Posts Tagged ‘Vampires’

Best New Books of 2014: Allison D’s Picks

December 9, 2014

These are some of my favorite books that were published this year. You will probably notice that I not only love a well-written series, but that my reading interests vary across many genres. I enjoy juvenile books, graphic novels, romance, science fiction, fantasy, and I have a love-hate relationship with vampire novels.

Born of FuryBorn of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Born of Fury is the seventh installment in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s science fiction romance series, The League, and is one of my favorites. Like J.R. Ward, Kenyon picks up where she left off, catching you up on your favorite characters while also focusing in on a particular couple. Hauk is a trained warrior from his planet of Andarion. He is also a member of the Sentella, a group now openly in war against The League, along with friends whom he considers his family. Sumi Antaxas, a League assassin, is assigned to target Hauk. What she believes to be a simple task becomes increasingly entangled as she becomes a captive of her target. There is intrigue, adventure, action, and romance in this fast-paced fantasy novel. In any science fiction novel, there is a thin-line that an author must walk in order to build a believable world separate from our own while also retaining some mystery and not boring the reader from minute details. Kenyon demonstrates this in her League series by having a perfect balance of both.

Escape from LucienAmulet, Vol. 6: Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi
This may be a graphic novel series, and intended for a younger audience, but there is something in it for everyone. The Amulet series is a fast-paced, exciting adventure; each volume of which I devoured in one sitting. Emily, her brother Navin, and their friends are hurtling on a journey towards battling the Elf King. In order to survive, Emily has to keep her wits about her, find a way to trust the other Stone Keepers she meets along with way, and keep her family safe. In the most recent edition, Escape from Lucien, Emily has to team up with an enemy while attempting to get her friends and brother out of the city of Lucien alive. It ends with a huge cliff-hanger but, in a series that is so fun to read, I cannot find it in myself to be miffed.

Shadow SpellShadow Spell by Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts is known for her romance trilogies, and this particular series has a little bit of everything; romance, of course, as well as close-knit families, Irish lore, magic, and friendships. If you have read anything by Roberts before, I found it to be a knitting together of the best parts of what I enjoyed about her Sign of Seven and Three Sisters Island trilogies. In this second installment, Connor O’Dwyer and his sister’s best friend, Meara Quinn, realize that there is a bit more between them than just friendship. They have taken their relationship for granted but when their budding romance is put to the test by the evil Cabhan waiting in the shadows they find there might be something more than just chemistry. The best part of reading a book by Nora Roberts is that I felt like I had been whisked away to small village in Ireland, with its history and long-standing inhabitants. The worst part? Having to wait seven months for the final installment to come out!

The KingThe King by J.R. Ward
The King is the 12th book in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. If you’ve never heard of the series before, I would start with the first book called Dark Lover. In The King, Ward revisits the couple from Dark Lover, Wrath and Beth. It is a different take on the vampire story and there certainly are no sparkly, vegan vampires to find in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. That being said, Ward has well-developed characters that come to life as you read further about their lives.  The King may center on Beth and Wrath, but Ward writes about the story lines of all of the other characters you have come to know and care about over the course of the series. What I love most about J.R. Ward’s series is that, in every installment, it feels as though I am stopping in for a weekend trip to check up on some friends of mine. There is a familiarity to it and a real character depth that you don’t find everywhere, especially not in romance series, which is one of the reasons I keep coming back for more!

The Mark of the Midnight ManzanillaThe Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig
I have been reading the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig for what feels like forever, each year eagerly awaiting the next addition to the series. The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla is the 11th book in the series, not counting various novellas related to the assortment of colorful characters. If you are a fan of historical fiction set in the Napoleonic Era, with a dash of romance, some intrigue, spies, and lots of absurd humor then read this series. This book is, according to the author, the second to last book in the series. It follows the mysterious Duke of Belliston, Lucien, and Sally Fitzhugh. When a vampire novel that is all the rage in society sparks a rumor that Lucien is, in fact, a vampire, Sally must help Lucien solve the murder of a woman found dead at a party with the appearance of vampire bites on her neck. I enjoyed the absurdity that such a rumor sparked in the stuffy society setting and the hilarity that ensued as the two of them were thrown together to solve this strange murder mystery. The fact that Willig was making a jab at the current vampire craze in literature was an added bonus.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

April 10, 2014

Libriomancer by Jim C. HinesWhat’s not to love in a book about magic wielding librarians versus evil vampires?! I’m a sucker for a good Urban Fantasy novel with plenty of action, and this one delivers. I also enjoy books about books and books that make me laugh out loud. It’s rare that I find a book that hits all three of these, but that’s what Jim C. Hines has done with the first book in his Magic Ex Libris series.

