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Dead and Gone

Since the vampires coming out was so successful(ish) the Weres and shapeshifters decide to come out too. The people of Bon Temps take it pretty well, but it doesn't work out for some, like Sam's mom, who is shot by her second husband (on accident, he claims, then files for divorce, so...). Sam has to leave town to go see to his mom, and while he's gone Sookie steps in to run the bar. Someone kills Jason's wife, werepanther Crystal Norris, and leaves her on a cross in the parking lot at Merlotte's, which was a little more than Sookie bargained for. She's in real danger from a fairy who is challenging her great-grandfather for rule of the Fae. Eric tricks her into marrying him (great trick!) in order to better protect her in the upcoming supernatural/vampire/fairy war. There was a lot going on in this book, and even though Sookie ends up back with Eric like a smart girl, the ending was still sad.

The Baudelaires end up on a submarine with Captain Widdershins and his stepdaughter, Fiona. They are searching for the sugar bowl that was thrown out the window of the VFD headquarters on the mountain. Fiona tells the orphans about her missing brother, Fernald. She also tells them about a very poisonous mushroom that grows in the underwater cave they are about to search for the sugar bowl. The three Baudelaires and Fiona done diving gear and enter the cave. They find a lot of stuff, but no sugar bowl and poor Sunny's helmet gets infected with the poisonous mushrooms. When they reach the submarine they discover Captain Widdershins is gone and Count Olaf has captured them. Violet and Klaus manage to save Sunny, but Fiona betrays them when she learns the hook handed man who's always with Olaf is her long lost brother Fernald. The kids end up escaping Olaf and end up back on Briny Beach, where all their troubles began. A mysterious woman is waiting in a taxi, and the Baudelaires get in.

The woman in the taxi is none other than Kit Snicket, Jacques's (and Lemony's, although he's never mentioned by name) sister. She is able to answer some of the Baudelaires questions regarding the VFD and takes them to the Hotel Denouement, the LAST SAFE PLACE. Kit tasks the Baudelaires with disguising themselves as concierges, and keeping an eye on the two managers, Frank and Ernest. Frank is on their side, Ernest is not. Since they are identical, it's a challenging task indeed. Everyone from the earlier books shows up: Justice Strauss, Jerome Squalor, Sir from the lumber mill. Justice Strauss tells the Baudelaires that there's going to be a trial, and they will have to testify against Count Olaf so he can be punished for his wicked deeds. She has a big book Jerome has compiled, detailing Olaf's mischief. Of course the trial is a farce when the orphans discover that Justice Strauss's other two judges are both in Olaf's employ. The Baudelaires have to do some things they aren't proud of, like burn the hotel down, and help Olaf escape.

Sookie's going to the big vampire summit where Queen Sophie-Anne will be tried for killing her husband, the King of Arkansas. Sookie is the only witness, and the queen wants her to read any humans minds to determine who is trying to double-cross her. Right off the bat, things hit a snag when the King of Arkansas's second in command is murdered. Sookie meets up with Barry, the bellboy from Texas who is also a telepath, and they work on their unique skill together. Quinn is there, but he and Sookie barely see each other, because he's so busy plus he's mad she took Eric's blood again, bonding them even closer together than before (she was forced. Or so she claimed. Um hmm). Sookie then discovers the Fellowship of the Sun is planning on blowing up the hotel during the day when the vampires are all dead to the world, and she has to get as many out as she can. Like a smart girl, she gets Eric out first. Sookie somehow manages to make it back home and swears off vampires forever. Good luck, girl.

