Writer Reading Report: Smoke Bitten

Thanks to NetGalley, I received two ARCs (advanced reader copies) of upcoming novels by two of my favorite authors. Here be my short but heartfelt reviews of the first one I finished. It’s out now, so you don’t even have to wait!

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs.

I expect most people interested in Smoke Bitten have read some or all of the preceding books. Smoke Bitten is the twelfth in an urban fantasy series about Mercy Thompson,  part-time coyote, full-time auto mechanic, Volkswagon owner, seer of ghosts, and neighbor to a werewolf alpha.

So if you’re checking reviews because this book looks interesting, you’re right! It is!

I always recommend starting at the beginning of any series as well=established as this one–or at least with a book closer to the beginning.  That said, if this is the only Mercy Thompson book you can find, it’s a great chapter in the ongoing saga, and a decent introduction to the complex, entertaining dynamics between members of an ever-increasing cast.

Honestly, any plot summary without spoilers would be either redundant or too vague to be useful. The important points. First, as with most other books in the series, the events in Smoke Bitten take place over a very short time frame.  Second, the action is local, and the stakes more personal than world-changing.

The plot shines brightest when Mercy is dealing with her friends and family. Often she’s making hard choices between people and rules, between principle and practicality. In this book, a problem arises from the solutions to problems resolved in previous books.

It’s a tangle of big personalities, old grudges, and buried mysteries, with all the emotionally satisfying, complicated I’ve come to expect from this author.

 

Writer Reading Report: January-March 2020

I’ve read over 20 new books and done a couple dozen re-reads since the first of the year. I’ve also watched plenty of shows & movies, but not as many as I would have done in the same time period last year. One nice thing about the new house is that we cut the cable cord, so turning on the TV is an Intentional Act, not a default activity.

Writing is now the default activity. Go, wording!

Well. To be strictly accurate, Writing is now among my many default activities. Writing & working on table & bling ideas for Gen Con, & hammering away at the intractable Series Title Problem, &planting things, & baking, &…my days are not empty.

Anyway. I’m going to do my usual thing & summarize things more by author than title. No pretty pictures because I am The Laziest Ever. Also they were mostly library books read on ebook, & those don’t get pretty color cover pictures.

First I did a comprehensive chronological re-read of ALL the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. I then bought all the Constellation short work collections. A new book came out while I was finishing those, so I  read it too. I love these characters, I love the universe, and I love where the plots are headed.

A review of one of my books complimented my writing by comparing it to theirs. That remains one of my all-time favorite reviews.

Next up in reading: Hunter, Elite, & Apex by Mercedes Lackey, a tidy series I somehow entirely missed when published, because I always want to read All the Lackey. Neat spin on the usual post-apocalyptic dystopian  thing, (add magic, plus it’s not a totally horrible All Guvmint Bad kind of place) And the young protagonist is competent all by herself because it’s what she does, not because daddy wanted a boy or to heal trauma or For Boyfriend…I do adore no-excuses competent heroines.

I got Peace Talks by Jim Butcher & Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs through NetGalley. Those two are both Advanced Reading Copies of novels due out later this year, and I very much enjoyed them both.

I read a Regency in there somewhere…ah! Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries. An unexpected delight. I guess I still love my fantasy romances if they have loads of good dialogue and comedy of manners elements.

And currently I’m on a YA/Middle Grade kick. They’re mostly (all?) books written long after I was an adult, but I decided to tackle them just because. So I’ve finally read a bunch of Gail Carson Levine books. (And obviously I enjoy them or else I wouldn’t keep reading.)  So far, it’s been Ella, Enchanted, Fairest, A Tale of Two Castles, Stolen Magic…I think that’s all so far. I’m on a waitlist for more. I did read a couple in paperback, but it was a painful slog compared to reading onscreen.

I’m 3/4 of the way through Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce, loving every sentence.  I need to go put myself on the waitlist for All The Tamora Pierce books through the library’s digital loan program. And I suspect I’ll need to own them all in the end, though.

In summary : I recommend without reservation all the books I’ve mentioned here–except the NetGalley titles. I do recommend the series they come from, but…BUT.  The Harry Dresden & Mercy Thompson series are both clocking in at  10+ books. Despite great efforts by the authors to keep references to past events understandable and relevant, the weight of continuing plot is a tangible force in almost every scene. Someone could jump in, but it won’t be nearly as much fun as starting at the beginning.

That’s all for now. If I keep up with writing and reading the way I aim to do, the next reading report won’t be quite so LOOOOONG.

Until later, world.

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Writer Reading Report: No Longer On Hiatus

I read a lot.  I have Opinions. Why haven’t I been sharing?

Therein lies a tale.

Here’s the story of why I haven’t been inflicting my reading list or any other media adventures on people for…about a year now? Yeah.

I stopped doing it when the sharing started hurting. That happened after I received one too many remarks meant (I think, in retrospect) as compliments. Things like “I could never read that much/you are always reading/how can you get anything else done/So many? I’m lucky I read a book a year/ how do you find the time?” Etc, etc.

I find admiration and envy difficult to parse through. A lot of it comes down to tone, and when I even suspect I’ve made someone else feel inadequate or envious, I have an unavoidable reaction.

I stop doing it. Sometimes forever.

Yeah. I know. Not rational, not proportional, but also…not negotiable.

I was taught many lessons at a young age about the awfulness of flaunting, bragging, or acting superior. So when I get a sense that anyone thinks I’m being a self-absorbed egotistical, conceited asshole about (whatever it is) I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut. Or the head. Or both.

It really, physically hurts.  And every time I think about the activity, it hurts just as badly, all over again. If I shut up and go away & don’t DO whatever-it-is, it stops hurting.

So. That’s why posts about Stuff I do when I’m not writing comes and goes in fits & starts, and why one of my original blog staples — lists of tedious daily life accomplishments–rarely get posted at all now.  (It was making someone feel guilty about not getting as much done, and that sucked all the joy out of it.)

So far, people still universally like hearing about the new house & baking things. That’s why those topics have taken over the blog.

Here’s a happy new twist.

Not-so-long ago I learned that not everyone processes idle remarks as kick- in- the- gut personal condemnations. My kind of reaction to perceived negative feedback is called “rejection sensitivity dysphoria,” and it skips along hand-in-hand with sky-high energy levels, an interest-based attention span, and sensory sensitivities. It’s a real thing.

It isn’t me being thin-skinned, overreacting or childish, it’s just wiring at work.

IT’S SO FUN TO BE ME.

(another fun fact: pair up boundless physical energy with chronic pain/fatigue and you get a result that looks like perfectly normal from average viewing distance! It’s nothing like normal from the inside, where I can feel exhausted even while doing a lot and hurt all the time but can neglect self care because (squirrel!) means I forget to notice. The pairing goes a long way towards explaining how I’ve flown under the diagnostic radar all these years.)

BUT I DIGRESS. As fucking usual.

ANYway. It’s been long enough that the achy, scrapey bruised pain about reading lists has dulled to a bearable level, and also I want to use this new self-awareness of my reactions to break free of the rejection cycle in the future.

So I’ll be giving it yet another try.  Next post, I’ll catch up on What I’ve Been Reading Since New Year. It’ll be synopsis edition, but IT WILL HAPPEN.

Until later!

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Prickles up, ready to face the world. (image: pixabay.com)