Sunday, May 31, 2009
I'm officially excited for this movie, now.
"As FBI Assistant Director, Jesus Hernandez expects a fair share of crime in New York City. Yet nothing could have prepared him for what he witnesses outside a Goth bar called the Blood Bank: hunter Michaela Ramirez slaying an elder vampire. Jesus is skeptical at first, but Michaela is determined to make him believe in the supernatural beings that roam the city. And as Michaela draws him deeper into an underground world of darkness and danger, he finds her sexy bravado is more than can resist....
But there is one thing Michaela is afraid to tell Jesus: that she is part vampire herself. Because even though she's fallen for the enticing agent, everyone she's gotten close to in the past has run away...or died"
From the Nocturne Bites line, Honor Calls is a short story available only on eBook. What it lacks in length, however, it makes up for in steamy sex and surprisingly heavy emotion. Coming in at under 100 pages, I expected a bit of back story, one (maybe two) steamy encounters, and a quick, possibly cheesy HEA. I'm happy to report that Honor Calls transcended my expectations. While I am a reader who will likely always prefer longer, stand alone titles, this was a perfectly enjoyable read. The hero and heroine are compelling, the heroine is fueled by a history of pain and a call to duty that is a clear motivator, and the HFN (happily for now) ending is far more appropriate, given the characters, than a HEA would have been.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The award for best visual parody has to go to The Twilight Before Christmas by The Juice Box (I'm not sure if The Juice Box is specifically the work of Devon Kelly, or if she is just one part of a team). For the idea and execution of this video, though, they deserve a gold star! Check out other Juice Box features if you enjoy this one.
Friday, May 29, 2009
For anyone not yet familiar with the wonderful and witty Cleolinda Jones, I suggest you do some research. On top of the fabulous Secret Life of Dolls, Cleo has also penned a number of hilarious movie parodies known as m15m or Movies in 15 Minutes. Some of these parodies are featured in her book, Movies in 15 Minutes. Some, however, are available completely for free on her LiveJournal.
What does this have to do with vampires? Glad you asked. You see, Cleo's tastes for fantasy and the paranormal seem to run similar to those of us here at Vamps R Us. She posts online recaps of True Blood and Twilight, the Edward Cullens (yes, there are 2) feature heavily in the most recent Secret Life of Dolls posts, and several of her parodies are, you guessed it, about vampire movies.
Perhaps the funniest of these is Twilight in 15 Minutes. Now, these parodies are written in movie script format. And, you should probably have some familiarity both with the film and with popular culture to get the jokes, but if you do they are *fabulous* in every sense of the word. Her parodies are often laugh out loud funny and I'm always delighted when she posts a new one.
Highlights from Twilight in 15 Minutes by Cleolinda Jones:
"After she buys her book--Everything You Wanted to Know About Quileute Legends But Didn't Want to Ask the Werewolf Kid--Bella manages to get cornered by the one gang of roving lowlifes in a small tourist town BUT SUDDENLY Edward swoops in, grabs Bella and charges them with The Vampire Volvo of Great Justice and all the lowlifes are like DAMN THAT HIGH-SCHOOL KID IS HARDCORE. Heigh ho Volvo, away!"
"EDWARD: I AM VAMPIRE. HEAR ME TWINKLE."
They are far more funny in context than out. Check out Twilight in 15 Minutes to read the full parody.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
A Quick Bite starts out slowly. The first half of the book is devoted to introducing what seems to be every single member of the Argeneau clan. What isn't lost to introductions is spent on long winded explanations (courtesy of Lissianna) of the vampire world and how it operates. Despite this, the setup is interesting. Lissianna is a vampire who faints at the sight of blood. This is an obvious problem, one that robs her of her independence and generally hampers her life. It is also a problem born out of a traumatic experience involving Lissianna's deceased father, Jean Claude. Though dead before the start of the series, Jean Claude is mentioned throughout the books. Notorius for his alcoholism and cruelty, his past misdeeds have a lasting effect on his children (Lissianna, Etienne, Bastien, and Lucern) and widow (Marguerite), as well as the vampire community as a whole (apparently, Bram Stoker got the idea for Dracula after a drunken Jean Claude told him a few tales).
