Silver borne by patricia briggs
inquisitor by R.J. Blain
Ok, maybe my title is misleading...obviously I am not talking about the Spanish Inquisition. In R.J. Blain's new urban fantasy, Inquisitor, we are looking at a completely different brand of inquisition....one that's coming after the supernatural creatures living among us.
If you missed this feature on The Weekly Newbie post a while back, here's the back cover blurb:
When Allison is asked to play Cinderella-turned-Fiancée at a Halloween ball, the last thing she expected was to be accused of murder on the same night. She has to find the killer or she'll be put to death for the crimes she didn't commit. To make matters worse, the victims are all werewolves.
On the short list of potential victims, Allison has to act fast, or the killer will have one more body to add to his little black book of corpses.
There's only one problem: One of the deaths has struck too close to home, and Allison's desire for self-preservation may transform into a quest for vengeance...
Ok, so I liked this book! While I always enjoy a good werewolf book, it's definitely a sub-genre that's been tackled a lot and it's hard to avoid covering territory that's already been done. I think Blain does a great job of setting up a story/world that's a little different than some of the other werewolf novels out there. While there are some similarities, there is enough to make itself stand out in the genre. While the existence of fae beings are hinted at, Inquisitor, focuses on witches and werewolves (hence the series title....) which is a combination I haven't read before.
The main character, Allison, was an interesting one as well. I found myself intrigued by her. I wanted to know more about her backstory and her plight. Allison definitely carries this novel...and she does so pretty well. You are introduced to several side characters (I hesitate to call them "background characters" because some of them play pretty big roles) throughout the story and I do wish that we had learned more about them. Now, I believe this is book number one in a series (at least, with that ending it had, it had better be part of a series!) and it could be that we learn more about the side characters in later installments. Even with that possibility, I do wish we had learned a bit more about them in this go-around.
To go hand-in-hand with the side-character development, I did find myself wanting a little more worldbuilding. Worldbuilding can make-it or break-it for me and I think setting up a supernatural side-world in the midst of reality can be challenging. You don't want to have too much worldbuilding because you want to read an urban fantasy. Too much focus on the fae/supernatural side can sometimes turn the story into pure fantasy. Plus, in an attempt to worldbuild, some authors tend to info dump rather than gradually set up their world. Blain doesn't info dump (no worries) and I definitely could see the structure of an interesting world (what with the Inquisition itself, werewolf pack structure, the interesting relationship between witch and wolf, etc...) forming throughout the story. I found myself, however, wanting more established world building toward the beginning of the story so it could then, in turn, frame the rest of the plot.
As far as the story itself...holy plot twists, Batman! I thought I had the book figured out about a quarter of the way through...then Blain threw the first curveball at me. Then the twists and turns kept coming and I didn't know what to expect anymore. Which is good. I hate being able to telegraph the plot of a book. The story is quite interesting and there are some plot elements that are very intriguing (yes, I'm being vague so as to avoid spoilerage). Inquisitor held my attention to the very last page.
All in all - Inquisitor is a fun, four-star read! Definitely a fun read for fans of urban fantasy featuring strong, female leads!
autumn bones by Jacqueline Carey
Ok, so I won't lie...I'm sick and tired of hearing about Daisy's creepy tail. Oh and in this book, we get a description of it! It's several inches long with blond hair that stands on end much like the hair on the back of your neck when you're alarmed.
All I can think about is a rat tail with some hair on it. Seriously...go Google a picture of a hairy rat tail. Actually, don't...who knows what you might end up seeing.
Other than the tail ...*shudder*... this was an OK book. I didn't love it...but I didn't hate it either. In Autumn Bones we delve a little deeper into Daisy's forays as Hel's liaison and her attempts to keep the eldritch under control in her little town. It doesn't help that her boyfriend Sinclair turns out to be descended from a line of obeah men/women (ie. a family of strong Caribbean withes)....a family that wants Sinclair out of the States and back on the Islands with them where they think he belongs. Soon Daisy is on a deadline to save her town from an evil duppy (ie. the ghost/spirit of Sinclair's dead obeah-man grandfather) before the veil between the living and the dead is torn down forever.
I remember really enjoying the first one (Dark Currents) and I definitely think a knowledge of the first installment is almost a must to really enjoy Autumn Bones. My biggest issue with the story was that it slowed w-a-y down right at the climax of the plot. I mean, why would it do that? The set-up chapters were really easily to read and moved fast...but when the plot really started to pick up, it just got tedious.
