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Book Review: My Big Fat Demon Slayer Wedding by Angie Fox (Series, #5)

July 24, 2014 3 comments

Woman in short wedding dress and black boots holds a sword. A dog in a bow tie is nearby.Summary:
Lizzie Brown, once preschool teacher turned demon slayer, is extremely excited to be marrying her true love, Dimitri Kallinikos, who just so happens to also be a magical shape-changing griffin.  And she’s also fine with letting her adoptive mother run the whole show, even though her mother wants to make the wedding into a week-long event.  She’s not so ok with having to tell her mother about being a demon slayer, though. Or about integrating her mother’s posh southern lady lifestyle with her recently discovered blood-related grandmother’s biker witch gang.  She’s pleasantly surprised that her mother found a goth-style mansion to rent for the wedding.  Maybe the magical and the non-magical can integrate fairly well, after all.  But then it becomes evident that someone in the wedding is trying to kill her.  Plus, they find demonic images around the property…..

Review:
This remains one of my most enjoyed urban fantasy series.  The world Fox has created is bright, witty, imaginative, and a real pleasure to visit, even though sometimes the main character can rub me the wrong way (she’s a bit too straight-laced for me sometimes).  Urban fantasy books can either keep the main character perpetually single or have her get married.  If they choose to get married, the wedding book winds up with a lot on its plate.  It’s hard to integrate the world of urban fantasy with the wedding scene a lot of readers enjoy reading about.  Fox achieves this integration eloquently, presenting an intriguing urban fantasy mystery, the clash of urban fantasy magical folks and real world expectations, and manages to show the wedding is about the marriage, not the party.

My main gripe with the previous book was Dimitri and Lizzie’s relationship.  Primarily that they don’t appreciate what they have, and how annoying that is.  I think the events of the previous book really snapped them out of it, because here, Lizzie and Dimitri have taken their relationship to another level.  They have a trust in and intimacy with one another that manages to withstand some pretty tough tests, and is a pleasure to read about.  It’s easy to see that this is a couple that is ready for a marriage.  It’s a healthy relationship that’s rare to see in urban fantasy.  At this point in the series, I can appreciate that Dimitri and Lizzie aren’t perfect in the earlier books.  Relationships change and grow with time, and Fox demonstrates that beautifully.  Of course, it’s still more fun to read about a happy couple than one bickering with each other over minor things.  But those hiccups in the relationship in earlier books helps make it (and the marriage) seem more real.

Similarly, Lizzie has grown with the series.  Where at first she’s annoyingly straight-laced, now she is not just starting to break out of that but is enjoying breaking out of it.  Seeing her adoptive mother pushes this issue to the forefront.  Lizzie is finally coming into her own, and she, and her loving mother, have to confront that.

[Lizzie’s mother] paused, straightened her already squared shoulders. “Is this type of style…” she waved a hand over me, “appealing to you? You look like a hooligan.” I let out a sigh. “Try biker.” (page 16)

Whereas this confrontation between Lizzie and her mother could have led to the mother looking like a bad guy, Fox leaves room for Lizzie’s mom to be different from her but still a good person and a loving parent.  They butt heads over different opinions, just as real-life parents and adult children do, but they both strive to work through them and love each other for who they are.  It’s nice to see how eloquently Fox handles that relationship, particularly with so many other plot issues going on at the same time.

The plot is a combination of wedding events and demon problems.  Both ultimately intertwine in a scene that I’m sure is part of many bride’s nightmares.  Only it really happens because this is urban fantasy.  How Fox wrote the plots to get to that point is enjoyable, makes sense, and works splendidly.  The climax perfectly demonstrates how to integrate urban fantasy and real life situations.  Plus, I did not come even close to guessing the ending, which is a big deal to me as a reader.

The wit and sex scenes both stay at the highly enjoyable level that has been present throughout the series.  Dimitri and Lizzie are hot because they are so hot for and comfortable with each other.  The humor is a combination of slapstick and tongue-in-cheek dry humor that fits the world perfectly.  I actually laughed aloud quite a few times while reading the book.

Overall, this is an excellent entry in this urban fantasy series.  It tackles the wedding of the main character with a joyful gusto that leaves the reader full of wedding happiness and perhaps breathing a sigh of relief that no matter what may go wrong at their wedding, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as what can go wrong at an urban fantasy wedding.  Highly recommended to fans of the series.  You won’t be disappointed in Lizzie’s wedding, and you’ll be left eager to see her marriage.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Gift

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Previous Books in Series:
The Accidental Demon Slayer, review
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, review
A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, review
The Last of the Demon Slayers, review

Book Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (Series, #13) (Audiobook narrated by Johanna Parker)

March 5, 2014 5 comments

A blonde woman stands among flowers and tomatoes with the sun either setting or rising behind her.Summary:
Sookie, Eric, and Sam must deal with the fall-out of her using the cluviel dor to save Sam, rather than to save Eric from his arranged marriage with the vampire Queen of Oklahoma.  On top of this, someone is out to frame Sookie for murder, and they just might succeed.  Sookie even gets arrested and must be bailed out of prison.  Her demon godfather, his niece, his grandson, Sookie’s witch friend Amelia, and Amelia’s boyfriend all come to help her.

