Showing posts with label Sookie Stackhouse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sookie Stackhouse. Show all posts

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Reads: Midnight Crossroads

"Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway.  It's pretty standard dried-up western town.

There's a pawnshop (someone who lives in the basement is seen only at night).  There's a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger).  And there's a new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he's found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal.  Stay awhile, and learn the truth..."

Like a big dummy I waited a week and a couple of days to finally pick up the first book in Charlaine Harris’s new series, Midnight Crossroads.  Well… actually there was a money-saving, Chicago-headed reason behind that.  And now that I won't be heading to Chicago later this month, and I've already spent money renewing a driver’s license that was a month and thirteen days expired (!!!), I decided to stop fooling around and treat myself [snicker].  See, there was no doubt that I was going to grab Midnight Crossroads, especially because I enjoyed my yearly expeditions through Sookie Stackhouse’s (see my “Farewell Sookie Stackhouse” post) riotous love life and Harris’ darker (and further enjoyable) Lily Bard series.  I may not have made it beyond the first book of Harris’ Aurora Teagarden series--yet.  And I'm still hoping I’ll get to the final book in her Harper Connelly series one day.  But with all that aside I am definitely where I want to be with her current offering.

Because Midnight Crossroads is the first book in a trilogy of her new series, I deliberately avoided Amazon and Goodreads reviews.  So I basically have no idea what this book is about other than it takes place in a dust bin Texas town with one traffic light.  I know it'll include many characters, and because Charlaine Harris wrote it, they'll have funny names.  I have yet to determine if it is paranormal-based, but I can count that the backbone of the plot revolves around a cozy mystery of some sort.  I say that in consideration of Harris’ writing catalog.  The mystery (or paranormal element) will surround a pawn shop--which sounds fun and dangerous at the same time.  So I'm kind of guessing something along the lines of Stephen King’s Needful Things crossed with maybe a touch of Hulu’s original series, The Booth at the End.  I'll stick with those two with a grain of salt, though.

Well, enough speculation.  Midnight Crossroads will be my Friday Reads (and on forward until I finish it I suppose).  While it’s ever possible to go spend time with a friend, it’ll be me, birthday cake crème flavored Oreos, and maybe one episode of Ghost Adventures tonight.  Then… a cozy night of reading…

And reviewing at a later date…

Here's to a fresh start Mrs. Harris.

Have you read Midnight Crossroads?  Please, no spoilers, but between 1-5 stars, what would you rate it?  Better than Sookie Stackhouse, anyone?  No, no.  Don't answer that.  (^.^)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Farewell, Sookie Stackhouse!

