5 star review

Review – Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

Glorious! I devoured this book in record time. How a series that I initially gave no chance to, could so quickly become one of my absolute favorite series is a bafflement to me. But it is true. Patricia Briggs has a gift for writing strong, ferocious heroines that still engender empathy in her readers.

This is book 10 in the series, and these are NOT, I repeat NOT standalones. So, unfortunately, spoilers for the previous books may occur. But let me tell you, if you have any interest at all in urban fantasy/paranormal romance, this is a series that will suck you in. We have a Volkswagon mechanic named Mercedes, a daughter of chaos who plays merry hell on the stoic werewolves around her. A coyote shifter is so very different than the other big bads in this fantasy setting. It is completely worth the read, and I highly recommend the series as whole.

This book in specific though plays a nice symmetry with the beginning of the series, Mercedes alone and ostensibly friendless. Of course Mercy has always had a knack for managing the chaos in her life. But it was interesting to see how different of a person she is by this point in time, even when she is on her own.

Following the events of the previous books, the consequences of the Columbia Basin’s power plays in making their territory neutral for both humans and the supernatural alike have shown up in an interesting way. And while our main protagonists, and us readers, have had a view from the inside, it was very interesting to see how those on the OUTSIDE have interpreted the events that unfolded. Needless to say they got it all wrong. Which opened up all sorts of doors to conflict.

Enter stage left- The Master of Milan, Iacapo Bonaparte. He is the biggest, baddest vampire in Europe. And ever if there was a canny, crafty, bastard of a villain, this jerk is it. I never thought I could sympathize with some of the vampires who have been making Mercy’s life hell in the previous books, but Briggs managed it. Surprising revelations changed the entire COMPLEXION of events that I thought I understood before, and in such a way that it seemed completely natural to me. The landscape back home is going to end up very different once our stalwart heroes make it back.

Of course, despite Bonaparte’s machinations, things are very much not what they seemed, and forces were at work that even he couldn’t comprehend. Turns out there is even more to Mercy than we had already realized….I think she finally discovered her “42”.

Adam and Mercy though, at this point are just rock solid, but it was nice to see how even apart they are still each the others touchstone. But it was also nice to see a few secondary characters shine, and get to understand them better. I think going back and rereading with some of this new information is going to give me a deeper appreciation of some of the other characters. And I know that events from this book are going to perceptively color future events.

And of course the reunion between Mercy and Adam was sweet, and sexy, and full of the turmoil only these two characters can bring to one another. Briggs had a description in the spinoff series that everything here made me think of, about how opening up was like opening an umbrella that had been shut a very long time and how parts creak and groan and threaten to break…only in this case it was like someone then oiled all the moving parts so that everything will now function like it should. That is what this book felt like. It may hurt to open things up that have been closed a very long time, but sometimes you have to so you can use it the way it need to be used.

Another note though, this book is somewhat nonlinear, so I think I will need to read it at least one more time to truly get it all together in my head. But it was excellent enough that I would have wanted to regardless. This was one of those books that was absolutely worth the wait and more than exceeded my expectations even though it was nothing like I was expecting, if you see what I mean.

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)

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5 star review

Review + Giveaway – One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

one-fell-sweep

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!

I received an ARC of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the contents of my review…obviously, since I bought it anyway. And I’ll buy a copy for one lucky winner of my Giveaway too, as has become my tradition (and despite the fact that it is getting released on a Tuesday)! a Rafflecopter giveaway

So on to the story. This is the first one of this series of serials where I actually read the serial instead of waiting for the project to be finalized, though I did wait for all parts to be written…because I am not that much of a masochist. So I found it really interesting to try to see where and how it changed. Of course, the difficulty with trying that is that I once again got sucked into the story, hard. It is difficult to play the difference game when you feel like you are in something instead of outside it.

This is the third book in their urban fantasy series, where the earth in question is one out of a multiverse, one that connects to the wider multiverse through key points in the form of Inns. Inns are magical places that are hidden from the earthlings at large, and that function as neutral points on earth for the protection of both earth and the special visitors that come here. They also are symbiotic, Inns need guests. And Dina is the Innkeepeer of the Gertrude Hunt, the setting of our story.

