Friday, May 25, 2012

Talking about Sookie (& Toppling TBR G*veaway)


I'm going a little off-course today. I'd originally planned another "Toppling the TBR Giveaway," but I read this interesting interview on the SF Signal site with author Charlaine Harris and thought I'd talk about Sookie Stackhouse instead.

Well, heck, why can't I do both? Comment at the end, and you can win a Five-Book Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Mystery Box. How about that!?!

So, back to "Soo-kay." I have Deadlocked, book twelve in the series, sitting atop my TBR pile and haven't had a chance to read it yet because life is insane these days and my reading is almost stalled. But there will be one more book next spring before what began as the Southern Vampires Series draws to a close.

I was a latecomer to the Sookie series. After not reading urban fantasy for a number of years, in 2009-10 I began devouring all the big series I'd missed, reading Dresden and Nightside in order, then moving to Anita Blake 1-16 (I'm woefully behind with that series too). But Sookie was somehow off my radar until someone who'd read early manuscripts of my first two books, Royal Street and River Road, made a comment that they were "kind of like Sookie" since they were paranormals with humor set in Louisiana.

So, off I went in search of Sookie, filled with both alarm and curiosity. I have to admit now that it took me three tries to read the first book. I loved the idea but I got squinchy over the first Sookie-Bill sex scene where she loses her virginity and he...blood...mouth...ick. In theory, I thought the scene was clever; in practice, I was squeamish. So, confession made.

Eventually, I pushed past it and fell in love with the series and got all into the Team Eric and Team Bill drama. (Oh yeah, Team Eric all the way, although I had serious Quinn-love for a while there.) And, as it turns out, other than being set in Louisiana (very different parts of Louisiana) and having elements of humor, my Sentinels series and the Sookie series aren't similar at all.

But I'll always care about Sookie (as she is in my head, as formed through the books. I don't even think of "True Blood" as being the same characters). She has a fascinating blend of naivete and hard-headed practicality that I fell in love with...and that would be hard to sustain across that many books.

I think any really long series runs into that issue--how do the characters keep growing and changing as people do...and yet remain the same characters we fell in love with? I think it's why we often see such drastic steps taken in long-running series.

Laurell K. Hamilton seemed to have written Anita Blake into a corner trying to keep her developing and changing without losing her essential character, and it took the series in a direction a lot of readers didn't like, although I personally didn't have a problem with it (which might sound strange coming from the woman who got all squeamish over Sookie and Bill's first love scene). Charlaine Harris broadened her world--and Sookie's--with the fairy element. Jim Butcher...well, I can't talk about the Big Change he made to Harry Dresden's world without major spoilers, in case you haven't read the last few books of that series. But it was a ballsy move. It's interesting to watch as JR Ward expands her fabulous Black Dagger Brotherhood world now that the original brothers have all had their bhooks (no, that isn't a typo).

I don't really have a point to make in all this except that I hope to read Deadlocked soon and that, whether you've stuck with Sookie through all her changes or don't like the fairy storylines, I think we'll miss Sookie and the wonderful blend of urban fantasy and paranormal romance Charlaine Harris brought to the table.

Now...want to win that Five-Book Surprise Box? Just tell me your favorite character from the Sookie Stackhouse book series or the "True Blood" TV show--or admit it if you haven't read or watched--and you'll be in the running! I still love Quinn and Eric in the books, and Lafayette on the TV show. As always, one entry for a comment, and extra entries for blog followers, Twitter followers @Suzanne_Johnson, and for a Tweet or RT of the contest. Now, let's all say it together: "Soo--kay!"

55 comments:

  1. I just love Sookie (in the books). I have a co-worker from that area of Louisiana, and so her voice is the voice I hear in my head for Sookie.
    I still read the Anita Blake books, but just don't care for the lack of a plot, other than Anita's love life. The first few books had a actual plot, hunting down bad guys, etc, as well as Anita's quest to fit into the world she was joining.

    (sorry for running on)

    susan.meek@aaaok.org
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  2. I've loved Eric from the very first time he appeared in the books. I think it's because he's shown character growth, much more so than Bill. Moments that stand out are when he is shocked when he first finds out that Sookie trusts him, and when he tells her he doesn't like having feelings for her. But he always comes through for her--the new driveway, the new coat, etc.

