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?

Romeo and Juliet With Monsters? YESPLS || This Savage Song Review

savagesong-review

Initial Thoughts: 

I blame my friend MEGHAN for making me read this, especially when I want the next book NOW. Which, unsurprisingly, is always the case with the Schwab books I’ve picked up. I think Schwab has it described accurately enough: Sin City and Romeo and Juliet minus the romance and plus the monsters. And it was effing fabulous.

THIS SAVAGE SONG

by Victoria Schwab
Greenwillow Books, July 2016
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies
YA urban fantasy, paranormal

savagesongKate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

Okay, at this point, I’ve become a die-hard Schwab fan in the span of four books. Frankly, had This Savage Song been described to me as a Romeo and Juliet plus other things, I wouldn’t have been as gung-ho in reading and even buying it to add to my collection. But SCHWAB WROTE IT so it must be gold.

Bias, people. That’s what it is. But it’s a bias I am willing to admit I have, and I do not regret it.

The book is not the most magnificent Shwab I’ve read, and some of the themes are reminiscent of her adult novels (I mean, she practically quotes Victor Vale from Vicious at the beginning of TSS), which I loved. To a critical reader, this similar study of characters could have been repetitive and dull. But honestly, this is Schwab’s forte. She’s excelled in making villains look like heroes, and vice versa. She’s a study in character, and she studies character archetypes extensively.

So yeah, I love her books.

TSS is no different.

Here Is Why

Kate Harker practically burns down a chapel on the first effing page. I was done by that point. DONE. But I do think I need to keep going with this, don’t I?

Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.

Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.

Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.

Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They’re gonna come and eat you all.

The entire rhyme is haunting and rhythmic and absolutely lovely. It helps you remember what the types of monsters are, and in the simplest–and IMO the most effective–mnemonic ever! That said, every time I read this poem in the book, I just hear it being creepily recited the way Hespith does the Broodmother poem in Dragon Age: Origins.

Kate had no pretentions–she knew her father was a bad man–but this city didn’t need a good one.

Good and bad were weak words. Monsters didn’t care about intentions or details. The facts were simple. The South was chaos. The North was order. It was an order bought and paid for with blood and fear, but order all the same.

The writing, man. THE WRITING. The quote pretty much summarizes the problem in Verity, and how it defines the world around Kate as she sees it.

“Leo makes it look so simple, I thought we all burned the same way, but our brother burns like a torch, and…”

And Ilsa burned like a wildfire.

That said, August has just as much perspective in this book, and I LOVE THE FLYNNS OMGAH. Yes, even super-righteous, crazy-ass Leo.

There was no August in its face, only shadow.

No August in its eyes, only ember and ash.

I mean…COME ON. That description alone is just…sigh. Not in a romantic sense, but omgah sigh.

The lack of romance is not entirely surprising. I went into this YA book thinking there may be a romance, but Schwab took the non-YA route of not adding a romance into the mix. I mean, this could change in the next book, and it could very well be written in as part of the overall story. I would have no complaints, mind, but like A Darker Shade of Magic, I was super glad about the lack of romantic love in the story. There was already so much happening!

And can I talk about the fact that violence breeding monsters is an AMAZING CONCEPT? Yes? Because it is. It so is, I cannot even explain to you why I think this without ranting about the current state of our world as far as violence goes, but I mean…the bit where August explains how his Sunai brethren came to be? I may have teared. It was SO SAD. I love and hate Schwab for this. I really do.

4.5 out of 5 cookies! Is the book everything I expected from Schwab? Yes. Yes, it is. Did I love it as much as her adult novels? Mmm…maybe nearer a Vicious rating.


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Did you read this book? What did you think?

Witches, Vampires, Weres, Oh My! || Dead Witch Walking Review

deadwitch-review

Initial Thoughts: 

Fun read! Haven’t read a Kim Harrison book until now, but I like that this particular series focuses on a white witch with a bit of a bite. Her vampire roomie is awesome too. Not sure how I feel about the humans and their tomato-hate, though. Personally, I couldn’t bring myself to hate tomatoes. Does that make me an Inderlander?

DEAD WITCH WALKING

by Kim Harrison
HarperTorch, 2004
Urban fantasy
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

deadwitchAll the creatures of the night gather in “the Hollows” of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party… and to feed.

Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining – and it’s Rachel Morgan’s job to keep that world civilized.

A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she’ll bring ’em back alive, dead… or undead.

So this book took longer for me to get through than your average urban fantasy book. I’d picked it up to read because I knew it was going to be a fast one, but then for some reason I wandered off, read another hundred pages of a high fantasy, and just went into a book rut for a good week. Which can be explained by my somewhat absence in blogging (or at least, commenting on blogs and checking my usual online haunts). That’s hardly Rachel Morgan’s fault, really, but Dead Witch Walking wasn’t a remedy or solution to the book rut. Even though yes, it was a good read when all is said and done.

What I Loved

A Cincinnati city filled with supernaturals. Rachel Morgan’s world is pretty interesting, because it’s taking its cue from a historical change, where people were more interested in biology and less on space technology. America never went to the moon, bioengineering became a thing, and supernatural beings such as witches, werewolves, and vampires exist. Not to mention the fact that there are definitely more types of supernaturals that exist in the area, but those get revealed further into the books, I suppose.

Non-practicing vampires exist. Because hey, they totally exist in stories even before the whole Twilight craze. That said, there doesn’t seem to be any other non-practicing vampire in the Hollows except Ivy Tamwood, and even she’s still a bit of a mystery as far as I’m concerned. All the same, though, if Ivy can do it, so can many others, if they choose to.

Jenks and Von Pixie Family Singers. Okay, so I don’t think singing bodes well for Jenks and his ilk, but he could pretty much pass them off as such. At first, I actually wasn’t sure what to think of Jenks as Rachel’s side kick, because he seemed pretty annoying at times. That said, he pulls through quite a bit much more than I’d expected, and he’s got a family who’s willing to stick their necks in to help him do his job. That says a lot about the little pixie.

“Good thing you escaped when you did,” Jenks said, swinging the ladle to send gleams of light about the kitchen. “Ivy was about to throw what little she has left after you–again.”

“I will call my cat Pixy Dust,” Ivy said. “I will keep it in the garden and not feed it.”

The sass is strong in these characters. This book is pretty dark at times, and it gets darker still, considering Rachel’s got several factions out gunning after her. Yet even in the grimness of the book, I still couldn’t help laugh over a few things that get said. Jenks and Ivy bicker a lot, and they’re my absolute favorite tension-slicers of the entire story (though, to be fair, Ivy practically causes most of that tension).

Centered in the middle of it all was a stainless steel island with empty shelves beneath. The rack above it was festooned with metal utensils, pans, and bowls. It was a witch’s dream kitchen; I wouldn’t have to stir my spells and dinner on the same stove.

There is a lot of cooking involved. I mean potions, guys. Yes, potions. Not drugs (though this book seems to talk a lot about biodrugs), but potions. Rachel, after all, is a witch, and nothing cheers a witch up than a witch’s kitchen. She can also legit cook, which is always a plus, especially when she has an entire garden and a grocery-shopping vampire as resource.

What I Didn’t Like

All the hot guys. Don’t get me wrong, I probably do my fair share of oggling as Rachel, but I swear, besides Francis (and Keasley, because he’s an old witch-like grandpa), every guy that Rachel’s encountered so far comes with a built-in six-pack and washboard stomach. I get it, most of the men so far are Inderlanders who probably wear glamours for all I know (Like that Trent. That Trent has some ‘splaining to do with his fae folk magic. I still believe he invoked the Wild Hunt in the book, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s some kind of fairy king or what-have-you.), but honestly, either Rachel’s just trying real hard to affirm to the world that she’s straight (which I don’t think is strictly true), or she’s going through a super dry spell (pun not intended).

The damsel-in-distress and shining demon-negotiating knight romance. I admit, I wasn’t big on the male love interest in this book. I can agree with Rachel that some of Nick’s charm is probably due to the fact that he was helpful to her at least twice during her times of trouble, but hey, so were Jenks, Ivy, and Keasley, and you don’t see Rachel wanting to jump their bones every time they save her life (though when Ivy kicks things up a notch, things do get heated up). So yeah, I wasn’t feeling the romance that the book was leaning towards. But then again, I’m more interested in how Ivy’s going to deal with her obvious love for Rachel (I CAN TOTALLY SEE THE FANFICTION POTENTIAL HERE, GUYS).

