Museum of Literary Wonders

Museum of Literary Wonders #4

Museum of Literary Wonders

Hello, and welcome back to the Museum of Literary Wonders! Are you ready for another part of the tour? Perhaps some of you have just joined us for the first time today, in that case let me explain. I am Rinn, the curator and your tour guide for today. The museum holds many wonderful objects from many different worlds and universes, preserved in this museum because of their importance – perhaps they hold a lot of meaning, perhaps they’re important plot points or maybe just because they’re pretty… For whatever reason, they have been carefully stored in the museum collection so that generation after generation can learn about them. Without further ado, let us go on!

Sabriel


museum_bells

The name of these Necromancer’s Bells is deceiving, as they were also used by the Abhorsen in the Old Kingdom, both to bind and raise the dead. Made of silver with mahogany handles, they are infused with both Charter and Free Magic, and as a result are very dangerous. A full set has seven bells, the names of which are Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth and Astarael. In the hands of the wrong person, they could cause utter chaos, hence the high security around this exhibit.

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Jeep


museum_jeep

Perhaps you remember reading in the newspaper about a new dinosaur ‘theme park’ with real live dinosaurs, and how it all went terribly wrong? People eaten by a tyrannosaurus rex, ripped to shreds by velociraptors? No? Well anyway, this is one of the jeeps from Jurassic Park – one of the few that wasn’t stomped on or ripped apart by a hungry king of the lizards. And don’t worry, it was carefully checked before it arrived here – no compsognathuses hiding away in the boot or anything…

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True Blood


museum_trueblood

Perhaps you recognise this bottle of True Blood. Perhaps it’s something you consume on a regular basis. It may be an every day object for some people, but it also marks a historical event: the creation of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists, which enabled vampires to come ‘out of the coffin’, and reveal their existence. The revelation that vampires were real changed a LOT – new rules and regulations, political and religious stances against and for vampires, many people turned against neighbours and friends. Whatever you may think about it, it was certainly a game changer.

Are there any questions about today’s tour? What exhibits would you like to see next?

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Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: April 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

booksreadapril14
Last month I read a total of twenty books, which sounds like a lot but many of them were graphic novels: After Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #13.5) by Charlaine Harris, Mass Effect Foundation: Volume 2 by Mac Walters, Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, Glow (Sky Chasers #1) by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes, Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor, X-Men Forever 2, Back in Action (X-Men Forever 2 #1) by Chris Claremont, Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Volume 2 by Stan Lee, This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, Civil War: Marvel Universe by Ed Brubaker, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, Behemoth (Leviathan #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Goliath (Leviathan #3) by Scott Westerfeld, Wolverine Noir by Stuart Moore, Wolverine First Class: Ninjas, Gods and Divas by Peter David, Wolverine First Class: Wolverine-By-Night by Fred Van Lente, X-Men Legacy: Emplate by Mike Carey, The Avengers: Volume 2 by Brian Michael Bendis, X-Men: Worlds Apart by Christopher Yost, The Kill Order (Maze Runner #0.5) by James Dashner.

I was so happy to finally finish the Leviathan series, and it’s now one of my favourite Young Adult series out there. I read some other great books this month: Days of Blood and Starlight was just as gripping as Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Falling Kingdoms was a wonderful fantasy read. I also went crazy on the graphic novel front, ordering as many Marvel comics as I could through my county library service. And there are still plenty more to read! I also read most of Dragon Age Library Edition: Volume One, but unfortunately my ARC stopped about three quarters of the way through. I did email Netgalley, who contacted the publisher but sadly I haven’t heard anything and the title has now been archived. I will just rate and review it based on what I did managed to read.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read five books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, so unfortunately I didn’t do as well as last month, and I also didn’t quite manage to defeat April’s villain, Kingpin. Better luck next month! May’s villain is Bullseye, and he looks to be quite a challenge.
  • I’ve already beaten my goal of fifty books for this year on Goodreads. I’ve raised the goal to seventy-five, which I think will still be manageable – I may even reach that before August, and I can raise it again!

