Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

I started the Mercy Thompson series at the tail end of 2013 and instantly fell in love. Mercy is a strong, likable female lead. She knows herself and is comfortable in her own skin, literally and figuratively. The covers sell these books short, making the series a lot... less than they really are. (Even though the artist is a favorite, Dan dos Santos! And I do like the art, they just don't properly showcase the story.) Like, for one, the romance aspect is just a thread in a layered story. It's also clean. There are no unwanted (or in some peoples case, wanted) steamy details. Without further ado, the reviews:

Moon Called: In the first of the series, we meet Mercy Thompson. A VW mechanic and Walker (She shifts into a coyote, Native American folklore.) in Washington. She was raised by a werewolf pack, but not just any pack, THE alpha of all alphas, Bran's, pack. The story starts when Mercy finds herself in the company of a young rogue werewolf at her garage, which brings us to meeting Adam Hauptman, the local pack alpha. Soon trouble breaks out when 2 men come for the young rogue and Mercy accidentally kills one of them while trying to protect the boy. The story and the mystery unfold with Adam being nearly killed by rouge werewolves and Adam's daughter being kidnapped in the process. We are introduced to a whole slew of werewolves, both good and bad, Zee, the fae who she received her garage from, and Stefan, her charming vamp friend. The characters are well written, as is the story. It's fast, exciting, and most important of all, really good.

Blood Bound: The second book focuses on Stefan and the local vampire seethe. Stefan is the enforcer/soldier of his seethe and calls on Mercy to assist him in investigating a new to the area vamp that didn't pay fealty to the seethe upon entering town. The catch, he's not comfortable with some recent goings on, and needs Mercy in coyote form to pose as nothing more than a pet. Mercy is after all immune to most vamp powers, so we learned in the first book, and needs a second set of unassuming eyes and ears. When they arrive, they learn that this vamp is not an ordinary vamp, but a sorcerer. A demon ridden vamp. And demons are enamored with blood and destruction, so what better than a vampire to attach itself too? Chaos ensues, many of our favorite characters are kidnapped and hurt, and Mercy is the only one who can save the day. These are after all, her books! The second book in the series did not disappoint. It was even better than the first!

Iron Kissed: In the third installment of the series, we get to see Briggs take chances with her leading lady, and it's hard to read, but a success in creating an emotional attachment as well as a refreshing literary shock. Not that it is necessarily as clearly written as the other two, but it is still very good and very entertaining. This book focuses on Zee and the fae. There are a string of murders and fae artifact robberies, and the fae need a non-fae with a good nose to do some investigating. It's a dangerous job, but Mercy isn't about to let Zee (or the readers) down. All of the story arcs and characters mesh together to create a very great universe. Each book has a touch of romance, but in this book it is more prevalent. And we see a very solid relationship in the making.

Bone Crossed: This story has a combination of all the creatures in the Mercy-verse. Wolves, vamps, ghosts, and even fae are in this one. Mercy is caught out by the queen vamp for a past indiscretion, and Stefan is punished for it. She also finds herself  facing an old school friend in need of help, and takes it as a means to get away from the local seethe. Before long Mercy finds herself not only at a crossroads with her local seethe, but also in trouble with a neighboring vamp other vamps refer to as The Monster! As a means to free herself from The Monster, she binds herself to Stefan, further pissing off The Monster and before long Mercy finds herself kidnapped and imprisoned by him. This one has a very happy ending, more so than the others. And is the furthest I've made it in the series so far.

If you enjoy the preternatural sect of book genres, do yourself a favor and start this series. I know it's over saturated, and hard to pick out the gems from the stinkers, so save yourself the search and just take my advice on this one. It is worth the investment of time and money!

Dropping Balls and Memory Lapses

So, life was busy in 2013. I got a job, was running my book club, taking care of my bus load of kids, as well as trying to be a good wife. And the reasons go on and on and on some more. Therefore, my blog hit back burner status. But if I'm fully honest, I just completely and entirely forgot about its existence. Busyness could be to blame, but I'm pretty sure all my brain farts are the more likely culprit.

