What I’ve been reading: ‘In Red, With Pearls’ by Patricia Briggs

Oh, wow.  This is the eighth story in the ‘Shifting Shadows’ short story collection by Patricia Briggs.  And this, this is my favourite, by far.

5355256940_ea1fb8b053_oimage – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes

It was an unfair contest, really.  This is the first story to give Mercyverse characters Warren, and his human mate Kyle, starring roles.  Warren and Kyle.  I know for sure that they’re not just my favourites.  They are swoony, ladies.  And gentlemen.  Swoony.

And it’s not only that it features my special pets.  This story, compared to the others thus far, is perfectly structured, the harmony of incident and character sings out, it’s just so satisfying.  It gives you everything you need to work with, warning rumblings of the storm ahead.  And yet, they’re backgrounded sufficiently for the ending to be a kick in the teeth from a mule.

And the passion!  The naked emotion from manly reserved men!  (Well, manly reserved Warren.  Kyle doesn’t hold back his feelings, any more than a bustin’ dam with a hundred tons of water pent up behind it.  When Kyle is indignant or enamoured or just plain out for blood, then look out!)

Oh man, don’t mess with Warren – or his man!  I pity the sister who messes with Warren’s Mr!  (Or Kyle’s, for that matter.)

Dammit.  It’s just too good.  It’s a taste that only makes the reader hungry for more: for a full-length novel, with Warren and Kyle front and centre.  Come onSurely there must be plans in the works?  A novella, even?  A little prequel covering how they met and got together would be amazing!

Ms Briggs!  With all these wonderful LGBTQ characters, you have truly spoiled us!  And like any spoilt brat, all I can say is can we have MORE slashy Mercyverse stories, and soon!  (Can we have gay Bran?)  (Can we have any kind of romance for Bran?  Bran needs lovin’!  Urgently!)

There’s just something about a gay werewolf, folks.  Furry, muscular, wild and free under the moon…  And after this wonderful story, I’m just howlin’ for more.

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What I’ve been reading – Love and Freindship by Jane Austen

Love and FreindshipLove and Freindship by Jane Austen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve always been under the impression that this was just a fragment of Austen’s juvenilia and of doubtful utility and value. Which is why I left it so long to check it out, but turns out I’ve been missing out. Whatever a modern day Jane would have been up to and gets up to, in modern adaptations of her persona and work – working her own Youtube channel, snapchatting away, book-blogging and fanficcing and whatnot – it’s kind of superfluous, redundant. This is the snarky teenage Jane, and it comes through on every page. Plus, I’d just like to say for anyone who’s read it – the 9th parcel, silver buckles! lol.

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What I’ve been reading lately – Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

 

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image – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes

Finished reading Roses In Winter, seventh story in the collection.  It features Asil, the dominant and very old Spanish werewolf who has sought refuge with the Marrok’s pack.  And Kara, a minor character from the Mercyverse – a young girl who has been bitten, but is having trouble successfully making the transition to werewolf.

TBH I find almost any story featuring Asil tiresomely melodramatic.  I can’t help it, he just rubs me the wrong way.  It’s all death, tragedy, and profoundly sophisticated and seductive – well, he obviously thinks so – Eurotrashy gestures with this geezer.  I imagine him with an accent like the English spies off ‘Allo ‘Allo – “Is it a bumb?  I teenk it eez a bumb!”

This is a story you might like, if you like that sort of thing.  The ending should have wrung the heart, but it only made me roll my eyes.

Without the prosaic you can’t have the profound, for the highs you need the lows and the boring sea-level humdrum.  Asil’s tales aim for a continuous high pitch of drama, and wind up just screeching at you like a fire-alarm.

What I’ve been reading: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

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image – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes

Finished The Star Of David, an episode regarding the minor character David Christiansen, a friend and former colleague of Adam Hauptman from the Mercyverse. I liked David, and liked him more after this story: he’s deeply sympathetic, and very hard on himself. Rather as with Bran Cornick, I’d love to see him get a little romance in his life after this story: but a little redemption will do for now.

There’s more witchcraft in this tale, which I also favour.  And if I favour a happy ending – and got my money’s worth – well, there’s no law ag’in it.

What I’ve been reading – In Catcher’s Box Or Batter’s Box? by Gayle Keo

In Catcher's Box or Batter's Box?In Catcher’s Box or Batter’s Box? by Gayle Keo

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I might have rated this three stars, except that it really needs an intensive edit to fix persistent grammar issues, especially a problem with constant tense switching throughout the main story and the additional free stories in the edition I read. It’s a pity because the characters in the main story are engaging and have credible chemistry. I was a bit baffled by their early interactions, and had difficulty deducing their motivations sometimes from the information the reader was given, but their attraction was strong and clear enough to override that. I would quibble a bit that the story ends a bit abruptly, and reads more like an intro to a longer book. (Which the characters could probably justify.)