The Argeneau clan hopes a good psychiatrist can cure Lissiana's phobia, and that's where Greg comes in. Not that he comes of his own free will. He's kidnapped by Lissianna's delightfully meddlesome mother, Marguerite, who literally ties him to Lissianna's bed as a birthday present. That's what mom's are for.
Instantly, the sexual tension flairs between Greg and Lissianna, as does the conflict. Sands raises the conflict between the two masterfully, and pays off just as well. The sex scenes in this book are H.O.T. But that's not all A Quick Bite has to offer in terms of conflict. It seems that in addition to a meddling mother, blood phobia, and bed-tied human to deal with, Lissianna has also attracted a good old fashioned vampire hunter. So curing her phobia isn't just a matter of conveinence. As the vampire hunter gets closer to her and Greg, it just may be a matter of saving their lives.
I've seen some negative reviews of this book, and I admit that there are obvious flaws. While the first half of the book is slow and tedious, the second half skims by at hyperspeed, Lissianna and Greg making snap decisions based on inaccurate information and misperceptions. Therefore the relationship between them is based on a series of misconceptions. Even so, the emotions that arise between them feel authentic and the two seem to genuinely care for one another. Additionally, the plot goes beyond a simple will-they-or-wont-they setup to bring in a villain who has plans and motivations of his own. This adds depth to the plot and works to even it out, despite the obvious pacing issues.
All problems considered, A Quick Bite is an enjoyable reading experience. The strength of this book comes from the relationship between Lissianna and Greg. Also, Sands tongue-in-cheek humor shines through. The pacing needs work and the explanation of vampire history should have been woven in rather than dumped, but the main characters are able to resonate with readers and many of the secondary characters who are introduced (some through rather ridiculous means) eventually receive books of their own.
When I heard this on the HBO OnDemand special entitled "Taste of True Blood" I just knew I wanted to write about Lafayette. His character to me is one of my favorites and I'm really disappointed his role may be ending (we who read the books and watch the show do not 100% know yet that the foot in the car is Lafayette's...do we?). I know he isn't a vampire, but he is involved in the vampire series True Blood and I LOVE.
I love him because he really isn't the stereotypical gay/minority character in the show. He's very 'masculine' and in control. You wouldn't want to get in a fist fight with him that's for sure. While I feel he provides some comic relief he isn't just the humorous foil in the show. He's complex for many reasons and I'm loving his quick wit, intelligence and fabulous style!
Below I'm including one of my favorite scenes. Sometimes not in the book (that I remember anyways) but this scene is what made me fall head over heels for Lafayette (and let's face it- in Bon Temps I'd likely be a fangbanger):
Great scene! And pretty powerful too in a way. I thank the show for developing him more than the books.
And while I'm paying tribute I thought I'd add this clip in also:
A hem. Well, it's not exactly hard to figure out that this blog is about vampires and vampire-related stories (hence the name, Vamps R Us). But, as the realm of paranormal romance and urban fiction grows ever larger and more popular, so too does the range of creatures inhabiting that realm. This next review is certainly a paranormal romance, but there is not a vampire to be found. So I'm breaking one of the rules here, or perhaps just expanding the range of our dear ole blog sweet blog, to include some of the other paranormal creatures and specially-abled humans who round out the paranormal worlds we all love so well.
Lisa Child's Damned is the first Harlequin (in this case under the Silhouette Nocturne line) that I have ever read. I realize many romance fans get their start with Harlequin, but it's taken me a while to finally hit the world's leading romance juggernaut. My first impression is favorable.
"Police officer Ty McIntyre was cursed to find a girl no one had seen in twenty years. And it was his job to save her from the dark forces swirling around her. He found her locked away in a psychiatric hospital, where she thought she was losing her mind. Born a witch, Irina Cooper was able to read other people's thoughts. She had never known the source of her power, or her true heritage--until now.
Irina could read Ty's true intentions and sense his deepest desires. But with a witch killer seeking to destroy the Cooper legacy, could these ill-fated souls embrace Irina's gift and end her family's curse? And beyond that, would they be able to save each other"
Damned is the third (and so far final) book in the Witch Hunt trilogy, a series that follows the lives of three sister witches who were separated as children and must, as adults, find one another in order to stop a centuries old witch hunt from ending their lives. I have not yet read either of the first two stories in this trilogy (Haunted or Persecuted). Even so, I had no issue reading Damned. The story, though building on it's predecessors, functions well individually, explaining reoccurring characters from the first two books and the importance of those characters when necessary. I never once felt lost or as if I was missing out on something by reading this book out of order. I also liked knowing the resolution of the trilogy, even though this book does end in a way that allows for future books should Childs decide to write them.
