May 18, 2013

Review: Cry Wolf

Cry Wolf
Alpha & Omega, Book 1
Patricia Briggs

Published August, 2008

ACE, Mass Market paperback, 294 p.
ISBN: 978-0-441-01615-0

From the back....

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's learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, 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 all the pack...

My thoughts...

I'm in a bit of a quandary over Cry Wolf.  The short story (in the On the Prowl anthology) was fabulous.  Quick paced and full of all the action I've come to expect from the Mercy-verse.  However, in Cry Wolf the pace seemed to lag.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved seeing more of Bran and Charles, but it became predictable in places.

Take Leah for example.  We first come across her royal bitchiness in Moon Called - as she's chasing Mercy through the woods - and from what had been said, we knew that she was motivated by her hatred of Mercy because a) she's a coyote, b) Mercy has a special place in Bran, Charles and Samuel's life, and c) she can still have children.  Simple, and sticks with what we know of her.  In Cry Wolf though, she could have been so much more.  Instead Leah was wasted in just furthering Anna and Charles' inner anxieties.  She's Bran's mate/wife for goodness sakes, yet she's used as no more than a footnote in the book.

But despite the annoying use of Leah, we did get to encounter the wonderfully complex Asil.  He's quickly became one of my favourite characters in the Mercy-verse.  The backstory Ms. Briggs established for him, and his involvement in the action are vital to whether or not this story worked.  Congratulations all round for giving us such a wounded warrior!

In Moon Called we only saw Charles for brief moments yet it was obvious that he was a much different wolf to Samuel.  And thank God!  Portrayed as the ultimate assassin for the Marrock, Charles' displays of vulnerability are very much unexpected yet appreciated.  Anna delves below the facade that Charles puts up between himself and the world - even Bran - and in return we see Anna slowly blossom as she discovers her own strengths and worth.  It is beautiful to watch this wounded wolf discover herself.

Bran is the real surprise in Cry Wolf.  Seemingly invincible, we explore the secret past that Bran has been struggling to hide - even from himself - and how this has led to his relationship with Leah.  There is a reason for her presence in their pack, and Bran's bed.  And Samuel makes a brief return to the fold and even though he's only around for a few scenes, he's always a welcome addition.

There are a few surprises for everyone, including what happens on the remote mountainside in Montana. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I'll just say that we meet a fallen warrior who redeems himself, and a nasty piece of work from Asil's past that threatens to set off a chain of events that could have tragic consequences for all the Marrock pack.

So, while I have grouched about some aspects of the book, I still consider it a great book.  If you loved reading Mercy, then you'll have to include this in your reading pile.  A great start to a spin-off series.

Anita Blake wallpaper for you

Hi there!  Just thought that I'd post a copy of the Anita Blake wallpaper I made last week.


May 17, 2013

Update - Fixer upper

Hi all,

Just typing to you from our local library.  The wi-fi connection has been terrible lately, so I decided to decamp to the library to use the free internet facilities.  As you may have noticed, I've changed the look of the blog.  Not sure if this is the finished layout, but have not had a huge amount of time to fiddle around.  Hopefully I'll get some free time in the next few days to have a good overhaul of the blog.

I've added a two new pages.  I had a great idea for another one last night, but I fell asleep before I could put pen to paper.  Now I can't remember what it was.  I hate it when that happens!

Oops, must dash.  Times nearly up.

Happy reading!

May 13, 2013

Book Review - When Demons Walk

When Demons Walk
Patricia Briggs

First published June 1998

ACE, Mass Market Paperback, 272 p.
ISBN: 978-0-441-00534-5


Sham had spent most of her young life as a sorceress and thief, stealing from Southwood's nobility to survive.  Now she must face the greatest test of her skills...

A killer has struck Southwood, claiming the lives of nobles.  Lord Kerim, Reeve of Southwood, turns to Sham for help.  Posing as his mistress, she delves behind castle walls to find the killer.  But this murderer is not mortal - and Sham must use all of her magical wisdom to send the demon away.  Because the city of Southwood has nowhere to hide - and no time to run...

I picked up this book after reading a Iron Kissed, and as much as I love the Mercy Thompson series I wasn't too sure about what to expect.  It wasn't Urban Fantasy, there were no werewolves or shapeshifters, etc.  Would I really like it?   The answer was YES!  I really did enjoy this book.  The world Ms. Briggs has built for Sham is so well done that you don't really even think about it being a different world/realm, whatever.  You just accept it as part of Sham's life.

Sham, or Shamera, is a wonderfully strong and driven character.  I do like a sassy heroine, and Sham fits that to a tee.  Living as a thief has given her the connections that see her moonlighting as the mistress of Kerim, aka The Leopard, as she tries to discover the identity of a killer.  It's great to have a lead female that has knowledge, or abilities, that makes her self sufficient in a world where women still rely on the men in their lives.  Now with a formidable heroine like Sham you'd assume that our hero would be muscled up the whazoo, but Kerim, comes into Sham's life in a physically compromised position.  Despite this, he is a strong leader who keeps his feeling to himself, but Shamera has no problems reading him.

