On the off-chance anyone hasn’t gotten the memo yet: A-L-I-E-N-S<——I love ‘em.
This is partially b/c when my grandmother (whReviewed by: Rabid Reads
On the off-chance anyone hasn’t gotten the memo yet: A-L-I-E-N-S<——I love ‘em.
This is partially b/c when my grandmother (who I stayed with instead of going to daycare) wasn’t reading me fairy tales, I was watching PBS specials on the ocean or OUTER SPACE.
Which is why when I was in first grade and got asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “Astronaut.”
That not panning out didn’t make me bitter . . . It made me friggin’ love A-L-I-E-N-S.
I love good aliens, I love humans triumphing over bad aliens . . . I would totally be one of the idiots holding a sign and screaming for the aliens to beam me up should a spaceship ever appear in our atmosphere.
And one will someday, I can FEEL it.
I think the appeal lies in the infinite possibilities. It’s also what makes Science Fiction so much fun. It’s SCIENCE, so it could totally happen one day, but it’s also FICTION, so it’s free to stretch the bounds of credulity.
Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach embraces both of those ideals beautifully.
Devi Morris is a seriously kick-ass female. Raised in a military society, she wants nothing more than to serve in the most elite company in existence. Trouble is, even though Devi is as hardcore as they come, she doesn’t have the experience. Doesn’t want to wait the standard 10 years to get it either. So she acts on a tip from a friend in the know, and signs on for a year-long stint on a notorious trade vessel.
IF Devi survives her contract, she has it on good authority that the right people will be impressed.
From the beginning, it’s more than obvious that things on the Glorious Fool aren’t exactly what they seem. It doesn’t make sense that a simple trader would have such a high turnover rate for security officers (“turnover” is a euphemism for DEAD), and some of the crew are clearly keeping secrets . . . But Devi is determined to keep her nose out of not-her-business—there is a giant pit full of inquisitive mercenaries somewhere, and Devi doesn’t want to jeopardize her future.
She does want to kick A-L-I-E-N ass.
And she gets to. Often. Her most frequent target is the pirating, insect (of course) breed of alien. They live in “hive” ships. They’re basically giant, sentient exoskeletons, so killing them is virtually impossible (requires a between-the-eyes shot).
So how do Paradoxians like Devi compensate for being so outclassed?
Really cool armor, that’s how.
Devi used two entire years’ salary to purchase her own (rather than just using whatever her employer hands out) armor. She can put it on in 19 seconds flat. The individual pieces lock together in such a way that there are virtually no vulnerabilities. It makes her stronger, faster, acts on its own to prevent injury if she’s getting slung around. If she somehow does manage to get injured, it takes measures to prevent further injury—seals off wounds, injects with adrenaline, etc. The visor of her helmet constantly scrolls all kinds of information, and can zoom onto targets at just a thought from the wearer.
It’s like wearing an incapable of speech Night Rider car (KITT)<——pret-ty dang cool.
But the most impressive part of this book is it’s consistency.
Devi’s priority is ALWAYS meeting her career goals. She may get distracted momentarily, but she always realizes it quickly, and immediately makes adjustments. My #1 character pet peeve is waffling. LOATHE it. And not only is Devi consistent, ALL of the other characters are too.
The nonstop action is also a major selling point. Something is always happening, and that something is relevant to the overall plotline—none of the action is superfluous; it all serves a purpose.
But what is that purpose?
Well, I have a pretty good idea, but I can’t tell you for certain yet.
Which brings me to the one and only reason that I am glad to be behind the pack in reading this series—CLIFFHANGER ending. But never fear, the series has already concluded with all installments available to you at the click of a button (oh, how I LOVE the electronic age).
So yeah, this book ends in a cliffy, and it is a doozy. There are also unanswered questions, but the kinds of unanswered questions that are typical of a first-in-series, not the type that have you scratching your head, trying to figure out what in the bloody heck is going on. Like I said, I have a good idea about that, I just don’t know to what end yet, but I’m not supposed to, so it’s cool.
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. I would recommend it to anyone who loves heroines of the kick-ass persuasion, scifi, A-L-I-E-N-S, and all of that with a nice dash of romance. Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach is an excellent start to what I am convinced is an excellent series....more
So I don't think I've read a translated book before. At least not a recently translated book.
