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Book Review: Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs

Title: Wild Sign

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega #6

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It’s as if the people picked up and left everything they owned behind. Fearing something supernatural might be going on, the FBI taps a source they’ve consulted in the past: the werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham. But Charles and Anna soon find a deserted town is the least of the mysteries they face. Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous — and it has met werewolves before. –Goodreads

The Review:

Reading a Briggs book always feels like a warm hug.

This is one of my favorite urban fantasy series. And it’s one of the rare few that I don’t complain about the story being dragged out too long. Each novel (both Mercy and Alpha & Omega) adds just a little more depth to the series. The new supernatural beings introduced in each book are always fun to read about, but the real draw is any new information we learn about the Marrok and his pack. There are so many great characters to expand on, it’s easy to see how this series has been able to sustain itself for so long.

In Wild Sign we got to explore the past of Leah, a character who has been a complete enigma up to this point. Her backstory was fascinating and I love that I can go forward knowing a little more about what makes her tick. By extension, we also learned more about Bran in this novel which is a huge bonus. It’s actually kind of funny that I’m so exited about the revelations for these two characters considering they weren’t even the stars of the show.

I heard Patricia Briggs talk about how she comes up with stories at an author signing (which, by the way, was the single best author interaction I’ve ever had. If you have a chance to make one of her events, go! She’s so kind). She starts by giving the characters a problem, then stays in tune with them as she writes to see how they’re going to solve it. In this case the problem was something making the residents of Wild Sign disappear… I’ll leave it at that. I always love the mystery element in her stories. It makes for an engaging, page-turning experience as the characters reason things out and make discoveries. And something about the settings lately have been giving me a modern-day western vibe, which is fun.

This particular book had some cool revelation, but it didn’t advance the plot of the overall series to any significant degree. It did, however, provide some good foreshadowing of what’s to come, for which I’m excited.

Recommendations: this is one of my favorite urban fantasy series for a reason. They’re fun, engaging books with great characters, good mysteries, and decent action, adding more depth with each book. I’d strongly recommend reading Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega in tandem by publication date, as the overall arc of the series progresses in both series.

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and Netgalley for the review copy of Wild Sign!

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by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

[March 6, 2018] Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Title: Burn Bright

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega #5

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn… -Goodreads

The Review:

As Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite urban fantasy writers, I love that I have a new release from her to look forward to every year. Reading her books always feels like cuddling up with a warm fuzzy blanket when it’s snowing outside. Burn Bright was a nice installment in the Alpha & Omega series. Perhaps not quite as strong as the last couple of books, but still loads of fun all the same.

The positives were abundant: an interesting mystery to solve (one which I’m sure we’ll see repercussions from in the next Mercy book), plenty of Anna and Charles awesomeness (because their relationship dynamic is still one of my favorites), Marrok werewolf pack politics (a topic of which I never tire reading), and an easy flow of writing that absorbs you for a good ride. Essentially, all of the basics I’ve come to expect from a Briggs novel in abundance.

All that said, I wish the book could’ve had tighter pacing, most notably in the second half. The main story halted several times so other stories could be told and, while they were all interesting and completely relevant to the plot, they effectively killed any building momentum for me. It wasn’t a deal-breaker by any means (because the stories were good), but compared to the last two novels where the story practically careened towards the finish in a can’t-put-it-down-for-anything manner, Burn Bright was just okay in that regard.

Overall, anything Briggs produces is a good read, and this wasn’t an exception. I delighted in learning more about the dynamics within the Marrok’s pack (and especially loved the inclusion of Asil – one of the most interesting side characters in the saga). I love enigmas in books, and Briggs has several she’s been slowing revealing more about for years. It keeps me coming back with gusto!

Recommendations: I’m a huge fan of this series (and Patricia Briggs herself – you won’t meet a more gracious author) and would recommend them to both urban fantasy fans and those new to the genre. At this point, the link between the Alpha & Omega and Mercy Thompson books is strong enough that you should consider reading both series simultaneously by publication order to avoid major spoilers. Additionally, I would encourage you to pick up Shifting Shadows, a brilliant short story compilation, before diving in to Burn Bright.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and Netgalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Burn Bright!

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by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Burning Bright by Patricia Briggs

Title: Burning Bright

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega #5

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: March 8, 2018 

The Overview: They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm. With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn… -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

I am totally in love with this series, which is saying something considering I wasn’t completely convinced until the third book. These are strong urban fantasies with interesting characters compelling mysteries. I think if Briggs is not careful the Alpha & Omega series is going to go toe to toe with Mercy Thompson herself (as far as amazingness is concerned). If you haven’t read the spinoff, I’d recommend starting with the Alpha & Omega short story.

Who else is excited for a new Patricia Briggs?!

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

dead heatTitle: Dead Heat

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: March 3, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way…

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire. 

