Take A Peek Book Review: Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5) by Patricia Briggs

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.



(via Goodreads)

In her bestselling Alpha and Omega series, Patricia Briggs “spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters, and magic and, my, does she do it well” (USATODAY.com). Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other–one that lurks too close to home…

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…

My Thoughts:

I love this series, and I love Anna and Charles as characters. I love their complicated relationship — as husband and wife, and as mated werewolves. I love their pack, and I love their interactions with Charles’s father Bran, the ruler of all werewolves of North America.

Despite my undying love for the Alpha & Omega books, Burn Bright felt a little weaker to me than some of the other books in the series. Perhaps it’s just that the story took a bit too long to really build momentum, or maybe it’s because Anna and Charles have been together long enough that their relationship here seems like more of a given, rather than something to be explored. In any case, while I enjoyed the story and my “reunion” with these beloved characters, the plot and pacing felt like a little bit less than what I’ve come to expect from this outstanding series.

Side note (without spoilers!): There’s a certain conversation early on in the book that has fans of this series (and the Mercy-verse as a whole) very up in arms. Yes, I also found it upsetting… but I guess I’m busy compartmentalizing and deciding that I’m going to ignore it, because otherwise it will make me feel differently about people I don’t want to feel differently about. Ugh, why???

Okay, beyond “the conversation” controversy riling up Briggs’s readers…

I raced through Burn Bright in about 24 hours, was very hooked by the end, and will absolutely read each and every book in the Alpha & Omega series (and Mercy Thompson too) for as long as Patricia Briggs chooses to keep writing them… which I hope will be for a long, long time.


The details:

Title: Burn Bright
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace
Publication date: March 6, 2018
Length: 308 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased








Audiobook awesomeness: His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

Over the last two months, I’ve had one of my most delightful experiences with audiobooks. I decided to revisit the world of the His Dark Materials trilogy, since (a) it’s been many, many years since I read the books, and (b) a new book is coming out this fall. (THIS WEEK! NOW!!!)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 17 years (!!) since the publication of The Amber Spyglass, the 3rd book in the trilogy (following The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife). I remember being blown away by these books upon first read, but after all these years, I was fuzzy on the details.

Side note: I choose to disregard the existence of the Golden Compass movie, which utterly failed to capture the essence of the books and characters. But that’s an issue best left in the past…

So what was so special about these audiobooks?

For starters, they’re full-cast recordings. Oddly enough, full-cast audiobooks don’t usually appeal to me. When I’ve tried them before, I tend to feel removed from the story — maybe because it’s more like listening to a dramatization than like reading an actual book.

Whatever the reason, this time around, I just loved it. Philip Pullman takes the role of narrator, and he’s marvelous. His reading of his own work is nuanced and expressive, and he infuses his lines with wit, humor, and when needed, sorrow and intensity. Beyond Pullman himself, the rest of the cast is simply terrific. I don’t know who these voice actors are, but their talent is huge! The voice of Lyra was perfect — young, intense, brave, emotional — and Will was spot-on too, fierce, loving, worried, daring. Probably most magnificent was the voice of Iorek Byrnison — I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a deep, rumbly voice on an audiobook. If a polar bear could speak English and deigned to have a conversation with one of us puny humans, I bet that’s exactly what he’d sound like. Other stand-outs are the voices of Texas aeronaut Lee Scoresby and the often wicked but strangely sympathetic Mrs. Coulter.

Now, if you’ve read these books, you know that an important part of Pullman’s world building is the presence of daemons — a corporeal, animal being who represents each person’s true inner being. Every human in Lyra’s world has a daemon, and the shape they take is often quite representative of the nature of the person. Children’s daemon’s can change shape at will, until they child reaches puberty, at about which time the daemon settles into his or her final shape. Worth noting, too, is that a daemon is always the opposite gender of the person it’s attached to — so Lyra’s daemon Pantalaimon is male. On the audiobooks, the daemons who have speaking roles are voiced in ways completely appropriate to their personalities. The absolute best is Lee’s daemon Hester, a jackrabbit with a feminine Western twang.

