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review 2016-06-07 15:52
Fire Touched
Fire Touched - Patricia Briggs

It is nice to get back to Mercy and see what new things she and Adam will need to face in the Tri-Cities.

Since the events of Fair Game touched off a major change in the world of Mercy Thompson, a lot of the plot elements in this series have shifted to react to those changes. The Fae have always had a big presence in the series but it feels like these last few books they have been the major drivers of the plot.

When Bauclaire made his big declaration at the end of Fair Game, it was a clear us (Fae) versus them (humans) thing. So it was reasonable to expect that a lot of what would come after would be some sort of Fae v. Human war that other supernaturals would have to figure in in some ways. That is happening. But more interestingly, in this one we get to witness up close and personal the power struggle happening within the Fae community. And of course being the power couple they are, Adam and Mercy get sucked into the madness.

This book starts off with a lot of mayhem and excitement, but it settles into something a little quieter with larger stakes overall. Honestly I find the Fae in this series both fascinating and a rather scary. So I don't mind that they are featuring prominently at this point. I honestly don't mind that the vampires seemed to have taken a back seat. I liked the pacing and I liked the story.

I also liked the fact that Adam addressed, in decisive fashion, one of the HUGE  problems I had with his behavior in the last book. It made me forgive him. I won't even quibble about what I feel is a rather too fast resolution with some of the other issues Mercy was having with the pack. Since I found that whole plot element tiresome and dragged out at this point, I will hand wave away what I felt was a rather facile conclusion to it all.

So glad that one of my favorite series is still delivering well. Also made me remember that I don't think I've ever done a re-read with this one. Time to remedy that!

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review 2016-06-07 15:45
Marked in Flesh
Marked in Flesh: A Novel of the Others, Book 4 - Alexandra Harris,Anne Bishop

This is such a fantastic series. The progression of the story is wonderful, the ever widening circles of cause and effect and actions and repercussions is so well done. I am intrigued by the Elders and am nervous for 'our' humans.

In the aftermath of the last book and the rise of the Humans First and Last (HFL) coalition, it was clear that we were heading toward a major clash.

A major strike by the HFL happens in this book and finally, the Elders make their appearance. As I was reading this book I felt like I was holding my breath waiting for that ...thing... to happen. There was such an air of dreaded anticipation hovering over this book with the feeling that events would begin to really over-take our little group from the Lakeside Courtyard.

And they do because the world in now bigger in this book. The action isn't centered in the courtyard as much anymore. We get intercut scenes between the Lakeside courtyard, the Lakeside police, a town in the midwest that is a flashpoint to events in this book, overseas in the oft-heard about Cel-Romano, and various Intuit settlements.

We also meet new characters. We get POVs from some new power players, Erebus Sanguinati flexes his muscles a bit and we meet more of his clan who move into some key positions. And we get to finally meet Shady Burke (I have always loved that name!)

Meg and Simon, of course, remain central to everything. Between the two of them they hold the fate of the human population in Thasia in their hands. Simon is volatile and doesn't really care for humans. But Meg cares and he'll do anything for her.

There are also some intriguing developments about ways in which the cassandra sangue could use things other than cutting to tell prophecy. There is a nice call-back to the old cassandre sangue Simon remembers giving him prophecy so long ago. This series always raises some interesting questions about its world. How much of the prophet's need to cut is learned behavior and addiction rather than absolute necessity? Can the girls learn other ways to give prophecy without always cutting first and only using cutting when it is critical?

Another thing the about this series is that it it very,very light on anything romance, but you always know that hovering around and over things is that there's something between Meg and Simon. They are so clueless when it comes to 'romance' stuff and tiptoe around each other when it comes to that, but Meg is beginning to awaken to the possibilities. There is a scene where they make one more baby step in that direction.

Now I have to wait very, very, very impatiently for the next one.

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review 2016-01-31 22:37
Kiss Of Steel
Kiss of Steel - Bec McMaster

Interesting take on vampires and how the author built her society.

The steampunk elements were very light. Some bio mechanics, mention of a steam cab -- that was kinda it.

I liked the characters for the most part and I found the romantic chemistry was well presented.

But the plot and pacing were not spry. I felt like I was taking forever to read this book. And I was always amazed about how much I had left.

I wanted them to get the big showdown -- because, you knew there was gonna be a big showdown -- in the biggest way. When they finally did it was a relief.

Not bad, just 'OK' but I am not chomping at the bit to get the next one.

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review 2016-01-31 22:34
The Dirt on Ninth Grave
The Dirt on Ninth Grave - Darynda Jones

I started reading this book with some hope and some trepidation.

I did not like the last book very much. As a matter of fact over the course of the series I have not been enjoying the overall central arc of Charley discovering what she is. For me the way the story is spooling out feels muddy and not very thoughtful.

If the central story of Charley's origins and her fate felt more ... I dunno... immediate, exciting, cohesive... I would be all over this. In raptures. But instead it feels like it is getting in the way of a good series. I fell in love with the first book. Utterly in love. I was really enjoying the series until i kinda wasn't. I think if this had just been a PNR detective series with all the same personalities and without the the boggy "What is Charley" stuff happening in the middle, I would love it still.

