All of these stories are quite short, you aren't going to get to really sink your teeth into your favorite Martinez worlds with these reunions, but th...moreAll of these stories are quite short, you aren't going to get to really sink your teeth into your favorite Martinez worlds with these reunions, but they're fun little stories, I enjoyed all of them. The book is only $2.99 on Smashwords (the same on kindle I assume), which is great for a 119 page book (at least the Smashwords edition was, over 40,000 words) of ten short stories. You can download the main formats (ePub, mobi, PDF, rtf) all DRM-free from Smashwords very easily for use with pretty much any eReader or desktop. I'm glad I participated in the Kickstarter project that helped make this happen, it was fun to anticipate, and it's fun to see it come to fruition and to be able to enjoy the results. (less)
I just discovered this little gem and I'm so glad I did. Although it's a prequel to Cinder, new readers to the series should probably wait to read it...moreI just discovered this little gem and I'm so glad I did. Although it's a prequel to Cinder, new readers to the series should probably wait to read it after they've read the first book, they'll appreciate the poignancy of the story much more that way. It's a great little tale about how Cinder came to live with her new family and how she began to learn about her body and abilities after she became a cyborg. Pretty much every bit of it tugged at my heart, seeing these people as they were and knowing everything that I know about who they become. The writing is sweet and simple and just right so as to not overdramatize an emotional story, but to keep it lovely and touching. I see from some reviews that the story was included in some editions of Cinder. There's also link included in the Goodreads listing to the Tor.com website if you want to read it online, and you can get it for free in the first The Fierce Reads Anthology from B&N or Amazon. (less)
This story from Terrible's point of view is such a treat for Downside fans. It was so great to see the world through this complex man's eyes, to find...moreThis story from Terrible's point of view is such a treat for Downside fans. It was so great to see the world through this complex man's eyes, to find out much more about his background, about why he works for Bump, how he feels about Bump and about his job, about how he feels about himself, and most of all, of course, about how he feels about Chess.
After reading this, Bump still seems like a total scumbag (as opposed to his rival Slobag) but he doesn't seem like such an asshole anymore. He actually showed a bit of concern for Terrible at one point and he does seen to care about some of the people who work for him as well. And he and Terrible seemed a bit more like partners than like master and servant than I expected to see from past stories. Or at least from Terrible's perspective, Terrible isn't being taken advantage of or treated badly, and Bump listens to him and takes him seriously, as long as Terrible handles him properly.
But what was really special was just seeing who Terrible was. He's a bundle of contradictions, just like Chess is in her stories. In so many books you know pretty much who the woman is from the beginning of the book, and the guy is really, really darn predictable. But Kane's people are so complex and multi-layered, they're fascinating. Not always likable, but always interesting. And absolutely believable. They just leap off the page. The people and the world are so detailed and so vivid, they feel absolutely real. Terrible isn't always a nice guy. In fact, an awful lot of people in his world would think that he's the villain. But to us, the readers, he's the hero. This story makes the contradictions even more explicit. He does a lot of bad things in it. We're they for a good reason? You decide.
As for the romance, what is it about these two that just makes my heart sing? I ache for them to get together and find some happiness. Is it because they've both been so hurt by the world? They're both so achingly vulnerable underneath their toughness. The way that he feels about her is a combination of sweet first love with all of it's confusion and vulnerability, and mature adult love from a man who appreciates a woman for all of the right reasons. He thinks that she's clever and brave and strong and beautiful. The way that that man loves that woman, understands that woman, the good and the really bad, and just loves her, 100 percent loves her, it just gets to me like no other couple. Seriously, I'm cynical. I don't "ship" on couples or buy romance novels anymore, I'm just not into it at this point. But these two just get to me.
