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Listen Up! Dark Divide, Badlands Witch, and Immortal Conquistador by Carrie Vaughn

I’m super excited to be going back into the world of Kitty Norville for these stories about Kitty’s friends — bounty hunter, Cormac, and his witch partner Amelia, and the vampire Rick, Conquistador de la Noche and Master of Denver.

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Dark DivideTitleDark Divide and Badlands Witch
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: set in the world of Kitty Norville
Publish Date: January 28, 2020, Tantor Media
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Source
: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: In brand-new stories spun off from the New York Times Bestselling Kitty Norville series, dark mysteries push the bounds of sanity. Cormac Bennett, ex-con and former bounty hunter, is a paranormal investigator with an edge: his partner is the disembodied spirit of a Victorian wizard, Amelia Parker. Together, they solve problems no one else can.

In Dark Divide, they’re asked to investigate a mysterious death in the Sierra Nevadas: a man died of hunger —in a cabin that was fully stocked with provisions. The kicker? The cabin is located near Donner Pass, the site of the gruesomely ill-fated Donner Party, where forty men, women, and children died of exposure and starvation. The event was made famous by reports of cannibalism among the survivors. Is the Donner site haunted? Is some evil force rising again after a hundred fifty years to wreak destruction? Can Cormac and Amelia learn the truth without being caught in the web? Well, they can try…

In Badlands Witch, Cormac and Amelia travel to South Dakota, where an archeologist has hired them to examine an artifact for possible magical qualities. Cormac is skeptical, Amelia is intrigued. And it turns out – the whole thing is a trap. Cormac used to make his living killing monsters, and he made more than a few enemies back in the day. Who from his past is out for revenge, and can he and Amelia survive?

These stories are published separately as Kindle novellas but together in audio.

Immortal ConqistadorTitle: Immortal Conquistador
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: set in the world of Kitty Norville
Publish Date: April 28, 2020, Tantor Media
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: From Carrie Vaughn, author of the beloved Kitty Norville werewolf talk-show host series, comes the vampire origin story of Kitty’s famed ally, Rick-and his sudden turn to darkness in the seventeenth century.

More than 500 years before his friendship with Kitty, noble Ricardo de Avila’s life met a fate-changing twist, and his morally-complex, blood-soaked existence as an immortal began. Before being turned, Ricardo de Avila would have followed Coronado to the ends of the earth. Instead he found the end of his mortal life-and a new one, as a renegade vampire. For over five hundred years as an immortal, Ricardo has followed his own moral code, upsetting the established order in the demon world. He has protected his found family from marauding evil, joined up with a legendary gunslinger, tended bar, appointed himself the Master of Denver, and discovered a church buried under the Vatican. The life of a vampire is frequently long, but for Rick, it is never easy.

DEFINITE spoilers beyond this point.


Talk bubble for IvanaInvested Ivana says…

Story: In Dark Divide and Badlands Witch, we get to know more about Ben’s cousin, Cormac, and Cormac’s partner, the 19th-century witch, Amelia, who hitched a ride in his head while he was in prison. Since Cormac can no longer pursue his career as a bounty hunter, he and Amelia start investigating paranormal events and, of course, find lots of trouble.

I enjoy their adventures very much. The contrast in their voices and perspectives is interesting, and seeing the incredibly closed-off Cormac from inside his own head is enlightening. He’s a tough nut to crack in Kitty’s stories, and though he’s a beloved character, readers don’t really get to know him. Seeing him open up in these stories, even if it’s because he doesn’t have a choice to do otherwise, is a cool bit of character development.

I couldn’t help myself, though. Everyone once in a while as I was reading, I had to whisper to myself, “back in bowl” the way Richard Libertini says it in All of Me (1984). Yeah, I know. I’m old and that’s an old reference. But oh, so appropriate.

The Immortal Conquistador is both a flashback novel and forward character development for Rick, the reluctant vampire. He’s another interesting character in Kitty’s world—which, in all honesty, is filled with interesting characters. Readers get to follow Rick through periods in history as he contemplates his origins and how they made him the perfect agent for a secret papal army fighting the supernatural baddies of the world.

