To kick off Pride Month, I thought it would be nice to recommend a few books on or about LGBTQ+ individuals. For those of you looking for a book to pick up. I’ve read a few, myself, I have a few on my To Read list, and I have one sitting in my Currently Reading list.
These five books are ones that I’ve read and enjoyed. Some from last year, one from this year, and one from a few years ago. Even if they aren’t what you are looking for personally, I hope I have one that might peak your interest.
Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir by Colton Haynes
This was a read that I really wanted to get in 2022. Though my views on CW’s Arrow have changed over the years, Colton Haynes, who played Roy Harper, was always one of my favorite aspects of the show. Even though he wasn’t utilized as well or as often ad I would have hoped.
That said, this was my favorite biography/memoir to come out of 2022. It is a decent sized read at 256 pages and discusses an array of experiences the actor has gone through. And he doesn’t hold his punches either. Reading this, I could see that he went through quite a bit in life.
If you are looking for an insightful memoir, I would recommend Miss Memory Lane.
Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake
I read this book earlier this year. I had read this around the same time as Back in a Spell, the third book of Lana Harper’s The Witches of Thistle Grove series. I was kind of debating if I wanted to one or both of them. With The Witches of Thistle Grove series, I liked the first book and was mixed on the second, while I wasn’t that impressed with aspects of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care the first book from Ashley Herring Blake’s Bright Fall series. In the case of the former, I am uncertain that I will read the fourth book, In Charm’s Way. I wasn’t all that interested in Back in a Spell and so far, the first book is the only one that I really like.
However, in the case of Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, I ended up enjoying it more than Delilah Green Doesn’t Care. I will most likely pick up the third book Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date, when that comes out later this year.
It does have a rather romcom and/or formulaic concept, but it was still a fun read. I feel like the relationship between Astrid and Jordan felt better explored to me and it wasn’t tied to a bet like it initially was with Delilah and Claire (though they did genuinely fall in love in the end). I also enjoyed how it approached the conflict between them having to do with the show they are on, Jordan’s past relationship and marriage, and Astrid trying to figure out what she truly wants in her life instead of what her mother wants her to do with her life. Which I feel was handled better than the conflicts in Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
So while it may have a simpler story, I would certainly recommend giving this book a read.
Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley
Granted, this book isn’t explicitly about the relationship between the two leading ladies of this story, CeCe and Chrissie. However, it does involve CeCe figuring out who she is, without Star, and what she wants. And while the main plot of the story is CeCe investigating her birth family, readers do get to see her realizing that she may have feelings for Chrissie, who she meets during her travels and offers to help her.
CeCe’s story is one of self-discovery and realization. While Kitty’s, the person from the past who’s connected to CeCe’s family, is to make it on her own and ends up finding love.
This is my second favorite book in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley, so I would recommend this book, along with Moon Sister and Seven Sisters, regardless. However, I would also recommend it if you are looking for a read about an LGBTQ+ book about someone realizing and embracing that they are. Just now that while CeCe and Chrissie do not officially get together at the end, their relationship is confirmed in a following book (I believe in Moon Sister, but it could have been Sun Sister or Missing Sister. I can’t remember which, but it is confirmed).
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
I wanted to recommend a graphic novel series, which brings me here. I had considered the 2009 Red Robin series since Tim Drake has come out as bi in 2021 and that being one of his more beloved series. However, with the Netflix adaptation of Sandman debuting last year with a planned second season in the works, and the fact that I am am reading and enjoying it, I thought I would recommend Sandman instead.
Now, it is worth noting that this series does tackle a few sensitive topics. It is a series that can be dark when it needs to and can be. However, it does have moments where it can be lighter and inspiring moments. It’s also worth noting that the series did come out in the 80’s. So some of the language used may be dated.
The series itself follows entities of Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. Mainly Dream, also known as Morpheus. It’s also a horror fantasy series. I’m currently a few volumes in and have read the Death spinoff/side story.
When it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, it comes in the form of the non-Endless characters as well as the Endless, Desire. Desire is nonbinary and is referred to as They/Them, and has been even before the Netflix adaptation. And speaking of the Netflix adaptation, Desire is played by Mason Alexander Park, who is nonbinary.
Sandman has representation. Both in the comics and the Netflix adaptation. So if you are looking for a graphic novel series, I would recommend it. Again, just be aware that it covers some sensitive/mature topics.
The Avatar Kyoshi Duology by F.C. Yee
The Rise of Kyoshi and The Shadow of Kyoshi is a duology based on the Avatar the Last Airbender, Kyoshi. This Earthbending Avatar (two Avatars prior to Aang) has become a popular Avatar among fans. Her to the point nature and understanding that, sometimes, tough choices must be made, is recognizable. She has become a meme for her assertiveness and willingness to choose a violent route more times than not (which may be a bit of an overexaggeration, but a fun one at that).
These books explore the life of Kyoshi through the years. When Kuruk, Kyoshi’s predecessor and Waterbending born Avatar, dies young and suddenly, finding the next Avatar is a must. After Kyoshi’s childhood friend is mistaken for the Avatar, Kyoshi is thrown into an unexpected journey where it is revealed that Kyoshi is actually the Avatar. Along the way she deals with a looming conflict and teams up with a troupe that her late airbending mother was apart of. Traveling with her is Rangi, a firebending ally and friend, who Kyoshi realizes she has feelings for as her journey goes on.
This Duology is written by F.C. Yee and one of the co-creators of Avatar the Last Airbender, Michael Dante DiMartino has an acknowledgement/preface in it. If you were a fan of the series and a fan of Kyoshi (or not), I would recommend this duology. And for further reading, F.C. Yee has an Avatar Yangchen duology with The Dawn of Yangchen which was released in 2022 and The Legacy of Yangchen which is set to be released on July 18th of this year.
Though not the only LGBTQ+ books I’ve read, these are five, technically six on account of the Kyoshi duology, that I would currently recommend. I may have more at the end of June or in a later post, but for now, I hope you fins something to enjoy.
With Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt just dropping, I thought I would take a moment to go over my top three books from the series. I have yet to pick up and read Atlas, but I will be soon and will do a review for it. In the meantime, though, and to get me writing something Seven Sisters related, I thought I would discuss my favorite books from the series.
As always, I do have my general disclaimer on the whole finding their birth family bit. I know the concept of the sisters searching out their birth family may have a mixed reception depending on who you talk to because adopted family is just as familial as birth families. Which is a valid observation/critique.
Now, do I think Lucinda Riley was being malicious with this concept? No. Reading the series, I never really interpreted it belittling adopted family. All the sisters still saw each other as sisters. Even after finding their birth family. Some of the sisters were closer than others, which I think is relatively normal. For instance, Star and CeCe were always close and still were when they realized that they needed time apart to explore who they are. Maia and Ally were also close and were there throughout the series to help each other out. That said, they always saw each other as family.
Reading the series, I interpreted the sisters choosing to look into their birth family as them wanting to look into their roots. To learn more about their heritage and where their family came from. They weren’t forced to do so, nor were they looking to forget their adopted family by doing so. The sisters relationship with each other stayed strong, even when they found their birth family.
With that in mind, here are my top three books from the Seven Sister series.
The first book in the series is my third favorite. If you asked me last year, I might have said it was my second. As the introductory book for the series, I thought it did a great job with introducing the premise. Maia was also a good character to start off with. While readers get to see how everyone initially responds to Pa Salt’s passing and their ensuing journeys, readers get to see how Maia viewed Pa Salt as the eldest.
Her story was probably the simplest in terms of following the set of of the series. Which isn’t a bad thing. Being the first book, I don’t think it needs to be super extravagant. So long as it sets up what it needs to, that’s okay. I also just enjoyed how it tackled her finding love again after breaking up with her ex (who periodically shows up throughout the series) and how she connected with her birth family. As well as the setting and scenery of Brazil.
With this being the introductory book, it does take time to set up. Which, while not inherently a bad thing, does take up a bit of time in the book. I just wish a little more time could have been given to Maia. The other sisters feel like they got a little more time since the only thing the reference back to from the first book is their thoughts and maybe a scene or two around the time they got the letters from Pa Salt.
