First book haul of 2021

Earlier in December and January I preordered and ordered some new books. The preorders were mostly the continuation of the book series I follow and the rest were on my wish list for a while now as well. I even indulged and got some new Kindle books I found recommendation on some of the Goodreads lists for Valentines Day! Due to Book Depository deliveries being exceptionally slow due to Brexit and Covid, and lets not forget the usual end of the year Christmas madness with packages, this led to a slow and anxiety filled waiting on the postman and my books each morning. All things considering these were the sweet pains to endure after all. Last of the books I bought was from a Facebook seller and since it was my first time buying used books in English this way I was a little apprehensive about that too. Lots of sweet pains later and I have a not so small a pile of books that spark joy!

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is one of the books I preordered before Christmas and the publishing date was 9. February this year! Usually I’m forced to wait for months before I get my copy of the new book when it comes out since I buy the US mass market paperback edition. In case of the book prior to this one – Sucker Punch, I’m still waiting for it to come out! So this book was a real treat. I was not that thrilled with the last book I read from the series and while I love the characters and I’m really interested in the world the author has build I did not have high expectations from this book. I already read it! I even made pauses for the book to lasts longer. I have many comments on it. so much so I might need to write the whole review for it soon just to get it all out of my system!

This book series is starting to outgrow my shelving solution and I will need to figure a better way to store all the books. Maybe even separate the two boo series by LKH I own and keep together currently…

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

Second preordered book that was published and arrived on the same day as the previous one is another next book in the favorite urban fantasy series. I did not get to read this one right away – but it has only been about a week since I got it! There are more reasons why I love this book series and can’t wait for every next book.

The cover art of these books I have already gushed about few years ago. This is another author that I have two book series from but unlike the LKH, Patricia Briggs is more consistent with both book series and I get at least one book from either of the series each year. When one book series gets a new hardcover edition book the other one has a mass market paperback edition I collect out as well. This makes the wait for the next book more exciting and somehow sweeter and easier to pass.

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

I have a soft spot for short story collections and lately I have been doing great with reading trough most of short story collections on my bookshelves. In the sea of many new editions and books the title of this one caught my eye! There are few other books that I was interested in but this one really got me with a beautiful cover and an all female authors team.

This will fit nicely with other similar books on my shelves until I start reading it! I might even give it a go next month as a March contribution to female authors πŸ™‚

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven

My Paperwhite Kindle does not give this cover justice! I found out about this book by randomly clicking on a Goodreads Valentine theme banner for romance book recommendation. I went trough the link and on the one of the lists I was browsing I stumbled on this book. I was cautious enough to try the sample first and it got me really interested in the story and characters. I devoured the book in a day and a half and had to get the next one as well!

While I’m going a bit slower with the next book of the series I still love it and now that I’m invested in the fantastical setting and the future of the fantastical world the author created. I will be looking up for other books by this author as well as finding out how this trilogy(?) of books ends.

Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark book 17) by Kresley Cole

This book has been on my too buy wish list the longest. It first came out almost four years ago now and it was a part of the book series I was collecting. In the meantime I read all the books in the series before it and since a few new books were were supposed to come out after it but they never did I just never got to getting this one before.

This urban fantasy romance book series is the one with the most “beefcake” and shirtless guys covers I own. As some previously mentioned urban fantasy book series I won I have been posting about this one before. The stories are a bit cheesy but I find them wonderful for the underlying message that there is someone for everyone and no matter how sad, bitter or angry we are because of what happened to us, there will always be a chance for a happy ending,

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons book 1) by Leigh Bardugo

This is the single book from this pile that I bought as a second hand book from one of the sellers in Croatia. I found it in one of the Facebook groups and this was the first time I was buying a book that way. I had the opportunity to buy this book before in paperback but I really wanted the hardcover edition and it has been on my wish list for a while now. The book turned out to be in excellent condition and I am glad I got it.

I have been a big fan of Wonder Woman long before Gal Gadot took on the role and they revamped her whole character. My SO brought me Batman: Nightwalker ( DC Icons book 2) by Marie Lu in hardcover a few years ago from one of his trips. Since then I have been meaning to get the other as well. Getting them in hardcover proved to be a bit pricey and I just keep postponing it. I love the concept of popular YA writers writing the background for these well known characters. The fact that Leigh Bardugo wrote this made me want it even more!

