Tag: Urban Fantasy

Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 5, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee
Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire, Wildfire, Emerald Blaze
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 359
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrew comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

Catalina Baylor is the head of House Baylor. When her sister married Rogan, the mantle of running the house passed down to Catalina. She doesn’t feel qualified enough to run a House, especially a relatively new one. When Runa Etterson, a Prime and ally of House Baylor comes to her asking for help. Runa’s mother and sister have been murdered. Runa wants to know who killed her loved ones so she can exact her revenge. Runa begs Catalina to take the case and Catalina can’t turn her down. She knows that if it was her sister and mother murdered, she would stop at nothing to find out who was responsible.

The case is suspicious from the beginning. The DNA of Runa’s sister doesn’t match the burnt corpse that was at the scene. It appears that her sister is alive, but has been kidnapped. Now that Runa and Catalina know this, they know it’s only a matter of time before they kill her. Catalina’s plans to find the killer all go to hell when Alessandro Sagredo shows up on the scene. Before he jumps out of the building of the morgue that Catalina has gone for answers, he tells her to stop looking for the killer or she will get hurt. Of course Catalina doesn’t listen to Alessandro and it’s not long before he pops back into her life.

I didn’t think I would enjoy Catalina as much as I did in this book. I liked her in the first three books of the series, but Diamond Fire was just not very impressive. It’s clear that in the time between Diamond Fire and Sapphire Flames, Catalina has grown up. She is strong enough to run House Baylor, she just questions herself constantly. That was pretty annoying. I really enjoyed the character growth in this book.

Catalina and Alessandro have a contentious relationship. They are very attracted to each other but they are from different Houses. That’s only one reason it will never work. Another is because Catalina is a Siren. She can lure men to her with just her voice and Alessandro is no exception. Catalina has had several mishaps with people that she accidentally used her voice on. Her life hasn’t been easy, but now she controls it and she can use it as a defensive weapon. An offensive one too.

I just adore the Baylor family. I love Penelope and Leon and Arabella. I love everyone in this series. It was nice that Nevada popped back in though it was just via a brief phone call. This book really focused on Catalina. I thought it was very well written.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Hidden Legacy

four-stars


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Review: One Fine Fae by Molly Harper

Posted March 31, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: One Fine Fae by Molly HarperReviewer: Holly
One Fine Fae by Molly Harper
Narrator: Jonathan Davis, Amanda Ronconi
Series: Mystic Bayou #4.5
Also in this series: How to Date Your Dragon (Mystic Bayou, #1), Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues, How to Date Your Dragon, How to Date Your Dragon, Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend
Publisher: Audible Originals
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Length: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Publisher's Summary

Take a trip to the beloved supernatural town of Mystic Bayou in this brilliantly funny new stand-alone novella - written for audio-first!

Charlotte McBee knows she’s in for a challenge when she accepts a job as midwife for a dragon and a phoenix shifter. Being a fairy herself, it isn’t the supernatural world that scares her. It’s the thought of delivering a giant metal dragon’s egg, which has her gritting her teeth in pain for poor Jillian, the anxious mother-to-be.

While preparing for the big event, a handsome town resident catches her eye. Leonard is kind, charming, and a little bit mysterious. He’s also suffering from a highly unusual condition brought on by an ancient fairy curse, and he’s too wary of Charlotte to allow her to get close.

Will love overcome fear before the end of her assignment?

©2020 Molly Harper (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

Charlotte is a midwife to magical creatures. Mystic Bayou has been home to magi for years, but thanks to a rift that opened due to a magical artifact, humans and magi alike have been gaining strong magical powers. Charlotte is hired to help the residents with their pregnancies, a prospect she’s pretty thrilled with. Leonard is Fairy-Cursed. Any time he gets stressed, he turns clumsy, which causes all kinds of calamites to happen in his presence. Charlotte and Leo are attracted to each other, but her magic makes him nervous, which means his curse kicks in even more when she’s around than normal.

This was a cute short story. I don’t believe it stands alone well, since it heavily features characters from previous books. The new romance was sweet and I liked seeing some of my favorite characters pop up again. I don’t love the male narrator, Jonathan Davis, but the female narrator, Amanda Ronconni, is a favorite. I definitely recommend this for fans of Molly Harper and Mystic Bayou.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Mystic Bayou

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

Posted March 18, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee & Holly
Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Narrator: Renee Raudman
Series: Kate Daniels #10
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks, Iron and Magic, Magic Binds, Magic Triumphs
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 327
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can't-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban-fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows her time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Magic Triumphs is the conclusion to the Kate Daniels series. It’s been a wild ride from start to finish. Ilona Andrews resolved just about everything while showing us a softer side of Kate. Kate as a mother is something to behold. Although she is softer because she is now a mother, she’s also even more protective of her family. Both Holly & I were very satisfied with the conclusion of the series (Holly after a re-read). The great thing is that we get to revisit Kate and Curran in the new Aurelia Ryder series which follows Kate’s ward, Julie.