I was initially going to put this as my third favorite since I couldn’t decide if I liked this book, Shadow Sister, or to a lesser extent Missing Sister as my favorite. I connected with Shadow Sister based on it being about writing and books, which are things I love. I also related to one of the secondary characters who helps Star because he had seizures, which I used to have growing up. Meanwhile, Missing Sister I loved for being centered on Ireland. However, I had mixed feelings about Merry.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I enjoyed this book and CeCe’s story. Which cascaded Pearl Sister up to second place. I really liked how CeCe got time to become her own person and realize what she wanted. In some ways I can relate to that. I am a bit of an introvert and am learning more about myself as the years go by.
I also like how CeCe and Chrissie’s relationship starts to develop. They do end up getting together. Pearl Sister takes the time to have CeCe wonder how she feels about Chrissie throughout the book and how she wants to pursue it. Them being together would officially be official in I think it was Moon Sister or Missing Sister. However, with CeCe being the more introverted sister who was looking to find out who she was, I thought it was realistic that she didn’t have all the answers right away.
The only reason that I don’t place this book at number one is because that book left more of an impression on me. And without it, I might not have picked up the series.
In my previous posts I’ve mentioned that this book was the reason that I read the whole series. The premise caught my eye while I was working. However, since it was the fifth book, I decided to read the series in order. Yes, technically, each book can be read on their own. Each book focuses on a specific sister and, outside of the basic points, readers don’t need to read the previous book to understand what’s going on in the book they’re on. I, personally, thought it was just better to read the whole series. Which I don’t personally regret in the long run.
If there’s one thing that caught my interest, it was the fact that this book focused on Romani characters. Namely Tiggy and her birth family. I’m someone who enjoys learning about other cultures because I want better understand them and be as respectful as possible. And learning about other cultures is something I enjoy learning about in general.
So I thought it was pretty interesting that Moon Sister chose to approach a Romani experience. It has been a while since I’ve read the book, but from what I recall, I thought it did a fine job when approaching the Romani characters. I won’t say it’s perfect, but I thought Lucinda Riley handled it as respectfully as possible.
That said, I won’t say it’s perfect. In some of the stuff online, namely the synopses and the Q&A use a term that has been deemed offensive for Romani people. Now the blurb on the back of the book does not use it, and since it’s been a while since I’ve read the book, I don’t remember if it did there. I don’t think it did, but I’m going to be rereading it anyways. I only mention this since, while I do give her the benefit of the doubt when it comes to intent (based on what I know right now, I don’t think she had ill intent. If I’m wrong, I will mention it), it is something I do note as a heads up.
When it comes to the book itself, I was drawn to Tiggy’s story the most when I was first getting into the series. Being the empathy of the family and an animal lover were traits that interested me. I also really liked how it approached her journey. Readers get to see what she does in Scotland and how she helps out Charlie around his home. As she looks for answers, she ends up having to be rushed to the hospital for a heart condition that ends up connecting to her birth family. She learns more about herself as well as she recovering and traveling to Granada Spain, where her family, notably Lucía, who was the relative from the past segments, lived.
If I had to critique the book for anything in general, it would be how it handled aspects of Tiggy’s relationship with Charlie. I don’t mind that they got together, but I wasn’t all that into the whole cheating miscommunication plot point. I thought it was good that Tiggy at least recognized that she couldn’t act on her feelings towards Charlie due to his relationship with the mother of his daughter. If I recall correctly, Charlie was either in the process of divorcing his ex wife or. Either way, they aren’t married by the end, which is when Tiggy and Charlie get together. And there not being an affair was a good thing (I think that’s one issue I had with some of the past segments after Maia). It’s the misconception that they were having an affair was not needed in my opinion. Rather, I think it would have been better if the relationship aspect of her story was about her realizing she doesn’t need love, accepts that she can’t be with Charlie and moves on, or if Charlie was already a divorcee and Tiggy helps him see that he’s worthy of love. That and including Maia’s ex. I don’t think he was necessary for the story.
Overall though, Tiggy’s journey, Lucía’s story, and exploring a Romani perspective was pretty interesting. It may not be perfect, but it was engaging. At least for me. I also appreciate that Moon Sister at least tried to approach a Romani perspective with Lucía and her family. It’s the book that got me into the series and I knew this was going to be one that I liked. And I did.
These are the three books I would consider my favorite when it comes to Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series. Most of the books I would say are pretty nice, though I know the concept may not be for everyone, which I respect.
I have one book left to finish in the series, Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt. I do plan on reading and reviewing it. Once I do, I’m plannig to do a general overiew on the series. So look forward to that in the near future.
I may not go back and reread books that often, but every now and then I will. I may because I like it well enough to reread it or because I want to refresh my memory. Typically, I’ll do this with series, and the series I have reread so far include:
Mercy Thompson: I reread this once back in 2020 in preparation for the twelfth book, Smoke Bitten. I also ended up reading both this and the Alpha and Omega series since both take place in the same universe, but at certain points.
Alpha and Omega: I read this series alongside my reread of the Mercy Thompson series in order that each book happens (Patricia Briggs’ website has a timeline for when each book takes place and what order they could be read in). This was also a good way to prepare for Wild Card, which came out in 2021.
The Wings of Fire: I reread this for the final five books (Books 11-15). I had read the first ten, and it only made sense to reread through the series in honor of the other five. And though I thought these last five could have been better, it was only natural that I finish the series off.
The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon): With this one I technically read through the first book and attempted to read the second a good decade, decade and a half ago. I never got around to finishing the second book, Eldest, and it wasn’t until 2021 that I decided to sit down and read the whole series. Which meant I ended up rereading Eragon and actually finishing Eldest.
Excalibur (1980’s-1990’s): One X-Men series I plan to hop into. In general and for a Nightcrawler recommended reading list I am working on. I am slowly, but surely making my way through the older Claremont stuff. For X-Men, I can hop into the Classic X-Men stuff and then the 1990’s run. While Excalibur is one of the series that branches off of the X-Men stuff.
There are also a few series I plan to start reading. Those include, the Amina al-Sirafi series by Shannon “S.A.” Chakraborty, the Ending Fire Trilogy by Saara El-Arifi, and the Emily Wilde series by Heather Fawcett. I’ve started the first book of the Ending Fire trilogy and currently have the first book of the Amina al-Sirafi series checked out, but not started yet. I also have a few graphic novels, a few light novel, two manhua series, and maybe a manga series or two that I want to start.
However, that can be a post for another day. Alongside a post on standalone books I may want to reread and standalone books I want to start. Today, though, I just want to to talk about series I plan to reread in the near future. So far, I have four series I know I would like to reread for one reason or another.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
This, alongside The Hobbit and Silmarillion, is a series that I’ve read at least twice. Though I did grow up watching the movies before reading the books, I did end up reading the books while I was in middle school. I read it again some years later, but since then hadn’t picked it up to read again. I want to read it again, and part of me would like to read it on a somewhat regular level. Kind of like how Christopher Lee (i.e. the actor who not only played Sauraman, but was the only member of the cast to meet Tolkien) read it every year.
I also intend to get around to Rings of Power. It along with House of Dragons are shows I’ve been meaning to start, but haven’t. Partially because of motivation, as well as time and the fact that sitting down to watch a new series or movie can be hard sometimes.
Lord of the Rings has always been a series I held close and I would like to go back to it. And now that I have a newer, hardcover release of the omnibus, now is as good of a time as any. I do also plan to revisit The Hobbit and The Silmarillion at some point as well. But for right now, the focus will be on The Lord of the Rings.
A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
I was pretty late to the Game of Thrones scene. It wasn’t a series I was necessarily avoid, so much as a series I was procrastinating on. However, with the HBO series coming to a close in 2019, I felt like that was as good of a time as any to give it a try. And while I know it is by no means a perfect series, and it’s violence being a bit hefty to put it mildly, I did end up enjoying it.
The reason I want to reread it, is to see how it would hold up upon a second reading. Catch what I might have missed, and see if I still enjoy it. And maybe it will give me the motivation to read Fire & Blood, which I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t gotten to.
As far as the show, I never finished it. I started the eighth season, but never finished it. Part of me wonders if I even should, given what I’ve heard. I may revisit the series someday. Perhaps not the seventh and eighth seasons, but me revisiting the show could be a possibility.
