Read-alongs Galore

So I’ve been planning on doing some read-alongs for a while now. I was actually intending to do a read-along with Scatty for The Retribution of Mara Dyer eons ago when the publication date was still set for sometime in July. Given that the date was pushed back to November, we held off (obviously). Now that it seems the date is firmly established, and I’ve come up with several other series that I want to re-read before the new book comes out, I now have more or less a set schedule of books that I’m going to host read-alongs for. I will be hosting it on my tumblr because that’s just easier. It also turns out that three of these books all come out on the same day because apparently November 4th is a magical day in the book world. So, without further ado, here’s the schedule I have in mind for the read-alongs. (Dates are subject to change if there is some sort of change in publication date.) If you have any questions feel free to send me a message (although my tumblr inbox tends to like to eat them for lunch occasionally; if I don’t reply in a timely manner, go ahead and send it again). (Also Scatty is my read-along minion so you can ask her questions that you may have too.)

The Abhorsen Series/Clariel by Garth Nix

Sabriel: September 22 – September 29

Lirael: September 30 – October 6

Abhorsen: October 7 – October 13

Clariel: October 14 (release date) – October 21

There’s another book after Abhorsen called Across the Wall that’s kind of more short stories set within the world rather than a continuing story in the overall arc, but I’m going to be reading it anyway, and if you would like to read that, here’s an alternative schedule:

Sabriel: September 15 – September 22

Lirael: September 23 – September 30

Abhorsen: October 1 – October 7

Across the Wall: October 7 – October 13

Clariel: October 14 (release date) – October 21

Mara Dyer Trilogy/The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: October 21 – October 27

The Evolution of Mara Dyer: October 28 – November 3

The Retribution of Mara Dyer: November 4 (release date) – November 10

His Fair Assassin Trilogy/Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy: October 21 – October 27

Dark Triumph: October 28 – November 3

Mortal Heart: November 4 (release date) – November 10

Finishing School Series/Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Etiquette and Espionage: October 21 – October 27

Curtsies and Conspiracies: October 28 – November 3

Waistcoats and Weaponry: November 4 (release date) – November 10

So, as I said before, I’ll be hosting this on tumblr, but you can put your posts anywhere you like: wordpress, blogspot, tumblr, instagram, etc. If you’d like to participate, all you have to do is read! I know, super easy! You can do all of the read-alongs or only one of the read-alongs or as many of them as you like. There are going to be several “levels” that you can do in the participation, and any posts/pictures/whatever you make should be tagged with the following:

Abhorsen/Clariel read-along: #abhorsenreadalong

Mara Dyer/Retribution read-along: #maradyerreadalong

His Fair Assassin/Mortal Heart read-along: #hisfairassassinreadalong

Finishing School/Waistcoats read-along: #finishingschoolreadalong

Onto the levels:

Level 1 (Short Story) – For the reader on the go; the easiest level of participation: random updates throughout the read-along with your progress

Level 2 (Novella) – Lightweight participation with random updates and occasional pictures

Level 3 (Novel) – A decent amount of participation with regular updates, pictures, and musings on the books

Level 4 (Trilogy) – Regular participation with lots of updates, pictures, musings, favorite quotes, etc

Level 5 (Saga) – Lots of participation with updates every other day, pictures, musings, favorite quotes, and longer discussions, etc

Level 6 (George R. R. Martin) – Everything and the kitchen sink: updates every day, pictures, musings, favorite quotes, liveblogging as you read, etc

Obviously, you can fluctuate between levels depending on your schedule, but I thought it would be fun to have them as a sort of guideline if you want ideas on how much you want to post.

Again, feel free to send me any questions you may have, and I’ll be putting up a reminder post closer to the start of the read-alongs. You can also check out my read-along page to see the dates. Happy readings! :)

Book Review: Dead Ever After

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dead ever afterTitle: Dead Ever After
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 13; Final book)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 338
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Summary: “Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…” ~from Goodreads.com

*This review is going to have some spoilers. It’s the last book so I can’t really help it, although I won’t be giving away any key spoilers to what happens within the book’s plotline. The spoilers present are going to be more general about how characters end up, etc*

The last book in a series is always bittersweet for me, especially when it’s a series that I’ve loved and enjoyed. I have loved every minute of my adventures with Sookie and her friends throughout all 13 books.

First off, I think this was a good end to the series, in my opinion. It was nice to see how everyone ended and I think the way the vampires especially end up is very fitting. I was sad that Sookie and Eric broke up, but I also was expecting it to happen and therefore was not surprised. I think however that Eric ending up with Freyda is actually rather good as I think they suit each other quite well. (I think it was a really childish thing for Eric to make Sam promise not to be with Sookie, but then they didn’t really follow that so…)

I actually figured out who the Bad Guys (staying general) were fairly early on in the book although it took me almost until the end of the book when it was revealed to figure out who the Mastermind was behind the whole plot against Sookie. I did feel that one of the Bad Guys reasoning for helping in the plot was really stupid and far-fetched and I think it would have been much better to just have the one guy who had a legitimate grudge against Sookie (in addition to the Mastermind of course). Other than that, I think it was a pretty good plot.

