Judging Book Covers #3: Silk by Caitlin Kiernan

I know, I know. I’ve taken a short blogging hiatus and I come back with a reblog instead, lol! I promise some more updates in the next couple of days, but this is just as important, promise!

My friend Meg @ Le Foi Aveugle has been pretty busy starting up her first podcast, and I’m so excited for her! This particular podcast is all about books, and I had the pleasure of being a guest for these next two episodes. On episode 3, we discuss the book Silk by Caitlin KiernanIf you like podcasts, or, well, like books in general and want something to listen to in the background while you do other things, hop on over to the Judging Book Covers Podcast and have a listen!

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud | Google Play| Pocket Cast| RSS Feed Word of the Day: Weird For episode 3 I welcome two new guests, James DeBruicker and Marilag Angway! We discuss Silk by Caitlin Kiernan, which is a darker book than the previous two […]

via Episode 3: Silk by Caitlin Kiernan with James DeBruicker and Marilag Angway — Ramblings of Blind Faith

Food and Fiction: Mercy’s Trouble Chocolate

Alright, it’s chocolate-centric week, because I’m most likely in Belgium right now, gallivanting about and visiting chocolate shops. However, that is something I’ll probably be blogging about much later in the week when I get back from vacation, and instead, this is more along the lines of “Oh, hey, I finally finished Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs and I want to talk about chocolate chip cookies!”

Or chocolate in general.

So just a quick summary of the book and the Mercy Thompson universe: Silence Fallen is the tenth installation of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, and revolves around Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, now the mate of the Columbia Basin’s Alpha werewolf. For those who are a fan of–or who have read–the series, you’ll know at this point that Mercy is living a rather eclectic life as a mechanic and non-werewolf wife. She’s also a shape-shifting coyote, is friends with a powerful fae, is bonded to an equally powerful vampire, and has adopted a fire-generating fae spirit. Mercy can also see and command ghosts. So. Yeah. Not a normal life by any means, and things just escalate from there.

One of my favorite things about Mercy is the fact that she bakes cookies. You laugh at this minute detail, but seriously, she does a lot of baking in the books. I admire her for that, because honestly, how does she find the time between being kidnapped by vampires and having to fend for herself against the Gray Lords and coyote-hating pack members? But she does, and in the beginning of Silence Fallen legit starts with her trying to bake cookies.

Of course, everything goes horribly wrong afterwards, but that’s besides the point.

The point is, I ended up with a craving for chocolate chip cookies. So I made them.

Thankfully, I wasn’t making cookies for a pack of werewolves, so I didn’t have to worry about lack of ingredients! So no vampire-induced car accidents here!

I was, however, baking these cookies for a get-together, so I decided to add a bit of extra into it. Mmm…coffee chocolate chip cookies here we come!

I used the recipe from Cathy at Lemon Tree Dwelling. And they came out delicious, by the way!

The coffee flavor came out, and the cookies themselves were seriously disappearing pretty quickly! I’d definitely make them again.

Anyway, I’ll end it there. Gotta run and frolic!

This post counts as #3 of my Food and Fiction Challenge.

Prancing in Prague || Silence Fallen Review

Initial Thoughts: 

I mean…I reread Mercy Thompson stories so often, particularly little snippets, but holy hell, this one was definitely something I would reread again DIRECTLY AFTER I just finished it. So. Damn. Good. And omg. SO MUCH ADAM AND MERCY POV.

Sigh. When can I expect the next book?


SILENCE FALLEN

by Patricia Briggs
Ace Books, March 2017
Urban fantasy, adult
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

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…

*As this is book #10 of the Mercy Thompson series, expect spoilers.*

You know, I read the title of the book when it was first released to the public and I did think briefly: “Hah, like the Silence in Doctor Who? Is this a play of words based off that? ‘Cause that would be awesome!”

And, you know, a lot of DW references do come up in the book, and the whole Matt Smith reveal thing was just…I cannot with Briggs sometimes.

“Silence will fall!”