 

Currently reading:

>The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black The Quick by Lauren Owen

Off the blog:

The majority of April was fairly quiet, but this past week has been pretty busy. I’ve been off work since last Tuesday, although I’m back today. On Wednesday night I went to the Glamour Book Club to see Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen, and I also met up with some fellow book bloggers! I will cover the event in detail in a future post. My friend joined me in London, and she stayed until Tuesday. On Thursday night, we went to see Jace Everett in Bristol. It was a TINY event, with about one hundred people – but the venue put out chairs, so no-one was dancing and I felt like we gave off a bad impression. But despite that, I loved the music and got to meet the man himself afterwards, and get a CD signed. Then on Friday we went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which I really enjoyed, Saturday was Free Comic Book Day which meant a trip to Forbidden Planet in Bristol, as well as Bristol Zoo because it was a lovely, sunny day. Oh, and a few weeks ago my Dragon Age: The World of Thedas book arrived, which my fellow Queen of Ferelden, Paola, convinced me to buy. I was just a *little* bit excited by its arrival, as you can see…

Some highlights from April 2014.
Some highlights from April 2014.

 

How was April for you?

 

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #9: True Blood

tottvheader

Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: True Blood.

true blood dvd

Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.

I am unashamedly a big fan of this wonderfully cheesy series. I’ve read all the books (written by Charlaine Harris), and finally caught up with the TV show last year. Although the series is VERY different to the books – the only season that follows the book plotline is season one and partly two – they’re both gory, silly and very, very fun. So apart from the obvious: read the books by Charlaine Harris – here’s some other books you might enjoy if you’re a fan of True Blood.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

One of the masters of fantasy wrote a vampire novel in his early days, and it is seriously underrated. Set in nineteenth century Louisiana, it follows a riverboat captain called Abner Marsh who is approached by a strange businessman called Joshua York, and offered a very good deal. However, York is not quite as he seems, and Marsh may have gotten himself into something deadly… It has all the traditions of a vampire story, with a more unusual setting. Yes, it’s Louisiana and Mississippi, like much of True Blood (and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles), but it’s on a steamboat! Vampires! On a steamboat! Plus you can’t go wrong with GRRM’s writing (or maybe I’m a bit of a fangirl…).

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

I reviewed this one a while ago, and it really impressed me. A retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula, from the point of view of one of Dracula’s transformed victims, Incarnation is a wonderfully written book. The tone really captures the writing style of the period in which it is set, and the author’s descriptions of the Yorkshire moors and dark London streets are very eerie. I was so happy that I requested it from Edelweiss, as it was really nothing like I was expecting. My review was also chosen to be featured on Edelweiss, which was exciting.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Less of a traditional vampire novel than the other two, but still a brilliant tale. It’s a huge book, with a wide cast of characters. In The Passage, vampires are created through a virus, similar to that of I Am Legend. The story follows a group of survivors, as well as a young girl who is central to the whole thing – but they’re not quite sure how. The sequel, The Twelve came out last year and I still need to get round to that one.

Are you a fan of True Blood? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Misc.

Horror October: Representations of Vampires

vampire (noun), pronunciation: /ˈvampʌɪə/
(in European folklore) a corpse supposed to leave its grave at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with long pointed canine teeth. — from the Oxford English Dictionary.

As part of today’s Horror October post, I plan on discussing the different representations of vampires in media. Vampires throughout history share many common features and habits, but some books, films or TV shows portray them in slightly different ways. I’d love to hear your views, or input on any other representations of vampires.
 
The very first vampire of literature appeared in eighteenth century poetry, and was soon followed by various works of gothic fiction, such as The Vampyre by John William Polidori  (1819), Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872) and of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).
 
Whilst vampire literature has always been a popular genre, it has gone through a bit of boom recently with series like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Novels and the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer – not to mention the countless films, TV shows and video games.
 
I’ve picked out five different books/series that feature vampires in various ways – of course this is not a definitive list, and some have been chosen purely because they go against the norm.