The Daevabad Trilogy by Shannon “S.A.” Chakraborty
With the first book of her new series dropping recently, I may want to revisit her first series. I own all three books in paperback format and plan to buy the paperback copy of The River of Silver (a series of short stories taking place in the Daevabad universe) when it is released this October. I really enjoyed this trilogy and wouldn’t mind rereading it.
I really enjoyed this trilogy. Most of the main characters were likeable enough and the world was pretty interesting. I also like how this trilogy was rooted in and inspired by Middle Eastern lore. There are stories that have, though I cannot say I have read them all. All in all, I would like to revisit this series.
The Avatar Kyoshi Duology by F.C. Yee
Believe it or not, but I still have to read The Dawn of Avatar Yangchen. I got it when it was released, but still haven’t started it yet. I will get to it. And maybe if it gets a second book, that will be the motivation I need to read it.
Until then though, I think I’d like to reread the Avatar Kyoshi duology and The Dawn of Yangchen. Avatar the Last Airbender was a great show and exploring the past lives of Aang and Korra is something that I feel, not only expands on the universe and history of the series, but also explores the past lives of Avatars viewers have heard about.
With Kyoshi being a well known and rather popular Avatar, it does make sense that she would get some kind of material. Having read it, I do think it is a nice read. As well as an interesting look into the longest living Avatar. So rereading this series I feel will be worth it.
These are the four book series I plan to reread at some point. Hopefully this year, but it’s still pretty early in the year to tell. Have you had a book or a book series that you wanted or planned to reread? If so, why? Have you ever reread a series before?
I recently just finished the second book of Ashley Herring Blake’s Bright Falls series, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail. This series, along with the the Witches of Thistle Grove series were series I picked up around the same time. I wanted to read some more romances and with me finding them in June, I ended up working it into a LGBTQ+ focused reading month (note that this wasn’t the only time I’ve read LGBTQ+ book, I just ended up deciding that I would try to focus on LGBTQ+ centered books since it was Pride Month).
I was initially hesitant if I wanted to continue on with this series, because after finishing Delilah Green Doesn’t Care and reflecting on issues I had with that book after, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to continue the series. However, I ended up decided that I would read Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail to give the series a chance outside of the first book. The reason for giving it a chance was because I didn’t want to decide if I wanted to drop it solely on the first book. I wanted to give it a chance in the event the second book ended up being better than the first. And I ended up enjoying Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail.
Though not perfect, I do think Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail was a better book when compared to Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
I can narrow it down to characters, how they developed, and the story. This story does see the return of characters from the previous book, like Delilah, Claire, and Iris. And Astrid, who Delilah and the gang plan to end her engagement to her fiancé, is one of the main characters alongside Jordan and part of the eventual main romance. That said, the secondary returning characters were solid enough for what they were needed for and the new characters for the most part worked.
Off the characters, I feel like Astrid and Jordan, mostly the former, had some of the best development in the story. Granted, that’s to be expected with them being the leading ladies, but their progression was done well and felt natural. They didn’t rush into a relationship and both tried to figure out what they wanted in the relationship and for the other person. I enjoyed how Astrid was able to become her own person and not what her mother wants, while also making mistakes along the way. As for Jordan, I’m glad she was finally able to find happiness after how things ended with her ex wife Meredith.
Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail also had a pretty solid storyline. While mostly from the perspectives of Astrid and Jordan, there was enough time to give the secondary characters time to shine. Astrid’s mother, Delilah, Claire, and Iris had good moments and helped Astrid when needed, with her mother being a source of conflict that she needed for personal growth. Then there’s Meredith and Jordan’s brother. Jordan’s brother brought a nice sibling dynamic between the two with her brother looking out for Jordan, while Meredith is a character that Jordan had her own personal conflicts over as Jordan started to realize that she deserved happiness and love too.
And while I may have felt like the plot was relatively simple, I thought it did a good job with the story it wanted to tell. I also feel like it did a better job with it compared to Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
As far as criticisms, I only really have two. This critique isn’t super serious, but it’s fine that I feel like addressing. That being some tropes that this book falls into,
Now, tropes aren’t inherently a bad thing. They are just elements that aren’t uncommon. When done well, they can be good. When not done as well, it’s noticeable. It really just depends on the book.
The tropes used here aren’t bad by any means.
Opposites Attract:Both have different visions for the project they’re working on, one’s vision is more modern while the other is traditional, Astrid aesthetic is bright and girly while Jordan’s ids rugged and kind of tomboyish.
Second Chances: Both Astrid and Jordan find second chances at love with each other. Astrid finds love after calling things off with her ex fiancé and Jordan finds love again after the rough divorce between her and Meredith.
Work Partners: They start off as work partners on renovating a house for a show. From there, they end up falling in love.
Again, I am not saying that tropes are bad. However, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail does utilize a few romance tropes. And while I might not mind them, for the sake of critique I will say that is the one criticism I have. They don’t diminish the story enough for me to say I dislike the book. If these are tropes that you don’t particularly like, than this is your forewarning.
What I feel it did Better Than Delilah Green Doesn’t Care
As I mentioned at the beginning of this, I was debating if I wanted to continue on with the series. While I had initially enjoyed Delilah Green Doesn’t Care after some time had passed, I did feel like it could have been better. I was going to do a review on it, but ended up not getting it up due to motivation and my thoughts not being as concise as I would have liked when I was working on it.
Initially, my main issue with Delilah Green Doesn’t Care was that, similar to Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, it did feel like it hit some common tropes (ex. the bet, Claire being the best friend to Astrid, Delilah’s stepsister, and happy ending). However, unlike Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, the plot for Delilah Green Doesn’t Care to me felt like it fell to something you’d find in a Hallmark movie. Namely how it’s about Delilah coming back to her hometown, a past that had Delilah and Astrid become estranged into adulthood, making a bet with her sister to get Claire to like her, how and when it was revealed, and how it seemed to clear up almost instantly in the last chapter or two.
This isn’t necessarily a jab at Hallmark movies, but based on the ones I have seen, they do tend to share a lot of similar stories and/or tropes. And while I can say that both could possible fall into that umbrella, something about Delilah Green Doesn’t Care felt more blatant with it to me.
Since then, I have come to agree with a particular critique with Delilah Green Doesn’t Care. That being how the whole plan to break Astrid and her fiancé up feels unnecessarily over the top, where a simple conversation might have been better.
Initially, I didn’t think about that. It was just kind of there. But after reading over the criticisms of this, and actually thinking about it, I agree. I do think the story could still work for the most part with a tweaked version of Delilah and the group breaking Astrid and her fiancé up without going to the lengths they did. Maybe collect evidence as to why they feel that way, but actually sitting down with Astrid about instead of going to the lengths they did.
I would give Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail a four out of five stars. I thought it was a nice little romance with a natural progression and character growth that didn’t feel rushed. My only real critique would be that it utilizes a few common romance tropes. Though they aren’t done poorly, so it doesn’t really hinder the book.
Since I ended up enjoying this book, I will be continuing with this series. Which as of right now, appears to be a third and potentially final book in the form of Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date. Said third book is set to be released on November 7th 2023.
Now that we’re a month into 2023, the thought of books being released this year is something that’s been on my mind. Like every year, there are plenty of new releases for anyone and everyone to enjoy. For me, I have a few, ranging from fantasy to fiction to romance. And while I am sure there will be a few surprise releases that I may want to read, these are the books I am currently anticipating the most this year.
Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt by Lucinda Riley and Harry Whittaker
What will most likely be the last book in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series, Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt will tell the story about the enigmatic Pa Salt. The man who adopted and raised the six main sisters, and is the father to the “missing sister”. From what I can guess, this will cover questions about Pa Salt that were left unanswered. Who was Pa Salt? What inspired him to do what he did. And get a deep dive into his character while he was alive.
With Lucinda Riley passing not long after the release of The Missing Sister, her son Harry Whittaker took it upon himself to finish his mother’s book. She already had a bit of a start and an outline, so he already had a general idea for what to do.
I’ve been following this series since Moon Sister (book five) was released. And while part of me will miss it when it’s over, I’m glad that I found this series.
Mercy Thompson Book 14 by Patricia Briggs
According to Patricia Briggs’ website and Goodreads, the fourteenth book in the Mercy Thompson series is set to be released some point this year. And though I may be feeling some reading fatigued for the Mercy Thompson series, I will probably read it anyways. I’m already caught up, so I might as well.
