Thursday, May 29, 2008

My mom's birthday - 70 is the new 40!

Well, I just made plans to take the train to Milwaukee next weekend (the 6th) to celebrate my Mom's 70th birthday. It's my two younger sisters' birthdays next week, too, so it's sort of a joint celebration.

So what does my mom want to do? Go out to see the Sex in the City movie, because she's the hugest fan of that show ever (the HBO version, of course) and then go out for martinis after.

And it's likely the next morning that she'll try and get me to go to the club so she can beat me in racquetball. Well, maybe not beat me.

My mom's sexy and smart. She's also writing an exercise book, sort of inspirational for elderly people. It has such a fabulous catchy title, I'm not even going to say what it is.

And isn't this a fabulous photo of her? It's her at the fruit stand she worked at in Cleveland during college.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cracking the code of the Sookie covers

Part 1: Covers 1-3

It's Sookie Stackhouse week here at the THRILLIONTH PAGE as we wait for our friend lisabea to stop drooling over the photos on her own blog long enough finish reading #8, From Dead to Worse so our joint review can finally happen.

While we're waiting, I'd like to take a moment to talk about the mysterious code of the covers in this fabulous series.

Much has been said about the relationship of the cover art to the romance plots. Non-Bill fans are known to fret over the appearance of Bill on the covers. Eric fans rejoiced when #4, Dead to the World, came out.

Many people assume - I myself did at one time - that the covers are a kind of preview for the plot of the book. However, I now suspect that these covers illustrate something more essential and abstract about Sookie's journey and her relationship with men.

Speculation about the significance of the covers started, obviously with book #1, Dead until Dark. Because clearly, Sookie and Bill are together on the cover, as they are in the plot. Sookie floats with Bill. Bill even seems to comfort or protect her, or at least warm her, because it is his cape that is around them both. In the story, however they both protected each other and in fact it was Sookie who first saved Bill's life, though he later saved hers. So why is it Bill warming and protecting Sookie? Does the cover say simply, Sookie is with Bill here, or does it suggest that Bill has an overblown sense of agency, of being the one in control? Or does it say something more sinister? Because why is he looking at her like that?

Living Dead in Dallas #2 This is one of the better Sookie books. Here, Sookie is with Bill, but he is trapped in a casket. One could see it as a fanciful rendering of the plane ride to Dallas (Bill has to ride in his coffin), but I think the meaning goes much deeper than that.

This is where Bill lost some of his standing with Sookie, and certainly this reader. Bill is present, but he is trapped in his vampireness. For example, Bill's riding in a coffin sort of emasculated him, and it certainly robbed him of the ability to protect Sookie from a minor incident at the airport. This would never happen with Eric. Eric's vampireness never seems to slow him down or diminish his power.

Club Dead, #3 - This is one of my favorites, because it's the major Alcide book, and Eric is great in it, too. Why, then, is Bill featured on the cover? An excellent question!

Please, allow me to draw your attention to the drawing of Sookie herself. Look how well she's drawn, and how hot she looks compared to her image on the other two books (and certainly later books!) where she just looks somewhat plain and even childish. The hot Sookie dances with Bill, wreathed in stars, which typically says 'dream imagery.'

To me, this cover is the first that truly bypasses the plot of the book and goes to the abstract heart. I look at this cover and it says to me, Bill waltzing lovely Sookie, showing her a good time for once...that is a dream. Because the reality is that Sookie is down there in that bar having a good time with Alcide. Maybe Sookie is at her best and most mature and beautiful when she is not with Bill. Alcide is pictured as a wolf, down below, howling. With his keen wolf instincts, he knows what he sees in the sky is not right, and it can never be real.

What do you think? Further observations welcome!

Next Sookie post: Covers 4-8
After that: Observations on Sookie's wardrobe

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hey, more contests!

In addition to my fabulous contest BELOW, check out Book Binge for a chance to win Night Keepers by Jessica Andersen. Go forth, enter, post about it yourself. And over at the lovely and talented Marta Acosta's Vampire Wire, you can win one of three copies of The Host. If you leave a haiku about it, that counts as TWO entries!

