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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Australia Reads at Home

Hello Darling Readers! 

Please believe me when I say; I hope you are all well and doing okay, given these surreal times. I hope you are home, and self-isolating and spreading kindness all around (in lieu of hugs, handshakes and social-gathering) 

I just wanted to pop on here and tell you about an Australian initiative, started by the same people who run 'Australian Reading Hour' in September - encouraging people to read, for even 15-minutes a day! - but are now running a new campaign to counteract these scary and uncertain times, and the fact that more people really are at home, and can be reading to help them cope. 

I'm calling it 'Imagination in Isolation' - but the hashtag you can follow along with is #AustraliaReadsAtHome and the website;

I'd so love it if you could follow Australia Reads across all social-media channels too, and join in the conversation as we all try to remain sane and supportive. 


'Smoke Bitten' Mercy Thompson #12 by Patricia Briggs

From the BLURB:

Mercy Thompson returns in another thrilling instalment of the major urban fantasy series from No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs

I am Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman. My only 'superpowers' are that I turn into a thirty-five-pound coyote and fix Volkswagens. But I have friends in odd places and a pack of werewolves at my back. It looks like I'm going to need them.

Centuries ago, the fae dwelt in Underhill. When they were cast out, they left behind their great castles, troves of magical artefacts . . . and their prisoners. Without the fae to mind them, those creatures roamed freely through Underhill wreaking havoc. Only the deadliest survived.

Now one of those prisoners has escaped. It can look like any creature it chooses and if it bites you, it controls you. It lives for chaos and destruction and can make you do anything - even kill the person you love the most. Now it is here, in the Tri-Cities. In my territory.

It won't, can't, remain. Not if I have anything to say about it.

‘Smoke Bitten’ is the 12th book in Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson urban-fantasy series.

I was a little wary, going into this one (and, no – not just because I started reading it *right* when the world went to bedlam) but because I’m not a fan of the fae-world that has largely entered into the ‘Mercy Thompson’ universe. I seem to always have this issue with long-running paranormal series (‘Sookie Stackhouse’ by Charlaine Harris comes to mind) where an author decides to bring fae into the supernatural and have them be the scapegoat for all manner of plots and random character-arcs. I just don’t like the fae. Unless I’m deliberately reading a book/series for them (hi, Holly Black!) then I want my series to stick to werewolves, or vampires, or … no; they’re pretty much the best two.

‘Smoke Bitten’ flagged from the blurb that there’d be a fae-villain running around in this book, and I kind of inwardly sighed and resigned myself. BUT – there’s also a pretty cool power-play with werewolves going on in this instalment too, that actually worked to harmonise the fae-storyline for me.

There’s also plenty of Mercy and Adam in this book to satiate fans who love this couple, even as we’ve all felt them get a little stale since ‘Happily Ever After’ … I will say; ‘Smoke Bitten’ has the couple needing to communicate better, and bearing the consequences when one of them shuts down. There’s also peripheral stuff with Adam’s daughter Jesse, and her mother Cristy – that kind of feels underdeveloped here, but could just be that there’s set-up for future books (and right now the idea of future-books is a real balm, let me tell you!)

There’s also some storylines for secondary-characters; like mated pair Auriele and Darryl, that has me intrigued and wondering if we might see some crossover with ‘Alpha & Omega’ (of which, there is a new book coming in 2021 called ‘Wild Sign’!) if this secondary-storyline goes the way I think it might, then I’m keen to see how Anna and Charles deal with similar moral and relationship conundrums.

My one complaint about ‘Smoke Bitten’ – despite great action and character arcs – is the complaint I was bound to have, which was the less tangible parts of the story when dealing with fae, underhill, and Mercy’s chaotic magic. The climax scene takes place inside Mercy’s other-world … or something? It’s all very confusing and loses my interest pretty quickly; So it was a sucky place to end up for the finale (especially when compared to book 11, ‘Storm Cursed’ and the show-down with witch Elizaveta). It’s a small complaint, but a complain nonetheless.

Overall though; I love this series, and twelve books in – I continue to love it. It was really nice to read a series that feels a little bit like coming home and catching up with old friends during uncertain times.


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