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Book Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Title: Fire Touched

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #9

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the Fae. Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched? [Via Goodreads]

The Review:

I love Patricia Briggs and consider her among my all-time favorite urban fantasy writers alongside Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, and Keri Arthur. She’s one of those authors who has been consistently good for so long that her books are on my very short “auto-buy” list. I never worry if I’ll like them or not (I always do) because they are the kind of guaranteed good reads that I’d save for rainy days if I wasn’t so eager to gobble them up the minute they hit the stands. Fire Touched, book 9 in the Mercy Thompson series, was no exception!

All of Briggs’ books have an excellent balance of internal and external conflicts. In every book, the crew has one big problem to solve (usually a supernatural monster of some sort) which leads to a lot of exciting, action-packed scenes. In Fire Touched, the problem, or “monster,” is the Gray Court of the Fae. Now, by this point in the series, Briggs has developed the Fae into a dynamic and complex society that I personally find absolutely fascinating to read about. This novel offers more of a glimpse into their inner workings and politics then we’ve seen before and, as usual, Mercy and Adam are right in the middle of the conflict.

I have to say, as good as the author is at creating engaging broad conflicts for her characters, it’s the smaller, interpersonal conflicts that make these books so much fun to read. Once again I found myself just as immersed in the werewolf pack’s dynamics as I was during the exciting battle scenes (if not more). The characters are all realistic and vibrant, and watching them argue and work out issues with one another is one of my little joys in life. In this book in particular, it felt like the focus was more on these interpersonal dynamics rather than the broader conflict (which I loved), but there were a couple of occasions where the plot seemed a little disjointed. That said, it all came together beautifully in the end and now I’m eager as ever to see what happens next.

As a bookseller who loved recommending titles, the “Mercy Thompson” series was easily my favorite urban fantasy to hand-sell. The story is less intimidating than say, the “Dresden Files” (which I also love) and makes a better first impression than “The Hollows” series (another favorite), and is a lot of fun to read. Now let’s face it, you’re probably not going to be very interested in my review of book 9 unless you’ve already read up to this point. If you haven’t, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of “Moon Called,” the first in the series. Additionally, I’d recommend the Alpha and Omega series and suggest reading them alongside the Mercy books based on publication date, as the two series start to overlap as they get further along. That’s 13 books (so far) of great storytelling to look forward to! It makes me want to go back and reread them all. For those of you who have read up to this point, if you’re interested in reading more about Thomas and Marsilia, I’d recommend the short story “Fairy Gifts” found in the novella compilation “Shifting Shadows.”

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review a reviewer copy of Fire Touched.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Title: Night Broken

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #8

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right. Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy. Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

The Mini Review:

I figured since I just started reading the next book in the series [Fire Touched out March 8, 2016] that I should probably get it together and post a review for Night Broken – one of my favorites so far. There seems to be a running theme in this series of the characters having one giant problem to solve (the external conflict) while also dealing with a handful of lesser problems (usually internal conflicts). This novel in particular had a beautiful combination of both, but my favorites were the internals. I love reading about family dynamics and how people build and maintain relationships with one another. In Night Broken, Mercy is tasked with handling Adam’s passive-aggressive ex-wife. There were times that I wanted to strangle the ever loving crap out of her, and I honestly don’t know how Mercy kept her cool. But watching one of my favorite main character figure out a way to handle the situation in a way that was both satisfying and classy made my day. All in all, it really is a minor conflict in the whole scheme of the series, but one of the most satisfying to watch the characters overcome. And really, it’s often those little, interpersonal conflicts that determine whether or not I remember a book. After all, who cares if the big monster is defeated if you don’t have a solid emotional support system to come home to?

Anyway, I realize the focus of this review was a bit odd, so if you take anything away, take away the fact that Night Broken was every bit as good as the books before it and the upcoming Fire Touched is shaping up to be just as spectacular!

