Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fangtastic Friday: Hot summer reads, Romantic Times awards, & Mr. Romance 2011

When the heat of summer hits (especially in the south!) and all you can think of as you pour yourself out of your car is how fast you can get into an air-conditioned building, relax & chill out with a steamy little story or four.  *grin*  Yeah yeah, I know there are TONS of great books that are probably releasing this summer that I’m not mentioning here.  Hey, I can’t read all the time – I gotta eat and sleep and work too!  =P  These are the upcoming sequels to the stories I’ve reviewed (and intend to continue reading) on this site:

  • May 3: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris – read an excerpt here
  • May 31: The Reluctant Vampire (Argeneau Vampires #15) by Lynsay Sands – read an excerpt here
  • May 31: Kiss of Snow (Changeling/Psy #10) by Nalini Singh – read an exerpt here
  • June 7: Hunt the Moon (Cassie Palmer #5) by Karen Chance – read an excerpt here
  • June 7: Hit List (Anita Blake #20) by Laurell K. Hamilton – read an excerpt here
  • June 28th: Deeper than Midnight (Midnight Breed #9) by Lara Adrian – read an excerpt here

The famous Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention was held earlier this month, and a few of my favorite authors were honored.  Here are some of the award nominees and winners:

Career Achievement Best Author Awards (winner in bold):
  • Urban Fantasy: Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Rachel Caine, P.N. Elrod, Simon R. Green
  • Paranormal: Amanda Ashley, Rebecca York, Maggie Shayne, MaryJanice Davidson, L.A. Banks
Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Awards (winner in bold):
  • Vampire Romance: Blood Born (Linda Howard, Linda Jones), Lover Mine (J.R. Ward), Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Jeaniene Frost), Cross Your Heart (Michele Bardsley), Devoured by Darkness (Alexandra Ivy)
  • Shapeshifter Romance: Serpent Moon (C.T. Adams, Cathy Clamp), Touch of Seduction (Rhyannon Byrd), Whisper Kiss (Deborah Cooke), Play of Passion (Nalini Singh), In the Dark of Dreams (Marjorie M. Liu), Day of the Dragon (Rebecca York)
  • Paranormal Romance: Lion’s Heat (Lora Leigh), Bonds of Justice (Nalini Singh), Water Bound (Christine Feehan), Bayou Moon (Ilona Andrews), The Iron Duke (Meljean Brook), Living Nightmare (Shannon K. Butcher)
  • Paranormal Fiction: Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever (Molly Harper), Truly, Madly (Heather Webber), Undead and Unfinished (MaryJanice Davidson), My Way to Hell (Dakota Cassidy), Something Wicked (Michelle Rowen), Haunted Honeymoon (Marta Acosta)
  • Urban Fantasy Novel: Magic Bleeds (Ilona Andrews), Total Eclipse (Rachel Caine), Chosen (Jeanne C. Stein), Dust (Joan Frances Turner), Mob Rules (Cameron Haley), Double Cross (Carolyn Crane)
  • Urban Fantasy Protaganist: Archangel’s Kiss (Nalini Singh), Spider’s Bite (Jennifer Estep), Battle of the Network Zombies (Mark Henry), Death Blows (DD Barant), Stormwalker (Allyson James), Red Hot Fury (Kasey Mackenzie)
  • Scotland-Set Historical Romance: Seduced by a Rogue (Amanda Scott), Taming the Highland Bride (Lynsay Sands), The Chief (Monica McCarty), Seduced by a Highlander (Paula Quinn), The Devil Wears Plaid (Teresa Medeiros), One Night in Scotland (Karen Hawkins)

And of course, it wouldn’t be a RT convention without the annual crowning of Mr. Romance.

Here’s this year’s winner, Len Gunn…

And the rest of the hotties…

Hope you enjoyed the eye candy… see you next week!

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Dead Reckoning: Interview with Charlaine Harris on Sookie Stackhouse and her 11th novel in the series

Another painfully long wait is nearly over for Sookie Stackhouse fans, as Dead Reckoning, the 11th novel in the Southern Vampire Chronicles series, launches next week.  Nearly one year to the day since the 10th novel, Dead in the Family, was released, this newest chapter in the story of Sookie and her increasingly wacky & scary life will focus on the fae remaining among us after the gates to Fairy were closed, the state of Louisiana’s new vampire management, and Sookie’s exploration of her heritage. 