I've thought about it. I mean, the book was popular enough in it's native language to get translated into English and re-published, so that speaks highly for it, right? Yeah, definitely . . .
Language is a complex and beautiful thing, and this isn't a real life interaction where only the gist of the information needs to be understood. This is LITERATURE, and there is not one thing that anyone can say to convince me that Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening doesn't lose some essential spark when it's adapted into something not-English. The words are like a dance, expertly choreographed, and that cannot be translated.
So that's why I've kind of avoided this kind of book in the past. And you know what?
I was right.
Chasers of the Wind by Alexey Pehov was a surprisingly good read. It took awhile, but the characters grew on me. This is straight-up fantasy, so there are multiple POVs, but not too many, and the shifting perspectives are mostly focused on pairs.
My favorite pair is Ness and Layen/Gray and Weasel, an assassin husband and wife team (Gray and Weasel are their "working" names). Gray is an expert shot with almost any kind of bow, and Weasel has the Gift (MAGIC), but as far as we know, is completely unaffiliated with the magical hierarchy, the strangeness of this circumstance being communicated in various, but thankfully not obvious, ways.
Second favorite pair is Luk and Ga-Nor. Luk is a rascal and a solider who is overfond of dice, and Ga-Nor is a Northern tracker, and viewed by the majority of society as a savage. Ga-Nor keeps Luk out of trouble, Luk lightens things up for taciturn Ga-Nor, and they just work well together. I like them.
NOT my favorite is Pork, the village idiot, and Tia, or Typhoid, the Overlord, or Damned, depending on who you ask. Pork is the Noah Percy in M. Night Shyamalan's The Village variety of village idiot---NOT the good kind, the creepy and sinister kind. And Tia is a spoiled brat who has probably been a spoiled brat for the entirety of her existence (over 500 years).
So the characters were pretty well-developed and mostly likable, unless the point was not to like them, then you didn't.
The world-building was . . . interesting. The book begins with the fall of the impregnable fortress. The early and very thorough takeover of the impregnable fortress doesn't happen until you've been told SIX times in four pages how awesomely awesome this fortress is, and how it will never, EVER fall.
And that magical hierarchy I spoke of earlier? They're most often referred to as Walkers and Embers. Embers are kind of obvious. Walkers, not so much, but we didn't find out until 77% into the book what they actually were.
Then there's Luk's overuse of his favorite curse, "screw a toad." 33 times. 33 times, he swears, "screw a toad."
And that's a good intro to the language crossover issues.
Using nature inspired names is a fairly common practice. Especially in fantasy where you often find numerous magical and diverse peoples. Elves, Fae, earth magic users, etc. will have names like Rowan Whitethorn of House Somekindoftree. This happens in contemporary novels too. One of my favorite non-magical characters is named Blue Echohawk.
But what about House Strawberry?
Or House Butterfly?
*frowns and squints*
Okay, maybe, if we're talking about cute, little Tinkerbell fairies. Maybe. But take a gander at that book cover. Does that look like the cover of a book with cute, little Tinkerbell fairies?
Houses Strawberry and Butterfly are two of the seven Highborn (Elf) houses, and though we don't actually meet any of them (well, there is one, but he doesn't count), we are lead to believe that they are a rather fierce and warmongering people.
And they'd have to be. Otherwise no one would take them seriously.
So there are the bizarre name issues. And then there are the bizarre dialogue and description issues.
The dialogue issue is most obvious in a conversation between two of the Overlords, Tia and Rovan (<------the Highborn who doesn't count). Rovan is acting completely out of character, and Tia, rather than saying something like, "Who are you, and what have you done with Rovan?" which would make sense to a native English speaker, says, "I don't recognize you."
*frowns and squints AGAIN*
And I'm familiar enough with the Rascal Soldier character to assume that he is more than a joker and a gambler. But that belief was a deliberate decision, b/c there wasn't any evidence to support that claim. At least not until more than halfway through the book when Ness comments that, "Luk, despite his frivolity, is not a man to mess with," and the lack of evidence had been such that that one statement filled me with a sense of vindication.
