Sookie versus Trueblood

I’ve been a Sookie Stackhouse/Charlaine Harris fan for years so when True Blood came out i was so there, and i’ve watched every episode since then. One of my main reasons for being a fan of the show i will admit is lying in the bath tub to the right. I’m a fan of the Eric character in the books and have been looking forward to Alexander Skarsgard getting more involved in the series as Eric becomes more prominent in the plot. Those who don’t read the books may not realize that Eric actually becomes more important than Bill. The series doesn’t follow the books real slavishly and Stephen Moyer is likely popular (to say nothing of engaged to Anna Paquin) so perhaps they won’t let Eric dominate. Even at his current level of involvement, i keep wondering why they don’t give Skarsgard higher billing, but that’s a different story.

What i want to say is that i like the Sookie Stackhouse books more than i like True Blood. The tone is so very different. While Harris writes a couple of fairly dark series, interestingly the Sookie books are not really among them. Even the titles, Living Dead in Dallas, Dead in the Family, etc, reflect the lightish, tongue-in-cheek nature of the books. A lot of bad stuff happens. People get murdered in gruesome ways. But Harris doesn’t take you deep into the mind of the characters to experience their horror or revulsion. For example in Dead in the Family, Sookie is watching Eric drink a fairy’s blood (yes, fairies come later) and thinks He wasn’t holding back at all, and it was pretty gross. The gulping, the blood running down Colman’s neck, his glazed eyes. See, she’s describing some pretty dark stuff, but we don’t see her emotions. She goes on to say Eric is looking rosier by the minute. There’s always this slightly light quality to the writing, a little comic and satirical. The one exception in my view was the murder of Sookie’s grandmother early in the series that came as a big shock in the context of these books.
Cut to True Blood. What they have to show in the TV series is the action and they revel in it. At first, the very over-the-topness of the gore gave it a satirical quality that was fun. But now i feel it’s just getting dark for its own sake. And the darkness is unrelieved. Interestingly , a man commented on this to me recently saying there wasn’t enough relief from the unrelenting darkness. I agree. I got so tired of the sequences with Maryann at the end of last season I actually found myself fast-forwarding through some of the scenes. And i feel the same way about the scenes with Jessica in the current season. I think the director would do well to go back to the source and give us a bit more satire and a little less horror — but likely some of you won’t agree with me.
That said, my absolutely favorite thing about True Blood is the credits. The song, the production values, the vision of it make these among the finest credits i’ve ever seen. I never fast-forward through those. : )

Vampire Love

I have the edits on my book, Genetic Attraction, in the hands of readers and am waiting for comments back. Now, i could be working on edits of the prequel, but instead i—went to the movies. I love movies. They have always been one of my primary sources of relaxation since i was a kid. If there are films i like in theatres, i can easily see a movie a week and occasionally two. This weekend I saw Eclipse.

Funny that i love writing contemporary, but end up reading and watching so many vampires. I don’t like the really scary ones. (In a couple days i’m going to write some comments on CharlaineHarris’ Sookie Stackhouse books versus the much darker Trueblood .) All of the Twilight Saga falls into the not-very-scary category, but they still manage to be sexy. I wonder if Stephenie Meyer intended them to be quite as sexy as they are? No matter how honorable and upright she makes Edward, the threat of his “losing control” is very sexual. And no matter how adorable and “right for her” Jacob is, he really can’t compete with the danger of the vampire myth.
The movie is pretty darn good. The vampire war gives the plot structure, but the film is really about the significance of Bella’s choice to be a vampire. We finally face, as does she, the weight of such a choice. The wonderful valedictorian speech delivered by the character, Jessica, outlines the idea that young adulthood is for making mistakes and taking chances that you can’t make later in life. Bella has to wonder if she is giving up her choices.
We also spend more time with the very yummy vampire, Jasper, in this movie. Jackson Rathbone is a cutie and watching him come into his own is a treat. Another treat is a wonderful scene between Edward and Jacob in the tent where they compare what they can do for Bella. It’s worth seeing the film just to see this scene (no m/m fans, it’s not THAT kind of scene.)
If you don’t get Twilight or vampires, don’t see Eclipse. But if you do, run don’t walk to see all these pretty bloodsuckers on the big screen.

Get Yourself Some Love

I’ve been a huge fan of J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series practically from the beginning. She may have been on book 2 or 3 when i discovered them. And while i think Laurell K. Hamilton’s Jean Claude of the Anita Blake series is the best vampire ever set to paper (i like my vamps pretty and complex), i think the BDB is the best series of vampire stories yet created, probably even including the marvelous Charlaine Harris.

