BOOK REVIEW: Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead as a Doornail

Author: Charlaine Harris

Book Length: 295 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror

Read Start Date: July 17, 2022

Read Finish Date: August 26, 2022

Number in Book Series: 5

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Small-town cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has had more than her share of experience with the supernatural—but now it’s really hitting close to home. When Sookie sees her brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time—a transformation he embraces more readily than most shapeshifters she knows. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population, and Jason’s new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who’s behind the attacks—unless the killer decides to find her first…

My Review: Surprisingly, Sookie doesn’t really have a love interest in this book, so it’s mostly mystery and thriller. A sniper is going around shooting shifters, and of course the cops don’t know the connection between the victims. Jason, now a werepanther, is suspected by the Hot Shot community, even though he is dating one of them. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, Hot Shot is a community of (inbred) shifters who mostly turn into panthers. In the last book Jason was held captive by a Hot Shot resident who bit him numerous times (hence why Jason is not a werepanther).

Unfortunately, Sam is shot, and Sookie is sent to Eric to request a favor….someone to fill in for Sam at the bar. Introducing Fangtasia’s newest bartender, Charles Twining, a pirate vampire. Yes, that’s right. A vampire who used to be a pirate — and he still dresses the part. Now we know something is going to be up with this guy as the bartenders at Fangtasia always have something going on and usually end up dead.

Lucky thing Charles was staying with Sookie (she had a vampire hidey hole left over from when she was dating Bill) because he managed to kill the arsonist that tried to burn down Sookie’s house. Claudine saved Sookie from the fire. There’s something odd going on with this fairy godmother business but we don’t know what yet. For the most part Sookie’s house is okay, except for her kitchen, which in hindsight is great, because now no one will be able to find any forensic evidence from when Sookie killed Debbie Pelt (in self defense, of course).

Why was Sookie targeted? Does it have something to do with the shifters being attacked? Will they find the killer before he kills again?

In other news, Alcide is back in the story as the son of the next potential pack leader. (Colonel flood died). Sookie is dragged into werewolf politics, even though she doesn’t want to be. Things with Alcide get slightly complicated for various reasons that I will not give away, except to say that one of the reasons is that he finds out that she killed Debbie (Alcide’s ex girlfriend who he excommunicated from the pack).

And as if that wasn’t enough, Tara is in trouble, as she’s currently dating a dangerous vampire. To set matters straight, Sookie has to call in a favor from Eric, who requires in exchange for Sookie to tell him what he’s been after: the truth about the time they spent together when he had witch induced amnesia. Now that Eric knows they had a sexual relationship, and that Eric was willing to leave everything behind to become Sookie’s full time lover, how will their relationship progress and/or change?

Wow. So much happened in just one book! As always Harris spins a fun tale of mystery and fantasy that you shouldn’t miss.

I can’t wait to read the next installment.

Other Books in this Series

Book #1: Dead Until Dark:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

See my review of Dead Until Dark here.

Book #2: Living Dead in Dallas:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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 that 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 favor, 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….

See my review of Living Dead in Dallas here.

Book #3: Club Dead:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Things between cocktail waitress Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill seem to be going excellently (apart from the small matter of him being undead) until he leaves town for a while. A long while. Bill’s sinister boss Eric has an idea of where to find him, whisking her off to Jackson, Mississippi to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead. When she finally catches up with the errant vampire, he is in big trouble and caught in an act of serious betrayal. This raises serious doubts as to whether she should save him or start sharpening a few stakes of her own ..

See my review of Club Dead here.

Book #4 Dead to the World

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. 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, 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 ever. 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.

See my review of Dead to the World here.

BOOK REVIEW: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

56732449Title: The Love Hypothesis

Author: Ali Hazelwood

Audiobook Length: 11 hours and 8 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Read Start Date: August 22, 2022

Read Finish Date: August 25, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

My Review: Apparently this is another “booktok” recommendation — I checked it out of the library as it was on the list of “global popular books”. I went into this not knowing anything about the book, or having any expectations.

I was torn between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. 3 stars because the banter between the characters annoyed me, as did the ridiculous conversation subject matters. It also generally annoys me when characters have very poor communication skills and hold back their true feelings or don’t discuss topics because of “misunderstandings” which could be cleared up in a matter of a few seconds but aren’t just to create tension.

