Blast from the past blowing through…

Ill Wind (Weather Warden, #1)
by Rachel Caine

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Read in 2015 and never continued the series. My review from back then:

Interesting and different plot idea. The four elements are manipulated by wardens with magic abilities. Our heroine is a weather warden, capable of manipulating air and water. She is a fugitive, running for having murdered someone. She bears a demonic taint and is pursued by evil forces, creating a malevolent storm, tracking her every movement.

The main storyline is interspersed with flashbacks of her previous life, providing some world building, giving her a backstory and slowly catching up to the current plot.

Not bad, but not as gripping as I thought, based on the book blurb and not as funny and snarky as I expected, after reading a short story set in the same universe. And why do the wardens have to manipulate the weather at all?

I am not so happy about the instalove either. I liked the story and the characters, but it did not grip me. I would not mind reading the next book in the series, but all in all this was meh, despite the good writing.

When the Zombie Apocalypse Comes, Remember That I Am Faster Than You

Soul Taken (Mercy Thompson, #13)
by Patricia Briggs

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mercy #13. Straight forward, fairly simple plot, nice lack of annoying drama. Took me three days to get past the first 10%, but then I was hooked and could not put it down anymore. So although it was plain and simple and without big surprises, I give it 5 stars for sheer entertainment value.

Mercy and Adam are center stage, with a fair amount of Zee, Tad, Jesse, Warren, a bit of Sherwood, Tilly and various vampires. And the Walking Stick! Not telling you who the bad guys are… 

There is a merciful lack of Christy and no marital drama. Which I had expected after the last book, but wasn‘t sad to miss. It‘s nice to see people with a functioning relationship, including the pack—mostly…

I wonder how many more books it will take Briggs to wrap up the overarching narrative with Bonarata. That guy really needs to be permanently dead.

Mercy #14 planned for 2023
Alpha & Omega #7 planned for 2024

Patricia Briggs Mercy’s World Reading Order & Timeline:…

Review of the previous Mercy book, #13, Smoke Bitten: 
WordPress: https://cathysreadingbonanza.wordpres…

This black hole did not suck me in

They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young
by Eric StephensonSimon Gane (Illustrator)

Rating: 1 out of 5.

DNF at 41 pages. Didn‘t like the artwork. The story didn‘t do anything for me, could not be bothered to continue for long or pick it up again after putting it down. It took too long to get interesting. Teens with psychic powers?

We all have advantages over one another, but what if you were capable of things most of us can only imagine? What would you do – and who would you be? A doctor? An athlete? A soldier? A hero? Everyone has to make a choice about how to use the abilities they’re born with… but they’re not like us. 

Spell The Month in Books — July

I came across this meme this morning and thought why not use it to look at some of my owned, unread books as a reminder that I still have them?

The goal is to spell the current month with the first letter of book titles, excluding articles such as ‘the’ and ‘a’ as needed. That’s all there is to it! Some months there are theme challenges, such as “books with an orange cover” or books of a particular genre, but for the most part, any book you want to use is fair game!

There is a “Summer Adventures“ theme to July, which I will simply ignore (sorry!), as I don‘t do seasonal reading or challenges anyway. Ok, mostly, I confess to some Halloween themed reading… Anyway, here we go.

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)
by Fonda Lee

In this epic saga of magic and kungfu, four siblings battle rival clans for honor and power in an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

Oh yes, this has been on my shelf since 2020 and I wanted to read it last year for that BIPOC challenge I had signed up for. And here we are, still…

Unshapely Things (Connor Grey, #1)
by Mark Del Franco 

In the alleys of the decrepit Boston neighborhood known as the Weird, fairy prostitutes are turning up dead. The crime scenes show signs of residual magic, but the Guild, which polices the fey, has more “important” crimes to investigate and dumps the case on human law enforcement. 

Oh boy, this has been on my shelf since 2015. Which was probably around the time when my obsession with UF started to fizzle out. Well, my recent revisiting of that genre was pretty entertaining, so who knows… perhaps my StoryGraph Reading Randomizer will pick it for me…

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain, #1)
by Margaret Killjoy

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveller, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

No idea why I have this one. Maybe a freebie from Tor? Trans author, the blurb sounds vaguely interesting. Books on my kindle tend to vanish from view, so this is a useful reminder.

Y: The Last Man, Book One
by Brian K. VaughanPia Guerra (Illustrator), José Marzán Jr. (Illustrator)

No unread books starting with Y on my shelves, so let‘s have a look at the past. I read this in 2018 and ended up giving it only 3 stars. I‘ve been thinking about giving it another chance, to see if I changed my mind about it. Here is my review from 2018.

