Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2)

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


On one hand, I can’t help but feel that these novels (especially this one) are too short, on the other hand, they are so packed with non-stop action that I also believe if it was any longer I would actually get tired reading it. The main character hardly has any any time to rest, she spends more time passed out after almost dying again than sleeping, she hardly eats, she goes from one deadly battle to another, ‘almost dies’ multiple times, and the whole book hardly covers more than a couple of days.
I enjoyed this book more mostly because there weren’t really any unreasonable blunders like in the first one, but I do think I would enjoy it even more if there was more ‘room to breathe’ between all the action.



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One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’m still a little sad that this series has traded a big portion of humor for angst, but I did enjoy this book much more than the second one. I think we could do with fewer ‘almost deaths’ per novel. But the Hiru story was very good.
It’s too bad that it looks like it’s going to be a while before we get any continuation with the story with Dina, if ever.



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Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2)

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Unfortunately, this series didn’t manage to escape the ‘curse of the second novel’. It was so much drier, heavier, and compressed, I can’t even really say I enjoyed it. It made me rush to finish it not because I couldn’t look away, but I wanted it to be over quickly so I could see if the next one is any better. Most of the good content that was in this was practically suffocated from two sides by too extensive dry recapping of the events of the first book in the beginning, and a wave of angst in the end; the humor and flavor of the first novel didn’t really have any space to breathe here.
Also, the twist with Sean was too obvious. I really hate it when I get this ‘well wouldn’t it suck if this happened’ feeling in the middle of the book and it just comes true.
I’m giving this 4 stars because it’s not a bad book (even if I can’t help but feel like there should have been a better way to write it.) But it is also is a book that didn’t really leave me feeling good.



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Moonshadow (Moonshadow, #1)

Moonshadow by Thea Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This might be the closest I felt to a female protagonist. Which is probably over-sharing.
And yet, I did find a few too many things I found myself empathizing with.
Other than that:
Yes to the banter, yes to the setting (though I do wish we would explore it a little more), yes to emphasizing thinking for yourself, yes to keeping your promises, and yes to men in black with swords.
I don’t know how much we will come back in the other 2 books of these series, if at all, but it does feel like some of the concepts and ideas were left a little underdeveloped. Like the forms and identities of the remaining knights not being addressed after the beginning, or Dark court relationships in general. I think the ending could be expanded a bit more, instead of saying ‘in next few weeks things like these happened’… But oh well, this is more like asking for more, than real complains.
Also, I had about 4-5 scenarios in my head of how this book could go horribly wrong all the time while reading, and I couldn’t be happier that it didn’t touch any of them.
One more book like this and Thea Harrison might become a name a on my ‘automatic buy’ list.

The only real complain I can give is the cover…



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Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1)

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Imaginative, original, addictive. It’s actually sad that it is so short (and that I can’t get the compilation edition in this side of the world). I feel like there could have a been a bit more meat to this.
Loved the idea, even with the vampires (who are a bit like carnivorous violent elves), loved all the references, loved Sean and Beast bonding.
It’a bit like a mix of good urban fantasy with old classic comedic sci-fi, but where where everything can be explained by magic. Can’t wait to get my hands on the next part.
Out of Ilona Andrews’s worlds (and I haven’t read them all yet, but I’ve read the descriptions) this idea might actually be my favorite.




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First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Want to read about the worst things humans do in a fun way? This book is for you.
It has great writing and humor, and they’ll mostly make you forget that it also touches on some very heavy topics. In other words, if you have a lot of triggers, this book is not for you. It is also probably important to mention that most of the worst things that happen/are mentioned in this book involve children.
I feel like I’ve been fooled into a false sense of security by the attractive humor of this book, and it doesn’t feel too right. I also feel like I dug my toes into yet another 10+ book series, and now I’m in trouble.
I enjoyed this book a lot, even despite the bad things it deals with, but I’m a little cautious about the directions it is going to take from here on. To be honest, I’m not sure how I will feel about the whole gates to heavens and armies of Satan scale it threatens to go with…



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Dragon Bound (Elder Races #1)