Review:
You guys. You guys. I finally did it. I finally finished the Sookie Stackhouse series! No longer will Sookie’s book adventures hang over my head….now I just have to finish watching True Blood.  The final entry in the series finishes telling the story of what clearly were a defining couple of years of Sookie’s life.  Whether or not that’s the story readers wanted to hear, it is the story that gets told.

It becomes abundantly clear early in this book that Sookie has had it with the supernatural world.  At least, with pure supes.  She’s ok with people who are basically human with a touch of something else (like herself) but she’s over the truly supernatural, like the fairies and the vampires.  Anyone who she feels has no humanity, she is done with.  As a reader, I appreciate that Harris took the heroine and made her commit firmly to the humans.  Many heroines in supernatural books desperately want to be supernatural themselves and commit wholeheartedly to that world.  I like that Harris tells a different story, even if I think that ultimately it makes Sookie look a bit prejudiced.  That part of Sookie’s character arc makes me sad.  She starts out very much in favor of social justice and incorporating the supernatural world into the human one and ends up kind of prejudiced and against change.  It’s sad.  But, it is an actual character arc, and it makes sense within who Sookie is as a character.  Some readers, who are enamored with the supernatural world themselves, might find it irritating or frustrating that Sookie has changed to not wanting to be a part of that world.  But it is a well-written character arc that makes sense.

The murder/framing plot at first seems incredibly ho-hum, been there, done that, why is everyone constantly after Sookie she is not that special, although she’s pretty annoying so yeah it kind of makes sense.  The plot does at least bring together a bunch of other highly enjoyable characters, such as Diantha and Amelia.  Ultimately, there is a plot twist that makes the central whodunit plot more interesting, although I did not like how the twist plays into Sookie’s increasing dislike of supernatural folks who she thinks aren’t human enough.

The boyfriend situation.  Well, it makes sense who Sookie chooses, and thank god their sex scenes are better written.  The ultimate romance makes sense with who Sookie has become, although it doesn’t read as either titillating or particularly romantic to me.  Then again, I decided many books ago that this series isn’t really about the romance, so I can’t say that it bothered me that much.  Readers that are more invested in the romantic aspect of the books might be disappointed or elated, depending on who they like.

One oddity of the book is that it alternates between Sookie’s first person narration and an ominous third person narration telling us things that are going on that Sookie doesn’t know about.  I don’t recall this happening in the series before, although I read the books over a long period of time, so perhaps it had.  In any case, departing from the familiar first person narration probably was an attempt to build tension, with the reader knowing more about what is threatening Sookie than Sookie does.  Ultimately, though, it just comes across as simultaneously jarring and like Harris just couldn’t figure out how to tell this story entirely from Sookie’s point of view.  It reads odd, not ominous.

The audiobook narrator, Johanna Parker, took an odd turn with this book.  Her voice reads as an old woman periodically, which doesn’t suit who Sookie is.  I was disappointed, after her very good narration of books 12 and 11.

Overall, the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series satisfactorily completes Sookie’s story arc and wraps up everything that has happened to her.  Those who are secondary to the first person narration of Sookie’s life do not get the attention and wrap-up some readers might be looking for.  However, this book series has always been about Sookie.  It is told in her voice and is about her life.  Some readers may be disappointed with how her life ends up and who she ultimately becomes but the character arc is well told.  Recommended that readers who have completed at least half of the series finish the series, keeping in mind that it is really just about Sookie.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Audible

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Previous Books in Series:
Dead Until Dark, review
Living Dead in Dallas, review
Club Dead, review
Dead To The World, review
Dead as a Doornail, review
Definitely Dead, review
All Together Dead, review
From Dead to Worse, review
Dead And Gone, review
Dead in the Family, review
Dead Reckoning, review
Deadlocked, review

Book Review: A Tale of Two Demon Slayers by Angie Fox (Series, #3)

December 6, 2010 4 comments

Summary:
Lizzie is ready for a vacation what with having spent the last month first saving her grandmother from the second level of hell and then saving Las Vegas from a hoard of succubi.  Plus lying around on the beach in Greece with her hunky Griffin boyfriend, Dimitri, sounds like quite the treat.  Of course, nothing in Lizzie’s new life ever goes as smoothly as planned. Their arrival in Greece leads to the discovery that someone has stolen something from Dimitri.  Something intertwined with Lizzie and that has put the whole Helios Griffin clan in danger.

