Review: Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Review: Cry Wolf by Patricia BriggsCry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega #1
Published by Orbit
Pages: 320
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
Add to Goodreads
Also in this series: Hunting Ground

Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack…and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she'd learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country will recognize her value as a pack member—and as his mate.

Thoughts: In case you haven’t heard, Patricia Briggs is a brilliant author. I tend to forget her whenever I list my favourite authors, but I really really shouldn’t. Every one of her books is a joy to read, and Cry Wolf is no exception. If you’ve never read her work… get to it!

So, Cry Wolf. First off, you should know that Anna and Charles’ story begins with another tale: Alpha and Omega. It’s a novella published in the On the Prowl anthology (I gave it a glowing review here), and it is well worth reading before you start Cry Wolf. That said, you can jump straight into the novel without reading the prequel – that’s actually what I started off doing before I remembered Alpha and Omega. But I found that reading about Anna’s back story and how she met Charles really did enhance Cry Wolf, so… it’s up to you.

There was a lot of sadness in Cry Wolf. Maybe I am a sucker for sad stories, but my heart leapt for so many of the characters in this book: Bran and Sam, in particular. Bran – the alpha of alphas – was one of my favourite characters in the Mercy Series. Getting to see things from his POV was a real thrill. And finding out his origin story? The most beautifully depressing thing I have ever read. And Sam… oh, Sam. I loved seeing him through the eyes of all new characters – he’s still as charismatic as ever, but boy is that boy ever filled with angst.There was a beautiful romantic tension between Anna and Charles – who are busy coming to terms with their new-but-intense relationship. It’s a rather unique relationship; their wolves are in love, but their human counterparts are struggling to accept the bond. Instant-bonds are one of my favourite tropes, but they can very quickly turn ridiculous. Cry Wolf manages to deal with the theme seriously – it’s brilliant.

Writing this review has made me want to reread Cry Wolf. Seriously, there is a reason everyone and their mother loves Patricia Briggs. Go forth and read!

Bottom line? Cry Wolf is a stunning novel. It has atmosphere, heartbreak, monsters, and a lovely romance. In short, it has everything I could possibly want from a novel.

Novel vs TV series: A Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones TV PosterOK, so I am one of those fans. One of the fans who picked up the A Song of Fire and Ice series after watching the HBO series based on the books, Game of Thrones (hereafter known as HBO!GoT). Yep, I’m one of those.
And so instead of giving you your standard “OMG, this book is amazing” review (this book has been out for 15 years, there are a lot of them out there), I am doing something absolutely dreadful instead… I am comparing the show with the book!
Horrified? I know – but I’m dastardly that way.

Be warned, there are significant spoilers ahead! If you have either read the book or seen the show, you’ll be fine. If you’ve done neither, then just get to it already!

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

HBO!GoT / Librarything /Goodreads

Show Summary: You win or you die.

Book Summary: Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective wall. To the south, the King’s powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself.

Three things a HBO!GoT fan should know before starting the book:

  1. You will love it, because it is pretty much exactly the same as the show: I was stunned by how closely HBO stuck to the novels. I knew that all of the main plot elements had been included, but it is so much more than that. I’d say about 90% of the dialogue that is in the show is also in the book.
  2. All of the main characters are about 10 years younger in the novel. Yup, that’s right. A Game of Thrones is a lot more risque than its HBO counterpart. Dany is only 13 when her brother hands her off to the Dothraki. While it works in the book and is historically realistic, I really don’t think I could have watched that.
  3. The book is over 1000 pages long. I don’t want you to be put off by that, but it’s the truth. I don’t want anyone to think that A Game of Thrones is a short read – it’s not. It really really is not!

Game of Thrones by George R R MartinThree things I preferred the HBO interpretation of:

  1. Catelyn Stark. I had genuinely liked Catelyn in HBO!GoT. She wasn’t my favourite character, but she clearly had Stark qualities to her that made me warm to her. She didn’t sit to the sidelines, but neither did she try to jump in the driver’s seat. But book!Catelyn I very nearly loathe. How can I put it in a way fans will understand… there’s just not much of the North in that woman. She treats Jon 100 times worse than she does on the show, not to mention her inability to understand honour, justice and those other fantastic Stark qualities.
  2. The scenery. While I realise television has the clear advantage in this field, I found myself missing the beautiful landscapes and the gorgeous castles. George R.R. Martin isn’t all that big on descriptive writing about scenery, so while some places were extremely well described (the Wall and the Dothraki plains, for example), others had almost no description at all (King’s Landing).
  3. The Lannisters. HBO!GoT gives the Lannisters a bit more context – they aren’t necessarily my favourite group of people (*strangles Joffery*) but there were times when I genuinely felt for Cersei and Jamie. But in the books? They are the very definition of evil. Evil. Evil. Evil. And while I am certainly Team Stark, I would have liked to have seen a bit more Lannister in the book.

