Thursday, July 29, 2010

Metaphysical Beasts & A Pregnancy Scare

Anita Blake needs to be concentrating on a dangerous situation: The ardeur, the sexual power that flows between Anita and Jean-Claude, the Master Vampire of the City, and Richard, the volatile werewolf who loves her passionately, is reaching new levels, perhaps evolving into something altogether new. The ardeur seems to be choosing new lovers for Anita, acting with a will of its own. As Jean-Claude says, the ardeur is hunting powerful prey. The unexpected effect of this is that Jean-Claude’s own power as a master vampire has grown to new levels-- and Richard, never predictable, is changing, too.

But as the days pass. Anita’s less interested in vampire politics than in an ancient, ordinary dread she shares with women down the ages: She may be pregnant. And, if she is, whether the father is a vampire, a werewolf, or someone else entirely, she knows perfectly well that being a Federal Marshal known for raising the dead and executing vampires is no way to bring up a baby…

Title: Danse Macabre
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 14
Start & Finished: 7/12/10- 7/13/10
Published: March 27, 2007
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pages: 483
Genre: Romance, Urban Fantasy

A pregnancy scare was bound to happen eventually in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series ever since Anita inherited the ardeur from Jean-Claude and she has to have sex to “feed” it. Like a vampire needs blood, Anita needs sex to keep herself from draining the life out of her new triumvirate with Nathaniel (wereleopard) and Damian (vampire) but unlike regular hungers, the ardeur just may have gotten Anita pregnant in the fourteenth book of this series Danse Macabre.

There’s also a lot of Master Vampires of the Cities around the United States (Hamilton’s version of it any way) in town to enjoy the all vampire ballet that Jean-Claude is sponsoring and they bring a lot of problems with them as well. A major one is Anita needs to a new pomme de sang (someone to feed the ardeur on that‘s not tied to her metaphysically) and these vampires are bringing ones for her choose from which makes her feel very squicky. Only two vampires are really introduced: Augustine (Auggie) of Chicago (who is also a mobster) and Samuel of Cape Cod. Samuel brings his sons that are part mermaid/ siren and part vampire (very rare) and Auggie brings his werelions as candidates which is especially fortunate because one of the new beasts in Anita (she has four: wolf, leopard, lion, and unknown at this point), the lioness is getting out of hand and trying to come out even though Anita isn‘t really a shapeshifter. The newest man that is drawn to her through metaphysical stuff she calls Cookie Monster (from his blue hair and tattoo) but his real name is Haven. He’s a professional thug for Auggie but I still think he’s neat, even if he is bad news for the way Anita’s life works right now.

There is no police investigation in this book but Marmee Noir, the Mother of All Darkness appears in Danse Macabre too. There’s always something bad from book to book but she’s the buildup, the extremely scary bad guy. She’s still asleep (kind of a coma sortof) but she’s waking up and it’s partly because of Anita because she interests her and that’s like having the devil himself take a particular interest in you. Oh and Richard is a big part of this book too though I still can’t stand him and it’s getting to the point where I think Anita will be agreeing with me soon. Overall, Anita collects some more men and discovers new powers in Danse Macabre. She also helps give a lot of her original men more powers, learns how she and the men in her life would react to a baby, and just how far she can push the ardeur before it pushes back.

Favorite Quotes
I thought about it, then nodded. "Yes, it is, because it has to be. My life wouldn't work if I wallowed in every disaster, every moral quandary. I can't afford the luxury of self-doubt, not to that degree."
"Luxury," Richard said. "This isn't luxury, Anita, it's morality. It's your conscience. That's not a luxury item, that's what separates us from the animals."
Here we go again, I thought. Out loud I said, "I have a conscience, Richard, and my own set of morals. Do I ever worry that I'm a bad guy? Yeah, sometimes I do. Do I wonder if I've traded away pieces of my soul, just to survive? Yeah." I shrugged. "It's the price of doing business in the real world, Richard."
"This isn't the real world, Anita. This isn't the normal workaday world."
"No, but it's our world."

Part of me hopes that someday I get over being so damned uncomfortable about group scenes like this; part of me hopes I don't. It's sort of the same part of me that mourns that I can kill without feeling bad about it, most of the time. Yeah, that same part thinks that doing metaphysical sex in front of a bunch of men, for any reason, is just another step down the slippery slope to damnation. But if the alternative is having the ardeur go off like a metaphysical bomb during the party tonight, well, what we were about to do was the lesser evil. Still it might be nice, once in a while, not to have to choose between evils. Just once, couldn't I choose the lesser good?

I shook my head, and the world swam in streamers of color. I had a moment of nausea, and that was the moment that I realized I was sick. Sick at heart, sick of soul, sick of it all. Somewhere deep inside me, I was trying to undo all my decisions. I was trying to do a take-back, on a game that had played too far for a do-over. The front part of my brain knew it was too late, but it wasn’t the front part of my brain that was in charge. How do you argue with the subconscious? How do you argue with a part of your brain you don’t even know is there most of the time? The real bitch of the situation was, I wasn’t sure I wanted to argue.

Anita Blake Series
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: It was the middle of November. I was supposed to be out jogging, but instead I was sitting at my breakfast table talking about men, sex, werewolves, vampires, and that thing that most unmarried but sexually active women fear most of all-- a missed period.

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Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
Ballet:
The reason for a lot of the vampires being in this book
Lioness: The strain of lycanthropy Anita caught from Chimera is starting to manifest itself.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Nimir-Raj and Nimir-Ra are Out of Town

“RAISING THE DEAD WAS EASY; LOVE WAS HARD…”

There are lots of reasons to raise the dead-- some private, some public. In this case, the Feds have a witness who died before he could speak on the record. They want him to be raised so his testimony can be taken. So here I am, on a plane to Philadelphia, flying off to do my job.

But I’m not alone. Micah is with me. Micah, head of the St. Louis wereleopard pard. King to my Queen. The only one of my lovers who can stir my blood with just a glance from his chartreuse cat’s eyes. I was happy to have him at my side.