Maybe this is just how rom coms are formulaically, but it just seems so contrived. Additionally, poor communication is a horrible foundation for a relationship. 

My Book Joy summed up the issue pretty nicely: “What kiiiiilled me though, was the reliance on the idiotic thing I often find myself screaming during these kinds of stories: JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER!!! STOP ASSUMING YOU KNOW WHAT THEY THINK AND WANT AND DID! GOOD LORD! COMMUNICATION, PEOPLE! It was particularly frustrating in this book for two reasons. The first is that they’re not high school age — 26 and 34 if I recall correctly — so I would kiiiind of expect them to be better with handling this. To be fair, it did mostly come from 26-year-old Olive who has very little romantic relationship experience. Still, with the other friendships she has, I’d think honest communication would have been a skill she picked up by now.”

It also got tiresome how Adam kept being described as “large”, “big”…if I heard about his “large hands” once, it was 30 times. We get it. He’s a big guy. By big I guess the author meant tall? Because we are also told he has a six pack so he can’t be overweight or bulky. Also, if I heard the words “fake dating” once, I heard it 100 times. I am NOT a fan of repetitive word usage. 

If I only gave ratings on the endings of books, I might have been persuaded to give the book 4 stars, because despite myself, by the end of the book I was listening to it because it was finally grabbing my attention. I won’t say too much here otherwise it would give away the story, but let’s just say things started to finally get interesting.

Would I recommend this book? Eh, I guess? If you are the type of person who really loves the fake dating to real relationship rom com trope and can handle a lot of bad dialogue, then I would say go for it!

BOOK REVIEW: Verity by Colleen Hoover

59344312._SY475_Title: Verity

Author: Colleen Hoover

Book Length: 336 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Mystery

Read Start Date: August 2, 2022

Read Finish Date: August 7, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

My Review: This book was such a mind f***! From the first sentence this book grabbed my attention. I found it very hard to put down, which was a problem since I was reading this book in order to fall asleep. I have read other Colleen Hoover books before (e.g. Ugly Love (see my review here), It End With Us (see my review here)), but this is by far my favorite one.

The main character Lowen Ashleigh is an author who hasn’t had much success — this is mostly because she doesn’t do book readings or tour — she is a self described introvert. This is a shame, because she is in fact a really good writer. Her luck is about to change.

On her way to a meeting with her agent, she witnesses a fatal car accident. Covered in gore, she is approached by a good Samaritan, Jeremy Crawford, who lends her his shirt, so that she doesn’t have to wear her blood soaked shirt anymore. Sparks fly during this encounter, but it doesn’t matter because she is never going to see him again anyway. Right?

Wrong! Fast forward to the meeting, she learns that Jeremy is attending the same meeting. What’s more, he is the husband of best selling author Verity Crawford, who after suffering a near fatal accident, is essentially in a waking coma. Jeremy wants to hire Lowen to co-author the remaining 3 books in Verity’s hit series. Taking this job would change Lowen’s life forever. Verity’s series is already wildly popular and Lowen will be paid a large sum for her work. This is the break she has been waiting for. Despite this, Lowen has some reservations — she does not do book tours.

Lowen, following the slow and emotionally draining death of her mother, is broke and has been recently kicked out of her apartment, so she accepts the job, with the caveat that she doesn’t have to do public appearances, and travels to Jeremy’s home to go through Verity’s office to try to find notes / outlines that will help her write the next books. What she finds is something all together different — a manuscript of Verity’s autobiography, in which she reveals some disturbing things about herself, her relationship with Jeremy, and the circumstances surrounding the death of their twin daughters.

Regarding the alternating story line between Verity’s manuscript and Lowen’s perspective, which added layers of plot: Zainab Chats! writes in her review that “It really felt like each secret that was revealed may have both a literal and deeper meaning to Lowen in regards to how she felt about Verity. And it was very unique because it seemed as she read more and more of Verity’s manuscript she seemed to be even more frightened, of a helpless woman with traumatic injuries.”

I loved the layers of complexity created by this dual narrative.

