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on 16 September 2009
Anita Blake is an Animator, an animator is not someone who draws cartoons but rather a person who has the innate ability to raise the dead. Anita and those she works with raise zombies to settle will disputes, have abused people resolve their feelings and other things -- all for a reasonable fee. On the side of this most prolific of professions Anita is a vampire hunter -- she's nicknamed 'the Executioner' by the vampires and (obviously) isn't too keen on them. In fact, she loathes them and there's references to her and Edward seeing all supernatural beings as monsters. The fact that Anita is also a christian may factor into this view, although I never felt like Hamilton was too heavy handed with Anita's religion it's just sort of there... In 'Guilty Pleasures' a vampire master named Jean-Claude is shown as being interested in Anita. Much to her chagrin, and not only this but he's keen to make her his human servant.

Hamilton's world is well conceived and boasts an interesting array of characters. I found Anita a little difficult to engage with at first because she was so tough-minded, and came off a little cold. But after a fashion I started to really adore her -- she has a wonderfully peculiar sense of humour and a penchant for stuffed penguins. Another character I loved was the ruthless Edward; he in particular seemed interesting. Jean-Claude the master vampire was a little under-developed but I liked him nonetheless. Guilty Pleasures is written in quite a hard-boiled manner and is nice and gory (proably not one for people who dislike blood) -- this book is definitely gritty, as urban fantasy's go. You can really see how a lot of other UFs have been influenced by this series. Indeed, the best thing about this novel and the series as a whole (the early books anyway) is that it's dark and unafraid to lean towards perversity and uncomfortable matters.

The main plot of the book is Anita being asked by the Master of the City to find out who is murdering vampires. In this world vampires are legal citizens and as a result, killing one without a court order of execution is considered murder. Thus, despite Anita's reluctance in this matter she is drawn in to solve the case. If she doesn't she'll probably be in for a world of pain. Something she wishes to avoid at all costs.

The plot was well paced and wasn't bogged down with too much emotional baggage and annoying romance; I liked the bitter-sweetness of the ending and found it quite 'realistic' in the context of Anita's world. This series does become poorer as times goes on -- I've read books 1-9, but would only recommend 1-6 and skip straight on to the ninth book 'Obsidian Butterfly' which is a fantastic 500 page epic to finish on (a must read if you like Edward). I do feel like you'll get the most out of the series from reading those: those are the books where Anita faces the monster in the mirror as well as those down the barrell of her gun. She's conflicted, she has complex relationships with those around her and realises there's little she wouldn't do to save herself and those she wishes to protect. Edward acting as the mirror to her changing morality all the while. It's good stuff, books 10-17? Not so much.
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on 5 April 2005
Like any person i started my love of vampire fiction with Anne Rice's absolutely delishous Vampire Chronicles. She was and is still the Queen of that Genre and i never would have thought that another author could match her. Laurell K Hamilton has to be called a co-ruler, at the least. She is as good as Anne Rice. Dont believe me? Then read Guilty Pleasures and you'll see. As I cannot yet speak for the whole series yet, having just finished Guilty Pleasures I cannot compare the whole of the series with the Vampire Chronicles. But Guilty Pleasures can hold its own against any one of the chronicles including the enigmatic Interview with the Vampire and the seductively brilliant Vampire Armand.
Now so much for the introduction, Guilty Pleasures is one of the best books I have ever read not many books can leave you emotionally drained like this. The only other books that have ever done this to me are: Mercedes Lackey's The Last Herald Mage Trilogy and Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. The begginning of the book is brilliant and a few pages in when you see the words 'Welcome to Guilty Pleasures' 'The only Vampire Strip Club', you have to be hooked, the entire concept of Vampires stripping made me laugh for ages, but in a most delighted way. And upon the first mention of his name and manner 'Jean-Claude' the master vampire will have you completely and utterly enthralled. I have never read a book with a character so intensely seductive that you have fallen in love with him before even reaching the end of his description. And his devotion to Anita Blake is beautiful and obvious, I am not strong like Anita I would have yielded within moments, gods. And speaking of Anita the heroine and main character, who's view point is taken throughout the book, she in her own way is as delighful, her narative does not enthrall you in the same way as Louis's in Interview with the Vampire, but it captures you completely because of the sarcastic humour and honesty. a girl who throws the odd quote in from doctor seuss or from the wizard of oz is truly entertaining. By the end of it i was emotionally drained, because of the love and fear that she felt. Her books and Anne Rice's to me are not horror but are the struggles of one person or more trying to succeed in whatever they choose to do and to be happy. And if killing Vampires makes Anita happy who are we to argue...
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Once upon a time, before the Anita Blake series became cheap porn with well-endowed vampires and werethingies, there was "Guilty Pleasures."