Until he mentioned that this will be our first time alone together. No master vampires. No alpha werewolf. Just me and Micah. And all my fears and doubts…

Title: Micah
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 13
Start & Finished: 7/12/10
Published: February 28, 2006
Publisher: Jove (Berkley Publishing)
Pages: 245
Genre: Romance, Urban Fantasy

The thirteenth book in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series is a short, quick read called Micah named after one of Anita’s boyfriends. Micah Callahan was first introduced in Narcissus in Chains but this is the first time some of his background is told even though he‘s Nimir-Raj (King) to her Nimir-Ra (Queen) of the wereleopards. Micah has always been this quiet pillar of support that let’s Anita lead and he follows but this was the first time they get to spend time alone together in the series without all the other guys as distractions. Anita doesn’t go out of town (Bloody Bones, Obsidian Butterfly) too often but when she does it’s always interesting and that’s what happens in Micah. They go to Philadelphia to raise a zombie for a federal case and of course it’s not that cut and dried!

This novella is such a quick read that it felt more like a short story. After the mammoth size of the previous book Incubus Dreams, I can tell why Ms. Hamilton didn’t publish an Anita Blake book in 2005 and why this is so short. It’s no less important though I’m honestly not 100% sure if the character Micah was an essential addition of the series or not. He doesn’t put any pressure on Anita whatsoever which must be relaxing after everything else she puts up with from her harem (sorry, it’s not really a harem and she can’t help it since she needs to feed the ardeur) and he doesn’t need her to take care of him either so technically, he’s the perfect guy for Anita. There is a tiny bit of plot in this book where Anita has to raise a zombie and he’s not particularly happy about it but that was just the reason to get these two out of town together alone.

Favorite Quotes
I raised the dead and was a legal vampire executioner. That's what the police knew for certain. I was a federal marshal because all the vamp executioners who could pass the firearms test had been grandfathered in so that the executioners could both have more powers and be better regulated. Or that was the idea. But I was also the human servant of Jean-Claude, the master vampire of St. Louis. Through ties to Jean-Claude I'd inherited some abilities. One of those abilities was the ardeur. It was as if sex were food, and if I didn't eat enough I got sick.
That wasn't so bad, but I could also hurt anyone that I was metaphysically tied to. Not just hurt, but potentially drain them of life. Or the ardeur could simply choose someone at random to feed from. Which meant the ardeur raised and chose a victim. I didn't always have a lot of choice in who it chose. Ick.

Micah and I looked at each other and had one of those moments. We'd all been living together for about six months. But he and Nathaniel had both moved in at the same time. I'd never dated either of them alone, not really. I mean I'd gone out with them individually, and sex wasn't always a group activity, but the sleeping arrangements were.

Micah had had about the same effect on me from the first moment I'd met him. It had been lust at almost first sight or maybe first touch. I was still a little embarrassed about that. It wasn't like me to fall for someone so quickly, or so hard. I'd really expected it to burn out or for us to have some huge fight and end it, but six months and counting. Six months and no breakup. It was a record for me. I'd dated Jean-Claude for a couple of years, but it had been off again, on again. Most of my relationships were. Micah was the only one who had ever come into my life and managed to stay.

Anita Blake Series
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: It was half past dawn when the phone rang. It shattered the first dream of the night into a thousand pieces so that I couldn’t even remember what the dream had been about. I woke gasping and confused, asleep just long enough to feel worse but not rested.

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Anita Blake Wiki
Book Wikipedia

Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
Cemetery: Anita is asked to raise a zombie witness and discovers her magic is a little more powerful than usual and wonky too.
Leopard: Micah always has kitty-cat eyes but he’s a black leopard when he shifts.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oh, Pretty Woman!

Academy Award nominee Julia Roberts (Steel Magnolias) and Richard Gere (An Officer and A Gentleman) light up the screen in the most irresistable comedy of the year! When successful corporate mogul Edward Lewis (Gere) meets independent and carefree Vivian Ward (Roberts) their two lives are words apart. But Vivian's energetic spirit challenges Edward's no-nonsense, business-minded approach to life, sparking an immediate attraction. He teacher her about the finer things in life; she teaches him that love could be the best investment he ever made. Capturing hearts of critics and moviegoers alike, this modern-day rags-to-riches romance entertains with its upbeat blend of humor, passion, and unforgettable fun! Pretty Woman-- you'll feel great every time you see it!

Title: Pretty Woman
Release: March 23, 1990
Genre: Romance- Comedy
MPAA Rating: R
Writer: J.F. Lawton
Director: Garry Marshall
Music By: James Newton Howard
Produced By: Laura Ziskin & Gary Goldstein
Distributed By: Touchstone Pictures
Run Time: 125 minutes

For over twenty years the song "Oh, Pretty Woman" was associated with it's singer Roy Orbison and then 1990’s third highest grossing film came along. After that, Pretty Woman became synomous with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Originally it was intended to be a dark drama called $3000 about drug-addicted prostitution until it was picked up by Touchstone Pictures; which is a Disney corporation, and they persuaded J.F. Lawton to turn it into a Cinderella fairy tale romance. The opera featured in Pretty Woman is called La Traviata and it is said to have served as inspiration for the film.

Sometimes this movie is compared to Pygmalion, commonly known as My Fair Lady which is ironic since it’s one of my favorite films of all time. The actor who plays David Morse (Alex Hyde-White) is the son of the major character in that film Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White). This was Oscar-winning actor (for The Awful Truth in 1937) Ralph Bellamy’s (the elder Mr. Morse) last role before he died. Several Hollywood big names from Al Pacino for Lewis (Richard Gere’s role) to Molly Ringwald, Daryl Hannah, Meg Ryan, and Michelle Pfeiffer for Vivien (Julia Roberts) and Demi Moore for the character Kit (played by Laura San Giacomo) all turned down the roles for various reasons but for the women it was mostly because they couldn’t get past the idea of having the main character be a prostitute. Several of these actors and actresses have stated over the years (except Hannah) that they regretted this.

The soundtrack for this movie was almost as popular and well known as the movie itself! I even own a copy. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified it three times. Most of the songs featured in this film like "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette, "King of Wishful Thinking" by Go West, and "Wild Women Do" by Natalie Cole all feature either clips or homages to the film in their official music videos. BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) honored James Newton Howard with their annual film award for his work on Pretty Woman.

