Books I Read, Vol 43

Dec 24, 2017 | Books I Read

Nice vampires finish last, three legged ghost cat, and whiny highlander is less whiny than his whiny highlander brother.

RR: A Girl’s Guide to Vampires

Author: Katie MacAlister

Series: Dark Ones #1

Tags: paranormal, cheerful vampire, vampire doesn’t win, carnival, humorous

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay.

I had forgotten that I had already read this one. The first time was because my podcast cohost Ilana recommended it to me at least a year ago.

Fast forward to present day, and I am approaching the M’s in my audiobook challenge.

I’m happy to say that I look forward to the rest of the MacAlister audiobooks in the OverDrive library. This book is funny, light hearted, cute, and not at all offensive. So yay!

Have I mentioned that vampire novels can be split up into two very distinct categories? There are just as many cheerful, humorous vampire series out there as angsty serious ones.

Cheerful Vampires:

  • Though he has the weight of centuries of anguish and loneliness on his shoulders, he seems like a pretty nice, chill guy.
  • 80% chance of Consenty Scenes: the lady’s an active participant, may even instigate, normal practical things like birth control may be mentioned
  • Vampires don’t kill people in order to eat, no! Nooo! How can you think that? He hasn’t killed anyone in years! And when he did, he felt really bad about it.
  • Humor! The girl has spunk, makes funny jokes in her head. Perhaps even slapstick! Playfully pokes at the vampire genre in general.

Angsty Vampires:

  • Urrrg, omg, he has feelings, but he is a goddamn man about them. As in, he never says anything, just lets random artifacts and side characters explain them for him.
  • Falls in love instantly. Insta-love consumes him very soul. He must have her. Non-consenty scenes ensue. Like, maybe, if he was less hot and not a vampire, she would have petitioned for a restraining order.
  • Killing’s probably fine. It’s a 50/50 toss up whether or not he’s a psychopath.
  • 85% chance that you want to punch the heroine in the face. Either too prickly to the point where she might want to try anger management classes, or she’s soft and feminine and docile like some soggy Marilyn Monroe cardboard cut out.
  • He most likely bonds with her without her knowledge or consent, and then is in her head all damn day.

This book is hilariously tongue-in-cheek about the whole vampire thing: two single girls visit an East European country in the hopes of tracking down the reclusive author of a series of sexy vampire novels. The sidekick, Roxie, has read every book, knows all the vampire lore (the helpful Hermione of the group), and has a hard time separating the books from reality. Luckily, vampires end up being real, so she turns out to be super helpful in the little mystery to figure out who the vampire is.

Joy, the main character, is very practical about all this. I liked when she started experiencing the mind-meld with mysterious vampire, and she said to herself,

“Given what I have been experiencing, I either have to believe that vampires are real or drop myself off at the nearest looney bin. I choose option 1.”

Good for you! I hate it when the characters either give in too quickly as mind melding with a vampire is nothing too special, or just can’t get over that hump of suspension of disbelief. They sound like a broken record, it’s boring, and it separates us from the rest of the story.

The best part of this book, though, is the consent. Consenty all stars! Woohoo!

It’s almost a straight up trolling of Christine Feehan’s Carpathian series, (Dark Prince is the first book). It’s all essentially the same mythos, except for one big, startlingly refreshing difference:

She can say no.

He’s all up in her mind, sending her sexy dreams, saying “you are my Beloved. You must be mine.”

Her response?

“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not into you that way.”

Excellent! Angsty vampire books always have heroines that just go with the flow. The vampire claims he owns her and she’s just like, okay. But this one has some room for choice! How refreshing!

You see, Joy met another man while solving the vampire mystery, and though he’s a regular ol’ human, she likes him better. So she says no to the vampire. And the vampire listens to her, though it may doom him to hell.

Everyone gets gold stars today!

The first book ends with the vampire NOT getting the girl, yet NOT a villain. Just a friendly acquaintance that these two girls treat as a brother.

Lots of questions remain unanswered. The vampire’s powers and history are largely a mystery. But it’s kind of fun that way, so good for everyone!

Sex and the Single Vampire

Author: Katie MacAlister

Series: Dark Ones #2

Tags: paranormal, vampires, ghosts, mismatched eyes, limp

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!

These books are getting better!

Or, at least from book 1 to book 2.