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


After all the disappointing book surprises I had recently, this book was such a pleasant surprise I think I added one extra star just for that. I also have just read the whole book in two sittings in a couple of hours, so my judgment maybe clouded.
I’d also like to point out that the pleasantness of the surprise might have been enhanced by rather low expectations, and the low expectations came from the fact that there was something about the cover and the short description of this book that turned me away a couple of times when I considered this book previously. (In fact, I also decided to go and buy the UK edition with a different cover separately after I finished reading this.)
The best thing about this book is the humor. I do feel like the I had to turn off a part of my mind that would question the solidity of the setting, because if I questioned if Dragos is really believable in his role of a being who has been around since the beginning of time, I don’t think I would like the answer. But then, I feel like it doesn’t even matter. The humor makes this story just un-serious enough to accept these things and flow with it. It still has a solid urban fantasy world and a story. It’s not heavy, it’s not angsty, it’s has just enough thrill in places, but what it does best is the lovable sarcastic characters and dialogs that just kept me turning pages until I got through the whole book in less than 6 hours.
While it’s still an adult ‘romance’ book with its bedroom scenes, there was something about its mood that reminded me of good old fantasy worlds I loved reading so much in my childhood, and I’m very grateful to it for that.



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Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Writing style of Ilona Andrews sometimes makes me envious. It is in the attention to details and imagination with the environments and world-building. One that makes me sometimes feel like I’d walk through the same place they did and my mind would be too chaotic to notice even half of things they would.
I enjoyed this book quite a lot. I like that the heroine is both very strong and independent, but also can show vulnerability, question things, and admit it when she screws up. I like that this is an urban fantasy first and foremost. Even though I do feel that a number of innocent victims and number of times main characters try to die is a bit too much…
The minus points are for that and for the part where the main character actually looks right at the culprit, realizes who it is, … and then gets distracted and forgets about it completely, even when they sit down and discuss who it might be she doesn’t say anything, and then we need to go on the whole loop of them not knowing whom to blame, and people not working together and not looking in right places. I feel like it wouldn’t be natural for her not to listen to her gut like that and the whole loop felt a bit overplayed and unnecessarily complicated.
Looking forwards to getting into the rest of the series though.



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Bodyguard (Shifters Unbound, #2.5)

Bodyguard by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Now here we have an actual comfort book of romance variety.
Although, admittedly, rather short and swift. Problems in this book get solved swiftly, main characters fall in love very swiftly, bad guys get dead very swiftly, and so on. Which, likely, is what this book needs. It’s a romance focused on themes of protection, saving people, and especially children, from shitty circumstance, unconditional care, trust. There’s a Papa Bear and a heroine who can think for herself, take care of herself, and doesn’t take shit from anyone. The writing is on the simpler side, but not cringy (with the exception for the head-hopping… it’s bad), and the romance-related scenes don’t actually feel ridiculous.



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The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book genuinely surprised me. Mostly because I reached that point where I don’t really expect to ever like anything YA anymore.
This books is filled with sparks of something great that speak of real talent. (Personally, I think the author should just drop the YA and switch to full-scale adult fantasy.)
Each character is a fully developed separate entity, and it is very clear when the POV changes. Their backgrounds and personalities are detailed and captivating. Personally, as someone with ASD, I appreciated the insight into Zofia’s mind. The world is complicated, with elaborate descriptions that sometimes feel even a bit too complicated, but I think it only makes it more attractive for the imagination. I loved many of the descriptions, especially the ones that included characters’ feelings about the landscape around them. The interactions between characters are great, even if there were a couple of times where they were overplayed for the sake of humor and broke the immersion.
I’m not a fan of puzzle-mysteries or ‘heist action’ stories, but the writing and the characters kept me reading and kept me interested in this world.
I have mixed feelings about the composition of the ending and the related angst… the decisions made for a couple of human relationships and ‘down-up-further down’ emotion structure were not particularly pleasant, but somehow I want to hope that some things will be righted in the next books.
Definitely a series to follow.