I really enjoyed this novel, but it also left me with more questions. This novel didn’t tell us how Rick came to be a part of the Denver group of vampires after he refused to do so several times over (though it’s been a while since I read the Kitty series, and if it’s told there, I forget). Also, will we see more of Rick in his new role as a Vatican-sanctioned vampire? Perhaps pursuing the new information we learned about Dux Bellorum? I’d read that for sure. Maybe the upcoming October release, Kitty’s Mix Tape, will touch on some of these.

And as long as I’m asking, how about a novel about Odessus Grant, the magician Kitty meets in Vegas with the magic box behind which I like to imagine the Old Gods lurks? I am super curious about his character and would love to learn more about him.

Narration: I am pleasantly surprised by the narration by Neil Hellegers, not having heard him before. I wasn’t sure at first if Hellegers sounded like Cormac to me, but as with any new narrator, it just took me time to align the character and the voice in my head. I see Hellegers narrates the Black Magic Outlaw series by Domino Finn, which is in my TBR list, and J.P. Sloan’s Dark Choir series, which I’ve read and reviewed but not heard, so I’ll have to pull those out soon.

badge5v5Overall: I think I would read any story set in Kitty’s world, whether it was about Kitty or her many interesting acquaintances. Vaughn has created a rich world full of magic and mayhem that could support thousands of stories. Sign me up for all of them!

Kitty’s Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn

We have finally reached the end of our Kitty Norville read along that began in January. Because one can never have enough of Kitty Norville, we end with Kitty’s Greatest Hits, which collects together all of the short stories and novellas in Kitty’s world, and gives us two new stories, one of which is what happened to Cormac and Amelia in prison!

Kittys Greatest HitsTitle:  Kitty Saves the World
Author:  Carrie Vaughn
SeriesKitty Norville anthology
Publish Date: August 16, 2011
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe first-ever story collection from the New York Times bestselling author, including two all-new works!

Kitty Norville, star of a New York Times bestselling series, is everybody’s favorite werewolf DJ and out-of-the-closet supernatural creature. Over the course of eight books she’s fought evil vampires, were-creatures, and some serious black magic. She’s done it all with a sharp wit and the help of a memorable cast of werewolf hunters, psychics, and if-notgood- then-neutral vampires by her side. Kitty’s Greatest Hits not only gives readers some of Kitty’s further adventures, it offers longtime fans a window into the origins of some of their favorite characters.

In “Conquistador de la Noche,” we learn the origin story of Denver’s Master vampire, Rick; with “Wild Ride,” we find out how Kitty’s friend T.J. became a werewolf; and in “Life is the Teacher,” we revisit Emma, the human-turned-unwilling-vampire who serves the aloof vampire Master of Washington, D.C.

This entertaining collection includes two brand-new works: “You’re On the Air,” about one of Kitty’s callers after he hangs up the phone; and the eagerly awaited “Long Time Waiting,” the novella that finally reveals just what happened to Cormac in prison, something every Kitty fan wants to know.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

In this collection of supernaturally-charged-up characters, Kitty’s not the only voice needing to be heard. This book is filled with stories involving Rick, Cormac, Amelia, Emma, and several others in the Kitty-verse.

I really enjoyed this anthology. It shares some of the juicy details you don’t get to hear through Kitty’s point of view, even though she asks nicely sometimes. Rick’s backstory is told and there’s a couple steamy stories featured too. Even Cormac’s adventure is prison is explained at last, not to mention a story including him and a younger Ben O’Farrell.

badge5v4Overall, definitely worth a five.

I hope you all enjoyed Kitty as much as I did!

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Kitty’s Greatest Hits give readers a great selection of stories, both in the Kitty universe and of some of our favorite characters.

Of the stories not about Kitty and her friends, I really loved The Book of Daniel and A Princess of Spain. At one point in the novels, Kitty is speculating on what historical figures might have been supernatural creatures. The biblical Daniel, of Daniel and the Lion’s Den, is one on which she speculates. Could Daniel have been a lion shifter? That might explain why the lions didn’t eat him.

A Princess of Spain tells us the story of Arthur Tudor, the sickly older brother of Henry Tudor — Henry VIII. What if Arthur’s sickness was a plot in vampire machinations? Arthur’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, and Henry discover the plot and “save” Arthur from the wicked vampire.

