Smoke Bitten, Mercy Thompson Book 12, Patricia Briggs.
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
Well, wow! This series continues to grow, each book building upon the whole story. With some ongoing series its clear at a certain point they’ve run out of steam, but this one has plenty of potential stories yet.
Patricia Briggs is my favourite author, this series my number one closely followed by her alpha and Omega novels. I could – and have- read them over and over, seeing this I missed each time. This twelfth book still feels as fresh as the first one.
There are so many fantasy reads out there in book-world, some excellent and some ( only imo of course) are just dire. I’d love if Patricia could write faster, I could devour everything she puts out, but what makes these books special is the realistic characters ( even though the are anything but real!), the solid story, the multiple plots, the carefully woven links that grow through each book, and that takes time. I’d rather wait and have quality to read, than for the series to have more books but devolve into some of that dire writing. Actually I don’t think Patricia could ever write like that, its just not in her. Thankfully.
Well, another puzzle for Adam and Mercy here, and as usual there’s not just one plot but multiple ones. A weird and incredibly dangerous creature no-one knows much about, that may have escaped through the door Tilly opened in Mercy’s back yard, some strange werewolves in town, and problems between Adam and Mercy, not with their relationship but which could affect it.
Its always a treat trying to work out just how Marcy and Co will resolve things. Because although Mercy is always the driving force, she’s aided each time by her pack, her friends and somehow she always ends up in the firing line.
I love that we see so many of the old characters here, along with the new ones. I can see how things from earlier books have led to relationships – not friendships but those kind of connections that prove very important when Mercy needs them. As well as the tension and danger, there’s the usual fun and games, the day to day issues that make the story feel grounded and balanced. Fae bargains have to have balance, and for me books need to have balance too…
With some authors I feel they write themselves into plots that only magical solutions will get them out of, and when they just pull those out of a hat, do things no-one has heard of, that have never been mentioned and don’t have any real connections and – bingo- everything’s fine, I feel cheated. With this series though the magic is part of it, and though Mercy has no magic per-se, she has those connections, the Fae, the vampires and of course Adam and the pack, with the Marrok always in the background, and of course her own special heritage from Coyote. When there’s magic involved it always follows set rules that have been brought up in earlier books, so I don’t feel its some new, unheard of superpower solution. Mercy and the pack bonds feature strongly here, and her being pack but not pack, being coyote and something different, means her pack bonds are different too. I found that part really interesting, had me visualising what Mercy was seeing.
I love that Adam has some problems here. I adore the man, the perfect mix of gorgeous, charming, Gentleman and sex, and sometimes guys like that need a few issues to make them real. There’s one point where I was really almost tearful at events, very much moved, and also very much angry that things had gone so far.
Once more its like meeting old friends, and knowing their individual strengths and weaknesses ( Aurielle and Christy!) I can see how they will work in the story. I guess my big fear is that the constant dangers to them mean each book maybe is the last for some of them. We’ve seen people die in previous books, it happens with the constant pressures, it can’t be just the bad guys that die, that would make it unbalanced. The fact so many have died or left the pack because of the dangers is brought up here. The Colombian Basin pack is noticeably smaller, and that brings in vulnerabilities. My heart was heavy that it might happen here to two longstanding characters, and that fear is what makes it real. And I’m not saying if they died or not 😉
So, I finished this yesterday and am already thinking – read again or go the whole hog through the series – I know that these books can stand that constant re reading. Maybe I’ll do both 😉
Stars: five, a cracking read, perfectly paced and balanced, and gave me a story to lose the real world for a time. I adore these books, fingers crossed there’s many, many more to come 🙂
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Talisman, The Talisman Series Book One, Tam DeRudder Jackson
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance.
I liked the sound of this, I love fantasy married with romance, and the description sounded interesting. Supernaturals living within our current world? Yes please 😉
Alyssa has been quite sheltered, brought up by her grand after the death of her parents she’s all about the studying, especially after being let down badly by her last boyfriend. Then on a rare night out she meets Rowan. I know he’s a warrior, but at times even I found him overbearing and arrogant, so I can see how Alyssa felt. He just steamrollers his way into her life. I know she’s in danger, but its to his advantage that he protects her and at times I felt he was a bit too thick on the “do it my way”, and thin on actual explanations. I did understand hew was working under time constraints but he always found time to whisk her into bed, and thought that was fun, enjoyable – OK, earth shattering, I felt Alyssa would have appreciated a bit more detail about what was happening.
