Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Writer's Thoughts on "Deadlocked" by Charlaine Harris

When my friend Erika from EricandSookieLovers asked me to give her my opinion - from a writer's point of view - where Charlaine Harris might take Sookie's story after "Deadlocked", I believed that this wouldn't be too hard a task.

But that was before I actually read the book.

(Spoiler Warning! If you haven't read "Deadlocked" already and intend to do so, please stop reading right now, if you don't want to spoil your own fun.)

I carefully avoided seeing any spoilers or reviews of Charlaine Harris's newest addition to the Southern Vampire Mysteries to be able to enjoy this story uninfluenced. Now that I've finished it and spent some time thinking about it, I must say that this book was one of the best (while my favorite is still "Dead to the World"), but also darkest of the series, angst-ridden and sometimes even despairing. I am well aware that Ms Harris's stories are most of all mysteries, featuring a very unusual girl whose view of life is turned completely upside down, and her way of growing into a stunningly strong, badass woman who learns to adapt to all the hardships, all the madness she encounters.

Sookie's love encounters are only meant to be the icing on the cake, but fortunately for us readers, the author managed to create a vampire character so intense, charming, clever, cunning and mindblowingly sexy that he just couldn't stay in the background. We all fell in love with him - hard and gracious plenty, I might say. ;-) And of course, we've always yearned for Sookie to have her happy end with him - turned into a vampire or not, as his wife or human lover, well in any way Ms Harris could make this possible.

William Erasmus Compton. Vampire Bill.

Hey gals, just kidding! Please don't hit me. I just wanted to cheer you up with a lil' joke after that sinister finale of "Deadlocked". Of course I'm talking about Eric. I want nothing more but for Sookie and him to end up together, believe me. If you don't know me yet and would like to know how I feel about him and Sookie, please read my first ("Piece of Glass", a time travel story set in the Viking era) and second ("The Dark Queen", a New Orleans voodoo mystery) fanfic on EricandSookieLovers. You'll also find both stories on When it comes to Eric and Sookie, all we really want to see (both in the books and on the show) is THIS:

(All material belongs to HBO)

But well, I'm not Charlaine Harris, and this is her story, not mine. And what I've learned about her writing so far, is that she isn't an author who can be easily categorized. Her books can't be reduced just to the romance; both the plots and characters are multi-layered and cleverly planned. She once said in an interview that the world of Sookie Stackhouse is her own universe, and she can do whatever she wants with it. And she does, shocking and surprising us over and over again. If I could say one thing about her, I'd guess that she just isn't predictable. And as much as I'd love to predict how the story might end, I just can't because I don't know what she will do. I'd believe her capable of anything, even of letting Sookie end up with Sam as happy owners of Merlotte's and parents of a mind-reading, shapeshifting bunch of children, or having Niall open the portal to Faery once again and giving her a "happily forever after" living with her fairy relatives.

Having said that, I won't give you an in-depth review of Deadlocked, since others already did an amazing job of that. All I can do is try to view this story as a writer, not a reader, and speculate a bit what an author who planned to bring a long, much-beloved series to an end might do to plan the grande finale.

Gosh, Deadlocked was depressing when it came to Eric and Sookie's love story (if you could call it that anymore), wasn't it? Their first encounter was when she caught him greedily drinking from another woman who definitely seemed to be enjoying herself. The end was … Eric's absence after he left, probably shocked and angry that Sookie didn't use the cluviel dor to get them both out of an extremely difficult situation. The in between was pretty frustrating too, apart from the vague mention of sex, and Eric's hilarious comments about Bill and Pam when they came to visit on Sookie's birthday.

Oh, how much I missed the sexy, delightful Eric/Sookie scenes of the first books of the series, and I bet you did, too. But it all seemed to be quite hopeless, didn't it? There still isn't any doubt that Eric and Sookie love each other (although she starts to doubt that his love is strong enough to fight for them being together). However, at the end of "Deadlocked", I was so disappointed  I felt like throwing my book against the wall. While I wholewheartedly agree  with Sookie's choice to save Sam's life, using the cluviel dor's magic, for our favorite couple there seems to be no way out but to break up and live separate (vampire-)lives, with Eric marrying Freyda and Sookie probably ending up in Bon Temps, with whatever supe love interest at her side. Would we even care? Who could ever compare to Eric, anyway?

Ok - to put it simply, my point is that everything points to Sookie ending up with Eric, just because Ms Harris took great efforts in throwing huge, insurmountable obstacles in love's way, using two whole books to slowly build up to this final climax (no pun intended!). I also had the impression that she tried to gather up all loose ends when it came to Sookie's fairy relatives and Alcide and his were pack, so my guess is that she'll concentrate on the vampires in "Dead Ever After".

There will be murder and mayhem in Bon Temps, as always, blood, intrigues and vampire politics, and I can't wait what the final chapter will bring. But when it comes down to the core of the story, the story arch that lead us through the whole series like a red thread (or should I say "stream of blood"?) is the question if Sookie will have her happy ending, and with whom. We all know that Sookie loves only one man vampire. Do you think that Charlaine Harris will allow her heroine to find true happiness? And if so, will it be in the way we all imagine, we all hope it will happen?

As much as I'd love to, I can't tell you either. But whatever "Dead Ever After" holds in store for us, damn - this series was a helluva ride so far! Dear fellow romantics, let's hope that it will lead into a blood-red sunset, with our favorite heroine in the arms of her immortal Viking. Go grab him, Sookie, and kick this Freyda b**** back to the hole she crawled from! This is all I'm sayin'. ;-)

 With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

(Book Blurb from Goodreads, All rights belong to Simon&Schuster and Charlaine Harris)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shopping for Love!!!