Christian, the single, pleasant vampire is back, and this time he does get the girl. Good for him.

Joy, Roxie and Raphael also make an appearance as cute supporting characters.

At the end of the last book, I was really worried that Roxie would be the main character for the next book, and THANK GOD she wasn’t. She is so annoying. She is more irritating in this book, not that I mean she has changed at all in the first book. She’s kind of like that buzzing sound you hear while you are working, and at first you’re like, “huh, a buzzing sound” until you become “FUCK YOU AND DIE BUZZING SOUND I WILL DESTROY YOU.”

And, if you thought we were done with cute supporting characters, just wait till you meet the ever-growing ragtag cast of plucky ghosts! The shenanigans! The hijinks! Our heroine just keeps adding more as she goes.

As for the heroine herself? Meh. She started out promising, as a misfit ghost catcher, but I kind of lost interest after a while. She has some trust issues from an abusive ex-husband, and I don’t know, I wasn’t really sold on the drama of it. I’d rather her be a plucky, wise cracking know-it-all without the baggage.

The one thing that her PTSD did do, however, was ramp up the consentiness of this book. Yay! Consenty Wonderland! Throughout the elaborate bonding process, Christian makes it clear that they will go as far as she wants and no farther.

The ghost lore was pretty interesting, and it was fun to see the mythical elements of this world expand. I like the way MacAlister weaves in her world building. It’s not withheld unnecessarily, and it’s not heaped on us in the beginning. The characters learn through asking questions, like a normal, inquisitive person would do. I just hate it when female characters meet a vampire or whatever and don’t ask the necessary questions, like, “hey, what’s this mate bonding thing?”


Some things are still a mystery. Some of my favorite parts with Christian is when he does something like make a ghost disappear with the flick of his hand, and when she asks about it, he only shrugs, “It’s a Dark One thing.”

Christian: awww, what a sweetheart. He was so cute and cuddly.

On to the next!

Hard Hearted Highlander

Author: Julia London

Series: Highland Grooms #3

Tags: highlanders!, arranged marriage, ruined woman

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!


After reading the first two books of this series, my general impression of London’s style is:

Angsty heroes who are winey babies and ruin Highlander fantasies by wearing icky wigs.


Ughhh wigs! And the battle of Culloden. I had more than my share of that from the Outlander series thankyouverymuch.


Now, when I say I like Highlander novels, I’m not really saying I like novels that reference the actual history of a group of people that have been consistently oppressed by the English.


That shit’s depressing.

Listen, when I ask for Highlander novels I’m asking for kilt-wearing, Gaelic-swearing, log-throwing, pony-tail-wearing, nondescript-time-period-living alpha-lairds that only speak quaintly gruff words while they throw unsuspecting lasses onto their horses. I love the small town politics of clans. I love keep makeovers.

If I wanted some real stuff I would read anything other than romance.


This series is set in that freaking time period before and after the Jacobite rising. So, yeah, a point against it.


And that time period has wigs. And fuuuuck wigs, am I right?

The second book really turned me off because the hero was such a whiney little bitch.


So I guess my expectations were low because, I liked this one!


Yes, the heroine was not a spoiled brat (book #1), and the hero was not a whiney baby unable to make any change (book#2). I mean, he is whiney, as all Angsty Heroes are, but I was very proud of him when he took steps to make his own family and win over his love. Good for you!

Our hero is betrothed to a silly little English chit as some part of a land deal, and he does not want to go through with it. The chit’s companion is our heroine, a ruined spinster that eloped and was caught and now lives a sad, hopeless existence.

Rabbie lost a fiance, so both of the characters have experienced loss and grief. But, of course, the hero just moans about it and does nothing, while she’s doing shit, trying to stop this farce of a wedding.


So, no points for being an adult for most of the book.

His only redemption is in the end, when our heroine doesn’t want to marry him because she’s barren. So he finds two orphans and is like “You want a damn family? BAM! Here’s your damn family!”


Good for him! Doing something other than whining! …Damn, my expectations are low.


Also, once again, there was a lot of insouciance. No one cares about anything SO HARD!

If there was a contest to see who doesn’t give a fuck the most
I wouldn’t win cause I don’t give a fuck about winning yo
I don’t even give a fuck about not giving a fuck,
So I do give a fuck… wait, what?

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