books

Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

Black Dog Blues

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Black Dog Blues (2014) Rhys Ford

Black Dog BluesKai Gracen makes his way in the human world as a Stalker–someone who kills the inhuman monsters that crossed over when the world merged with Underhill.

Being elfin in a world of humans, following the war between the elfin and humans isn’t easy, but it’s his life, and one he can succeed at.

Unfortunately, a Dawn Court is being set up in San Diego, and the elfin lord setting it up wants Kai to join.

This story reminder me very strongly of two different supernatural fantasy series. One is Ilona Andrews Kate Daniel’s world, because of change and destruction of the world as we would know it, caused by magic (in this case, the appearance of Underhill).

But even more strongly it reminded me of Rob Thurman‘s Cal & Nico series, only without Nico to soften Cal and help him remain human. Like Cal, Kai is a monster. Like Cal, Kai was tortured by the monsters that created him. Like Cal, Kai was part of an experiment, although for Cal it was the impregnation of human women in an attempt to continue the magical race, rather than here where the creation was… to create a being to torture.

And that brings me to part of the problem I had with the story. The monsters are monstrous but the reasons seem to be solely for a joy of being awful, which is NOT something I enjoy at all. This discovery came much later in the series, or else I might have stopped reading, because I really dislike torture seemingly for the sake of torture. The monsters have no cause other than to torture and destroy. (In the Cal and Nico book, they wanted a permanent gate into our world, which Cal would help provide. The monsters and their actions there are alien and incomprehensible. In this book, it seemed evil overlord human rather than alien. That might seem like a small difference, but it’s significant.)

Also, Kai seemed to run hot and cold with Ryder, and I never quite understood why. Or rather, I understood why he wouldn’t want to have anything to do with either court. I didn’t get why he wanted to work with Ryder at all.

I also have a hard time believe that he was as good of a person as he kept being, considering how he was raised. He really should have been far more of a monster and a sociopath without having a decent being step in to show him care and kindness. Do I think he could function in society as he was raised? Yes. Do I think he could have learned to care about other beings beside himself? Honestly, no.

What I particularly liked about the story was the thought that went into why the elfin had such a low birth rate–and how that would shape elfin society.

I’m making a serious accusation; infanticide is one of the most heinous crimes a sidhe can be charged with. The justices haven’t yet decided if the twins are even elfin.

I also thought the world-building was very well done, considering this was just on the edge of being a dystopia (and I do not like dystopias at all). I did want to know more about the world and how it came to be. But I’m not certain I believed why many of the creatures within that world behaved the way they did.

I borrowed this from the library, and unfortunately for me, they didn’t have a kindle edition, so I had to read it on my phone, which is NOT my favorite way to read ebooks, so that didn’t help me become fully immersed in the story the way I usual can, which may be why I had a harder time suspending disbelief.

Will I read the next book in the series? I’m undecided. I’m not interested buying it for the price its currently available, but I’m also not interested in reading on my phone.

So, we’ll see.

Publisher: DSP Publications
Rating: 6/10

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, LGBT, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Sapphire Flames

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sapphire Flames (2019) Ilona Andrews

Nevada’s arc ended with Wildfire. Catalina’s story started there, then moved on with the novella Diamond Fire, and this is her first novella.

It’s…. fine.

I liked spending time with Catalina and her family. I appreciated that Nevada was being kept out of the way and gave up control of the house for good reasons. I found the mystery interesting.

I just wasn’t that enamored of Alessandro and his hotness and although he was kind to Catalina, and although I understand that she wanted to make sure someone loved her for her and not because of her magic, I just really didn’t get her obsession with Alessandro that lead to her falling in love with him–he really did everything he could to hide precisely who he was and tried to give the world only superficial glimpses.

And I had some issues with the mystery as well.

Catalina has to be sworn to secrecy to learn secrets but Alessandro doesn’t have to do or swear anything special even though he’s just a paid body guard? That is just not right, and I have a hard time believing Catalina didn’t see that as an issue either.

And then there are the action scenes.

Arabella crouched by me. “You’re in charge and if you order me, I’ll take you. But you’re tapped out. You can’t even stand. My car sits four. I’ll take Runa, Leon, and Mom.”

She was right. I hated it but she was right. Every second counted, and they needed to pack as much firepower as they could into four seats. “Go,” I said. “I’ll come with the second wave.”

Catalina is exhausted. There isn’t really a logical reason for her to go along other than for the plot, so she could face the bad guy. It was illogical and foolish and it made me question the rest of the story more than I would have otherwise. I mean, the story could have ended multiple times before that, but instead the tension had to keep building and building to the point that it started to feel ridiculous.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the story, and I will read the next book, but I am getting tired to stories where the heroine can do all the things–and has to do all the things.

The older I get, the more unrealistic it feels.

And I also had some issues with Alessandro’s magic. Why would temporary weapons even work? Are they made solely of magic? Why would the damage remain after the weapon disappeared? What if he grabbed a technical nuke? Or a grenade? Do the pieces disappear? If he walked away from someone he shot would the bullets magically dissolve? If he stabbed someone and wanted them to leave, would he have to remain with them all the way to the hospital to the weapon from disappearing and the person bleeding out?

The whole thing just feels too easy and convenient, and since he’s already ridiculously handsome and rich and charming…. It’s just too much.

But, as I said, I will read the next book. It just feels very week compared to the other series.

Also, Avon cover. I hate it.

Publisher: Avon
Rating: 7/10

Written by Michelle     Categories: Covers, Fantasy, Female, Mystery, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Diamond Fire

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Diamond Fire (2018) Ilona Andrews

This is a Hidden Legacy novella, and covers the wedding of Nevada and Rogan.

We also meet Rogan’s mother.

“If fortune smiles on us, this will be your only wedding. This will be a formal affair. Your bride will be wearing a breathtaking gown, you will be wearing a tuxedo, and I will watch you two exchange vows and kiss in front of our entire family and all of our friends, and I will glow with pride at this moment. You will not rob me of that joy. Later I will talk to your father about it and tell him how beautiful it was. Am I making myself clear?”

I liked her quite a bit.

Although the very first bit is from Nevada’s POV, the rest of the story is from the POV of Catalina, the middle Baylor sister. Catalina and Arabella have taken over helping to plan and organize Nevada’s wedding, and if Nevada wasn’t bad enough someone has stolen a tiara that Mrs Rogan wants Nevada to wear AND there are death threats AND Rogan’s family–some of them–are pretty awful.

It’s a fun little short story, where we get to see Catalina coming to terms with her powers (and we also get to see who will be her romantic interest when her book comes out).

There were a couple mysteries–who stole the tiara and who is trying to kill Nevada and Rogan.

I actually had guessed pretty early on the bit about the tiara. The murder plot was also not a huge surprise. But it was a fun story.

Publisher: Avon Impulse
Rating: 7/10

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Short Story, Supernatural     Comments (2)    

Clean

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Clean (2012) Alex Hughes

I started this, dropped it, started it again, dropped it again, had it as my lunchtime book and then finally got into it.

