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review 2018-06-18 16:13
"On The Prowl" by Patricia Briggs, Ellen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny
On the Prowl - Patricia Briggs,Eileen Wilks,Karen Chance,Sunny

"On The Prowl" is an urban fantasy short story collection in which each of the four authors has a story.


I bought it (despite the tacky cover art that makes me glad I'm reading the ebook version) because Debbie's Spurts told me that I should read the Patrica Briggs' prequel to her Alpha and Omega series before starting the series.


The stories by the other three authors were by way of a bonus as they are all new to me.


Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs


On her website, Patricia Briggs describes the Alpha and Omega series as:

Patricia Briggs"...set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson Series, but on a slightly earlier time line. It begins with a novella titled Alpha and Omega published in the On the Prowl anthology. The decision to continue the story was made after the anthology had already been published, which has caused some confusion, since "book 1" is a actually a continuation of the short story."

She characterises the series as placing:

"... more emphasis on the romantic attraction between the hero and heroine. On a romance-readers scale, this series is sweet rather than steamy."

While it was interesting to see more of the world the Mercy Thompson novels are set in, I was a little disappointed in this novella. The story works as a standalone. The action is well-done. I just found myself thinking: "Patricia Briggs can do much better than this."


My main problem was the lack of emotional depth. It seemed to me that the "focus on romantic attraction" translated into making other emotions take a backseat.


The main female character, Anne has been attacked, forcibly turned into a werewolf and passed around the Pack by her Alpha as a rape-toy so often that she's attempted suicide.


The main male character is a laconic, emotionally withdrawn enforcer whose job is to kill those who break his father's rules.


Perhaps I'm not widely enough read on the topic but none of this sounds romantic to me.


The idea that these two would be able to set aside trauma and learned low self-esteem on Anne's side and a long lifetime of keeping emotionally distant in order to be able to kill on command on Charles' part and find a mating bond instantly was hard to take.


The attraction was well described but it seemed to be at the price of downplaying the baggage the pair have.


I think one of the strengths of the Mercy Thompson series is that when a rape occurs there, it is not downplayed and its effects are felt for a number of books.


This story felt like "Mercy-Lite". Still, perhaps Patricia Briggs needs the novel format to do what she does. I'll read the rest of the story in the first Alpha and Omega novel and find out.


"Inhuman" by Eileen Wilks


eileen wilksThis was my first Eileen Wilks story so everything had the advantage of being new.  The world building was original and stimulating. There was a relatively complicated plot for a short story. It managed to surprise me more than once, making me revisit the meaning of the title repeatedly.


The romance part was a little plodding. The people felt half-formed and inappropriately inexperienced or inarticulate. On the cusp between cute and you've-got-to-be-kidding.


The heroine's name confused me at first as everyone I know called Kai is male. Here it's pronounced like Sigh, not Hay. It took me awhile to work out that this was Kay with innovative vowel usage. I was also unclear how I was supposed to know that Kia was Native American (other than who isn't in Urban Fantasy - being WASP is so uninteresting).


The ending was a good set up for an upcoming book but I felt it walked away from a lot of what the plot was set up to do. I'd been following a hunt for a killer and when the hunt was over the outcome left me wondering what all the look-how-awful-this-killer-is build-up was for.


Even so, I was impressed with the originality of the ideas and the pacing of the execution.


"Buying Trouble" by Karen Chance


Karen ChanceThis made me laugh and it took a turn that I really didn't see coming.

It's a fast, light read filled with fast, light violence and sex and sprinkled with slightly indignant humour.


The ending was a bit - whoops-running-out-of-space-let's-skip-to-an-epilogue for my tastes but the story was a smile and the world was original so it was worth the read.




"Mona Lisa Betwining" by Sunny


SunnyI'd wondered why there was no editorial credit for this collection. The inclusion of "Mona Lisa Betwining" suggests to me that the ommission was driven by sheer embarrassment.


It's a short story that I lacked the stamina to make it to the end of.


First, there was this set of sentences which read like a rough first-draft yet are offered as the finished product:

"He was handsome, strikingly so. Like a Greek god of old. And he was more than just a pretty face. He was my new master of arms."

