Tag: Ilona Andrews


Review – Magic Burns

Posted 14 June, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsMagic Burns, Ilona Andrews

The second Kate Daniels book plunges straight into action, with Kate teaming up with Jim to fight a guy using a salamander to set things on fire. Things escalate from there, as is usual for Kate, while the book also introduces more important secondary characters in the form of Julie and Andrea. Julie is a vulnerable girl Kate spends most of the book trying to protect; Andrea is a knight of the Order who can put a bullet through a pinhead at god knows what distance. (Together, they fight crime! Well, kind of, a little bit, actually.)

There’s more mythology mixed into the pot — including a healthy dollop of Irish mythology, with the appearance of the Morrigan and a warrior with a skillset like that of Cú Chulainn — and a lot more frenetic fighting, running and pure badassery. I love the hints towards Kate’s heritage — I’m not sure why I never twigged further in advance, given the evidence, but somehow the first time I was not going in the right direction at all.

And as before, another thing I love is that Kate is indeed a total badass, but a badass who knows that sometimes the fighting has got to stop. That some things you have to protect, and sometimes you want to just go home and find the person you love waiting there. The fact that she’s willing to be vulnerable — not only that she wants these things, but that she’s willing to say she wants them — makes her a surprisingly positive character for me, where you might expect a female mercenary to be, well, more mercenary.

There’s still no real romance here — some flirtations, of course, and hints at what’s to come. But for those who expect paranormal romance to be a total sex fest, well… either this book has been mislabelled, or you’re maligning the genre unfairly.

did find that the fast pacing here sometimes left me behind a little. I’m not sure if that was the speed I was reading or just the frenetic pacing, but a couple of times I did end up thinking “wait, what now?” and have to read back a little. It’s not a perfect book, in stylistic terms: I still find a lot to enjoy, all the same.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Bites

Posted 10 May, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 8 Comments

Cover of Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsMagic Bites, Ilona Andrews

The first time I read this book, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This time, I was surprised by the way the world was stripped back and all the stuff I remembered from later book was not here yet… though there is some delicious foreshadowing, and really, if you’re paying attention, you have some idea of what’s up by the end of this book.

I’d also forgotten how much these books make me laugh.

Magic Bites gets dismissed as paranormal romance, but there’s really not much romance in this book. There’s one potential romance that fizzles out because the main character is suspicious, emotionally unavailable and wedded to her job (her job is killing things), and there’s a hint at what’s to come in later books. But for the most part this book is Kate Daniels going it alone. She’s a mercenary who gets herself involved when her mentor gets killed. Wherever there’s trouble, she’s there, and half the time she’s the cause. Try saying ‘here, kitty, kitty, kitty’ to the Lord of the shapeshifters, a lion shifter… yes, that sounds like a good idea.

I love the setting of these books. It’s set in Atlanta, post-magic-apocalypse, where the world alternates between magic and tech — so you need a jeep and your horse if you want to be sure of getting around. It’s a wilderness of old tumble-down buildings that should have stood for years, and a world where shapeshifters and vampires (very creepy vampires) rule the shadows.

Really, those who dismiss this as paranormal romance and decide it’s not their thing because everyone knows paranormal romance is just ‘sex with a plot’… might just want to give it a go. Kate’s tough as nails and a lot funnier, in a deadpan scary sort of way, and the world-building is actually an interesting set-up. It’s not all about who Kate gets in bed with, and honestly in this book it’s barely even about that at all. I’m not saying it’s perfect: I think some people struggle with the worldbuilding, because you’re expected to take it for granted, and I think it’d have given me more pause the first time too. I think some characters you’re supposed to like come off fairly badly.

But it’s funny, and there’s so much potential. After Magic Bites, there’s so much more to come. Looking forward to revisiting the books I’ve read before, and finally reading the newer ones!

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Shifts

Posted 13 September, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Magic Shifts by Ilona AndrewsMagic Shifts, Ilona Andrews

It’s been a while since I read this, and I’m not sure why I didn’t write a review at the time. Since it’s been a while since I read it (eek, a year!) I can’t comment in much detail, but it’s a worthwhile addition to the series, starting a new chapter in Kate and Curran’s lives — and spending more time dealing with who exactly Kate is, what Roland can do, and what Kate and Curran are going to do without the Pack.