As a child in the 90’s, I grew up with Pretty Woman as one of the most popular movies and you’ll never hear me complain. It was our generation’s Cinderella and even if it was rated R, many kids loved it just as much as the adults did. Roberts even won a Kid’s Choice Award in 1991 as Favorite Movie Actress. She certainly was mine when I was a kid! The fashions have definitely changed since this movie but they’re all still lovely. I’ve always loved Viviene’s black cocktail dress the most. Even though Julia Robert’s breakout film was Steel Magnolias (it earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress), it was Pretty Woman that catapulted her to stardom. She was nominated for an Academy Awards Best Actress for her work in this film too. She did win a Golden Globe and the film itself, Richard Gere, and Hector Elizondo (Bernard the hotel manager) were nominated for one as well. Gere and Roberts reunited with the director of this film in 1999 for the romantic comedy Runaway Bride. Whether it’s the music, the clothes, or the fairy tale you want, Pretty Woman has still got it.

Favorite Quotes
[After negotiating for three thousand dollars]
Vivian: I would have stayed for two thousand.
Edward Lewis: I would have paid four.

Edward Lewis: It's just that very few people surprise me.
Vivian: Yeah, well, you're lucky. Most of 'em shock the hell outta me.

Vivian: People put you down enough, you start to believe it.
Edward Lewis: I think you are a very bright, very special woman.
Vivian: The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?

Featured Songs
Wild Women Do - Natalie Cole
Fame 90 - David Bowie
King Of Wishful Thinking - Go West
Tangled - Jane Wiedlin
Must Have Been Love - Roxette
Life In Detail - Robert Palmer
No Explanation - Peter Cetera
Real Wild Child (Wild One) - Christopher Otcasek
Fallen - Lauren Wood
Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
Show Me Your Soul - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Links
Imdb.com
Wikipedia
Destination Hollywood tribute
New York Post Article
New York Times Article

Trailer


Bloopers


Vivian Goes Shopping


Julia Roberts on Arsenio Hall Show

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sex and Serial Killers

No one is as good at stripping bare the dark desires of the inhuman soul as Laurell K. Hamilton, something she has proven time after time in her New York Times bestselling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels. Now, in Incubus Dreams, Anita’s life is more complicated than ever, caught as she is between her obligations to the living-- and the undead.

As consultant to the Regional Preternatural Crime Investigation Unit, Anita’s called in on what appears to be a case involving a serial killer-- a vampire serial killer-- who may be preying on strippers. She’s sure that none of the local vamps are responsible-- but her judgement may be clouded by a conflict of interest. For she is, after all, the consort of Jean-Claude, the ever-intoxicating Master Vampire of the City-- something that both her human friends and her ex, the alpha werewolf Richard are quick to point out.

Surrounded by suspicion, overwhelmed by her attempts to control the primal lusts that continue to wrack her as a result of her passionate contacts with vampire, werewolf, and shapeshifter Micah, Anita is pushed to her limits-- and beyond…

Title: Incubus Dreams
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 12
Start & Finished: 7/10/10- 7/12/10
Published: September 27, 2004
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 658 (hardcover)
Genre: Romance, Urban Fantasy

SPOILER ALERT
The metaphysical powers in this series are taken to a completely different power plateau in the twelfth book in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series Incubus Dreams. Anita accidentally creates her own triumvirate with her (again accidental) vampire servant Damian and her wereleopard Nathaniel which makes them and her other triumvirate with Jean-Claude and Richard even more powerful. Yet because she’s still so new at all of this, everyone is in a whole lot of danger continuously.

This is one of the longer books in the series (it actually weighs two pounds) but it’s not quite as solid as some of the shorter ones because all the metaphysical powers are the main focus of the story and the police investigation felt like an afterthought to me. Mostly I found Incubus Dreams to be a big emotional, sex-filled mess. While it’s not my favorite book in this series, it’s still an Anita Blake book and some very important things happen during it that are integral to the rest of the series such as the new triumvirate and a couple of new vampire characters: Primo, Byron, Requiem, Wicked and Truth (the last three are the most intriguing).

Anita has mellowed out quite a bit by this book. She even has very casual sex here even if it was an emergency “feeding” for the ardeur. Nathaniel has always slightly reminded me of Phillip from the first book but besides Jean-Claude, Nathaniel is my favorite male in this series (then Asher, Jason, Micah, Damien, etc… yes, Anita‘s harem isn‘t quite a harem yet since she‘s still weirded out about a bunch of it) and I’m so glad to finally get to this book where he becomes a bit more to Anita than just someone she feels she has to keep and her pomme de sang. This book was a New York Times bestseller for 2004 and a Gaylactic Spectrum Nominee (2005) which "honors outstanding works of science fiction, fantasy and horror which include significant positive explorations of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered characters, themes, or issues."

Because I am a master at screwing up my own love life. If something works too well, I’ve got to poke at it, prod it, until it breaks, or bites me. I was trying not to do that anymore, but old habits, especially bad ones, die hard.

I was supposed to be his master. I was supposed to take care of him, and I hadn’t known. I hadn’t asked, and I’d been so busy trying not to be tied to another man through some weird metaphysical shit, that I hadn’t noticed that Damian’s life sucked.

When he was serious, the nicknames vanished. He’d only been in town a few weeks, and already I knew that when the duckies, luvs, and crumpets disappeared, things were bad.

Sometimes the parts of my life that are weirdest to me aren’t the parts dealing with vampires and werewolves and zombies. Even vampire politics didn’t confuse me as much as my own love life.

There comes a point when you just love someone. Not because they're good, or bad, or anything really. You just love them. It doesn't mean you'll be together forever. It doesn't mean you won't hurt each other. It just mean you love them. Sometimes in spite of who they are, and sometimes because of who they are. And you know that they love you, sometimes because of who you are, and sometimes in spite of it.

Anita Blake Series
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: It was an October wedding. The bride was a witch who solved preternatural crimes. The groom raised the dead and slew vampires for a living. It sounded like a Halloween joke, but it wasn't.

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Source: From personal collection, bought when published while I was still in high school!