I found this book troublesome.

On the plus side, I really liked the world building. I generally despise dystopias, but this wasn’t really a dystopia, but more along the lines of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniel’s world, where a vast change as happened and this is how things shook out afterwards.

I focused instead on the stupid hard-copy forms, line after line, box after box filled out in pencil in block caps so the secretaries could read them. Hard copy, for all it was dumb, was necessary. Nobody remembered losing all their records in the Tech Wars the way the cops did. Electronic quarantine and antivirus, separation and security— they were all good to have and the cops were fanatical about them. More important was keeping data and transmissions separate, checking every byte of new data, every new program as if it was the new End of the World. Because once it had been.

Biology, artificial organs, physics, anti-graviton generators for flying cars, drug-assisted telepathy— the world might be perfectly fine with those kinds of technologies. They didn’t talk to one another. They didn’t grow minds of their own. But computers? Data? Tech? A complete WorldNet with instant e-mail and a phone system connected to the computers? Not in my lifetime. People were just too afraid, with too good a reason.

The spontaneous development of AI is an idea that has fascinated me for years. Considering how little thought we have put into that possibility, the chances of something going terribly wrong are not small. IMO anyway.

So, I liked the world building.

I also liked that the main character was an addict and struggling with sobriety. That was pretty fascinating, and made an already difficult situation far more stressful.

The mystery, however, was all over the damned place.

As were the reactions of the humans. The department hired him as a telepath. His abilities are known and actually rated. But when he has precognitive flashes, everyone ignores him? When he learns things telepathically they mostly ignore what he’s told them, because they can’t “use” it legally. Well, damn. If you’re being given the likely serial killer, even if you can’t prove it, you should be able to do SOMETHING.

Jeesh.

So, it was uneven as hell, and as much as I liked the world-building, the mystery was just too frustrating to be any good. So, it was a nice try, but I’m done.

Publisher: Ace
Rating: 5.5/10

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

The Duchess War

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Duchess War (2012) Courtney Milan

Set in England in 1863.

Minerva Lane has been hiding. Hiding from her past and her childhood, and even her name, going by another name, Wilhelmina Pursling. No one but her great aunts knows of her past, not even her best friend Lydia, whose dangerous secrets she’s held for years.

Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont is not hiding from his past, but is instead trying to atone for it–less his past and more the actions of his father. When his atonement causes problems for Minnie, she is determined to keep her secrets–and expose his.

I knew I really liked this series, but for some reason, even though it’s not been that long since I last read it, I was convinced it was better in my memory than in actuality.

I was wrong.

Let me get one thing clear, I do love Ilona Andrews books. But the series I just re-read had a great number of weaknesses that I’d noted upon re-reading; weaknesses that became more glaring in close comparison with Courtney Milan’s writing.

First, the dialog is delightful.

If I do it my way, when it’s all said and done, people will say, ‘Well, Minnie really kept her head, even when a duke was about.’” “And men will marry you because of that?” he asked dubiously. “I only need one man to do so,” Minnie shot back. “More would be illegal.”

Second, Robert is a wonderful hero. I adore him.

The man bowed his head. “Forgive me, Your Grace. The woman is nothing. I erred. I never thought you would take an interest in one so much beneath you.”

“What’s the point in being a duke if I don’t?” The query was out of his mouth before he could call it back— but he wouldn’t have, even if he could.

But to be clear, he is far from perfect.

For himself… He could rarely think of how to respond when immersed in that heady back-and-forth. Sometimes he thought of clever things to say… hours later. Usually, he committed the worst sin possible: He said what he was really thinking. That was why he came out with gems like, I like your tits. Not one of his finest moments, that.

But he is a kind man, and that is something that can be–and is–used against him. Which is the source of his problems.

Of course, we also get Sebastian, who I utterly adore.

“You know me,” Sebastian said. “I’m the soul of discretion.”

“No, you’re not. You are exactly the opposite.”

But it’s more than that. Lydia, Minnie’s best friend is so well developed she gets her own novella. And her personality is very different from Minnie.

“Every time I laugh, he looks at me, judging me for my frivolity. I can’t stand being around him.”

“I had no notion,” Minnie said, moving over to sit beside her friend.

“I work so hard for my frivolity.” Lydia’s hands were shaking. “How dare he judge me for it!”

And then there’s Oliver’s family and Robert’s relationship with them…

But what I like best is that the story isn’t over once Minnie and Robert get married–instead it continues on, showing how they learn to deal with their differences, and–we also get a surprise that is both unexpected and marvelous.

This story is complex and compelling, and even the boinking bits have parts that are fascinating and unexpected. It’s marvelous and amazing and a fantastic start to a wonderful series.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Courtney Milan

Written by Michelle     Categories: 9/10, British, Historical, Re-Read, Romance, Sexual Content     Comments (0)    

Steel’s Edge

Monday, August 7, 2017

Steel’s Edge (2012) Ilona Andrews

Charlotte has fled to the Edge to escape a marriage gone terribly wrong.

The outrage swelled in her, mixing with hurt. Last night he’d kissed her before they fell asleep next to each other. This was the man she woke up to every morning? “Elvei, you realize, you’re telling me that I have no value to you except as a broodmare?”

“Don’t make me the villain in this.” Elvei leaned back. “I’ve gone with you to all the tests and treatments. I listened patiently while you got excited over this specialist and that, I sat in the waiting rooms, and I gave it as much time as I could. There are no more treatments left. I just want to have a child, like any normal healthy adult.”

Every time she thought she had reached the limit of hurt, he twisted the knife a little more, digging deeper and deeper inside her, cutting at a raw wound. “So I’m abnormal?”

He spread his arms. “Can you conceive? No. You are defective, Charlotte.”

Defective. He actually called her defective. The pain inside her began to smolder with rage. “I’m curious, what’s the next word you’ll reach for? How cruel will you be, Elvei?”

“You cost me two and a half years.”

Richard Mar has devoted his time to destroying the slave trade, but unfortunately a fight gone bad sends him back to the Edge, destroying Charlotte’s carefully built life there.

This is definitely my least favorite book in this series. Richard was not nearly as interesting character as his brother, and although he has a worthy goal for a worthy reason, it’s just not enough.

Charlotte is fascinating, and I love not just the magical restriction put upon healers, but her own issues of being barren. That’s not something you frequently come across in fiction. So I don’t quite get her fascination with Richard. I mean, he’s perfectly fine, but the romance feels convenient rather than natural–they’re thrown together so they fall in love. I just feel like Charlotte deserved better than that.

And although I wanted to learn more about Sophie (and the promise of her healing), and I like George and Jack, the latter two felt tacked onto this story, especially they way they join up with Richard and Charlotte. Their involvement with Kaldar made sense. Here? It felt like the story had to stretch a great deal to get them involved to the degree they were.

Mind you, I really like just how much George manages to do with his magic, but the meeting up and the circumstances just felt unrealistic.