Casee: I don’t know why I haven’t reviewed this book yet. It’s easily one of the best books I read in 2020. I adore Kate and Curran and now Conlan. I have so many feels that I don’t know where to start. What I can say is that I was very satisfied with the ending (though not the end of the KD world) of this series.

What did you think when you first read it? Does it get better when you re-read?

Holly: I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed the first time I read it. There were several loose ends left open, and I didn’t love the pacing. Of course, a “disappointing” read from Ilona Andrews is still better than a stellar book from some other authors. It did get better when I reread. I still feel like a lot of threads were left open, which isn’t like IA at all, but it was a satisfying end to Kate’s story.

Casee: I’m not going to lie either, I was pretty disappointed with how the whole Roland thing was wrapped up. He was such a badass for most of the series. Kate defeated him in, like, five minutes. I really enjoyed their father/daughter relationship even though it was extremely dysfunctional. When Roland finally made his move against Kate, at one of her most vulnerable moments, it made me pretty emotional. I was kind of hoping for a truce by the end of the series.

Holly: I think they came to as much of a truce as they could, considering they were coming from such different places. I am actually more satisfied with the way it ended now that the series is continuing and we’re learning additional details.

Casee: I was really satisfied when I finished the book. Although there are a few things that bothered me, overall I thought that it was a fitting ending to a great series. It’s even better now that we get Aurelia Ryder.

Holly: I agree, it’s better now that we’re getting a continuation story with Aurelia Ryder. I loved the scenes with Conlan. He was adorable.

I really hate how Kate and Curran hide things from each other. I know why they do it, but I wish they wouldn’t. Why can’t they just communicate like two adults?

Casee: I agree about Kate and Curran hiding things from each other. I know they both are coming from what they think is a good place, but the fact is that they lie to each other. Or if not exactly lying, they omit pertinent detail all for the sake of protecting the other one.

I loved Conlin! He was the cutest little thing. When he shifted, I just went “awwwww”.

Holly: This book was problematic for me the first time I read it because it was the end of the series and so many things were left unanswered. Now that Iron and Magic and the Aurelia Ryder series’ are being written I don’t feel quite the same way. I love Kate, Curran and the entire cast of characters from the series. I loved Kate’s personal progression, the way their romance grew, and the other relationships she formed. I’m really looking forward to seeing more in this world and I’m glad things ended the way they did with Kate.

I would say this is a pretty solid conclusion to the series, now that I have a little distance from it. 4.25 out of 5.

Casee: As I mentioned above, I was a little disappointed with how quickly the Roland situation was resolved but in retrospect I believe that it had to be written the way it was. It was a great conclusion to the series. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

Casee: 4.5 out of 5
Holly: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels


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Review: Make Mine Magic by Shanna Swendson

Posted March 10, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Make Mine Magic by Shanna SwendsonReviewer: Holly
Make Mine Magic by Shanna Swendson
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: January 9, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Length: 7 hours, 28 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

Jilted at the altar, small-town librarian Claire is forced to go on her romantic honeymoon in New York City alone. After enduring one too many meals for two as one, Claire invites a seemingly harmless little old lady to join her for afternoon tea at the Plaza. Unbeknownst to Claire, said little old lady is actually a grand wizard, who bestows Claire with a magical amulet that makes her the sitting queen of the magical community. Claire is swept into the gilded world of New York City wizards - and a bitter power struggle for the throne. With the help of a cursed former prince, Claire must untangle this web of deception and find the magical community's rightful leader before her "honeymoon" is over.

Claire’s fiancé dumped her right before their wedding. Instead of getting a refund on their New York honeymoon, she decides to go on the trip herself. Sadly, by the second day of her trip she’s already tired of doing things alone. This is why she invites an old woman she saves from robbers to have tea with her. She walks the old woman home afterward and then strange things start happening to her. It turns out the woman bestowed a magical artifact on Claire, which now makes her the leader of the magical community in New York. A magical community Claire didn’t even know existed. When different factions start trying to butter her up, Claire realizes there’s more going on than she’s aware.

