Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review: Gunmetal Magic

Gunmetal Magic Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that I was kind of excited to get out of Kate’s head and into somebody else’s. That lasted only a few chapters in and then I was kind of sad to be completely without Kate. There’s something about her sarcasm and wit that really keeps things moving for me. Andrea is a different beast (haha) entirely.

So, as I already said, this really is exclusively an Andrea story. Kate is in maybe 5% of the book and that’s really only as a supporting character. Yes, you get Raphael (of course), but it really hurts for a while to watch Andrea muddle through her broken relationship and her feelings towards said relationship. Sure, Andrea is a tough chick who can handle herself in analytical situations, but she is severely lacking when it comes to the interpersonal stuff. Maybe that’s why she and Kate get along so well.

What’s the main story? Gah – in keeping with the rest of the series, this gets complicated. Andrea is called in to help Jim out with a murder investigation. It (of course) happens on one of Raphael’s sites, which puts them in direct contact for the first time since their “break-up.” We do finally get to learn what happened to Andrea during her time MIA. I’m glad I read the short story that runs parallel before this book, too, and highly recommend it.

Andrea’s adventure in this book takes her to visit Roman, who we met in the previous book. He was a welcome addition to the usual crew and I look forward to more interaction with the witches (am I allowed to call them that?). Do we get some resolution on the Andrea/Raphael front? Yes. Do we get to watch Andrea fall apart for most of the book? Yes. If you want both of those things, you’ll have to check this book out.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Blood Guard

Blood Guard Blood Guard by Megan Erickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was filled with sarcasm, an amazingly strong female lead, and sizzling smutty goodness. Overall, it was an awesome introduction to this world and left me dying for the next installment!

Tendra has been living her life through a haze of grief lately. Her mother recently passed away, leaving her adrift and unsure of herself. All her life, they’ve moved from place to place, on the run from some unseen force. Now that she’s on her own, she finds herself wondering when she needs to leave. Turns out, she hung around a little too long. Now she’s thrown into the world of vampires and other paranormals, most of them trying to hunt her down for her blood lineage.

Athan, the blood guard tasked with guarding and bringing her to his brother, has been training all his life for this job. Nobody could have predicted that it would be filled with so much confusion and temptation. Fighting is easy, but working on his interactions with Tendra is turning his world on its head. There’s a prophecy and his race’s survival in the balance, too. No pressure, right? These two somehow find their way to a really great solution, but it’s not without a lot of drama and surprises. I really enjoyed watching these two hit things head-on and become a phenomenal team.

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Review: Suicide Queen

Suicide Queen Suicide Queen by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow – what a shocking way to end the series! I have to say, this author never stops surprising me.

No spoilers, but this is the last of the series, so you know some big things have to go down. We watched Nissa escape at the end of the previous book, so it’s no surprise that she’s still up to no good with her crazy psychic powers. There’s also (like we need more bad guys) a new serial killer going around making vampires and killing lots of people. Dana has been recruited, much like the suicide squad, to help catch a killer and get severely punished (with head exploding consequences) if she tries to make a break for it.

There’s also a lot of soul searching (at least as much as Dana does that) thrown in to make things even more complicated. Can she kill Nissa? Will she reconcile with her wife/ex-wife? Can she let go of her vendetta to save her marriage? Oh, and then there’s the looming daylighting from the OPA that’s coming up quickly. Don’t worry, though, because somehow we get to a very satisfying conclusion by the end of the book. I was shocked and amazed by the way things played out, but happy none the less.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Small Magics

Small Magics Small Magics by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m usually not one for short story anthologies. I’d much rather dig into a full size book or at least a novella, but these stories made for a good, quick read that reminded me that there is more in the Kate Daniels world than just Kate.

There are 5 stories in total. 1 happens before the series begins, 3 are mysteries to me (and don’t directly involve any familiar faces), and 1 is supposedly taking place around where we left off in the series. The first and last were definitely my favorites (for obvious reasons) but the rest (particularly the pig story) were still solidly written and engaging. I’m not really a fan of historical fiction and some of them did read a little… old. I was expecting corsets and petticoats to be on the next page.

