An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose #1) by Charlaine Harris

easy deathI had such a good time with An Easy Death – it’s one of those books that is, well, frankly, easy.  Easy to read, easy to understand, easy to get along with and it has a great central character that I’ve already become attached to and can’t wait to read more from.

An Easy Death brings to us an alternative post apocalyptic America with a Wild West feel, it has magic, shootouts and a hint of romance.  The pacing is terrific and there is literally never a dull moment.

The story practically leaps out of the stalls as we meet Lizbeth Rose – she’s preparing for a job with her crew.  They’re all guns for hire and they’re about to escort a family of farmers across open and dangerous territory.  Unfortunately things go very badly and we have a fairly quick induction into Lizbeth’s lifestyle which can be at best dangerous and at worst brutally murderous.  Harris wastes no time in demonstrating just how cutthroat the place is and also in setting her stall out in terms of the main MC.  Lizbeth is no pushover that much is for sure – she has no qualms about shooting to kill and will make a quick judgement call in order to give herself better odds.  She’s a gunnie after all and in such a lawless world quick thinking is often rewarded by a slightly longer life.

So, returning from her job, crewless now and in need of rest, Lizbeth is also painfully aware that she needs to find more work but it seems her fears are groundless, her reputation precedes her and she finds herself sought out by a pair of Russian Wizards seeking help in finding someone.  With no better offers on the table she takes the job although she doesn’t really trust either of her new employers.  And thus begins Lizbeth’s trail across Texoma searching for another wizard whilst trying to keep herself and her charges alive against a barrage of constant threat.

To be honest the plot isn’t the main strength of the story although that’s not really intended to be a criticism.  Lizbeth was the main focus for me.  Finding out more about her, becoming familiar with who she is, what motivates her, her thoughts and feelings but more than that finding a character at the start of a series that I feel I’m going to really be able to get on board with.  Like I said, Lizbeth makes some hard decisions but they’re in the line of her job.  She will kill in the line of duty but she doesn’t fire off her gun willy nilly or kill without reason.

Having read Charlaine Harris before she has this great ability to write strong female leads and Lizbeth is no exception.  She could take the easy route, she could make her mother happy by getting an easy job with no danger attached, she could flee at the first sniff of danger but she does none of these things and she definitely isn’t a damsel in distress waiting to be saved.  Hurray!  The other thing that I like about Harris is that, without going overboard or getting into too much boring detail, she does pay attention to the everyday needs of a person.  Hunger, searches for water, sleeping out in the open, care and attention to survival – they’re all dealt with naturally during the course of the storytelling and for me they bring something extra to the story and stop me from niggling.  It would be easy to just have all these things easily dealt with but instead they’re part and parcel of the struggles.

In terms of the world building An Easy Death gets the ball rolling really well.  A fractured America with a wild west feel – and I don’t know why but I’m loving anything with a wild west feel at the moment – fantasy in the form of Russian wizards, and I confess that reading about an America where the Russians have claimed huge swathes of land as art of their empire was a huge surprise, as was the inclusion of Rasputin and the Grigori wizards.  I would say that the magical elements are not overplayed – although that may change in future versions.  I would say that magic isn’t happily accepted by most people in this alternate world and so it’s users tend to keep a low profile and often try to pass off their own use of magic as something more mundane to avoid suspicion.

All in all I really enjoyed An Easy Death.  It’s not afraid to be gritty and the opening sequences are a little bloody and contain potential triggers for some readers in terms of rape scenes.  However, these scenes are not gratuitous, they’re bleak but honest statements of what’s taking place and serve to give readers a clear understanding of the place and it’s lawlessness.  Don’t be put off though, the overall feeling that I came away with was an easy and entertaining read, a great opening shot that leaves plenty to explore in future novels that I’m really looking forward to picking up.

I bought the audio version of An Easy Death.  The above opinions are my own.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris.  I haven’t read Charlaine Harris since the Sookie series and this is a new series so I thought why the heck not!

an easy deathThe first thriller in a new trilogy that presents a chilling alternate history of the United States where everyone believes in magic—but no one is sure whether they can trust it.

Gunnie Lizbeth Rose has been hired by a pair of Russian sorcerers as both their local guide and muscle through the small towns of East Texas as they search for a distant relative of an infamous sorcerer whose bloodline can help save their emperor-in-exile as an ever increasing number of assassins tries to stop them.

