Shelf Control #183: Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.pngTitle: Kitty and the Midnight Hour
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Published: 2005
Length: 259 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station – and she also happens to be a werewolf. One night, sick of the usual lame song requests, she accidentally starts ‘The Midnight Hour’, a late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Almost immediately she’s deluged by calls from desperate vampires, werewolves and witches from all across the country, wanting to share their woes and ask her advice.

Kitty’s new show is a raging success, but it’s Kitty herself who could use some help, not least because her monthly change is a deep and dark secret to all but a very special few.

And when she finds one very sexy werewolf-hunter on her tail, not to mention a few homicidal undead, she realises she may just may have bitten off more than she can chew…

How and when I got it:

I picked up a used copy a couple of years ago.

Why I want to read it:

The Kitty Norville series is 14 novels long, plus assorted related shorts, and I do love me a good urban fantasy series… but the reason I picked up this kinda-battered paperback is because I loved Bannerless, Carrie Vaughn’s excellent post-apocalyptic novel (and its sequel, The Wild Dead). Having read those two books, plus Vaughn’s story, “Raisa Stepanova,” from the Dangerous Women anthology, I have a strong suspicion that Carrie Vaughn is an author whose works I need to explore. And anyway… Kitty and the Midnight Hour just sounds like so much fun!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Take A Peek Book Review: Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11) 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.

 

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

In this powerful entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Mercy Thompson must face a deadly enemy to defend all she loves…

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.

My Thoughts:

Mercy is back home in the Tri-Cities, and that means peace and quiet are pretty much out of the question. There’s never a dull moment for the Columbia Basin pack, so when black witches come to town intent on harvesting nasty power and preventing a peace negotiation between the human and fae governments, Mercy is forced to intervene in a big way.

Eleven books in, the Mercy series is as strong as ever, with more of our beloved characters, some fun lighter moments, and plenty of danger and action. Here, we learn more about a newer pack member and his mysterious past, as well as seeing the ongoing fall-out of Mercy’s declaration (a couple of books ago) that the werewolves would provide sanctuary in their territory to all who seek it.

We get some lovely Mercy and Adam moments too, which just warm my heart, and gain new insights into supporting characters such as Wulfe, Tad, Mary Jo, and Larry the goblin king. (And yes, his name is really Larry. I know.)

This series is just so wonderful. I hope Patricia Briggs never stops writing about Mercy… and I promise never to stop reading about Mercy… or the rest of the wolves… or Charles and Anna… or anyone else in this terrific urban fantasy world.

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The details:

Title: Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace
Publication date: March 7, 2019
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

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Novella Review: How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger

 

Guilty of an indiscretion? Time to marry a werewolf.

WEREWOLVES

The monsters left Faith ruined in the eyes of society, so now they’re her only option. Rejected by her family, Faith crosses the Atlantic, looking for a marriage of convenience and revenge.

But things are done differently in London. Werewolves are civilized. At least they pretend to be.

AMERICANS

Backward heathens with no culture, Major Channing has never had time for any of them. But there’s something special about Faith. Channing finds himself fighting to prove himself and defend his species. But this werewolf has good reason not to trust human women.

Even if they learn to love, can either of them forgive?

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Parasol Protectorate series comes a stand alone romance set in the same universe. Look out for appearances from favorite characters and the serious consequences of unwarranted geology.

Another adorable and slightly steamy romantic adventure from the talented Gail Carriger!

When a young American lady of good standing is indiscreet, kind parent retire her quietly to the country with a maiden aunt and a modest stipend. Faith’s parents decided to marry her off to a werewolf.

Faith Wigglesworth is an American young woman in disgrace, whose absolutely horrible parents are shipping her off to London to land a werewolf husband, hoping to both be rid of her and to subject her to the humiliation they believe she deserves.

A werewolf was lower than a Californian, all things considered — rough rural hillbillies with too much hair. And open shirt collars. And no table manners.

Major Channing is instantly entranced by Faith’s brash American manners, her ability to stand up for herself, and those amazing blue eyes of hers. What follows is a playful, tempestuous courtship, as each must learn to trust enough to share and then put aside the painful secrets of their pasts. At the same time, there’s instant chemistry and heat between Faith and Channing, and sparks fly. Channing’s Alpha wants him to find happiness and to treat Faith as she should be treated, and Faith yearns to find someone to love, someone to enjoy intimacy with, and a place to belong and be herself.

This is a charming novella that works as a stand-alone, although prior experience with Gail Carriger’s steampunk/supernatural world certainly is helpful (and possibly even essential). I love everything about her books, and this piece fits nicely into the world she’s created, featuring a lovely story all its own as well as a chance to spend time once again with favorite characters like Biffy and Lyall.