I also love the “origin” stories of Rick and TJ. Conquistador de la Noche reveals how Rick — Ricardo de Avila — was turned vampire in Mexico long before most European vampires came to America. Wild Ride assures us that T.J. chose to become a werewolf, but was too dominate a wolf to be comfortable in most packs.

And, of course, Long Time Waiting is the brilliant story of Cormac and Amelia’s fight against the demon haunting the prison, and how they became partners in Cormac’s head.

Actually, there aren’t any bad stories in this collection. Even the short short ones are fun. My only complaint is that I would have preferred the stories be presented in chronological order, rather than in publication order, or there was some notation of when each story took place in the timeline of the novels. That would have been helpful.  I also would have liked to see some stories about General Sherman and Odysseus Grant. 😉

badge5v4I’m very glad all the stories were collected into one volume, and that Marguarite Gavin narrated them all. Having a consistent narrator for the entire series is fantastic.  Gavin does an excellent job.

I’m super glad I took the time to reread the entire Kitty series. I rated several books higher than I did on my original read, and I’m so glad there was a resolution to the Roman story-line. Kitty is one of my favorite series. 😉

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…you might try Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, Rachel Vincent’s Shifter series, or Eileen Wilks’s World of the Lupi series.

Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn

Kat and I started rereading the Kitty Norville series back in January.  As we neared the end, I found myself biting my nails, worried about what might happen to our beloved characters.  I should have saved the manicure; Kitty Saves the World is an absolutely STUNNING ending to an amazing series.

Kitty Saves the WorldTitle:  Kitty Saves the World
Author:  Carrie Vaughn
SeriesKitty Norville Book 14
Publish Date: August 4, 2015
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Kitty Saves the World: the final novel in the New York Times bestselling Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn.

It’s all come down to this, following the discoveries made by Cormac in Low Midnight, Kitty and her allies are ready to strike. But, when their assassination attempt on the evil vampire Dux Bellorum fails, Kitty finds herself running out of time. The elusive vampire lord has begun his apocalyptic end game, and Kitty still doesn’t know where he will strike.

Meanwhile, pressure mounts in Denver as Kitty and her pack begin to experience the true reach of Dux Bellorum’s cult. Outnumbered and outgunned at every turn, the stakes have never been higher for Kitty. She will have to call on allies both old and new in order to save not just her family and friends, but the rest of the world as well.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

This book is action-packed and a brilliant ending to a great series. The final battle emerges as Kitty gathers her allies – even as some of them fall away and disappear, like Angelo and her pack for a brief time – to battle the ancient vampire Roman and his shadowy demon “friend.” Sure, there are losses on both sides, but isn’t that the way of saving the world?

One thing that I didn’t expect to like from this series is how very human it is despite the fictional premise. Kitty’s a werewolf – but she’s also very human and although she’s got the advantages of a werewolf’s strength, she also has the human morals that tend to guide the story throughout fifteen different books. I think even without her lycanthrope genes, she’d be great as a human leader in this supernatural battle. I really enjoy how she views the world and how she continues to feel compassion, love, and fierceness through every situation.

This book brings back a few familiar faces as it ties everything up nicely. I won’t get too spoilery about what happens, but the action is intense and non-stop as Kitty tries to stop Roman one way, fails, and then gets into more trouble as the book progresses toward a gut-wrenching ending. Saving the world? Kitty almost makes it look easy!

I’ve enjoyed my time re-reading most of this series, and coming together to read the ones I hadn’t gotten a chance to yet. It’s one of the first-ever urban fantasy books I picked up and I really, really hope everyone can share in to our love of this good-natured and funny werewolf named Kitty. I want to personally thank all of our participants and everyone who has enjoyed our reviews. Your support means everything!

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

As the big ending to a big series, Kitty Saves the World is SUPERB! It honestly blew me away and left me grinning. I’m so impressed by the way Vaughn is able to bring elements or characters from every single book into the ending, even those events or books I didn’t care much for at the time I read them (*cough*RickleavingDenver*cough*). All the time Kitty has spent winning allies has paid off for her, and the world, in this last novel.

