Candy Canes and Pine Cones and Epic and Awesome

Wolfsong (Green Creek #1)
by T.J. Klune

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Oh, this was so pretty. Feel good story, some drama, some action, some love, a witch and some werewolves. Lots of dialogue and inner monologue that made me feel good. What a joy to read. What a great take on werewolves and found family. Ok, yes, also some violence, cruelty, blood, murder…. It is a story with werewolves after all. And some really bad guys.

“And it was true. I was not cursed with an overabundance of brains.“

The plot was almost irrelevant, it was the relationships and the development that Ox went through that made the book for me. Such a lovable character…

The book has a nice amount of my type of humour. Definitely for mature readers though, there is plenty of swearing and some graphic sex.

I was not a massive fan of adult Joe or the romance between Ox and adult Joe. It was not bad, but for me it was the only weak part of the book. Still 5 stars though, because I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time I read this. I had a hard time putting this down for any length of time.

“Mom! Mom. You have to smell him! It’s like… like… I don’t even know what it’s like! I was walking in the woods to scope out our territory so I could be like Dad and then it was like… whoa. And then he was all standing there and he didn’t see me at first because I’m getting so good at hunting. I was all like rawr and grr but then I smelled it again and it was him and it was all kaboom! I don’t even know! I don’t even know! You gotta smell him and then tell me why it’s all candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.” 

My two previous reads by the author are How to Be a Normal Person and Tell Me It‘s Real. I still have to get to his more recent and famous offerings.

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
http://www.hurog.com/books/

Patricia Briggs Mercy’s World Reading Order & Timeline: 
http://www.hurog.com/books/printablet…

Review of the previous Mercy book, #13, Smoke Bitten: 
GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4…
WordPress: https://cathysreadingbonanza.wordpres…

Into the wood and out of the woods…

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A husband disappeared — or did he?

This is not a typical werewolf story. If you are looking for Urban Fantasy, this is definitely not it. It is a story by an indigenous Canadian writer, based on traditional folkore about the Rogarou (from the French word for werewolf, loup-garou) and then some. And a very real topic concerning indigenous people in Canada today.

I was a little lukewarm about this throughout, but the last third of the novel made up for it. That part was excellent and I couldn‘t put it down anymore. The changing points of view made for an exciting read and the ending and epilogue gave it a great and suspenseful finish.

Things I looked up during my read — from here on there are spoilers:

Here is an somewhat spoilerish interview with Dimaline where she describes how she came to write a novel about a Rogarou: A Native Woman Battles Neocolonialism and Werewolves in “Empire of Wild”

The novel might be adapted for the small screen: Kai Yu Wu & Cherie Dimaline Adapting Horror Novel ‘Empire Of Wild’ As Series With Fabel Entertainment

Towards the end of the novel there is a quote from a poem:

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
               So how should I presume?

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. ELIOT 

Some thoughts on Joan:

Joan‘s last name, Beausoliel: is that a anglicized version of „beau soleil“, aka beautiful sun?

Joan of Arcand = Joan of Arc… as in: she is supposed to deliver her region and people from the invading mining companies, etc.?

Joan‘s red coat — a hint at Litte Red Riding Hood? Considering some events in this book, it feels like a re-telling of that fairytale, at least in parts. Intermingled with that Rogarou folkore.

“What big teeth you have,” said Little Red Riding Hood her voice quivering slightly.
“The better to eat you with, my dear,” roared the wolf…“

From the fairytale

Bottomline: Lukewarm start for me. Some good characters. Some light skipping of paragraphs. Picking up of steam and suspense with a great last part and finale.

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…

Top Ten Tuesday in quotes…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

 This week‘s topic: book quotes that fit a particular theme! I guess my theme will be amusing quotes! Here we go:

“Dogs make sense. They understand hierarchy and the need to cooperate. They come when you call them. A cat though—a cat will take your number and get back to you. Maybe. If he’s in a good mood.” 

Mortal Danger by Eileen Wilks

Read in 2012. The first book was only just interesting enough for me to want to get the next one. Nothing special. But this one grabbed me. I really liked it. Interesting plot, good world building, introduction of some new characters that I really liked and want to see more of. The varying points of view added a nice layer to the various existing characters as well. Very good.

“Some people are like Slinkies. They aren’t really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.” 

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Still one of my favourite UF series. Just re-read the lot last year.

“I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”

The Martian by Andy Weir

I could easily do this whole TTT with quotes from The Martian. I love this book. My cheeks are hurting just from reading over all of the quotes I marked…

“I gave him a smile. I was aiming for sweet, but he turned a shade paler and scooted a bit farther from me. Note to self: work more on sweet and less on psycho-killer.” 

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Still my favourite UF series. And another series I could use easily as well to fill all the quotes for this TTT.

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg.” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.” 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

The story is a mystery, a conspiracy, an adventure and a fight against evil. There is smuggling, thievery, but sadly no pirates. And sadly, it wasn‘t a complete hit for me.

“So you killed him with what now?”
“I tried that Dr. Phil book at first”…”And I finished it off with the toilet seat. Just so you know, you left it up again. That drives me crazy.” 