Picture Explanations
Sex: There’s more sex in this book than any other
Stripper: The police investigation in this book is because vampires are killing strippers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vampire Politics are Not Fun

With her New York Times bestselling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels, Laurell K. Hamilton wraps readers up in stories of suspense and sensuality. Cerulean Sins is no exception. Now, Anita learns what it's like to be at the new end of a centuries-old bloodline-and just how far she'll let herself get pushed around...

How the mighty have fallen! Once a sworn enemy of all vampires, Anita is now the human consort of both Jean-Claude, the Master Vampire, and Micah, the leopard shapeshifter. But her love life doesn't stop there. It can't. For Anita-not quite as human as she once was-is consumed by both the lusts of the vampire and the primal hungers of the wereleopards. Desires that must be sated-time and time again...

But it is Jean-Claude who needs her now. His oldest ancestor has sent one of her vicious and powerful underlings to St. Louis, putting Jean-Claude and his clan on the defensive. Unsure of where she stands with the interloper, Anita finds herself tested as never before-needing all the dark forces her passion can muster to save the ones she loves the most...

Title: Cerulean Sins
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 11
Start & Finished: 7/9/10- 7/10/10
Published: April 2003
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 529
Genre: Romance, Urban Fantasy

Narcissus in Chains may have started a new chapter in Anita Blake’s life but it’s Laurell K. Hamilton’s next book, Cerulean Sins where we see just what that means. Anita’s learning how to control the ardeur which means she’s being put into a lot more sexual situations than she’s really comfortable with (she’s is very sexually repressed but at one point says, “My moral standards just weren't that finely cut anymore”) but she’s learning how to walk that fine line of just what she’s willing to do to feed it so it doesn’t get out of control.

As I said in the last book, things are changing in Anita’s world, personally and otherwise. Mainly the sexual theme, which many fans of this series were not happy with. I believe it wasn’t entirely necessary and they certainly read more like romance now then what the first nine books were. Ms. Hamilton said that the reason she added the sexuality into the series was because “Chiefly because people told me I couldn't. That I couldn't write strong sexuality from a woman's point of view. The series simply evolved as it has. There was no plan for it to do so, okay, no conscience plan at least.” Anita has always been adamant on her stand of casual sex (she has her first in this book but at least he’s a friend which really doesn’t matter to the ardeur) and for a good part of the series she’s celibate. However, I still find it interesting that in an early book (Circus of the Damned I believe), a lamia once gave Anita the advice: "A woman should always have more than one man." Let's just say, she took it to heart.

There wasn’t a police case for Anita in Narcissus in Chains (though she does have some interaction with the cops when everyone thought she was dead and again when her place was shot up) but there is in this book because there is a werewolf serial killer on the loose and also there are some international spies in town too. The truly sad thing is that Dolph, the police Lieutenant who’s been in every book in some way but one, finally loses it a little (and Zerbrowski has been promoted). He’s always treated Anita like a daughter almost but he has a real problem with the monsters lately and she’s buddy-buddy with them. His son is in a serious relationship with a vampire so he’s losing it big time. Oh, and Anita finally got her federal marshal status! It’s been talked about for several books now that they were debating the law to make all vampire executioners federal marshals (she was grandfathered in but some; like her apprentice Larry, had to take courses) but now she can just invite herself onto preternatural cases whether the cops like it or not.

Though we don’t meet her in person, Bella Morte, the head of Jean Claude’s line of vampires does make a couple of appearances like in dreams, etc. She sends her emissary Musette (who she can possess at will) with two child vampires Valentina and Bartolomé (but they aren’t quite as disturbing and vicious as Nikolaos from the very first book but they are younger) and their entourage to town ahead of schedule and all in all starts to make trouble. Oddly enough, she’s one of the few scary people in this series that’s not trying to kill them, she simply considers them hers and she wants to find out what they can do in the most unpleasant ways possible. This is also Marmee Noir’s first appearance. The Mother of Darkness and the mother of all vampires and shifters. She’s still sleeping and has been for a very long time, a couple of millennia but now she’s starting to wake up because she’s found something that interests her: Anita.

I could feel myself smiling, and I didn't need a mirror to know that it wasn't a nice smile. It was the smile I got when I'd been pissed off too much and I'd finally decided to do something about it.

Micah didn't argue with me. He didn't when he knew he was wrong, or knew I was right. Richard would have argued. Richard always argued. Richard seemed to believe that if he pretended the world was a nicer place than it really was, that that would change the world. It didn't. The world was what it was. And no amount of anger, or hatred, or self-loathing, or stubborn blindness would change it.

"I never want to put my whole world in any one person's hands again, Jason. If they die, I won't die with them."

I hadn't been embarrassed about having sex with Jason, and maybe that was wrong, but it hadn't felt sinful. Maybe because it was just another way for him to take care of me. But the little talk afterwards, that had bothered me. That hard emotional truths bothered me more than having intercourse with someone I wasn't in love with probably said something about how far down the well of moral decay I had fallen. I stood in the hot, hot water, steam foaming against the glass doors of the stall, and was happy that I didn't owe my heart to anyone. It was mine damn it, and I was keeping it in one piece if I could. Richard had broken some part of me, some last bit that had been trying to hang onto a softer more romanticized view of love. He had left, dumped me because I wasn't human enough for him. My fiance in college had dumped me because I wasn't white bread enough for his mother. My stepmother, Judith, had never let me forget that I was small and dark, and she and her children and my father, were tall and blond, and blue-eyed. People had spent my lifetime rejecting me for things I could not change about myself. So fuck them, fuck them all.

But it was so much easier to concentrate on my ruined upholstery than to think about the fact that I'd been in the presence of the Mother of all Vampires, the Mother of all Darkness, the Primordial Abyss made flesh. I knew through Jean-Claude's memories that they called her Mother Gentle, Marmè, a dozen different euphemisms to make her seem kind, and, well, motherly. But I'd felt her power, her darkness, and finally, at the end an intellect as cold and empty as any evil. She was curious about me the way some scientists are curious about a new species of insect. They could call her Mother Gentle if they wanted to, but Mommy Dearest was a hell of a lot more accurate.