Review:
Due to the title and the various repercussions so far to Lizzie sharing her demon slayer nature with Dimitri, I expected this book to deal with that.  Actually, the story it told was far more engaging and interesting.  Can Dimitri with his classical European family of tradition work in a relationship with Lizzie and her globe-trotting work and crazy motorcycle gang witch family?

Although the situations surrounding this romance are highly paranormal, the relationship itself is very normal.  Lizzie struggles to trust in Dimitri’s love for her, let alone allow him to love her.  Dimitri struggles to find balance between his life and family and Lizzie.  It gives a heart to the overall action and story that was missing in the other volumes.

The paranormal aspects are stronger this time around too.  The paranormal world seems to mesh together in a better way.  The addition of more animals besides Pirate make for a more entertaining menagerie.  Dimitri in particular is more fleshed out now that we see his family and where he comes from.  New characters too are well-drawn, particularly Lizzie’s new teacher.

Fox manages to avoid common paranormal romance cliches this time around, although at first the reader thinks she is falling into them.  This combined with drastically improved sex scenes, the better characterization, and the addition of a real world heart to the story makes for a far better tale overall.  I’m glad the humor in the previous two books kept me around for this one.

Overall, this is an excellent example of everything paranormal romance should be–colorful characters, believable paranormal circumstances, the heart of the story relatable to real world circumstances, good sex scenes, and plot twists that manage to avoid cliches.  It is thoroughly entertaining, and I highly recommend it to all paranormal romance lovers.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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Previous Books in Series:
The Accidental Demon Slayer, review
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, review

Book Review: The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

Female legs crossed near a sword and a terrier.Summary:
Lizzie’s life is all about control.  Her library books are never late, her preschool class is extremely well-behaved, and she always grocery shops with lists.  In fact, to date the only out-there thing she’s ever done is to adopt her terrier, Pirate.  On her 30th birthday, though, her long-lost grandmother shows up, and she just happens to be a biker babe.  Oh, and she’s here to warn Lizzie that the minute she turns 30 her slayer powers will go into full effect and a fifth level demon wants them.  Before she knows it, she’s caught up in a whirlwind of roadkill witches, griffins, demons, and switch stars.

Review:
This is a refreshing twist in the paranormal romance genre.  No vampires to be seen so far and demons are just demons not fallen angels seeking redemption.  Lizzie reads kind of like a reluctant ninja, which is a nice change from the boring girl suddenly made exciting by the appearance of vampires.  Her life is suddenly made exciting due to a change that took place inside herself, not outside.

I also really enjoyed that her slayer powers come about when she turns 30, not at adolescence or at 18 or at 21.  Thirty makes sense because she actually gets a chance to grow up before dealing with all of this stuff.  Plus it gives older readers who long ago gave up on getting a letter from Hogwarts a chance to still imagine a fantastical life for themselves.

On the other hand, Fox does not entirely escape from paranormal romance (or heck, just romance) tropes.  There’s this really cute guy and she instantly feels a magical connection but oh my goodness something is holding them apart until they stop letting it but then she gets instantly angry at him.  For a writer who put in some very creative elements, such as the witches being elderly grandmas who still kick butt, I was expecting far more from the romance portion.  Also, the sex scene really fell flat.  I’m not sure if this was due to the way she wrote about the sex or the fact that I just didn’t believe any of the emotions between the two, but it was a disappointment either way.

Similarly, Lizzie hems and haws over being a demon slayer rather late in the game at a point at which it is obvious she really enjoys it but for some reason isn’t realizing it?  It just doesn’t make sense and rings false.

However, I still plan on reading the sequel, because the romance was such a minor portion of the storyline, and Lizzie is at least a strong female character who remains feminine.  I’m not big into the hardened heart tattoo covered female leads who seem to be the only paranormal alternative to moony-eyed emo chicks.  Lizzie lands smack between the two, which lends to the unique qualities in the book.

If you enjoy paranormal romance with a twist, you’ll enjoy this series.  Similarly, if you want a humorous, gentler introduction to the genre, try this book out.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: SwapTree

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Book Review: Definitely Dead By Charlaine Harris (Series #6)

December 15, 2009 10 comments

Summary:
Sookie needs to go to New Orleans for both personal and business reasons.  Her cousin Hadley had been a vampire but died her second death leaving everything to Sookie, so she needs to go clean out her apartment.  As far as business goes, the queen of Louisiana has also requested her presence to figure out if she will require Sookie’s services for the upcoming vampire summit.  When Sookie finds out that Hadley was the queen’s lover, a connection between the two purposes for the visit shows up that may be more significant than she at first realizes.