Three things I loved from the book which didn’t really translate onto the screen:

  1. Bran and the three-eyed crow. While HBO!GoT really did try to bring these scenes to life on the screen, they really didn’t make much sense. Mostly because, in the book, the crow actually speaks to Bran. And the truth of the matter is that talking animals never really work on TV.
  2. Jon Snow. While I certainly liked Jon in the television show, he did seem rather whiney. If anything, the younger novel version of him seemed much more adult than the actual adult that played him!
  3. How genuinely sweet Joffery was to Sansa. Even though Joffery is the anti-christ, there were times in the book when he seemed to actually like Sansa… none of that came through in HBO!GoT. It’s a real shame since it makes Sansa’s obsession with the evil blonde twit understandable.

One thing I really wish the show had included:

  1. How utterly unimportant Theon Grey is to Robb Stark. HBO!GoT turns Theon into Robb’s best friend and, considering how loathsome I find him, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was not the case in the books. Maybe their relationship develops further in the later novels, but in A Game of Thrones they are most certainly not BFFs. *shakes fist*

Bottom line? There is a reason this book has so many fans: it’s brilliant. Go forth and purchase.

Summer Shorts: YA stories from Subterranean Magazine

Summer Shorts: YA stories from Subterranean Magazine

Summer Shorts is weekly feature of short story/novella reviews, posted every weekend of July and August, 2011. Every week has a different theme - be it featuring a specific anthology, a particular genre, or a great author.

Last week I reviewed a few tales from the Mammoth Book of PNR, and this week I'll be reviewing some YA stories by one of my favourite authors... Kelley Armstrong!

The following stories are all available online (free!) and are set in Kelley's Otherworld/Darkest Powers verse.  If you haven't read her Darkest Powers series yet, a) run out and buy it b) these might not be quite as meaningful to you.

Kat by Kelley Armstrong

(Read it here! Set in the Darkest Powers verse, following the story of another Edison Group subject.)

Favourite Quote:

As I strode into the alley, the driver leapt out, raising his gun.
“I come in peace,” I said, lifting my fingers in a V.
He paused, half out of the van, his broad face screwing up in confusion.
I raised my hands. “See? No pistol. No switchblade. Not even a ray gun.”

Thoughts: Kat is the story of another Edison group experiment, Katiana, and one of her (many) encounters with Edison group minions. I really liked Kat - she reminded me of Maya from The Gathering, and for a while in the story I actually thought she might be her long lost sister. She's tough and could no doubt kick my ass. She won't back away from a fight and, if the circumstances require it, she'll run straight into one. The story is only 20 pages long, but I would have been happy to have read an entire book in her POV.

As for the style of the story - well, it felt like it was straight out of the Darkest Powers novels. Lots and lots of action, a whole bunch of running-for-their-lives, and the occasional bit of snappy dialogue. While I can't say that I was blown away by it all, I certainly did enjoy the tale. I'm hoping Kat is a lead-up to a fuller story or, perhaps, her inclusion into some of Kelley's other YA novels.

Bottom line? Kat is an action-packed tale with the same feel as Kelley's Darkest Powers series.  But even if you haven't read her trilogy, you'll enjoy it!

Divided by Kelley Armstrong

(Read it here! Darkest Powers Story set between The Summoning and The Awakening.)

Favourite Quote:

"I do. I mean sure, I've liked a lot of girls and you probably think this is just the same thing. But it's not. I like being with her. Hanging out with her. Talking to her. Getting to know her. Not that I didn't want to get to know the other girls, but I really want to this time. I'm not just asking questions to make conversation. She's different and she's interesting, and she doesn't know she is and that's . . ." He glanced back at me. "I'm glad you two seem to get along." He grinned. "A nice change."

Thoughts: Spoilers for the DP trilogy! Divided follows Derek and Simon after they are separated from Chloe at the end of The Summoning.  Divided is the second short story I've read from Derek's POV (Dangerous, I read and loved last year), and I can now officially say that he is the best narrator ever. Love this guy.

While - of course - it was fantastic to revisit my beloved DP characters, Divided did more than just that.  It added to the canon of the trilogy.  Kelley gives us more details about Chloe's mother's death (that was a real shocker), some insight into how Derek started to take more notice of Chloe, and how he felt about "using" her to get Simon to go on the run; and even some insight into how much Simon was honest-to-God pining after Chloe (see the quote, friggin' adorable and yet so sad).

Bottom line? If you love the Darkest Powers trilogy, you'll love Divided. It's a story I hadn't even known I'd wanted, and I am so glad it's been told.

FYI - If you're looking for some more great Darkest Powers stories, Kelley had completed three that are available here.  She's currently in the middle of another story set post-The Reckoning, which you can follow on the Darkest Powers blog.  Oh, and apparently the Enthralled anthology (edited by Melissa Marr) coming out in September is also going to be post-The Reckoning, set 2-3 weeks after the end of the book and told from Chloe's POV.  Needless to say that that news got the book onto my wishlist!

Next week... Zombies vs. Unicorns!