As a consolation prize for my lapse in memory, I'll give a run down of the primary book club selections for the year(following the ones I did manage to post), and my brief opinion on them!

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi: 

Avoid this book! It was dull. I thought I would like it, I really did. Smart and gritty, but boring. So, very boring! I ended up skipping around in this book, just to get through it quicker. I don't know who I  would suggest this title to. I don't think I would want it for anyone. Although I'm sure that someone somewhere has enjoyed it.

Close Liaisons (The Krinar Chronicles: Volume 1) by Anna Zaires:

Avoid this book as well! The only thing going for it is that it's free. I've heard it compared(after the fact) to 50 Shades, but with aliens. I don't mind a little freaky deaky in my books, but this was the definition of gratuitous! And the main man was just awful! I enjoy a good male lead who's brusque, not  so refined, even a bit assholeish! But abusive? Controlling? Domineering? Degrading? NEVER! Women, please respect yourself enough to know when a man is assertive and strong, and when he is just a disrespectful sexist! I can not stomach these writers trying to put a pretty package on an abuser. It's not funny or cute and least of all, sexy. It's disgusting. A real man can balance being in control, while not being controlling. There IS a difference. This book just really got under my skin. It was disgusting. The writer should have more self respect! 


Falling Into You by Jasinda Wilder:

This was not a bad book. I quite enjoyed it, although it wasn't an award winning piece of literature at all. If one could even call it literature. It was more a fluff piece, but with emotion that most fluff doesn't contain. If you enjoy romance containing heart broken characters, give it a-go. It's cheap, it's short, and it's easy to read. 


The After Girls by Leah Konen:
OH GAWD! THIS BOOK! UGH! Dreadful. Just ugh! Seriously, I don't know that I've liked characters less than these. But there wasn't much to like in the first place, seeing as how they were so flat and ridiculously developed. The 2 main girls in this book are just silly. I know they had a friend who killed herself and they were both grieving in their own way, but the stories inconsistencies made the terrible characters even worse. Not much is worse than a person with inconsistent character, but in a novel, where that kind of thing is controllable, it just should not happen. It's intolerable. It makes the story drivel.  I rolled my eyes almost non-stop throughout the entirety of this tale. Avoid this title, as if your life depended on it! You can never get the time invested into it back!



The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly:

This was the first winner of the year for me! An amazing story that lead you on an adventure that may have felt familiar, but was quite different. I loved the whimsy, and the dark fairytale feel this book had. It was definitely reminiscent of the Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Anderson. If you pick on book to read from our trek in 2013, let it be this one!


The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith(aka. JK Rowling):

I really liked this book! I love a good gumshoe detective novel, and Rowling didn't disappoint! As usual, her characters were well fleshed and had an endearing edge to their less than appealing qualities. The mystery, while I figured it out rather quickly, I didn't see how it was going to play out. Which is not a bad thing, seeing the who before the how. This was my first foray into her literature outside of the Potter-verse, and while not much can hold a candle to Harry and the gang, this was also a good story. I would love to see her turn this into a series of Comoran Strike mysteries! I would definitely read them all!


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley:

A classic that most have read in high school, was new to me this year. I really liked it. It was hard at parts to read, the mom in me cringed at a lot, but I liked the dark, twisted take on a possible future. The parallels to our current time, to when he wrote of this future world in the 1930's, is startling in it's similarities. It's definitely one of those classics that you shouldn't miss out on if it wasn't part of your school curriculum. 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson:

 This was my first experience with Shirley Jackson, and I really enjoyed it. It whetted my appetite for her, and I intend to read more. It's very short, but the characters were well done, especially Merricat. It was an interesting and well written tale of a sociopath. While it is classified horror, I don't quite see how. So don't expect to be scared, or even remotely spooked, but do prepare to be entertained and pulled in. 


