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Many of the searches that lead people to my blog have to do with Charlaine Harris and Sookie Stackhouse (Not to be confused with Sookie from Gilmore Girls!) . I can understand this, as I’ve mentioned her and her books quite a few times on here.  It’s picked up recently, I suppose, is due to the buzz about True Blood (link takes you to IMDB.com).  More and more people have starting watching this show (including me!), and while the reactions are mixed, people often want to know what the inspiration for the show was.  So, here is a post that will tell you (I hope) everything you need to know.

What are the books (in order) of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse Series?  Here’s the complete list of Sookie books:

Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 1)

Living Dead in Dallas (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 2)

Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 3)

Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 4)

Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 5)

Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 6)

All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7) My Review: here

From Dead to Worse (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 8 )  My Review: here

Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 9)  My Review: here

Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 10)

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11) NOT YET RELEASED

Okay, so those are the main books of the series, but if you start reading and think that maybe you’re missing some details- you’re right.  Charlaine Harris has collaborated with other authors and published short stories featuring her vampire universe in certain anthologies.  Some of these stories feature Sookie, while others are simply stories in the world Charlaine Harris has created

Where can I find these stories?  When should I read them? Is there a chronological order?

Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy

by Dana Stabenow, this book features the short story “Fairy Dust”.  It fits  features Sookie along with Claudine and Claude, and you should read it between books 4 and 5.

Night’s Edge: Dancers in the Dark\Her Best Enemy\Someone Else’s Shadow

by Charlaine Harris/Maggie Shayne, has the short story “Dancers in the Dark” by Harris.  It is not about Sookie, although the characters (Sean and Layla)  have a cameo in a later Sookie book.  It should probably be read between books 4 and 5.

Bite

by Laurell K. Hamilton, has the short story “One Word Answer.”  This story focuses on Sookie and her cousin Hadley (who was recently seen in an episode of “True Blood”) and is takes place between books 5 and 6.

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding

by Sherrilyn Kenyon, the story “Tacky” is not about Sookie but is in the general universe.  One of the main characters in this story, Dahlia, shows up in a later short story.  Consider reading it around book 6.

Many Bloody Returns

by Charlaine Harris/ Toni Kelner, again features Sookie in Harris’ short story “Dracula Night”.  Eric and Pam are also involved.  I don’t think it matters when you read it, but some suggest between books 4 and 5.

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe

by Charlaine Harris/ Toni Kelner, features Sookie in the story “Gift Wrap”.  (Niall also makes an appearance.) Only read this after book 8.

Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy

by Dana Stabenow, has another story featuring Sookie as well as her friend Amelia.  “Lucky” should be read between books 7 and 8.

Blood Lite: An Anthology of Humorous Horror Stories Presented by the Horror Writers Association

by Jim Butcher, the story “An Evening With Al Gore” is in the Sookie universe but does not feature her.  It doesn’t matter when it is read.

Strange Brew

by P. N. Elrod, again the story “Bacon” is in the same universe, but does not focus on Sookie.  Dahlia (mentioned above) shows up again.  Read after book 9.

Must Love Hellhounds

by Ilona Andrews, the short story “The Britlingens Go To Hell” by Harris does not feature Sookie, but is in the same universe.  (The Britlingens are seen in a book 7.)  Read after book 9.

Death’s Excellent Vacation

by Charlaine Harris, includes the short story”Two Blondes” featuring Sookie and Pam.  Read after book 10.

A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories)

Recently released, this is an anthology that contains only stories by Charlaine Harris (unlike the anthologies listed above).  It ONLY contains the stories “Fairy Dust,” “Dracula Night,” “One Word Answer,” “Lucky,” and “Gift Wrap.” All of these were previously released in different anthologies. They are not new stories.

What about True Blood ? Is the show following the books?

True Blood” is not exactly following the books.  Some things are the same, and for the most part, seasons one and two followed the plots of books one and two.  Season three has jumped all over. 

