Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kitty Norville Series Books #1-4

Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: Kitty Norville, Books 1-4
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station-- and a werewolf in the closet. Sick of lame song requests, she accidentally starts "The Midnight Hour," a late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged.

After desperate vampires, werewolves, and witches across the country begin calling in to share their woes, her new show is a raging success. But it's Kitty who can use some help. With one sexy werewolf-hunter and a few homicidal undead on her tail, Kitty may have bitten off more than she can chew...

Title: Kitty and the Midnight Hour
Start & Finished: 1/6/09
Published: November 1, 2005
Pages: 259 (paperback)

"Werewolves, (also known as lycanthropes) are mythological or folkloric humans with the ability to shape shift into wolves or anthropomorphic wolf-like creatures" have been the subject of stories probably since before the written word. Thanks to film and literature though, the werewolf is one of the most recognized horror icons but not that long ago, authors began to make these creatures people that actually changed into beautiful wolves. Even more recently, these types of werewolves have become quite common in paranormal romance and urban fantasy and they can almost rival vampires (and quite often do) in popularity. Carrie Vaughn is one of these authors and her heroine is a werewolf, named ironically enough Kitty Norville. She’s a radio-DJ who first got her start in Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, and several others softened me up a little bit about werewolves because I prefer (and probably always will) vampires more. There’s just something so fresh and original about Vaughn’s Kitty series though! When asked what sparked the idea for it the author replied, “I decided Dr. Laura would never be able to handle a call from a character in one of these stories, so this world needed its own call-in radio advice show. A werewolf named Kitty seemed the natural host for such a show. The story kind of exploded from there.”

Kitty and the Midnight Hour does such a good job of introducing the characters and the world that they live in. In a slight way, the book kind of reminds me of Brigg’s series but I can almost say that I like Kitty more. The idea of a werewolf talk show host is just interesting no matter how you look at it and I loved Carrie Vaughn takes female empowerment, self-discover, and prejudice to the next level without smacking you over the head with it. The author sets up a little story arc in this book so I’m curious as to what happens next!
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The country's only celebrity werewolf, late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard, not seen. But when she's invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of supernaturals, her face gets plastered on national TV. Kitty's been in hot water before, but jumping into the D.C. underworld brings a new set of problems.

And a new set of friends and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city; an ├╝ber-hot Brazilian were-jaguar; and a paranoid, Bible-thumping senator who wants to expose Kitty as a monster. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone's itching for a fight.

Title: Kitty Goes to Washington
Start & Finished: 1/7/09
Published: July 1, 2006
Pages: 358

The second book to Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series is quite a bit different from the first one. "Kitty is a werewolf who starts a talk radio advice show about the supernatural ... In [Kitty Goes to Washington], the stage gets bigger--she's the country's first werewolf celebrity and has to deal with that as well." Not to mention all of the new characters she meets during her stay in Washington and not all of them are friendly…

As I said in my review of the first one, werewolves were never really my thing even though the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton was my introduction into urban fantasy/ paranormal. Then I discovered Kelley Armstrong’s werewolves in her Women of the Otherworld series and I found that I really enjoyed them. Then Patricia Brigg’s Mercy (and Omega/ Alpha) series was my next stop into the world of the Weres, which finally led me to picking up Ms. Vaughn’s amazing Kitty series.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour was a great introduction even if the main character was a bit “spineless.” In this story, she's gained a bit more confidence in herself and it has made her more interesting. She’s always been great at giving advice and during her shows she was a totally different person than the “beaten dog (or in this case wolf)” persona that she normally adopted and now that she’s on her own it really shines through. The first book didn't really have that subtle humor that I love but Washington did so in my mind it will always be one of the best books in the series.
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All work and no play makes Kitty a dull girl . . .

After getting caught turning wolf on national television, Kitty retreats to a mountain cabin to recover and write her memoirs. But this is Kitty, so trouble is never far behind, and instead of Walden Pond, she gets Evil Dead. First someone leaves grotesque animal sacrifices on her front porch to curse her, then werewolf hunter Cormac shows up with an injured Ben O'Farrell, Kitty's lawyer, slung over his shoulder. Two hotties and one Kitty in a single-room cabin -- can the situation get more tense? When a wolf-like creature with glowing red eyes starts sniffing around the cabin, Kitty wonders if any of them will get out of these woods alive...