Not much is known about this book at this time other than it is set to release this year. It doesn’t currently have a title or synopsis yet.
Sins of Sinister by Kieron Gillen
As for comics/graphic novels series I am looking forward to three runs. Sins of Sinister is one of them. Much like Back in a Spell Sins of Sinister has already started. However, Sins of Sinister is currently an on going series.
This series looks into High Council member and known X-Man antagonist Mister Sinister (Nathaniel Essex). Sinister has been scheming from the beginning and is putting his plans into action. This also includes a series of Nightcrawler hybrid chimeras, which I think is what I’m most interested in. Especially given Nightcrawler’s current state. It looks to be an eleven issue series including three, three part series (Storm and the Brotherhood of Evil, Immoral X-Men, and The Nightcrawlers).
It looks to be a wild and interesting ride and will end before the Fall of X event.
Sons of X by Simon Spurrier
There is going to be four ,four-shot stories set before the Fall of X event. Under the moniker Before the Fall one of those stories is Sons of X. Appearing to pick up from where Legion of X will leave off, Sons of X will focus on David Haller (Legion) and Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) dealing with Mother Righteous and Margali Szardos. I’ve been enjoying Spurrier’s Krakoa stuff and I really enjoy the dynamic between Legion and Nightcrawler that has been building since Way of X.
Sons of X will probably answer whatever questions Legion of X will leave off on. Which will most likely include: Kurt’s monstrous condition, fighting Margali, a fight against Mother Righteous, and Nightcrawler regaining the Hopesword (read Legion of X #10). I hope this won’t be the last run with Legion and Nightcrawler since I love their dynamic so much. However, I also can’t wait for Sons of X to be released.
Fall of X
This event starts in summer of 2023. There isn’t much on what this event will be about, but current theories include Krakoa falling, the system on Krakoa falling, and this possibly implying Charles Xavier (Professor X) will fall, be it death or morally. Whatever the case, something big will be happening.
The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi
I’m making my way through the first book of this trilogy, The Final Strife, and I’m hooked. I’m always looking to expand my fantasy reads and this was one that I stumbled upon at my library and ended up buying. Since this will be a trilogy, I think I’m going to have a really good time with it.
With The Battle Drum coming out May 23rd of this year, that gives me time to finish The Final Strife. I’ve just been taking my time with it since it is a longer book, the hardcover totaling at 644 pages, and I didn’t want to brush through it like I can with smaller books. I’ll probably end up purchasing The Battle Drum when it is released since I am enjoying it and would like to have it in my collection.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty
Similar to The Final Strife, S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy was a trilogy that I came across while looking for new fantasy. Said trilogy utilized Middle Eastern tales and creatures and spun an interesting and engaging stroy.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi kicks off Chakraborty’s next trilogy, which has been described as the tale of Sinbad with a twist. It’ll have pirates, magic, artifacts, and a female lead, and sounds like a fun new trilogy. This first book is set to be released on February 23rd, so it won’t be long before this book hits shelves.
Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date by Ashley Herring
I had started the Bright Fall series by Ashley Herring around the same time I started Lana Harper’s The Witches of Thistle Grove series. I am currently working on the second book of the Bright Fall series, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, which was released towards the end of last year and the third book, Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date appears to have a November 2023 release date. That will give me plenty of time to finish Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail.
I’ll admit, I am a bit mixed about this series, or at the very least the first book, Dalilah Green Doesn’t Care. The story itself was fine enough, if a little formulaic/cliché. Essentially about Delilah coming back to her hometown and getting involved with her estranged step-sister’s wedding. Delilah ends up stringing a plan to break things off between Astrid and her fiancé upon realizing Astrid’s fiancé isn’t a great guy. She also makes a bet with Astrid that she can get Claire to like her.
I’ve seen critiques for the breaking up Astrid and her fiancé plot being not as good as it could be and over the top where a simple conversation could have helped. I can see how people may have that criticism, though mine is more so with the approach to Delilah and Claire getting together. I do think they could make a good couple, but the whole bet concept Delilah had with Astrid, to me, felt akin to a Hallmark movie plot. Especially with how it concluded.
Now, I am still willing to give this series a try seeing as each book seems to focus on a different character. So I may enjoy Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail and Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date. Wish I could say the same with The Witches of Thistle Grove series, where I enjoyed the first book, the second was okay, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of the third (I just want to finish the series out at this point).
Bewitched by Laura Thalassa
I’m not someone who consciously looks into BookTok books. I may pick a book or two up that are talked on BookTok and periodically check into what BookTok is talking about, but I usually look for books that I think I’ll enjoy. It’s just sometimes that overlaps into what BookTok is discussing/recommending unintentionally. This author happens to be one that has been talked about on BookTok apparently.
Note: BookTok, for those of you who may not know, is a side of the app TikTok that’s dedicated to talking about books. This can include recommendations, ratings, what their reading, and so on. It seems to be a popular side of the app, though, I only really follow one person who’s a BookToker and willo.
Now, I came across this author when looking for something new while at Barnes and Noble. I spotted the first books for her Bargainer and The Four Horsemen series (Rhapsodic and Pestilence respectively) and thought I might check them out. I didn’t end up getting to either series, though mostly due to life, motivation, and other books. I may try to give them a try later, especially since they are on my to read list and Goodreads let me know they were holding a giveaway for the entire Bargainer series. It’s because of that giveaway notification that I ended up checking into what else the author has written and I ended up finding this book.
It comes out on April 18th so I may give it a try.
When You Wish Upon a Star by Elizabeth Lim
On series I have been keeping up with, but not reading every book, is the Twisted Tales series. This is a YA series that takes Disney properties and twists the tale with a simple what if question. An example would be in Reflection another book in the series Elizabeth Lim worked on. This book takes Mulan and asks, “what if Mulan had to go to the underworld?” It’s set up after the fight with the Huns, and after Shang takes a fatal blow, it’s up to Mulan, or Ping as the troops know her, going to the underworld to bring Shang back.
Though a series, each book is a standalone book. So the only ones you have to read are the ones that interest you.
When You Wish Upon a Star is the newest book. This one focusing on (the movie) Pinocchio and asks, “What if the Blue Fairy Wasn’t Supposed to Help Pinocchio?” With that in mind, it looks like this book will focus on the Blue Fairy or Chiara as she will also be known as in the book. It would appear there will be a few Twisted Tales books released this year, including an anthology, and When You Wish Upon a Star appears to be the first of these, set to release in April.
So far, these are the books I am looking forward to reading this year. Some fiction, some fantasy, even a few graphic novels. And though not the only books I plan to read this year, I can’t wait to get started on them.
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Darick Robertson, 2004’s Nightcrawler marks the third time Nightcrawler had a solo outing, but the first time he had a multi-volume (two to be exact) run as opposed to the previous two four issue runs. This has to be one of my favorite Nightcrawler centered runs thus far, with Way of X being another and Claremont’s 70’s and 80’s being a good X-Men run that also happens to have him in it.
Minor Content Disclaimer
This series does use the term g*psy twice when introducing Margali in two issues. As well as two stereotypes: Margali being a fortune teller and her and her family being a part of the circus. I had previously learned that fortune telling is a common stereotype for Romani people while the stereotype of them working in the circus (and certain entertainment fields) is something I learned recently.
Based on what I currently know, I am viewing this similarly to how I did with Moon Sister, namely a Q&A and synopsis (can’t remember if the term was used in the book at the moment). That being, I do not believe the people behind the series were trying to be malicious. Misinformed and/or uninformed? Perhaps. There is also the fact that this is an almost twenty year old series, which more than anything, gives context for how Romani characters has changed in the years since.
That does not mean I am excusing the term or stereotypes. I many be giving them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to intent, until proven otherwise (if proven otherwise). It is still an issue even if they weren’t meaning to be. Nor does it’s age excuse it. It may provide context for howRomani characters were approach then compared to now, but that doesn’t mean the series gets a pass.
I strive to be as mindful as I can be when it comes to reviews, recommendations, and the like. And when making reviews for books or any media (movies, shows, etc.), if there’s something that people might want to know about (ex. content warnings or a disclaimer for terms/topics/etc. that might seem jarring or problematic), I will mention it.
This run focuses on two different yet interconnected stories. The first volume deals with demons and murder in a hospital. The second, deals with Nightcrawler’s past and how a demon named Hive was associated with it.
