Sunday, March 29, 2009

Adding another book review blog to the blogroll.

I've added Royal Reviews to my list of book review blogs. From what I can see, they seem to read a range of different genres of books and run some interesting challenges and giveaways.

In terms of book reviews to be added soon to this blog, I've finished reading Beast Master's Circus, and I'm currently reading both the James Delgado book: Khubulai Khan's Lost Fleet and the collaboration novel Shadow of the Lion by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer. No idea yet when I'll finish reading any of them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Upcoming Books: April and beyond

These are some of the new release and paperback releases that I've found which are coming out in the next few months. All of them are authors that I read or have read and enjoyed in the past. The site in brackets is where I got the release date, and it will be either or, although it is usually the former.

The Phoenix Transformed
Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
TOR Books
Release date: September 15, 2009 (

There's no information yet on the storyline of the book, but the logical guess is that it's the third book in the Enduring Flame series. At the moment, no cover is shown at either or

Charmed Destinies: Counting Crows/Drusilla's Dream/Moonglow
Mercedes Lackey, Rachel Lee and Catherine Asaro
Release Date: July 1, 2009 (

This is an anthology of three stories, one by each of the authors listed, put out by Luna. Given the last part, I'm guessing that it is a fantasy/romance mix as Luna is the publisher of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey. According to the Mercedes Lackey mailing list I'm on, this is also a re-print of the book, so hopefully people who've already read it won't be disappointed. At the moment, there is no information about the story content.

Todd McCaffrey
Random House Publishing Group
Release Date: October 27, 2009 (

This is the paperback release of the most recent Pern novel. I did read and enjoy this book when it first came out, although I seem to have forgotten to review it here. As I recall though, it is an alternate perspective on the plague that struck the dragons in Dragonsblood. I did find it reminiscent of the first books, Dragonflight and Dragonquest however in some ways although it didn't detract from the story. Currently, there is no cover given for the paperback.

Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card and Lois McMaster Bujold and others
Diamond Comic Distributors
Release Date: April 15, 2009 (

An anthology of science fiction, some older and reprinted, some new to this book. Some of the contributors include Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scot Card, Harry Turtledove and others. This is nearly four hundred pages of science fiction, and a lot of the authors in the list are known to be some of the best out there today.

Valor's Trial
Tanya Huff
Daw Books
Release Date: June 1, 2009 (

This is the paperback release of the most recent book in the Valor series, a military science fiction series about Torin Kerr. This is another well written series by Tanya Huff, and a definite change of pace from the Keeper series and the Blood series.

The Enchantment Emporium
Tanya Huff
Daw Books
Release Date: May 29, 2009 (

Tanya Huff has started a new world with this book. Set in Calgary, The Enchantment Emporium is centered on the character Alysha Gale and her family, who have powerful magic. I've got to say, from the tiny amount of information available on both the chapters.indigo site and the site, this looks like it'll be a really good read. Honestly, I'm planning to get my hands on this ASAP!

Torch Of Freedom
David Weber and Eric Flint
Baen Books
November 3, 2009 (

This is to be the sequel to The Shadows of Saginami and Storm From The Shadows, which I honestly have to say, needs a sequel. If it is anything like these two, the book will overlap the events that are only mentioned in the previous two, but will explain them in detail. Weber and Flint have collaborated successfully before in the Honorverse in Crown of Slaves, and I'm glad to see them team up again here. Thank goodness it's not going to be another five years for the sequel to Storm From The Shadows the way it was for The Shadows of Saginami. I can't wait!

Hunting Ground
Patricia Briggs
Berkley Mass Market
Release Date: July 28, 2009 (

This is the sequel to Cry Wolf, the first book in the Alpha And Omega series, which was to date, my favorite book in the Mercy Thompson world. At any rate, this is the continuation of the story of Anna and Charles, although not much information is available as yet.

What's In A Name Challenge Update

I'm updating my list and re-posting the rules for the What's In A Name challenge this coming year.

The requirements are to read a book from each of the categories (taken from the introductory post at the What's in A Name blog:
*Dates: January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009

*The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.