As for the story, I’m kind of assuming that anyone bothering to read this post is already familiar with the amazing world of His Dark Materials. For those who aren’t familiar, here are the brief plot summaries from Goodreads:

Book 1 – The Golden Compass (also published under the title Northern Lights):

Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

Book 2 – The Subtle Knife:

Lost in a new world, Lyra finds Will—a boy on the run, a murderer—a worthy and welcome ally. For this is a world where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and witches share the skies with troops of angels.

Each is searching—Lyra for the meaning of Dark Matter, Will for his missing father—but what they find instead is a deadly secret, a knife of untold power. And neither Lyra nor Will suspects how tightly their lives, their loves, and their destinies are bound together… until they are split apart.

Book 3 – The Amber Spyglass:

The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping end, marking the final volume of His Dark Materials as the most powerful of the trilogy.

Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, come a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. So, too, come startling revelations: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone’s amber spyglass, and the names of who will live–and who will die–for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that–in its shocking outcome–will uncover the secret of Dust. Philip Pullman deftly brings the cliff-hangers and mysteries of His Dark Materials to an earth-shattering conclusion–and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic.

It’s funny how certain things stick in your mind — or my mind, anyway. I absolutely remembered about Dust and daemons, about Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, the Mulefa, Metatron, and more. What I didn’t remember was the sheer power of this story. What starts out feeling mostly like a children’s book (albeit a children’s book with gifted-level vocabulary) by the end has transformed into an epic tale that shares universal truths about love, honesty, the nature of good and evil, devotion, betrayal, friendship, and freedom.

The emotional impact by the end is enormous. I clearly remembered being devastated by the end of the trilogy, and yet I was still pretty much hit over the head with an anvil all over again while listening by the intensity of the heart-ache the characters experience. It’s simply lovely and tragic and uplifting, all at the same time.

As an added bonus, Pullman later published two shorter works set in the same world: Lyra’s Oxford, which takes place two years after the conclusion of The Amber Spyglass, and Once Upon a Time in the North, which is set about 35 years earlier, showing the first eventful meeting of Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison. Both of these novellas are available as audiobooks, and like the main trilogy, are highly enriched by the full-cast recording. (It’s definitely worth getting the hard copies as well, as the physical editions include wonderful woodcut illustrations and all sorts of bits and pieces of ephemera related to His Dark Materials — writing scraps, maps, ballooning guides, postcards, and even a board game.)

Finally, there’s a short story available either as an e-book or audiobook. The Collectors is very creepy, and I’d say listen to the audio version. Bill Nighy does a fabulous job with the narration, and it only takes about a half hour, but is definitely worth it.

I realize that this is by no means a comprehensive book review of His Dark Materials and the associated works. And it’s not meant to be. Really, I’ve just gotten completely swept away by these wonderful audiobooks, and I couldn’t keep it to myself a moment longer!

Especially for anyone thinking about reading the upcoming new release, La Belle Sauvage, going back to His Dark Materials via audiobook will be a huge treat, absolutely worth the time.

Needless to say, for anyone who hasn’t read these books at all yet, please do! His Dark Materials is one of those trilogies usually shelved with children’s fiction, but which truly transcends the age or genre labels. These books are just plain good fantasy literature; they transport us to multiple alternate worlds but never lose their human heart.



Books in the series:
The Golden Compass (1995)
The Subtle Knife (1997)
The Amber Spyglass (2000)
Lyra’s Oxford (2003)
Once Upon a Time in the North (2008)
The Collectors (2014)
NEW: La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, book 1) – to be released 10/19/2017






Dramatic plot vs. happily-ever-after: The perils of emotional investment

Fear. Anxiety. Dread.

And it’s all the fault of fictional characters.

I have a tendency to binge when I get into something new, TV or books, and then — oh my stars — it’s so hard to separate. Because what happens when you fall in love with characters, but then have to witness them going through hell? All I want to do is scoop them up and keep them safe, but that’s not the way good stories work.

Clearly, I have a problem.