The overall series arc revolves around the search for Dina’s parents who disappeared with their Inn some years ago. While her brother actively searches, Dina’s plan was to draw guests to her Inn in the hopes of encountering someone who could help. Considering the caliber of guests she has attracted, and the courageous way she has addressed problems along the way, it is no surprise that this plan is bearing fruit. Dina rocks.

Other notable points in this story are getting to meet more of Dina’s family and the resolution of the love triangle that was noted in the first book. I was never in doubt about which way that was going to go, personally. But if you were hesitant to pick up this series because of that triangle, you can rest assured it is safe to pick it up now.

But the most important things are the way our kick-ass homemaker grows into her role and owns up to making life and death situations. She  also learns to be part of a team. This book wasn’t as “fun” as the first one, nor was it quite the sucker punch to the guts that then second one was (in my opinion), but it was just as good only in a broader way. I guess what I am trying to say is that there was a lot more going on in this one. Heartwarming moments, humor, joy, despair, and hope. This one has it all, and so did Dina.

As for changes from the original serial format? The only thing I actually noticed was the little bit of a twist at the end. It really cleared up one confusing (to me) plot point from the last book, and left us with a hell of a question to ponder while waiting for the next one.

But you’ll have to read it to see what shook out. And I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a little paranormal/urban fantasy.

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3)

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5 star review

Review – Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks

dragon-spawn

The New York Times bestselling author of Mind Magic returns as FBI agent Lily Yu gets some very bad news…

Lily learns she was right. Tom Weng—a powerful sorcerer allied with the Old One who keeps trying to take over the world—is still alive. But that’s not the worst. Weng is a dragon spawn, the product of a botched hatching given a human form in an attempt to keep him from going mad. A failed attempt.

Meanwhile, Lily’s husband Rule is facing a Challenge to the death. Then there’s the possible reappearance of another sorcerer. But none of that matters when their enemy strikes out of nowhere in the worst way possible. Lily must face a nightmare and return to a place she never wanted to see again. The place where she died…

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

This is a series that has me in my feelings every single time. And this last one, while I really enjoyed it, left me a trifle confused about where the overall story arc was going. And so, while I was nervous to start it, I recognized the last time that I always am with this series, and since I have never had a significant disappointment, when the opportunity to snatch it up occurred, I did so gleefully and put my trepidation aside to start almost immediately.

Since this is book 13 in the series, DO NOT start here. Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi series is sort of an alternate history, slightly post-apocalyptic, urban fantasy romance series. In this world, we have Lupi (sort of like hereditary werewolves who until recently were only male and have a deeply religious bent), Sidhe, humans with Gifts, witches, dragons, demons and various other mythological creatures all rolled up into a complicated tapestry. It rocks, seriously rocks.

The series follows the events that occur after the return of magic in large quantities to this world, with the overall arc following those who are opposing a deity like creature who is out to cause genocide against the Lupi. The bridge between the Lupi and the humans comes in the form of Lily Yu-Turner, a human FBI agent who is the heroine of most of the stories. She is a very by the book FBI agent, so her involvement in events that are often outside of her control makes for entertaining reading.

This particular book however doesn’t intersect with her job or even much with the human world. There are actually a couple of different story threads going on. There’s the Lupi’s violent form of politics which Rule Turner has managed to step in. There’s the deepening relationship between Rule and Lily (so nice to see an author who acknowledges a relationship still needs to grow, even after marriage), and some hammering out of the Lily’s relationship with Rule’s son. There’s the Great Bitch’s shenanigans. There’s the trip itself and Gan the former demon’s continued growth of soul and her heroics. And naturally enough there’s the titular dragons. The last book certainly makes sense now.

