Fantasy, paranormal, romance, urban fantasy

Series Review: Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

 

ilona andrews books

Title: Kate Daniels Series
Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace
Length: Varies from 260-400 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Overall Series Rating: 4 folded pages out of 5

Magic Bites Blurb:

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic…

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

Review:
What better way to start my comeback than with a huge series. The Kate Daniels series, by the husband and wife writing duo Ilona Andrews, currently has 9 main books, 5 novellas, and one online only snippet from a different character’s point of view. The tenth and probably final book is set to come out early 2018.

Let me just say, I LOVE this series. I read the entirety of it in about 3 weeks. I was so sad when I realized I had to leave the wonderful world and character building behind because I’d finished all the books available. I’m not even one to read novellas for series I love because usually I find they don’t really add much for me. But I read every single one.

I want to be Kate Daniels when I grow up. She’s fierce, independent, and caring. Honestly, reading from her point of view and seeing everything she does in these books made me want to start taking some kind of martial art or self defense course so I could be just one tenth of a bad ass that she is. Through the series you see her grow and develop in a way I hadn’t realized a book character could. Keep in mind this is the first series I’ve read that’s longer than Harry Potter.

I love all the side characters pretty much equally. Even the ones your supposed to hate or at the very least find annoying like Saiman. I was always sad when her adventures didn’t bring her into contact with the him even if he was absolutely infuriating at times.

On top of all this, Andrews’ writing is superb. It’s fast paced and snappy. I hardly ever found myself bored even in the middle of info dumps or plot set up; both of which get absolutely tedious in fantasy novels for me.

This series is a must read for urban fantasy lovers. It’s so good I’m already considering rereading it to try and catch things I may have missed. Also, don’t be put off by me saying it’s also a romance. It’s very light and definitely stays on the back burner when compared to the plot.

As a side note: The covers of these books are absolutely horrendous and it’s a surprise I read them at all but please don’t let them fool you. The stories inside are amazing.

humor, short story, young adult

Book Review: Open Mics: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices edited by Mitali Perkins

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Title: Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices
Editor: Mitali Perkins
Publisher: Candlewick
Length: 144 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Short Stories, Young Adult, Humor
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Using humor as the common denominator, a multicultural cast of YA authors steps up to the mic to share stories touching on race. Listen in as ten YA authors — some familiar, some new — use their own brand of humor to share their stories about growing up between cultures. Henry Choi Lee discovers that pretending to be a tai chi master or a sought-after wiz at math wins him friends for a while — until it comically backfires. A biracial girl is amused when her dad clears seats for his family on a crowded subway in under a minute flat, simply by sitting quietly in between two uptight white women. Edited by acclaimed author and speaker Mitali Perkins, this collection of fiction and nonfiction uses a mix of styles as diverse as their authors, from laugh-out-loud funny to wry, ironic, or poingnant, in prose, poetry, and comic form.

Review:
I found this book by chance when going through my libraries ebook collection. After reading it I immediately preordered a physical copy of it because I need it on my shelves to reread. The short stories and poems seamlessly show what it’s like to grow up having different cultures while being funny.

Personally, I preferred the short stories. They helped get the point across better and allowed for more detail. As a person who doesn’t necessarily care for poetry, though, I would take this with a grain of salt if I were you.

I read the entire collection in a matter of a few hours but each of the stories definitely had me thinking for the rest of the week. Open Riffs opens up so many new perspectives that are hard to see unless you are experiencing them yourself. I hope to see more diverse stories similar to these in Young Adult in both collections similar to Open Riffs and in full length novels.

I can’t say much without spoiling the stories, unfortunately, but I will say that the stories had me both laughing at some points and tearing up at others. It’s a book I hope will be included in school curriculum’s because I think it makes diversity easier to understand and can help build a better world view. I enjoyed this book immensely and strongly encourage anyone even slightly interested to pick it up and give it a try.

chicklit, new adult, romance

Book Review: Eversea by Natasha Boyd

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Title: Eversea
Author: Natasha Boyd
Publisher: NPRB
Length: 359 Pages, Ebook
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Chicklit
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Warning: This book has explicit scenes and is not meant for those under 18.

Blurb:
An orphaned, small-town, southern girl, held hostage by responsibility and self-doubt.

A Hollywood A-list mega-star, on the run from his latest scandal and with everything to lose.

A chance encounter that leads to an unlikely arrangement and epic love affair that will change them both forever.

When his co-star and real-life girlfriend is caught cheating on him by the tabloids, A-list hottie, Jack Eversea, finds himself in sleepy Butler Cove, South Carolina. Jack hopes the sultry southern heat in this tiny coastal Lowcountry town will hide him not only from the tabloids and his cheating girlfriend, but his increasingly vapid life and the people who run it. He doesn’t count on meeting Keri Ann Butler.

