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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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Book Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

March 7, 2017

Title: Silence Fallen

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercedes Thompson #10

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release Date: March 7, 2017

The Overview: Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe… Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…  -Goodreads

The Review:

Anything written by Patricia Briggs these days is pure gold. I always try to savor them (the year-long wait between books is brutal!), but always seem to find myself devouring pages like there’s no tomorrow! The Mercy Thompson series is the sort of guaranteed good read that leaves me no doubt I’m going to love every moment. Silence Fallen was another awesome book in a long line of killer novels.

Without giving anything important away, I think it’s safe to reveal that Silence Fallen takes place primarily in another country. It was a much-appreciated change of scenery. Briggs provided an immersive experience rich in history and vibrant and description. It was a lot of fun getting to explore new environments (notice I haven’t mentioned where? The discovery is part of the fun! You’ll have to read it to find out). My only hold up is that I thought historical facts could’ve been integrated a little bit smoother. Briggs utilized the character’s personal knowledge of the place a little too often to be believable. Seriously, are you really going to be able to recall tiny details about a place you learned about in passing years ago in college? I didn’t totally buy it, but that’s probably because I can’t remember what I did yesterday. :) Regardless of delivery, the description was incredibly well researched and made me feel like I was there. It was a new adventure filled with fun discoveries and interesting villains. 

Silence Fallen also offered multiple POVs, something I LOVED because I just can’t get enough of Adam Hauptman. His perspective adds so much richness to the story and I’m hoping it won’t be the last time he gets a moment in the spotlight.

Overall, Silence Fallen was packed with an awesome mix of supernatural, humor, romance, and action, topping itself off with one wallop of a surprise at the end that will knock you out of your armchair. If you haven’t given this series a try, you’re totally missing out!

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Silence Fallen.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Title: Bloodrose

Author: Andrea Cremer

Series: Nightshade #3

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer–one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack–and the man–she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive. -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

Bloodrose provided the most adventure yet. Cremer used several exotic settings as hiding places for the mythical weapons the characters had to retrieve (which was probably my favorite part of the book). The seek and find adventure kept me engaged through most of it, and I thought the story escalated to a fitting climax. Although I admit I have mixed feelings about the story-ending itself.

There’s really not much left to add. As I mentioned in my reviews of Nightshade and Wolfsbane, the real beauty of this series are the characters and the fun dynamics they have with one another. All characters were written well, but there was one that I just could not stand – Shay (one of the love interests). Any scenes involving him set my teeth on edge and definitely stole a bit of my enjoyment for the story. This final book also had a lot of boy angst, which, although consistent with story, might have been a little too much for my tastes.

Overall, I’d recommend Nightshade series, but would take caution handing it to younger teens (it kind of encouraged underage sex). That said, it’s still one of the better teen werewolf books I’ve read and I definitely enjoyed Cremer’s writing style.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

wolfsbane by Andrea cremerTitle: Wolfsbane

Author: Andrea Cremer

Series: Nightshade #2

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer–one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack–and the man–she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive. -Goodreads

The Review:

I read Nightshade as an ARC back before it was released in 2012 (and loved it). I’d always had the best intentions to continue on, but before I knew it the entire 6 book saga had been written and I’d gone from way ahead to laughably behind. So I reread the first book in 2014… then never got back to it again(:/). Anyway, I’m glad to finally be continuing on because it’s a fun series with memorable characters, a cool concept, and great writing.

The biggest take away from this book were the characters. I got the impression that Cremer had a lot of fun creating them. All the characters are interesting and well-rounded on their own, but the real brilliance is how they interact and build off of one another – the dynamics are a blast to read. This series is great because it gives equal attention to being both plot and character driven.  There were only a couple of places where I thought the dialogue might be trying too hard, but they were few and far between.

While Nightshade focused on the Guardians (the werewolves) and the Keepers (the authoritative magic-users), Wolfsbane dealt more with the Searchers (the anti-Keepers, for lack of a better description). I LOVED all the settings and stories involving the Searchers – they live in a glamorous academy/training facility where they learn how to use magic and fight (O_o!). Cool, right? But we really didn’t get to see more than a surface-level description of this place – I want to experience SO MUCH MORE!!! So hopefully (fingers crossed) the prequel series expands on it, otherwise what an opportunity wasted.