The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

In the last year Leigh Bardugo has become my favorite author. This book is a fictional book from the Shadow and Bone trilogy come to life with some extra content. It has been made to look like the prop they are going to use in the TV series and I think that is cool as well.

I read everything else Leigh Bardugo has written and published so far and getting this book was a natural thing for me to do. I love her characters and her fictional world. The illustrations by Daniel J. Zollinger look great and I am looking forward to binging on this one while I wait for the TV series on Netflix in April!

Just as I got the last book in the mail my SO decreed it was time to preorder another book as a gift for Valentines day! The book I choose as my present was another one of Leigh Bardugo Grishaverse books:

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

I am now properly hyped for the TV series and books and completely enchanted with Grishaverse world and characters!

Also while I was writing this post and looking for the images of books I remembered reading in one of the Facebook groups about one other book I was interested in some decade ago and is now on a special discount!

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1)

by Christine Feehan

This is an older urban fantasy romance book with vampires and a first book in a long and popular book series I wanted to try out for a very long time! The price and the Author’s Cut edition were enough for me to get it right away. I need to stop looking at new books for some time or at least until I make another bigger dent in the books already on my TBR and already on my bookshelves – virtual AND physical! Although I might give in to Wraith Kings book 3 after I finish the second book…

Fantastic Hope – Book Review

Fantastic Hope

edited by

Laurell K. Hamilton

and William McCaskey

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Expectation

I was very interested in reading these urban fantasy stories and was mostly in for it for some of my favorite authors. This is a relatively new book for me since it is published earlier this year and I managed to fit it into my N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon for August! Also I was anticipating to read some great stories with characters I already know and love. Stories I was most interested in were Asil and the Not-Date by Patricia Briggs and Zombie Dearest by Laurell K. Hamilton. All the rest of the authors were mostly unknown to me. When I read the foreword I was pleasantly surprised by the general theme of the stories being something happy and something to make the readers feel good. We need more of those kind of stories in the world!

Summary

  • Twilight Falls by Jonathan Maberry β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Lately I’ve been watching some spy thriller conspiracy TV dramas and this story fit right up that alley. I was surprised at how much special operatives language and protocols felt familiar to me. I enjoyed this short story quite a bit! It was a good opening into the collection.

  • Not in this Lifetime by Sharon Shinn β˜…β˜…β˜…

I must admit this story was a bit cheesy for me. Too many things were too convenient in the end. I liked the little group of characters a lot though.

  • Mr. Positive, The Eternal Optimist by Larry Correia β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This story has everything I like in my urban fantasy: some supernatural elements, some humor and something for me to connect with. The tone of the story is very endearing and I liked the action parts as well.

  • No Greater Love by Kacey Ezell β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I was surprised by religious content of this story. It made me thread very carefully. I ended even more surprised by liking this story a lot.

  • Broken Son by Griffin Barber  β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Science fiction and space themed stories are really not my thing. But this one was really nice. It reminded me a bit at Vorkosigan saga by Lois MacMaster Bujold. I genuienuly liked this story against all odds.

  • Heart of Clay by Kevin J. Anderson β˜…β˜…β˜…

I could describe this story as a really wild ride. There were too many supernatural elements and quirks for me to be able to really enjoy this story. I liked the humor that reminded me of works of Robert Asprin. I can point out some of the characters and ideas that were really engaging but as a whole I thought it was a bit too much.

  • Reprise by John G. Hartness β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

So far this story was the easiest to get into. Considering I have never read anything by this author I might have to change that in the future! It’s a vampire themed and intriguing. I loved the slightly melancholly feel of the story combined with demons and slightly changed alternate history setting.

  • Asil and the Not-Date by Patricia Briggs β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This is one of the two stories in this collection I was most interested about. It is from Alpha and Omega book series. First, it was written by a favorite author and second, it is set in a world full of lovable characters I already know. Asil is not exactly a favorite character but it is quite endearing and releateable for me. I was scared this story would be a sappy one but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t. Loved the ending!

  • In the Dust by Robert E. Hampson β˜…β˜…β˜…

Style of this story was more a series of short scenes than a traditional short story. Even with all that the emotions and the characters were very well done. This one is a bit science fictiony and thst is the only reason it was not that good for me.

  • Fallen by L. E. Modesitt, Jr β˜…

Finally a story I did not like at all. The theme, the execution, the flow – it was all very unsatisfactory to read. The little screenshots from history were not picked out with care at all. Pseudo religious content left a really bad aftertaste for me.

