The Monday Check-In ~ 4/8/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

Newest reviews:

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See: My review is up! Check it out, here.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher: This very well may be my favorite of 2019 so far. My review is here.

Roar by Cecelia Ahern: A collection of 30 terrific stories. My review is here.

Read but not reviewed:

The Editor by Steven Rowley: An okay read, but not one I’m inspired to review. I sped through this book, not because I loved it, but because I was afraid that if I slowed down, I’d end up just walking away.

The Walking Dead, volume 31: The Rotten Core – the newest release in the comics series, which is now hopelessly confusing to me as I try to separate the living from the dead while comparing the books and the TV show. I’m still enjoying the series… but this panel from volume 31 kind of sums up a lot about both versions of the story:

And in audiobooks…

I finished my re-read of Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs, book #10 in the ongoing Mercy Thompson series. Fabulous.

Fresh Catch:

When my favorite local bookstore got in a stash of Seanan McGuire’s Velveteen books (now out of print in hardcover)… well, how was I supposed to resist? I just picked up these lovelies over the weekend — signed and everything!

Plus, I treated myself to a few more books as well — a pair of graphic novels that seem perfect for me…

… and a paperback copy of my book group’s upcoming classic read:

 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman: Honestly, they had me at “bookshop”. I’m just starting this novel, but the description makes it sounds like a book for me!

And just to lighten (?) things up a bit, I’m switching off my more serious reading with some graphic novels, starting with volume one of The Beauty, a horror series that I’d never heard of. But hey, this is what happens when you go to the library with time to spare — you never know what you’ll find on the shelf!

Now playing via audiobook:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: This is my book group’s pick for April. I seem to end up doing audiobooks for my book group books a lot, maybe because I never figure out how to squeeze in all my “for me” reads alongside all my obligation reads. I’ve only listened to the first chapter so far, but I’m really liking this one!

Ongoing reads:

My Outlander book group is continuing our Lord John read-along with two Lord John (or Lord John-adjacent) stories from the Seven Stones to Stand or Fall collection. We’re reading the story Besieged right now.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/1/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I just got back from a trip to the East Coast. It was a jam-packed week seeing family and friends, lots of fun, but I’m glad to be home and sleeping in my own bed.

And just a little highlight — while in New York for a day, I wandered by (and into) The Strand bookstore, which is such a happy place to be. This is from outside the store:

What did I read during the last week?

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: Terrific survival story. My review is here.

Wingspan by Chris Bohjalian: I read this and two other flight-related short works this week. My thoughts are here.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See: Powerful and beautiful. I’ll post a review once I catch up on some sleep!

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: What a gorgeous book. This was my book group’s classic read for the past two months — and while we still have two chapters left to read and discuss as a group, I couldn’t wait, and read through to the end. I’m so glad we chose this one to read together!

In audiobooks, I finished my re-read of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I’m ready for the sequel!

Pop culture goodness:

I’m sad about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend coming to an end! The series finale is this coming Friday. The current season hasn’t shone for me the way the earlier ones did, but it’s still creative and goofy and just all-around terrific. Here’s a clip from last week’s episode that made me giggle:

Fresh Catch:

Subterranean Press was having a $10 sale, and I treated myself to two books:

And this isn’t a book, but it’s book-ish — my daughter sent me a super cute Jane Austen game!

Now I just need her to come home for a visit so we can play it.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher: Really great so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs: It’s time for a Mercy re-read! The new Mercy Thompson book comes out in May, which means that April will be my month to revisit the most recent book in the series (and then the most recent Charles and Anna story too). And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the first Mercy book, Moon Called. Maybe you’ll discover why this is one of my very favorite urban fantasy series!

Ongoing reads:

My Outlander book group is continuing our Lord John read-along with two Lord John (or Lord John-adjacent) stories from the Seven Stones to Stand or Fall collection. We’re starting the story Besieged this week — and while I’ve read it already and didn’t exactly love it, I’m hoping to get some new appreciation for it by reading it with the group.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Spring 2019 TBR List

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR.

SPRING IS HERE! SPRING IS HERE! SPRING IS HERE! I love it when the weather warms up enough to read out on my back porch. And here are ten of the books I plan to enjoy while soaking up the sun and smelling the flowers:

(listed here by release date… )

1) The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters: Release date: April 16th

Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

 

2) Roar by Celia Ahern: Release date April 16th

From the bestselling author of P.S., I Love You, a fiercely feminist story collection that illuminates–sometimes in fantastical ways–how women of all kinds navigate the world today.