Overall, Chasers of the Wind by Alexey Pehov was an entertaining enough read that the obvious translation misfires were merely nuisances that I flicked away like a gnat. The alternately interesting and monstrous creatures, as well as the complexities of the magical races drew me in completely. While I'd not yet classify Chasers of the Wind as dark fantasy, there are definitely hints of darker things to come. Necromancers, overtly feared Overlords known to the masses as Leprosy and Consumption who wield great and terrible power, and wizards whose primary function is controlling demons we've yet to encounter, all promise more exciting chapters from this world. I'll definitely read the next book, and I'd recommend this to readers who like a bit of nefarious in their fantasy....more
Dracula Night basically encapsulates everything that we all love about Eric--his boyishness, mischievousness, humor, and authoritativeness--Sookie 4.3
Dracula Night basically encapsulates everything that we all love about Eric--his boyishness, mischievousness, humor, and authoritativeness--all in one short story. It's a bit far-fetched that the Eric we know and love could allow himself to be even momentarily hoodwinked in such a manner, but overall, it's just adorable. ...more
Tamsyn and Nate short. I liked it but it was painful. Painful in that it-will-all-work-out-in-the-enThe Beat of Temptation, Psy-Changeling 0.5
Tamsyn and Nate short. I liked it but it was painful. Painful in that it-will-all-work-out-in-the-end-but-the-journey's-a-bitch kind of way. There was a side-plot that felt like it was being set up as a snatch and rescue, but turned out to be just an illustration of Psy hubris. So that was anti-climactic. Overall it felt like a not very subtle set-up (insight) for future books masquerading as a mini para-romance.
Stroke of Enticement, Psy-Changeling 3.5
This novella introduces two new characters, Annie, an elementary school teacher, and Zach, a soldier of Lucas's pack and park ranger extraordinaire. It was a cute story, but the ending felt rushed--it's understandable when a character has life-long intimacy/commitment, etc. issues interfering with a relationship and BOOM they have an epiphany moment and live happily ever after. In a book it's understandable. You've had lots of time for things to accumulate (for both you and the character) so that it's not such a leap. In a novella . . . not so much. And that's what happened. "I'll never ever ever get married, it's not worth the risk, just kidding, I love you, let's get married."
But like I said, it was cute.
Declaration of Courtship, Psy-Changeling 9.5
So this was the inside story to the Cooper (wolf lieutenant) and his mating dance with Grace that was referenced in Play of Passion. Cooper is super dominant. Grace is super submissive. Havoc ensues. I liked it :)...more
It's been a little over a year since I read this the first time. I wasn't really impressed, but I just finished the Guild Hunter series (LOVED it), soIt's been a little over a year since I read this the first time. I wasn't really impressed, but I just finished the Guild Hunter series (LOVED it), so I decided to give Singh's other series another shot.
I'm glad I did.
I might have been in a reading slump the last time I read Slave to Sensation, or maybe I just couldn't get past the cheesy (and let's be real--it is cheesy) title and book cover. Whatever it was, second time was the (a?) charm.
Sascha is a Psy. That means she's been trained to be a Vulcan. But Psys, unlike Vulcans who as a race eventually "evolved" past emotional reactions, are born with emotions and are brainwashed out of feeling them. Or at least they're supposed to be. If a Psy is resistant to the brainwashing, they are rehabilitated. And by "rehabilitated" I mean lobotomized.
Lucas is a Hunter and the Alpha of the leopard pack in California. He is Changling. Changlings and Psys do not play well together. They have nothing in common. Psys are cold, emotionless robots while Changlings are vibrant and passionate and alive. Even the smell of a Psy stinks to a Changling nose.
Until Lucas meets Sascha. He immediately senses she is more than the average Psy.
But he can't think about that too much b/c he's using their business arrangement to gather information about the Psy race in order to catch a Psy serial killer.
Romance and havoc ensue before the token para-romance happy ending.