Things are serious, and seriously busy. And I’ll admit that it kept me gripped in the story until right up at the end, when Eileen Wilks punched me right in the guts with the mother of all cliffhangers. One thing I can state unequivocally, I will not be the least reticent in picking up the next book. In fact, I think it si fair to say I am feeling slightly violent about getting the next installment of the story.

Don’t get me wrong, while I am irked as hell at this cliffhanger BS, I still really enjoyed the story. And I sincerely recommend the series as a whole, it is well written and despite the length it is a cohesive whole that as I have said several times before forms a rich tapestry of a story. You might not always get what’s going on while in the midst of it, but once the next piece is finished and you step back and look at the whole it all makes sense. What was accomplished in the book makes sense in the wider story arc, so while not everything is completed in this book, I have faith that the author knows where she is going and how to get us there.

Dragon Spawn (World of the Lupi, #13)

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5 star review

Review -Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

archangels-heart

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

I am going to admit, I was a bit leery with this one, it sounded ominous and I have not been in a particularly good place of late. But Singh has had me captivated, so I had to read it anyway, and I was so glad I did. I absolutely devoured it.

This is book 9 in a series that really should be read in order. Spoilers for the previous books in the series are likely to occur. So the series teaser (as interpreted by me to see if you are interested): an urban fantasy world filled with non-judeo/christian angel’s, Archangels, vampires with a hell of a twist, and the human vampire hunters who work the fringes of this mad world have hellacious adventures, live, and love and all that jazz. So seriously, read all the books. But stop reading this review if you haven’t already read in the series.

Things have gotten super weird in the world. It has been two years since the events of the last book, and the staggering power of the cascade has been on pause and the big bad no where in sight. So needless to say that emotions are running high. This isn’t always a good thing, but based on how we have slowly been exploring Aodhan and his relationship with Illium it seems it might just be the perfect thing to break open the cracks in the remnants of our dear Sparkle’s solitude. I completely ‘ship SparkleBell. And things aren’t just in turmoil on the personal fronts, the power vacuum of a territory not under command of an Archangel is an issue that must be dealt with.

Enter stage left: the Luminia, an eons old sect but a complete mystery to us and to the relatively new minted angel Elena. And this group has the power and authority to call a meeting of the Cadre of Archangells…duh, duh, DUHHH. Things get dark pretty damned quick.  Power corrupts and rots in secret.

I think it is fair to say that I was completely surprised by where this book went. In a good way, but still, very surprised. And I think it is excellent that Singh has the power to surprise me, because I was starting to wonder.

I will admit, that I initially started this series under duress and desperation (I had nothing to read and had completely demolished-as in reread until the pages fell out waiting for the next Psy-Changeling book came out), and was prepared to dislike it for a variety of reasons…and the first book didn’t exactly endear itself to me. But now that I am into it, I think what I enjoy about it is how the power differentials are dealt with. Here a mortal heart in the face of such age and immorality is powerful and can change the course of the future, here there is power in being a scholar, here women can be and are expected to be powers in the own rights. It all just tickles my fancy. Plus, I really enjoy the twist with the vampires and the world building that goes along with this mythology.

I also really enjoy the balance. While I do enjoy following an established couple through a series, they can get stale and one-dimensional since we almost never seem them grow through the growth of integral friends. And while I also enjoy series that use each new couple’s book to advanced the overall story arc, sometimes it is exhausting meeting new people, plus the time giving more people back stories can make the overall arc disjointed. I find the method in this book about perfect. We do have out main characters who keep things moving along, but then other people close to the main characters have their own books too, which livens the series up. The first three books focus on Raphael and Elena, then we get Dmitri and Honor’s book, then Jason and Honor’s book, then back to Raphael and Elena, then back to their friends Janvier and Ashwini and then Nassir and Andi, and now we are back with Raphael and Elena, so I think we can expect more from Raphael’s Seven now. With Galen having found his heart long ago, that just leaves us with Venom, Sparkle, and BlueBell. And since I ‘ship the Sparklebell, you’ve got a good guess of whose story I want to see next. 😀

I am hoping for Sparklebell, then Venom…maybe with Sorrow…not at all sure about that. And then the big showdown with the big bad.

