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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-19 20:41
July 2018 — A Wrap Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on August 19, 2018.

 

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Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs

 

“Silver”

I finally learned how Samuel and Bran became werewolves. The story is dark and violent but that seems fitting.

 

“Roses in Winter”

Asil, an aging werewolf in the Marrok’s pack is more man than beast. An innocent girl, Kara, begins to change all that.

 

“Redemption”

Ben has always been an interesting character in the Mercy series. He is misogynistic and can’t say two words without cursing. He also has a lot of baggage to deal with due to an abusive past. Yet he redeems himself in this story!

 

“Hollow”

I don’t really remember much about this one, except that it felt incomplete. Funny thing is that this one featured Mercy and I loved the one before this and the one before that.

 

“Fairy Gifts”

This is the story of Thomas the vampire who comes back home to repay a favor. I found it boring.

 

“Gray”

Elyna Gray is a vampire who must face the consequences of her actions when she killed the man she loved. Sad but interesting story.

 

“Alpha and Omega”

I have never really cared about the other series. This story takes us back to the first time Marrok’s son Charles met his wife Anna. I found it okayish. You can see the author’s uncertainty about the whole concept of Omega werewolves. She hasn’t gotten there yet and the story suffers for it.

 

“Seeing Eye”

A werewolf Tom meets a witch Moira. Gruesome things happen in this one but I liked it anyway. One thing that bothers me is why the author looks down on witches’ magic and the whole concept that it comes from pain and blood sacrifice. Even when she is describing white magic, it feels as if she is against it. Why though?

 

“The Star of David”

David Christiansen gets a family reunion that gives him a reason to continue living. Scary as heck but a feel-good story.

 

“In Red, with Pearls”

We are allowed to peek into the relationship that the werewolf Warren has with his boyfriend Kyle. While I love em both and together, I wasn’t a fan of this one. Warren was too overprotective of Kyle and not in a good way. I solved the identity of the person who hired the hit as soon as they were mentioned, which took the fun out of the story even more.

 

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Loki: Agent of Asgard, Vols. 1 & 2 by Al Ewing

 

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Classic Loki antics. Plans within plans within plans. I wasn’t crazy about this one but it wasn’t bad either. As usual, Loki is trying to do the right thing in the wrongest of ways and for worse reasons. We see a glimpse of the Avengers in the first one. The second featured Doctor Doom.

 

 

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson

 

The humor characteristic of the series is seen in this volume too. Red Dagger shows up in Kamala’s playground. She celebrates Eid-ul-Azha. Kamala also runs away and finds out more people are supporting her and rooting for her than she thought. Captain Marvel makes an appearance and they patch up. In all, a fun installment. Can’t wait to read what happens next! Find my review of the previous volume here.

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The Wilds #1 & 2 by Vita Ayala

 

So, the premise is good. The U.S. plays host to a plague that is slowly turning people into plants. The art is beautiful and the confrontations with those human-plant hybrids are adequately terrifying. Of course, there is a government conspiracy going on that I suppose we’ll find out in about in the next issues. But there seems to be something missing. Mostly though, I couldn’t bring myself to care for any of the characters. That means I dunno if I will be picking up the next in the series.

 

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Moonshine, Vol. 1 by Brian Azzarello

 

A man who works for the mafia is sent to convince a rustic moonshine-maker. His boss wants to be the sole distributor of the amazing liquor. But when the poor guy reaches the place, strange things begin to happen. I liked the dark feel of the comic and the art too. Even so, like The Wilds, the something that would make me rip into the following issues eagerly isn’t there!

 

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Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon

 

The wittiness of the TV series is missing from the graphic novel. It was short and the end came abruptly. The artist translated the facial features of all characters with accuracy, except for Inara’s. She didn’t look right! I am still glad I bought this book because it came with an introduction by Nathan Fillion.

 

It seems I didn’t get much reading done in July and still managed to delay blogging about it. Shit happens! How was July for you?

 

 

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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 2018-06-16 15:04
"Fire Touched - Mercy Thompson #9" by Patricia Briggs - a nice ensemble piece
Fire Touched (A Mercy Thompson Novel) - Patricia Briggs

Having been a little disappointed in the eighth book "Night Broken" I was pleased that "Fire Touched" was a return to form for the Mercy Thompson series.