In The Devil Inside (issues 1-6), Nightcrawler is tasked with investigating the murder of thirteen children at a hospital with the only survivor, a young boy named Seth, being the key to unraveling the true nature of these murders. With the help of the night nurse Christine and Ororo keeping an eye on the case, Nightcrawler finds out the haunting and supernatural reason behind the murders and Dr. Childs’ involvement.
In The Winding Way (Issues 7-12) Nightcrawler is tormented by a series of surreal dreams involving his past at the circus and something called the Soulsword. This leads to Kurt, alongside Christine and Logan to investigate the circus he had spent quite a bit of time in. And along the way, Amanda Sefton and Margali Szardos, Nightcrawler’s adopted family, alongside Dr. Strange antagonist Nightmare, come to help. After Nightcrawler learns about what is going on and how to stop an array of demons looking for the Soulsword, it concludes with a surprise visit on his birthday.
This series has quite a few good things in it. The art is good. The story is neat. And the supernatural elements to it feel suitable for a Nightcrawler series.
The artwork here is pretty good. Darick Robertson, who has work on The Boys and Legends of the Dark Knight, did a good job. Greg Land, who also worked on the X-Men story Second Coming, is also mentioned as an artist for the series as well, and I think what he contributed is good too.
Though not the most magically savvy like Magik or other sorcerer/sorceress Marvel characters, I did think that having the supernatural element to this series was a good approach. I feel like Nightcrawler stories do have some versatility to them. Some that readers have seen include swashbuckling adventures with pirates, exploring his past, exploring his religious root, and learning to embrace himself for how he looks even if others do not. The direction this run took I feel works with his character. Because while he isn’t a literal sorcerer, his whole shtick with being a “demon” I feel works with how this story also deals with him fighting them, including the brief interaction with Mephisto, as well as his history with Margali and Amanda, two known sorceresses, who help him out with both main plot points in this run. This story also mixes events from his past with the occult stuff with the present conflict, like what really happened the night Nightcrawler killed Stephan, which I think was an interesting way to explore that. Overall, I think the supernatural aspect of this story really works for this series.
Tying into that, I think the story was a well written one. The transition from the first main plot with the hospital to Kurt searching for answers in regards to the Soulsword was solid. The story about the ghosts haunting the subway was a good transitional issue before it got into the main plot of The Winding Way. While the concluding issue wrapped up the necessary plot point that needed to be.
Nothing really felt out of place for what this series was trying to tell, and I liked how it tied a few things together. Namely how the Soulsword and the demons involved with attacking Kurt and his allies ended up tying into Kurt’s past. Without spoiling too much, it tied into a ringleader who wasn’t particularly kind to Kurt. It was also tied to the death of Stefan Szardos’, Margali’s son, which happened after Kurt promised Stefan that he would to stop him by any means should he lose his way.
As far as characters, I think this series handled them well. No one felt out of character. The characters who had a main role outside of Kurt (for obvious reasons) include Ororo (Storm), Logan (Wolverine), Christine Pakmer, Amanda Sefton, Margali Szardos, Hank McCoy (Beast), and Nightmare. Other characters include the doctor at the hospital, the young boy that survived the incident at the hospital, the ghosts of the miners, and the ringleader. And the main antagonists were the demons involved with the hospital murders and the ones sent to retrieve the Soulsword.
Kurt was the star of the series and it did a great job of handling his character and how he approached the conflicts in it. I also really enjoyed how Storm interacted with him as well as Nightcrawler, Storm, and Logan worked together for an issue. The banter between Nightcrawler and Beast was also amusing and insightful. Honestly, I think this series is one of the best examples of just how well he connects with his friends and fellow X-Men and how well of an impact he has on people.
When it comes to this series, I feel like it did a lot of good things. The art was good and the transition between the two main stories was solid. I enjoyed both stories and feel that characters, especially Nightcrawler, That said, this is not a perfect series, and I do have a few critiques. But before that, I wanted to quickly discuss Margali and Amanda as characters separately.
Margali and Amanda: As Characters
The reason I want to separate these two is because I wanted to talk about what I felt they did right in terms of Margali and Amanda as characters. Because while I do not approve of the term or stereotypes, I do want to address what I believe was done well with the characters and their characterization.
In terms of characterization, I would say they were done well. They do not have a lot of appearances since their debut in 1976 (Amanda) and 1980 (Margali and Stefan). Amanda has a few more appearances due to her relationship with Kurt, but both characters aren’t as utilized when compared to other X-Men characters. So having them here was nice. That said, the reason I feel that their characters were done well was because of the role thy had in the series. That being to help Nightcrawler with his cases and showing how he valued his family.
As magic based characters, they had a better understanding of what was going around Nightcrawler and the supernatural conflicts he was looking into. Margali also had a better understanding of the Soulsword and it’s whereabouts. As Kurt’s family, they always have significant. Because Margali took him in when Mystique had abandoned him, Kurt developed a love for his adopted family. So much so that he still sees Margali as a mother, calling her “mother” and “mamí” on several occasions. Family and acceptance has always been important to Nightcrawler’s character. Especially with how most of the world shuns him for being the way he looks. And this series exhibits that through flashbacks, how he interacts with Amanda and Margali, and how they are there to help him.
It’s also worth mentioning that Margali and Amanda were never villainized for being Romani. They were treated as characters and as people.
As for the issues in series surrounding how they are referred to and affiliations, I can say that they are no longer members of the circus and Margali is no longer a fortune teller. And though they haven’t appeared as often as say Wanda or Pietro, I’m sure they will/would be referred to as Romani in future appearances (I’m uncertain what issues they appear in after Kurt’s death in 2010’s Second Coming and his post resurrection solo in 2014, so I cannot say if they have been referred to as Romani in between those). The only thing that has stuck is their past in the circus, which I do not see that changing anytime soon due to Nightcrawler’s past being so linked to Margali and the circus.
However, overall, I would say that Margali and Amanda were treated well as characters. Though the language and stereotypes are there, which are issues regardless, they weren’t villainized in the series for being Romani. And the role that they had was key in helping Kurt and building on how he views his adopted family.
When it comes to negatives, there are two main critiques I have: Christine’s role after the events of the first six issues and a key element to Amanda and Nightcrawler’s relationship that is still present today.
When it comes to Christine, I feel like they didn’t know what to do with her after the events from The Devil Inside. While she is there for support, it just didn’t feel like she had much to do. The biggest point being the state of their relationship, and the uncertainty of it working out. They do end up breaking up with Christine stating that she would be moving for a job, and Kurt agreeing it was probably for the best. Though he did offer to try and make things work.
Other than that, she didn’t have that much purpose during The Winding Way. She and Logan do accompany him on his journey back to the circus he spent time in, both agreeing to come along when asked. Other than that, she ends up getting attack and almost killed. And when it comes to the main conflict, Christine didn’t seem to have as much to do outside of some dialogue and a sense of urgency after she’s attacked. It’s a shame because I feel they could have done something more with her (not sure what at the moment). Though if they only wanted to address their relationship and break up, I feel they could have done one of two things: have Christine stay behind and reveal that she no longer thinks things will work out, or she comes along and after seeing Kurt getting severely hurt, she decides to call it off because she can no longer take the stress of worrying about him dying.
Overall though, I just think that Christine loses something between The Demon Inside and The Winding Way.
When it comes to Nightcrawler and Amanda’s relationship, there has been an aspect of it that always felt odd to me. That being that they dated. At first glance, it might not seem like much to worry about. The problem is, Amanda is Margali’s daughter, and Margali adopted Nightcrawler. Thereby making them adopted siblings.
Even if Nightcrawler wasn’t officially/legally adopted by Margali, she still adopted and raised him as her own. And yes, this isn’t the only time they were romantically involved (they were in some of the earlier X-Men runs and again in the 2014 Nightcrawler solo). However, considering how Nightcrawler sees Margali as a mother and Stefan a brother, which is reciprocated, why the same was never said about Amanda is strange. Yet, Marvel has repeatedly gone back to them dating, despite them being essentially siblings.