Swashbuckling fun

Sorry for the long break in posts. I am back from my holiday and the first week back at work was busy. I mostly watched TV in the evenings. I also finished another of my books for the StoryGraph Reading Randomizer challenge. It‘s been a really useful challenge so far, helping me to regularly and easily pick from my TBR pile of owned books.

The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)
by Meljean Brook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Officially marketed as PNR, but much more steampunk-pirates-zombie-swashbuckling fun. 

Alternate history, where the mongol hordes continued their advance through Europe and had something extra to help them along. England was conquered and subdued, until the Iron Duke freed it. Our MC, Mina, is a police inspector at Scotland Yard, dealing with a murder. She crosses his path and together they have to solve a conspiracy and save England again.

When picking this up, I feared that there would be a huge amount of silly PNR, but luckily this was more adventure yarn than silly romance. Don‘t get me wrong, romance can be a lot of fun. But PNR has this tendency of being peopled with especially stupid characters. Anyhow, this was not it. There was some of the required drama at the end and some over-the-top sex with that big member and with slightly dubious-consent issues. I just blinked and kept going. 

Good plot, a speedily told adventure story, good world building, believable characters, a slightly different take on Steampunk keeping it interesting — the nanotech is a nice addition. Loved the parts on the air and sea ships, although this London was well rendered as well.

Excellent brain candy! I had fun.

Normally I would say that I will continue with the next book in the series, Heart of Steel, but it centers around Yasmeen, a character of this book that I didn‘t particularly like and that I am not all that interested in. I would definitely try something else by the author though.

Other books read, containing stories by Meljean Brook

Must Love Hellhounds (Sookie Stackhouse, #9.2; Guild Hunter, #0.5; Kate Daniels, #3.5; The Guardians, #5.5)
by Charlaine HarrisNalini SinghIlona AndrewsMeljean Brook

Read in 2011. I don‘t remember anything of this story, but must have liked this at the time. It‘s part of The Guardian series. Angels were never my thing, even back in the day when I still regularly and obsessively read UF and PNR. Hence I picked another series by the author to explore her writing further.

The job was simple: find her boss’s niece, bring her home safely, and hand out a whole lot of pain to whoever had abducted her. But Maggie hadn’t counted on her boss’s nephew, the hellhound who loved to make her life difficult, or her own past rearing its complicated and ugly head.“ —

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance
by Trisha Telep

Read in 2015. This is what I noted down back then:

Very good, 5 stars:
Paranormal Romance Blues, Kelley Armstrong (vampires, demons) – FUN!
John Doe, Anna Windsor (angels) – I don’t like angels, but this was a positive surprise.
The Tuesday Enchantress, Mary Jo Putney (guardians) – very entertaining, good sense of humour, I might get something longer by this author.
Trinity Blue, Eve Silver (demons, sorceres) – fun! I want to read more of this.
Night Vision, Maria V. Snyder (light bender): fun as well. The heroine is blind in daylight and has absolute vision at night. Refreshing idea.
Pack, Jeaniene Frost (werewolves): excellent werewolve story. Likeable characters. Reads like the first chapter of a book I want to finish reading.
Blue Crush, A Weather Warden story, Rachel Caine (djinn, mermen) – fabulous, loved it. Snark, humour, great characters from the get-go. I was fully immersed in the story right from the start. Taking a break right now to finally read that first book of the Weather Warden series.

Good, 4 stars:
Grace of small magics, Ilona Andrews (revenants, magic battle) – slow build-up, too fast ending, but entertaining.
Temptation of Robin Green, Carrie Vaughn (selkies, vampires, the lot…) – nice, nothing earth shattering
Daniel, C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp (vampires) – Generally not a bad plot, but the story had a very abrupt ending.
Pele’s tears, Catherine Mulvaney (gods, alternate reality): Instalove, nicely written, characters I could easily relate to, story not terribly exciting, but a nice idea.
Blood Song, Lynda Hilburn (vampires, magical healing powers) – Fun, neat plot idea, a little simplistic, but might be tempted to try more by the author.
The Princess and the Peas, Alyssa Day (fae, fairytales) – complete and utter fluff, with a princess, some fae and a little humour.
In Sheep’s Clothing, Meljean Brook (werewolves) – pretty decent werewolf story. Nothing earth shattering, but I already have one of her books on my shelf to check her out further.