Slow down, fast-paced craziness! I suppose things will get clearer later on in the series, but I felt like there were a lot more questions I asked at the end of the book than there were answers. The business with Trent is still unresolved, there was this nonsense with demons and demon magic, there’s still the mystery of Ivy’s actions (though I have theories on that), and will someone explain to me WHY humans hate tomatoes? I thought there was too much happening, to the point where Rachel could not catch a break AT ALL, and it’s going to be a long time before even she can sleep soundly at all.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! It was good, I was entertained, and I would read more of the series, though I hope Rachel gets more confident in her witch skills, because she’s apparently kickass.


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Werecats and Urban Fantasy || Blood of the Earth Review

bloodofearth-review

Initial Thoughts: 

A wood-fairyish-woman who knows how to use a shotgun gets sucked into consulting for a paranormal investigative unit full of WERECATS and other non-humans. Um. YESTHANKYOUFORTHIS.

BLOOD OF THE EARTH

by Faith Hunter
Roc Books, August 2016
Urban fantasy
Rated: 4/5 cookies
e-ARC provided by NetGalley (thank you!)

bloodofearthWhen Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her.

Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville.

Nell has a team—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…

I’m pretty sure the book jacket summary is going to change a wee bit, because I don’t even remember any vampire being called the Blood Master of Nashville. I mean, the premise itself remains the same, but the plot itself may have been altered just a bit. So I’m going to go ahead and add a small-ish summary below:

After Nell encounters Jane Yellowrock, she is referred to PsyLED, a paranormal investigative unit with a case that takes them to Nell’s backyard. Turns out they’re looking for an organization that’s been kidnapping young women, and PsyLED thinks the organization may be hiding out in Nell’s old cult–God’s Cloud of Glory Church. Problem is, Nell has since separated from said cult, only to realize that in order for her to get the information PsyLED wants, she will have to go back inside the cult’s walls.

But this time, not without help. PsyLED is not only an investigative unit for paranormals, it IS a unit of paranormals, filled with werecats and other non-human magical beings. As a temporary recruit of PsyLED, Nell also holds a power, something that ties her deeply into her Soulwood property.

A Barrelful of Werecats

I vaguely remember adding a Jane Yellowrock novel onto my TBR last year, though it took me a while to actually connect the two (I remembered the Jane Yellowrock novel to be called Skinwalker, which is probably why it hadn’t occurred to me that the two books took place in the same world). When I read the summary for this book, my interest was certainly piqued. I’ve been looking for another urban fantasy series–and author–to get into, because I’ve had such a good experience with them since my entry into the Mercy Thompson universe. I do know some of my friends have been recommending a few other urban fantasies, and they ARE on my TBR, but I saw Blood of the Earth on NetGalley and figured: “Hey, maybe I’ll go ahead and start here!”

So that all said, this book.

It has an ex-cult woman who can use a shotgun. Meet Nell Nicholson, a girl in her twenties who, until recently, was part of God’s Cloud of Glory, a religious cult in the heart of Tennessee. Because of Jane Yellowrock, her life pretty much changes in the span of weeks, and after a raid conducted by both Jane and PsyLED in the previous months, her old church has been more adamant in trying to bring her back to the flock. But Nell isn’t a lassie to be reckoned with, because she has a power of her own, and it is rooted deep into the heart of her woods, Soulwood. She will not go without a struggle, and honestly, she’s not exactly hesitant with shooting someone if she has to.

It has werecats. I must have mentioned this a few times now, but only because I LIKE CATS, OKAY? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to read another book on sexy alpha werewolves, but sexy alpha werecats? YESPLS! The first introduction to werecats come with Rick and Paka, and while I wasn’t exactly loving either one, I thought this shapeshifting skill was absolutely cool. Paka as an African were-leopard was even BETTER. And then Occam comes along and I was sold. I was so done. Hem hem. I am totally not in the midst of fangirling at all (but I mean…he’s got a Texan accent. And he’s a werecat. And he’s a GENTLEMAN).

It has a pretty disturbing set of crimes. Honestly, it was hard NOT rooting for the good guys, because when the bad guys get bad, they are really effing despicable. When it finally got to the action-packed scary bits, the story was hard to put down, and I really wanted to know what happened next.