Recently Charlaine Harris released the 13th and final Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Ever After, and I am sad that Sookie’s journey is ending.  The funny thing is that I started out almost missing out on the series because of my dislike of the first book.  So in reminiscence of one of my most loved series/characters, I’ve dedicated this blog entry to how I fell for Sookie Stackhouse, the good and the bad.  I worked at a bookstore in Atlanta and would see the series all the time, without the faintest desire to look through them.  This was until a customer threw her excitement for the release of All Together Dead at me.  At the time I was within the “safe” zone of the Anita Blake series (or books 1-9).  So I wasn’t particularly ready to jump into another vampire-themed series.  However, like the J.D. Robb In Death series a then co-worker suggested, I kept Sookie in the back of my mind. 
A couple of months later I moved back home.  During this period, where I was spending my days working for a temp service, I had enough downtime to get into some new books.  I happened across Dead Until Dark at a used bookstore and decided to finally give it a go.  Why not?  By that time I’d made it to book 10 of the Anita Blake series and was about ready to blow my head off from the neurotic sexual melodrama.  Meanwhile, Kim Harrison was thrilling me to pieces, but not quite enough.
So I read Dead Until Dark in a couple of nights.  I can remember closing the book late one evening and being put off about it.  It wasn’t the writing style that put me or the story.  It was more of the sub-texting delivery of racism and homophobia that got to me, much of it directed around the black gay character/cook, Lafayette.  Maybe only someone who has dealt with both would notice such tiny expressions, and like me, decide not to go on reading.  Nonetheless, I did notice them--or felt them.  So I tried to separate Sookie’s voice from Harris’s, while also trying to gather whether or not what I kept “seeing” was true.  I asked myself on multiple occasions was it just me “seeing” things?  However, this issue wasn’t the only one.  I also almost stopped reading the book when Gran was killed!  
Anyway, I don’t remember feeling much of anything else after reading the book.  I do remember reading Dead Until Dark and J.D. Robb’s Naked in Death a couple of months apart and not feeling a thing for either of them, only to find myself obsessed with both series later (though I’ve recently ditched J. D. Robb’s In Death series, but that’s for another post). It was when a mall bookstore in town was having a “Blowout Closing Sale” that I ran across Living Dead in Dallas, the second Sookie Stackhouse book.  It was a few months after I read the first book and, still trying to find some sort of taste for the series, I bought it.  It sat on my shelf for an entire year and between that year I became obsessed with another of Harris’s series/character, Lily Bard (who in my opinion is superior to the Sookie Stackhouse’s series). 
It wasn’t until I ended up with reduced hours at my then job (at another bookstore) that I decided to pick up Living Dead in Dallas off my book shelf.  Big money wasn’t coming in and I had books on the shelf that needed to be read.  Plus, tie-in covers featuring True Blood started to circulate around the store.  So I read it and it was then that I became obsessed with the Sookie Stackhouse story. 
What Living Dead in Dallas did that Dead Until Dark didn’t do for me was click with exactly what I wanted to see in Sookie Stackhouse: resourcefulness and wits.  Or maybe it was all about the mental timing of things, or the Universe at play.  Nevertheless, the second book had me cheering out loud for Sookie, unlike the first.  It was in that moment where Sookie was locked in the basement of the Fellowship of the Sun’s church, talking smack to everyone who gave her crap, that I was hooked.  A gun was on her and she charged against it.  She was called “bitch” multiple times and still proceeded to fight back against her assailant by using sarcasm as well as physical moves.  And she used her telepathic powers to communicate with Barry, the Bellboy (another telepath) to bring her vampire boyfriend Bill to her rescue.  I loved it all!  Every bit of her fighting back rained on me my nostalgia for Buffy. 
So with little money, I proceed to buy, buy, buy the rest of the books in the series.  One book after the other begged to be read.  I was working only one or two days at my then job, but they were easily within reach with my employee discount.  
It was closing in on June, the summer months.  I had nowhere special to go but into Sookie’s world.  I remember one summer week I read the books by lamp light because of electrical problems in the house, an extension cord drawn into my room.  I remember popping one of my friend’s sleep aides because staying up late at night to read the books rewired my sleeping pattern.  I remember running my debit card as credit praying for approval so that the next three books were in my grasp.  I simply just needed more, more, and more.  The adventures were too addictive.  I loved the small town Southern setting that was slightly similar to my own, but not really.  The vampire and werewolf politics.  The power plays over Sookie’s loyalty and special abilities.  Incidents of Sookie finding herself in unusual and strange circumstances, including being shot at returning library books as well as fleeing bad guys through a swamp.  She even road a vampire’s coffin out of a window, and let’s not forget her day-to-day activities working at Merlotte’s.  Call me wacko, but I used to get excited for her day when she would take the chairs down from the tables during an opening shift. 
Eventually I caught up with the books and their current releases after binge reading on the previous released titles.  And I will admit that some of the books didn’t quite catch me as well as others, and that’s usually when Sookie is being brattier than usual concerning her various relationships.  Nonetheless, by then I’d also watched and enjoyed the first season of True Blood and had a new fascination to keep up with. 
So it was an eerie feeling one day last year when I woke up from a nap feeling sad as I thought about Sookie’s stories ending.  It almost seemed like a friend saying good-bye.  It was that surreal. 
I finished Dead Ever After a day after its release and am glad to say that I did not follow the series to find peace in Sookie’s love life (while at one point it was tiring to read about).  Therefore, unlike many other fans, I wasn’t up in arms by her final choice in a suitor.  However, I would have been deeply upset if she did become a vampire.  Lucky for me Charlaine Harris considered that an injustice to her character.  So instead I just wanted to see Sookie finally grow, putting aside all of her adventures for a quieter, stronger life.  See, to me it’s all relatable.  I understood how Sookie felt feeling un-allowed and somewhat of an oddball who just wanted an opportunity to find something within her life to call her own.  To feel like life is always playing a cruel trick on you by dangling carrots and popping your balloon.  To know that you are different, but still desire the support of another.  Especially when you see other people finding it so easily.  And most of all, to experience life without settling.  Sookie asked for these things when Vampire Bill walked into her life in the first book, and now that she’s lived it she seems to have caught up with the girl she once was for the better.  
So despite my tizzy with the first book in the series (worth re-reading now), I am left feeling that both Sookie and I know what it’s like to be just plain ole different than other people.  And as she stated in the final line of the last book: 
“I am Sookie Stackhouse.  I belong here.” 
That was good enough for me. In the meantime, True Blood season 6 starts next month and a Sookie Stackhouse coda book called After Dead comes out in October!  WHOOT!

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