Verity’s novels are so popular because Verity writes in the villain’s point of view. So what is the truth? Is she really a monster and that is why she can write the part of the villain so well? Meanwhile, Jeremy and Lowen are obviously falling for each other, but then strange things start happening around the house. Door are locked when they shouldn’t be, Crew (Jeremy’s and Verity’s son) talks about his mother as though she is awake, and Lowen even sees an apparition of Verity on the stairs.

What is the truth? What is happening at this house??

What I liked most about this book: It was a total page turner. I wanted to know what happened next. The author kept me, the reader, engaged in the story. I loved to hate Verity as her autobiography was truly heinous–she writes about abusing her kids as babies, about loving one twin over the other etc. Would Lowen and Jeremy finally get together, or were they always going to be stuck in platonic world, seeing as Jeremy was still technically married? What really happened to the twins? Was Verity involved in their deaths? The twist at the end was totally unexpected. It was great!

There was a few downsides about the ending though that left me a little unsettled. Ruminative Philomath says it best: “I don’t understand Verity’s end. It felt forcefully concluded…like there was so much story build-up around her but it turned out to be nothing.”

There’s a reason why this book has been highly recommended on Booktok. I second this recommendation!

BOOK REVIEW: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

54985743Title: People We Meet on Vacation

Author: Emily Henry

Audiobook Length: 10 hours and 46 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, 

Read Start Date: July 9, 2022

Read Finish Date: July 16, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

My Review: I read this book 2 times, the first time just after giving birth to my baby, and then again (for the purposes of reviewing it) about a year later. The first time I read the book, I gave it 3 stars, and honestly the year has not changed my opinion about it.

FYI: there are several spoilers in the review. SPOILER ALERT

Poppy is a travel blogger who lives in New York and works for a magazine where she writes about her trips. She enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and in general a flexible lifestyle. Her best friend Alex is the opposite. He is a teacher, lives in the small Ohio town where they both grew up, and wants a family.

The problem? They have been secretly in love with each other for 12 years. Each year they take a “summer trip” and each year they flirt with the line between friendship and romantic involvement. During the 12 years, they’ve both had relationships with other people, but it never seems to work out. At the beginning of the book we find out that one summer after a mysterious event which the reader is not privy to, their friendship explodes, sending them into a 2 year speaking hiatus.

One day Poppy sends Alex a message that just says “hey” and this reignites their friendship. They decide to go on one of their famous summer trips, after which Poppy will attend the wedding of Alex’s brother with Alex. Everything goes wrong, from broken AC in the Airbnb to flat tires on the ride share car. But it’s okay, because it all leads up to the “happy” ending we all know is coming.

The book goes back and forth between the past and the present and through the years we see the sexual tension mount until finally it culminates in one steamy scene on the balcony of their too hot Airbnb. This is all fine, but I found myself getting annoyed at the back and forth between the characters. The dialogue was a little annoying at times — like they were always snarking at each other. I read one review which said rightly that the “banter between the two main characters…tried to be witty but just came across like nails on a chalkboard.”

The storyline just seemed to drag. Like why 12 years? This is sooooo long. Each vacation the tension is the same, the storyline basically repeats just in different locations.

We wait for the reason why Poppy and Alex stopped speaking for the ENTIRE book and then the reason was SOOOO LAME! They made out and then just didn’t text each other afterward. What? Seriously? That’s it? They didn’t even SLEEP together??? There was nothing else? They were both single, “in love” for 10 years at that point, and making out made them STOP TALKING??? because they were too afraid of their emotions? I mean please. If they are THIS bad at communicating then their relationship is doomed big time.

And then when they finally get together, it should be all roses but it’s not because Poppy still wants her carefree life and Alex still wants his eventual family. Then there is also some weird thing where Alex’s mom died in childbirth and he’s afraid that the same thing will happen to Poppy and he couldn’t live without her…I don’t know this was strange to say the least. So they don’t talk again for a small amount of time until Poppy comes to the realization that she is willing to give up “everything” for Alex, snore. Why does it always seem to be the woman who has to compromise her career and desires for the man, family, etc? Sigh.

Anyway, I guess I want off the rails there for a little bit. Sorry! The above is just to say that while the book was entertaining, it definitely wasn’t fantastic. While I did enjoy it, I also was annoyed by several aspects. I find it strange that this book is on the NY times best seller’s list and was a Goodreads Choice winner in 2021, but has a rating on Goodreads of only 3.98 (as of the date of this review).