After the assassination of FDR in the 1930s, the US collapses and is picked off by the UK, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. We find ourselves in the southwestern states now known as Texoma. It is here that the gunnie Lizbeth Rose tries to piece out a life, running security on runs from Texoma, across the border to Mexico where work and prospects are stronger. When two Russian magicians come looking for a man named Alex Karkarov, they hire Lizbeth to find him or his family, but there are problems: The man they’re looking for is dead, but he has a daughter they now need to find, as an ever-growing set of sorcerers and gunnies do not want them to succeed. It’s a good thing Lizbeth is a deadly gunfighter; too bad she hates sorcerers, even the ones she has to learn to rely on.

Due for publication October 2018

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (No.13 in the Sookie Stackhouse series)

Just finished reading Dead Ever After, the 13th and final instalment of the Sookie Stackhouse novels brought to us by Charlaine Harris.  Over the years this has been a sort of guilty indulgence type of read to be honest and whilst there’s always a tiny bit of me that feels sad at the end of the series in this case I’m actually ready for this series to conclude.  Personally I was beginning to feel like it’d gone as far as it was ever going to and was starting to feel a little bit jaded and I wanted an ending of some description or other.  That being said this has been inventive, fun and enjoyable to read.  Obviously with 13 novels you’ll like some of the stories more than others and this final instalment was no exception.  From this point onwards this review will undoubtedly contain spoilers so be aware of that before reading further.  You have been warned.

As the jacket states, Sookie has put up with many trials over the years.  She’s certainly made no shortage of enemies along the way and this story is about to see a convergence of would-be-Sookie-murderers with vengeance on their mind.  Of course this gives the author the perfect opportunity to tie up many loose ends, bring a number of friends and enemies from previous novels back together and of course gives Sookie a perfect ending with a white picket fence!  End of review.  Okay, not really.

To be honest, I wasn’t in love with this particular book but it hasn’t made me dislike the series as a whole.  It’s just a blimp – a bit unfortunate that it came at the end when what you’re really looking for is a grand finale with impressive fireworks but nonetheless it is what it is! Plus, I can’t deny that all the books are very readable and Sookie is easy to hang out with – she’s not going to split the atom or reinvent the wheel any time soon but but she’s low maintenance in terms of brain drain!

In this particular episode Sookie will see a number of assassination attempts, be suspected of murder and see her friends and members of the community rally to her side.  She has a lot of personal issues going on.  Not least the fact that Eric has not forgiven her for events in the previous novel and not only is he not seeing her but he’s all set to leave town and become consort to a vampire queen.  Now, as far as I was concerned I wasn’t particularly under any illusions about which way Harris was going to take this story – otherwise Sookie would have used her ‘one wish’ in a completely different way at the end of the last novel.  Having chosen not to do so of course it set us on the path of what to actually expect.

I think my main issue with this instalment was that it felt like Harris had come to the end of her own patience with the series.  I will explain myself with that remark.  A good author has the ability to make you fall for a character completely, to make you think he/she’s the bees knees and the camels hips – but then, in the next moment can make you turn about face and start to dislike that person and in that respect this series is no exception.   For example.  As Sookie’s first significant other we originally loved Bill – he was great, and, then, suddenly, he wasn’t.  He no longer seemed strong and chivalrous but weak, a bit sad and totally two faced.  We met other guys and as they arrived newly on the scene they all seemed great, and then slowly they also weren’t so great any more.  And then we had Eric, who, although he’d seemed not so nice in earlier instalments, suddenly became the next hot date who we all loved.   Then, in the last two novels Eric seemed to fall under the ‘no longer in favour’ banner.  His likability started to falter.  Mmm, did I detect the tell tale signs that we were soon going to start disliking Eric?  Then we have Sam, the one constant in terms of characterisation throughout the book, but who for me, never felt anything more than platonic and more like a best friend to Sookie.  So, yes, even though I thought this was the route we were going to go down and even though I didn’t really want to go down that route part of me thought Harris would pull it off and make us all suddenly see Sam in a new way.  Like, ‘wow, Sam, where have you been hiding for the past 12 novels?’  However, as it was there was no spark or chemistry.  It felt more like an acceptance of the ‘norm’ and a sigh of relief that it’s over.   (For that matter Sookie could have ended up single – what’s wrong with that after all?  She didn’t have to become involved with one of the characters we already knew about did she?)

Now that might all seem terribly critical so I’ll set the record straight.  I’ve enjoyed this series.  It’s had highs and lows.  It’s been very creative, dark in parts and we’ve had some rather ‘hot’ mind candy flitting across the pages (a six and a half foot, blond, badass Viking – need I say more?) And, because I started reading this series from it’s release I always looked forward to the next story that would come out – of course I had no idea that there would be 13 books in total and maybe I wouldn’t pick it up now with that knowledge but that’s the beauty of starting a thing from the beginning. You grow with the characters and it doesn’t feel like a duty but a pleasure and one that you come to look forward to.

