Review – Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8)

night broken_front mech.inddI put this book on my currently reading shelf January 27.  Then I proceeded to avoid reading it for about 4 months.  Why?  Because of the synopsis:

From Goodreads: “An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.  Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.  Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.”

Were my worries justified?  Pretty much – yes.  I’m going to try not be too spoiler-y but I just want to tell you why I was frustrated with some of our characters.

The pack – why don’t we start with this pack of people that don’t deserve Mercy, hmmm.  I’ve said it in prior reviews.  I have a problem with the fact that all the female pack members treat Mercy like crap.  She has no female friends in or outside the group.  Why do they hate her?  Because she isn’t a wolf but a coyote.  OK…follow me here.  The women apparently loved Christy, Adam’s ex, who is human.  She was able to give Adam a child (apparently one of their jealousies toward Mercy is that she could have a child.)  Ergo, if they hate Mercy for this reason why don’t they hate Christy?  Mercy has saved their butts on more than one occasion and is not only a loving mate to Adam but an asset to the pack.  It no longer makes sense for them to treat her this way and I’ve had it up to here.

Adam – My favorite alpha has gone down several notches and he may not be able to recover in my eyes.  I hardly comment on other reader’s reviews (everyone reads things differently).  But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why more female readers weren’t infuriated with him.  We are reminded that he still pays ALL of Christy’s bills.  He allows her to come into their home (HE should have been the one to say no and not turned it on Mercy for her to make the decision.)  When she’s on her way, he talks about the fact that people will be susceptible to her manipulations and then he falls right into it.  Nothing too overt but…he reminisces with her, he allows her to put her makeup in his bathroom (seriously, this is worthy of death in and of itself), he allows the pack to fawn all over her while crapping on Mercy and he lets her have his cell phone when he knows she is screening Mercy’s calls.  By the way, that almost gets Mercy killed but who’s keeping score.

Mercy – I hate martyrs.  Mercy was a martyr here and I am so disappointed.  Her childish way of dealing with Christy in the end was not sufficient.  She should have put a foot up her butt and let the door hit her on the way out.  Instead she suffered.  She let the pack treat her badly and then fought for them.  Over and over.  I lost so much respect for her.

Notice that Christy isn’t on the list.  She is who she is.  Everyone went into this situation knowing what she would do and she did it.  They chose to let it happen.  I blame them.  Not her.

What makes me most sad is that I might just be done with this series.  5-star writing but I can’t take the direction of the story.  Too much manufactured angst for no reason.  This would have been a great book without Christy.  Don’t Mercy and Adam deserve that?  I think so.

2/5 stars.  The 2nd star is only because Stefan makes an appearance. We are reminded of something from a few books back and I actually went back to thinking that there should be more of him in the series.  Options, Patricia Briggs.  Mercy has them.

Random Post – What’s with all the judgment?

Since I saw a Facebook post this morning, something has been on my mind.  And my blog has become my go to place for personal thoughts (certainly not Facebook where it’s too combative.)  So here I am talking about judgmental people.

Listen, I could be super serious here and talk about all the judgments we make on one another and how wrong that is.  But, it’s almost always the little things that irritate me the most.  This is a little thing.  (But is it?  As I’m typing I’m not so sure it’s a little thing.)

A local radio show asked the question – “Even if you aren’t a mother, why do you think you should get a Mother’s Day gift?”  They meant it to be fun.  “I want a Mother’s Day gift because I take care of my husband.”  Or, “I deserve a gift for dealing with my coworkers.”

Several of the commenters stated that they didn’t have any human children but did have pet babies and thought their significant other should get them a Mother’s Day gift.  It was sweet and cute.  My husband has gotten me things for Mother’s Day from my two dogs and cat.  It made me feel good.

Then the responses – “To all these people saying that they are Mothers to pets – You aren’t.  Mothers have human children. Pets aren’t children.  You don’t know love or being a mother until you have a child.”  The tone of all of these was so condescending and judgmental that it has grated on my nerves for hours.  AND IT WAS ALL WOMEN TREATING OTHER WOMEN BADLY.  Why do we do this?  Why can’t we stick together, accept our differences and embrace each other?

I don’t have children.  It’s none of your business as to why or why not.  That is between me and my husband.  I do love my pets and will call them my “kids” to those who understand.  They are my companions and are more loyal and kind than most of the people I deal with on a daily basis.  So, yeah, they are my family.

I have dealt with some ‘mommy’ judgment before.  When you are a woman of a certain age and haven’t had children, it’s a given that some (not all) of the mothers out there will treat you like an outcast either with unwanted pity or with the condescending comments while giving you the side eye to make sure that you understand they are addressing it to you.  “I never knew love until I had my child.”  “I feel sorry for those that don’t know the love of a child.”  All of this may be true.  And I am super happy for every mother out there who feels this way.  But, don’t throw that judgement on me that I am less of a woman or caretaker because I haven’t birthed a child.  Unless you are great friends with someone, you don’t know their circumstances.  They may have tried and tried to have kids unsuccessfully.  That person may have had a miscarriage.  Or, what about someone who has lost a child and choses to give that love an outlet with a pet?  Maybe they just felt they didn’t want a child, couldn’t afford a child or wanted to live a different life.  Seriously, who are you to judge them?  It infuriates me.