Keri Ann has relied on herself so long, dealing with her family’s death and the responsibilities of keeping up her family’s historic mansion, that boys and certainly the meager offering of eligible boys in Butler Cove, have never figured into her equation. But fate has other plans. Suddenly face to face with the man who played the movie role of her favorite fictional character, Jack has Keri Ann yearning for everything she has previously avoided … and Jack must decide whether this funny, sassy girl is worth changing his life for, before his mistakes catch up to him.

Review:
I picked up this book because it was free and I was in the mood for romance. I think it’s no secret that I tend not to expect a lot from free romance ebooks but this book packed a punch! I was pretty much flung across a room by how much this book surprised me and I read it in about 4 hours. I couldn’t put it down.

Keri Ann Butler is probably the best female character I have come across in a very long time. She’s strong, independent, and for the most part confident in herself and her abilities. She isn’t afraid to plainly show her emotions no matter how up and down they may be and the best part is she STAYS that way.

The strong characteristics she starts out with she keeps throughout the book. The entrance of a sudden romance doesn’t change who she is. My biggest pet peeve in romance books, romcoms, Korean dramas, and other similar media types is that the woman tends to suddenly become completely dependent of the man she gets involved with. All of her amazing characteristics disappear to show just how “awesome” their love is and how it’s meant to be. This may be a bit of a tangent but I want to make it clear that Keri Ann Butler is amazing and I need more female protagonists like her in basically everything. Though she isn’t without her flaws.

Jack Eversea is also a great character. He’s broken and mysterious and hunky. Pretty much everything you could ask for in a romance novel. But he also has a lot of character and depth outside of the cliche.

If it isn’t obvious, I really loved this book. The side characters were also fantastic and I can’t wait to read the side story about Jazz, Keri Ann’s best friend, because she was also really well written and developed.

My one issue with this story, really, is the writing in certain parts. The explicit scenes were bogged down by using weird words to describe things. I understand the Keri Ann was supposed to be inexperienced and innocent but constantly describing sex using words like apex and center is just not hot. I also found Boyd to overuse cliches like “wet hot heat” and other similar phrases.

The plot was interesting. I normally get bored with romance books because the plot doesn’t carry well but this one worked. So much so that when I finished it I needed to know what happened with the characters so much I bought the rest of the series in a Kindle set. I don’t normally feel the need to read other books in a new adult series but I couldn’t stop myself with this series.

Overall, this was a fantastic read. I hope more people seek out this series because honestly, it’s probably the best new adult book I’ve ever read. The first book in this series is still free on Amazon if you’d like to give it a go.

dystopian, Horror, young adult, Zombie

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

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Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Length: 322 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Dystopian, Zombies
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Review:
So this is the first zombie book I’ve read and honestly I didn’t know it was about Zombies when I picked it up from the library. I just thought it was a weird fantasy/dystopian and it looked really interesting. I was definitely surprised and I can’t tell whether it was a good or bad surprise.

I appreciated Mary as a character. I both like and dislike her. It was interesting to watch her point of view but she’s definitely an unreliable narrator. I don’t often read books with an unreliable narrator but it was interesting and I finished the book the same day I started it.

My thoughts on this book are a little muddled. I have nothing to compare it since I don’t read the genre often. Some of the characters fell really flat and some were just plot devices. I feel like you don’t really get to understand any of the characters including Mary. You’re in her head but it feels really distanced.

The plot itself was interesting but also, there was no real climax. It felt fast paced but there wasn’t really a climax or a resolution. I think I’m going to read the sequel only to see where this story is going. I’m curious about how Ryan is going to continue the story and whether Mary will continue to be unreliable.

My review is all over the place but long story short. I think I liked it but I’m not 100% on that. I both liked and disliked Mary and I think the story/characters could have been fleshed out more.

historical fiction, paranormal, romance, steampunk

Novella Review: Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger

PoisonOrProtect_promo

Title: Poison or Protect (A Delightfully Deadly Novella)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 150 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Steampunk, Romance, Historical, Paranormal
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Warning: This novella contains explicit scenes not for people under 18.

Note: I received an Ebook Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb:
Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment. It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

PoPsquare

Review:
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I read Carriger’s first three Parasol Protectorate novels last Summer. I loved Soulless and enjoyed Changeless and Blameless and because I reviewed previous novels, Carriger reached out to me to read and review her newest novella set in the same world.

I really enjoy Carriger’s world building. Even without reading previous works, the world is really rich. It’s full of steampunk and supernatural elements that made Soulless so endearing in the first place. A favorite character of mine even made a (brief) reappearance.

Preashea is my kind of woman; fierce and stubbornly independent. Her character made it all the more satisfying to watch the romance unfold. I liked being able to see the various depths of her character which is difficult to do in the short amount of time a novella provides.