I think that if you go into this book without super high expectations and are just looking to be entertained (maybe while on vacation…ha!) this book would be a fast and easy read for you. It doesn’t require too much thought and can be read during a week at the beach.

Speaking of beach reading, you can also check out my review of Emily Henry’s other book, Beach Read, here.

BOOK REVIEW: Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead to the World

Author: Charlaine Harris

Book Length: 291 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror

Read Start Date: June 18, 2022

Read Finish Date: July 3, 2022

Number in Book Series: 4

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. 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, 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 ever. 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.

My Review: In this book we are introduced to even more fantastical creatures, this time witches. A coven of were-witches drinking vampire blood, to be precise. Bill and Sookie’s relationship is on the rocks (they are broken up) and Bill is in Peru on an assignment from the Queen. Bill’s absence is perfect because Eric, the beautiful Viking vampire, has to take refuge in Sookie’s house while on the run from the evil coven (they took his memory, so Eric isn’t really Eric, but rather a meeker, more kinder version of himself).

If that wasn’t enough to keep Sookie busy, her brother Jason is missing and no one seems to know where he is. Has he been taken by the coven as leverage? Did he run afoul of a panther in the woods? Did something else happen to him?

Charlaine Harris does it again. Mixing romance, mystery, and fantasy, the next chapter of the Sookie Stackhouse series will keep you wanting to find out what happens next. Will she find Jason? Will Eric regain his memories? Will Eric and Sookie become a real couple?

I really liked the relationship between Eric and Sookie — actually, I’ve been waiting for it. Bill always seemed, I don’t know, wrong for her? Maybe it’s because I think the actor who plays Eric in the HBO Trueblood series is just hot as hell…but there has always been something about Eric that I liked more than Bill. Eric seems to want her, but doesn’t want to possess her like Bill, who always felt like a controlling, yet standoffish, jerk to me…and the relationship yo yo between them was getting a bit stale. So I’m glad he seems to be out of the picture.

I can’t wait for the next installment!

Other Books in this Series

Book #1: Dead Until Dark:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

See my review of Dead Until Dark here.

Book #2: Living Dead in Dallas:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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 that 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 favor, 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….

See my review of Living Dead in Dallas here.

Book #3: Club Dead:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Things between cocktail waitress Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill seem to be going excellently (apart from the small matter of him being undead) until he leaves town for a while. A long while. Bill’s sinister boss Eric has an idea of where to find him, whisking her off to Jackson, Mississippi to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead. When she finally catches up with the errant vampire, he is in big trouble and caught in an act of serious betrayal. This raises serious doubts as to whether she should save him or start sharpening a few stakes of her own ..

See my review of Club Dead here.

BOOK REVIEW: One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

58438583Title: One Italian Summer

Author: Rebecca Serle

Audiobook Length: 6 hours and 21 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Magical Realism

Read Start Date: July 1, 2022

Read Finish Date: July 3, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue .

My Review: “If your mother is the love of your life, what does that make your husband?”

The above quote is pretty much the reason why Katy is such an unrelatable character. After Katy’s mother dies, Katy is left heartbroken, so much so, that she contemplates leaving her loving, devoted, supportive husband. I was a little turned off by Katy’s treatment of her husband. She is so mean to him — he seems like a very sympathetic character and she just comes off as a total jerk. I don’t understand why the death of her mother would make her question whether she loved her husband AT ALL…there didn’t seem to be any issues in the marriage. It was just weird.

I mean look, I’ve been there. My brother died and I started to question why I bothered to stay married, but that was because I had a bad marriage and my thinking was, you can be snatched from this world at a moments notice, why spend any day unhappy? So I understand the concept that the author is trying to get at, but the execution just fell flat.

At only 30% through the book, I was already annoyed at the author’s repetitiveness. We get it, Katy loved her mother. It’s literally like the ONLY thing Katy talks about. Maybe this is “true to life”, but a book editor once told me in a critique of the book I am currently writing — works of fiction are NOT real life. Maybe it would really happen that way in real life, but this is not real life, this is FICTION! Katy’s one emotion gets REALLY boring and honestly it takes away from the storyline.