“And how would you know that?” If someone had opened their mouth, he would be really put out.

Jack gave a one-shouldered shrug. “We overhead you and Declan talking.”

“Declan’s study is soundproof.”

“Not to reanimated mice,” Jack said. “George wants to be a spy. He listens in on everything, then he tells me.”

Fantastic. Declan and he had taken extra measures, like activating soundproof sigils and meeting during late hours, and two teenage boys could still undermine all of their careful security precautions. How comforting.

One plus was this scene between Sophie and Charlotte, as Sophie is slowly learning to trust Charlotte.

Charlotte nodded.

“I don’t like to be touched. One of them tried, and I told him I didn’t like it. He acted as if there was something wrong with me.”

Charlotte paused. There was so much she wanted to explain, but the little bond of trust they had between them was so fragile. She had to find the right words. “There is nothing wrong with you. Your body belongs to you alone. Touching it is a privilege, and it’s up to you to grant it. Some boys— and men— don’t handle rejection well, and they will try to shame you or pressure you into letting them do what they want because they feel entitled. They’re not worth your time. Also, there is nothing wrong with not enjoying sexual touching or kissing.”

I love that this was put in here, although this book isn’t aimed at teenagers, I still think it was a natural and lovely conversation. Although the latter part of the conversation didn’t feel true, I forgave it for that bit.

I guess this book just felt disappointing. I love the world building, and the characters from previous books, but the stretch to involve the characters from the previous books was just too much to be completely believable.
Rating: 6/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Wildfire: A Hidden Legacy Novel

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wildfire: A Hidden Legacy Novel (2017) Ilona Andrews

This is the third book in the Hidden Legacy series. This was supposed to be a trilogy, but there are enough loose ends for at least another book. I could have done without the final bit with Victoria Tremaine, which felt more like a cliffhanger than this book deserved.

As with all Ilona Andrew books, there were lots of marvelous bits.

I stepped closer to the bear. The massive beast leaned over to me and smelled my hair.

“Can I pet him?”

The soldier looked at Sergeant Teddy. The bear made a low short noise. “He says you can.”

I reached over and carefully petted the big shaggy neck. “What’s his story?”

“Someone thought it would be a good idea to make very smart magic bears and use them in combat,” the ex-soldier said. “Problem is, once you make someone smart, they become self-aware and call you on your bullshit. Sergeant Teddy is a pacifist. The leash is just for show so people don’t freak out.”

Lovely!

And Grandma Frida may still be my favorite character.

“I told you twenty-six years ago that if you married him, you would pay the price. I told you to let him go. You didn’t listen. You raised them to fight. They’re not going to cut and run now.”

“They will do what I say,” Mom ground out. “I’m their mother.”

Grandma Frida squinted at her. “Aha. And how did that work out for me?” Mom opened her mouth and clicked it shut.

I’d like new tires for the Vault. It’s worth two hundred and fifty grand and we’re going to take it home to my grandma.

I think what I liked best is that Rogan and Nevada didn’t have any stupid misunderstandings in this book, even though there well could have been some. They talked about things and although he was trying to make sure she could make her own choices without undue influence, she knew that was why he was behaving as he did.

I also liked that Leon finally got to discover and use his magic. And I also like that despite the families being awful, there were genuinely good people.

“When Augustine took me to Baranovsky’s gala, Latimer saw the bruises on my neck and mistook me for a domestic abuse victim. His aunt distracted Augustine, while he offered to walk me out of the gala and take me to a doctor and give me a safe place to stay.”

Rogan leaned to the side to look after Latimer. “Michael Latimer?”

“Mhm. He wasn’t lying.”

“Interesting,” Rogan said.

I explained that (kid) and (kid) were his children and that as a father, he was supposed to love them unconditionally. He was supposed to protect them and take care of them. That they couldn’t be discarded or traded in for a new model like last year’s car. If he couldn’t bring himself to be proud of them, because they didn’t (redacted), he still couldn’t abandon his responsibilities.

Those are two lovely bits there.

So, as usually I loved the world and the characters, could have done without the boinking bits, and generally enjoyed the book.

And regarding the cover, at least he has his damned shirt on. That’s about the only positive I’ll give it.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Avon

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Fate’s Edge

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fate’s Edge (2011) Ilona Andrews

On re-reading, this one I greatly preferred to the second book. First, although the main story is between Audrey and Kaldar (and Kaldar is a rogue, so of course I love him), they end up dealing with Gaston, and more interestingly Jack and George, and spending time with those two boys was lovely, since they are most definitely teen boys, and it was fascinating to see how they were dealing with living in the Weird.

And Kaldar.

“ATMs . . .”

“What are those?” Jack asked.

“Small automated banks that give out money.”

“Why doesn’t anyone steal the banks?” Jack asked.

“They are very, very heavy.”

Jack grinned. “You tried?”

“Yes, and I don’t recommend it. You need a sturdy truck with a wheelchair lift and a dolly. A rental truck with a ramp is good, too. And that’s if said ATM isn’t bolted to the ground.”

“How did you know the Hand would be coming?”

“I didn’t know,” Kaldar said. “I suspected.”

Oh, please. “I don’t believe you. You lie all the time.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You kind of do,” George murmured.

But mostly I love how Jack and George did not get a fairy tale ending when the moved to the weird. Yes, things are materially better for them, but socially they’re little better off than they were in the Edge and the Broken.

She caught the faint hint of disapproval in his tone. “So that’s what Jack thinks. What do you think?”

George grimaced. “Jack is spoiled. Things are hard for him, but he isn’t the only one who doesn’t have it easy. He gets away with crazy things because he’s a changeling and he’s different. Jack could behave better, but he stopped trying. He decided that he’s worthless and that nothing he could do would make any difference.”

Yes, this book is a romance, but the romance was the least interesting part. I was fascinated by Audrey’s history.

back. “So the two of you did strike a bargain. He got forty thousand dollars. What did you get?”

“I got to never see my family again.”

Kaldar frowned. “Come again?”

“I got to be cut off. Left in peace. I want nothing to do with them or with their stupid schemes. I don’t have parents, and they don’t have a daughter. That was my condition.”

Kaldar reeled back a little. She could almost feel gears turning behind that pretty face. “I’ve met your brother. If anyone should be cast off, it should be him.”

“That’s not how it works in our family. He is the heir, the pride and joy, who carries on the family name. I’m his younger sister.”

So, the romance? Whatever, but the story it self I really enjoyed.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Bayou Moon

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bayou Moon (2010) Ilona Andrews

Following this immediately after finishing On the Edge helped clarify what bothered me about this story.

I really like William in the first book. He’s odd, and he’s badly broken, but he is a good man who is fiercely protective of children. But he is definitely odd. And this book starts out with that weirdness.

William picked up the letter and looked at it. It was short. George’s writing was perfect, with letters neatly placed. Jack’s looked like a chicken had written it in the dirt. They said thank you for the action figures. George liked the Weird. He was given plenty of corpses to practice necromancy on, and he was taking rapier lessons. Jack complained that there were too many rules and that they weren’t letting him hunt enough.

