morrigirl: (Lila Black)
[personal profile] morrigirl
After finishing The Raw Shark Texts yesterday, (good book; kind of like "Momento," "The Matrix," House of Leaves, and "Jaws" all rolled into one), I picked up the copy of Dead Until Dark that has been sitting on the office book swap shelf for ages. I read three pages, and put it back.

I have an aversion to characters who tell me how drop dead gorgeous they are on the first page. A start like that tells me a lot about what is important within the narrative: beauty, sexiness, romance, and sex. They usually come hand in hand with cliches, unrealistic relationship development, shoddy writing, and cringe-worthy sex scenes. None of that interests me. I don't like reading about pretty people, particularly pretty people who bitch and moan about how they can't get a date. Three pages of Sookie Stackhouse was all I could take.

Having abandoned Charlaine Harris, I turned to one of the urban fantasy books I acquire through PaperBack Swap - Guilty Pleasures, the first book in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Like the Southern Vampire Mysteries, I've never had any strong desire to read the Anita Blake books, but was willing to give them a go because 1) everyone loves them so much, and 2) they are basically considered urban fantasy "canon."

Laurell K. Hamilton pretty much invented contemporary urban fantasy. Guilty Pleasures was first published in 1993 when epic fantasy was still the industry norm. It came out four years before Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit television, and roughly ten years before urban fantasy became a driving force in fantasy literature.

I'm up to page fifty, and though I'm not impressed, now I know where every urban fantasy cliche originated: the generic, sassy, opinionated heroine; the sexy, yet sensitive and overly protective vampire lover; the ridiculous, comedic side-kicks. They're all there. Hamilton's writing is serviceable, but that's about it. Nothing dazzles on the page. Anita herself has virtually no personality. Fifty pages in all I know about her is what she does for a living and that she hates vampires. She has no interests, hobbies, quirks, or defining characteristics. She's a blank slate.

I think the urban fantasy novelists who have taken Hamilton's formula and run with it over the last ten years have improved upon it greatly. Writer's like Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Richelle Mead give their characters actual personalities! They give their romantic subp-lots time to development in a realistic fashion. They come up with fleshed out secondary characters who are just as charming as the protagonists. They bring an improved awareness of craft and technique to their books. They have zeroed in on the problem areas of the urban fantasy formula and fixed them. So it's kind of sad that new urban fantasy writers still try to imitate Hamilton when they could be trying to imitate her successors, or better yet, coming up with something totally new.

Problems aside, I do plan to finish reading Guilty Pleasures. It's good enough and short enough, and it's not as off-putting as Dead Until Dark. But it's going to have to get A LOT better for me to move on the second book.

Thanks to PaperBack Swap I've accumulated a small library of urban fantasy books I was never interested in spending money on but am perfectly willing to sample for free. I've got the first book in Kim Harrison's Hollows series, Jenna Black's Morgan Kinglesy series, Vicki Pettersson's Sign of the Zodiac series, and Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series. To be perfectly honest, I'm not optimistic about the quality of these books, but feel I should at least give them a chance because I'm fond of the genre. And, you know, I have been wrong in the past. I wasn't optimistic about the Georgina Kincaid books either and they turned out to be freaking awesome! So, who knows?

Date: 2010-06-12 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

"Three pages of Sookie Stackhouse"

aw! I've heard that's supposed to be good!
and anna paquin plays her in the show! HOT.

Date: 2010-06-14 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Meh, Anna Paquin just ain't my type. Gabrielle Union on the other hand...growl!

Date: 2010-06-14 08:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've heard the name, but can't place a face.

Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-15 02:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Gabrielle Union: aside from being a prime example of pure, smoking hotness, she's also a damn fine actress.

I think there was an episode of "Friends" where Ross and Rachel contemplated who would be on their "freebie list", a list of five celebrities they were each allowed to sleep with should the chance ever present itself.

Gabrielle Union would be at the top of my freebie list. The four remaining slots? I'm still kind of waffling on those.

Who would be on your freebie list?