Dear Readers,

I just wanted to let you know that my dear friend and fellow author, Lynette Sofras, has her new romance out this weekend! Even better, it's FREE! Go and grab your copy - you know that good things never last. ;-) I read it, loved it. It's a sweet and heartwarming love story with a touch of British humour and realistic enough to make readers believe that this could happen to all of ous - meet an incredibly gorgeous guy in the isle of a supermarket and instantly fall in love. Enjoy!

Love can find you in the strangest places - but it's never for sale!
They meet - of all places - buying tomatoes in the supermarket and there’s no denying the attraction is mutual.  But Greg, a software developer, is still raw from his painful divorce and Emma, his children’s teacher, is recovering from her own heartache.  Then the reappearance of Emma's career-obsessed ex-boyfriend and Greg's spiteful ex-wife threatens to kill their new love before it has even begun.

Is Emma’s love strong enough to survive Greg’s demanding past and the threats to both their careers?  What will be the cost of falling in love in a world where everything comes with a high price tag?

Get your free copy here: 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Deborah Court's Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Beware: This review contains mild spoilers! - "Mild" because: Hey, it's Snow White. You know what happens. (If not, seriously consider grabbing a copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales and do some essential reading.) If you'd like to watch the movie completely uninfluenced, please stop reading right now and come back later. Ye have been warned.

Since I saw the first teaser trailer of "Snow White and the Huntsman", I was very excited about this movie - especially after the second trailer, which showed a scene where Snow White encounters mythical creatures like tiny fairies and a white stag in the forest. I'm also a big fan of Charlize Theron and couldn't wait to see her as the evil queen. Yesterday, the wait was finally over: I couldn't believe it myself when I was successful in convincing my husband to go watch this movie with me - although it really wasn't his cup of tea (he would have preferred Men in Black 3 but bent to my iron will).

Visually, the movie is stunning, even if it had a very distinct Lord of the Rings look. When Snow White, the Huntsman and the dwarves walk across a magnificent mountain landscape, the air shot looks ridiculously like The Fellowship of the Ring walking towards the mines of Moria. I wouldn't have been surprised if Legolas and Gimli had been among them. Charlize Theron, as I expected, really rocked the boat in her role, she was painfully beautiful, regal and wonderfully evil without overacting. Kristen Stewart has the perfect looks for her role, but I am not sure about her style of acting Snow White. 

She was a wonderful Bella in Twilight, playing that young girl who is uncomfortable with herself and angry at the world, but in Snow White, she needed to deliver the innocence that's so important as a counterpart to the clever, scheming queen. She played the part well, but I was surprised by how few lines she had to speak, which seemed peculiar since she was the main character. Chris Hemsworth (a great actor and always a joy to look at) and the rest of the elaborate cast (it was great fun to detect the famous actors hiding beneath heavy dwarf make-up) did their best, too, but even they couldn't ensure that the viewers felt emotionally moved - which brings us to what was really lacking in this movie: A good script.

While all the elements of a fantasy story - heroes and villains, a quest, exotic landscapes and magic creatures - were there, what was lacking was: a) a good, satisfying love story (Snow White has two gorgeous guys to choose from -Thor and the handsome priest who fell in love with a mermaid from Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Hello? Where is the romance, emotional conflict, scenes that sizzle with physical tension?) and b) dialogue and characters that deeply moved the audience. Some lines were so boring and meaningless that I waited for the characters to say something else.

Here's an example: Snow White has just killed a villain who intended to rip out a vital organ from her body (slightly changed to avoid spoilers here, villain could be male or female); let's pretend for now that it's the liver.

Villain: has just delivered a very evil and hateful speech before our heroine kills her (or him) and breaks down, sputtering black blood and aging rapidly
Snow White: *watches villain with tears in her eyes* "You can't have my liver."
Me: *waits and listens*
Snow White:
Snow White:
Snow White:
Me: *waits and listens*
Me: I can't believe it. This was her final line in that scene. You can't have my liver. Wouldn't Snow White say something in addition to that line, something cool, clever, or even with a hint of black humor, to give this great villain the good-bye she (or he) deserves? What about this: "You can't have my liver - or other vital organ -, because it already belongs to the unbelievably handsome Huntsman who's madly in love with me and will be warming my bed every night while you rot in hell, you evil b*tch. (or insert suitable male cussword here) Besides, I was always more beautiful than you. You should have wiped the dust from that blind old mirror of yours before you made him choose who's the fairest. Oh, you're already dead. Good. Guard, throw her over the castle walls for the ravens to feed on." *rips crown from deceased villain's head*

And where, may I ask, was the final, passionate kiss that everyone wants to see at the end of a fairy tale? Instead, all we got was one of the male protagonists (I won't tell which one, not wanting to spoil your fun) - washed and combed for once, coming around the corner while Snow White watches him with tear-clouded eyes and a yearning look on her pretty pale face.

Me: Finally! Now grab and kiss her before you carry her to her chamber, you strong, sexy, handsome ..
Movie: *cuts to black, end credits*
Me: What the …? Are they kidding?
Husband: Let's go! *look of relief on his face* I think I need to watch a splatter movie now.
Me: I think I need to rewatch Thor now to recover from all the Chris Hemsworth lady boner teasing without results. And all three extended editions of Lord of the Rings.

If you like dark fairy tales and epic fantasy, go and watch Snow White and the Huntsman! This dark fairy tale is visually exquisite, entertaining and a good action-driven fantasy movie. What you shouldn't expect is too much depth or a romantic love story. It's one of the films that makes you think what could it have been if there had been a bit more of a background story. Now excuse me while I put on a low-cut black dress and start commanding over my own little kingdom here at home. I wanna be a badass queen, too! This makes me think of Galadriel's words in Lord of the Rings:

"In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!"