Tag: ACE Publishing

Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 17, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #8
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)
Published by Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary, Urban, Romance
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

Magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta - and each crest leaves danger in its wake . . .
After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate - former Beast Lord Curran Lennart - are adjusting to a very different pace. While they're thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.
But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. As they dig further into the merc's business, they discover that the Mercenary Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo's recent assignments are connected in the most sinister way . . .
An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it - before it takes their city apart piece by piece.
Praise for Ilona Andrews and the Kate Daniels novels
'Ilona Andrews's books are guaranteed good reads.' Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Fire Touched
'Kate is a great kick-ass heroine.' Locus
'Andrews's edgy series stands apart.' Library Journal
'One of the brightest voices in urban fantasy . . . Ilona Andrews delivers only the best.' Jeaniene Frost, New York Times bestselling author of Bound by Flames

A couple months ago I binge-read the first 7 books in this series (including novellas) then decided to take a break before I burned out. I’m glad I came at this fresh. Magic Shifts was a great story. It may be my favorite of the series to date.
Since Curran and Kate have left the Pack and Kate magically claimed Atlanta as her own, they’ve been focusing on building Kate’s PI business and raising Julie, Kate’s adopted daughter. Curran is still missing the constant challenges he faced as Beast Lord. He doesn’t necessarily miss the Pack or the position of Beast Lord, but he misses the constant action that came with it. When he’s given the opportunity to run the Mercenary Guild, he jumps at it. That the Guild wants nothing to do with him just makes it a more fun challenge for him.
Kate is still learning just what claiming the city means, and waiting for the other shoe will drop with her father. She’s also still stressing the fact that Curran gave up the Pack for her and what that’s going to mean for their future. They aren’t allowed to visit the Keep for 30 days (per pack rules), but that doesn’t stop the Pack from coming to them.
When George, one of the bear shifters, asks for help finding her mate, Kate and Curran realize they can’t say no. When Kate’s forced to fight a giant outside the Guild and realizes some ancient evil magic is invading their home, she realizes the two cases might be related. And they need to figure out what’s going on before their entire city is destroyed.
This book picks up pretty much where book seven, Magic Breaks, left off. Kate and Curran have moved out of the Keep and into their own home. They aren’t allowed to visit the Keep for 30 days, but they’re still visited by many Pack members. They’re still waiting to see which members of the pack are going to leave with them and they’re in a holding period with Kate’s dad.
Despite how much is going on in this world, the story flows seamlessly. The Pack, the People, Julie, Curran and Kate, Kate’s dad, the Mercenary Guild…they all come to life. There’s action, adventure, intrigue, romance, epic battles, strange magic and a world so bright and vivid it’s like watching it on a movie screen.
4.5 out of 5
four-half-stars

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Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Posted May 3, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Edge #2
Also in this series: On the Edge
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: September 28th 2010
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary, General, Fantasy & Magic, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 480
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four-half-stars

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

When I saw there were four books in this series, I thought they all followed the same couple. I was pleasantly surprised to find that isn’t the case. Bayou Moon picks up shortly after the events in On the Edge.

Cerise Mar and her family live in the Mire, the swamp lands of the Edge, a place of magic between the Broken (regular non-magic Earth) and the Weird (a parallel of the Earth filled with magic). Her family has been in a generations-long feud with another family, the Sheeriles. When her parents disappear and one of her cousins reports the Sheeriles have taken over their grandparents’ abandoned home at the edge of their property, she goes to investigate. In their bid to win the fight against her family, the Sheeriles have partnered with a spymaster from the Weird,Spyder, and his merry band of genetically modified freaks. Something she knows it’ll be difficult, if not impossible, to fight. She travels to the Broken to retrieve a document proving ownership of the house and ends up meeting William.