Season one was about the telepathic (meaning she can hear the thoughts of others) barmaid Sookie Stackhouse meeting a vampire (Bill Compton), and dealing with a string of murders that happened around them.  This season, and in particular the first couple of episodes had a LOT of SEX in it.  This is not a show you should watch with your parents!  I admit to being slightly turned off my the amount of sex, but once I was able to get in touch with the characters I started to enjoy the series.  My brother had this to say: “It’s about fighting and killing and sex.  What’s not to like?”  Characters in the books like Sam, Jason, Lafayette, Bill, Eric, Pam, Tara, and Arlene all star.

 Season two dealt with murders again; this time Sookie went to Dallas to help find a missing vampire and deal with an over-enthusiastic church.  Harris has and is helping out HBO with the show, but again they are not following the books to the letter. 

Season three started involving vampire royalty, and heavily followed an invented plotline revolving around the distribution of “v” or vampire blood as a drug.

Who plays Sookie, Bill, Eric, Sam, etc on the show?

Sookie Stackhouse- Anna Paquin

Jason Stackhouse- Ryan Kwanten

Tara Thornton- Rutina Wesley

Sam Merlotte- Sam Trammell

Bill Compton- Stephen Moyer

Eric Northman- Alexander Skarsgård

A full list of characters and the actors who play them can be found on the show’s IMDB page.

Is Anna Paquin dating Stephen Moyer?  Is she pregnant?

At this time, they’re engaged.  And though there have been rumors, I’m pretty sure that Anna is not preggers.

Where can I watch “True Blood” online?

Not anywhere legally, that I know of.  The show is on 9:00 EST Sunday nights on HBO, and the season generally runs around 13 episodes.  Season one was on from June until November, with season two being on from June through September.  Some episodes may be available on HBO on Demand if you have it, or you can buy True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) on DVD now, and you can also buy True Blood: The Complete Second Season (HBO Series) though I’m not sure when the third season will be released.  The show will continue with a fourth season in the summer of 2011.

True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series)True Blood: The Complete Second Season (HBO Series)

 Has Charlaine Harris written other stuff?

Yes! Charlaine Harris has written many other books.  I love her series about Aurora Teagarden. There are eight books, starting with Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Book 1).  She also wrote a series about Lily Bard, which has five books and starts with Shakespeare’s Landlord (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 1).  Neither of those deal with the supernatural world (vampires, witches, werewolves). Harris’ newest series is about Harper Connelly, a woman who was struck by lightning and can now find bodies. It starts with Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1) and the fourth book was out at the end of October 2009.

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Book 1)Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 1)Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1)

Hope some of this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Anybody remember the American Girl books?  When I was younger I remember reading them over and over.  I was constantly rereading the stories about Felicity, Addy, and Samantha.  I also remember wishing I owned the ones about Kirsten and Molly.  All of these girls were American, and each lived during a different time in history.  Besides the books, you could buy the dolls themselves, with matching clothing and furniture.  My cousin had Felicity’s tea-table (she grew up during the American revolution) and it came with an actual tea set.

These books were a great way to teach young children about the diversity of America.  Not only did they introduce topics like slavery (Addy grew up during the Civil War, and was a former slave) and immigration (Kirsten was originally from Sweden), but they also made readers aware of things like racism, poverty, and discrimination.  I don’t want to just emphasize the negative topics however; these books also told stories of the importance of family, the necessity of overcoming obstacles, and the beauty of true friendship.

The girl I tutor gets the American Girl catalogue and when I flipped through it, I was shocked.  What I remember fondly as wonderful stories with matching dolls, has now become so commercialized that its appalling.  The books don’t even seem to be featured in the catalogue.  Instead of the dolls in their original time period clothing, what’s pushed is modern ski clothes, or party dresses.  Want your doll to go horseback riding? There’s gear for that!  Perhaps you want your doll to keep her schoolbooks in a locker.  You can buy that. 

