Archive for best vampire stories
It was a banner week for fans of Sookie Stackhouse, both in the books and on the television show. For those fans that have been waiting anxiously for news of when the fifth season of True Blood would once again grace their screens, the date has been announced. June 10th is the day to set your set boxes to record as it is announced as the date of the return of the very popular vampire series.
For the true fans who not only watch the show but also read the Southern Vampire Mystery Series, the latest book to come out is Deadlocked, which has been talked about on fan sites for several months now. Author Charlaine Harris let fans know through her website that the final edits had been done in December and everyone was simply waiting for word from the publishers when the book was scheduled to be released. That date was announced this week as May 1st, and order have been pouring in on all the various sites and brick and mortar bookstores for the twelfth title in the series.
For fans who just cannot wait to get the May bite of Bon Temps mystery, there is a sneak peak at the second chapter of the book on the authors site here. And for fans of the True Blood show, we have a wonderful little trailer for the first episode, titled “Turn, Turn,Turn” that will have your head spinning for sure! Could our Sookie want to see Tara make that lethal turn into a vamp? We will just have to keep watching for clues and not miss that wonderful first of the season episode on June 10th. In the meantime, here’s the trailer:
Ooooooo! This is looking like a very fun season!!
Title: Vampire Dawn
Author: J.R. Rain
Release: March 12, 2012
Genre: Vampire Detective
I have come to really love J.R. Rain’s vampire private eye Samantha Moon. With all the various vampire books that are around, I still think the best vampire stories are those where the main characters make sense. In this latest adventure of the soccer mom turned vampire detective we have someone who is making the best of a bad situation, and doing it well once again.
For those out of the loop on Rain’s feisty heroine, Samantha Moon was your everyday Mom and Wife until she was bit – and then everything changed, except she decided to keep the husband and kids and deal with being a vampire as best she can. She also decided to remain a Federal Agent. When husband Sam comments on how creepy it is to try to cuddle up to a dead body, telling her that touching her makes him feel like he wants to gag, she returns the comment with “words every wife wants to hear.” This is not your hand to the back of the forehead sparkly vampire- this is a gal who tries very much to take her change in stride.
But this time around she is facing more than just her own problems as Federal Agent Moon is sent on a case that is both puzzling and frightening. There is a killer on the loose, and this one leaves all the tell-tale signs of being a vampire as each victim has had all of their blood drained from them. But Samantha knows that the killer isn’t a vampire. The only question is, if it is not a vampire that is making these killings, then who or what is doing it?
To make matters just a tad more exciting, back on the home front Samantha is struggling to retain the last vestiges of her own humanity. As she continues the battle to hold on to some shards of her old life, she sees changes in her son that shake her to the core. She doesn’t want to believe that they portend what she is thinking, but knows she cannot take that chance and must find answers to this fast!
Once again J.R. Rain brings us another taste of some of the best vampire stories that modern writing has to offer with Vampire Dawn. As an extra special feature, the book comes with a short story, Christmas Moon that is a setup to this story. So really, it is like getting two stories for the price of one! Even if this wasn’t one of my favorite vampires I would still love to get that kind of a bargain. So be sure to read the short story first, and then get on with enjoying the adventures of Samantha Moon in Vampire Dawn.
One of the coolest inventions for those of us who spend way too much time behind the wheel is the audio book. I don’t know about you, but I find that if I am glaring at that sea of red taillights ahead of me after a long work day, nothing quite relaxes me like a good story to take my mind off of the long commute home.
And what better story to listen to then some of the wonderful vampire series that we are so lucky to have in audio book form to enjoy during that long commute? Here are a couple of audio books that I thought were a particularly good choice because they are the beginning of a series, so you can just keep getting the next book after this one and let your brain idle on vampire heaven while your car idles on the highway.