“That’s a mistake,” William told the Green Arrow. “They need to let him vent. Half of their problems would be solved if they let him have a violent outlet. The kid is a changeling and a predator. He turns into a lynx, not a fluffy bunny.” He raised the letter. “Apparently he decided to prove to them that he was good enough. Jack killed himself a deer and left the bloody thing on the dining room table, because he’s a cat and he thinks they’re lousy hunters. According to him, it didn’t go over well. He’s trying to feed them, and they don’t get it.”

But here you can see the oddness already starting to be toned down. His voice is far more normal here than in the first book. Which is too bad because that oddness–as much as his brokeness–is what made William so compelling.

Also, Cerise’s cousin reminds me very much of Silk from the Belgarion. The similar name doesn’t help.

Kaldar, slim, his hair dark like Richard’s, peeled himself from the wall. Where Richard radiated icy dignity, his brother lived to have fun. He had wild eyes the color of honey, a silver hoop in one ear, and a mouth that either said something funny or was about to break into a grin, sometimes just as he sank his blade into someone’s gut.

The judge’s massive eyebrows crept up. “Kaldar. Are you the one speaking for the plaintiff today?”

“Yes, Your Honor.” “Well, shit,” Dobe said. “I guess you’re familiar with the law. You hit it over the head, set its house on fire, and got its sister pregnant.”

A huge grin sparked on Kaldar’s face. “Thank you, Your Honor.”

During the evening William had watched him steal a hook from Catherine’s basket, a knife from Erian, some sort of metal tool from Ignata, and a handful of bullets from one of Cerise’s cousins. Kaldar did it casually, with smooth grace, handled the item for a couple of moments, and slipped it back where it came from.

Those passages could just as easily have been written about Silk. Which means I’m going to love Kaldar.

But really, what bothers me the most is the change in William’s voice–how the oddness was greatly toned down to the point where he mostly didn’t sound odd at all.

It didn’t bother me as much the first couple times I read this book, but between then and now I’ve read several books (including several by Courtney Milan) where characters are neurodivergent, which is how William should feel, considering his history. But throughout the book he comes off as normal, and that’s just a tiny bit disappointing.
Rating: 6.5/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

On the Edge

On the Edge (2009) Ilona Andrews

After reading their new series, I was struck with a desire to re-read The Edge series.

Luckily, the eBook is available from the library, so I didn’t have to buy another copy to re-read it.

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, the area between the magical and mundane lands, that can only be crossed by a few, and with a cost.

Too much time in the Broken, and you’d lose your magic. Too much time in the Weird, and the magic would infect you and the Broken wouldn’t let you back in. The Edgers had some immunity— they could last in either world longer than other people, but even they eventually succumbed.

Declan Camarine has entered the Edge in search of…something. Rose thinks he’s a slumming blueblood looking for a broodmare that can flash white. But it seems like he’s searching for something more.

“Your new boyfriend is a psycho killer!”

“No, he isn’t. And he’s not my—”

“I’m telling you he’s a Navy SEAL or something. Or one of the commando ranger guys. You know the kind who survive in the woods by eating bugs and take down the whole camp of terrorists with a handgun and a small rock.”

As with their other series, one of the strongest things about this book is the secondary characters. Both the elders and the kids have personality and their own thoughts and feelings.

Grandma said he looked like a grown-up version of Jack, wrapped in pirate garb. When he first dragged this picture down to show her, she clicked her tongue and said, “Fiercely loyal and utterly unreliable.” She didn’t smile for a whole day after that, and he hid the picture in the attic with the rest of his stuff.

And there is also William, who I really like in this book, because he is so protective of the boys, mostly because he is so very, very damaged.

“I think you might be not right,” Jack said. “That’s okay. I get like that sometimes. When I’m real scared and I just want to hurt something. It’s okay. The important thing is don’t panic.”

He came over and took William’s hand. Rose was better at this than he was, because he never had to do it for anybody else, but he remembered what she did. “You’re safe,” he said. “You’re in a good place. Nobody can hurt you here. You don’t have to be afraid.” He hesitated. “There is some mushy love stuff that goes here, but it probably won’t work for you.”

I adore that last line, because it is so very what a small boy would say.

This is a lovely book–despite all the boinking, which isn’t my thing, but there are lots of other exciting bits to make up for that.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

White Hot

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

White Hot (2017) Ilona Andrews

Guess what?

I DESPISE THIS COVER TOO.

It’s TERRIBLE. I tells you nothing about the story except that there is boinking.

BLETCH.

OK, enough. How about the story?

The story is good! Things are even more complex, and not just between Nevada and Rogan. The cabal that attempted to destroy Houston in the previous book have not been caught, and now Nevada is again caught up in their plots.

Cornelius Harrison has come to Nevada for help in finding who murdered his wife and three of her co-workers. The company for which they worked claims it wasn’t work related and a private issue between the four, but no one who saw the bodies would believe that.

Nevada doesn’t want to talk to job, but she owes Montgomery a favor (he helped her get in to interview a man who raped and murdered children, so the last child he abducted could be saved) and once she talks to Cornelius, she can’t turn him down.

“This is above our pay grade,” my mother said.

“I know,” I told her.

“Why would you take this?”

Because he’d sat in my office and cried, and I’d felt awful for him. “Because she’s dead and nobody cares. And he’s paying us very well.”

“When we talk about the deceased, we usually mention whom they left behind,” I explained. “We say, ‘She was a wife and a mother’ or ‘He leaves behind two children and three grandchildren.’ It’s almost as if the dead have no value unless we know that someone they are related to is still alive and mourning them. I feel terrible for Cornelius and Matilda. But I feel even worse for Nari.”

This is the kind of stuff I love about their stories. The people bits. That the secondary characters (like Cornelius and Bug) are just as–if not more–fascinating than the main characters.

Plus, I absolutely adore Nevada’s grandmother.

My grandma wore her “talk to the hand” face. She also carried a can of spray paint in her hand.

“What is it, Hanh?” Rogan asked.

“She marked all of the ATVs with her initials!” Hanh declared.

“Because they’re mine,” Grandma Frida growled.

“She doesn’t get all the ATVs.” Rogan’s face took on a very patient look.

“Yes, I do. I tagged them, they’re mine.”

“Just because you tagged them doesn’t mean they’re yours. I can walk into this motor pool and start tagging things left and right. That doesn’t make them mine.”

“Aha.” My grandma picked up a huge wrench and casually leaned it on her shoulder. “How are you going to tag things with broken arms?”

I absolutely and utterly adore that.

I also love Nevada’s siblings and cousins.

“Are we going to school today?” Leon asked.

“No,” my mother said.

“Great.” Leon smiled. “Then I’m going to go outside and see if I can get a gun. Since my own family won’t let me have one, I’ll have to beg strangers.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Catalina asked.