Out of the additional free stories, the one with the fairy threesome was cute with some interesting ideas. But really the standout besides the primary story was ‘Jasmine – Life Is Hip, Love Is A Gift’. The charismatic and determined heroine engages the attention and sympathy of the reader, and the credibly sympathetic beta hero is unusual and interesting. (Although given his stated personality and history, his level of sexual experience is a bit of a mystery.)

Overall the tense issue really does detract from the reading experience, and a professional edit might be justified.

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it’s just a joke, bitch

wolf slave

Ehhh… you see… right…

It’s this Pam Grout ‘Art & Soul, Reloaded’ ongoing project I’m doing!  No, it’s not specifically a part of the tasks set on a weekly basis, but…  Well.  Daily creativity, right?  And I thought… the thing that I thought, was, ‘Well!  It’d totally be in the spirit of the challenge, to produce a new bookcover for one of my titles, on a daily or weekly basis, right?”

Now.  My talents are not in the visual realm, as is abundantly obvious.  That don’t hurt!  That’s in the spirit of the book, too.  Well, so what?  ‘I’ll just bang out a cover, never mind if it’s an eyesore, have fun, make something new, fantastic!’  

That’s what I thought.  So that’s what I did.  And I totally thought that a white circle on a black background, plus some minimalist lettering, would be hugely damn amusing.  A moon, right?  Satellites.  Wolves. Running with the pack, howling at the moon, all the clichés.  It would be sort of terrible.  But funny.  Humorously, good-naturedly in the spirit of the thing.  But…

Hey, I’m not saying it’s, er, Michelangelo or something.  (Or a renowned book-cover designer, names of whom I am clearly unfamiliar with.)  But…

Eh.  I sort of like it.

 

What I’ve been reading – Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack by M.E. Kerr

Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack! by M.E. Kerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book. I adore Dinky, for declining to be brainwashed and cooperative like a good little robot. And also for her name. And Natalia, for… well, it’s hard to say. She’s certainly a sweetie, but a bit too willing to collude in her own oppression. It’s difficult not to have a certain affection for her, though. Tucker OTOH is just annoying, and John too.

I can’t believe Kerr is the same author who wrote When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, though. Wow.
Well, she isn’t, that’s all. On checking, that was all just in my head, which explains a lot! It did seem an odd conjunction of styles and subjects.

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What I’m reading – Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

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image – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes

Finished ‘Alpha and Omega’, the fifth story in the collection. This story is a preface to the series of the same name, and covers the meeting of Charles, the Marrok’s second son and enforcer, and Anna, an Omega from another pack. I don’t care for this series, or story, as much as the Mercyverse. I find Charles rather unconvincing and lacking in personality, and Anna too sugary-sweet and timid. No chemistry here.

By and large the supporting characters were paper-thin, too.  I probably hold Briggs to standards that are too high.  ‘Moon Called’ was such a perfectly realised little work of popular commercial art that it would be incredibly tough to write not one but two long-running series to the same unvarying standard of quality.  And considering what a cash-cow the books have become, why should she?  Good on her, really.

 

What I’ve been reading – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have loved this book for years now, but… honestly, what a cad Rochester is. I know it’s not precisely an original observation, but still. Jane deserved better. And only a blinkered Charlotte, with exactly the narrowly circumscribed inculcated nineteenth century notion of a woman’s lot she ascribes to Jane, could possibly think that ending a happy one.

And yet, it’s still one of barely a handful of books in my lifetime that have reduced me to feeling off my head while reading it, light-headed and nutty and unsteady as if I’d had a drink or two. What can you do? A massively annoying permanent classic.

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What I’ve been reading – David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked the biblical stuff about David and Goliath – the interpretation that David’s victory was about the tactics and ruthlessness of the underdog, rather than a heavenly blessing, was very interesting. The chapter about the Northern Ireland troubles was very depressing though. I loved the bit about the Resistance in WWII France – the community that basically said, ‘We’ve got our Jews, you come get ’em if you want ’em, see what you get!’ was – well, almost funny, although you feel bad laughing at something so serious.

I often finish a Gladwell book feeling as if I’ve been entertained, but not sure what I’m supposed to have really learned. This is one of those.

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