You can’t get your next Eric fix until May 3 (next Tuesday, for the calendar-challenged! Click on the book cover above for a sneak peek!), but maybe this interview with Charlaine will tide you over…

tvnz.co.nz: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Reckoning?
 
Charlaine: Yes, a little. My books aren’t long enough to share a lot! Dead Reckoning deals with Sookie learning about her heritage, the struggles of the fae left in our world, and the vampires of Louisiana coping (or not) with the new regime. 
 
tvnz.co.nz: The books are getting noticeably darker in tone as they progress, especially after Sookie’s traumatic experiences in Dead and Gone. Were you influenced by the TV series to go a little darker or was it always planned? 
 
I don’t see the show as darker than the books. All the bad things that happen in the books happen on “True Blood,” though perhaps the TV show has even MORE stuff. I knew that as Sookie was drawn in more and more into vampire politics, the books would get darker.

tvnz.co.nz: What do you think of True Blood and Alan Ball’s interpretation of the world you created? 
 
I think Alan is a genius, and I’m always excited to see what he’s put up on the screen.
 
tvnz.co.nz: Clearly you’re on Team Eric in the books but has Stephen Moyer managed to sway you back towards Bill at all?
 
I dislike the idea of teams. The story I’m telling is Sookie’s, and since all the characters come from my head, it’s not like I could “favour” one of them more than the other.
 
tvnz.co.nz: How do you feel about working with such a long series – what do you love/hate about it?
 
There are certainly two sides. It’s wonderful to have such a large cast to work with, and to not have to reinvent the people every time. On the other hand, that’s a lot of back story to remember.
 
tvnz.co.nz: Which character has been your favourite to write for?  

Pam is always fun to write, but there again, there are always fun moments with any character.
 
tvnz.co.nz: How do you feel about the worldwide popularity of your books? Did you ever think you would win fans as far away as New Zealand?
 
No, it still seems incredible to me to think of people reading my books all across the world. I could never have foreseen this.
 
tvnz.co.nz: What did you think when you found out a New Zealand girl, Anna Paquin, was going to be playing Sookie?
 
I was very excited that an actor of her stature was interested in the role.
 
tvnz.co.nz: What’s your current reading obsession?

I have so many. I reread Barbara Pym often, which may seem odd. I’m also a huge fan of Lee Child, Jim Butcher, Naomi Novik, Sarah Monette. . . . a very long list.

Interview compliments of TVNZ.

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Fangtastic Friday: Why vampires?

When I find a new series that interests me, I like to hit up the author’s website and troll around for juicy tidbits to blog about for all of you guys.  Sometimes I come across things that are humorous, educational, and even profound, which some people might be surprised to hear, considering most of these websites are dedicated to celebrating series about vampires, and hating on vampires is a fairly prevalent new trend.

While writing my review for the first Midnight Breed series novel (Kiss of Midnight), I came across something on Lara Adrian’s website that gave me an “AH HA!” moment.  Ever since I found Twilight and delved into the world of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, I’ve been at a loss to explain just exactly why it is that I enjoy this genre so much.  This passage, from Ms. Adrian’s homepage, sums it up quite nicely…!

Why vampires? Two of the most powerful human emotions are fear and desire. They rule many of our actions when we’re awake, and they inspire the most vivid dreams when we’re asleep. The intrigue of the vampire through the ages has been the twining of these two emotions–we fear him, yet his darkness is the very thing that makes him so compelling, so incredibly desirable. We can never be sure if we’re completely safe with him, yet we can’t stay away. Vampires as heroes in romantic fiction speak to the most basic instincts we know. They are the ultimate bad boy, and who can resist that kind of allure?

Have a fangtastic weekend!  *grin*

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Just for fun: Simon’s Cat vs. Hoppy!

Ok, I don’t know if the rabbit’s name is actually Hoppy.  Hell, we don’t even know Simon’s Cat’s name!  *wink*  One thing I do know?  The Simon’s Cat cartoon videos are hilariously entertaining, especially for people who have ever lived with a cat.  Here’s the newest, called ‘Hop it!’.  Enjoy!


True Blood S4: An Invitation to the Set

This week, Alan Ball and the cast of True Blood Season 4 take us on set for an inside peek.  Check out the video below, but beware spoilers!  This video will include small bits of info about this season’s story, so if you don’t want to know, don’t click!  =)

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Review: Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake series novel #10), by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

Anita reconnects with Jean-Claude and Richard to finally “marry” the vampire marks that bind them as a triumvirate.  Meanwhile, a brand new sweetie and a nasty new big bad hit town, as Anita fights her way from one crisis to the next in true ABVH style.