Title: Kitty Takes a Holiday
Start & Finished: 1/13/09
Published: April 1, 2007
Pages: 336

Starting with a bunch of short stories, author Carrie Vaughn realized she really had something with her werewolf DJ-turned-supernatural-radio-talk-show-host Kitty Norville. Now after a couple of major battles and some humiliations (one really big one), her heroine has tucked her tail and slunk away to lick her wounds in the third book Kitty Takes a Holiday (also known as Kitty Goes on Holiday). Of course being Kitty, trouble seems to follow wherever she goes…

Kitty is perhaps my favorite werewolf for many reasons not the least of which is because when she is knocked down, she somehow copes and moves on. Which is why I was so upset when I learned that due to what happened to her in Kitty Goes to Washington she essentially runs away. I also really missed the radio show aspect of the book (the author does still include a playlist at the beginning of the book like all the others in this series) as Kitty is actually taking a “holiday” from her radio show and even though she was scared, I still missed it more than she did. She's so good at what she does and it seems a terrible shame for her to hide.

To be honest, compared to the first two books, Kitty Takes a Holiday is actually somewhat dull. Many things happen that I should have found exciting (shape-shifting witches, curses, and Kitty even gets a new “pack-member”) and some are vital to the story but I really didn't find a lot of it as thrilling as I should have. In addition, though I did not like the ending nor did I really care for the romance in the book, as I didn’t want Kitty paired up so quickly, this was still a really great story. Just not really on the same level as the first two.
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Kitty's radio show is as popular as ever and she has a boyfriend who actually seems to understand her. Can she finally settle down to a normal life? Not if this is just the calm before the storm. When her mother falls ill, Kitty rushes back to Denver--and right back to the abusive pack of werewolves she escaped a year ago. To make matters worse, a war is brewing between the city's two oldest vampires, threatening the whole supernatural community. Though she wants to stay neutral, Kitty is again drawn into a world of politics and violence. To protect her family, her lover, and herself, she'll have to choose sides. And maybe become what she hates--a killer.

Title: Kitty and the Silver Bullet
Start & Finished: 1/16/09- 1/18/09
Published: January 1, 2008
Pages: 326

Kitty and the Silver Bullet is the fourth story in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series and in it, everything comes full circle… in short, Kitty is going home again. However, she isn’t the same person or wolf that she was when she left. That’s not to say that she goes looking for trouble but as usual, it seems to find her one way or the other.

When talking in an interview about Kitty the author said, “The comment I get the most is how real she is to people. People tell me that they relate to her, that they can see her as a friend. I think because she isn't totally wrapped up in being a werewolf, that isn't the be-all and end-all of her existence, she appeals to a much wider audience. It seems like most werewolf stories are all about the angst of being a werewolf, of trying to cure it, of losing control to it. That stereotypical Jekyll and Hyde dichotomy doesn't interest me at all. I made a conscious decision to say, "Okay, she's a werewolf, she's dealing with it, let's move onto to other things now…" and what “things” they are!

Just about every character that we’ve met over the course of the book makes some kind of an appearance in Kitty and the Silver Bullet and there are even some new ones thrown in too. There’s an enormous battle, but the main strengths of the story: the characters and the humour continue to shine through. This particular story arc has ended but there are quite a few more adventure for Kitty ahead and I can’t wait to find out what they are.

Kitty Norville Series
1. Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005)
2. Kitty Goes to Washington (2006)
3. Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007)
aka Kitty Goes on Holiday
4. Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2008)
5. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (2009)
6. Kitty Raises Hell (2009)

~Note: I’d like to thank Lady T from Living Read Girl for getting me a signed copy of Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

Links: Author Blog, Author Wikipedia, Character and Books Wikipedia, A Mock-up of Kitty's Radio Show (mp3)
Interviews: SFF World, Bitten By Books, McNally Robinson, Blogging the Muse, Love Vampires, Drey’s Library, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist

Picture Explanations
Radio Station:
Kitty started off as a DJ but one late night question later, she has her own supernatural radio talk show.
Wolf Pack: Kitty was the "cub" of her pack until she got her radio station....
Senate: After her radio show becomes a big success, the government begins to take her claim of being a werewolf seriously and they subpoena her.
Traveling Preacher: A preacher claims he can cure supernaturals but those that join, very few ever want to leave and Kitty finds out why!
Cabin: Almost this whole book has Kitty in the woods in the middle of nowhere.
Wolf: Even though she's in the middle of nowhere she eventually has company!
African Wild Dog: A friend of Rick the vampire's named Dack who is a Were.
Spray Bottle: Filled with holy water to war against the vampires not on Rick's side.