Okay, now for some boy talk: in most teen series, I find both options in a love triangle fairly equally appealing (say, 60/40). In this case, however, I CANNOT STAND SHAY. Like, at all. Here are my reasons:

  • He has little regard for Calla’s safety. I keep getting the impression that he’d be appropriately bummed if something happened to her, but clearly not enough to help prevent harm.
  • He’s possessive and jealous.
  • He doesn’t let her be independent and beats her up (figuratively) every time she tries to do anything on her own.
  • He encourages other girls to flirt with him, maintaining that oblivious “I didn’t know what was going on” facade.
  • In every interaction, he pushes for sex.

And then you have Ren who is loyal, unselfish, and protective without being overbearing. He has flaws to, but they aren’t in relation to how he treats Calla. Anyway, I think my point of this rant is, go team Ren. Also that I think my overall enjoyment of this series would increase if I liked Shay more than I do. It has been a bit difficult getting behind a romance I’m not feeling…I roll my eyes a lot, is all I’m saying.

Overall, Wolfsbane was a very entertaining sequel and I’m excited to see what happens next… Hopefully it won’t take me another couple of years to continue on, lol.

Other books you might 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: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

NightshadeTitle: Nightshade

Author: Andrea Cremer

Series: Nightshade

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: The first time I read this book was several years ago when it was just an arc. I remember liking it enough to want to continue on, but by the time the second book came out I had forgotten almost everything. In my defense, I read the arc several months before the first book’s release date, and then it was well over a year and a half before I got my hands on the next installment. I always knew I wanted to go back and reread, but it kind of got put on the back burner. Earlier this year, however, I finally found the motivation I needed to pick it back up. You see, my book blogging friend Chanzie at Mean Who You Are had made it one of her nominations for people to vote for as her Book of the Month. We ended up having a read-along, and it was so much fun I can’t wait to do another! In any case, I want to thank her for getting me back on this series because, while I appreciated it the first time around, I absolutely loved it the second time!

The Review:

This is actually my second time reading Nightshade, and I liked it much better this time around. I have to thank Chanzie over at Mean Who You Are for letting me read along with her chosen Book of the Month because I think without her it would have been a very long time before I picked this series back up… not to mention the read along itself was a ton of fun!

I can’t say enough good things about the writing style – Cremer has such a strong voice, and the way she put together words to describe even the most mundane things was beautiful. I’m not saying she was flowery with her descriptions, by any means, I just appreciated how she composed her sentences. Even to the point where I’d be willing to read just about anything she writes because I’m certain the craft side of it would be done beautifully. Come to think of it, when I first read Nightshade, I was not the aspiring writer I am today… I think we may have figured out why I liked it a whole lot better the second time around. Isn’t it weird how books can do that to you?

One thing my pre-writing self and I agreed on is that the characters in this book are a lot of fun. Even though they’re not incredibly dynamic yet (I have high hopes for the second book), they are interesting and easy to get behind – their conflicts really tug at your heartstrings. Let’s take a moment for some girl talk: my first inclination was to crush on the new boy in town, Shay. In fact, during the first read through I did just that. Now, however, I have found a new appreciation for Ren, the boy who Calla has known since she was a child – the one she’s supposed to marry. Each boy has flaws, which is what makes them realistic characters, but the unfortunate thing is that the flaws are kind of deal-breakers for me in the relationship department. Shay’s actions tell me he’s not as concerned with Calla’s safety as I think he should be (it’s not malicious, but he does take a lot of risks where she would pay the price) whereas Ren is kind of a man-whore (but I at least think he’d be loyal to Calla). Five years ago, Ren’s promiscuity threw me off immediately, whereas now Shay’s actions bothered me more. Anyway, to make a long story short: go team Ren! While I’m on the subject of characters, I should also mention that the secondary characters (primarily the fellow pack-mates) were fantastic. I was just as interested in their conflicts as I was the main character’s and am really excited to see how things change for them going forward.

The only thing I could say I didn’t like about this book is that its beginning was a little too much of a whirlwind. It was difficult for me (both times) to wrap my brain around what was happening and I got slapped over the head with what felt like a major instalove. My advice is to stick with it. It only takes a couple of chapters before it transitions into a highly entertaining story. I have read a lot of werewolf books, but I’ve never read one quite like this. :-)

Overall, Nightshade is an excellent start to this series and perfect for fans of teen paranormal. If you can be forgiving for the first couple of chapters, you are in store for excellent writing, great characters, and a cool concept!

Other books you might like:

 

by Niki Hawkes