“Do you think guns are just lying around outside?” Arabella asked. “Or did someone plant a gun tree in our parking lot?”

There was one other thing I absolutely adored–Nevada has to go to a fancy ball after almost being killed by one of the bad guys. While there, this happens.

The man bent his head slightly toward me. His voice was deep and quiet. “Do you need help?”

I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Do you need help?” he repeated quietly. “One word, and I’ll take you out of here and none of them can stop me. I’ll make sure you have access to a doctor, a safe place to stay, and a therapist to talk to. Someone who understands what it’s like and will help. ”

The pieces clicked in my head. The bruise. Of course. “Thank you, but I’m okay.”

“You don’t know me. It’s difficult to trust me because I’m a man and a stranger. The woman speaking with Augustine is my aunt. The woman across the floor in the white-and-purple gown is my sister. Either of them will vouch for me. Let me help you.”

“Thank you,” I told him. “On behalf of every woman here. But I’m a private investigator. I’m not a victim of domestic abuse. This is a work-related injury and the man who put his hands on me is dead.”

The man studied me for a long moment and slid a card into my hand. “If you decide that the injury isn’t work related, call me.”

I really really love that they put that scene in there, and that even among the elite people would care about abused women.

But that cover? UGH.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Avon

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural, Urban     Comments (0)    

Burn for Me

Burn for Me (2014) Ilona Andrews

I STILL DESPISE THIS COVER.

Avon? THIS COVER IS HORRIBLE.

No, really. It’s been what, three years, and I STILL HATE THIS COVER.

Especially considering the proposed cover.

But this review is not for me to rant. Well, not completely anyway.

Nevada Baylor is owned by MII, the investigative agency of House Montgomery. And when MII is told to bring in Adam Pierce, a Prime fire mage–alive–the case is foisted off on Nevada, whose own agency looks good on paper, and is expendable.

“How are you involved with him?”

“I’ve been tasked by my parent company to convince Adam Pierce to surrender himself to his House.”

(Her) eyebrows rose.

“MII,” (he) said.

“What are your qualifications for this job?” she asked.

“I’m expendable,” I said.

Mad Rogan is also a Prime–one who was damaged by his time in the army, and whose powers seem to be unmatched–he can level a city if let loose unchecked. He is also looking for Adam Pierce, but not to bring him in but to save his cousin, who was involved in Adam’s latest escapades.

I think what I like best about this story is the world building. It’s our world, except with mages.

They spent a month setting up their spells and finally activated their complicated magic. The water left the area. Without it, the weight of the town proved to be too much, and Jersey Village, which sat atop an empty oil field, promptly sank into the ground. An hour later the water came back with a vengeance, aided by nearby bayous and underground streams. In twenty-four hours, Jersey Village turned into a swamp.

And magic and screw things up just as badly as technology.

The part I like least is the hot and heavy romance. They don’t boink, but it’s still pretty heavy on the sex. Personally, I think the book would be better without having all the constant thoughts about boinking and how handsome Rogan is, but I know I’m in the minority here, so I’ll just let it go.

Do I recommend this? Yes, it’s a very good story, even with all the romance and sexy bits.

But that cover? I still HATE it.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Avon

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural, Urban     Comments (0)    

Magic Stars

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Magic Stars (2015) Ilona Andrews

If you’ve read the Kate Daniel’s series, this novella (which seems like it’ll be ongoing) features Derek and Julie.

If you haven’t read the Kate Daniel’s series, I’m not sure how good of a starting place this would be, simply because Derek and Julie have a past that is intertwined with Kate’s. I very much like that they are getting their own offshoot, because both of them seem to have their own stories that are quite separate from Kate’s story–they’d get short shrift if the future was detailed only as sidelines in the Kate books.

But I think that means this would not be a very good stand alone, because you would be missing so very much. (Consider the age difference between Julie and Derek–that’s a big difference at their ages, although nothing were they ten years older.)

There was nothing wrong with her legs. They were pale and muscular, and men who should know better noticed them. He was not going to notice them for a list of reasons a mile long, starting with the fact that she was sixteen, and he was twenty.

It’s funny, if you think about it. Two hundred years ago, girls were often married younger than that, but things have changed in our time, and even more interesting, the changes in the world where Julie and Derek live may be changing those age differences again.

Also, there is a LOT of backstory that can only be summed up. Such as:

“She loves you. You’re her child.”

She sighed. “I know she loves me. That’s why I’m worried. Derek, she still hasn’t told me that I can’t refuse her orders.”

Alarm dashed down his spine. He hadn’t realized she knew. “How long?”

“Roland told me months ago,” she said. “

She hasn’t told you because it’s hard.”

“I know,” she said. “She tries not to order me around. She’ll start to say some Mom thing and then stop, and you know she’s rephrasing it in her head. It’s kind of funny. Instead of ‘Stop stealing Curran’s beer out of the fridge and wash the dishes’ it’s all ‘It would make me a lot happier if you stopped stealing Curran’s beer’ and ‘It would be great if you did the dishes.’ She probably thinks she’s subtle about it. She isn’t.”

First and foremost, I love seeing this from Julie’s POV. It seemed unlikely this was a secret Kate could not really keep from Julie, but it’s also something that Kate believes could interfere with their relationship. The fact that Julie discovered it on her own and knows that Kate is doing everything possible to keep from using that link is important. I’m glad to see Julie knows, and isn’t mad.

So, to sum up, if you’re reading the Kate Daniels series, you definitely want to read this. But if you’re not familiar with the series, I think you’re better served starting somewhere else.
Rating: 8/10

Published by NYLA

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Female, Supernatural, Urban     Comments (0)    

Magic Shifts

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Magic Shifts (2015) Ilona Andrews

Book 8 of the Kate Daniels series finds Kate and Curran living in the suburbs, forbidden from the Keep grounds for 90 days after Curran stepped down as the Beast Lord.

Jim is now the Beast Lord, Dali his mate and co-alpha, and now shifting power and alliances are happening–but beyond Kate and Curran, who are not to meddle.

Dali waved at her. After we retired, Jim Shrapshire, Curran’s best friend, became the Beast Lord. That made Dali the Beast Lady. She now had my job with all the pain and trouble that came with it.

“Consort,” I said. “You honor us.”

“Fuck you,” Dali said. “Fuck your shit. I quit.”

During this time, various members of the pack have to decide if they are going to remain in the pack and leave to join Kate and Curran.

Into this steps George, Mahon’s daughter, searching for her fiance–Eduardo. Mahon doesn’t think Eduardo (a buffalo and NOT a bear) is good enough for Kate, so he’s not searching and George is desperate, so she goes to Kate.

For example, the first time Aunt B came to the Pack Council, (Mahon) took it upon himself to lecture her about how men should be men and women should be women, and Clan alphas should be men with women helping them, not the other way around.”

I laughed. “What did she do?”

“She petted his shoulder and said, ‘Bless your heart, you must be awful in bed.’”

Thus opens a whole can of worms.

