The Thousandth Floor

Man, that opening. What a hook. I thought it was going to be cliche. I thought I was going to have this shining example to hold up to say “Never try to hook your reader with this sort of thing…”

And then I read this WHOLE BOOK trying to figure out that hook, because it intrigued me. It worked really well, with this ensemble cast. All you know is that the character it’s speaking about is female. You don’t even know if she’s a major player. All you know is that she’s about to die, and you want to figure out who in the hell she is.

I’ll agree, no hesitation, with other comments I’ve heard/read about this book, that the characters can be pretty shallow. I think when you’re dealing with an ensemble cast and your book isn’t anywhere near as long as an A Song of Ice and Fire tome, you’re going to have to delve a little less deep just to cover the main storyline. Did I still care about the characters? Sure. They’re pretty fascinating. It all unfurls in a sort of soap-opera way. A futuristic soap opera all about teenagers. They all have desires and conflicts and different living situations that complicate things.

Everyone is a bit overdramatic, though it feels pretty authentically teenager. Throw in all the drugs and alcohol, and I have no hesitation believing it. There are a lot of female protagonists, which was great. Actually my favorite character ended up being the one male protagonist that we get POV chapters from. Watt, and his special friend Nadia, are fascinating to me. I think McGee ended up nailing that circumstance and those interactions so well that Watt/Nadia will be the reason I keep reading these books. The other characters are interesting, but Watt/Nadia were compelling.

While avoiding spoilers, I do have to say that the ending wasn’t what I expected, and I really wanted it to go a different way. I can see why it was necessary, sort of. And I’m not complaining that I’ll get to read more of Watt/Nadia since this isn’t a stand-alone book. But I think it ended the way it did because the author really wanted a second book (or maybe her publisher did?) and she needed to set things up in such a way that there was plenty to keep writing about. Except, I could definitely see plenty to keep writing about if things had gone the way I wanted them to, in the end, rather than the ending that was written.

Still, that could be the ending that was intended all along, and if so, it isn’t necessarily a bad one. There’s definitely setup for book two, and motivation to keep reading if there are characters in play that you care about.

The futuristic elements of the book were handled well, I thought. It’s a different sort of world these teenagers live in, and it adds a lot of interesting and compelling dynamics to the story. I’ll be picking up the sequel, once it’s released.

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A Torch Against the Night

Second books in a trilogy are sometimes lackluster. NOT SO WITH THIS BOOK. It doesn’t feel like a bridge between books one and three at all. This feels like an action-packed amazing continuation and escalation of the original story.

Elias and Laia and Helene—they are such beautifully-wrought characters. I can’t get enough of Elias and Laia, and getting to know Helene was supposed to be sort of tedious, right, because she’s all pious? Except NO WAY could Tahir’s writing ever be tedious. Every chapter was engaging and lovely.

The mythos woven into this story, the magical powers and legends, they build up at just the right pace. You never feel like she’s infodumping, and you always get the next bit just when you want a little bit more to keep you guessing.

Settings, perfect. Story, perfect. Well, okay. There was one thing I saw coming before it happened, but I think that was just because I was shipping a particular pairing so hard that I wanted to believe I was right about this other thing…and even then, I only guessed a small portion of what it actually was, and the greater truth was big and momentous.

All the feels, in this book. ALL OF THEM. If you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes, start there, and DO NOT STOP until you’ve finished this one and are waiting as eagerly for the third book as I am. Seriously. Do it.

An Ember in the Ashes

OMG this book is frickin good. Wow. I LOVED it.

I’d heard a lot of good things, so I was excited about reading it, and I am SO GLAD I finally did. Laia is the daughter of the leaders of the Resistance, put in a difficult position, fighting her personal demons even as she tries to save her brother from death in prison. Elias is training to be one of the elite enforcers of the militaristic people who dominated Laia’s people long ago. Except, he doesn’t want any part of it.