So tedious that I was ready for it to just be done.
Oh and there's a tail-waggin' love triangle as well. Not really original, but...whatevs.
That said...will I read the next one when it comes out? Yeah, I will. I don't know if I will it will be as "on top" of my reading list like this one was...and I still waited several months to read this one.
alpha and omega by Patricia Briggs
Note --> I only read the short story Alpha and Omega out of this collection.
I guess now's as good of a time as any to confess -- I don't like short stories or novellas. I never really have. I enjoy fully developed characters and a complex/in depth plotline and that can be hard to do well in a short story (not impossible...just difficult).
Briggs does a pretty good job in Alpha and Omega. The main reason I picked this anthology up was to read her novella before I started the full "Alpha and Omega" series (as has been recommended to me to do by several people). The big complaint that I saw in regards to the full series is that Briggs really begins the plot with this novella -- and I think they are correct in that determination.
Briggs really jumps into the action with this novella. The whole of the plot takes place within 24 hours or so...and a LOT happens. The world is the same world as the Mercy Thompson series which I really enjoy. One of the main characters is Bran's (the Marrok..ie. leader..of the werewolves) son Charles who we meet briefly in the Mercy Thompson series (at least it's a brief meeting where I am at in the series at the moment...I don't know if he comes into the stories in later MT books). Charles is known as the Executioner and he is sent to Chicago to settle a matter amongst the local werewolves. While in Chicago he meets an intriguing young female werewolf and he discovers, unbeknownst to her, that she is a rare gem among the werewolf hierarchy - she's an Omega.
It held my interest fairly well, but I don't know if I would have chosen to read it had it been a standalone novella. One thing that I enjoyed about it was that it didn't read like pure set-up for the full-length series. Briggs may have written it for that express purpose, however, you could read this novella...put it down...and be satisfied with the story without going on to read the accompanying series.
So...four stars for a decent novella (despite my personal bias against them). If you are a fan of the Mercy Thompson world definitely check this one out.
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Another solid installment of the Mercy Thompson series. I was hesitant to start reading this one so soon after finishing Iron Kissed because I really enjoyed Iron Kissed.
Despite my reservations, Bone Kissed was pretty good! In this novel, Briggs takes us back to the vampire side of the Tri-Cities and we delve further into the mess made by Andre/Stephan/Mercy etc that was addressed in an earlier book. The vampire seethe Mistress, Marsilia, is upset at Mercy's actions that resulted in the death of Andre and seeks to punish Mercy...even if that means murder. As Mercy starts to deal with the fallout of murdering a vampire, however, she is introduced to a vampire that even other vampires call "The Monster".
Oh, and Mercy officially makes her decision -- Adam or Samuel?
I think, as of right now, I still prefer the fae side of the Tri-Cities story arc. The vampires are interesting and definitely more developed at this point in the plotline, but I am kind of tired of vampires. I know when the books originally came out, vampires weren't as cliche as they are now...but I'm still a little burned out on the vamps. Briggs does a great job, however, establishing interesting focal points within the vampire mythology that kept me interested in the plotline and the character development. Stephan is a great example - I liked him in book one, but I like him even more now that I am in book four. Briggs is excellent at developing rich, flawed characters.
Looking forward to book number five!
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
So, I really enjoyed this third installment in the "Mercy Thompson" series. The book is a tad formulaic:
Mercedes Thompson is a hardcore mechanic who can shift...
+ But someone needs her to use her shifter abilities...
+ Mercy uses said abilities but then...
+ Mercy gets into trouble...
+ Which causes the local werewolf pack to go beserk in her defense...
= Mercy saves the day and we move on to the next book
It seems as though those elements have been in all three books so far. Not sure if the rest of the series continues in the same fashion.
Despite it being formulaic and, one could argue, a bit predictable, Iron Kissed was excellent. I think Iron Kissed is my favorite one so far...despite the not-cool twist toward the end of the story. Briggs lets her readers get to know the characters so when something like that end-of-story twist happens...well, you feel awful right along with the characters.
I did enjoy that we explored the fae side of things in Iron Kissed. I like Briggs' vampires, however, I was ready to explore some of the other creatures. And learning more about the enigmatic Zee was excellent as well. I think the next book goes back to vampires...so I hope Briggs' revisits the fae in a future book.
