Review: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Review: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris


In the twelfth book of the very popular book series that gave birth to a popular HBO series, Charlaine Harris once again takes us south to the fictional Louisiana hamlet of Bon Temps and the never dull life of her most popular heroine, Sookie Stackhouse.

For those unfamiliar with the series, I suggest you go back to the beginning with Dead Until Dark because there is simply too much to recap. For a postage stamp sized glimpse, I will offer the following: Sookie Stackhouse is a barmaid at Merlotte’s Bar in the little town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. In the world Charlaine Harris has created, vampires have recently proclaimed their existence as fact to the rest of the world- but they mean no harm, they insist. They just want to be part of society. This fact intrigues Sookie rather than repulsing her, since she is not exactly the “girl next door” herself. She reads minds. Not just random, stray stuff either. She can hear exactly what people are thinking. There is one exception to the rule, though- vampires. She discovers this interesting fact when she saves the life of local vampire, Bill Compton. Bill is Sookie’s first in so many ways, but most of all he is her introduction into a world of supernatural things she was unaware were already surrounding her.

That’s it for the glimpse for the uninitiated. For more you must simply go back to the beginning and read the books. A word of warning though- if you thought that watching the HBO series True Blood would serve as a substitute for the first 4 or 5 books you are woefully mistaken. You will be misdirected and unprepared for what follows. Think of them as parallel universes, with some of the people doing very different things in a place that looks similar.

Now for Deadlocked.

In part twelve of the saga of Sookie, we find her once again immersed up to her telepathic eyeballs in an overlapping mixture of vampire politics, fairy intrigue, murder and “family” drama. In other words, it’s just another day for Sookie. The vampire politics – especially as they regard the status of her relationship with her “husband” Eric- is the most prevalent theme. Although, things are never exactly as they seem in Bon Temps- especially as they relate to Sookie. Her life exists in so many separate worlds that it is increasingly hard for her to know whom she can trust and where she should turn. Many of the books in this series have been transitional- closing one door (or many) and opening up others. Deadlocked is such a book. There are only a few ends that are neatly tied up, but so many more remain intriguingly unresolved. A lot of fans will feel unsatisfied with the apparent ending to Deadlocked, but as it goes with life in Bon Temps, I believe things are not exactly as they seem.

For now we will all have to be satisfied with the ambiguous end of this most recent glimpse into the life of Sookie and the rich assortment of characters that populate her world. At least until the thirteenth installment comes out in the spring of 2013…

Review by , Brenda Seward

Simple Pleasures Books


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Super Diaper Baby by George Beard & Harold Hutchins

Super Diaper Baby

George Beard and Harold Hutchins

It was about a baby that was born and flung out a window. He’s now a super hero for all the nice things he did. Super Diaper Baby’s arch-enemy is Deputy Doo-doo and he tries to take Captain Underpants’ powers so he can feed the powers to his dog, Diaper Dog. Diaper Dog was a really funny person who likes to make fun of and tease people.  I didn’t like the part where he gave the evil crib to Super Diaper Baby so that he could steal his powers. I really liked the book and I hope you read it too.

Review by Victoria  (Tori) Cook

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Review: 50 Shades of Grey by E.L James

Fifty Shades of Grey

E. L. James

Anastasia Steele is a college student more apt to reading her favorite British classic literature, than to living the fast paced dating scene.  A moment of serendipity later, however, and she is taking her roommate’s place interviewing the young, debonair, and extremely good looking Mr. Christian Grey. This is the doorway to her wonderland swirl into the erotic introduction of the life of a submissive.

Weighed down with decisions on what she wants to do with her life after graduation, she must also decide if she will sign a contract signing herself over as the property of Mr. Grey.

Though many people have raved over the new erotica trilogy, I found it to be mediocre at best. The dialogue is a bit below par and the characters are somewhat flat. However, James does an excellent job with her minute details of the alternative sex life of BDSM.

Review by Stacey Cook

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A Glance Back at Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series

One for the Money

Janet Evanovich

The first book of the Stephanie Plum series grabs a person’s interest right from the beginning. One For the Money explains how the wise-cracking, ex-lingerie buyer, Stephanie Plum became a bounty hunter.  Surrounded by past-due bills and watching her car being towed away, sends Plum to her cousin Vinnie, blackmailing her way into a job. An exciting ride from beginning to end and sweetened by the beautiful revenge of chasing after an ex-lover turned dirty cop. The plot thickens farther than Stephanie would have ever expected and will leave you craving the next book.