Take my newest obsession, The Walking Dead. Yes, I am super late to the party, but thanks to finally getting Netflix (again, super late to the party), I’ve been indulging. I started The Walking Dead, season 1 episode 1, in mid-May, and apart from a couple of weeks while I was out of town, have been watching the series straight through. So here I am, a month and a half later, slightly past the middle of season 6, and while I can’t wait to see what happens next, part of me wants to just walk away.


I’m at a place in the story where, as usual, the characters’ lives were hanging by a thread. Their supposedly safe haven, where they can finally build a life for themselves and plan for the future, has been overrun by hordes of the undead. All seems doomed, but finally, there’s this totally awesome battle scene (truly, a thing of beauty), and the good guys win! What follows is one of the most chill episodes ever, taking place a few weeks later, where everyone is safe again, rebuilding, relaxing, and starting to make things better.

Guys, they’re smiling! Rick and Daryl are out on a supply run and it’s actually funny! There’s even a sexy, romantic scene! (No, not Rick and Daryl.)

Man, I’m loving this show. I adore Rick Grimes. I want to cuddle Daryl Dixon (after a good bath, maybe). Carl is the cutest. Michonne is a total bad-ass with a heart of gold. And this is where my over-investment comes into play.

Because part of me wants to turn off the TV, pretend that’s the last episode, and walk away. Because then THEY’D ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. And I wouldn’t have to watch all these people I love get tortured again and again. No going hungry. No machete-ing walkers through the brain. No fighting off evil human attackers.

Imagine the possibilities, though, if everyone got to stay happy. The Walking Dead could become a sitcom, with charming little conflicts — uh oh! Craziness ensues when Carol’s favorite knife goes missing! Little Judith’s first word is “walker”, and it’s adorable! Abraham runs a fitness class, and Eugene is his best student! And don’t get me started on Rick Grimes and all the possibilities for him as the cool dad whose teenage son has an attitude.


This can’t be, obviously. Dramatic tension is necessary for good storytelling. If everyone on The Walking Dead remained safe in Alexandria behind secure walls, with enough food and medical equipment to lead healthy, safe lives, the story would be over. It’s wonderful for the characters, of course, but there would be nothing further to keep the show going.

Likewise in books. Let’s take my favorite series, Outlander (duh). These characters never get a break. Yes, there are plenty of happy moments, and plenty of swoonworthy scenes of Claire and Jamie basking in each others’ arms after a blissful night of lovemaking… but things just never go well for long. These folks are in the middle of a war, always. There’s always some bad guy or another lurking around the corner, ready to kidnap, shoot at, plot against, or otherwise cause harm to our beloved characters.


Book #7 in the series, An Echo in the Bone, ends with not just one, but 4 or 5 major cliffhangers. The agony of waiting years for the next book while pretty much everyone is in jeopardy! Flash forward a few years to Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (book #8), and after 145 chapters, everyone we care about ends up in a pretty good place. Yes, there are some small questions left unanswered but (spoiler) Jamie and Claire and Brianna and Roger and Ian and Rachel and, well, everyone, are safe and happy and together!

Part of me wanted to just say to Diana Gabaldon — okay, great! Stop now! Let these people live out the rest of their days in the peace and comfort and love they all deserve!

But no. I need and want and crave more of the story, and book #9 is in the works… and what would an Outlander book be if everyone was safe and happy all the time? So while I can’t wait for a publication date to finally be announced, I’m also dreading diving back in and finding out what hideous new dangers await my beloved Claire and Jamie and the rest of their family up on Fraser’s Ridge.

So, am I crazy for wanting my favorite characters — TV or books — to just get a chance to be happy?

We all love happily-ever-afters, right? But they just don’t make for great storytelling. There’s a reason most fairy tales don’t continue past the HEA. We can be happy for people who find happiness, but stories are driven by tension, suspense, conflict, and crisis. If there’s no obstacle to overcome and everybody just enjoys mundane daily lives, what more do we need to know?