Laurell K. Hamilton's breakout debut was one of the early urban fantasy stories, though by no means the best. It's an amusing, gorey story with some unusual twists, but it often seems like a goth teenager's daydreams of vampire romance and superpowers.

It takes place in an alternate universe where werecreatures and vampires live amongst us openly. Anita Blake is a vampire hunter -- known as the Executioner -- and an animator, able to raise zombies from the dead, but she isn't too fond of vampires or weres. So when a vampire comes to hire her, she turns him down. But at a bachelorette party, she soon finds herself hip-deep in vampire politics, courtesy of the sensual club-owner Jean-Claude.

Things only get more complicated when she ends up facing the Master of the City, a deceptively sweet-looking little vampire who wants answers about the murders right away. Anita is going to end up facing a dungeonful of wererats, zombies, vampire groupies... and possibly the seductive Jean-Claude.

Admittedly there's not a lot of innovation here -- there are foppish, sensual vampires in the Anne Rice style, attack zombies, an army of werecreatures, and a Buffy-style heroine. It's a bit of a horror mishmash, and Hamilton never really adds much to the equation.

Nor does she add much to the simple murder mystery that the plot revolves around -- take your basic crime thriller, and add a few supernatural characters. Bang, you're done. But Hamilton loads it down with gore, violence, mystery and some unusual twists, such as Anita visiting a "freak party" full of vampire groupies and junkies.

As for her writing, Hamilton will never win a Pulitzer, but it's sparky and colourful enough to maintain a reader's attention. However, Anita's scenes with Jean-Claude needed work. While they have a sexual snap, some of them reek too much of a fourteen-year-old goth's fantasies of vampire romance.

Despite her goddess-of-the-universe turns later in the series, Anita Blake is a more compelling character here -- flawed, blunt, and very scarred. And Jean-Claude is fascinating when he's being manipulative to everyone... and much less so when he's awkwardly flirting with Anita. All other characrers more or less range from two-dimensional (the cartoonish Nikolaos) to the bittersweetly realistic (Philip).

With no hint of what was in store, "Guilty Pleasures" is nothing more or less than what its title suggests -- a lightweight adventure story with vampires and a Buffyesque heroine.
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"Guilty Pleasures" is the first Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel by Laurell K. Hamilton, but when you read it you will wish that it was not. What I mean by that convoluted sentence is that Anita is well into her career as an Animator when this book opens and the more you find out about her backstory the more you want to learn. One of the most important things in this story is when the master vampire Jean-Claude puts the first two marks upon Anita, which links them psychically and makes her somewhat immune to the mental powers of the vampires. Obviously this will have long term repercussions in the series, but it is not as momentous a change since this is the first novel in the series; when it happens Anita has talked about killing vampires, but we have yet to see her ply her trade. If there had been a prequel to this story, in which Anita earned her reputation as "The Executioner" and we learned the rules of the game in terms of vampires and this brave new world they inhabit, then her transformation in "Guilty Pleasures" would have the weight it deserves. Similarly, the idea that the thousand-year-old Master Vampire of St. Louis wants to hire Anita to solve the sudden rash of vampire murders also has less impact than it would if this story was told further down the line. Hamilton comes up with some excellent ideas in this novel, but you can imagine how much more of an impact they would have if this was the third or fourth Anita Blake novel instead of the first. However, Hamilton gets high marks for giving us the feel that we have stepped into an ongoing story, always a laudable goal. You have to be quite optimistic about her ability to up the ante as the series continues.
The world of Anita Blake is one in which the Supreme Court has granted the undead equal rights, so that you cannot kill a vampire without a warrant and you can just imagine the legal morass involving zombies, ghouls and were-beasts. Hamilton has created a world in which the undead are still creatures of the night but have become a part of society, which runs the spectrum from vampire strip clubs such as the Guilty Pleasures of the title to the Church of Eternal Life where becoming a vampire can help you achieve that particular goal. This is a thoughtful look at the "realities" of such a world and although you will recognize elements from Stoker and Rice in this world, Hamilton has constructed one that stands on its own. As for our heroine, she is also extremely realistic: Anita Blake has horrible scars on her body from her battles against the undead, her dreams are tormented by what she has seen and done, she is terrified by her current situation and does not know who she can trust or turn to for help. The fact that she feels fear, cries, gets sick to her stomach, add to her heroism because despite all these obstacles, she gets the job done. There is a much harder edge here than what you find with other vampire slayers. Anita Blake is not a two-dimension character, which is why once you read "Guilty Pleasures" you have to move on to the next novel in the series. All in all, this is an excellent start.
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This is the urban fantasy series' that started it all; meet Anita Blake aka The Executioner.

Each character is carefully drawn, and I genuinely cared what happened to each one; good, bad, human, other... I stayed up to 2 in the morning to finish the book, a sign that I was fully immersed.