 

There were lots of things to like about this book. Personally, I'll grin at any series where, at the end of a period of domestic discussion, the step-mother says to her step-daughter, as she and her husband rush from the house,"Gotta go, kid, there's a monster on the bridge."

 

It was large and hard-to-kill monster and the battle scene was only exceeded by the melodrama (which I thought was actually quite stylish) of the rallying call that Mercy gives, blood-spattered, walking stick/spear lit with pulsing red sigils raised above her head, her mate apparently unconscious at her feet. No wonder it made national television.

 

This story avoided being another Mercy-takes-on-the-big-bad-almost-alone-nearly-dies-but-is-saved-by-friends theme that was becoming repetitive (albeit well done each time). Instead, it was more of an ensemble piece with some strategic ideas about the relationship between the wolves and the fae that moved things in interesting directions.

 

The Pack now feels real, populated by people I know who are acting from motives that I understand. It helped that Adam finally stepped up and did the full-on Alpha thing.

 

Three new characters are introduced, none of whom are narcissistic psychopaths who could run for President. Old characters re-appear but doing new things and sometimes working to new agendas. The politics is has become more complex and less easy to second-guess. The depiction of Fairy Land is original and quite chilling.

 

There was also some clever but unobtrusive cross-over references with the Maroc and Charles that reminded me to make a start on the Alpha and Omega series.

 

While there is still a lot of action, much of it involving Mercy taking on things many times her size and the body-count is satisfyingly high, the action was there to illustrate the story, not drive it. We're back to a story driven by the characters and their situation. 

 

I ended the book having enjoyed my visit with Mercy and looking forward to the next one.

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review 2018-06-04 16:11
Audio Book Review: Silence Fallen By Patricia Briggs
Silence Fallen - Patricia Briggs

 

This book reminded me of how much I initially enjoyed this series! Everything was so interesting and kept me guessing throughout the story. I also liked how the story was told because (from the little I remember) the mercy-verse books don't usually switch character point of views.

 

Mercy proved to be an intelligent and skilled woman. I love how people underestimate her. I love it, even more, when she proves them wrong. I missed her humor in this novel though. It seemed that this story only included her in fight scenes and escaping places/people scenes.

 

Reading up on what Adam was doing while everything was hitting the fan with Mercy was entertaining. I adore how confident he is in her as a person and in her uncanny ability to survive what seems to be an impossible feat.

 

The ending with Bran was a surprise to me. Maybe there were hints dropped along the way before the reveal, but everything went over my head (if that's the case). I haven't read books in this series for a few years now and most of the storylines are one huge blur. Though it did get me thinking about Samuel and how I want a book or a series dedicated to him and his happily ever after.

 

The Audio Book:

 

The audio book narration was great! I've found yet another male narrator that doesn't give me a headache. I could tell all the characters apart in both narrations. In George Newbern's narration, I could even tell when females were speaking in contrast to male characters (which, strangely, has been difficult for me to find for the past few years that I've been listening to audio books).

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review 2018-05-29 17:24
Audio Book Review: Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) By Patricia Briggs
Fire Touched (A Mercy Thompson Novel) - Patricia Briggs

 

I'm surprised at how long this series has been around. It still manages to keep people interested and that speaks for the quality of the stories the author comes up with. Every book is a different adventure and adds to what happened in the last novel.

 

Mercy is as kick*ss as ever. She stands up for herself and doesn't take crap from anyone. It's refreshing to read about when I consider the last few books I've read. I also adore her sense of humor, which is showcased at its best at the beginning of the kitchen scene.

 

I love her relationship with Adam. Though I don't necessarily love Adam himself. I love the level of respect and harmony there is in the relationship. Adam is a very interesting character and, when needed, can put everyone in their place. I like what he represents, but (from the little I remember from the first few books in the series) I was Team Samuel. I don't remember my reasoning behind my decision (because it's been soo long since I've started this series), so your guess is as good as mine.

 

This adventure was entertaining. I especially loved the car scene with Mercy and the female Fae (whose name escapes me right now). It was very interesting seeing that side of Mercy. It also had me hooked for a separate story for the female Fae and her vampire. The witch (whose name is in a different language so I haven't the slightest idea on how to spell it) was an interesting character with all her premonitions that weren't officially premonitions and her silly one-liners.

 

The Audio Book:

 

The narration was good and I could tell every character apart throughout the audio book.

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