  • Working Conditions by Patrick M. Tracy β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This story is an excellent example of a sweet urban fantasy vampire story. And, yes! I am biased when it comes to vampires in urban fantasy! I like the simplicity and the kinda sad theme. It was very light and made me want to read more about the setting and the vampires in it.

  • Last Contact by M. C. Sumner β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

There was someting about this story that I liked and I can not pintpoint what it was. Theme is thoughtfull and has some aliens in it.

  • Ronin by William McCaskey β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This one is a tear jerker! The story is a lovely blend of urban fatasy and harsh reality. It was a very endearing story.

  • SKJOLDMOĐIR by Michael Z. Williamson and Jessica Schlenker β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Earlier this year I’ve read two different interpretations of nordic myths and this story made me want to read more of them. T has a certain epic quality mixed with subtle pathos of the main characters. I liked it a lot!

  • Bonds of Love and Duty by Monalisa Foster  β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Another story that surprised me in a good way! The theme was totally science fiction but it I loved it. It is definitely something I could keep on reading.

  • Zombie Dearest by Laurell K. Hamilton  β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This story fits into Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series. I was very interested in this story and was not disappointed! I loved that this story has a little JC in it! Finally it is something that connects to one of the previous books. The idea that it represents is quite outrageous though. Loved reading it!

Conclusion

There were sixteen stories in this collection and about half of them were really excellent for me. Only one story felt underwhelming for me. All the rest were good and mostly surprised me in a good way. I found a few authors I will keep an eye out in my future reading and my two favorites were excellent. Zombie Dearest by Laurell K. Hamilton was especially bittersweet to read since the new book in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – Sucker Punch, just came out and I will have to wait until next year for mas market paperback to come out to get it and read it! I am glad I got this collection!

Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women – Book Review

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Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women

edited by Angela Carter

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Expectation

Angela Carter’s Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women was a book I bought a few years ago of the shelf in a bookstore I used to work in. I’ve seen the name of Angela Carter and a title and I just had to have it. I loved Angela Carter’s short story compilation The Bloody Chamber and some of her stories captured my imagination for a long time after reading them. I enjoyed them and remember them fondly. I fully expected to read female authors writing about female characters and and female lives.

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Summary

This collection is composed of eighteen different stories from various female authors that come form different cultures and different parts of the world. I was in the middle of reading these stories during the International Women’s Day March 8th. It was a great way to celebrate it by reading a book from women about women that talks about different aspects of women. The title suggested the less traditional but much more real women.

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  1. The Last Crop by Elizabeth Jolley β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This first story in the collection is a very inspiring and quirky just like the mother in this story is. The resourcefulness and and the well meaning caught me by surprise. I like the pace this story has set for the rest of the collection.

  1. The Debutante by Leonora Carrington β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This story was so short that just as I got into it was over. I liked the idea and how it was written! Loved the fact that the story had a hyena in it!

  1. from The Gloria Stories by Rocky Gamez β˜…β˜…β˜…

This was by far one of the most confusing stories I’ve read. Gender bender quality of the story aside, what gave me trouble was that I could not place it in any timeline. I needed more cultural pointers to get into the story. I was confused by switching from issues of ignorance and homosexuality.

  1. Life by Bessie Head β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

The main character is a woman named Life. This story hit me hard. Life dies in a very relatable way many women have died trough the ages.

  1. A Guatemalan Idyll by Jane Bowels β˜…β˜…

This story was the longest so far with around 40 pages. It read like a piece for the theater and the characters were one dimensional and oppressive.

  1. The Young Girl by Katherine Mansfield β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

The short form of the story alluded to certain motives but they were never fully explored. This story was more like a painting than a narrative and everything it had to say could have been made in to a painting.

  1. Three Feminist Fables by Suniti Namjoshi β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Three very short texts. So short one can hardly call them stories. So far they reminded me the most of the Angela Carter’s other works and I enjoyed them the most as well! The fantastic elements and dry humor translated much more than words can convey.

  1. The Rainy Moon by Colette β˜…β˜…

One of the longest and most tedious stories so far. I just had trouble concentrating. The mentioned background characters were confusing and I struggled between β€žFrench realismβ€œ setting and motives of the story.

  1. Wedlock by George Egerton β˜…β˜…β˜…

I had some trouble with reading this story due to the English slang dialogues. The whole story was dripping with melancholy and it affected me more than I liked it to admit.

  1. Violet by Frances Towers β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This story presented how people more often make decisions based on their fear. Rather nice story with a gloomy ending.

