Tag: fantasy

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia BriggsSilence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
Published by Ace Books on March 7th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 371
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

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...

Well I’ll be honest. The main reason why this book is five stars for me is because of the awesome awesome reveal that we get about a character that I was ultimately dismissive of while reading. I ended up having to go back and reread parts of the book though after that reveal and just chuckle to myself. I think long-time readers are going to love it, no spoilers.

Until that reveal I was probably firmly in the four-star range territory just because we have read previous books about either Adam or Mercy being abducted and being away from each other and how they do without being able to feel one another.

I think I’m just getting a little bit bored with the series because at this point with Mercy and Adam declaring themselves protectors of everybody in their territory it just kind of means we’re going to get some monster of the week type shenanigans happening. I don’t know how Briggs will keep topping herself, but it will be interesting. Since series like Kate Daniels have an obvious endpoint, I guess I’m curious to see what will be that point for Mercy. Them taking over more Packs, Mercy having a child?

In “Silence Fallen”we now have Mercy abducted and taken into Europe with Adam and their allies following. Mercy has been taken to The Court of the Lord of the Night. We’ve been hearing about this vampire for many books and long-time readers know that he is who banished Marsilia from Europe. We also get to see more on how seethes work. And we get a look at a European Pack as well.

There’s not too much to say about Mercy. She’s the same as she has been since book #1. Loving, loyal, and determined to figure out why she’s been kidnapped and could it mean someone is going to hurt her Pack. We get to also see her vulnerable and dealing with some lingering PTSD due to the rape she suffered in “Iron Kissed.” Can I also applaud Briggs again for how she set up that storyline and the healing that Mercy has undergone since? I loved we were told that Mercy had gone into counseling and even though it had been a while she still at odd times thinks of Kyle and gets angry at how he made her into a victim. But Briggs doesn’t allow this moment to make Mercy weak and I like that it’s not brought up every five seconds (looking at Eve Dallas in the In Death series) and is something that she seeks to deal with everyday, but doesn’t discuss in every book.

Adam we see is still dealing with the affects of when Mercy almost died in “Night Broken”. In “Fire Touched” we know that he still woke up night to make sure Mercy was breathing and cried. So having Mercy away from him is messing with his control. I also loved his relationship with witch Elizaveta. And we get to see how Adam deals with having vampires, werewolves, and even goblins around him in this one.

We also get some development of characters like Honey, Marsilia, and Stefan. I definitely enjoyed the more in depth look we get at Honey. She’s a rock star in this one. She’s also, besides Warren, and Ben been nothing but 100 percent loyal to Mercy.

And for once I loved Marsilia. She was fantastic. She’s always seemed power mad and just crazy. We get to see how smart and ultimately good she is in this one.

We also get an inkling we may see a Pack member leave soon to start their own Pack.

I really wish we had gotten more than just phone calls with Charles though. I would love him and Anna to put in more than a token appearance in the Mercy Thompson books.

I liked the writing in this one. Each chapter begins with some commentary by Mercy which made me laugh a few times. And since we shift from Mercy to Adam’s POV I really enjoyed this. We haven’t had an Adam POV since “Frost Burned” and I’m glad we got one here. We get to see Mercy get herself in and out of trouble. And we also get to see how Adam does when he can’t feel Mercy through their mate bond. I can see why some vampires think to control a pack through the mate bond, but we get to see more in this book why it won’t work on Mercy and Adam.

The flow was about tricky though. The story is told in a nonlinear way that would not have given me pains if I wasn’t home drugged up on cold medicine. I had to go back a few times to make sure I had the days right.

The setting of Italy and Prague were actually pretty cool in his book. Reading about the Golem of Prague and Rabbi Loew was pretty cool. I always forget that the character of Mercy is fascinated by religion and myths. And who can blame her, knowing whose daughter she is.

The ending was a bit weird though to me. It was kind of anticlimactic. I guess I wanted a bigger hint at what the next book would be about.

five-stars

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Published by W. W. Norton & Company on February 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman, difficult with his beard and huge appetite, to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir, the most sagacious of gods, is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

I think the biggest take away for me for this book is that not everything is American Gods. I thought that this book would be Gaiman’s take on Norse myths. And for the most part besides some humor and dialogue here and there, Gaiman plays this pretty straight from beginning to end. There are some passages here and there that moved me and some that made me smile. I am happy to have read this, but this is not going to be something that I re-read again and again like The Graveyard Book though.