Of course, we also have the settling down of power within the People, most of whom have no idea how to deal with Kate.

Especially Ghastek.

But I do like how Julie is turning out. She’s truly learning how to deal with all the weird crap in Kate’s life.

Rowena froze, completely still like a statue. Julie pulled a piece of chalk out of her pocket, drew a protective circle on the floor, and sat in it. At the other end of the room, Ghastek clenched his teeth, probably trying to mitigate the effect of Roland’s voice.

Saiman has walked away from Kate, looking to save his own skin, because he doesn’t believe Kate can hold the city. I don’t think Kate was particularly surprised–I wasn’t. But I am sad there won’t be more Saiman in the near future.

This totally cracked me up, for I was always falling up the stairs as a teenager.

Julie gathered her blanket and went up the staircase.

Something thudded.

“I’m okay!” she called out. “I fell up, but I’m okay.”

There is one more book, but it’s hardback priced, so I’m not buying it right now, so this looks to be the end of my Kate Daniels binge.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Female, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Breaks

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Magic Breaks (2014) Ilona Andrews

Book seven of the Kate Daniels series.

Yes, I did sit on this book for more than two years before getting around to reading it. Mostly because I wasn’t up to re-reading the entire series. I’ll tear through a series, one book after the other, but knowing that to really enjoy a book I need to re-read the seven prior (plus short stories) meant I kept putting it off.

Boy, a crap ton of stuff happens in this book. The Pack now has Panacea (which keeps young shape shifters from going loup and having to be killed), so families are coming from all over the country to join the pack–or at least live near the territory.

Raphael and Andrea are now alphas on Clan Bouda, Clan Wolf is unstable with Desandra vying with Jennifer for alpha status, there is a power vacuum in the people, with Ghastek co-leading the vampires and navigators, and Hugh has returned to Atlanta to come after Kate.

Plus, internal Pack politics.

“How long have you had the ability to sense vampires?” Robert asked.

Here we go. “Why the sudden interest?” I asked.

“We hear things,” Robert said. “Rumors.”

“What kind of rumors?” I asked.

“Disturbing rumors,” Robert said. “We are dissatisfied with the current level of disclosure. We are concerned.”

Things aren’t all bad though. Doolittle is still alive, and just as demanding as before.

“I just thought stairs would be inconvenient.”

“That’s why I have interns. They carried me up here. I thought of commissioning a palanquin. Something understated.”

“With silk and crimson velvet?”

“And golden tassels.” Doolittle rolled forward. “Then I could be transported in a manner appropriate to my vast experience and wisdom.”

Kate also spends time with Ghastek, who I now like even more than I did before. Yes, he’s a necromancer, but he’s not a bad person. Even if he is blind to so much going on around him.

Apparently I had hidden too well. For all of his intelligence, Ghastek still hadn’t put two and two together. He knew with absolute certainty that I couldn’t pilot vampires. He had seen me not pilot them on numerous occasions. In his mind, I couldn’t possibly do it, so I had to have hired someone else and that someone must’ve grabbed control of the vampires at the Conclave. Right.

But I still like him.

“Any undead?” Curran asked Ghastek.

The Master of the Dead looked at him. “Pick a direction, I’ll tell you how many.”

“Is there a direction in which there aren’t vampires?” Andrea asked.

“No.”

“It’s basic intelligence work,” Curran said. “You should’ve put it together. The pieces were there. You need to invest in information gathering. I get that you concentrate on research and development, but you can’t run the People without a solid intelligence network in place. If you can’t do it, get someone who can. I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, because really, your ignorance is my bliss.”

There is a character list and brief biography at the start of the book, but I think that works more as a refresher than a catch-up if you haven’t been reading along.

Regardless, I liked this book better than I thought I would. In fact, I was quite pleased with the ending.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Female, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Rises

Monday, March 20, 2017

Magic Rises (2013) Ilona Andrews

This is book six of the Kate Daniels series. If you have not read the previous books, you are almost certainly going to be confused.

Andrea is now beta of the Bouda clan, Curran knows about Kate’s background (as do more and more people), Hugh makes an appearance, and Aunt B continues to make her presence known.

Curran is asked to come to Europe (Georgia, more specifically) to take on a job of mediation and bodyguarding a pregnant shape-shifter.

Needless to say, bad things happen. A lot of bad things.

Not to say that there isn’t levity.

“A young djigit stopped by my room,” I said. “His name is Volodja and for three thousand dollars he will walk me deep into the mountains and show me where the bad shapeshifters live.”

“How fortunate.” Aunt B’s eyes lit up. “Would you like some company for this wonderful trap, I mean, adventure?”

But bad things do happen. I actually don’t have a problem with the bad things happening, since it’s kinda ridiculous how Kate and Curran keep walking away from their adventures, and how how few of their friends die.

But, don’t even try to read this if you haven’t read the previous books, including Andrea’s book. And read the “bonus” short story in the back first.

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Gunmetal Magic

Gunmetal Magic (2012) Ilona Andrews

This is Andrea’s story–a continuation of “Magic Mourns” and Magic Slays and occurs parallel to events in “Magic Gifts“. It’s really book 5 1/2 of the Kate Daniels’ series.

Andrea is working with Kate at Cutting Edge Investigations, and trying to avoid Raphael–the bouda who was her mate and who believes she rejected him and everything he believes in for the Order–an organization that kicked her out when it discovered she was a shape-shifter.

“Barabas, open the damn door,” Raphael snarled.

Barabas slid the shutter closed. “Do you want me to let him in?”

“I’m thinking about it.”

Barabas slid the shutter open. “She’s thinking about it.”

“Andrea,” Raphael called. “Let me in.”

“The last time I saw you two together, you were so happy,” Barabas said. “Just out of curiosity, Raphael, how the hell did you manage to fuck that up?”

I’m actually delighted we get to spend more time with Barabas.

When four shape-shifters are discovered dead at one of Raphael’s worksites, Jim (head of Pack security) asks Andrea to look into it, since Kate is in the middle of something else.

“I can’t ask the Consort to look into it, because A) she and Curran are working on something else and B) when the Consort gets involved, half of the world blows up.”

I actually quite like their intern, who they are supposed to redeem so the Pack doesn’t kill him for insubordinatino and failure to follow the rules.

Ave, Andrea! Ianitori te salutant!”

Hail, Andrea, those who janitor salute you.

Kate was forcing Ascanio and Julie, her ward, to learn Latin, because a lot of historical magical texts were written in it and apparently it was an essential part of their education. Since the lessons were conducted in the office during our copious spare time, I was learning the language along with them.

I pointed at Ascanio. “Not another word. Latin is a dead language, but that doesn’t mean you get to molest its corpse. Finish sweeping, ianitor.”

He’s actually good for Andrea since he has a sense of humor and is someone for her to look after.

I also like the Andrea is an actual investigator, doing things like going through the trash, going to the library, and taking to the janitors.

I looked up and nodded at Ascanio. “Get your gear.”

