Tag: Ilona Andrews

Review – Magic Bleeds

Posted September 14, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Bleeds by Ilona AndrewsMagic Bleeds, Ilona Andrews

NB: this is posted out of order from my other Kate Daniels reviews, as it was in the backlog! 

Magic Bleeds is the fourth book of the series, and some things are finally really heating up — not just Kate’s relationship with Curran, although that happens, but also Kate’s secrets, her problems with the Order, her growing attachment to her friends and acquaintances. She’s in a hell of a mess, and the mess is coming for everyone she cares about.

Of course, I was also attracted by the various plagues that break out or attempt to break out in this book. The practically sentient syphilis really caught my attention, as you’d expect, and was a hell of a start to the story. Kate’s not exactly built to contain a real plague, but magically-virulent ones she can actually fight.

The book also features the arrival of a certain furry asshole, and I’m not talking about Curran.

Normally I remember the third book most fondly, but actually, I think this one is probably better. Everything starts getting somewhere, and there’s development in characters and relationships which is really important to the story.

Of course, there are also some really funny moments, but I won’t spoil the jokes.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Slays

Posted September 7, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Magic Slays by Ilona AndrewsMagic Slays, Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays is the fifth book of the series, so I really don’t recommend jumping in here. You need to understand the dynamics of the Pack, have caught up on Kate’s ancestry, understand her relationships with Julie and Curran, etc. If you have all that info, then this book is one hell of a ride.

It’s not obvious that it’s going to be that way from the first pages. Kate’s newly created detective agency, Cutting Edge, is in trouble (totally classic for a private investigator) and she’d have trouble paying the bills if it weren’t for the advance she got from the Pack. She does get a call where Ghastek needs a favour, and naturally ends up in deep shit, at which point Andrea shows up.

So far, so good; it’s entertaining, but where are the big guns? Hold on, it’s all building up to something — and once it does, all hell breaks loose. As you’d expect from a book in this series, to be honest.

My favourite part about this book is actually not the epic stuff, though. It’s the moments where Kate and Curran clash and spar, even though they’re together now — and then they talk and work things out and support each other. Kate thinks about running, but doesn’t; Curran thinks about being the autocratic bastard he is to Kate, but doesn’t. They’re still figuring out how to fit together, but they both think it’s worth it.

And then that epilogue. Oof!

Rating: 5/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted August 26, 2021 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Bleeds by Ilona AndrewsWhat are you currently reading?

I’ve gone back to my usual habits and I’m reading a couple of books at once: Pen Vogler’s Scoff, for a start, which is slower than I’d maybe expected. It’s all about food and class in Britain, and ye gods, I’d thought my family were snobs but my eyes are getting opened. Then there’s my reread of The Fellowship of the Ring, which feels very slow right now since I only just cleared the Council of Elrond.

Finally, I’m rereading the Kate Daniels series, and I’m now embarked upon book four, Magic Bleeds. I love how Kate and Curran are total idiots and need to communicate properly, yet it doesn’t frustrate me because it doesn’t feel contrived — they’re just that stupid, and carry such a boatload of issues each, that it makes sense things won’t just work between them.

Cover of The Jasmine Throne by Tasha SuriWhat have you recently finished reading?

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri! I really need to sit down and write my review; I’m still sort of digesting it, I think. It felt so chunky and daunting, on the shelf, but it melted away when I sat down for my focused reading sessions each day. Very enjoyable, even though I tooootally called the big secret about Rao’s name.

Cover of Elatsoe by Darcie Little BadgerWhat will you be reading next?

Ooof, no idea. I recently reread The Goblin Emperor so I could start The Witness for the Dead while the details of the world were clear in my mind, so maybe that. Or Elatsoe, which is my next book club read. Or maybe one of the books I got for my birthday — The Chianti Flask looks like a good palate-cleanser in the way most of the British Library Crime Classics are.

How about you?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted August 18, 2021 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

What, me, doing my weekly update in a timely fashion?! Surely you jest.

Cover of The Jasmine Throne by Tasha SuriWhat are you currently reading?

Just two books! I know, it’s a shock — I didn’t intentionally cut down, really, I was just feeling pretty stressed and it happened by itself. So I’m halfway through Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, for a book club read. It’s a bit chunky-looking on the shelf, but I’ve been speeding through it when I sit myself down and focus.

I’m also now rereading The Fellowship of the Ring. I had a bit of an urge to read it, and I decided to just go with it — whims are good!

Cover of The Bone Wars by Erin EvanWhat have you recently finished reading?

The Hobbit, which is for me always the right place to start a Tolkien reread. It’s as cosy as ever (despite going some very un-cosy places), and I still love the narrative voice.

Before that, I DNF’ed The Bone Wars (Erin S. Evan) too soon to even review it (which I normally would) for being a bit too young-feeling and infodumpy.