Pushing all that aside, this collection of short stories was a nice diversion to hold someone over waiting for the next book. Of course, I didn’t exactly wait and am listening to the Andrea book at the same time. Who knew the Kate Daniels world would grow so big?

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Review: Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats

Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats by Carla Rehse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was just brimming with awesomeness. I will admit to being a little worried at first about following around a very spoiled rich teenager but Gracie grew on me rather quickly.

Gracie Mason is a cheerleader and a master manipulator. Fear not, though, because she is determined to put her evil power to good use. Sure, it starts off with her trying to use this skill to get in good with her latest crush, but she soon finds herself knee deep in witches and magic. The source of said magic? That’s Asher, a guy who ended up saving her life and bonding them together. He’s got trouble of his own, however, and Gracie just can’t help herself. These two make a very powerful combination.

What starts out as a mutually beneficial partnership soon grows into friendship and then sizzling chemistry. Maybe there was chemistry all along, but it really heats up when the magic starts flying. As an intro book, this story certainly had me hooked. I want more of Asher and Gracie and I’m dying to see what happens next!

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: Magic Gifts

Magic Gifts Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this short (long-ish) story set in the Kate Daniels world! There is something so very light about a story that begins with a date between Kate and Curran. Sure, it isn’t easy and doesn’t end well (sort-of), but it is so… nice.

The larger story (aside from the awesomeness that is Curran and Kate’s witty banter) is about a magical item that ends up threatening a child’s life. By working together to locate a solution, we end up going on a very entertaining journey to the Vikings and their mythological creatures. I don’t think I can adequately sum up how spot on the dialogue is throughout this story. It had me smiling, laughing, and just generally loving on some Kate and Curran goodness. If you’ve read the rest of the series, you deserve this wonderful little nugget.

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Review: The Witchling Apprentice

The Witchling Apprentice The Witchling Apprentice by B. Kristin McMichael
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Witches, shapeshifters, and vampires all rolled into one mythological race are introduced in this addictive YA read.

We get to meet Cassie, a bit of an outcast, but also an exceptional witch. She’s been kept in the dark for so long that she can’t wait to pass her test and join the coven. Without her overbearing guardian’s permission, she takes and passes the test, starting a cascade of events (not all good). There’s mates, magic, and some really bad guys out there! All of this is a huge surprise to Cassie, but she somehow manages to keep her wits about her.

Her plucky best friend is also a highlight of the book that had me quickly flipping pages. Even her mistaken mate ended up growing on me as he proved himself to Cassie and the readers. By the end of the book I was dying to see a clean HEA materialize. Sadly, while we get a happy ending, you’re left wanting more. I’m happily addicted and dying to dive in to book 2!

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: Magic Slays

Magic Slays Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yeesh! These books keep getting better and better! Just when I thought there were no more big revelations to come, this book totally surprised me.

We join Kate as she is working on making her own business. Sure, the pack has fronted the money to set it up, but she’s also determined not to be some sort of “kept woman.” Getting called “consort” is certainly not helping matters, either. Her first real client comes around the same time as she gets some employees, which is a good thing. The guards we previously met at the Midnight Games end up calling her up for help. Turns out, some big bad magical thing is missing and so is the inventory. This throws Kate firmly into some magical drama between factions that mostly hate each other.

On the relationship front, it was nice to see a mostly stable Kate and Curran. If you’re hoping for some of your other favorite couples showing up, don’t hold your breath. I’m sure those will be further handled in separate books or stories. While all this is going on, Kate is also struggling to be a stern but still awesome guardian to Julie. Some horrible things happen. I’m still not over it.

We get your typical ending from Kate Daniels – lots of destruction, some maiming, but this time she actually comes out slightly less damaged than usual. Maybe this time we were focusing more on the emotional and mental trauma, of which there was tons. I’m a little happy for a bit of a break from Kate after this (the next book is an Andrea one) so I can decompress from this one.

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Review: Rescued by the Wolf

Rescued by the Wolf Rescued by the Wolf by Sasha Summers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I joined this party a little late. I’m starting with book 2, which I didn’t realize, but I think I was able to enjoy it just as much.