A must-read for Carriger fans!
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The details:

Title: How to Marry a Werewolf (Claw & Courtship, #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Gail Carriger LLC
Publication date: May 13, 2018
Length: 196 pages
Genre: Supernatural/steampunk/romance
Source: Purchased

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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.

 

Synopsis:

(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.

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The details:

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

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Novella Review: Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger

 

Werewolf in trouble…

Biffy, newly minted Alpha of the London Pack, is not having a good Christmas. His Beta abandoned him, his werewolves object to his curtain choices, and someone keeps leaving babies on his doorstep.

Professor Randolph Lyall returns home to London after twenty years abroad, afraid of what he might find. With his pack in chaos and his Alpha in crisis, it will take all his Beta efficiency to set everything to rights. Perhaps, in the process, he may even determine how to mend his own heart.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a charming gay love story set in her popular steampunk Parasolverse. Featuring the long-awaited reunion between everyone’s favorite quietly capable Beta and the werewolf Alpha dandy who let him slip away. This sweet romance is full of unexpected babysitting, holiday decorations, and no small amount of pining.

Delicate Sensibilities?
Contains men who love other men and have waited decades to do so.

Wait, where does this one fit?
The Supernatural Society novellas stand alone and may be read in any order. But if you’re a stickler, this story chronologically follows Imprudence and ties specifically to events in Timeless. Look for surprise appearances from popular side characters and the occasional strategic application of italics.

What a treat!

I love, love, love the world of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate (and also the Finishing School series and The Custard Protocol series), with their remarkable mix of supernatural shenanigans, intrigue, mayhem, and manners. The novella Romancing the Werewolf reunites two wonderful characters from the Parasol-verse, Biffy — the dandy who wanted to be a vampire but ended up an Alpha werewolf — and Lyall, the 400-year-old Beta werewolf who takes responsibility for the woes of the world and his beloved pack.

Here, Lyall finally comes home after 20 years away to resume his place as pack Beta… and to figure out if the connection between him and Biffy has stood the test of time during their years apart. Meanwhile, Biffy has the power of an Alpha but is so new in the role that he constantly second-guesses himself, and wonders if perhaps a romance with his Beta isn’t exactly appropriate any longer.

For fans of Carriger’s worlds, this novella is a total delight. The romance is sweet, sexy, and adorable — but before Biffy and Lyall manage to figure out where they stand, they also have to deal with all sorts of chaos involving the babies that keep getting left on their doorstep. There are plenty of laughs involving the pack and their sense of style (and inability to deal with infants), and some more serious moments as well as the pack settles into their new home and their new leadership.

I don’t think readers without a basic familiarity with the Parasol-verse will have an easy time following the story — but that just means that if you haven’t read the Parasol Protectorate yet, now is the perfect time to go ahead. (Let’s face it, it’s ALWAYS the right time for the Parasol Protectorate!)

Such a wonderful gift to Gail Carriger’s readers! If you love her characters and stories, get this one NOW.
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The details:

Title: Romancing the Werewolf
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Gail Carriger LLC
Publication date: November 5, 2017
Length: 140 pages
Genre: Supernatural/steampunk/romance
Source: Purchased

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Shelf Control #95: The Pack

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! Fore more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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A little bit Halloween-y — my Shelf Control pick this week is:

Title: The Pack
Author: Jason Starr
Published: 2011
Length: 352 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

When Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son. But his reluctance pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. In the nestled playgrounds of the Upper West Side, Simon harbors a simmering rage at his boss’s betrayal.

Things take a turn when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, more at ease with the darker side of life- and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys’ night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality.

As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their “pack,” they were talking about much more than male bonding. And as he falls prey to his basest instincts, Simon must accept that werewolves exist if he is to turn the tides of his fortune…

How and when I got it:

I really don’t remember where I got this book, but I know I picked it up years ago after hearing a friend mention something about a werewolf book.

Why I want to read it:

Because every once in a while, there’s nothing like reading about werewolves! I’m not sure that I’m truly up for yet another version of werewolf-ism as a metaphor for man’s inner animal or some such thing, but at the same time, a pack of stay-at-home dads turning into werewolves sounds kind of awesome. I’d almost forgotten I still have this book, but in honor of Halloween, I thought I’d prowl my shelves for something on the icky/scary side, and this is what I found!