The ultimate evil gets-stuck-in-your-head song CONTEST

I’m looking for the name and artist name of a certain song.

It’s a special song that has the nightmarish power to become stuck in your head, sometimes for days, driving you crazy! It’s that song where, when the first notes come on the radio, you have been known to knock over people and furniture in your quest to change the station ASAP, or destroy the radio trying.

This song has caused you to leave bars and restaurants, furiously humming a competing song. OMG, you hate this song. What is it?

Win a $25 gift certificate!
A certain project, I won’t bore you with the complicated details, requires me to come up with a song that is one of the worst offenders in this way. For me, it’s the Pina Colada song (Do you like Pina Coladas...), as well as one by the Violent Femmes and one by Semisonic, neither of which I will name because even their titles can start up an infinite lyric loop in my head. However, all three of those are a bit obscure. I’m looking for something that is more well known, more universally hated for how it gets into ones head. And it’s worth a $25 gift certificate to the bookseller of your choice that's not Amazon.

Here’s how the contest goes: name your song in the comments. Go ahead and name multiple hated and feared songs. You have until 6 pm CDT Thursday May 29. At that time, I’ll pick the top worst offenders and create a poll and people can vote. The person who first suggested the ultimate gets-stuck-in-your-head song gets the prize!

So, my bloggy friends, what is your most hated, gets-stuck-in-your-head song ever?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The men of Sookie Stackhouse: the case for Alcide Herveaux!

I read all the Sookie Stackhouse a.k.a. Southern Vampire Novels before I started this blog, so I don’t talk about them, but they hold a major place in my pantheon of fun and exciting books to read. And now the new one, From Dead to Worse, has come out! I’m not going to talk about that yet, except to say all the men of Sookie make a significant appearance: Alcide Herveaux, Tiger fella, Eric Northman and Vampire Bill Compton.

It is a little like Bachelorette in this way. I mean that as a compliment. Also, like Bachelorette, this series brings out the total girl in me. (While I don’t have time these days to watch Bachelorette, I’m glad to see that this time around it’s a woman choosing from men instead of one man choosing from a group of women. I always enjoy those so much better. In fact, I most enjoy the parts where it’s just the guys in the house, relating to each other. It’s sort of like an anthropological study.)

Anyway, I find myself fascinated by Sookie’s clothes, and her men. In fact, I angstfully yearn for her to be with one of them. Any one of them! I just have this drive to see Sookie paired up. Unlike other people, I would settle for Sookie to get back with Bill, and even Tiger guy. Of course, I would most prefer Eric for her. But I have been thinking lately about werewolf Alcide Herveaux, and wondering if he could be the one.

I have always really liked Alcide for Sookie; he makes a spectacular first appearance in Club Dead. Or actually, it’s not spectacular. It’s very toned down and gruff and direct, like Alcide. He’s a guy’s guy. He’s in surveying and construction. And she has a bit of a thing for him. In the first scene he’s in, he comes by because he’s being forced to chaperone her on this mission, and she makes him breakfast:

This was the way life was supposed to be, for normal people. It was morning, time to get up and work, time for a woman to cook breakfast for a a man, if he had to go out and earn. This big rough man was eating real food. He almost certainly had a pickup truck sitting out in front of my house.
Sookie is into that sort of thing. She even considers Calvin Norris at one point because he has a good job with benefits. I love that about Sookie. Back to Alcide.
Alcide Herveaux looked plenty tough. He was big as a boulder, with biceps that I could do pull-ups on. He would have to shave a second time if he planned on going out in the evening. He would fit right in on a construction site or a wharf.

He was a proper man.
Charlaine Harris has such incredible control over readers, and she describes guys in such a precise way that they can make short appearances, but they are set in stone in the readers’ minds, or at least my mind. Like, this:
He sat beside me and put his arm around me. He was so big and warm. He smelled like Tide detergent, and Irish Spring soap, and man.
I had a friend from India who was in an arranged marriage, and she really loved it. She was like, our socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds are perfectly suited, and we have grown to love each other. Oddly, my husband’s family lived an eerily parallel existence to ours in another state. My point here is that...hmmm, am I overanalyzing? My point anyway is that Alcide and Sookie actually, I think, are best suited for each other in that way.