I found this while browsing Audible Plus and decided to give it a try based on the reviews. It was a cute story. There were times I thought the MC made some questionable choices (running off to a party with a guy she just met in a hotel bar, in a city she’s never visited before, without getting the address so she can tell a friend?), but I was interested in how things would play out and I enjoyed the story and characters as a whole. I also really liked the narrator. I will definitely look for other books by Swendson in the future.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. Breene

Posted February 24, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. Breene
Series: Leveling Up #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 16, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 376
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

"Happily Ever After" wasn't supposed to come with a do-over option. But when my husband of twenty years packs up and heads for greener pastures and my son leaves for college, that's exactly what my life becomes. Do-over.

This time, though, I plan to do things differently. Age is just a number, after all, and at forty I'm ready to carve my own path. Eager for a fresh start, I make a somewhat unorthodox decision and move to a tiny town in the Sierra foothills. I'll be taking care of a centuries-old house that called to me when I was a kid. It's just temporary, I tell myself. It'll just be for a while. That is until I learn what the house really is, something I never could've imagined.

Thankfully forty isn't too old to start an adventure, because that's exactly what I do. A very dangerous adventure that will change my life forever. I have a chance to start again, and this time, I make the rules.

Magical Midlife Madness is the first book in K.F. Breene’s Leveling Up series, which is women’s fiction rather than her traditional romance. I’m not sure why I haven’t picked this series up before now. I like KF Breene’s writing and always enjoy her stories. I think this one just wasn’t on my radar until recently.

Jacinta recently turned 40 and her whole life changed. Her son went away to college and her husband asked for a divorce – something she felt only relief about. She ends up moving in with her parents, but a single day there makes her realize that isn’t going to work. Lucky for her, her best friend’s aunt is looking for a caretaker for the family mansion, Ivy House. Everyone else finds it creepy and weird, but the one time Jacinta visited as a child she fell in love with it.

Now she’s surrounded by grumpy old people – the strange butler, gardener, and ancient neighbor who can drink her under the table – and trying to deal with some strange goings-on in the town and the house. Most shocking of all? Jacinta learns the house is actually magical and so are the townsfolk..and the house has chosen her as its new Mistress. She’ll have to decide if she’s willing to accept the house’s magic, or if it’s all too much for her.

“I am not going to call you by your full name, I’ll tell you that right now. The lot of you are crazy. I’m not climbing aboard that train.”

“And yet, you just debated on the merits of slitting a perfect stranger from neck to navel versus navel to neck, and decided on stabbing and ripping any way you chose.”

“Yeah. That’s just logic.”

It started a bit slow, but about 1/4 of the way through it picked up. I was really cracking up at some of the antics of Jessie (Jacinta). She was a strong woman who had fully accepted where she was at in her life and I loved that. I also loved how she managed her new life. She accepted that she wasn’t perfect and made mistakes, but she was comfortable with where she was now. She also wasn’t afraid to speak her mind or call out others when needed. I really enjoyed the mature conversations she had with Austin Steele, the undeclared alpha. She makes him think, and he does the same for her. I appreciated that.

“I hear you,” he said softly. “I never put stock in any of that—the taunting about being ladies—but I didn’t see the bigger picture, either. Just like earlier tonight—no one has ever spelled out the dangers women face when a man asserts himself as I did. That blindsided me. So much of tonight has blindsided me. In my life, when it comes to this, I feel like I’ve been…blindfolded in a way. Not blind, because if I would’ve looked, I would’ve seen, but…” He shook his head. “I’m gobsmacked. Thank you. I’ll be more conscious of this going forward.”

There isn’t a romance in this book, which worked well for where Jessie is at in her life. She needs time to figure out other things, and I liked that Breene is giving us that. There could be something here for later books, but right now friendship is at the forefront.

I did think it got a little preachy for a minute with the whole ‘love yourself as you are’ and ‘middle-age is okay’ stuff. I don’t disagree with the sentiment at all, and in fact, love the message, but it came across a little heavy-handed at times. Not so much that I didn’t enjoy the book, but just enough that I noticed it.

“Raise your voice until you are heard. Look however you want, be whoever you want, and demand people pay attention to you. Stop taking what you’re given, and demand the space in life you want.”

If you’re looking for a fun read full of humor, with mature characters who are figuring out the next stage of their lives amidst unforeseen craziness, I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Leveling Up

four-stars


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