  1. The Plums by Ama Ata Aidoo β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I loved the verse writing style. It was very emotional and very symbolic. Prose was heavy with meaning and some of it scared me.

  1. A Woman Young and Old by Grace Paley β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I think this story has captured so many aspects of what matriarchy could feel like.

  1. The Long Trial by Andree Chedid β˜…β˜…β˜…

I appreciated the cultural diversity this story brought with it. The religious theme is quite thought provoking and satisfying.

  1. The Loves of Lady Purple by Angela Carter β˜…β˜…β˜…

Dark and playfully twisted. I like that she used a doll as a story element.

  1. The Earth by Djuna Barnes β˜…β˜…β˜…

I liked the writing style and the motives. The characters were unique and very expressive against their own nature. I was surprised at how some themes transcend well trough time and I can understand them better than I thought I would.

  1. Oke of Okehurst by Vernon Lee β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

A very elaborate story with gothic elements. Sort of melancholy and captures the English countryside with β€žweltshmertzβ€œ theme.

  1. Girl by Jamiaca Kincaid β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I have a thing for these short forms with lots of repetitions and even more hidden meanings.

  1. Aunt Liu by Luo Shu β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I’m ambivalent toward this story. I’m not sure I can digest what it is suggesting. Although i’m sure that a man in the situation of aunt Liu would probably be celebrated hero and a martyr…

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Conclusion

There were only two stories I did not like. The five of the stories were excellent and I enjoyed them so much. The rest were either good or very good. The general rating of the collection is four stars out of five. These stories were not celebrating women power but were delving into those female traits that are rarely explored by authors and media. Some characters were inspiring and ingenious others were thought provoking and melancholy. I’m very pleased with this book and the stories I’ve read.

The Language of Thorns – Book Review

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The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

by Leigh Bardugo

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Expectation

I picked this book up with some other Grishaverse books I was buying to complete the collection. I loved the Shadow and Bone trilogy and was hooked so bad I wanted to get them all. I had no idea what this book was about except that it was a short story collection and it looked really gorgeous. I was pleasantly surprised with the story themes. The symbolism reminded me of some fairy tale compilations I read when I was younger.

Summary

The darker folk tales the author choose for her world of Grisha hit home and gave me a lot to think about. The stories are engaging and do not let the reader to make assumptions on the world being all black and white. There is a lot of depth in shades of grey and a whole rainbow of colors springs up when you least expect it. The themes in these stories many authors might shy away from but Leigh Bardugo handled them beautifly. I loved it.
The stories have a β€žcautionary taleβ€œ feel to them. Some were even therapeutic in their practical approach to life. I liked the consistently provocative female characters and situations they were put in. The illustrations on the pages drew me in and provided and extra motivation from page to page.

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– Ayama and the Thorn Wood –
The first story blew me away right from the start. I was intrigued with illustration and scanned every page for picture clues along the text. The narrative style was very soothing and helped with giving the story a β€žSeherezadeβ€œ from β€žOne Thousand and One Nightβ€œ feel. Moral of the stories was appealing along with pacing of the narrative.
– The Too Clever Fox –
The second story started out as a fable. I could not help but notice how the characters braced their difficulties as challenges to overcome. There was a distinct lack of vengeful feelings throught the story. Again, the practicality of life is at the fore front of all things. The ending came almost too sudden for me and I did not like it at all.
– The Witch of Duva –
I liked this one a lot. It started out simple enough as a some of the folk tales might but turned out darker than I expected. I love the dualitiy of this story and how something might seem perfectly logical driven by superstitions and our own expectation but the other side of the coin hides the truth we are taught to shy from sometimes.

– Little Knife –
This story I enjoyed the least. The dominance of the male characters was annoying and the end was not enough gratifying at all! I went trough this story at a rather fast pace and when I consider it now it probably needed some slower pacing and contemplation.

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– The Soldier Prince –
I could not help but feel a bit creeped out by this story. I found the illustrations for this story to be the most compelling. The red coloring and the Nutcraker motive gave the illusion of a theme that was more Christmasy for me ( I was reading it during Christmas time). It was all mixed signals for me.

– When Water Sang Fire –
It was difficult to imagine Fjerda as a setting of this story. I loved the characters and the character dynamics in this story. This story seemed like a an introduction to something larger. There were so many possible points for further narrative and so many characters I was wondering about.