17 comments:

  1. I really enjoy this series for many of the reasons you mention, Jen. I really think Kitty Takes a Holiday is weakest book in the series. While I liked it, I have to agree with you. It just didn't pack the same punch as the other books. I look forward to reading what you think of the next two books in the series. :-)

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  2. I really need to read on in this series! I still have only read the first book!

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  3. I had planned to start this series, but have too many review books. My book challenges in this genre are already filled, so many next year.

    Too bad cause it sounds like a great series to start.

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  4. I love werewolves. I read this book last year based off a comment or article on your blog, Jen. I was thrilled weres were going to be center stage. However, ultimately I wound up not liking the characters. Kitty Norville was less interesting to me than Rachel Morgan. I liked the bounty hunter guy but was unconvinced of the sudden romantic link with Kitty at the end. It just wasn't for me. I did like the radio show format. That was fun.

    Great review, though. I almost want to try it again . Almost.

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  5. I really, really want to read these books!!!!

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  6. The Kitty series is a standout among the crowded urban fantasy landscape because she is such a unique character. Nice set of reviews. I'm looking forward to the next book Kitty's House of Horrors.

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  7. I have always looked the other way when it came to this series. I'm not a werewolf fan generally and I find that so many urban fantasy series are starting to blend together I forget which one is which. Also for this series, I don't like the titles. Isn't that picky of me? Geez.

    I think if I find the books in my library this summer (though I highly doubt it) I will check one out!

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  8. Wendy: Looking forward to reading them now that I finally reviewed the first four lol!

    Kailana: I really like them but I'm still not as crazy about these as say the Mercy books by Briggs.

    J. Kaye: Well, hope you enjoy them whenever you get to them!

    Paxton: I think the radio show was what made me like it so much. If it didn't have that I doubt I would have enjoyed it half as much.

    Beth F: Hope you do! They're good!

    SciFiGuy: Amen and thanks! I'm looking forward to reading the next two. She needs to release them like that more often.

    Cat: It took me forever to get into the whole werewolf thing but since they change into actual wolves I find it a lot more interesting than I normally would. Hope you do!

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  9. Wow, you are really burning through this series ! So she's your fave werewolf? I read the first, and I need to get back in the saddle with this one.

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  10. I've seen the Kitty series everywher lately! It's not my usual choice, but I may have to give one a try.

    I know I've said it before, but I have to say it again - I really like all the pics you add to your posts (not the run-of-the-mill jacket/author photos!)

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  11. Everyone seems to love this series. I'm so excited because I won the set last week. I'm a little envious of your autographed copy.

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  12. Great reviews! I had problems with Kitty being a bit wimpy as well at the beginning but she ended up being a lot stronger than I thought. I can't wait to hear what you think about the next two books in this series.

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  13. Great review. This is another of those series that I think I would love, but never seem to get around to reading.

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  14. this does sound like a good series, I tend to enjoy anything vampire related.
    Kitty sounds like an awesome character.
    great review as always.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

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  15. Carolyn Jean: At this moment she is but knowing me that will change within a month or two!

    Dawn- She is Too Fond of Books: Yeah this series is certainly making the rounds lately but I read it a few months ago. Aw! Thanks so much! I'm glad that you appreciate the pics (sometimes they're a real pain to find)!

    Bermudaonion: You could have knocked me over with a feather when Lady T sent it to me. I really hope you like them!

    Samantha.1020: Thank you! Yeah if it wasn't for the glimpses of her strength that we see in the first book I doubt I would have kept reading. I should be picking the last two up to read in the next couple of days.

    CarolsNotebook: Thanks! I hope you get a chance to read it someday!

    Naida: It is! There are a few vamps in the series but it's mainly focused on the werewolves. Thanks :)

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  16. Great reviews of the first four books! I understand your preference for vampires ... I would go for witches over weres or vamps any time :)

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  17. This looks like a great series. I have the first one and have just ordered the rest. I like having the next one ready for when I finish the first in case it is so great I have to keep reading!

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