He grabbed his knife. “Where are we going?”

“To the library.”

His enthusiasm visibly deflated and he emitted a tragic sigh. “But ‘library’ and ‘kick-ass’ are two concepts that don’t usually go together.”

“That’s the nature of the business. Five percent of the time you are killing monsters. The rest of the time, we’re digging through the dirt for a tiny piece of the perpetrator’s pubic hair.”

And, we get to spend more time with Roman, the priest of Chernobog, who we met in the previous book.

For being an evil priest of an evil dark god, Roman seemed surprisingly normal. Either he was hiding his evilness really well, or it really was just a job for him. Priest of darkness, nine to five. It’s just the family business.

I like Roman.

“You will not pass!” Roman thundered.

Great. Now he had decided he was Gandalf.

There are some rather odd bits here involving Egyptian Gods. That bit actually feels like the weakest part of this story. It’s not bad, it’s just not as strong as the other portions of the book.

Now, although you can read this book as a stand alone, things are going to make a lot more sense and flow better if you’ve read the Kate series as well as “Magic Mourns”. It’s also important if you want to fully understand what’s going on in the next book. I’d actually started the next book, realized I’d missed this one, then realized also that I needed the short story to clarify everything in my memory.

But for once they got a good cover!

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Gifts

Magic Gifts (2011) Ilona Andrews

This story takes place at the same time as Gunmetal Magic and are Kate’s events (and the same events as seen through Kate’s eyes).

Andrea is working for Cutting Edge Investigations–Kate’s company. They also have two interns: Ascanio–the troublesome teen bouda, and Derek, the werewolf who is moving on from bodyguard duty.

After an extremely messy day (involving blood and other substance) Curran offers to take Kate out to dinner–something they never get to do. Unfortunately, the romantic dinner is interrupted when two vampires are set loose when one puts on a magical necklace that kills her

When the dead girl’s family arrives, the mother puts the necklace on her son and then takes her husband and leaves.

Nice lady.

Kate and Curran take the boy and then start to tear the city apart to try and find out how to keep the collar from killing the boy.

This involves going to the Norse Heritage Foundation, which is amusing.

Norse Heritage took everyone in. Viking wasn’t a nationality – it was the way of life. As long as you thought you were a Viking, you had a place at their table.

And then dealing with an undead dwarf, and seeing Ghastek get his comeuppance.

“Excellent.” He put emphasis in the x and the word came out slightly sibilant.

“You need a fluffy white cat. That way you can stroke it when you say things like that.”

We also get the situation with the Mercenary Guild resolved–they’ve been without a head since Solomon Red was killed by Kate’s aunt, and since the Pack has a 20% interest, Kate is designated as the person to break the tie.

Reading this short story and then Gunmetal Magic it’s easy to see that this story is Kate’s portion of that book that was excised from Andrea’s book.

Published by the authors

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Short Story, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Slays

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Magic Slays (2011) Ilona Andrews

Book five. Kate is no longer a member of the order, but is now running her own investigative agency. Not that she has any cases, but it’s her agency.

After having disappeared for two months, Andrea returns–a very different woman now that she has been kicked out of the order and lost everything that held her together.

“Shane can’t hold your property.”

“I know that. I’m still pissed off. It’s your duty as my best friend to be outraged with me.”

“I’m outraged!” I snarled. “That bastard!”

“Thank you,” Andrea said.

On top of that, something is eating wards and causing navigators to lose control of their vampires.

I’d actually forgotten about the scene where Curran gets his revenge upon Saiman. I’m glad that Kate took steps, because I quite like Saiman, and I’d not like it if he disappeared.

I also like Ghastek, but I recognize that I’m in the minority there. Like Saiman, Ghastek is what he seems–a man who wants power and is going to use every ounce of his talent to achive that.

He’s also quite savvy.

“Do you think you would have been burned at the stake in the sixteenth century?”

“No.”

“Because you’re not a woman?”

“Being a woman made little difference. Most witches burned in Iceland and Finland were men, for example. No, I wouldn’t have been burned, because I’m not poor.”

Also: We meet Ascanio, Julie is infected with Lyc-V, and Evdokia the Russian witch tells Kate many things about her past.

Evdokia raised the teakettle and refilled my cup. “Sugar?”

“No, thank you.”

“You should have some. I’m about to speak ill of the dead. Sugar helps with the bitter.”

And now onto book six. At least this is the last of the really awfully terrible covers.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Bleeds

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Magic Bleeds (2010) Ilona Andrews

Book four finds Kate waiting for Curran, having made him dinner as he specified–except he doesn’t show up.

While she’s tending to her broken heart, she gets called to deal with what sounds like a bar fight that got out of hand.

Who the hell would attack the Steel Horse anyway? What was the thinking behind that? “Here is a bar full of psychotic killers who grow giant claws and people who pilot the undead for a living. I think I’ll go wreck the place.” Sound reasoning there.

Kate also manages to pickup a stray dog.

I took the dog to the medtechs to get cleared of the plague— he passed with flying colors. They drew some blood for further analysis and advised me that he had fleas and smelled bad, just in case I’d failed to notice.

“Have you thought of what to name him?” Mauro asked. “How about Erik? After the Phantom of the Opera.”

“No.”

“You should name him Fezzik,” Andrea said.

“Inconceivable,” I told her and took the canine traitor back to my office.

Unfortunately, Atlanta has bigger problems, what with a plague and a bunch of rogue mages.

“At six oh-eight a.m. two men wearing ragged trench coats approached the Casino. The shorter of the men burst into flames.”

I paused with the pen in my hand. “He burst into flames?”

“He became engulfed in fire.”

“Was his buddy made out of orange rocks and did he at any point yell, ‘It’s clobbering time’?”

We also get Andrea and Raphael pairing up, Kate and Curran working out their difference, and the appearance of Kate’s aunt. No good comes of that last bit.

“You want to stay away from religion. Once you bring prayers and worship into it, your troops start thinking you’re a god. Faith has power during magic. You begin getting urges that aren’t your own.”

And of course Saiman, who I adore and Kate hates.

I looked at Saiman. “How do you decide if someone is human?”

He braided his long, slender fingers on his bent knee. “I don’t. It’s not up to me to assess someone’s humanity. Being human in our world is synonymous with being included into the framework of society. Humanity entitles one to certain rights and privileges, but also implies voluntary acceptance of laws and rules of conduct. It transcends mere biology. It’s a choice and therefore belongs solely to the individual. In essence, if a person feels they are human, then they are.”

And I did especially like the bit in the temple.

Mezuzot, verses from the Torah, written by a qualified scribe and protected by pewter cases, hung along the perimeter of the Temple wall. The wall itself supported so many angelic names, magic squares, and holy names, it looked as if a talismanic encyclopedia had thrown up on it.

And thus ends book four.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Strikes

Friday, March 17, 2017

Magic Strikes (2009) Ilona Andrews

This book opens with one of my favorite scenes. An old woman is atop a telephone pole, and the Order is called to get her down.