Furthermore, when you inspect the books with the level attention that I do, I think there is evidence - scant, but it exists - that Alcide has a thing for Sookie. Will Charlaine Harris surprise us soon? I would be very happy to see this union.

Update: How could I have forgotten Sam?  Ames, thanks for  pointing this out. Sam is very much in the running! Opinions are divided on his desirability.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The DIK Hero draft fever

I have never really gotten the attraction of fantasy football. In fact, I will admit to a certain amount of disdain for guys who get just a little too into it. Because it’s a game built on top of a game. A big bunch of NOTHING!

Not that I think football is nothing. Hell, I grew up in Wisconsin, where the Pack is deified, and the second coming of Vince Lombardi is awaited with something approaching the fervor of the Hale Bop Comet gang. So okay, not just a game, but fantasy football, I felt, that is just a game and not real.

And then came Desert Island Keeper Hero draft. Round four rages on at MaryKate's. I am proud of my group of heroes, though I am sick with jealousy of others. I still hurt from the loss of Drifter, and Ciara continues to taunt me. There have been threats made…all in fun, or let’s make that 99% in fun. Threatened deliveries of severed pig heads and so forth.

IDEA: I was thinking about suggesting a late round twist, maybe for rounds 6 & 7, or just 7, where the name order is randomized again, and the girls don’t pick new heroes, but get to force a trade on anybody - between themselves and another girl, or between two girls. But I am rethinking, because there is quite a bit of passion involved.

I have a pick planned today that will make somebody very angry. But just because she loves him more than I do, whatever, I want him, and I’m before her. Perhaps it is her love of him that makes me want him so much...


1. Bridget Locke - Mr. Jules Cassidy (All Through the Night, Suzanne Brockmann), Bones (One Foot in the Grave and Halfway to the Grave by Jeannie Frost), Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen), Judd Laurens (Caressed by Ice, Nalini Singh)

2. Ana - Bowen MacRieve (Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, Kresley Cole), Sebastian St. Vincent (Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas), Royce Westmoreland (A Kingdom of Dreams,Judith McNaught), Conrad Wroth (Dark Needs at Night's Edge, Kresley Cole)

3. Tumperkin - Mick Tremore (The Proposition, Judith Ivory), Michael McNeil (Patricia Gaffney's Wild at Heart), Christian, Duke of Jervaulx (Flowers from the Storm, Laura Kinsale), Graham Wessit (Black Silk, Judith Ivory)
4. LesleyW - John Matthew aka Tehrror (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, JR Ward), Jeremy Danvers (Women of the Otherworld series, Kelly Armstrong), Vayl (Jaz and Vayl series, Jennifer Rardin), Curran (Magic Bites and Magic Burns, Ilona Andrews)
5. Sarah - Clay (Women of the Otherworld series, Kelley Armstrong), Nathaniel (Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Series), Barinthus ( Meredith Gentry)

6. Carolyn Jean - Eric Northman (Sookie series, Charlaine Harris), Joe Morelli (Stephanie Plum, Janet Evanovich), Ranger (Stephanie Plum, Janet Evanovich), Michael (Guardian Series, Meljean Brook)
7. Christine - Acheron (Dark Hunter series, Sherrilyn Kenyon) Qhuinn (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, JR Ward) Vishous (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, JR Ward), Butch O'Neill (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, JR Ward)

8. Ciaralira - Ethan McCabe (Demon Night, Meljean Brook) Hugh Castleford (Demon Angel, Meljean Brook) Westley (The Princess Bride, William Goldman), Lord Robert Andreville (Robin) (Angel Rogue, Mary Jo Putney)

9. JenB - Vane Kattalakis (Night Play, Sherrilyn Kenyon) Angel (Angel, Johanna Lindsey) Rule, (The Demon You Know, Christine Warren), Kade, (Riley Jenson Guardian series, Keri Arthur)

