Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Literature Rec: Vamps and Wolves

I thought I would do something a little different this week. As it was vampires and werewolves that brought us all together originally, I wanted to recommend a bunch of other good books featuring our favourite mythical creatures. Then I realized I had only read one that I felt was good enough to recommend in this article.

So, I sent out a call to the community and, thankfully, you responded! The following recommendations come from a variety of people and I hope there are some gems, but I feel I should warn that I have not read many of them so they do not hold the moon.witche stamp of approval. Except for that one at the bottom, that one’s from me.

One I just read was City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (which does have werewolves). The thing I liked about the vampires and werewolves is that they aren't bad just simply because of who they are, they don't need to be killed because of it unless they get out of control. Then you have the group of shadowhunters whose moral superiority makes them believe they are better than everyone, some even to the point of wanting to annihilate the entire population of downworlders despite that building their army will cost many lives. This facet of the book is not that unlike many of the evangelical population out there, who believe their religious superiority entitles them to make decisions based on their religion alone, despite the fact that the people they are often screwing are not bad people by nature. The level of loyalty in the werewolf pack is actually more similar to that of the young shadowhunters than the old, much more jaded ones. In this story the ones who are supposed to be "good" are often bad and the ones who you think would be bad are often good. I'm about 1/3 of the way through City of Ashes and loving it so far too.

Though these books are light on the vampires and werewolves I highly enjoyed them (I may have even gotten one signed by the author) and the one vampire that classifies as a main character has an interesting journey, and is generally good for a laugh and easing of tension.

The Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin, which also features vampires as a part of everyday society. It focuses on a CIA assassin and her partner, the vampire Vayl. It is currently five books deep, starting with Once Bitten, Twice Shy, and the sixth book should be coming out it October. A friend of mine got me hooked on this. It's very easy to read, very fast-paced, very action-packed. I was on the fence at first, because some of the scenarios can be a little over the top, but while I was reading I just couldn't put it down, and that says something in and of itself.

I guess the theme in these series is the supernatural mixed with everyday society, but I'm in to that kind of thing. I love seeing vampires and werewolves with a big dose of reality thrown in.

I really don't know anything about these books at all, which I like because it gives me something to look for when next I visit a bookstore.

The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. The first book, Bitten, is brilliant, and somehow makes it entirely plausible that werewolves could be living amongst us.In Bitten, Kelley Armstrong somehow managed to make it believable that a werewolf Pack lived in New York State, ruling over all the other 'mutts' spread worldwide. When I read it, I became intrigued by Elena's story, and throughout the book slowly put together the pieces of her background, and the hows and whys of her Change. Elena is easy to relate to, and the Pack are perfectly characterised. There's lots of action (and violence), but what really hooked me was the relationships within the Pack, especially that between Elena and Clay. I could not put this book down, and finished it almost as quickly as I finished Twilight! I was then compelled to go and read the rest of the (still ongoing) Women of the Otherworld series, and they are just as gripping, dark and sharply humourous as Bitten. I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I have!

This is a book that I have picked up many times in the bookstore because I like the cover. Sadly, it has never gone further than that.

The other trilogy I have read this year is Vampire Academy.These books take the vampire world and sort of create a caste system. There are the pure bloods who are Moroi are sort of the ones to be protected beyond all else by their half human/half moroi guardians, the Dhampirs. Then of course there are the Strigoi who are the true vampires. Strigoi can be made by being turned or by a Moroi making a choice to turn. The first book, in my opinion, is hard to get into at first, however by the second book you are devouring every word on the page. The highlights of the idea that the Dhampirs are less important than the Moroi is explored. This author also has no problem with ripping your still beating heart clean out of your chest and stomping on it, which I sort of love as much as I hated it. It certainly had me scouring the internet to find other people who have read it to discuss. They are easy, fun reads that give a good dose of romance balanced with an interesting magical world. This is also a sequel I can't wait to read, so much in fact I emailed my SIL who works for the publishing house to BEG her for an advanced copy.