I know that great drama demands all of the above. As for The Walking Dead — well, hell yes, I’m going to keep going. And I’ve stumbled across enough spoilers before I started watching the show to know that VERY BAD things are coming soon for characters I care about, and I’m going to end up heartbroken once again.

In the choice between walking away at a happy moment or continuing with a story I love despite the unhappiness to come, there’s no question — I’ll always choose to continue.

But isn’t it nice to daydream about a life in which Carl Grimes’s greatest worry is about impressing a girl, and not fighting for survival while covered in zombie guts?

Book Review: Silence Fallen

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack and her mate is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

It’s Mercy! It’s Adam! Need I say more?

I’m not sure why I even attempt to write reviews for the books in this series. Because really, all I basically want to say is:


What more do you need to know?

Okay, trying to calm myself now…

Silence Fallen is the 10th book in the amazing, wonderful, and highly addictive Mercy Thompson series, written by the incredibly talented (and fortunately for us, very prolific) Patricia Briggs.

Each book in the series builds upon those that came earlier. Over the course of the series, we’ve seen Mercy find her place in the werewolf pack, assert her own standing among the not-entirely-welcoming wolves, and discover more and more about her own powers and talents. Through it all, we’ve seen her relationship with Alpha werewolf Adam develop from irritating acquaintance to flirtatious ally to a deep and abiding love.

I love Mercy, by the way. In case that wasn’t clear. She’s strong, she’s a fighter, she speaks up for herself, she defends those who need protection, she’s a good and loyal friend… and yet she’s also a vulnerable woman who has had to deal with some majorly awful blows throughout her life.

In Silence Fallen, Mercy and Adam become separated early on due to a vicious kidnapping — and not only are they physically separated, but their psychic bond as mates seems to be broken too. THIS SUCKS. If you’ve read these books, you know about the power of the mating bond and the pack bonds. The idea of these being damaged is terrifying!

Patricia Briggs plays some interesting games with the story in this book. As the couple are apart for most of the story, their chapters are distinct as well — some from Mercy’s point of view, some from Adam’s. In addition, the timeline twists a little bit, with the chapters not necessarily describing events in the proper order. (Don’t worry, it all makes sense once you read it.)

Meanwhile, the settings include Milan and Prague, and Mercy and the gang end up dealing with a whole range of foes and allies, including nasty vampires, varied werewolf packs, witches, goblins, and a very old mystical being that I won’t say more about. (Read the book. You’ll see.)

My only teeny little complaint about Silence Fallen is that Mercy and Adam spend about 90% of it apart, and therefore we don’t get to see their amazing chemisty. Also as a result of the separation, we don’t get much of Mercy’s interactions with the pack — always entertaining — or the internal pack dynamics that add to the fantastic world-building of the series.

Listen, if you’re a Mercy fan, then you’re going to read Silence Fallen. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mercy yet, I strongly suggest dropping everything else and starting the series from the beginning.

One more thing about Silence Fallen, and I only mention this because I’ve already seen it hinted at in most other reviews I’ve seen so far: This book has an amazing (and pretty adorable) twist in it that just absolutely delighted me. I’m not saying anything else about it. But just know that it’s super fun and awesome and — if you’re a fan — you’ll love this little surprise.

Convinced yet? Go read some Mercy!!!


The details:

Title: Silence Fallen
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace Books
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Length: 371 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased



Take A Peek Book Review: Secondhand Souls

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

Secondhand Souls


(via Goodreads)

In San Francisco, the souls of the dead are mysteriously disappearing—and you know that can’t be good—in New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore’s delightfully funny sequel to A Dirty Job.

Something really strange is happening in the City by the Bay. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Death Merchant Charlie Asher is just as flummoxed as everyone else. He’s trapped in the body of a fourteen-inch-tall “meat” waiting for his Buddhist nun girlfriend, Audrey, to find him a suitable new body to play host.