Now, to give credit where it’s due, this is probably the least questionable instance in my opinion. In the series, they aren’t together in the present. They were in the past, which is shown through a memory where Kurt teleports to save Amanda when a stunt goes wrong. And in the heat of the moment, they kiss. Then it’s later addressed that Nightcrawler had broken up with her due Amanda to not always being completely honest with him. It may have a few minor instances where it’s referenced, but other than that, I do feel like this series had the least questionable instance of their romance based on the fact that they weren’t together anymore.
The handling of Christine and Kurt’s relationship with the Amanda were the bigger issues I had with the series. Those, and the problematic elements surrounding the apporach to Romani characters, mainly Margali (the stereotypes and term). Christine could have been handled better in the second half of the series due to it feeling like she wasn’t as needed. And while I don’t think Amanda is a bad character and am fine with her having a good relationship with Nightcrawler, I do have an issue with them being romantically involved due to Margali being a mother to both of them. As for the term and stereotypes, regardless of intent or the time it was released, is an issue. I do hope (and currently presume) that they have since learned about the nature of the stereotypes and term and have become more conscientious of it.
I would give this series and eight and a half out of ten. Overall, I would definitely say that this is a really good X-Men stories and one of my favorites when it comes to Nightcrawler. It had a good atmosphere the supernatural elements and the story it told was an interesting one. It also gives some nice insight into Nightcrawler’s past and how it ties to the cases in the present. And the characters for the most part are really good. Kurt as the lead especially, as well as characters like Storm, Wolverine, Margali, Beast, and Amanda.
It does, however, use some terminology and stereotypes towards the Romani that haven’t aged, and in hindsight shouldn’t have been used (unfortunately, there might not be much that can be done about their past in the circus given it’s significant ties to Nightcrawler’s backstory). And while Christine and Amanda had some good contributions to the series, there are a few issues with them. Namely, it doesn’t feel like Christine had much to do in The Winding Way and while it was in the past and not exclusive to this series, Amanda’s romance with Nightcrawler has always been a strange choice to me due to their relationship to Margali.
If you’re looking for a good X-Men title, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Nightcrawler is worth a read.
Since I’ve talked a few times now about Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, and recently reviewed the prequel novella, it’s time for a review of the first book. Cry Wolf is the first book in the series, excluding the Alpha and Omega novella (which is considered a prequel) and the This is my favorite of the series and is the book I have read the most.
While this story doesn’t go into graphic detail, it does touch on some sensitive subjects. Mainly referenced trauma and violence against Anne while she was in her previous pack.
The story picks up some time after the events of Alpha and Omega. Anne is the mate of Charles, the first and only born were wolf and son of the pack leader Bram, who is trying to get acclimated to the new pack. As she tries to adjust, she and Charles go to a funeral for a pack member, she meets Asil, a downdraught with a drinking habit. Due to Anne being a rare Omega, who’s role is to be a soothing presence in the pack, she .
I think this book set up the world pretty well. Since it does it’s own thing, away from the Mercy Thompson series, this is something it would have to do to keep it as it’s own separate thing. And I think it does it pretty well. It might feel a bit more contained since it does focus a lot on Anna, Charles, their pack, and the few people they do interact with, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I see this series as really focusing on building the relationship between Anna and Charles alongside their relationship with the pack and how they handle situations that they are needed for.
I also think it sets up a number of characters really well. The dynamic between Anna and Charles is a bit different when compared to Mercy and Adam. Which I think is kind of important since they are the couple readers are following in this series. Individually, Charles
I also think that how they set up why two werewolves cannot have kids and the dangers of trying. That might seem like something that feels a bit like a trope, but I don’t think it’s set up in a way that feels bad. Plus, it also helps further explain why Samuel, Charles’ (half) brother, thought having kids with Mercy, a Coyote shifter, would be potentially safer had they gotten together. Basically, it would be very high risk and the mother would die because of it. They mention this in Alpha and Omega, which devastates Anna, who had always wanted kids even prior to her changing. And again here when explaining how Charles’ mother, who Bran changed in order to save her life, had died giving birth to Charles. So it kind of explores why it’s avoided from two different perspectives.
Having read this book as many times that I have, I won’t say it doesn’t have flaws. I’ve narrowed it down to common tropes, some of the characters, and how Asil seems to be the only one with first hand experience with Omegas.
While not always a bad thing, it does have some of the typical tropes you would expect from the genre. Like how urban fantasy a lot of times will focus on vampires, werewolves, witches, and fae. Or how Charles is essentially the enforcer for his father, who is the head, the North American werewolves, which would probably fall into a subcategory of supernatural enforcers. Though, typically, Charles is sent to check in on or handle other werewolf packs as needed as opposed to all of the supernatural creatures. The only time he does is if his father needs him to, but usually it’s to keep the werewolves in line.
I would say this may also hit the Chosen One trope but to a lesser degree. What I mean is that Anna could be considered a “chosen one” type character because she is an Omega, which in universe is a rarity. The only reason I think this is the least offensive of the tropes is because she isn’t made out to be someone that everybody wants because of it. Some members of the pack are interested, but once Charles officially steps up as her one and only, it gets dropped. Plus, the only reason Asil is interested is because his late wife was an Omega as well and Anna reminded him of her.
Now tropes aren’t necessarily bad. I just know that what tropes people are fine with and may find annoying may depend on the person. However, these tropes I don’t think were terrible to the point of being overbearing. Granted, I also don’t read a lot of Urban Fantasy either, so I haven’t really read enough to be that annoyed with it in this series. These are simply tropes that may be common in this genre and I know that can be something that might annoy people.
Going back to Asil for my next criticism, him being the only one with information on Omegas kind of feels odd. On the one hand, from a story perspective, I can get why. He’s a lot more closed off after the death of his wife and is at odds with Charles for a portion of the book. So Charles going to him to make some kind of amends and get help for how to approach Anna makes sense. However, I would like to think that there would have been a record or something about Omegas because he had first hand knowledge. That way, when he dies, there would be some way to access the knowledge he has, should Charles, Bran, or any other werewolf encounter one after he passes. That might not be necessary at this moment, but something I think would be a consideration.
There may be other flaws that I have that I’m not thinking about at the moment. However, these are two that I feel this book has.
I would probably give this book an eight and a half out of ten. Overall, I think this was a solid enough first book in the series. I feel it sets up the world and characters well enough. Though it does fall into some of the tropes Urban Fantasy is known for as well as how they handle Asil and his knowledge on Omegas to some degree. And while not all of the characters or parts of the story land, it’s still a nice little guilty pleasure read for me.
Believe it or not, it has been about six months since I last talked about the novel and Netflix Oscar Nominee The Power of the Dog. While I had a few ideas for possible posts, motivation and ideas had stagnated. However, if there was one thing I hadn’t considered doing at the time, despite having read the book not long after seeing the movie, was doing a comparison between the book and movie. Because while the movie did keep pretty close to the book, there were a few differences between the two.
Starting off with similarities between the two, as an adaptation, the movie does hold true to elements of the book its based on. There’s the story, characters, and the relationship between said characters.
As for story, it does follow the book pretty faithfully, save for the events behind the death of Rose’s husband and Peter’s father, which I will get to momentarily. It still tells the story of two brothers who are quite different and how George ends up marrying Rose after the death of her husband. And Phil’s torment her throughout is still a prevalent factor.
There’s also how Phil treats Peter throughout the movie. Starting out with picking on/tormenting Peter to the slight shift where he decides to take Peter under his wing (which to some degree was kind of a ploy to isolate Rose). Then it gets to where Phil seems to see a lot of Bronco Henry, a man Phil looked up to and was close to, in Peter.
The characters were pretty consistent from the novel to the movie. How opposing Phil and George are is still there. As is how Rose and Peter react to them.
The focus put on the mountain range, how Phil views Bronco Henry, and the eccentricities of Peter that were pretty accurate. And while the movie has some areas where it has quiet pauses, I think that body language could be used in place of some of the introspective the book had.
Overall, The Power of the Dog as a movie was a pretty faithful adaptation. It kept the characters consistent from the book to the movie, kept the interactions and relationships intact, and it followed the story pretty faithfully minus one or two scenes. However, for how faithful it was, I do feel that it had one or two key differences between the two.
The main differences would be the details behind the death of Rose’s husband, how that might effect Peter from the viewer’s perspective, and how it uses the third person perspective the novel.