Like many people, i consider the third book in the BDB series, Lover Awakened, to be Ward’s finest effort. The brilliance of the series concept — that each book tells the story of one of the vampires and his search for love– allows Ward to really delve into the character of each of her heros. She isn’t bound by the need for a single, consistent point-of-view like Hamilton’s or Harris’ series are, ie Anita and Sookie. Consequently, the reader really gets involved with these heros and Zsadist, the central figure of Lover Awakened, is complicated, anguished, anti-heroic and still hugely relatable. His story is also compelling and the book stays completely focused on him so the reader is hooked. Butch’s story, Lover Revealed, is also terrific and Lover Unbound, because its about the fascinating brother, Vishous, held together well.
Now, before BDB fans pounce on me, let me quickly say that none of the BDB series are bad. Ward is an excellent writer and the world she has created is always involving. But, book 6, Lover Enshrined, showed the strain of trying to maintain the rich imagination and conflict of the series. The story of Phury spent way too much time in the world of the Scribe Virgin (the deity of the vampires) and much of it was, in my opinion, a metaphysical mess. Lover Avenged, book 7, also fell short of the excellence of some of the previous books, not because the story of Rehvenge wasn’t compelling, but because the book was almost equally divided between the story of Rehvenge finding his love and the backstory on John Matthew and his lover, Xhex. This took a lot of the impact away from the Rehvenge story because from the first time the John Matthew character appeared in an earlier book it was clear that both Ward and her readers loved him. Consequently, the part of Lover Avenged that concerns John Matthew so over-balances the story of Rehvenge it divides the focus and reduces the final impact of the book. The book seems transitional — which, in fact, it is.
Which brings me to the new book, Lover Mine. Yes, this is the story of John Matthew, the mute, orphaned vampire, and his impossible, fascinating, assassin lover, Xhex. This book puts Ward and the series right back on track. She clearly loves writing about this man — almost as much as she adores Zsadist and i like the book very nearly as much as book 3, high praise indeed. Every moment of the book is compelling. You will want to keep reading even as you don’t want it to end. Ward orchestrates this book beautifully, introducing several stories that seem unrelated until she weaves them together at the end. But she never loses focus on John Matthew and Xhex, even while the book introduces, or more accurately expands upon, a secondary plot involving the two friends of John Matthew, Blay and Qhinn. This subplot suggests that sometime soon Ward will be introducing her first m/m story to the BDB series and, of course, i’ll be at the head of the line to buy it.
I can’t explain the book in more detail because too much of the plot is dependent on the books that precede it. Yes, you will have to read all 8, but that is no hardship. The Black Dagger Brotherhood series really does cross genres. It’s paranormal but still very contemporary; it’s romance and action. The heros are brilliant and the villains are the slimiest and most evil. These books have something for everyone. If you haven’t yet indulged, start with Dark Lover today. And if you have, make sure you read Lover Mine very soon.

You Want More

First, i should say i’m not a book reviewer, i’m a writer. I won’t be keeping up on all the new releases and giving you a balanced critique. Instead, from time-to-time i’ll share one of my favorite books (or maybe one i don’t like and think you could skip). Many of my favorites will be m/m contemporary because that’s what i like to write and read, but some paranormal will slip in and an occasional historical. So these are just a writer’s comments.

A couple months ago, i read More by Sloan Parker, a contemporary m/m/m menage. This, my friends, is a tough genre to carry off. Sloan, a woman, has to get into the head, heart and voice of not just two, but three men and keep them separate, unique and believable. She succeeds brilliantly. In fact, More has something for every reader. Luke is the tortured, repressed and angst-ridden central character. The book is written in first person so we’re locked into his point-of-view. His conflict with his father, a prominent conservative politician who will do anything to keep his gay son hidden from the press, is the driving action of the story. Richard is the alpha male with a heart, balanced and strong. And Matthew — well clearly, Sloan has a special place in her heart for him (or maybe it was just me.) Gentle, sensitive, young and pretty, Matthew reveals wisdom beyond his years and is the emotional glue of the trio.
While the book is character-centered, there is a lot of plot. While i tend to like simple stories and so am just as happy without much complexity, More has huge conflict and page-turner qualities that will make readers very happy. When conflict gets too intense i have to pause in my reading, and Sloan did that to me on more than one page. There’s also some mild kink for those that like a little BDSM in their romance.
But most of all, the emotional elements of the story ring true. The men have their own conflicts and the reader believes both the path and resolution of each story. If Matthew stands out, it’s appropriate since Sloan gives him the heart of the story to carry.
I would tell you that More is Sloan Parker’s first book but there’s actually no reason because if i don’t say anything you will never know. The book has the polish, depth and sparkle of an accomplished writer. Imagine how good she’ll get with experience.
You can reach Sloan at
and check out her blog posts in my list of favorite blogs.