A little later I dragged my mind through the following sentences and realised that this prose was too awful to live with.


"I moved toward the door but he did not step away, allow me to pass. I stopped a mere foot away and looked askance at him."


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review 2018-05-21 01:14
Good Counsel - Eileen Wilks

A deleted scene about Cullen meeting with the priest before his marriage. I don't know if it would have added much to the book, but I liked it and wish it would have remained there.

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review 2017-06-06 16:46
Unbinding - Eileen Wilks

I was so glad this wasn't about Lily although from a glimpse at the cover I thought that was another artist's rendition of her and kept waiting for her to pop up. The story was good, the villain was a good at being bad villain and the ending was enjoyable. 4 stars out of 5.

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review 2017-02-21 00:00
Mind Magic (World of the Lupi #12) by Eileen Wilks
Mind Magic: A Novel of the Lupi (World of the Lupi Book 12) - Eileen Wilks

Lily’s bond with Rule is as stretched and confused as it’s ever been – thanks to the lessons she is having in Mind Speech. This is the worst time for her to disappear when she cannot be found


But Lily vanishes following up on a favour she cannot deny – while at the same time a conspiracy strikes against the Shadow Unit. The whole apparatus designed to fight The Enemy, Ruben the head of the unit, Rule the head of two Lupi clans are all targeted in a devastating co-ordinated attack.


It’s the worst time for Lily to be out of touch as everything they’ve built begins to crumble.




Back to Lily as a protagonist! I always love this focus, because Lily Yu is an awesome protagonist and one of my favourites

And, of course, I love the world building. I love the massively creative world building. I love that such a lot of originality has gone into not only designing the world with this crash of magic into the technological world, the various magical societies from the Brownies to the Lupi who all have their own cultures and magic and language all really well done together. And then we have the dragons with their completely unique biology coupled with their own culture and traditions and opinions and beliefs. It’s excellent. It’s really original and well developed and nuanced.


And I love Lily. I do love lily. I love that she’s so sensible. I love that even when worried and angry and outraged and upset and emotional she’s still logical and capable and empathetic enough to see from a different point of view. I love how she can be angry with various supernatural beings while also acknowledging that from their point of view they’re a very different beings with vastly different values. She can acknowledge that, understand that, respect that – but not by being a complete door mat to them. The fact they have a dramatically different culture doesn’t mean they’re allowed to treat her in ways that she finds unacceptable because of it.



I also like how, when discussing the history of magic on this world we’re not assuming a global constant and acknowledging that just because something happened in the west didn’t mean it happened the same everywhere


Lily’s awesome. The world is awesome.


And I really like Demi; she’s a character with Aspergers who appears to have been well represented because of it. Her need for patterns and social difficulties along with her thought patterns seem very well presented while at no point being used to make her either this alien super hero (too often autism is created a some kind of weird origin story for some kind of mental super power).  Her courage, drive, knowledge, determination, moral compass and navigating around the lupi and more powerful magical beings around her.


I also quite like the concept of the sinister government org – or some sinister human org. I mean we have repeatedly see various supernatural threats menacing humanity – but magic suddenly becomes real, there are plenty of bad people and bad organisations who are going to exploit that. Part of Lily’s worry about joining the Shadow Unit was her fear over what a unit like this could do with so little oversight. So common human greed and corruption needed to be flagged.


We continue to have excellent portrayal of POC as well – Lily Yu is Asian and informed by her culture and language. It’s more than just a description of her. The Lupi continue to be racially diverse (a leader of Rule’s guard is Jose) as do members of other organisations, the Shadow Unit, et al. Even in a book that doesn’t have that many humans, we still have some POC. We also continue to have awesome female characters – including both the awesome Lily and the Brownie’s, hilarious matriarchal culture.