Conclusion

I think the reason I did not get along with some of the narrative so well was because I was still thinking about it along the lines of more traditional fairy tales. These stories have much more depth to them than I expected and require more time for contemplation. The story I tend to most get back to is the first one – Ayama and the Thorn Wood. Because of the “story inside of the story” mechanism I liked it and have a need to read it again from a perspective of both characters. When Water Sang Fire is the strongest story for sure. It is longer than others and there are many characters I was intrigued by and wanted to read more about. It was not what I expected when I got the book but it is a more than solid short story collection for not only Grishaverse fans but for anyone who enjoys folk tales and myths as well. Anyone not familiar with the any of the Grishaverse books might enjoy these stories and an elegantly produced this book is a great present for any book aficionado.

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Shifting Shadows – Book Review

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Shifting Shadows

by Patricia Briggs

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Expectation

I’ve taken my time reading this short story collection. For years I owned it I only read two stories and one of those I did read I kept coming back to more than once. Every time I read a new Mercyverse book I get really excited and want to read more. Sadly my waiting time between the books sometimes extends for over a year since I buy mass market paperback editions with US publisher covers. This can sometimes influence my reading interest. Last Mercyverse book I’ve read was earlier this year – Burn Bright of the Alpha & Omega book series.

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Summary

This time I decided to read all the stories from the first one. The first story kinda gave me trouble since it set the pace for all the others. In comparison to the other stories, this one is a longer and kinda darker. All the stories have some heartwarming elements among the darker themes and characters, but the first one ended a bit frustratingly to me. And this I believe is the reason I had trouble to keep reading the stories in order. The stories are also set in a timeline with the book series. They mostly follow characters that don’t get to tell the stories from their point of view in the both book series – Mercedes Thompson book series and Alpha & Omega book series. Notable exceptions are: Alpha and Omega story that is an introduction to Alpha & Omega book series and the Hollow story which is a short story with Mercy as the main character.

  1. Silver – Melancholy but worth it! This short insight into Bran and Samuel’s past raised more questions than it actually answered.
  2. Fairy Gifts – I loved the angsty feel of this story. The characters had a very short page time but seemed so alive to me. It was short and sweet.
  3. Grey – Loved it. Kinda romantic vampire theme. Awesome read for October and November!
  4. Seeing Eye – This story reminded me how much I enjoy the author’s writing style. The story was full of anticipation for me. I had forgotten how these characters fit into the Mercy Thompson universe. Their intro story was bittersweet. I loved it. I would love to read more on them.
  5. Alpha and Omega – I first read this story in On the Prowl collection years ago. It was an amazing introduction to a new series. Since then I’ve came back to reading this story many times. There is something about it that makes it special for me. For a very long time this story has been an only story I’ve read in Shifting Shadows collection.
  6. The Star of David – I sometimes forget that the world the author created is so rich in supernatural elements and the Wizard in this story took me a little by surprise. The story was kinda melancholy but full of positivity.
  7. Roses in Winter – I’m glad that Kara got some spotlight but reading about Asil was a pleasure in on itself. It was an experience to revisit Asil as a character especially since he’s been having more appearances in Alpha and Omega series as well. It has also been great to see how Bran runs the packs.
  8. In red, with pearls – Warren is such a lovable character. This story had me expecting some noir detective plot. I thought the story was very intriguing.
  9. Redemption – There are so many opposites about Ben and how his character reacts. I enjoyed this story. The IT theme was cool and I loved it.
  10. Hollow – From all the stories this one seemed a bit unpolished. I guess all the other characters were so much engaging to read since they were presented form a different perspective. This is the only story that has a character of Mercy as a leading character. I guess I expect longer and more complicated stories when Mercy is involved.

Two bonus scenes:

Silver Borne bonus with Samuel and Ariana was a pleasure to read. I kinda missed not being able to read more about them getting together again. A background info on them just going off on a honeymoon was definitely not enough.

Night Broken bonus with Adam and Coyote with Mercy in the hospital was unbelievably sweet!

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Conclusion

It took me by surprise how easily I can get into these stories and how a completely unknown character can seem so close. These characters are so easy to relate to and to understand their motivation. I think this collection serves to make a rich supernatural world the author has built even better and more layered. It is great to see how much effort the author puts in all her characters. I loved this short story collection and I’m glad I finally read it! Another thing that surprised me that I loved all the stories!