Meantime, our new guests to New York are I am sure going to shake things up, and I can’t WAIT for two of them to meet Elena’s father and her two half sisters. I am going to bet it is going to be love at first sight with those little girls, much to Jeffrey’s great discomfort.

And as it goes along I am going to wallow in how this mortal heart changes such ancient beings, breaking them out of their hidebound ways. It is purely delightful. Fair warning though, there is some darkness. But overall a happy book, that made my afternoon a little brighter. Singh always makes me glad I have read.

I am not certain any of this rambling makes a bit of sense, but I was trying not to squee and cooo, and Bieber it all over the place. Happy reading!

Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9)

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3.5 star review

Review – Allegiance of Honour by Nalini Singh

Allegiance of Honour

The “unparalleled romantic adventure”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world…

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy…and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable—and save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

I read this the instant it came out, literally, I stayed up all night reading it, which is something that I endeavor not to do any more. And it has taken me this long to write my review, and I am not the only one to have some kind of feelings about it.

I read this series both for the romance and for the world building, so in general it doesn’t really bother me when the balance skews one way or the other, but this thing, it wasn’t either of those.

I think I get what the author was trying to do here, it was meant to be a wallow through characters that we love, an homage to the reader if you will, updating us on how thrilled and wonderful their lives are after such hardships. And it was meant to be a bridge, setting up new conflicts and adding new characters that I assume will be important in future installments.

But that wasn’t what it was, or at least that wasn’t what it felt like to me. It felt like, I don’t know, a money grab and a cop out. If all these scenes and information had been dispersed out through the year as vignettes, I would have been thrilled and I would have read them avidly. As it was I was just somewhat disappointed. If she had picked out a character pair and told their love story with the Black See changeling story line threading through it (like Zaira and Aiden’s story), I would have been thrilled too. And maybe if the mystery and furthering of the overall plot had been more cohesive and integral, I would have been more satisfied too.

As it was, I guess the best word for this is underwhelming. Yes, I knew ahead of time it was an ensemble, and I can’t really think of any ensemble books that I liked (and several I have actively despised), but I hoped for better from this author. Perhaps this is a format that just doesn’t work for me. Maybe it doesn’t actually work for anyone. I am keeping my fingers crossed on the next one though, hoping this particular author manages to take back the reins after the conclusion of what I had thought would be the end of the series.

Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling #15)

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3.5 star review

Review – White Tiger by Jennifer Ashley

White Tiger

A woman is lured into the shadows of a dangerous manhunt…
Wanted and on the run…

For twenty years, Kendrick, a white tiger Shifter, has been the Guardian of un-Collared Shifters who spend their lives living in secret—and in fear of being shunted into Shiftertowns. When Kendrick’s group is discovered and forced to flee, Kendrick is more desperate than ever to protect them

His only salvation was in a beautiful stranger.

In a diner in the middle of nowhere, lonely waitress Addison Price has seen a lot of unusual drifters come and go, but none has ever captivated—and intimidated—her like the imposing fugitive who wields a broadsword with incredible skill. But when he risks all to protect her, Addison’s fear turns to empathy—and empathy to desire as she learns more about her savior. Soon she’s more than willing to help the crushingly sensual white tiger and his cubs in a passionate bid for freedom. Whatever the cost.

I really get a kick out of this series. Sometimes it is sweet, sometimes sad, sometimes light, sometimes dark. But even when I find myself not wanting to read in general, I do still want to read these when they come out. While each story is a stand-alone in many ways, I think you are better reading most of them, and in order, to get the full picture.

This particular story was longer on plot, and a touch shorter on relationship. But it was good. It opened up the world and gave readers new insights into shifter relationships and communities. Completely fascinating, I love the world building that Jennifer Ashley does with this series.

And Kendrick and Addie and their little plot moppets were completely adorable. I love a good plot moppet, and that is something that this series does well. And while Kendrick and Addie’s personal relationship may not have exactly taken center stage, their relationships with the group as a whole did, and that worked for this couple because of the kind of people they are.