 

  • Dracula is very much the ‘traditional’ vampire – although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he created the ‘modern’ vampire that we know today.
  • The book was published in 1897 and is mostly set in England, particularly around Whitby (in Yorkshire) and London.
  • Count Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, a fifteenth century prince of Wallachia. He was known as Vlad Dracula, or ‘Vlad, son of Dracul’. However, Stoker was inspired more by his name than his nature.
  • Dracula is a nocturnal creature, with an insatiable thirst for blood. He preys on innocents, particularly young women. He cannot go out in the daylight, and has a weakness for garlic – he can also be killed by being staked in the heart and beheaded. Dracula is able to turn into a dog, which is how he sneaks aboard the boat bound for Whitby.
  • Female vampires are featured in the book, referred to as ‘the sisters’ (or Brides of Dracula) and are shown as very seductive creatures.
  • It has since inspired a whole genre – the vampire novel. Some favourites of mine inspired by Dracula include Incarnation by Emma Cornwall and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.
  • As well as books, Dracula has inspired many a film adaptation – some of the most famous being the 1958 version featuring Christopher Lee, the 1992 version featuring Gary Oldman and many, many Hammer horror films.
  • And don’t forget the TV shows – like Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

  • A lesser known vampire story, Carmilla was actually published in 1872, twenty-five years before Dracula.
  • It is about a young woman who finds herself attracted to a female vampire named Carmilla. Although the text never specifically refers to the sexual attraction between the young woman, Laura, and Carmilla – as you would expect in a book of that period – it is obvious to the modern reader.
  • Carmilla only selects female victims, and whilst mostly nocturnal can actually go out in daylight, unlike Dracula. Like Dracula, however, she can change her shape and chooses the appearance of a black cat.
  • There have been many adaptations of Carmilla, including a 1964 version featuring Christopher Lee (again!). It is also supposedly the influence for Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.
  • True Blood references Carmilla – the vampire hotel in Dallas where Sookie and co stay is called Hotel Carmilla. The main antagonist in the 2009 film Lesbian Vampire Killers, starring Mat Horne and James Corden, is named Carmilla.

  • The Sookie Stackhouse Novels are a series of novels set in a fictional town in Louisiana, and featuring vampires, werewolves and a whole host of other supernatural beings. I wrote a guide to the series as part of Horror October two weeks ago.
  • The vampires in the books are very traditional: they can’t enter a house without an invitation from the owner, they have a thirst for blood, daylight burns them, they sleep in holes in the ground/dark spaces/coffins.
  • However, none of the vampires can transform into other creatures. Some do have extra powers e.g. Eric Northman can fly.
  • With the invention of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists, vampires ‘came out of the coffin’ – meaning they could live alongside humans and drink the synthetic blood, instead of feeding off of humans. However, some still do – mostly with the human’s consent.
  • The whole idea of the vampire in this series is very sexual – vampires themselves seem to have an insatiable sexual appetite, plus biting during sex heightens the pleasure for both vampires and humans.
  • Some see the series as a commentary on gay rights: vampires are denied many of the rights that humans have. A commonly used slogan by the anti-vampire Christian groups is ‘God hates fangs’, a play on the derogatory term for a homosexual person.

  • A huge teen hit sensation, The Twilight Saga tells the story of a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire.
  • The vampires in Twilight are a rather radical change from the more ‘traditional’ vampires. They can go out in sunlight, but have to avoid direct sunlight because their skin sparkles. This means that some have integrated into society, but they have to choose more temperate climates in which to live, and must also move on from these places when it is obvious that they are not aging.
  • The vampires that have chosen to live within human society try to avoid feeding off of humans, and instead feed from animals. Vampires that eat humans have red eyes, whilst ‘vegetarian’ vampires have bronze eyes.
  • The series is responsible for a recent boom in the paranormal romance market, particularly series featuring vampires and werewolves. The books have also been adapted into films, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