I’ll keep my fur babies.  Thank you very much.  They love unconditionally, know when I need them and, best of all, don’t talk back.

End of rant.

Review – Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, #11) by Jim Butcher

turn coat
You may or may not have noticed that my posts recently have been few and far between.  Work and real life have been crazy.  Time to read and blog has become precious.  For the first time in recent years I am way behind on my personal reading challenge and probably won’t hit my goal.  That’s okay.  Life happens.

Why do I tell you this?  Because when you are so busy that you barely get a chance to do your favorite thing (read, duh), then it’s pretty telling to look at what you choose.  For me it’s been all Dresden.

You know what? TURN COAT was so worth it!  I’ve officially added it as one of my favorites.  Not just in this series but overall.

I’m actually kind of surprised by how much I loved it.  It has a lot of political and bureaucratic undertones with the White Council and their rules and regulations.  Michael doesn’t appear and I’ve come to love him as part of Harry’s world.  And, one of my least favorite characters, Morgan, is a primary player.  This should have been a recipe for disaster.  And, somehow, it is spectacular.

Once you reach book 11 in a series the author risks: recycling story lines, characters who become caricatures of themselves, lazy world-building and lackluster results.  Butcher has done the opposite.  This series has just gotten better.  Harry continues to grow and evolve.  Book 1 Harry wouldn’t recognize himself now.  He has a strong group of friends and allies.  Hells Bells, he even has his head on straight when it comes to women.  I never would have thought that early on.

Using Morgan as part of the main storyline here was genius.  He and Harry have been at odds since Book 1, Chapter 1.  Faithful readers don’t like him.  But, man oh man, does his story work here.

When I started this series, I thought, “OK…there are 15 books already published.  I will either hate the series and stop after a couple or if I do like it, I won’t have long waits between books as it will take me forever to get through these.”  How wrong was I?  I am itching to pick up book 12 right now and can easily read one of them in a day.  Book 16, Peace Talks, isn’t published until May of 2016.  2016????

The final thought I want to leave is actually for the author.  “Dang you Jim Butcher for making me cry.”

5/5 stars.  What a ride!

Review – Small Favor (Dresden Files #10) by Jim Butcher

927979What?  Yes, it’s been over a month since my last book review post.  I’ve been busy.  Very.  Very.  Busy.

But, I did have time to read book ten in the Dresden Files series.  And it was my favorite yet.  Probably by a long shot.

Harry still owes Mab, the Winter Queen of the Sidhe, two favors and she calls upon him to find a kidnap victim.  Turns out Harry knows him – Marcone.  That’s right.  The mob boss.  Why is Mab involved?  Why is Harry being targeted by the Summer Court and specifically the Billy Goats Gruff?  Why am I asking so many questions and using every punctuation mark available?

The best books in this series include the fight between good and evil (or at least those that consider themselves good and / or evil.)  Here we have the Knights of the Cross and the Fallen once again.  We see a lot of Michael and his family.  He’s been a hit or miss character for me since most of the time he is such a “just have faith” person.  Here, though, we see the culmination of things that have been foreshadowed and it was an edge of your seat, nail-biting time.  Michael became someone I cared about along with so many of Harry’s other friends.

Even Molly, Harry’s apprentice, was a more likable character.  She is growing up.  Finally.

I want to say so much more but I’m afraid to get spoiler-y and there is just too much goodness within these pages for me to do that to you.

For those that are just starting this series, YES – it does get better as it goes.  Forgive some of the small things early on and you will be rewarded.  If you haven’t tried the Dresden Files, why not?

5/5 stars.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

P.S. There are several short stories and novellas between Small Favor and the next book, Turn Coat.  I’ve gotten through most of them at this point.  Some are better than others but one, Warrior, is probably one of my favorite stories read this year.  It also focuses on Michael and I’m seriously tearing up typing this.  What defines a warrior?  How can small everyday decisions affect someone unintentionally?  It’s worth purchasing Side Jobs (the short story collection) for this story alone.

Moving day thoughts

This is more like a cathartic journal entry than a blog post. I apologize in advance. 

  

In late January we noticed that a home (same floor plan as ours) sold very quickly in our neighborhood. Curious, we looked up the sales price and found that it was an amount that we would be happy to accept for our own house.  We had planned to stay for a few more years even though we weren’t super happy here if I’m being honest. It’s hard to use the outdoor space as the houses are so close together and with the influx of young families came a lot of noise.  I love kids but sometimes I want to sit on my porch and drink coffee without having to listen to 20 of them screaming in the street. 

With minimal expectations, we listed our house with the realtor that sold the other home. Lo and behold, about a week later we had an accepted offer. Panic time set in. Within a few days we had to find a new house, make an offer and start the painful process of MOVING. 

Today we are finally almost there. The movers are packing up the truck as I type. Yet my stomach is in knots and I don’t feel the excitement that I hoped. 