10. Katie(babs) - Alexander (The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons) REHVENGE (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, JR Ward), James Diaz (Cry No More, Linda Howard) Gabriel "Sully" Sullivan (Gabriel's Ghost, Linnea Sinclair!)
11. KristieJ - Derek (Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas) Dax Silverbrake (Sky Pirate, Justine Davis) Ciaran Tamberlane (My Forever Love, Marsha Canham), Branden Kel-Paten (Games of Command, Linnea Sinclair)

12. Lisabea - Adrien English (Adrien English series, Josh Lanyon) Colin Ames Beaumont (Demon Moon, Meljean Brook), Jake Romero (With Caution, J.L. Langley), Nate (My Fair Captain, J.L. Langley)

13. MaryKate - ROARKE (In Death series, JD Robb) Lucas Hunter (Slave to Sensation, Nalini Singh), Maximillian Pesaro,( Gardella Chronicles, Colleen Gleason), Cameron Quinn (Sea Swept, Nora Roberts)

14. Naida - Edward Cullen (Twilight, Stephanie Meyers) John Atlantis (Entangled, Kathleen Dante), Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion, Jane Austen), Aragorn aka Strider (Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien)
15. Samantha Kane - Doyle/The Queen's Darkness (Merry Gentry Series, Laurell K. Hamilton) Cat, a young pirate (The Windflower, Laura London),Chief of Police Jack West( All U Can Eat, Emma Holly), Tom Paoletti (Unsung Hero, Suzanne Brockmann)

16. Sarai - Jake Riordan (Adrien English series, Josh Lanyon) Rejar (Rejar, Dara Joy),Vaughn D'Angelo (Visions of Heat, Nalini Singh), Zarek of Moesia (Dance with the Devil, Sherrilyn Kenyon)
17. Shannon - Sam Donovan (Mr. Perfect, Linda Howard) Sam Starrett (Troubleshooters series, Suzanne Brockmann), Max Baghat (Troubleshooter series, Suzanne Brockmann), Adam Hauptman (Mercedes Thompson series, Patricia Briggs)

18. Sula - Rhage (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, JR Ward) Asa McIntyre (Promises Linger by Sarah McCarty), Dain (Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase), Ian Witherspoon (At Love's Command, Samantha Kane)
19. Thea - Jamie Fraser (Outlander, Diana Gabaldon) Joscelin Verreuil (Kushiel's Legacy series, Jacqueline Carey), Jacob Black (Twilight Series, Stephanie Meyer), Batman!
20. Tracy - Zsadist (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, JR Ward), Phineas Tucker (Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie), Dorian (Psy/Changeling Series, Nalini Singh), Wrath (Dark Lover, BDB series by JR Ward)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another great Lara Adrian villain

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: Midnight Rising
Author: Lara Adrian
Spoiler level: medium-high

I think Lara Adrian needs to get way more credit for these villains she creates and their mad and horrible plans.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Midnight Breed romance storylines totally deliver. The romance storylines are the heart of the series, and there seems to be some girl gene in me that makes me revel in the progress of the relationships, even though I more or less know how they will unfold. But I was really astonished at this son of Dragos and what he is up to in Midnight Rising.

For starters, he is holding the Ancient. The Ancient is one of the dangerous alien vampire progenitors who used to roam the earth; he was kept in a hibernation vault for centuries, but son of Dragos nabbed him and woke him up and now he has the Ancient in a cell full of all kinds of creative and horrible restraints. The Ancient:
Many thousands of years old, he was more powerful than an army of humans, even kept as he was currently in a managed state of near starvation. The hunger weakened him, as intended, but it also pissed him off, and rage was always a factor when it came to controlling a powerful creature like the one lifting its hairless, glyph-riddled head within the cell.
And this:
The creature didn’t answer, just peeled its lips back and breathed in slowly, air hissing through the large, elongated fangs. He’d stopped speaking about a decade ago, whether from madness, anger or defeat, his keeper didn’t know. Nor did he particularly care.
Anyway, son of Dragos does all these cruel tests on the Ancient and also forces him to breed, which results in the death of a number of female breedmates—that part is awful and creepy—but I also sort of feel sorry for the Ancient. All the Order warriors are scared of the Ancient and want to kill him, but here we have a different monster holding the Ancient and really abusing him.

