Book: Lisa Shearin’s ‘The Dragon Conspiracy’ – “Not for goblins. Pink is the color of pure evil.”

‘The Dragon Conspiracy’ is a sequel to Lisa Shearin’s ‘The Grendel Affair’ which features the adventures of the SPI – the Supernatural Protection and Investigations , specifically Makenna Fraser who is their newest Seer and is rather out of her depth.

dragon conspiracy_front mech.indd

‘The Grendel Affair’ was odd but intriguing – basically whatever goes bump in the night is thrown into a modern urban setting and manages to be believable. It was a good book but on my initial read I felt it was a little light, however upon rereading it I was pleasantly surprised.

‘The Dragon Conspiracy’ had an interesting premise but felt a little speedy in terms of plot resolution. I think I need to reread it with a quieter mind.

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Book: Last Mercy Thompson book that I owned – paste tense is deliberate.

Popping this up before Monday so that I can get the books to the charity shop this weekend.

The Mercy Thompson series started off so well, Mercy was funny and practical – if a little impulsive.

Then she just got dumber as she spent more time around werewolves.

There are currently eight books in the series (at least 11 are planned) and I owned five out of the first six.

  • Moon Called
  • Blood Bound
  • Iron Kissed
  • Bone Crossed
  • Silver Bourne – I didn’t have but did read ages ago from the library
  • River Marked – very cheap charity shop purchase
  • Frost Burned – released in 2013 I have not read
  • Night Broken – released in 2014 I have not read

river marked

Either way I don’t own it to re-read and won’t lose any sleep over this!

I do however have ‘River Marked’ and the plot is Mercy has now married Adam but Adam lets the fae send them camping by a river for their honeymoon.

There are monsters in the river and people are disappearing. Which means Mercy now has to save the day at great personal cost AGAIN.

On the plus side we get to find out that Mercy’ father is Coyote – THE Coyote from the Native American legends. Which is probably how she’s survived her stupid stunts for so long.

I am done with this series, the first book was good but everything that followed either wasn’t a good – too much focus on vampires, or was just stupid.

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Book: Patricia Briggs’ ‘Bone Crossed’ – “One of the oddest things about being grown-up was looking back at something you thought you knew and finding out the truth of it was completely different from what you had always believed”

At the end of book 3 Mercy was raped and some aftermath of this event was depicted.

Book 4 ‘Bone Crossed’ starts at the place book 3 let off – there is actually some scene overlap, and then Mercy goes off charging into another adventure.

At this point my suspension of disbelief got annoyed and stopped playing.

bone crossed

If Mercy really is part of the pack now and really is Adam’s mate then why the BLEEP isn’t anyone protecting her?

Why the BLEEP is everyone saying “ok” to her running out of state pretty much on her own – everyone keeps saying how vampires cant be trusted so Stefan shouldn’t count even if he is ok for a vampire, to investigate a haunting at the house of her old college ‘friend’ who just happens to live in the State where a vampire known as The Monster lives!

Everyone treats Mercy as some sort of supernatural punching bag and it just isn’t fun to read anymore.

The plot is rubbish too, but that is almost by the way compared to my indignation at everyone assuming Mercy will be ok and then blaming her when the sh*t hits the fan!

I remember disliking book 3 but book 4 is just boring and stupid.

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Book: Patricia Briggs’ ‘Iron Kissed’ – “It was like being leaned on by a very heavy, warm brick. A sexy brick”

‘Iron Kissed’ is the third book in the Mercy Thompson series and the one that I knew I had issues with.

The issue is largely around my personal feeling that rape is not a valid plot device. I am aware that it is a handy way of putting a female led in peril but it crops up in a fair number of urban fantasy books to the extent that it feels like rape is being trivialised.

With the Mercy Thompson series you can at least say it was foreshadowed so wasn’t a complete surprise, in the first book Moon Called there is heavy implication of something inappropriate and sexual happening to a young teen who is being held hostage and Mercy’s branding of someone as a rapist, in book 2 Blood Bound Mercy concludes the chap she accused of being a rapist probably isn’t but she uses a rape analogy for when a vampire fed from her without consent – I can see why that would feel a potentially appropriate description as it is a bodily violation.

iron kissed

(It is curiously hard to find images of the old UK covers online despite the fact they are far more tasteful than the US covers or the new UK ones)

Which means that is isn’t a huge surprise that book three goes THERE, I dislike the scene but at least Briggs does deal a bit with the aftermath, Mercy isn’t magically expected to pick herself and carry on as normal – except she sort of does.