I have two new books from Mercyverse to look forward to:

Storm Cursed ( Mercy Thompson Series book 11)

Smoke Bitten ( Mercy Thompson Series book 12)

I’ve pre-ordered Storm Cursed and the mass market edition I go for is coming out in by the end of January next year. Smoke Bitten is being published in March as a hardcover edition and I will be waiting for it to come out as a mass market paperback probably sometime next year…

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Fringe: Tales from the Fringe – Book Review

9781401230029

Finished reading

Fringe: Tales from the Fringe

by Various

β˜…β˜…β˜…

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Expectation

This graphic novel was my pick for theΒ TBR Jar Draw in March. It is one of the books I own I am unsure have I read them or not. I remembered reading some of the stories and that they impressed me as dark and intense.Β  I bought it for my boyfriend who was a fan of the TV show. I watched the TV show only in passing and was never a devoted fan.

Summary

There were altogether twelve stories from different artists and authors. The stories covered a wide range of characters and topics. It was like watching little flashbacks from the episodes. Themes were diverse and I could only recognize a few characters from the show. But this is really due to me not being that familiar to the show.

tales-from-the-fringe

Some stories were gritty and dark and showing certain aspects of human nature while others had more supernatural elements to them. The first story in the collection is more about the characterization of the main character than anything else and as such it made me pause right at the start. I expected to be hit with the weird and supernatural cases from the show right away and that was not the case.

Sure there were stories with more lighter outlook to them but it was either creepy or downright weird.

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I appreciated the trial and error of human condition stories presented.Β There were lots of moral ambiguity written into each story. Many consider the graphic novel as a form to be lighter and easier for readers as a medium. The sheer amount of difficult choices and topics that can be presented in this way might be a testament to the opposite.

Conclusion

None of the stories were light and each has left an impression. I was taken back with the heavy themes and intensity. I like the stories and how they made me think upon characters choices and morality. While I liked the collection overall I was not blown away by the experience. What did surprised me is the lack of “Mature audiences only” categorization on the cover.
I am sure that for some other true fan of the show reading this graphic novel collection would have been a much more engaging experience.

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Strange Candy – Book Review

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Finished reading

Strange Candy

by Laurell K. Hamilton

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Expectation

Laurell K. Hamilton is one of my most read authors. I’ve read both of her big book series Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry. While I have some of her other works as short stories and even another standalone book, this is the only short story collection she is the only author of. I liked the concept of the collection and I wanted to see her stories that are not urban fantasy related read like for me. I was very looking forward to short stories from the world of Anita Blake.

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Summary

1# Those who seek forgivness β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Insight into life of Anita Blake the animator and how she deals with every night zombie raising business. It is set before any of the series events in the books. Interesting but rather depressing when looked trough the series as a whole.

2# A Lust of Cupids β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This is a cute short story perfect for Valentines day! In the story people sometimes get chased by little Cupid like creatures who shot them with arrows to fall in love or just get infatuated. I loved the concept and the humor of the story. I enjoyed the methapore of the story a lot! Would not mind reading about the vengance either!

3# The Edge of the sea β˜…β˜…

Story about murder and mystery with supernatural twist. Dark and melancholy. I did not like this story. It was sad and traumatic.

4# The Scarcity of lake monsters β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This was a well balanced story that made me sad. I like the characters and the idea of fantastical creatures being real. I was lulled into this story with first part being endearing and then got smacked down and a bit heartbroken. Good story though!

5# Selling houses β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Simple and concise story set in the Anita Blake world. The main character is a civilian woman realstater checking on a house she needs to sell. There were some nicely creepy elements and the story was a great fit.

6# A token for Celandine β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

The most complex story so far. I like how deep the world felt right away. It was set in a fantastical world akin to those of Dungeons and Dragons. He first part seemed a little hard to get into but it went much better toward the end. It was a nice little adventure. This story is set in the Nightseer world.

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7# A clean sweep β˜…β˜…β˜…

A really short story based on an idea of a cleaning super hero. I liked the twist at the end but I wished there were some more meat to it all.

8# The Curse-Maker β˜…β˜…β˜…

Very much DnD type of story. There’s a bard thats gotten cursed with sickness and theres a female warrior who loves him and wants to find the one who is responsible. I liked the parcticality of the sorcerer in the story. The blade was interesting. As usuall the end shows much more promise that the begining of the story. Story is set in the Nightseer world.