Carriger seems to share my weakness for muscley Scottish men as well. First Lord Maccon and now Captain Gavin. Both of them are very swoon worthy but I think I actually like Captain Gavin more. He was sweet and understanding. I enjoyed that he was able to intuitively figure out what Preshea needed from him.

The romance was such a satisfying and slow build and the perfect read to pull me out of the reading slump I’ve been slowly falling into (again, I know!). I actually read the entirety in about 3 hours because I just couldn’t put it down. I now feel the urgent need to continue reading the Parasol Protectorate series. I forgot how much I enjoy Carriger’s writing, especially when it comes to the romance aspect.

I’m sure I would have read this novella eventually since I plan on working my way through all her books, but I’m so glad I got to read it now. It’s probably going to end up being one of my favorite books that I read this year and I’m excited to see future novellas from Carriger.

Fantasy, romance, young adult

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 426 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Warning: Might be slightly spolier-y. I can’t tell, but better safe than sorry.

Blurb:
On a continent ruled by three empires, everyone is born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others. Now, as the Twenty Year Truce in a centuries long war is about to end, the balance of power-and the failing health of all magic-will fall on the shoulders of a mythical pair called the Cahr Awen.

The biggest thing on Safi and Iseult’s minds is saving money for their planned future in the Hundred Isles. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the emotional Threads binding the world. Safi, on the other hand, is a Truthwitch-she always knows when a person is telling a lie. A powerful magic like that is something people would kill to have on their side-or to keep off their enemy’s side-and so Safi cannot even admit what she truly is.

With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and a ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must rise above their doubts and fight to learn who they are and what they are made of, if they are going to stay alive and preserve the balance of their world.

Review:
I’m not sure if it was just me or not but I found this book a little hard to get into. Once I got past the first 100 pages or so I couldn’t put it down but it didn’t hook me like I thought it would from all the reviews I’d read up to this point.

Let me start by saying that even though the story jumped into the action from page one, the beginning was boring. I had no reason to be invested in the characters or care about why they were in that predicament so I didn’t really want to read it. I also had a hard time differentiating between Safi and Iseult for the first 100 pages or so. I think this is a world and book that could have used a bit of build up instead of jumping straight to action.

I do appreciate the connection Iseult and Safi have. It’s refreshing and fun for the main story line to revolve around a female friendship and have romance be the side thing instead of the other way around. That being said, I had expected more of this because of the hype. The majority of the book Iseult and Safi spend apart. I hope the next book can showcase them as friends more and have them actually be together so I can get more of their dynamic.

I also think that the romance involved is very insta-love. Even more so, it feels, because it’s such a side thing. There’s not love confessions and I appreciate that. But there unavoidable attraction to each other is weird.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Dennard builds out this world and how the story continues. So far the Truthwitch series is a definite improvement over Something Strange and Deadly which I DNF’d before 50 pages. I can definitely see an improvement in her writing.

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Book Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

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Title: Neanderthal Seeks Human
Author: Penny Reid
Publisher: Caped Publishing
Length: 401 Pages, Kindle Ebook
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chicklit
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
From the USA Today Bestselling author of ‘Truth or Beard’, this is a full-length, 110k word novel is the first book in the Knitting in the City series.

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

Review:
This was another book I started pre-slump and just now finished. In my defense, I read maybe half of the first chapter pre-slump so I feel like I can safely say I read the majority of this in less than 12 hours. I’m not sure if it was a right book, at the right time kind of deal but I really enjoyed this book.

Janie is a hard-to-reach-emotionally woman and finds herself somehow supremely attracted to a maybe criminal. It was too hard to resist. Janie actually reminds me a lot of Lucy London from Imperfect Chemistry and I think that’s part of why I loved it so much. I like it when female characters are the ones who are emotionally distant because typically that’s a male troupe.

Quinn was an okay sexy, leading man. I did find his controlling, jealous ways a little off putting but it made sense sort of with Janie since she was kind of oblivious and needed to be taken care of a lot because of it. I wouldn’t put him at the top of a list of fictional males I want to marry but their romance was cute and sizzlely.

I liked the way the characters and their relationships were built as well. Each relationship unfolded bit by bit in a really interesting way. I appreciated that.

I probably won’t be reading any of the sequels in this “Knitting in the City” series but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first one. Considering this is a free Kindle book, I think I’m really happy with how much I enjoyed it versus the time invested. Which I can’t say has happened with a free Kindle book before.

contemporary, romance

Book Review: Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

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Title: Bella’s Christmas Bake Off
Author: Sue Watson
Publisher: Bookouture
Length: 316 Pages, Kindle Ebook
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 2.5

Blurb:
Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER.

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.

But this year things are going to be different.

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…

After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember…

Review:
I finished this novel a few days after Christmas just because Christmas was so busy and it was cute. Honestly, I can’t say much more about it than that. It was cute and Christmasy.