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  3. I've only read the first two books in the series. I really liked the first book, but I was kinda bummed by Bill's character in the second, so I put off reading the rest of the series. I need to give it another try!

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  4. Lafayette is totally my favorite on the show!

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  5. I have to admit that I have not read any of the series and have not seen the show (I don't watch a lot of TV anyway).

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  6. @Susan. I've heard that the last two Anita Blake books really were more like the early books--more UF plot and less sex-as-plot. I'm about three or four books behind on the series though, so I can't say for sure.

    @Alexis. I love that about Eric, too. He totally won me over with the driveway!

    @Rebe. Yes, Bill doesn't turn out to be such a great guy in many ways. After reading the interview with Charlaine Harris and how she doesn't plot the books out ahead of time, I wonder how much Bill's development was impacted by reader reaction to Eric? It really starts picking up in book three, I think--you might give them another shot.

    @Galena. Isn't Lafayette great? Nelsan Ellis just plays that character beautifully. I don't think it's much of a spoiler at this point to say Lafayette gets killed very, very early in the book series, and his character isn't very developed. Tara is white and a high school friend of Sookies' in the books, so she and Lafayette don't have any connection at all.

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  7. @June...There are too many books and too little time! I am two seasons behind watching the TV show but I'll catch up eventually.

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  8. I sadly haven't read any of the Sookie Stackhouse books yet but I have watched True Blood and I love Sookie and Eric.I hope to read this series soon :)

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    +1 GFC-Janhvi Jagtap
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  9. I love Sookie and the nasty fairy storylines. I'm a devoted Sookie fan and would follow her to the ends of the earth. Unfortunately, Charlaine has announced that after the next book that she's done with Sookie. I swear I almost cried. I agree that after awhile there's not a lot of places you can go with your storyline. I just hate to see Sookie's end. My favorite character in the TV and book series has always been Eric. He's just yummy and funny. However, on the TV series, Lafeyette and Andy come in at a close second. I love in season 2 when Andy was running around yelling, "PIG!!" That was the best. Oh, btw, I love the way you spelled, "bhooks".
    molly(dot)frenzel(at)gmail(dot)com

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  10. @Janhvi...I'm so glad Eric on the show was so well cast with Alexander Skaarsgard (sigh)--but you'd love him in the books even more :-)

    @Molly...I'm literally laughing out loud at Andy yelling "PIG!" That had me in the floor when I saw it and again when you reminded me of it. Andy is another character so much better developed on True Blood than in the books, where he's fairly minor.

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  11. I adore Lafayette in the TV series, and Alcide on the show = yummy. In the books, I think Sookie herself would be my favorite. And Deadlocked is also in my TBR pile. :)

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    "Soo--kay!" :)

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  12. I am WAY behind on the books, so won't comment there, but I have to admit that I like where Sam seems to be going in the series.

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  13. I have only ever watched True Blood on tv as I haven't had a chance to read the books yet. I agree with you that Lafayette would be one of my favourite characters in the tv show.

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  14. I'm not planning on reading the Sookie Stackhouse serie because I have trouble with Harris writing style....it's just not for me.

    As for True Blood....I only saw season 1 and well I wasn't impressed. The only character I love was Lafayette and he get kill quite early in the serie!!!

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    Glassheart18ca@hotmail.com

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  15. I don't watch the show, but I've always loved Eric in the books, although Quinn also caught my eye. I loved Eric's moral ambivalence. One reason I've put off reading the last book or two was that I heard that Eric had been cut down quite a bit and I didnt want to read that. However I know I'll read them all eventually.

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  16. I don't watch the show but my favorite character in the books is Sam.

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  17. I think i've read the first 2 or 3 books. I liked them. But i found it a bit confusing watching the show at the same time (since there were some similarities and some differences).

    I have seen the first 3 seasons of True Blood and part of season 4. Really like it.


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  18. I've only watched the first couple seasons of the TV show. And Lafayette is the best.

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  19. I love the books and I watch the show with my daughter. I still think the books are better, but I would rather read than watch tv. I do love Lafayette from the show, he's great.

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  20. Great post! I also love Laurell K. Hamilton books, and am anxiously awaiting the next Anita Blake. As much as I dislike erotica, I still love those books.
    Unfortunately, I thoroughly dislike the Sookie books. I read the first two, and decided, I don't care if everyone loves it, I don't. So, no favourite character. Have you read Christine Feehan? Talking about long and still strong series :) Although the first books have very alpha alpha males, which I dislike, the latest ones are awesome with equal partners mostly.