When it comes to the overarching perspective from Phil’s point of view, there are a few instances in the book where it feels like there is more of a focus from Phil’s point of view. Now, the book is written in the third person, so it can lend itself to not having to worry about focusing one character. However, there are a few instances of Third Person Limited perspective, which is where it feels like it focuses mostly on one character.
It does this in two different ways. The first few chapters, where it focuses on Rose’s family and her husband. There it sets up what readers will come to expect with Rose’s family. There’s also a period where it focuses on everybody, or who the scene may call for, like when Rose is moving in with George. Then, at some point, it does feel like this limited third perspective falls on Phil, later on in the book. An example being towards the climax when Peter and Phil are in the farm working on the rope, where it has him reflecting on the last time he was close with anyone (excluding his brother).
In the movie, viewers get a general third person perspective. Some scenes will focus on George and Phil, George and Rose, Rose and Peter, and Phil and Peter, depending on what the scene calls for. If I had to give the movie a character it might have given more of an overarching focus on, it would be Phil. Because, regardless of the fact that Phil is inherently the antagonist of the story, it seems like he is a driving force and focus of what goes on as the story progresses.
Also worth mentioning is the Native American family. If I recall correctly, it was a father and son or grandfather and grandson duo. In the movie, they do have a few scenes, the one where Rose gives them the leather, which Phil was adamant about not selling to them, being the important one. This family does have a few more scenes in the book, with this aforementioned exchange happening as well. I thought I should include that, because while this Native American family does show up, they did have a little more development in the book.
The biggest difference does come in the form of Peter’s father and how that might affect how people perceive Peter in the movie. In the movie, viewers will learn that Peter’s father took his own life. This event shown and is only mentioned in a conversation he and Phil have.
This conversation still happens in the novel. However, the novel addressed this within the first few chapters of it. It sets up who his father is and how he was a doctor and what the motive behind his death was. In the novel, we learn that he does worry about Peter, who at the time wasn’t as healthy as he could be, and was a target of Phil’s jokes. Which was something that had been prevalent in the book later on as well as in the movie when Peter and Rose are living with George.
Without spoiling too much, Peter’s father was worried about Peter, and comments about Peter being a “sissy” were something that really bothered him. And like it was referenced in the later scene in the book and movie, Peter was the one to find his body.
The reason I say that this can effect how viewers might breakdown Peter’s character. I had seen a case made that Peter might have been something of a sociopath and/or having a hand in his father’s death. In the case of him being a sociopath, I’m not entirely sure if that was the case, since I feel like what he did later on in the story could have been a form of trauma response and wanting to protect his mother, who didn’t really stand much of a chance when it came to Phil’s torment. However, that may depend on who you talk to.
As far as Peter having a hand in his father’s death, I can see how that could have been assumed or considered in the movie. Because of how his father’s death is addressed and Peter’s actions later on, along with the theory that Peter might be a sociopath, I could see why some viewers might have deduced that he could have been responsible. That’s not necessarily the fault of the movie, but because viewers never got to see what happened to his father, it could leave itself up to interpretation. Had the movie included a scene addressing his father, be it a scene at the beginning with a time jump to when the movie actually starts or a flashback, I think it might have helped explain things just a little more.
In conclusion, the major differences in the film include how the third person perspective seems to be used and the scene expanding on what happened to Peter’s father. As well as a scene or two more with the Native American family.
Overall, as an adaptation, I would say 2021’s The Power of the Dog Netflix adaptation was a solid and faithful adaptation. It followed a lot of the core elements of the novel it was based on. And though it might not have included some of the context behind the death of Peter’s father, I don’t think that hurt the movie. Though it could lead to some differing interpretations of Peter. All in all, though, I would say it was a pretty faithful adaptation.
I’ve talked a few times now about Patricia Briggs’ two major series, Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega. I’m also slowly, but surely, working on reviewing the main books of the latter (Outside of Alpha and Omega, I don’t really want to review the other short stories. They’re nice, but not stories I want to review at this time), which may lead me to a third read through of the series (second read through for Wild Sign and probably the fourth for Cry Wolf) since, outside of Cry Wolf, which I’ve read the most, my memory is a little foggy in regards to the others.
Anyways, this isn’t about reviews and rereads. This is about the Mercy Thompson series. I’ve previously gone on record, a.k.a. blogged about, how I prefer the Alpha and Omega series over the Mercy Thompson. However, I haven’t really gone in depth into why. I know I’ve stated how I like Anna as a female lead more than Mercy in terms of personality, how I prefer Charles and Anna’s relationship more than Mercy and Adam’s, and that the length of Alpha and Omega (as it currently stands) doesn’t bother me as much as Mercy Thompson’s. Some of those are more of a preference type thing, but there are a few thing that stop me form enjoying Mercy Thompson more. Nowadays especially, which is unfortunate since I do enjoy Mercy Thompson.
In an attempt to discuss the series, I thought I would take the time to breakdown some of the criticisms I have with the series. As well as why I may feel a bit more fatigued with the series. These will include how the series at times feels like it drags, some repetition, and the release dates.
What I Enjoy About the Mercy Thompson
Before I jump in to my criticisms, I thought I would take a moment to discuss what I consider positives of the series. Because, despite the criticisms I have, and the preference for the other series, I do enjoy this series. Maybe not to the same level as Alpha and Omega, but enough to say that I do genuinely enjoy the series.
One thing I enjoy is the relationship between Mercy, Adam, and Jesse, Adam’s daughter. I like the relationship they were able to build over the years and it’s neat to see how well Jesse and Mercy get along. I know that there are a few tropes with stepparents and stepchildren in media. A few examples include, the evil stepmother trope, the stepparent who tries so much to win their stepchildren affection and/or trust, and the child who dislikes the change that comes with a new stepparent which may sometimes include hating the stepparent.
Mercy and Jesse don’t really seem to fit into any of the previously mentioned tropes. More than anything they appear to enjoy each other’s company with Jesse not too bothered by Mercy getting with Adam. The major conflict that they would have comes with Jesse’s mom. But it’s mostly between Mercy and Christy and how the latter treats everyone around them.
Another thing I enjoy is how Mercy isn’t a werewolf. While she was adopted by Bran Cornick, the head of the North American Wolf pack, Mercy herself was not a werewolf. Rather, a coyote Walker (she can turn into a coyote). So while the series may follow a trope of mostly werewolf and vampire characters, the lead is not one, which is neat. It’s a neat way to give it a somewhat different avenue.
With that out of the way, I’m going to get into what issues I have with the series.
When it comes to repetition, it’s not so much that each book feels like the another so much as elements and dialogue. Obviously, each book has it’s own story to tell with it’s own conflicts and resolutions. However, this is an ongoing series with thirteen book as of this post, there are bound to be elements that feel familiar.
For me, aspects that felt repetitive have to do with internal dialogue, perspective, and plot points. Internal dialogue and perspective kind of go hand in hand, but I felt were distinct enough to separate. While some of the world building plot point at times feel repetitive.
In the case of perspective, it has to do with the fact that it is written in the first person (I/we). As such, there may be a limited amount of perspective from the world as far as other characters. That’s not to say that first person is necessarily bad, since I do enjoy first person when don right. However, first person can really go off of what the character knows as opposed to third, which could be a little more flexible in terms of perspective, emotion, and input.
For instance, in book eight, Night Broken, it deals with Adam’s ex-wife, Christy, getting into trouble. She knows that the pack sees Christy differently than she does due to the fact that she was apart of their pack a bit longer (Mercy had left the Bran’s pack as a teen and had been living on her own for years by the time the series started). We also know that she isn’t Christy’s biggest fan in terms of trust and what she did when she was with Adam. Mercy is also aware of how the pack sees her (Mercy) differently. That’s something that does get brought up once or twice in the book. And since we only really get to see her perspective, readers can only get so much as far as what people think about Christy and Mercy. Whereas third person, there would probably be the opportunity to get perspectives from everyone, or a select few characters in a more broader sense. Because of that, Mercy’s perspective may come off as repetitive and limited.
Moving on to internal dialogue, what makes it a bit different from the first person perspective of the series, are things that Mercy herself brings up. Vocally, through her thoughts, and how she experiences the story. One such example is how she refers to Bran and Samuel, Bran’s eldest son. There are a few times where she expresses how and why she that she left his pack, in the broader sense, how she knows certain traits about Bran, and how she perceives Bran. For Samuel, she mentions how they were a couple but separated and reflecting back on it. There are also a few times where she reflects on being on her own, how she felt she was fine not being in a pack prior to joining Adam’s, how she worries about Adam and how she doesn’t always know what he’s thinking. For me, it feels like these topics do come up several times throughout the series, and feels rather repetitive.