I was actually a little shocked that Arlene was murdered, but her character had turned out to be so vile that I really agreed with Sookie that she was not exactly cut up about her death. I did like seeing all of the people who came to Sookie’s aid though. It was fun to see some of the mainstay characters that had been appearing in the last few books (Mr. C, Diantha, etc) and to see some old friends (Amelia, Bob, and Barry). I absolutely love all of the characters that make up Sookie’s friends and family and I think it was so nice to bring so many of them back for the final book.

I think the whole book was a great ending for the series, and reading the little companion book right after it (After Dead which I won’t be doing a review for because it’s more of a bullet point type of thing, but still worth reading if you want to find out what happens to everyone) is a great way to find out how everyone ends up. A great book, and a great series.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: Deadlocked

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deadlockedTitle: Deadlocked
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 12)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 327
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery
Summary: “Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on that there are things she’d rather not know. An now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see–like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.

There’s a thing or two she’d like to say about that, but she has to keep quiet–Felipe de Castro, the vampire king of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric’s front yard–especially the body of the woman whose blood he just drank.

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

I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of the Sookie books. I really, really loved this book. There were so many twists and turns, and there was even a total betrayal from one character that made me literally gasp out loud and say, “HOW COULD YOU?!” I love books that make me verbally respond because it shows that it’s such a great book.

I think this was a great balance of fairy, werewolf, and vampire. I liked that there were a lot of things that got resolved, but that there were still some ties that were left up in the air for the last book (Eric and Sookie’s relationship anyone?). I’m really looking forward to seeing how that’s going to be resolved, and I think Harris is going to throw in some really interesting surprises, much like she did here.

I was absolutely shocked about a certain character’s betrayal of Sookie (as I mentioned before) but I think the resolution of that storyline was handled pretty well. I have to say I was a little over all the female shifters/weres trying to kill Sookie. It’s just gotten kind of overdone (I mean, this makes, what three times that three different shifter women have gone after Sookie?) so I was kind of rolling my eyes about that one. On the other hand, there was far less drama with that plotline, so I wasn’t too bothered by it. It was also pretty finally and permanently taken care of sooo…

Surprisingly enough, I actually have started to like Bill again. I was really mad at him for a few books, but these last couple books, he’s gotten less whiny and annoying (and less “Sookie I love you take me back!!!”) and I actually really like that Sookie and Bill have formed more of a friendship.

I’m really looking forward to finishing the series and seeing how everything turns out. It’s always a little bittersweet to end a series, especially one that I’ve loved as much as the Sookie books, but I’m excited to see where everything goes in the final book.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: Dead Reckoning

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dead reckoningTitle: Dead Reckoning
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 11)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 325
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Summary: “There’s a reckoning on the way …

Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. It’s a job which has its own challenges, but now the vampires and the shapeshifters are finally ‘out’, you’d think the supernaturals would get on with each other. But nothing is that simple in Bon Temps!

… and Sookie has a knack for being in trouble’s way; not least when she witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but before she can investigate something else – something even more dangerous – comes up.

Sookie’s lover Eric Northman, and his ‘child’ Pam are plotting something in secret. Whatever it is, they seem determined to keep Sookie out of it; almost as determined as Sookie is to find out what’s going on. She can’t sit on the sidelines when both her work and her love life are under threat – but as their plans gradually become clear Sookie finds the situation is deadlier than she could ever have imagined.” ~from Goodreads.com

*This review is going to be a bit on the spoilery side, which I’m sorry for, but this far in the series, it’s just impossible to stay spoiler-free and write a decent review.*

I have to say that I’m really enjoying these later books immensely. I loved this installment of the series and I think it was one of the better ones. This book tied up quite a few loose ends, specifically the Sandra Pelt storyline, and the Victor storyline.

I totally hate Sandra Pelt and Victor, so I’m super happy with the way they are taken care of. I was also really sad about the things that happen to Pam, because she’s one of my favorite characters and of course she doesn’t wind up getting a happy ending there, so I was sad. I thought it was a decent mystery in trying to figure out who was responsible for the firebombing of Merlotte’s, but I thought it could have been done a smidgen better just because there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of focus on it.

I think what I liked best was the stuff you learned about Sookie’s background and some of her family history. It elaborates on the fairy blood that she has and you learn a lot more about how that stuff came to happen and even where her telepathy comes from, which is cool. I also am really interested in seeing how she uses the cluviel dor. I have a feeling it’ll be used in the last book, but I’m excited to see how that plays out.