There’s a lot of characters here that come into play, human, warriors and families, Talismen and of course the Dark Side. The rogue warriors and their leaders. I enjoyed the read but wasn’t bowled over by it. That could be because its first in series. These novels have a hard ask, to deliver a new world setting, charters, supernatural types and of course a story we readers will enjoy. This didn’t quite do that for me but is a good start to a new series.
Stars: Three, a good start to a new series, but I wasn’t quite pulled in by the characters.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
Raven’s Glen by Nancy E. Polin
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Romance
I almost didn’t read this, Nancy mentioned it had elements of horror, and its a family joke that I am a real wimp about that. I have such a vivid imagination that my dreams tend to be complex, and sometimes scary, so anything horror tips the balance…but it wasn’t that sort of horror, more the unpleasantness that comes with certain elements of the supernatural. It was a bit spooky, but not scary.
I loved Skylar and her brother, he’s so protective and has been looking out for her since they escaped a horrific home situation to live with their grandmother, their beloved MawMaw. Now she’s died, they both miss her badly but are still very close. Skylar has accepted a job that happens to be in the town they escaped from. Her brother is Not Happy, to say the least, but Skylar seems to be drawn there with a slightly unnerving, unexplained pull.
She’s settling in well, enjoys her job, when she meets Jack at her workplace. She’s already bumped into him at her interview, then again around the town. He’s gorgeous but not on the lookout for a new relationship. He’s drawn to Skylar though, they seem to keep coming across one another and he finally asks her out.
Stephen has never talked about the horrors of the night they left, never told Skylar what happened, and she seems to have blanked it from her mind. Now she’s back though it seems the past isn’t quite finished with her.
Its a gradual build up, first the attraction between Jack and Skylar, then slowly she gets integrated into his family. Skylar is in for a shock though when she goes to his home.
The tension ratchets up gradually, building on little things, more references to the past, more secrets being revealed, and the dangers slowly come to light. The more Skylar learns the closer the past becomes, and its a question of should she outrun it and leave the job she enjoys, the man and his daughter that she loves, or should she just face up to the past and try to beat it?
I really enjoyed this, just enough spookiness to keep me reading, not so much that it gives me nightmares. I live alone, I hate nightmares, when everything seems more believable that in the light if day. The Native Indian setting works really well, they are very in tune with nature and the supernatural, and really helped the story to feel genuine.
Stars: five, a fantastic read, not too scary, and very engaging, making me wonder just what was coming next.
Arc via author
A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr
Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
Well…Wow, what an amazing read. It’s classed as teen and YA, but one of those rare few that really appeal to all ages, not just the younger generation. Like Vic James Dark Gifts, or Sarah J Maas a court of ….reads, they are reads to treasure, to reread no matter what age you are.
I’ve never actually read/seen Swan Lake but I guess everyone knows the basics, and I was hoping this wasn’t just going to be a retelling of the story. That doesn’t work so well for me, but I was happy that its Swan Lake inspired but has a story of its own. There were magical scenes, interspersed with some pretty horrific stuff. The Corr sisters don’t shy away from some solid hard facts in the world they’ve created, where those With get to do pretty much whatever they want to those Without ( flighted and flightless in the main). There’s some harsh rules in this world, some that feel almost arbitrary and yet for decades, centuries they’ve been uncontested.
I loved the world created, with its mix of characters, with its people that can transform into birds, with the sheer political intrigues, when grew almost faster than I could read them. Just as I was thinking one thing something happened that threw that chain of thought into disarray.
There were some fantastic characters. Aderyn’s clerk Lucien, tells her “trust no-one” but its hard for her. Lucien has been used to the cut and thrust of royal politics, of the machinations and intriguing that take place constantly, but Aderyn hasn’t spent time at court, hasn’t actually been anywhere since her mother was killed years ago and the injuries and shock left her unable to transform into her Swan shape. In this world that’s something that would get her removed as protector and could even threaten her life if it gets out.