I don’t know what Lara Adrian is going to do with this storyline, but it’s an interesting counterpoint to this, Rio’s story.

Rio, as we know, was disfigured in an explosion, and also, part of his childhood was spent in a monstery state of wildness. So of all the Order, Rio has the most beast in him, and even refers to himself that way, like his love interest, Dylan, is a beauty and he is the beast.

I think I know what will happen with Rio and Dylan, and I am greatly looking forward to it, but what what what will happen with the Ancient? I am sure whatever Adrian does will be great. And I'm sure I'll find out tonight. Or maybe not!

Did you ever read a book where you feel a little bit sorry for the villain? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Where is my FIX?

Like the pathetic addict I am, I awoke this morning and went right to my computer and to Sarai's blog. GASP! No DIK Heroes Draft round 2.

I began to shake my list. I have a hero to pick, and NOBODY else can have this one. I will not let there be a repeat of yesterday. Where is the post? What is happening?

But then I realized it is ONLY 8:30 a.m. where Sarai lives. She is probably still in bed. Though probably not with Jake Riordan.

I am still barely recovered from the loss of Drifter to Ciara who, if she would read this, might get a glimmering of understanding of why he was rightfully mine. And possibly still will be.

Anyway, I am sure Sarai will have the thing up at some point today. There was no time element discussed.

In the meantime, look what I got yesterday! Lisabea has it, too, and we are hatching PLANS.

UPDATE: Round 2 DIK at Sarai's is over.
ROUND 3 is now in session at Lisabea's.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Desert Island Hero Draft: Round 1 of 7

Okay, island dwellers. We have our books. But what heroes will we bring? Not everybody can personally bring Dain. Or Roarke. Or Z! But somebody needs to! Below: A list of the women who brought their six books to the now massive DIK library last week (did I miss anybody?) and their round 1 hero picks. See rules below.

1. Tracy - Zsadist (Lover Awakened, JR Ward)

2. Thea - Jamie Fraser (Outlander, Diana Gabaldon)

3. Sula - Rhage (Lover Eternal, JR Ward)

4. Shannon - Sam Donovan (Mr. Perfect, Linda Howard)

5. Sarai - Jake Riordan (Adrien English series, Josh Lanyon)

6. Samantha Kane - Doyle/The Queen's Darkness (Laurell K. Hamilton, Merry Gentry Series)

7. Naida  - Edward Cullen (Twilight, Stephanie Meyers)

8. MaryKate - ROARKE (JD Robb's In Death series)

9. Lisabea - Adrien English (Adrien English series, Josh Lanyon)

10. KristieJ - Derek (Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas)

11. Katie(babs) - Alexander (The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons)

12. JenB - Vane Kattalakis (Night Play, Sherrilyn Kenyon)

13. Ciaralira - Ethan McCabe  sob (Demon Night, Meljean Brook)

14. Christine - Acheron (Dark Hunter series, Sherrilyn Kenyon)

15. Carolyn Jean - Eric Northman (Sookie series, Charlaine Harris)

16. Sarah - Clay (Women of the Otherworld series, Kelley Armstrong)

17. LesleyW - John Matthew aka Tehrror (Dark Lover etc., JR Ward)

18. Tumperkin - Mick Tremore (The Proposition, Judith Ivory)

19. Ana - Bowen MacRieve (Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, Kresley Cole)

20.  Bridget Locke - Mr. Jules Cassidy (All Through the Night, Suzanne Brockmann)

Step 1. Find your name. That is the order you choose in.
Step 2. When it's your turn, “Call” ONE hero in the comments. (Anybody from all of literature, but you can’t have somebody who is already picked!

Who will you pick? Tracy gets to start. Tracy, leave your hero’s name in the comments. Then Thea gets to go. And so on. After this round, everybody will have one hero, and draft round 2 will start (at Sarai's). At the end of 7 drafts, everybody will have a group of 7 heroes to bring. Yes, trades are permitted.

