Category Archives: Series

ARC Review: Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels#8) by Ilona Andrews

5 gems
 magic shifts

First off, thanks a lot to Alexis Nixon and Ace Publishing for allowing me to read this book.

Now this is what I felt like when I got a mail telling me ‘Why yes, you can obviously have an early copy of Magic Shifts. You didn’t even have to ask.’ (okay she did not say that, but you get the idea)

fangirling hard

and yes i did this too…

yay2

There are going to be some spoilers of Magic Shifts in this review. They will be minor in the grand scheme of things, but any Ilona Andrews fan knows that any spoiler is a big spoiler when it comes to the Kate Daniels series.

It’s been a couple of months since Curran stepped down as the Beast Lord and Kate claimed the city. The suburban life is as good as their life can be, though it’s an adjustment. While Kate and Curran are happy that they don’t have to get sucked into the Pack politics anymore, Curran misses the challenge of making the Pack run like a well-oiled machine.

When the Pack offers them an ailing Mercenary Guild, Curran has found a new challenge for himself. Except the Guild is in shambles, the Clerk is gone, there’s no one to man the tables so to say, and all the mercenaries have a bad attitude to boot. The mercenaries don’t need Curran coming in and saving them, but then again Curran never cared much for what others wanted.

This time around Kate and Curran are supposed to save Eduardo, the were-bison form the Pack. With no sign of Eduardo, his fiancee, George, is in a turmoil. So she goes to the two people she knows can help her. True to their nature, Curran and Kate do everything in their power to help George and save Eduardo., sometimes going above and beyond to help them. With hoards of ghouls in town and the strange gigs the Kate and Curran are doing for the Guild, they know that their unknown enemy is one of the strongest they’ve ever met.

With one of the oldest supernatural creatures in town wreaking havoc in Atlanta, Kate and Curran don’t have much time to play house or just be. For them, it’s a race against time to save a friend’s life and keep Atlanta whole without losing their lives in the process.

Let me just say this: Holy sh*t! This book was bloody awesome. Kate and Curran are in full form, fighting death, vanquishing enemies, saving friends and meeting Roland for dinner when they have some free time. While I love all the books in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Breaks wasn’t my favorite. I was disappointed with the lack of Curran for half the book, but that is not the case in Magic Shifts. I also forgot how much I loved Kate the Mercenary rather than Kate the Consort, and I was reminded of that in this book. Kate kicked ass in this book. Totally and completely kicked ass.

Magic Shifts took me thorough a whole concoction of emotions. I obviously loved Kate’s kick-assery. Put Kate and her sword together and there’s bound to be magic. I enjoyed Kate being the family woman. Interacting with Curran and Julie, making them breakfast, asking about their day. And when Kate went up to her neighbour and told her to leave Curran alone, all I thought was ‘You go girl’.

Kate’s sarcastic humor is an unsaid favorite. But what I loved most in this book was that there was a point when I wasn’t sure if Kate and Curran are gonna make it. And not like in Magic Rises. I honestly thought they were on the verge of being over, but then they found their footing and worked their way through their problems. Then there was a point when I was crying my eyes out and saying ‘NO! NO, YOU CAN’T DO THAT! That’s so unfair. What am I gonna do now?’ That was a total *headpalm* moment with me literally crying buckets. That was also the epitome of Kate’s strength and to some extent her powers.

I was also glad to find out that all the characters I thought would leave with Kate and Curran did leave with them. Yayy me!! Some were unexpected, but all were welcome. Christopher makes an appearance in this book too and like always I enjoyed Kate’s interactions with him. Saiman too graces us with his presence, and honestly, that man needs to stop doubting Kate. When is he gonna realize that Kate is THE BOMB?  Watching Julie turn into a mini-Kate was fun in itself, but she too is getting stronger with each passing day. I’d love to know her role in defeating Roland in the future books.

As with all the Kate books, there was her trademark humor, her banter with not just Curran but also other people. Her intrinsic loyalty towards her family and friends. Walking into trouble headlong and saving lives. This book has all the elements that are present in the classic Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews.

There’s not a single thing in Magic Shifts that I didn’t like or that I’d like to change. This book, for me was perfection. I have already read it twice and when it comes out tomorrow, I’m gonna be reading it again. This book is Ilona Andrews at their best.