"It is not like you to wander off on such an important and potentially dangerous occasion. What is the matter, ma petite?" "Oh, I don't know, an international terrorist following me around, the vampire council back in town, an evening of some of the most politely vicious small talk I've ever heard, Asher being his usual temperamental self, one of my friends and favorite policemen having a nervous breakdown, a serial killer werewolf on the loose in my town, oh, and the fact that Richard and his wolves haven't arrived yet, and no one's answering their phones. Pick one." I knew the smile on my face wasn't pleasant when I finished. It was a challenging smile. It said why wouldn't I be uptight?

Anita Blake Series
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: It was early September, a busy time of year for raising the dead. The pre-Halloween rush seemed to start earlier and earlier every year. Every animator at Animators Inc. was booked solid. I was no exception; in fact, I'd been offered more work than even my ability to go without sleep could supply.

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Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
17th century child: This is Valentina.
Wolf: There’s a werewolf serial killer in this one.
Roses: Whenever a vampire tries to mess with you from a distance there’s always a smell that comes with them, Seraphina’s was powder from Anita’s mother, Belle’s is roses.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A New Chapter in Anita’s Life

Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the New York Times bestseller A Kiss of Shadows, returns to the series that started it all. Narcissus in Chains, the tenth installment in the ever-popular Anita Blake series, finds everyone's favorite vampire hunter back on her home turf and delving into the heart of human—and non-human—darkness.

Men are men. Jean Claude and Richard are each something else entirely. Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, torn between them, has been avoiding both vampire and werewolf for months. But when a kidnapper targets innocents she has sworn to protect, Anita turns to them for help, which will require harnessing both their powers—and their hungers...

Six months of celibacy have made Anita crave the two men in her life like never before. But merging their powers together will give this mortal woman a taste of immortal hunger that she’ll never be able to forget.

Title: Narcissus in Chains
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 10
Start & Finished: 7/8/10-7/9/10
Published: October 2001
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 656
Genre: Mystery, Urban Fantasy-Romance

SPOILER ALERT

In Laurell K. Hamilton’s tenth book Nacrissus in Chains, Anita Blake abandons police work completely for the first time. Jean-Claude, Richard, and her have finally completed the last marks that makes them a true triumvirate and they’re powers are growing and spilling over into one another. It is here when Anita contracts the ardeur from Jean-Claude which makes her kind of like a succubus (she literally feeds off of sex). There are also enemies in town that mean to do them harm. United we stand, divided we fall and the very unique bad guy in this book takes advantage of that.

This was Micah the wereleopard and a Nimir-Raj (rare in the wereleopards) to Anita’s Nimir-Ra first appearance in the series (book number 13 is named after him) and like all of the other important men in Anita‘s life, he too has an interesting introduction. Anita first meets him when she wakes up between him and another wereleopard after being attacked by other shifters. She’s demonstrating all of the signs of being a shapeshifter now and needed their warmth to heal but no one knows if she‘s one or not. He’s also the first (but not the last thanks to Jean-Claude’s secondary power of sex, the arduer) man besides Jean-Claude and Richard (they do break up again in this book) she’s had sex with in this series. Hamilton said she had brought in another man in the series to make Anita’s love life less complicated but only managed to make it more so.

Even more werewolf politics in this one because Richard, their Ulfric (king), has made the pack into a democracy instead of monarchy and though he means well,"You know what they say about good intentions. If he's determined to take himself to hell, fine. But he has no right to drag the rest of [them] along with him." Anita has also shown that while we were away from her (between books), she’s gotten used to her wereleopard’s touchy-feelie ways and most are staying over at her house and sleeping in the same bed with her often (no, it‘s not sexual in the least). She’s still slightly uncomfortable but no where near as bad as before.

The previous book Obsidian Butterfly was almost like the closing of a chapter on Anita’s life and Narcissus in Chains starts a new one. Anita may be gaining more powers in this one but she’s far from happy about it. In fact, she’s freaked out and world weary. Though this book does start taking a more different tone in the series doesn’t mean I like it any less. True, Anita going from being sexually repressed to what she’s becoming now is interesting to say the least but I don’t see it as inconsistent and I still enjoy this series even if Ms. Hamilton has said that it was on of her most difficult to write.

The last thing on God's green earth that I needed was another man in my life. I didn't have a clue what to do with the two I had already. The fact that they were, respectively, a Master Vampire and an Ulfric, werewolf king, was only part of the problem. That fact alone should let you know just how deep a hole I was digging. Or would that be, already have dug? Yeah, already dug. I was about halfway to China and still throwing dirt up in the air.

I couldn't explain the tears to him, because I didn't want to say it out loud. But I knew. I'd tried not to be one of the monsters for so long, and now, in one fell swoop I was them, both of them. You couldn't be a bloodsucking vampire and be a lycanthrope at the same time. They canceled each other out as a disease or a curse. But I had felt my beast curl around Micah's. I had felt it like an embryo in a safe warm place, waiting. And I had fed off of him as surely as any vampire. I'd always thought I'd have to drink blood to be one of them. But I had been wrong, wrong about so many things. I let Micah hold me. I felt his heart pounding against my back and wept.

I'd been trying not to be a sociopath because it made me a monster. I just hadn't known what I was saying. I needed to feed off humans, lust instead of blood and flesh, but it was still feeding. Being a sociopath was beginning not to sound so bad.

They held me until I fell asleep, exhausted with crying, skin hot. But down in the center of my being was a cold, icy spot that they couldn't touch. It was the place where I loved Richard, had always loved Richard, almost from the first time I'd seen him. But he was right on one thing. We couldn't keep doing this. I wouldn't keep doing this. It was over. It had to be over. He hated what he was, and now he hated what I was. He said he wanted someone that he wouldn't have to worry about hurting, and he did want that, but he also wanted someone human, ordinary. He couldn't have both, but that didn't keep him from wanting both. I couldn't be ordinary, and I wasn't sure I'd ever been human. I couldn't be what Richard wanted me to be, and he couldn't stop wanting it. Richard was a riddle with no answer, and I was tired of playing a game I couldn't win.