What I find most disappointing is that the rest of the book is actually interesting, ok so there isn’t much werewolf stuff or shifter stuff but the fae plotline is really interesting and was something that I’d have liked to not associate with rape.

On the plus side, the book does at least make sure the reader will remember to not trust the fae.

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Book: Patricia Briggs’ ‘Blood Bound’ – “Of course, eating him would work, too”

Blood Bound’ is the 2nd book in the Mercy Thompson series.

Mercy is still a mechanic, still a coyote and gradually getting more involved in both the local werewolf pack and with the local vampire seethe.

It seems slightly odd that in book two of a series with a walker/shapeshifter main character and strong werewolf links is primarily interested in vampires. Specifically how the local vampires feel a demonically-possess vampire.

Stefan is an interesting vampire character, he was different to any other portrayal of a vampire that I’ve read – although I’m very open to  recommendations of similar portrayals!

blood bound

There werewolves don’t shine in this book, they are interesting but they aren’t the main focus – apart from the mention that Ben isn’t the rapist that Mercy thought he was in the first book there isn’t that much werewolf character development.

Some people would argue with this statement, but I honestly feel that Mercy making excuses for the two werewolves who want to get into her pants isn’t character development.

A fair few times there were lines that tracked as follows: “It wasn’t his fault, werewolf instincts are very strong.”

It feels that a lot of a book is making excuses for unequal relationships and repressing women – the entire species of werewolves have never heard of female liberation and it is clearly stated that females take their status in the pack from their (male) mate’s status.

If there first two-thirds of the book had contained more action I wouldn’t have been able to dwell on this, but there wasn’t much happening for most of the book so I got to considering how I kept half expecting Mercy to be clubbed over the head and dragged back to a cave by one of the two male leads. This makes me root for Mercy less than I would usually – she is a funny narrator and she is intelligent but she get involved in stupid situations and gets in avoidable trouble by being headstrong.

My biggest issue with the book is I couldn’t shake one phrase “he ate me” – the scene linked to this was unnecessarily disturbing and it really bugged me.

Overall I don’t like this book as much as the first one, I don’t think I want to keep it.

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Book: Patricia Briggs’ ‘Moon Called’ – “Dance when the moon sings, and don’t cry about troubles that haven’t yet come”

‘Moon Called’ is the first book in the Mercy Thompson series – as it features werewolves, walkers, fae and vampires there is a lot of background and scene setting contained.

Mercy (Mercedes)  Thompson is a mechanic and can change into a coyote since birth (as oppose to a skin walker who uses a combination of magic an animal skins).

Despite not being a werewolf Mercy knows a lot about them as she was raised in a powerful werewolf pack.

She moved away from the pack but her next-door neighbour is a werewolf Alpha – as this is an Urban Fantasy book naturally he is also rather hot.

moon called

The plot develops slowly but neatly and Mercy’s role in it makes sense, she can hold her own without being too much of a Mary Sue and it is interesting to see how her friendships with a variety of beasties are beneficial without feeling abused.

There isn’t any romance to speak of but groundwork is laid for future books to build on.

It is very clearly a start of  series as there is a lot of telling but there is still a decent amount of action. It is also nice that the bad guy and their motivations aren’t immediately guessable which is lovely.

Some of the minor details that are mentioned as background are really intriguing, for example that the outed fae live on Reservations and the parallels to Native American experiences of such things.

I will say one thing, I much prefer the tasteful grey & black old UK cover to either the US one or the new UK one.

I like this book and have read it several times without wanting to get rid of it yet – which is a novelty!

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Film: ‘Cursed’ – “I guess there’s no such thing as safe sex with a werewolf.”

‘Cursed’ is a 2005 teen horror directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, these three details (date, director, writer) led to certain expectations; namely it won’t be straight horror – there will be attempts at humour (which may or may not work), and it will have plot holes you could drive an SUV through.