I also think that the development of Sookie’s relationship with Eric is pretty fitting with the way things are going and with Sookie’s personality. I totally love them together, but I also was completely expecting it to be a finite relationship, just because I’ve never thought that Sookie was going to want to become a vampire and the vampire politics are so dangerous for her. They’re kind of in limbo a bit here at the end of the book, but I think given everything that happens, it makes sense for there to be some tension. It makes the relationship more realistic (or as realistic as you can get in a vampire novel).

Anyway, I really loved this book and I’m excited to start the next one.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: Dead in the Family

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dead in the familyTitle: Dead in the Family
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 10)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 311
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Summary: “It’s all about family …

Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric’s vampire sire, an ancient being who arrives with Eric’s ‘brother’ in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie’s tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton.

In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favour, and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.” ~from Goodreads.com

I’m really loving these later books of the series. So, in this book Sookie and Eric are finally together, which makes me super happy because they’re my favorite pairing. There’s quite a bit that goes on this book, which makes for a very interesting story. It’s not overwhelming, which is nice, but it’s enough to keep the story twisting and turning.

What’s really cool is that we get to meet Eric’s maker–who is scary as hell–and his “younger brother” (i.e. another vampire) who happens to be Alexi Romanov. I personally LOVE it when vampire books draw on real historical figures, so I was kind of nerding out when he came onto the page. Anyway, it turns out that he’s kind of psycho, that made the whole thing pretty intense, which was fun (I guess? I like intense books).

Aside from the vampires, it was nice to see a more mature Jason this book around, and it was also nice to see that Sookie has become tougher because of all of the things she’s gone through. It’s really nice to see her development over the books, and I love her in the later ones because she’s much more independent and tough than in the first couple books (not that she was really a slouch then, but you know what I mean). The only thing that bummed me out a bit was that Amelia moves out early on in the book. I loved Amelia’s character, so I was sad to see her go.

All in all, I’m totally in love with these later books here. I think they’re the best of the series so far.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: Dead And Gone

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dead and goneTitle: Dead and Gone
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 9)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 312
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery
Summary: “The vamps have been out for years, and now the weres and shifters have decided to follow the lead of the undead and reveal their existence to the ordinary world. Sookie Stackhouse already knows about them, of course – her brother turns into a panther at the full moon, she’s friend to the local were pack, and Sam, her boss at Merlotte’s bar, is a shapeshifter.

The great revelation goes well at first – then the horribly mutilated body of a were-panther is found in the parking lot of Merlotte’s, and Sookie agrees to use her telepathic talent to track down the murderer. But there is a far greater danger than this killer threatening Bon Temps: a race of unhuman beings, older, more powerful, and far more secretive than the vampires or the werewolves, is preparing for war. And Sookie is an all-too-human pawn in their ages-old battle…” ~from Goodreads.com

This book was much better than the last one. I loved this book. It’s intense and much darker than the others, but I think it’s so well done, and so well written that I loved every minute of it.

I really loved Sookie’s character this book, and I really loved seeing more of Jason and Bill and Eric (yes, even Bill, who I think I’ve mentioned is not my favorite character) and Sam. I was really shocked by Crystal’s death (I guess that’s a spoiler? But it happens really early in the book soooo….) but I wasn’t totally attached her either. But I felt that Sookie and Jason’s responses were very, very fitting with their characters and personality and history. I liked that there was a twist in who was behind it, and I think that mystery plotline was really well done, because it kept me guessing up until the reveal.

What I also liked about this book was that you see more of the fairies and the fairy politics. It’s also cool because Harris follows the kind of traditional Irish fairy beliefs where the fairies are NOT nice. They’re manipulative and vicious, and I think that fits in with Sookie’s world and the other supernatural creatures.

There are some very, very intense scenes, especially towards the end. As I said, it’s a more intense book than any of the others, but I think it’s a good book and I think that the way Harris handles it is well done. Overall, I think this may be one of my favorites of the series.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: From Dead To Worse

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from dead to worseTitle: From Dead To Worse
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 8)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 359
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery
Summary: “After the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the manmade explosion at the vampire summit, everyone human and otherwise is stressed, including Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who is trying to cope with the fact that her boyfriend Quinn has gone missing.

It’s clear that things are changing whether the weres and vamps of her corner of Louisiana like it or not. And Sookie, Friend to the Pack and blood-bonded to Eric Northman, leader of the local vampire community is caught up in the changes.

In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death, and once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood finished flowing, her world will be forever altered.” ~from Goodreads.com

This is a good installment of the Sookie books, but it seems like this one was kind of more…filler than actual progression. I mean, things do progress, and don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book, but it seems like there are three different short stories that have been combined to be one long book.