Fans of the series really must read this story. I'm not a big fan of authors self publishing stories and novellas in between their novels because I can't afford to buy them, I'm a library reader for the vast majority of my books, but this is worth making an exception for. As for new readers, it might be a bit difficult as an entry point into the series. It's funny how much I didn't like the slang, the Downspeech, in the first book and how natural it seems to me now. But it might be pretty confusing to pick up for your first time out, since much of the story is written in Terrible's voice using this dialect. Of course what that really means is that you should get the first book right away, and then just read the whole series, because you won't be able to resist it. This complex and fascinating series is one of the very best out there, and this story showcases everything I love about it. Thank you, Stacia.(less)
The announcement soon after I'd finished Kelly Meding's terrific fourth book in the Dreg City series that the publisher had dropped the series felt li...moreThe announcement soon after I'd finished Kelly Meding's terrific fourth book in the Dreg City series that the publisher had dropped the series felt like a blow to me, I was truly shocked. The series kept getting better and better and the fourth book was the best one yet, and suddenly we were being told that we were just cut off. It made no sense to me, with so many urban fantasy series seeming to flourish (some of which had lost their plots and momentum long ago, but apparently people were buying the dreck so there was no pressure to improve it). I just hated that the characters and their story would just be left out there forever unfinished, I hated not knowing what was going to happen to them and how the outstanding situations where going to be resolved. But thank goodness Kelly stepped up and rescued all of us from the predicament. She self-published the fifth book and did a very fine job of it. I'm not always a huge fan of authors going the self-pub route, mostly because I must get most my books from the library and it can be difficult to get them to buy ebook only self-pubbed books. (I am working on them to add this one to their collection though. It belongs there.) But this situation demanded action and I'm so glad Kelly took it. The book is fully professional, edited beautifully, and feels seamless with the other books in the series. And the low price for this book was a nice treat, only $4 for a full size novel, I don't expect that break on future books.
If you haven't read Pride Before Fall a free short story that Kelly published on Suvudu, you may want to check it out before this book. It will give you insight into Tybalt, Marcus, Astrid, and the Pride, and you'll enjoy the book more if you take a few minutes to read the short story before getting too far into the novel. It frames some of the issues for this book. Plus it's just a good story.
As for this book. It was just what it was supposed to be. There was a lot of fighting for their lives, but it was much more focused and less frantic to a certain degree than in the past. Evy is developing a level of maturity, understanding her priorities and responsibilities in new ways, and that adds a lot of depth to the storytelling. She still a crazy girl sometimes, but her heart is always in the right place and she at least is trying hard to do what's right for everyone around her. It just isn't always so clear what that is, especially when the needs of the many, as she sees it, might outweigh the needs of the few when those few might be the people who love her most. People get hurt and there's no going back. It isn't a light and fluffy book, that's for sure. But it has enough heart and soul to give the fantasy story a sense of realism. The human, and Therian (shifter), emotions in the book ground it firmly in reality and make it work beautifully.
The only thing I had to nitpick about was the length of a couple of people's hair. People who fight hand-to-hand for their lives should want short hair so it can't be grabbed to use as a hand hold, vanity be damned. Evy and Marcus would certainly know that. There were probably some other long-haired people too, but those two stuck out. Everyone does it, they cast for romance not for practicality, but it isn't TV, you can be more practical in a book. Nitpicky, I know.
