Tag: Urban Fantasy

Sunday Spotlight: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 16, 2017 by Holly in Features | 1 Comment

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I came late to the Kate Daniels series. Though it had been recommended to me for years, I didn’t read much urban fantasy and skipped it. I’m so sorry I waited so long to start it. A friend suggested I reserve judgement until book two, Magic Burns, as Magic Bites (book 1) wasn’t nearly as good. Having now read the series, I agree. This week I’m spotlighting Magic Burns. While I think it’s necessary for the world-building to read book one, I highly suggest reserving judgement until book two.

Sunday Spotlight: Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsMagic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #2
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: April 1 2008
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260
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Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…
As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.
When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

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Some series are made by the hero, or the heroine, or the world. This series is a combination of all of that, and then some. Kate Daniels is an amazing, kick-ass heroine. Curran is an excellent hero, and the perfect counterpart for her. The world – where magic comes in waves and knocks out tech – is fabulously drawn. The secondary characters are engaging and interesting. There is no part of this series that doesn’t work, and work well. If you haven’t, you really must read it.

Excerpt

Kate is a serious badass. She kicks asses and takes names all day long.

Jim raised his hand and touched his fingers to his thumb a few times, imitating an opening and closing beak. Negotiate. He wanted me to engage a lunatic who had already turned four people into smoking meat. Okay. I could do that. “Alright, Jeremy!” I yelled into the night. “Give me the salamander and I won’t cut your head off!

They kept coming, enclosing me in a tight ring of flesh. I killed without comprehension, not knowing whom I had dispatched to the cauldron’s depths. They were shapes, obstacles in my way to Morfran, and like a well-tuned machine, I mowed them down, unthinking, unrepentant. Every maneuver I tried worked. Every cut found its victim. A curious elation came over me—they were so many and I hoped they wouldn’t end. This was what I was born for. I could go on killing forever.

Her romance with Curran, the Beast Lord, develops slowly over several books, but it’s extremely satisfying.

“He handed me a bowl of soup, that’s as far as we got.”

“He fed you?” Raphael stopped rubbing Andrea.

“How did this happen?” Aunt B stared at me. “Be very precise, this is important.”

“He didn’t actually feed me. I was injured and he handed me a bowl of chicken soup. Actually I think he handed me two or three. And he called me an idiot.”

“Did you accept?” Aunt B asked.

“Yes. I was starving. Why are the three of you looking at me like that?”

“For crying out loud.” Andrea set her cup down, spilling some tea.

“The Beast Lord’s feeding you soup. Think about that for a second.”

I moved to shake his hand and he reversed it and kissed my fingers instead, singeing me with a look that was pure smolder.

I took my hand back. “That woke me up.”

He smiled a picture-perfect smile. “Been a while?”

For some reason, I felt like answering. “Two years. And if you could tone down that smile, I’d appreciate it. Getting weak in the knees.”

Is Curran serious?” Aunt B asked. She wanted to know if she now had to walk on eggshells around me. For once, I was happy to disappoint.

“No, he’s just being an asshole. Apparently every time he calls me ‘baby,’ I look like a red-hot poker is stuck up my butt. Causes him no end of fun.”


Seriously. Read the series.

Kate Daniels

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About the Author


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Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children, and many dogs and cats. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.

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Retro Review: Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

Posted April 5, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 9 Comments

Retro Review: Angels’ Blood by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly
Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #1
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2)
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: March 3rd 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General
Pages: 368
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four-half-stars

FIRST IN THE GUILD HUNTER SERIES from “a major new talent” (CHRISTINE FEEHAN).
View our feature on Nalini Singh’s Angels' Blood.
Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires.

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael. But this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on September 11, 2009.

As many of you know, I have an aversion to vampires. A big one. I kind of have a mental block in place when it comes to them, as a matter of fact. So I put off reading this for quite some time. I’m sorry for that now. What an amazing story. The world-building and characterizations were fabulous. Casee already reviewed this book here, so I’m not going to go into the plot too much.