  • I Am Legend is a post-apocalyptic novel written by Richard Matheson, about a virus that affects the human race. It causes symptoms that look like vampirism, and follows Robert Neville, the last man left unaffected in Los Angeles.
  • The ‘vampires’ are created by a disease, for which there is no cure – but Neville is immune. He keeps himself alive by barricading himself in his house at night, and uses garlic, crucifixes and mirrors – but it is never shown whether these have any effect on the vampires, or whether Neville is just playing along with the legends.
  • The vampires can be killed by a stake to the heart, by exposure to direct sunlight or inflicting deep wounds on their bodies – the bacteria become parasites and consume the vampires.
  • Whilst the infected show many vampiric tendencies, it could be argued that they are zombies.
  • The book has been adapted four times, the most recent being the 2007 film I Am Legend, featuring Will Smith as Robert Neville.
  • Another novel that plays on this idea is The Passage by Justin Cronin, where vampirism is also spread by a virus.

Of course I don’t have the time or space to discuss every series or book I can think of – are there any that really stood out to you with their portrayal of vampires?

Misc.

Horror October: Rinn’s Guide to True Blood (or the Sookie Stackhouse novels)

Hello lovely readers. Many a time in the past, I’ve spoken about the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse series of novels, written by Charlaine Harris, so I thought I’d do a guide for those of you out there who don’t know much about it. I will clearly label all spoilers (which will be separate from the main part of the text) and sometimes things may be more subjective than factual… like how I feel about Eric’s face. And body. But I will try to enlighten you about this great series, and why it blows all those other vampire-based books out of the water (only partly through the medium of gifs…). There are some large differences between the later books and TV series, and I’ll try to make these clear!

First things first. The series comprises of thirteen books all set in the fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps, with occasional excursions to Baton Rouge, Monroe and other states such as Mississippi and Texas. The books are told from the point of view of one Miss Sookie Stackhouse, waitress and telepath.

Yep, she’s a telepath. Poor ol’ Sookie has the misfortune of being able to hear the thoughts of others – which may sound pretty cool, but when you do the sort of job she does, you hear many not entirely sober thoughts that you maybe didn’t want to know. As you can imagine, this is quite distracting, and as a result she’s gained a bit of a reputation for being crazy. She also hasn’t had much experience with guys – being able to hear their every thought does not a romantic setting make.

Delicious. (image source)


But there are certain types of people that Sookie can’t hear the thoughts of. Vampires, not at all; shapeshifters, weres and other supernatural beings, barely. In the True Blood world, supernatural beings walk among us, vampires having recently ‘come out of the coffin’ when Japanese scientists successfully created synthetic blood, allowing them to live alongside humans without having to drink from them. Not that it stops some…


Oh, and there’s a lot of violence and gore. And sex.

The series pretty much follows the life of Sookie and her supernatural acquaintances, whom I shall now introduce. Sit down, grab a hot beverage (or a glass of True Blood perhaps) and buckle in… it’s going to be a long post.


The main protagonist of the series, Sookie Stackhouse is strong-willed and fiercely independent. A telepath, she can hear the thoughts of others and as a result finds it difficult to make friends – her only true human friends at the beginning of the series are Arlene Fowler and Tara Thornton. She works as a waitress at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill, owned by her friend Sam Merlotte.

In the very first book, shortly after vampires are revealed as real, Sookie saves the life of a vampire named Bill, who later goes on to become her boyfriend. Bill is her first love – but it doesn’t last. She dates several ‘supes’, including Eric Northman (vampire), Alcide Herveaux (werewolf) and Quinn (weretiger).


She has a witty narrative voice, and is an intelligent young woman, determined to make a good future for herself. When she was just a small child, her parents were killed in a flood and she has lived with her grandmother ever since, in a ramshackle old farmhouse that has been passed down the family for generations.

[spoiler]It is revealed in the later books that Sookie is in fact part fairy, which explains why vampires find her particularly delectable – fairy blood is like vampire crack.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Sookie is badass. Well, until the ninth or tenth book – then she gets kind of boring. But honestly, she is a female protagonist that knows she doesn’t need a male in her life to make her happy, and sometimes she gives into her more primal instincts. So basically, she’s human (… or is she? *laughs evilly*)

Sookie is portrayed by Anna Paquin in the TV series.