Laia and Elias are SO compelling. They are fascinating and deep and have so many issues and so much messed up stuff to deal with. There’s a really interesting love square which gives you a lot of potential for different shippers. I won’t tell you who I ship directly, in case it’s a spoiler, but I’m in the most obvious camp. 😉

The plot is compelling and there are so many challenges for our protagonists to face. There’s suspense and beautifully fantastic elements woven in. The world’s history is released at just the right pace, so that you see threads that will weave through the rest of the story right when you want to see more of the world. I bet I know what book three is going to be about. At least, I hope it’s going to be about that. Though, I’m not going to lie, if Tahir wanted to stretch this into six, seven, even ten books…I would definitely keep reading. I love Laia and Elias. I love the secondary characters, too. There are all these questions I want answered, that I feel confident Tahir will provide later on in the story. The Commandant’s tattoo. What’s going to happen to Hellene. Who is Cook? (I think I know who she is, but the mystery is being drawn out enough that it makes me question it, and the whole thing is deliciously suspenseful).

I immediately picked up book two upon finishing this one. The prose is beautiful, the settings and world are well crafted, the characters couldn’t possibly be more compelling. Truly beautiful work.

The Kiss of Deception

I really enjoyed the style of writing in Morrighan, so I was excited to read this novel, which happens generations later in the same changed world. I feel like I could understand the geography and different groups of people better having read the novella first.

I’m not going to lie—the plot is a little too convenient. Of course one of the people who finds Lia after she runs away to a small little town is her betrothed. Of course he falls in love with her. I do really appreciate the way the narrative was written, though, keeping you guessing which guy is the prince and which the assassin. That’s pretty clever, and it was mostly done well.

I enjoy Lia’s fiery spirit. I can respect someone who runs away from an arranged marriage, believing there aren’t any other options open to her. And she redeems any immaturity she has with her actions later on. All in all she isn’t the most deep character I’ve ever read, but still plenty enjoyable. Honestly, things are set up for much more intrigue at the end of the first book. I’m interested in reading the second book because now I want to see what happens, and who exactly this assassin guy is.

I was a little surprised that we follow her friend/lady in waiting’s story almost as closely. And I think it was way too convenient that she witnessed something out in the plains, where a certain character she knew just happened to show up in the big wide wastes of the friggin midwest (trying not to give away any spoilers here, so sorry for the vagueness).

Despite my small gripes, though, I still really enjoy this writing style, and the interesting world that Pearson has crafted. It’s nice to find a blend of post-apocalyptic and sort of courtly-tinged adventure story. I think the best part is Lia discovering more about the magical power her people are supposed to possess. That’s intriguing and I’m excited to find out more about it as the books progress.

This would be a great read for a younger audience, mostly female teens, who are into suspenseful, slowly-unfolding romance. You’ve got to like love triangles, too—I know a lot of people are tired of them as a trope, but I think this one is done pretty well and in a different sort of way.

Silence Fallen

I’ll start with the same disclaimer I always start with when I review Mercy Thompson books…if you haven’t already read all the previous ones, go do that. You start with Moon Called, and then work your way through. After you’ve finished up to Fire Touched, you can come read this. 🙂

Silence Fallen, the newest Mercy Thompson novel, is a fabulous continuation of the series, and it offers something extra that we haven’t experienced before in Mercy’s world. I almost didn’t want to read this, because it means I’ve caught up to the publication of Mercy novels, and now have to wait with everyone else until the next one comes out. More Mercy, please!

I’m super glad I read it, though, of course. I always am, with Mercy novels.

In Silence Fallen, we start out in the normal setting, in the tri-cities in Washington. Where do we end up, for the vast majority of the novel? Oh, just Europe. With European vampires and werewolves, of course. 😀

It’s pretty awesome seeing Mercy in such a different setting. She’s away from the comfort of home, and beyond most help, actually, from the people she normally relies on. This book alternates between Mercy’s POV and Adam’s, which is also new and interesting. There’s a fun surprise near the end which I honestly didn’t spot coming, though many people online said they saw it right from the start. I had to do internet searches to have some questions answered by the time I finished the book, actually, because I suspected I knew what happened but wasn’t 100% sure. Sometimes it’s nice to hear the author weigh in themselves.