Isaac Vainio works as a librarian and cataloguer at the Copper River Library in Michigan. He catalogs books for the local library, but also for a magical group of libriomancers, known as the Porters. Libriomancers are people who have the magical ability to draw forth objects from inside books. This branch of magic was founded by none other than Johannes Gutenberg, the man who invented the printing press. But what happens when Gutenberg goes missing and vampires start attacking the Porters, leading to an all-out war which could expose all magic to the rest of the world?

Oh, and did I mention that there are as many different types of vampires as there are authors who have written about them? Yup, because in addition to the real vampires that the folklore was based on, there are breeds with different characteristics and abilities who have come from the fictional words of authors from Bram Stoker to Stephenie Meyer. Other magical creatures from books also exist in our world, such as Lena Greenwood, a motorcycle riding dryad, who helps Isaac in his adventures battling vampires and trying to figure out what’s really going on to cause this war. Fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series will certainly appreciate Isaac’s witty banter and one-liners, as well as the much larger story of book based magic.

I had heard of Jim Hines from reading about his blog posts addressing the misogynistic depiction of women on Sci-Fi & Fantasy book covers. Jim brought attention to this issue in a rather ingenious and funny manner – he posed in the same outfits and positions that the women on the book covers did. He’s even followed it up with several other “cover poses” including some with other authors and has raised money for charity. I’m so glad I finally picked up one of Jim Hines’ novels and will definitely be reading the sequel, Codex Born.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

October 3, 2013

Homeless and jobless after a disastrous affair in Raleigh, Zoë Norris is in New York City trying to put her life back together. She has the housing situation under control. Next step: a job. When she sees an ad seeking writers for a travel guide (her specialty), she can’t believe her luck. Never mind that the job was posted in the strangest, seediest book store she’s ever seen and that her potential boss seems reluctant to even interview her – she needs that job and is determined to have it. Finding out her new boss is a vampire and that her new co-workers would feed on her if they could gives her pause… but only for a minute. Now that she knows about the coterie (the politically correct term – they are NOT monsters), she sees them everywhere – water sprites, zombies, death goddesses – and the truth is, this new world is a welcome distraction from her lost life in Raleigh. There’s so much to learn, and she doesn’t want to close the door on all that possibility, even if it might be safer.

Each chapter begins with an entry from the travel guide Zoë is writing for the coterie. It is exactly what you’d expect from a travel guide for non-humans – where to get business guidance (from the crows – bring breadcrumbs) and money (from the ravens near Wall Street), travel hotspots such as the sewers and the ancient Tree of Life at Rockefeller Center, where to stay (oversized coterie such as dragons are directed to MoMA) and where to eat. Integral to the story (not to mention funny and charming), these are not to be missed.

The Shambling Guide to New York City is a wild, fun ride in which Zoë takes on an incubus and any number of hunger-crazed zombies, golems and other imagination-tickling entities with humor and pluck. I’m looking forward to her next adventure, which – naturally – will be in New Orleans.

Mur Lafferty will appear with other Speculative Fiction authors at North Regional Library on October 8, and Cameron Village Regional Library on October 10; visit our website for more details and to see which other authors will appear.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book One by Clay & Susan Griffith

September 30, 2013

We’re pleased to re-post this book review from last year in anticipation of the authors visiting our libraries again soon:

The Greayfriar: Vampire Empire Book OneEver since Bram Stoker popularized the vampire novel with Dracula, other authors have added to the myths & lore of the nosferatu. The husband and wife writing team of Clay & Susan Griffith have continued this tradition with the vampires in their novels. These vampires prefer cold, or at least cool, climates, they have clans with “noble” rulers, they do cast a reflection in a mirror, and while they don’t turn into bats, they can fly. They are also not undead humans nor do they turn humans into vampires by biting them, although they do feed on them.

