The Moon is still Calling…

The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is one of the very few Urban Fantasy series that I still follow. I used to read almost nothing but UF for the best part of a decade, until the genre was so oversaturated with new, mediocre stuff that I lost the taste for it.

Last year, when another book in the spin-off series Alpha & Omega came out, I re-read both series in chronological order, which took quite a while. It was fun and an excellent reminder of some foggy details and hotly debated points of the fandom.

In June 2022 another installment of the series will be published, Soul Taken (Mercy Thompson, #13). Counting the spin-off series, that brings us to book 19 in this universe, ignoring a bunch of short stories, comics, etc. Book #12 of the main series dealt with some marriage problems between our titular hero and her mate, that hopefully will get resolved in the new book.

I liked that book, but this is another series where I am starting to wonder if it‘s perhaps time to wrap things up for good. Definitely still getting the new one in June though! Pre-ordered!

Six Degrees of Separation, you‘ve got mail…

Welcome to #6degrees. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I am using this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. How the meme works and how you can join is explained here. The initial blog post about this month‘s choice is here.

This month starts with autobiographical fiction, Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher. 

Which, yet again, I haven‘t read. I know Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, as probably most people do. I don‘t know, how much of an autobiography this book is, but nonetheless I will mention another book by an author…

The Moon’s a Balloon by David Niven

I read this at some point in the ’90s. I don’t recall any details, just a general sense of having read something pleasant and somewhat entertaining, befitting of the biography of a true, English gentleman. I would have loved to mention an autobiographical book by Dirk Bogarde next. It was about his time in the Royal Airforce (I think?) during WWII, but sadly I don‘t remember the name and couldn‘t find it, when I looked now. I don‘t want to mention Michael Caine again, although it is a very funny book. However, I posted about it already in another meme. So… Moon? Moon!

Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2) by Ilona Andrews

My favourite book of Ilona Andrews‘ Edge books. I loved the crazy family, the rathole and the Mire. In my mind I kept punting through a darker and pissed-off version of the Everglades. Great setting, good plot, suspenseful, good snark. The sword on the cover of this book leads me to…

The Power of the Sword by Wilbur Smith

For a few years Wilbur Smith was my guilty pleasure and I enjoyed his books tremendously. This one here is the second book in the family saga of the Courtneys of South Africa. I liked the first one a lot. When I picked up Power of the Sword, I possibly had outgrown my interest in Wilbur Smith. One Smith leads me to another Smith…

Wynonna Earp Volume 1: Homecoming (Wynonna Earp #1-6) by Beau Smith (Writer),  Lora Innes (Illustrator)

None of my lists would be complete without a comic / graphic novel. The story did not do much for me. The heroine ran around shooting and otherwise killing a lot of baddies and in the process got the good guys killed as well. She got told off for it, ignores that completely and killed some more. Rinse and repeat. Gore, blood, not much plot. Not much character development either. I tried the TV adaptation and didn‘t like it much either. Homecoming is the title of another tie-in comic…

Homecoming (Mercy Thompson Graphic Novel) by Patricia Briggs,  David Lawrence,  Francis Tsai (Illustrator),  Amelia Woo (Illustrator) 

I am a huge fan of the series, so I had to give this a try. Not a lot of world building. I doubt I would have understood what was going on or who they all were and related to each other, if I hadn‘t know the books. Mercy looks different in every chapter. Her face changes, her body shape changes. Sometimes she is muscular, sometimes she looks like Barbie with runner‘s legs. Big boobs, small boobs, pointy chin, square chin, malnourished looking, at times badly proportioned. Very odd. The other humans or werewolves weren‘t terribly well done either. I suppose it‘s silly to expect them all to be anatomically correct, but sometimes the drawings looked a bit too amateurish for my taste. Bottom line, don‘t bother. I will certainly not get another of these comics. Apparently they have also done comics for Laurell K Hamilton, so those are out as well. Talking about Hamilton, I posted about a fair few Anita Blake books, but never about…

A Kiss of Shadows (Merry Gentry, #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton

The usual humour and an interesting storyline (this is early-ish Hamilton!), although not quite a gritty as Anita Blake. Up until the point, until the heroine goes home. From the onwards it just seemed to be Merry Gentry considering who looks the most stunning, what their clothes look like and how good they might be in bed. Probably sounds familiar for readers of Laurell K. Hamilton.

