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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!

Other books you might like:

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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Book Review: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

w1Title: Hunting Ground

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha and Omega #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The OverviewAnne Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son—and enforcer—of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either…

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan—and it seems like someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all—or risk losing everything…

The Review:

This is what I’ve been waiting for! I mentioned in my review of the first book, Cry Wolf, that I didn’t like it quite as well because it read more like a paranormal romance than an urban fantasy. Not so with Hunting Ground. It had everything I’ve come to expect from a Patricia Briggs book: lots of action, plenty of paranormal creatures, and a suspenseful crime to solve.

I especially appreciated the relationship development in this book. A lot of times authors will throw two people together and tell you they were made for each other. With Anna and Charles, you can actually see how well their personalities play off of and fit together which made it feel really… organic. It is one of the best relationships developments I’ve ever read, and I marvel at how well the author paired the two personalities. Briggs has always been great at creating well-rounded characters, but I think she may have outdone herself here.

Another aspect that I was missing in the first book was the involvement of other werewolves. I wanted to know more about the political situation within the werewolf pack and how their decisions are going to affect things in upcoming Mercy Thompson books. There was definitely plenty of questions answered here, and I am really looking forward to reading Fair Game to see how it all plays out. I’m convinced these are must reads for Mercy fans – why miss out on any back story if you don’t have to?

Overall, the story, the humor, and the relationships were fantastic, and it just makes me that much more fired up to read Frost Burned (the latest Mercy book). I think fans of both paranormal romances and urban fantasies would really enjoy this series. As spinoffs, you actually can read them without reading the parent series but you’d be missing out. The Mercy Thompson novels are some of the best on the market, and I recommend them constantly. A warning to the wary: these books contain violence and sexuality.

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by Niki Hawkes