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Thursday Quotables: Marine Biology

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Welcome 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!
A little programming note: While I’m mostly back to weekly postings, I find I’m not at 100% yet! I’ll continue to post Thursday Quotables most weeks. If I happen to skip a week when you have a post to share, feel free to link up to whichever TQ post here is most recent. Many thanks!
Onward with this week’s Thursday Quotable:

 

Marine Biology by Gail Carriger
(published 2010)

When there’s too much seriousness in my life, I know I can reach for a Gail Carriger story to lift my spirits. I originally read Marine Biology when it came out, but as there’s now a related novel, The Sumage Solution, I figured this was a good time to read it again. Marine Biology is a cute, sweet, supernatural story — set in the modern world, not Carriger’s trademark steampunk Victorian society, but full of her wit and cleverness.

Here’s the opening paragraph, which makes more sense if you keep in mind that the main character is a gay werewolf scientist:

The problem, Alec thought gloomily, swishing a test-tube full of seawater, is that I’m unexpectedly alive. To be unexpectedly dead would be pleasingly simplistic. After all, he made up the statistic on the spot so that he would sound more learned in his own head, half of all deaths are unexpected. One is, to a certain degree, prepared to die unexpectedly. But when one expects to die at eighteen and instead finds oneself unexpectedly alive at twenty-four, there’s nothing for it but to be confused about everything.

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!
  • Add your Thursday Quotables post link in the comments section below… and I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week too.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

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Book Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

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

Book Review: Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan

Book Review: Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan

I can’t talk about Talulla Rising without talking about its predecessor, The Last Werewolf and what happened in it, especially some major twists toward the end. So consider this your obligatory spoiler alert. SPOILERS AHEAD! Caveat lector — let the reader beware.

Now that that’s out of the way…

The Last Werewolf was one of my favorite books of 2011. Simply put, I was blown away by the language as well as the plot. Glen Duncan’s writing is extraordinary, and the voice he created for lead character Jake Marlowe was remarkable. In a nutshell, The Last Werewolf is a first-person narrative told from the perspective of the titular character Jake, who is, in fact, the very last werewolf in existence. After a lifespan of 200 years, WOCOP (the World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena) has finally succeeded in wiping out the rest of his species and has let it be known that Jake is next. Jake is world-weary, bone-weary, and overall rather sick of it all, so he decides to let WOCOP hunt him down and put an end to it, once and for all.

AND THEN… (and this is where the serious spoilers arise, so — last chance — avert your eyes now!)… Jake meets Talulla, and discovers that he’s not the last after all. Talulla is a recently turned werewolf, who quickly becomes his lover, his soulmate, and his partner in monstrosity. The pair go on the road, a lupine Bonnie and Clyde, but their joy in finding true love is not fated to last. Suffice it to say, The Last Werewolf does not end with a happily-ever-after.

Talulla Rising opens several months after the conclusion of The Last Werewolf. Jake is gone, and Talulla is alone in the world, pregnant, and full of despair. Her pain over the loss of Jake is intense; her fears of impending motherhood are enormous. Can a monster be a mother? What will her child be, and how can she make sure it survives? When her newborn werewolf son, born during Talulla’s full-moon transformation, is brutally ripped from her arms by a familiar team of enemies, events are set in motion that lead to ongoing violence, desperate acts, and unlikely alliances.

Along the way, despite Talulla’s efforts to harden her heart and not let herself love, she becomes a fierce mother/protector, whose only motivation is to save her young, no matter the expense.

Talulla Rising is not for the easily disturbed. If scenes of bodily mayhem make you queasy, this will not be your cup of tea. The violence is brutal, explicit, and quite often disgusting — although, frankly, it is a team of scientists rather than any supernatural beings who carry out the worst of the atrocities committed in the course of this book.

As in the first book, Glen Duncan’s writing is magnificent. His use of words continues to astound, as he twists and turns the English language to his will. I found Talulla’s voice a little too similar to Jake’s at times, but that’s a minor complaint.

While the first book had plenty of action, it focused to a great degree on Jake’s internal dialogue. Talulla Rising is much more plot-driven, with events and disasters piling up at a tremendous clip.

When I finished The Last Werewolf, the story felt complete, and I had no idea that a sequel was planned. Likewise, after finishing Talulla Rising, I read this Q&A with Glen Duncan and was surprised to learn that this is, in fact, a trilogy, and that a third and final book is forthcoming. While some plot threads are left dangling at the end, Talulla Rising ends on a satisfying note and is complete on its own, so that it was not immediately evident to me that the author planned a follow-up. That said, I’ve truly enjoyed these two werewolf novels by Glen Duncan, and will certainly gobble up the third as soon as it’s available.