Not that they’re entirely without their old allies, of course…

It’s pretty much what you’d expect from this series, in other ways: pacy writing, Kate and Curran being badass but also idiots, and some really weird shit going on that they really should deal with. If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, you’ll enjoy this one too.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Breaks

Posted 10 September, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Breaks by Ilona AndrewsMagic Breaks, Ilona Andrews

It’s hard to believe this is the seventh novel of the series. Somehow it still manages to feel fresh, and I’m not ready for this arc to come to an end. Yet that’s exactly what this book does, featuring Kate bigger and more badass than ever, with Curran at her side and ready to fight with her, against something she’s been preparing for her whole life.

Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t quite go as expected.

As usual, I found the Pack politics somewhat frustrating. One minute they’re all loyalty, and the next they won’t follow Curran and Kate, even though they’ve proved themselves, even though they’d give their lives for the Pack. I did enjoy the by-play between Desandra and Jennifer, though, and how that whole storyline wove throughout the book and joined the main storyline in places. Desandra’s a fun character, even if her humour isn’t always my thing, and she’s come a long way from our first glimpse of her.

The only place this falls down for me is that, well, I just don’t believe Curran’s going to bow out gracefully. It’s convenient for Kate to doubt him or think he’s dead or whatever, but I never do. And with Kate as the narrator, I never believe that she’s really in danger either.

I really want so many more of these books stretching out ahead of me, though. Something about them just hits the spot perfectly.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Rises

Posted 5 September, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Rises by Ilona AndrewsMagic Rises, Ilona Andrews

Magic Rises really ups the stakes. It opens with a serious dilemma for the Pack being made really crystal clear to Kate: the likelihood of the Pack’s children to ‘go loup’, at which point the pack have to kill them. To make sure we really notice, one of the children affected is a friend of Kate’s adopted daughter, and then the Pack receive an offer: go and mediate issues with a woman who is pregnant by two different men, whose father uses her as a way to control and divide territory. In return, you’ll get a load of the stuff you need to drastically reduce the odds of loupism.

It’s a trap, of course, and the trap is really well baited. The only question is really who it’s set for, and of course, it turns out that this advances the overarching plot as well: Kate’s heritage comes more and more to the fore, and her relationship with Curran has to weather that. At the same time, there’s a price paid within the story for every advance they gain, and lots of impossible choices to make.

My main frustration is that Kate and Curran start being idiots again. Communication, people. It’s not a myth. Use your mouths and talk to each other. Argh! Even if they don’t agree on tactics and so on, I wish their personal relationship felt less shaky and superficial at moments like this. I believe that Kate needs Curran, loves him. Now make the two of ’em act like it!

Also, the whole Andrea-and-Raphael issue is just all of a sudden solved. I’m guessing this is the point where it’d have helped to read Gunmetal Magic.

It’s a really fun read, though: it just races along at breakneck pace, and you never know exactly what’s going to happen next. The writing team that is Ilona Andrews don’t pull their punches.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Slays

Posted 30 August, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Slays by Ilona AndrewsMagic Slays, Ilona Andrews

Argh, this book brings the feels. Characters we love get endangered and characters we love are worried about them, serious issues in the Pack’s way of life start to become apparent, and Kate finds out that some things she took for granted weren’t true at all. We also get to see a bit more of Kate’s past and more about her mother, which we have been lacking, in the form of the witches. There’s also more about Kate’s father, about her bloodline and what it means, and what it means she can do. Plus, more honesty with Curran about those things!

Kate and Curran continue to negotiate their relationship and their respective stubbornness. They’re not perfect at it, but they do it, and they do also manage to express themselves. I’m not 100% a fan of how focused on Curran Kate can be at times (the whole having missed him while at work thing, for example), but it makes sense.

I’m not sure how much this advances the overall plot; it feels like a bit of an interlude, after the events with Erra, except that character-wise it is fairly momentous, and Kate does inch slowly towards an understanding of the cost she might have to pay, but also why she shouldn’t run away.