Rebecca Mozo does a great job as the narrator for the jumping off point to this fun vampire series that has gone on to inspire a television show and more. Even if you read the books when they first came out, following the story in the audio book is such a different experience, it is like having your own private radio show. Follow the adventures of the beautiful and willful Elena, whose biggest problem seems to be choosing which boy to love. Of course, when your choices are the brooding and mysterious Stefan or the dark and dangerous Damon, those can be some tough choices! They may be brothers, but boy are they a handful! This is the one that starts it all off, so it is a great place to jump in and find out why the two brothers are such ferocious fighters, how they became vampires and just how Elena handles their rivalry for her heart.
If you have ever ventured into audio books before you may already be familiar with Simon Vance, the narrator for Anne Rice’s classic vampire tale in this audio book. He has narrated over 200 audio books, won numerous awards and is also a well known stage and screen actor. He brings so much to this story that I have to note him first before even talking about the story itself. If you have never actually read Interview with a Vampire, this is a great introduction to the book that launched the modern interpretation of vampires. The dark tale of Lestat and the vampire he created, Louis, is filled with the moody atmosphere of Louisiana and we are quickly pulled into a story of greed, violence and a cold sensual indifference that fuels the story. When the child-vampire Claudia appears, it just makes the story more poignant. This is an audio book that will have you sitting in your driveway spellbound at the end of your commute.
This has become a classic when it comes to the concept of teenage vampires, and Stephanie Wolfe’s narration of the book just makes the story come to life. Vampire Academy, for the uninitiated is the story of a very unusual school, one that teaches both full vampires and those who are half human and half vampire the ways of magic. It is filled with romance and intrigue as the vampire bodyguard Rose and her charge, the vampire princess Lissa struggle to escape a dangerous and highly charged setup that leads them to forbidden love and more. With its complex political structure and dark nightly rituals, there is plenty of adventure and lots of highly charged action that is coupled with the angst and antics only teenage vampires could possible create. There is a reason this series has grown so much in popularity since its inception – and you will want to hear more once you have enjoyed this introduction to the denizens of St. Vladimir’s Academy.
So there you have it – three great vampire tales that are just the beginning of some great ongoing vampire stories, each in a quite different universe. They are a great example of how three different authors can take such a similar concept, the idea of a vampire walking amongst us, and go in completely different directions with it. I hope that these will make that commute, long or short, a much better when for everyone!
I have been noticing a trend lately in various book review sites that center on the Young Adult titles –they are gradually phasing out the vampire titles in favor of other things such as the current move towards werewolves and angels. It seems that in the latest poll, the popularity of vampire centered novels amongst the younger teen set (eighth and ninth grade) is dropping until today we are seeing only about 15% of that age group voicing an interest in those types of books.
At the same time, I do notice an uptrend in adult books that have vampires as the main character, particularly adult romance books. Of course, romance books have always been big sellers in the general scheme of things – and paranormal romances seem to have hit a chord with many women. There are some who think this may be because of the current economic times, when times get tough people gravitate to escape entertainment. During the Great Depression of the 1930s the lavish spectacles in the movies were the big hit. I guess you could say that for today’s world, paranormal romances in both the book world and the film world are the escape we crave.
So if the kids are finding vampires passé, are we to see this as part of the trend for YA books only or do you think that the current fascination with the undead is something that will stick around and become part of the general fantasy literature field? I have certainly found it interesting that the cross-over of genres such as romance or mystery with the vampire/fantasy genre has given us some really interesting characters and stories.
I am hoping this will continue and emerge as a whole new sub-genre that will continue to fascinate readers and writers alike. There are so many ways that the new vampire literature has brought us some interesting insights into our changing culture and how we ourselves view such things as death, sex and even the idea of what kind of person you would become if you are not only immortal but most prey on others to remain so.
What are your thoughts on this move away from vampires amongst the tween and teen set? I would especially love to hear from any of the younger readers out there who are continuing to love the vampire stories we talk about here. Where is the next trend in YA literature and where do you think vampires will go now?
It should be no surprise to anyone that vampires have always been a part of the culture in many places around the world. The stories of undead creatures of the night are in almost every culture, so it shouldn’t cause so much as a blink to see a Japanese manga story that centers on vampires. This particular series is worth checking out, as it has not only done spectacularly well in Japan, but the English language version that was brought to the US by Viz Media has also done quite well.
