Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Someone should have taken a sharpie to this cover and written "For a good time, call..." Oh this was goooooood. Hiss with me now "Sookie is mine." Having seen the show before starting the books I was delighted to find that I was reading them with a southern accent. Plus I had the added bonus of having a face to put with a name. While I'd rather not sit here and compare and contrast between the book and the tv series, I can't help it. Both are very different but equally as fun.

The small town of Bon Temps Louisiana isn't frequented by vampires the way the big flashy city of New Orleans is, a fact that most of their residence are proud of. Even though vampires have "come out of the coffin" and joined regular society, their existence is still a lot for most humans to swallow and the little town has managed to stay vampire free and relatively normal. Sookie Stackhouse, is an average waitress with a not so average ability. She can read minds, a trait that has likewise kept her apart from the normal town folk who have chosen to think of her as disabled rather than contend with anything outside of the ordinary. But when a vampire walks into the bar (have you heard this joke?) where she works, Sookie is immediately drawn to him, the one person who's mind is closed to her.

Now women are being murdered in Bon Temps. Women who have been bitten by vampires, and more and more vamps are passing through town. With his mind closed to her, Sookie can't really know for sure that it isn't her vampire who's causing the deaths.

While the show caters to what a HBO viewing audience would expect (raunch, murder, scandal) the book tended to be much more subdued. I can't say that the liberties taken by the show cheapened the story in anyway, simply just changed it. I was happy to find that the book focused more on the love story. Bill was more thoughtful lover than man of mystery and Sookie seemed much less simple minded. Anna Paquin as Sookie has made me want to smack her on several occasions but the real Sookie wears the sweet-innocent persona as a mask. In the book however there were a few instances where I was rather proud of our gal.

Mind you, this was only book one but so far Jason Stackhouse isn't half the idiot that he is on the show.

I can also laughingly type that the book is far kinder to my fellow southerners, not that I can deny anything that is portrayed on the show. Still, even with the negative stereotype I can't help but feel that both of them have a homey quality to them that makes me feel much more a part of the story. The whole True Blood experience is just so much fun and I'm ready for the next book, and the next episode. If you aren't already a fan, it's time. I don't know who's side to chose though. Team Bill? Team Sam? Team......Eric?

By the way, I am completely over anything Twilight related. It started with the J.R. Ward series but then, in this book, published in 2001 mind you, Sookie described Bill's skin as "glowing" I just wanted to poke my finger in Stephanie (T.) Meyer's eye. I'm finding very little originality in Twilight these days. More importantly, REAL VAMPIRES BITE PEOPLE...and well do other things that I can't mention in mixed company. :)

Woohoo Something New!

I'm now a Twit!

Also I will be announcing a giveaway very soon. It'll be a first for lifeafterjane and I'm so freakin' excited.

Ms. Cullen at Bloody Bookaholic helped an old lady get this going. She's awesome and you should stalk her.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

     Kim stops and smiles for a split second. Then she makes this funny noise, a cross between a cough and a throat-clearing. I've heard her make this sound before; it's what she does when she's summoning her courage, getting ready to jump off the rocks and into the bracing river water.
     "I do have a point to all this," she continues. "There are like twenty people in that waiting room right now. Some of them are related to you. Some of them are not. But we're all your family."
     She stops now. Leans over me so that the wisps of her hair tickle my face. She kisses me on the forehead. "You still have a family," she whispers.

Mia is a talented cellist who quite possibly has gotten excepted into Julliard. Her father is a reformed punk rocker now turned square, and though her mother has put away the leather boots, band t-shirts and feminist angst, she's still his biggest groupie. Little brother Teddy at the age of eight is already banging away on the drums while his rocker parents listen on proudly. Mia's love of the classical may be in sharp contrast to the rest of her odd little punk family but they all share a great love of music and more so, each other.

It's a snow day! A rare free day where children and parents are exempt from school and work alike. A picturesque day that starts with pancakes and the happiness that only getting out of what you didn't want to do can bring. So to celebrate, the family takes off to visit grandparents and ex-bandmates, a treat that everyday life usually doesn't afford. But the morning ends abruptly with a car accident, death and Mia, unconscious and barely alive in the ICU.