Two for the Dough

Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum returns in Two for the Dough with a deadly new adventure filled with sexual intrigue from two very different leading men.  Joe Moreilli, the New Jersey vice cop who spends his spare time charming the panties off of the burg’s ladies -especially Stephanie.  The other is Ranger Manoso second-generation Cuban-American, ex-special forces, a top rate bounty hunter and sexy as hell. Both attempt to help Stephanie as she hunts a crazed man who likes to leave behind body parts and just happens to be Moreilli’s cousin.  Joining Stephanie as a sort of sleuth in training is Grandma Mazur, as spunky as ever, offering her expertise in funeral home knowledge.  This is the second installment of Janet Evanovich’s addictive Stephanie Plum series.


Three to Get Deadly

Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is faced with her most difficult FTA (Failure-to Appear) yet, in the third book of the series. Uncle Mo, is seen as a pillar of the community until he is pulled over for speeding and arrested for carry a concealed weapon.  Stephanie is left wondering why the man who is loved by all in the burg and well known as the sweet old man that sells penny candies to children didn’t show up for his court date. A man, who has actually, seemed to disappear altogether.  At first, feeling guilty for chasing after such a sweet old man; Stephanie’s feelings quickly shift to suspicion.  Stephanie is faced with one misfortune after another as she is hunted by men in ski-masks, is tortured and ends up with clown orange hair. During all of this, a vigilante team has begun a killing spree on the drug dealers that run rampant through the neighborhood, and Stephanie’s love life takes an interesting turn. This is certainly a must-read and will keep you flipping pages up to the explosive end.


Four to Score

Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is faced with a woman scorned, who just happens to be a fan of James Bond and cryptography.  Capturing this FTA won’t be as simple as she had originally thought. She’ll need a little something more than her regular cohorts Grandma Mazur and ex-hooker Lula. This time she recruits the help of cross-dressing rocker Sally Sweet, who happens to have a knack for cryptic messages left all around town. Plum will certainly have her hands full when she loses her new car, her apartment, and is forced to move in with, none other than, vice cop Joe Morelli.  The Morelli family soon has her wedding and three strapping boys planned for her future. To turn all this down may come with the threat of the evil eye. And to top it all off, her uncle Vinnie has hired her arch-enemy Joyce Barnhardt, as a fellow bounty hunter and decided it would be interesting to see who can get the FTA first.  This was an action packed read that left me tearing through the pages.

High Five

Janet Evanovich

When a shortage of bond-jumpers occurs, Stephanie starts thinking about a change in career. Two months behind in rent is a good inducement. The only bounty hunter gig she manages to get is hunting down a ‘little person’ with a serious attitude and after capture holds a consequence she wishes later she didn’t have to pay.  When she approaches fellow bounty-hunter, Ranger about a job, he hires her on for a trial period doing various jobs. Each job is stranger than the next but comes with the opportunity to get to know a little more about the mysterious man she has come to admire, one Ranger Manoso.  Just so that life doesn’t seem boring; some ignorant judge as released psycho, boxer Benito Ramirez- out on bail. Benito has learned an appreciation for religion, and now wants to send women to meet Jesus and he wants to start with Stephanie. This book kept me laughing and intrigued. In my opinion, Evanovich has created a series where you can’t ‘read just one’.


Hot Six

Janet Evanovich

Hot Six is the perfect title for this Evanovich book in the Stephanie Plum series. It includes many Hot moments between Stephanie and the two leading men in her life. Stephanie and vice cop Joe Morelli are on the hunt for more than a moment alone , now that Grandma Mazur has decided to move in. Sexy and mysterious Ranger Manoso is wanted by the police for questioning on a mob hit, and the Plum Bond Agency has asked Stephanie to track him down on a FTA on carrying a concealed weapon charge.  Stephanie can either hunt him down herself or face seeing him captured by arch-enemy Joyce Barnhardt. Her cousin Vinnie isn’t the only one encouraging her to find Ranger. She also has a mob boss sicking his cronies on her and threatening physical harm if she doesn’t take the job. Her entire life seems to be taken over as she is surrounded by the mob, two interesting new friends decide to hop in and out of her home at odd moments, and she is forced to permanently dog-sit a friend’s golden retriever mutt. This is a hot, fast-paced, action ride. I tore through it in a few hours and it left me wanting more.