In some ways this was an easy sale and move. The realtor sold our house in a week. My husband and I have moved enough that we were very organized with the packing so that all the movers have to do is put everything on the truck. We love the house we are buying. With over an acre and woods on 3-sides, we will finally have the privacy and quiet that we have craved. 

So, what’s wrong?  Partly, I won’t be able to relax until we have the keys for the new house in our hands. I’m pretty sure the people purchasing our current home are first time homebuyers and their realtor must be fairly new. They were over an hour late when they originally looked at the house which meant I had to leave twice. With two collies. Then the inspection. Don’t get me started. Honestly everything they asked for was minor and cosmetic and that isn’t the purpose of the inspection. But you get to a certain point in the process and you just want it done so you agree even though it kind of infuriates you. And for some reason they showed up when the termite guy came to do the CL100. Um, dudes, no one does that. And even if they do, you need to knock on the door to let me know you are here before you go rummaging around in my garage and walking through the yard like you already own the place. That wasn’t cool and almost made me lose it. We went to sign our portion of the paperwork Friday so that tomorrow could be all about the purchase of our new home. Do you think it went as planned?  Nope, the buyers attorney had not sent the HUD. Still haven’t seen it. And that has to be done before we can buy our new house. 

It doesn’t help that I’m self employed and in the thick of busy season. Luckily I have some great employees and great customers. Only a few people have really tried my patience. When one customer sent me a text a few days ago telling me to HURRY, I almost snapped but as Elsa says I’ve decided to “Let it Go.”  It’s spring. We’re landscapers. It’s busy. Get over it. (By the way, I’m not being flippant. I am consistently told we are the most responsive service provider that people work with and that we get estimates out and work done quicker than almost everyone.)

I’m trying to have faith that all will go as planned or at least close enough to plan tomorrow. Like I said, all I want is the keys to my new house. And about 3 bottles of wine that first night. 

Review – White Night (The Dresden Files, #9) by Jim Butcher

91475Once again, Harry is called upon to help investigate a case, unofficially, for the police.  Murphy doesn’t believe a woman committed suicide and Harry finds evidence to support that. They discover that the deaths of several low-grade magic practitioners have been labeled incorrectly.  Who is targeting these women and why would they leave a message at this scene for Harry?  It starts to look like Thomas, Harry’s half-brother/White Court vamp, might be involved.  And, a gray cloak (warden?) has also been at the scenes.  Vampire power struggles, covens of suspicious witches, an apprentice who is a typical teenage girl.  What else will Harry have to deal with?

This is another solid installment in the series.  But, something wasn’t quite there for me.

Molly, Harry’s apprentice, serves a purpose in the story.  I get it.  But, yeah, I just don’t like her.  She’s a brat and doesn’t get the danger she puts herself and therefore Harry in when she doesn’t listen to his instructions.  Hopefully she’ll grow up and not be the death of Harry.  Luckily she isn’t a primary character in White Night.

Murphy, our other main female character, was a little two-dimensional.  Now that she’s been demoted she doesn’t have the same power in the police force.  Maybe she is feeling that and it comes through the pages.  She gets to kick butt a few times but I keep waiting for her character to take it the next level.  I know there is something coming for her and after 9 books I’m anxious to get there.

Harry, Harry, Harry.  I love you like a brother but seriously you need to find a girlfriend.  Stat.  I can hardly pay attention to the main storyline with your panting over every woman you see.  I know Murphy doesn’t seem to be an option.  And, Lara, yeah, stay away from that crazy vamp.  But there’s got to be someone out there who can, how do I put this delicately, get that monkey off your back.

4/5 stars.  A good story with great pacing.  Just needed more oomph.

Review – Dead Spots by Rhiannon Frater

16109210I am a big fan of Rhiannon Frater. She writes strong female characters with interesting paranormal and horror stories as the backdrop.

And, I have to say that Dead Spots is probably my favorite so far.

Mackenzie has gone through a horrible 6 month period and now is traveling through Texas to move back in with her mother as she pulls her life together. When she almost hits a deer and stops unexpectedly, she decides to spend a few minutes exploring a deserted old restaurant. As she walks in, she discovers that she has enters a Dead Spot – she’s no longer in the real world but that of fears and nightmares.

Part horror, part psychological thriller, part paranormal, part women’s fiction. It works.

One of the things that I love is that Frater doesn’t write about perfect women with perfect lives. Mac has suffered, been wronged and is close to the end of her rope when she goes into the Dead Spot. But, she learns to take care of herself…with a few bumps in the road. The men also aren’t cardboard cutouts. They are real with strengths and weaknesses.

Plus, the Dead Spots are freaky. I wouldn’t consider it horror with a capital H but there is plenty here to make you want to keep the night-light on and check under the bed before you go to sleep.

A great addition to your library and highly recommended. 5/5 stars.
P.S. I did have one minor quibble but it had nothing to do with the book itself. The cover model is a blonde. Mac is a brunette. I can see why a blonde would work better with the color scheme but it just seems off. Publishers, don’t do this.