So, from the edge into the shadows in this round…

Something creepy in the woods…

Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)
by Patricia Briggs

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 6th installment of Alpha & Omega. Well-known characters do their thing. It‘s a bit like eating comfort food. You know what your‘re getting, it‘s enjoyable, mostly safe and entertaining. 

The FBI shows up at the doorstep of Anna and Charles and asks for help. A village in the mountains has disappeared and something potentially evil lurks in the woods.

Solid story telling with a decent plot, told from various POVs, with slightly overlapping timelines at chapter endings and beginnings. We finally get a closer look at Leah‘s backstory. I still don‘t like her very much, but considering how badly Bran has treated her all this time, I guess I should cut her some slack.

I wouldn‘t have minded, if the FBI had shown up again towards the end of the book, they were left dangling a bit. Another plot bunny is the story of Sherwood Post. And the fandom (me!) would probably very much enjoy to read a book about Samuel and Ariana and what they have been up to until now.

And that epilogue… exciting possibilities!

My favourite books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. The current Top Ten is MY TOP TEN FAVORITE READS OF 2020, predictably so. Let‘s see, how many 5-star reviews I can scare up for this year… no particular order, I listed them as they popped up.

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)
by Patricia Briggs

I re-read the whole series, plus Alpha & Omega spin-off, at the beginning of this year. Still good and still one of my favourite UF series of all time. I am looking forward to the new Alpha & Omega in March 2021.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard,  Cliff Rathburn

I am slowly working my way through The Walking Dead, the ultimate zombie graphic novel, that spawned an ever increasing horde of books and TV series… this volume was a very good ones. I am still at it, currently reading Volume 13.

To The Center Of The Earth
by Greig Beck

As pure escapism goes, this was an excellent choice. Cavers go down to find the centre of the Earth. And things they did not bargain for. Reminding you of Jules Verne? Yes, indeed.

Paper Girls #1
by Brian K. Vaughan,  Cliff Chiang (Illustrator)

Paper Girls is another excellent graphic novel by Vaughan, that I really should continue. Good story, great colouring, fun!

Dune (Dune, #1)
by Frank Herbert

Another re-read, in a pretty Deluxe hardback edition. The book shows its age and author‘s bias in the treatment of women and LGTBQ representation, but if you can look past that it is still one of the best SF novels out there.

The White Dragon (Pern, #3)
by Anne McCaffrey

This seems to be my year of re-reading old favourites, because I also read the first Dragonriders of Pern trilogy again. And I still like it a lot, phew. The treatment of women in this one is even more problematic than in Dune though. Odder still, the author is a woman. However, if dragons are your thing, this series should be on your list.

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild
by Marjorie M. Liu,  Sana Takeda (Artist)

Another graphic novel series that is still going strong. The plot thickens though in this horror/fantasy story full of demons and gorgeous artwork.

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

My winner in the romance genre for this year. Good sense of humour, believable and not cringe-worthy amounts of drama and angst, blessed lack of the most stupid romance tropes. 

Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1)
by M.C.A. Hogarth

Finally I picked up something by Hogarth again, after a longer break. Very chilled, very relaxing, a nice amble through her unusual universe. Let’s call it Pastoral Science Fiction. A slow book with mellow drama and a slowly building asexual romance. Uplifting. Another reviewer called it a cozy, finding-one’s-place story and that sums it up nicely.

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5)
by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews, well… I would rate their shopping list with five stars.