Vampire Knight began as a manga comic book, which in Japan tend to be introduced via monthly or weekly magazines where they run as continued stories. These stories are then collected into paperback books, and it was in this format that Vampire Knight really took off. The stories were eventually released as mini-movies on CD and it was the actors who did this almost radio-play version of the books that inspired the television series.
The basic story should be pretty familiar to anyone who has read Vampire Academy. Yuki has a very early memory as a child of being attacked by a vampire, and then being saved by Kaname, who is also a vampire. As a teenager Yuki attends Cross Academy which is divided into two main groups, the night school and the day school. It is soon apparent that the night school is for the vampires. Students in the Day Class don’t even know of the existence of the Night Class, until one day Yuki meets up with an old friend, Zero. This childhood friend has been struggling against his vampire side for years, and many of the stories revolve around Yuki helping Zero in this struggle. In time, Zero is able to help her friend recover his lost memories from childhood, and the story moves from there to uncover more secrets that are kept from the two teens.
The art is beautiful, the story moves quickly and if you have never been exposed to manga, this is a good place to start for anyone who loves a good vampire story. Lucky for us, the books have been reprinted in English and the television show was picked up by ABC3, an Australian broadcast network as well as Manga Television in England. All are available as CDs, or can be streamed online, which is a great way to watch just one episode and see if you like it.
Take my word for it, this is worth checking out. It is a whole new world of vampires, teenage heroes and a new look at some wickedly beautiful versions of our favorite bad guys – the undead. The first volume of the CD is called Guilty and is a great way to get into the story.
Not sure if you are going to love it enough to own it? I got you covered on that one. For a mere two bucks a pop you can stream the Viz series, Night of Vampires, which is wonderful to look at, and if you fall in love with it, get the whole darn season of shows!
So no matter what you are looking for, manga to read or listen to or watch, Vampire Knight is a great new way to enjoy a bit of Japanese vampire storytelling.
Sure, we love our vampire stories and many of us love them even better when there is romance in them. But did you know there are some great books about vampires that kids can read? It is true- there are some of the funniest books I have ever read in the kids vampire novel sub-genre. When I first started noticing this, it was just a few titles like My Sister the Vampire by Sienna Mercer, which actually became a great YA series. The story is about a teenage girl who moves to a new town and makes friends with a girl who, though she dresses completely different from her is so alike they could be twins. And, of course, what she finds out is this girl is a vampire.
Another great YA series that features vampires is Peter and the Vampires by Darren Pillsbury. It has a lot of the adventure of the Harry Potter series with Peter being a young boy in third grade who goes to live with his crotchety old grandfather. Along the way he meets vampires, has to babysit a changeling that was traded for his sister and rescue townsfolk from a horrible monster that lives in the nearby lake. Fun and funny with lots of supernatural adventure to boot, any kid will love this great series of adventures.
For something a little more grownup, but still not out of the basic YA sphere, you might want to check out Anathema: Casual Enchantment Series by K.A. Tucker. Evangeline is a teen who was raised by loveless foster parents and once she is done high school is set adrift with few friends. She stumbles upon a cafe run by the amazing Sofie, who hires her as her assistant and soon has her flying to exotic locations and staying in luxurious rooms. When dreams of strange but alluring creatures leave her awakening breathless and with bite marks on her neck, the real drama begins. A battle between two opposing clans of vampires – with Evangeline caught in the middle. A real page turner, and I for one am breathlessly awaiting the sequel this summer.
So there you have it- three really different books that embrace the vampire subculture and yet write for that elusive YA audience. Of course, you don’t have to be a teenager to read and enjoy them, Harry Potter proved that once and for all. But the YA designation does mean the language is cleaned up a bit and no three page descriptions of sex for every chapter. I, for one, love the Ya fantasy novels and have found it encouraging that in the vampire sub-genre, we can find some great stories without the heavy duty sensuality.
Would you love to attend a community college course that looks at vampire novels? I know that just the idea of this is one that gets me sitting up and paying attention! I have noticed several community colleges in the news that have begun to offer courses in literature that deals with vampires. In Annapolis there is a community college called Anne Arundel that has begun offering a night class called “Gender and Sexuality in Vampire Literature” that sounds – well like the kind of thing our readers could sink their teeth into.