Mia standbys and watches as the doctors and nurses work away at her near lifeless body, forcing it to pump and breath. But is this what she wants? Does she want to live knowing what she must face when she wakes up? Waiting for her is heartache, loneliness and words that once applied to other people, like tragic and orphan. Or should she move on, follow her family and perhaps join them in whatever comes next?

Which would you choose? Could you choose?

Having heard wonderful things about this story I wanted to read it even though I knew it had the potential to break my heart. It's a big committment, to go into a story knowing that no matter what happens there's no happy ending. Ms. Forman exercises marvelous control in this little story. It quite possibly could have been an uncomfortable snot-fest where you just cried and cried for 199 pages and you'd be too caught up in one feeling to catch the myriad of others she was bringing you. Thankfully, just as you're working yourself up for a good solid cry, the author eases you back down from the present by bringing you into Mia's past where she embarks on some very detailed character building- a big surprise since it's such a short read. I wasn't expecting to really get to know anyone but Mia. Snaps to Forman for letting you leave this story truly knowing and loving all the people you've met.

Even with the emotional mini breaks orchestrated by the author, be prepared to all but lose it in select places. Skip the mascara and keep the tissue handy but most of all, enjoy!

Lover Avenged by J.R.Ward

Hell. Yeah.

Ward is forgiven. Maybe she was smoking the same thing Phury was in the last book and is now clean because this was AMAZING.

Rehvenge is everything your mother told you to stay away from. He's a drug lord, a pimp, a murderer, a whore and a symphath- a race of outcasts, known as the sin-eaters who feed off of and thrive from our twisted darker emotions. He's EXACTLY the kind of bad boy you'd go for anyway. And if that weren't enough, his new lady is a nurse. Winning all kinds of points with me.

I hereby declare myself Team Rehvenge (oh the hawtness) and nominate Xhex as the coolest person in existence. Please Goddess Ward let the next book be John and Xhex's story! Better yet write a new set of books and let them be about Xhex and the hellacious amounts of ass she kicks.

The only thing I would have liked more of was history on the symphaths but maybe we'll get that in the next book. And do I maybe see an induction into the Brotherhood in Rehv's future? That would be unique, considering what he is and open up the possibility of a variety of new Brothers, not just high-born noble types.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I'm not usually into science fiction. My only real visit with that genre has been with Adam's Hitchhikers books which are really just comedy with a space theme and I suppose don't really count so I was surprised when this book caught my fancy...and then took it and ran off, ruining me for pretty much anything else I'm going to read for a long time. This is by far the best book I've read this year, and beyond I think.

From the ruins of what was once North America, emerges the nation of Panem, a cruel, domineering nation who's rule reaches from its rich, lush Capitol to the twelve downtrodden, emaciated districts it controls. Once the districts had the vitality and drive to rebel against the nation, and they were defeated. As a reminder of who holds the power, the capitol rations the amount of food that the general population can receive, keeping the people broken and starving. In addition, so that they never forget, it is mandated that once a year each of the twelve districts will conduct a reaping day, in which a lottery chooses the name of one boy child and one girl. The chosen pair will journey to the capitol and take part in an event that captures the attention of the entire nation, the Hunger Games. Within an arena, a small world created just for the Games, the players from each district must compete against each other to become the winner of the Hunger Games, an accomplishment that means honor, recognition, fame and most importantly, food and comfort for the rest of their lives. Only one player can win, and to win, all the other players must die. From the moment the games begin they are in danger, everything can be a weapon, and not just the players, but the arena itself, is thirsty for death.

You don't just read this book, you take part in it. I was amazed, once I finished the book, to discover where I fit into the story. All this time she is speaking of the viewers, of the elite within the capital who crave the suspense and the carnage. Of the simpler folks of the twelve districts who are rooting for their children, for recognition and the praise that winning will bring while some watch from defeat, for being unable to do anything to stop the games and because watching is what you just do. Either way, they are caught up in the production, the way the Gamemasters want them to be. People who would never cheer for a death find themselves hoping for the death of a child who is made to seem like the "bad guy". They are rooting for a child to defeat and murder her opponents. You want Katniss to do more than survive, you want her to best the other players in anyway necessary and you watch with a sick fascination as she does so.