9# Geese β˜…β˜…β˜…

More magic and sorcery. I found the story quite weird for some reason. It was OK but a bit too much angst for some reason. The idea off a shapeshifter taking refuge in the animal form appealed to me a lot. The ending was just confusing for me

10# House of wizardsΒ  β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I loved the idea of magic and non magic world coliding in such a way. I also have growing respect for people who are good at usefull and practical things. This story just felt sweet and lovely.

11# Here be dragons β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Strangely alluring and complex supernatural story. I was fascinated with character motivations. In the core it is a dark story about sociopaths. Children of the story are different. There is strength and there is also hope. Interesting take on human need for intimacy.

12# Winterkill β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Another story form Nightseer world. Main theme is revenge killing.Β  I liked the magical aspects of the story. There are always some glimpses into horror in most stories in this collection. I think that is just the author’s writting style. There is certain strength in main female characters and also backup male characters seem to have come from a same mold. I liked the story and the angsty feel to it.

13# Stealing souls β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

A very well rounded short story with Sidra and Leech. This one more than the rest made me remember playing RPG with the group of people. There was something endearing in reading a thief do his trapfinding thing. Liked this story a lot!

14# The girl who was infatuated with death β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Last story I might have read a long time ago in another short story collection called Bite. It has been so long that I am simply not sure anymore. It has been almost a year since I last read Anita Blake novel Crimson Death. It made me remember how much I liked reading them again. These characters have a special place among my favorite books.

β€œI like to think that Irving is somewhere chasing angelic speedboats, or maybe he’s got his own wings. Surely, even God needs a laugh now and then, and Irving is a funny guy, for a monster.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Strange Candy

Conclusion

I liked that conceptually each story had a character driven by something like a personal weakness, like some strange candy… One thing that struck me as kinda odd is that there were so many stories with characters from Nightseer novel yet there were no Merry Gentry related stories. I enjoyed most of the stories and the writing was what I expected it to be. I don’t usually read fantasy so much and reading these short stories made me read more fantasy in February than I did for the better part of the last year. I am still not fan of fantasy.

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Three Slices – Book Review

Three-Slices

Finished reading

Three Slices

by

Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson and Chuck Wendig

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Expectation

I was going trough the list of short stories I missed reading for Iron Druid Chronicles after one of my friends asked for reading recommendation. Naturally I turned to Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. I found a few short stories and novellas I have not read yet and this one stood out as an interesting one. I gave up on reading the short stories in order since they are not so easy for me to come by. I was actually surprised to see that the story A Prelude to War is almost on point for book 7. which is the next book I need to read for this series. I have heard for Delilah S. Swanson and her Blud series and even put it on my TBR some years back. I have never read anything of it though. This is my first Chuck Wendig story and I had no idea what to expect.

Summary

These three stories have in common the theme of tyromancy. Tyromancy is the art of divination and telling ones future using cheese hence the apt title Three Slices. While each story is set in its own universe the cheese part is what connects them in a quirky way.

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A Prelude to War

by Kevin Hearne

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This story was relatively easy for me to get into. It is divided into two segments. One follows Atticus the main character of the series in his exploits to recruit the help of someone he used to know and to get better insight for dealing with his enemies. The other part of this story follows Granuaille on her training to be a druid. While Atticus was one of my most liked parts of the Iron Druid Chronicles I did prefer Granuaille and her way of dealing with druid business and foes. I suspect the part with Atticus has more meaning to the main story of the book series and will have to read on to find out.

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Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

by Delilah S. Dawson

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Second storyΒ  in this collection presented a bit of a challenge to get into. As a short story from a fully developed and fantastically rich world it brought out an array of new creatures and a world that follows its own rules. Since I knew nothing about any of it the first part of this story had me going slowly to try to understand dynamics of the creatures and the rules they abide by. I knew there was a vampire type creatures of some kind in the center of it all and that’s about it. I like the main character Criminy Stain and his sense of flair. The character itself is very strongly portrayed and driven. In retrospect the story was full of macabre and strange but it was all very nicely put together and I did not mind the brutality of some parts. Its a very dark story set in a dark world with some dark characters. I ended up liking it.

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Interlude: Swallow

by Chuck Wendig

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This author and her characters I knew the least about. From the very start it read more like a mystery thriller than anything else. While the story Delilah S. Swanson before it had more macabre elements this one was much more scary for me. The way it was written did not help either. The story was put together by little chapters out of order. The way they continue is that they turn forward in time and back in time in the most intense parts of the plot. I had no love for this and did not like it all that much.

