Hello and miserable - er - I mean, HAPPY Monday, Dear Readers. The lurgy I mentioned last week struck me with a vengeance shortly after I finished making all that chicken soup for other family members and I actually spent yesterday in bed, which hasn't happened for many a long year. Even when I did my back in, I was lying *on* the bed, not hiding under two duvets with a hot water bottle and two mansize boxes of tissues. And a pile of books, of course. I don't have a TV in my bedroom, so in between sneezing/coughing pathetically, blowing my nose, groaning and falling asleep, I read.
Considering that I'm still pretty feeble today, but not feeble enough to want to deprive you of your regularly scheduled post, I thought I'd make use of that reading and share some book recommendations.
***WARNING - THE FOLLOWING BOOKS ARE FOR OVER 16s ONLY! THEY CONTAIN SWEARING AND VIOLENCE AND ADULT ONLY MATERIAL! PLEASE GET YOUR PARENT, OLDER SIBLING OR LIBRARIAN TO VET YOU FOR READING IF YOU ARE NOT TECHNICALLY AN ADULT YET!***
Ahem. Sorry for shouting there, but I don't want to be responsible for scarring anyone's psyche.
The first recommendation I'd like to make is for Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series.
These are really smart books, books that make you think hard to keep up with the heroine's twisty mind and the ever evolving plots. They're part Dystopian, part Urban Fantasy, part thriller and part romance - and whooo! is that romance hot. I wasn't convinced by it at first, but it totally won me over in the end.
The series concerns the adventures and misadventures of sword-wielding mercenary Kate, who lives in a slightly futuristic version of our world, where magic and technology sweep across the landscape in waves like tsunamis, forcing humans and other creatures (like Necromancers and Weres) to live side by side in a very uneasy truce. Kate is a hilarious, wise-cracking character who is unashamedly tough - a warrior, a soldier and a killer - but at the same time deeply honourable and emotionally vulnerable. I love watching her evolve as the books progress, turning from a lonely, isolated woman who trusts no one to a...well, you'll just have to read and find out!
I think the world-building in this series is simply superb, and I love the intricacies of all the various factions at war with each other and trying to stay afloat amid the battle of magic and technology. Each is portrayed as diverse and multi-faceted rather than simply Good or Bad. Unsurprisingly, my favourites are the weres, who are shown here as highly clannish and loyal to each other, desperately trying to live down a partially deserved reputation for violence. Any people who signal the start of a serious courtship by breaking into each other's houses and leaving gifts of food, or playing extravagent practical jokes, is all right by me. But I'm also fascinated by the Order and by the Red Guard and...oh, a million other details.
I also love the character growth here. It's not just the main characters who get to fall in love, fall out of love, go interesting places, get hurt and get changed. Derek and Andrea are examples of how you write a sidekick RIGHT, and I'd love to have them in my life!
Number of Books in the Series: Five, with a companion novel from a secondary character's POV coming this year, and a number of (brilliant!) secondary character novellas in anthologies. Seek them out!
Favourite Book in the Series: Book Three, Magic Strikes. Underground magical gladiator tournament where the heroine repeatedly gets to kick people's asses, along with a motley crew of loyal friends? Yes please!
Least Favourite Book in the Series: Book One, Magic Bites. I'd actually council readers to skip this one. In my opinion it strays far too close to torture porn in its constant descriptions of the vile activities of its villain, and does a disservice to the rest of the books. You can pick up everything you need to know from Book Two without too much difficulty.
The Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh.
I've just discovered these, and I can't believe what I was missing! The Guild Hunter books are set in an Urban Fantasy alternate reality where the world is run by a race of superhuman, immortal angels and Archangels, who in turn create vampires from volunteers in the human population. The vampires, in return for being Made almost-immortal, agree to hundred year contracts with their angelic creators which are essentially like indentured servitude. And, not surprisingly, once those vampires start to grow into their powers (which vary widely from individual to individual, based on their unique personalities and strengths as a human) they often try to get out of their contracts by running. Sometimes they just go into hiding. At other times they go rogue and start killing. That's where the Guild of Hunters comes in. Some of these guys are Hunter Born, able to literally track vampires by scent, while others are just tough badasses that hunt using old fashioned gumshoe methods. Either way, their job is to find and tag the vampires with control chips that prevent them from running again, and return them to their angelic masters for punishment. Needless to say, this is easier said than done, especially since the strongest Hunter is probably not a third as strong as even a fairly newly Made vampire.
Number of Books in the Series: Four, including a companion novel from a secondary character's POV, with a collection of secondary character novellas due out at the end of this month.
Least Favourite Book in the Series: Book Two, Archangel's Kiss. Not because it's not good, just because I felt the elements of romance/mystery/training montage weren't as skillfully blended as in the other books, and we weren't given adequate information to be able to work out who the bad guy was on our own. Plus, I missed the New York setting. Still a great read, though.