather is the very powerful leader of one of the gighting groups, she is put smack-dab in the middle of it and is likely being used as a pawn. And now that she and vampire Eric Northman, the Sheriff of Area 5, have come together again as a couple, it is taking some getting used to for alot of people, including Sookie.. 

My Thoughts:

As with the previous books, I found this one to be equally as entertaining and I loved finding out more about the fairies that are now in Sookie's life. I also love seeing Eric and Sookie together, even though I was a huge Quinn fan. But back in Book 4 when Eric had lost his memory due to a witch's curse, Eric won me over with his love for Sookie. I was so happy when he remembered everything and now they are in a real relationship...or are they? Hmmm...you never know when there's a blood bond involved.

What impresses me about Charlaine Harris and this great series is that she keeps coming up with new ways to keep the story from getting repetitive. Mainly with how she keeps coming up with new supernatural beings that bring even more excitement and wonder to the story. And the most impressive thing is that these new beings fit right into existing stories and make them even better and more interesting. Nothing is ever out of sync and it all melds together perfectly. Bottom line - she weaves a great tale!

I listened to this installment on audio through my Kindle and as before, I was completely satisfied with it. The narrator, Joanna Parker, does such a fabulous job and her southern accent is perfectly done. That is a big pet peeve of mine. 

For those of you who have yet to pick up this series...What are you waiting for?! It's fun, quick and so entertaining! And if you are a TrueBlood watcher and you're afraid it's going to ruin the show for you, there is no need to worry!! I've seen a few episodes of the HBO series and I almost didn't recognize the story. Everything is so different - it's nothing like the book version, which in my opinion is the BEST version.

DEAD AND GONE (Sookie Stackhouse #9)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Recorded Books
Audible Release Date: May 2009:
Length: 9hs 1mn
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source:  Audible.com

Jun 24, 2012

[TSS] And the Winner Is . . .

This giveaway was part of a TLC Book tour for BRAND NEW HUMAN BEING, a terrific debut by Emily Jeanne Miller. And the winner is . . . 


Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing. This debut is well worth the time in reading and I'm sure you'll feel the same way. A special thanks also to Lisa at TLC Book Tours. 

Jun 21, 2012

Review: Brand New Human Being by Emily Jeanne Miller (A TLC Book Tour Event) & Giveaway!

BRAND NEW HUMAN BEING is a story that is probably all too familiar in many marriages.  Logan Pyle, a grad student, met his future wife, Julie, at home in Montana while on a break from school back east and they both felt an instant connection. Julie was working for Augustus Pyle, a revered, well-known and respected attorney and also Logan's father. When Logan returned to school, neither one of them really knew if they would spend time together again. But fate decided to step in and when Julie announced to Logan a short time later that she was pregnant, Logan, although reluctant at first, stepped up and did the right thing by Julie. He left school, moved back to Montana, married Julie and prepared to be a father. Now, his son, Owen, is four years old and Logan and Julie are in a well-worn pattern of daily marital life.  

Augustus Pyle lost a long and painful battle with Cancer four months before and with his death, many changes have come.  The already strained relationship between Julie and Gus's much younger wife, Bennie, has come to a head, not to mention the financial burden Logan's outfitter store that he owns with his old friend, Bill, is not bringing in any money and is basically sitting there doing nothing. They are all trying to cope with the loss of Gus in their own way. Even little Owen is having difficulty.  He has begun sucking his thumb again and demanding to drink out of a baby bottle. Logan doesn't agree with Julie's assessment that this is 'normal behavior' according to the parenting book she is reading.

On top of that, everyone seems to have an opinion on what Logan should do with the land Gus left him in his will. Logan feels he knows what his father would want, but is met with alot of opposition. This is quickly becoming a sore spot in the marriage and Logan is feeling ganged up on. Tensions reach an all-time high when Logan walks in on something that shakes his world and makes him question everything that he has based his life on up until that point. From that moment on the decisions he makes are not good ones and have reverberating effects that could change his family forever.

My Thoughts:

 I found this to be an engaging story and because it had a quick pace, it kept me focused to find out what would happen next. Ms. Miller did a fine job of explaining the dynamics of the characters and their relationships with each other. That being said, I have to admit that there were a few characters that I didn't like very much. Julie being the one that stood out the most for me. I didn't like her dismissive attitude towards Logan and how she could make him feel as if his opinions didn't measure up to hers. I never got the feeling that she was on his side, no matter what issue they were facing. Bennie sometimes confused me and given her history with Logan, I felt she created confusion for him as well. In the end, however, she won me over.
There were times I would get frustrated with Logan when he would try to explain things to Owen in terms that a four-year-old would never be able to comprehend or he did it in a way that upset and even scared the child. Those were the times that I didn't care for Logan at all. This story certainly shows the difficulties that can surface in a marriage. Especially one that wasn't planned.  

That being said, I realize and appreciate that that is all part of the fabric of what makes this story what it is. A realistic and difficult look into what can happen when two near strangers unexpectedly create another human being and try to do the right thing for that child.  Learning as they go, not only how to be parents but about each other as well.

