Saturday, June 8, 2013

Charlaine Harris ends popular Sookie Stackhouse series with 'Dead Ever After'

             Charlaine Harris introduced the world to Sookie Stackhouse, a fiery blond telepath living in north Louisiana who discovers vampires after sympathetic blood allows them to “come out of the coffin.” After more than a decade of Sookie novels and the adaptation of the story into “True Blood” on HBO, Harris concludes the series with “Dead Ever After.”
             Almost all of the plotlines and major characters converge in this last story as Sookie is arrested for the murder of Arlene, an old friend who turned on Sookie in a previous book. On top of it all, Sookie’s vampire lover Eric Northman must make hard decisions regarding his life and career and Sookie appears the loser in the deal. 
            I hesitate to say too much for giving away the ending, but I will say the conclusion met with my expectations and I came away happy for her choice of partners, even if it was a little lackluster in the passion department. Harris’ ultimate wrap-up made the most sense, giving Sookie a realistic future but leaving enough threads hanging for us to make up our own minds.
            Kudos for Harris for producing a successful series and bringing the world to “Bon Temps, Louisiana.”           

Team Renaissance
            Advertiser columnist Jan Risher worked with organizational consultant Richard Spoon to produce a gorgeous book on building working teams in “Team Renaissance: The Art, Science and Politics of Great Teams,” (Old Man River Publishing).
            The book is geared towards organizations, aiming to veer them away from training employees for the company good without lighting passions individually. Instead, the authors encourage bringing people together to build something they care for, something they believe is meaningful.
            The book’s recurring logo is the arch, representing how “individual pieces hold the arch together, uniting to form a design that allows for the equal distribution of weight across the entire structure.” Within this design are the skills necessary to build a successful organization, with each piece its own chapter.
             Easy to read, loaded with great information and beautifully laid out, “Team Renaissance” is a great resource for businesses looking to build effective teams.
After the Ball
            Carnival is magical on so many levels, but often times we take for granted the work that goes into the costumes, floats and tableaux. Larry Youngblood spent 52 years working as a costume designer for New Orleans Carnival krewes, in addition to working for theaters, opera, ballets, weddings, the city’s Spring Fiesta and more. He created costumes for celebrities Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Dennis Quaid, Robert Goulet and Jim Nabors as well as Carnival queens and princesses. 
             His niece Elizabeth Canik of Covington tells his life story, along with vivid illustrations of costume designs, in “After the Ball is Over: Mardi Gras Designer Larry Youngblood Looks Back on His 50 Years of Costumes and Memories,” published by Bookstand Publishing.
            It’s a great insider’s guide to the Carnival scene, with wonderful anecdotes by Youngblood. You’ll never take the pageantry for granted again!

New releases
            Of course, he’s happy! Phil Robertson, star of the reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” has released his autobiography “Happy, Happy, Happy,” and the book debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list of hardcover nonfiction.
            The spring edition of The Southern Review is out with a short story by James Lee Burke, 21 poets and fascinating photographed dioramas by artist Lori Nix, among much more. The literary journal is published four times a year on the campus of LSU and available online and in bookstores.
            Acadiana fiddler David Greely has self-published “The Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music, Volumes I and II: A French/English Interlinear Translation,” a Cajun French lyric book with the words to the Balfa Brothers’ first two albums. The English translation is interlinear, he posted on Facebook. “Each French word has its strictly literal English counterpart directly underneath it, so that you can see exactly what you are saying in the same word order as the original French.” Greely used both the book and method of teaching at the Balfa Camp this year. For more information, visit
            J. Michael Desmond looks at the origins and evolution of LSU’s campus in “TheArchitecture of LSU,” published by LSU Press. “J. Michael Desmond’s book is itself a monument to the architecture of LSU,” said Charles E. Schwing, former president of the American Institute of Architects. “It is a delightful and engrossing history that delves into the little-known facts about the unique buildings that make Louisiana State University distinctive.” Desmond taught architectural history and design for 25 years and earned his bachelor’s degree of architecture from LSU.
            “SomeKinds of Love: Stories” by Steve Yates (University of Massachusetts Press) offers 12 stories set in the Missouri Ozarks, New Orleans, and Mississippi, and looks at “lovers clawing back from precipices of destructiveness, obsessiveness, cruelty, vanity, or greed.” 
            This month, Lenora Worth of Louisiana publishes her sixth romance novel in her Texas K-9 series with “Lone Star Protector.”
            “TheAxman of New Orleans,” a fictional account of an historical character in early 1900s New Orleans, by Charles (Chuck) Hustmyre of Baton Rouge was released by Margaret Media, a Louisiana publisher. An ebook version has been sold on, but this is the first print copy of the novel. Hustmyre is author of “Killer with a Badge” (the Antoinette Frank story), “Unspeakable Violence,” “Killer Like Me” and “House of the Rising Sun.”

Book events
            “Deep Blues: Human Soundscape for the Archetypal Journey” will be the presentation by Mark Winborn, a Jungian analyst from Memphis, at 2 p.m. June 9 at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 400 Camelia Blvd. The event is sponsored by the C.G. Jung Society of Lafayette and based on Winborn’s recently published book, “Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey.” The presentation will explore the archetypal journey of the human psyche through an examination of the blues as a musical genre and be augmented by visual images, audio recordings and video.
            The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators presents a Skype presentation by Kelly Milner Halls, Seattle-based author of more than 30 books and 1,500 magazine articles, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, on the third floor of the UNO Bicentennial Education Building, Founders Road, New Orleans. The cost is $15 SCBWI Members, $20 nonmembers. A critique meeting will follow. For information, visit
            J. Bruce Fuller and Elizabeth Burk will read from their works from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Carpe Diem! Gelato and Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson St., Lafayette, as part of Voices in Summer. The reading is open to the public and free. Fuller is a Louisiana native and has just published “Notes to a Husband” (Imaginary Friend Press, 2013) and “Lancelot” (Lazy Mouse Press, 2013). Burk is a psychologist who currently divides her time between a practice in New York and southwest Louisiana. Her chapbook, “Learning to Love Louisiana,” was recently published by Yellow Flag Press. For more information, contact Clare L. Martin at or (337) 962-5886.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at