At this point in the story, Mal has been kidnapped for quite some time. He’s been actively tortured in some horrible ways, but has managed to keep his head on straight. Determined to escape, he’s even learned (the hard way) not to trust people who are thrown into the cage next to his. It seems like he’s making slow but steady progress towards escape on his own until Olivia gets thrown into the neighboring cage. She’s obviously a human, while Mal is a shifter. She’s also obviously mortally wounded unless they can get her into better shape. Throw all that together with his animal’s inability to leave her behind, and he’s got an uphill battle.

They manage to make it out, but that’s really only the beginning. There’s lots of tough choices to be made in order to secure their escape (and their lives), but these two became a pretty solid pair. I was also interested in the wild cast of characters back in Mal’s home pack. I’m sure there’s a bit of backstory that I was missing, but we got to revisit most of it as Olivia stumbles through pack life. As an intro (for me), this was a great blend of action and romance. Definitely interested to see where we go next!

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Review: Hellcat

Hellcat Hellcat by Isabel Brann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was wacky, wild, and had me completely confused (in a good way). The world of the Therian shifters was definitely something different.

Nik, a pompous lion shifter who is obsessed with his hair, starts his day with an IT problem of the “my-ex-girlfriend-hacked-our-website” variety that seems innocuous enough. The IT solution – get in the best in the business to make sure it gets fixed quickly. The best in the business, however, ends up being Lee, a shifter who has oodles of secrets but an equal amount of mad skills. While they both have some immediately attraction, Lee is definitely a little gun-shy. Who wouldn’t be, after being betrayed by her last ex in a relatively catastrophic way? We’re talking prophecy-rific type of betrayal.

Nik obviously sees no need to slow things down, since he’s the most awesome thing ever. These two have a hard road to acceptance of a fated mate-type situation, but it was pretty entertaining to watch unfold. On top of all this, there’s some big bad who is hunting down Lee using a whole bunch of mythological beings. In between the sexual chemistry, there was action, mystery, and a nice set up for future installments. All in all, this was a really great into to the zany world of the Therians.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review: Hunger

Hunger Hunger by Jacquelyn Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series is filled with unexpected twists and turns and this particular book really set the tone from page 1. Who knew a book that started like a “Saw” installment could end up being so steamy and romantic?

We join Halo in an unfamiliar place, with no recollection of how he ended up there. He’s been stripped and confined to a nondescript room with nothing but video footage of another captive to entertain him. The other captive, Felice, is a human and unexposed to his e-vamp world but all of that goes out the window when they must rely on each other to escape. It seems relatively straightforward in concept – the unattached hunter must work with the caring human, but it is so much deeper than that.

On top of the regular escape and try not to have feelings for one another story, there’s also the big bad in this situation who is actively working against the “good vamps.” With an operation designed at forcing them to feed off tainted energy, it seems like the plot could actually work in the long run. This battle between the good and bad vamps is clearly ramping up and will require the unique combinations thrown together in these books for the good ones to emerge victorious. I’m very interested to see where we head next and how the stoic guardian we met here will find his match.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: Unconditional

Unconditional Unconditional by Lauren Dane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story can probably be read alone, but it was a good addition to the already existing series. I am pretty sure I’m missing a spinoff set between the previous book and this one, but I treated it as a “fast forward” addition to the timeline without issue.

Michelle is a tough as nails cop who also happens to be a witch. It’s a difficult secret to keep, but she’s got a few friends who share the same secret and that makes it easier. One such friend ends up going suddenly missing, which wouldn’t be so ominous except for the current abduction of supernaturals by mages. When her normal routes of assistance begin to dry up, she gets pointed towards the wolves for help. One such wolf, Josh, just so happens to be her long lost high school boyfriend.

Josh was forced to abandon his life when he was bitten by a shifter. He didn’t even end up saying goodbye to Michelle, which made her sudden appearance in his life all that more difficult. Add the fact that she’s his mate and doesn’t really know anything about their world, and he was definitely in for an uphill battle. While we don’t get a conclusion to the mage storyline, we definitely get a nice, neat HEA for these two. With all the hard work and sizzling chemistry, it was hard to anticipate anything but that. There were some twists and turns along the way, but it was totally worth the trip.

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