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Shifting Shadows: Stories From the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs : Review

Shifting

Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger…

Normally I am not a big fan of anthologies as I find myself unable to enjoy them when one story ends just as it starts to get interesting, but this one really stands out from the others I have read.

Shifting Shadows is an urban fantasy anthology set in the world of preternatural shapeshifter Mercy Thompson. There was not a single story in this anthology that I did not enjoy in some way. When a series of books is written in the first person, its makes the short stories told from the perspective of someone else. We get a really good look at some characters who are only briefly mentioned in the main books in the series, and some insights into the lives of werewolves, vampires, and ghosts.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about writing this, so I just decided I will go through and write a small little review for each story in the order they appear in the book. I did my best to keep any actual spoilers out of them while still giving my impression of each one.

Silver:

Silver tells the origins of Bran and Samuel becoming werewolves and an explanation of sorts as to where werewolves originally came from. We also get a glimpse into the early life of Ariana and the ill fated romance between her and Samuel. Though a time period is not given as to when this story is set, its obviously a very long time before Moon Called takes place, and gives a pretty good idea how long a werewolf can live. It was really interesting to see the origins of a number of characters who only get small amounts of screen time in the main series, as well as what’s probably the origins of the werewolves themselves.

Fairy Gifts:

This story is interesting in that it tells a story in two alternating timelines, the year 1900 in Butte Montana, and present day Butte Montana. I found myself enjoying this quite a bit, despite the fact that it’s told from the viewpoint of a character only seen briefly in the Mercy Thompson book Frost Burned. We get a good look at what it means to be fledgling vampire and what abilities you get after you’re turned. I found myself disappointed that it ended so fast, and hoping we see more of Thomas Hao, he seems like a unique vampire who’s owed his own story.

Gray:

This was a really sad and melancholy story, almost a little to much for my taste. In this one we get to see the regret and depression of a female vampire who has returned to her former home in an attempt and live on her own without a seethe.

Seeing Eye:

Wendy Moira is a good witch, something not often seen in a world where witches gain their power through the mutilation and suffering of others. Tom is a werewolf intent on freeing his mundane brother from a coven of black witches. Together they might be enough to do it and survive. What made this story the most interesting for me is it gives us a good look at the inner workings of witchcraft and gives you a good idea that you do not want to get on the bad side of anyone with witchblood in their veins!

Alpha and Omega:

This is by far my favorite short story in the entire anthology, and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. Alpha and Omega takes place during the events of Moon Called and fills in a lot of the plot holes from it that have been bothering me for a few years now. It tells the story of how Anna Latham and Charles Cornick met, while explaining what started the chain of events leading up to Moon Called. Anna is probably my favorite character from the anthology and it’s interesting to see a new type of werewolf I don’t remember being mentioned before, an omega. I will definitely be buying Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega series in the next few day, I can only hope its as good as this short story was.

The Star of David:

This was probably my least favorite story of the anthology, mainly because it’s supposed to be a Christmas story about werewolves, and I hate Christmas stories. When I try and do my best to forget its a Christmas story it’s pretty enjoyable and tells the story of the army ranger turned werewolf, turned werewolf mercenary David Christiansen who appeared in Moon Called. The most enjoyable part of this story for me was how believable David’s conflict of what he is, and who its made him become.

 Roses in Winter:

This story is a good example of why I really love this anthology, it’s always get a glimpse into the life of a character only briefly mentioned in the main series, or more detailed dynamics of being a werewolf. Roses in Winter tells the story of Kara Beckworth a thirteen year old girl briefly mentioned in Blood Bound as having been turned into a werewolf. She’s now become the Marrok’s newest problem to solve, as a young girl unable to control her wolf is a danger to both herself and all werewolves. This book gives some really interesting insight into the laws that the Marrok has laid down to protect all the werewolves, and why they are necessary to uphold. It also gives us a decent look into what happens to a werewolf who has been alive for centuries and is nearing the end of his expected life span.  All in all this this is up there with Alpha and Omega on my list of favorites from this book.

In Red, With Pearls:

I don’t quite know what I think of this one, I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but afterwards I couldn’t quite figure out why. Not a whole lot really happens in it, and what little action there is just kind of bored me. The only thing I liked about it was learning that zombies exist in the world of Mercy Thompson.

Redemption:

I struggled getting more than a few paragraphs into this story at first, it throws a lot of tech jargon at you in the beginning which kind of threw me out of the story. I found it quickly got better though, and we got a good look into what makes Ben the werewolf tick.

Hollow:

I don’t know why it surprised me that Mercy Thompson didn’t make an appearance till the very end of the anthology, I should have expected that to be the way it would be. This story has about everything you can expect from a Mercy Thompson story. There are werewolves, shifters and ghosts, not to mention Mercy taking her usual mental and physical beating. While this was of course a great story, as any story featuring Mercy would have to be, I found my mind wandering a bit while reading at certain points. Mercy is much more suited to full length novels.