1. A book with a "profession" in its title. Examples might include: The Book Thief, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Historian
Done: Beast Master's Ark

2. A book with a "time of day" in its title. Examples might include: Twilight, Four Past Midnight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Done: Marked: A House Of Night Novel

3. A book with a "relative" in its title. Examples might include: Eight Cousins, My Father's Dragon, The Daughter of Time

4. A book with a "body part" in its title. Examples might include: The Bluest Eye, Bag of Bones, The Heart of Darkness
Done: Either Bone Crossed, or Blood Bound will work.

5. A book with a "building" in its title. Examples might include: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Little House on the Prairie, The Looming Tower

6. A book with a "medical condition" in its title. Examples might include: Insomnia, Coma, The Plague
Done: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
I've only got three of the categories left to fill. It's looking more and more likely that it will be The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien for category five though.

Marked: A House Of Night Novel - P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Marked: A House of Night Novel
P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Press
Copyright: 2007

From the cover of the book:

Enter the dark, magical world of The House of Night, a world very much like our own, except here vampyres have always existed. Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has just been Marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night, a school where she will train to become an adult vampire. That is, if she makes it through the Change--and not all of those who are Marked do. It sucks to begin a new life, especially away from her friends, and on top of that, Zoey is no average fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Zoey discovers she has amazing powers, but along with her powers come bloodlust and an unfortunate ability to Imprint her human ex-boyfriend. To add to her stress, she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers: When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school''s most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

Marked is the first book in the teen-oriented House Of Night series, of which the most recent is Hunted. I'm using 'teen-oriented' somewhat loosely as this is not a book for younger teens because of the rather explicit sexual references.

The authors have created an interesting world, one where vampyres are openly known about and, it sounds like, accepted (more or less). They're not evil or dammned, but a natural phenomenon, although it's still unknown why some people Change and not others, and only certain vampyres can tell who is going to. Mixed in is a smattering of history and myth, combined with Native culture and paganism.

Marked is almost entirely set within one of the schools created for those going through the Change, the House of Night. It's set up as a boarding school, where days and nights are reversed.

As it is set in a school environment, you then have the cast of characters: Zoey and her group, the teachers, the 'cool' girls (who are actually bullies) and those trying to be cool, etc. Aside from the vampyre aspects of the story, it's a fairly typical story of the type.

I think the story was decent, it did catch my attention in a few different places and kept me turning the pages, but event for a teen book, I found it too quick a read, and I'm not fond of the high-school set stories that are so popular right now.

The books in the series are:

Edited to add: I just realized this book filled one of the requirements for the "What's In A Name" challenge.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beast Master's Ark - Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie

Beast Master's Ark
Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie
TOR Books
Copyright: 2002

From the cover of the book:

Beast Master Hosteen Storm has endured great perils to carve out a life for himself on Arzor, the colony planet he's called home since the destruction of Earth by the alien Xik. On a planet with alient life forms and untold secrets from its pre-Human past, there are always dangers in the wild, especially in the vast desert and rugged mountain region known as Big Blue.

But nobody has ever experienced a threat like the devastating scourge the natives call Death-Which-Comes-By-Night. Something is killing grazing animals ...and has begun to attack humans as well, leaving nothing behind but the bones of its victims.

Hosteen, aided by his telepathically linked animals, knows that if he can't stop the killings Arzor will be decimated. His only ally is a young wiman who has beast master ability, but was raised to mistrust others with such a power. At stake is the safety of all those on Arzor, and on other colony planets as well. Because Death-Which-Comes-In-The-Night is a scourge that, if not stopped, here could spread...

Billed as "The first new exciting BEAST MASTER adventure in decades", Beast Master's Ark lives up to it's name. The story continues on from the books Beast Master and Lord of Thunder, which were written several decades previously.

Andre Norton is one of those writers which never seems to go out of date. Despite several decades between the volumes in some of her series, the books are still popular, good reads, and the series still fits together seamlessly.

There's a sense of falling into the middle of the story, due to the start, when there have clearly been some problems occurring before the start of the story. Some of the problems and issues are articulated as the story progresses, but others are left unexplained.

For a science fiction novel, there really isn't too much of an emphasis on technology, the story is more about the character interactions, which is a nice change from some of the sci-fi out there.