I'd fought so long and so hard not to be what I was. Not to be Jean-Claude's human servant, not to be Richard's lupa, not to be anything to anyone. Everyone seemed to be paying the price for that. I hated having other people pay the price for my problems. It was against the rules somehow.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: June had come in like its usual hot, sweaty self, but a freak cold front had moved in during the night and the car radio had been full of the record low temperatures. It was only in the low sixties, not that cold, but after weeks of eighty- and ninety-plus, it felt downright frigid. My best friend Ronnie Sims, and I were sitting in my Jeep with the windows down, letting the unseasonably cool air drift in on us. Ronnie had turned thirty tonight. We were talking about how she felt about the big 3-0 and other girl talk. Considering that she's a private detective and I raise the dead for a living it was pretty ordinary talk. Sex, guys, turning thirty, vampires, werewolves. You know, the usual.

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Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
Hyena: We meet the werehyenas in this book at the club of their Oba (leader) Narcissus in Chains.
Leopard: Anita is cut up in a fight with shifters when one of her own accidentally damages her. She may just become a real Nimir-ra…

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gods and Grisly Murders

New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton offers a sexy, suspenseful new novel of human -- and inhuman -- passions, narrated by the vampire hunter known as Anita Blake. There are a lot of monsters in Anita Blake's life. And some of them are human. One such individual is the man she calls Edward, a bounty hunter who specializes in the preternatural. He calls her to help him hunt down the greatest evil she has ever encountered. Something that kills and maims and vanishes into the night. Something Anita will have to face alone...

"MY NAME IS ANITA BLAKE. I'D LIKE YOU TO MEET EDWARD...
'Edward was a hit man. He specialized in monsters. Vampires, shape-shifters, anything and everything. There were people like me who did it legal, but Edward didn't sweat the legalities or, hell, the ethics. He was an equal opportunity killer. I may be one of the few friends that Edward has, but it's like being friends with a tame leopard. It may curl on the foot of your bed and let you pet its head, but it can still eat your throat out...'"

Title: Obsidian Butterfly
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 9
Start & Finished: 7/7/10-7/8/10
Published: January 2000
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 608
Genre: Mystery-Horror, Urban Fantasy

In book four of this series The Lunatic Café, Anita killed Edward’s backup in a kill or be killed situation (she has so many of those doesn’t she?) and he said either they’d find out which one is better or she would owe him a favor. Anita chose the favor and in book 9 of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series Obsidian Butterfly, he’s calling in his marker and even the monsters are afraid of the things happening with this case. The title of this book refers to an Aztec vampire who goes by the name Itzpapalotl which means Obsidian Butterfly and is the name of the vampire’s club too.

It hasn’t been since the very early days that the main plot of the novel was more police investigation than Anita’s love life which right now is non-existent because she’s taking time to herself from both Jean-Claude and Richard. Neither of them; or anyone from the rest of the series besides Edward and Anita (Olaf does show up again in a later book), are even in this book technically, though they are mentioned and Jean-Claude appears in a dream (they share dreams because of the triumvirate marks). Anita does start having some unusual reactions in this book that will be addressed later in the series. She also realizes that she just doesn’t want to do police work anymore because she’s “seen too many horrors in too short a space of years” which is interesting because that’s exactly what these books started off as, hard-boiled mysteries with a generous splash of supernatural. That weariness that she wears like a mantel through this book really is kind of depressing and there are hardly any moments that she’s not constantly fighting something, even if it’s herself.

Edward hasn’t been in every book but he’s been in over half up to this point in the series (not the last two though) and the reader just doesn’t really know him. I’m not a 100% if even the author even knows him. He’s a stone cold killer that is a somewhat friend of Anita’s: “It wasn't friendship the way most people understood it, but it was friendship. There were several people I'd trust with my life, but there is no one else I'd trust with my death.” However, Anita and the reader finally get to know a little about him in this book. Not much mind you, and nothing too personal, but he let’s his mask slip a little here and there. I’ve always liked Edward for being exactly who he is, someone who can pull Anita’s butt out of the fire when she needs it and when the bad guys are raining down. I’ll always look forward to his guest appearances within the books.

During an interview Laurell K. Hamilton said, “In Obsidian Butterfly, the reader is confronted with a very violent, sexual episode involving children. This scene is probably one of the main reasons that I have been reluctant for any other supporting character to have children. Look what happened to Richard's family in Blue Moon, and they were both grown-ups. Anita and her cast live in a very violent world. It is not a good place for non-combatants. Obsidian Butterfly brought that home for me, for Anita, and for Edward. I did not know what the bad guys were doing with the children they had taken hostage until Anita saw it. It being a total surprise to me helped the writing up to a point, then trying to do the scene justice, and not cutting away. This scene is probably the scene I most wanted to do as the 40s pan to the sky, and not look at what was happening. I have actually talked to abuse survivors, and I felt strongly that if I blinked, if the camera turned away, that I would be betraying all the people who shared such painful memories with me. Looking away from something doesn't make it go away, it just makes it harder to talk about. We will be going back to New Mexico and doing a follow up book with Edward and his would-be family. We will see how the children have coped with what happened. I am both looking forward to that book, and sort of dreading it.”

Edward was a hit man. He specialized in monsters. Vampires, shapeshifters, anything and everything. There were people like me that did it legal, but Edward didn't sweat the legalities, or hell, the ethics. He even occasionally did a human, but only if they had some sort of dangerous reputation. Other assassins, criminals, bad men, or women. Edward was an equal opportunity killer. He never discriminated, not for sex, religion, race, or even species. If it was dangerous, Edward would hunt it and kill it. It's what he lived for, what he was -- a predator's predator.

I raised eyebrows at Edward. Oh, pooh. The most dangerous man I'd ever met was engaged to a mother of two that said things like, "Oh pooh." It was just too weird.

I've learned over the years that if someone says they're a god, you don't argue with them unless you're better armed. So I didn't try and get the business moved up. She was nuts and had enough muscle backing her in this building to make her brand of craziness contagious, or even fatal. So we'd do arcane vampire shit, then when the self-proclaimed goddess was satisfied I'd get to ask my questions. How bad could it be, watching them prove they were gods? Don't answer that.