The Greyfriar is also much more than just a vampire novel. As of the year 2020, the war between vampires and humans has been going on for 150 years, since 1870 when the bloodthirsty monsters rose up against mankind and laid waste to the great civilizations of the Northern hemisphere. Descendants of Britain’s leaders have relocated to Alexandria, Egypt, and The United State’s power is now consolidated in Central America. So, because history has taken quite a different path since just after the Civil War, this is also a novel of alternate history. And, because humanity had to spend time re-organizing and relocating the former powers of the north in the equatorial regions, technology has not yet surpassed that of the steam age. The great powers of Equatoria and America both possess flying airships and for weapons cannons, Gatling guns, pistols and swords are all used. Thus, this novel is also in the Steampunk genre.

In the story Princess Adele travels under royal guard (by airship, of course) to the borderlands of the north. The trip is one of goodwill with the borderlands, as it has been arranged that Adele will marry (pompous) war hero Senator Clark of America, a marriage that will tie the two great powers together and make them both stronger than they could ever be alone. This is the first time Adele has been this far north and her airship is attacked by a great number of vampires. Most of the guards and crew are killed as the ship is grounded and Adele is saved by the swashbuckling hero of legend: the Greyfriar. She is now stuck behind enemy lines and only the Greyfriar’s great skill at fighting and his knowledge of the countryside allow them to escape.

Soon, Adele is captured by Cesare, younger son of the vampire king Dmitri. His older brother Gareth – an unusually intelligent, refined and curious vampire – lays claim to the prisoner and treats Adele with a kindness that she initially distrusts. When the clans start clamoring for renewed war, Adele is taken into Scotland, where the benevolent Gareth’s castle lies. Gareth and Adele gradually get to know each other and she reluctantly comes to think of him as more than a monster. In fact, much of the later part of the novel is reminiscent of the story of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. So, in addition to being a steampunk, alternate history, vampire tale, there’s a bit of romance thrown in too. I certainly enjoyed this first book in the Vampire Empire series, and hope you will too.

Clay & Susan Griffith will appear with other Speculative Fiction authors at Southeast Regional Library on October 2 and at Eva Perry Regional Library on October 13; visit our website for more details and to see which other authors will appear.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

April 16, 2013

I’m not sure what I expected when I started reading Insatiable by Meg Cabot. Maybe I felt something along the lines of ‘No! Not another vampire novel!’ But perhaps Cabot feels the same way. Meena, the protagonist, is tired of hearing/writing/talking about vampires. Imagine her disbelief when she discovers they are not only real, but her new boyfriend is the prince of darkness himself. Not that Meena is normal herself…

Meena is able to predict the way every person she meets will die. Relieved that this isn’t the case when she meets Lucien, she doesn’t realize this very fact will embroil her in the middle of a load of vampire trouble. Lucien is in town from Romania, visiting his cousin, to solve the mystery of who is draining girls and leaving their bodies all over New York City.  Meena stumbles into a power struggle between Lucien and his brother, Dimitri, and unknowingly gets herself placed in the middle of their battle.

There is something for vampire lovers and haters alike in this novel. Meena spends a great deal of time abusing ‘monster misogyny’ of vampire culture. She even finds the concept of vampires laughable. Add in a fanatical, sword-wielding, vampire hunter named Alaric Wulf, a yappy Pomeranian mix named Jack Bauer who doubles as a vampire dog, Meena’s nosy neighbor Mary Lou (also a vampire), and Meena’s unemployed brother Jon, and amusement abounds.

The humor and major cheese factor kept me laughing the whole time! What a great approach to mix up the normal, overly dramatic, vampire novel!

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith

October 15, 2012

Meet the author! As part of our Haunted Happenings series of ghostly events for adults, Clay Griffith will be at Cameron Village Regional Library on Thursday, October 18 at 7 p.m. Please call 919-856-6710 to RSVP or for more information.

Ever since Bram Stoker popularized the vampire novel with Dracula, other authors have added to the myths & lore of the nosferatu. The husband and wife writing team of Clay & Susan Griffith have continued this tradition with the vampires in their novels. These vampires prefer cold, or at least cool, climates, they have clans with “noble” rulers, they do cast a reflection in a mirror, and while they don’t turn into bats, they can fly. They are also not undead humans nor do they turn humans into vampires by biting them, although they do feed on them.