Honestly, I think this is the best of the Beast Master novels, but perhaps I'm influenced by the fact that this was the first of the books in this series that I read. There are two sequels as well: Beast Master's Circus (which I'm reading right now) and Beast Master's Quest.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Free Short Stories

SF Signal has a list of 95 new short stories from the Baen webscription site. Thing is, these ones are free. There's stories from several authors I read and enjoy, including Elizabeth Moon, S. M. Stirling, and L.E. Modesitt Jr., as well as a whole bunch of other authors.

Added a new blog to "In Their Own Words"

Patricia C. Wrede has a new website which is to eventually contain a blog. I've added the link now, even though there is nothing there yet, simply so I don't lose the link.

The only books of her's that I've read are the Lyra books, which are some of her earliest ones, but I enjoyed them greatly, and wouldn't mind re-reading them again, although I've sold my copies on and will have to hunt to find them again.

Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs

Bone Crossed
Patricia Briggs
Berkely Trade
Copyright: 2009

From the cover of the book:

Welcome to Patricia Briggs's world, a place where "witches, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters live beside ordinary people" (Booklist). It takes a very unusual woman to call it home - and there's no one quite like Mercy Thompson.

By day, Mercy is a car mechanic in the sprawling Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shapeshifter with some unique talents, Mercy has often found herself having to maintain a tenuous harmony between the human and the not so human. This time she may get more than she bargained for.

Marsilia, the local Vampire Queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan - and she's out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal by the werewolf pack (and her close relations hip with its sexy Alpha), it won't be Mercy's blood Marsilia is after.

It'll be her friends.

Bone Crossed is the fourth, and currently the last book in the Mercy Thompson series. However, I believe that there is another in the line-up for later this year.

The book starts immediately after the end of Iron Kissed, making it seem more like one book in two volumes, and the action starts almost from the first page. Mercy's mother turns up, having read the articles in the paper about the events of Iron Kissed, and then, minutes later, Stefan, the vampire, pops into the room, literally, having been tortured. From there things don't let up for an instant.

As with the previous books, there are some interesting twists which are revealed at the end of the book, but serve to keep the reader guessing. Some things are left to guess, but not revealed entirely, so there are some hints of things to come, and we learn more about the world that Patricia Briggs has created: more about the Walkers, more about the magics of the werewolves, and more about the vampires and their politics.

The last line of the blurb is right, it is Mercy's friends who are under threat the most in this book, although not all of it comes directly from the situation she's found herself in. Much of the story is set outside of the Tri-Cities area in a neighboring city, which is under the control of a seriously scary vampire. One that Mercy is supposed to stay away from...

Patricia Briggs has written up an intriguing world, where legends can be real, but not everything has been revealed yet. Vampires are still hidden from official view, and there are several reminders that there's more to the Fae than has been revealed as yet - at least to the government.

It would be neat to see what kinds of effects the revelations of the supernatural existing and being legalized in the U.SA. are having on other countries. Are they following suit, or taking a wait and see approach?

The one thing I found was that Bone Crossed was too short for a hardcover. The previous books in the series are all mass market paperbacks, and I'm definitely going to wait for this one to come out the same, as I more or less read it in a day.

The other books in the series:
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed

Also reviewed at:
Books and Other Thoughts: Bone Crossed

Edited to add: this book fills one of the categories in the What's In A Name challenge.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Storm From The Shadows - David Weber

Storm From The Shadows
David Weber
Baen Books
Copyright: 2009

From the website:

Rear Admiral Michelle Henke was commanding one of the ships in a force led by Honor Harrington in an all-out space battle. The odds were against the Star Kingdom forces, and they had to run. But Michelle’s ship was crippled, and had to be destroyed to prevent superior Manticoran technology from falling into Havenite hands, and she and her surviving crew were taken prisoner. Much to her surprise, she was repatriated to Manticore, carrying a request for a summit conference between the leaders of the two sides which might end the war. But a condition of her return was that she gave her parole not to fight against the forces of the Republic of Haven until she had been officially exchanged for a Havenite prisoner of war, so she was given a command far away from the war’s battle lines. What she didn’t realize was that she would find herself on a collision course, not with a hostile government, but with the interstellar syndicate of criminals known as Manpower. And Manpower had its own plans for eliminating Manticore as a possible threat to its lucrative slave trade, deadly plans which remain hidden in the shadows.

This is the sequel of sorts to The Shadow of Saganami. I say 'of sorts' because the story in this book starts before the ending of the previous one, and several of the scenes in the previous book are shown from a different viewpoint here.

