Vampire books. Vampire movies. Vampire television shows. With vampire themed media raking in the bug bucks, it was only a matter of time before advertisers started looking for their piece of the vamp-pie.
To advertise the second season of True Blood, a fake advertising campaign was launched. The first adds touted the product that shares it's name with the title of the show; True Blood, the beverage choice of mainstream vamps everywhere.
But the ads didn't end with the synthetic blood substitute. Faux ads targeting vampire enthusiasts with everything from Marc Ecko cologne to Gillette razors to Harleys and Mazdas are cropping up around the country. Several big name brands are throwing in with HBO to create these adds, and it looks as though the response is a favorable one.
Take this ad, featuring Harley Davidson:
Or this one, from Marc Ecko:
Or this one, from Gillette:
Ok, so the current campaigns are only stunt campaigns, but they are attracting attention and could be indicative of a potential market. If so, this likely isn't the last we'll see of vampire advertising.
For some articles on the faux vamp advertisements, please click here and here.
This is a fascinating article. It covers some of the vampire trends in pop culture, the history of the mythos, the more popular (and reoccurring) fantasies, and even the psychology behind the intense sexuality that so many seem to associate with vampires.
For a slideshow of some well known and well loved vamps, courtesy of Newsweek, please click here.
A month or so ago, there was an entry at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about Breaking Up With A Series. This struck me as interesting because I've recently been thinking about a once-loved series that I just don't care enough to read anymore. Now, I fully admit that I'm a series addict. If a character and world truly grabs my attention, I want continuing stories of the characters and their lives. I will hold on to a series when even the rats are jumping ship. But sometimes a series just...fizzles, so badly that you have to let it go before it takes you down with it. And with the fizzle comes a certain amount of disappointment, like a trusted friend letting you down.
Some of these shocked me. Tired of JR Ward? Perish the thought. The woman could sneeze on paper, have it published, and I'd probably spend hours trying to decipher the meaning of the water marks on the page. Likewise, I'm still deeply in love with Harris'sSookieseries, and not just because of True Blood. I feel like the world Harris has built is just really starting to be explained. While I don't like the increasingly darkening mood the series has taken, I still consider it a must read.
I've never read any of the Anita Blake books. Same goes for the Carpathian novels and, from what I hear from Helena (and I trust her implicitly...where books are concerned), I'm not in a great hurry to break the binding of a Feehan novel anytime soon. I haven't read enough of Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series to pass fair judgment. As for Evanovich'sStephenie Plum series, I'm praying I stay interested. I only picked up this series (now 15 deep) about a week ago. I've finished the first two and I'm infatuated. It's quirky, it's smart, it's sassy, and it's completely relatable on a very basic woman-cursed-by-Murphey's-law type way.
Now, there are series that I'm ready to have "the talk" with. You know the talk, the one that begins with "It's not you, it's me..." and ends with me eating a pint of extra creamy mint chocolate chip ice cream and wishing I'd started the convo weeks (months, years) earlier.
Men and books. Both can lead you to mainline Häagen-Dazs.
Yes, that totally deserved its own link.
The first series on my list, and it pains me to say this, is Lynsay Sands' ArgeneauSeries. Looking back, we've had a rockier relationship than I'd like to admit, the Argeneau's and I. The first two books hooked me, they really did. The next few seemed a bit long, but only because the out of order sequencing and release of the titles lead to a great deal of repetition. At least that's what I told myself.
But things did get better for a while. The novels eventually straightened themselves out and the story lines started getting stronger. I had such high hopes. Then the nagging feeling that I'd read this all before started to settle in. The world is fascinating, like no other vampire world I've read before, but the main characters are all so similar. Still, the situations and world building of the series kept me interested...all the way to the ninth (and in my opinion strongest) book.
Vampire, Interrupted really is a worthwhile read. Unfortunately it is also the last worthwhile read in a series that has passed its prime. The last two installments, so forgettable I can't remember their titles and don't care enough to look them up, were a collection of recycled characters and themes so bland that I jumped ahead pages at a time just to make the reading go faster. Then, when I finally got to the end of the last, I realized I simply didn't care. I didn't like the main characters, I didn't feel any chemistry between them, and even though the story ended on a cliffhanger, I have no real interest in seeing the matter resolved. I've reached the end of the Argeneau series, whether the series continues or not.