"If it can die, I'll kill it." I said it because she needed to hear it. I said it because after what I'd seen it do, that was the plan. Maybe it had been the plan all along. Knowing Edward it probably had been. He said solve the case when what he usually meant was kill them, kill them all. As a plan, I'd heard worse. As a way of life, it lacked a certain romance. As a way to stay alive, it was just about perfect. As a way to keep your soul intact, it sucked. But I was willing to trade a piece of my soul to stop this thing. And that was perhaps my biggest problem. I was always willing to compromise my soul if it would take out the great evil. But there always seemed to be another great evil coming down the road. No matter how many times I saved the day and took out the monster, there was always another monster, and there always would be. The monster supply was unlimited. I was not. The parts of myself that I was using up to slay the monsters was finite, and once I used it all up, there would be no going back. I'd be Edward in drag. I could save the world and lose myself.
And staring down into the woman's face, watching that perfect faith fill her lost eyes, I wasn't sure the bargain was a good one, but I was sure of one thing. I couldn't say no. I couldn't let the monsters win, not even if it meant becoming one of them. God forgive me if it was arrogance. God protect me if it wasn't. I got up out of bed and went in search of monsters.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: I was covered in blood, but it wasn't mine, so it was okay. Not only was it not my blood, but it was all animal blood. If the worst casualties of the night were six chickens and a goat, I could live with it, and so could everyone else. I'd raised seven corpses in one night. It was a record even for me.

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Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
Obsidian Blade: The Obsidian Butterfly’s priest uses this on the followers for various reasons.
Aztec: This could easily be the Obsidian Butterfly’s human servant/ priest
Submachine gun: There’s a gun fight Edward and Anita vs. the bad guys.
Aztec Warriors: The Aztec warrior god Tezcatlipoca is depicted as a jaguar so the guards and some of the performers in the club wear costumes like these.
Submachine Gun: Anita gets to play with one of these for the first time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Werewolf Politics and Growing Powers

Danger makes the world go 'round in Laurell K. Hamilton's bestselling novels. Just ask Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Right now, her problems lie with her ex-fiancé- a werewolf who just got arrested on an assault charge. His guilt or innocence is not the issue. The fact that there's a full moon on the rise is...

"I WONDERED WHAT JEAN-CLAUDE WOULD THINK OF ME DROPPING EVERYTHING TO GO RESCUE RICHARD...
"It didn't really matter. I was going, and that was that. But I did spare a thought for how that might make my vampire lover feel. His heart didn't always beat, but it could still break. That's love. Sometimes it feels good. Sometimes it's just another way to bleed."

Title: Blue Moon
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 8
Start & Finished: 7/6/10- 7/7/10
Published: November 1998
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 432
Genre: Mystery-Horror, Urban Fantasy

Blue Moon is almost completely about the werewolves but since Anita is the leopard’s alpha (Nimir-ra), Anita and them come to an understanding as well. We also see that the munin (kind of like sprits of the werewolf dead) are very much active and the old lupa Raina, whom Anita killed, has taken a very special interest in her. Also, there’s a bit of a side plot which is what got Anita to Tennessee in the first place and that was Richard is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit from dirty cops because the endangered trolls he’s trying to save are on the same land as something someone wants very badly. Werewolves, vampires, wereleopards, there’s even a demon thrown in! Blue Moon is a howling good time.

The painful Richard, Anita, Jean-Claude love triangle is going strong in this book. It hasn’t been pretty ever since Anita started sleeping with Jean-Claude in The Lunatic Cafe. Anita breaks another of her own rules (the first two major ones were no dating vampires and no premarital sex but that went out the window a few books back) in Blue Moon when Richard and her have sex for the first time (even if it starts because of a werewolf ritual). I really didn’t like it because I’ve never liked Richard (I don’t actively dislike him but he’s my least favorite main character in this series for a variety of reasons). Sex isn’t the only rule she breaks either and though she’s been saying that she’s afraid she’s becoming one of the monsters or a sociopath in previous books several times, it’s this one where she really leans into the abyss but as she says, she’s “a monster, but it’s for a good cause.”

Asher was introduced in the previous book but it’s this one we come to know him. I have a feeling that he’s part of the reason (the other part is her pard of leopards- especially Nathaniel- all shifters are very casual touchy-feely people) that helped Anita not feel as uncomfortable about sex and lust which this series has in abundance. He’s badly scarred on one side from holy water but the other side is sheer perfection, which makes the scarring seem worse, somehow. Everyone has looked at him in disgust for a very long time but Anita doesn’t and she shows him she finds him beautiful though she has no personal relationship with him. Up until Blue Moon, Jason (my favorite werewolf) has been nothing but a pain in the butt from his constant flirting but though glimpses have been shown before, I believe it was in this book that he became a real character to me and not just a flunkie.

I could be mistaken but I believe that Blue Moon was the very first book I read in this series a long time ago (probably 2000? Maybe earlier) and I was so intrigued with it I had to go out and get them all. There’s quite a lot to find interesting in this series but this certainly isn’t my favorite book for various reasons. The only parts I remembered when I re-read it this time were the werewolf parts of the plot, especially Anita’s fights with them and for them. Anita’s power is definitely growing and it’s been a thrill to watch her learn how to control it in this book. Looking forward to re-reading Obsidian Butterfly next.

Oh, hell. Who died and made me den mother? You'd think hanging around with this many preternatural studly guys would mean there was a lot of sex, and sexual tension was in the air a lot, but more than sex, was pain. I don't know if it was because I was a girl, or what, but I ended up doing a hell of a lot more hand-holding than any of the guys. Maybe it was a girl thing. I certainly didn't think of myself as particularly compassionate. So why was it me walking across the floor to the vampire?

For one of the few times on this trip, everyone seemed to be in agreement. I was used to killing vampires, not punishing them, because I'd learned a long time ago that you either killed monsters or left them the fuck alone. Once you pull on their tail, metaphorically speaking, you're just never quite sure how they're going to react. Sorry, cancel that. I knew exactly how Colin would react. The question was how much blood would be spilled and could we possibly pull this off without getting some of our people killed. I didn't give a damn if we killed some of Colin's people, in fact, I was sort of looking forward to it.