Like all Harlequin/Silhouette novels, Damned is short in length, only 272 pages, making it a very fast read. This length doesn't allow for a great deal of backstory or for many secondary characters; the hero and heroine have to live in the moment and the past is something that influences their decisions while remaining largely a mystery. That being understood, Damned presents a cohesive story that is interesting as well as enticing. Personally, I would like to know more about the hero, heroine, and villain. I want to get inside their heads and their memories, knowing exactly what causes them to think, act, and speak as they do. But then, I tend to be a fan of the 500+ page works of single title authors. For the length allotted, Childs is able to build a compelling story with likeable characters and a villain who is frighteningly psychotic.
The negatives? I thought there was a too much repetition of certain themes and plot elements (we get it already, the heroine's missing some memories due to substance abuse, move on!). The insecurities that primarily define the heroine (Irina) and influence her actions stem from her fear of abandonment and poor self image. I think they could have been more compelling and realistic if they were rooted in her telepathic abilities. Yes, her telepathy allowed her heightened awareness of the disapproval others felt for her and urged her into decisions that further lowered her self image, but it could have been further explained and investigated. I feel as though Childs missed an opportunity by not doing so. Also, the HEA is wrapped up too neatly, losing realism. I like a good HEA as much as the next romance reader (or I'd pick another genre), but I want it to be in line with the characters' actions. I want the HEA to ring true. This one was too sudden and forced. The timing was right, but everything else about the scene was not. The hero lost his believability, and that damaged my overall impression of the story.
Regardless, I enjoyed Damned and will happily read the first two books in the series as soon as I have the opportunity.
Monday, May 25, 2009
HBO has been making promos left and right, the majority of which can be viewed in earlier entries of this blog. This video, however, is the first I've seen that really gives a tight, cohesive overview of the primary plotlines and characters that will be featured in the second season. This season, which is based off of Charlaine Harris's second Sookie Stackhouse novel, Living Dead in Dallas, seems to take as many liberties with the subject material as the first season did with Dead Until Dark. I only hope that all changes made will create better drama and heighten, rather than detract from, the appeal of Sookie Stakehouse and Bon Temps, Louisiana.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Count von Count, keeping it real since 1972.
Straight up, even in direct sunlight, there is no sparkle. For proof, see exhibit A:
The Count is outside, in the midst of a sunny snowstorm, and there is no sparkle to be seen. That's because real vampires don't sparkle, they solve mathematical equations. Take that, Cullens.
Do not read any further if you do not want to know major plot points, including the resolution.
"He has found his soul's desire...The Dark Gift has brought Roshan DeLongpre a lifetime of bitter loneliness - until, by chance, he comes across a picture of Brenna Flanagan. There is something hauntingly familiar in Brenna's fiery red hair and sensual body, something that compels him to travel into the past, save the beautiful witch from the stake, and bring her safely to his own time. Now, in the modern world, Brenna's seductive innocence and sense of wonder are utterly bewitching the once-weary vampire, blinding him to a growing danger. For there is one whose dark magick is strong...one who knows who they both are and won't stop till their powers are his...and they are nothing more than shadows through time..."
Sounds intriguing, right? If the blurb is to be believed, Night's Kiss is the dark tale of a time traveling vampire who falls in love with a witch and the pair of them must overcome powerful forces that strive to keep them apart. Not a bad premise by any means. Interesting, actually. Well, it sounded good enough for me to pick up, too. I sat down with this book, expecting nothing but good things, and within 5 hours I had finished all 352 pages. Was it just that good? Hardly. I made myself finish it out of morbid curiosity. How could something so utterly pointless and predictable, filled with plotholes and weak characters, actually get published? I was astonished. I've read unpublished manuscripts from friends that literally blow this published work out of the water. What is it that makes Night's Kiss so completely terrible? I'm glad you asked.