And as I read this book, I wanted these things, just as the Gamemasters meant me to. I feel the emotions that I'm set up to feel and I want the story they are feeding me to go just as it is. I am the viewer. I can try to console myself by saying "Well we all want what's best for Katniss, what will keep her alive" but that's a lie, I want all this to happen to Katniss.

The author has remarkable insight into the darker parts of human nature and how we all respond to the train-wreck phenomenon and can't help but stare at what we're not suppose to. We can all be easily drawn in and subdued with the promise of a story of star-crossed love. As the little guys we feel the hunger and injustice of the districts but we all want the life of excess that exists within the Capitol. I kept looking for holes in this logic, for plot dips and changes that would sway the writer from the focus of her story. A rather pessimistic view to take while reading a book that I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH OF but usually when something is too good to be true someone drops the ball, and the story. Not even a hiccup. It was seamless.

Well played Ms. Collins.

Bookwork 7/14-7/18

I'm way behind on my bookwork this week. I've been a bad book blogger and have neglected my blog. Truthfully it's been a slow reading week. After the Lover Enshrined let down I just really didn't want to dive back into another story. Make no mistake, I'm still very much in love with the awesomeness that is J.R. Ward and I have no doubt she will make it up to me in the last book. Which can be added to this week's kindle noms. Have I mentioned that I love my kindle?

I shamelessly purchased:
1. Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward
2. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
3. Call of the Highland Moon by Kendra Leigh Castle

I bought a copy of Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz and how come the first part starts out exactly like City of Bones? I will hurt this book if it turns out to be a god-awful, copy-cat mess.

Finished the first season of True Blood (groupie obsessed cheerleader squeal).

I'd like some suggestions for funny reads. My TBR is full but it has an appetite for some funny. Can you help?

Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

OK, who wrote this book and what have they done with J.R. Ward?

Oh. Wow. This was this biggest pile of...

Seriously? Where did Ward go?

I had to FORCE myself to finish this book. It was a painful, agonizing experience and the only reason I made myself do it was because I knew that I'd be lost on the last book if I didn't finish this one. It took me a week to get through the first 3/4 and I just skimmed the last quarter. That's a week of my life wasted. Could have spent it reading something worth a damn but nooooo I stuck it out because my new BFF Ward would never just royally screw me like that, would she?

I still maintain that it was written by a demon possessed 5 year old with the broken end of a jumbo, red crayon and NOT the awesomeness that has up until now been Ward.

This was suppose to be Phury and Cormia's story, which was introduced at the end of book five. Even then it hinted at being tedious and dull but I assured myself that she knew what she was doing.

I don't even know where to begin. There isn't one thing I liked about it other than the fact that it's over. WHAT THE HELL WAS UP WITH the dialogue? The old language used by the vampires is necessary, it fits and has always added a sense of ritual and culture to the story and I've enjoyed it. Now we have John and his boy band and they talk like thugs- which was cute on Vishous because he could carry it but on the teens it felt contrived, like she was pandering to a new group of readers she was hoping to suck in. And then we have Mr. D, the new fore-lesser, who is stereo-typical country complete with a twang. We also had a smidgen of Butch who is written with a Bostonian accent. Let me sum up:
1. Old vampire language
2. Modern day thug
3. Country twang
4. Boston
Throw in the fact that the Chosen speak as if they are reading from a scroll and you have a book that is an unintelligible mix of slop that isn't written in anything even remotely resembling readable English. PICK ONE AND GO WITH IT. Writing the way the person would speak is FINE but if you put them all on one page and then carry it out over hundreds of pages who can focus on the story when they are trying to figure out WHAT THE HELL YOU'RE SAYING? What's with the slang!? Why are you MAKING UP WORDS?!

Pardon head just exploded.

Did Cormia bore anyone else? Did you have enough "poor me" out of Phury to last a decade? HOW THE HECK IS A VAMPIRE A DRUG ADDICT!? He's going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings? Whoever wrote it (not you my BFF Ward, please not you) was sooooooooo busy telling four hundred other stories that she NEVER got around to actually writing ANY connection or romance between Phury and Cormia what so ever. Oh and I thought that the Omega could not create life and that was the only reason he envied his sister? Am I wrong there? And the WIZARD in his head? Seriously? Seriously.