I honestly don’t want to say too much about the plot in this review, because I want you to experience the same WOW feeling I had reading this book. Seriously, WOW! But, I will say one thing about it, since I KNOW there are those readers who avoid reading the last book in the series unless they know how it ends (I’m looking at you, Nell).

Yes, Virginia, there *is* an HEA.

But I’m not going to tell you what it is. So there. 😛

badge5v4I know I’m going to have to read or listen to Kitty Saves the World again, just to absorb all the happy I can from it. I still feel giddy just thinking about it! 🙂 I really hope you enjoy the series and its ending as much as I do.

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…you might try Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, Rachel Vincent’s Shifter series, or Eileen Wilks’s World of the Lupi series.

Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn

FINALLY!  Low Midnight gives readers a peak into the mind of the stoic and mysterious Cormac and his passenger and partner, Amelia.

Low MidnightTitle:  Low Midnight
Author:  Carrie Vaughn
SeriesKitty Norville Book 13
Publish Date: December 30, 2014
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Low Midnight spins out of the series on the wave of popularity surrounding Kitty’s most popular supporting character, Cormac Bennett, a two-minded assassin of the paranormal who specializes in killing lycanthropes.

In his first solo adventure, Cormac, struggling with a foreign consciousness trapped inside him, investigates a century-old crime in a Colorado mining town which could be the key to translating a mysterious coded diary… a tome with secrets that could shatter Kitty’s world and all who inhabit it.

With a framing sequence that features Kitty Norville herself, Low Midnight not only pushes the Kitty saga forward, but also illuminates Cormac’s past and lays the groundwork for Kitty’s future.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

In this exciting novel that takes place inside Kitty Norville’s world but is narrated by Cormac Bennett, we get inside the bounty hunter’s head. But of course, we’re not the only ones inhabiting the space. Now, he and Amelia have to solve a hundred-year old mystery in return for answers – answers that may or may not destroy the evil vampire Roman forever.

At first I was sad because I expected the story to be told in first-person point of view, like all the other Kitty books. Especially since Cormac is rumored to have his own series of books publishing soon, now that Kitty is technically finished. But as I read on, I realized that the third person view was kind of nice, giving both Cormac and Amelia the chance to share their thoughts.

We discover a lot more about both of them, maybe even see a softer side to Cormac, though he’s probably loathe to admit it. The story behind Amelia and the crime she supposedly committed is also revealed as the characters navigate their way to Manitou Springs, the town full of restless spirits and ancient magic.

Here, Cormac makes a deal with a magician woman. If he solves the mysteries of the ancient duel between two epic magicians, she’ll decode the book of shadows her niece left behind. It could hold the answers to stopping Roman. But Cormac doesn’t know if she’ll reveal said answers, or if there are any answers at all, which sets the whole thing up to be fishy.

badge5v4I enjoyed this one and its exploration of ancient magics. There are a lot of good vibes revolving spirits on this, as we encounter the untold history of both “wizards” and Amelia’s past. I give it a five.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

I find it very interesting that, in a story told first-person, the author has to keep track of what all the other characters are doing and thinking, even though those details don’t come out in the story in a clear, straight-forward way. Vaughn has to know what Cormac is thinking and feeling throughout the whole Kitty series so that his actions and reactions are consistent and believable. But since the story is told from Kitty’s point of view, neither Kitty nor the reader gets to see inside Cormac’s head.

Cormac is such a great character, though — all brooding and stoic, loyal and maybe still a tad in love with Kitty. And when he agrees to let the spirit of a Victorian witch, Amelia, ride sidecar in his brain, he gets even more interesting. What do they talk about? How do they negotiate their separate interests and needs? Just how does that relationship work? Carrie Vaughn knew her readers were all dying to know more about Cormac and Amelia; so, she let us into Cormac’s head for one book.

And it’s a great book! Using various plot devices, Vaughn shows us more about Cormac’s past, his time in prison, and his feelings about Kitty, Ben, and the crazy life all three of them lead. We also learn about Amelia’s past, her love affair with magic, and how she and Cormac interact and communicate with each other. While doing all that, Vaughn ALSO advances the plot of the Kitty series, since this is the penultimate installment and the big resolution is fast approaching.