 

I suggest anyone who is a fan of the Mercy Thompson or Alpha and Omega books buy this book, it fills in a lot of gaps in them both, and I know I’ll be adding it to my collection when it releases. In fact, I hope anyone who reads this is encouraged to go out and read all the other books by Patricia Briggs set in the same world, she is quite an author and I know I’m more than looking forward to her next book.

Shifting Shadows is set to be released September, 2nd by Ace

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 


Check out RLovatt’s interview with Patricia Briggs on the ArchedDoorway here.

 

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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Congratulations to the 2014 Hugo Award Winners!

hugo_sm

 

From the Hugo Awards website:

The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3, has announced the 2014 Hugo Award winners. 3587 valid ballots were received and counted in the final ballot.

BEST NOVEL

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)

BEST NOVELLA

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com /
Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST SHORT STORY

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

BEST RELATED WORK

“We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

“Time” by Randall Munroe (xkcd)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM

Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films;Warner Bros.)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM

Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM

Ellen Datlow

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM

Ginjer Buchanan

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

Julie Dillon

BEST SEMIPROZINE

Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki

BEST FANZINE

A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher

BEST FANCAST

SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester

BEST FAN WRITER

Kameron Hurley

BEST FAN ARTIST

Sarah Webb

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Sofia Samatar

The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced on Sunday evening, August 17, at the ExCel Converntion Centre in London, England. The ceremony was hosted by Justina Robson, Geoff Ryman. Text-based CoverItLive coverage of the ceremony was provided through the Hugo Awards web site. Video streaming coverage was provided by Ustream.

The 2014 Hugo trophy base was designed by Joy Alyssa Day

See the Final Ballot Details for a full breakdown of votes, subsequent placements, and nomination counts.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in RLovatt

 

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Black Out by Tim Curran : Review

Blackout

In the midst of a beautiful summer, in a perfectly American suburban middle-class neighborhood, a faraway evil is lurking, waiting to strike the unsuspecting residents.

First come the flashing lights, then the heavy rains, high winds, and finally a total blackout. But that’s only the beginning…

When the whipping black tentacles fall from the sky and begin snatching people at random, the denizens of Piccamore Way must discover the terrifying truth of what these beings have planned for the human race.

Blackout by Tim Curran is one of the newest stories in DarkFuse’s popular novella line and so far my favorite out of those I have read. With it Tim Curran tells the story of what happens when the power goes out and does not come back on again, of what happens when the stars vanish from the sky and a darkness so thick and menacing you can almost feel it descends upon the world. It asks the question of what do you do when the people around you start vanishing one by one, and those you would hope to rely on in such a situation are no where to be found. Blackout tells the story of one middle aged man and his attempt to survive what he believes to be the end of humanity.

Jon believes he lives the perfect middle-American life in the perfectly middle-class and perfectly dull neighborhood of Piccamore Way and he is completely fine with that. He is past the age of wanting excitement in his life and is content with the predictable lifestyle he now shared with his wife Kathy. That all changes when Jon wakes up one night to an almost unnaturally severe thunderstorm to find his wife missing and his neighborhood in the middle of a blackout. While searching for his wife Jon soon finds himself trying to survive with a small band of survivors who are desperately trying to evade the horrifying tentacles that have dropped from the inky blackness above and started yanking them into an unknown fate into the sky. Throughout all this Jon keeps asking himself just one question, will he ever see his wife again?

With Blackout Tim Curran wrote the perfect horror novella for me, it was just the right length to leave me feeling satisfied and while it kept you guessing at what was really going on the entire time, the conclusion was more than satisfying. It just left me with only one question, and that was why had I never heard of this author before? I would recommend this book to just about anyone who is a fan of the horror genre, and suggest to people that Tim Curran is an author to check out. You will not be disappointed!

Blackout by Tim Curran is set to be released August 19th by DarkFuse.

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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Mercury Revolts by Robert Kroese : Review

Mercury

After a lowly software tester named Suzy Cilbrith uncovers evidence of a vast government conspiracy, she turns to a fringe reporter named Eddie Pratt for help. Far from dismissing her wild claims, Eddie reveals that things are even worse than they appear: the U.S. government has been infiltrated by angels, who are attempting to bring about Heaven on Earth – no matter the cost.

Only one angel knows the secret to exposing the cabal: the rogue cherub known as Mercury. But when Mercury learns who is behind the cabal, he realizes he’s going to need a lot of help. Old enemies become allies, old friends become bitter enemies, and as competing plots for world domination unfold, it isn’t always clear which is which.

MERCURY REVOLTS is the fourth book by Robert Kroese featuring the wise-cracking, anti-authority angel Mercury. MERCURY REVOLTS takes place after the events of MERCURY RESTS, but is a standalone story that can be enjoyed whether or not you’ve read the other books.