That's what I love about para-romance. No delayed gratification. A happy ending is coming and soon....more
Carmel: I only just recently got caught-up on Briggs’ MERCY THOMPSON series, thus I’m not as familiar with the mythoJoint review by: Rabid Reads
Carmel: I only just recently got caught-up on Briggs’ MERCY THOMPSON series, thus I’m not as familiar with the mythology surrounding the Cornick family as Jessica some readers, so when Ariana showed up in SILVER BORNE I didn’t realize that her and Samuel had a history that spanned hundreds of years. I really enjoyed this short because it helped to fill-in a lot of the blanks in their past, and was a great overview of Bran’s lineage; it helped me to better understand her deep-seated fear of wolves, and her connection to silver which are two elements that went completely over my head when I originally read SILVER BORNE. This anthology also starts, and ends with Samuel & Ariana which I thought was fitting.
Jessica: HA. Yeah, I’m definitely familiar with the more obscure details, but being aware that Ariana and Samuel knew each other from WAY before didn’t do much for me on the Samuel front. Samuel has never been my favorite branch of the Bran tree. No, that spot has always been reserved for Bran, himself. Samuel . . . is a touch (*snorts*) melancholy for my tastes. I understand that he’s had a long life, and endured more than I, with my incomparably short life, can imagine. BUT knowing that (superficially) does nothing to negate how tiresome his constant depression/suicide watch/high maintenance-ness, etc. can be. HOWEVER, this story does. SILVER is NOT a happy story, but it is an interesting one, and it does give valuable background on this most mournful of werewolves.
Carmel: This was actually one of the shorts that I enjoyed the least in this anthology, so the fact that it’s listed as a ‘readers favourite’ in the blurb has me questioning my Patricia Briggs fan-girl status. The author is from Butte, Montana, so I understand why she wanted to write a story that featured her hometown, but other than the Fae bits I didn’t really understand why it earned a spot in this compilation. I found the flashbacks confusing, and other than Stefan, I personally don’t particularly care of this author’s vampires. Also, I felt that the 19th century Chinese racism angle was unnecessary, and didn’t add anything to this tale other than confusion.
Jessica: This story is about a vampire named Thomas and a Fae named Maggie. It has not one thing to do with Mercy (and friends) as far as I can tell, which I wasn’t expecting. Still . . . an accurate representation of Fae, so I actually liked this one. I always appreciate stories where tricksy Fae plans are thwarted by an underdog, and while I’m not overly fond of this world’s version of the vampire either, Thomas was a vamp I could get behind. These two both deserve their bit of happiness.
Carmel: A cute short that was inspired by the colour gray, and Valentine’s Day; leave it to Briggs to put a dark spin on flowers, and chocolate. The author manages to squeeze in vampire politics, love, and a decent amount of action in only 34 pages. I found that the tale was well-rounded given its length, and even though the tone is for the most part sad, the ending was immensely satisfying. Normally I’m not a big fan of ghost stories, but this author is a pro at fleshing out characters, and creating tension. I rather enjoyed Peter Vanderstaat, the full-time cop, part-time contractor, and his quick acceptance of Elyna’s vampirism was one of my favourite parts of GRAY.
Jessica: Another creepy vampire story, and again, wholly unrelated to the stories that we know and love. I mostly liked it, except . . . nothing good can ever come from loving a ghost. Sorry. *shrugs* I don’t care how pretty the story is, being unable to touch the one you love can NEVER end well, and it’s painful to even contemplate. BUT I also enjoyed Peter the cop/contractor, and Elyna might be my favorite vampire from this world.
Carmel: This one featured two characters from HUNTING GROUND, which I also have yet to read, but I enjoyed learning more about this author’s witches as they rarely make an appearance in her MERCY THOMPSON series (excluding Elizaveta, the pack witch). There was a lot of wolf-y goodness, and sexual tension; as a whole it felt pretty complete for a short story. I like that the magical rules remained consistent in this anthology, and mirrored what I’ve come to expect from this author. After two werewolf-less tales in a row, I was happy to get back to Briggs’ furry canines. I look forward to seeing Moira and Tom again when I finally get around to tackling the ALPHA & OMEGA books.