Other than that It was just an all-around strong book. It balanced excitement and emotions. It wrapped up or moved old issues forward, and introduced new concerns to be explored. There was a lot of growth from Evy and from Wayne, I'm finally liking them together and I like the man he's becoming. And the Watchtower has been shaken up once again, so we'll see what becomes of that in the next book. I do think there will be one now. If enough of us buy and enjoy (the easy part) this one. So go grab a copy. Kindle, B&N, Smashwords has whatever format you like, or Sony. And if you haven't started the series yet and you're an urban fantasy fan, give the first book, Three Days to Dead, a try. Then keep reading because they just get better and better.(less)
4.5 stars. General I'm not a fan of reading things by installation. I don't bother with free chapters of a book that I know I'm going to read later be...more4.5 stars. General I'm not a fan of reading things by installation. I don't bother with free chapters of a book that I know I'm going to read later because it's just a tease, I want to read it all at once. But Ilona Andrews is, well, really are since it's two of them, one of the very few authors that I follow by email and when they started this super fun project I was instantly hooked. It was just too much fun to hope that each day would be a day that a bit of story would show up so I could find out what happened next. But I never saw the very end. At the time I thought they didn't post it because they wanted people to buy it, but maybe I just didn't check back often enough. It doesn't matter, I would have bought it anyway to encourage them to do it again, whether in this world or with whatever other story has been knocking around in their brains. It was so much fun. And good news! The last line of the Acknowledgements was my favorite line of the whole book. "We hope you will join us again for the sequel to Clean Sweep starting early in 2014." And that was before they even knew how well it was going to sell! I'm glad the fans showed them that their work is valued by purchasing the book, making their decision to do another one even more fun for them. I had planned to say that I would be happy to subscribe to a weekly story instead of getting another novella down the road (since they've done several), the fun of getting the installments is exciting and this was longer than some of those stories. But I'm thrilled that a sequel is in the works already, I can't wait.
OK, as for the story, I really liked that it was very modern. It was hard to tell at first, on my first reading, what was going on, it seemed like a bit of a typical fantasy, so it was fun as it unrolled to see the way they turned the fantasy tropes upside down into sci-fi elements. Not that I haven't seen some of it done before, and even in similar ways, but the way it was rolled out kept me guessing the first time I read it and was really entertaining both times I read it. And the innkeeper idea was totally new and fresh and really darn creative, with so much room for more story to tell if/when they want to. The illustrations are terrific, something that they can't do in paperbacks (or hardback, as the next Kate book is going to be, not their decision, don't complain to them!). Caldenia, Dina's mysterious and probably murderous guest, was very amusing. And there were so many great details that made it work perfectly. Like, "My GPS came on and Darth Vader prompted me to take the next exit." They just know their audience so well. Or I loved that the plump woman at Costco didn't run or "fall and sprain her ankle" when the stalker showed up, she refused to run when Dina told her to because the place was full of old people and little kids, and she fought back like a real hero right along side Dina. That's the kind of story I want to read. I wrote a note to myself about her both times that I read the story, I liked that part so much.
There aren't very many stories that I read for a second time these days, my to-read list has gotten too long. But I'm glad I re-read this one, I think I liked it even better the second time. It's really a fun story. The innkeeper concept is terrific, it's so original and is perfect for telling stories of this length. The sci-fi elements were a lot of fun but still moderate enough that fantasy fans are sure to love the book as well. The story was very engaging. And the characters were great, which is what these two authors do best of all. It was just a lot of fun. I'm so glad there's going to be a sequel. I'd be almost as crushed as Dina if I never found out what happened to her parents. I hope we at least get a clue in the next story.(less)
It was fun, just a bit lacking in the usual banter because Atticus was alone for most of the story. The preview of Hunted was funny and intriguing tho...moreIt was fun, just a bit lacking in the usual banter because Atticus was alone for most of the story. The preview of Hunted was funny and intriguing though, can't wait for that.(less)
Another terrific tale. Hearne is just a great storyteller, his writing is always perfectly smooth, with a great balance of adventure, humor and intell...moreAnother terrific tale. Hearne is just a great storyteller, his writing is always perfectly smooth, with a great balance of adventure, humor and intelligence. He never fails to crack me up with the conversations that Atticus has with Oberon, I just love that dog. And the Morrigan is such an interesting character, it was fun to see a bit of a different side to her in this one as well. The story was a nice bridge between Tricked and Trapped, I really enjoyed it.(less)
It was a cute short story. I just hope that the author can find a way to help Jupe grow up without crushing his spirit. I want him to keep his sense o...moreIt was a cute short story. I just hope that the author can find a way to help Jupe grow up without crushing his spirit. I want him to keep his sense of humor and his joy and fun as he matures, but the bad things that they keep facing may well be a threat to his open-hearted nature. I'll see a bit more soon, I'm starting book three now.(less)
Great rip-roaring fun but with considerable emotional depth as well. Both through development of the back story of new characters and old secondary ch...moreGreat rip-roaring fun but with considerable emotional depth as well. Both through development of the back story of new characters and old secondary characters, and more development of Atticus himself, Hearne makes his characters really come to life so that I care about what happens to these people. And he writes the confrontations so well that they're actually exciting and I'm not just flipping through the pages to find out what happens next.