It has an eclectic cast of characters. Some of whom were likable, others are so-so. It being a first book of the Soulwood series, there’s not much character development in Nell’s team, other than Nell herself, obviously. I mean, I suppose if I’d read the Jane Yellowrock series I might have more perspective about Rick, but from what I read, I wasn’t too big of a fan. He was too much of a stickler for me. I wished there was more on T. Laine and JoJo, and Tandy’s power is pretty cool, all things considered. The most I saw of the team, however, was definitely when the werecats went out and got useful. Meaning Paka and Occam primarily…

It is a promising beginning to the series. Honestly, I’d read the next one after this. I would also read the Jane Yellowrock books ASAP, too, because the world and its creatures just sound so interesting!

4 out of 5 cookies!


bloodofearth-jojo

Villains versus Villains || Vicious Review

vicious-review

Initial Thoughts:

Talk about rooting for the lesser evil. It was difficult because THERE ARE NO GOOD GUYS. Not in this book. Nope. But it was still really really really good, you guys.

VICIOUS

by V. E. Schwab
Tor Books, 2013
Adult science fiction/fantasy
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies

viciousVictor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Vicious is a page-turner. Not in an action-packed kind of way, but still a page-turner. I had expected the lovely and descriptive wordplay I encountered in Schwab’s Shades of Magic books, but I hadn’t actually expected to get into the dark grimness of the plot immediately. The beginning chapter took me into a graveyard in the dead of night (complete with thud thud thud sound effects). The story follows two college besties and their research revolving around the ExtraOrdinary. Then hijinks and accidents happen, the two roommates have a falling out, and suddenly one of them is killing off EOs while the other is plotting sweet, sweet revenge.

So yeah, honestly, it’s not hard to figure out that this book has no heroes. That’s what makes it so fun.

Why I Couldn’t Stop Reading

Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.

This is pretty much the premise that gets left behind throughout the entire book. I will say that Vicious is not particularly action-packed. A lot of the book is character study, and if you aren’t endeared by the characters, it is more than likely you aren’t wowed by the message and plot of this book. Much of the plot revolves around a few key characters and what brought them together. In the case of Victor Vale, it’s what brought him to seek revenge and what he’s doing to go about getting it. In the case of Eli Ever, well, he thinks he’s killing off EOs for the greater good. As a reader, I was seriously stuck trying to figure out which was the lesser evil between the two (though honestly, I did pretty much decide on a side by the end).

Victor Vale was not a fucking sidekick.

Oh, Victor, you crazy man, you. As a character, Victor isn’t the bees’ knees. He’s not even close to someone I’d want to be friends with. But Mitch had the right idea about all this. I wouldn’t want to be Victor’s friend, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be standing against him, either. The man is definitely a high functioning sociopath. His inner mind theatre, however, is quite amusing in its own right, and altogether focused on an endgame.

Eli hesitated. “I can still see the line from your hospital bracelet,” he said at last. “At least wait till you’re feeling better.”

“Actually, I’m feeling fine. Better than. I feel wonderful. I feel like roses and sunshine and glitter.”

The bromance that isn’t a bromance. The first half of the book was great in the interaction department. I loved the college scene, and often I wanted to jump into the book and watch the events unfolding between Victor and Eli. That said, I may want to watch several hundred yards away, considering what the two can do to people close to them. Also, I would have said those two needed to hug it out. But I’m pretty sure the whole hugging thing no longer works when one shoots the other three times and has him arrested. Um, yeah, this bromance ship has completely sailed.

Hours passed in blinks as the two let it sink in, what that meant, what they had done. It was extraordinary.

It was ExtraOrdinary.

Eli rubbed his thumb over the fresh skin of his palm, but Victor was the first to speak, and when he did, it was with an eloquence and composure perfectly befitting the situation.

“Holy shit.”

The writing is just…gah. For a dark book, Schwab litters it with sentences that made me giggle a bit. It was easy to get lost in the writing because of this, especially when Schwab also manages to end each chapter in a way that had me craving for the next.

Suffice to say I enjoyed the book. I am sad that it ended, and the countdown towards the final confrontation was only semi-satisfying. That said, I was made aware that there will be a “Vicious #2” coming soon, and I cannot wait to see what it’ll be about, now that the Victor-Eli showdown has resolved itself.

4.5 out of 5 cookies!


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