You just aren't meeting my needs, Argeneaus. I'm sorry. I'll always look back on the good times.
So, what series do you think have passed their prime?
From the Casts' website: "After she is Marked, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx...Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny— with a little help from her vampyre friends."
The Cast mother-daughter duo work together to create this interesting vampire lore spin in a young adult format. I know the House of Night series is considered to be teenie bopper lit; however, its contribution to the diversity of the vampire stereotype can not be ignored. Vampires, or vampyres as the Casts call them, are "marked" at the age of 16. A devote follower of the Goddess Nyx visits the chosen teenagers and touches their foreheads, imprinting the outline of a blue crescent moon tattoo. Once the tattoo appears, the teen must journey to the House of Night boarding school post haste, or death will quickly ensue.
Zoey Redbird, shortly after being marked, escapes from her family home and makes her way eventually to the school, but not before having a vivid vision of the Goddess Nyx. All vampyres young and old pay homage to Nyx through ceremonies and complete devotion. Nyx tells Zoey that she is to be her eyes and ears and specially marks her. Everytime Zoey completes a particularly harrowing task, aka saving her friends/her life, she is blessed with more ancient tattooing courtesy of the goddess. Casts' vampyres worship the night as well as the earth bound elements. Zoey is the first vampyre to possess an affinity for all five elements: air, fire, earth, water, and spirit.
Neferet, the high priestess and headmistress, has the ability to read minds; therefore, the students dare not step out of line during their school years. If the fledgling survives, yes some of their bodies revolt against the change, the tattoo on their forehead will fill in and extra tattooing around the moon will determine what their calling profession-wise will be. Zoey is the only fledgling to already have a filled in crescent moon. For all these reasons, Zoey is considered the next super vamp, and as a result garners a lot of attention both friend, foe, and lover in nature. Suprises are consistently around every page, a completely new type of vampyre shows up later in the series and Neferet is definitely not what she seems.
The House of Night series is a mixture of JK Rowling's Harry Potter, Stephanie Meyers' Twilight, and a good dose of Wiccan ideology, all portrayed through the dialogue and normal teenage angst of the present day. The relationship drama can get a tad old and petty; but the action and ordeals propel the plot forward. The element summonings/ceremonies are a little too numerous and tedious, but overall feed well into the original Cast ideal of vampyres.
All of the five novels in this series are serious page-turners: Marked(2007), Betrayed(2007), Chosen(2008), Untamed(2008), and Hunted(2009). On October 27th of this year, the sixth book: Tempted will be in stores. If you are in the mood for a young adult series with an addictive plot and charming characters, start on the House of Night series. You will not be disappointed.
On July 10, 2009, Anne Rice made the following declaration on her webpage:
“I completed the Vampire Chronicles in 2002 with the writing of Blood Canticle. This novel marks the end of my journey with Lestat and his friends. It also marks the end of my journey with the Mayfair Witches and the Taltos. The novel does not attempt an artificial finale, or wrap up, but presents Lestat and others as moving on in time. The novel also reflects a profound moral change in Lestat.
In 2002, I experienced a new spiritual beginning, and my writing inevitably changed. New challenges presented themselves and new novels were the result. “I remain proud of the Vampire Chronicles and the stories of the Mayfair Witches, and I remain close to the readers of these books. But I have no more stories to tell with the Vampires or the Mayfair Witches, and cannot write about these characters anymore. To attempt to do so would be dishonest. I think the eleven novels of the Vampire Chronicles are best enjoyed as a complete and finished work.
I am very hopeful that high quality films will be made in the future based on the Vampire Chronicles and books about the Mayfair Witches, and my agents are actively working on possible projects.”
I just recently began to read the Vampire Chronicles and have enjoyed it immensely so far. I am sad to know that the end has come for this series; however, since Anne Rice has not visited this world in 6 years and is now focused on her Christ the Lord trilogy, I am not overly suprised.
From Ronda Thompson's website:
"Supermodel Lou Kipinski seems to have it all. But beauty is only skin deep—and sometimes Lou's porcelain complexion can get a bit hairy. The only thing worse than a furry fashion faux-pas? Fangs in her million-dollar smile. That's what happened six months ago, when Lou had her first outbreak. But now that she's at the height of her career she absolutely must find a cure…So what's a single werewolf gotta do?"
