Tag: Ilona Andrews

Review – Magic Stars

Posted March 14, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – Magic Stars

Magic Stars

by Ilona Andrews

Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 80
Series: Kate Daniels
Rating: three-stars

Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.

Never one to be left on the sidelines, equally determined—some might say stubborn—Julie Lennart-Olsen soon joins in his pursuit; and what began as revenge turns into a race to save the city. Their search pits them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

Ilona Andrews’ Magic Stars is a fun short story from Derek’s point of view, featuring Derek and Julie. They fight crime! Well. They avenge supernatural murders, track down a couple of mysteries, and get themselves into big trouble — just as Kate and Curran would want. Wait a sec, no…

It’s a fun little taster of how Julie’s going to handle life, and also a glimpse at what she’s intending, where she sees herself in the world. She’s in touch with Roland, she knows about the caveats and side effects of what Kate did to save her, and she’s ready to grow up and be a bit of a wrecking ball herself, Kate-style.

There’s not a lot here to dig one’s teeth into, but it’s a different look at the familiar characters, and adds a little bit more colour to their world.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Magic Triumphs

Posted October 16, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Triumphs by Ilona AndrewsMagic Triumphs, Ilona Andrews

Welp, that certainly was a finale!

Again, it’s difficult to review without being either incomprehensible (to those who haven’t read any of this series) or spoilery (for those who have). There are some twists that are quite anxiety-making, some developments that have been a long time coming, and some moments where you think everything is surely about to go terribly wrong (and some moments where things do go terribly wrong). That’s not saying much about the book, though, since it’s true of many books and definitely of every book in this series — but the fact that all those elements are there keeps the pages turning swiftly, almost too swiftly, toward the end.

I love how far all the characters have come, and how much more the world has been developed, and the subtleties in relationships that have developed and changed since the first book. You wouldn’t expect to arrive here, starting at the beginning, but each step along the way has made sense.

I’ll probably read some of the other books in this world in the end, but not yet. For now I want to let it sit.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Binds

Posted October 2, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Binds by Ilona AndrewsMagic Binds, Ilona Andrews

Magic Binds would be an impossible read without all the previous books building up the story, laying the groundwork for the relationships, and painting the world Kate works in. When you think about the progression from Magic Bites to this, it’s pretty staggering — the whole scope has changed, the stakes are huge, and there are so many characters of all kinds to love and hate.

I think one of the best things about this book is the nuance it brings to the relationship between Kate and her family. From her heritage being almost completely hidden in the first book to the reveal of what she’s been raised to do to her claim on Atlanta to this… I won’t say too much, but there’s a surprisingly moving scene with someone who you don’t expect to have a quiet moment with. Actually, a couple of moving scenes with very unexpected people, honestly. And some very interesting developments with Christopher…

The ending feels a little cut off at the knees; the book accelerates toward the ending and then, of course, stops. And the next book doesn’t pick straight up from there or something — it’s quite the anticlimax. It feels like there was too much ending to do in one book, so then it just kind of abandons ship.

It gets harder with each book to do reviews without spoilers, and this is not a book where anyone could jump in, pick it up alone, and understand what’s going on. I highly recommend the series, but don’t start here!

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Shifts

Posted September 28, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Shifts by Ilona AndrewsMagic Shifts, Ilona Andrews

Magic Shifts is the last book of this series that I’ve read before, and it’s very difficult to review without spoilers for people who haven’t read the previous books. There’s a “monster of the week”, of course, in that Eduardo gets kidnapped, so Kate and Curran have to dig into what happened there, figure out who/what is spawning weird giants that metamorphose into other animals, and find Eduardo. There’s also some background information about djinn and their place in the world, and about ghouls (only briefly mentioned before, if at all).

There’s also a lot of development for the changes to the Pack composition begun at the end of the last book, and a lot of personal changes for Kate and Curran. Like, you know, having to get used to living in suburbia with a nosey neighbour who wants Curran to avoid walking around in his lion form.

And then there’s the fallout of the previous book, and some hints about where things are going… And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Like the previous books, there’s a lot of action, the plot moves quickly, and Kate is a bit better at investigating things than she says she is. Some things fall into place beautifully, and there are some really nice character moments.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Breaks

Posted September 22, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Breaks by Ilona AndrewsMagic Breaks, Ilona Andrews

There is a particular scene from this book that I remembered without remembering much else, and it really seared its way into my brain — the rest of the book, even though it was a reread, was pretty unfamiliar… which meant I had a few shocks! Really, the whole thing was kinda stressful, right from the moment I read the author’s note talking about how this feels like the end of the series in some ways. And it really does — you’d walk away with questions, still, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly turns a page for Kate and her family.

It’s difficult to review this without saying too much, to be honest. There are a few ways that this book is a gamechanger for Kate, and it’s probably most fun if you experience it for yourself.

Personally, I continue to love that these books aren’t straightforward to define: it’s not just a story of vengeance, or a story of a mouthy mercenary with some flashy magic, or a romance story, or a set of stories about a private investigator, or a story of post-apocalyptic survival. There’s so much going on.

To get a little more specific about this book, I love that we get to see more of Ghastek, his past and what drives him. It’s also interesting to see more of some members of the pack, particularly Robert Lonesco. I could wish for more of Andrea and Raphael in this book, but it’s also fun to change it up.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Magic Rises

Posted September 18, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Rises by Ilona AndrewsMagic Rises, Ilona Andrews

I feel really conflicted about Magic Rises. Some really epic and amazing things happen, and there’s an undeniable emotional kick to the book — the last chapter or so are a real kick in the teeth. There’s a lot of development of Kate’s story, to the point where she can’t really hide anymore: her secrets are spilling out, both to those who will accept her and those who don’t. There’s also development in her relationship with Curran, and they have an important conversation about it.

Unfortunately, that comes towards the end of a book where Curran acts frustratingly, refuses to communicate, and in fact breaks all the rules he tries to bind Kate by. And sure, he might have the very best of reasons, but it hurts Kate like hell, and the fact remains that he doesn’t trust her. He won’t come up with a plan with her — he’ll come up with a plan that excludes her, and she’s just supposed to trust him. He breaks the rules he insisted on in their relationship, and Kate’s just meant to roll with it, for her own good. It doesn’t ring true for Curran, to be honest, when I put it like that. Sure, the rolling with it for her own good is Curran all over, but he puts rules in place for a good reason and almost always abides by them.

I guess I can see it — he fights in the Midnight Games, after all, albeit after sentencing himself to weeks of hard labour — but the way he expects Kate to just trust him when he’s doing that is just gross.

So parts of this book — and especially the last two chapters or so — are a five star. The story really starts to bite again, after Julie’s miraculous escape in the last book. And yet… miscommunication is my least favourite relationship trope in fiction, and deliberate lack of communication like this is even worse. I really dislike that aspect of this book. Arrggh!

Rating: 3/5

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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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