I actually despise what most people call "chick lit" and lots of people have described the Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson as chick lit meets vampires.
I suppose that is an accurate description, but the reason I hate chick lit (in general) and the reason I find this book so hilarious is basically the same: a really shallow-seeming heroine. Here the shallowness isn't complete (Betsy has her moments and you can see that she has some deeper feelings, if you search really hard for them), but the very shallowness is part of the reason these books are so funny.
The Queen of the Vampires is obsessed with shoes? Designer names? What anyone and everyone is wearing? Too funny!
Nancy Wu, who gives voice to Betsy in this first person novel, is letter perfect. She sounds just like Betsy did in my head when I read "Undead and Unwed" for the first time.
Give this book a chance,even if you aren't a chick lit fan. You won't regret it.
This book just made me love the first book in the series, "Written in Red," even more!
There is a war coming between the Others and Humans and Humans won't survive if that happens. Meg Corbin, Human Liaison to the Lakeside Courtyard (controlled by The Others--where Human Law Does Not Apply) may be the only one who can possibly prevent the war from happening. Because of her friendships with The Others, they have started to see a few humans as more than just clever meat. But some humans don't see that their struggles to gain more of the world for themselves, that their arrogance in thinking that they can defeat the shifters and vampires who are the only ones of The Others that they ever see, is shoving the world closer and closer to a conflict that humanity cannot win because as powerful as they are, the shifters and the vampires are just the visible foes, the ones humans never see are the ones that we cannot possibly survive.
Meg has some help, among them are her human "pack" and her Other friends, and maybe if everyone carefully dances the correct steps they can save the world from blood and humans from extinction.
It might be possible to understand the story in "Murder of Crows" without having read "Written in Red" but I think your understanding of the characters and your enjoyment of the interactions between them would be greatly diminished--- besides, "Written in Red" is an amazing book and you will WANT to read both it and "Murder of Crows".
This is one of my favorite books and having it suddenly available in audiobook format really was like a gift. I cannot tell you have often I have put Loretta Chase's name into the search bar on Audible only to find that she has no entries. Today I opened my Kindle Fire and what pops up in the recommendations? My FAVORITE of the Chase books--- which is saying something!
Why do I love it? Lots of reasons, but the two main ones are Jessica and Dain, the main characters of this novel.
Ms. Chase has an excellent ability for allowing you to see her characters as they see themselves and to allow us glimpses inside their heads-- so that even when you clearly think you would like to see Jessica sock Dain right in the nose, it is still while actually feeling a little sorry for him. And Jessica, being a very insightful person, feels some pity for his circumstances as well--- not that that means she is about to let him get away with ANYTHING.
To the outside world, Dain has everything, looks and power and money and a title in a country and a time when a title mattered a great deal. Dain does not have the good opinion of "polite society" but since he clearly doesn't care a fig for all their opinions bound up in a velvet ribbon, that is hardly a hindrance.
But we know what those who fear Dain do not. He didn't reject them until they rejected him so often that he knew he could never please any of them. Having a degree of stubborn pride that would not allow him to let himself be defeated by their ilk, Dain goes out of his way to be as bad as they all think he is--- AND rub their noses in the fact that not one of them is able to do one thing about him or his exploits or to keep him from not only maintaining his position in the world be actually bettering it.
Dain's exploits mostly hurt no one, at least it is never his actual INTENTION to hurt anyone, unless he feels himself attacked and then he finishes what his enemies started. But sometimes his thoughtlessness could lead to the ruin of others--- particularly is those others come in the form of a brainless fool who thinks to imitate the manners and actions that Dain can get away with and few others can, especially not others who are as lacking in funds as they are common sense.
This is how poor, stupid Bertie ends up in dire threat of immanent ruin and how his irritated sister ends up landing on his doorstep to drag him out of trouble--- again. Jessica, the sister in question, is everything poor Bertie is not. At 27, Jessica would have thought to be on the shelf, but she is still averaging six or so proposals per year. She has decided, after many years of helping to raise a vast array of brothers and boy cousins, that she does not want a husband.
Her grandmother, the still-celebrated Evangeline, tells her quite seriously that "No woman does, who knows what men are like." But Evangeline likes men, so she quite sympathizes when Jessica, having triumphed over Dain upon their first acquaintance, confesses to feelings that her grandmother confirms to her ARE the animal lust she feared it was. From there, Jessica and Dain embark upon a series of ploys back and forth in an escalating battle of one-upmanship that lands them in a place neither ever dreamed--- MARRIED.
The games are not about to stop now and it is SO fun to watch them as they wrangle with each other. The story is fun, but it is also tender and passionate by turns, and you love both the principals by the end and are really longing for their HEA.
I knew within the first chapter or two that I had found a great series and ordered the rest of the books that were available at the time (five of them I think) before I even finished book one.
The main character, Cat, is excellent as a point of view character. First, she IS a kick-butt, take-no-crap character, which makes her fun and occasionally hilarious, but she isn't infallible and stupid by turns. I hate it when the author's plot depends on making smart characters do extremely stupid things and Jeaniene Frost is never guilty of that. She lets her characters make the mistakes that it seems believable that they WOULD make if they really lived.