    • Title: Narcissus in Chains
    • Series: The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – book #10
    • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
    • Prominent Characters: Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, Nathaniel, Micah
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate, but fairly explicit

*** Spoiler alert! ***

If you have not read the first 9 books of the ABVH series and still plan to, OR if you do not want to know ANYTHING about the major events that will happen in Narcissus in Chains, stop reading now and come back once you’ve read it.  If you want some insight into the happenings of the novel, read on!  =) 

Premise & overview:

Anita, Richard, and Jean Claude finally marry their vampire marks, resulting in increased powers and new, although not necessarily desirable, abilities for each of them.  Anita & Richard are on-again off-again before Anita meets a new main squeeze and has to deal with the possibility of being Nimir-Ra of the leopards for real.  Furry politics takes a nasty turn when a new mystery alpha comes to town.

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I read an Anita Blake book, but since I’ve never reviewed one and I really enjoyed this re-read, I figured it was a good time to put this one out there.  Narcissus in Chains is the book where Anita becomes “one of the monsters” and the series turns from being a mostly horror/thriller crime-solving drama to focusing on Anita’s new arduous power & burgeoning bevy of lovers and vamp/furry politics.

I’m a big fan of the Anita Blake series.  There are definitely things that annoy me, and the pace seems to spontaneously switch from super-slow to super-speed, but somehow I keep coming back for more even though I’ve read all the later books at least a few times.  The first 9 books mostly focus on Anita’s work as a necromancer (raising zombies for a living) and her side-job as a licensed vampire executioner and police correspondent, while developing the foundations of her relationships with Jean-Claude and Richard.  Because these early books were written nearly 20 years ago, there are a lot of references to now-antiquated technology and fashions that make it difficult to stay immersed in the story.  For example, any talk of shoulderpads automatically gives me visions of the 80s and 90s and really, to be completely honest, puts me off.  Let’s face it: shoulderpads are just NOT that attractive in normal clothes and I don’t want to read about them on my supposedly cute & kick-ass heroine!  Also, not having access to a cell phone, or having any references to cell phones, makes me think “why doesn’t she just get a cell phone?!” because mobile phones are one of the most, if not the absolute most, common personal accessory in our society today.  The early books also make a lot of references to Anita’s Nike shoes: what color they are, how many pairs she has, how often she wears them.  I don’t know why, I just find that really annoying.  It’s almost like Ms. Hamilton had some sort of advertising deal with Nike.  Of course, it could just be that she likes to thoroughly describe people, items, and events in her novels…

That is actually one of the things that annoys me most yet I like the most about Anita – she has a tendency to chat up little details regardless of their significance to the plot.  It’s sort of how people notice the things happening around them in real-time and the thoughts that pass through our heads – sometimes these thoughts are pertinent to the situation at hand and sometimes they’re superfluous, but including these little blurbs definitely helps the readers immerse themselves in the story and feel a closer connection to the main character.  The down-side to this is that there’s apparently no limit to what Ms. Hamilton is willing to talk circles around, including her sex scenes.  LKH writes some of the most steamy & gutsy sex scenes of all the authors I read, but sometimes it takes her forever to get down to it.  Sometimes, the characters actually talk themselves OUT of having sex during chapters-long dialogues that end in arguments (usually involving Richard – shocker, I know).  This is less of an issue in the later books, once Anita and Richard come more to grips with what they have become.

Narcissus in Chains marks the turning point in the series, where the books go from being widely classified as “thrillers” or “horror/crime drama” to “erotica” and “paranormal romance”.  The further into the series you get, the more appropriate the erotica label becomes.  I imagine bookstores have a tough time classifying this series – what section do you shelve it in when it’s pretty much split in two?

Memorable quotes:

Finally one of the monsters…

I’d tried not to be one of the monsters for so long, and now, in one fell swoop I was them, both of them.  You couldn’t be a bloodsucking vampire and be a lycanthrope at the same time.  They cancelled each other out as a disease or a curse… I’d always thought I’d have to drink blood to be one of them.  But I had been wrong about so many things.

Direct?  Who, me?

“You are simultaneously one of the most direct women I know, and one of the most self-deluding.”

“I am really not liking where this conversation is going.”

A lesson in BDSM…

I kept equating submissiveness with being inferior, and that wasn’t really the case.  Some people choose to be bottoms, to serve; it doesn’t make them less, just different.