Almost everyone I know who reads has recommended these books to me. I should probably get on them.

The saga of Darren Shan - I first picked these up because my friends were reading them. And I was intrigued. Not just by the fact that Darren was only about my age at the time (13), but because the idea of the vampires were so different to the ones that I knew of. I knew of the Dracula ones, the ones who killed people and were like demons. These were different, they only drank the minimum amount of blood to survive, and were mortal enemies of the ones who killed humans.

This series intrigues me because it lists the main character as the author and I always enjoy when authors do that sort of thing.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood series presents a darker, and more adult world of vampires. The premise of the series is that the vampire race
was created by the Scribe Virgin. Her brother, the Omega, being
jealous that she was given this one gift of creation, created The
Lessoning Society to hunt down and kill the vampires. In order to
protect the race, the Black Dagger Brotherhood was formed as an elite
fighting unit. These Brothers are large, fierce, leather-clad
warriors. Each of the seven books in the series so far (Dark Lover,
Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound, Lover
Enshrined, and Lover Avenged) highlights one of the Brothers and their
ongoing battle with the Lessoning Society as its backdrop. Within each
of the books, we are given an in-depth look at one of the Brother's
and their struggle with vices, their pasts, and specifically, the
discovery of their mate.

One of the many interesting nuances of this vampire series is that,
though they do consume a normal human diet, their blood diet is not
satisfied by humans. They must feed from the opposite sex of their
race. Feeding is not only for nourishment, but is a very sexual act
for them as well. The two are often combined in this series, and when
it is not, it is poignant to the story line.

The best thing about these bad-ass Brothers is how their worlds are
rocked to it's core, and shift once they bond with their female and
become mated. Their worlds rotate around these women. J.R. has
created such an erotic twist to the bonding process in the fact that
when a male bonds, an aphrodisiac scent leaves his skin and marks the
female as his. Also, she has these powerful males eager to please and
defend their women in EVERY way. A pleasant concept to any female
- EJ Santry

I'm pretty everyone here has read these ones, but just in case, I thought I better include a rec for them.

The Mercedes Thompson series, by Patricia Briggs. This series focuses more on werewolves, though vampires certainly play a large role in the books. It is four books along so far, Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, and Bone Crossed. There is also a spin-off about a side character called Cry Wolf, and her Alpha and Omega series is built around that. Both series are wonderful. The series is about a Volkswagon mechanic named Mercy Thompson, who is a Native American 'walker', meaning she can turn into a coyote. She was raised by the Marrok, who is considered the alpha of all of the North American werewolves, and her neighbor is the alpha of the local werewolf pack. I love how this series really gets into the politics of the werewolf culture and the body language. It's very interesting to see that alongside the politics of having the fae 'outed' to the public while the weres remain secret, while the fae are forced to register and be confined to reservations not unlike the Native Americans, werewolves have to try increasingly harder to hide their identities as science gets closer to exposing them. I don't usually read werewolf stories because they are hard to do well, and people seldom do them well, but I recommend this series to everyone who asks because it is absolutely amazing.

The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Mercedes, or Mercy, is your average VW mechanic who just so happens to be able to shift into a coyote. She was raised in a werewolf pack and has a werewolf for a roommate, and the area pack's leader's attention. Her life is pretty full, running her garage and helping the area's supernatural community, usually dragged in to danger against her own will. This series is absolutely wonderful. Mercy has flaws and she knows them, and while she's working on some of them she just accepts others and moves on with her life. Ms. Briggs writing is captivating, each book adding more and more depth to her already wonderful characters. Definitely worth reading, Ms. Brigg's take on all supernatural creatures, not just werewolves, is highly entertaining. The first book is Moon Called.
-Lady Saffir

Again, I've never heard of these books, but good werwolf books seem to be hard to come by, so I take heart from the fact that two people recommended it.