I trotted into the dark entrance to the apartment, where five members of the McSweeney family crouched in the gloom. “Tell me again why you can’t come out and help me?”

Robert McSweeney, a middle-aged, dark-eyed man with thinning brown hair, shook his head. “Mom thinks we don’t know she’s a banshee.”

I love everything that is unsaid in that scene.

This is the story where we learn a lot about Saiman (who I have mentioned before is one of my favorite characters (I sometimes think that I prefer the secondary characters over the primary in this series)). We learn what Saiman is, which explains a great deal about why is is the way he is.

“Give me an opportunity to fail,” Saiman said. “I promise that my corpse won’t interrupt your ‘I told you so’ speech.”

We also spend a good deal of time with Jim; he’s another secondary character I particularly like.

His voice was melodious and smooth. He never sang, but you knew he could, and if he decided to do it, women would be hurling themselves into his path.

She surveyed Jim and turned to me. “Congratulations, love. You traded up. Does he treat you well?”

“He’s a teddy bear,” I said.

Teddy bear looked like he was suffering from murder withdrawal.

We of course also learn more about Kate, which brings me to the bit that has always bothered me about this book. Kate always burns all traces of her blood, for fear that someone will figure out what she is.

At the end of the book, Kate finds herself in a cage, lying in a pool of her own blood–blood she is learning to control.

I’ve reread these pages multiple times, and it reads like Kate left a pool of her blood in the bottom of the cage when Curran rescues her, and as Hugh d’Ambray is fighting his way towards them.

Yes, the castle crashes, but it doesn’t seem like that would be enough to destroy her blood before Hugh came upon it.

And again, a terrible, horrible, awful cover from Ace.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Burns

Magic Burns (2008) Ilona Andrews

A magic flare is coming, and everyone from the lowliest witch to gods is looking to take advantage of the increased magic.

Kate, as an associate of The Order, is being run ragged, but when she comes upon a lost girl in search of her mother, she takes the young teen with her, promising to keep her safe.

Thus we meet Julie.

“Why did you save me?”

He shrugged. “I picked up the phone and there was a hysterical child on the other end, crying that you were dying, and she was all alone, and the undead were coming. I thought it might be an interesting conclusion to a boring evening.”

Bullshit. He came because of Julie. Shapeshifters suffered from devastating child mortality, with half their children being born dead and another quarter being killed because they went loup at puberty. Like all shapeshifters, Curran cherished children and he also hated vampires. He probably figured he would kill two birds with one stone: save Julie and stick it to the People.

One of my favorite characters from this book is Bran.

“She always has a hound with her.” I frowned.

“A dog?”

“No. A man. A scoundrel. A thief and a brigand.”

I almost snapped my fingers. “Tall, dark, carries a bow, disappears into mist, can’t keep his hands to himself?”

The mother nodded to me with a smile. “Yes.”

“I’ve seen him.”

She smiled wider. “I gathered.”

But then I’m fond of tricksters, which is why I like Samain so much.

And we finally meet Aunt B, head of the Boudas and mother of Raphael. I also like both of them very much.

Not that I don’t appreciate Kate. After all, we have the same frame of ethics.

“For me, evil is striving to an end without regard for the means.”

The world building has settled down a bit in this book, and we slowly learn more about Kate.

And HATE this cover. As noted previously, Ace does a miserable job with these covers.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Magic Bites

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Magic Bites (2007) Ilona Andrews

This is another series that I’ve fallen behind reading. Unlike Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series, these books are still coming, but I’m two books behind on my reading, and I’ve forgotten some major points, so I figure it’s time to re-read.

Magic returned to the world, destroying much technology as it came. It also returned creatures that were once believed to be myths and stories: Vampires. Shape-shifters. Mages.

Kate is a magic user and a fighter who belongs to the Mercenary guild. Her guardian is a member of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, a group to which Kate was encouraged to join, despite her issues with authority.

IIRC, the hardest thing about reading this book for the first time was the world-building. It is NOT a dystopia (I really don’t enjoy dystopias) but it is our world where things have gone really unexpectedly screwy, so although the foundations may seem familiar, there is much that is different.

Magic could not be measured and explained in scientific terms, for magic grew through destroying the very natural principles that made science as people knew it possible.

The theory is that since so many people are ignorant of the basic mechanical principles involved in making the phone work, to them it might just as well be magic.

If you haven’t read the series before, just be aware that the world-building might be a bit overwhelming, but it’s well-worth it to keep going.

Kate is a very interesting character.

Survival took precedence over fashion. Sure, I didn’t weigh a hundred and ten pounds, but my narrow waist let me bend and I could break a man’s neck with my kick.

She is very much of the kick-ass and take names school of fantasy, which I do love (although I also love other types of female heroines as well) and Kate does get hurt–although the magic makes her recovery much faster it seems.

The upside of having a magic sword was that its secretions liquefied the undead flesh. On the downside, the blade had to be fed at least once a month, or it would become too brittle and break.

So, good book, good series, enjoyable, read it.

However.

Ilona Andrews gets some of THE WORST covers I have ever seen. See that cover up top? It is the reissue cover, and it is the exception that proves the rule. The cover to the right? That’s the original cover.

It’s HORRIBLE. Go ahead and zoom in to look at it some more. It’s like they weren’t even trying when the made this.

It’s like they had a high school intern mash together some random pictures in photoshop and that’s what they slapped on the book.

Ace regularly gives them abysmal covers, and I cannot understand why? The cover at the top of the post? That’s a good cover. They put some effort into it, and it gives you a good idea of what you’re getting: fantasy with a strong female heroine.

Most of their other titles? Those make me feel like someone at the publisher has it in for them, and WANTS to keep them from selling books.

I point this out because I am well-aware that the authors have zero control over their covers, but it is inexplicable that Ace keeps giving them terrible covers.

Of course, Avon is just as bad, but really, why can’t they get good covers?
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Gunmetal Magic

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gunmetal Magic (2012) by Ilona Andrews

gunmetal-magicStarted the audio version and just couldn’t get into it, so switched over the the ebook version.

I read it a little slower this time, and overall it was a good book, however, this time around I found myself a little disappointed in the ending. It seemed just too much of a Big Hero ending, and I didn’t quite see the need for things happening the way they did.

That said, I still love Andrea.

Published by Ace

Written by Michelle     Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

Gunmetal Magic, Audible Version

Monday, January 5, 2015

Gunmetal Magic Audible edition (2012) by Ilona Andrews and narrated by Renée Raudman

It’s quite possible that we have become spoiled by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who narrates Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, but neither of us could really get into the audio version of Gunmetal Magic.

The narrator wasn’t horrible or anything, but I didn’t get the character differentiation I do with other narrators. And perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood to listen to Gunmetal Magic.

So I abandoned it to finish reading it on the Kkindle.

Published by Audible

Written by Michelle     Categories: Audio Book, Dislike/Abandon, Fantasy, Re-Read, Romance, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

books

© Random Reading WordPress