Events that began in the previous book, or even in the one before that, At All Costs are finally starting to be made clear, and are beginning to come together into a coherent whole. It turns out that there is somebody else who is manipulating things from behind the scenes, including the war with Haven.

I enjoyed reading Storm of Shadows, but I've got to say, when I came to the end my reaction was "When's the next book coming out?". Weber has left the book screaming for a sequel, which according to the note in the front of the book is going to appear at some point in the future (hopefully sooner than five years from now like this one was from The Shadow of Saganami).

I certainly hope the next book does an overlap with the events of this one, as there are some major events going on in the background - including a major Havenite invasion of Manticore home space that was somehow defeated. I'd like to know how they managed that, although with Honor in charge of the fleet in question, such a victory is almost a forgone conclusion.

As with the previous book, I found the many different viewpoints and locations somewhat confusing. I wish Weber had included a tiny header note with each major viewpoint shift as some other authors have. There were times when I'd be a page or two into a new section and still be trying to figure out who and where the characters were.

Other than that, the characters have their human moments, some grow and gain experience, others die. By the end of the book it looks like Manticore is starting a war with the Solarian League, but there is definitely something else going on at the same time.

Overall, Weber has written to his usual standard: the technology and physical laws all hang together well and the scenes are vividly described, leading to a cliff-hanger of a conclusion.

However, this is not a book to start reading the series at. For a new reader, I'd say start at the beginning with On Basilisk Station (I'm rereading it now as well), or at least Crown of Slaves.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Shadow of Saganami - David Weber

This book also fills one of the slots for my entry in the TBR Challenge.

The Shadow Of Saganami

David Weber
Baen Books
Copyright: 2004

From the cover of the book:

The Star Kingdom of Manticore is once again at war with the Republic of Haven after a stunning sneak attack. The graduating class from Saganami Island, the Royal Manticoran Navy's academy, are going straight from the classroom to the blazing reality of all-out war.

Except for the midshipmen assigned to the heavy cruiser HMS Hexapuma, that is. They're being assigned to the Talbott Cluster, an out of the way backwater, far from the battle front. The most they can look forward to is the capture of the occasional pirate cruiser and the boring duty of supporting the Cluster's peaceful integration with the Star Kingdom at the freely expressed will of eighty percent of the Cluster's citizens. With a captain who may have seen too much of war and a station commander who isn't precisely noted for his brilliant and insightful command style, it isn't exactly what the students of Honor Harrington, the "Salamander," expected.

But things aren't as simple -- or tranquil -- as they appear. The "pirates" they encounter aren't what they seem, and the "peaceful integration" they expected turns into something very different. A powerful alliance of corrupt Solarian League bureaucrats and ruthless interstellar corporations is determined to prevent the Cluster's annexation by the Star Kingdom . . . by any means necessary. Pirates, terrorists, genetic slavers, smuggled weapons, long-standing personal hatreds, and a vicious alliance of corporate greed, bureaucratic arrogance, and a corrupt local star nation with a powerful fleet, are all coming together, and only Hexapuma, her war-weary captain, and Honor Harrington's students stand in the path.
They have only one thing to support and guide them: the tradition of Saganami. The tradition that sometimes a Queen's officer's duty is to face impossible odds . . . and die fighting.

Although this is part of the world created for Honor Harrington, like Crown of Slaves, she barely comes into the storyline here. Don't let that put you off the story though. It's still an incredible read, and there are enough of the secondary characters from the main books to keep you connected.

The Honor Harrington books were the series to introduce me to the area of military science-fiction, and this book holds up the genre as well as the first ones, and the world still has lots of areas to explore - it just keeps expanding. The front cover of The Shadow of Saganami calls this the start to a whole new series. If that's the case, it looks to be a good one. The book kept me up past my bedtime again.

My only problem with this story is as much my fault as anything. It's set after/during the events of At All Costs (if my memory is correct), and I haven't read any of the books in the series for at least two years, possibly more, so I don't remember at least half of the references to earlier events. For example, I know that the character of Ginger Lewis is familiar, but who is she, and what happened to her? The same thing for Abigail Hearns. It's less of an issue for events from the earliest books for the most part, as I've read them a few more times.

