Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Once Bitten" by Kalayna Price

In Kalayna Price’s novel, Once Bitten, Kita Nekai is a calico cat shape shifter who is on the run from her clan. She is supposed to be the clan’s future leader, but she (of course) does not want the responsibility. According to clan law, women are not allowed to travel to the real world (but they can apparently lead said clan!) so, Kita being the main female character in a sexist world escapes there. This leads one to believe that the clan exists in some sort of “other dimension” that Kita and the other shifters call “Firth.” The only way to travel to and from this world is during the full moon (shifters in this book remind me of werewolves meaning that they can shift into only one type of animal but, it doesn't have to be a wolf.) Kita’s clan is not going to let her go lightly; she is being followed by “hunters.” Hunters are the men who are allowed to live in the human world and their “job” for the clan is to capture those who escape, and bring them back to Firth.

Kita is trying to avoid these hunters, when she inexplicably runs into a vampire. The vampire, whose name is Nathaniel, accidentally turns Kita into a vampire. This occurrs when he runs into her while she is fighting off a rogue shifter, which is someone who has been kicked out of Firth. As if she didn’t have enough problems, her old flame, Bobby, from Firth, has found her and wants to take her back to their world. Now, she is stuck with both Nathaniel and Bobby while she tries to avoid hunters, vampires, and a certain wizard judge who has sentenced her to death. This is where the plot comes together; the judge has found that Kita accidentally “marked” a human. (When a human is “marked” they change into a sort of form between forms but not into the animal itself, meaning they are extremely scary and not natural in anyway.) In this form, they are insane and they kill people. The human Kita marked has killed several people in a most horrible way, by raping and torturing them. Since Kita marked him, those deaths are her responsibility. Just as the judge is about to allow demons to eat Kita’s soul, as that is her sentence, Nathaniel steps in with a compromise. If Kita can bring the judge the marked human, dead or alive, then Kita herself can go free. The judge accepts this compromise, and adds a few ultimatums while he's at it, and the quest for the murderer begins.
Now it would seem that things aren’t going very well for Kita; she has to avoid hunters, deal with Nathaniel and Bobby who are both pining for her (surprise, surprise a werewolf and a vampire both want the female character!), and find a marked human that she doesn’t even remember marking within two days or they ALL die. Yes, those "few ultimatums" that were menitioned, well, they mean that Nathaniel and Bobby will also be killed if Kita does not find and bring the human to the judge in two days. On top of all of those problems, Kita also now has an annoying witch following her around. The witch is from a “university” in the other world and Kita is her "final project." The witch is to take notes on everything about Kita and those that she associates with. As you can imagine, this is not only annoying to Kita and her friends but to the reader as well.
All of these characters intrigue (and irritate) the reader through the entire story. Kita is a girl that is very easy to understand and her fight against the sexist world she lives in is very empowering to anyone that is even remotely a feminist. On the other hand, the story has the classic love triangle mixed with the popular fantasy characters, such as vampires and witches, so, it is the type of thing that you feel you have read over and over. What makes this book different is that

1. it is from a shapeshifter's point of view
2. the main girl is not a wimp but does accept the help of her "friends" (begrudgingly of course)
3. while Bobby may be pining after Kita he can't have her as he is married!
4. Nathaniel and the other vampires are REALLY weird and
5. the only vampire who is mysterious and hot is Nathaniel (wait that might not be that different...)

Though you wouldn’t think so, Kita, Bobby, Nathaniel, and Gil (the witch) make a good team. This book was very interesting, and even though this conscientious reader has read several different fantasy novels with the same themes and plots, somehow Kalayna Price manages to make Kita’s race against the clock an intriguing and thrilling ride until the very end. Once Bitten is a wonderful story and I hope that you will pick up a copy to find out what happens to Kita and her friends. (My personal copy was downloaded for free on my Kindle.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Bitten (Women of the Otherworld)" by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong has become one of my favorite authors. I started out with her book "The Summoning", and then moved on to it's sequel "The Awakening", which were both very enjoyable thrill rides that had me begging for more. (I still am as the third book has not been released yet!) The tension that is caused by the constant stress to her characters is not only invigorating but enthralling to the reader. So, when I discovered that she had written an entire series before she wrote these two wonderful books, I couldn't wait to get my hands on them.
The series begins with a book called "Bitten". The main character of "Bitten" is Elena Michaels, who is someone that is trying to live a normal life (as if we haven't figured out that her life is far from it). The hard part of trying to live this "normal life" is that she is in fact a werewolf. Later on it is explained that she is not only a werewolf but the only female werewolf in the entire world. This is due to the fact that born werewolves are always male and those that are turned into werewolves rarely live through the change and this is especially true for females. (Basically the werewolf gene is sexist.) Anyway, Elena lives with her normal human boyfriend named Philip, in the normal human city of Toronto, and has a normal human job. Things seem to be going well for her until she receives a call from Jeremy, the Pack Alpha. (dun dun duuuun!)
At this point the aforementioned stress that is so wonderful in Armstrongs books begins. Jeremy has been having issues with a "mutt" werewolf, or someone who is not a part of the pack. The mutt it seems has been killing innocent humans and has so far attempted to frame the pack and its members for the murders. This may seem at first that it doesn't involve Elena, seeing as she doesn't want anything to do with the pack, but, on further examination we learn that she used to not only keep track of all of the mutts for them, but, she also helped in preventing the exposure of werewolves. In short, this is right up her alley and a certain pack alpha is not going to let her leave as easily as she thought she could.
This is all leading up to Elena returning to Stonehaven which is in remote upstate New York and is where the pack alpha and his bodyguard/adopted son live. The tension mounts even more spectacularly as we find out that said son, known as Clay, is Elena's old flame and the one who turned her into a werewolf against her will. As Elena battles against the feelings for Clay and the need to stay at Stonehaven, she must also help Jeremy and the other pack members find and kill whoever is antagonizing them.
I absolutely could not make myself put this book down. I think I read it in a day because once it gets its' hooks in you it won't let go until that final page has been turned. The story and its' heroin are fantastic from beginning to end and Armstrong never leaves her readers with a dull moment. Just when you think that things are coming around, BAM, someone else is found dead and the police (among other hinderances such as, male werewolves obsessing over the only female werewolf, human trespassers with guns, etc.) are hot on the characters trails. If anyone is reading this I hope you pick up this book sometime. It may just surprise you...

P.S. This book contains mild sex or sexual references and probably shouldn't be read by those who would be made uncomfortable by it or aren't mature enough to read that sort of thing yet. :-/

Why Do I Want to Write About Books?

There are probably alot of book critics out there that are more valid than I am. They have been doing it for years and know exactly what to write and how to write it. They have the experience, the knowledge, and the wonderful populace of the reading community that depend on them, where as I have a few friends that usually enjoy the books that I recommend for them.
This blog is for myself and anyone else who wants to spend their time reading it. I want to convey the joy I get from reading into a written format. The first way I could think of doing this was to write a blog about a book after I had read it. This is not only so that later on I can remember which books I enjoyed and which ones that I did not, but it will put my words out into the abyss that is known as the internet. It will hopefully make me feel as though, my opinion of a book has been taken into account when someone walks into a book store and is trying to decide what to read or what not to read...