There were some glaring flaws for me. The first being how childish sound the main characters all sounded considering they were supposed to be around 38. I swore half the time they were 16 instead. I understand that maturity is different for everyone but this was rather annoying.

The plot was also kind of haphazard but cute. I like what Watson was trying to do even if execution wasn’t very good.

I do have to say that Watson did the character development and relationships between characters pretty well. The characters and their relationship to each other were complex and changed as the novel progressed.

Overall, I’d recommend it as a Christmas read if you can’t find much else. It read like a hallmark movie and that was A-Okay in my book.

new adult, romance

Book Review: Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame

Small update about me: Thanks for all the well wishes! I’m feeling much better and to help make up for not posting anything this past week I’m publishing this today. The regular update schedule will be back next week. 😀

Title: Imperfect Chemistry
Author: Mary Frame
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Length: 198, Kindle Book
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Rating: 4.5

Blurb:
Lucy London puts the word genius to shame. Having obtained her PhD in microbiology by the age of twenty, she’s amassed a wealth of knowledge, but one subject still eludes her—people. The pendulum of passions experienced by those around her both confuses and intrigues her, so when she’s offered a grant to study emotion as a pathogen, she jumps on the opportunity.

When her attempts to come up with an actual experiment quickly drop from lackluster to nonexistent, she’s given a choice: figure out how to conduct a groundbreaking study on passion, or lose both the grant and her position at the university. Put on leave until she can crack the perfect proposal, she finds there’s only one way she can study emotions: by experiencing them herself.

Enter Jensen Walker, Lucy’s neighbor and the one person on the planet she finds strangely and maddeningly appealing. Jensen’s life is the stuff of campus legend, messy, emotional, complicated—in short, the perfect starting point for Lucy’s study. When her tenaciousness wears him down and he consents to help her, sparks fly. To her surprise, Lucy finds herself battling with her own emotions, as foreign as they are intense. With the clock ticking on her deadline, Lucy must decide what’s more important: analyzing her passions…or giving in to them?

Review:
I LOVED this book. I heard of it because of Duchess at Duchess Reading and I’m so glad I read her review on it. It was such a light and easy read.

Lucy was such an interesting character. I loved how logical she was about falling in love. I also love how she made friends. She was super intriguing to read. My only qualm is that her character kind of changed toward the end and I think it may have been a bit too big of a leap.

Freya is an amazing side character along with the slew of friends she brings with her. Jensen was a mystery, which was both a good and bad thing. I think he went from mysterious to open book way too quickly.

As for a new adult novel, it didn’t get nearly as graphic as I was sort of expecting. It was refreshing since the romance seemed to be less about physical attraction and more about attraction to the other’s personality.

Fantasy, new adult

Book Review: The Source by J.D. Horn

Hey everyone! This post is officially post 100 on this blog. How awesome is that?? I can’t believe I’ve made 100 posts. This blog was started May 4th, 2015 and in only 4 and a half months I put out 100 posts. Onto the book review!

Title: The Source (Savannah Witching #2)
Author: J.D. Horn
Publisher: 47North
Length: 352, Kindle Book
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 2.5 Folded Pages

To see my review of The Line (Savannah Witching #1) click here.

Blurb:
Graceful trees and historic buildings fill Savannah, Georgia, but beneath the city’s Southern splendor, its supernatural roots run deep. The members of local witch families grace the society pages…when they’re not secretly protecting their magical work from dark forces.

Savannah resident Mercy Taylor may now be in control of the South’s most powerful family of witches, but she’s struggling to master her newfound magic. Pregnant with her first child and still reeling from a heartbreaking betrayal, she just wants to be able to use her supernatural abilities without accidentally destroying dishes or blasting the doors off buildings.

But when Mercy’s long-presumed-dead mother suddenly returns, begging Mercy to keep her presence under wraps, the witch wonders how many secrets her family is hiding…and who she can really trust. And when the danger around her intensifies to deadly levels, Mercy knows she must discover the truth behind her family’s magic—before it destroys her.

Review:
Unfortunately, this novel suffered from sequel syndrome badly! It wasn’t nearly as interesting and well written as The Line. The characters were different than in the original and the plot seemed like a bit of a stretch.

Speaking of the characters, Mercy was SO annoying. I really enjoyed her character in the first book but in this sequel she was flaky at best and downright contradictory of herself in the worst moments. The side characters seemed to have changed personalities as well though not nearly as much as Mercy.

The plot wasn’t paced well. I felt like a lot of nothing happened for a big part of the book. I still enjoyed the majority of the book because Mercy was herself here and there and Mother Jilo was still hilarious. The ending was also well done but it definitely wasn’t as good as The Line and I almost feel like this series would have been better off if The Line was a stand alone.