In this singular and imaginative story collection, Cecelia Ahern explores the endless ways in which women blaze through adversity with wit, resourcefulness, and compassion. Ahern takes the familiar aspects of women’s lives–the routines, the embarrassments, the desires–and elevates these moments to the outlandish and hilarious with her astute blend of magical realism and social insight.

One woman is tortured by sinister bite marks that appear on her skin; another is swallowed up by the floor during a mortifying presentation; yet another resolves to return and exchange her boring husband at the store where she originally acquired him. The women at the center of this curious universe learn that their reality is shaped not only by how others perceive them, but also how they perceive the power within themselves.

By turns sly, whimsical, and affecting, these thirty short stories are a dynamic examination of what it means to be a woman in this very moment. Like women themselves, each story can stand alone; yet together, they have a combined power to shift consciousness, inspire others, and create a multi-voiced ROAR that will not be ignored.

3) Storms of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse: Release date: April 23rd

It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a young girl with a strange clan power.

Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, rescue Kai, and make things right between them both.

Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods, and, ultimately the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.

4) A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher: Release date: April 23rd

When a beloved family dog is stolen, her owner sets out on a life-changing journey through the ruins of our world to bring her back in this fiercely compelling tale of survival, courage, and hope. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts.

My name’s Griz. My childhood wasn’t like yours. I’ve never had friends, and in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football.

My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.

Then the thief came.

There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.

Because if we aren’t loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?

5) Middlegame by Seanan McGuire: Release date: May 7th

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

6) Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11) by Patricia Briggs: Release date: May 7th

My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic.

And a coyote shapeshifter . . . And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack.

Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae.

The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death.

But we are pack, and we have given our word. We will die to keep it.

7) The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone: Release date: May 7th

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Expats. Kate Moore is back in a pulse-pounding thriller to discover that a massive terror attack across Paris is not what it seems – and that it involves her family

American expat Kate Moore drops her kids at the international school, makes her shopping rounds, and meets her husband Dexter at their regular cafe a leisurely start to a normal day, St-Germain-des-Pres.

Across the Seine, tech CEO Hunter Forsyth stands on his balcony, perplexed that his police escort just departed, and frustrated that his cell service has cut out; Hunter has important calls to make, not all of them technically legal.

And on the nearby rue de Rivoli, Mahmoud Khalid climbs out of an electrician’s van, and elbows his way into the crowded courtyard of the world’s largest museum, in the epicenter of Western civilization. He sets down his metal briefcase, and removes his windbreaker.

That’s when people start to scream.

8) The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay: Release date: May 14th

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt—and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn, and when a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. She begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop—provided the women’s best combined efforts are not too little, too late.

9) The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan: Release date: June 4th

Mrs. Braithwaite, self-appointed queen of her English village, finds herself dethroned, despised, and dismissed following her husband’s selfish divorce petition. Never deterred, the threat of a family secret being revealed sets her hot-foot to London to find the only person she has left—her clever daughter Betty, who took work there at the first rumbles of war.

But when she arrives, Betty’s landlord, the timid Mr. Norris, informs her that Betty hasn’t been home in days–with the chaos of the bombs, there’s no telling what might have befallen her. Aghast, Mrs. Braithwaite sets her bullish determination to the task of finding her only daughter.

Storming into the London Blitz, Mrs. Braithwaite drags the reluctant Mr. Norris along as an unwitting sidekick as they piece together Betty’s unexpectedly chaotic life. As she is thrown into the midst of danger and death, Mrs. Braithwaite is forced to rethink her old-fashioned notions of status, class, and reputation, and to reconsider the question that’s been puzzling her since her world overturned: How do you measure the success of your life?

And finally, I’ll finish up my Top 10 with an upcoming book group read:

10. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: (released 2018)

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

What books are you most eager to read this spring? Please share your links!

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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!

Cover reveal: Storm Cursed by by Patricia Briggs!

Don’t mind me — I’m just sitting here being quietly blown away by the newly revealed cover for the upcoming Mercy Thompson book!

Storm Cursed is book #11 in this amazing series. The expected publication date is March 5, 2019… which can’t possibly get here soon enough!

Synopsis:

My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic.

And a coyote shapeshifter.

And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack.

Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae.

The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death.

But we are pack, and we have given our word.

We will die to keep it.

I love this series so much! Can’t wait for March to get here… and meanwhile, I’ll be busy re-reading Mercy’s past adventures so I’ll be 100% ready to jump in once this gorgeous books finally lands in my hands.

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:

I LOVE THIS SERIES! I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS! IT’S 100% CERTAIN THAT I WILL LOVE EVERY BOOK IN THIS SERIES.

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!!!

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The details:

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

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Check out the cover of Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs!