To get to the bottom of this abomination, a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall death merchant Minty Fresh; retired policeman turned bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; and Lily, the former Goth girl. Now if only they can get little Sophie to stop babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind…

The author with "squirrel people". Image via wunc.org

Christopher Moore with “squirrel people”.
Image via wunc.org

My Thoughts:

Here’s a slightly edited version of what I wrote on Goodreads:

I’ll just say it: Christopher Moore can pretty much do no wrong. Take his earlier books: Enormous lizards? Artificial whales? Stupid angels and Jesus? Shakespeare, Impressionist painters… you get the drift. For ultra-weird but extremely funny (and even touching) stories, you really can’t beat the Author Guy’s books.

Secondhand Souls is a sequel to A Dirty Job, which is an awesomely hilarious, entertaining, occasionally crude, always crazy tale — and Secondhand Souls lives up to it, not quite perfectly, but awfully darn close. The characters we love are back, in different places in their lives (and even in different bodies), but still themselves. Plus, there are some memorable new characters, including a Golden Gate Bridge painter named Mike, a mysterious man dressed all in yellow, a lovesick ghost, and a banshee with a fondness for tasers, among others.

San Francisco itself is a star, and seeing such a crazy adventure unfold in our beloved city is at least half the fun.

Who am I kidding? It’s all fun. The logic of the story gets a little thin at times, and forget about character development: We’re plopped down into the lives of the characters from A Dirty Job, and either you remember them or you don’t. But, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re a Christopher Moore fan, you need to read this. And if you’ve never had the pleasure, I’d say put this one on hold and read (at least) A Dirty Job — and possibly a few others — before picking up Secondhand Souls.


And for a more articulate review, here’s what my friend Heidi had to say about it:

Of all Christopher Moore’s novels, which range from the adolescent and ridiculous (Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings) to the pretty much perfect (Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal), the ones that Charlie Asher lives in are my favorites. Secondhand Souls is of course the sequel to A Dirty Job, which introduced us to Charlie, beta male junk shop owner, and the hidden world of the Death Merchants. (Also: a devastatingly cool record-shop owner called Minty Fresh, a toddler who may-or-may-not be Death and her pet Hellhounds, Lily the PerkyGoth, Audrey the Buddhist nun, The Emperor of San Francisco, The Morrigan and The Squirrel People, among others.) Read that before you read this, or you’ll be really lost. In fact, you probably are already.

With the whole bizarre gang back in play — plus some new additions — Secondhand Souls is not a mere cheesey sequel (though cheez plays a critical role); it’s more like visiting with batshit crazy old friends. Unfortunately for them it turns out, due in large part to the events in A Dirty Job, there’s a dangerous backlog of uncollected souls lurking around San Francisco, and Charlie and friends are once again embroiled in the danger and magical maneuvering that is dealing with the powers of darkness rising. Fortunately, they are more than weird enough to handle the crisis. I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I’ll just say it’s hilarious.

Maybe I love these books because they capture San Francisco’s magic in ways that ring true in my heart. It’s like an idealized version of my hometown — in the topography of Moore’s books I basically live across the street from Minty’s shop, and nobody ever has to step over homeless people sleeping in the vestibule. Crazy people are really helpful geniuses, and even normal folks can afford the rents. (I find all this somehow reassuring, as magic is in short supply around here these days.) Also, the characters have more fun talking to each other than anybody ever has had in the history of ever. (Except maybe “The Gilmore Girls.”) For nutty-but-somehow-deep dialogue, you really can’t beat Christopher Moore. 5 whole-hearted, sunny-yet-deeply-morbid stars.

(With thanks to Heidi, for letting me borrow her review! For more awesome Heidi reviews, you can find her here on Goodreads.)

So hey – if you’re new to Christopher Moore, this is not the place to start! Maybe spend some time with Practical Demonkeeping or The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, or even his first novel set in San Francisco, Bloodsucking Fiends. Bask in the absurd and wacky, soak up his crazy but somehow perfect tricks of language, and just enjoy the WTFness of it all. When you’re ready for true brilliance and lots of heart, read Lamb. Or harken back to Shakespeare as you never knew it with Fool and The Serpent of Venice. Uh oh, I feel a Christopher Moore retrospective post coming on! Stay tuned… and meanwhile, get thee to a copy of A Dirty Job as soon as possible.