There is an introduction by Gaiman and then the book proceeds. Pretty much we start at the beginning (as one does) and go the whole way from the beginning showcasing the Norse gods and goddesses, giants, etc. that inhabit this world. Eventually everything leads to Ragnarok, the end of these same gods and goddesses. But as we all know, every ending leads to a new beginning.

Gaiman tells the creation story of the Norse gods and goddesses and focuses on Odin (or Wednesday). We get to hear a bit about these figures that some of us may be familiar with. I have read various books about the Norse gods and goddesses so this made a breezy read for me. I was familiar with most of the stories that were included except for “Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye,” “The Master Builder,” “The Mead of Poets,” and “Hymir and Thor’s Fishing Expedition.”

My favorites chapters/stories in this one were: “The Master Builder,” “Freya’s Unusual Wedding,” “Thor’s Journey to the Land of the Giants,” “The Death of Balder,” and “Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods.”

I thought Gaiman did a good job of developing the characters. Though I can say that for the most part, the giants did not seem to be that smart. I did have to laugh at Gaiman’s take of Thor. He made him seem like not the brightest star in the sky. This Thor was all about eating, drinking, and throwing his hammer and smashing things.

Freya was my favorite of the goddesses because she didn’t allow herself to be bullied by even Odin in being forced to marry someone because of whatever madness had happened due to Loki.

Loki sucks. Frankly one wonders why in the world it took the gods and goddesses so long to just take that guy and exact the punishment they eventually get around to. Though the whole Loki horse thing gave me pause. That is not a story I recall reading when I read about the Norse gods before.

I think Odin could give Zeus a run for the money on who is the worse father there too. The chapter involving Balder was pretty messed up when you see how Odin went about punishing the one who was to blame for his death. (view spoiler)

Image result for odin gifs
I do wish we had gotten into other female characters a bit more in this though.

I thought the writing was quite poetic at times. And part of me could see certain scenes in my head acted out.

“I can see further than you can, Loki. I can see all the way to the world-tree,” Heimdall will tell him with his last breath. “Surtr’s fire cannot touch the world-tree, and two people have hidden themselves safely in the trunk of Yggdrasil. The woman is called Life, the man is called Life’s Yearning. Their descendants will populate the earth. It is not the end. There is no end. It is simply the end of the old times, Loki, and the beginning of the new times. Rebirth always follows death. You have failed.”

The flow of course works because Gaiman just follows along for the most part with how most Norse myths are told.

The setting of the Norse gods and goddesses seems like a colder and more brutal one than the Greek/Roman gods and goddesses inhabit.

I did love the ending and how we get to see that there is no true end. Just a continuation of a never ending dance.

four-stars

The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart

The Last Enchantment by Mary StewartThe Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart
Series: Arthurian Saga #3
on May 6th 2003
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 513
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
two-stars

Arthur Pendragon is King! Unchallenged on the battlefield, he melds the country together in a time of promise. But sinister powers plot to destroy Camelot, and when the witch-queen Morgause -- Arthur's own half sister -- ensnares him in an incestuous liaison, a fatal web of love, betrayal, and bloody vengeance is woven.

I tried very hard to get into this book. It was so hard. I think that it ended up ending in a weird place and after going forward and reading “The Wicked Day” I really wish that Stewart had ended this book better to just stay away from continuing the Arthurian saga.

There is really not much to say that I haven’t said in the other books. I like Merlin as a narrator, but everyone else is given very little development. The book starts to feel repetitive after a while. The only new thing in this one is that Stewart throws Merlin a curve ball by having him fall in love. Now this character, Nimue ends up being very important to the story, and I do applaud Stewart for having her be a heck of a lot wiser and even stronger than Merlin. But other than that, it’s same old same old. Merlin rides around a lot looking out for Arthur while Arthur is elsewhere doing kingly things. I am being facetious but honestly I was so bored while reading this book. There is very little action.