William is a changeling from the Weird. Changelings aren’t accepted in the Weird and are either killed at birth or sent to live in an orphanage where they’re trained as weapons for the country. When William failed to obey an order during a mission, he was sentenced to death. Lord Sandine adopted him (for his own nefarious purposes) and when he died, William was set free. Since then he’s been living in the Edge and working in the Broken, if not happy, then at least content to be alone. When he’s approached by the Mirror, a spy organization from the Weird, to track down an old nemesis, Spyder, he reluctantly agrees. Spyder is rumored to be hiding in the Mire and seems to be targeting the new girl he met on his journey there. He decides he needs to stay as close to Cerise as possible to find his target, but he doesn’t expect to be as drawn to her as he is.

William intrigued me in the first book, On the Edge, and I was anxious to get his story. Having been raised in an orphanage and, aside from his quasi-friendship with Logan (the hero of the first book), he’s been alone his whole life. He craves a family and connections to other people, but he’s too wary to make friends or trust new people. He’s also a stone-cold killer who is trained in all areas of combat. Oh, and there’s the small thing that he can change into a wolf at will. He thinks Cerise is a meek little thing when he first meets her, and vows to protect her. Until he realizes she’s just as skilled and deadly as he is. I think the first time he watched her kick ass is when he started falling in love.

“Stay back this time,” Cerise said. “It’s my fight.”
“There are nine of them. Don’t be stupid.”
“Stay the fuck back, William.”
“Fine.” He took a step back and raised his crossbow. If that’s the way she wanted it, he could always rescue her later. “Let’s see what you got.”
The larger boat slammed into them, sending a quake through the hull. Two men jumped onto the deck.
Cerise struck and paused, blood running down her blade.
The first two fighters died without a scream. One moment they stood on deck, and the next the top halves of their bodies slid down into the river.
William closed his mouth with a click.
The attackers drew back.
The edge of Cerise’s sword shone once, as if a glowing silver hair were stretched along the blade. She leaped onto the larger boat.
They swarmed her. She whirled, cutting through them, slicing limbs in half, severing muscle and bone. Blood sprayed, she paused again, and the fighters around her fell without a single moan.
Four seconds and the deck was empty. Nothing moved.
She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

Cerise doesn’t trust easily, but she agrees to take William home with her when she realizes he’s a target and he’s more than capable of helping her in a fight. If the idiot man would stop trying to protect her, that is. She’s a fully trained warrior and knows how to handle herself in a fight, plus she knows more about the swamp than he does. That doesn’t stop her from lusting after him, though. As they get deeper into the swamp, she becomes more and more impressed with him.

When she was a teenager, she used to imagine meeting a stranger. He would be from the Weird or the Broken, not from the Mire. He would be lethal and tough, so tough, he wouldn’t be afraid of her. He would be funny. And he would be handsome. She’d gotten so good at imagining this mysterious man, she could almost picture his face.
William would kick his ass.
Maybe that was why she couldn’t get him out of her head

Cerise’s large family is colorful and really comes to life. Aunts, uncles, cousins..each had their own personality and quirks. I loved getting to know them and watching them interact with each other. Keldar and Lark especially stand out, as both their backstories are intriguing. Keldar acts like a happy-go-lucky guy all the time, but it’s obvious there’s more depth there than he’d like to let on. I’m glad he’s getting his own book.

Seeing William become enfolded in the family and fall for Cerise was wonderful. I wanted to see him become part of something and that’s exactly what happened here. Cerise was more emotionally balanced than he was, but she had her own baggage. They were evenly matched in every way and I loved watching them fall.

The action and adventure in this novel was on point. Their search for Cerise’s parents, Spyder and his altered agents, the mystery of what Spyder was looking for, the feud between Cerise’s family and the Sheeriles…all of it kept me on the edge of my seat. Fair Warning, there’s a high creep factor here with some of the baddies in the swamp and Spyder’s agents, and some of it was really gory, but I can’t deny I loved every bit of it.

Andrews’ imaginative and detailed world really comes to life here. I highly recommend the story.

4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Posted May 2, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: On the Edge by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
On the Edge by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Edge #1
Also in this series: Bayou Moon
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: September 29th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary, General, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 336
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three-half-stars

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, between the world of the Broken (where people drive cars, shop at Wal-Mart, and magic is a fairy tale) and the Weird (where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny). Only Edgers like Rose can easily travel from one world to the next, but they never truly belong in either.

Rose thought if she practiced her magic, she could build a better life for herself. But things didn’t turn out how she planned, and now she works a minimum wage, off the books job in the Broken just to survive. Then Declan Camarine, a blueblood noble straight out of the deepest part of the Weird, comes into her life, determined to have her (and her power).

But when a terrible danger invades the Edge from the Weird, a flood of creatures hungry for magic, Declan and Rose must work together to destroy them—or they’ll devour the Edge and everyone in it.

There’s a note from the author at the front of this book. She talks about how she came to write it and publish it, but says she didn’t know what to call it. Is it UF, Fantasy…what? Her editor didn’t know how to classify it, and neither did her readers. I can’t say I know, either. It’s kind of Kate Daniels meets Harry Potter, except not. I don’t know how to classify it, but On the Edge was a gripping read.

Whatever else I can say about Andrews, these books are imaginative as hell. The beginning was a bit slow for me, but I can’t deny the world pulled me in. Rose and her brothers, Jack and Georgie, her grandmother and the other Edgers, all came to life. Declan was something of an enigma early on, but he was fully fleshed out before long, too.

I really connected with Rose. She’s doing her best to raise her brothers and keep food on the table, despite some pretty big obstacles. She was just a real woman, down on her luck but making do as best she could. There were times both she and Declan frustrated me, but I enjoyed getting to know them both and watching their romance progress.

The action and adventure in this novel really stand out. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on and why Declan was being so secretive, who was responsible for the sudden evil power surge, how Gerogie and Jack’s powers were going to develop and how the romance between Rose and Declan was going to progress. The Edge really came to life, and the horrors of it were creepy and chilling. I loved it.

Action, adventure, creep, gore, humor and romance – this novel has it all.

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Review (+ a Giveaway): Blood Bound by Patrica Briggs

Posted February 26, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 14 Comments

Review (+ a Giveaway): Blood Bound by Patrica BriggsReviewer: Holly
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #2
Also in this series: Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: 2007
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, General
Pages: 292
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four-stars

Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding, solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen...

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places-and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind.

But this new vampire is hardly ordinary-and neither is the demon inside of him.

MERCY THOMPSON Reread Blog Tour Banner

At the end of the last novel, Mercy’s vampire friend Stefan does her a favor. So when he shows up out of nowhere in the middle of the night and asks her to accompany him to meet a new vampire in their territory, she reluctantly agrees. Stefan doesn’t really expect to need Mercy’s help, but he wants an impartial witness and vampire magic rarely works on her. It turns out the vampire is also a sorcerer (a man who is possessed by a demon) and he enthralls Stefan, making him believe he succumbed to bloodlust, something forbidden in their seethe, for fear they’ll be discovered by the humans.

Mercy is forced to meet with Marsilia, head of the seethe, to share her memories of the encounter – which are different from Stefan’s  – and ends up involved in a deadly game of vampire politics. When Warren, one of the wolves in the local werewolf pack, turns up severely injured and Adam, the local alpha, Samuel, the Marrok’s son, and Stefan coming up missing, Marsilia asks Mercy to hunt down the rogue vamp.

When I was asked to choose a novel for this re-read blog tour, I had a difficult time choosing. Though this Blood Bound isn’t my favorite of the series, it’s where the series picks up steam and the full breadth of main characters take shape.

This second installment of the series continued on in the vein of the first, building on the world and exploring the characters in depth. I enjoyed the plot more, I think, because it involved all the important people in Mercy’s life. Mercy is, at heart, a practical, down-to-earth woman who happens to be able to turn into a coyote and was raised by werewolves. She doesn’t want to draw attention to herself or get wrapped up in the affairs of the “others” who surround her (werewolves, Fae, Vampires, etc), but she can’t turn her back when they need her most.

She’s doing a dance with Adam, who has claimed her as his mate so his pack will leave her alone (something she hasn’t accepted, nor did she want), and with Samuel, whom she used to love but broke her heart when she was younger. Add into it the frustration she feels when dealing with members of the pack and the anger and frustration she feels when she’s left behind, and she has her hands full.

I thought, before I started the series, that Mercy was a super kickass heroine, along the lines of Eve Dallas. Someone who kicked ass and took names, then asked questions later. That really isn’t the case. Oh, sure, she’s tough in her own way, and she’s certainly capable, but she’s mostly just an average person trying to eke out an existence, just like the rest of us. Yet she makes it seem perfectly normal that these things are happening to her, and that she’ll work through them despite her fears.

I generally shy away from love-triangles, but this one doesn’t bother me. Probably because I know it doesn’t last long, and the romance in the early books is slow anyway. Both Samuel and Adam are interesting characters, and I like seeing how they interact with each other and Mercy.

What really stands out is the world-building. I was fully immersed.  The pack, Adam’s daughter, Samuel, The Marrok, the Vampires, the Fae and even the bad guy only served to enhance the story and draw me in further.

Although twists and turns abound, the simple elegance of Briggs’ writing makes the story flow flawlessly. I can’t wait to dig into the next book.

4.25 out of 5

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four-stars

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Guest Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 19, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Tracy
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #8
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)
Published by Ace
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
five-stars

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.

But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. Eduardo was a fellow member of the Mercenary Guild, so Kate knows the best place to start looking is his most recent jobs. As Kate and Curran dig further into the merc’s business, they discover that the Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo’s assignments are connected in the most sinister way…

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece.

Tracy’s review of Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews.

Picking up from the last book Kate Daniels has now “claimed” Atlanta in order to keep her father from doing so. Besides that she really just wants an average life where everything kind of goes along and then they have to fight bad guys for a while, then life will go back to normal. Unfortunately that doesn’t work out the way she planned. Kate is told of ghouls who are coming to the city in droves. Kate and Curran kill some but then other strange things start happening. Their friend Eduardo is missing and Kate sets out to find him which dumps her and a lot of her other friends in danger from a powerful Djinn.

Curran is no longer the Beast Lord so things are getting moved around in the pack now that he’s gone. His finances are such that the pack tries to pull a fast one on him and give him the Mercenary Guild as part of his payment – which in the end he accepts. Curran is helping Kate but she keeps getting herself into trouble and at one point almost dies.

What amazes me about this series is Kate. She’s really the center of all of it, obviously, but she’s such a wonderful character that as a reader you almost feel like it just can’t get better. It does, though! Kate continues to grow as a person in every book and that shows in all she does. She’s still the same person she was when the books began but she becomes better in each book. She doesn’t always think that the things she does make her that way, but they do. Kate is a good person through and through. She’s loyal to her friends and will literally do anything for them. She is kind and loving and always thinks of others first before herself. She’s really a person that I would love to strive to be – without the whole, you know, battle scenes and fighting crazy fantastical creatures. She’s truly amazing and I love reading about her life.

The secondary characters play a huge role in the story, as usual, and it couldn’t happen without them. She seeks help from unlikely characters and even has a sit down meal with her father – yes, her father! It was pretty epic.

I can’t go into details about the story as I would have to explain too much and then there’d be spoilers, etc., but let me just say that it was amazing and wonderful and definitely worth every minute spent reading it. In fact, I’m tempted to go back and give it a re-read just to make sure I didn’t miss any of the goodness. Of course I highly recommend this series (in fact I recently lent my paper copies to a friend and now she’s hooked too!) and this book especially. I think it was a great follow up to the last few and worth every star I gave it.

Rating: 5 out of 5

This title is available from Ace. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

five-stars

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