Overall, that's the thing about David Weber's science fiction. He's created very detailed characters, worlds and political systems. Everything holds together very well with not too many "hey! that can't work" moments.

One thing that detracted from the story a bit for me, aside from not remembering some of the background references, is the sheer number of viewpoints Weber is writing from. I know that for a story of this scale, it's nearly impossible to show from just one or two, but still... By my count from memory, there's at least ten different viewpoints. It's something the author has done all through the series though, and part of what makes the world so real and detailed.

The next book is finally out now as well: Storm From The Shadows, and given that I'm only half way through at this point, I'd have to say that it's just as good, if not slightly better.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Book Rambling: Urban Fantasy Categorization

When it comes to the urban fantasy/paranormal type of novel, how do the publishers come up with the classification?

This is something I'm wondering about as I can think of a number of authors/series/books that are all paranormal in theme, yet they're shelved in different areas of the bookstore (at least at Indigo). The examples I'm coming up with off the top of my head are the Laurell K. Hamilton books (both series), Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega and the Mercy Thompson series', Tanya Huff's Blood series and the Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark Hunter books.

In recent years the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry books have been moved from General Fiction to Horror. Personally, I'm inclined to think that if they were going to be changed to any category it should have been Romance with the way the books after Obsidian Butterfly have changed. However, the Horror section of the bookstore is well represented in the Paranormal books category: There's also the Anne Rice books, Kim Harrison's series and the Kelley Armstrong books. I'm sure there are others as well. These are just the ones I know about.

Both Tanya Huff and Patricia Briggs are located in Fantasy. I can see a double reason for Briggs: aside from the fantastic elements of these two series, she's got some other fantasy series as well, so it makes sense to keep all the books by the one author together. Which explains why Nightseer by Laurell K. Hamilton can usually be found in Horror, even though in my mind it is out and out fantasy. Tanya Huff, however is slightly less understandable. If the Blood series is in fantasy, why aren't the Kim Harrison (although I believe the most recent book, White Witch, Dark Curse, is in fantasy) books or the Laurell K. Hamilton ones? Both the Anita Blake and the Blood series have vampires, werewolves, demons etc in them. Admittedly, the Blood books are somewhat funnier, with some running jokes and the like. On the other hand, the final book in the Smoke spin-off is downright scary. It set me to using a nightlight for the next couple of nights after I finished it.

Kenyon's Dark Hunter books are all located in Romance, but otherwise they are very similar to the first authors listed. This one I can see, as they are all the 'guaranteed happy ending' type which I believe is typical of the romance novel (Kenyon is the only author I've read from this section so far). I've seen the same formula in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey, which has at some points in the past been located in Romance.

Does anyone have any answers to this question?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Shadow Queen - Anne Bishop

The Shadow Queen
Anne Bishop
New American Library
Copyright: 2008

From the chapters/indigo website:

From the national bestselling authora the new novel set in the adarkly fascinating worlda("SF Site") of the Black Jewels.
Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes standawithout a leader and without hope.
Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who remembers the Bloodas code of honor and lives by the Old Ways. The woman chosen to rule Dena Nehele, Lady Cassidy, is not beautiful and believes she is not strong. But she may be the only one able to convince bitter men to serve once again.

Set after Tangled Webs and the Black Jewels Trilogy, The Shadow Queen connects the events and time of the stand-alone book The Invisible Ring with the later books. All I can say is WOW! This book kept me up two nights running. Frankly, I preferred it to Bishop's last book, Tangled Webs. It had the scope the previous book didn't. On the other hand, unlike the other books set in this world, there was no villain to contend with. Instead, it was a book of rebuilding, learning to trust and going on with life.

We learn a bit more aboute Jared and Lia and their fates, and many old favorite characters reappear: Luciavar, Daemon and Jaenelle, although they aren't the focus of the new book. This time the man character plotline is the rebuilding of Dena Nehele, the land that stood against Dorothea in The Invisible Ring. As a result, several of the viewpoint characters are descendants of Thera and Blaed, not to mention Jared and Lia.

It's rather nice for a change that not all of the characters are of the darker Jewels that are so prevalent in the original books, and we learn a bit more about the Landens and the roles of the various members of the court.