Also the plot will feature young adults/teenagers in situations with inexplicably few adults. Which is how Ellie (Christina Ricci) is the indeterminately aged sole guardian of her brother Jimmy (Jess Eisenberg) and has a creepy older boyfriend in the form of Joshua Jackson. Whilst Ellie and Jimmy’s lack of parents is covered it is interesting to note that none of Jimmy’s peers appear to have parents either.

One night they are involved in a car accident that ends up in the woods and are mauled by a creature. Stuff then happens that requires varying degrees of suspension of disbelief – ranging from “a lot” to “as much as you can muster”.

cursed

Part of the need for lots of suspended disbelief is due to the rampant inconsistencies with physical objects in the film – for example Ellie’s hair is entirely inconsistent (sometimes in the same scene) and various windows, doors and other things magically repair themselves. It transpires that there was a mid filming hiccup and a lot of rejigging (and rewrites) to the extent that it is a minor miracle the film was unleashed on the world at all.

‘Cursed’ isn’t as self aware as ‘Scream’ but it has enough knowing winks to make up for a very familiar plotline. Everyone in pretty and hip to the extent that it feels less like a horror film and more like an advert for the latest must have product.

Despite this multitude of flaws it was an amusing little film that didn’t require too much brain power, had no shocks or twists that couldn’t be seen a mile away and had curiously little blood splatter for a werewolf film!

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Book: Ariana Hawkes’ ‘Isabel and The Wolf’ – The author would like you to breath heavily

This was part one of a series of four short serials which feature werewolves and erotic romance… well not so much romance as erotica and dominance play. The book is certainly aimed at over 18s!

Isabel move from Chicago to somewhere in New Mexico, she decides it would be a wonderful idea to look on the internet for men to dominate her.

When stood up on the first date with a man (Peter) she then agrees to meet him at his home – which is just straight serial killer territory.

Amazingly she doesn’t end up dead, which is exceedingly unlikely in real life.

Despite smut not being my preferred genre and this story being free it isn’t actually *that* badly written – although I did skim over most of the bits involving that-sort-of-thing – not that Peter gets anything out of his pants in this instalment.

I have zero intent of reading the other three instalments to see if Peter manages to actually cope with penetration.

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Book: Dawn Nicole Stevens’ ‘Forgotten (The Mystikó-lykos Series Book 1)’ – “Things between them would be different now that she remembered who she was”

So far free Kindle books are broadening my horizons – in so far as I now really understand that something which is free can still feel overpriced.

Case in point being Dawn Nicole Stevens’ ‘Forgotten’. It is basically werewolves with added twaddle.

A woman, let’s call her Jane Doe, wakes up in a US hospital with no memory, is convinced to follow a strange man to Germany – GERMANY. Good grief, even with no memory how on earth does that seem a good idea?

Then Jane decides to dwell on how fab it would be to have a mate – full on life partner territory, she has no memory and knows that she doesn’t have an existing mate … because she hasn’t been bitten… oh my goodness.

Perhaps this drivel is readable if you like nonsensical lazy gender stereotypes, for example:

“She had a pretty face, but she wasn’t really curved like a woman.”

Perhaps it is tolerable if you like your female lead to be weak, spineless and stupid:

“She wasn’t a woman worthy of a man like Dirk. She had so many dark secrets hidden away in her consciousness. She wasn’t the sweet, naïve women he’d rescued from the hospital.”

Urk, I don’t understand the appeal of this sort of story – even if I try. The entire story is written as though the author’s first language isn’t English – things are often phrased in a clunky manner and the incorrect word used (Manor instead of Manner).

Delete is a wonderful function!

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Book: Cassandra Clare’s ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ – ” She looks like someone whose phone number should be on a bathroom wall.”

I haven’t read any of the six Mortal Instrument books but I have now seen the film of the first one.

If it wasn’t for the massive eyebrows and REALLY bad music it might have been an ok film, the effects were rather good at the very least.

However the snogging in the rain in the greenhouse scene made me reach for the remote.

the mortal instrumentsAnd gosh Simon is SO painfully two-dimensional in this film, judging by the book spoilers that doesn’t change for a couple of books.

clary and her enourmous eyebrows

There are some nice touches that seem to come from the books, for example the idea that Bach’s music can expose demons is rather fun, but the film feels clunky and slightly lost. And I spent far too much time wondering if her eyebrows are so HUGE in the book.

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