So normally I wouldn’t be reviewing a book that’s part of a super-long series. Normally this would have just been another mini-review with slight squee-recaps of what I absolutely enjoyed of the Mercy Thompson book. And, ya know, so far, I’ve been loving this series more and more after every installment.

So what makes Silence Fallen any different?

Prague, for one. I must have gushed about the fact that I love, love, love Prague. It was just such a quaint little city, and I was blessed to have been able to visit it for a couple days when I was on vacation a while back. (I even wrote about it in terms of visiting it through the eyes of Karou!) So when I caught wind that the next Mercy Thompson book was going to send Mercy over to Prague as the next destination, I was over the moon with excitement. And once I opened the book and saw the map of the places I traversed, I was done for. The setting was already one thing I was going to love about this book.

Dual POVs. One of the things I had extremely enjoyed from Frost Burned was Adam’s point of view. I know, I know, it’s a Mercy Thompson novel, and Mercy narrates the story in first person. However, I thought adding Adam into Frost Burned was rather brilliant, and I loved seeing his side of the story just as much as I loved seeing Mercy’s. But while Mercy largely dominated the narration in FB–and still does for the most part–the narration in Silence Fallen was a healthy dose of Mercy and Adam. Honestly, I’ve shipped them since book 1. But egads, they truly are mated, considering both of them have death wishes looming over their horizon. I also sort of giggled at the end of the book, because I swear I saw their reunion more along the lines of:

“Honey, I’m home! Guess what? I obliterated a powerful vampire. With plates. What did you do today?”

“I laid siege to a city while I was stuck naked in a cage.”

“That’s my mate! I love you.”

“I love you!”

*hugs*

Okay, so that’s rather simplified, but if they were a normal couple, they would totally be discussing their exploits over the drone of the TV while they’re sharing a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Hell, I’m pretty sure that is exactly what they did when they got back to their house. Only they’re not so normal, being a werewolf and a coyote. Um.

There was also one other thing I enjoyed about having an Adam and Mercy POV, and that’s from the diverging plot. Once the overall kidnapping portion was over with, the plot no longer stayed in Milan. Adam had his own set of troubles to deal with while Mercy ended up surviving on her own through another plot. Yes, both their POVs started to converge once more, and yes, those mother-effing vampires were largely behind most of the story, but I absolutely loved that Adam and Mercy had to find their own way without each other’s backs.

I’ve seen Mercy deal with problems without Adam in the early books, but I took for granted that she can handle herself even without the brunt of the Columbia Basin and Aspen Creek packs protecting her from the sidelines. And I do love the combination of Adam and Mercy working through a problem together (like they did in the previous book), but them being forced apart is just as good. It really does give Adam a chance to shine, and I love him even more now!

The vampire dynamics. I will admit, I have little interest in the vampires of the Mercy Thompson books, and I found fae-related stories more riveting. HOWEVER, on occasion, the vampire-centric books do have awesome stories; Bone Crossed and Silence Fallen are prime examples. (I also did love Blood Bound.) I did love reading about Marsilia’s old haunting grounds, and the Lord of Night finally made his appearance, which is fabulous. Not so very fabulous was Bonarata’s crazy obsession with female werewolves. I would have done what Honey did, too, had I been there in person to see what the Lord of Night did.

And, um, can I have a spinoff of Bran stories, too? I just…there’s always so much the werewolves and vampires and every other supernatural creature say about Bran, and I just want more stories of him, because he’s so effing badass! I mean, I could also ask for Elizaveta spinoff stories, but I’m pretty sure Briggs is already working on a witch-wolf spinoff in the same universe, so I’m fine with that.

5 out of 5 cookies! I could seriously reread this again now, just to see how I completely missed that reveal at the very end. Kudos, Briggs, for another delightful book in the Mercy Thompson universe.

Silence Fallen counts as #8 of my Flights of Fantasy Challenge!


Have you read this book? What did you think?

TTT: Unique Books

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here.

I can’t say with utter certainty whether these books are unique, but they were certainly different from the books I usually read. I chose these particular ten because not only were they different from my usual faire, they were also things I enjoyed. There are probably a bunch of other, more unique books that I’ve read (like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) but wasn’t a fan, so I’ve just left them off my list entirely.

Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Inferno by Dante Alighieri – Actually, much of epic poetry probably goes in this category of uniqueness. I don’t often read epic poems these days, but they certainly do lend well to storytelling in a sense. I did enjoy Inferno (which I read in both Italian and English…though goodness knows why because I have very little grasp of Italian to begin with), though I still haven’t read the full Divine Comedy.

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti – Alright, I honestly put this here because the copy I have is lovely. Based on the original print, Goblin Market is a short story written in the form of a poem. The best part about this little book, however, is the fact that it’s fully illustrated by Arthur Rackham, who is renowned for his fairy tale art. So yeah, something unique, that’s for sure.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – Obviously the classics were bound to show up. I suppose it’s what makes them timeless, no? It’s probably not as strange as it seems, considering there’ve already been numerous books out there with animal main characters, but still. I’d bet not many of them tell the story of Communist pigs throwing out their human overlords.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer – I will admit that I’ve never read the full collection of this book, but I always found it an interesting story. It is, essentially, a collection of stories told by the campfire. Well, not literally a campfire, but it comes close. Chaucer sets his narrative through a situation–in this case, a journey–where each character tells a story while on their way to Canterbury.

Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino – This book and perhaps The Periodic Table by Primo Levi were probably my favorite books I had to read in college. And mostly because they are a collection of short stories that revolve around scientific ideas (or terms). Cosmicomics was just odd because I don’t think I’ve ever had to read a book where I couldn’t pronounce the main character’s name. Try saying Qfwfq out loud, I dare ya.

World War Z by Max Brooks – I’m finding a pattern about what I consider “different”, and most of them involve short stories/vignettes, heh. Again, World War Z was interesting for me because it was broken up into different accounts. No character was truly main, and the bigger picture of the zombie apocalypse was fleshed out through the interviews and written missives of the people who’d experienced it. It’s not the first time this has been done, and it’s certainly not the last (Sleeping Giants runs a similar format), but it was one of my favorites of this kind of narrative.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – And back to straight-up story narrative! Only, not really, because Gaiman doesn’t necessarily stay within the confines of Shadow’s perspective. Which means several POVs. But! What was unique for me in the case of American Gods was that it was practically the story of a classic American road trip that somehow managed to involve ancient gods and their war against the new gods. It’s a beautiful mixture of old and new, something Gaiman could do effortlessly.

The Epic of Gilgamesh – I thank the divine beings above that I did not have to read this strictly in cuneiform. There’s an English translation that helped me understand the basic gist of the story, thank you very much. Even back 4,000 years, humans are still entertained by stories, and Gilgamesh is arguably the first epic hero. I added this into the mix because it was the kind of book I appreciated being translated and available to the masses.

Lysistrata by Aristophanes – Yes! Because of all the plays I’ve read, none made me laugh as hard as Lysistrata. I mean, Shakespeare came close, and Oscar Wilde often makes me giggle, but Lysistrata just kills me every time. It’s bawdy, it’s rude, it’s women having enough with men and their dick-measuring competitions. It’s quite literally a group of women withholding sex in order to end a pointless war. And they are successful. YAAAAS. I mean, you’d think this was written in a distant future, not thousands of years ago. But there it is.

Sorcery & Cecelia by Caroline Stevermere and Patricia C. Wrede – One of my favorite epistolary novels, hands down. I don’t often read stories that were written in letter-form, mostly  because I find that it gets rather dull and/or confusing, but I enjoyed Sorcery and Cecelia a lot! Kate and Cecy were hilarious characters, and their romantic interests were quite lovely. The story is part of a trilogy, though admittedly the first book was the best because of the format. Its sequels, The Grand Tour and The Mislaid Magician also follow suite in the same format, but I admit the magic was at its finest in the first book.

How about you? What kinds of unique books have you added to your Top Ten list?

Review: The Velocipede Races

Initial Thoughts:

This was actually more entertaining than I thought, though admittedly the story dragged in parts. Still worth the read though! And I mean…why wouldn’t it be when it has a woman shattering glass ceilings?