Jessica: I have read the ALPHA & OMEGA books, and while I don’t know if I can say that I prefer the characters (overall) in this series to those in the Mercy books, the plot lines have been consistently stronger IMO, so I’d actually read this before, and I still really liked it on the second pass. I liked Tom and Moira when I first met them, and I liked learning how they met even more. Moira is one badass white witch. And yes, I appreciate Briggs’ sticking to her rules for supernatural creatures as well.
ALPHA AND OMEGA
Carmel: In my opinion, this was the best short in this collection, mainly because I have yet to explore the world of ALPHA & OMEGA, so it made Briggs’ werewolves feel almost new again. Latham’s first three years as a shifter were beyond horrible, but her unfortunate back story helped to give Bran’s youngest son the appearance of being a knight in shining armor when he shows up in Chicago. The Marrok has always been a favourite of mine, so I was pleased when he made an appearance in this story. The ending was as satisfying as it was violent, and I liked the twist because it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Again, I really need to read the ALPHA & OMEGA series now.
Jessica: First of all, I think it’s important for you to know that if you try to start the ALPHA & OMEGA series without reading this prequel first, you’re going to be confused. I know this for FACT. The good news is that reading this is no hardship, but fair warning, while none of it takes place on page, it’s obvious that Anna has been sexually assaulted, and regularly, in the three years she’s been a werewolf. So if you’re bothered by that kind of thing . . . now you know. Beyond that . . . simply put, this is the story of how Charles and Anna met. I liked it a lot.
THE STAR OF DAVID
Carmel: This was the second holiday-themed tale in this anthology, and it had a pretty big impact for being so brief. It was a touching story that revolved around family and forgiveness; the author managed to pack in a surprising amount of paranormal elements in only 34 pages with werewolves, vampires, and wizards all making appearances. I don’t recall the latter ever showing up in her MERCY THOMPSON novels, so that was a definite bonus. I also liked how THE STAR OF DAVID tied in to MOON CALLED by revisiting one of the original characters that made his debut alongside Adam. The conclusion was absolutely perfect, and a brilliant embodiment of the Christmas spirit.
Jessica: Hmmm . . . I don’t have much to say about this one. It was a Christmas story, and it was as heart-wrenching as the short intro lead you to believe it would be. It’s about family, forgiveness, second chances . . . all that Lifetime Holiday Special goodness, and yeah, it hit me straight in the FEELS, but, generally speaking, I don’t like stories that are holiday-focused very much . . . they feel so . . . contrived? Guess that makes me a Grinch. Sorry . . . that’s just one of my things.
ROSES IN WINTER
Carmel: If I were to rank all of these stories from best to worst, ROSES IN WINTER would be a close second behind ALPHA AND OMEGA. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Marrok and the Moor, and both of these characters play significant roles in this short which was a real treat for this werewolf fanatic. Kara, the ten year old (now thirteen) from BLOOD BOUND, is at the forefront of this tale, and I’ve always wondered what happened to her, so I really enjoyed reading the continuation of her journey. To my delight, there was a great deal of pack politics in this tale, and I loved how Asil and Devon, two of the oldest wolves, both came up to bat for the youngin’. The ending with the rose and the guitar brought tears to my eyes, because it was just so beautifully executed.
Jessica: I love Asil. In fact, the reason that I might like the characters from the ALPHA & OMEGA series more than the characters from MERCY THOMPSON can pretty much be attributed to Bran and Asil. NOT Charles and Anna—I love their storylines, but their relationship is still in that awkward, painful stage . . . BLAH. But there’s LOTS of Bran and Asil. This story is doubly awesome, b/c not only is it mostly from Asil’s POV, but you remember the little girl who’d been attacked and turned into a werewolf when she was like 10? The one whose father was a reporter, and came sniffing around Mercy for info in BLOOD BOUND? This is her story too. It’s just . . . fantastic. My FAVORITE by a long shot.
IN RED, WITH PEARLS
Carmel: No paranormal anthology would be complete without zombies in my opinion, and IN RED, WITH PEARLS was a fun short about stupid neighbours and improbable crushes told from Warren’s POV—everyone’s favourite gay werewolf! Briggs’ witches made another appearance in this one, and it even explained why Nadia, Elizaveta’s niece, mysteriously takes a trip to ‘France’ in the MERCY THOMPSON series which I thought was a nice little bonus. The twist was rather wonderful because I didn’t see it coming AT ALL, and something pretty major happens between Warren and Kyle that made me love them even more. I totally want a full length book about these two now because 44 pages just wasn’t enough!