Let's start with the hero, Roshan DeLongpre. Roshan isn't just lonely and bitter as the blurb says, he's suicidal. But, I mean, really. The first few chapters of the book are devoted solely to him devising a plan to kill himself. Oh yes, our hero is a whiny bitch who plans to walk into the morning sunlight and end it all. What stops him? Well, he has to say goodbye...to his possessions. That's right. He's collected so many trinkets throughout his "preternaturally"* long life that he needs to walk around and pet them before offing himself. Again, I only wish I was kidding. He begins stroking books at random and pulls one down. He magically flips open to a page with a picture of a beautiful young witch being burned at the stake...and falls madly in love. Stalkerishly madly in love. The kind of "love" that gets you slapped with a restraining order and thrown into a holding cell with a large man named Tiny. But it's ok, because this witch who died hundreds of years ago, (coincidentally) on the night he was born a human, is his soul mate. So, instead of killing himself, he wills himself back through time and happens to appear in the witch's back yard, just in time to catch her dancing naked under the moonlight. In case you haven't yet figured it out, coincidence is going to figure very highly in the plot. Far more highly than, oh, an actual plot.
Back to the story. The witch is Brenna Flanagan. She at first resists the handsome stranger and his tales of imminent death, but the whole tied-to-a-stake-and-lit-on-fire thing makes her rethink the safety of small town living. Roshan rescues her from certain death, grabs her faithful cat, and the three of them magically reappear in the 21st century. Again, I'm not kidding. You just can't make a frantic escape from the past without bringing your faithful house cat along for the ride.
It's all so convenient. But, even more convenient, is how quickly Brenna adapts to everything from indoor plumbing to television. She just gets it, as though she was really a modern woman all along. She even has 21st century feminist ideas; she wants a baby, but not a husband. She's very firm on this point, no husband for her!... until she and Roshan have sex once and it is so fantastic it changes her entire worldview without explanation. In the span of a few pages Miss Independwitch is jonesing for a wedding like a crack addict for a hit. No explanation provided, just the magic of love, I guess.
Now enter the villain, who is about as intimidating as a pez dispenser, and about as equally well fleshed out. I honestly don't even remember the villain's name at this point. He pretends to be a decent guy long enough to get close to Brenna. He has some plan to gain immortality by drinking a vampire blood concoction of his own making, which means he's on the lookout for vamps to drain.
Roshan and Brenna decide to get married. Brenna asks her one friend to stand as witness, even though she barely knows the woman, and the woman hands both Brenna and Roshan over to the villain. Random supposedly scary events occur, none of them memorable enough for me to recall with any real clarity. I believe the villain is tricked into believing he's created a vamp blood compound that will gain him life and power, only to be poisoned by it. He dies, the hero saves the heroine, and they ride off into a contrived happily ever after.
Except the story doesn't end there. Oh no, this train wreck can't be stopped until no survivors are left standing. Every rule of good storytelling must be broken. And that's why, instead of ending this story on an already overly contrived HEA, Ashley goes for the gusto.
If you remember, Brenna really, really, really, wants a baby to raise up to be a witch like herself. Not any baby, a little girl. Well, vampires can't have children. It's an unfortunate side effect of the whole "being dead" thing. Does this mean our valiant hero and his newly-turned vampiress wife won’t have the child for which she so desperately yearns? Of course not.
While out on a walk, Roshan and Brenna come across a teenage girl in a back alley. Can you see where this is going? The teenage girl is, of course, giving birth. The two vampires kindly assist the troubled young woman and, as soon as the baby is born, the girl jumps to her feet, pulls up her pants, and walks off. I mean damn, people. Does this girl have a lead-paneled uterus? Apparently, because it goes with her lead-lined heart. You see, shock of all shocks, she doesn’t want her baby girl. Not at all. Tells Brenna she can have it. Moreover, if Brenna and Roshan don't take the child, she'll drop it in a dumpster somewhere. What choice does Brenna have but to graciously except the one thing she wants most in life and frolic off in the moonlight to live out her "preternatural" life in perfect bliss? None, so that's exactly what she does.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Here are the new trailers that have been released.
This trailer is very similar to the first trailer, just a different cut and arrangement of the images.
A glimpse of Season 2
Jason Stackhouse. This boy makes so many bad choices.
Maryanne. Straight up, I have no idea who the hell she is. This is a character that the books simply do not have.
Bill Compton. For some reason, people like him. I'm hoping they haven't read the books. Personally, I'm all for staking him outside and waiting for dawn.
