Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 1 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Montana, this book starts up right after the events in the prequel, Alpha and Omega. While it’s not necessary to have read the prequel story first, it does help explain several things about Anna Latham and her first impressions of Charles Cornick. This romance driven tale follows Anna and Charles on their quest to find a rogue werewolf in the wilds of Montana.

Charles is the son of Bran, the Marrock for North America. Bran leads all the werewolf packs and Charles is his right hand man for handling disputes among the packs, hunting down rogue werewolves, and sometimes carrying out executions. Anna just came out of the Chicago pack; having been terrorized by them for a few years, she is now learning what it’s like to be part of a caring and mostly stable pack in Montana. She’s an Omega, which means she isn’t compelled by the werewolf magic and hierarchy to follow the rules all the time. She can be a peacemaker and become the glue that holds a pack together.

On the surface, these both seem like interesting characters. For me, they were OK. Charles is Native American, but that part of his character feels a bit forced. Perhaps it will become more natural as the series progresses. Anna is so submissive and while I get she’s just come through the other side of some hellish years, I expected her to blossom a bit more in this tale. I don’t need her to become some badass archer. I just need her to feel like she can go have a pee without asking permission first.

Asil was the most interesting character for me. His past is a bit nebulous, but he looks Middle Eastern and had spent some quality time in Spain at some point. He’s still in mourning for his wife and adopted daughter after all these years and his mind may be slipping. Lots is going on with this character and I really wanted to know more about him. There was this other really interesting character, but they were eliminated, so I can’t name them without giving out a spoiler. I was bummed. I thought they added something to the story and Briggs could have done much more with that character in subsequent stories.

The ladies in this tale, for the most part, have no status unless the man in their lives has status. Such a turn off. A woman’s self-worth is not inherently tied to the men she’s related to nor the man in her bed. I’m OK with characters believing this, but I need the storyline to show why this isn’t the case, show me how women step outside of the system, or show me the shadow hierarchy among the ‘lesser’ members. That way, we have something interesting going on instead of a worn-thin trope.

Now the hunt for the rogue werewolf was fun. Anna had the chance to show off some of her camping skills, which was great. And who doesn’t like watching werewolves frolic in snowy forests? The mystery surrounding the rogue werewolf was two fold and I enjoyed watching Charles and Anna figure out what was truly going on. There were some chilling moments and I wasn’t sure everyone was going to make it out OK. This part of the tale was well done.

The sex scene was brief. It started off hot and we got just so far before all the truly interesting details were skipped over and the lovers are laying side by side, satisfied. Since this is paranormal romance, I could have used more here. It would have made up for the weaker points of the story.

The Narration: Holter Graham continues to be an excellent Charles and an excellent Bran (the Marrock). His female voices were OK, though sometimes I had trouble discerning one woman from another. I love his accent for Asil! He sounds so much like Puss in Boots, so I kept picturing Asil as a large orange cat.

What I Liked: Gorgeous cover art; Montana woods; Bran’s level head; Asil is a complex guy; the rogue wolf mystery; Anna’s camping skills.

What I Disliked: In werewolf society, a female’s worth is tied to the men in her life; a character I felt had much more to give is killed off; Anna feels she needs permission all the time.

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Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2013)

Length: 2 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Chicago, Anna is the lowest in her pack, a werewolf pack she wasn’t given the choice in joining. After years of abuse, she is ready for a change. The Marrock has sent his son Charles to sort things out. Neither Charles nor Anna get what they expected.

I listened to this book as part of a group read and it’s a prequel to Cry Wolf. The Alpha and Omega series is a spin-off of the Mercy Thompson series and is more romance oriented. Honestly, it’s been some years since I read Mercy Thompson but I believe I like that series quite a bit more than this series.

So Charles is a dominant male among the werewolves and he’s a big handsome guy with skills. He meets Anna and discovers she’s an Omega, which is a person who can soothe and bind a pack together. However, her pack isn’t using her skills; instead they are just using her. By that I mean they take a chunk of her paycheck, have her clean and run errands, and pass her around sexually to reward pack members for questionable deeds. Obviously, Charles is not pleased at this at all. There shall be a reckoning!

There was insta-love between Anna and Charles on a primal level in which their inner wolves recognized it but their human sides took longer to figure it out. I liked the dual nature of this aspect of the story. I also like that this tale shows just what the Marrock, Bran, doesn’t want among the North American packs.

While some justice is meted out by the end, I felt that certain wolves didn’t show remorse over their actions, claiming they were ordered to abuse Anna and other lesser members. Obviously, some of these wolves will need further calibration.

The story had some intense moments, but the romance was a meh for me. I felt that Anna’s character was just too submissive all around. There’s the need to survive a bad situation, sure, but we could have used some inner Anna thoughts about how to avoid the worst of it, or change it, or sabotage food. Something.

The Narration: Holter Graham makes a very good Marrock and a very good Charles. His feminine voices were OK. I liked the harsh tones he can adopt when two wolves are squaring off. I also liked his soothing, patient voice for the Marrock.

What I Liked: Werewolves; Chicago; not all that bend are weak; the dual nature of the werewolf; the worst of the batch do meet justice.

What I Disliked: Anna is always bending, giving way; many of the misbehaving wolves showed no remorse over their actions. 

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Double Double: A Dual Memoir of Alcoholism by Martha Grimes & Ken Grimes

GrimesDoubleDoubleWhy I Read It: I’ve known many alcoholics, lived with a few, and thought this mother-son memoir would be interesting.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: If you are looking for some fresh insights on alcoholism, this is a great book.

Narrators: Kate Reading & Holter Graham

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2013)

Length: 6 hours 21 minutes

Martha Grimes may be best known for her mystery books. She is also an alcoholic. Her son, Ken Grimes, grew up in a single parent home and toyed with drugs and alcohol from a young age, burning out in his 20s. In this memoir, both Martha and Ken share their impressions of alcoholism, how society treated it growing up, and their own personal battles and reasons for staying sober.

This book was so approachable. Much of it read like a conversation over tea and biscuits with Martha and Ken Grimes. Growing up in an alcoholic household, so many things in this book rang true for me. While this is a nonfiction, I have no problem saying that I connected with both of the authors. I especially appreciated each talking about how society’s treatment of alcoholics has changed over the decades. While both entered into treatment, each chose different paths. One is an atheist and one is not. One went with Alcoholics Anonymous and one with a private clinic. While one toyed with drugs, the other did not.

On a more poignant level, the authors talk about Ken growing up with an alcoholic parent and never being sure of when or how Martha’s mood would swing. Additionally, Martha talks of her summers working at the family hotel and alcoholic mood swings of the manager – friendly and funny to furious in zero seconds flat. Their discussions of the constant vigilance, if not out right battle, against falling back into the bottle showed how strong a person needs to be to kick any addiction. They also have a great discussion about whether or not alcoholism should be considered a medical disease. It is not a question I had pondered before this book and has given me something to chew on.

Narration: Kate Reading and Holter Graham were perfect choices for the voices of Martha Grimes and Ken Grimes. They provided a clear narration of what was at times a difficult subject. I especially liked the sections that were conversations back and forth between Martha and Ken.

What I Liked: Even the tough parts were told straight forward; different view points on alcoholism and treatment; the generational differences were portrayed and shed some light older alcoholics I have known.

What I Disliked: The book might have benefited a bit from further explanation of the different stages of alcoholism and recovery, but this is a very minor comment and I won’t be knocking the book down a notch or two for it.

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