Cover of Slippery Creatures by K.J. CharlesWhat will you be reading next?

That’s a bit of a mystery, as usual, but maybe not quite so much as usual. I’m really really hoping to get started on Scoff: a History of Food and Class in Britain by Pen Vogler, from my non-fiction pile, and Slippery Creatures by K.J. Charles from the fiction pile. However, I also want to reread the fourth Kate Daniels book soon, and the next Whyborne and Griffin book, and I’ve so far had 10 new books for my birthday, and(!) I want to work on reading more of the ARCs I’ve neglected.

So, um, probably still plenty of mystery.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What’re you reading?

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Review – Magic Strikes

Posted August 11, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Strikes by Ilona AndrewsMagic Strikes, Ilona Andrews

When I think about this book, I think about some of the pivotal scenes in the arena, and it was a bit of a surprise to read it again and realise how little fighting Kate and the shapeshifters actually do together in the arena. I mean, there are still a few battles, but I remembered it taking up a much bigger chunk of the book. It’s one of my favourite in the series so far, partly because of that strong impression about the arena, but also because there are some really funny lines (“turn your headlamps off” — in context, that’s just, ahaha).

It’s also one where things finally get really moving on the romance plot, and it becomes obvious what Curran’s intentions are. Which is the source of much of the funniness, but also a couple of really good scenes. In shapeshifter romance there’s sometimes the tendency to talk about how the instincts are stronger than anything, etc, etc, and sometimes it leads to kind of rapey stuff which is just ick. Curran, however, demonstrates really very strongly that a ‘no’ is a ‘no’, even if he thinks Kate doesn’t mean it.

Though how much does it say about her that she just has to say no, very explicitly to test his control? Oh, Kate.

Anyway, Kate continues to be both a total smartass and a total dumbass, and we also see some development for other characters like Derek, Julie, Andrea, Raphael and Jim. Speaking of smartasses, Raphael has some pretty great lines too.

So yeah, lots of fun.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Burns

Posted July 23, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsMagic Burns, Ilona Andrews

I always forget how many books it takes for this series to really become a romance — I expect it straight away, somehow, and yet it’s really taking its time in that regard. Instead, this book’s emotional heart centres around Julie, a young girl whose mother is missing and who comes under Kate’s protection. Having read the later books, there’s also more information about Kate and foreshadowing for things in books to come — but you don’t know it yet!

Really, the books are an amazing mishmash of all sorts of mythology, and that would normally bother me, but it feels natural in the chaotic world of oscillating magic and technology that the characters inhabit. The chaos is the rule that means it’s not weird that you’ve got the Morrigan right beside birds with metal feathers from Greek legend.

There are also more glimpses into the workings of the Pack and the Order, which is fun. But the best parts are Kate and her interactions with Andrea, Curran, Julie and Bran; we get to see more of her heart, more of her hurt, and more of what she needs, wants, and thinks she needs and wants.

It’s a hecking lot of fun, basically.

Rating: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted July 15, 2021 by Nicky in General / 2 Comments

Real quick, this week:

Cover of The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia PostrelWhat are you currently reading?

A few books at once, as usual! But I’m in a hurry, so I’ll stick to saying that I’ve just started The Fabric of Civilization, by Virginia Postrel, and I’m finding it fascinating. The first chapters go into specific elements of fabric (thread, dye, etc) describing their origins and development.

I’ve also started a reread of The Paradise War, by Stephen Lawhead. It seems almost impossible that the suck fairy hasn’t visited this book I loved as a teen, but it was so formative to my tastes that I’m giving it another go.

What have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished was Magic Strikes, which was a reread, and remains a heck of a lot of fun. I overestimated how much the arena scenes featured in the book, though!

What will you be reading next?

Should be Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho, since it’s coming up as a book club read. But, as always, I can’t promise I won’t be tempted by shinies, especially with my wife currently reading K.J. Charles’ Will Darling books, which I have not yet started…

So… what are you reading?

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Review – Magic Bites

Posted July 8, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsMagic Bites, Ilona Andrews

I read this relatively recently already, but sometimes you just want to turn to familiar books — and I couldn’t get back into the book I was up to in my last read through the series, just starting cold from the first page. So I went back to the beginning, which is a) a very good place to start (sorry, couldn’t resist) and b) has the start of the relationship between Kate and Curran, which is always entertaining.

I didn’t giggle as much at this one as I remember, but there were some great moments (here, kitty, kitty) and Kate’s smart mouth remains a joy to me. I love the way the books build up the hints about who she is and what she’s hiding, and that she and Curran are not obviously star-crossed lovers right from the start — you genuinely don’t know if they’re going to end up hating each other or loving each other, and both feel possible (though the former admittedly feels a little more likely).