As with the other books by Anne Bishop, the sentences are often short and to the point, but sometimes that just adds to the effect of the story. At other times, it's a bit irritating. Still, it doesn't generally get in the way.

One thing about the entire series is that it tends to the explicit at times, and so, it's not appropriate for all readers. Overall, though it's a series I've enjoyed reading several times, and this latest book meets the standard set by the original books. Actually, I'd almost have to say that it doesn't just meet it, but it exceeds it. I'm already thinking of re-reading it soon.

Other reviews:
Rhinoa's Ramblings: The Shadow Queen

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs

Cry Wolf
Patricia Briggs
Ace Fantasy
Copyright: 2008

From the back of the book:

Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack...and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she'd learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cormick, the enforcer - and son - of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.

Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna's inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf - a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten the entire pack.

This is the start of a spin-off series, Alpha and Omega, from the Mercy Thompson books, centered on the werewolves of the pack that Mercy grew up with. While Mercy Thompson, the viewpoint character of Moon Called, Blood Bound etc. doesn't turn up in this series, at least not yet, there are other characters which pass in and out of that series who are main characters in this one: Charles, of course, and his father Bran, for example. There's also Samuel, Charles' brother. At the same time, the main character, Anna has no part as of yet in the Mercy Thompson books.

Another signifier that this is a different series is the viewpoint the book is done from. To date, the entire Mercy Thompson series is written in first person from the viewpoint of Mercy herself. Cry Wolf changes through the different characters' perspectives, and is written in the normal form for a novel. I'll admit that I prefer this style, but I'm getting used to the other. It seems to be the normal one for Urban fantasy: Laurell K. Hamilton writes both her series in first person, and Kelley Armstrong's Bitten is as well.

Clearly, from the title of the series, the other books that are coming are going to be about Charles, the Alpha wolf, and Anna, the Omega wolf. I'm looking forward to it, as I've liked every book in the Mercy Thompson series, and I like the characters in this one to date.

Patricia Briggs has added some more neat twists to werewolf magic and behavior with this book, all leading neatly from the information we get in the Mercy Thompson series, and making sense as well. Not to mention a villain that you have to see to believe (and creepy to boot).

In terms of setting and time, Cry Wolf is set just near the ending of Moon Called, so for someone starting out with either series, you don't have to worry about being spoiled to later events, which is nice. It makes a fairly good introduction to the world the author has created, as well.

Overall, this is a good start to an interesting series, and I'm looking forward to the next book I've seen rumored on (though it's not showing up on the Chapters/Indigo site yet.

The other books in this series/world so far are:
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed
Bone Crossed

Cry Wolf

Other reviews:
Books and Other Thoughts: Alpha And Omega
Rhinona's Ramblings: Cry Wolf
Ceridwen's Book Lounge: Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Friday, March 6, 2009

Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

Iron Kissed
Patricia Briggs
Ace Fantasy
Copyright: 2008

From the back of the book:

I could smell her fear, and it satisfied something deep inside me that had been writhing under her cool, superior gaze. I curled my upper lip so she could get a good look at my sharp teeth. I might only weigh thirty or so pounds in my coyote shape, but I was a predator...

Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape - but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not

Mercy's loyalty is under pressure from other directions too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can't decide betweeen the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her...

Iron Kissed is the third book in the Mercy Thompson series, following on the heels of Blood Bound, and the most dramatic to this point.

Where the Fae have been rather peripheral to the previous two books, they take center stage in Iron Kissed, when Zee is arrested for the murder of a human guard (and presumably, the previous murders of fae). Nobody will investigate, so Mercy does it herself. At the same time, both Adam and Samuel are pressing her to declare one or the other to be her choice.

This book reminds me the most of the early Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton, I guess because the crime solving aspects are so much more prominent. On the other hand, unlike Anita, who has the resources of the police more or less at her disposal, Mercy has to figure out much more of the problem and solution on her own. It's neat to see her making use of her advantages rather than worrying about them. On the other hand, they are all things she was born with, and so, she's used to the benefits and the drawbacks.

As with Moon Called, and Blood Bound, the actual perpetrator of the crimes is left a mystery until the very end of the book, so that each time you think you know who it is, the author throws in another twist to keep you guessing (something that I really enjoy as I hate being able to predict what's going to happen in a story before it does).