When they first go to the Royal Castle Aderyn is just determined to find out who killed her mother, who was behind it, but the first day isn’t over before she discovers she’s treading on very thin ice, that she needs her wits constantly. Lucien had warned her but she doesn’t like him, and hadn’t realised just what danger she was in. She’s good hearted but at first had been so sheltered she’d never realised just what else was going on in her world, how the flightless were treated in other dominions. She assumed all were like her father, that they were treated fairly, but soon sees unhappiness and cruelty surround her. She grows up very fast, from that naive 17 year old we first meet, to the girl at the end of the story who’s had a sharp shock about the world she inhabits, who now realises just what it means to be a Protector.
And speaking of the end, what an incredible bounce of surprises those last chapters brought. They kept coming, one after another, after another! I hope book two is around soon, I am desperate to know just whats going to happen, how things are going to come through, and suspect its going to get worse before it gets better.
Stars: Five, an amazing read, full of a magical world, intrigue, politics, interesting characters, and one to reread when part two is out.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance
Well, adventures galore after the antics at the end of books two. Trouble in the pack for Gunner, Trouble for Mai with Kira excelling herself in brat mode here. Honestly, at times I wanted to shake her. She a kid though and gone through such a lot. And because she’s a kid then social services are always overlooking what the two do, and checking Mai is looking after Kira properly. Of course she can’t tell them whats going on “ ah well, you see, actually we’re fox shifters, Kitsunes…” – “ right, OK dear, now lets just give you a nice shot to clam you down….”
There are possible relatives for the girls who though they had none, Gunner has pack troubles, getting wolves to accept him having a fox mate. Kira’s mum is still throwing in unhelpful tips, and its really chaos all round. All Mai wanted was a quiet life for her and Kira, then she met Gunner and he convinced her they could make a life together. The pack has been through such a lot though and they are not happy.
Stars: four, its a fun finish, packed with action and suspense, but the actual ending did feel a little rushed. I’m not usually one for books following the ending of a story but I think a longer epilogue with a peek into the future would have finished this off well, just to let us know that after all the chaos and disasters things did work out, that the pair had not just a HFN but a HEA.
A bought book!
Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance
So, after the last adventures Mai and Kira are hiding out with Gunner and the pack. Of course that doesn’t go down well with many of them, historically the two Do Not Mix….and Kira is fading fast. Trying to be helpful we saw in the last book things she did that are now affecting her badly. Kira is desperate to help her sister, but can see her sickening daily. Kira is still a brat though, in a nice way, she adores her sister but it seems the fox/kitsune playfulness and trickster genes came out in force in Kira. She means well, but somehow ends up doing the opposite, causing chaos. If she was a NI spirit she’s be Coyote!
Its a fun read, I loved the fact the Pack weren’t happy and the issues that brought. I did feel a bit confused at times, sort of lost the thread of where the story was going, and it took me a while to get back “into” the story. There was a patch where I lost it completely, got confused and just kind of switched off and skimmed a couple of chapters, and of course that didn’t help. “But I wanted to see what would happen” she explains plaintively…
There’s some more surprises for Mia and Kira here, mum’s voice is still throwing cryptic comments at Mia, and some of those made me smile and think “what on earth does THAT mean??”. Its good to have some lighter moments 😉 Gunner is doing his best to help but he’s Pack and his leader brother makes it clear he needs to choose where his loyalties lie. While Mia and Kira continue to help the pack in their search they’re there in sufferance but its a thin line he treads.
I enjoyed this installment even though like other reviewers there were parts where I got a bit lost, but I love to read a series back to back, and to reread good ones, and find that works well for me. I’m sure when I get to reread this one those foggy moments will be clearer, especially as I’ll know the ending and be able to resist skipping to there 😉
And, I’ve bought book three. It takes a lot to make me buy books with getting lots of lovely arcs ( thanks authors and publishers), free kindle reads and KU.