One thing that did annoy me a lot on this readthrough was that Kate figures things out, after some healthy hints around her (really, she is slow on this one), and then Curran immediately jumps to a conclusion about who the bad guy must be. He decides she’s wrong altogether when he’s wrong about who he assumed was the problem. Dude, you’re the one who jumped to conclusions, not Kate!

Anyway, it’s a bag of fun and remains so, with lots of hints of what’s to come. Kate is pretty epic, and it’s a fun fast read for me. Maybe it’s not the best book in the world, but… the fascinating setting drew me in and the character arcs have kept me. One day I’ll actually catch up to the most recently published volume.

Rating: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted May 26, 2021 by Nicky in General / 2 Comments

Here we are again, it’s Wednesday already. I think it’s my fault: I have an exam coming, so time is doing weird things.

At least I’m close to being caught up on my backlog of reviews to write! 26/28 done… (I won’t be posting them all at once, don’t worry.) Anyway, for now let’s stick to the usual Wednesday update.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha LeeFiction: Let’s see… quite a few things at once. I’m still reading Plain Bad Heroines (emily m. danforth), and I’m now onto the second Kate Daniels book, Magic Burns (Ilona Andrews). I’ve also picked up Phoenix Extravagant (Yoon Ha Lee), which I’ve been meaning to read forever — yes, okay, I even had the ARC, this is a peril of being a mood-reader — and am enjoying so far, though I’m not very far into it. I’m also reading The Cheltenham Square Murder (John Bude); I normally find Bude’s books solid but not remarkable, and so is proving to be the case with this — but a little Golden Age crime does hit the spot right now.

Non-fiction: I’ve started on Food: The History of Taste (ed. Paul Freedman), which… I have some mixed feelings about, given the first essay-writer got some stuff wrong (there is no area of your tongue dedicated to tasting sweet things), and just… made me worry about the quality of their other research and whether they leaned too much on received wisdom. I’m still reading Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, too, which has finally got round to some dinosaurs.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished a couple of the other books I’ve been talking about for a bit, like The Invention of Murder, but also went off-piste a bit and read the fourth Whyborne & Griffin book by Jordan L. Hawk. I’ve been meaning to for a while, and it was a very satisfying Saturday read — it was my day off, so I could start the book in the morning and polish it off by night.

Now to avoid waiting so long to read the fifth…

Cover of Behave by Robert M. SapolskyWhat will you be reading next?

I don’t know, as ever. However, I have been trying to line up some possibles and just keep them well in sight. So that list includes Tasha Alexander’s third Lady Emily book, A Fatal Waltz, and Robert Sapolsky’s Behave, which I’ve had for quite a while… though as always, I’ll let whimsy be my guide as well. Possibly even literally Wimsey, since I do need some beloved books to pamper my brain through this exam. Medical statistics, bleechhh.

What’re you currently reading?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted May 20, 2021 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

Hey folks! I’ve been spending the unskippable cutscenes of a particular dungeon in Final Fantasy XIV to catch up on my reviews, and I should soon start scheduling those. Right now, all my energies are focused toward my exam… but maybe I’ll be around here more soon, at this rate! In the meantime, though my arm is sore from my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, I can still wield a keyboard, so here’s the Wednesday update!

Cover of Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsWhat are you currently reading?

Fiction: Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews, for a start. It’s a reread, but I’ve had a lot of joy from this series, I’d really like to read the more recent books someday, and it felt like ideal light reading while my entire body stresses out about my upcoming biostatistics exam. I’m also still reading Plain Bad Heroines, and I’m finding it super awkward-feeling right now with the apparently deliberate baiting of Merritt. I’m intrigued about where it’s going, but also apprehensive that it’s going to be annoying.

Non-fiction: Still on both The Invention of Murder (Judith Flanders) and Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs (Lisa Randall). I’m enjoying the former, and probably planning on finishing that next; the latter is still doing Planet Formation 101, and there’s very little new to me, so I’m biding my time and finding it a bit slow.

What have you recently finished reading?

I just finished The Library of the Dead, by T.L. Huchu, and I wish I loved it more than I did. The narrative voice doesn’t work for me, and the cover puts me too much in mind of Ben Aaronovitch’s books not to (fairly or unfairly) compare it to those books. Not so much in terms of overall quality, where I don’t particularly feel Aaronovitch is one of the genre’s great craftspeople, but in terms of plots, themes and settings.

I also finished Murder’s a Swine, by Nap Lombard, which was pretty fun.

Cover of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky ChambersWhat will you be reading next?

I’m in the mood for lots of rereading, but as usual, I’m really not sure what I’ll actually pick up. Maybe The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Becky Chambers) again(!) because playing Mass Effect is kinda giving me that urge. Or even Ancillary Justice (again again).

What are you currently reading? And how are you all?

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