I looked from him to the two kneeling wereleopards. I hated putting it into words, but Jason was right. "Nathaniel is mine now. He's on the list of people that I'll protect. He's mine, and no one can hurt him without answering to me. Jason's mine. You're all mine, and no one hurts what's mine. It's not allowed." It sounded so arrogant saying it out loud. It sounded medieval, but it was still true. Some things just are true; you don't have to voice them, they just are. And somewhere along the way, I'd started collecting people. My people. It used to mean friends, but lately, it meant more than that, or less. It meant people like Nathaniel. We certainly weren't friends, but he was mine, just the same.

The echo of her laughter chased through my mind and made gooseflesh on my arms. Being possessed by anyone would have scared me. Being possessed by a sociopathic nymphomaniac sadomasochist that I had killed personally was too frightening and too ironic for words.

I felt Jean-Claude like a black hole sucking in all our warmth, all our life. And in that moment, I knew two things. One, that he'd known when Richard and I made love. That he'd felt it. Two, that as he ate from our lives, we ate of his darkness. We drank that still, cold death as surely as he tasted the sun-warmed flesh and pulse of our bodies. And we all drew power from it. The light and the dark. The cold and the hot. Life and death. As the marks drew us closer, the lines between life and death would blur.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: I was dreaming of cool flesh and sheets the color of fresh blood. The phone shattered the dream, leaving only fragments, a glimpse of midnight blue eyes, hands gliding down my body, his hair flung across my face in a sweet, scented cloud. I woke in my own house, miles from Jean-Claude with the feel of his body clinging to me. I fumbled the phone from the bedside table and mumbled, "Hello."

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Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
Wolves: Anita and Richard are guests of the Tennessee werewolf pack whose Ulfric is named Verne.
Moon: That particular myth about werewolves is true, they do have to change when it’s a full moon but they can shift whenever they like as well.
Jail: Richard is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit
Woods: A good bit of the book takes place in the woods at night. From the lupaner ritual to the end with the bad guys

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vampire Council and the Inferno

In Laurell K. Hamilton's New York Times bestselling novels, it's often hard to tell the good from the evil. Just ask Anita Blake. She seems to be developing a soft spot in her heart for vampires-- one in particular. So, when an arsonist's flames begin licking at St. Louis's undead, it's up to Anita to save the very monsters she's sworn to destroy.

"GOOD GIRLS DO NOT HAVE PREMARTIAL SEX, ESPECIALLY WITH THE UNDEAD....
But here I was, doing it. Me, Anita Blake, turned into coffin bait. Sad, very sad... You can't trust anyone who sleeps with the monsters...."

Title: Burnt Offerings
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 7
Start & Finished: 7/6/10
Published: May 1998
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 400
Genre: Mystery-Horror, Urban Fantasy

EXTREME SPOILER ALERTS

In the seventh book of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series Burnt Offerings (which is the name of a monster movie themed restaurant in the book), Anita is playing politics from werewolf pack to vampire when the vampire council sends emissaries to town, mainly because of the killing of another council member Mr. Oliver from the third book The Circus of the Damned. The council is “the stuff of nightmares [and] nightmares don't care how strong you are."

Burnt Offerings is one of the most memorable books in this series. It’s one of my favorites for a number of reasons but mainly because this is when Anita really starts to become a leader (and lupa) of her two shifter groups the wolves and the leopards. Oh and the Inferno anniversary happens in this book which is the vampire equivalent of the Holocaust and there is a reenactment. Anita’s necromancer powers are growing stronger and we can see just how much when the council holds the Circus of the Damned and all it’s people hostage. I loved watching Anita discover her newest powers.

Two more of the more interesting characters that become regular in the series appear in this book too. Nathaniel is one of them. Behind Jean-Claude he’s my second favorite character in this series and certainly my favorite shifter. Anita becomes the wereleopard’s leader in this book because she killed their Alpha in The Killing Dance and they have no protection. Asher also comes to town. He was mentioned in the last book for the first time but its here that he makes his initial appearance. Other regular members will appear in future books but almost all of the main ones so far in the series have come on board. The next book up is Blue Moon

Yet I didn't want to kill Zane if I didn't have to. It wasn't mercy. It was the thought that he might force me to do it in public. I didn't want to go to jail. The fact that the punishment worried me more than the crime said something about my moral state. Some days I thought I was becoming a sociopath. Some days I thought I was already there.

It made me sad and angry. What was really hard was the fact that less than two months ago I'd have agreed with Dolph. You can't trust anyone who sleeps with the monsters. But here I was, doing it. Me, Anita Blake, turned into coffin bait. Sad, very sad.

He rolled onto his back, for all the world like a big pussy cat wanting its belly rubbed. He stretched, straining from toes to finger tips. He laughed and rolled onto his stomach, propped on his elbows. He looked up at me, long, rich brown hair like a curtain across his face. His lilac eyes stared out at me, feral and almost frightening. He lay down in a pool of hair and energy. His gaze stayed on my face, and I realized he was being playful. Not exactly seductive, but playful. It was different and almost more disturbing. Nathaniel managed to be childlike, catlike, and still be an adult. You didn't know whether to pat him on the head, rub his belly, or kiss him. All three seemed to be up for grabs. It was too confusing for me.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

First Paragraph: Most people don't stare at the scars. They'll look, of course, then do the eye slide. You know, the quick look, then drop the gaze, then just have to have that second look. But they make it quick. The wounds aren't like freak show bad, but they are interesting. Captain Pete McKinnon, firefighter and arson investigator, sat across from me, big hands wrapped around a glass of iced tea that our secretary, Mary, had brought in for him. He was staring at my arms. Not the place most men look. But it wasn't sexual. He was staring at the scars and didn't seem a bit embarrassed about it.

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Source: From personal collection

Picture Explanations
Butterfly:
One of the vampires in this book animal to call is the butterfly.
Firefighters: During the Inferno reenactment, there were several vampire resting places hit and Anita is called in to help save the vampires before the floor collapses and the sunlight kills them. She does NOT like the HazMat suits.
Hospital: The wererats run a kind of underground hospital for their wounded who would like to keep their furry identities to themselves. It has been used previous to this book though.

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