Enough. I have to go and throw things now.

You know what demon-child author??

Bookwork 7/5-7/11

I'm pitiful. I have no book self-control. I have once again, fed my TBR. Here's a list of the latest offenses.

1. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
2. A Series of Unfortunate Events books 2 and 4. Random finds at the crazy book store. Still need #3.
3. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
4. Lover Enshrined by J.R.Ward (thanks to Jenny)

I was going to download Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward onto my kindle but it isn't available. You have NO IDEA HOW MUCH THIS MAKES MY ASS TWITCH. But it was apparently at one time because a friend has it on hers. I'm also surprised that I'm reading so much YA and aside from the Ward, almost no "adult" fiction. I blame adult fiction writers. Write something interesting please.

As soon as I can finish the brotherhood books I'm going to start the Sookie Stackhouse books. Last night for Vampire Movie Night, we watched five episodes of True Blood and I'm about to die.

And then I made you a button:

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Sad to say I was not at all impressed with this book. I didn't hate it but it was a poor sequel to Evermore which I felt was exemplary.

Damen has been searching for Ever for four hundred years. For over four centuries he has sought her out, found her, loved her and lost her in death. When Drina, the force that has always kept them apart is finally eliminated, nothing should stand in the way of a long, immortal life together.

When Roman, the new kid at school seems overly eager to befriend any and everyone, Ever is annoyed that he is taking away time between her and Damen. There's something not quite right about him but he has an aura and she can read his thoughts so he clearly can't be anything more than an arrogant, overly friendly new guy. Can he?

But now Damen, the man who has scoured time for her has suddenly become distant, cruel and...human. In a moment he as gone from loving to loathing and pushes Ever further away than the years of separation ever could.

I am so disappointed in Ever. In Evermore, a truly wonderful character was created. I just loved her. She was uniquely gifted, a strong personality and admirable. In Blue Moon she bordered on whiny, lacking in all judgement and prone to too many bouts of self pity and foolishness. She's the tough heroine on a quest to save her love right? Then how come every thing she's doing is so random and lacking in common sense?

It just seemed like it was a mix of so many elements from other stories that there was never a central story to focus on. It was very disjointed and I never felt that any flow in the story emerged.

Marring Noel's previously flawless writing ability were two carelessly placed Twilight references that I felt was rather undeserving, to both herself as a writer and to the beautiful story she had crafted in Evermore.

     The lions are now lunching with lambs
and later:
     "Chillax." She smiles. "Dad found it and tossed it in the backseat...

Enough with every new YA book release feeling required to make a Twilight reference. We've beaten that horse to death and isn't it time to just let the poor beast die?

Halfway through I was angry, almost to the point of book abandonment and while the ending helped redeem the book, I never connected to the story, sympathized with the characters or developed any feelings other than blah and relief that I could now move on to something better. I miss the first book and remain hopeful that Noel will recapture the emotions it conveyed in the next one. I have no doubt in her ability to do so.

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

I have been wishing and pining for this book for what seems like forever. When you are longing for a book and you finally get to read it there is always the danger that it won't live up to the expectations that all that waiting has created.

Drum roll please....

It was perfection. What an unusual book! So very unexpected and imaginative. I couldn't predict a second of the story, which is always a pleasant surprise. It felt as if she was writing as I was reading and it came together so seamlessly.

All the plays and all the players are bound within the theater, endlessly acting their parts and reciting their lines. With a word a scene can change and London can become the ocean, Peter Pan giving way to a pirate ship. Ever present and always on set is a large tome, The Complete Works of the Stage where all the entrance lines from every play are kept, the lines that first brought the players to the stage.

Bertie is a child of the theater but not one of it's players and she is not bound to the stage. She is an orphan brought up amidst the every changing sets. She lives in a world that can tailor itself to her imagination, where fairies are friends, pirates are dashing heros, water sprites are mischievous tricksters and anything you can think of can be recreated on the stage.

