I choose Red London…

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We meet Kell, the magician, who travels between parallel worlds and who was adopted into the royal family. His early childhood is a mystery he wants to solve. He has family issues.

And we meet Lila, the nineteen year old thief, struggling to survive in Grey London. I am deeply suspicious of one of her bodily features. Not telling you which, as it could be a spoiler.

The parallel worlds are Grey, Red, White and Black London. One is all out of magic, one is full of it and Kell‘s home. One is cruel and one has ended, due to evil magic. I like how Lila puts it, when she and Kell meet and eventually team up:
“There‘s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,“…

Grey London resembles our world, specifically Regency England.

The story is a mystery, a conspiracy, an adventure and a fight against evil. There is smuggling, thievery, but sadly no pirates.

It took me quite a while, but eventually I made it to Part 5, a third into the book and finally, finally all the set-up was done, all the characters were introduced and something interesting happened! Yay! The high fantasy, full of magic systems, turned into Frodo and Sam, ready to go on an adventure. Imagine trying to reach Mordor, with Samwise Gamgee having a sense of humour. Anyway, that comparison is limping quite heavily…

Bottom line, this is well written, the characters have enough depth to be interesting, I liked the magic system and the parallel Londons, the plot is nice. It just didn‘t really engage me. It was ok, but I could have put it down any time and wouldn’t have missed it. It‘s unlikely that I will pick up the next book in the series (triology?).

Ok, well, here is what I think about Lila Bard… Spoiler!
(view spoiler)

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The end of the world…. again…

Last Ones Left AliveLast Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After listening for an hour and the first 10 chapters, I was still waiting for something truly different or unusual to happen. The split timeline is a nice gimmick, bringing Orpen‘s past and present together eventually. The plot is fairly basic, there are no great surprises and it‘s pretty predictable. I‘m assuming the minimalism is on purpose.

The Road comes to mind. With zombies. Orpen is pushing along a wheelbarrow with an incapacitated passenger, on her way East towards Dublin. Trouble lurks ahead.

What also comes to mind: bleak, depressing, violent and cruel. Pretty hopeless. Orpen’s initial goal seems ominous. The story ends on a more positive note that I expected. I liked it, although it‘s abrupt and pretty much wide open.

The story itself didn‘t really do much for me. Zombies, fighting, screaming, infection, a city that might be salvation or hold human horrors, loss, despair, death and maybe a little hope. All bases covered of the usual zombie story.

There are plenty of plot points and characters that are not sufficiently covered or explored. So, can we assume that a sequel is in the works already?

Good audiobook narrator, with a nice Irish tilt (Anne-Marie Gaillard). She sounds very excited and frantic a lot of the time, which makes it a bit challenging emotionally and hard to understand at times.

PS: I hope you haven‘t read too much of the book synopsis yet, it gives too much away of the story. It‘s Ireland and zombies and it‘s grim, that‘s all you need to know going in.

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Trouble in Boston…

Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3)Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Charles is suffering in his role as his father‘s enforcer, killer of wayward werewolves and all around bogeyman. Anna has a cunning plan. There is a serial killer in Boston and the FBI ask for help. Anna takes the opportunity to do just that, to get Charles out of his rut and help him to get better.

This time around this is more of a police procedural and we even get a new POV from Leslie, an FBI agent they work with. And there are fae and stupid humans.

I enjoyed this one! And I still don‘t remember any of the plots…

Reading order and progress of my chronological Mercyverse re-read:
Moon Called, ★★★★★, Mercy #1
Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson: Moon Called Vol. 1, ★★★☆☆, comic adaptation of the same…
Alpha & Omega, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #0.5
Cry Wolf, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #1
Hunting Ground, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #2
Blood Bound, ★★★★★, Mercy #2
Iron Kissed, ★★★★★, Mercy #3
Bone Crossed, ★★★★★, Mercy #4
Silver Borne, ★★★½☆, Mercy #5,
River Marked, ★★★★☆, Mercy #6
Fair Game, ★★★★★, Alpha & Omega #3
– Next: Frost Burned, Mercy #7

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:

First read in 2011:

This is the third book in the Alpha & Omega series, if you don’t count a short story published in the anthology On the Prowl. It is set before the actual series and introduces the two main characters, Anna and Charles. You don’t have to read it to understand the series, but I certainly liked the background it gave me.