Cat is a half-vampire. This is discovered very quickly in the book, so this isn't a spoiler. Cat is, by her very nature, stronger than a human and quicker and with some enhancements of hearing and such that come in handy. But Cat knows the bare minimum about how she came to exist at all, let alone the complexities of vampire society and the world that exists right alongside the humans who go about their business in ignorance of things that go bump in the night.
Cat is young and inexperienced in human society as well. She lives with her mother and her grandparents on a cherry orchard and we get the sense that these are the only people she really interacts with (if you don't count the vampires she trolls the bars for, leaves with, stakes, and buries on a regular basis). That is until she picks up the wrong (or actually the RIGHT) vampire one fateful evening. It started off rocky (since she was out to kill him), but it was the start of a relationship that is as fascinating in the last book as in the first one.
Bones is another great character, and he and Cat together are impossible to beat (though many will try). Watching them get together as a couple is always interesting and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.
I really enjoy the pacing of these books, there is always a good story and there is always a nice balance between action and more character-driven scenes. Cat and Bones are smart and brave, but they aren't perfect or infallible (which is a dead bore to read). They also consistently STAY smart and brave throughout the tale, and even if they made mistakes I didn't find myself thinking "He would NOT have done that!"
The author respects her characters and allows us to as well.
Don't mistake me, Anne Bishop is not an Ilona Andrews clone or wannabe, and their writing styles are not that similar. The similarity comes with the quality and freshness of the world-building from both authors and the really excellent way in which the characters come out like fully-fleshed people. I also find a lot of subtle humor in the work of both authors.
Our heroine in "Written in Red" is in no way similar to Kate Daniels (of Ilona Andrews fame). Meg is not a kick-ass fighter or a street smart, world-weary merc like Kate. Meg IS really smart and she is completely likable in her own way. She is innocent in a way that few grown-ups are and while circumstances might have tried to make her a victim, she is, pretty much from the start of the story, clearly a brave person who is determined to prevail over those who would victimize her.
I love that even though we meet a lot of secondary characters in this book they in no way detract from the story (it is never confusing and you never find yourself yanked out of the story thinking, "Who is this again?" because so many characters were thrown at you).
I finished this story dying to read the next one in the series.
Don't get me wrong, this is a complete story (I am a big hater of the cliff-hanger ending--- if you write a good enough story, we will be back without that tactic) but there are still things to do after the end of this first book and there are relationships that have begun but have room to progress.
I really loved everything about the book. I'm now off to see what else this author has written and have my fingers crossed that some of it is as good as "Written in Red."
SO boring and slow that I could hardly make myself listen to it long enough to form any interest at all in the characters. I managed to slog through to the end and then wished I hadn't because the end was so stupid (like something a high school student would write). Practically everyone in the whole book is miserable and has serious moral failings and it was hard to care about any of them. Don't waste your credits.
"Women of the Otherworld" is a good series, and the werewolf entries are my favorite because I really like Elena, the only current female werewolf, and Clay, her mate (at least according to HIM). This was one of my favorite books before I bought the audio version and that always makes me somewhat nervous (a bad narrator can wreck things pretty seriously), but this audiobook will now be one of my favorites as well. Good narration and no distracting bad habits by the reader.
The story itself is interesting and moves right along. I did feel that Elena could have gotten out of the fix she was in faster than she did (she spent a good chunk of the middle of the book in pretty dire straits), but even if that's true it wasn't an obvious thing (I hate it when smart charactors behave in a stupid or uncharactoristic way just to serve as a plot device for the author).
Not to spoil anything, but let me just say that I really like how Armstrong's female charactors don't sit around and wait to be "saved" by the men in the story. It's refreshing given the obnoxious amount of damsels-in-distress in the work of many of today's authors. (Have we not grown OUT of this idea? Hello, nearly 2010 here! Plus it's so old a trick as to be pretty tired and boring by now.). Sorry for the rant.
Just to sum up: Do yourself a favor and buy this very excellent book.
I really like the Drake Sisters series by Christine Feehan. This story (about eldest sister Sarah Drake) is a good first entry for the series.
It is a bit short, but I believe it (and the second entry featuring Kate Drake) were originally novellas inside anthologies. Plus "Magic in the Wind" costs less than most audiobooks, so that all evens out.
The narrator has a good voice for the narration of Sarah's story. She sounds young and somewhat sweet. That may seem a contradiction when you realize that Sarah is a security expert (supposedly versed in weapons and trained to fight), but the entire tenor of the series hangs on the idea that the Drakes are really kind young women (no matter the flashy careers or flamboyant personas shown to the world). They are the girls next door (who are actually the witches next door, but still the kind of girl your mom wants you to bring home).
It was not a syrupy-sweet reading, please do not mistake me. But it was just as I'd expect Sarah to sound.
This is a refreshing book in that the main male lead doesn't leap in to "save" the woman (even though she is much better trained and better suited to the role than he is). When this couple appears in later issues of this series they seem to be true partners. That is especially refreshing for a Feehan novel.
She has a bad tendancy to make ALL male leads so alpha as to be in serious need of a smack in the head with a heavy object. I like a good alpha hero as much as the next woman, but come ON. Some of her Dark Series "heroes" would end up dead if the heroines were like REAL women.
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