Don't worry about obsessively monitoring this thing. If you don't call your hero in 24 hours, we'll skip you.

• No picking out of order. Once the woman above you has chosen, it’s your turn. (Not before!)
• Trades are permitted, but be clear about announcing the results in the comments or email so your host doesn’t have to play sleuth.
• If it’s your turn and we don’t hear from you for 24 hours, sorry, you’re skipped. But you can email your host ahead of time with your pick.
• Latecomers: SORRY,  we wish everybody could play, but there has now been a moratorium placed on add-ons, due to the record-keeping nightmare this will soon become. 

ROUND 2: (now over) Hosted at Sarai’s
ROUND 3: (now over) Hosted at lisabea's.
ROUND 4: (starting MONDAY!) Hosted at MaryKate's
ROUND 5: Hosted at Christine's
ROUND 6: Hosted at Katie(babs) & Kristie(J)'s
ROUND 7: Hosted at Sula's! 

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Oh, what a wonderful monstery world

Magic Bites discussion, part 2 (see part 1 here)

Okay, well now I’ve finished MAGIC BITES, by Ilona Andrews. It was great, full of excellent tension, interesting characters and fabulously drawn monsters and villains. I’m not going to talk about the main monster, whose delicious scariness and yuckiness is built over many passages and pages, but even the minor monsters are great. Like, the vampires, who are more mindless creature than human in this world.

Here is the very ancient vampire our hero and her pals come upon and fight. This is a lot of description to stop the story for, but it never gets boring because it has action embedded into it, and the details are impressively vivid, with a kind of pop at the end.

The thing followed me on all fours. It was a vampire, but one so ancient that no trace of it having walked upright remained. The bones of its spine and hips had permanently shifted to adapt to quadruped locomotion.

The creature advanced, lean and wiry like a greyhound. An inch-high bone crest shielded its spine, formed by outgrowth of the vertebrae through the leather-thick skin. It paused, hugged the ground for a moment, and rose again, ruby-red eyes fixed on me.

Its face no longer bore any resemblance to a human, the skull jutted back in a bony hornlike curve to balance the horribly massive protruding jaws. The creature had no nose, not even a hint of a nose bridge. It opened its mouth, splitting its head in half. Rows of fangs gleamed against the blackness. It wouldn’t just puncture and rip. It would shred me.
Gulp. The fight is pretty good, too. I won’t say who wins.

A note on the romance.

I’d heard from many sources that this book is sort of light on the romance, and that’s true, and certainly nobody’s having sex here, though there is a smattering of nice relationship building - the kind you might find in the early Anita Blake. I’m guessing this will be one of those Urban Fantasy series where the relationship arc stretches long over books.

Fave character in a smart scene

Okay, my favorite character in this whole book is Nick the Crusader, who is slightly mad and also very wonderful, and not the love interest. Anyway there is this fabulous scene with him and heroine Kate at the end that is one of the best sorts of scenes, where one character gives another character advice that is full of insight. So crazy Nick gives her this advice:
“If I were on my own, packing some power, and for some reason not wanting to be found, I might lay low for a while, but I’d know that sooner or later I’d have to come out and play, because whoever’s looking for me would eventually find me. I’d start building some connections. The thing about a lone wolf? Once you corner it, it has no one to turn to.”
I love when characters provide perspective on each other like that. I find it very satisfying. Nice job, team Ilona! Magic Burns is out now, the next book, Midnight Games, will be out in 2009.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Win a box of books!

Hey! Big contest over at Rachael's What I am reading! 

You can win a BOX of books.

You really want to say NO to a box of books?  

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Question of the day

What is a Mary Sue?
I see this term thrown around a lot, but I'm never really sure what a Mary Sue really is.

Sometimes I think it means a pretty  heroine everybody is in love with. Is that it? 

I know it's bad for a heroine to be a Mary Sue, and I've seen it applied to Sookie Stackhouse. Is she a Mary Sue?  What is a Mary Sue, and why are Mary Sue's bad?  

Tomorrow: more fawning and gushing over Magic Bites, the book that just gets better and better.