Mercury Revolts is another great novel by Robert Kroese, and the fourth one of his books featuring the now fallen angel Mercury. While I may not be a big fan of stories that rely heavily on religion or the angel vs demon storyline in general, I have developed an abiding love of the Mercury series. There are plenty of books that can bring me to my feet in shock or anger, or make start to tear up, but there aren’t many that make me laugh out loud. Mercury Revolts, just like every other book in the series had me laughing almost the whole way through, sometimes so hard I would choke or cry. I should warn anyone who reads this that there may be a spoiler or three from the previous books ahead, this is a difficult book to talk about without bringing up the rest of the series

With Mercury and his new allies attempting to stop the angels from infiltrating and influencing the government, this book has some fairly strong political overtones. Political thrillers are usually at the bottom of my reading list, but the humor and the characters are great enough that I didn’t even notice that’s what this really was. Plus the cutaway scenes that go all the way back to the beginning of the United States show how Mercury influenced us and our battle for independence really add something to the book. While the plot in most of the Mercury books seems like just an afterthought, here it really stands out strong. Strong enough that it made me really think about politics and my government afterwords. Something that is very unlike me on almost any given day of the week.

Mercury Revolts could probably stand on its own without any knowledge the previous books in the series, but I believe it would be beneficial for everyone to read them first. I know I have already said it multiple times here, and I really don’t want to over sell it, but I have to say it one more time here. This book and series is funny, I have laughed harder reading them than I have for any other books, I found the comedy very reminiscent of Douglas Adams and the Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy.

I would recommend this book to just about anyone who reads fantasy and science fiction, as well as anyone who reads political thrillers and comedies– or pretty much anyone who reads.

I received a free copy of this novel for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Review

 

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Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb : Review

Fools assassin

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.
 
Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.
 
Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . . .

Fool’s Assassin: Book One of the Fitz and the Fool by Robin Hobb is the seventh book in the story of the royal bastard and former assassin Fitzchivalry Farseer, and as the seventh book in this series there are minor spoilers ahead if you have not read the previous books. I don’t really have words to describe the way I felt when I heard Robin Hobb was going back to the story of Fitzchivalry Farseer after ten long years away, it was just a mixture of excitement and dread. Excitement for the fact that I may finally get some real closure on the story of the Fitz and the Fool, and dread because life serving the Farseers has never been kind to Fitz. Whenever he has managed to grab something resembling a life of his own he always seems to let it get ripped away from him again.

Fool’s Assassin takes place roughly a decade after the main events of Fool’s Fate and goes into greater detail on the events described in that books prologue. Fitz and his wife Molly live a peaceful life alongside the lady Patience at her country manor Withywoods. Having mostly come to terms with his former life Fitz lives only for the present and the future in an attempt to avoid thoughts of the unresolved events between him and his friend the Fool. Seeming content to live out his life in the country with his wife Fitz actively avoids the intrigue filled events of Buckkeep, no matter how often his former mentor Chade tries to draw him back in. Though he doesn’t realize it, a strange pale skinned messenger’s arrival at his doorstep sets him on a collision course with the past he’s trying to avoid.

To put it simply I thought Fools Assassin was amazing, and I probably couldn’t count how many times I had to put the book down to process some scene I had just read. Or how many times I found myself on my feet in shock or anger and would then have to put the book down and walk away to let my emotions settle or to keep myself from crying like a fool. The best part about it was that the story didn’t go anywhere I had thought it might, and I can honestly say I thought I had imagined every direction it could possibly go. Yet it still managed to zigzag in every single direction and end someplace I had never even considered it might end. I believe there are many scenes that will bring any fan, be they longtime or new, that will have them sitting there in shock over what they had just read

Robbin Hobb’s writing was as good as its ever been, and I found myself completely sucked into the story and unable to put it down. I don’t think I stopped reading to well past seven in the morning and I think that really says something about it, considering I had to be up for work just a couple hours later. It was like revisiting an old friend every time Fitz ran into someone from his past with only a few noticeable absences which I hope will be addressed in the next book. Fool’s Assassin also expands a lot on the skill and just what it means to be a member of a coterie, a clarification I was glad to finally receive.

All in all I would say this book was well worth the read and i will be purchasing it to make sure my collection is complete  once it releases. Although I think anyone could pick up this book and start reading it without being too confused, it would be beneficial to have read the rest of the books in the series. I find myself visiting Hobb’s website at least once a day looking for any announcements about the sequel, and I know I will begin counting down the days till its release once we get an official date, though I dread what the rest of this trilogy will bring us. I believe there are dark days ahead for Fitzchivalry Farseer.

Fool’s Assassin is set to be released worldwide August 12th, 2014

I received a copy of this publication for free in exchange for an honest review

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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