My third and final area that feels a bit repetitive is how it reminds the readers about aspects of the world. How vampires don’t really like werewolves, save a few like Stefan, is one such instance. How the fae shouldn’t be taken lightly and always tell the truth is another example. While I get why these aspects are important, it doesn’t need to be as frequently reiterated as it feel like it is.
These aspects to me are what make the series feel repetitive at times. The perspective and internal dialogue reiterate what Mercy knows several times throughout the series. While the reminders of the world and it’s characters is another.
When it comes to the series dragging, I’ve narrowed that down to how long it has been running and the stories not always being as engaging. I know series that have long runs can be good, but that doesn’t mean a long running series can feel like it’s dragging on. For example, Naruto. I still have yet to finish the series (What is motivation, am I right?), but I do have a general idea for how this series ends. The manga runs for seventy two volumes or seven hundred chapters. On the one hand, it probably needed that much to get where it wanted to end, so it running that long theoretically could be fine. However, whether or not it felt like it dragged with certain arcs and/or could have ended sooner is a discussion that can be had.
In the case of the Mercy Thompson series, I am not sure how exactly it’s overall story is meant to end, if there is a planned ending at all at this time. It’s still ongoing either way, but if you asked me, “What is the end goal for the series” I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’ll be with Mercy and Adam settling down and having a child (since a walker and a werewolf having a kid wouldn’t be as fatal as a werewolves having a kid with another werewolf like it was with Charles’ mother). Or maybe it’ll end with Mercy, Adam and Jesse leaving the North American pack. But that’s just speculation on my part.
What makes the series drag for me does have to do with the later books. For me, the later books don’t seem as engaging. I think I started feeling this around book nine or ten. That won’t stop me from reading the series, since I am on, and own, book thirteen. However, I’d be lying if I said that the last few books haven’t been as engaging for me.
If I had to give it a set reason, it probably has to do with the stories themselves. Since it doesn’t have an endgame at this time, it feels like the series is rolling with conflict after conflict in a way that feels like there isn’t much direction overall. That might be just me, but may be why it feels like it drags on.
For my final, and more so external, critique with the series is how frequently the series has been released. Something I have come to realize is just how frequent Mercy Thompson is updated when compared to Alpha and Omega. This is probably a slightly personal one for me, but I do feel it’s one worth mentioning.
Because I am keeping tabs on release dates for both Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega, mostly for the latter, I’ve come to realize a pattern with their release dates. I initially noticed this book five of Alpha and Omega, Burn Bright (though technically since book two, Hunting Grounds, but I realized this when I was waiting for book six, Wild Sign to be released) and really picked up on this trend recently.
I’ve noticed that every three years an Alpha and Omega book will be released and in between those released, two Mercy Thompson books will be released. With short stories sprinkled in as Patricia Briggs chooses. An example of this is when books five and six of Alpha and Omega were released. Burn Bright was released in 2018 and Wild Cards was released in 2021. In between these two books, the Mercy Thompson series saw the release of books eleven and twelve: Storm Cursed in 2019 and Smoke Bitten in 2020.
According to the page on released books on Patricia Briggs’ website (https://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/), there is a timeline for the seventh book of Alpha and Omega and the fourteenth book for the Mercy Thompson series, both of which are untitled at this time. The fourteenth book of Mercy Thompson series, is set to be released sometime next year (2023) and the seventh book of the Alpha and Omega series is set to be released some time in 2024.
Because of how consistently the Mercy Thompson series is released, I do feel that this could be a contribution to why I’m feeling a bit more tired with the series. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a series having a set release date between books, but getting a book almost yearly feels a little over the top (I’m not even sure how to refer to it’s release cycle to be honestly whereas Alpha and Omega come out with a book triannually). At least for me anyways.
While the Mercy Thompson series is one that I enjoy, I’ve come to notice a few reasons why I’m not as fond of it as I am with the Alpha and Omega series. Some repetition, release dates, and some stories feeling like they were dragging have hindered some of my enjoyment. Regardless, I am still going to continue on with the series, with the thirteenth in my possession currently.
Have you read the Mercy Thompson series? What are your thoughts on it? Are there any critiques you have with the series?
When The Missing Sister came out back in 2021, I initially thought this would be the last book in the series. Since each book focused on a sister and the seventh being based on the one that went missing, it would make sense. However, checking Goodreads, like I do, I found out that there will be an eighth book. From my understanding this was in the works prior to her passing and announced not long after The Missing Sister’s release.
And while she did pass away a few months after the release of The Missing Sister, that doesn’t mean it will go unfinished. Since she already had passages and key notes on the story in the works, her eldest son Harry Whittaker, will continue, and finish, the story. According to Goodreads, the book has an expected release of January 2023, however, her website states that it has an expected release in Spring of 2023 (https://lucindariley.co.uk/seven-sisters-series/atlas-the-story-of-pa-salt/).
With that said, I thought I would take a moment to discuss some hopes I have for this book. As well as some things I am expecting. I suppose both are interchangeable, but I do feel some topics might fit more as expectations while others fit more so as thing I hope they include.
Honoring Lucinda Riley’s Memory
With this being not only the last book in the series, but the last book by Lucinda Riley, I feel like this book could be a ceremonial way to say farewell to the author. Whether that be in the form of an “in memory of” section” or some form of tribute to the author in the acknowledgements or notes at the end, I think there should be some form of way that the author is remembered. I’m sure there will be, and that’s not to say that Harry Whittaker shouldn’t get credit for his part, just that this book could be a way to honor Lucinda Riley’s memory.
Exploring Pa Salt’s Character
This is titles Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt, so it’s pretty much a given that it will be about Pa Salt. He had a presence throughout the series, but readers never really got to know the character on a personal level. Only how each sister remembers him.
My hope is that this book will give some closure with Pa Salt as a character. Since his character has been dead since the very beginning, I would hope that this goes over who he was as a person, exploring why he adopted each sister, and the lead up to his passing. Let his story be told in a way that works with the story and wraps it up with the sisters learning more about their father.
The Past and Present Storytelling
This might sound odd, but I would hope that it keeps up the tradition of it being told in the present as well as the past. Not only because the series is known for it, but because I feel that it has to. Again, with Pa Salt being deceased, readers won’t exactly be able to get a first hand account of the character. Rather, the sisters learning more about the man who brought them all together. That would be the present bit.
As for the past portion, it would focus on Pa Salt’s life. Here, readers would get to learn about who he was as a person, where he came from, how he became the man he was, and how he found each sister. And much like the other stories, it should go through a big part of his life. It can start with him as a child or young adult (preferably the latter) and go all the way up to his death.
As far as perspective, I could see this taking a slightly different approach. Normally, each book would be told in the first person for each sister and third for the person from the past. I believe The Missing Sister was the only book that told it from the third person perspective for both. Here, I can see it using solely the third person for both perspectives since it would be his story and D’Aplièse getting answers and learning more about Pa Salt. Alternatively, it could be written from third person for the present part and the first person for Pa Salt’s. That would be a nice change of pace while also utilizing something that the series was known for. There is also the chance that the present could shift a first person perspective for each sister, but I feel like that would be unnecessary and could get confusing.
Ending the Series on a High Note
Since this will be the conclusion to the series, I feel like it should end on something of a high note. That would include wrapping up the loose ends it didn’t get to in The Missing Sister, ending with each sister having learned something, show where each sister ends up, and ending the series on a good conclusive note. While I’m not expecting perfection, I do think that it should resolve what it needs to and feels gratifying. Not rushed. Nor do I think it should end on a happily ever after. It would be nice to see it ending on a happier note, but I’m not looking for a happily ever after necessarily. If one or more of the sisters feel like they have to reevaluate their life or how they viewed Pa Salt, that’s okay. But at the same time, they did get a sort of happily ever after at the end of each of their story, and I don’t think that has to be tossed.
These are just a few things I hope for when Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt is released. If you’ve read the series, what are your expectations for it? Is there anything you hope gets addressed? Are you excited for it?
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