There were more books throughout the year, we read 2 per month in our group. Plus all the others I read on my own. I didn't keep track of my leisurely reading, but this year my blog is going to be a priority. Keep your eyes peeled for monthly reviews and suggestions! 

Happy New Year! May it be full of good books and good friends!




Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The List by J.A. Konrath

This was one of March's book selections for my book club. I am happy to say, the ladies chose well. It was entertaining and something I wouldn't probably have read, or possibly even heard of, were it not for my book club.

The premise, while a bit convoluted, was completely engaging and fun. There are 10 people who have mysterious numbers tattooed on the heel of one of their feet, that's been there since they were adopted as infants. As these 10 have approached their 30th birthday, paths start crossing, and numbers start being murdered. It's up to a police detective, with a mystery number on his foot, to figure out the murder and connect the dots to solve the mystery. And while it seems like any other mystery, it took a turn that was definitely nothing like I've read before!

If you're a fan of murder mystery/thrillers, with a bit of history and science sprinkled in, then give this book a go. It's not the most convenient book to get a hold of, as it's only available on Kindle e-readers and print on demand books, but it's worth it for a fun, fast paced adventure in the comfort of your own home!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston

 The Witch's Daughter was a book I purchased on my Nook with a gift card I received for Christmas. I was looking forward to it, as I love a good historical fiction, especially from the time period this book started out in. However, I was disappointed by the delivery.

The premise of this book focuses on a girl, Bess, and her family. Bess was the daughter of a family with little standing in a small town. They owned a farm and her mother practiced as a nurse, helping deliver babies and treat various ailments. The black plague hit their town, and shortly after, witch trials did too. Her mother, being a healer, was accused of practicing witchcraft and was hanged. All the while a man, Gideon, has had his finger in the jelly pot, so to say, of the story. Before long, Bess finds herself possessing magic and is accused too. The story takes off from there and we find Bess, going by various monikers (might I add, that are all variations of the same) and possessing immortality, living through the century's. She lives her life running from Gideon and practicing medicine, while trying to avoid the dark magic within her. She's supposedly lived a solitary life, until a young girl in her recent location weasels her way into Bess's heart. She begins to train this young girl up as a practicing hedge witch, but it doesn't take long for Gideon to catch up, as he always does, and endanger Bess and her new protege. Bess find herself once again wondering, should she run, or stand up to him?

This book had a lot of potential. I think it's a very daunting task to write a story that spans mortality and time, and Brackston proved that she was lacking mettle. Too many weak spots in the story line just can not handle much scrutiny and I'm not even a reader that picks apart story weakness. I like to just read and suspend my belief. Sometimes, I even throw reason and logic out the window completely. I'll notice,  but I can overlook them. But this wasn't even close to a good enough story for me to disregard the glaring illogicality of it all. On top of that, none of the characters were particularly endearing.

Perhaps, if you haven't had much exposure to this genre and method, you may be able to enjoy it. If you've never experienced an author who can attempt this type of historical time spanning and knock it out of the park, then you would probably be able to get into it. However, I find myself just feeling rather ho-hum about it. If I need a historical fiction book with magic and immortality, I'll go back and re-read Forever by Pete Hamill.

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

This is the first book in The Strain trilogy by the movie master Guillermo Del Toro, and fellow author Chuck Hogan. It does exactly what a first book should, whets the appetite for more!

This book has a few main characters, players that all converge together for one intense, exciting ride. While reminiscent of Stephen King's The Stand, it is very capable of standing on it's own two creepy legs.

The story begins with a plane, an international flight, landing at a New York City airport, and then going black. All electrical equipment dies, and so do the passengers. The government is in a panic, is this a terrorist attack? Did a passenger bring a modern plague with them? The first step is containment. But soon, they realize, that containment will be a problem. The dead don't want to be contained. Before long, NYC is being overrun by something sinister. Only one man knows the truth of what's happening and has the wherewithal to help stop it, but first he has to convince the powers that be that he's not a raving lunatic.

