The Simple Rules

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Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson is an interesting short story and I learned a lot of background and aside stuff from it.

While being a pretty long title for a short story, Shadows for Silence is set on the outskirts of civilization in the Cosmere universe, which is also the same universe that houses the Mistborn saga, albeit on a different world. Here only the hard and hardy prevail, and none fit that description more so than a woman named Silence who runs a waypoint inn with her daughters, one natural and one adopted, at the end of the line before some very rough and unusual woods.

She follows the Simple Rules and has taught her daughters them as well: Don’t kindle flame.  Don’t shed the blood of another.  Don’t run at night.  For the woods they live on the edge at are alive in and of themselves it seems, and doing any of those things will draw the shades.

The whole place is crawling with shades. Shades who for the most part ignore the living, unless you break the Simple Rules.  Then you can be assured of a swift –if agonizing- death as they feast on your life essence and wither you to nothing before going on a rampage and slaughtering anything else they can find.

Silver is the only thing that dissuades shades, so silver is an important commodity out here on the ‘frontier’ and one in short supply at Silence’s home. Probably one of many reasons she took up bounty hunting at a young age, to supplement the income of the inn and ensure it’s survive.

Hunting under the pseudonym of the White Fox, Silence has operated this way for decades, until a local tax collector gets too greedy for his own good and winds up almost costing Silence and her daughter their lives before getting a nasty surprise from a local urban legend.

Aside from being a fantastic read like I knew it would be, I like how entwined the title is with the story. Shadows refer to the shades, Silence is obviously the main character and the Forests of Hell is exactly where the story takes place.

Super eager to keep on the Sanderson bandwagon with Shadows of Self next.

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

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Not So Lonely

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Pack by Jeaniene Frost is a one shot werewolf story, and I know werewolves have been done to death, but I don’t read much on them so this is all new and exciting for me.

We are swiftly introduced to Marlee, a hiker lost in the woods days after her companions left her and returned home. She is set upon by wolves’ intent on killing her and only lives through the timing of her rescuer Daniel.

Very quickly it is revealed that the wolves and Daniel are werewolves, part of a pack living in a resort town in Yellowstone National Park and they give her the spiel that she’s been bitten and they’ll find out if she’s one of them at the next full moon in two weeks.

Now here is my biggest issue with this story. In the beginning, everyone is basically saying her choices are live with them or be killed.  If she turns, she’s part of the pack whether she likes it or not.  If she doesn’t turn, they can’t risk her going off at the mouth about their existence.  And then when it turns out she is now a werewolf herself, all of a sudden it’s ‘oh you don’t need to stay here FOREVER, just a few months’.

Like…what?

I assume if she did not turn she would still be held there so they could protect themselves, but this turn about doesn’t lead full credence to that idea now. Like would they seriously hold her for the rest of her life?  Or just a few months until they trust each other enough to let her go home?  They live in a freaking RESORT town for crying out loud.  The humans who are part of their pack are there willingly, else they would be raising hell every tourist season in an attempt to escape.

Aside from changing their tune halfway through the song, I enjoyed it. And now aside from the Broken Destiny trilogy I’ve read pretty much everything else she has written so go me!

Now as promised previously we’re turning our attention back to Mr. Brandon Sanderson. First up of his is Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, a Cosmere novella.  My first look at the Cosmere world!  So exciting!

When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.”

Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.

Slavery or Freedom?

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Infinity Blade: Redemption by Brandon Sanderson is set in the world of the Infinity Blade game trilogy. It’s a little confusing where exactly this lies in the timeline of the game, but just as Infinity Blade: Awakening was kind of a bridge between the first and second game it seems as if Redemption is the bridge between the second and third.

Here we are basically thrown in almost as soon as the second game ends with Siris and the God King trapped together and just going at each other over and over again, killing each other in an endless cycle of anger and violence for almost two years before Isa is able to free them.

And what a busy two years it’s been. Siris and the God King almost driven mad by their endless reincarnations, Isa started a rebellion in Siris’ name and now needs him to lead it, Siris in turn needs the God King’s help to take down the Worker of Secrets while fighting back the Dark Self within him, and the Worker of Secrets himself, once kept captive for so long has been freed and is now slowly destroying the kingdom the God King has built.

I didn’t really connect with this one the way I did with Awakening. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the fact that I have not played the games, as it feels like I’m missing a lot of background.  Like yeah we see the God King’s origin story, but what led him from there to here?  It’s been thousands of years as he keeps saying, but what happened. His world is ours thousands of years later.  Was there a war?  Did he start it?  Are they just on an island really cleverly hidden away from the rest of humanity? Who are the other Deathless?  WHAT exactly is the Worker of Secrets? Just far too many unanswered questions for me but at least it gives me an excuse to pick up the games.

