Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson #3) by Patricia Briggs

1412138Published January 2nd 2008 by Ace Books

Lately I’ve been craving some alpha-shifter-romance novels and I stumbled upon my Mercy Thomson shelf. There was a time before my kindle, you know, when I ordered books and never really read them resulting in me hording a full shelf of Patricia Briggs novels that are now morphing into dust catchers in my basement. I’ve been reading Mercy Thompson a few years back but never went further than book nr. 2. Unfortunately, this hasn’t kept me from pre-ordering every fucking book which leaves me no other option but to admit that clearly I suffer from compulsive book hoarding syndrome. There you have it, I need help, medical care, psychological therapy.

The first Mercy Thommpson book was even better than I remembered and I was sucked right back into this world. Then I skipped the second book, Blood Bound, because it was all about the vamps and went right to the third book Iron Kissed, which focuses on the fey. I love Briggs’ fey, especially Zee. Why? I am just so impressed about the accurate German references in this book. As you might know, Briggs graduated from Montana State University with degrees in history and German and her love for German cars, German language and German fairy tales shows. I adore it!

But the more the story in Iron Kissed progressed the more it got difficult for me to really like it. Some of the scenes were so bewildering. 

“Ménage-à-trois” or “Curtain up for alpha monstrosities”:
A love triangle is not per se something I dislike, but in this case both male characters and the execution of the romance were more than perplexing. Mercy flip-flops between her childhood sweetheart Sam and her more recent attraction to Adam. I was into neither of them.

Sam a several hundred years old Werewolf tried to seduce her at age 16 not because he loved her or anything but because Mercy in his eyes was the only female worldwide (talk about specialness, yo!) who can give birth to werewolf puppies. What a creepy, pedophile, manipulative bastard. And now he is Mercy’s roommate and wants to win her back? And she lets him court her, because she has these First Love memories? He coldly manipulated her into falling in love with him when she was just 14, he wanted to marry and mate with her when she was 16/17. This is just something … simply no! And there is this moment after a party when they both laugh it off and decide they are not in love with each other and never will be? This was the lamest solving of a love-triangle I ever heard of. You just don’t fall out of love one night after being in love for more than 15 years. Just no!

And then there is Adam, Alpha supreme, and imho asshole superlative. He is constantly invading her personal space, he showers his unwanted affection on her, he declared her his mate before his pack and now she has to deal with the ramifications. And everybody pesters her to decide although she never wanted to be his mate in the first place. Example: He installs a security system in her garage without even asking her. I never for one second felt emotional attached to their “romance”. I just couldn’t care less about his character. There is a scene at the beginning where his daughter comes home after being beaten by some high-school dumbasses and he doesn’t care that she is bleeding and hurt, he doesn’t call a doctor … What he does is shouting and intimidating her further into telling him who did it so he can go and murder them. Mercy has to constantly tiptoe around his volatile character and play submissive wolf just so that Adam doesn’t turn HULK punching walls.

I mean really this is sooooo not romantic: a pedophile creep on the one side and an aggressive cave-man who barely controls himself on the other. My bullshit-o-meter alarm is blaring.

And then the ending: Are you fucking kidding me? She was raped and two days later she walks around all back to normal and decides I am no victim and thus is over the whole rape-incident and then decides that Adam is THE MAN and has sex with him???????????

How to change from awesome to stupid female
Mercy’s character also made a 180 degree turn from the first book to this one. She gets herself non-stop into stupid and dangerous situations and then runs screaming to Adam for help where in Moon Called she was the one who saved Adams life and helped save his daughter. It’s like she digresses from a smart and inventive, albeit impulsive heroine into an emotional instable bunny that needs constant saving and pampering. It was very sad to witness her decline.

Conclusion
The mystery elements and the overall storyline as well as the world of shifters, witches and vampires really kept me engrossed. But the romance and character development annoyed the hell out of me.

Murder of Crows (The Others #2) by Anne Bishop

17563080Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Roc
I am a huge Anne Bishop fan and have been waiting for the second book in her “Others” series for almost a year now. Like Bishop’s “Black Jewels” trilogy the world-building of ‘The Others’ is unique and very intense. I have read Written in Red so many times now because of the characters and hilarious interactions. I squealed with delight when I got my ARC from the publishers (Penguin Group / Roc).

Anne Bishop understands the concept of a fantasy trilogy so well. Thank you for not disappointing me with the second-book syndrome so many trilogies suffer from these days. Where Written in Red was mainly character based and focused on world-building and introducing us to the Courtyard’s inhabitants and their interaction with Meg, Murder of Crows is clearly more plot-driven, action-filled and focused on the rising tension between humans and earth natives. Bishop takes a step further from Lakeside territory introducing us to other Courtyards, Cities and characters around Thaesia. One thing that might irritate some readers is the resulting, almost fragmented storytelling: You will get a lot more POVs from Burke, Monty, The Controller, Jean and some other, new characters. On the one hand it gives you a wider perspective on a political level and increases the mystery elements, on the other I felt like there could have been more of Simon and Meg. Also, I kind of missed Sam and the Elementals who have almost no onscreen-time.