Going now.

Need a cheez. (Read Secondhand Souls and this will make sense.)


The details:

Title: Secondhand Souls
Author: Christopher Moore
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication date: August 25, 2015
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Fiction/Humor/Supernatural
Source: Purchased

Top Ten Tuesday: Hey, what’s up? Top 10 characters I’d like to catch up with…


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Characters You’d Like To Check In With (meaning, the book or series is over and you so just wish you could peek in on the “life” you imagine they are leading years down the line after the story ends).

Which characters would I most like to catch up with, see how they’re doing, maybe find out if that Happily-Ever-After really worked out for them in the end? Read on to find out!

[Note: There may be minor spoilers, because how can you talk about what happened after “The End” without referencing the ending?]

0407 collage

1) Jamie and Claire Fraser, Outlander series: Kind of obvious, since this is where my head is right now. This is the only book/series on my list this week that’s still ongoing… but I’m including Jamie and Claire because it’s been 10 months since the last book came out and I’m dying to know what they’ve been up to since then!

2) Edward and Bella, Twilight series: I’d love to know how a never-ending and never-changing life (with no sleep!) is working out for these two. Is Bella still glad she gave up human life for Edward? Did that little scamp Renesmee grow up and get with Jacob? How’s Edward handling having Jacob as a son-in-law?

3) EVERYONE from the Harry Potter series: I love them all so much. I know J. K. Rowling has released information on how their lives all turned out, but I’d love to visit them all again. I want to see grown-up Harry at home with Ginny, maybe having Ron and Hermione over for Sunday brunch. Is anyone living at the Burrow? How’s Molly Weasley doing? What about Teddy Lupin?

4) Nick and Amy Dunne, Gone Girl: Not a happily ever after by a long shot, and not at all likeable people. I’d love to know, though, how the rest of their lives turned out. Terrifying and awful, I’m sure. What about the baby? Any chance that the kid didn’t grow up to be a psychopath?

5) Eleanor and Park (Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell): I just hope these two managed to reconnect and find happiness, and most of all, I hope that Eleanor finally got a chance at a safe and happy life.

6) Clare and Alba DeTamble, The Time Traveler’s Wife: [SPOILER] I’d love to know that Clare had a good life after Henry’s death, and hope that she found love again. And I’d also love to know how things worked out for Alba, and whether her time traveling was easier, based on all the work and research Henry did.

7) Emilio Sandoz, The Sparrow and Children of Men: After all of the trauma, I hope that Emilio finally found peace and a measure of solace when all of his space travel ended. I’m envisioning him growing old, surrounded by grandchildren, loved and adored. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

8) Tavi and Kitai, Codex Alera series: It certainly seemed as though these two (and others) got the happy ending they deserved, but I imagine that they still have a long life ahead of them as rulers of Alera… and I’m guessing there are still plenty of adventures yet to come.

9) Jane True and Anyan Barghest, Jane True series: I have no doubt that these two are having a marvelous happily-ever-after, but they’re just so much fun to hang out with that I’d like the chance to visit with them again.

10) Matthew and Diana, All Soul’s trilogy: I have no problem with how the trilogy ended, but I enjoyed all of the characters so much that I’d like more of them! I want to know about Matthew and Diana’s children, as well as the rest of the big, extended family. Oh, and let’s not forget Gallowglass!

What characters are on your list this week?

Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out my regular weekly feature, Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

Top Ten Tuesday: My top 10 favorite heroic women in fiction (plus a few extra… )

Top 10 Tuesday new

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is “Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books (or movies or TV)”.  The term “heroines” suggests a certain amount of adventure and thrilling heroics, and we’ve got plenty of that here. These women (and girls) take the lead, take charge, and are just overall amazing.

We Can Do It

1) Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon): Claire is the strongest, smartest woman around in any century. Fiercely loyal, dedicated to her friends and family, a gifted scientist, and a passionate lover, Claire’s got it all. Plus, who else do you know who makes home-made penicillin?