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Magic Stars (Kate Daniels, #8.5, Grey Wolf, #1)

Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’m that person who clicks ‘buy’ on bunch of books without really checking too much details (because I also don’t like spoilers) while she is heaving an anxiety attack and needs to grab all the books, and then gets a surprise of 1) receiving a 70 page booky when she expected a full-length novel; 2) realizing that even though it says ‘Book 1 of ‘Grey Wolf’ series’) the ‘series’ have nothing but this 70 page booky released in 2015.

What can you do.

All I can say is ‘too bad’, because I would’ve actually enjoy reading a series with this character as the protagonist. This was a nice short story.



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Nightchaser (The Endeavour Trilogy)

Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Space pirates, romance, found families

I’ve been looking forward to his book a lot. I do love stories about outlaws in space, especially with a dose of quality romance, even if it was a bit too instantaneous for my personal preferences.
I wouldn’t say this book is without issues – I feel like there could be a bit more of environment/world building; it felt like the book was too short and covered too little – like an introduction that opened a lot of questions and not much else; it asks you to swallow a lot of ‘…but what about this/but why?’; it leaves a lot of characters and interactions out for no reason; the oppressive tyrant image is a bit too tired. And so on.

Nevertheless, even though there’s plenty of angst, it’s exiting and well-written, and the characters all promise to be interesting. There are books, cats, and handsome rogues. What else needs to be said?

‘Wanting more’ is a good thing, but the fact that this was considered ‘enough’ for this book worries me a little. I hope we’ll get more sustenance in the next one, even though it will have to wait for a year.



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Murder of Crows (The Others, #2)

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A promising sequel.

I did enjoy this book more than the first one.
Though the amount of chapters with POV of random characters (villains) did still bother me, it does feel like there were fewer of those than in the first one.
Although, unfortunately, I still can’t shake the feeling that I would prefer these series without the whole ‘blood prophets’ concept a little bit more… which is maybe a strange thing to say, since it’s literally the central idea around the main character. It’s just the whole idea of girls kept as property, bred, raped, used, treated as things… doesn’t sit with me and I wish I didn’t have to read about it.
I do, however, enjoy the world of terra indigene and the way they interact among each other and with humans quiet a lot.
I feel like the next book has a potential to either go somewhere I will like a lot, or go some other completely unexpected place I won’t really want to follow it to… I sincerely hope it’s the former.



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Written in Red (The Others, #1)

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


An interesting concept of an urban fantasy with a twist, yet unfocused.

I wanted to like this book a bit more. The thing is, I do like the world, the concept, and a lot of its characters. I just kind of feel that the focus was not in the right places for a lot of the story, especially the second half. I would have thought Meg (and hopefully Simon) were supposed to be the main character in this, but after the first initial chapters we don’t really get any substantial focus on the development of their relationships, just snippets here and there. I, personally, wish that the bit about Asia could have been left out altogether, and we could have had more time with Meg and Simon. A lot of their interactions get of ‘looking back’ treatment, when we don’t actually get to read about them happening, but get told that they had happened because one or another character was remembering them happen for a brief moment. It’s like the parts that were supposed to be more interesting were left out or breezed over, and boring insignificant parts about characters who didn’t even matter in slightest got a lot of focus and ‘screen time’.
Regarding the world-building: While there probably could have been a better name than ‘Others’ (and why do we even need the word ‘Others’ if there is a proper name?), I sort of like the more savage concept for the ‘supernaturals’ that were something that have been around long before humans, and will always be more powerful than humans they can feed on. Can’t say if the concept had been really developed believably from all angles, but I think I just like it enough to kind of believe it without looking for holes much.
The concept of blood prophets on the other hand… Definitely had more holes than substance, and was also left out of focus half-way through. I believe it will probably be revisited in one of the following books, but right now it feels more like just a convenient way to make the main character more special and let her predict things from time to time an be useful.

Returning to my very first point, (I just can’t really get over it) I feel that the most interesting parts were the interactions between Meg, Simon, Wolves, and some other supernaturals, but unfortunately they were too diluted by others and felt even more few and far between than they probably were. With the progression of the story, we got less and less insight into Meg and her actions, and it felt like we were getting farther and farther away from her.
I think I’m still interested enough to read book 2, but if it will follow the same pattern – of focusing on insignificant side characters and not on the developments between the main characters – that probable will be ‘it’ for me.



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