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

Great fun. If you liked the film Zombieland, this is for you.

“She was not a political creature. She felt that politics was the second most evil thing humanity had ever invented, just after lutefisk.” 

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey

My favourite SF series…

“It’s not that I’m not upset; it’s just that I’m too tired to run up and down the corridor screaming.” 

Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

Another good SF series, if you want to read something classic. My steam only lasted a few books in though. As a teenager I probably would have loved this to pieces.

“He was an American, so it seemed only fair to shoot him.” 

The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss isn‘t only great as screenwriter or the occasional supporting actor…

“Once the telephone had been invented, it was only a matter of time before the police got in on the new technology and, first in Glasgow and then in London, the police box was born. Here a police officer in need of assistance could find a telephone link to Scotland Yard, a dry space to do “paperwork” and, in certain extreme cases, a life of adventure through space and time.”

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

Another endless supply of funny quotes is the Rivers of London series. And excellent UF. I highly recommend the audiobooks, they elevate the series by a few more pegs.

I could keep going, but that‘s 10 quotes! That was very entertaining, actually….

Top Ten Tuesday in full sentences

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

Last week‘s topic: book titles that are complete sentences…


Kitty Goes to Washington (Kitty Norville, #2) by Carrie Vaughn. Kitty outed werewolves to the world in her midnight radio show. Not on purpose, mind you. Now she has to show up in Washington for a senate hearing. 

Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville, #3) by Carrie Vaughn, things start to become darker and scarier than in the first two books.

Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville, #6) by Carrie Vaughn, the action is good and the plotlines entertaining….

Kitty Goes to War (Kitty Norville, #8) by Carrie Vaughn. Entertaining, funny, lots of werewolves…

The Rest Falls Away (The Gardella Vampire Hunters, #1) by Colleen Gleason. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, meets Jane Austen. A lot of frocks, debutantes and dance cards mingle with the undead.

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It is a very poetic book, the characters feel real and I got very involved in the storyline. It was just too much. Dolores was such a terrible person in the first half of the book. Not an easy read.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green,  Joanne Greenberg. I found the characters too removed to develop enough interest.

Teach Yourself Islam by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood. The book gives a good first look into Islam. It covers all the basics and is easy too read, albeit with a strong emphasis on Asian Muslims living in Britain,

Tell No One by Harlan Coben, boilerplate mystery / thriller.

From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East by William Dalrymple. Brilliant book. Traveling from the mountain cloisters of Greece across the Levantine to Mount St Catherine in the Sinai, you learn in a colourful way, why and how Christianity and Islam developed from Judaism. 

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, a brilliant play, that led to an equally brilliant movie.

What’s Bred in the Bone (Cornish Trilogy, #2) by Robertson Davies. Imaginative, unusual, weird.

Top Ten Tuesday — Colorful Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This week‘s topic: Colorful Book Covers

I looked at a tapestry of book covers on my read-books-shelf and picked out the more colourful ones. First I looked at my comics shelf, then at all the other books. In the process I noticed that my Sookie Stackhouse books were pretty colourful… Not the first four, they were mostly in dark and purple tones, but after that they became increasingly happy looking….

I read the first Sookie Stackhouse book in 2005, about 4 years after it had been published. I caught up fairly quickly and then read the mass market paperbacks, as soon as they were published. These books started my decade-long and pretty serious love affair with Urban Fantasy and vampires. Some other great UF series with vampires and werewolves followed this one. For about 10 years I barely read anything else. Eventually I got tired of the carbon copies that were churned out year after year during the hayday of this genre and I started to read other things. Still, I have fond memories and I never re-read the Sookie Stackhouse books, for fear of not liking them anymore.

PS: I did like the first few season of True Blood, until they went too far off script. Yes, I always hated Bill. Team Eric all the way!

PSS: My love affair with vampires started much, much earlier. Probably with Christoper Lee and those campy Hammer movies. Those led me to Bram Stoker and eventually, with some detours, to Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) by Anne Rice. Oh my giddy aunt, has it really be 40 years since I read this? Wow. I loved the vampire Lestat so much. And Tom Cruise was such a horrible casting choice for the movie. Ok, the whole movie was pretty horrible, compared to the book…Anyway, I will always have a soft spot for Eric Northman!

Top Ten Tuesday – Book Titles that sound like Crayola Colors

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is all about color. Crayola has come out with special ones, like fluorescents, magic scents, metallic, pearlescent, colors of the world, and even ones with glitter in them. Just imagine your titles as colors and see what you come up with.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com

Burnt Offerings (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #7) — read in 2019
by Laurell K. Hamilton

A burnt, reddish-orangey colour.