Learn more about this author by visiting her website here and if you would like to win your own copy of this exciting debut novel, now is your chance! All you have to do is leave a comment either about this book or how you feel about debut authors, along with your current email address. You have until midnight on Saturday, June 23rd to enter this giveaway. Winner will be announced Sunday, June 24th.  This offer is only valid for residents in the U.S.

Special thanks go to Emily Jeanne Miller for allowing me to be one of the first to read her debut novel and to Lisa at TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour. There are still many more dates for this tour so please stop by to see what other readers thought of this book. You can find the complete schedule by clicking the link below.


Author: Emily Jeanne Miller
Publisher: Houghton Miffin Harcourt
Published: June 12, 2012
Length: 272pp
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source: TLC Book Tours/Netgaalley.com

Jun 20, 2012

Book Tour and Giveaway Tomorrow!

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the day Southern Girl Reads is spotlighting a new novel by debut author Emily Jeanne Miller.  BRAND NEW HUMAN BEING is . . . 

"A deftly plotted exploration of marriage, family and the road from child to parent. Brand New Human Being is a page-turning debut that overflows with heart and grace." 

Please stop by tomorrow for my thoughts and for a chance to win your own copy! You will find full details in tomorrow's post!!

Jun 12, 2012

Review: Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews (Audio Version)

I have been a fan of Mary Kay Andrews' books since way back...SAVANNAH BLUES, and SAVANNAH BREEZE being two of my favorites, so naturally, when she comes out with a new one, I definitely read it. This time, with SUMMER RENTAL, I decided to listen instead. I was already reading a couple printed books and I was looking for something to listen to while cleaning the house and so forth. Besides, now that summer is here, I thought it was the perfect time for this book.

About The Book -
SUMMER RENTAL is the story of three thirty-something women who have been friends since they attended Catholic school together back home in Savannah when they were girls. Dorie still lives in Savannah and teaches at the school, Julia, a model, lives in London with her successful boyfriend and Ellis has been in banking for over a decade while living in Pittsburgh. Though each of them have had successes in there lives, they have each come to a crossroad where decisions must be made for their futures.

The girls have rented a house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to spend the month of August and thanks to Ellis doing all the research and contacting the landlord, Mr. Culpepper, there is only one set-back. Dorie's older sister was supposed to come but cancelled at the last possible minute, so its costing a bit more for each of the girls. This really nags at Ellis, since she's just been laid off from her job at the bank and worries that her severance pay will only go so far. Dorie soon solves the rent problem when she meets a young woman from New Jersey at a diner and impulsively invites her to rent the bedroom on the top floor, promising privacy, which seemed to be very important to the woman.

As the days go by, it becomes apparent that not everyone staying at the beach house is being forthcoming about their lives. Ellis can't even get Mr. Culpepper to respond to her many emails about the guy living in the apartment above the garage that they share who calls himself Ty Bazemore.  Dorie, Julia and Ellis confide in each other about the changes taking place in their lives, but they still know nothing about Meredith, the girl from New Jersey and its making Julia uneasy considering she's living with them. Finally, Julia breaks into Meredith's room one day and what she finds gives the girls every reason to worry, so they decide to confront Meredith with what they've found.

My Thoughts:

Let me start with the narration of this book. Hands down, it is great. Not everyone can pull off a true Southern accent and Isabel Keating does a fabulous job. She expertly manipulates her voice to distinguish between each  of the characters and it is flawless. She has done the narrations for many of Mary Kay's books but this is the first one for me. There were a few times, though, that I felt she over-pronounced a few words but thankfully, that only happened a few times, so I can easily overlook that.

As for the story, I thought the premise was good and with the backgrounds of the women, had the potential to be very interesting. Unfortunately, I felt it fell a little short of my expectations. Without giving too much away, the part concerning Ellis and her love interest was a bit too predictable for me and honestly, a little fairy-tale-ish. I'm sorry, I guess I'm just a pessimist, but I don't know many good-looking young men, who work as a bartender at a hoppin nightclub that falls in love with a woman the first day he meets her and is ready to change his whole life for her! Really?? C'mon!!! I realize this is fiction, but . . . On the other hand, maybe thats why I choose to stay away from romance novels. I'm more of a realist than that.

That being said, I just wish that Ms. Andrews would have dug a little deeper and come up with some really good content and maybe a few surprises along the way. And believe me, that is very hard for me to say because I have been such a fan of hers for so many years. Maybe a few less storylines would have allowed the more prevalent ones to shine through.

I really wanted to love this book and it pains me because I didn't. But that doesn't mean it won't appeal to readers who really enjoy escapist or chic-lit novels.  As for me, my tastes change and evolve and maybe I'm now leaning more towards different types of books. But that doesn't mean I am not a Mary Kay Andrews fan anymore. I know she just released a new book, SPRING FEVER, and I will read it just like all her previous books and I hope you will too.

SUMMER RENTAL(Audio Verson - Audible.com)
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: August 2011
Length: 14h 46m
Narration: 4 out of 5 Stars
Story: 3 out of 5 Stars