I do like the fact that we get to see some of the Weres and their politics. That plotline was really interesting to me, and I liked seeing the way that played out, but I felt like we didn’t get enough background, and then it was kind of dropped after the skirmish. I wanted to know more, and I felt like Harris could have played that out the whole length of the book. We know a lot about vampire politics now so it’d be fun to see the flipside to that.

Then of course, we see a takeover from the vampires, which again, could have been a whole other book, and it would have been interesting (though not as interesting as the Weres in my opinion). And again, we don’t get a whole lot of backstory there (although we get slightly more than the Weres, which I guess is something). This isn’t dropped quite as quickly as the Weres, and especially because it shows up in the next book, so obviously that’s more prevalent.

All in all, while I enjoyed the book I felt like it could have been better, and I really wanted to see more of the Weres and Alcide this time around, and I was a little disappointed at the brusqueness of their appearance.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: All Together Dead

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all together deadTitle: All Together Dead
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 7)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 323
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery
Summary: “Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full dealing with every sort of undead and paranormal creature imaginable. And after being betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Sookie must not only deal with a new man in her life—the shapeshifter Quinn—but also contend with the long-planned vampire summit.

The summit is a tense situation. The vampire queen of Louisiana is in a precarious position, her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans. And there are some vamps who would like to finish what nature started. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she’ll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.” ~from Goodreads.com

I love this book. It’s probably because we get totally embroiled in vampire politics, which is like, my favorite thing EVER. Also we get more of Sophie-Anne, who I love, and more of Eric, who I’m IN love with. We also get to see Barry again, which was fun.

I really liked the political maneuverings that went on with the summit. It was fun to get even more insight into the different kings and queens and who was allied with whom and so on. I liked the addition of some new vampires, both amusing and deadly, and I liked that we saw an actual vampire trial.

I think this is probably my favorite book out of the whole series so far because there’s so much going on, and Sookie is totally at her prime. (In other words, she’s past the whiny, crying stage, and into badass, survival mode.) There’s also just a lot of action that goes on in the book, especially towards the end, and it’s really tense. I was on the edge of my seat during a couple really intense moments, and I think Harris does a really good job of balancing all of that in her writing.

All in all, a great book, a great series, and probably my favorite Sookie out of all the ones I’ve read so far.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: Definitely Dead

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definitely deadTitle: Definitely Dead
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 6)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 324
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Summary: “As a person with so few living relatives, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never guessed that it would be her cousin Hadley—a consort of the Vampire Queen of New Orleans. After all, technically speaking, Hadley was already dead. And now, as unexpected heir to Hadley’s estate, Sookie discovers the inheritance definitely comes with a risk. Someone doesn’t want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley’s past—or for that matter, Hadley’s possessions. And they’re prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. But who? The range of suspects runs from the Rogue Weres who reject Sookie as a friend of the Pack to the Vampire Queen herself, who could be working through a particularly vulnerable subject—Sookie’s first love, Bill. Whoever it is, they’re definitely dangerous—and Sookie’s life is definitely on the line…” ~from Goodreads.com

This is probably one of my favorites too. I think I’ve said that about all of the books so far, but I really do like this one. I like the fact that Sookie gets out of Bon Temps and that we finally get to meet Sophie-Anne.

I really like learning more about the vampire politics so it’s really fun for me when the books take a turn into those politics and we learn more about the vampire world. I also really loved the introduction of Amelia. She’s one of my favorite characters and I think she’s great. I also liked meeting Quinn, although I wasn’t super invested in their relationship because I remembered how it turns out in the later books. But, I really enjoyed seeing their relationship develop anyway.

Apologies for the short review, but I don’t know what else I can say without delving into spoiler territory. Regardless, this is a fun book to read, and I really enjoyed it.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: Dead As A Doornail

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dead as a doornailTitle: Dead As A Doornail
Series: Sookie Stackhouse (Book 5)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Summary: “When Sookie’s brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time. 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.” ~from Goodreads.com

I really like this installment of the Sookie books. Especially because I think it’s a great mystery plot. I also like that there’s more to Jason in this book. What I love about this series is that you see the growth of other characters too, not just Sookie. And Jason definitely has a lot of growing to do, but you can see more of his gradual maturing throughout the series, and I think the start of that happens in this book.

I did figure out who was behind the shootings of the shifters but closer to the end, and only because I had read the book before (although it had been a while, so my memory of it took a while to kick in) but it was still really fun to read the book again and try and figure out who the bad guy(s) were.

As always, I love Sookie and her dealings with vampires, shifters, and Weres alike. I think this is one of the better installments in the series, just because the story keeps you guessing, and there are actually two mysteries to figure out, although you don’t realize it right away.

All in all, as always, the books are just fun to read (and re-read).

My rating: ★★★★★

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