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-15 09:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

"Who would be on your freebie list?"

Jennifer Tilly, Drew Barrymore, Jessica Beil...

Allison Hannigan would've USED to be on it, but she has a kid now! and that weirds me out!

I LOVE Joan Jett... so her, too. But she's SO awesome I'd feel unworthy!

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-16 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Drew Barrymore. A fine choice. Is it just me or does she, like, never age? And not in the "I've had fifteen different types of plastic surgery" way, but the "I have really awesome genes" way.

Oh c'mon, we're talking sex not nesting. You can still do Alyson Hannigan even if she is a mom.

I can picture a religion springing up around Joan Jett - Her photograph placed upon an altar made out of a couple cinder blocks and a Gibson guitar.

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-16 08:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
" Is it just me or does she, like, never age?"

uh huh! she's so ADORABLE.

"I can picture a religion springing up around Joan Jett"


her and Lemmy.

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-17 08:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
" Her photograph placed upon an altar"

i could build one myself! I have like a half dozen of her posters! :D

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-19 09:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OH also: Sara Silverman & Zoey Deshannel!

and Nixon of the suicide girls:

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-19 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
LOL, I think you've gone way over your limit of five.

Okay, maybe you can explain to me the appeal of Zooey Deschanel. I don't get it. She just strikes me as so...generic. What makes her so hot in your opinion?

I think I'd put Ian Somerhalder on my list under Gabrielle Union. There was a time when I'd have put Vincent Kartheiser on but...I'm not so sure about that anymore.

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-19 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Zooey Deschanel"

she's quirky, cute, AND she can sing!

"your limit of five."



"Ian Somerhalder"


"Vincent Kartheiser"

I know who he is! didn't like his character on "Angel", but he's probably a good actor.

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-21 04:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ian Somerhalder: Formerly of "Lost," currently of "The Vampire Diaries." Former Calvin Klein model. Great actor. Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. See:

And, as you can see, I am using my Vincent Kartheiser icon. Yeah, his character on Angel was a total butt munch, be he's a really good actor. And he's kinda cute. Do you watch Mad Men? He's on Mad Men now.

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-21 07:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Do you watch Mad Men?"

no cable! but I've seen pics. certainly a different look for him!

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-22 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No cable? What?! I'm assuming you have an internet connection, so why not just fork over the extra fifteen bucks a month for basic cable?

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-22 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't HAVE 15 bucks!

and the Sopranos is OVER, so's that western I wanted to see, so fuck it.

I'm generally tired of TV, aside from the shows I already like.

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-23 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OH! i have seen ONE movie she was in. "Bring It On".

Eliza Dushku and Kirsten Dunst were in it, so I HAD to watch it!

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-06-24 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yup, that's the film that introduced me to Gabrielle Union. She stepped onto the screen and I was like, "Oh my God, that is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen."

And, just for fun....


Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-08-23 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i watched the movie again and I still like Eliza Dushku & Kirsten Dunst best!

Re: Click here for pure, smoking hotness!

Date: 2010-08-24 04:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They are both cute, but I'd still gobble Gabrielle Union up. Take that however you want.

Date: 2010-06-18 07:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
read any Jeaniene Frost? I got one of hers for free!

Date: 2010-06-19 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I actually have the first book of her Night Huntress series on my wish list over at paperback swap. It's one of those books I'm curious about, but that looks too romance oriented for me to want to spend money on.

Date: 2010-06-19 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
this one has a REALLY hot chick on the cover, sitting on a motorcycle! SO I'll give it a chance.

I can always skim over the romantic crap.

Date: 2010-06-21 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Can't argue with hot chicks on motorcycles.

Date: 2010-06-28 09:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
so far it's pretty good!

the "romance" stuff is mainly how HOT she is for her vampire Ex-lover. and then they get back together! no treacly "teen girl romance" crap!

Date: 2010-08-24 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh, I got my hands on the first book in Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. Can't wait to read it. Too bad there are about twenty books ahead of it on my "to-read" list.


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