Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Fair Game is the 3rd novel in the Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs. I suggest you start with Cry Wolf

Summary: They say opposites attract, and for werewolves Anna and Charles, this is certainly true. Charles, the pack enforcer, is a dominant alpha – whereas Anna has the power to calm others of her kind. Now that werewolves have dared to reveal themselves to humans, it’s their job to keep the pack in line. The pressure mounts when the FBI requires Charles’ assistance. He’s sent on a mission to Boston with Anna, and they quickly realise that a serial killer is targeting werewolves. And that they’re next on the killer’s list.

My Thoughts: I can always count on Briggs to deliver a fairly satisfying story. What I really enjoy about her progression through her various series (including the Mercy Thompson books) is her ability to continuously evolve her main characters while at the same time bringing in new faces and new kinds of adventures as well as enemies. I think that’s a pretty hard thing to do, especially when you have a series that’s grown to over 5 novels. In this case, anyway, Fair Game is the 3rd in the series begun by Cry Wolf and continued in Hunting Ground.

The growth of character is most obvious in Anna, the protagonist of Fair Game–she’s progressed from a shy, timid, abused young woman to someone stronger and more assertive. I’m glad we got to see more of that in Fair Game. She and Charles have settled into a more comfortable routine for awhile now, but things are starting to slide into the deep end when Charles’ unofficial job as enforcer of his father’s laws begins to wear on him in some scary and deeply depressing ways. That they’re sent on a trip to the East coast to help out the FBI with a serial killer case is almost a blessing, a distraction from everything else that’s been going on.

And there’s a lot going on because the world now knows the truth of what Anna and Charles and their friends are: not human. The so-called “coming out” of the werewolf community to the rest of the world is handled interestingly and fairly realistically, I think, by Briggs. There’s politicking, panic, curiosity, and the whole atmosphere felt a bit like a tension before the explosion–maybe this will be explored more in future books?

The only major criticism I’d have against Briggs is something that I see in a lot of her writing, and is not specific to Fair Game. She will often do a lot of exposition in her novels, where there’s a lot of dialogue between her characters that’s meant to explain some new supernatural concept or relationship to the reader, but it’s done in a fairly heavy-handed way that does not sound natural. It sounds a bit forced at times, but it doesn’t detract from the excitement of the plot.

A good addition to a great series.

Author Website: http://hurog.com/
How did I get this novel?: Ebook!

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Linger by Maggie Stiefvater GIVEAWAY!

I recently read, loved, and reviewed Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (review here) because I was able to win an ARC from Angie! And now, to pass on the good vibes, I’m giving my ARC away to one lucky random winner! Linger doesn’t come out until July!

Here’s how it’s going to work:

1. Comment on this entry and tell me what you think about the recent urban/paranormal werewolf/vampire trend in YA novels (+1 point)

2. Link to this giveaway on your blog/twitter, and provide the location of the link in your comment to this entry, or you can email me the link. (+1 point)

You will be entered into a random drawing however many times as many points you have, and then I will pick a winner on June 11th! Remember to leave me a way to contact you (i.e. email)!

Sorry, I can only send to US addresses–I’m a poor college student and can’t afford international mail :(

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

How I got this book: ARC won from Angie. Linger comes out July 20, 2010!
Sequel to: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (this review contains slight spoilers for Shiver).

I loved Shiver, the first novel in the series, and I was both surprised and excited that it had a sequel. Surprised because Shiver ended so perfectly that I wasn’t sure what there was left to say except Happily Ever After over and over again. I was excited because I wanted to know just what exactly Stiefvater could think of next for our two young protagonists, and I knew she would write it beautifully, whatever it was.

As the days get warmer and longer, it seems as if Grace and Sam have everything they could have ever wanted. Sam has been “cured” of his werewolf-ness, and the idea that he has the rest of his life as a human stretched out in front of him is something he wakes up to in wonder every day. Our two young lovers have dodged what seemed like the inescapable bullet, but they are soon confronted with other growing problems.

First, the new wolves. Beck, Sam’s adoptive father (and also werewolf) returned at the end of the first novel with several newly “turned” werewolves. One of these new wolves is Cole, former lead singer of the band NARKOTIKA. His face has been splashed across millions of tabloids and magazines, and while music is his life, becoming famous has nearly killed him. Or, more accurately, made him want to kill himself. You name it, Cole’s done it. Booze, drugs, hundreds of faceless groupies… the life of a rockstar, the life of endless entertainment and meaningless existence. Becoming a wolf, fated to stay an animal forever in a few short years, is the next best thing to suicide.

Secondly, Grace’s absentee parents have fully re-entered her life upon realizing that Sam is much more than just some high school fling. Along with the fact that her parents are interfering with her hard-won love life, Grace is starting to feel sick… a sickness she and Sam thought had been cured, a sickness that is inhumane, wild, and uncontrollable.

I was just as drawn into Linger as I was Shiver. I think it’s safe to say that Stiefvater avoided the “sequel slump” and was able to keep the story of Grace and Sam together and still romantic. The introduction of Cole as a new character and Isabel as a stronger presence also made for a great story, and while at first I was skeptical of Cole being a cliche drugged-up rockstar with problems and a magnetism that draws every single teenage girl to his self-destructiveness, Stiefvater made it work and Cole didn’t feel awkward or contrived at all. I especially enjoyed his interactions with the always entertainingly-prickly Isabel, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go in future books.

Sam and Grace were just as well written as in the first novel, and made me very nicely nostalgic for that unique, once-in-a-lifetime teenage-first-love-passionate-bliss. Ahh. To contrast this, and to provide a conflict, Grace’s parents were cold and stupid and a little unbelievable in their newfound stiffness towards Sam. The parents were a little cardboard-cut-out in their dumbness and Total Evil Parent crusade against their daughter’s boyfriend, and while it made for great emotion, it felt a little contrived to me.

But what makes me really enjoy these books is Steifvater’s descriptions of the forest and landscape around Mercy Falls (Grace’s hometown) and the world that Grace and Sam live in, whether it’s a rundown little diner that you can almost feel the grease on your fingers, or a wild, cold forest. The way the author describes the deadening, bone-shattering cold of the Midwest is so real and all these little details really suck the reader in.

Great sequel. I really advise readers to start from the first book, otherwise Linger will be all too confusing! There’s still another 2 months or so till Linger comes out, so you have time to read Shiver and catch up before then. 🙂

Second Opinions: Angieville’s Review
Author Website: Maggie Stiefvater

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Summary from the author website (www.andreacremer.com)

NIGHTSHADE (October 19, 2010, Philomel)
While other teenage girls daydream about boys, Calla Tor imagines ripping out her enemies’ throats. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Calla was born a warrior and on her eighteenth-birthday she’ll become the alpha female of the next generation of Guardian wolves. But Calla’s predestined path veers off course the moment she saves the life of a wayward hiker, a boy her own age. This human boy’s secret will turn the young pack’s world upside down and forever alter the outcome of the centuries-old Witches’ War that surrounds them all.

I read and finished this book on a long trans-Pacific flight. It was fairly entertaining and I was pleasantly surprised. I say pleasantly surprised because I am honestly sick and tired of these Twilight supernatural werewolf vampire teen novel mash-ups. I’ve read so many crappy ones (Twilight included) and it is a mindless money-making trend preying on young pre-teen and teenage girls and giving them skewed ideas about how a real-life, stable relationship should actually function. Twilight rage!

Breathe in, breathe out. Anyway so when I got this book in the mail I thought “Jesus, another one where the heroine is supposedly Strong Yet Feminine, and her heart is torn between a Great Good-Looking PreDestined Guy and New Surprising Good-Looking Guy.” Which is… actually kind of what the plotline is.

However, I will admit that unlike Bella Swan, Calla actually does have a character and personality of her own, props to Cremer for managing that within this overdone storyline. Also, while a significant amount of Nightshade was devoted to Calla’s oh so difficult dilemma in picking between two potential love interests, both of whom are super handsome, super nice, and super non-existent in the real world, Cremer had a pretty substantial sinister mystery-plot running throughout the novel as well. It was a sort of Who’s The Real Villain Here? kind of idea, where the heroine finds out everything she’s ever been told is false, a little dystopian and something that I think everyone needs to think about, especially in regards to the brainwashing that every society puts their members through. I thought that was well done. The ending was fairly predictable, and I could see a couple twists coming up a couple dozen pages ahead–but that didn’t detract too much from the overall story.

The romance(s) were fairly exciting (even nicely titillating!). The way Cremer set up Calla’s world and situation was also pretty different from anything I’ve read before. I enjoyed most of the characters, and they went through some pretty big issues. I actually didn’t feel all that much chemistry between the heroine and the boy she ended up with. Oh well.

All in all it was a good way to pass a couple hours on a 12+ hour flight. I will be following up with the sequel most likely.

Where did I get this book? This Advance Reader’s Copy of Nightshade was provided to me by the publisher
When does it come out? October 2010
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction, Romance, Speculative Fiction