Something new! I know, I was shocked, too. And sadly, it just wasn't very good. I don't know why I keep reading her Aurora books. I liked one or two of them, but the rest have been pretty bad, and this one was just middling. Aurora is mother to a new baby, Sophie. Robin has to go out of town for a few days to get an award for his book, and as he's getting reading to leave Aurora feels like she's getting sick. Robin doesn't want to go, but she insists, and hires Virginia to come and help her out. Virginia was a home helper that came when Sophie was first born. Robin leaves, Virginia shows up, and Aurora (who for some unfathomable reason is called Roe, but I refuse) goes down for the count with the flu. When she finally emerges from her room one night, there's a dead body in the backyard and Virginia is missing. It takes a whole lot to get it figured out, and literally every second paragraph is about Aurora having to nurse the baby. Like, literally. I'm sure new moms who nurse are super exhausted and feel like they spend all their time feeding the baby, but it makes for very tedious reading.

As I read this one, I couldn't get the Doors' "The End" out of my head (in fact, I'm singing it now). At any rate: the Baudelaires and Count Olaf are lost at sea when they end up shipwrecked on a coastal shelf near an island. A girl name Friday takes the orphans back to the island, but leaves Count Olaf because he was rude to her. Hey, great! They're finally safe from Olaf (at least for a little bit). The island has a facilitator named Ishmael, who has some pretty strange rules and customs. He doesn't expressly forbid things, but everyone ends up bowing to peer pressure, and as a result, the island is a very boring place with no books, no mechanical equipment, and the same boring food every day. After another storm the orphans go back to the coastal shelf to help gather debris to see if there's anything useful, and they come across a very pregnant Kit Snicket. Olaf is also pretending to be pregnant, but Ishmael sees through his disguise and locks him in a cage. The islanders fight about letting Kit and the Baudelaires come back to the island, since all they seem to do is cause trouble, and they finally leave them on the shelf. A couple of the islanders come to the kids in the night to tell them they are going to mutiny in the morning and ask them for their help. Kit begs them not to, but the Baudelaires are unsure what to do. They go to the arboretum on the other side of the island where all the stuff that Ishmael has declared useless has been taken to look for weapons, but Ishmael discovers them and takes them back to the main gathering spot. Olaf tries to invade once again and Ishmael shoots him, releasing the deadly poison Olaf had been hiding. The kids find an antidote, but the islanders don't trust them and end up sailing off. They help Kit deliver her baby, a girl they name after their mother, and Kit dies from the poison. In the end, we discover the Baudelaires' mother's name was Beatrice, the mysterious love of Lemony's life who died in a fire.

Sookie's cousin Hadley, who was a vampire and the Queen of Louisiana's consort, has died (again) and she left everything to Sookie, so Sookie travels to New Orleans to pack up her apartment and take what she wants. When she gets there she meets Amelia, Hadley's landlady, who is a witch. Amelia sealed up the apartment with a magic spell to keep it intact, but the spell is broken when Sookie goes in and that's how she and Amelia discover the dead werewolf in the closet. Well, he was dead, now he's a vampire, and he wakes up hungry. Sookie and Amelia manage to escape that disaster, only for Sookie to get involved in something deeper when the Queen invites her to a party to celebrate her marriage to the King of Arkansas. Quinn, the weretiger, goes with her and all hell breaks loose. I like Quinn, but damn, I miss Eric.

When Count Olaf's car finally stops, the Baudelaires find themselves at a run down carnival in the middle of nowhere. Using disguises from the trunk, they turn themselves into freaks in order to join the carnival's freak show. Count Olaf is consulting Madame Lulu, who is able to miraculously keep telling him where the Baudelaires are. The kids quickly discover she's a fraud, and formulate a plan to escape and take Lulu, whose real name is Olivia, with them. Unfortunately Count Olaf foils their plan when he brings lions to the carnival and announces the newest attraction to draw customers to the fair: he's going to feed freaks to the starving lions Well, great. Olaf ends up kidnapping all three of them as they flee the burning carnival, leaving Klaus and Violet in a caravan he tows with his car but taking Sunny into the car with him and his band of nefarious associates.