Ok, 3 stars:
Taking Hold, Anya Bast (werewolves) – good plot idea, sounds like it could be an interesting series. Reminds me a bit of Patrica Briggs. But I did not like the tone of the writing very much.
Light through Fog, Holly Lisle (alternate universes) – a little too sweet for my taste.
Once A Demon, Dina James (demons, vampires): nice plot idea, but the characters were a little wooden. Nothing earth shattering.
When Gargoyles fly, Lori Devoti (gargoyles) – the initial idea, a woman waking up a gargoyle, is not bad. But the plot has a twist that feels rushed and not believable. And Instalove is not my thing.
The Lighthouse Keeper and His Wife, Sara Mackenzie (gods, alternate timeline) – the lighthouse keeper gets a second chance.
The Dream Catcher, Allyson James (mind reading, wish fulfillment) – unusual idea, not badly written. But a bit too shallow for my taste, too sweet and characters that are too black and white. Plus Instalove.

Not for me, skimmed, 1-2 stars:
Succubus Seduction, Cheyenne McCray (succubi, faeries) – the plot was daft, the characters were silly, too much saccharine.
How to Date a Superhero, Jean Johnson (superheros) – a lot of talking, not much happening, not interested in those superheroes.
At Second Bite, Michelle Rowen (vampires) – not badly written, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Very cliched. And a man that does not like women has to be gay… Really?
The Wager, A Lords of Avalon story, Sherrilyn Kenyon writing as Kinley MacGregor (Merlin) – ramble, ramble, ramble, nothing happening, DNF. Must remember to never again buy anything by this author. Was underwhelmed by her novels, too.

Last, but not least, have a holiday photo!

My April 2022 Wrap-up

My April 2022 came with an unexpectedly high page count.

– Tangled Destinies ★★★★¾, fanfic, SF, online, one of my favourite Star Trek AOS fanfics. Re-read. I rarely read fanfic anymore, but sometimes it‘s a nice palate cleanser.
Taken ★★★★★ ebook, UF, Alex Verus #3, best so far.
– Enchanted Living, Summer 2019: #47 The Art Nouveau Issue ★★★☆☆ StoryGraph #2, eMag, some nice photos, too much fairyland, not enough Art Nouveau — I skimmed.
The Vampire Lestat ★★★★☆ paper, fantasy/horror, the exhaustive story of Lestat. Still good, but sometimes a bit verbose.
Amongst Our Weapons ★★★★☆ audio, UF, Peter Grant #9
– Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction ★★★☆☆ StoryGraph #1, paper, non-fiction, for aspiring writers of specfic — I skimmed.
– The Renegades Of Pern ★★★★☆ ebook, something old, something other, something new. Good fun.

Buddy Read — short story anthology: (ongoing)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six:
– AIRBODY by Sameem Siddiqui, Clarkesworld Magazine #163, April 2020 — renting the body of someone else via shared consiousness, nice idea with lots of possibilities. ★★★☆☆
– THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR by Nadia Afifi — the MC connects into the recording of another person‘s death. A trip of self-discovery. ★★★☆☆
– LONE PUPPETEER OF A SLEEPING CITY by Arula Ratnakar — probably not bad, but I couldn‘t work up any interest for the story. ★★☆☆☆

Qinaya ★★★★★ hardcover, contemporary, Issue #1, French family adopts 4 year old Peruvian girl. Too cute for words. Surprising ending.
The Adoption: CE ★★★★½ eComic, with Dennis & Nataliya, full English version of the above.
– Unnatural #1 ★★¾☆☆ eComics, TBR pile, pig girl looking for love in a restrictive society.
– Seven To Eternity #1 ★★★☆☆ eComics, TBR pile, high fantasy meets the Wild West. Good artwork, meh story.
Slaughter-House Five ★★★★☆ eComics, TBR, graphic adaptation of Vonnegut‘s classic.
– Saga #58 ★★★★☆ eComics, Alana tries to keep her family afloat and takes on dubious jobs.

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– Picard, S2, Eps 1-9 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 — Very good, enjoying this more than S1. Could have done without the psychoanalysis and flashbacks of the last two episodes.
– Life 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 — great alien creature feature on the ISS with Ryan Reynolds, re-re-watch
– Raised by Wolves, S1 🐺🐺🐺🐺.75 — great start, very weird ending
– Wolfwalkers 🐺🐺🐺🐺.5 — beautifully done animation
– Interstellar 🚀🚀🚀🚀 — very imaginative
– The Adam Project ⏰⏰⏰⏰ — time travel with Ryan Reynolds
– A Monster Calls 👿 👿 👿 — animated YA monster story

Nothing to see here, unless you are a proper copper…

Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9)
by Ben Aaronovitch (Author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Proper police procedural, puns and pop culture references, stellar audiobook narration by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. 