A true Southern gentleman, Bill Compton is the first vampire Sookie meets – and her first love. Born in 1840, he fought for the South in the Civil War and was made a vampire twenty-eight years later. He returned to Bon Temps after vampires became public, to trace his descendants.

Bill is very caring of Sookie when they are in a relationship, but she gets frustrated by all the time he spends working on a project – a catalogue of all the vampires in North America. He later reveals something to Sookie that truly ends their relationship, but clearly still harbours feelings for her throughout the books. Bill is the official investigator for the local area – vampires have a strict hierarchy in this series, with various sheriffs across a state, and a king or queen of each state on top of them.

[spoiler]Bill betrays Sookie by giving information about her to the Queen of Louisiana, his boss. Their relationship was originally a way for Bill to learn about her, but he soon fell in love with her anyway. In the TV series, Bill becomes King of Louisiana and takes a very dark turn.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Eh, I’m not a big Bill fan. Especially TV-Bill. I find him kind of boring and a bit of jerk later on. I do like his accent though…

Bill is portrayed by Stephen Moyer in the TV series.

Eric Northman, at over 1000 years old, is one of the most powerful vampires in the Bon Temps area. He was originally from Sweden, the son of a Jarl, and is commonly referred to as a ‘blonde viking’ by Sookie. He is the sheriff of Area 5 in Louisiana, which includes Bon Temps and Shreveport, where Eric runs his very own vampire bar, Fangtasia.

His progeny is Pam, a dry-witted and sultry vampire lady, who helps him run Fangtasia. Eric and Pam have a very close relationship, and it is often around Pam that Eric shows a more tender side.


In the fourth book, Eric suffers from amnesia as part of a witches’ curse, and Sookie ends up looking after him. He is reduced to a defenceless child, nothing like his former self – he is sweet and caring, and during this time he has a brief romance with Sookie.


Eric is also officially the hottest vampire in the entire state of Louisiana. Fact.

[spoiler] Eric doesn’t remember his romance with Sookie, but memories eventually come back to him. He still loves her, in fact he had been harbouring feelings for her since book three, and the two eventually get ‘married’ (vampire style!), although it is more for Sookie’s protection than an urge to be a married couple.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: No, the above was not my opinion. It’s fact. Very factual. I gladly accept that it is fact. Eric is my favourite. Yum yum. I like his cheeky sense of humour, how he always seems to say something deadly serious and then you see this little glint in his eye and know he’s joking. Plus it amuses me that despite the fact that he is one thousand years old, and has lived (questionable… un… lived?) through so much, sometimes things like technology and modern inventions baffle him.

Eric is portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard in the TV series.

Pam Swynford de Beaufort is the vampire progeny and business partner of Eric Northman. She was born in London, and met Eric there in 1905, when he turned her. However, in the TV series she is shown as the madam of a Chicago brothel.

Incredibly loyal to Eric, and willing to die for him, she often covers up her true feelings with dry wit and sarcasm. Initially she looks down on Sookie, but eventually they grow close, Sookie even referring to Pam as the closest thing to a vampire friend she has (apart from her vampire lovers of course). 

In contrast to her demeanour, she often dresses like a surburban housewife in pastel colours – when she’s not wearing her ‘vampire’ gear for her shifts at Fangtastia.

[spoiler]These spoilers are for the show, not the book – Pam is the vampire that turns Tara Thornton, Sookie’s best friend, after Tara dies. It is also shown that she meets Eric in her brothel as he is hunting Bill and his maker, Lorena, who are killing off prostitutes as ‘easy pickings’ for sustenance.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: I love Pam, she’s so wonderfully sarky and has a really dark sense of humour. Plus in the book she has a sort of admiration/liking for Sookie, and tries hard to hide it – it’s pretty cute.