Looks like I’m on a bit of a Brandon Sanderson kick now, I just downloaded a whack of his short stories on my kobo so expect to see a lot of him soon! But in the meantime we’re going to finish up with the last of Jeaniene Frost’s short stories with Pack next.

Marlee isn’t alone in the woods. Daniel is sworn to keep the existence of werewolves a secret. Yet Marlee is awakening Daniel’s most primal urges, and soon, neither one of them will be able to resist the call of the wild.

Nocturna No More

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Night’s Darkest Embrace is a short story by Jeaniene Frost that seems to stand on it’s own. I haven’t read her Broken Destiney series yet so I could be wrong on that.

Honestly, if Broken Destiney is set in the same world I might not read it. I just could not connect with the story or the characters.  It had a very steam-punk kind of feel to it, which I normally like but…yeah…this just did not jive well with me.

So in this world there are at least 4 races of beings: Fallen, Purebloods, Partials, and humans. The Fallen are of course the originals angels who fell from heaven in the great rebellion. They began breeding with humans and eventually their offspring became numerous and interbred enough that they created their own race, Purebloods.  Well, those of their offspring that they let live as apparently Fallen feed off the souls of Purebloods.  What they fed off before they fell or started breeding with humans tho…

Anyways so we have the Fallen who are corrupted angels. We have the Purebloods who are at least half Fallen, half human or far enough down the generational tree to be considered fully Pureblood.  And of course the Purebloods began breeding with humans so now you have what’s called Partials, humans with a degree of demonic blood in them (one quarter or less usually). Again, those who lived long enough to create their own race as Purebloods feed on the souls of Partials…again how they survived before hand…

So that’s where Mara comes in. A young Partial, she was drawn to a realm between hers and ‘the lower ones’ called Nocturna at the whim of her cousin Gloria.  Now Nocturna is well known as a dangerous and often lawless place full of other Partials living their lives and trying to stay hidden from the Purebloods, a place Mara and her cousin were forbidden to go to so of course that’s what they did first chance they got.  And that’s what cost Mara’s cousin her life as she was dragged to another realm by a Pureblood to serve as his next meal.

Now, Mara is hell bent on vengeance and uses the sexy leader of Nocturna, Rafael, to get it. And as these things go lo and behold they are fated mates!  And only together can they avenge Gloria’s death, save Nocturna, and keep his true identity as ¾ Fallen a secret from the rest of the world.

Yeah…bit confusing that. The races just did not make sense to me, and there were too many questions left unanswered rather than explained by the backstory that was given.  The sexy scenes were the only things that I even remotely enjoyed.

Hopefully Broken Destiney is not this world, I won’t be long for it if it is.

But that’s a long way down the road. Lots of other things to get through first.  First of which is the second Infinity Blade book by Brandon Sanderson, Infinity Blade: Redemption is next.

Long months have passed since Siris and the God King, enemies betrayed together, were left to rot in the prison at the Vault of Tears. Their true enemy – the Worker of Secrets, creator of the Infinity Blade itself – now reigns. Upon finally obtaining freedom, Siris must unravel plots that seem to make no sense, lead a rebellion with no direction, and fight against the division with his very heart. The secrets unraveled will dig backward in time toward the origins of the Deathless and the true nature of the world itself…

 

Two for The Show

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One for the Money by Jeaniene Frost is the last of the Nighthuntress world for me to read, and it’s a bit bittersweet. I’m pretty sure the Nighthuntress series is done, and I am going to miss Cat and Bones.  But I do look forward to the rest of the Night Prince series with Vlad, and the upcoming Night Rebel series with Ian.

One for the Money though is actually pretty amusing. A spoilt young heiress is having one too many ‘accidents’.  Reaching out to a friend of her father’s in the military (who happens to be Cat’s uncle) to help protect her, it is soon discovered that the all-too-human hitman is about to employ some supernatural muscle to finally get the hit done.  And who better than to protect the girl from supernatural bounty hunters than a pair of retired supernatural bounty hunters?

But looking after Miss Congeniality is not a walk in the park. Demanding, stubborn, rude, loud, she pushes all of Cat and Bones’ buttons.  Only Cat’s newly-turned-vampire mum has any sway over the girl, thankfully for the better.

And after a knock down drag out brawl with twelve other vampires in the parking lot of a supernatural night club, the threat to the girl is ended and they’re able to green-eye her back into the rich little world.