Jessica: Man . . . I really wanted to like this one (b/c WARREN), but it was really predictable, and the 99% of People/Creatures You Meet in the World are BAD theme that’s going on in these stories is starting to wear a bit thin. At first I thought it was all the creatures except the werewolves, but then I realized, NOPE. The werewolves are mostly bad too, or at least morally ambiguous. Anyway, this was a story about Warren detecting after someone sends a zombie (<——also not my favorite) to kill Kyle.
Carmel: REDEMPTION was the funniest story in SHIFTING SHADOWS because Ben and Adam make a no swearing bet which lead to some rather creative vocabulary from the pack’s underdog. That paired with all of the geeky references brought on by Shaw’s job as a DBA (Database Administrator) kept me smiling from ear-to-ear. Ben’s known for his issues with women, so he was as shocked as I was when he finds himself sticking up for Melinda, his department’s secretary. Adam and Mercy also made a cameo appearance in this short (FINALLY!!); I only wish that Briggs would have included the full motivational speech that Ben’s asked to give by his boss because I probably would have LOL’ed.
Jessica: This is a Ben POV, and it started out REALLY rough (and I love Ben). BUT, per usual, there was more going on than we could see, b/c Ben is a rather complex character, and while the glimpse into his past was illuminating, it was also highly disappointing. I wanted to believe that there was no truth in the rumors surrounding his past in England. Somehow, despite the darkness in the this story, Briggs manages to end on both a positive and light/humorous note.
Carmel: By this point, Briggs had me seriously doubting whether Mercy was even going to get her own tale—talk about saving the best for last! This short felt like it could have almost been a full length installment because it followed the traditional investigative format that’s prevalent throughout the MERCY THOMPSON books. Our favourite coyote is hired to shed some light on a haunting, finds herself in yet another life-or-death situation, and Adam of course is pissed. I liked that Zack, the pack’s newest werewolf, was along for the ride, and the conclusion tied in nicely to this series’ main story arc. We also learn a bit more about Mercy’s Walker abilities which was an unexpected plus.
Jessica: Finally a Mercy story! This one felt kind of SUPERNATURAL-like, so when the ghost was vanquished without the requisite salting and burning of bones, I kind of felt ripped-off (I’M KIDDING), but overall, a really fun read. It takes place after NIGHT BROKEN, so if you aren’t current with the series, there are a few spoilers. And it looks like Zach, the squirrel-y submissive wolf, might be hanging around permanently, so that’s that fun too. ALSO—poor Adam. Mercy’s reckless ways are going to kill him. *snickers*
SILVER BORNE (outtake)
Carmel: This is the Samuel / Ariana scene that I mentioned in my above review of SILVER. It was short and sweet, but I thought it did a good job of rounding out this couple’s story in this anthology, and it also gave them a bit of a HEA which was nice.
Jessica: And this is how Samuel and Ariana got back together. *swoons*
NIGHT BROKEN (outtake)
Carmel: I can’t really say much about this outtake because it’s one big spoiler for those of you who haven’t read NIGHT BROKEN yet. Adam and Coyote have a bit of a tête-à-tête, but if you’re still reeling from this series’ most recent cliff hanger, you might want to check it out.
Jessica: What she said.
***The table with our individual ratings for each story can be found at the bottom of the REVIEW on the blog.***...more
I don't know who first told me that "assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME," but I do know that I was young enough to be shocked that someone said assI don't know who first told me that "assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME," but I do know that I was young enough to be shocked that someone said ass. I think it was my mom. The point is, that I (and probably you too) have been aware of this idea for as long as I (and you) can remember.
Living with the Dead is a perfect illustration of that. One assumption leads to a bad decision leads to another assumption lead to another bad decision, etc. That's basically what the entire book is--assumptions and reactions. With terrible consequences. That and a bad guy who is an incredible narcissist with borderline sociopathic tendencies. Adele definitely makes my Top 10 All-Time Most Hateful Villains. She's right up there with Iago. ...more