Pam is portrayed by Kristin Bauer van Straten in the TV series. Swynford de Beaufort is actually her surname in the TV series – in the books it is in fact ‘Ravenscroft’. I remembered too late!

Alcide Herveaux is a werewolf from Shreveport, who owns a surveying company with his father, Jackson Herveaux. When Sookie first meets him, he is Sookie’s ‘protection’ during a mission. He has also just recently gone through a breakup with a woman named Debbie Pelt, who has it out for Sookie…

There is definite chemistry between Alcide and Sookie, but the presence of his on-off girlfriend makes things difficult. However, Sookie and Alcide help each other out many times throughout the series, including Alcide’s run for packleader.

Physically he is a very large man: muscly and well over six foot. He also has a habit of growling, even in human form.

[spoiler]Sookie kills Alcide’s ex-girlfriend in self defense. When Debbie goes missing, Alcide tries to discover what happened to her, and using his super-wolfie senses, can smell her scent in Sookie’s kitchen. He knows that Sookie killed her, and this makes it impossible for the two of them to ever have a relationship – but he never turns Sookie in.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: I think I prefer TV-Alcide to book-Alcide. Although we get some of his back story through Sookie in the book, we actually get to see a lot more in the TV series.

Alcide is portrayed by Joe Manganiello in the TV series.

Jason Stackhouse is Sookie’s older brother, a well-known womaniser in the town of Bon Temps, and not particularly blessed in intelligence. However he more than makes up for this in the kindness of his ways, and is always looking out for his younger sister.

He works on the parish road crew in Bon Temps, and lives in his parents old house.

[spoiler]Like Sookie, Jason is part fairy which explains why many women find him so irresistible despite his infamous ways. Later on in the series he also becomes a part were-panther – he was bitten and made that way, rather than born were-panther, so he becomes a half-man, half-panther hybrid on the full moon. However, in the TV series he is bitten, but nothing becomes of it.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Totally the kind of guy I would avoid, but when you see him with Sookie he’s really a sweetie at heart. And in the TV series he turns into a bit of a badass. But just a little bit.

Jason is portrayed by Ryan Kwanten in the TV series.

Sookie’s best friend since childhood, Tara Thornton has had a hard life. Abused by her parents, she often ran to Sookie’s house to get away, so sees Sookie almost as a sister.

Book-Tara and TV-Tara differ quite a bit. Although both have had a traumatic childhood, book-Tara runs her own shop called Tara’s Togs, whereas TV-Tara has trouble keeping down a job and ends up doing occasional bar work at Merlotte’s.


Tara has several troubled relationships throughout the series, including one with a controlling vampire, but finally ends up in a happy one, as she deserves, later on.


TV-Tara is a much more interesting character than book-Tara – we get to learn so much more about her. Lafayette, the cook at Merlotte’s and her cousin in the TV series,  is very close with Tara.

[spoiler]In the TV series, Tara is killed and made vampire by Pam after Sookie and Lafayette beg her to turn Tara. As Tara hates vampires after her previous relationship with one, she is a very unstable new vampire and seems resentful towards Sookie and Lafayette, both previously her closest friends.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: TV-Tara is way more fun! I’m glad they developed her character and I love the dynamic between her and Lafayette.

Tara is portrayed by Rutina Wesley in the TV series.

Sam Merlotte is the owner of Merlotte’s, a popular bar and grill located in the town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. He is Sookie’s boss, and there is some chemistry between them, but neither really act on it.

Sam also happens to be a shapeshifter, meaning he can take on the form of any animal, but his favourite is the border collie. He uses his heightened senses as a dog to track down several people, including murderers.

In the TV show, he has a brief relationship with Tara.

[spoiler]In the TV series, we glimpse some of Sam’s past. He used his shifting abilities to steal money and expensive goods, and eventually used the funds to start his business. [/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Sam is such a sweetie and I often end up feeling sorry for him; he’s rather downtrodden. I just want a happy ending for him (I haven’t read the last book yet).

Sam is portrayed by Sam Trammell in the TV series.


The fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is home to nearly 3,000 people – including a host of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings. It is not too far from Shreveport, and comes under vampire Area 5 – Eric Northman being the Sheriff of the area. Notable Bon Temps families include the Stackhouses, the Fortenberrys, the Comptons and the Bellefleurs.


Merlotte’s Bar and Grill is a popular establishment located in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Owned by Sam Merlotte, it is a frequent destination for locals and visitors to the area. Employees include Sookie Stackhouse, Arlene Fowler, Tara Thornton (TV series) and Lafeyette Reynolds.

Fangtasia – ‘Life Begins At Night‘ – is the popular vampire nightclub owned by Eric Northman. It is located in Shreveport, and there is a strict no biting policy enforced. The local vampires take it in turns to make appearances, to draw in humans. Pam Swynford de Beaufort/Ravenscroft is also a business partner.

Sookie Stackhouse’s ramshackle farmhouse, passed down through generations of Stackhouses, is located a little ways out of Bon Temps, along the Hummingbird Road. She lives beside the local cemetery, and her closest neighbour is Bill Compton.

I hope that I have at least piqued your interest in the series – or if you’ve already read/watched it, that this was a fun read! And would you look at that, I managed to almost completely avoid using gifs!

Damnit Sam!
Here are the books available in the series:
There are also a lot of other short story compilations containing stories featuring Sookie – but here I’ve just listed the books where Charlaine Harris was the only/main author.
 
And what about the TV series?
There are currently six seasons (the sixth is airing now), and there will be a seventh and final  series. The first three or four series use main plotlines from the book – in fact series one is very loyal – but it really changes things after that. Several characters are pretty different: for example Tara has a much larger part, Lafayette is Tara’s cousin in the TV series but not the books (he’s also a more frequently recurring character), characters are added or omitted. One of Sookie’s love interests, Quinn the weretiger, has not yet appeared in the TV series. It also has the most amazing soundtrack ever, plus some of my favourite TV opening credits.
 

So that’s all for this post! Let me know if you’ve read the books, watched the show and what you think – or perhaps I’ve persuaded you to try it out? I’ve still got to read book thirteen, and watch series six myself.

 
Eric (and Rinn) out.
Misc.

Horror October: Introduction Post

Horror October

Horror October is here! An event organised by Leanne at Literary Excursion, you can read more about the event on her blog, or read my announcement post.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 22, from the UK and currently working as a medical receptionist. I’m working to save for my Masters degree, so I can go on and become a museum curator – however I really enjoy my current job too, which is a bonus! I studied ancient history and archaeology for my undergraduate degree, and graduated last summer.

 
Apart from reading I also love discovering all sorts of things about ancient cultures and archaeology, listening to music 24/7 (you can sample my tastes here), playing video games/talking out loud to video game characters/obsessing over Alistair with Paola, wasting far too much time on the internet and catching up with a million and one TV shows I still need to finish (here’s looking at you, Supernatural). I also volunteer at a local museum, where I record finds (I love finds!) on the database, and create handouts for the exhibits.

2. Why did you decide to join Horror October?

Leanne is part of Sci-Fi Month, which is how I got to know her, and I saw a few weeks ago that she was organising a similar event. I organised Sci-Fi Month to spread the love of the genre, but also to meet fellow like-minded bloggers, so I’d love to be able to do the same with this event. I was originally only going to maybe do one post, but then Leanne mentioned that she was also including supernatural and paranormal fiction, as well as traditional horror, meaning I had more to speak about.

3. What horror books have you read and loved?

The Shining by Stephen King, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (review) come to mind when I think of more traditional horror. In terms of supernatural/paranormal fiction, I loved Incarnation by Emma Cornwall (review), Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin and the Sookie Stackhouse novels (discussion about the series). I also absolutely loved the Goosebumps series as a child!