I just read/have been reading the Undead series from Mary Janice Davidson. This series isn't exactly the most serious or earth-shattering literature but it does have its pluses. For one, it's hilarious. Like, spit-coke-all-over hilarious. Two, it has some...sexin'. :) Three, it really is a "feel good" story and even though she hides it with humor, you can tell that the main character, Betsy (queen of the vampires) actually cares about the other characters. Four, it has vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombie-things, you name it. And you know how we love us some vampires.
You should check this series out, it was a really good distraction from all that twilight fanfic. It starts out at Undead and Unwed and goes to Undead and Unwelcome-so far.

The Undead series by Mary Janice Davidson
Most definitely an adult book,or at least for those who won't mind leaving it lying around where someone might pick it up. Betsy becomes the queen of all vampires unwillingly, and does her darndest to introduce democracy to the life challenged. She isn't afraid to tell the world (well, her nearest and dearest) about vampires, and mayhem ensues right from the start. Betsy has one of the foulest mouths I've ever heard, which is why I say to not leave these lying around. Trust me, you get some pretty ood looks when someone reads a random page. These books aren't deep, and are fast reads, but are highly entertaining. The first book is Undead and Unwed.
-Lady Saffir

I haven't read these particular books but I have read others by this author and they have all been a fun read.

Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris
A lot of people are finding out about this wonderful series because of the HBO series True Blood, which is based off these popular novels. Sookie Stackhouse is a bartender in rural Louisiana who just so happens to be a mind reader. The vampires have just announced their presence to the world, and Sookie meets her first vampire soon after. Intrigued by the vampire Bill, she is drawn into their private world, and finds out more than vampires exist and live among humans. Sookie never claims to be the smartest cookie, or the prettiest, but she has a heart of gold and is always trying to overcome whatever obstacle is tossed in to her path. The first book is called Dead After Dark.
-Lady Saffir

I have read all nine of the Sookie Stackhouse books this year. This is very light, fun reading. A lot of action, a very interesting world of creatures and characters beyond your basic vamps/wolves. In fact they have many layers of "were-people", Werewolves consider themselves the highest form of the weres, but there are werefoxes, werepanthers,weretigers, etc. - then there are true shifters who can take any form. They introduce things like maenads and the fae people. Once again these books (and the show) weaves in the underlying comparison that to be different is to be hated. There is a centra crazed evangelical group who kill to make their point - even innocent humans. Romance is at the heart of these books as you follow Sookie through her entanglements with the men she comes to love (and possibly to hate). Sookie is different as well and finds in the supernatural world men she has been waiting her whole life for - someone she can't hear thinking her ass really does look fat in those pants.

The Sookie Stackhouse series, also called the Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Charlaine Harris. I am absolutely addicted to this series. I cannot stop reading it. It's the series that HBO's TrueBlood is based off of. The premise is that vampires have 'come out of the coffin' after the invention of a synthetic blood by the Japanese. The story begins when Sookie, a telepathic waitress who is assumed to be crazy by most of her peers, meets a vampire at the small Louisiana bar she works at. There are nine books in the series so far, the first being Dead Until Dark, the most recent being Dead and Gone. (I just finished it, and I'm already salivating for the next one.) Throughout, there is the ongoing political pressure from vampires who want more rights to hate groups wanting to refuse them rights to other supernatural groups (like the weres and the shifters) wondering if they should come out as well. The constant struggle makes for a compelling read. I have heard this series sometimes described as "Twilight for grown-ups," but it is so much more than that, and really, the two aren't that similar (Twilight is YA fiction, for one, and this series is more adult). The characters have so much depth, and I just love the world the author has created. Plus, can you say hot viking vamp FTW?

This was by far the most recommended and I've heard a lot of talk about it throughout the community.

The vampire book I'm going to recommend (I've got nothing on werewolves, sorry) stays true to my YA literature tendencies. My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgewick.

Peter and his father move to a remote european village in the early 1600s. They set up there house in a strange way and, despite violent tendencies from Peter's father, live as woodcutters. This all changes when a band of gypsies come to town and force Peter to think about his father's life before the village, and where the violence comes from.