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    auriansbooks @ gmail dot com

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  21. Great post! It took me a while to start reading the series as well.

    Although I love the books, my favorite character is Lafayette because of the show! I absolutely adore him, and find him to be one of the most believable characters on the series.

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  22. I love the Sookie books, but honestly, have not been able to watch the series...I think I'm kind of a snob that way. I hate to see the "improvements" that are made to characters & settings I love that turn them into strangers, just to make "good TV". I do love Sookie and am firmly on Team Eric. :)
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    kim dot giardina at gmail etc.
    Thanks for the contest!!

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  23. @Tina...Yes, Alcide is yummy on the TV show. I ended up really disliking him in the books, though.

    @Riva @Sandy...I also like Sam on the TV show although I'm behind and am not sure where they're taking him. He always kinda felt like a wasted character in the books--the nice guy who wasn't politically connected, so there never seemed to be any place to take him in the storylines.

    @Winnie @Spaz @Sue...Love Lafayette!

    @Marie-Claude...That's one thing the TV series has done differently, is make Lafayette a major character. He gets about as much airtime as Sookie :-)

    @Jen..."Moral ambivalence" is a great way to sum up Eric :-)

    @Jennifer...I don't think I could watch the show while reading the books. The story lines are about 99 percent different, but that 1 percent would be enough to be jarring.

    @Aurian. I buy the Anita Blake books when they come out, but the last three or four are in my TBR pile. I will get to them eventually. I haven't read Christine Feehan except the very first Carpathian novel, Dark Prince. It had a constantly shifting point of view that I found really hard to read. I probably should give the series another try, though.

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  24. @K...I was the same way at first. I tried to watch the first season of True Blood but was annoyed because it was so different from the books. I finally went back and watched it on DVD and got into it once I just accepted it was a completely different story using the book characters. Sort of like fan fiction, I guess (which I don't like to read).

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  25. I like Eric from True Bloods. I haven't read the books yet.

    I follow the blog.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  26. Haven't seen the show but have read most of the books. Definitely Eric.

    blog and twitter follower

    3

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  27. I have always loved Eric (book first, then of course on the show). I think he's growing into the best man for Sookie, but sadly I doubt that he is going to be the end game for her. But as long as it isn't Bill, then I'll be happy.

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  28. Read all the books instead of Deadlocked, so love Eric the best. Haven't seen the TV show... :(


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  29. I love some of the side characters the most - Pam is a particular favourite of mine and of course Bubba! :-)

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  30. One of my favorite characters from the books is Bubba. He isn't around often, but when he makes an appearance it's always memorable.

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    Thanks so much!

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  31. I was one of those who discovered the novels after I have already seen the TV series. There are some characters I much preferred in the TV series than the books like Lafayette and Jason, then there were some I loved in both (Eric and Alcide), and some I hated in both (Bill). :-)

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    ps. LOL I thought I was the only one who kept screaming Soo-kay with my lil sis and then burst out kaughing :-D

    Thank you!

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  32. I love the Sookie Stackhouse books although I have not read all of them I think I was up to 7 or 8. I own the TV series through the 3rd season but I have not watched the third season yet. I have just been to busy. I liked the 1st season on TV but not so much 2nd season. I have heard the 3rd season is better.

    I love Eric in the books and the TV show. My favorite book is the one where Eric looses his memory. I do also like Lafayette in the show. He really adds to it. I am glad they didn't kill him off.

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  33. I've actually never seen the show and have never read the books but I'll probably get around to doing that eventually :)

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  34. TV-series: Lafayette

    book series: Quinn!!!!!
    I will confess I got so angry at Sookie about how she treated Quinn that I stopped reading the books after that.

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  35. "Eric in the books, and Lafayette on the TV " Okay, I'm SO with you on that one. I did have a thing for Quinn, but it didn't last. :(

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  36. I've only read the first book, so I can't pick any characters that way. I love Eric and Alcide on True Blood! That could be because they are absolutely delicious though. Hehe.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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    =4

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  37. First, if you take out the Louisiana part, I never put DJ and Sookie in the same thought- YET I LOVE them both :) second, I've been a fan from book 1 and I also love the show, they are actually quite different :) and I love Anita too lol my favorite character hmmm well Lafayette is definitely my fav from the show, I am team Eric and have been since before they even thought about dating, and as for the books, I think I love Sam the most. I never wanted him for Sookie but I really want him to get a happily ever after, and Sookie as well and I may cry when the books finish! And it's killing me to wait for dresden's next book hehehe thanks for always having the best posts!!