SPOILER ALERT:

Okay, so after Katy tells her husband she might want a divorce, she goes on the Italian vacation that she and her mother already had booked before her mother’s death. While in Italy she RUNS INTO HER MOTHER (not a look alike, but her actual mother)…………………….seriously? So what, Katy time traveled back to when her mother was 30 years old? But how does that work? Does the Mom not realize there are things such as cell phones now…does Katy not have access to these electronics? Is this woman just a figment of her imagination? I’m so confused and not in a good way. By the end of the book we realize that Katy has stepped back 30 years into the past, but sorry, how does she not notice this? The hair, the clothing styles…there is nothing similar between 1992 and 2022!!

And conveniently Katy leaves her cell phone in the safe for the ENTIRE VACATION, so she doesn’t notice that it isn’t working because cell towers / phone etc haven’t been invented yet.

After having finished the book, I did not like it anymore than I had at 30%. The whole time traveling thing just doesn’t make sense. Katy clearly screws with the timeline, but this is not addressed in the book. I guess the author meant it not to be sci-fi or whatever, and instead meant for Katy to have this vacation with her mother and discover things about her mother and herself, etc…but come on. As a sci-fi reader, there was just too much wrong with this premise for me to enjoy it.

Also, Katy seems to just be annoyed that her mother was, I don’t know, a PERSON? Katy expected that her mother’s “true love” would also be Katy and that her mother was as obsessed with Katy as Katy was with her mother — but it seems more like Katy just has an unhealthy attachment and her mother is normal. And of course Katy cheats on her husband — but does it count since technically her husband was a baby at the time (she did it 30 years in the past?). Sigh.

Other than the above, the book was entertaining at least, and the writing wasn’t bad. It just could have been so much better. So, I can in good conscious give it 3 stars.

BOOK REVIEW: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Title: Club Dead

Author: Charlaine Harris

Book Length: 274 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror

Read Start Date: June 4, 2022

Read Finish Date: June 17, 2022

Number in Book Series: 3

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Things between cocktail waitress Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill seem to be going excellently (apart from the small matter of him being undead) until he leaves town for a while. A long while. Bill’s sinister boss Eric has an idea of where to find him, whisking her off to Jackson, Mississippi to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead. When she finally catches up with the errant vampire, he is in big trouble and caught in an act of serious betrayal. This raises serious doubts as to whether she should save him or start sharpening a few stakes of her own ..

My Review: When Bill goes missing in Mississippi, Sookie is sent by Eric to Jackson to discover his whereabouts. Bill has been working on a secret project for the vampire queen of Louisiana and Eric fears that Bill has been taken as a result and is being tortured for information. Although Sookie is torn about accepting such a mission (since Bill has been cheating on her with a formal vampire lover), she departs for Jackson anyway.

Once in Jackson we meet Alcide, a werewolf. Sparks fly, but nothing happens as both Sookie and Alcide are in relationships with the status “it’s complicated.”

Once again Charlaine Harris spins a tale that is entertaining and nail biting. Will Sookie find Bill in time? Will she hook up Alcide?

Other Books in this Series

Book #1: Dead Until Dark:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

See my review of Dead Until Dark here.

Book #2: Living Dead in Dallas:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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 that 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 favor, 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….

See my review of Living Dead in Dallas here.

BOOK REVIEW: Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Title: Living Dead in Dallas

Author: Charlaine Harris

Book Length: 291 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror

Read Start Date: May 16, 2022

Read Finish Date: June 3, 2022

Number in Book Series: 2

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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 that 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 favor, 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….

My Review: Sookie is back for another tale of vampires and shape shifters. The book opens with a murder mystery–Lafayette the cook at Merlotte’s is found dead in the parking lot. It was rumored around town that Lafayette was into sex parties. Could someone from this scene have done it?

We are also introduced to even more supernatural creatures — a maenad, werewolves, even other shape shifters! The surprises keep coming!

Although the opening of the book was about Lafayette (and we come back to this by the end of the book), the middle of the book takes place in Dallas. Sookie is loaned to the Dallas vampires for an assignment — read the minds of humans to find out where a kidnapped Dallas vampire was taken. Through this adventure we meet a fresh set of characters, learn about an anti-vampire organization hell bent on destroying vampires, and watch Sookie get further ensconced in vampire politics.