We also got to see more Ben/Gil, Zander and a ton more Tiger. I adore Tiger, he’s probably my favorite character so it was really good to see how his happily ever after is shaping up. And the Ben/Gil character is fascinating and I can’t wait for his story. But I am not at all disappointed that we get Zander, the crazy polar healer’s story next.

White Tiger (Shifters Unbound #8)

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5 star review

Review – Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched

Mercy Thompson has been hailed as “a heroine who continues to grow and yet always remains true to herself.”* Now she’s back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer…

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched.

This is book 9 in the Mercy Thompson series, a series which features coyote shifter Mercedes (the Volkswagen mechanic) and her adventures being the lone coyote in werewolf territory. There is also a side series, Alpha & Omega, which has 4.5 books. There is some argument as to whether or not you really need to read Alpha & Omega to get the series as a whole (I say that you do), but whichever side of that argument you fall on, one thing is certain, you just can’t start here. Seriously, go and read them all, this blog will still be here when you get back.

Of course my bias for  A&O may be because I came to that series first through an anthology I had picked up for some other author. It captivated me, and once I finished that it made me go back and take a look at Brigg’s other works. I had completely passed over the Mercy series for the very shallow reason that I found the covers rather offputting. I looked at those covers, and with a sneer…I put them back.

Yep, I thought, really? That is a serious mechanic? And I dropped it before starting. I don’t know who they were trying to market to, but I find the covers weird, and not representative of Mercy at all. Not that there is anything wrong with those outfits in and of themselves, it just had to do with the description of the series paired with those images. Like, she was luring us with a description of a kick@ss mechanic and then was going to give us a helpless damsel instead. I couldn’t have been more wrong. But the series, it is actually amazingly good. And Mercy is one of my favorite heroines. She is a tough, no nonsense mechanic who stays true to herself. And honestly, I can’t really imagine her wearing any of those outfits, particularly to work in.

As for this book, it is completely awesome. I can’t promise to to make this spoiler free, because there is a lot going on, but I will try.

Basically, the war between the world as we know it and the fae has been heating up off page. And eventually, chaotic coyote that Mercy is, she has to draw her own line in the sand. This leads to Adam FINALLY tying off the nebulous thread to the plot arc of the pack’s animosity toward Mercy (which was welcome), but also leads to what I consider a surprise move from the Marrok.

But it is exciting. There is fighting, and mystery about the boy Aiden, and favorite characters like Zee and Tad are back. And if you read the short stories, two very interesting characters make quite the appearance, it is absolutely FANTASTIC. (Here’s to hoping the get some more page time in the next book, I think it will be good for all involved …including a conspicuously missing character. And it will be fun to watch too.) I hadn’t made the connection when the one character previously appeared, but a ton of things made better sense from that.

As for the rest of the story arc, I’ve been wondering where things were going, but man-oh-man I did NOT see this coming. You wonder sometimes, at the disparate things that come about as a series develops. Is that some random deus ex machina? Does it have purpose? Does the author know where he or she is going with this? So it was delightful to see that Patricia Briggs knew EXACTLY where she was going, or at least is a good enough story teller to pull things off with great aplomb.

And damned if there wasn’t the absolute strangest thing to be sad about too. When you get to around 96%, come back and talk to me about it, surely I am not the only one who was almost unbearably moved. But don’t be saddened to much, Briggs finishes off on a really, really high note.

So, final thoughts, there was a much higher level of humor in this one than others, the relationship angst and overall angst are at almost negligible levels, and it gives us readers some breathing space after the trauma and drama of past books and also resettles the story in ways that are hard to explain. It was an excellent installment and makes me that much more antsy to see what Charles and Anna, the titular Alpha & Omega, are up to now, since I think one of their stories will be next (see what I mean by needing to read both series to get the full picture?). Unfortunately I guess that will be happening in 2017, which is a long ways to wait, but made slightly bearable by the fact that we leave them in such a good place.

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)

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