The Review:

Patricia Briggs has always been a fantastic writer and storyteller, but these last few novels have been absolutely spectacular. The crime-solving mystery elements are interesting and complex and are partially responsible for why the books are such page-turners. Not to mention that the characters are all lovable and dynamic, the world-building is rich with history and culture, and the plot gains momentum with each chapter.

The stakes of this world have gotten higher with each novel, and I find each new story adds to the momentum of the series. The more I find out about werewolves and their culture, the more I want to know. The more I find out about some of our favorite characters and their origins (much like in Shifting Shadows), the more invested I feel in their plight. The same goes for the other supernatural creatures. The Fae have, up to this point, been involved in the story, but mostly on the periphery. There has been a lot of mystery surrounding them, so each new discovery about their nature has me devouring the pages to learn what they’re going to do next and how our heroes are going to respond.

As great and momentous as the broad conflicts have been, my favorite element has been smaller conflicts – the dynamics between the characters themselves. Family drama is always a problem, but when you add to that magic and pack hierarchy, things get a lot more difficult. Seeing the bad guy brought down at the end is always great, but seeing the characters find solutions to these familial conflicts is what leaves me feeling truly satisfied at the end of her books.

After all this time with the series, the characters have such depth and history that it’s impossible not to enjoy reading about anything involving them. I also love that there are two different sets of POV characters within this saga (Mercy vs. Anna & Charles) and I would be hard-pressed to tell you who I enjoy reading about more. Their stories are separate, but integrated within the world enough that I don’t think I could enjoy one nearly as much without the other. I’ve definitely never seen a spinoff add so much to the saga as a whole, but the Alpha and Omega series continues to blow away my expectations at every turn.

A neat attribute to this particular novel is the slight focus on horses. I have gotten the impression that Patricia Briggs is just as passionate about her horses as she is about writing. It’s a whole other aspect of her life that she hasn’t really expressed in her writing to this point. It was a lot of fun to get a sneak peek into that world, and I’m glad she finally found a way to work it in. It made it more personal and special in a way. Although there are wonderful things about each of her novels. It’s a small wonder I’m always chomping at the bit to devour each one that comes out (pun intended).

Overall, I consider Dead Heat another masterpiece from an amazing writer. I love the characters, the world, the magic, the story, and pretty much everything else about this book (and saga). There’s a reason Patricia Briggs is considered a staple in the urban fantasy genre and a reason why she continues to be one of my favorites! If by some chance you haven’t read this series yet, I would highly recommend reading it alongside the Mercy Thompson series in a specific order based on the publication date (starting with Mercy Thompson #1: Moon Called). You won’t be disappointed!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

dead heatTitle: Dead Heat

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: March 3, 2015

The Overview: Praised as “the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal,”* the Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business… For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way… Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

dead heat 2
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

 Even though I absolutely love the Mercy Thompson series, I didn’t immediately get on board with Alpha and Omega. That is, until Fair Game came out last year and rocked my world. It is easily one of my favorites from Briggs but also a favorite from the genre as a whole. Because it was that good, I can’t help but hope Dead Heat is just as amazing. March can’t come too soon! If you haven’t had the pleasure to read Patricia Briggs, she is my number one recommendation for both urban fantasy lovers and those wanting to try the genre (start with Moon Called).

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Fair Games by Patrica Briggs

s3Title: Fair Game

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega #3

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: It is said that opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son—and enforcer—of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant Alpha. While Anna, an Omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.

When the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial-killer case, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston to join the investigation. It soon becomes clear that someone is targeting the preternatural. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…

The Review:

While Cry Wolf read like a paranormal romance and Hunting Ground read like an urban fantasy, Fair Game was strongly tugging at the mystery category. It’s almost like Briggs is playing with different story structures to branch out from her comfort zone. And you know what? I’m 100% willing to go on that ride with her. It’s not easy to write in a different genre, but I love that she’s introducing it within urban fantasy parameters.

Fair Game was easily the most gruesome story to date (at least as far as I was concerned – but I sort of let my imagination run wild with this one). It raised the stakes, kept me at the edge of my seat, and made me really hate the bad guys. My favorite part of this novel was the layered plot; it slowly revealed one clue after another, building an excellent momentum for the end.

I mentioned in my review of book #2 that Anna and Charles’ relationship is one of my favorites in the genre. To be honest, I wasn’t  even certain if I liked either of the characters up front, but I still loved how well their personalities played off of each other. The visuals of a five-foot mousey woman scolding a behemoth of a werewolf without fear makes me smile every time. Briggs gets an A+ for character development and perhaps another + for story.

Recommendations: I am sure lovers of Mercy have already picked these books up, but I have to say the back history here makes the whole saga rich and vibrant. If you like Briggs but haven’t read this one yet, put it one your list! A warning to the wary: this series does contain a good deal of language and sexual content but not nearly as graphic as Laurell K. Hamilton or Keri Arthur.

by Niki Hawkes

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