Stars: four, a fun read, some terrific characters – including Kira’s social worker! I doubt in real life that would swing but she’s a gem. I did find parts a little hard to follow but as I’ve said I’m sure re-reading will clear that up.
A bought book!
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
I was intrigued by this, who wouldn’t want to find a portal to the past in their home? Of course there’s the danger of seeing and hearing things we really don’t want to see, so its kind of a mixed bag. The ethics too – is it really spying? Can it be compared to reading someones diary?
Melanie and Kelsey are sisters, but very different in nature from each other. On the surface Melanie is Mrs Successful, with her job, husband, and perfect home, but underneath she’s grieving a miscarriage after she and Ben have been struggling to become parents for a while. Kelsey knows none of this, just feels that Melanie is always critical of the way her life runs, her love life sucks, her job isn’t exactly going places and she feels fiercely that her life and Melanie’s are very different.
Then out of the blue Kelsey gets a call from Melanie about selling the lakeside home they inherited, now the tenants have moved out. They both visit the house, find it needs work, and Melanie decides to stay and oversee it, needing a break after the miscarriage, just wanting to get away from her lovely husband. She just can’t take his well meaning ideas any more…Emotions can be like that, we all take a loss, disappointments differently, and though she loves Ben and he loves her, they could so easily drift apart after their loss. It happens to many couples, the constant stress of timing, ovulation charts, sex at prescribed times, somehow among all that the love gets lost, and I feel that Ben sees that as potentially happening to them, and that’s why he wants a break of a few months before trying again. To Melanie though it feels like giving up, she feels a failure as a woman, and though of course we can see another side, when you’re in the thick of a problem its all you can see.
Kelsey loves her sister but they’re not exactly close, Melanie is more careful, measured in her actions, thinks things through, while Kelsey just blunders in regardless and that’s how she’s found herself in her early thirties trapped, no great career, no loving partner, its just her and Sprocket her rescue dog. And I loved Sprocket, he was a great addition to the story. Its little touches like that which make a story feel real.
Then Melanie finds the hidden door, and, well, at first its fun, but then it becomes such that they both want to see more and yet don’t always like what they see. It does make them think about their family, see themselves, from another angle, lets them see different sides to some problems, helps them cope with events they hadn’t realised had such an impact on their lives. Sometimes though secrets are just that for a reason, and there comes a time when the two are divided about what to do next.
Would I like to see into my past? See my mum again? Part of me says yes, but part of me knows it wouldn’t change the fact she’s long gone, and the person I’d be seeing isn’t the one I know as mum. Still, there are always two sides to a story and it would be interesting to see how she viewed certain events from my childhood, and perhaps know more about hers.
Its a fun read, interesting and made me think about what I would do in the same circumstances, ( I guess I’m overly curious, I’d have to take a peek at least). Kelsey and Melanie and the problems from past and present felt very real, and even knowing the doorway into the past can’t exist the story made me feel it was genuine, that I could believe in it. Its not a story I’d reread, but one I’m glad I did read, made me think about myself and my life too.
Stars: Three, a fun read, fantasy and yet believable fantasy, with some questions that made me wonder, what would I do?
ARC via author
To Pet a Rose, Marie Penn
Well, I read it. All of it. Yet TBH I still don’t really know what its about, or where the story is going and won’t be continuing with it.
The characters feel a little odd, a bit flat, one dimensional, and I’m not sure I like any of them. The writing throws in a lot of vocabulary that was overdone and felt weird I had to look up, I’m pretty well read and its usually only historical words or specialist ones that have me stumped, but here they were not just used within the fencing/festival setting but thrown into everyday speech, and it just felt odd and a bit out of place.
What I did think I wouldn’t be so keen on, the fencing and the world of Faires and Festivals ended up being one of the best parts of the book for me. I found that really interesting but not enough to actually enjoy this story.
It could well be just me, this is my view and that doesn’t mean others won’t love it. Its not a bad book, a few oddities in the language, but just not one for me. It seems to be a first novel, and ?I hate writing low stars for any book, but especially debut ones but honesty is important and this story isn’t for me.
Stars: Two, one of those where the story and I just don’t gel.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Wolf’s Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) Aimee Easterling
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.