I was so excited to see this on Facebook while I was away on vacation! As a big fan of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, it makes me soooo happy to ponder the glories of this cover:

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Silence Fallen is book #10 in the series. The expected publication date is March 7, 2017… which can’t possibly get here soon enough!

Synopsis:

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…

Did you get chills? I got chills. I’m so scared for Mercy! This sounds amazing. Can’t wait!

Find Silence Fallen at:

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

And PS – If you haven’t read any of the Mercy books, start with Moon Called and then keep going! Such an amazing series.

Book Review: Fire Touched

Fire TouchedI love this series, truly – madly – deeply. Why do I even bother writing reviews anymore? You know the bottom line is going to be READ THIS BOOK… or for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptmann yet, READ THIS SERIES.

There. Done.

Okay, a little more, perhaps? Fire Touched is the 9th book in the always outstanding Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter as well as a talented VW mechanic. She’s a woman who never backs down and stands up for herself, her family, her pack, and pretty much anyone who needs her protection — and this is what lands her and the pack in a huge mess in Fire Touched.

Mercy is married to Adam, Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack — a werewolf pack, that is. Mercy has just finished recovering from the life-threatening events of the previous book, Night Broken, when a new danger emerges. There’s a giant troll on the Cable Bridge of the Tri-Cities, and the local police are smart enough to call in the pack for help. Mercy and a bunch of werewolves battle the big nasty creature (who seems to enjoy smashing cars like an overgrown toddler playing with Matchbox toys) and ultimately defeat him — but Mercy takes the unprecedented step of declaring the Tri-Cities the territory of the pack and warning the fae that the pack will offer sanctuary to all who need their help.

At the moment, this includes Aiden, who looks like a bedraggled 10-year-old, but is in fact centuries old, having been taken into the fae’s unreachable domain of Underhill as a child and kept there ever since. Aiden has escaped, and now has gifts — including the ability to burn with his touch — and the fae would very much like to get their hands on him. By offering sanctuary, Mercy and the pack have set themselves up in direct opposition to all of the fae, and have potentially set the stage for the werewolf vs. fae war that Bran Cornick, leader of all of the North American werewolves, has been working so hard to avoid.

As the story progresses, we see the implications of Mercy’s declaration more and more. The pack will be under siege from all who question their right to claim territory. There are still pack members who resent Mercy’s membership in the pack, seeing as she’s a coyote and not a wolf, and Adam has finally had enough of the sniping. He declares that all werewolves in his pack will treat Mercy with respect, and if they say or do anything further against her, he will end them. And he means it. Strangely, this finally seems to bring the pack into a united team. A dire and unintended effect of the declaration is a break with Bran. Bran can’t afford to turn this into a global war against the fae, as his priority is always the good of ALL werewolves, so he formally breaks with Adam’s pack.

Sob. I love Bran. I love Adam. No sundering! Please work it out, guys.

Okay, so what did I think of this book? Well, as I said, I just pretty much heart everything about this series, so of course I loved Fire Touched too. That said, though, it’s probably not the best of the best, even though it’s awfully darn good.

What was missing for me here was the emphasis on relationships that my favorites in the series have. Mercy and Adam are in a really good place in their marriage, and I’m happy for them, but we don’t actually spend much time in this book just seeing them together. The pack isn’t terribly present in Fire Touched. Yes, they’re in the big fight on the bridge with the troll, and yes, we see the pack meeting where Adam draws his line in the sand about the pack’s treatment of Mercy. But beyond that, the pack is mostly just background. I’ve come to adore so many of the pack members — Ben, Warren, Darryl, Honey — but they’re not central to the plot here, and I missed them.

A lot of Fire Touched was about the fae and the Grey Lords, and how Mercy and Adam deal with their bargains and deceits. It was engaging, but I missed the pack drama and politics. On the plus side, it was nice to see Thomas Hao and Margaret Flanagan again (and if you don’t know who they are, read the story “Fairy Gifts” from the Shifting Shadows collection).

The bad thing about reading a new Mercy Thompson book the second it comes out is the loooooong wait for the next one! Okay, I’m done with Fire Touched — now what? Patricia Briggs’s website shows that there will be a 10th Mercy book and a 5th Alpha & Omega book (yay!), but no date is listed for either, and I assume whichever is next will be published in 2017.

So hey! If you haven’t read any Mercy books, or if you’re behind, now’s a great time to dive in and catch up! Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Want to know more about the worlds of Patricia Briggs? Check out a few of my previous reviews:

Night Broken
Frost Burned
Shifting Shadows
Dead Heat

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The details:

Title: Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace Hardcover
Publication date: March 8, 2016
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

On Mercy Thompson and Kate Shugak

I’m having the somewhat mind-warping experience of reading two amazing books about two of my favorite characters right at the same time — and it struck me that despite seemingly huge differences, Mercy Thompson and Kate Shugak have a lot in common.