That said, I really enjoyed this installment. You know how when a tv series kinda goes a little off tilt and the next season they do a reset? That is what this felt like. In the aftermath of some really WTF stuff that happened at the end of the previous book (and WTF not in a good way, imo) Charley ends up in Sleepy Hollow, NY with no memory of what or who she is. We meet her as a waitress named Janey Doerr (of course Charley would never be as mundane as to call herself Jane Doe).

She has discovered that she can see dead people. It has taken her awhile to come to terms with that but she manages to roll with it and keep it a major secret from her co-workers. Even though she has no idea who she is, we recognize her still as Charley. She still has her insane love of coffee, her penchant for naming inanimate objects (Hi Denzel!) and her need to help people. I found it interesting that even though she is still Charley, the author managed to mute her somewhat in a believable way. Part of Charley's shtick has always been her outsized personality, her slapstick humor, the way she seems to never take anything too seriously. Her personality is only 1/2 outsized, her humor has been turned down to ten instead of twenty and she is very aware of the seriousness of her situation even though she tries not to dwell on it. It was like seeing Charley through a smoky mirror. I actually liked this smoky mirror Charley.

Of course her team manage to find her and surround her as regulars in the diner she works at. It was nice to see everyone there but also not quite their normal selves and they watch over Charley and wait for her to regain her memories.

I admit, I have not always been a fan of Reyes, but this book made me like him a whole lot. There was a thread of pure romance in this one. Charley has to fall for Reyes all over again not knowing who he is, while he has to stand helplessly by and wait for her to remember him.

A big plus for me is that Charley does some ghost-y stuff in this one which has always been my favorite aspect of the series. She helps solve a couple of ghost related things in satisfying side plots as well as play matchmaker.

I also admit, I liked how the author affected Charley's memory return. It was a good moment of series continuity and rather ingenious.

So this book was a good rebound from a couple of real clunkers

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review 2016-01-04 00:38
Dreamer's Pool
Dreamer's Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel - Juliet Marillier

" 'We're friends. We work together. We understand each other. We put up with each other. We know when to stay around and when to leave each other alone. We're a team, Grim...The fact is, I can't do without you. We're friends.'

It came to me, through a blur of tears, that we'd been friends since the wretched, lice-ridden days in Mathuin's lock-up. Only, back then, I'd been to eaten up with bitterness to see it. In that place, we'd kept each other alive."

I've had this book for quite awhile. I actually got it after I read and enjoyed the Bridei Chronicles by this author. But kept putting it off.

The story starts off very fraught with the two main characters, Blackthorn and Grim, incarcerated in a prison. The conditions are vile.... they are dirty, vermin ridden, and abused. Their relationship is prickly and uneven. Grim, a hulking quiet man, is as protective as he can be in an opposite cell toward the woman he only refers to as 'Lady.' Blackthorn is bitter and hardened by her year in prison and alternately is friendly to or dismissive of Grim. She is laser focused on one thing. After one year she will get her day and in court and will seek her revenge on the person responsible for her incarceration.

But things don't go as planned. In order to save her life she enters into a strange bargain that requires her to delay her plans for revenge.

The bargain entails her to travel to a far land and take up the role as a Wise Woman. Grim, still in his self appointed task as her guardian, accompanies her. First via stealth and then, when she discovers he has been tailing her, with her begrudging acceptance.

The two of them settle in the principality of Delriada where they become embroiled in mysteries both Fey and mundane and help two very different women in need.

Despite what seems like a middling rating, I really did like this book. So much so that I am immediately starting up the second book.

So why the middling rating? The first half of the book kept fracturing my attention.

The story is told from three POVs -- Blackthorn's, Grimms and Oran's. Oran is the Prince of Dalriada. The three POVs are switched off chapter by chapter. My problem with the early half of the book is that I had absolutely no interest in Oran's chapters. None. I was riveted by Blackthorn and Grim's plight and their prickly relationship and their complicated personal history. By contrast Oran's early chapters felt like a detour in courtly banality.

Oh sure, I know enough about narrative structure to understand that Oran's story was going to be critical to Blackthorn and Grimm, but I didn't care at that point. I wanted to read about them!

The second half of the story picks up nicely when all three finally cross paths. And Oran's narrative surrounding his impending nuptials with a woman he'd only met through letters finally gets really interesting. It becomes suspenseful and, yes, a bit of a magical mystery. I guessed the mystery. Or so I thought. I was half right.

Outside of the Oran story was another mystery regarding the villagers of the princedom. A young girl is missing only no one but her best friend thinks she is really missing. Everyone else thinks she ran away. Blackthorn and Grimm manage figure out what is going on because they are outsiders and see things with an outsider's perspective. As a B-plot this was nice and gave the opportunity for some good character building and bonding for B & G.

Throughout the two main mystery plots, B & G must navigate their relationship. She still pushes him away, he still quietly and steadfastly wants to protect her. They both have pasts that we are not privy to. We only know a little bit of why they were both in prison. Blackthorn finally tells Grimm a little about herself. But his past is still a big mystery. There are hints it was something bad. But knowing the character as we do it is difficult to see him as being a really bad person. This will be interesting to see how this plays out.

In the end they have a breakthrough. Thank God. i was becoming more than a little peeved with Blackthorn and her insistence that Grimm was just a temporary companion.

It isn't a romantic relationship, although it may turn out to be one later, but for now they are companions and friends and realize that they do much better together than apart

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