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


Book Review: Teckla by Steven Brust

Teckla by Steven Brust

Title: Teckla

Author: Steven Brust

Series: Vlad Taltos #3

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: The third to be published, this is actually the fifth entry in the timeline of the VLAD TALTOS books, and it represents a darker, more serious turn in the series. Vladimir Taltos is a short-lived, short-statured Easterner (what we would call a human) in a world mostly populated by the long-lived, extremely tall Dragaerans. He is also an assassin and petty crimelord. His lifestyle and career require some difficult moral choices. When his wife Cawti joins an uprising of Easterners and peasant Dragaerans (the Teckla of the title), it causes a severe strain in their marriage, and Vlad begins to question those choices. -Goodreads

The Review:

This is one of the few series where I spend most of my time enjoying rather than analyzing. It’s complex enough to keep my interest (with random splashes of sarcasm that usually make me laugh), but easy-flowing enough that I can sit back and relax into it.

Nothing about this series is typical. Of the three I’ve read, so far Teckla was the least unconventional, but still boasted 100% world immersion. The author never explains anything, choosing instead to throw you into the deep end. It works though, because I pick up many intricacies of the world without having to be expressly told a thing. A good comparison is the principle behind the Rosetta Stone language program (where you learn the language organically as if it’s the only one you’ve heard). Brust’s storytelling works a lot alike that, which is why I feel so immersed with these books. Each novel seems to focus on a different culture/race, and as I read and recognize their names as titles of future books, making me all the more eager to get to those and find out more.

Overall, I’m in for the long haul of this series. They’re perfect palate cleansers between other novels and I appreciate what seems to me like a true merging of genres (with fantasy being the most prominent).

Recommendations: I’d hand this series to someone relatively well-read in the fantasy genre with emphasis on its originality. And humor.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Lady of Misrule by T.A. Pratt

Lady of Misrule by T.A. Pratt

Title: Lady of Misrule

Author: T.A. Pratt

Series: Marla Mason #8

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 2/5 stars

The Overview: Marla awakens for her month on Earth and finds her allies missing, and an old enemy causing trouble in her home city of Felport, where Marla once ruled as chief sorcerer. Meanwhile, a rather charming gentlemen who happens to be a monstrous exile from beyond our multiverse has decided that murdering gods might be a fun pastime, and he figures he’ll start with Marla. With the help of her former apprentice Bradley Bowman, Marla has to rescue her friends, crush her enemies, and eliminate the aforementioned existential threat–before her month runs out and she returns to the underworld.  -Goodreads

The Review:

I’m my mind, there are two distinct eras of Pratt’s Marla Mason series: Books 1-4, the trad published stories that I’m assuming involved editors over his shoulder telling him to “tone it down a little,” and everything beyond Book 5, the self-published, kickstarted novels where he went hogwild and wrote whatever the hell he pleased. Both have merit, but I find myself missing his earlier works at this point in the series. They always had a brilliant balance of traditional urban fantasy elements and the truly bizarre ideas that make his works so memorable and unique. They’re still among the best I’ve read of the genre. In these later books, however, that balance has all but disappeared in favor of every ridiculous plot point imaginable. I miss the slightly dark, more serious aspects of the first books. At this point, every character is snarky and over the top. Every situation is as far-fetched as possible. And therefore nothing stands out as remarkable because it’s all at level 10. I also don’t like his multiple dimensions twist to the story (introduced in book 5), which the plot keeps coming back to.

Even though they’re not as satisfying, I will concede that these later books have been fun. I didn’t get a lot out of Lady of Misrule, in particular, because at this point in the series, I was hoping for something deeper and more compelling to develop (rather than just one more recycled “let’s fight the big, bad monster” plotline). Unfortunately, I absolutely hated a twist to the story he revealed at the end. It eliminated the single plot point I’d been continuing to discover more about. Woe is me! It’s the pits when an author makes a decision that kills your enthusiasm. It is what it is.

On the whole, I still recommend the first 4 books with unbridled enthusiasm. They’re great. Even through I didn’t care for book 5 (Broken Mirrors), I see its value for plot advancement. I really liked book 6, but have felt a general decline since. I’m not sure at this point if I even want to finish the series. The author kind of crapped on all of the plot elements from earlier books I’d felt any sort of investment in. That said, I still kind of want to know where the story ends. Decisions.

Recommendations: as mentioned (and beat to death) in my review, I’d highly recommend the first four books in this series (plus the first prequel), which are still among my all-time favorites. Books after that, however, I don’t feel I can endorse with confidence. It’s such an interesting and different urban fantasy, I’d recommend it to those familiar with the genre but sick of the same old tropes.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Binds

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #9

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this… Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar… Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead. The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules… -Goodreads

The Review:

It’s official: Kate Daniels is my favorite urban fantasy series.

It continues to deliver with incredible consistency (aside from the first book), and I’ve loved every moment along the way. It has the perfect balance of action, mystery, humor, and romance. The romance isn’t a huge focus, but it’s done soooo well. Curran is a great example of how to present a strong male lead who doesn’t sacrifice masculinity for sentimentality (he also never loses his backbone/identity/complexity, something I appreciate immensely). The relationship between he and Kate is my favorite aspect of the series because it feels organic and realistic (compared to other relationships in the genre). The relationship is not cheesy or sickly perfect, but filled with real-people arguments and issues, and it’s a totally hilarious delight watching them work through some of them. I especially love that the authors don’t ever put them through senseless conflict and misunderstandings just for the sake of perpetuating the plot. It’s a relationship born of two strong-willed people trying to figure out how to not fuck it up. I love it.

What’s more, even the side characters are rounded and realistic (spawning several fantastic novellas, all of which I’ve read and enjoyed), making every aspect of this series that much more rich, vibrant, and immersive.

Magic Binds was a strong penultimate novel that has me agonizing for the final book in the series. I can’t believe I waited so long to get to this point in the series, but I’m equally delighted I don’t have to wait as long for the conclusion as the die-hard fans who have been keeping up to date with the series for years. All I can say is, Magic Triumphs is definitely in my top three most anticipated releases of 2018. I can’t wait!

Recommendations: if you’re an urban fantasy lover, Kate Daniels is a must-read! I’ve read a lot of good ones, but Kate takes the cake as my favorite, and that’s a fact. If you can get past the mediocre first book, you’re in for a fantastic series that gets better and better with each installment!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Mini Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks

Title: Magic Breaks

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #7

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…  -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

Even though I still love this series, Magic Breaks might be my least favorite since the first book. It’s still good, but compared to all the other individual books, it lacked a little magic for me. All of the other installments have a fantastic balance of action, humor, romance, and mystery. As Magic Breaks was the end of the story arc, there was very little room for anything other than action. All of the battle scenes were superbly done, but I missed the other elements to help break it up a bit. There was, however, an especially funny scene at the very beginning (involving a fluffy pet) that might be one of my favorites from the whole series. I wish more of that tone had carried throughout the book. That said, I cannot wait to read the next one!

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes


The Obsessive Bookseller’s Mini Book Review Blitz! [3]

Mini Book Review Blitz!

I’m going to need a feature image… Anyway, even when posting three times a week, I found myself becoming increasingly behind in book reviews. Behold: my solution – the Mini Book Review Blitz! 

Green Rider by Kristen Britian

Book Info: Green Rider [Green Rider #1] by Kristin Britain

Rating: 2/5 stars

I’ve had this series on my shelves for YEARS. It was one of the few I was incredibly excited to start, which makes it all the more disappointing that I didn’t like it. My 2-star “it was just okay” rating sums it up perfectly: it was just okay. The first chapter started off with the bang, then it proceeded to meander through one inconsequential event after another, and I could feel my enthusiasm dropping with every page. At one point, I was more than halfway through the book and still couldn’t see any purpose behind the scenes and kept wanting the story to get back to the inciting moment at the beginning. I’m really bummed I didn’t like Green Rider, especially since my cousins really loved it. I’m unfortunately abandoning the series from here.

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Book Info: Magic Rises [Kate Daniels #6] by Ilona Andrews

Rating: 4/5 stars

I was fully prepared not to like Magic Rises. Any time and urban fantasy ventures out of its “home” city, I tend to lose interest (a weird thing, I know, but I pick up urban fantasies for a specific atmosphere “feel”, and if I don’t get that pay off, I get cranky). So, despite my bad attitude and determination not to like it, I actually enjoyed Magic Rises immensely. Kate Daniels is such a compelling character, I seem to be riveted no matter what she’s doing. The authors are incredible at weaving together tight plot lines and fantastic interpersonal conflicts while still bringing forth an overall series story arc that gets more intense with each installment. I am now a HUGE fan of this series – so much so that I’m trying to moderate how fast I read them… I don’t know if I can handle having no more KD books to look forward to. Even the novellas are amazing. All I can say is, hold on tight to your top spots, Mercy Thompson and Rachel Morgan – Kate Daniels is coming for you with swords a-blazing (and lions roaring)! ;P

Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Book Info: The Ghost Brigades [Old Man’s War #2] by John Scalzi

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I read Ghost Brigades as a Buddy Read with some awesome people over at Fantasy Buddy Reads. While most of us still appreciate Scalzi as an author and wish to continue the series, there was an overwhelming consensus that book two lacked a little of the magic that made Old Man’s War so successful. Most notably, John Perry and his pervasive humor were absent from the story. It still had little moments of humor (which I appreciated), but was much more serious overall. Ghost Brigade read very much like a set up novel (having read on, it kind of was). All of that said, I still enjoyed reading it and look forward to seeing what happens next.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my Mini Book Review Blitz! As you can see, I’ve been reading a lot of great titles lately. :-)

by Niki Hawkes