The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo

c0591150aa3cf3e596752456f41434f414f4141This book is nominally set in the Grishaverse, but is all the fairy tales they would tell there.  You can definitely see the parallels to tales in our normal world.

My favorite story was “Ayama and the Thorn Wood”, which is sort of a cross between “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast”. The younger son of the king was born a beast, and has escaped his confinement, and is slaughtering livestock and people in the countryside. Ayama, a younger sister of the girl who everyone thinks should be a princess, ends up being the one person that can reason with the beast. I really loved how this tale ended – it’s a great twist on this story.

The last story, “When Water Sang Fire” is a take off on “The Little Mermaid”, and I wasn’t as fond of that one. What mainly interested me is that this is the second or third time I’ve now run into stories that were very clearly influenced by the Disney version of this tale – interesting how that’s clearly now a cultural touchpoint.

The Sharing Knife: Beguilement – Lois McMaster Bujold

49da76696bc03a35978675a5951434f414f4141Fawn has fled her family. She’s done an incredibly stupid thing, and feels the only way to remedy it is to run away. On her way, she runs into Dag – a member of a patrol of Lakewalkers. The Farmer folk are a bit leery of the Lakewalkers, who have magic, which they use to protect everyone from Malices – terrible beings that would enslave everyone if they could. While together, they fight a Malice, and something happens that binds Fawn and Dag together.

The book has the air of a Western to some degree, but in a fantasy land. There are tales of sunken cities, and old magic that caused terrible injuries to the land. But at its heart, the story is a love story. One I’ll be interested to follow in the next book. This book was more about Fawn’s family, but I think the Lakewalkers are far more interesting. And there is the small matter of the thing that’s bound the two of them together that still needs to be resolved.

I can’t say this is my favorite Bujold story, but it’s not bad.

Penric’s Mission – Lois McMaster Bujold

7a1676c9570ba8d597349666e51434f414f4141This novella is a bit of a sea change from the earlier Penric stories. Pen’s patron, the Princess Arch-Divine, has died, and he’s a bit adrift. He’s ended up in the service of the Duke of Adria, who sends him on a covert mission to meet with a general in a nearby land who’s contacted the duke about leaving for Adria. Since one of his demon Desdemona’s former carriers is from Cedonia, he should fit right in. But it’s quickly clear that it’s a set up.

Pen ends up helping General Adelis and his widowed sister Nikys flee Cedonia, and you end up learning a lot about what happened to him between the events of the last novella and this story. It ends on a bit of a cliff hanger – I’ll fully admit I went right out and grabbed the next novella – which I’m normally better about rationing. But I need to see what happens!

Lost in a Good Book – Jasper Fforde

9bb9c9c482d1b53597870585451434f414f4141This is the second book in the Thursday Next series. Thursday is a cop in the Special Operations portion of the police in an alternate England. In the last book, she ends up married after various adventures that include going into the novel Jane Eyre, and changing the ending.

Not too far into the book, her husband is disappeared (I forget the novel term) as if he’d never been, even though Thursday’s still pregnant with their child. It’s of course a ploy by the evil Goliath corporation to get back their bigwig who Thursday stranded in Poe’s “The Raven”.

These books are meant to be absurd, and I didn’t mind it in the first book of this series, or some of the other books of the author’s I’ve read, but I was apparently not in the mood for it this time around. I had a really hard time getting through this book. I can’t really put a finger on why – it’s true to form of his other work. Like I said, I may not have been in the mood.

Ancient Magic – Linsey Hall

b01dtvv18g.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Three girls wake up in a field with no memories, but knowing that they need to flee. They clearly have some magic ability, and they also know they’re FireSouls, magic makers that share the soul of a dragon. Problem with that being that FireSouls are generally thrown into magical jail.

It’s about ten years later, and Cass, Nix and Del have set up a business finding magical artifacts. It allows them to use their abilities in a way that blends in with regular magic. Cass especially uses their abilities – her dragon sense can led her to the artifacts they seek, and she can claim she’s using seeking magic.

Enter the local incredibly hot shifter, Aidan, who needs help finding a magical scroll. At first Cass isn’t interested, because he could figure out her powers, but it turns out that scroll might her all their names on it, with their abilities, and the girls can’t afford to let that fall into anyone else’s hands. And have I mentioned Aidan is hot?

This was a fun book – it could have veered into silly, but stayed pretty clear of it, and I did enjoy it.

Cry Wolf – Patricia Briggs

fbd60ce5876b6fb597232636f41434f414f4141This book picks up immediately after the events of the novella “Alpha and Omega”. Charles Cornick came to Chicago to investigate Anna’s pack, finding them broken by the actions of the pack Alpha. She also discovers she’s an Omega wolf – outside of the pack structure, and highly valued because she can help keep the pack together because of that. Unfortunately, her old Alpha had been abusing that ability, so she definitely has trust issues.

There’s also the small matter that Charles and Anna’s wolves have gone ahead and decided they’re mated, which is usually the opposite of how that usually happens. It’s against all that that Anna agrees to go back to Montana with Charles.

In Montana, Charles’ job as the packs’ enforcer is immediately back in action – there are some strange goings on in the back woods that appear to be related to a lone werewolf. Charles sets out to investigate, and Anna goes with him.

On a certain level, I feel like this story shouldn’t work, but I think that’s the beauty of the world the author’s come up with – these fairly immediate bonds make sense, and you can totally were everyone is supporting each other in these werewolf packs. (Well, in the packs that are working well.) I still think I like the Mercy Thompson books better, but these are a nice addition to the universe.

Shifting Shadows – Patricia Briggs

b00131059bce0f7596a514f6977434f414f4141I managed to find this in the library’s ebook selection after I started Cry Wolf, and quickly realized there was a bit of the story missing. (Turns out to be “Alpha and Omega” in this book).

I really enjoyed the stories here – it’s a wide range of time frames, including all the way back to when Bran and Samuel were first made wolves, long enough ago that even they don’t exactly remember the time. That story, “Silver”, is also about when Samuel and Ariana first meet, and is lovely, and heartbreaking.

I enjoyed Ben’s story, and it definitely gave him some needed back story. It was also nice to see some outtakes from certain books that didn’t make it in because they weren’t from Mercy’s point of view. This is definitely a must read if you like the Mercy Thompson series.