Another hit from Charlaine Harris!

Other Books in this Series

Dead Until Dark is the first book in the series.

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

See my review of Dead Until Dark here.

BOOK REVIEW: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

301082._SY475_Title: Dead Until Dark

Author: Charlaine Harris

Book Length: 292 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror

Read Start Date: March 27, 2022

Read Finish Date: May 16, 2022

Number in Book Series: 1

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

My Review: Sookie Stackhouse is just an average girl, working as a waitress in her small Louisiana town bar. Sookie is telepathic, which makes her kind of the town “weirdo”, and she has trouble forming lasting relationships, both friendship and romantic. In fact, she has never really had a boyfriend. After the Japanese developed synthetic blood, the vampires of the world decided to “come out of the coffin” since they no longer needed to feed on human blood to decide. In Sookie’s little town of Bon Temps, there isn’t much vampiric activity, and Sookie has longed to meet a vampire — one day she gets her wish, and Bill Compton (a vampire who was turned shortly after the civil war) walks into the bar.

Bill has decided to move back to Bon Temps, as this is where he lived while human. He has also decided to “main stream”, hence why he came into the bar. Sookie is immediately taken by him, as are two “drainers”. Through Sookie’s telepathy, she discovers the plot to drain Bill of his blood (vampire blood can be sold on the black market as a drug for a lot of money). When the couple leaves the bar with Bill, Sookie follows them and saves Bill from being drained of all his blood (which would have weakened him for decades, if he wasn’t still tied up when the sun came up).

Soon after, Bill and Sookie start an unconventional romantic relationship. Sookie discovers that she cannot hear the thoughts of vampires, and it is wonderful. As Sookie becomes more entrenched in the vampire community, a murderer is going around killing women who take vampires as lovers. Who is it? Will Sookie be a target now?

This was the second time that I read this book, and back when it was on HBO, I also watched the series. This book is always a fun read for me. I really love how Charlaine Harris melds different fantastical creatures (from vampires to shapeshifters) in the same novel.

The book is not only about a telepathic waitress who falls in love with a vampire, but there is also an element of mystery, i.e., there is a murderer in Bon Temps who is killing women who have affiliations with vampires.

This book combines several genres…its like a horror novel about vampires, but at the same time has a murder mystery to be solved, and at the same time, is a love story.

I also really like how Sookie is not some dumb, thin-stick blonde. Rather, she is intelligent, although working as a waitress, and she is of average build (a size 8). Other than the telepathic part, Sookie could be anyone’s sister or best friend.

This book is great for some light and fun reading.

BOOK REVIEW: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

53205888._SY475_Title: Under the Whispering Door

Author: TJ Klune

Audiobook Length: 14 hours and 54 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, LGBT, Romance, Contemporary

Read Start Date: April 15, 2022

Read Finish Date: April 23, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Welcome to Charon’s Crossing. The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.

And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.

But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home

My Review: This book for me was only so so. To be honest, the pacing seemed a little off to me. When Wallace dies and finds himself at the tea shop, there was a long patch of storyline where he is just figuring out how to be a ghost. It isn’t until almost the end of the book, when Wallace is told by “the Manager” that he only has 7 days until he has to cross over, that things start to pick up. Actually, these 7 days pass by so quickly it is annoying, since this is arguably the most interesting part of the book (I think it is the climax of the book) –and then the ending (the anti-climax) takes ages.

I also was not too impressed with the “love story” between Hugo and Wallace. I just didn’t feel anything about it. It was not steamy, there was no sexual anticipation between the lovers. Where are all the feels, T.J. Klune? It was basically just two people saying “I love you” to each other and touching hands. This is classified as a “romance” novel on Goodreads, but it didn’t really feel that way. I wanted to feel the butterflies in my stomach whenever Hugo and Wallace were in the room together, unable to touch because Wallace was dead and Hugo was alive. I wanted to feel the racing of my heart when they spoke to each other guardedly, neither admitting their feelings to each other, but instead there was nothing. It didn’t need to be X rated or anything, but a little more than what it was would have been appreciated. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the Bridgerton series.

The above being said, I did like the plot — it wasn’t unique per se, but it was well done, which is why I am giving this book 3 stars.