Not a very sophisticated list with a lot of literary merit, but I had fun. I could list a few more graphic novels. In terms of novels there were no massive highlights this year. Plus the longer I review books, the stricter I seem to get with my ratings.

Books I am looking forward to in 2021…

I try not to buy too many new books. Therefore I tend to avoid all these lists of upcoming books or just have a very quick glance at them, but refuse to add anything to my want-to-read-pile. I dream of the day, when I have no books piling up on my kindle or my living room table… Alas, I have middling success. Here are a few books I want to read in 2021. It’s a pretty short list, yay!

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Black Magick, Vol. 3: Ascension (Paperback)
by Greg Rucka

Expected publication: February 2nd 2021 by Image Comics

The black-and-white artwork of the first two volumes was excellent. Beautifully drawn, rich details, just very nice. The story was good and has lots of potential.

URBAN FANTASY

Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder, #1)
by Ilona Andrews (Goodreads Author) 

Expected publication: January 12th 2021 by NYLA

From award-winning author, Ilona Andrews, an all-new novel set in the New York Times #1 bestselling Kate Daniels World and featuring Julie Lennart-Olsen, Kate and Curran’s ward. 

I refrained from reading this on IA‘s website, aka the weekly serialized chapters. In fact, I think that is still ongoing. The fact that there is no cover artwork yet makes me feel a little dubious about the planned publishing date of January 2021… And I am wondering if Julie will be as good as the original Kate Daniels stories.

Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)
by Patricia Briggs

Expected publication: March 16th 2021 by Amazon Digital Services

Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear—before it’s too late

I have been reading the Mercy Thompson books and this spin-off for years. It is still one of my favourite UF series, almost as loved as Ilona Andrews‘ Kate Daniels series. I actually spent the first few months of this year with re-reading all of these books in preparation for a new release of the main series.

SCIENCE FICTION

A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, #2)
by Arkady Martine (Goodreads Author)

Expected publication: March 2nd 2021 by Tor Books

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, …

I really liked the first book and I can‘t wait to find out what Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass are going to face in this sequel to A Memory Called Empire.

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries, #6)
by Martha Wells (Goodreads Author) 

Expected publication: April 27th 2021 by Tor.com

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

What can I say… Instabuy! Although the last installment dragged a bit in the middle…

Untitled (The Expanse, #9)
by James S.A. Corey (Goodreads Author) 

The much awaited 9th and final installment of The Expanse series.

Oh boy, oh boy. No proper cover yet, no title yet and no publishing date… O.o <— that‘s my anxious face. It will be the end of an era… and if we‘re unlucky, it might not even happen in 2021… who knows!? Meep.

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

One Last Stop (Hardcover)
by Casey McQuiston (Goodreads Author) 

Expected publication: May 6th 2021 by Piatkus

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that puts a queer spin on Kate & Leopold.

I really liked Red, White & Royal Blue. And Kate & Leopold is a fun movie…

Heute back ich, morgen brau ich, …

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Holy doorways, Batman,” I said. “We have an entrance to Underhill in our backyard.”

And apparently marriage problems. And some annoying and unnecessary drama. Interesting things happening, too. Underhill shows up again, obviously.

I am really struggling with my review though. My reading buddies all seem to have liked this a lot. And I am giving it four stars as well, just because it‘s Mercy Thompson and it was a quick, fun read that made me laugh out loud.

Something was missing though or maybe there was just too much of a „middle-book syndrome“, as one of my GR friends put it. I kept waiting for some BAM!-moment that never came.

I can‘t quite put my finger on it. The whole „other space“ angle could have done with more development, maybe? And the relationships and interactions between the characters never got past the bare bones. The ending felt rushed? And in my opinion the whole situation concerning Adam really was just half of a book. Book #13 beckons, I guess.

On the other hand I was really pleased with myself for figuring out the who-is-who, aka the name not to be mentioned. Usually I am clueless until the last moment. Was it just so obvious?