Elena was strong and witty. I might want to be her when I grow up. I love that she was independent and strong, but not the point of stupidity. I understood her fierce need to be in control of her own life and appreciated the way she stuck to her personal values and morals. I love that her attraction to Raphael didn’t stop her from standing up for herself, or doing what she felt was right.

Is there anything better than seeing an (arch)angel fall? Raphael started out cold and harsh, but really melted as the story progressed. Even though he was obviously dangerous and his motives were murky I still adored him right from the beginning. I think Singh really did an excellent job of writing him so he was the perfect anti-hero; Dark and dangerous, but lovable in spite of that.

I think one of the best things about this was how subtle the changes in their feelings for each other were. It’s obvious from the beginning that Raphael is attracted to Elena. But that doesn’t really mean anything to us as the reader, because we know he thinks of her as a toy. Watching his feelings slowly morph and change into something more was truly wonderful to watch.

I enjoyed the storyline, too. It was a different take on an old theme (angels and vampires) and I was drawn in from the first page. I do have questions about the Archangels and the major conflict of this novel, but I have a feeling the answers won’t be revealed until later in the series. I’m reserving judgment for now.

This was a fresh and amazing start to a new series. Singh has proven herself to be a master storyteller already, and this novel just secures her status.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Review: Murdered Gods by Marina Finlayson

Posted April 3, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Murdered Gods by Marina FinlaysonReviewer: Holly
Murdered Gods (Shadows of the Immortals, #2) by Marina Finlayson
Series: Shadows of the Immortals #2
Also in this series: Stolen Magic (Shadows of the Immortals #1)
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: January 1st 1970
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 168
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two-half-stars

Lexi didn’t set out to steal a god’s ring, but when a magic artifact starts trying to talk to you, what’s a girl supposed to do? She’s always had the ability to talk to animals, but this new development amps up the crazy. Now she’s afraid her power is out of control and she’s losing her mind.
The only person who could possibly reassure her that she’s not going mad is her mother, who has always refused to discuss the source of Lexi’s strange ability. Now that the jewellery is getting chatty, maybe she’ll finally spill the beans.
Unfortunately, going home means a trip back to the human territories, and Lexi only just made it out of there alive last time. She’s hoping for a quick visit, but with a god hellbent on retrieving the ring and a fireshaper she might have accidentally betrayed on her tail, life is about to get horribly complicated—for her and everyone she cares about.

This book picks up right where book one, Stolen Magic, ends. Lexi stole a ring from a powerful Fire Shaper that sings to her. She doesn’t know why it feels so familiar and calls to her, but she wants to ask her mother. She takes the ring and heads for the city, hoping to get some questions answered and clear up some of the confusion she’s feeling. Except along the way she steals a truck from a shifter friend, lies about why she needs it and has to battle Cerberus because she pissed off Hades.   I liked Stolen Magic more. This book opens more questions than it answers and it ended up feeling like a partial story. Since this book and the first one both end in a cliffhanger, I guess it was kind of the middle of the story.

The overall storyarc is intriguing, but getting the story in parts like this is frustrating.

two-half-stars

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Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Posted March 20, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Holly
Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10) by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, #10
Also in this series: Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched
Published by Ace Books
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 371
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four-half-stars

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy's bond with the pack and her mate is broken, she'll learn what it truly means to be alone...
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe...
Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise...

Mercy runs to the local convenience store for some last minute baking items when she’s run off the road and kidnapped. She wakes alone, in Europe, with no way to contact the pack. Mercy is no stranger to saving herself, but she’s never been completely alone and cutoff from everyone she knows and loves.

When Adam discovers Mercy’s wrecked vehicle and can’t contact her through their mating bond or by more mundane means, he nearly loses it. Thankfully cooler heads prevail and the pack starts hunting for Mercy. Once they realize she’s been whisked away to Europe as some kind of power-play between the vampires, Adam is able to settle enough to make plans to retrieve her. Unfortunately, Mercy escapes before he’s able to get to her. But Adam trusts Mercy to take care of himself, so he continues on his diplomatic trip to see the Master of Milan.

