Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Title: Frost Burned
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson World, Book 10
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 5 March 2013

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

I can't believe that I haven't written a review of this one. That seems so foreign to me, especially since I just re-read it a little over a year ago. But, I guess that gives me time to write my review now.

I'm not sure I love it quite as much as my original thoughts below, but I do love this book still. Mercy and Adam are, as always, amazing. And we even get a couple of chapters from Adam's point-of-view! He's much calmer in his head than I might have expected, but Mercy gives a very good reason for that in this book, and it makes sense. I love Adam, completely.

There's not a whole lot of a chance to figure out who the baddie is in this book until it's revealed to you - and that's probably my only complaint. I like to have the opportunity to determine what is going on, and who is calling the shots. Even if I never can figure it out (and there've been a few books out there that have thoroughly stumped me - I love those the best), being able to see the breadcrumbs on re-reads is a real pleasure for me.

I didn't remember as much of this book as some of the previous books in the series, and that's probably because this is only the third time I've read this book. Still, I didn't see the clues I was hoping for throughout the story.

Even despite that, I love this book. The first obstacle (as Mercy calls it, her 'triage' of the situation) is fraught with suspense. I love this part of the book even though there's a ton of worry in my head for all these characters that I love. And there's a huge heartbreak that I can feel in my chest, still. The second, and in truth - real, obstacle is ... scary. I can't say more than that for fear of revealing any of the truth, but it scared the hell out of me. And scared me more that Mercy decided to fight that fight. She speaks the truth when she says that all that is required for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing, but she's so damn vulnerable! I don't like my heroines invulnerable, but I'd love it if Mercy could find some mithril armor or something.

Also, I loved all the geekish references throughout the book. They added some much-needed levity in very scary and wrenching moments.

This book is another excellent addition to the series, and I can't wait to continue my re-read.

I have two minor complaints as a whole with this series:
1. Patricia Briggs ends the books REALLY abruptly. It's not cliff-hanger-abruptly, usually, but I always feel like I could have used a couple extra pages of denoument to bring me down off the high of the climax.
2. In order for Mercy to fight the 'big-bad' at the end, Adam is ALWAYS taken out of commission somehow. Probably because he's so much stronger, physically, and able to take on damn near anything. But after several books it just starts to ... become noticeable.

Grade: A-

Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date:

Murder, mayhem and magic...

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose.

But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

How long have I had this book on my to-read shelf? I'm not even sure. I think I bought the paperback when it first came out, whenever that was. At the urging of Sarah and Khanh, who both RAVE about this book, I decided to finally pick it up.

I'm so glad they badgered me into starting it, finally. I enjoyed it quite a lot. Yelena's probably my favorite part, but there's a lot here to love.

Yelena is a fantastic character - she's spent nearly a year in a dungeon awaiting execution, when suddenly she's offered an out. It's not much of an out, because she's going to be the food-tester for the Commander, but it is life for at least one more day. She's damaged because of what she's gone through, not just the time incarcerated, but the history prior to that - which is only hinted at in the beginning. But you get a pretty good idea. And yet, at the same time, she's so incredibly strong. She's determined to live, not just day to day, but really live, safe from the threat of death. There are few characters that are actually smart, but Yelena's one of them. She takes the time to plan, implementing her plan without being (too) devious, or cruel. She trains and figures out what skills she's going to need, and goes about learning them. She doesn't trust (or fall in love - this is a big one for me) quickly or easily. I found it really easy to root for her, to want her to succeed, and I loved that I never felt the next to smack some sense into her.

Valek, well, he's a bit of a different story for me. It took me a LONG time to warm up to him. And then once I did like him, I still wasn't (and am not) shipping this relationship. I think it's got a long ways to go. But I will say that I'm interested in seeing where it goes, how it develops. I appreciate a lot about his character, namely that "love" doesn't change everything. I also really love how things develop organically. There's no insta-love here.

I have to mention Ari and Janco, because I absolutely adore them. I really hope we get a lot more of them in the future.

The world kind of confuses me. There was a king, and his whole kingdom was apparently corrupt. So there was an uprising - and the Commander took over. Now there are unbendable rules. Period. All the rules and punishments for running afoul of those rules are spelled out, and there are absolutely NO exceptions. I find this a little harsh, and - despite wanting to like the Commander, I'm left not being able to. I hope that changes, because I really like the backstory there.

The plot and pacing are kind of ... quiet. That's the best word I can think of to describe it. It's not slow, but it's not edge-of-my-seat. I was interested because I wanted to see Yelena come out on top, but the mystery and plot were mere backgrounds to seeing her triumph, for me.

Poison Study is a nice start to a series. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here - especially with the knowledge of Yelena's immediate future at the end of this book. I do hope that the world is more developed in the future books, and that the plot becomes a bit more opaque to me, though.

Grade: B
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