Thanks to my friend Cory's review of Blood Noir, Book 16 in the Anita Blake series, a massive group re-read/read has been scheduled for 1 September 20...moreThanks to my friend Cory's review of Blood Noir, Book 16 in the Anita Blake series, a massive group re-read/read has been scheduled for 1 September 2013. Go here for details, to check it out, or to join up.
As I'm not quite masochistic enough to make myself read the Anita Blake series, and I've been thinking about re-reading the Merry Gentry series (which I was conned into the reading with the promise of "It gets better!" I'm looking at you, Wendy!), I decided to kind of join this epic-ness...kind of. At an angle, as it were. I've been wanting to review these books for a while, so this'll give me the chance!*
(view spoiler)[I'm actually kind of jealous there isn't a graphic novel of the Merry Gentry series so I can have awesome pics to add to my reviews... :P (hide spoiler)]
*Disclaimer: If you haven't clicked on any of the links, or can't quite catch my sarcasm, this is a warning to you: My reviews are likely going to be rants of epic proportions. Don't read if that's going to bother you.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I highly, highly recommend avoiding all spoilers for this book. Read it fresh. I promise there aren't spoilers in my review below. The spoiler tags ju...moreI highly, highly recommend avoiding all spoilers for this book. Read it fresh. I promise there aren't spoilers in my review below. The spoiler tags just note stream-of-consciousness thoughts I had.., If you don't want to know anything other than I loved it - Read no further. Fair warning ;)
Once upon a time, I'd never read anything by Ilona Andrews. I lived in the dark, badgered by my good friend (thank you Kat!!) constantly as she tried to get me to pick up Magic Bites. I don't even remember what my problem was – why I didn't pick up this book as soon as I knew about it. I think I thought it just wasn't for me. If I wasn't so very wrong that would be funny.
Then, one day, I was looking at my beautiful bookshelf full of books I needed to read and Magic Bites called out louder than the rest. I picked it up, laid down on my bed, and turned to the first page. I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone's Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit...
Several hours later I surfaced to the real world again; reluctant to leave behind Kate, Derek, Curran, and even Saiman. Luckily, the next three books were out and I immediately downloaded them, and any novellas I could find, to my Kindle. And ordered them in paper to be shipped to me... The next several days were spent in a magic-induced reading high from this series. Immediately upon finishing Magic Bleeds I started the series from the beginning. Diving back into this world, spending time with the characters I couldn't yet let go of, and eagerly, (view spoiler)[impatiently (hide spoiler)], awaited Magic Slays.
I'm here to say, the magic definitely isn't waning on this series. Ilona Andrews continues to be one of the best in the Urban Fantasy genre. They've proved time and again they have excellent world–building skills as they show us an Atlanta ravaged by the effects of magic and technology fluctuating, and Kate's struggles through it. Relationships are complex and nuanced; the slow build of Kate and Curran's relationship is just one of the things that makes them my favorite literary couple, ever.
So when, Jenny was kind enough to send me her ARC to read I was ecstatic! (view spoiler)[I may have jumped and skipped and floated back to the house after getting the package, and squealed when I opened it.(hide spoiler)] I immediately cracked it open and started reading. I recommend flipping to the end and starting with An Ill-Advised Rescue (if you haven't already read it on their website) which is a fully-contained short story that relates to the beginning of Magic Rises; also, it's just more awesome times with Kate.
In Magic Rises Ilona Andrews takes everything a step further – expanding the world over the Black Sea, and pushing these characters I've come to love so much to the very edge of their abilities to endure. This book was an emotional roller-coaster for me. I was up, I was down; I cried, I laughed, I screamed, I cheered. My heart broke, and was put back together.
If I had the ability to jump into the pages of this book and kick some people's asses, I would have. I wanted to kill some characters. Slap others upside the head; hug and comfort if possible. It's not an exaggeration to say this book will put you through the emotional wringer. Not only are Kate and Curran fighting for the medicine to save the shapeshifter children from going loup – emotional enough in and of itself – Ilona Andrews puts everything on the line, shaking it up and pulling us through the other side.
I won't say a lot about the main story line, except to say that it blew me away. I wasn't sure how I was going to stay interested outside of Atlanta – dealing with packs I'd never heard of and didn't know. Lucky for me, and for Kate and Curran, a contingent from the Pack traveled with them. The help and support was very much needed, and I enjoyed seeing how Kate's begun to integrate from her solitary existence to being an alpha, the alpha female of the Pack. She went from working alone, having no friends, no lovers, no one she trusted to relying on others, being emotionally involved in others survival, and doing everything she can to help those under her care – no matter the cost.
The cost has the potential to be very high in Magic Rises. Even knowing they're walking into a trap, Kate and Curran don't begin to contemplate the possibilities of how dangerous this deal is. To their lives, yes, but also to everything they hold dear. Their relationship is tested, hard, in this book. And I can easily say that I wanted to kick Curran's ass more than once. I was devastated for Kate, I felt her pain and I hated to see her hurt.
There are shocks and twists, plots and schemes, danger and kick-ass fights. There are also quiet moments full of love and friendship. You may finish this book unable to look at some characters the way you did before starting, or find others mean more than you expected – I know I did. The plot, which I worried about when I first started, moved along nicely with a lot of action – there was one fight scene that had my fanning myself, it was so hot. As always, there's plenty of witty banter between Kate and everyone. Even while my heart was being torn out, slowly, they still had the ability to make me laugh.
Magic Rises is right up there with Magic Strikes for my favorite book in this series, and catapulted the Kate Daniels series to my favorite ever (view spoiler)[past the Fevers – yes, I know, I was shocked too (hide spoiler)]! It's a fantastic addition to the series, the world, and the genre. Magic Rises is a game-changer, shaking everything up and showing yet again that Ilona Andrews are the best.
I read late into the night, staying up until I finished it – at 1AM. Sleep wasn't important to me, and I'll lay money on you not thinking so either. If you're waiting for this book as impatiently as I was, you won't be disappointed. If you haven't started this series – are you in for a treat. Go! Grab Magic Bites and dive in! You can thank me later.
Previous thoughts: Amazing.
Simply Amazing. This is one of the two best books in the series to date! Review to come closer to release day.
ETA: Also, I think this book catapulted this series to my favorite series. Ever. Period. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Beat of Temptation (Psy/Changeling, 0.5): Nate and Tamsyn's story.
There are few authors that I feel like can write a good, satisfying, complete short...moreBeat of Temptation (Psy/Changeling, 0.5): Nate and Tamsyn's story.
There are few authors that I feel like can write a good, satisfying, complete short story or novella. Nalini Singh is one of those. I always finish her books, novellas, snippets wanting more but that's simply because I can't get enough of the wonderful world, characters and plot she writes. I'm smiling, (or crying), and completely spellbound while I'm reading.
I loved Tammy, and Nate, from the first moment I saw them in Slave to Sensation (Book 1), so I was really excited to read their story. And it's just as explosive, heart-wrenching, and sigh-worthy as I was expecting.
There are glimpses into the pack before Lucas became Alpha, before their revenge was taken - when they were still healing from the tragedy that rocked their pack. We get to see some of our favorite characters when they're still juveniles themselves. Dorian and Lucas both made me laugh, and love them an impossible bit more.
I liked seeing how previous relationships within the pack were handled in this case, how the pack is there for each other - no matter what. It's always been one of the most appealing aspects of the changelings.
I've purposely been a little vague on the story itself, and Nate and Tammy's romance, because it is short and it's not complex, but it is a joy to read.
If you haven't picked up the Psy/Changeling series (or anything Nalini Singh) yet, you're missing out on - in my opinion - one of the best series and writers out there.
ETA: This story is also available in Wild Invitation - along with other novellas in the Psy/Changeling series.(less)
Best fantasy book I've read in a long time, quite possibly ever.
I requested this book without even reading the book-blurb because a friend (Thank You...moreBest fantasy book I've read in a long time, quite possibly ever.
I requested this book without even reading the book-blurb because a friend (Thank You Cory!!) told me, while still in the middle of reading it, that it was the best fantasy book she'd read in a long time. Fantasy is my home in genre novels, I come back to it time and time again because it's comfortable, exciting, interesting, detailed and emotional. So I started The Emperor's Blades with incredibly high expectations and excitement.
I was absolutely and thoroughly Blown.Away. This book is amazing. I highlighted dozens of moments throughout this book, was on the edge of my seat for most of it, and was absolutely enthralled the entire journey.
The intricate, sweeping story that follows the Malkeenian royal line - two brothers and a sister maneuvering between, around and through plots to take the Unhewn Throne from them - is full of intrigue and twists, danger and valor, despair and determination. I can't even do this justice, but I will say it's only the second book to surprise me so completely and throw twists at me I didn't even see coming. After I spent a good portion of the book detailing theories in my head, only to be wrong most of the time, the final twist absolutely blew my mind.
Kaden, Valyn, and Adare are some of my favorite characters - I was utterly and completely on their side from the very first moments we met each of them. Though I admit Valyn, the warrior, is my favorite, I love all three of them. As I was reading I was eager to see them succeed, to beat the insurmountable odds stacked against them, and terrified that they wouldn't. They aren't infalliable. They aren't perfect. They are, however, absolutely loyal, strong, intelligent, and full of determination. Thank goodness, because this war is going to test the depths of their resolve. Additionally, there are more than a few other characters that I'm dying to know more about. Those for, and against, the emperor both.
I can't end this review without speaking of the writing itself in The Emperor's Blades. I primarily read for characters, then world, then plot. Prose is important, the way the words are strung together can make or break a story, but it's often the last thing I consider when I decide how much I like a story or not. And if the story here hadn't been so utterly fantastic, if the characters hadn't been so completely intriguing, the world so fascinating - then the words that formed it wouldn't have delighted me so much. But Brian Staveley did something amazing here. He weaved words together in beautiful sentences, gorgeous paragraphs, and painted me a picture that I couldn't look away from. As engrossed as I was in the story, as much as I had to know what was going to happen next, I still stopped and had to re-read a section that was so arresting, so gorgeous, that I couldn't go on without appreciating it for a second, or third, time.
Part of the journey is complete in The Emperor's Blades, but it's clear there's a lot left to be told. And I, for one, couldn't be happier.
Normally I give DNF (at 63%) books a 1-star rating. I'm conflicted here though. Objectively I know this is worth more. The writing is good, the charac...moreNormally I give DNF (at 63%) books a 1-star rating. I'm conflicted here though. Objectively I know this is worth more. The writing is good, the characterizations are well done, and the relationship has potential.
But I'm just not engaged. I'm not interested, and I really couldn't care less what happens to any of these people.
For a review that tells you why you will probably like this book, check out Litchick's review ;)(less)
Thank you Cory for lending this to me!! I'll definitely be buying it.
4.5 Stars (I like the half stars at Booklikes)
The feels this book brought out in...moreThank you Cory for lending this to me!! I'll definitely be buying it.
4.5 Stars (I like the half stars at Booklikes)
The feels this book brought out in me! I'm not even sure I can do a review justice.
This book has some of the most amazing writing I've read from a new - to me - author in a very long time. Then there were the beautiful, painful, devastating, wonderful moments that resonated so deeply with me.
I went into this expecting a light, fun, sweet read. I definitely got that and I got something more,...more**ETA a star rating, which would probably help :P
I went into this expecting a light, fun, sweet read. I definitely got that and I got something more, too. I really quite enjoyed this book.
Samantha was a heroine I loved. She's smart, not afraid to stand up for herself or her friends, and just a little bit insecure. She's more than a bit cautious, and loves so incredibly deeply. Plus she's responsible. We're shown these things. Not told them. I love that. Sam's a grad-student in Minnesota studying raptors (the birds, not the dinosaurs), when her life is suddenly turned upside down and she's informed she's the heir to a duchy in Lilaria (fictional country that carries some similarities with France, UK, and Monaco).
Prince Alexander Patrick Fitzwilliam, the Duke of D’Lynsal and heir to the crown of Lilaria, is the other main-character in this story. What a refreshing hero. He's not over-bearing, not an ass, not stalkerish. Instead he's supportive, kind, funny, caring, loyal, devoted and incredibly attractive. Again, we're shown; not told. I can't tell you how sick I am of "heroes" that stalk the heroine, abuse her (emotionally and mentally if not necessarily physically) and we're supposed to fall head-over-heels for them. Give me a break. Luckily, for me, that's exactly what Alex did. I loved him more and more as the book went on.
The scenes between them were really the highlight of this book. They have a chemistry that's easy to see from the very beginning. The joking and conversations they have had me grinning and chuckling more than once. And when they finally did give in to their feelings - Damn, so incredibly smexy!!
There's no drama in this book, no real obstacles, no unnecessary angst. They talked, respected each other, and cared for each other. This book was just so refreshing. I know I said that before, but I'm still seriously amazed at how much it did *not* include and, consequently, how much better the romance was than a lot of other stories I've read.
There was one moment in the book that seriously made me tear up, nearish the end, and the emotional depth of that was kind of quickly dealt with, I thought. Although, I thought the entire ending was a bit rushed. Of course, I didn't realize this was a trilogy until I came here to review it, so I'm probably going to get more of what I'm looking for in the next books. I hope. *ETA* Or not. The next book is about Cathy...Which is great, but it does leave me feeling that the ending of this one was rushed.
I'd definitely recommend this to anyone that enjoys sweet, fairy-tale like romances and is sick of the manufactured drama, characters that are idiots or assholes (and sometimes both), and some great secondary characters that aren't there for their "mean" factor.