The Greyfriar is also much more than just a vampire novel. As of the year 2020, the war between vampires and humans has been going on for 150 years, since 1870 when the bloodthirsty monsters rose up against mankind and laid waste to the great civilizations of the Northern hemisphere. Descendants of Britain’s leaders have relocated to Alexandria, Egypt, and The United State’s power is now consolidated in Central America. So, because history has taken quite a different path since just after the Civil War, this is also a novel of alternate history. And, because humanity had to spend time re-organizing and relocating the former powers of the north in the equatorial regions, technology has not yet surpassed that of the steam age. The great powers of Equatoria and America both possess flying airships and for weapons cannons, Gatling guns, pistols and swords are all used. Thus, this novel is also in the Steampunk genre.

In the story Princess Adele travels under royal guard (by airship, of course) to the borderlands of the north. The trip is one of goodwill with the borderlands, as it has been arranged that Adele will marry (pompous) war hero Senator Clark of America, a marriage that will tie the two great powers together and make them both stronger than they could ever be alone. This is the first time Adele has been this far north and her airship is attacked by a great number of vampires. Most of the guards and crew are killed as the ship is grounded and Adele is saved by the swashbuckling hero of legend: the Greyfriar. She is now stuck behind enemy lines and only the Greyfriar’s great skill at fighting and his knowledge of the countryside allow them to escape.

Soon, Adele is captured by Cesare, younger son of the vampire king Dmitri. His older brother Gareth – an unusually intelligent, refined and curious vampire – lays claim to the prisoner and treats Adele with a kindness that she initially distrusts. When the clans start clamoring for renewed war, Adele is taken into Scotland, where the benevolent Gareth’s castle lies. Gareth and Adele gradually get to know each other and she reluctantly comes to think of him as more than a monster. In fact, much of the later part of the novel is reminiscent of the story of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. So, in addition to being a steampunk, alternate history, vampire tale, there’s a bit of romance thrown in too. I certainly enjoyed this first book in the Vampire Empire series, and hope you will too.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2011: Mary P.’s Picks

December 13, 2011

Hi again from Mary P.  Last week you may have read  about the best books I’ve read published in 2011, take a look at some books published previously that I discovered this year and loved.  I’ve especially enjoyed discovering some authors that have been around a while and read both their old and new material.

At Home: A Short History of a Private Life by Bill Bryson
This is the year I discovered Bill Bryson.  For many of you, this may be old news, but Bill Bryson is great.  I read four of his books this year, and some, like At Home, are quite thick.  Bryson writes nonfiction with a humorous slant that usually involves some aspect of his life.  In At Home, Bryson covers the vast history of human homes and houses based around the history of his own home in rural England.  This book is packed full of unusual stories and fascinating tidbits on human history ranging from the evolution of the meaning “room and board” to why we have salt and pepper on our kitchen tables.  All the while, Bryson packs in this information with his trademark style that will leave you laughing and amazed.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer by Seth Grahame-Smith
Abraham Lincoln has be the subject of many books.  This is the first that images the Civil War as a bigger battle and Lincoln as a key factor in the defeat of the vampire scourge in America.  Seth Grahame-Smith is no stranger to the reworking of a famous idea into something novel (pun intended) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer does not fail to satisfy.  In Grahame-Smith’s world, young Abe loses his mother to the Vampiric plague and vows to fight back by killing every vampire he can find.  This decision takes Abraham forward towards presidency in a world where the history mirrors the one we know, but also shows a hidden world that we never knew could exist.

Unbroken: A World War II story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption  by Laura Hillenbrand
Unbroken has been on the New York Times best sellers list for 51 weeks. One more and it’ll be a year.  Can it really be that good?  My answer is unequivocally yes.  Hillenbrand tells the amazing story of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner turned World War II airman.  His story is itself almost beyond belief; it alters the idea of the limits of human survival and strength.  However, the power of the story is complemented by Hillenbrand’s excellent storytelling.  The book at time literally took my breath away and deserves the praises it has received.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is being made into a movie.  I am super excited about this as it is one of my favorite books.  However, I am a little tense, because the movie comes out in January and I want everyone to read the book before they see the movie.  This book is so heartening, so poignant, so beautiful that I want everyone to experience it as it is before seeing the movie changes how it is read.  The book centers around Oskar Schell, a nine year old pacifist and physicist who excels at tambourine.  After losing his father in the attacks on September 11, 2001, Oskar finds a single key among his father’s things. With only the clue of “Black” written on the key, Oskar sets off on a mission to find the keys home and discover more about his father.