Bill and Sookie promo.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Eric Northman. Not quite the viking warrior of the books, but still quite hot.
Sookie Stackhouse, heroine extraordinaire
I put these two promos together simply because I'm hoping that happens in the series. Television, book, I don't really care at this point. I'd like to see some actual relationship (not just wild sex) out of these two.
As television series and movies are want to do, many liberties were taken with the original subject matter. The TV series was made darker and sexier, with far more subplots than the actual book accounts for. That makes sense. The book series is told all in first person. If Sookie doesn't know something the audience doesn't know it either. That's one of the limitations of first person; the reader sees the world through a single character's perception. The TV series has more flexibility. Actions can take place around Sookie without her knowledge, the audience privy to information Sookie lacks.
Despite this, certain aspects of the TV series bother me. Some changes are made seemingly without cause. Actions are changed. Character's are made weaker or more ignorant than they are meant to be. Characters are left out (HELLO, Bubba anyone?). Sookie just seems more needy and less independent. Like I said, parts of the series bother me Even so, I'm excited for season 2 because I'm hoping that as the series grows in popularity, it will be able to draw more information from the books that provide the original source material. Only time will tell.
The first season of True Blood goes on sale tomorrow. Incidently, its release date coincides with Helena Sparrow's birthday. Happy birthday, Helena :)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
"There’s a deep sexuality in the alpha hero in most paranormals that makes them an ideal escape read.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Check it out here.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
1) I'm constantly talking Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series up to others; especially people who do not normally read paranormal stories. What better way to break them in? Anyway, my friends and coworkers who haven't already read the series always want to know why it's so special. Really, it would be so much easier to send them a link to a review than to gush on for an hour about why I love the series so much. Especially since that gushing usually just ends with me saying "I love Zsadist!" over and again.
2) I am interested in reviewing her current release, as well as her future books, but the anal part of me will not let me review books in a series out of order. Nope, just can't.
3) I love the book and kinda just want to review it. Yeah, 'nuff said.
Dark Lover by JR Ward
The rough streets of Caldwell, NY are home to more than just drug dealers and working girls. Deep in the shadows wages a centuries old war between Vampires and the Lessening Society, a group of soulless humans dedicated to their destruction. At the forefront of the war is the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB), a powerful group of 6 vampire warriors, bred and trained to be the defenders of their race. The leader of the group is Wrath, the last pureblood vampire in existence and reluctant king of the vampire race.
Vengeful as his name would suggest, Wrath carries the burden of being forced to watch his family's murder at the hands of the Lessening Society centuries ago. Wrath is content as a warrior and nothing more, until tragedy strikes and he finds himself keeping a promise to care for the halfblood daughter of a dear friend. It's a promise he's reluctant to keep, until he gets his first blurry glimpse of Beth Randall. He's immediately attracted to the spunky woman, determined to see her through her dangerous transition into the Vampire world, and maybe even take her as his queen. But the Lessening Society has other plans, and even if Beth manages to make it through her transition and the Lesser's tricks, will she return Wrath's feelings?
Dark Lover is more than just a romance novel covering the burgeoning relationship between its hero and heroine; it is the introduction to a world hidden deep within our own and a cast of rich characters who are everybit as real as the author putting them on the page. While Dark Lover tells Wrath and Beth's story as a romance is expected to, it also introduces the rest of the brothers who comprise the BDB, introducing their individual conflicts and subtly paving the way for each of the books to come.
Combining romantic themes with dramatic situations, erotic encounters, and dark humor, Dark Lover blurs the lines between paranormal romance, erotic fiction, and urban fantasy. Romance lovers will enjoy the fast pace, sexual tension, and happily-for-now ending that includes not only Wrath and Beth as a couple, but as leaders for their race. Erotica fans will enjoy the sexual heat. Reading about these two is like standing too close to a bonfire; you're bound to be scorched . Ms. Ward is certainly a master of crafting sex scenes that are hotter than hell. It's a talent she only inproves upon throughout the series. Finally, paranormal and urban fantasy fans will be blown away by the depth of the world Ward has created.
While the series continues to build, becoming more vibrant and compelling with each new edition, this is the story that started it all. Dark Lover is a great read. Pick it up. I'll be surprised if you can put it down before traveling the distance between the covers.
Until next time,