The romance (again) is not the main focus of the book, which is understandable if you count in the “childlike innocence” Meg still has to grow-out of. It’s hard to explain and not to spoil. There are inclinations, moments, and recurring thoughts on both parts but it goes very slowly. It’s a long, stony way for both: Meg for the first time in her life is free to decide what she wants, but she has to find out who she is first. There is a lot of uncertainty and the only thing she is sure of is that she likes Simon, that everything romantic or sexual makes her uncomfortable at least at the moment. There are also some obstacles for Simon: He is the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard and even if he is more progressive than other earth natives, he still feels uncomfortable about getting too human. Meg has changed a lot in how the “Others” perceive and act towards humans, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are not human, or that humans to the “Others” are still meat with skills.

What I love most about Murder of Crows was again the hilarious undertones.

“No,” Meg replied tightly. “It’s not a cut, so there aren’t any vision or prophecies with this kind of blood.”
Simon cocked his head. “There are different kinds of blood?”
Vlad, who was standing closer to her, looked at her face and took a step back. Simon whished he hadn’t put on the jeans so he could grow a tail and tuck it over his make bits.
“I’m a girl!” she shouted. “It happens!”
Simon glanced at Vlad, who looked equally puzzled.
“You’re both so quick to think it’s “this time of month” whenever a girl isn’t all sweet and sunny, but it doesn’t occur to you, when it really is that time of the month.
“Human females. They’re kind of crazay during this time, aren’t they?
“If you choose to believe the stories written by make writers,” Vlad replied.
They heard a bang and thump from the kitchen, followed by Meg yelling at something. Simon sighed. “That many males can’t be wrong.”

The only really sad thing? I have to wait again for the next book now.

ARV-3 (The after life saga #1) by Cameo Renae

18629550Published November 26th 2013 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Oh my god this was partially really good but had so many faults.

The good: I found the apocalyptic / post-apocalyptic world interesting but I was not convinced by the concept. According to the story, a massive solar storm wiped out all electricity on the planet. The following Nuclear fallout wiped out life on the planet, except for a few thousand humans who took shelter in underground bunkers across the globe.
When the ejection is directed towards the Earth and reaches it as an interplanetary CME (ICME), the shock wave of the traveling mass of Solar Energetic Particles causes a geomagnetic storm that may disrupt the Earth’s magnetosphere. Coronal mass ejections, along with solar flares of other origin, can disrupt radio transmissions and cause damage to satellites and electrical transmission line facilities, resulting in potentially massive and long-lasting power outages.

So far so good. But, it takes 17h for a solar flare to reach Earth. There would have been enough time to switch off potentially dangerous atomic power plants. 

But let’s go with the story and assume all those scientists at NASA, ESA & Roskosmos, haven’t seen it coming, and the solar storm was like a GIANT GLOBAL EMP and everybody on this planet just wakes up without ANY electricity and EVERY SINGLE nuclear power plant was going to go Chernobyl on us. Life on Earth wouldn’t be over. Life in Europe and USA would be over. But let’s have a look at a picture of nuclear power plant around the glove:

There is not a single red dot in Alaska and Canada, Africa, South America, Australia, large parts of Russia and Asia. Why not evacuate people to these countries, with sailboats and steamboats if need be.

But let’s just go with the story. There are big, government hives and some small “family” hives, build by those who prepared for exactly this end-of-the-world scenario. How people can survive 13 years in a bunker is beyond me. The amount of dried fruits and noodles to feed 15 people for almost 5000 days… wow… is simply unbelievable. The amount of toilet paper alone is unthinkable! I found it not nearly enough explained how people survived that long without sunlight, without access to the surface in an underground bunker.

Now, after thirteen years, people finally are able to return to the topside only to find the world full of aggressive mutants. I have to admit, I did enjoy the Arvies. They are crazed, milky-eyed creatures who have developed a deep hatred towards all survivors over the last decade and they totally like to bite and rip them apart. Also there is more to them than a Zombie-like almost dead status on the surface. They are feeling, communicating and strategizing human-like creatures. And they want revenge for what the government did to them. That was the best part of the book because you never know when one or several hundreds of them are going to pop out behind you. There’s a lot of action with guns, bombs and snipers. Loved it!

Apart from this the story didn’t appeal to me on every other level. Almost all characters are very cliché: you have the ex-Navy Seal uncle who is depicted like a middle-aged Rambo, there is her Mom who constantly panics, her grandparents were kind of forgotten after their introduction, same with Abi’s cousin that never even gets mentioned again in the entire book! the people in the government hive were even more cliché and absolutely nobody contributed in any way to the story. That was kind of a letdown. It felt like the potential of group dynamics under pressure was totally wasted. The interactions remained unfortunately shallow and sketchy which also left gigantic-sized opportunities for plot holes that were filled by “deus-ex-machina”, literally. I have nothing against religion, but please spare me with prayers that are being answered and all the talk about karma and fate. There are like 3 major events where they are up to their ears in a shit storm and would you believe it, they pray to God and salvation comes. Unrealistic much?

One example: Abi is fighting against an Arvy and it’s a close call. Her uncle saves her by shooting it through the head. Unfortunatelly the same bullet also goes through her hand. I ask you: If a disease is transmissible by saliva (remember the bites) wouldn’t it also be by blood contact?

Have I mentioned the romance? No? Shame on me! How could I forget to tell you about ohmygodhejustlookedatmeisn’theawesome FINN. Finn who will always love her, be there for her, who even gives her an engagement ring, who kisses her senseless, love-lost. Kill me please! It was a lot of telling instead of showing involved.

If not for all its faults, Abi’s ass-kicking character, the action and interesting drafted Arvies would have been enough to grant at least 1 or two stars more. But despite my misgivings, I am still interested in the next book in this series.