Oh yes, extra points for her old friend showing up again! I was a little non-plussed at the sudden appearance.

————
Time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:
http://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/t…

Witchcraft…

“Do you need help?” he asked.
“Always.” I sighed. “But it is too late for me. You just stood there watching when I went out on that bridge and started blabbing about the Tri-Cities being our territory to guard, when any idiot could have seen that I needed you to shove a gag in my mouth.”

Mercy is busy protecting the territory. That‘s what happens, when you kill trolls and make bold statements about protecting what is yours! Goblins, zombies, witches and black magic…

One of my favourite things about Patricia Briggs are her likeable, fun supporting characters. Zee, Tad, Uncle Mike, Wulfe, Marsilia, Sherwood and Larry are a delight.

My favourite scenes are the fight scene with the goblin in the beginning and the final fight. I am a big fan of that one creature popping up there at the end. The witches are very, very creepy.

This brings my Mercyverse re-read to its end. I started in January and read all of the full-length Mercy Thompson and Alpa & Omega novels, one prequel and a comic adaptation. I had fun and kept most of the ratings the same. Onwards to Smoke Bitten

————
Reading order 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¨C27C- Frost Burned, ★★★★☆, Mercy #7¨C28C- Dead Heat, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #4¨C29C- Night Broken, ★★★★★, Mercy #8¨C30C- Fire Touched, ★★★★☆, Mercy #9¨C31C- Silence Fallen, ★★★★★, Mercy #10¨C32C- Burn Bright, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #5¨C33C- Storm Cursed, ★★★★★, Mercy #11

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:
http://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/t…
————

First read in 2019: ★★★★★

One by one,
Two by two,
The Hardesty witches
Are traveling through.
With a storm of curses,
They call from their tomes;
They will drink your blood
And dine on your bones.

A good title for this book could have been „Trouble with Witches“.

Zombies, vampires, werewolves, the fae, the mentioned witches and other critters that you have to figure out for yourself… And Mercy—“Not that clever. But I am a coyote and apparently stupid lucky.”—Thompson. I loved having so much of Zee, he has always been one of my favourite characters.

I had a lot of fun reading this! It might not have been terribly complex or twisty. But it had a cohesive plot, well-drawn characters, great action scenes, suspense, things to smile and laugh about, tension and some scary moments. Good fun, I was entertained!

Anything else would be spoilers.

Additionally I salute Patricia Briggs for ensuring that all of Zee‘s spells were worded in perfect German. They sound much better and more poetic in German, rather than in the translated English, by the way.

You wouldn‘t believe how much badly translated German can be found in English language novels. It’s terribly jarring, if you speak the language.

Water, be my friend,
come and stay by my side.
Flow, release, bind, grab,
entangle the witchcraft, catch it,
diminish the curse, decay the spell,
take it away, hear me.

 #StayHome24in48

Where the wild things are…

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5; Mercy Thompson World - Complete, #15)Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not much to add to my first review. The famous conversation came out of the blue and did not sit well with the rest of the story. So I am really looking forward to finding out if this topic will get a lot more coverage in the next Mercy novel coming out this month. Why else even stick it in there, as it was never mentioned in any of the many previous books.
This time around I did not know who the bad guy was and really only clocked on in the last moment. The story didn‘t keep me up at night, but it was good. I liked the look at the various wildlings and loved the altercation with the vikings. Fun!
Onwards to the last book of my re-read!

P.S.: Forgot about that playlist down there. This book is the reason I started to actually listen to Dolly Parton. I recently watched a documentary about her on Netflix. Turns out she is not the dumb, enhanced bimbo she looks like! Why do women do that to themselves? I will never understand that…

————
Reading order and progress of my chronological Mercyverse re-read:(view spoiler)
– Next: Storm Cursed, ★★★★★, Mercy #11
– Next: Smoke Bitten, pub date March 2020, Mercy #12

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:
http://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/t…
————

First read in 2018: ★★★★☆

Very early in the book there is a brief conversation between Charles and Anna, that upset some of my goodreads friends quite a bit. It might cause them to stop reading this series and also Mercy Thompson. I was surprised when I read that conversation, mulled it over a little, but was not massively perturbed by it. It might or might not be a plot bunny for later books, we shall see.