Other books you like:

 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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Book Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

shifting shadowsTitle: Shifting Shadows

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson (Short Stories)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger… A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, “one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today” (Fiction Vixen Book Reviews), and the characters she calls friends…

Includes the new stories… “Silver” / “Roses in Winter” / “Redemption” / “Hollow”

…and reader favorites “Fairy Gifts” / “Gray” / “Alpha and Omega” / “Seeing Eye” / “The Star of David” / “In Red, with Pearls”

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The Review:

Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite urban fantasy writers, and the fact that she usually only comes out with one novel per year has me feeling perpetually impatient. I completely devour her books as soon as they come out and am always left craving more. While that speaks volumes of Briggs’ talents, I’ll admit it hurts my heart a bit every time I realize I have a full year to wait before finding out what happens next. So, the release of Shifting Shadows – a compilation of short stories set in Mercy Thompson’s world – felt like the ultimate treat to this uber fan!

Every single story did one of two things (and in some cases both): 1) allowed us to delve a little deeper into the lives of some of my favorite secondary characters (we essentially got treated to their fascinating backstories while viewing the world from their perspectives) and/or 2) expanded on the world-building within this already brilliantly-conceived universe. It was amazing, and I now want to go totally fangirl and start blabbing about Bran and Samuel and how cool it was to see their origins, or perhaps Warren (my favorite member of the pack) and the chills I got while learning about his strength of character, or even Kara and Asil, the stars of my favorite short story of the collection, and the wolves I’m now most eager to read more about. And that’s just to name a few!

Patricia Briggs is such an amazing writer. This is something I already knew, but Shifting Shadows made me appreciate her even more. She is just so great at characterization that you always feel like you’re reading about real people. It probably helps matters that Briggs considers the characters her imaginary friends, to the point where these fully-formed people in her head are mostly responsible for driving their own stories. She gives them a problem and then sits back and watches how they all deal with it. At least, that’s what she said during the Q&A of one of her book signings, and I’m inclined to believe her. 

It’s one thing to fall in love with characters and get to know them over the course of a multi-book series, it’s a whole other ballgame to get to know them within the confines of a short story. I’m seriously going to go back and study these stories for tips on how to make my own characters stronger – it was that good. Writing aside, there wasn’t a single point in this entire book that I wasn’t highly entertained, which is saying something because I don’t usually have the patience to pick up short stories (yes, I realize how ironic that sounds). As I said before (but it warrants repeating) every story either gave me insights to characters I’d been curious about or made Mercy’s world more vibrant… in fact, many of them did both.

All I have to say is, if you’re a fan of Mercy Thompson, these short stories will knock your socks off! If you’re not yet a fan, you’ll probably enjoy them because the writing is that good, but I think already having a deep connection with most of these characters is what took the book from great to amazing. Along those lines, if you haven’t read them, I highly recommend picking up the book that started it all, Moon Called.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

shifting shadowsTitle: Shifting Shadows

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson Novellas

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: September 2, 2014

The Overview: Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger… A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, “one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today” (Fiction Vixen Book Reviews), and the characters she calls friends…

Includes the new stories: Silver, Roses in Winter, Redemption, Hollow.

And reader favorites: Fairy Gifts, Gray, Alpha and Omega, Seeing Eye, The Star of David, In Red, and Pearls.

shifting shadows 2

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

The only complaint I have about this series is that the wait between releases feels sooooooo long that I have to go back and reread if I want to keep the momentum going for myself (although rereading one of the best urban fantasies on the market is hardly a sacrifice). The absolute awesome thing about the release of Shifting Shadows is that it will definitely help hold me over until Mercy Thompson #9 comes out in 2015. It gets better – the only short story I’ve read out of these is the Alpha and Omega, so it’s like getting a whole new book! Needless to say, I’m excited for this one. :-)

What book are you waiting on?

by nikihawkes

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Coming Soon: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

nightbroken_bigTitle: Night Broken

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercedes Thompson #8

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: March 4, 2014

The Overview: An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right. Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

nightbroken_big

 Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Nik’s Notes:

The Mercy Thompson series is one of my all time favorites! I always devour the books as soon as they come out then spend a full year pining for the next one (as is the case here). They just hit the spot, and I’m confident this one will be every bit as good as the ones before it. If you’ve never given urban fantasy a try, Patricia Briggs is the author to start with!

What book are you waiting on?