Abbie Lammel

Co-Host Love Letter: Angel

Abbie’s Edition of co-host love letters! Ft. Angel
#worldstraveler #FWP #FWPloveletters

Co-Host Love Letter: Dustin

Abbie’s Edition of co-host love letters! Ft. Dustin
#worldstraveler #FWP #FWPloveletters

Mixed Review: The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton

I got into this series while I was in high school (around 15ish) after it was recommended to me by the boy I was dating at the time. He was 16, dyed his hair black, smoked, wore skinny jeans, had a lip ring and told me he had to get electroshock therapy every Monday to manage his schizophrenia or something like that – all of which I thought officially made him the coolest person who could possibly exist. Alas, my relationship with this edgy punk lasted only three weeks – but it started me down the path of a much longer but no less turbulent relationship with Anita Blake.

The first 9 books of this series are something truly amazing, especially for a girl in high school who liked scary monsters and mysteries but was lacking a female window into those genres. Anita was tough as nails, no-nonsense, sarcastic and broken in a way that seemed revolutionary to me. These kinds of female characters seem a dime a dozen now, but I give LKH a lot of credit for helping to trailblaze the woman led smart, sexy, supernatural horror thriller novel. This first part of the Anita Blake series and it’s particular brand of feminism is a product of its time (the first book came out in 1993) and has more than a few themes that are problematic in light of how much cultural attitudes towards white 90’s feminism has shifted – but it was still a story I desperately needed and in some ways still do.

With her Browning, penguin stuffed animals, sassy coffee mugs and the ability to reanimate the dead Anita spends 9 books facing down a terrifying and wildly entertaining cast of zombies, vampires, shapeshifters, voodoo priests, evil circus performers and every other horror staple you can think of. She has a classic torrid love triangle with a hot werewolf and an equally hot vampire – both of whom are well fleshed out characters in their own right, with their own struggles and needs that often conflict with Anita’s. Her relationship with Edward, a fellow monster hunter, is still one of my favorite slow burn literary friendships to this day and the book that really expands on the development of that friendship, Obsidian Butterfly, is my favorite novel in the series.

Unfortunately, Obsidian Butterfly also marks the endpoint of the true Anita Blake series for me. In some ways I think that’s because there was no real way to top the stakes (Anita and Edward hunt a vampire so ancient she may actually be an Aztec goddess to save a child), but I think it marked such a huge change in LKH’s personal life that she started taking the series in a direction that is much more supernatural romance than horror thriller. That in and of itself doesn’t really bother me, it’s her series and if she’s in a happier romantic place herself then more power to her.

What bothers me is that outside of Anita’s romantic relationships and explorations of polyamory – some well written with great thoughtfulness (Nathaniel, Jean-Claude) some not so much (ugh Asher) – there really isn’t much story post-OB. The monster hunts, the murder mysteries, the explorations of Anita and her complex relationship with her own growing powers and dark past actions are still lightly touched on but all in all, will take up maybe 100 pages of a 500-page novel.

The rest will be spent on ever more elaborate sex scenes (which sounds titillating and is at first but you’d be surprised how fast that gets old), relationship negotiation and Anita’s strange growing dislike of other women and their strange immediate dislike of her (usually because of their uncontrollable jealousy of her many hot boyfriends). It varies from mildly interesting to eye rollingly cringy. And towards the end, almost as an afterthought, the book will wrap up the monster murder mystery in a few rushed pages and an epilogue.

And yet…I keep reading them. Every once in awhile LKH writes an entry in this series that reminds me of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter I loved so much in high school (hello Affliction, you gave me such hope). Heavy on the action with a well explored, very creepy monster and 1-2 pretty hot sex scenes = ideal Anita Blake.

So I let LKH keep stringing me along because when she’s on her game it’s too good not to read. I’ll leave you with some final thoughts: I miss Ronnie, Olaf needs to die in a fire, Serpentine is completely skippable, and it’s been 14 books but Micah is STILL boring.

End of rant. If you’re also in a bad relationship with this series, hit me up! We have some things to discuss.

Labeling the Container

Dustin and I went and got tattoos together in July (pictured above) and no lie, that was easily the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, I’m including starting an actual play Pathfinder podcast with my friends online in my estimation of that. We both got watercolor D20 tattoos and, to complete the look, I had our artist add my adorable cat, Thor, to mine.

We were discussing tattoos and identity and why people choose what they choose and Jackie Rabbit (our amazing artist) said that she heard one of her other clients refer to tattooing as “labeling the container.” That statement hit me hard as such an accurate representation of what body modification can be – taking the physical body that was made for us completely beyond our control and marking it with what we know to be true of ourselves on the inside so we are better reflected and better known.

So here’s how I’ve labeled myself so far: a lover of games and my cat, a devoted sister, an anthropologist, a playful if easily distracted friend, a hoarder of knowledge and sparkly items and a fantasy superfan. I also have a #basicbitch tattoo of a flock of crows representing…something about…my wrist looking cooler with that tattoo on it, because your tattoos don’t have to have any further meaning beyond you liking how it looks. Who knows what else I’ll add as I continue to develop as a person but one thing is certain: I am getting SO MANY MORE – I have a lot of unlabeled space left.

P.S. if you want a good tattoo Instagram account to follow check out Jackie’s (@jackie_rabbit) – she does the neatest fantasy/horror/gothic art and her feed is a delight. Show yours off too, tag us on Twitter or whatever, I love seeing everyone’s ink!

Finding Inspiration. Creating Pippa.

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(Pictured) Natalie Dormer
Photo Credit: Doane Gregory
© Touchstone Pictures, All rights Reserved

When we started dreaming up what we wanted to do for this podcast, I was pretty sure right away that I either wanted to go Wizard or Rogue. Honestly I was leaning more toward wizard, BUT I was scrolling through Netflix one fateful Sunday morning with nothing better to do than watch a movie and I stumbled on an old favorite: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And my initial concept for a high class con-artist was born.

Originally I saw her as a (more) dishonest Carrie Bradshaw – witty, quick to anger, obsessed with shoes and a hater of the outdoors. Some of that survived (the shoes and the temper). She was going to be human, but since the rest of the party was turning up ostensibly human I wanted to mix it up a bit. Also, those Stealth bonuses for Halflings are no joke.  

Pippa didn’t have a name for the longest time. It was actually the last thing about her I decided on! I eventually landed on naming her after my all-time favorite “Halfling”, Peregrine “Pippin” Took from LOTR. There’s also a bit of a Pippi Longstocking sound to her name as well, which I also thought suited her. Her last name is shared with Robin Hood, for obvious reasons.

When I was creating her character, I honestly never envisioned her as someone so kind and committed to a general concept of good. She was going to have a pretty average moral compass for a thief – an every Halfling for herself kind of attitude. Dustin laid out an excellent argument for making her a good character, partially that it would be a more interesting choice for a thief – but also because I am a known villain sympathizer and playing a Good aligned person would be a fun challenge for me.

So far I’m having a blast with her! We’ll see how long I can keep her alive – the longer we can go without bumping into someone who needs our help against overwhelming odds the better. Or someone with lots of money that’s also smart enough to know Pippa’s not really a princess. 

P.S. She’s currently being played by Natalie Dormer. Don’t sue me Natalie, this is a great honor for you.