In the meantime Mercy finds herself in Prague, dealing with a Golem and a not-quite-enemy werewolf alpha who grants her sanctuary, but seems to have a vampire problem himself.

More from Adam’s POV!!

We have to hunt, Adam whispered to the wild spirit who shared his body, the wild spirit he both despised and gloried in. We have to hunt, find Mercy, and destroy the one who took her from us. And teach them that Mercy is ours.
And inside him, the wolf paused, considering Adam’s argument. After a moment, the beast agreed.

One of the things I love best about this series is the progression of the relationship between Mercy and Adam. They’re a solid couple who rely on each other, but also trust one another enough that they don’t need to live in each other’s pockets. Now that things have settled down with Mercy and the pack, the strength of their relationship really shines through.

Briggs took us into Adam and another’s points-of-view, which was a nice change from the previous books. I feel like we got a better sense of Mercy for having seen her from an outside perspective (the books are generally told first person from Mercy’s point-of-view). This from Marsilia, Mistress of the local vampire seethe, especially stood out for me.

“It doesn’t do to underestimate Mercedes, Jacob, something that I had to learn, too. Did she give you the spiel she likes to bring out now and again, about how she’s mostly no more powerful than the average human? It is a most effective speech because I think she actually believes it.”

We learned quite a bit about Bran and Mercy in this book. It was good to get another perspective when it comes to some of the relationships Mercy has formed. We see more how Marsilia, Bran, and others view Mercy.

“Bran could not love Mercy more if she were his own daughter. He’s funny about family. The last person who hurt one of his children was his own mother … you do know the story of Beowulf?”

Although the tone of the series tends to be kind of dark, there’s some levity. I actually laughed out loud a few times.

“So,” he said softly, “where is your pet werewolf whose job it was … to keep Mercy here, I think you said?”
There was a pause, then the beautiful male vampire to his left said, a hint of amusement in his voice, “She was hit by a bus and is currently recovering.”
And just that easily, Adam’s equanimity was restored.
Adam nodded. “People who stand in the way of my mate’s ability to get herself out of trouble often feel like they were hit by buses. I think this might be the first time it is literally true, though.”

The story jumps around quite a bit and Briggs does a lot more head-hopping than usual, but it really worked. The story was gripping. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Joint Review: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

Posted March 16, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #2
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Angels' Blood
Published by Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: February 2nd 2010
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 323
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her world of angelic rulers, vampiric servants, and the woman thrust into their darkly seductive world...

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel, Raphael, is used to being in control—especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority.

They've barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel, Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena.

Archangel’s Kiss is the second book in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh and it’s also the second book that Holly and I picked to review together in the month of February.

At the end of Angels’ Blood, Elena is turned into an angel and Archangel’s Kiss starts after she wakes up and is trying to get comfortable in her new reality. She’s weak as hell and not used to sucking so much at something. Being an angel is hard work and her wings hurt like a bitch. She’s got to toughen up soon because Lijuan, the most ancient living archangel, is throwing a ball and she has to attend and be able to fight dirty like all of the other archangels.

While Elena is trying to learn how to fight like an angel without passing out, someone is out torturing people. Killing, kidnapping and burning people up. Raphael has Elena hunting down leads and using her Guild Hunting skills to help find who is responsible for all the madness going on. Needless to say, Elena is busy and with the ball looming and Lijuan playing head games with Elena, using her dead family to get to her, Elena needs to work fast.

Rowena: It took me a long ass time to read this book but boy am I glad that I stuck with it. The beginning was rather slow but the last 2/3 of the book more than made up for that. I enjoyed this one. What did you think?

Holly: It took me awhile to get into this one, too. The first 1/3 moves really slow. Like you, I’m glad I stuck with it. I love Elena and Raphael.

Rowena: I do, too. I really like that Raphael is trying to be better for her. He’s trying to understand her and make things easier for her. Their relationship is my favorite thing about this book. I love how confident he is in her ability to stand up to the likes of Michaela and Lijuan even though they’re much more powerful than she is but he’s also got her back. There isn’t anything that he doesn’t love about her and man, I just really dig that.

Holly: Elena is seriously kickass. The fact that she can hold her own with Archangels? I have a serious girl crush on her. I like that she recognizes she isn’t Raphael’s equal (how could she be, when he’s 1000’s of years old and she’s barely immortal?), yet she doesn’t give in to him or let him walk all over her.

That Raphael allows her to be herself while stifling his protective instincts is no small thing. I love that he slowly comes to realize that forcing her to submit to him – or worse, taking her choices away completely – will eventually rob him of what he loves most about her.

Rowena: Yes. You should dress up like her for Halloween. That would be awesome.

Holly: I just might.

Rowena: It took me a while to get up to speed with who everyone is again since it’s been a while since I read Angels Blood. I remember Jason though. I’m mighty curious about him. I love Bluebell and Sara and Deacon and Zoe. I’m also interested in Dmitri’s story, too. Who else gets their story told? Anyone?

Holly: All of Raphael’s Seven eventually get their own books. Dmitri, Jason, Galen, Sara, Ashwini (one of the Hunters) and Naasir’s are already out. Bluebell and Aodhan will eventually get theirs (according to Nalini, though she refuses to tell us WHEN we’ll get them).

Rowena: Oh man, Bluebell and Aodhan don’t have books yet? I’m dying to know why Aodhan doesn’t like being touched.

Holly: What did you think of the business with Lijuan and Michaela?

Rowena: I was expecting to hate both of them and that turned out to be true. I still hated them both, in the last book, I hated Michaela more but they were pretty tied in this book.

I can’t wait for Elena to get strong enough to really give Michaela a beating. She’s a survivor but just like she knows that Raphael is stronger than her, she knows that Michaela is too so when they have their final showdown (cause they do have that, right?), I can’t wait for Elena to mop Michaela up.

Holly: What I find interesting is that each archangel is so nuanced. I hated Michaela and Lijuan, too, but there was more to them than just their evil side. Ex: Michaela’s very real pain when Sam, the baby angel, was hurt. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to see Elena beat her ass bad, but still.

Rowena: That’s true because my reaction to how hurt she was over Sam was more, “You’re still a bitch but I’m glad there’s some redeeming qualities” than “Aww, she’s just misunderstood” but I gotta know…does she get her own book later on?

Holly: I don’t think any of the other archangels are getting books. Not that I’ve heard, anyway.

Rowena: As for Lijuan? She was creepy in the last book but she was more so this time around because her creepiness was front and center. When she turns her attention to Elena, I was grossed out. The way that she lives her life, the things that she finds interesting and amusing are so far beyond normal, it’s just gross.

I was interested in finding out who was killing everyone and trying to pit each of the archangels against each other. I had my suspicions but I was wrong. LOL. Also? I thought I wanted to taste chocolate covered oranges but not anymore.

Holly: Are you going to continue the series?

Rowena: This series is good when I read it but I find that I’m not as invested in this series as I am with the Psy/Changelings. I guess because that series is more romance than this one? I’m not sure but yes, I will continue this series but that will happen over time. I won’t be glomming this series or anything like that. I’m probably in the minority with that huh? I know a lot of people love this series and me? I just like it.

Holly: The next book is also Raphael and Elena. After that it breaks off to the Seven. I think you’ll like those books more. They’re more romance-centric. We’ll have to discuss again once you’ve read the next two books.

Rowena: I’ll let you know when I pick up the next couple of books.

Overall, this book was interesting and the suspense had me at the edge of my seat when things finally started happening but I found it very slow in the beginning. Still, it ended up on a high note so it wasn’t a bad read at all just not my favorite.

Holly: The beginning was slow for me, too. It took awhile to get into it, but once I did I was really sucked in. Singh has a way with the world-building. I would say this may be the weakest of the series for me. I enjoyed it, but the others are better.

Rowena: I’d give this book a 3.5. You?

Holly: 3.5

Final Grades:

Rowena: 3.5 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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