Is there such a thing as too much firepower?

The doorbell rang again.  I didn’t jump this time.  I hung the Uzi over my shoulder by its strap and settled the Browning more comfortably in my hand.  The Uzi was really an emergency weapon.  The fact that I’d even thought about answering my door with it on my person was probably a bad sign.  If I needed more than a 9mm to answer my own front door, I should just leave town.

If you like…

If you like Narcissus in Chains and the Anita Blake series, you will almost certainly like the Meredith Gentry series, also written by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Unlike the ABVH series, which takes 10 books to really get into the steamy stuff, Merry Gentry focuses on sex as a central plot device starting with the first book.  MG also has some crime-solving elements in its plots, making it pretty damn near the fae version of an Anita Blake clone series, harem of hunky men included.

You might also like the Sookie Stackhouse (South Vampire Chronicles) series by Charlaine Harris and the Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost.  Both of these are told from the same first person heroine perspective and involve plenty of vamps and other supes.  The Night Huntress series is probably closer to ABVH than Sookie Stackhouse since the main character is also a fighter, but be aware that while both these series have some excellent steamy moments, they are not nearly as close to being classified as erotica as ABVH is.

Final thoughts:

LKH has created a world where the heroine is kick-ass, attractive, intelligent, capable, and gains power constantly.  Anita attracts men and trouble like flies to honey, and since the stories are all told in first person, the reader really gets to feel immersed in the crazy happenings and goings on.  We also get to see the plots of the entire series unfold through the eyes of one person (Anita), instead of from a third person view of whatever the marquee couple is for a particular book.  To have a successful series dedicated to one main voice that has lasted for this long is a fairly rare accomplishment in the Paranormal Romance genre, and I’m excited to see a few new series coming along a similar path.

I personally found the first few books, and a few of the non-St. Louis books (featuring Edward), very difficult to read.  I’m not into excessive gore or horror or thrillers, and some of the crime scene content in the first half of the series really left me troubled (especially considering LKH has stated that she gets her ideas from actual crimes!).  For readers with more sensitive psyches I’d like to recommend just skipping those first 9 books and starting with Narcissus in Chains.  However, if you do that, you’re going to miss out on all the groundwork for the Anita/Jean-Claude/Richard relationships and a lot of the events that shape Anita into who she becomes.  If you decide to start the series with NiC, find a good wiki and read cliff-note versions of the stories so you at least have an idea of what happened.  Read the entire series if you can, and stick it out through all the horror content if that’s not your bag, until at least NiC… skip through parts if you need to!  I’ve included some helpful wiki links below.  Be very careful what you click on with these, as you could inadvertently spoil some of the book 11+ storylines.   *wink*

Maybe I just really identify with Anita’s personality, or maybe it’s just that engrossing (I think the frequent random details and descriptions probably help with that more than they hurt) , but this series definitely has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Rating:

4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Rating:

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/

http://www.anitablakewiki.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Blake

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Taylor Lautner MTV interview: Abduction & Breaking Dawn clips!

The Twilight buzz has been primarily about Rob Pattinson lately, with his upcoming Water for Elephants film release, but it was all about Team Jacob at MTV last week, as the much-anticipated MTV First interview for Taylor’s new film Abduction was released.  Abduction is a Bourne-esque action flick featuring Taylor Lautner, who finds his photo on the Missing Persons label of a milk carton, and Lily Collins as his parner-in-crime-slash-love-interest, as they run the gamut of conspiracy, chaos, and government entanglements.  Taylor also talked to MTV about Breaking Dawn and the end of filming of the Twilight Saga.  Look for Abduction in theaters on September 23, 2011.  Check out the interview clips and some stills from Abduction below!

Trailer for Abduction

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to imbed the rest.  =(  Click the links under each description for a pop-out window with the clip, then come right back!  *wink*

On smooching with Lily & how this role differs from Jacob
On doing his own stunts and his workout regimin
Flashback to a 2008 Twilight interview & Taylor’s reaction
Flashback to Taylor’s fight for the Jacob role in New Moon
On shooting the last few days of Breaking Dawn
On working with Mackenzie Foy (as Renesmee)
On the possibility of doing other “Jacob” films
On getting tossed around the Cullen’s back yard by Bella
On maybe dating a fan and singing Britney on Glee
On Kristen’s cooking, what he first sees in a girl, & travel

Still want more Taylor?  See all the clips at MTV.com!  Here are a few stills from Abduction…


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