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Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/01/mind-magic-world-of-lupi-11-by-eileen.html
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review 2017-02-20 23:51
Unbinding (World of the Lupi #11) by Eileen Wilks
Unbinding - Eileen Wilks

Kai and Nathan are still in San Diego while Kai tries to heal some of the damage caused by the rampaging magical dagger in the last book


But it’s soon clear that destroying a magical artefact imbued by a god of chaos has ramifications. They may have foiled his plans, but the god of chaos is now out and he may be dead but he is powerful and looking to change that


All the while Kai still has decide what she wants to do with her life. She loves Nathan and she has a unique powerful talent the elves can help develop – but does she want to be the human in the Court of Winter, separated from her friends, divided from her culture and often derided by the oh-so-superior elves?






Definitely hmmmmmm.


This is my brain on this story:


Brain 1: It’s a book without Lily and Rule. This is going to be interesting because we’re going to get to see this world through a different lens. We’re going to see a different mind set and excellent part of the world setting that Lily would otherwise not notice. This is an excellent way to open up this world when we’ve excellently established Lily is the central protagonist so it isn’t a distraction


Brain 2: But but but, Lily was established as protagonist because she’s super awesome and amazing. And I’ve had several books of back stories to make me not only be invested in Lily but be thoroughly cheering her every move. Who is this Kai and Nathan and why do I care? They’ve had, what, one short story and a couple of cameo appearances? I am not invested enough in this people for them to displace my awesome Lily. They’re far too external to the main plot, the main battle etc to be really relevant to the rest of the series. It feels more like a spin off series – hey an awesome spin off series –but now these people are stood in Lily’s space. I don’t know half of these people We keep getting revelations and shocks about these people that completely miss because I feel like I’m supposed to have read 4 other books to actually know who they are


Brain 1: But this let’s us examine so much of the world building is accessible here! Lily sees the elves as an annoying enemy and is pretty much not that involved or invested in elven culture or world building and her practicality makes her tolerate the need for Cullen’s theorising but definitely not being willing to run with it. Kai is front and centre in elven culture, sidhe realms, dramatis personae who are constantly mentioned actually appear in this book. We meet them and the depiction of elven society is awesome – we have such an awesome building of a completely alien culture, different standards and values and ethics. As well as a really really interesting take on the concept of the Fae Queen of Winter – not just a queen of cold, but a queen of hard truths and a queen of the warm winter hearth. Definitely an original take



Brain 2: but but but Lily isn’t invested in all of this because it’s not relevant. And I love the world expanding, I really do. I love the world setting. I love expanded world setting. I love how Kai brings her own views and conflicts to this huge world setting. But we already had one book where a new big bad muscled in on the whole storyline and now we have another one? Sure there’s more than one thing happening in this world – but while Rule and the werewolves and Lily are dealing with their enemy perhaps undead elven gods of chaos can go get their little party together in a city other than San Diego. What is the enemy and her minions actually doing while we have a hiatus anyway?


So I’m left thinking I loved loved loved this book and would also be a really awesome… but also feel this excellent world has reached a point where branching into spin off series would be better arcs than protagonist shifting when the protagonists have such disparate goals. If Kai and Nathan and Lily and Rule were actually aiming at goals that were closer together then they would work as shifting protagonists. But the only real reason Kai and Nathan are there is because a random occurrence pulled them in and there was a brief coinciding of goals with Lily and Rule


Ok, maybe I’m being harsh here. I mean, the random occurrence happened was a direct result of the enemy’s plotting. And the big wave of magic is definitely – or should definitely – cause more magical hijinks for Earth than just the Lupi’s great enemy popping up. And maybe Rule is singularly focused on this but Lily is an FBI agent and member of Unit, if some magical unicorns start shish-kebobing random commuters in Wisconsin, she’s hardly going to check out and say “hey not my monkeys.”


So is this a different direction the book are taking? Not just Lily/Rule vs the Lupi’s enemy, but Lily facing the endless magical threats and opportunities which face Earth and the allies and friends she has along the way beyond just the Lupi – and beyond even her. But that’s a difficult path to take away from an already well established epic meta plot and awesome protagonist and could go very wrong in a complete unfocused mess – which was exactly my concern about this series way back in book 4.




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Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2016/12/unbinding-world-of-lupi-11-by-eileen.html
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