I love fantasy/romance reads, but so may of these seem to be all grunting, monosyllabic alphas, reverse harems or ones where the romance is all the book, no side/sub plots, no overall story line. Still, it means when I do find a read I enjoy then its like a sweet victory!
I added this one last week, it was free at the time, so nothing to lose and I’d enjoyed the sample. I’ve just bought books two and three, as it was an intriguing read, and I’ll be looking at what else Aimee has written.
Mai is great, she’s a Kitsune, Japanese fox shifter. I’ve come across these occasionally – I think the last one was in a Hailey Edwards read as a secondary character, and the Kitsune premise fascinates me. They’re not just shape shifters, but have a kind of fox nature in the way they think and behave, and usually they have some form of magic. Aimee has added a touch here where that magic is connected closely to Mai, and allows her to create real items, her sword for example, within a split second, but it needs to stay physically connected to her or she weakens. I’m still getting my head around the star ball that Kitsunes in this book have, that allows the magic.
Mai is guardian to her younger sister, and struggling. She doesn’t know any other Kitsunes, they live in a city controlled by werewolves, and she needs to tread carefully, as they see Kitsunes as something to be killed.
Its an interesting story, full of some very real characters, sub plots that add up to the whole, the star ball connection to magic, and of course poor Mai doesn’t have anyone she can ask for help to learn more about what they are. She’s never met another Kitsune. Her dead mother offers some cryptic comments at times in Mai’s head, but they’re beyond my understanding, and mostly Mai doesn’t see the logic til too late either. I do like that connection though, and trying to puzzle out what the heck she means by her strange phrases.
There’s a developing romance but its still early days, and apart from a couple of stolen kisses hasn’t gone further. So many fantasy romance reads make the romance all the story, held up by the tiniest of plots, and for me I want all the mystery, the magic, the struggles, with the romance being there but as part of the story, not all of it.
Stars: Four, a fun read, and a good start to the trilogy.
Book purchase – I do buy books in addition to receiving ARCs and having KU!
Heart of Stone, (Alice Worth Book 4), Lisa Edmonds
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.
Another terrific installment to the series. Its my favourite sort, where there’s an overall story arc, but each episode is complete and wraps up this story neatly, not leaving great cliffhanger endings, but just hints of things to come.
Review of books one and three below
I love Alice, she’s come such a long way from the solitary woman we first met. She’s strongly independent and yet happy to make allies now, trusting in a few friends, Sean and Malcolm having the most trust. They’re’ two great characters too.
Malcolm works so well with Alice, his issues mean he’s a real asset to Alice, and she respects him, does everything she can to keep him safe.
Sean, Pack alpha whose Pack aren’t all happy about Alice, and in the past a couple of people have brought serious danger to them both with their actions to replace alice with someone they feel more suitable.
Then there’s the vampires, some of whom Alice has reluctantly accepted as allies, helped and accepted help. Charles seems to have some kind of feelings for Alice, that’s been clear since day one. Its not so much a kind of romantic interest, as he sees her as a challenge, a puzzle, and for a centuries old vampire things like that are important. Life must get a little bland after so many years, an intellectual challenge of working out who and what she is, keeps life interesting for him. Like all vampires though, that doesn’t mean he’s trustworthy. They’ve got a kind of understanding currently, where both have helped the other and feel…well…a sort of friendship even if on Alice’ side, that’s kind of guarded.
Once more we’ve a tightly woven adventure, bringing in issues from the past and setting up more for the future.
Alice is hired to find a missing child, an unregistered one, with rare talents that would make him a target for unscrupulous cabals. She can’t just abandon a child, even though finding and rescuing him once more puts her life in danger, and this time maybe her long hidden secrets too.
If they come out how will those around her react? What will it mean for her relationship with Sean? And will it make her an even bigger target to the supernatural world than she currently is?
Stars: Five, another cracking read, and i’m keen for more. Some series tire as they continue, I can see Alice has lots of adventures to go before that happens 😉 hurrah. If you like fantasy with a side of romance that doesn’t dominate, just supports the story this read is one for you.
Book via KU. The whole series is currently available on KU and its one worth reading