So, in conclusion.  I guess I will miss Sookie but overall I’m not disappointed that the series has reached it’s end and I think the author has chosen a good point to conclude.  Yes,  I have mixed feelings about the conclusion but only in that I wanted to feel more strongly about it rather than an overall feeling of ‘meh’.   All in all though it’s been great entertainment value for which I thank Charlaine Harris.

Sookie has left the building…

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris, Book No.12 in the Sookie Stackhouse Trueblood series

Just finished reading Deadlocked.  No.12 in the Sookie Stackhouse series of books.  I have enjoyed this series of books, they’ve been good fun, there’s been plenty of action, romance and paranormals and it’s just felt like a lovely indulgent reading experience.  I must say however that No.12 was not my favourite by a long stretch of the imagination.

In this book Sookie and Eric’s relationship takes a bit of a nosedive – not helped by the fact that Sookie finds Eric red handed drinking blood from a woman who not long after appears to be dead on his front lawn.  There are as usual a number of threads going on in this story, things taking place in the fey world, Niall returns briefly.  Sam and Janalynn are still dating but everything isn’t quite as it should be.  Political intrigue and posturing in the vampire world and kidnapping and potential tortures taking place.

I wouldn’t say that this book is bad but just that I didn’t love it.  Basically we have a litle bit of this and that in terms of most of the supes involved in the series but there feels like very little in terms of a real story.  Sookie has definitely lost her mojo and we don’t see her usual humour bubbling on the surface.  There is a lot of reflection about relationships and we seem to be having the way paved for a final decision by Sookie which seems to be fairly clear (to me at least) at this stage.

Having said that, it was a really quick and easy read, but it definitely lulled in the middle and I could have put the book down at that point and probably not had much incentive to pick it back up.

I think what we have here really is a setter-upper type of novel.  It feels like this story is being used to tie up loose ends and set us up for the next book.

Hopefully the next one will return to form and bring us back the Sookie we’ve all come to enjoy reading about.

So, I didn’t think this was the best read ever.  It doesn’t really feel as though Ms Harris enjoyed writing this one somehow so maybe she’s ready to finally conclude Sookie’s story.  It won’t put me off reading the next book however.  At the end of the day we’re 12 books down the line here – I think I can definitely forgive this blip and I want to see what the conclusion will bring.



Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, True Blood (No.11)

Just finished reading Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, Book No.11 in the Sookie Stackhouse books.  This review may contain spoilers (particularly if you haven’t read the earlier books already).

I do love this series of books, Sookie is such a readable character that I always enjoy spending time in Bon Temps. I won’t say that this is my favourite book of the series but it is very easy to get along with.  I think the past couple of novels are starting to move us in a different direction and I wonder whether Charlaine Harris is planning the end of her series.  This installment is certainly not fast paced, there are plenty of things going on but it all feels a little more ‘everyday’ if that’s possible in a world with vampires, werewolves, fey and other beings.

To quote amazon: “There’s a reckoning on the way . . . . . . 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 immediately falls 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 under threat – but as she’s gradually drawn into their plans Sookie finds the situation is deadlier than she could ever have imagined. “

In terms of relationships, yes, Sookie is with Eric although they spent most of the novel displeased with each other for one reason or another.  Eric was tense throughout and was keeping a secret from Sookie, a secret that Pam wanted him to divulge.  This lead to all sorts of problems for the three.  So, although Eric and Sookie are together they’re not exactly basking in paradise.  Actually, I quite like the tension to be honest.  But, I wonder.  By the end of this novel I can’t help feeling that I’m getting tired of Sookie constantly being at the beck and call of all these other creatures who most of the time treat her like an inconvenience if they can even be bothered to acknowledge her at all that is!  She’s constantly in danger and has more enemies than you can shake a stick at (although she does manage to reduce the number slightly in this book).  The thing is Ms Harris is quite good at making me like who she wants me to, first Bill, then Alcide, then Eric – maybe we’re going to move on again – perhaps Sam??  Just a silly guess I suppose.

Also, she still has her cluviel dor – which you can’t help thinking is going to play a major role at some point unless it’s a wild red herring.

Anyway, overall a very enjoyable read if a little tamer than some.  I hope it’s not too long before the next I’m agog to know how this will ever end.

Rating B+

Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning

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