Plus, on a personal note, I really enjoy that Mercy was a history major in college. As a fellow history major, I can really relate with the "historian humor" Briggs throws into the story. In this installment, Mercy complains about a job interview at a high school that she turned down....the school wanted her to coach a sport *and* teach history classes whereas she felt history should be valued enough to be taught exclusively and not by a coach who happens to teach the history class to supplement their coach's income. Trust me...this happens in the real world. And if you are interested in history and not interested in coaching a sport, it can make job hunting very irritating. But I digress....
I am really enjoying this series and am looking forward to the future books. This is one of the perks of being behind in series...it's kind of like Netflix - I can read and read and read and not worry about waiting for the next one to be published.
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
That was my reaction about a third of the way into the book --> Finally, it looks as though I have found a series that a) branches away from the typical vampire/werewolf plot line that permeates the genre and b) is written in a style that doesn't irritate the crap out of me.
I have a few dragon/shifter books on my to-read list...but this was the first one of the field that I have read. And I loved it! It's steamy and seems to be the start of a really interesting world. It's not just dragons that shift in this series -- it's all the fae creatures you could ever imagine...from gargoyles to gryphons to whatever.
And to top it all off, there are Elves! I love me some elves. Not like Santa's Elves...think more like Tolkien, Forgotten Realms, or Dragonlance elves.
Dragon Bound starts the Elder Races series which, you guessed it, encompasses all the fantasy races. There's definitely plenty of material here - Thea Harrison could keep writing this series for quite a while and she has enough variety within the fantasy races alone to keep things fresh and interesting.
The plot of Dragon Bound was interesting...the romance steamy (but pretty typical if I'm being honest). Was it predictable? Maybe a little...I should have figured out what Pia shifted into before it happened. In fact, the page before Pia shifted I guessed what she was. I predicted the end of the book as well...BUT the other factors of the story/characters/plot made it compulsively readable so I didn't really care that it echoed of other stories I may have read.
Thea Harrison has a very readable style to her writing. The story flows smoothly and it's not filled with annoying sayings or choppy plot like other well-known authors/books in the field.
Dragon Bound definitely caters to the Alpha Male storyline too. There's a positive review from J.R. Ward on the cover recommending it to fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood - she's right. There's definitely a similar vibe both in character style and series set up (if that makes sense?. Wrath is to the BDB as Dragos is to the Elder Races.
All in all --> 4.5 gnomes...rounded up to 5 because I am excited to read where this series will go!
[Read Dec. 2013]
Atlantis Rising by Alyssa Day
I wanted to like it. I really did It has good reviews on Goodreads and the premise seemed interesting. I just couldn't stand the writing style.
This may be one I come back to later, though. The premise seems too good to let go so easily...
So, until we meet again, Atlantis Rising, until we meet again.
[Read Dec. 2013]
Amaryllis by Jayne Castle
Maybe it was the "InstaLove"? Maybe it was the crappy world building? Maybe it was the utter predictability of the story line? Maybe it was the copious amounts of jelly-ice?
Whatever it was - I. Could. Not. Stand. This. Book.
I only finished it because I was stuck in the car for 6+ hours and had packed my alternate books. Wow, this was not a winner for me.
Amaryllis takes place on a remote planet, St. Helen, that is closed off from earth. Forced to adapt to the planet that's remarkably like earth (except for the extremely handy plot twist that all advanced earth technology doesn't work and disintegrates on St. Helen), the human residents find themselves developing supernatural-like talents. These talents work in tandem with prisms (which also develop in certain people) that focus the talents to accomplish a specific goal. Amaryllis Lark, a professional prism contracts a job with sexy CEO Lucas Trent - who happens to be a talent with off the chart power. They quickly find themselves mixing business with pleasure as they embark on a steamy (jelly-ice filled?) love affair. Throw in a potential murder and Amaryllis and Lucas are in for a wild and bumpy ride full of jelly-ice and arranged marriage agencies.
Ok, so here are my issues with this book:
a) There was no character development. Telling me that Amaryllis is a stuffy, prim-and-proper Prism isn't developing her character. It's just giving me a description. I need more - SHOW me that Amaryllis is prim and proper. 'Cause seeing her rip off her shirt for Lucas in, like, chapter two isn't indicative of a prim and proper character...
b) Attack of the InstaLove! Ugh. I hate InstaLove. I don't know why authors think that you can introduce two characters, not develop them any, and then think it's ok to have them suddenly in love. In the second chapter. Nope...doesn't work for me. I don't buy it.
c) Jelly Ice. What a horrible name for anything. All I can picture is a jello jiggler shaking it's jelly ice bottom at me. Ick.
d) World building - or lack thereof in this case. I'm sorry, but you can't explain it as "it's a new world...but the same as earth...except that it's not because all convenient technology disintegrates". That's not world building...that's making it easier for you to include crappy substitutes like "jelly ice" and not develop it any further. I think if Castle could have spent a little bit longer fleshing things out, she could have created a really fun world. Instead it's two-dimensional and seems to be a lazy way out of thinking through the world building process.
e) Foreshadowing, anyone? It was super easy to peg whodunit and why WAY early on in the story. Maybe some non-essential characters would have helped add mystery to the story? I don't know...