I also want to mention that I’m SO glad Marguerite Gavin narrated Low Midnight.  I wondered if a male narrator might be tapped for this novel; it certainly could have been interesting.  But consistency of narrators is SO important in audio books!  Gavin’s interpretation of Cormac’s voice *IS* the voice of Cormac in my head, along with the voices of Kitty, Ben, and others.  Kudos to whoever made the decision to stay with Gavin for this novel.

badge5v4I am very impressed with all Vaughn was able to accomplish in Low Midnight, and I enjoyed it immensely. It is definitely one of my favorite books in the series.

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…you might try Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, Rachel Vincent’s Shifter series, or Eileen Wilks’s World of the Lupi series.

Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn

Things take a turn for Kitty when she’s kidnapped (again!) by people who think they have a way of getting rid of their shared nemesis, Roman – and this time for good.

Kitty in the UnderworldTitle:  Kitty in the Underworld
Author:  Carrie Vaughn
SeriesKitty Norville Book 12
Publish Date: July 30, 2013
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: As Denver adjusts to a new master vampire, Kitty gets word of an intruder in the Denver werewolf pack’s territory, and she investigates the challenge to her authority. She follows the scent of the lycanthrope through the mountains where she is lured into a trap, tranquilized, and captured. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a defunct silver mine: the perfect cage for a werewolf. Her captors are a mysterious cult seeking to induct Kitty into their ranks in a ritual they hope will put an end to Dux Bellorum. Though skeptical of their power, even Kitty finds herself struggling to resist joining their cause. Whatever she decides, they expect Kitty to join them in their plot . . . willingly or otherwise.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

I’m very fifty-fifty about this book. On the one hand, Kitty’s pretty much facing, by herself, a group of strangers who have taken her prisoner. No pack. No outside allies. Just taking on the fight and trying to win, and all by her lonesome. She has victories. She manages to escape once, but then turns around and goes back in (which frankly, I didn’t agree with). She even gets to know the secrets behind Roman’s history and how he evolved to the arch-nemesis he is now. She participates in a ritual that doesn’t go as planned…but when do things ever go as planned for our favorite alpha werewolf?

Roman’s creator and three others have acquired her to take part in said ritual that will supposedly end Roman’s life. But Kitty’s not all gun-ho on their methods and fights them pretty much every step of the way.

What I liked is the strange, albeit twist of an ending that’s going to lead more into the final two novels and the oncoming battle.

What I didn’t like is the setup of this one. Sure, Kitty gets to be a badass on her own without aid of her pack or anyone else. But that meant it was mostly just her and sometimes the story dragged as she repeatedly got kidnapped, trapped, or locked inside a room. And honestly, I wish the author would have allowed Kitty to walk away and escape. I think the plot would have been more exciting. She could have come back with her allies to figure things out. It would have thrown more conflict into the story and I think I would have enjoyed it more.

Not that I didn’t like that ending. Just the rest of it didn’t appeal to me. I think I was wanting more action this close to the end. The stuff building to the climax and the final battle. It was probably the one Kitty book I’ve enjoyed the least.

badge3v4Still, I give it a three, so it’s not like I hated it. I am, however, eager to read on and discover what Cormac’s got up his sleeve.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Much like Books 05 and 06, Kitty in the Underworld is not one of my favorite in the series. It feels like a “bottle episode;” except that the majority of the time, Kitty is with previously unknown characters.

Most of the story takes place inside an abandoned silver mine — so the setting is pretty confined and uninteresting. The characters who have kidnapped Kitty don’t talk much, except in the most obscure terms. And, once again, the plot revolves around Roman without him even being around. Because Kitty is alone a lot, there is a ton of exposition. Like Kat, I wanted to smack Kitty upside the head when she found her way out of the mine, but then went back to her kidnappers. I get that defeating Roman is important, but can we say Stockholm Syndrome?

badge3v4That being said, some really good things happen in this episode, like Kitty’s connection with the first Regina Luporum. A lot of this book is set-up for the last two books in the series, so you don’t want to skip it. It’s the same good writing, the same characters, the same world, and the same great audio narrator; it’s just isn’t one of Kitty’s more exciting adventures.

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…you might try Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, Rachel Vincent’s Shifter series, or Eileen Wilks’s World of the Lupi series.

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