Monday, November 08, 2010

Ben and Fran Times Three: Three novels by Katie Macalister

Once upon a time, Katie Macalister published two young adult novels under the name Katie Maxwell. These two novels, Got Fangs? and Circus of the Darned were part of her Dark Ones series, but aimed at teens instead of adults. She had more of these titles planned, but unfortunately the publisher stopped publishing young adult titles (this is from information I found on Katie Macalister web site). Now, five years after Got Fangs? was published, Katie has released a new Dark Ones novel featuring Ben and Fran, but this one definitely fits into her adult series. This new book is called In the Company of Vampires
We have three books to talk about this time then: Got Fangs? Circus of the Darned and In the Company of Vampires. I read the two young adult novels in a new edition that contained both called Confessions of a Vampires Girlfriend
I have to say that I was impressed that Katie Macalister was able to cross over so nicely to the young adult works without losing the things I love about her books. She toned down some of the more sexual components, but didn’t lose her sense of humor. Katie’s books often make me laugh out loud, and Confessions of a Vampire’s Girlfriend was no exception. 
Francesca is spending the summer traveling Europe with her mother as part of GothFaire. I think to most sixteen year olds this would be a dream come true, but Fran wants nothing more than to blend in, and her friends back home don’t travel around Europe with a traveling magic show. Fran’s mom is a Wiccan, who does a booming business selling potions at the faire. The GothFaire also features palm readers, mediums, magicians (some of whom do real magick), and a tattoo and piercing booth. As much as Fran wants to be normal, she has a little supernatural talent herself. When Fran touches things with her bare hands she is able to get readings from them, mostly emotions and who has touched the thing before her. She really doesn’t like to go around getting uncontrollable readings, so she tends to wear latex gloves, and covers them with a pair of lace ones. 
Francesca literally runs into Benedickt, the Dark One (vampire). It turns out that Fran is Ben’s Beloved. In the adult novels that usually leads to one thing leading to another pretty quickly. However, in this young adult version, Katie Macalister does a good job of keeping their relationship a little more age appropriate for Fran and moves a bit slower. Fran finds herself not only being told by Ben and his sister Imogen that she is destined to spend eternity with Ben, (literally because once they Join, Fran will be as immortal as Ben) but also finds herself saddled with twelve Viking ghosts who believe her to be the Goddess that can help them to Valhalla. Most of Got Fangs? involves Fran trying to rid herself of the Viking ghosts, who are more solid than normal ghosts. Fran ends up having a show down of sorts with Loki, the trickster Norse god, brother of Odin. 
In Circus of the Darned, Fran’s horse Tesla goes missing. Fran and Ben’s relationship is progressing slowly, but nicely. Ben seems to be in some danger that he says he can’t tell Fran about, because it’s not his secret to tell. Fran is a little happier to hang out with the GothFaire in this second book. 
We now jump ahead to the third book in Ben and Fran’s adventures, In the Company of Vampires. This book has jumped ahead five years, and Ben and Fran have been apart from each other for most of that time. I liked how Katie Macalister aged the characters, but they were still recognizable as the Ben and Fran we had already gotten to know and love. I was also excited to get more Viking ghost goodness in this installment. Fran’s mom goes missing, which leads Fran to return to GothFaire to try to find her. During her search, Fran discovers a family secret, which gives her another mystery to solve. Fran and Ben are reunited, but it seems like Ben was not as faithful to Fran during their time apart as she had been to him. 
The third book is in line with her other adult titles in this series, and others, The sexual content is increased and the sense of humor is still there. One of the things I love about Katie’s books is this universe that she has created. All of her different series exist side by side with each other. They all take place in the same universe, so different organizations and other types of otherworld citizens that have been mentioned in other series can pop up here. It wouldn’t be surprising for Ben and Fran to run into a Dragon and his mate, it didn’t happen in this book, but it could. This third book isn’t quite as fast paced as the two shorter young adult novels. Although, it does start off with a bang, I will admit to staying up too late to read the first third of the book. 
I am a huge fan of Katie Macalister, and I have 21 of her titles on my Kindle. These latest offerings, Confessions of a Vampire’s Girlfriend and In the Company of Vampires, are no exception to my love for everything Katie writes. 
I am going to give Confessions of a Vampires Girlfriend, 1 bookmark, and a PG-13 rating. Remember, this includes both Got Fangs? and Circus of the Darned.
I am going to give In the Company of Vampires, 2 bookmarks, and an R rating. 


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Harry Dresden's Night at the Museum

In Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, the seventh book in the Dresden Files, Harry Dresden has his own Night at the Museum. The baddie in this book involves necromancy, zombies and ghosts, not to mention some run-ins with the Sidhe, a black court vampire, and Warden Morgan. This book has Harry running pretty much flat out from beginning to end. 
I think this has been one of my favorite books in the series. The humor was dark, but fun. I enjoyed the break from Harry having to worry about human law enforcement. It was awesome to just see Harry letting loose, following his heart and his own conscience. There is plenty for Harry to battle in his own heart and conscience even without the bad guys mucking around. 
Murphy comes to Harry to tell him that she is going to hawaii with Kincaid, the mercenary from previous books. He wrestles with his jealousy over that. He also has family to worry about now, in the form of Thomas, his half-brother and vampire of the White Court. There is also a friend in danger, Butters, the M.E. that Harry has gotten to know. 
Harry visits the Field Museum in Chicago, too bad it wasn’t a more pleasurable trip. The Field Museum is amazing, reading about it here makes me want to go visit again. In many of the books in this series, they don’t really flaunt that they take place in Chicago. Dresden will often refer to Chicago as his city, his territory to defend. This is the first book I can remember really reveling in some of the things that make Chicago unique. 
Butcher also delves a little more into the mystery around the coin that Harry was given in a previous book, and what, if any effect the coin is having on his life. There was a lot that happened in this book. I love that Butcher doesn’t shy away from big changes, from moving the story forward. He doesn’t rely on a mystery of the book and a formula. There is a certain formula to the books, the big bad guy has changed in pretty much every book, but it serves the purpose of teaching the reader more about Dresden’s world. The Dresden Files universe is very complex, and it needs to unfold a little bit at a time to avoid becoming overwhelming. 
I am going to give Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, 1 bookmark.  It was a welcome return to things I love about the series, after my slight disappointment in book six.