The Sons of Weyland make another appearance. The mystery plot is decent, but left me pretty lukewarm. It developed in a great direction towards the end. The history excursion was very informative, entertaining and quite heartbreaking.

Great action scenes. I also love the architectural excursions.

Peter‘s homelife is the most entertaining part, with Beverly heavily pregnant and foxes running amok around his home and extended family. Love the foxes and the diggy thing. And I wish Peter‘s mum had a catering service. All we need then would be a teleporter. Bonus points for mentions of Star Trek.

I am looking forward to what Peter is going to set in motion regarding the procedures for weird bollocks, training, collaborations with other agencies and countries… Come to think of it, the team work and development of all the additional characters besides Nightingale and Peter is one of the nicest elements. Seawoll is really growing on me.

“I saw nothing suspicious—which is unusual. A copper can usually find something suspicious if they look hard enough.” 

I just had a look at all the novellas and short stories that I haven‘t read—which is most of them—and I picked up a copy of this:

What Abigail Did That Summer (Kindle Edition) — Abigail and foxes!

Tales from the Folly (Kindle Edition) — short story collection, including:
The Home Crowd Advantage
The Domestic
The Cockpit
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Granny
King of The Rats
A Rare Book of Cunning Device — I listened to this as an Audible freebie
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Favourite Uncle
Vanessa Sommer’s Other Christmas List
Three Rivers, Two Husbands and a Baby
Moments One-Three

What I am up to right now…

I am currently reading a rather long book, hence my lack of updates…

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) by Anne Rice — my paperback has 599 pages. The beginning was slow-going, but I am on my Easter break right now and already made good progress yesterday. But by golly, reading printed books as opposed to ebooks is hard work. The print is so small, I had to whip out my reading glasses and I need frequent breaks to rest my eyes.

The book is a re-read. I read the first few books of the series about 30 years ago and loved them back then. Somehow we talked ourselves into re-reading them in my favourite book reading group and here I am. Re-reading old favourites is always a daunting undertaking. What if you hate that once beloved book? Luckily I really liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. I discovered so many things I had missed as a late teen/early tween. And I am now realizing that I almost completely forgot the plot of Vampire Lestat. I am not quite halfway and expect quite a few discoveries ahead.

I am also slowly making my way through Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer. I am not sure why I got this book, but I suspect that I saw some of the illustrations somewhere and liked them. I do not plan to write imaginative fiction any time soon. But maybe this will teach me to develop a better understanding for what I read.

And I am listening to the audio of Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9) by Ben Aaronovitch. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a stellar job again, as expected. I am still so glad that we are done with that tedious story arch, spanning so many of these books and are back to more of a standalone storyverse. Connected losely by Bev‘s pregnancy, etc., but still… Love the puns and and pop culture references. Not listening much to audio whilst on vacation, so I‘ll see when I get to the second half of this…

Dueling Wizard…

Taken (Alex Verus, #3) by Benedict Jacka

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Alex Verus #3. It was fun. Probably the best so far? Urban Fantasy with a mature tone. People are actually treated as adults, there is no gratuitous sex just for the heck of it, the bad guys are not cardboard cut-outs, there is a lot of grey areas and Jacka writes good action sequences.

The mystery plot was good, although the additional, final revelation was a bit too detached from the main story for my taste. Set-up for later shenanigans, maybe? 

The dueling apprentices is a fun idea and a nice way of explaining the magical mechanics of this world. I appreciated the juxtaposition to Alex‘s duel towards the end.

The tone still reminds me a little of Peter Grant, but grittier, with less focus on being funny (though it is).

This series should definitely be read in order and I have the next one lined up to read in a few months…

Trouble with shadows…

Shadecraft #1 by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett (Cover Art), Antonio Fabela (Artist)

A new offering from Joe Henderson, the showrunner of the Netflix series Lucifer and writer of the excellent comic Skyward Vol. 1: My Low-G Life. Apparently Netflix has preemptively picked up Shadecraft as well.

16-year old Zadie is not afraid of the dark. That is quickly remedied when shadows start chasing her.

Good artwork, diverse cast of characters, amusing. Some teenage angst. Nice twist at the end, I liked it! I might pick up more issues at some point.

Can be read for free at Image Comics.

Here is the video trailer. It shows some light spoilers, so don‘t watch it if you want to go into the comic with a fresh look: