Tag Archives: vampires

Review: Claudia’s Story: An Interview with the Vampire grahic novel adaptation

I grew up on Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I read the first book when the movie came out in 1994 and the rest of the series, to a point, and I’ve reread them a lot since. I’d always loved vampires in various forms, but something about Interview with the Vampire brought out the richness and realism of what being such a creature who used to be human might be like. I’m also a sucker for a good story framing and having a quirky reporter taping the interview was awesome. To this day, the first four books in that series remain some of my favorites.

Claudia’s Story, an adaption by Ashley Marie Witter, is Interview from her perspective, which is dark and disturbing. It tells how she was turned, how she grew from a true child vampire into a woman trapped into a child’s body for all eternity, and how she puts up with Louis (doting but self-hating) and Lestat (Monsieur Can Do No Wrong). I’m a huge fan of swapped POVs and unreliable narrator, which is part of the reason I love The Vampire Chronicles. One book is Louis’ take and the next book is Lestat going “Pfft yeah right, here’s how I saw it.”

So to give us an entirely new perspective is a great idea for a fresh way to retell the story. We get bits and pieces of Claudia’s diary in the third book, Queen of the Damned (which bares little resemblance to its movie incarnation), when Jesse, a supernatural investigator, recovers the journal. It’s always something I wanted more of, and here we are.

It is impossibly creepy to see it drawn out on the page. Claudia is small, maybe five in the novel, and in the graphic novel there are scenes where that alone is enough to make my skin crawl.

Louis' expressions of frustration, angst, and sadness are as perfect as Lestat's grin.

(Child monsters are always the worst, aren’t they?) Witter doesn’t shy away from the gritty darkness of a child who is not a child, nor does she avoid the uncomfortable conversations that arise because of it. It is Claudia’s story, after all, and Witter tells in all of its twisted, strange entirety. It’s devastatingly heart-breaking and completely disturbing at the same time.

The art work is breathtakingly gorgeous, too. Even if Louis looks constantly depressed (accurate). And finally, finally, we get a depiction of Armand that doesn’t make him look like a middle-aged man with a bear hide on his head. (I’ll concede Antonio Banderas played the hell out of that part in the movie but the costuming.. yikes.)

It works as a stand-alone story, but I suspect its best audience will largely be fans of the book and/or the film. Although if you like pretty and haunting vampire comics, this is definitely one to add to your collection.

 

(Also I forgot how much of a jerk Lestat is in Interview. Seriously, like, I know he’s the quintessential teenager pretty much always, but if he did like three things differently, everything could have been puppies and roses and sparkl–err… Well.. Maybe it’s better that he didn’t.)

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

It’s no secret that I love vampires and always have, and will basically devour anything about vampires at all* but there is so much vampire media out there, I have to draw the line somewhere or I would never sleep again. So I never picked up Vampire Academy. Because.. I mean.. I’m sure it’s great, Mead is awesome and hilarious, but the name put me off. I don’t really care for the vampires-in-school thing. Suffice to say, it’s on my reading list now, so mea culpa.

Bloodlines  drew me in because it was about an alchemist and I love alchemy. Bonus vampires? Sold. That was all I needed. And then I met Adrian.

Adrian Ivashkov is like if Daniel Molloy and Will Herondale somehow combined their DNA. He’s sweet and caring deep down, sure, but he’s sarcastic, doesn’t seem to take anything seriously, and lives on gin and cigarettes. (And blood. Obviously.) *waves fangirl flag*

The story is about Alchemist Syndney Sage, who has to go to a boarding school with a vampire princess, Jill, to keep her safe, since alchemists in this world live to cover up the existence of vampires and nasty things from mundane people. Jill is also being threatened by vampires for political reasons. And Adrian is just there as far as Sydney knows, at least at first, because he has nothing better to do.

Syndey is book smart and OCD and happy to go to this boarding school posing as a senior, because she’s never been to real school and it’s as close to college as she feels like she can get. She is less good at fitting in with other students, particularly when one of them thinks her golden alchemist tattoo is making her smarter, because there’s an illegal tattoo operation in town that’s giving students unfair advantages for the right price.