Associate Professor of English Jaque Lyman says that she looks at all aspects of the fantasy literature form – and they discuss everything from the history of vampire literature (did you know that Dracula was by no means the first vampire story?) to the role of the sexes in vampire tales. She says that she first began thinking of creating the course when Twilight became so popular, but has come to appreciate the True Blood books even more as she has read them. She plans to incorporate the characters from those books into the curriculum for next years course on vampire literature.
Many of the 18 students in her course are not your run of the mill English majors, and only two of them are men. None the less, the class covers plenty of territory from early vampire tales like “Camilla” which predates Dracula, to the most current books including the latest films and books. But she says that Dracula has proven that it is a book that will stand the test of time. Of all the books, it is the one that generates the most discussion of gender roles (a big theme in vampire books) and the role of power. They also discuss why they feel that the vampire has come back into popularity, and many feel that during tough economic times, people love to read of characters who have seemingly unlimited power and are immortal. We all need to feel that someone has some control in their lives, even if we don’t feel right now like it is us.
I say that just the chance to sit in a room of people and discuss these roles with others who love the vampire genre is a good enough indicator that the undead have a big place in our culture’s memory and we should expect to see more of them in years to come.
Audio books are such a great concept. You grab the CD and listen to it in a variety of ways. I know folks who have their little stash of great audio books for the drive to work. Heck, back when I lived in Los Angeles, it was a sanity saver on those long drives up the 405. Or you could light the candles, sit in your comfy chair at home, and have a quiet night listening to your favorite book being read. I have a friend who saves her audio books for cleaning day, and then spends the afternoon cleaning her home, audio book in player, headsets firmly in place. She is a cleaning maniac with her favorite installment firmly in place.
So I thought- how cool would it be to gather up some really great audio books of all our favorite vampire tales? Face it, listening to a vampire tale when you control the setting is a work of art in itself. Many of these are really amazingly well done audio books and I know that many great theatre actors make a nice living on the side doing lots of audio books. So sit back, enjoy the ride, and listen to some of the best vampire literature out there – told by some of the best storytellers in the audio world.
Seth Grahame-Smith’s masterpiece is now out on audio. Read by Scott Holst, who has done everything from video games to Japanese anime and even was on the TV shows Futurama and Drew Carey. We all know the story by now, our fave prez is actually a vampire hunter and we get to have the fun of listening to the whole alt world unfold yet again.
Although part of a series, this is surely one of the more dramatic of them all and well worth the bucks for the 11 CD story that you get. Rose is on trial for her life – Lissa is in line for the Royal Crown and it seems that jealousy and betrayal have reared their ugly heads at the Vampire Academy. Read by the talented Emily Shaffer who has made a name for herself in television, theatre and audio books (this is her seventh) – so you can be sure this will be a great sit-around-the-house treat for all.
Anne Rice’s introduction to the modern vampire and probably one of the most famous vampire tales today, this audio book is a treat to hear. Read by F. Murray Abraham, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, this is an audio book that shows what top of the line writing coupled with amazing acting can deliver. Heck by two and give one as a gift!
Anita Blake is the kind the kick ass now and asks questions later, especially if you are a vampire. This time around she is very busy with an arsonist that is causing problems in the city of St, Louis. What is worse, the fires seem to be deliberately taking out vampires along the way, her vampires! Once again, Kimberly Alexis narrates and as usual does an amazing job at it. Is it any wonder she has been dubbed the go-to gal for all the Anita Blake audios?
That’s it for today folks – though there are plenty more where these came from. I hope you get a chance to find some time and just hang and listen, for there are few pleasures as good as these. It brings back the days of radio for me, when everyone just gathered around the radio and listened to the latest Tom Mix serial. (No I am not old enough to remember, but my Dad always talked about it) Maybe this is a good theme for your next dinner party – dinner and a story, all at the same time. Have fun – we will bring you more ideas soon.