Number 7 of the series was still pretty good, but started to go off the trodden path and started off into that weird direction that eventually turned me off the series — after another dozen or so books… I was pretty stubborn. What I wrote in 2010:

Anita’s powers grow and grow. Never mind raising the dead. Dating a vampire, being alpha-female to a pack of werewolves, acting queen and protector of wereleopards and friend to some two-legged rats, where can she go from here? She has crossed the line from fighting the monsters to snuggling with them. Very erotic, violent, funny, disgusting, suspenseful… Actually, this is the first Anita Blake novel where it took me more than a day to get past the first 100 pages. The main character is going through so many severe changes, that it affects the pace of the story. The series is changing from crime novels with a supernatural twist to not-quite-sure-what-yet. I can’t wait to see, how the Anita/Richard/Jean-Claude triangle will develop in the next book. And I hope we’ll get back to some real sleuthing and mystery solving…

The Black Incal — read as a teenager in the 1980s, then again in 2017 and 2019.
by Alejandro Jodorowsky,  Mœbius (Illustrator) 

This makes me thing of something black with glitter.

An absolute classic. If you are an SF fan and have seen classic SF movies, this comic will trigger so many memories of great SF movies! A pivotal comic with astounding graphics. First published in 1981. I probably read it shortly thereafter, as a teenager, branching out from Tintin, wanting something more artistic and with a deeper storyline. I could still kick myself that I didn’t keep those early editions. I like everything about it, the story, the humour, the line art, the colouring. A lot of running, shooting, blowing stuff up, sci fi geek madness, The Fifth Element absurdness and it is as good as I remember.

The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5) — read in 2003
by Diana Gabaldon

A fiery, red colour, obviously!

The fifth installment of the saga of Claire and Jamie. My recommendation: Read them in order, otherwise you literally loose the plot. Previous things get mentioned frequently without much of an explanation. And although I read all of them except for no. 2, I kept asking my mum (huge fan and proud owner of the compendium…) “What’s that, who’s this, what happened again there…?” No wonder with about 1000+ pages a pop. A must for fans, although my mum and I both found this one here not exactly thrilling. Number 5 is getting a bit tired.

Pale Horse Coming (Earl Swagger, #2) — read in 2003
by Stephen Hunter

A pale horse — a pretty light crayola, something beige or egg shell coloured…

An almost classic tale of vengeance. Our hero Earl Swagger goes down south to a penal farm, to find a friend that has disappeared while investigating the whereabouts of a client. He barely gets away with his life and sanity intact and swears to come back to give them hell. He gathers some tough and trigger happy gunmen around him and they go back. Sounds familiar? You can picture the rest!

Crimson City (Crimson City, #1) — read in 2006
by Liz Maverick

A dark, deep red crayola.

I am thinking Charlize Theron as Fleur and Colin Farell as Dain… There was quite a lot of action and not too much romance. The hero was good-looking, but grumpy and without a past, the heroine was a bit silly, but smartened up nicely. Well described and thought-out futuristic city setting. The revelation at the end was surprising, but led to the expected ending. A good, light read for low brain power.

Night Embrace (Dark-Hunter, #3) — read in 2006
by Sherrilyn Kenyon

A deep black crayola. With a velvety sheen…

I considered putting this book down and to not finish it. It took about half way into the book until something resembling a real storyline finally emerged. Nice sex, granted. But the constant descriptions of how gorgeous everybody looks on every second page started to go on my nerves eventually. Not much vampire hunting going on, despite that being the sole reason of being for the main characters. Still, the whole idea had some appeal.

Obsidian Butterfly (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #9) — read in 2006
by Laurell K. Hamilton

Another Anita and a jet-black crayola with bluish-grey mottling.

The story’s theme is quite a turn-around from the previous ones. A lot less of the supernatural, although it is still there. And a lot of whistling bullets. The previous book started to explored Anita’s fears of what she is becoming. I missed the lightness and the fun of the earlier books, but the darker look at the world in these later ones had appeal, too.

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1) — read in 2010
by Philip Pullman

A multi-coloured crayola, with green blue and purple streaks.

I got the book, because I liked the movie a lot. My interest had been piqued after I had heard that people in the US had complained about the controversial religious undertones of the movie. The movie is a very close adaptation. Two events that happen at the end of the book have been moved further forward in the movie and the actual ending of the book is missing completely – I guess too much would have been left dangling. I did not like the book more or less than the movie. Lord Asriel in the movie was a more likeable character and the voice of Ian McKellen is hard to replace in writing.

The Blue Edge — read in 2008
by Carlos Eyles

A shimmering blue, full of bubbles and light streaking through…

This book gives a fascinating insight into freediving. When I started to scuba dive, I was amazed at the level of noise I produced with my breathing gear. I always felt very distracted by the ruckus I caused with all the gear I was hauling along. I wanted to be part of this amazing underwater world, without scaring the crap out of the animal life. This book reminded me of that. 

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers — read in 2014
by David Perlmutter,  Kristin Loberg

A wheat coloured crayola.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Perlmutter, the devastating truth about the effects of wheat, sugar, and carbs on the brain, and a 4-week plan to achieve optimum health.

from the book blurb

The first half of this book cited study after study and endless anecdotes, trying to convince the reader of the rightness of the book’s subject matter. Preaching to the choir, I already bought the book, I did not need further convincing. Made the book extremely boring for me and after a while I just skimmed. In contrast the practical part of the book, the how-to, was extremely short and almost felt like an afterthought. Very populistic, very one-sided.

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!