Iron Kissed is the last book (I think) of the love triangle aspect, as Mercy does make her choice at the end. What that is going to mean for Bone Crossed, I don't know, but I've got to say the fourth book looks really good, at least going by the excerpt in Cry Wolf that I read yesterday.

The other books in this series/world so far are:
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed
Bone Crossed

Cry Wolf

Other reviewers' opinions:
Books and Other Thoughts: One Nosy Coyote
Rhinoa's Ramblings: Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grasping For The Wind link to free library

The Grasping For The Wind blog has a post up about a new science fiction/fantasy free library. Looks like there's some good books there if you don't mind reading on your computer screen. Some of the books include Trading in Danger, the first book in the Vatta's War saga, a Robin Hobb and others (and more books to come).

I know this is a site I'm going to be poking around on as I already enjoy the Baen Free Library.

Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs

Blood Bound
Patricia Briggs
Ace Fantasy
Copyright: 2007

From the back of the book:

Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return the average law-abiding solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen...

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places - and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind.

But this new vampire is hardly ordinary - and neither is the demon inside of him...

As with the previous book, Moon Called, Blood Bound has all of the staples of good urban fantasy, along with some new (to me, anyway) twists. I couldn't put the book down.

Just as there was in the first book, there's more to the bad guy of the story than there seems to be at first glance. Every time things seem to be solidly wrapped up, a new wrinkle gets added to keep the reader guessing.

I like that it's not all about the supernatural, that there is some of the ordinary as well, ranging from work at the mechanic's shop to interacting with kids (albeit often in animal form). The other books in this genre that I've read seem to be so tangled with the supernatural/paranormal that there's nothing unconncted.

Some threads, most notably the relationships that Mercy has with the two werewolves, Adam and Samuel, are picked up from the previous book, and, given the blurb for Iron Kissed, the sequel, I think they are going to remain for at least the next book, if not the one after that.

The books are short, but that doesn't get in the way. Rather than being too short, the Mercy Thompson series is 'just right'. They could stand to be longer, but the price fits with the length, and the font size is normal, unlike some of the shorter books I've seen lately.

One thing I'm finding is that, and this could simply be because I am too new to the series at the moment, I enjoy reading the books a lot, but I'm not falling into them in terms of my imagination. It doesn't get in the way of reading and enjoying the stories though.

I'm already reading the next book, Iron Kissed, and looking forward to finding out what's going to happen there.

The other books in this series/world so far are:
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed
Bone Crossed

Cry Wolf

Other Reviews:
Books and Other Thoughts: The Shapeshifting Mechanic Returns

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fascinating Author Interview

There's a fascinating interview at Bloggin' 'bout Books with the author Michelle Moran, author of some interesting looking historical fiction novels. Her current one is set in ancient Egypt, about Queen Nefertiti.

As well, there's a give-away going on for one of her books. Click on the link and check it out.

Moon Called - Patricia Briggs

Moon Called
Patricia Briggs
Ace Fantasy
Copyright: 2006

From the back of the book:

Werewolves can be dangerous if you get in their way, but they'll leave you alone if you are careful. They are very good at hiding their natures from the human population, but I'm not human. I know them when I meet them, and they know me too.

Mercy Thompson's sexy next-door neighbor is a werewolf.

She's tinkering with a VW bus at her mechanic shop that happens to belong to a vampire.

But then, Mercedes Thompson is not exactly normal herself... and her connection to the world of things that go bump in the night is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.

I loved this book as, even though it seems to have all of the staples of the urban fantasy world, it had some unique twists as well and it kept me guessing right to the last page. I'll admit that I'm not overly familiar with the type of book, only really having read a few of the authors, namely Laurell K. Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Tanya Huff, but Patricia Briggs is an author I'm enjoying a lot.

In a way, this book reminded me of the early books in the Anita Blake series, where you have the mystery to be solved amid the paranormal, but Briggs has done something different. Where usually there are two extremes in the type, one where the paranormal is known about, and the other where they're trying everything to stay hidden, Briggs has taken the middle route. It's interesting to see the reactions to the news and the approaches the different groups are taking to the discovery of the supernatural as they are coming out of hiding, one at a time. Mercedes reminds me of Anita in her attitude and weapons skills, but not so much. However, I get the feeling that that is a staple of the genre.