I did take issue with a scene in beginning where Sydney is fitted for a uniform and spends a lot of time whining about her size. She’s like.. a four I think? She talks about how fat she is, and I really loathed that. I get that teenagers (hell, people) can obsess about size, and it’s in character for her being so OCD and perfectionistic, but all the same it really bothered me at the time, because man, if she’s a cow then I’m like a Humpback Whale, so thanks there, chica. However, it’s sort of forgivable because it is so much a part of her character, and in the second book [spoiler] Adrian even calls her out for having a serious eating disorder, which we see in glimpses as the series continues, so it’s not treated as a healthy behavior but all of the same[/spoiler].

I have no idea how this stacks up to VA since I haven’t read any of them, but I enjoyed both this and its sequel, again, because Adrian makes me giggle like a mad person. It does sort of run on vampire politics which can get old quickly, but I don’t know if there’s much I can’t forgive for Adrian, particularly maybe the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time, which was [spoiler]The Adrian Hunts for A Job Scene… just.. I was in stitches, especially when he drinks the martini at the bar interview… such a bad idea but so hilariously played, Adrian![/spoiler]

I also liked that Mead has clearly built an in-depth vampire world, and then writes stories from the perspective of Sydney, who isn’t really keen on magic and whose up-brining makes them weird about vampires, even the good non-murderous ones. It’s an interesting twist to have a YA heroine who not only lacks magical powers but would not take them if they were offered.

*Not Twilight. But then, to be honest, I did read Meyer’s short novella about Bree Tanner, in which the titular character thought she was a real vampire and not a sparklepire, and it wasn’t terrible, so… you know. Also Vampire Baseball. That will never stop being hilarious to me.

Recommended if: You like supernatural stories set in boarding schools, and/or can forgive that for a handsome, snarky, gin-drinking vampire. Which, I mean, what can’t you forgive for that?

Book Review: Anno Dracula

Guys, I just got done reading a pretty awesome book.

At first I wasn’t sure about it, since the cover wasn’t immediately telling what the story was about, and I really didn’t look into it too much. But my best friend recommended it to me because Neil Gaiman said everyone should read it. Also, sometimes it’s fun to just jump into a book without reading the back, because it’s more surprising that way.

From the cover and title I understood that vampires were involved, and well, I do like vampires [that don’t sparkle]. And most pointedly, it starred “Prince” Dracula as “His Majesty.”

Okay, I’ll bite.

Haha, get it?

So I dropped the other books I was currently reading at the time and focused in on this one.

Needless to say, I soon wasn’t disappointed. This is, it turns out, an alternate history of the time of Jack the Ripper. I’m a bit of a sucker for historical fiction, and also have always had a weird thing about Jack the Ripper [I blame all the years I watched Unsolved Mysteries]. This was in fact a perfect combination of things relevant to my interests.

It doesn’t all happen right away, either. Things start slow, though the story certainly doesn’t feel that way. There are different points of view throughout the novel, but it never gets confusing – everyone has a very unique voice. Along with this involving vampires, there are also a lot of other fictional places that Kim Newman takes his inspiration from, and that also made reading this book really fun and exciting. If you love  Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and other cult favorites when it comes to vampire novels, yes. Check this book out.

So, without spoilers, here are some fun facts about this book:

  • Van Helsing is dead, killed by Dracula
  • Dracula has married Queen Victoria and turned her into a vampire, becoming King of England
  • Vampires are rampant and accepted in Britain
  • Someone starts killing vampire prostitutes in Whitechapel
  • The Diogenes Club gets involved in the investigation

Even days after reading this book, I’m still going through the pages at the back [of my nook] to read all the notes that Newman has made, and reading up on all the connections further pointed out on the wiki page. A ton of research went into this story, and it’s really refreshing to see so much work put into a book, especially a vampire-focused one.

But more exciting was when I saw that this is actually the first book in a series of novels and short stories. The titles have me just laughing hysterically [such as Dracula Cha Cha Cha] and wanting to read them all at once. Apparently at one point these novels were all out of print though, so right now only the first two are available, and more still to come. Huzzah!

So to recap, I highly recommend this novel if you love:

  • Vampires of the non-sparkly, bad-ass variety
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • Jack the Ripper [though maybe don’t admit that too loudly…]
  • Cult vampire stories
  • Victorian history
  • And more!

Okay, on to the next book! And anime! And video game! Man do I need more than 24 hours in a day.

 

Sims: Supernatural Expansion – The Sims I’ve Always Wanted

The Sims uses the slogan “Play with Life” and it’s true. Sims is and has always been a giant sandbox with an ever-increasing world of options. It has a variety of appeal. If you like to design and build houses and buildings, you can do that. If you like to give Sims opposite personality traits, shove them in a studio apartment and watch what happens, you can do that too. The Sims 3 Expansion packs have increasingly created richer, more realistic environments and potential. They’ve given us pets. They’ve given us  toy chests and dragon costumes. They’ve given us jobs that you don’t just sit back and wait for, but jobs you do: making over other Sims or remodeling their houses.

But Sims Supernatural is, to be honest, the Sims I’ve always wanted. We’ve had vampires since Late Night, but you had to meet a vampire and convince them to turn your Sim if you wanted to be one. Now you can be a vampire or a faerie or a witch or a genie or even a ghost right out of the gate. This pack gives us historical and faerie outfits and something I’m going to call “Lestat hair.”

This is also the pack that fully gives us magic. Witches can do alchemy and make zombies rise. Vampires can turn other Sims. People joke about “why play the Sims? So you can have a fake person clean the kitchen and go to work and pay bills.” This is the pack that changes the game completely, allowing the player to delve into all sorts of fantasy worlds and create their own stories with fantastical elements.

Continue reading

Awesome Friday Links Round-Up! 6/29/12

TUESDAY. I CANNOT WAIT.

Hello! It’s Friday. I’m excited because I work for the weekend. And then I work on the weekend, writing, blogging, and wrangling cats. Sometimes I play video games. But I digress. Some good reads this week:

Author Cassandra Clare talks about the importance of not white-washing her cast in the upcoming film City of Bones. Specifically, Magnus Bane needs to be played by an Asian or biracial actor, not a white guy.

I just discovered Emily Reads and her review haikus. So much love for this!

Amanda over at Strange Chemistry (YA imprint of Angry Robot Books) talks about popular young adult series currently being read by people on their end, and asks what you are currently reading.

Wastepaper Prose discusses social media and how it is used by authors, with insights from authors – very interesting! There is a second part to this post here as well if you would like to read more.

Emily’s Reading Room talks about what makes a good audiobook narrator.

Anna over at The Book Smugglers reviews Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. Claire and I are both really looking forward to reading this one.

Melinda Lo breaks down the numbers of LGBT in YA so far this year.

Ben Myers over the Guardian (U.K.) newspaper book blog discusses the #BadWritingTips Twitter hashtag, and whether it has improved writing or not.

Links compiled by myself and Claire. Happy Weekend!

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

This is less a review and more of an epic fangirl flail, because you guys, I have it bad. And not just for the snarky boy, Will, who is charming and beautiful but pushes everyone away. Of course, let’s face it, he had me at his line about how the person rescuing you is never wrong, “even if he says the sky is purple and made of hedgehogs”. HOLY BOOK CRUSH. But I love everyone, from Jem, to Jessie, from Henry to Tessa. 

Clockwork Angel is the first book in Clare’s Infernal Devices series, which takes place in the same Shadow Hunter world as her Mortal Instruments series. This is set a hundred or so years sooner and has some cool steampunk like elements, including an evil plot with clockwork automatons.

After Tessa Gray’s aunt dies, her brother sends her a steamer ship ticket across the Atlantic to join him in England. But when she arrives, she’s taken by two women called the Dark Sisters, who reveal to her that she has a very special power – she can shapeshift into anyone after holding something that belongs to them. Of course, they torture and abuse her and plan to marry her off to some mysterious Magister, at least until Will comes along to the rescue. Then she get caught up in the world of the Shadow Hunters, demon-fighters descended from angels, and a plot to destroy them.

The world building is immersive and vast, on par with people like Scott Lynch and Seanan McGuire. And that’s nothing compared to Clare’s detailed and incredible character creation. Everyone, even the minor characters, are fleshed out into real people, and it’s easy to imagine Clare could tell you their life stories if you asked. No one is one-dimensional. And even the most tragic of circumstances, like Jem’s, who is always sick, feel real and not forced.

Tessa herself is likable, smart, witty, and tough. She starts to rescue herself before Will interrupts and is perfectly capable of being clear-headed in sticky situations. And while she tries to determine her feelings for Will, who is hot and cold, she doesn’t spend pages and pages pining for him. It’s not annoying, is what I’m saying, when so often it can be in paranormal romance. Tessa is also fond of books but unlike, say, Bella Swan, she’s also constantly quoting from them, and trading snippets of poetry with Will, who pretends to think it’s all sentimental nonsense.

And let me declare right here, right now: Magnus Bane is basically amazing. He’s a flashy bastard but he rocks so hard.

Characters and world-building aside, the story is incredibly crafted. It barely has a dull moment. There’s action, mystery, and crazy plot twists that I didn’t see coming. I’ve already started the second book and I cannot get enough of it. So crap. I guess I’m a Shadow Hunter fan after all. My only complaint is that I wish I’d thought of it first.

Recommended for: People who like October Daye and Harry Dresden will find this similar but different enough that it’s still new.

Being a Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Kind of Sucks

Guess after 'True Blood's' success, they decided to scrap the cartoony covers.

Last week, the second to last installment of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Southern Mysteries hit shelves. I actually thought it was the final book and despite my gripes with the last few, I wanted to see how it ended. Deadlocked is a surprising improvement. The mysteries are actually suspenseful, some of the reveals were impressively shocking and unpredictable (but not way out of left field), and Harris is clearly starting to tie up all of her loose ends. If the last book is this good, the series will end on a high note.

The politics are still there, because you can’t change course mid-stream (or something; I am not a sailor) but there’s less of it, which is a relief. I’m sorry, but State Kingdoms? Sheriffs? Political power? Marriage contracts? What is that?

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: being a vampire in the Sookie Stackhouse universe royally sucks (no puns intended). Which is fine. There are plenty of books that make being a vampire seem awesome and god knows you can’t throw a rock in a bookstore without smacking a broody vampire in the forehead (double points for a Cullen). But still, I genuinely love vampires, and this world takes away everything about that’s awesome.

First, because vampires are “out of the coffin” they now have to follow mortal law. And apparently on top of that, they have an insane convoluted form of government that no immortal worth his salt would bother to follow. Vampires have to obey their makers. There are marriage contracts (I am still annoyed about that). It’s so stupid. At least in this book, Sookie agrees with me.

I’m going to quote myself here from a review I wrote two books ago on my old and now deleted blog:

Vampires are the ultimate escapism fantasy: to become a vampire is to have all of the strings cut. Vampires don’t have to work or go to school, they don’t have to stayed tied down to one city or even one continent, they don’t have to follow rules or laws (at least not mortal ones and most of them ignore the any rules other vampires try to impose). They can wear pink polyester and jaywalk in front of cops and chain smoke because they are free of all of mortal pressures, like traffic tickets and fashion sense and lung cancer. Vampires can run night clubs (it’s been done to death), they can do business and pay property taxes to avoid suspicion. But it’s a choice and if they want to go wear rags and live in a cemetery and kill passerbys, well, that’s their choice too.

And that is what these books lack to me. A sense of whimsy of the supernatural. Being anything, from a demon to a shapeshifter, has no appeal in this world. It’s the one case where I can see myself saying to a vampire, “No thanks. I’d rather stay human.”

Which doesn’t mean the books aren’t good. In some ways, it’s the most mind-blowing thing about the entire series. I do enjoy reading them (when they’re not weighted down too far with politics). They’re quirky and fun. But they’re really less for fans of vampires than for people who like mysteries that sometimes happen to contain non-human beings. That said, I wait with baited breath for the final book, and I look forward to whatever Harris does next.