Seven Up

Janet Evanovich

This book is slam packed with drama and comedy, leaving you to wonder how one person can deal with it all. When Joe asks Stephanie to marry him and the whole family starts planning their wedding, Stephanie is faced with the decision of does she want to marry Joe or have a steamy little something-something with Ranger Manoso. A retired mobster makes for a very difficult capture for bounty-hunter Stephanie Plum and at the same time Ranger asks her to put in some time working surveillance on the mob boss’ son. Mooney and the Dealer, two oddball friends of Plum, disappear one after the other leaving Stephanie worried and desperate to find them alive. Regardless to the fact that she’s supposed to be dragging in her FTA, she spends the majority of her time hunting down her missing friends and playing chauffer to a mob boss.  Seven Up was filled with Plum’s usual hi-jinx and some very memorable characters.  I would definitely categorize this as a must-read.


Hard Eight

Janet Evanovich

A homicidal maniac chooses Stephanie as his victim of choice in the eighth installment of the Stephanie Plum series. Abruzzi likes to think of himself as a sort of godfather general with a small army to back him up. When something is stolen from him he decides the only one that can get it back is Stephanie and seeing as she’s not willing to get it back for him- she must be his enemy. What do you do to an enemy? Well, if you’re a homicidal maniac, you become their worst fear before you finally destroy them mind and body. The only people who Stephanie feels safe with are Joe Morelli, who until recently she was engaged to and her phantom mentor Ranger Manoso.  She doesn’t fell completely comfortable with Joe since they both came to the angry conclusion that they just weren’t compatible enough right now to marry. That left Ranger, who had given her a kind of deal when it came to asking for his help. The only problem was she didn’t know if she was brave enough to accept his offer. Through all of the terrifying little gifts left for her by Abruzzi, Plum proves to be one of the worst bounty hunters in the history of the profession.  This was an excellent fast-paced read, but the best parts were definitely the sparks flying between Stephanie and Ranger.

Visions of Sugar Plums

Janet Evanovich

This was a Christmas special book, that is sort of an 8 ½ in the Stephanie Plum bounty –hunter series. Stephanie wakes up a few days before Christmas to find a strange man sitting on her couch. His name is Diesel and it turns out that he’s been sent to Stephanie to teach her the meaning of Christmas. Also, he need to get her help in apprehending Ring, an old man with special powers that just happens to be on the war path to destroy Sandy Claws. Sandy Claws is a toy maker who is recruiting elves for his toy factory and as coincidence would have it is Stephanie’s FTA gone missing. To spice up the holiday season, someone discovers they may be adding to the Plum family tree. It was an interesting idea, but it was not anywhere near as good as the preceding books of the series.


Reviews by Stacey Cook

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Women in History/UniteWomen Fundraiser Book Listings

Women in History/UniteWomen Fundraiser Book Listings.

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Women’s History/ Unite Women Book Promotion

Simple Pleasures Books in support of the efforts of Unite is offering a unique opportunity to both learn about some wonderful and inspiring women and to help support a wonderful cause.

We are offering a selection of titles from our stacks at great prices with a flat nominal shipping fee. of $2.00 per order. That $2.00 fee applies whether you order 1 book or 5.

In addition, 50% of the proceeds from these sales go to fund the efforts of UniteWomen- Virginia and to help offset the cost of their rally on April 28th, 2012 in downtown Richmond, VA at Nina F. Abady Festival Park

See the Facebook Event Page Here

For those unfamiliar with the  efforts of please visit their website and also see  the post (on my non-book related blog) :

United Voices Against the War on Women

A separate page will be added to this blog, with a listing for each title and secure    checkout.

We hope everyone can take part in our celebration of women’s rights, their past and future efforts and the rights and freedoms we all cherish and seek to uphold as human beings.

The listings/fundraising page should be up within the next day or so (by 3/28/12) and we will update here with a direct link to that page when it goes live.

Thanks to everyone who has supported Simple Pleasures Books in the past and those who join in as we support what we consider a very worthy cause.

Warmest Regards to Our Readers,

SPBookgal, Brenda Seward, Owner- Simple Pleasures Books

Disclaimer: The author is State Sponsor Liaison for UniteWomen-Virginia. However, she is not involved in the financial or book-keeping areas of that organization. Further is a grassroots organization . It is NOT a non-profit organization. Donations are NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE. Purchases made on the Fundraising page are subject to Virginia Sales Tax. 

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Book Review: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Prepare yourself for a tantalizing mixture of romance, the world of the supernatural and Italian food.

Yes, I said Italian food.  Smith was so enamored with Bram Stoker’s Dracula that she recreated his Texan Quincey P. Morris. Her Quincie is a teenage girl in love with a half-breed werewolf, Kieren. A young man she has spent nearly her whole life enraptured with.