So why, if I hated it so much, did I give it two gnomes? Well...I only did that because I have read some of Jane Ann Krentz's other stuff under various other pseudonyms (she has so many!) and enjoyed it just fine AND I am remotely curious about the other two heroes that were briefly mentioned in Amaryllis...so two gnomes because I have a small inclination to read at least one more...jelly ice and all.
[Read Sept. 2013]
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
I liked but most definitely did not love the first two books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood...but Holy Zsadist, I loved Lover Awakened!
Ok, but before I go into all that - let me just say that adding the extra letters [like the "Z" in Zsadist...or the "H" in "ahvenge"...so on and so forth] DRIVES ME CRAZY. Also, the copious mentions of "shit-kickers", "leathers", and 50 Cent/G-Unit are just plain ridiculous. Ok, so these guys are bad asses. Got it. Can we just say..."Hey, the BDB are badasses...just wanted to let you know" and be done with it? I also can't stand the "what's doing, my brother?" or the other fake-jock-fratboy speak that Ward throws into the dialogue. What Ward is doing with all of this just seems like a cheap way to add pseudo-depth to the characters and cheap way to manufacture cohesiveness among the BDB. It doesn't work for me...rather than provide depth, I just laugh out loud and get thrown out of the story. And I shudder to think that it will be like this for the whole multi-book series. That's a lot of shit kickers, leathers and out of date rap music...you feel me, my brother? Sigh...
So, despite the shit kickers and leathers - I loved Zsadist as a character and I loved the story between him and Bella. I also enjoyed the background stories that are building up as well - I think there may be some good books coming up in my BDB future. Unfortunately, I had had some spoilerage happen regarding Wellsie and John so I wasn't too surprised by those developments [and I shan't say anymore about those plot points lest I spoil it for somebody else]. I think if I hadn't been aware of what was going to happen on those fronts I would have loved this book even more.
I am slightly worried about the future books I have yet to read...I was most interested in Zsadist and now I've read his book so...am I going to be as invested in the other BDBrothers? I don't know...I've looked ahead and see the next one is about Butch which is the character I (as of right now) care the least about so...we'll see. I am curious as to John's story and Phury's story...so hopefully those are in my future as well.
Looks like there will be more BDB in my future - here's to hoping they are all on Zsadist's level or higher.
[Read Sept. 2013]
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
I know I'm kind of late to the game with this series - but I really enjoyed Blood Bound! Such a fun read!
In Blood Bound, Stefan the vampire calls in the favor Mercy owes him and the two of them go off after a serial-killing vampire who seems more ruthless than usual for a vampire. Shifted as a coyote, Mercy discovers that the evil vampire they are tracking is actual a demon-possessed-sorcerer-vampire which spells trouble for the whole community - for regular humans and supernaturals alike.
Briggs definitely sets up a bit of a love...triangle?...quadrangle?...well, whatever it is, it's shaping up to be a hot mess. I usually am rooting for a specific party to win the romance war, yet with this series I am as of yet undetermined. I would be ok with any of the guys winning Mercy's affection...and I would NOT be ok with any of the guys being left out...so it's shaping up to be an interesting read as the series progresses.
The Mercy Thompson has some flavors of the Sookie Stackhouse novels (I'm not sure which series came first?)in that there are vampires, werewolves, and shifters (oh my!)...yet the characters are SO. MUCH. BETTER. I just can't stand Sookie or Harris' writing (hence why I gave up mid-series on that one)...but I really enjoy Mercy Thompson and crew. Mercy isn't your average female lead and it's nice to have a lead character who doesn't quite fit the average heroine mold. I like the world Briggs has constructed as well - she tries to make her world blend seamlessly into the world as we know it and I think she does a pretty good job with it.
Definitely a great read in a great series that will scratch that paranormal fantasy itch you have.
[Read Sept. 2013]