Black out and All Clear by Connie Willis
I also discovered Connie Willis this past year.  She has been an award winning Science Fiction writer for years.  Her two newest books, Black Out and All Clear, are just as celebrating; she won both of Science Fiction’s highest honors, the Nebula and Hugo Awards for best novel (it’s really one story split over two books).  Set in Oxford in 2060, three historian are traveling back in time to London during the Blitz of World War II.  Sent back in time to study the past directly, their presence is not suppose to change history.  Yet when their portals back to the future are not working, all three must find each other and find how to get back in time before they cause something disastrous like the outcome of the war.

If any of these titles interesting you, they are linked to the Wake County Public Libraries catalog so you can find them at the libraries.  And if you have read any, please feel free to add your opinion in the comments (but only if you agree with me…Just kidding).

Soulless by Gail Carriger

November 18, 2011

Alexia Tarabotti is the soul of formality and fits with the most proper set in Victorian London.  Well, as well as any soulless spinster with much too much Italian blood and much too great of an appetite possibly can. In a Victorian London where vampires set the social standings and werewolves run her majesty’s empire, being a supernatural is not that extraordinary.  Yet, being soulless is something of an oddity.  And when vampires and werewolves around London start disappearing, Alexia starts to garner some interest.  Lord Maccon, a loud, messy, gorgeous, improper werewolf, is sent to investigate at the queen’s request.  Fur flies (sometimes literally) when Alexia and Lord Maccon come together to solve this supernatural mystery.

I have to admit when describing this book to friends, I am the tiniest bit embarrassed at first.  People start to get the look, “You’re an adult reading a vampire-werewolf-romance-fantasy.”  But, as I insist to my judgemental friends, this book is different.  This book is good.  So good I succumbed and have read the entire series.  And the rest of the books are just as delightful, funny, and charming as the first in the series. Gail Carriger has create as supernatural romance series that even I, an avowed supernatural cynic, enjoy.   Now I must wait for the newest book to be published.   So I encourage you, dear readers, do not be frighten or ashamed of reading and enjoying Soulless.  It has a librarian’s approval.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness

November 1, 2011

In the dark reaches of the Oxford’s Bodleian library is the mysterious alchemical manuscript named Ashmole 782.  It has been missing for 100 years, unreachable by the strongest witches, vampires, and daemons.  The day scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly requests Ashmole 782 is the day her life changes.  Not only does the manuscript answer her call, but it reveals its secrets to her.  When she has finished her study of it, she sends it back and the magical community goes berserk.   Each faction wants it for themselves and will “recruit” Diana to their individual causes to get it.  Witches think they have the upper hand because Diana is the last in the line of a powerful witch bloodline, but she rejected her heritage long ago.  Diana is reluctantly drawn into a war that has been raging for centuries.  Will she be able to continue living her “normal” life, or will she need to reconnect with her heritage in order to survive?  And who is this Matthew Clairmont and why has he volunteered to be her body guard?

In an age when witch/vampire books are a dime a dozen, this book stands out because it is clever.  The plot is intricate and intriguing, the characters are fascinating and multi-faceted, and the writing is full of atmosphere and detailed imagery.   Just as Ashmole 782 revealed its secrets to its reader, Deborah HarknessA Discovery of Witches will for you.

Find and reserve a copy in our catalog.

The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon

December 28, 2010

Reading this aptly-titled graphic novel is a lot like coming back home and reconnecting with an old friend. I’m not sure how someone who is not already a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series would approach this novel: I’m too immersed in the history of Joss Whedon’s universe to truly be able to view it from the outside. It does jump right into the storyline without much explanation of the dense Buffy cosmology, so if you are unfamiliar with the show, you would be missing a lot of back-story. With that said, I’m of the opinion that anything Whedon has even sneezed at is worth giving a chance at least once.

The Long Way Home truly is the start of the eighth season of the television show. If you watched the show years ago, I strongly recommend taking a look– even if graphic novels are not your cup of tea. I usually don’t read graphic novels: something about the way the story moves through the panels seems to disagree with my delicate sensibilities. This novel is different. I simply couldn’t put it down. In some ways, I even prefer this format to the TV show, in that Joss Whedon is no longer hampered by budgetary constraints. Scary monsters actually look scary, unlike the TV show with its occasionally silly monster makeup and costuming. The art is fantastic and the characters are drawn older but true to the original actors.

In a way, I feel like this installment reintroduced me to characters I’d come to love. Maybe most importantly, it retains Whedon’s signature wit and snappy dialogue. Highly recommended for fans and anyone who wants to see what all the hullaballoo is about.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.


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