Not once have I read something that made an inanimate object so frightening, nor a fantasy story so plausible. An amazing story, told with finesse and completely thought out, crafted to make you question the unbelievable and keep you awake, wondering. Read it, y'all! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stephanie Plum is My New Best Friend!

I am currently reading the fifth installment in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, but since it's easier to just write one big post filled with all of my Stephanie adoration, instead of 4 separate ones, this is what ya get! (And some of it is ripped straight from my good reads review!)

Janet Evanovich has created a series that is chock full of likable protagonists and unlikable antagonists. Stephanie Plum is a self-deprecating, humorous character who is concerned about money, men, and her hamster, Rex. Janet writes the whole time from inside Stephanie's head, which is quiet an enjoyable place to be.

The first book in the series is One For The Money. In the first installment, Stephanie looses her job and finds herself desperate for cash. Through a little blackmail, she convinces her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsmen who owns his own business, to let her work for him as a retrieval agent. She ends up with an FTA (failure to appear) that's a lot more than she bargained for, Joe Morelli. He's a stallion of a man well known around the Burg and very intimately known by Stephanie. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and if having all of your belongings repoed and being very behind on your rent isn't a desperate time, well I don't know what is! Hookers, shoot outs, explosions, sadistic boxers, and commandeered vehicles abound in this funny book. So as Stephanie stumbles her way though her new bounty hunting gig, we get the pleasure of laughing all the way to the bank.

The second book in the series is Two For The Dough. This time around Stephanie's a little less wet behind the ears in this bounty hunting gig, but still has a lot to learn. She ends up having to find a local boy, Kenny Mancuso. Not only is he an FTA, but his sudden suspicious wealth adds to the list of things going against him. One dead guy, a weasel mortuary owner with missing caskets, and black market weapons, lead to another hilarious, exciting romp through New Jersey with Stephanie and the gang you came to know in the first book.

The third book in the series is Three To Get Deadly. Stephanie's FTA, a well loved candy shop owner whom no one thinks could do wrong, has vanished. The community as whole is impeding Stephanie's search for him, even when dead bodies are found in his cellar! Dead drug dealers, pervs, and a criminal chicken, make for another rip rollicking read! (This may be my favorite book so far!)

And the fourth book is Four To Score. Stephanie finds herself on the hunt for a woman scorned. This book introduces a few new characters. One in particular, Sally Sweet, is a lovable transvestite that helped make this book! Stephanie finds herself ass deep in alligators in this story while searching for the missing FTA, whom is leading her on a scavenger hunt for clues. Along the way she finds missing fingers, coded messages, and at one point, herself in hooker heels and a Marilyn wig! She also finds herself a victim of multiple fire bombings, which leads her to find herself at the mercy of Joe Morelli. The heat is turned up in this one in more ways than one! 

If you're a fan of humor, mystery, and romance; do yourself a favor and get to know Janet and Stephanie!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

It's late, I'm tired, so bare with me. I'm already way behind on this thing though, and with four kids, if I don't do it when the chance arises then I don't do it all. So anyway, down to business.

This is the fourth book club installment, and we will actually get to meet and discuss this one. It's also the first book in The Lunar Chronicles series.

This is yet another take on the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. It's set in a very futuristic dystopian society in China. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic, abhorred for being a cyborg, but revered for her mad mechanic skills. The world is being ravaged by a fast killing virus, and New Beijing's emperor is one of the infected. As if that isn't enough to keep society on edge, there's also unsuccessful peace treaty talks with the cruel Lunar queen going on. In a world where hope is hard to find, they find an unlikely heroine who is their only hope.

I'm a sucker for fairy tales, and I absolutely adored this take. Meyer's story was so well written and thought out. I love her characters and how even though the book could have easily had no Cinderella association, managed to incorporate it, and do it well. If you like dystopian sci-fi and fairy tales, please do yourself a favor, and read this one.