4. What are your plans for Horror October?
  • 1st October: introduction post
  • 8th October: giveaway
  • 15th October: a guide to True Blood/The Sookie Stackhouse Novels
  • 22nd October: my top ten horror books
  • 29th October: post exploring the different representations of vampires in media

Eric will be back in two weeks!
Thoughts

Thoughts #5: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels

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This post will contain spoilers for the Sookie Stackhouse series, up to Deadlocked (book twelve).

I’ve been reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels for a few years now. I made sure to read at least the first book before watching the series, because I’m the sort of person who likes to do that.

Recently, I finished book twelve, Deadlocked. There is one more left to go, it was published this May but I haven’t managed to get a copy yet. And despite the fact that, from about book eight or nine, the series has gone steadily downhill, I will be reading it. I have to know what happens!
 
Do you ever have that with a series? You’ve stuck with it for so long, had so many ups and downs, that even though it’s getting so repetitive and things have happened that you’d rather forget about, you just have to finish it.
 
It all began with the brilliant first book, Dead Until Dark. We are introduced to Sookie, a waitress from Louisiana who is a bit… unusual. She happens to be a telepath, which has resulted in some people thinking she is a bit crazy. Charlaine Harris sets the background of the story up nicely: vampires have recently ‘come out’, that is they have revealed their existence, timed with the creation of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists. This means that they can live on this synthetic blood, without having to feed from humans. But some still do, and some humans enjoy it – they are known as fangbangers. And so the darker side of the story is revealed.
 
Sookie really is a great character. She’s strong, independent, hard-working, intelligent. When she meets Bill, she is intrigued but she doesn’t instantly fall for him, she’s not a swooning damsel in distress. In fact, she saves him. This is a character who has so many death threats,  attempted murders and injuries throughout the series, that combined with her telepathic ability, it’s a miracle that she is still sane.
 
And it’s not just Sookie that’s a bit of a badass. There are so many fantastic characters through the series (so many characters in fact, that I have forgotten some…). There are vampires, werewolves, weretigers, werepanthers, shapeshifters, maenads, fairies, elves, witches – all cleverly entwined into a modern world. But of course, with that many amazing characters, there’s also some heartbreaking deaths. Claudette, Sookie’s fairy cousin, was quite possibly the one that got me the most.  
 
To round this little section up: I love the series because it is just pure fun, fantastical creatures in the modern world, plus some sex and gore to make it just a little bit spicy!
 
Accurate representation of the series.
 
Charlaine Harris doesn’t hold back on any of that, which is what makes the series a true adult vampire series. In a world full of vampire books where the vampires are a bit… wimpy, it’s nice to have some proper vampires.
 
I’m also a fan of books set in the Southern US states. I now have a fascination with Louisiana and its history, thanks to Sookie.
 
So, why do I feel let down by the series recently?
 
When Charlaine Harris started writing the series, a quota was set down for thirteen books. I don’t know if that was when she actually wrote it, or when HBO picked the books up for TV, but now it really just feels like she is writing to fill that quota. And what other number but thirteen?
 
For me, the series really started to fall flat at the end of book nine (Dead and Gone). The Fairy War was a big event, and it feels almost like that should have been the culmination of the series, or close enough. I felt pretty hollow after that book, a bit like Sookie. 
 
 
And from then on, it feels like Charlaine Harris is writing just to fill the pages. Sookie, I do not  want to know every detail of your day. I did not need to know that you shaved your legs, or put out the rubbish. I don’t think the events of the Fairy War changed her from Sassy Sookie to Boring Narrator Sookie… I think the author just ran out of ideas.
 
Which brings me to Deadlocked. What an anti-climax! The whole plot with the cluviel dor, and Claude plotting against Niall – and it’s solved so quickly, without much fuss, that I couldn’t believe that was it. No big fight, no major drama. Just… a sudden end.
 
I don’t know what book thirteen holds. Eric is annoyed at Sookie, he’s disappeared off, possibly to hook up with Freda. I have no idea how Charlaine Harris plans to resolve everything (it better be action packed).
 
All I know is that despite not enjoying the last few books that much, I have to know how it ends.
 
 
 

Have you read the Sookie Stackhouse novels? What do you think of them?