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
You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Sci Fi & Fantasy
I loved this book, was blown away by it, transported to the magic world of good stories. It’s fairies, but not as we know them Jim, to misquote Mr Spock 😉 These fairies are very different, made of nature, some are centuries old and have lost what humanity they ever had. They live off energy, human, animal, nature such as trees and rivers and take on those characteristics. That’s if you believe they are real of course….
I guess that’s what made it so great for me, there’s a part of me that is convinced that just maybe there’s more to this world than we know, that maybe we aren’t the only inhabitants…after all think back to history, pre car, trains, electricity, mobile phones, PCs and TV. Talk to someone the other side of the world, see them? Listen to people who’ve now died? Travel faster than the fastest horse? That would have been scoffed at as impossible back then, but really it was always potential, always there, just not yet discovered.
You need that kind of openness to fully enjoy this I think, to believe that maybe, just maybe Cassie was telling the truth.
We start a year after she’s disappeared at 74, no trace of her and before her nephew and niece can claim her considerable estate she insists they read her story, her memoir if you like. Tucked away in it is the password they’ll need to claim. Like many gifts though this one may just have a hidden side.
I so felt for young Cassie, where her mum dotes on her golden sister and seems to dislike Cassie. It made me wonder, what was she like before she met Pepperman, did her mum dislike her even then, or was it the result of Cassie interaction with him? Were he and the others real or were they, as the doctor her mother insists she sees, products of a trauma induced psychosis?
What happened to Tommy Tipp if her story about him isn’t true? The same holds for her father and brother, she gives us an explanation, her mother and sister as always blame her, but how could she have physically done those things without help, and she had no friends, no-one who would have helped her?
Its perfectly paced. I can remember thinking “ who IS Mara?” as she kept cropping up in conversation, and then just as I was about to flip through book to find more the next chapter opens with something like “You may be wondering about Mara”. If I’d known earlier it wouldn’t have fitted as well, it needed that build up.
Its a complete story, but much like the book there’s possibilities in the ending, its not neat and tidily wrapped up but leaves readers wondering. Its one of those stories where it seems impossible to believe what she’s saying, and yet there are so many things that just don’t add up it feels like maybe, just maybe the impossible is possible. Then at the end, where is she if not in the mound?
I like to think she’s there, living happily with Pepperman and her friends, hard life though it may be. She had a tough enough “real” life, disliked by family, no human friends, always in trouble for things Pepperman did ( or was it her all along?). Mocked and ridiculed at school, dragged to doctors in the hope of making her “normal”. Did she just have a vivid imagination that took her way from the horrors she was living through, or was it all real? She deserves to be content now whichever.
Its one of those stories that stay with you, make you wonder, and I’ll be looking out for Camilla’s next work.
Stars: Five, amazing read, full of questions and possibilities, very realsitically written.
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
Boundary Haunted (Boundary Magic Book 5)
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy
I love all Melisa’s stories about the Old World, and this one continues to engage my attention as much as the rest. Sometimes when a series continues a while the stories feel faded, same-ish but not with these. The Scarlett Bernard books follow the same lines as the Boundary ones, same Old World but different city, different issues. That means there’s always something new to bring to the story, and I love both series. I’ve recently done a reread of them all, so events were fairly fresh in my mind from the last book.
This time Lex has to travel to the South, where her talents have been requested. Maven says she doesn’t need to go, its outside the remit of their agreement, but she would like Lex to go, and hopefully persuade Beau, the Cardinal Vampire there, to join the parliament she is hoping to form. She needs strong allies like him, and Lex can see the value of helping him. She’s struggling though after the events of last time, not sleeping well, and hiding it from everyone as best she can. She’s worried about going back into a world that’s stuffed to the gills with Ghosts from the wars.
The first meeting doesn’t go well, dangers soon appear, and Lex has no allies except for a spy of Mavens who can’t be revealed of course. Quinn wanted to come, he and Lex usually work together, but its too close to his human life, where his wife ( widow) and daughter still live. The temptation to seek them out, or the possibility of accidentally meeting them, would be too much. He hates seeing Lex in danger though and boy, does she get into some here….
The story unfolds, opinions change, and the dangers stack up. Lex doesn’t really know where to look but slowly she starts to get a picture of events, although the culprit shocked her – and me. I Did Not see that coming!! I love to be caught out like that.
As usual there’s a mix of info we know and new things, new spells, types of witchcraft, types of ghost, and the world Lex is in seems to be ever expanding. I enjoyed meeting new characters, wasn’t sure about Beau at first, but came to really like and respect him in the end. Even though its mostly new folk we meet, we still are connected to the usual crew by way of Lex’ thoughts, talks with Sam, phone calls and other little means, so it all felt very much a part of the series, not just Lex in a new tale. I like that connection, like the the world is slowly expanding, bringing in more folk – and hopefully lots more stories!
Things happen here that throw light on some past events, and push the whole group further forward. If I’ve a criticism its just a personal one, I adore Quinn, I missed him, although I understood exactly why he had to stay away. Without him though Lex really will struggle.