Conclusion

While all three stories have a character that uses cheese to tell future in some way there was a distinct commonality in the title of the second story – Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys which refers to a polish saying with general meaning Not my problem, I don’t care. In each story there was a moment of betrayal and the motive of the betrayer had certain carefree elements – nothing personal, I was just worrying about my own stuff. This three story collection was entertaining to read and I found it to be informative for future reading.

The beautiful illustrations were made by Galen Dara and are part of the book. Aside the cover illustration each story has one and I like them as much I like the stories.

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TBR Jar Draw December 2017

First a little update for those who don’t know what my TBR Jar Draw is about. Somewhere at the start of last year I have decided to try and read more of the books I already own. Out of my TBR (To Be Read) pile of books on Goodreads I have selected some of the books I own and wrote the titles on little pieces of paper each. Once a month I draw three titles from the jar and decide to read one of them. This gives me a reason to go trough my bookshelves and find the titles I might have overlooked or forgot about. Here is the link to the post from March 2017 that got me started –>Β TBR Jar DrawΒ 

 

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I have finally finished reading The Golden CompassΒ (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman.Β While I stated reading it somewhere around Christmas I did not do much reading up until the start of January. It took me longer than I expected and has left an impression on me. I will definetly post a review on it soon.

The two draws I have not read are going back in the jar:

# The Age of OdinΒ (Pantheon #3) by James Lovegrove

# Master of ChainsΒ (Forgotten Realms: The Fighters, #1) by Jess Lebow

My three new TBR Jar draws are as follows:

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1#Β Angel Souls and Devil HeartsΒ (Shadow Saga #2) by Christopher Golden

This is the second time I’ve drawnΒ Angel Souls and Devil Hearts. Described as the Epic Vampire Saga I have read the first book from this series quite a long time ago. What I remember of it is dark and gritty scenes and some come to haunt me in the middle of the night to this day. Contrary to that I am still interested in reading this series trough. I am still not that enthusiastic to start on it.

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2# The Scoundrel Takes a Bride (Regency Rogues #5) by Stepfanie Sloane

I got this book as a gift along with one other from the same historical romance genre. While I’ve read the other one this one was left behind. It actually seems like a good choice at this moment since I feel like reading a romance novel…

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3#Β Carniepunk by Rachel Caine and various authors

I have mentioned this book before. It is a short story collection from some of the authors I already love and follow. I love reading short story collections since they let me meet fascinating new authors and discover new worlds. Thematically this short story collection is about carnivals and would have been a nice October read. I am very pleased with this drawing.

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Short story collections

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While reading my TBR Jar Draw from September I was reminded how much I enjoy reading short stories. Almost instant gratification that comes from finishing a short story is very motivating for me and helps with my reading goals. Reading short stories introduces me to new and exciting authors and helps me find new and enjoyable reading material.

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Sometimes short stories come from authors that have a longer book series and are a wonderful way to highlight some interesting character that would not get enough page time otherwise. There are some of my favorite book series that were based on a short story that evolved into a spin off and a full fledged book series on their own. Most notable example of this is the story Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs that came out in On the Prowl collection along with stories by three other authors. I immediately loved the story and characters. Later on Alpha and Omega became a favorite book series of mine. It has five books so far and is going along nicely.

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I have a few unread short story collections I want to read. After Many Bloody Returns I am extra motivated to read at least one of them by the end of the year. Most of the stories are urban fantasy and offer a wide choice of authors. Here are my choices for short story collections:

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Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy

edited by Ellen Datlow

This is a collection of twenty short stories from some really interesting authors. Some of the authors are already favorites and some are completely new. The most prominent author of this collection has to be Jim Butcher with his short story from the Dresden Files book series. I love the cover artwork by Dan Dos Santos – he makes covers for Patricia Briggs book series as well.Β  The number of stories and page count over 500 ensures me to have enough wonderful reading material for quite some time. Looks very inviting!

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Carniepunk

by Rachel Caine and various authors

Another urban fantasy collection with a twist. This short story collection offers fourteen stories by different authors. From all the authors I’ve read only Kevin Hearne and his Iron Druid Chronicles book series. This offers a great choice for October reading since the themes revolve around carnivals and macabre.

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The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire

edited by Trisha Telep

This story collection with vampire theme reminded me of the time when I started collection vampire themed books and stories in general. Of the authors I’ve read before there is Cassandra Clare. Most other authors I’ve heard nice things about and I’m interested to try them out.