This review also appears in The Ever Romantic Arts

 

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Book Review: Midnight’s Kiss (Elder Races #8) by Thea Harrison

3

Midnight's Kiss

In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two souls who have long buried their passions are about to be consumed…

Ever since their scorching affair ended years ago, Julian, the Nightkind King, and Melisande, daughter of the Light Fae Queen, have tried to put the past behind them—and distance between them. But when a war breaks out between Julian and Justine, a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind council, they find themselves thrown together under treacherous circumstances…

Kidnapped as leverage against Julian, Melly is convinced that her former lover won’t be rushing to her rescue. But when Julian gives himself up to save her, they both end up Justine’s captives. Armed only with their wits and their anger, Melly and Julian must work together to escape. But will they be able to ignore their complicated history, or will the fiery passion that once burned them blaze again?

It seems that I have arrived at the stage where I am losing my appreciation for Thea Harrison’s writing. Or it just might be my irritation with vampire romances. To get to the point, though nice, Midnight’s Kiss did not impress me much.

Julian and Melly’s story was good. It involved political manoeuvres and suspense build up. Action sequences and group fighting scenes were written nicely and the thankfully enough the plot had more than just romance and sex.

What I had an issue with was that the characters weren’t exactly drawn with clean strokes. For Instance, Melly’s character imbibed different personas; but they didn’t sum up. She has the benefit of being brought up as the heir to her mother but at no point in the story did I see her proving her mettle. She had some backbone, yes but there is no way I would label her as a kick-ass heroine the author wanted to portray her as. How can I call a woman cool who calls her mother “Mommy” ??

Julian’s character though strong and driven lacked a certain amount of foresight that he should have gained during his tenure as a Nightkind King. He is loyal, driven and hot-tempered but his soul yearns for peace but this is a secret yearning of his.  The author makes his self-realization – an important part of the plot in the novel so; it can actually be accepted. On the other hand, I did not see much character growth in Melly.

I even had issues with the characters which were not occupying the centre stage. They were either established in certain relationships that sprang out of nowhere or they came up with some mystery moves that necessitated explanations which were missing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author had been merely testing the waters to check if stories about secondary characters would be found interesting by the readers. Honestly, I find such developments annoying.

Another issue I had with this book was that few characters were portrayed very differently previously. I remember reading The Wicked(Elder Races #5.5). I genuinely liked that book and enjoyed it. I remember Bailey and Julian in that book. And the portrayal of both these characters had made me interested in reading their stories. While Julian’s different persona I can live with, Bailey’s depiction in this novel was not something that could I could align with her previous impression.

Nevertheless, I will credit the author for a few well written scenes. On the whole, while I found the last book just tolerable enough, this book was a definite step-up. The writing and plot-development was good enough to keep me interested in the series still. The good thing is that the next book in the series is about Graydon. I am happy with that. It will be good to read a Wyr romance once again.

For my review of Night’s Honor (Elder Races, #7) click here.


Book Review: The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

3gem

the naturals

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

The Naturals is a teenage version of the TV show Criminal Minds. However, a great suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy and believe it. Having done that, the book is interesting enough. It’s fast-paced with occasionally good sections, but moves too quickly after the second half. Another first person POV, it started well and though I wasn’t bothered by the narration, I didn’t feel anything either. On the one hand Cassie is a good narrator, on the other, there’s a severe lack of emotions and feelings in the entire book, from everyone. She never mentions how she feels and what she thinks with regard to emotions (other than the brief sections on kissing of course), and this makes you get a sense of detachment from her.

I don’t like love triangles and this book, and the rest of the series from the looks of it, has one. There are the two hot, intriguing boys who are instantly attractive and return the interest. As usual even the broody, silent, stay-away, mysterious one happens to be drawn to Cassie as soon as she enters. It’s a short book and the triangle took up too much space. Not Fun.

There is a lack of character development – flat, stereotypical characters despite the potential back-stories yet to come. And even though Michael and Lia are careful to keep Cassie guessing with changes in wardrobe and carriage, they still manage to be cliché.

Considering the content and length of the book, it could have done with more flesh – more activity and more interactions with substance than the surface level ones. It was apparent there are going to be more books in the future, but that doesn’t mean you give nothing.

Also, the supposed team does nothing team-like in the entire book. Even towards the end, there wasn’t enough involvement and use of abilities as there should’ve been. They don’t use all their gifts just to survive.

The most ridiculous part was who the killer turned out to be (I will admit to being surprised). That NOBODY over all those YEARS managed to suspect anything, especially when you consider that the whole team consists of Naturals. Yes, even they can be wrong, but FIVE of them? Undermines the entire premise of the book and series. And the killer’s sudden escalation in behaviour was confusing and disappointing.

Overall, the characters were the weakest part of the book which isn’t good for its health. Other than the premise, the book, though predictable, had potential. It wasn’t boring, it was underwhelming. With some more work, it could’ve been much better.