2) Mercy Thompson (The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs): Auto mechanic, martial arts master, magical shape-shifter, and just overall an incredibly brave woman. Definitely the person you’d want on your side when the big baddies come to call.


3) Lyra (His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman): Lyra is dedicated to her friends, loves adventure, is highly curious, and puts herself at risk even when she’s afraid, if there’s something important on the line.

4) Diana Bishop (All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness): Witch and historian, Diana is a perfect combination of brains and magic.


5) Cassie Sullivan (The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey): How do you keep going when everything you know is gone? Bravery, commitment to a promise, and a sheer determination to make things right or die trying.

6) Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird): Okay, what’s not to love? Scout is a little Southern tomboy who learned her values from an amazing father. Scout stands up for the people she loves and doesn’t understand injustice. Love her.


7) Harry Crewe (The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley): Harry goes from sheltered daughter to a wielder of a magical sword and one hell of a horsewoman, among other achievements. She’s a perfect example of a fantasy fiction woman who most definitely is not a damsel in distress.

I want to use the rest of my list to give shout-outs to a few bunches of amazing women:


8) The women of Fables (by Bill WIllingham): I love just about everything about this graphic novel series, especially the amazing female characters such as Snow White, Rose Red, Cinderella, and Beauty, to name but a few. These are no Disney princesses. Really, if you haven’t read Fables, go get volume one immediately! You’ll be happy you did, I promise.

9) The Stark women (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin): Arya, Catelyn, even Sansa — all have been through enormous trauma, and manage to hold onto their courage even in the face of unbearable loss and misery.

10) The women of Harry Potter (the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling): Hermione is amazing, but so are Molly Weasley and Minerva McGonagall, not to mention Luna Lovegood, Lily Potter, Nymphadora Tonks, and so many more.

Okay, that’s 10 — but I do want to give three cheers to some of my favorite women on TV right now:

  • Elizabeth Jennings (The Americans)
  • Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)
  • Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)
  • Zoe Hart (Hart of Dixie)
  • The women of Black Sails: Eleanor Guthrie, Anne Bonny, and Max. (Does Max have a last name? Couldn’t find it.)

Oh, and one more just because no list of powerful women is complete without the one and only Slayer, Buffy Summers:


Who are your favorite heroines? Please share your links!

(Note: All images scavenged from miscellaneous Pinterest boards…)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out my regular weekly feature, Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!



Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who Deserve Their Own Books


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is about characters we love so much that we’d love to see them star in their own books.

My top 10 are:

1) Young Ian (Ian Murray, Jr.) from the Outlander series by Diana GabaldonIan doesn’t appear until book #3, Voyager, but he instantly makes every scene he’s in simply awesomesauce. Ian is funny and fierce, and one of the big delights of the series is watching Ian grow from gawky teen to… well, I won’t say (spoilers!), but he’s just the best, and I’d happily read a whole book from his point of view.

2) Sirius Black (Harry Potter): I’m not sure what else there is to say about Sirius, but his brief time in the series always broke my my heart, and he remains one of my favorite (and most tragic) book boyfriends.

3) Likewise from Harry Potter, I could never get enough of the Weasley twins or older brothers Bill and Charlie. So how about a story about the Weasley brothers (well, those who remain) after the battle for Hogwarts?

4) Bran Cornick (Mercy Thompson series): Bran is the Marrock, the most powerful werewolf in North America, and I find him to be one of the most fascinating characters in the Mercy-verse. He’s always off to the side, pulling strings, and even though we see much more of him in the Alpha & Omega books, an entire novel centered on Bran would make me very happy indeed.

5) Thomas Raith (Dresden Files): Harry Dresden’s vampire half-brother Thomas brightens up every scene he’s in, and usually my only complaint after finishing a Dresden book is “not enough Thomas”. So let’s get Thomas his own book (Backup, at 70 pages, doesn’t really count) — or better yet, his own series of books.

6) Finnick Odair (The Hunger Games): Okay, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to read a whole book about Finnick — but I do want more of Finnick and Annie’s story than we got in the Hunger Games books.