Our secondary characters, Dickon, Elsic and Talbot, are very much a part of the story.  They each have a history of their own that helps to shape their responses to the action.  Scorch is another character to keep an eye on, too ;-D.  There are other notable characters, such as Shark and Lord Halvok and Lady Sky, but many of the others just drift out of your mind as soon as they leave the scene.

Potentially this is the start of a great series, but like Nightseer, it is likely that this will remain a one-off story.  There are quite a few dangling threads that need to be tied up, but it looks like they will stay that way.  Although not part of a series, it is a great book to read.  If you liked Nightseer, Masques (Briggs), or the Chronicle of Elantra, then you'll enjoy this.

Book Review - Nightseer


First printed, March 1992

ROC Fantasy, Mass Market Paperback, 303 p.
ISBN: 978-0-451-45143-9

Author of the New York Times bestselling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, Laurell K. Hamilton has brought the supernatural to light - and has given readers a vision of a world aflame with electrifying suspense and violent passions.  In this, her debut novel, her rich imagination spreads its wings to fly - in a tale of a woman known as sorcerer, prophet, and enchantress...

The mark of a demon can open the door to undreamed of powers and possibilities - or expose a soul to the darkest and most forbidden forces of sorcery.  Now Keleios wears the mark - and the time of avenging her mother's death is at hand...

This was a chance find for me about 10 years ago.  I wasn't in to the paranormal/fantasy genre then, but I loved the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series, so I thought I'd give it a go.   Actually, it was the cover that caught my eye in the beginning.  There it sat on the bookshop shelf.  A medium sized book, surrounded by plain or boring looking covers, that stood apart with its image of a tattooed woman holding magical flames in her hands... beautiful.

The world LKH has created for Keleios is both beautiful and deadly.  Magic is a formidable weapon in the right hands, and the gods work in mysterious ways.  There are dragons, cats who can 'talk' in a fashion, and the elf and sidhe races aren't the beings from your childhood fairy tales.   Nightseer follows Keleios, a half-breed elf, on a quest of sorts.  Full of action, magic slinging, unrequited love (of a fashion) and good old fashioned revenge, it's a great introduction into the fanasty genre for someone who has read urban fantasy, but wants more.

Although it is one of the few stand alone books by LKH, Nightseer finished with so many unanswered storylines that it's just begging for a sequel.  I mean, what happens to Keleios and Lothor now that they are married?  Does Keleios get her revenge on Nesbit?  Who was the grey, green-eyed Black Healer that wanted a word with her?  So many questions and no answers!

May 12, 2013

Book Review - Rogue Descendant

Rogue Descendant
A Nikki Glass Novel, Book 3
Jenna Black

Released: May, 2013

Pocket Books, Mass Market Paperback, 370 p.
ISBN: 978-1-4767-0008-3

Nikki Glass, descendant of Artemis the Huntress, is all for justice, but she draws the line at cold-blooded murder.  Too bad she works for Anderson Kane, a god in disguise who just happens to be the son of a Fury.  He wants Konstantin, the deposed leader of the Olympians, dead, and he needs Nikki's help to hunt his nemesis down.  Saying no to a god might be bod for her health, bu Nikki is no pushover ... until Konstantin claims responsibility for a fire that destroys her parents' home.

Nikki would do anything to protect her family, and now she sets off on the deadliest of hunts, knowing that a single false step could trigger a war between Anderson and the Olympians - a war Anderson cannot hope to win.  But is it possible she has another enemy?  Maybe even one in her own house?  As the mysteries deepen and the suspects mount, Nikki must try to put the pieces together and catch the real culprit before innocent people get caught in the cross fire.

Wow!  I love this series, so when I saw a new title was available, I jumped at the chance.

The world Jenna Black has created for Nikki Glass and Co. is brimming with fabulous imagery, and mythological themes - but it doesn't hurt that she's surrounded by hunky Immortals either.  In this sequel, we're dealing with the fallout from what happened in Deadly Descendant.  Nikki is still coming to terms with her altered destiny, now that she is nearly immortal and all, and the role that she will play in the house.  Her sister still frustrates her no end, and the destruction of her parents house - as well as other nasty surprises - mean that Nikki is stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Say no to Anderson, and let Konstantin off the hook - or hunt him down like the dog he is, but at what cost?

Although the events of this book are set over only a matter of days, it does get bogged down a little at times with all the drama surrounding Nikki and one of her other cranky Immortals - you know who I mean ;-D.  The pacing of this book, and a scene or two that I thought was a bit long winded, were the only cons to this installment in the series.

In Rogue Descendant, Ms. Black has really upped the ante for not only Nikki, but Anderson as well.  The unexpected twist at the end certainly means I'll be eagerly awaiting book four.  If you enjoy reading Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, or urban fantasy in general, then you will not be disappointed with Nikki Glass.  I'd recommend you start at the beginning with Dark Descendant - otherwise you'll just get lost.