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Books 103-104: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris and Girl's Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky

Book 103: Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampires #12).
Author: Charlaine Harris, 2012.
Genre: Paranormal Suspense. Southern Gothic. Vampires. Werewolves.
Other Details: Hardback 327 pages/Unabridged Audiobook (9 hours, 28 mins) read by Johanna Parker.

When the body of a young woman shows up on Eric Northman's lawn it proves a difficult situation - not only because Eric had recently taken blood from her but due to Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada) and his entourage being in town. Sookie and Bill, who is the official Area Five investigator, need to solve the murder and clear any suspicion from Eric. Sookie at first thinks this death has nothing to do with her but she is wrong as once more she has an enemy determined to bring her world crashing down.

I started this as my audiobook-in-the-car but after a couple of weeks I just could not wait to find out what happened next and so checked the hardback edition out of the library and finished it in a single sitting. It seemed very clear throughout that Harris is winding up various plot threads in advance of the final novel in the series next spring. I feel it is a wise decision rather than letting the series run out of steam. I continue to enjoy Harris' style and especially Sookie's narrative voice. She is a sweetheart and I appreciate her independence and working class roots. While so many female protagonists in these kind of novels end up awash in convenient luxury, Sookie has retained her job and concerns about finances. She is also a very kind young woman with a real sense of connection to her family, friends and community.

Looking at various reviews it seems clear that some fans are not at all happy with the direction that events and relationships appear to be taking and without giving any spoilers I was very pleased with the shift. I do feel that Harris has the right to do with her characters what she wants to do rather than bend to any fan pressure about various 'ships' and so I look forward to seeing how this all plays out next year.

Book 104: Girl's Guide to Witchcraft (Jane Madison #1).
Author: Mindy Klasky, 2006.
Genre: Paranormal Chick-lit. Witchcraft.
Other Details: ebook. 432 pages.

Jane Madison is a librarian working at a small academic library in Georgetown, Washington D.C. Recently single again, Jane spends part of her day sighing over handsome academic Jason Templeton, whom she designates as her Imaginary Boyfriend. The library is struggling financially and so have put their staff into colonial costumes and introduced a coffee bar to attract more visitors. They also need to cut Jane's salary but offer her tenancy of an old cottage on the libraries grounds in compensation for the reduction. While cleaning the cottage Jane discovers a collection of rare books on witchcraft in the basement and inadvertently frees a human-feline familiar named Neko. Before long she is grappling with the revelation that she is a natural witch even if she doesn't have a clue what she is doing. She also meets David Montrose, a handsome warder assigned to serve as her guide.

Along with Jane and the rather camp Neko, the novel also features Jane's best friend Melissa White. She owns the Cake Walk Bakery and her delicious cakes and treats feature throughout the book. Jane's new found powers get her into plenty of amusing situations and she also has to deal with various family issues and, of course, the search for the right bloke.

I became aware of this novel via genrereviews's weekly ebook deals post. Given it was 99p on Kindle, I decided to give it a go. I found it a great deal of fun and having it on my laptop (Kindle-for-PC) meant that I was able to dip into it for a chapter or two when I fancied a break from the other books I've been reading or to fill some spare time. I thought Jane was an appealing narrator. I had wondered at the start whether I'd go on to read the others in the series and finishing, the answer is yes as it proved perfect light entertainment.
Tags: audio book, chicklit, etext, paranormal, urban fantasy, vampires, werewolves, witchcraft
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