Once I understood what I’d missed, I was pleasantly entertained.

The characters are, as ever, beautifully realized. There’s a more subtle, tricksy villain in this one than many of the others we’ve seen, and there’s more relationship politics as the US vamps and wolves band together to help Mercy out.

In short, if you’re a Mercy fan, you’ve already read this novel and I don’t know why you’re bothering to read this review. Another excellent addition to the series. Job well done, Patricia Briggs.

Fire Touched

As always, if you haven’t read the other Mercy Thompson books, go do so now. Off you go. No spoilers for you.

Okay, now that all of us here have read up to Night Broken…what should I say about Fire Touched? Is it another solid addition to a fabulous series that keeps me wanting more and more? Yep. Do we get to see more of our favorite characters and explore more magic and fantastical creatures? Yep.

Most of the books have a predominant supernatural focus. Moon Called was werewolves, Blood Bound was vamps, etc. Fire Touched is faeries again, but an interesting twist in that one of the protagonists of this story is a human child who was just trapped in Underhill for a very long time. And She changed him.

Adam is…more than a bit player, in this one. He features prominently. Baba Yaga, as well, which is thrilling and chilling in all the ways she normally elicits the spooky delightful tingles-up-your-spine feels.

The wider world is starting to be more and more influenced by the Fey and the werewolves. There are political ramifications that are felt by all members of the magical communities. And then there’s Mercy, just trying to keep her people alive and healthy, but still called to fight for justice and honor again and again and again. Gods, I could read Mercy all day, every day. She’s one of the best.

Should you read this one? Obviously. But if you’ve already gotten this far, there’s no way you aren’t devouring each new Mercy novel as quickly as it comes out. 🙂

Night Broken

Again, let me start by saying if you haven’t read the other books in the Mercy Thompson series, you should go do that. Seriously. Start with Moon Called, then proceed through Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne, River Marked, and Frost Burned. THEN you can come read this review. Spoilers ahead for the previous books; you’ve been warned.

If Mercy was completely okay with Adam’s ex-wife showing up to stay in their house because some crazy stalker dude is after her—she wouldn’t be realistic. I really love how Mercy is fallible, same as the rest of us. I love how strong she is, too, though. She knows what petty is, and she tries hard to steer clear of it. Her motivations are so genuine in this book. Don’t lose face among the pack. Try to protect her step-daughter from the emotional upheavals. Get out of the house as much as possible, but reclaim her territory when it’s the proper time. Mercy is fabulous.

I have to say, Briggs must know (or have known) someone with NPD. Narcissists are tough to deal with, in relationships, because they can seem so charming and genuine to so many people. Those closest to them, though, tend to be able to see through their bullshit. Man, does Briggs nail Christy in this book! My particularly favorite part was when big strong Darryl, when he’s finally not near Christy anymore, has a smack-the-forehead kind of aha moment. Of course she’s manipulating everyone. Of course he couldn’t see through it before.

It’s a topic that hits close to home for me, because the gaslighting that narcissists do is SO painful and damaging. So seeing Mercy deal with it, faltering like the rest of us, but ultimately coming out of it her own person, confident in herself, is really rewarding. I wish I could have that kind of self-possession and presence around the narcissists in my life.

If you’re wondering if there are also baddies in this book, and awesome fight sequences, and fun werewolf politics, you’re absolutely right. Plus explosions and new mythology (know what a tibicena is? I didn’t either). Fact is, if you’ve read all the Mercy books that come before this one, then you’re going to read Night Broken as well. You don’t need me to convince you. We’re all die-hard Mercy fans at this point.

The end of this book takes you by surprise, and is pretty heart-wrenching. These books don’t make me cry as a general rule…but this one did, just a little bit. Edge of your seat kind of crying.