"Most women find the bloating, cramping, and bitchiness of PMS bothersome at worst. I turn into a monster a week before my period...literally" So starts the first novel in a new series by Ronda Thompson. Sadly, this will be the only installment, since the author passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 2007.
Lou Kipinski was not always supermodel material. Her transformation to striking good looks coincided with another, of a canine persuasion. After seven years of attempting to forget her past life, Lou is on a mission to locate her birth parents and the answers for all of her werewolf questions. While digging for information, Lou is plagued by nightmares of a werewolf serial killer, whose victim profile just happens to fit Lou completely. On top of investigating her own past, Lou finds herself caught up with a hunky police officer in charge of the murder cases. It is a race against time to figure out who she is and save her own tail from being chomped by a killer that gets closer every day.
Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel is a light and fun read. The characters are entertaining and the suspense continues at a gradual climb until the final few chapters where it sky rockets. At times, the story seems to put too much emphasis on Lou's possible bedmates, but the plot picks right up a few pages later. Along with many others, I am sad that there will not be other installments in the series. I would have thoroughly enjoyed uncovering Lou's past with her.
If you are looking for a fun, humor filled page turner concerning supermodels, werewolves, hot men, and a sprinkling of vamps for good measure, spend a few afternoons with Ronda Thompson.
As long as I'm talking up other people's work (c'mon, what the hell else would we do on a review blog), I wanted to include this cartoon.
This rendering is not mine. I am in no way this talented. It is the work of Shinga who is, well, quite gifted, as you can obviously see. Shinga is the artist behind the Head Trip comic strip. Funny stuff if you're interested in checking it out. It's on hiatus at the moment, but plenty of back comics to read.
Anyway, the following is Shinga's recap of Twilight. Oh Twilight, I love you in spite of reason, but I still find this damn funny.
If you can't get the text to enlarge enough to read it here, follow this link to the original.
If you enjoyed this, check out Shinga's other work. Giving credit where credit is due, people.
"Mr. Hyde has escaped from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He plunges to his death and everyone blames Van Helsing. The French gendarme yells at Van Helsing in a German accent."
"Van Helsing goes to confessional. Some cardinal bitches at him. "Why won't you tell them I work for you?" whines Van Helsing, totally sounding like some married guy's girlfriend whining that he won't take her out in public."
"Anna weeps as her hot beloved brother turns into a badly computer-generated werewolf before her eyes. ... VAN HELSING: He's not your brother anymore! He's just a bunch of pixels!"
Again, funnier in context than out. The movie was, at best, laughable. The parody makes it more so. Check out the full Van Helsing in 15 Mintuesparody here.
"Just imagine the creative challenges they'd have to face. Cook an entire Italian meal without using garlic. All forms of protein would be raw meat. The chefs would be required to make blood sausage and blood pudding. All meals would have to be designed to compliment Bloody Marys. Can you imagine Padma and Tom trying to choke some of this stuff down?"
I think this would be a genius way to raise ratings!
From Feehan's website:
"He came to her in the night, a predator -- strength and power chiseled his features. The seduction was deep and elemental; he affected her soul...She came to him at dawn, his bleakest hour. As the beast raged inside him, threatening to consume him, he vented his centuries-old despair in an anguished cry that filled the waning night. And she answered..."
Dark Prince is the first in a now twenty book deep series about the Carpathians. Feehan has a very interesting concept about vampirism. A male Carpathian must find a mate within a few centuries or detrimental changes will occur to their character. The mateless male loses the ability to express emotions, see in color, and portray a sense of morality. Once these men begin to deteriorate, only a lifemate will drag them away from the path towards becoming the cliched evil vampire of folklore.
Mikhail Dubrinsky is entering this critical time window for finding a mate. The book opens with him crying in despair, body and mind. Raven Whitney, a telepathic hunter of serial killers, reaches out to him with her mind. Yes folks, Feehan's vamps can communicate telepathically, turn into clouds of mist, and speak the languages of all wild animal species (with a particular fondness for the wolf). Mikhail decides that even though this is a first "mind meeting" that he will proceed to "mind fondle/rape" Raven, who happens to be a virgin.