THE VELOCIPEDE RACES

by Emily June Street
Elly Blue Publishing, April 2016
Science fiction, steampunk
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies

Emmeline Escot knows that she was born to ride in Seren’s cutthroat velocipede races. The only problem: She’s female in a world where women lead tightly laced lives. Emmeline watches her twin brother gain success as a professional racing jockey while her own life grows increasingly narrow. Ever more stifled by rules, corsets, and her upcoming marriage of convenience to a brusque stranger, Emmy rebels—with stunning consequences. Can her dream to race survive scandal, scrutiny, and heartbreak?

I totally picked this book up because I can never resist a good ole “girl dresses up as boy, girl shows the world she can play with other boys” trope. In The Velocipede Races, the trope is no different, and yes, in that sense, it is pretty damn predictable.

But, I mean, friggin’ velocipedes, man. VELOCIPEDES.

For those not familiar, velocipedes are contraptions best associated with Victorian era innovation. It’s essentially a bike, though I do believe the wheels are bigger at the front and smaller at the back, so there’s a bit more of a balancing skill that goes along with riding the velo as well. In any case, it’s a contraption that many Serenians in the book enjoy to ride and watch.

Well, many male Serenians anyway.

Heaven forbid if females were interested in racing velos or anything. That would be scandalous in Serenian society, especially when the particular female is riesen (noble). And, in Emmeline’s case, it’s exactly that, because she’s that athletic riesen woman who’d do anything to take to the wheel of a velo and race her heart out. Only, the only thing she’s expected to do is marry some rich man while her twin brother undergoes the proper training to become a velo racer.

We know where things can go from there. Oh, yes, she’s got a twin brother who looks enough like her. Oh, yes, Emmeline is going to take advantage of that, and no matter how many times Gabriel has dissuaded her from trying to sneak out and practice alongside him, she does it anyway. Even after she is thrown into a reluctant marriage, Emmeline still finds a way.

And then things slowly go downhill from there.

In all honesty, much of this story has been told before, over and over again. And yet, I still find it charming to read, because how can I not love a woman who has a passion that goes beyond societal expectations? (As someone whose field of study is still largely male-dominated, I can totally relate). How can I not love a woman who knows exactly what she wants from life and husband be damned if he tried to stop her.

So yeah, I liked Emmeline. Very much. Even in her single-minded zeal towards velo racing and her almost ignoring anything else in society. I say almost because by the end, she does find another love, one she finds highly unexpected.

That said, I thought the story was paced too slow at times, and too fast at others. The velocipede races themselves were meticulously described, and yet, there were “blink and you miss it” moments that forced me to stop halfway into the description of a race to only go back and repeat the segment again. I suppose it’s styled like an actual race, which is kind of cool in that way, but read weirdly for me.

I also didn’t really feel like any of the other characters stood out. Gabriel was a close second in terms of most development, personality-wise, but there wasn’t really much time to develop him, considering he often disappeared to do his own thing while Emmeline was left to her own devices. Even the other secondary characters show up in a scene and then disappear so quickly that I couldn’t really form an opinion about them. (Except Eddings. Eddings was just a cocky little chauvinistic shite.)

I was a little disappointed that Everett was often written out of the picture half the time, with Emmeline stating that he’s “busy with work.” I mean, honestly, he was an intriguing character, a strange, self-made man in a society he barely acknowledges as his own. From the beginning, he’s seen as a mysterious personality, and his thoughts about Emmy are often hidden under inscrutable stares and coarse, blunt language. It made for an awkward romance at times, and I really did want more out of that relationship.

All that said, I found the book charming. Serenian society and its surrounding world is fashioned after Victorian England, and I’m sure if Victorian England had developed through the ages fast enough, it would have velocipede races, too. I’m sure the suffragettes would have tried their best to applaud anyone who has shattered the glass ceiling, which Emmeline was bound to do with her velocipede passion. And that’s really where the book shined the most, within the description of Emmeline’s love for velo races.

3 out of 5 cookies!

This counts as #2 of the Steampunk Reading Challenge.

Have you read this book? What did you think?