Rebecca, Julie, Ivy, Emily, Kit, Ruthie, Nellie, Elizabeth, Josephina, and Kaya are all new characters that I don’t remember from my childhood.  Of them, perhaps Josephina and Kaya look like they have potential to be as influential as the original five girls.  Josephina is living in New Mexico around 1824, while Kaya is a Native American in 1764.  There are also “contemporary” American Girls: Chrissa, Mia, Nicki, Jess, Marisol, Kailey, and Lindsey.  Are any of these as good as the originals? I don’t know.  What saddens me is that some of the wonderful original dolls have been “archived” or “retired”.  Obviously this all revolves around money and sales, but I wish it didn’t.  The most recent American Girl?  Gwen Thompson- her claim to fame? She’s homeless.  Critics are quick to point out that no money from Gwen’s sales is going/will go to the truly homeless.

Is there anyone out there who has read, or has children who read, these newer American Girl books?  Are they still as good as they used to be, or has the American Girl series lost its magic?

Have no idea what I’m talking about?  Check out: Samantha (New York, 1904), Felicity (Virginia, 1774), Addy (Pennsylvania, 1864 ), Molly (England, 1944), or Kirsten (Minnesota Territory, 1854), along with the rest of the “American Girls“.

 

Missed my last post?  It was: REVIEW: “THE LEAP” BY ANNA ENQUIST

Title: A Leap

Author: Anna Enquist

Format: Papberack

Number of Pages: 100

ISBN: 978-1592642588

Publisher: The Toby Press

Date of Publication: April 1, 2009

3 stars: Okay, but not for me

 

A Leap
 

 

This book of short stories is by Dutch author Anna Enquist. I had never heard of her, but the blurb says she is a “musician, a psychoanalyst, a poet, and a novelist” and also a best-selling author in other countries…. so I thought I couldn’t go wrong with picking up this book.

First off, the book is only 100 pages. This is something that is displayed on the product page, but I rarely pay attention to… I expect that many other customers may do the same, so therefore this is a warning that the book is short- something I was disappointed with. Also, the ‘monologues’ just weren’t very connected in my opinion. I thought these monologues would all be related, or have some interaction with each other, but this is not the case. The summary says they are connected in that they are all looking for a home, but I just didn’t get that either. There are five of these short stories, the first and last being the longest and in my opinion it is those two which are most connected. Music is the common theme. Of these, I really only enjoyed the last one.

The stories start with “Alma” followed by “Mendel Bronstein,” “Cato and Leendert,” “The Doctor,” and “… And I am Sara”. “Alma” is about a woman who loves music and composing, but gives them up because her husband (a composer himself) makes her. It’s about her struggling to deal with this loss, since music is such a part of her and gives her so much joy. “Mendel Bronstein” is about a man who wants to travel to America but really has no idea what he is getting himself into. This story is quite short, and unless you read carefully, you miss what really happens at the end. “Cato and Leendert” takes place during WW2, and most interestingly deals with the animals being kept in the zoo. “The Doctor” also takes place during the same time and deals with a doctor’s mixed thoughts about helping a German soldier. Finally, “… And I am Sara” deals with a young woman trying to find herself after college.

As with most short stories, these seem to be bleak and depressing. Again, the last one (“… And I am Sara”) which I enjoyed most of, is the only one that broke of that mold for a short time. In that story I did enjoy the writing style. The sentences were short and choppy, like thoughts flitting through Sara’s (the main character) head. It really worked for Enquist there.

Enquist’s imagery was also extremely well done, in “… And I am Sara,” and in the other stories. At times it was so well done that I was disgusted, as was probably Enquist’s goal- when discussing bloody soldiers, or unwashed immigrants. Other times it gave off a peaceful and beautiful image, like when Enquist writes of spring flowers.

There’s no doubt that Enquist is a talented writer, but I felt that this collection just wasn’t perfected. I would have liked to see those stories be more connected. Perhaps something is lost in translation? After all, they were originally published in Dutch, so maybe we’re just not getting the original meaning.

Interested?  Buy it at amazon: A Leap

Missed my last post?  It was: REVIEW: “THE PRIVATE PAPERS OF EASTERN JEWEL” BY MAUREEN LINDLEY

Title: “The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel”

Author: Maureen Lindley

Format: Papberack

Number of Pages: 304

ISBN: 978-1596917033

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Date of Publication: September 1, 2009

2 stars: Falls short of expectations

 

The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel: A Novel 

 

I wanted to like this book. The title is catchy, the cover art looks great. But the subject matter just didn’t work. Eastern Jewel is a Chinese princess who ends up being sent to a Japanese family. Eastern Jewel quickly learns to love all things Japanese and to be blunt, has sex with anything that moves.

I found the main character to be repulsive. She essentially did nothing with her life, except have sex. While one could argue that she did as she pleased, I still was turned off by it. There were mentions of several ‘relationships’ that she was in, but they were certainly not healthy relationships.

The redeeming factors of this novel…. there were some brilliant descriptions. The author does have a gift with words. Unfortunately, in my opinion, that was not enough to save this book. I recently read a review saying that this was a poor imitation of “Memoirs of a Geisha”. It certainly does pale in comparison.

Buy this book on amazon here.

 

Missed my last review?  It was QUICK REVIEW: “ALEXANDER & ALESTRIA” BY SHAN SA

Title: “Alexander & Alestria”

Author: Shan Sa

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 256

ISBN: 978-0061543548

Publisher: Harper

Date of Publication: July 22, 2008

1 star: Alexander the what???

Alexander and Alestria: A Novel

 

This is just a quick review, but I had to post it while it was on my mind.  Anyone who has seen my library knows that I am a huge fan of Alexander the Great.  I’ve read numerous nonfiction books about him, and anyone who knows me knows that I do not usually care for nonfiction.  I also of course read any historical fiction about Alexander that I can get my hands on.  So when I came across this book, I had to read it!

And wow was it bad.  The blurb says that his father Philip of Macedon abused him.  Okay I can see that, but in this book, Philip wants to have sex with him.  Weird.  But even if you can swallow that (many books portray Philip as having sex with anything that moves), the main problem is Alexander himself.  The author describes Alexander as wanting to be a girl…. Dresses, makeup, the works. 

Alexander is a huge wimp.  And it goes on and on and on.  Frankly I couldn’t finish this.  I just could not get into it.  This was the man that conquered most of the known world?  I don’t think so.  If you’re a fan of Alexander the Great, I would definitely not recommend this.

But maybe it’s just me! I have a crush on Alexander, that’ s obvious.  So those of you who don’t, maybe you’ll be able to get into the girly-Alexander.  If so, check out Shan Sa’s novel.

Buy it at amazon.

Missed my last post?  It was Review: “The Aviary Gate” by Katie Hickman

(Ignoring the fact that I haven’t been blogging for awhile…..) Okay so there’s been discussion about when the best time to post reviews of an ARC.  Some say it’s best to have them posted either before or right when the book is published.  I think that’s a good strategy.  So then I feel guilty if I don’t review books before their publication date, especially if I’ve had them for a bit. 

But then I thought… well it could also be helpful for reviews to pop up awhile after the book’s been published.  Basically the buzz about it has passed, and my review serves as a reminder that the book still exists- and if you haven’t bought it already then maybe you should.   

 

 

Title: “The Aviary Gate”

Author: Katie Hickman

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 352

ISBN: 978-1596914759

Publisher: Bloomsbury, USA

Date of Publication: May 27, 2008

3.5/4 stars: A journey into the past

A Novel
 

 

 

I can’t seem to stop talking about cover art!  I guess I really do judge a book by it’s cover!  The cover for “The Aviary Gate” is beautiful.  According to the book jacket, it’s Leila (1892) by Frank Dicksee.  (His work is truly gorgeous!  Look here for a some of his other paintings.)  The art is fitting since part of the story takes place in a harem in the sixteenth century.  But then I stumbled upon “The Guilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther” by Rebecca Kohn (in my search for Biblical historical fiction after reading “The Triumph of Deborah”- see my review here).  The jacket art for Kohn’s book,  although a bit more red than pink and zoomed in a bit, is clearly the same art.  I certainly recognized it immediately.  Kohn’s book was published by Penguin in 2005 (currently at bargain price on Amazon right now, so I just snagged it!), and while it has been a few years, you would think somebody would have thought twice about using the same cover art so soon.

 A Novel of Queen Esther

That aside, let’s move onto the story, or two stories as the case may be.  The book alternates between present day Elizabeth, and Celia in the sixteenth century.  Many found the present day story to pale in comparison to the sixteenth century bits.  At times I felt the same way, while at others I looked forward to Elizabeth’s story.  In either case, it seemed as though each part could stand on its own.  It was as though the two stories were written separately and then spliced together to allow the two time periods to alternate throughout the final book.

I had a bit of trouble reading this.  In the beginning, I was hooked.  I couldn’t put it down.  However, real life intervened and I was forced to stop reading it for awhile.  When I got back to it- it was like the magic was gone.  I couldn’t get back into it.  The dialogue was boring, the characters flat.  I had forgotten who everyone was and what they were doing.  It didn’t help that I wasn’t too pleased with the way it ended.  But…. all that said- I think overall it’s a good read.  It did take me awhile to write this review though.  I had to ‘digest’ the story, if that makes sense? 

So if this comes off wishy-washy, I apologize.  The story had it’s ups and downs.  But I would recommend it.  However if you do start reading, try to read it all at once, or at least don’t start reading and then not pick it up for a couple of weeks!  Reading it all in one sitting will allow you to delve into the story, becoming entranced by the characters and especially the imagery- which no matter how you feel about the story and plot- is simply beautiful.

 

Buy it at Amazon

Missed my last post?  It was Review: “Dead and Gone” by Charlaine Harris

Looking for more on Charlaine Harris and Sookie Stackhouse?  Check out my Charlaine Harris FAQ post.

Title: “Dead and Gone”

Author: Charlaine Harris

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 0441017150

Publisher: Ace

Date of Publication: May 5, 2009 (Yesterday!)

5 stars: I’ve been waiting for months!

 

Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 9)

 

I’ve been waiting for this book for months, ever since it became available to preorder… and really I’ve been waiting for it since the end of the last Sookie book. And Charlaine did not disappoint with “Dead and Gone,” book nine in the Sookie Stackhouse series. (See below for titles and order in which to read the books)

This book featured all of the species we know and love. The vamps, the weres, and finally the fairies were all featured and all stirring up some sort of drama. The fairies are especially interesting, particularly Niall (her grandfather who was only seen briefly in the past). Eric the vampire is up to his old tricks, though he does appear to genuinely care for Sookie, which I was glad to see. Sam and the weres don’t really have big parts necessarily in this tale; however there is a death in the were community that really hits home for Sookie’s family.

I would definitely recommend this book. It arrived today and I put off food, work, and sleep to get through it as soon as possible. Now that I’ve finished it, I’m virtually stunned by the amount of drama that Charlaine Harris was able to pack into it- especially towards the end! I’m pretty sure I’ll be rereading this book tomorrow because it was that good!

Have to add though, I’m not loving the ‘sticker’ on the cover promoting “True Blood”. It’s not a sticker, b/c it’s actually part of the cover. And I don’t want it there! And I already watch “True Blood” so I really could have done without it. That said, it doesn’t really take away from the amazingness of the book….

New to the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries ? Don’t start here! The Sookie books in order:
Dead Until Dark (Book 1)
Living Dead in Dallas (Book 2)
Club Dead (Book 3)
Dead to the World (Book 4)
Dead as a Doornail (Book 5)
Definitely Dead (Book 6)
All Together Dead (Book 7)
From Dead To Worse (Book 8 )

Stories by Charlaine Harris that fit into the Sookie universe (some of these contain important details!):

“Powers of Detection” ~Book 4.25 (Sookie short story)
“Night’s Edge” ~Book 4.5 (not a Sookie story, but in the same universe)
“Bite” ~Book 4.5 (Sookie short story)
“My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding” ~Book 4.75 (not a Sookie story, but in the same universe)
“Many Bloody Returns” ~Book 7.5 (Sookie short story)
“Wolfsbane and Mistletoe” ~Book 8.25 (Sookie short story)
“Unusual Suspects” ~Book 8.5 (Sookie short story)

“Blood Lite” and “Strange Brew” and “Must Love Hellhounds”- Not in Sookie Universe, but contain stories by Charlaine Harris; the last two have not yet been released.

Buy this book on amazon here.