With so much fun at her disposal, Bertie's imagination run wild has landed her in danger of being forced to leave the theater. In order to stay she must prove that she can make a valuable contribution to the theater or she will have to return to the world outside, a place that players can not go. When one of the cast members is set on joining her in her departure, his actions threaten to release all the plays and players and bring down the theater and Bertie finds herself playing a much bigger role than she ever imagined.

Devoured this book in just a few hours from the moment I picked it up. It ended on a nice tidy note, preluding a sequel to squirm for.

I also had to give a little squeal when this turned out to be a story about the power of stories hinting, for me at least, pleasantly of Pratchett. I also found what I felt to be a hint of him during the play when we were learning about young Bertie but then maybe it's just that I chose to see a bit of him in everything.

     Young Bertie looked up from her paper. "See this word? C-A-N-D-Y spells 'candy.' Maybe now you want to turn out your pockets?"
     "Er, well," the Lead Brigand said, caught in his lie.
     "Go ahead," she urged, "I double dare you."
     The Brigands weren't about to ignore a double dare and they turned out their pockets. Approximately seventy-nine pounds of jelly beans, peppermint canes, and chocolate humbugs hit the stage in a rain of cellophane-wrapped sugar.
     "Whoa, wait just a second." their leader started to protest. "Where did all this come from?"
     "It's there because I wanted it to be there." Young Bertie explained. She held up her drawing. "See? I put the word on paper, so it's true. Would you like to see me spell 'avalanche?'

A good book hangover with a touch of glitter. Well worth the wait!

Lover Unbound by J.R.Ward

The fifth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series....was totally unlike the previous four. The series so far has followed a particular pattern, all have had a similar feel and plot and up until now it's been relatively good. But this book....was perfect.

Over the three days that I read this I couldn't stop thinking about it when I was away from the story. I finished it last night and fell asleep going over the story and this morning I wake up with a good book hangover.

I have been waiting for Vishous's story from day one and I would never have imagined it would be this good. I loved that Ward left out the chapters on the lessers which all I ever did was skim through anyway. They were mentioned in this one because you always have to have a bad guy but they didn't share a large portion of the book as they have in previous books and thank goodness because to tell the truth I don't give a frosty rat's ass about their histories and stories.

Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, is the most cunning and intelligent member of the brotherhood, but like his father before him he is rumored to be twisted and dark, not only in battle, but with his lovers as well. He has been cursed since birth with an unknown power, the glowing hand that he keeps hidden and gloved. With his gift he can heal Butch after he has taken in the essence of a lesser and carrying the taint of the Omega in his body or with it he can burn and destroy anything he touches. Vishous was raised in the camp of the Bloodletter where he was subjected to unspeakable tortures, starvation and violations. Throughout his upbringing he prayed to his unknown mother in an effort to comfort himself and escape the horrors that happened in the camp, to him and around him.

Now as he nears his three hundred and third birthday, his mother returns to claim him. The whole of his life he has been a possession of his father, the Bloodletter, but now, as it was ordained before his birth he is to return to his mother's keeping to fulfill his destiny. He is to become the primale, a warrior of the brotherhood of proper birth who's duty is to father a new line of brothers, to replenish their rapidly diminishing race.


I cried and cried and cried. I cried when Vishous was forced to burn the books. I cried for the Scribe Virgin's birds and I cried when V brought her new ones. It was wonderful to have the Scribe Virgin feel something and suffer along with her warriors. The sacrifice of her birds in order to give Jane life while maintaining balance was beautiful and keeping true to the lore and rules of their race.

I LOVED Jane. She was the perfect mate for V. Didn't your heart just break for her when he said goodbye and wasn't fully able to block out her memories of what happened? Oooooh that was so sad.

I'm also glad that we only got to see bits of V's "hobby". She could have really let loose and described all that and the book would have been entirely different and not nearly as special. I was a little confused as to what she had actually become but having her as something otherworldly makes sense as a mate for Vishous since he himself isn't wholly of the world.

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Laura @ A Jane of All Reads
I read excessively and hoard books like a greedy dragon. Theoretically, I also plan to use them to barricade myself against the forthcoming zombie apocalypse.

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