So no big revelations on personal backgrounds and histories here, but I do like the progress of the relationship between Bones and Cat’s mother. Under the pretense of teaching the girl self-defense, Bones enlists the aid of Cat’s mother Justina, his true pupil, as a way to ease her lifelong fear of vampires and hopefully help her fight back against the self-loathing of becoming one herself.

And with that comes the end of the Nighthuntress series for me, although if you want to stick to publication timelines the true ending was back in Outtakes of the Grave. Looking forward to more Night Prince and checking out Night Rebel, but before that I want to look at some other random little stories Jeaniene Frost has come out with.

On that note, let’s have a look at Night’s Darkest Embrace shall we?

Enter the dark realm of Nocturna in Jeaniene Frost’s redhot tale, where blisteringly sexy Raphael dominates the demons of a lawless dimension and tries to help a beautiful young woman avenge her cousin’s disappearance. Originally appeared in the Haunted By Your Touch anthology.

 

Oh There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays

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Home for the Holidays by Jeaniene Frost is my favorite of the Nighthuntress short stories so far. And I’m pretty sure it’s the last one since I think the Night Huntress series is finished.  Not the last one I need to read though haha!

So this one takes us to Cat and Bones’ home after she’s turned into a vampire and she is determined to have an old fashioned Christmas. A Christmas that is thwarted by a demon who, unbeknownst to Bones and Cat, saunters in wearing the skin of Bones’ long lost vampire half-brother, and then goes on to possess their nearest and dearest all at once, leaving only Cat, Ian and Denise to figure out how to save them.

The whole process behind how the demon was able to possess these vampires is a little bit confusing, but overall I enjoyed the story.

But my favorite part was finally learning about Bones’ heritage and his history. I honestly cannot remember if it was revealed in the novels themselves, but here we learn the identity of his mother and father, as well as some aunts, uncles, and even a cousin hiding a lot closer to home than anyone imagined.

I also like how Jeaniene is incorporating more demons into her stories now. Or at least it feels that way.  Into the Fire dealt with demon deals, and a lot of the short stories I’m just discovering now feature a demon in some form or another.  Makes me curious to see what role they’ll play in the world when she comes out with her Night Rebel series.

But let’s finish off Nighthuntress first. The last (as far as I can tell) short story for that series, One for The Money coming right up!

Vampires Cat Crawford and her husband Bones’s romantic vacation is interrupted when they’re enlisted to guard a spoiled heiress with both human and undead hitmen on her tail. Things quickly go from bad to worse when details of their assignment make their way through the supernatural grapevine, and what started as a simple bodyguard job ends up being a fight for survival that neither Cat nor Bones saw coming.

Darling, I Don’t

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Happily Never After by Jeaniene Frost is technically #1.5 in the Nighthuntress series, but really it could take place at any time.

Isabella is a restaurateur, Italian, and forcibly engaged to an up and coming mob boss to save her brother’s life. Unbeknownst to her, Isabella’s grandmother was once a member of Bones’ household staff, serving his blood needs and receiving food, shelter, and education in return. And grandma is no fool.  She knows her grandchildren are in trouble, so she calls an old friend to help.

Bones makes a brief appearance, and gives nothing away with what he is currently doing aside from the fact that he can’t help his old friend himself. Instead, he’s sending someone else he trusts to take out the godfather wannabe.

And Chance is that vampire. His methods are interesting, he allows himself to get shot several times, buried, and dumped over the side of a boat cement shoes and all.  Though whether this is his motis operendai or just using it as an excuse to see more of the lovely human, who can tell.

This is a short, sweet, to the point and amusing story. Not overly interesting in that there is no solid tie or ‘ah ha!’ moment that explains something from the Nighthuntress series, but it was fun seeing the reactions of the goons when the dude they killed twice over kept coming back!

This is another couple I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. After going into the undead version of witness protection, will Chance and Isabella actually stay together until Isabella lives her natural life span?  Will she return to her human life with him?  Or will she want to turn undead like her lover to never leave his side?

Questions questions questions. Doubtful they’ll get answered, but that’s ok.  Gives my imagination room to roam.

Almost done with the quickies (heheh). Home for the Holidays is next, and if it’s not the last one there should only be one more…two max…we’ll get there eventually lol!

‘Tis the season to join Cat and Bones for some holiday cheer!

They were looking forward to a normal holiday—at least as “normal” as it gets for vampires Cat and Bones and their otherworldly friends and family. But their yuletide plans are shattered when a mysterious stranger shows up and reveals long-buried secrets that threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer … and lives.

Originally appeared in the print anthology The Bite Before Christmas.

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