Unfortunately the comment thread of that review had spoiled me by revealing who the traitor in this story is. That obviously took some of the suspense out of the story.

The plot as such was pretty straight forward and simple, the action was good, we get a deeper look into Anna‘s ever developing skills with her gift. Leah gets some page time that helps to make her a more interesting character. I liked it, solid addition to the series.

Playlist:
Johnny Cash, Hurt
Bobby Dylan, Knockin‘ On Heaven‘s Door
Waylon Jennings, I‘ve Always Been Crazy
Johnny Cash, Personal Jesus
Patsy Cline, Crazy
Dolly Parton, The Company You Keep

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Matt Smith is not The Doctor…

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mercy is kidnapped. Took long enough into the series to happen. This is the one set in Europe. I vaguely remembered liking it a lot, for the sheer difference in scenery. And other things. Larry, for example. Great addition to the cast of characters!
And The Doctor—I missed it again! Next time I will pay more attention…

————
Reading order and progress of my chronological Mercyverse re-read:(view spoiler)
– Next: Burn Bright, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #5
– Next: Storm Cursed, ★★★★★, Mercy #11
– Next: Smoke Bitten, pub date March 2020, Mercy #12

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:
http://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/t…
————

First read in 2017: ★★★★★

“I’m a mechanic; I fix things that are broken. I turn into a thirty-five-pound coyote. I have powerful friends. But when it comes right down to it, my real superpower is chaos.”

Changing points of view, that’s a new one for this series! I liked it, although I am not quite sure about the off-set timeline. It added an interesting dynamic, but probably made it unnecessarily complicated.

Nice revelation there at the end, makes me want to re-read the whole damn book right away… I missed all the clues, if there were any.

Some great character additions. Libor was fun. Lots of vampire politics, which I usually find tedious, but they were well done here. Great visuals, good plot, entertaining, three very late nights of not wanting to put this down…

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Fae again.

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one starts of with that highly entertaining fight scene with the troll…

“I don’t know if you and Adam can help us,” Tony said rapidly. In the background, sirens were doing their best to drown out his voice. “But we have a situation here. There is something, a freaking-big something, on the Cable Bridge, and it is eating cars.”

And this is the one where Aiden makes his appearance…

“He’s just human. But all I can think of is Star Trek and ‘Charlie X.’”
Maybe. Maybe not.

So, fae and Underhill and… it sort of meanders along. Attack on a house, attack on another house… the plot is not terribly suspenseful and doesn‘t really offer any great surprises. The beginning of the book is really the best part for me. The ending is not bad.

Knocking off one star, I am a little ambivalent about it.

————
Reading order and progress of my chronological Mercyverse re-read:(view spoiler)
– Next: Silence Fallen, ★★★★★, Mercy #10
– Next: Burn Bright, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #5
– Next: Storm Cursed, ★★★★★, Mercy #11
– Next: Smoke Bitten, pub date March 2020, Mercy #12

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:
http://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/t…
————

First read in 2017: ★★★★★

There is humour…
Holy Avon, Batman, I thought as worry relaxed into annoyance-tinged humor, I’ve been attacked by a multilevel marketer.

And profound stuff…
Death is not to be feared. Death is easy. It is living that is brutal.

And swearing…
“My croaking fat frog will shag my fucking Aunt Fanny before I’ll go now,” he said.

And a very nice, feel-good ending…
“Nudge,” he said.

I took me a while to warm up to Adam, but by now I love him. And Mercy still is an excellent character. The Pack dynamics are very well done, truly believable, UF for grown-ups, without silly drama. Love the fae, love the settings, good action, great world building.

Still going strong. Looking forward to the next book.

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