Summer Shorts: Lightspeed Stories: Carrie Vaughn and Kat Howard

Summer Shorts - Lightspeed Edition

Artwork from the cover of the Lightspeed: Year One anthology.

Summer Shorts is weekly feature of short story/novella reviews, posted every Saturday of July and August, 2011. Every week has a different theme – be it featuring a specific anthology, a particular genre, or a great author.

Last week I reviewed two stories from the infamous anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns, but this week I’m reviewing stories from the fantastic on-line science fiction magazine Lightspeed.

One of the really cool things that Lightspeed offers is a podcast version of their stories.  In other words, audio-stories!  I am not an audiobook fan, but I loved being able to listen to these tales.  They are very well read and really made the stories even more enjoyable.


Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn

(Standalone science fiction tale that can be read or heard here.)

Thoughts: Amaryllis is simply stunning.  It is everything you could possibly want from a science fiction tale.  It deals with new governments, new ways of thinking, and in this case, new ways of considering the environment.  Amaryllis is set in a world where moderation is key; one where the world had suffered enough from our desire to expand.  And while the control mechanisms placed on people seem outrageous to 21st century eyes, they aren’t evil.  In fact, they are purely meant to help.

In terms of characters, Vaughn more than delivers.  The story is narrated by the captain of the Amaryllis ship, a woman who has suffered her whole life because of the thoughtlessness of her mother.  She’s strong yet terrified of the establishment… I really grew to care for her, which is more than I can say for a lot of narrators!  The rest of the Amaryllis crew were equally as endearing – especially the sweet, innocent Nina who starts off seeming rather childish but grew on me before the end.

Amaryllis is one of four finalists for Best Short Story in the 2011 Hugo Awards.  Congrats to Vaughn – it is fantastic to see such a deserving story get some official recognition!

Bottom line? Amaryllis is a striking story set in a realistic, somewhat-heart-wrenching universe.  Adoration will ensue.


Sweet Sixteen by Kat Howard

(Standalone science fiction tale that can be read or heard here.)

Thoughts: I can’t say I was over-the-moon about Sweet Sixteen, but it was fairly enjoyable.  The story is set in a world where girls are divided into Tiffanys and Rosalinds and Elizabeths, and given all the characteristics that go along with those names.  Literally given those characteristics, injected with new DNA to make them the ideal Rosalind.

I liked the premise, but I wasn’t too keen on the main character.  She was the type of teenager I loathe -whiny and self-centred.  I couldn’t see past her to fully sympathise with her situation.  Had Sweet Sixteen been narrated by a different girl, one not so easy to dislike, I might have loved this story.  Alas, we’ll never know.

Bottom line?  Kat Howard delivers an interesting universe narrated by a loathsome teenager.  Good but not great.

Check out Lightspeed Magazine for more great science fiction stories – and don’t forget to subscribe!

Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Review: The Gathering by Kelley ArmstrongThe Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising #1
Published by ATOM
Pages: 359
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
Add to Goodreads
Also in this series: The Rising

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

Thoughts: I’ll admit it, I almost didn’t want to read this book. I was such a huge fan of the Darkest Powers series and was pretty terrified that this newest trilogy wouldn’t live up to my expectations. And while it is certainly not as fierce as The Awakening or The Reckoning, I’d say it is most certainly the first book in a fantastic new Kelley Armstrong series.

Let’s start off with our new heroine, Maya. For starters, she’s a lot more experienced than Chloe – she’s confident in all sorts of social situations, with guys, and holds no prisoners even when speaking to her parents. Even though Chloe could certainly stand up for herself, Maya let’s no one think she can’t handle herself. This is a girl who can – literally – scare off a cougar… she’s awesome. And just because she’s tough, it doesn’t make her mean. Yeah, she has quite a few defense mechanisms in place to stop from getting emotionally hurt, but she isn’t bitchy in the least.

I also adored Maya’s relationship with her adoptive parents. Armstrong avoids all the parental YA tropes! If you want to read a realistic, loving relationship between two parents and their daughter, then read The Gathering. In fact, Armstrong gets an A+ for all characters in this novel. Love interest Rafe was fabulous. Slightly twisted by circumstance, but fundamentally a good guy. Reminded me of Derek despite being nothing at all like Derek. In fact, this entire book reminded me of its predecessor trilogy despite being very, very different…

Then there’s the plot. Although the book left me going “what! that’s it! I need MORE!”, it is by no means lacking in substance. While those of us who have read the Darkest Powers trilogy might see a couple of clues that first-time Armstrong fans will not, by the end of the book, I’m certain you’ll be just as mystified as everyone else. After I finished The Gathering, I filled my Books Moleskine with over a dozen questions I wanted answered asap. I wasn’t sure what side I should be on, I didn’t know who the bad guys were, and I sure didn’t know whether or not Maya was making the right decision. All the same thoughts/feelings I had after reading The Summoning!


Ok, so I tried and failed to review this book without mentioning the first trilogy… but read that as the compliment it is meant to be!

Bottom line? Kelley Armstrong can do no wrong. Read this. Now.