Mikhail steals/kidnaps Raven. Raven finds out that Mikhail is the prince of his people and that there is a serial killer that wants to kill all of them off. Well how convenient that Raven has this amazing serial killer mind reading ability. Mikhail and Raven find plenty of time for completely boring cookie cutter mindless (very far from mindblowing) sex amid the adventure of finding and stopping said Carpathian genocide-ian. I literally skipped over the sex scenes, which annoyingly occurred about every other plot turn.
Overall Feehan has an amazing concept and unique theory; however, the execution is not all there. The characters are not developed and show limited personality. The sex scenes are predictably boring and actually take away from the enjoyment of the novel. If these scenes were deleted and filled with more character building, I would gladly read this as a paranormal novel instead of a romance.
"A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.
Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her…"
~~*~~ Spoilers Ahoy! ~~*~~
I don't even know where to begin. Helena has her Rhage, but, for me, Zsadist encapsulates everything I want a hero to be. He is dark, dangerous, menacing, and for all intents and purposes, more threatening than the villains he fights. As his brother Phury says (and I'm going to paraphrase because I can't find the exact passage), "Zsadist isn't broken, he's ruined. Do you understand the difference? When something's broken, there's a chance it can be fixed. Ruined? You just wait to buy a pine box." Chilling, huh?
But Phury is wrong. Even someone as damaged and, ok, as ruined as Zsadist is not beyond saving. He can be healed, but it takes a very special woman, a woman who's faced a hell reminiscent of the one Zsadist himself was caught within. In saving Bella, Zsadist is able to save himself. But I'm getting all kinds of ahead of myself. Maybe I should start at the beginning.
Zsadist is the most terrifying member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Not because he is larger or stronger than all the rest. Not because he's cursed with an inner beast waiting to lash out (coughcoughRhagecough). Not even because he is skilled with weaponry or a great intellect. Zsadist is none of these things. He's terrifying because he has no limits. He's not afraid of pain. He's not afraid of death. Apart from the Lessers, Zsadist is about as soulless as they come. His anger is hard-earned, learned over a century of torture as a blood and sex slave. Zsadist has been used and violated in every way possible until he has nothing left to give, or so he thought.
When Bella enters his life, he's no kinder to her than to anyone else. But when she's kidnapped by the Lessers, Zsadist is consumed by his desire to see her safely returned. Her imprisonment symbolizes his own. He feels her abuse, her fear, her hatred for her captors, and he makes that his driving force. But getting Bella back is only half the battle. As Zsadist knows too well, simply freeing a person from imprisonment is not a cure-all. Emotional wounds take far longer to heal than physical wounds, and Zsadist has never been too big on emotions.
Zsadist has to fight his own demons in order to help Bella overcome hers. But don't think Bella's some kind of shrinking violet! Bella knows what, and who, she wants. She's a survivor, a fighter, and ballsy enough to take on Zsadist at his worst.
And that's why I love this story so much.
Lover Awakened is not a flowery tale of a strapping, square-jawed hero and his wilting damsel in distress. It's the tale of a physically and mentally scarred man vampire who's all but given up when a gutsy, equally scarred beauty shows up and proves herself his equal. And that, my friends, is what love is all about.
Only JR Ward can turn a character like Zsadist into a hero. When it comes to paranormal romance, this book is my hands down favorite.
Lifted from the back cover:
"In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood." "Most dangerous" and most amazing (in my humble opinion)! Rhage is the warrior chosen for the second installment of JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Boasting movie screen good looks, an insatiable sex drive, and a smart mouth that almost puts even me to shame, Rhage, aka Hollywood, cuts down lessers with a vengence in order to protect the civilian vampires.
In Lover Eternal, we learn the origins of the horrible curse that graces Rhage. The Scribe Virgin always seems to have sand in her britches 24/7 and decides to force Rhage to share his pictaresque body with a Godzilla-esque lesser pulverizing machine for no less than 200 years. Oh it gets better, Rhage has very limited to no control over when the monster lizard will decide to morph out and make a fast lunch of his enemies and possibly his own warrior pals. All this because he accidently killed an owl...(mumble grumble *@%$ you, Scribe Virgin).