It’s one hit after another though as everything in her life begins to change. While attempting to alter the family Italian restaurant from Fat Lorenzo’s into Sanguini’s, an establishment that caters to vampires,  someone very close to Quincie is brutally murdered.She’ll have to ask herself whether she has been smart trusting the people she does.

I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises waiting for you in these pages, but I will leave you with these parting words: Be careful what answer you give when asked, “Are you prey or predator?”

Review by Stacey Cook

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith is available at Simple Pleasures Books: and other indie bookstores and retailers.

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Great Big Book Giveaway- Part 2!

Great Big Book Giveaway… Part 2

Win a copy of Mary Burton’s New Release : Before She Dies


**Update: We are extending the deadline for entries until Wednesday, February 22nd, 11:59pm ( EST).

From now until Monday, February 20th, 2012 submit your entry to win a copy of Mary Burton’s brand new release, the third book in her romantic suspense series set in Alexandria, Virginia and already a National Bestseller.

Winners will be chosen on Tuesday, February 21 and announced on our blog that same day.

Simply fill out the form below with the required information for your chance to win.





New York, 2-9-12—Mary Burton, who has been a presence on the New York Times and the USA Today bestseller lists for her novellas Christmas Past (Silver Bells) and Snow Maiden (A Hero’s Kiss), is now celebrating the appearance of her latest novel, BEFORE SHE DIES on USA Today’s February 9th Best-Selling Books list after just a partial week on sale.

BEFORE SHE DIES went on sale January 31.  Burton’s latest novel of romance, murder and suspense, it is her third set in Alexandria, Virginia. It features recurring characters from that city’s Homicide Unit, along with others whose lives are touched by a ritualistic murderer in search of salvation.  It features the return of defense attorney Charlotte Wellington and Detective Daniel Rokov, who readers met in Burton’s Alexandria-set novels Senseless and Merciless.

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Book Review: Love and Other Delusions by Larry Baker


Deconstructing a relationship is a tricky thing. You have differing points of view, resulting in different versions of reality. Not to mention, the memory can be a tricky thing- keeping what it wants and discarding what it would rather not hold on to.

In Larry Baker’s Love and Other Delusions, we find ourselves immersed in the complicated, sometimes confusing relationship of Danny and Alice.  Two people with seemingly little in common,  who are inexplicably drawn to each other and spend two decades engaged in an elaborate dance of desire, denial and destruction.

We are introduced to Alice by way of her therapist and the first thing we learn about her is that Alice is a liar. It is an important characteristic to note, but as the story unfolds it becomes less and less clear to whom Alice is lying- herself or others.

Alice eventually tells her therapist, Kathy that she has come to her to try to understand who Danny was to her or more importantly who the person was who loved Danny. The answers  are far more difficult to find than one would think

Alice is a woman who has lived her life in halves. The one half- the woman who was married to her husband, Pete, and had random assignations with men who didn’t really matter to her, and the other half- the woman who belonged to Danny- but only on her terms and never completely.

The post-mortem of a relationship, especially when told primarily through the eyes of only one of the participants, can be biased and one-sided, giving the reader an unrealistic view of what actually happened. Love and Other Delusions is saved from this storytelling flaw by both Baker’s use of the therapist Kathy and by the road-trip of self-discovery that is employed to reveal all the sides of Alice’s ill- fated relationship with Danny.

Oddly enough, while reading this I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies. It fits quite well as a one line synopsis of sorts for Larry Baker’s latest novel :

love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*.”

In Love and Other Delusions you can witness the interesting path of two people who are essentially victims of their own circumstances, thrown together by fate and drawn to each other’s emptiness and needs. The tale of Alice and Danny is far from storybook, but it has depth and a messy reality that makes it all the more intriguing. A gripping read.


Love and Other Delusions by Larry Baker will be released April 15, 2012

by Ice Tea Press, a fiction imprint of Ice Cube Books

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Mary Burton “Senseless” /”Merciless” Book Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Isobel W. of Bangor N. Ireland – our lucky winner in the Mary Burton Senseless/ Merciless Book Giveaway !

Isobel will receive copies of both Senseless and Merciless, as well as a note from the author, Mary Burton.

Simple Pleasures would like to thank everyone who entered our first giveaway of 2012.

But wait… we’re not done yet. We will be announcing another fun giveaway very, very soon. An especially great giveaway for all you Mary Burton fans. So stay tuned and we’ll have all the details for you soon.

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