“Magic Bites” by Ilona Andrews

I’m going to do my best to write about this as a separate book from the others in the series, but I’ve read and reread it a few times so it all kind of runs in my head as a continuous thing. Okay, to start- the world that Ilona has created is completely awesome. Like, wow. I’m very impressed by the creativity of it. Basically, there is natural magic in the world and it used to be in balance with technology but then along came humans, and we are, by nature, meddlers. We push things. That started the pendulum swinging. The book takes place at some unspecified point in the near-ish future, after the pendulum has started to swing back from technology to magic. Unfortunately, it’s not a neat process. Magic floods the world in waves, sometimes there, sometimes not. Sometimes cars work, guns fire and telephones ring, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes magical wards keep you safe and witches and shifters can do their thing, and sometimes they can’t. It’s very chaotic, which is fertile ground for a story I’ve always found.

These stories are based around Kate Daniels, one of the most kick ass heroines I’ve ever read. Few can make a heroine who can kick as much butt and still have a heart. I say this with experience, since I’ve read a few where you are left wondering what the hell is wrong with that person (cough, Anita Blake, cough, cough). She has been raised in the post- Shift world and she has very, very powerful magic and a serious grudge against an even more powerful person. She also has a sword, with which she is incredibly proficient. All in all, she is very deadly and, even though she won’t admit it, very, very scared. She is in hiding from this powerful person until she is powerful enough to take them down. The reader is thrust into this very complicated situation as her guardian, the man who raised her after her father died, is murdered. Kate decides to hunt the murderer down and this leads her to getting involved with the shifters and their incredibly powerful, and scary, leader, Curran, as well as the Knights and the Master’s of the Dead. Oh, and Ilona’s take on vampires is completely awesome. There’s none of that romanticizing vampires crap around here, oh no. In these books, vampires are straight up dead, as mindless as a cockroach and as blood-lusty as you would expect a mindless vampire to be. But, in the hands of a necromancer, they can be navigated and used as a very useful and very deadly tool. This harkens back to the old folk tales of vampires, not the glamorized, sex symbol version of today. It’s very refreshing and very awesome.

Anyway, her guardian’s killer turns out to be more than just a common thug, obviously, and a very real threat to everyone and especially Kate, since he targets her next. It’s a shorter book compared to the rest of the series, but it’s a great introduction to a fantastic series and I absolutely cannot recommend this series and this author enough. She may well be my favorite author, after Terry Pratchett (since nothing can knock him from my number one spot). Seriously, go read it now.

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“Demon Moon” by Meljean Brook

Okay, so if you’ve read my earlier post listing the authors that I love, you don’t really need to be told that I love this book. But I did. I totally loved this book and it’s one of my favorite of all time. It advanced the over- all story arc while still telling these people’s particular story, while not forgetting everyone else in the storyline. It was fantastic.

The characters are flawed, very much so, while remaining completely awesome. There’s no Mary- Suing, thank god, and while they have their talents and beauty,and all the things about them that make them very cool people, there is never any doubt that they are real people. The only part that I found outside the realm of believable is how smart Savi apparently is, and since they kind of come out and say she’s like a super genius, and considering how many tv shows and movies pull that same kind of stunt, I’m calling it within bounds.

I will be honest and say that when I stop and think about it while not reading the book, I don’t really see how Colin and Savi work as a couple, since they have little in common and are very different people, but while you’re reading the book it never feels like an issue. I guess that one can be chalked up to one of those things, since there are real life couples that don’t make any sense to other people. And they do seem like the kind of people that would genuinely enjoy each other’s company and take it from there, so I suppose I can let it go.

And once again, it seems to be a specialty of Meljean Brooks, it did seem genuinely impossible for them to be together. Unlike in other books, I’ll say it again cuz it’s irritating, where you just want to yell through the page for them to get over themselves and they can live happily ever after, perhaps accompanied with a nice smack upside the head, in this book the deck really did seem stacked against them, completely impossible for them to be together. Admittedly, a little of that did come from Savi being unwilling to stand by Colin as his blood lust, what with him being a vampire and all, forcing him to have sex with a different woman every night since Savi couldn’t supply all his blood needs, but I’m not gonna blame her for that one. What woman, or man, would want to stand by and watch the love of their life do that? None that I can think of, and none that wouldn’t end up hating their love and themselves in the end. But the way she worked it out was simply awesome and the moment at the end, when they decided that they would rather risk taking each other’s blood and dying of it than live apart was simply beautiful. I tear up every time I read it. Typing it now, it sounds really melodramatic and overwrought, but in the moment it felt very right and honestly, the whole book was leading up to that moment, when they chose each other over everything else. But I’m a romantic.

Elsewhere in the book, the Guardian corps’ war against the demons is heating up, and there’s a very cool/deliciously creepy thing with the Chaos realm in the book, which I won’t get into since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else. Also, Michael as a leader and a person is getting more rounded out and realized which comes in handy for later in the series. He’s clearly very much a work in progress for the author. I don’t think she had a real good grip on him early on in the series, and that kind of shows, but she’s obviously working her way inside his head, slowly but surely as the series goes on, and this one starts to give us some nice insights.

All in all, I totally, obviously, recommend this book. It’s a little long and the mythology of the series is not for the faint of heart, since it’s almost ridiculously complicated, but it’s a great read and a great series. You should totally read it.

I Refuse

Just to let you guys know, I will not be reading, or reviewing, “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James. I refuse. I’ve read a description of it and it sounds retarded. It apparently started as a “Twilight” fan fic thing, which is a mark against it as it is, and what I’ve heard of it does not endear itself further. Soo… if you were hoping for that, I’m very sorry, but you will be disappointed.

Oh, and as a note about “Twilight”, here’s my view: they are stupid in ways that have been ennumerated all over the internet and are good in ways that have been squealed about all over the internet, but I don’t really like them. They are badly written, the characters are one- dimensional, they were clearly written as fantasy for a woman who was quiet and unremarkeable in school and their treatment of vampires and werewolves hurts me. That said, there is something about them that reaches into the back of your head, grabs something, and twists. I find it best to avoid them. So, while I won’t blame anyone for liking them initially, I will judge the crap out of them for not coming to their senses.