7) Kate and Elliot (50 Shades): Yes, I read the books! (hiding under rock…) While I thought the books were mostly ridiculous, I did actually like the characters of Kate and Elliot and wouldn’t have minded seeing more of them. As people. Not more of them as in without clothes. Oh, you know what I mean.

8) Aragorn (LOTR): I have a hard time separating book Aragorn from movie Aragorn… but all Aragorn is good Aragorn, right? I’d happily read nothing but Aragorn stories for a week or two. He’s my king!

9) Reagan (Fangirl): I love Cath’s prickly roommate and would love to hear more about her life.

10) Gallowglass, Ysabeau, Philippe, Hamish… and more (All Soul’s Trilogy): One of the things that makes this trilogy so phenomenal is how deeply developed all of the supporting cast is. I’d feel like there’s so much more to know about the rest of the characters, and really hope that Deborah Harkness decides to revisit this world in future novels.

What characters would you like to see taking the lead in their own books?

Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly feature, Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters I’d Want With Me On A Deserted Island


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Characters I’d Want With Me On A Deserted Island… which is going to end up being remarkably similar to a list I did back in April on the Top Ten Characters With Essential Survival Skills. Most of my original picks hold true, but I’ll make a few substitutions just for the sake of switching things up.

Who would I want by my side on a deserted island? Read on.

Kicking things off are my beloved folks from the world of Outlander:

1) Claire Fraser (Outlander series): You’ve got to hand it to Claire. She manages the transition from 20th century to 18th century without missing  a beat, and adapts her modern-day physician skills to become a healer woman in her new home. Medicinal herbs, home-brewed penicillin, hand-made ether for surgical anesthesia — Claire can do it all!

2) Brianna Randall MacKenzie (Outlander series): Just as inventive as her mother Claire, although with a different focus. Bree is an excellent shot, can hunt for dinner any day of the week, and in her spare time figures out how to create a kiln and make water pipes from clay.

3) Jamie Fraser (Outlander series): Okay, mostly for the eye-candy value (I mean, really, what IS there to look at on a deserted island?), but also for all-around protection (the man is a warrior), as well as other types of stimulation. (Intellectual! Get your minds out of the gutter! The man is an expert chess player, knows a bazillion languages, and can declaim poetry. We’ll need entertainment on our deserted island!)

But since there’s more to life than Outlander (wait, what??), I’d also want:

4) Darla Edmunds (Ashfall series): Darla, a super-talented teen, is the key to survival for her entire community. She invents Bikezilla (a hybrid bicycle/snowmobile that can be used to haul just about anything), bike-powered corn mills, wind-powered turbines, and central heating. When there’s no electricity and everyone is on the verge of starvation, Darla figures out how to feed, house, and warm hundreds of people at a time.

5) Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire): Boredom will not be a problem, so long as I can chat with Tyrion.

6) Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games): In case we need to go a-hunting with bows and arrows.

7) Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files): Not only is Harry the only professional wizard in Chicago, he’s a man with the ability to face down any foe, human or otherwise, cast enchantments and spells, and even come back from the dead. So just in case there are some evil spirits flitting around the island, I’ll need Harry to set up some wards, or figure out how to do a reverse locator spell, or some such essential magical working.

8) Emilio Sandoz (The Sparrow): Emilio is smart, honorable, funny, and dedicated. He’s a masterful linguist who seems to learn new languages in the blink of an eye — so just in case the island is not as deserted as it seems, Emilio can converse with the locals.

9) Pi Patel (Life of Pi): In case we do manage to build a boat, Pi’s the guy for staying alive while drifting at sea… especially if a tiger decides to hitch a ride.

10) Henry DeTamble (The Time Traveler’s Wife): First of all, I think Henry’s just a fascinating guy, so it would be great to have him for company just for the sake of hearing stories about his life. Plus, he’s a time traveler! So I’d hope that on one of his time-hops, he’d managed to get word to someone reliable to come rescue me in 2014!

Which characters will be sharing your deserted islands? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!