I was ultimately bored while reading this unfortunately. I think because Stewart didn’t really show me anything new here. We know that Morgause is evil (I say that while twirling my invisible mustache) but I honestly felt more bored by her than anything. I think it’s because Stewart does a lot of telling to the readers about what Morgause is up to so you feel like you are hearing this story from a random guy who tries to chat you up at the bar. You just smile politely hoping he moves on soon so you can go back to drinking your wine/beer/shot.

Since I am really familiar with the legend of King Arthur, his queen, Guinevere, Lancelot, Camelot, etc. I didn’t see anything new under the sun here. I think this book paints Arthur more naive than anything rather than some paragon of virtue.

The last part of the book is seriously Merlin just being told everything while he was “absent” from the story. I think it could have been interesting showing how Merlin’s ability to communicate with the gods was waning and how that left him feeling adrift. Instead this whole book was really about him

I think the ending was abrupt and was lacking some oomph that for all it’s faults that I had with “The Hollow Hills” at least delivered on by having Arthur crowned king. Maybe Stewart should have just ended the book with the end of Camelot instead of trying to stretch that out into a fourth book.

two-stars

The Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

The Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William RitterBeastly Bones (Jackaby, #2) by William Ritter
Series: Jackaby
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
Genres: YA, YA - Fantasy
Pages: 296
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-half-stars

I've found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I've known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad's Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

Book 2 does a nice job of continuing the story from Book 1 – starting mere days/weeks after the climactic events at the end of Jackaby. The adorable Charlie Cane has been relocated to Gads Valley, a small community nearby and Jackaby and Abigail continue with their investigating. Soon, local law enforcement asks them to get involved in some shenanigans that are happening in Gad’s Valley.

What we need is a thorough, discreet report from somebody accustomed to working outside the usual parameters of the law.”

“What a coincidence,” Jackaby said. “I’ve been thinking of putting that very thing on my business cards. So you’re sending us on assignment?”

Things get kind of crazy, there might be dinosaurs involved, and Abigail gets to put her archeological skills to good use, finally having something significant to offer to the investigation. A Nellie-Bly’esque reporter shows up, two mediocre white men with superiority complexes yell at each other (a lot) and all hell breaks loose. It’s a lot of fun. In my opinion, as much fun as Jackaby.

Jackaby shook his head. “Miss Rook,” he said, “the greatest figures in history are never the ones who avoid failure, but those who march chin-up through countless failures, one after the next, until they come upon the occasional victory.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “Failure is not the opposite of success—it’s a part of it. And as failures go,” he added with a lopsided grin, “this one was really spectacular, wasn’t it?” The firelight bobbed merrily in my employer’s eyes, and behind him the roof of the farmhouse collapsed into a smoldering heap. I sighed, and in spite of myself I managed a weak smile. “It really was, sir.”

four-half-stars

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5th 2016
Genres: YA - Fantasy
Pages: 464
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
dnf

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

This is going to be short and sweet because I DNFed this book at 10 percent.

Image result for white flag of surrender

I just was not in the mood for this book after the opening scene showed one of our two main characters (I don’t know if there are anymore POVs or not) name Kate Harker setting fire to a church. We find out she is such a badass because she’s been kicked out of 5 schools and she’s hoping her arson will cause her to be kicked out of this school as well. And oh she broke some other girl’s nose. We don’t know what other girl did besides breathe air, but you know, Kate is somehow in the right. The book then transitions over to a teen boy named August Flynn  and I just mentally checked right out. I don’t know how many young adult novels had a guy with the name of August or starting with an A, but it’s starting to feel like a lot.

I know, you are all wondering why in the world did I read this. Well I got sucked in by the synopsis which sounded kick ass and when I realized I had been duped decided the heck with this and moved onto another book. Also this has led me to enact the following policy with books starting in 2017. When I am getting the book from the library, first go find it on Amazon, read sample, and then decided to pass on it. Or if it is at the library when I get there, read a few pages, and then scuttle the thing if it is not grabbing in the first few pages.

My impressions so far at 10 percent is that Kate seems like a psychopath with huge daddy issues. August is all over the place and all I kept thinking when the Schwab transitioned over to him was some emo guy with bad hair.