Review:
I’m glad I learned on some blog (wish I could remember which one) that a short story comes between the previous book and this one in the series, otherwise I would have thought I missed a book or something.  That annoying tendency to retell things that already happened?  Actually awfully helpful here, since I haven’t read that short story.  You don’t need to read the short story to enjoy this book, but I wish I had and advise you to as well.  If you’re interested, some investigation reveals that short story is contained in the collection of Sookie short stories called A Touch of Dead.

Also thankfully, my prediction that Dead as a Doornail was a random clunker and not a death toll for the series was correct.  Definitely Dead is a step back up in quality.  The multiple storylines actuall do reveal to be related and not just random throwaways designed to throw you off the scent of the main mystery.  We also get the addition of a new supe–part-demons–and some serious reveals.  I mean makes you rethink how you look at the entire story reveals.  To give you non-spoilery hints, you learn something about Bill and something about just why Sookie is so darn appealing to the supe guys.  I personally love that sort of thing, and I’m hoping these two reveals will help the series continue to grow and expand.

On the minus side, I have to come right out and say it that I am not impressed with Quinn.  I’m glad Sookie has become a bit more savvy about pursuing a long-term relationship, but with Quinn? Really?  The man’s looks don’t match what has been established to be Sookie’s type at all–tall and lean–he is instead the muscle-bound guy.  That suits some women, but it comes out of the blue that Sookie’s at all attracted to him.  Also, what’s with the purple eyes?  On what planet is it sexy for a man to have eyes not only an unnatural color, but an unnatural color that’s girly?  I of course dislike him for nonsuperficial reasons too.  He seems far too perfect.  He says those puke-inducing gushy things to Sookie that, I’m sorry, perfectly nice men just don’t say in real life, and you know why they don’t say them?  Because they sound corny and false and how the man treats you is far more important than what he says to you.  There’s also the fact that he originally came on to her when there was a fight to the death going on in front of them, something I find indicative of just how sympathetic he really is to other people.  Frankly, I just don’t find Quinn or Sookie’s interest in him believable.  Something just rings false about the whole thing.  It isn’t like her interactions with Eric, for example, that are full of witty banter and internal conflict about liking this person on both sides.  Quinn and Sookie’s conversations literally make me want to puke at how disgustingly sweet and false they sound.  Reading their conversations is like eating a twinkie.  A deep-fried twinkie.

Thankfully, there isn’t much Quinn in this book, so it’s still an enjoyable read and a sign of better things to come in the series.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Bought on Amazon

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Previous Books in Series:
Dead Until Dark, review
Living Dead in Dallas, review
Club Dead, review
Dead To The World, review
Dead as a Doornail, review

Book Review: Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris (Series, #4)

November 25, 2009 10 comments

Summary:
Just because Sookie has broken up with Bill doesn’t mean her relationship with the supernatural world is over–especially when she finds Eric naked and suffering from amnesia on the side of the road.  When she discovers from Pam that a league of evil witches have their sights set on ruling Shreveport, she agrees to hide Eric while the vampires, werewolves, and Wiccans attempt to fend off the witches.  To top it off, Sookie’s brother has gone missing, which may or may not be related to the near-war going on.

Review:
While the books in the series so far have been improving, Dead to the World is definitely a step back.

The individual plot lines aren’t so bad, but Harris doesn’t do a good job of keeping them integrated and flowing.  The book reads as if it has too many sticks in the fire.  Just too much happens in such a short book.  The reader is left feeling a bit of whiplash from the rapidly changing storylines and situations.

I knew Sookie would have a rebound after Bill, but I’d hoped Harris would be more creative than having that rebound be Eric.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like Eric better than Bill, but I also enjoyed the tension between him and Sookie.  I wish that had lasted longer.  Similarly, I don’t think giving Eric amnesia was a wise character development choice.  I’m pretty sure anyone with amnesia plopped into the supernatural world would be a cowering mess.  That doesn’t tell us anything about who Eric is underneath his persona.  Sookie’s interactions with him therefore felt so fake that I not only couldn’t take real interest in them, I was also a bit grossed out by the falseness of them.  I didn’t expect Sookie’s rebound to be emotional, but I did expect it to be more real.

On the other hand, Sookie’s character development takes a nice turn.  Without Bill in the picture, she may have expected the supernatural world to pretty much leave her alone.  Instead she finds out they still depend on her.  Through the various situations, she starts to become a more empowered version of herself, and I enjoyed seeing that.

The best part of the book by far is Jason’s plot-line.  I can’t say much more or I’ll give away the secret, but suffice to say that I hope True Blood gets to this part of the story sooner rather than later.

While I’m irritated by some of the character development choices Harris has made, I am still enjoying the world she has created.  I am hoping though that the series returns to the tight, witty writing found in Club Dead.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Bought on Amazon

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Previous Books in Series:
Dead Until Dark, review
Living Dead in Dallas, review
Club Dead, review