Alpha & Omega sometimes crosses paths with Briggs’ other series, centering around werewolf Mercedes Thompson (First book: Moon Called). Some of the characters in her universe appear in both series. For maximum enjoyment I would suggest reading Mercy Thompson first, at least the first few books and in order, before you branch out to Alpha & Omega. That way you get to know all the characters and understand the dynamics of her world much better. Plus Mercy Thompson is a lot of fun!

Right, so Fair Game! Good plot, lots of suspense, well drawn characters. I guessed pretty early on who the bad guy was, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story (much). Very good, still going strong and I’m looking forward to the next book.

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Home alone, almost…

This Long VigilThis Long Vigil by Rhett C. Bruno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do not read the goodreads synopsis, it gives away too much of the story.

Our protagonist Orion is a „monitor“ on a generation ship with 1000 humans in a deep sleep. His sole companion is the ship‘s AI Dan. Orion does menial tasks that Dan can‘t perform himself. Dan serves as his father, friend, teacher, entertainer and sole social contact. Which is why I believe that the story premise is faulty and could never happen like this. Alas, I would spoil you, if I told you more. This is only 20 pages, so have a look yourself. Despite my reservations I enjoyed reading this story.

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It rhymes… sometimes.

Absolute ZeroAbsolute Zero by David Lunde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first encounter with SF poetry. Interesting, different, a little strange.

I liked some of them, I was completely puzzled by others. Here is one I liked:

(view spoiler)

No man can go where the deep ships go.
We curse our human flesh that bars the way
and stare at stars that we can never know,

stars as bitter-bright as methane snow.
Our cyborg Pilots bring us tapes to play—
no man can go where the deepships go.

In Port City taverns the holos glow
with vibrant worlds that make old Earth seem gray.
We stare at stars that we can never know,

at worlds on which our vat-spawned children grow,
while robot mothers tend them at their play.
No man can go where the deepships go,

but only load, repair, refuel, and tow,
and wipe his hands and speed them on their way.
We stare at stars that we can never know.

We curse the bread, we curse the dough,
we curse the God that made us from such hapless clay.
No man can go where the deepships go:
we stare at stars that we can never know.

(hide spoiler)]

And here is a snippet that I simply have to post:

“Kirk’s in love,  
and Doc’s been caught,
and no one saw  
what happened to Scott,    

and Spock beams in.“

And another snippet…

“By Jove, I think he’s got it,”
said Betelgeuse. “I don’t know,”
muttered Aldebaran, “he seems
a couple orders of magnitude
below lightspeed on this.” “Be real, Al,”
said Procyon, “how much can you expect
from an organic?”

This collection is from one author only. I think I need to mix it up and find some others. I liked the more humorous parts and poems the most. There was one about beer brewing on Mars that was funny and provided great imagery. The more scientific poems were fascinating as well, although I did have to look up some of the heavenly bodies mentioned to understand what exactly the author was describing or hinting at..

“The final crux is quantum flux.“

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River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6)River Marked by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Next one in my Mercyverse re-read. So, finally…

(view spoiler)

This time around we get fewer werewolves, vampires or fae. Instead we dive into native American folklore. A little more romance, a rural setting, almost no Columbia Basin Pack, more of a fantasy feel. Different to the previous Mercy books. I like it.

Things I looked up while reading this:
– Columbia River Gorge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbi…
Multnomah Falls looks a little underwhelming online. The Cascades look pretty though.
Mount St. Helens, remember that? In the Cascades! Didn‘t know that… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascade…
– Porcupine quillwork: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quillwork

Reading order and progress of my chronological Mercyverse re-read:
(view spoiler)
– Next: Fair Game, Alpha & Omega #3

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:

1st read in 2011: ★★★★☆
What do you call Urban Fantsay without an urban setting? Is it just Fantasy? Because in this one Mercy and Adam are running around in the wilderness and get wet in a lot of rivers.

Good suspense, straight forward story, lots of action. It wasn’t breathtaking, but a good, solid read. Interesting detour into Native American Folklore.

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