On their way up the mountain, Count Olaf cuts Violet and Klaus's caravan loose and they almost die. Luckily Violet is able to stop the caravan before it can careen off the cliff. But Sunny is still with Olaf, and the two are determined to go rescue her. They find a group of kids who call themselves Snow Scouts, and one of them seems to know something about VFD. They are able to get him alone's Quigley Quagmire! The triplet brother to Isadora and Duncan, who supposedly perished in the fire that consumed their home. Quigley made it out, and he helps Violet and Klaus get to the top of the mountain, where, to their dismay, they discover that the VFD headquarters has been burnt down, along with the expansive library Klaus had been looking forward to investigating for answers. They are able to rescue Sunny, but Quigley gets separated from them in their headlong rush down the waterfall.

Taking a little break from Miss Sookie and the vampires to go back to the Series of Unfortunate Events. Book 8 finds the poor Baudelaire orphans on the run after the newspaper erroneously prints that they murdered Count Olaf. They find a group of volunteers known as the VFD (Volunteers Fighting Disease) and think that maybe they're the VFD the Quagmire triplets were referring to (it doesn't take long to realize they aren't). They tag along with the volunteers to a hospital, where they end up working in the Library. They manage to trick Hal, the man in charge of the library (he was not an actual librarian--his organizational skills were atrocious) into leaving his keys behind one night so they can sneak in to see if they can find any files to help them figure out what's going on. They find the last page of a file on the fire that destroyed their house, and it says there might be a survivor! The children are heartened to think one of their parents might still be alive, but unfortunately Esme Squalor catches up to them and manages to snag Violet. Sunny and Klaus get away and formulate a risky plan to rescue her when they discover that Count Olaf plans to cut her head off. They make it, and escape by hiding in the trunk of Count Olaf's car after he burns the hospital down. These poor kids are sure doing a lot of running and escaping.

Someone is shooting shifters and Weres. Not cool. First a young woman is killed outright, then Calvin Norris is gravely injured (Calvin is Crystal's uncle, Crystal being Jason's werepanther girlfriend. Calvin is also interested in courting Sookie), and then Sam is shot. Sookie asks Eric if she can borrow a bartender to help out at Merlotte's while Sam is recuperating, and Eric lends her a new vampire, Charles. Sookie's house is set on fire one night, and Claudine, her fairy godmother, is able to get her out in time and Charles, who is staying nearby at Bill's, kills the arsonist. As if she doesn't have enough to worry about, Sookie is also concerned for her friend Tara, who is dating a vampire named Mickey. Mickey is bad news, even Eric warns Sookie to stay away from him. Turns out Tara is in the relationship unwillingly and wants out, but is afraid Mickey will kill her, so Sookie turns to Eric for help. Eric agrees to get Mickey off Tara's back if Sookie will tell him what happened between them while he was cursed, since he still can't remember, and she finally does. Eric does hold up his end of the bargain, and Tara is finally safe. Sookie is shot, but she's okay. Turns out there were two shooters: the new cook at Merlotte's (I actually remembered that part when I started rereading it) who hates shifters, and Charles, who was sent to kill Sookie in order to hurt Eric (there was a lot going on in this book). Oh, and Alcide's father is killed while competing to be the new packmaster. Poor Alcide.

So things are getting much, much better for Miss Sookie (at least in my opinion. She probably disagrees). While driving home from work one night she comes across a nearly naked blond god of a vampire. It's Eric!! And he's been cursed by a witch and lost his memory. Memory loss Eric is very, very sweet in addition to being very, very hot. Pam asks Sookie to please hide him in her house, since the witches are out looking for him, and Sookie reluctantly agrees. The next day her brother Jason goes missing. Bill is in Peru, so Sookie doesn't have anyone to help her, since Eric is useless for anything not related to bedroom activities (and there are a lot. Good for you, girl. You get him). In the end there's a big Were/Witch/Vampire fight and Eric gets his memory back and Jason is found in Hotshot, being held captive by a werepanther who bites him and turns him into a sort of shifter being. Eric asks Sookie to tell him what happened between them while he was cursed, but she won't. He ends up leaving her a nice check for taking care of him. Awww.

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