Hearne is also great with balance, he provides enough details so that it feels real, like Atticus needing to push the snow aside in Asgard to be able to access his powers, but not so much that we're drowning in minutiae.
The choice of characters was really interesting as well. It goes back to something that I've enjoyed throughout the series. He somehow manages to mix the broadest stokes of mythology from vampires and werewolves to Jesus to Celtic and Norse mythology to much lesser know Russian and Asian myths and historical figures and make it all work beautifully. Some authors can't seem to resist throwing the most famous figures possible into their stories, even when it isn't at all appropriate. I've read many urban fantasies where all of the world's famous historical figures turn up as cameos or leading characters because authors just couldn't seem to resist; this author has a premise that could support more famous figures but he seems to take delight in bringing in lesser known characters and showing them as equals in his mythology, and I love the way he's done it.
As for the story, holy mother of, well, we met Her in book two, didn't we? And He seemed quite nice in this book as well. Anyway, wow, there was a lot of cursing around here reading this one. For a really old guy Atticus sure isn't always perfect or perfectly wise. He can smart off something awful sometimes, and make some bad decisions when he's angry. I didn't expect as much to happen during this book as did and am very curious to see what the next step in the journey will be. I'm thrilled that the publisher ordered three new books already. And if you haven't read the first three yet, hurry up and do it all ready, you won't regret it.
Oh yeah, and Oberon is still adorable. Duh. (less)
Stopping time is sweet (if dark, as usual). Old Habits is very adult emotionally. I don't think I'd have gotten much of it as a kid, but kids these da...moreStopping time is sweet (if dark, as usual). Old Habits is very adult emotionally. I don't think I'd have gotten much of it as a kid, but kids these days are more sophisticated. Both are fun stories, worth the price for fans of the series.(less)
A very cute little story. I love that the Andrews team is making the occasional fun story or extra available to fans, and I'm happy to pay a buck for...moreA very cute little story. I love that the Andrews team is making the occasional fun story or extra available to fans, and I'm happy to pay a buck for the pleasure of enjoying them. Even though I get most of my books from the library (out of financial necessity), it's easy for me to rationalize an occasional dollar for something that I can't get at the library, especially knowing that the money goes right to my favorite authors. (less)
Quite good if you're willing to suspend disbelief in the outrageous competence of youth. I like the 3 major characters of Ky, Stella and Grace. I'd li...moreQuite good if you're willing to suspend disbelief in the outrageous competence of youth. I like the 3 major characters of Ky, Stella and Grace. I'd like to see more action in the big picture than in just a few isolated encounters/battles. And the action is very uneven; it's mostly talk and almost no action until the end.(less)
I was annoyed for a lot of the book about how perfect Ky was. She's a 22 year-old kid on her first real tour, didn't even finish the academy, but she'...moreI was annoyed for a lot of the book about how perfect Ky was. She's a 22 year-old kid on her first real tour, didn't even finish the academy, but she's somehow way ahead of all of the experienced people because they're just traders and she's bloodthirsty. Ack, annoying. But she made some mistakes near the end that reduced my irritation. On the other hand, Rafe is a problem. That they just happen upon the one guy in the universe with that tech, history and skill set is too absurd; the author should have set it up so that they came upon each other in a more believable way. But I like the new characters of Stella and Toby a lot, the mercenaries were interesting, and there was more action than trading, so I'll round up from 3.5 to 4 stars.(less)