Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Etched in Bone (A Novel of the Others) –by Anne Bishop (Available 7 Mar 17)

Fiction / Urban Fantasy 

416 pages
5 Stars

Legalities first: I read an Advanced Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have heard rumors this is to be the last book of this series. It could be. But then, it might not be. We shall just have to wait. Sometimes rumors are false. I truly hope this one falls into the 'false' category.

The human uprising is over—and life goes on in Lakeside, with a few changes. Lakeside was relatively unscathed, thanks in no small part to Meg Corbyn and Simon Wolfgard and the understanding they have brought between Others and Humans. Until a human brings his wife and two children to Lakeside, expecting a hand-out (no free lunch in Lakeside), and his cop brother to protect him. No one wants him to remain in Lakeside except the two Elders (aka: The Teeth and Claws of Namid) who have taken residence in the Courtyard and refuse to have him sent away. The Elders want to understand why he is the way he is. To them, it is important to understand him, and to the humans it is extremely important. The Elders are not yet through winnowing humans. They may decide to kill them all.

Meg, the resident Cassandra Sangue (blood prophet), has a positive impact on both her human pack and the Others with whom she lives and works, and on the two resident Elders who learn manners in order to get cookies. She knows danger exists, is coming to the Courtyard, to Lakeside, and to herself. When it manifests, Simon Wolfgard, the leader of the Courtyard finally faces his thoughts and feelings about Meg, and vice versa. Can a wolf and a human find true love and happiness? Read the book and find out!

If you have not yet read the other books in this series, I strongly suggest you do so before reading this one. You don't have to, but I think if you start at the beginning, it will make smoother reading. You will have the opportunity to meet and get to know the characters without having to try to figure out the backstory. I suggest you buy all the books, check into a hotel with decent room service, and hunker down for a good read. You'll thank me when you have done so.

Anne Bishop has created a marvelous alternate world. She has populated it with great and wondrous Others, who are the dominants. Humans are the upstarts, and at best, tolerated. They do provide certain goods the Others can't make. And upon occasion, they also provide a meal. Silly humans, they decided they should be the dominant race, and agitated for an uprising, which was short, bloody, and painful. This series is great fun to read with our modern mind-set and imagining what it would be like to live in such a world. Can you imagine a large area of your town set aside for Shifters—wolves, crows, vampires, etc., not to mention various Elementals? Can you imagine what it would be like to cut yourself and reveal prophecy? Cutting is the only thing to bring you relief, but too many cuts and you'll die. Can you imagine having no ownership of your body, your blood, but being forced to prophecy to the highest bidder? You will by the time you've finished this series.

Warning: Bishop writes page burners, do not start her books—any of them—unless you have the time to sit and read. The dishes can wait. The laundry can wait. The Others, not so much. (Check into that hotel. Trust me.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind --by Yuval Noah Harari

Nonfiction / History
464 pages
3 Stars

I will give the writing 4 stars. The sole reason I gave the book 3 stars was his use of end-notes. Footnotes would have been a godsend.

This is a broad history, the fine bloodlines of kings, queens, &c are not here. If that's what you want, please go elsewhere.

The writing is accessible, and often downright fun. This was my bedtime book, and I finally had to get a pen to start marking the good parts that I might want to go back to. I also finally took it to the other room and sat down to finish.

Because I write fiction, often of a historical nature, I marked a lot of things. One of my favorites is: "If a time traveller popped up in a medieval village and asked a passerby, 'What year is this?' the villager would be as bewildered by the question as by the stranger's ridiculous clothing." Nothing was said about the time traveller's or villager's odd, incomprehensible, speech.

A book of this breadth and scope is bound to contain contradictions, but then so is life. I didn't mind them, the ones that I noticed, I thought about, and came to my own conclusions.