As he battles with his inner Geico gecko on steriods, Mary waltzes into his life. Rhage becomes infatuated with her voice and he pursues her, like all romance stories go. Mary is a strong cancer survivor type heroine, the type I typically love reading about. However, she is one dimensional and stuck too much on the "he can't possibly like me, I am plain looking and he is a gorgeous hunk of a blood-sucking man" kick. Now before everyone jumps out of their reading chairs and strangles me with a pink ribbon, in the last hundred pages I absolutely love her character, after most of the insecurity disappears.
In addition to the love story, we get the typical action adventure of the vamp-lesser war. The world that Ward weaves is amazing in its descriptive scenes. Action, dialogue, character personalities, all flow amazingly to create the BDB world into a seemingly tangible realm. I would literally love to move into the Caldwell mansion with these guys! On the downside, the simple smell of baby powder now sends me scrambling for a "go back to the Omega" weapon.
Focus is spent not only on Rhage, the main warrior in this novel, but we also get more details on all the brothers. Personalities develop and spar with each other; the background of each warrior starts to build and the history behind the whole vamp and lesser worlds is revealed bit by glorious bit.
If you are a fan of the paranormal romance genre, this book is a MUST read. Rhage is also my favorite brother, I mean what isn't there to love? (and their first sex scene is hotttt ;p ) Enjoy!
Blurb from Pat White's Web site:
"An out-of-this world tale of a scientist turned crystal healer and the demon blackmailed into protecting her. Dr. Destiny Rue must face her fear of insanity and trust a stranger to defend her from paranormal creatures determined to destory her. What neither she, not the Ash Demon Kadenshar realize is that together they have the ability to bring peace to the dark and mortal realms. But first, they both have to accept themselves for who they are, and surrender to love."
Saving Destiny is a quick read that feels much longer. Heroine Dee (Destiny) Rue is a talented, if unappreciated, scientist who is desperately afraid of falling prey to the same insanity that claimed her mother. Or so she believes. She is completely unaware of the mysterious crystal powers that she owns, or the paranormal battle waging around her. As a heroine, it took me a while to really "get" Dee. I've heard of beta heroes and, to my mind, Dee is something of a beta heroine. She spends a good deal of the story somewhat catatonic. Her self doubt is so great that I, as a reader, doubted her abilities as well. When she finally transforms from weak human to supremely powerful goddess, it's almost too quick to follow. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall, the moment when Dee would again crumble into a sniveling mess of self-believed insanity. That was my main problem with the story. While Dee eventually becomes a strong, purpose-driven heroine, it takes her so long to get there that I find it frustrating. And her journey isn't exactly clear. She wallows in weakness and misery for the better part of the book, then wakes up changed. Very suspect on the believability scale.
As a hero, Kadenshar is more believable. Yet, after a while, I found his mental back and forth tedious as well. As a demon he doesn't believe in love, and yet he feels love strongly. He means only to save his race (the Ash Demons), but he doesn't really trust his race or their methods. He hates humans and the human world, but his goal (in addition to saving his brother) is to preserve the passages that allow demonkind to pass from their world to the human world. These contradictions are somewhat explained through Kade's sense of duty and guilt, but eventually grow tiresome.
Saving Destiny, while certainly readable, is a flawed book. It is top heavy. If you divide the book into thirds, the first third is VERY long. The second third, though shorter, is still very detailed, but then the final third of the book (the resolution) is rushed. Secondary characters are thrown in haphazzardly, and some seemingly without purpose.
Overall, I'm not sorry that I read Saving Destiny. It was the first paranormal I've read that portrayed a demon as a hero, and that it did very well. By the end of the story I was fully infatuated with Kade, who (all flaws aside) is a well written character. He has depth and personality. He has multiple motivations guiding his actions, and the motivations are pulling him in completely opposite directions. This is what makes me more forgiving of his internal dialogue and self-doubts than Dee's. He seems real, where Dee is more a cardboard cutout of what a heroine should be. As to whether or not I'd recommend it...only if you're inbetween books and need something short to pass the time.
The New York Times published an article titled A Trend With Teeth, describing the vampire phenomenon that has clutched modern culture in the form of movies, television, books, and fashion. Very interesting, a definite must-read for vamp addicts.
Authors/Publishers, We will gladly review novels/short stories within the genres of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dystopian, cyberpunk and steampunk. Adult, young adult (YA), or erotic. Email vampsrus [at] gmail [dot] com with your requests.