At the time the book starts, only the Fae have come out, but the reader soon finds out about the other main groups: the werewolves and the vampires. Nobody has said if magic is openly known about such as that of witches.

Werewolves may be a secret to the general public, but it's soon made clear that there are select groups that know about them, and that adds tension to the story. Is it the government that's causing the problems, or is it somebody else. I was kept guessing until quite late in the book as to who exactly the villain was. And, even once the villain is discovered, the motivations aren't revealed until the very end.

The characters are vibrant and full of life, as is the descriptions Patricia Briggs has created, ranging from weather, to rooms to clothing. Not to mention the details of werewolf behavior she has put together. She's taken things a bit farther than Hamilton has, I think, but it only adds to the story, especially with Mercedes' interactions with the wolves.

I liked Moon Called a lot, and I'm already half way through the sequel, Blood Bound. I recommend this series to any reader of Hamilton or Huff's Blood Ties series.

The other books in this series/world so far are:
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed
Bone Crossed

Cry Wolf

Other reviews:
Ceridwen's Book Lounge - Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Tomes of Eldritch Power - Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Calico Reaction - Moon Called
Reader : Superhero Prose Fiction: Mercy Thompson - 1 Moon Called
Kill Anything That Giggles
Tales Of A Web Goddess - Moon Called - Patricia Briggs
Books And Other Thoughts: A Murder Mystery In A Dark Fantasy World

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I've just been adapting the format of my blog posts slightly: marking books in the tags if they're part of a series and also changing the format of the posts a little bit. There's bound to be at least one new book review up in the next 24 hours: Patricia Briggs' book Moon Called. I'm really enjoying the read.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tangled Webs - Anne Bishop

Tangled Webs
Anne Bishop
Copyright: 2008

One of the titles I've read to fulfill the TBR Challenge. It's definitely been on my reading list for more than six months. Closer to a year, I think, given when the book came out.

From the back of the book:

The invitation was signed Jaenelle Angelline, she who had been both Witch and Queen.

It summons her family to an entertainment she has specially prepared. Surreal SaDiablo, former courtesan and assassin, is the first to arrive. But as she and her escort enter the house, the door disappears. Surreal finds herself trapped in a nightmare created by the tangled webs of Black Widow witches - a nightmare where the monsters are all too real. And if she uses Craft to defend herself, she risks being sealed in the house forever.

But Jaenelle did not send the invitation.

Now Jaenelle and her family must rescue Surreale and the others inside without becoming trapped themselves, and they must also discover who created such an evil place and why. Because there is one thing they all know about this house: No matter who planned it as a way to kill members of the SaDiablo family, only one of the Blood could have created the trap...

This is the sixth book in the Black Jewels series, set about a year after the events in the trilogy and Dreams Made Flesh. Overall, perhaps the writing isn't the greatest, but the story mostly makes up for it. The book certainly kept me up far past bedtime, anyway, and had me laughing at the character interaction between the members of the coven and the SaDiablo family.

Where the first three books were world-spanning, being set in many of the realms of Anne Bishop's world, this book was set in a much smaller area, but was just as gripping. This was my second attempt to read Tangled Webs, and it was definitely worth the second try, as the story got going soon after I'd put it down the first time months ago.

The author seems to be taking jabs at the standard mystery story plot throughout Tangled Webs, and, I think also at the growing popularity of the Urban Fantasy story type.

Surreal makes a very good main character, interesting and funny, and her background makes her even more unique. I'm glad to read more about her after the first three books.

I still don't really understand the villain. His motivations, yes, but how he managed to get other people to go along with him, no. He's certainly different, to say the least.

Tangled Webs is good, but not my favourite book set in this world, although I really liked the short story included at the end of the book: By The Time The Witchblood Blooms.

Just a reminder, Tangled Webs is due out in paperback in the next couple of days, and there's a new Black Jewels novel coming out at the same time: The Shadow Queen.

The other books set in this world are:
The Invisible Ring
Daughter Of The Blood
Heir To The Shadows
Queen Of The Darkness
Dreams Made Flesh
The Shadow Queen

Challenge Completed - Nattie Challenge

I've completed this challenge, with lots of time left. My entering post was here.

The books read for this challenge were:
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Throne Of Jade - Naomi Novik
Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

And, an extra book: Tangled Webs - Anne Bishop


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