    I'm a follower, GCF, network blogs and email and I also follow via twitter

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  38. I must be one of the few who hasn't read this series yet. I keep meaning to but other books just keep getting in the way. I've heard about True Blood but won't watch the series until I've read the books lol. I bet when I do I'm going to have a ...why did I wait so long ...moment.

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  39. Well, this might be unpopular but I am actually a Bill fan in the books and an Eric fan on the show. For the show, it really is all about the actors and I love the humor A. Skarsgaard brings to Eric. I still need to read the last two books. Sookie is one of those cornerstone series for me - I will always have love for her!

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  40. I love Eric, Niall and Sookie in the books, although I haven't watched the TV series.
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  41. I watched 2 seasons of the TV show but I didn't really like it, so now I stay with the books... I read deadlocked a few weeks ago, well you"ll see. I don't know who is my favorite character because I like them all despite each book changes my feelings about them. But I really like Pam, she is always so amazing!

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  42. I haven't read the series, but my wife likes the TV Sookie better than the one in the books. I think she's only read a couple so far, though. Another great blog :-)

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  43. I love Pam, She's absolutely great!!! Both in the books and in the tv series!!!

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  44. Never read, never watched, sadly.

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    yumihamano@gmail.com

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  45. Okay, I think I'm totally scared off by the series now. That scene...ack. Not sure that book is for me. One of my friends have been on me about reading, but I'll think I'll give it some more thought.

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  46. I love Pam and Alcide.

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  47. I haven't read the books yet. But I do love the TV series. My favorite is Alcide.

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  48. yaiks.. i haven't read this one too, and didn't watch the tv series :(

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  49. I love Bubba. Actually, I love the idea of Bubba, the whimsy of it. He's part of what made the early books so charming.

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  50. My favorite from the show is Alcide. I have to admit I have yet to read the books.

    + Tweeted about the giveaway via @MooshuJenne

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  51. Cool post! Your reading list is pretty much in line with mine. You might want to try The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JL Ward - that's my new obsession.

    Okay, now I gotta represent the minority here. I'm team Bill all the way, and I'll tell you why. Multi-dimensional, flawed characters are my favorite, because I get to watch them grow. Eric always struck me as a bit shallow (though I've come around thanks to True Blood), but Bill is complex, angsty, and just feels very real to me.

    I've read the books and watched the show, and my feelings haven't changed. No flame wars - I can see the good in all of her suitors - but for me, Bill is just the one.

    Now, Miss Suzanne, I'm totally adding you to my TBR pile. I love to read and write UF, so your stuff is soooo up my alley.

    Best wishes,

    Dana

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  52. I was a fan of Sookie long before True Blood. When True Blood came out, I was hooked on Season 1. When Season 2 hit, I lost interest because the stories didn't follow the books.

    My favorite books character(s) - tough one.

    I really like Alcide, but don't like that he is easily influenced by others. He never truly trusted himself with Sookie and that's a shame.

    I had high hopes for Quinn, but again was let down by his actions and Sookie's reactions. He makes an appearance in the most recent book, and his story broke my heart. He was a wasted character in my opinion.

    I would love to say after reading the last book that I have a favorite character, but I truly don't. CH has made me hate each and every character after this last book.

    Such a shame.

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  53. @Dana...Oh, I am SO with you on the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I haven't had a chance to read Lover Reborn yet and I'm trying to talk myself out of re-reading the whole series before I do.

    @Heidi...Totally agree with you on Quinn. I thought he could have been such a super character and I hated the way his relationship with Sookie ended, and then the way he was just kind of written out of the last book. A waste.

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  54. Eric is far and away my favorite character. I first got hooked on him watching the show and then I quickly devoured the books to read more about him.

    jlhmass @ yahoo.com

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  55. Lafayette on the TV show is my favorite. I have not yet read the books although I just won the box set with the first 7 books. I will be starting them very soon. I cant wait to read them. As far as the LKH books I just love them. I hear people complain about them all the time but it never bothers me I just cant seem to get enough!! Did you see that LKH has a especial out called Beauty!! It is great!!

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