If you're a curious person, and if you aren't afraid to have your mind stretched by ideas, perhaps even challenged by some, this may be a book for you. There are times when, admittedly, I rolled an eyeball, but perhaps because I read it before dropping off to sleep, I missed something? I enjoyed the writing, and a lot of the one-liners. I learned a lot of things I'll probably never use, but it was fun stretching the gray matter.

Silence Fallen (A Mercy Thompson Novel) --by Patricia Briggs

(Available March 7, 2017)

Fiction / Urban Fantasy
384 Pages
5 Stars

Legalities first: I received an Advance Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I admit, I began this book with trepidation. It doesn't take place in the Tri-Cities. It takes place in Prague (and a bit in Milan). Oh me of little faith.

It begins in the Tri-Cities, when Mercy is kidnapped, wounded, drugged, and secreted to the Milan castle home of Iocopo Bonarata, the Lord of Night, the Chief Vampire of Vampires. And, of course, Mercy hates vampires.

And, of course, the bonds she has with Adam and the Pack, are sundered, and when, as a coyote, she escapes, she is truly on her own. She makes it to Prague, is seen as a coyote, and as a coyote, working with the Prague Pack, is captured by the evil and rogue Vampire who has taken over the local seethe.

Caged in the basement of the old castle, she manages to awaken many of the ghosts, which she can see, others cannot. As a coyote, she is warm, but in order to talk and communicate as a human, she must change, and freeze. One of her stronger allies is the Golem of Prague—at least for a while.

Adam, of course, is not taking any of this lightly, has traced her to Milan, and then to Prague, and of course, because this is a fantasy, well, all's well that ends well.

But it is different from the regular Mercy books. Some chapters are in Mercy's point of view (POV) and some are in Adam's POV. The timeline is a little off (Ms. Briggs warns us about that) but not enough to cause the reader any problem.

As much as I 'trepped' about having the story take place in Europe, that particular 'dation' did not come about. I loved the story, enjoyed the characters, feel I got to know a couple of the other regulars a bit better, and all in all, had a marvelous romp.

A strong believer in the adage that to be forewarned it to be forearmed, I tell you: It's a one-sit read. If you start it in bed, be prepared to get little, if any, sleep, and to be late for work the next day!

Moonshadow (Moonshadow Book 1) --by Thea Harrison

Fiction / Urban Fantasy
335 pages / 3751 KB
5 Stars

Legalities first: I received an Advance Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I must begin this review with a very serious warning: It is a one-sit read! Do not start unless you know you're going to forego dishes, diapers, and drudgery for a romp on the wild side.

Sophie has problems. Among them, she is an orphan, and can't find out anything about her birth parents. She receives a communication from a woman on the other coast, in New York, and after putting her off, decides to meet, face to face. The woman can give her some information, just not what she wants, but she also tells Sophie she has inherited a cottage, and an annual stipend, in England. The only catch is (admit it, you knew there would be a catch) she has to send proof she's actually gotten inside the house. Key in hand, Sophie sets out on her adventure.

One of Sophie's problems is that she shuts off electrical motors (fortunately, not jet engines), and just a few miles from her new home, if she can claim it, her car dies. While walking down the road, toward the village near her cottage, she rescues a 'dog' who is filthy, starving, and near choked with a silver collar. Because she is also a magical being, the silver burns her hands, but she removes the collar, shares her water, saves the dog and runs into people who would steal the dog, do her harm, oh, and along the way she runs smack dab into romance.

The dog, obviously, is not a dog, but another magical being, and is wanted by those who would rescue it, and those who would enslave it. The 'cursed' cottage sits on a bit of a time shift, which is why people can't get into it. The fairies she meets are stuck in this realm, because the ways home have been blocked and lost.

There are the now and then f-bombs, some sex, some violence. None of it is gratuitous, all if it fits, but if any of those bother you, you may want to pass. Of course, you'll be missing a fun read, but it's your choice. If you're a fan of Trish Owens, Anne Bishop, or Patricia Briggs, check this book out. I can hardly wait for the next installment.