Everyone else in this book looks like a caricature, Kate’s father is the leader of one half of a divided city and goes around saying things like here there are monsters. I may have snorted laugh at that.

The writing seemed just okay, but I was really not in the mood to try to get into some young adult dystopian book that sounded like all of the worst parts of every young adult novel combined. The flow was off too since for every POV that featured Kate, we seemed to stay with August much longer. Maybe even Schwab was tired of writing about her.

I am going to say that the world building in this type of novels has to make sense right away. I am over info being provided at the pace of a snail going uphill. We know right away this is not our world, and when Kate is being driven back to the city and acting like a jerk once again we get some minor details about things that lurk in the dark (here there be monsters). I don’t know, I just finished with the Monstrologist trilogy so I just rolled my eyes at deep and dark monsters going around.

dnf

Rapid Reflections: October 5, 2012

Rapid Reflections: The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Ten by Gretchen Neil, The Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan by Gretchen MacNeil, Libba Bray, Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah Rees Brennan
Genres: YA, YA - Fantasy
Source: Purchased: ebook

I just finished this book by Libba Bray. Set in during the time of Prohibition, the main character, Evie, is a flapper who is banished from Ohio to the care of her uncle in New York City as a punishment for some misfeasance at home. Evie is also a “diviner” or a person with some supernatural attributes. She is able to hold an object belonging to a person and sense secrets about them. This is the skill that gets her in trouble, but which comes in tremendously handy when she ends up in the middle of a murder investigation in New York City.

The Diviners is an ambitious book. Libba Bray mined the American tradition of religious zealotry and bigotry to great effect, using temperance, speaking in tongues, cult behavior, mass suicide, and eugenics. This is combined with a cast of characters that is very interesting, from Evie (who is frankly, not a terribly endearing character being reckless, self-absorbed and often immature) to Mabel, Uncle Will, Jericho, a Ziegfield girl and a young black poet, two very creepy old ladies who live upstairs, and a murderous ghost named Naughty John. The main conflict is nicely resolved in this book, but it is clear that there is a much bigger story to be told in future installments. I will definitely read the next installments.

I love Maggie Stiefvater. The Scorpio Races was absolutely one of my favorite books last year, and I was really excited about the release of The Raven Boys. This book did NOT disappoint.

If Maggie Stiefvater isn’t the most lyrical wordsmith writing in the YA genre right now, then I don’t know who is. Her prose is frequently gorgeous. The Raven Boys of the title are a group of 4 young men who attend a prep school. They become involved with Blue, the main female character, who is a townie and a local girl, and who is fated to kill the boy who kisses her first. She is quite adamant that she will never fall in love.

This is also the beginning of the series. It involves a quest for a dead Welsh prince, ley lines, and an old murder. There are a lot of twists and turns, and the ending is a little bit unsatisfying because it is so clearly the first in a series. Along with The Diviners, this was one of my most anticipated releases this year and it was worth the wait.

This is a retelling of the classic Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. Gretchen McNeil is no Agatha Christie, but this was a fun read nonetheless, and was quite true to the original.

The book begins with the main character, Meg, and her best friend Minnie, being dropped off on an island for a weekend house party of boys, booze and fun. Things rapidly deteriorate, and the other eight teens on the island begin dying in rapid succession. The first two deaths are chalked up to, first, suicide, and second, accident. By the third death, however, it is clear that someone is killing the teens, and things rapidly descend into chaos, as suspicion and fear take over. Characters who have known each other for years cannot overcome their distrust and truths better left hidden start to be revealed.

The last book that I’ve read since my last round-up post is Unspoken by Sarah Rees. This book has an absolutely gorgeous cover, and I have to confess that one of the reasons that I bought it was because of that cover.

I did like this book, but it is fourth out of the four books discussed in this post. I think that it suffered by comparison with the other three books that I read in the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure if I will continue with the series.

The writing was good, but not as beautiful as Stiefvater’s. The story isn’t nearly as complex as Bray’s book. And I am a sucker for a good mystery, so it just didn’t grab me the way that Ten did. There’s nothing wrong with it – but having just read three other really fun books, this one wasn’t all that special.

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