Sadly the later books have dropped the mystery and suspense in order to leave more room for (pretty bad) sex scenes, but I highly recommend books 1-9.
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on 1 November 2002
Here's where it all starts.
Anita Blake is a necromancer, vampire slayer and old fashioned gal all rolled into one.
Don't come here looking for a Buffy clone because you won't find one. Anita is as hard as nails and the books don't hold back on the violence.
The story does have some traditional vampire storylines such as a childlike master vampire and the seductive french vampire but these stereotypes are what work for this genre. Mix with this the completely original humour and character the author has given our heroine and it makes for a very entertaining read.
It's a short book but is just the stepping stone for what follows later. Filled with vampires, zombies, wererats and heaps of magic all set in the real world you will not be able to put it down. Just be thankful that there are many that follow after this to keep you satisfied.... ....for a while at least.
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Vampire fiction is a dime a dozen, especially the goofy variety. But Laurell K. Hamilton managed to create something a wee bit out of the ordinary in "Guilty Pleasures," the first book of her Anita Blake series. Vampires, werebeasties and kick-butt policewomen abound, and the result is... yes, I'll say it: A guilty pleasure.

Anita Blake, a petite smart-alecky vampire hunter/necromancer, is known as the "Exterminator," and is feared by the vampires who have been lucky enough not to run into her. But at a bachelorette party, Anita is tricked into going to a vampire strip club, presided over by the sexy French vampire Jean-Claude. Soon a friend of hers is being held hostage. She'll stay alive if Anita works for the vampires.

Jean-Claude takes her to see the master vampire, the malevolent little girl Nikolaos, who tells her that vampires are being brutally killed -- including some of the most powerful in St. Louis. Now Anita is racing against the clock to find the killer, and keep from being killed by the very vampires that she is there to help.

The early books of the Anita Blake series are fun, sort of your typical detective stories with a bloodsucky twist. They also have the advantage of a strong female lead, some weird sidekicks, and a mild "freshening up" of your average dark fantasy/horror staples like vampires and werebeasties.

There's not a lot of actual innovation here -- werecreatures, vampires, and petite heroines who kick their butts. And Jean-Claude and the girl-vampires Nikolaos seem suspiciously close to classic Anne Rice characters. And I can only read so many pages of Anita detailing every outfit and weapon she wears.

However, Hamilton adds plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor; Anita has many of the best one-liners in the book, and there are some entertaining questions, such as whether a person can remarry if their dead spouse becomes a vampire. There are also some darker new twists, such as "freaks" (vampire junkies) and vampire groupies. The content is nothing new, but the handling is.

Despite her nymphomaniacal turns later in the series, Anita is strong, tough and in charge here. Hamilton gave her plenty of insecurities, but also the guts to live and fight despite them. The other compelling character is Jean-Claude, who is the very image of an enigmatic vamp. It's never quite clear what he's thinking, but Hamilton hinted at the actual personality under his suave charm.

Don't think it's a classic, or even a minor classic. "Guilty Pleasures" is no more and no less than its name -- an entertaining action-mystery filled with vampires and werebeasties.
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on 21 February 2007
"Guilty Pleasures" was my very first introduction to the author and the Anita Blake series. And what an introduction !!! I was so taken by the book from the very first page, that I read the whole thing in one day.

In this book you will meet Anita, the strong, independent, brave heroine who is a vampire executioner and raises zombies for living. Jean Claude, the dark, dangerous and extraordinarily handsome master of the city vampire with many secrets and mysteries. And of course many other terrific characters.

The story is action-packed, exciting, gripping and you will not at ANY point feel bored nor will you find it dull or monotonous.

Do buy this book without any hesitation. You won't regret it, you'll only love it !!!
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on 5 May 2003
Ok, it's the first in the series of the 'Anita Blake: vampire hunter' novels, and a must read for the rest of the series to make sense. Compared with Hamiltons' later books in the series, this one is uncomplicated, and sticks to the sterotypes, although Jean Claude is hinted at being deeper than he appears (thankfully!).
Don't go in expecting too much, because this series takes a while to get going, and without Richard (werewolf b-friend introduced in book 3 (circus of the damned)), it doesn't feel quite complete.
But still a good read overall!
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on 25 April 2001
Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures, I bought this book on a whim, started to read it on the train... and missed my stop, ok my next 3 stops. I was sucked in to the dark world of Vampires, Zombies and other dreamed up nasties and I liked it, I didn't want to leave. I'd read the book by the next day then ordered the entire series. By the time I'd read them all (within 6 days of them arriving) I was disappointed, not because the books were bad, but because there were no more of them for me to read. Laurell K.Hamilton hurry up and write some more!!!
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