I find these books solid fun and really easy to read; there’s no way I’m stopping here.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Clean Sweep

Posted 19 March, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Clean Sweep, by Ilona AndrewsClean Sweep, Ilona Andrews

Okay, the concept reminds me of Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper, which I haven’t read yet but which is held in high esteem by some of my friends. But Ilona Andrews’ writing is just darn fun. Dina is funny and takes no crap, the whole concept of the inns and the responsibilities of the inn keepers is good, and while Sean Evans is kind of an ass, he’s the kind of ass that can grow on you — like Curran, from the Kate Daniels books. I actually read this in one sitting, despite rather wanting to go to bed before I started, and when done, I handed it straight to my sister.

And come on, if nothing else grabs you, the unique “vampires” from actual outer space are a really cool concept. Between this and the magic/technology mixture in the Kate Daniels books, you’d better believe that the Andrews team can come up with some great settings and interesting worlds.

Guess I’m going to have to get my hands on Sweep in Peace, though I sort of hope that neither potential love interest turns out to be the one. Shoo, Sean. Go pee on someone else’s trees.

Rating: 4/5

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 24 October, 2015 by Nikki in General / 13 Comments

Hello, everyone! Thanks for the good wishes last week — my grandmother’s operation went okay, and she seems quite well, all things considered. Hope you’ve all had good weeks too!

Bought

Cover of Murder Past Due by Miranda James Bitch Planet vol 1

Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood

Cover of Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews Cover of Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Suddenly, I’m mad about Phryne Fisher. Even considering watching the series, if it’s on the UK Netflix! I’ve read a bunch of these already.

Library

Cover of Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood

Yes. Uh. As I said.

Comics

Shield #1

I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first heard about it!

What’s everyone else been getting?

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Review – Magic Bleeds

Posted 19 September, 2015 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Bleeds by Ilona AndrewsMagic Bleeds, Ilona Andrews

Oh thank goodness. I sort of knew it, because I read the extras with Curran’s POV, but Magic Bleeds is the point where Curran and Kate start communicating properly and fully, and they eventually stop running away from the issues between them. The scenes with them are great; there is indeed a sex scene or two, but you can skip it if that’s not what you’re reading the books for — there’s still an epic amount of fight scenes and showdowns. And witty one-liners and snarky banter.

I’ve never been too inclined to take this series too seriously, so it’s amazing that it does actually pull me in and make me need to know what happens. And at least, unlike the Mercy Thompson books, it’s not like everyone is in love with Kate. And the dynamics of Curran’s pack make more sense than Adam’s pack; while some oppose Kate, she also has allies, and there’s a more robust sense of politics within the Pack. I initially thought of it as lighter than the Mercy Thompson books, less serious, and while it is, and the steaminess is definitely higher, it seems to deal with things better. Like, people around Kate actually manage to respect what she’s capable of, for instance. As a consequence, I’m more invested in this whole group of characters.

Things this book did need more of: Derek. And possibly less of Saiman, because though I kind of want to know what’s up with him and why he’s been in all the books so far, he’s a creepy asshole.

Anyway, we’re getting more and more of Kate’s background, and it’s intriguing. It’s building to an epic climax, and I’m definitely invested in it enough that I might have to beg or borrow the next book right away.

And hopefully we get lots more of Grendel, because that dog is hilarious, and I love her justification for his final name.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Strikes

Posted 1 September, 2015 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Strikes by Ilona AndrewsMagic Strikes, Ilona Andrews

I only meant to pick up the second Patricia Briggs book when I was at the library, but then I spotted this and Magic Bleeds, and I couldn’t resist it. It’s exactly what I’m in the mood for right now: snarky, full of action and a will-they-won’t-they romance. Curran and Kate are rather more powerful in that regard than either of Mercy’s paramours; I think I’ll read Magic Bleeds next, since I’m obviously in the mood for this world.

Again, it’s not deathless prose, the most subtle thing ever, etc, etc. However, I do like the worldbuilding, the slow reveal of Kate’s heritage, the various tangles of loyalties and friendships between the characters, and yeah, the snappy dialogue. If this one doesn’t make you laugh, then you must be in a state. (Or it isn’t your thing, and that’s fine. For me, though, it’s funny because it’s a give and take. No one gets humiliated, no one backs down.)

The action was particularly good in this one, with the arena fights. The mythological stuff in the background is interesting, too, and characters I didn’t expect to be developed were given a bit more time, a bit more colour.

Rating: 4/5

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