Now, onwards to the next book…

Frost Burned

I absolutely love the way this book starts out. Mercy and Jesse are out shopping on Black Friday. So mundane, so human. Then Jesse says something interesting and…things really take off. The acceleration is insane in this seventh book of the series.

As ever, if you haven’t read the others in the series, go read them. You don’t want spoilers. Believe me. Read them in order. Go start with Moon Called.

I don’t want to give away the central issue, so let me just say it hardly matters that the “villains” are shrouded in mystery, or using obscure military groups to conduct their evil schemes. The only thing that matters in this book is Mercy and how much she discovers about her abilities. It’s fascinating and beautiful stuff. I love watching Mercy discover herself, her powers, her inheritance.

The ending is a different sort of pace in this novel than everything that comes before it. You don’t really see it coming, and it kind of sneaks up on you. Feels a little off-course and abrupt, too, though poignant for Mercy’s associations with the vampires. Basically, I feel like this book had the climax it did just so we could bring Stefan back into things. You won’t find me complaining about that, though.

This is a tense installment to the Mercy Thompson series. It’s fascinating, and heart breaking, and sets us up well for the novels to follow. Forever Mercy fan, here, if you couldn’t tell.

River Marked

Only Mercy Thompson could go on her honeymoon and encounter a friggin RIVER DEVIL bent on seducing all humans to their deaths by drowning, dismemberment, or mind-controlled thrall-ness. Damn.

If you haven’t read the other books in this series yet, get the hell out of this review and go read them. Seriously. Spoilers ahead, and I don’t want to be the one who ruins them for you.

All gone?

Okay, good. As for the rest of us…(not that you need a review to convince you to read this book, since you’re probably devouring them as fast as you can already…)

So, Mercy and Adam. Not the worst pairing ever. And they seem to suit each other really well. I love that Adam is a super controlling, powerful pack leader—but is continually forced to let Mercy do her own thing. Independent women kick ass, yo.

The river devil isn’t quite as fascinating as the other shapeshifters that Mercy meets in this novel. Including some big powerhouses of the Native American totem variety. Coyote’s role in this book is hard to pin down, just like the trickster he is. I think Briggs writes him super well. And man is it interesting, finding out more about where Mercy comes from!

The climactic battle had me very much on edge. I don’t know how Briggs does it. You think things can’t get any more dangerous than they have already gotten, right? Wrong. She manages to amp it up every single time, until I’m seriously wondering how Mercy is going to stay alive through this, because there are other Mercy books after this in the series. Unless Mercy actually dies and comes back as a ghost or something. Or gets turned into a vamp. Please don’t get turned into a vamp. I don’t want another Anita Blake. I just want Mercy. Mercy forever.

Silver Borne

This fifth installment of the Mercy Thompson books is a must-read for Mercy fans—especially those who love Samuel.

I’m not saying I wanted Mercy and Sam to be together. Really, I’m not. It’s just that Samuel is so much more interesting than Adam. I’m not really drawn to the tortured, I’m-a-werewolf-therefore-I’m-a-hideous-and-irredeemable-monster type guys. I’d go for the brooding Celt over the guilt-ridden Russian any day.

Samuel is having major problems with life in general in this book. His story isn’t quite central to the plot, but it matters a lot, and helps keep the tension high. I love it when the wolves surface. I love the duality of the wolf and human, two separate halves, sometimes cooperating, sometimes dominating each other. I think it’s a really beautiful interpretation of werewolves and creates interesting internal power dynamics.

You get a lot of the werewolves and some Fae in this one, not so much the vamps. The Fae stuff is usually kind of over my head—there’s a lot going on with their complicated society. At least the werewolves and vamps are all basically their own species. The Fae have so many different kinds it’s hard to keep track of them all. There’s a Faerie queen driving the plot of this book, and I didn’t find her as compelling or memorable as some of the other villains from the series so far.

Regardless, you’ve gotta read this book if you already love the series. I mean, come on. You know you want to hear more about Samuel, and get to know him better. Here’s your chance. Go take it.