I look forward to the next from Melissa.
Stars: Five, another cracking read. Roll on the next one.
The Familiars: Stacey Halls
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
I hovered over this, had requested via netgalley some time ago but didn’t get it 😦 , sometimes they only have limited copies for ARCs. It sounded so intriguing after reading the sample that I bought it anyway. Yep, paid real money for this one 😉
Its a fantastic read, based around the real Pendleton Witches saga, and showing how helpless women were once accused, and how easy to was for grudges, and power hungry individuals to wreck peoples lives. Literally. That magic mix ( for me ) of fiction and reality, which I love to read.
I loved Fleetwood, only 17 but on her fourth pregnancy, hoping against hope that this time her husband gets his much wanted heir. Then she finds That Letter, and is devastated. As was I reading it, I so felt for her.
Richard seems like a really nice guy, shocking to me that at just 17 his wife is on her fourth pregnancy, but in those times marriage at a young age wasn’t uncommon. He’s away a lot on business but seems to adore Fleetwood and certainly allows her a freedom many wives didn’t have at that time. Then we learn something that shocked me. Not so uncommon but I just didn’t expect it and it coloured how I felt about him after.
Alice, poor girl, just caught up in things after trying to innocently help someone, and her involvement brings others into the ever growing web of people seeking the kings favour are weaving, knowing his vendetta against witches. Looking at the accusations and the “proof” from today’s perspective its ludicrous, but back then men were Gods almost when it came to determining who was innocent – hint, virtually no one. They seemed to see accused as guilty the minute someone laid a charge, and knowing the more “witches” they found, the higher the king would regard them was a powerful motive for those with no conscience.
Poor Fleetwood learns some unpleasant lessons about trust in this book. Alice too, helping someone injured ended up risking her life. She’d such a hard life anyway, and then doing something so innocent cost her job and brought her to the witch hunters notice.
The supernatural, the familiars element of the title is kind of elusive, certain animals could perhaps be familiars, and yet it could just be supposition, superstitious imaginings about innocent pets. Who knows, its never really clear but there’s enough co-incidences to make me wonder.
Stars: Five, a fabulous read, that mix of fiction rooted in reality and with a possible supernatural link, made it a riveting read for me. One I know I’ll re-read.
City of Pearl, Alys Clare
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery and Thrillers
I’ve said before, this series so much reminds me of the Ariana Franklin books I enjoyed years ago, and I’m really enjoying getting to know Lassair and her world. I mistakenly came in late to the series, thinking its was an AF read, so I’ve yet to have the pleasure of reading the books from the beginning. One day – so many books, so little time…. 😉
Anyway, we start in the Fens, ( a place not many miles from where I live) but the story moves on a journey to Spain. It amazes me that some folk never traveled further than the next village, which feels usual for the time, while others like Lassair, Gurdyman and his family, and a few others, embarked upon what must have been scary and perilous travails, at a time when so little was known about where they were going, and knowing the journey would be fraught with danger.
Gurdyman has always been a man of few words, Lassair has learned to curb her impatience, knowing he will tell her what she needs to know in time, but even her patience was stretched here. I’d have been climbing the walls.
Clearly the unflappable Gurdyman has been frightened, but by what? Where exactly are they going, and why? Why go now when its the worst time to travail and Gurdyman isn’t in the best of health? Lassair though is feeling her losses, poor Rollo, who died in the last book, and Jack, who so curtly rejected her so she’s ready for a change, and thinks maybe that’s why he chosen now to travel.
Like many historical reads the book is really about the gradual progress to the end, enjoying the journey the book takes us on, rather than racing to the finish. That’s good because I enjoyed that more than the actual revelations at the end.
We find the place where Gurdyman lived as a young boy, and where he furthered his education. There are more hints of some things that are a bit more Magic, than straight Healing, a trait only a few have, and of which Gurdyman has taught Lassair only the briefest history.
There’s an undercurrent of danger running through the book, of mystery, of evil and maybe harm, of things unspoken but feared, and Lassair finds herself puzzling what, why, who, where are they going etc. She has so many questions but Gurdyman reveals very little. I would be so burning with curiosity, Lassair is a better person ( all round) than me.
She learns more about herself, and things about her mentor which are hard to accept, but in contrast to that harsh fact, and the trials that undoubtedly lie ahead for her, she has a moment of happiness when Jack follows her on that perilous journey to ensure she’s safe. He’d only do that if he cares? Right? So thinks she, and I, and I so hope we’re right 😉
Stars: 4.5 I’m hovering between four and five here, the main thrust of the story was fascinating, kept me guessing and engrossed, and felt so very real, I felt I was there in history and I love a story that can do that. Somehow though the answers to those questions Lassair ( and I) has weren’t as satisfying as I’d hoped. Though all was made clear it just didn’t really feel enough for me, and there were of course bits I wasn’t happy to read, disappointments in some people. That was just a fraction of the overall though so its a four and a half for me.
Arc via Netgalley
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!