What I especially loved about this book that while it may be a "vampire" genre book, it really is about the relationship between Father and Son. Why is it so strained? What happened in Peter's father's past to make him as paranoid and eccentric as he is? And what was his relationship to the gypsies? I love books that use a common theme or stock situation to examine human behavior and explore whay we would really do in those situations. Marcus Sedgewick is amazing for that, I've read five or six books by him.

I also enjoy the imagery of all this bloody violence against the snowy backdrop. What can I say, I like my violence pretty.

Moon.witche knows that you are all beautiful.


  1. No one is going to rec Anne Rice? Really? Ok, well here it is.

    The Vampire Chronicles, by Anne Rice.

    This is NOT a YA series, and it is not for those who shy from squicky themes such as homoeroticism and (arguable) pedophilia. But if that doesn't hang you up, Rice spins a truly mesmerizing saga with unforgettable characters, starting with Interview with the Vampire and concluding with Blood Canticle.

    No vampires, but lots of other paranormal goings-on in the Mayfair Witches series, and in my humble opinion, the Witches are even better than her Vampires.

  2. I highly recommend The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It gives an really intriguing picture of the search for Dracula. If you love history and vampires, then this is the book for you.

  3. I should have responded yesterday, but I didn't quite make it. If you're looking for the lighter side of the undead, Christopher Moore wrote two books about vampires. The first, Bloodsucking Fiends, is our introduction to the characters that will continue on in You Suck: A Love Story. If you've read anything else by Moore, you know these books will be hilarious, but will also pay meticulous attention to details.
    I won't do a summary justice, since I don't have the books in front of me. Instead, some of the things you will encounter should you choose to pick these up include:
    - Drinking the blood of a VERY fat cat to spare humans
    - Drinking the blood of a wino for a buzz.
    - Hot monkey love (what our characters call the sexin'...no actual monkeys appear in the books to the best of my recollection) that will rival ExB for furniture destruction. Rafters and ceiling fans may be compromised.
    - A hooker that dyes her skin blue to separate herself from her Las Vegas competition.
    - A crew of grocery store employees whose recreational activities go from bowling with frozen turkeys to wreaking general havoc across San Francisco in their afterlives.
    In short, you will laugh. You will giggle. You may spray milk/juice/Coke/wine out your nose and all over the page. Your life will likely not be changed, but both books are DEFINITELY worth a read.

  4. Why are Amelia Atwater Rhodes novels never recommended? They have a huge following, and granted I'm far older now, I first picked up her books when I was 12/13 when they were just published, and though I've found more indepth books, they have a very, very close place in my heart.

  5. The "Tomorrow When The War Began" series by Australian author John Marsden. I highly recommend the YA novel series. It's about a group of friends who go backpacking instead of going to the huge fair that everybody in the area goes to. During the trip a hostile country takes the opportunity to invade the country and the friends are forced into the role of guerilla warriors as some of the last free Aussies in an effort to retake their country from the enemy.

  6. "The "Tomorrow When The War Began" series by Australian author John Marsden. I highly recommend the YA novel series. It's about a group of friends who go backpacking instead of going to the huge fair that everybody in the area goes to. During the trip a hostile country takes the opportunity to invade the country and the friends are forced into the role of guerilla warriors as some of the last free Aussies in an effort to retake their country from the enemy."

    These are amazing books, yes, but they're not about vampires...

    I would recommend 'The Reformed Vampire Support Group' by Catherine Jinks. I'm not sure if she’s in American shops, as she’s an Australian author, but she’s very good. This book is so funny. They’re not your typical vampires here. They’re pretty pathetic, actually. They don’t drink human blood (that’s why they’re reformed), they drink guinea pigs. And, they can’t really do anything. They’re always complaining about aches and pains and headaches and everything. Anyone, one of their vampires gets staked and then they have to go find the culprit. It’s very funny and very enjoyable and very different to any other vampire book I've read.

  7. Chistopher Moore is awesome! I puffy heart Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck.


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