First, a bit about both.

Frost BurnedMercy Thompson, the heroine of Patricia Briggs’s popular urban fantasy series, is a VW mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of the state of Washington. Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter who seems to always find herself at the center of trouble. Over the course of nine novels so far, Mercy has become more and more involved with the local werewolf pack, first as a neighbor and a nuisance, but eventually as the Alpha’s mate and wife. Along the way, Mercy has taken on a whole host of bad guys, from demonic vampires to volcano gods, and has lived to tell the tale, sometimes only by the skin of her teeth.

15998421And Kate Shugak? Kate is the heroine of a mystery series by Dana Stabenow. Kate is a former investigator for the Anchorage DA’s office who lives on a homestead in the wilds of Alaska and would love to be left alone — except she keeps getting called back into the life of investigating crime and corruption. The bad guys here aren’t supernatural. So far, I’ve read six of the Kate books (out of 20 currently published), and I’ve seen Kate take on oilmen, drug dealers, sleazy businessmen looking to worm their way into exploiting natural resources, and smugglers of native artifacts.

So why do I equate the two? Let’s see:

Kate and Mercy are both outsiders. Kate grew up surrounded by family and tribe, but has spent most of her life wanting to distance herself from her grandmother’s manipulations and native politics. Mercy spent most of her life believing herself to be the only coyote shapeshifter in existence, never quite fitting in among the werewolves who’ve always been around her. Additionally, Kate and Mercy both were raised by foster parents, and seem to both carry scars from the absence of their own parents in their lives.

Kate is an Aleut. Mercy is of Native American heritage. Both have to deal with the blatant and implicit biases and injustices that come their way as women of color.

Kate is a kick-butt investigator who isn’t afraid to fight, is amazing with firearms, and can defend herself and anyone around her when things get dangerous. Mercy is a highly trained martial arts expert, who throws herself into a fight when needed, and will always do whatever she can to protect anyone who needs her.

Kate and Mercy have relationships that matter to them, but they’re also strong women who would never take orders or be less than 100% themselves just because of a man.

Kate and Mercy are survivors. They’ve been through hell. They’re scarred. They’ve risked themselves time and time again to do the right thing and protect those weaker than themselves.

Kate never goes anywhere without her huge dog Mutt, half-Husky, half-wolf. And Mercy seems to always be surrounded by her very own pack of wolves, most especially her beloved Alpha wolf Adam.

Kate and Mercy are both highly self-sufficient. Kate lives alone (with Mutt) at her homestead, miles from the nearest town, where she single-handedly hunts, chops wood, fetches what she needs, repairs building and vehicles, and keeps herself alive throughout Alaskan winters. Mercy is a talented mechanic who can fix anything with a motor, skilled with her hands and making a go of being a woman in a man’s world, defying gender roles on a daily basis.

Above all, they’re both smart, strong women who love deeply, cherish their independence, champion those who can’t stand up for themselves, fight for justice, and take no bull from anyone.

So despite the vast differences in their worlds — one full of the supernatural, the other a mundane world full of complicated people and politics — both Mercy and Kate are stand-out heroines who deal with tough surroundings and dangerous threats, but always remain true to themselves.

See, this is what I get for reading the new Mercy novel while in the middle of a Kate audiobook! I find the two running together in my mind, and can’t help thinking that it’s too bad that they belong to different worlds. They’d make an awesome team.

In any case, I absolutely love the world of Mercy Thompson, and I’m falling more and more under the spell of Kate Shugak. I hope to have many more books about both in my future!

 

Fire Touched has a cover!

I was so excited to see this on Facebook today! As a big fan of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, I feel totally justified in having a blog post dedicated to the joy of this cover:

Fire Touched

Fire Touched is book #9 in the series. The expected publication date is March 8, 2016… which can’t possibly get here soon enough!

Find Fire Touched at:

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

And PS – If you haven’t read any of the Mercy books, start with Moon Called and then keep going! Such an amazing series.

Thursday Quotables: In Falling Snow

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Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

In Falling Snow

In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl
(published 2012)

I’m about 100 pages into this WWI-era historical novel, and I was quite taken by the contrast between lust and other emotions in the opening pages:

They made love there on the floor. Later she got up and surveyed the room, their clothes leading from the door, his boots, the last thing to come off, at the bottom of the bed. She would remember none of those details but would never forget the long lateral muscles of his back, where angel wings would start. And the shame. She would never forget the shame.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!