Tuesday, July 16, 2013

By a Thread

Book: By a Thread
Series: Elemental Assassins #6
Author: Jennifer Estep

Review: Gin and Bria decide to take a relaxing vacation in Bria's hometown near Savannah, GA. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned when they learn a powerful vampire and his crew are threatening Bria's best friend. To further complicate matters, Donovan Caine, Gin's ex-lover happens to be Bria's friend's fiance. 

Once again, Michael Weston (oops, I mean Gin Blanco) and the team decide to help Bria's best friend from childhood. She's being threatened by a vampire who wants her beachside restaurant to build a casino. Similar to the other books, Gin decides to kill the big bad with no real plan. Similar to other books, they attend a big party, Gin corners the big bad and realizes she has underestimated her opponent and she barely escapes alive. I will say I liked how she used her elemental power to escape in this book, it was pretty clever. The overall action in the book was enjoyable and I like how Gin doesn't hesitate to kill anyone in her way while she tries to save people. And of course, I love everything relating to Gin and Owen!!

A strong theme in this book was the strained relationship with Gin and Bria. I think Estep wrote the jealously that Gin experienced (in regards to Bria's relationship with her childhood best friend) very well. It reminds someone meeting their best friend from college's best friend from high school-you may be slightly jealous of the memories they created before you knew them, even though it's irrational. What I found odd was Bria's has a hard time accepting Gin for who she is...yet she has no problems with dating Finn. While Finn may not be an assassin, he is essentially Gin's handler and does a ton of shady business deals. He has also helped Gin out on several occasions and killed a lot of people. It just seems like someone trying to be really moral would not be dating someone like him. Finally..Donovan Caine. Ugg. I really didn't like him in the previous books and was not excited to read his name on the back of the book jacket. I was worried Estep might try to create a love triangle with Gin/Owen/Donovan and I'm really glad she didn't go there. 

Overall, enjoyable read. There wasn't too much recap of previous books (yay!) and I'm hoping for more Gin/Owen storylines in the future. It will be interesting to see who the new big bad will be in Ashland now that Mab Monroe is dead and everyone knows that Gin is the Spider. 

Grade: 3.5/5

Monday, July 15, 2013

Magic Gifts

Book: Magic Gifts
Series: Kate Daniels #5.4
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: 'Magic Gifts' takes place during the same time frame as 'Gunmetal Magic.' Kate and Curran are on a date when tragedy strikes a young couple (both navigators for the People) next to them.  A man gives his girlfriend a beautiful necklace, and when she puts it on it kills her. When her parents arrive at the scene, her beautiful but emotionally cold mother puts the necklace on her seven year old son. Kate has to figure out how to save the boy before the necklace kills him. 

This book contained a little romance and of course, Kate doing her thing. She has to track down a Norse Viking to help decipher runes and take on a Viking giant that cannot be killed to help save a child. It's Kate and it's fabulous! 

Grade: 5/5

Gunmetal Magic

Book: Gunmetal Magic
Series: Kate Daniels #5.5; The World of Kate Daniels #1
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review:  After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano--the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea's former lover--die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world -Goodreads

After spending years in the Order trying to hide her true self, Andrea is ready to play loose with the rules and be true to herself. That includes investigating around town in her beast form and trying to solve a crime without the benefits of her badge. She also has to deal with her ex and his new (almost) fiance, the boudas trying to recruit her and babysitting Cutting Edge's intern bouda, Ascensio. I really liked this book. Fast and loose Andrea is way more fun than straight and arrow Andrea from the previous books. She is a great mentor for Ascensio and I loved how she finally came to terms with Aunt B and the boudas. The push and pull in regards to the relationship with Andrea and Raphael was frustrating but resolved itself nicely. I really enjoyed the mythology in this book and the big bad was a powerful adversary. I loved how Andrea, Raphael and Roman (yes, my new favorite secondary character had a big role in this book) took down the big bad. One more thing to add-I love how Andrea describes Kate and her crazy eyes. Priceless!

Another fun book in a fabulous series!

Grade: 4/5

Magic Slays

Book: Magic Slays
Series: Kate Daniels #5
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: "Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price." - Goodreads

I was worried that mating Kate and Curran would result in boring reading but thankfully I was wrong. This book was so much fun! Kate was her typical witty, kick ass self and I loved the new intensity between her and Curran. Seeing her deal with shapeshifter politics was very funny.  And seeing her deal with Jennifer (alpha wolf) was just awesome. I also enjoyed several new characters introduced, mostly Roman (who could create a potential love triangle for Andrea and Raphael, who are still broken up) and Kate's new bouda advisers  In addition to the new characters, I loved learning more about Kate's family history (I'll avoid spoilers but many of the things Kate believes aren't what they seemed). Although the mystery in this book was wrapped up rather quickly at the end, I still loved this.  
Grade: 4.5/5

Curran Vol. II: Fathers and Sons

Book: Curran Vol II: Fathers and Sons
Series: Curran POV
Author: Gordon Andrews

Review: 'Curran Vol. II' takes place immediately after the end of Magic Bleeds. Curran is awake from his coma and finds out the alphas have been challenging Kate. He is furious. He demands an explanation from the alphas and ends up in another physical fight to prove his dominance. 

I enjoyed this a lot more than Vol. I. It was interesting to see how power hungry the alphas are and how much loyalty they do/don't have to Curran. The final showdown between Curran and Mahon was pure fun and a long time coming. Overall, enjoyable! 

Grade: 4/5

Magic Dreams

Book: Magic Dreams
Series: Kate Daniels #4.5
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: Dali is not only an extremely rare white (vegetarian) tiger, she is also very intelligent, legally blind and secretly in love with her alpha (and head of the pack's security) Jim Shrapshire. When Jim enlists her help against an evil demon, Dali is in a race against time to save Jim. 

Jim is one of my favorite characters from the Kate Daniels series so I was excited to read this story about him and Dali. I LOVED that he was learning her native language to try to impress her and his explanation as to why he could never make the first move. I also loved Dali's mother and thought she was absolutely hilarious. Dali herself was probably my least favorite thing about this and she was the narrator. I liked her well enough, she just never really drew me in like Andrea did. Dali has a lot of great qualities and quirks to keep her interesting.  I was surprised at her jealousy of Kate but it was fascinating to learn how Kate's moods impact magic around her. I believe there is a full length book in the works which I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Grade: 3.5/5

Curran, Vol. I

Book: Curran, Vol. I
Series: Curran POV
Author: Gordon Andrews

Review: 'Curran Vol. I' is a collection of scenes written from Curran's point of view. 

First Scene: The first time Curran meets Kate on Unicorn Lane and she calls out 'Here kitty, kitty.' Overall, humorous and interesting to see his first impression of her. 

Second Scene: Kate is injured and Doolittle is doing everything he can to save her. Curran starts to realize his feelings toward Kate are more than irritation. I thought this was cute.

Third Scene: Kate traps Curran in a cage and he has to convince Julie to get him out. It was interesting to see how he convinced her to release him, but I was hoping for her perspective in the hot tub. I guess I'm just a little selfish..hehe. Once again, I liked seeing how his mind works.

Fourth Scene: Curran explains how he glued Kate's butt to her chair to retaliate for her destruction of his weight set. This was super funny and I loved it. 

Overall-I enjoyed these. A quick read to see a different side of the Beast Lord and his impressions of Kate.  

Grade: 3/5

Magic Bleeds

Book: Magic Bleeds
Series: Kate Daniels #4
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: Erra, Babylon's god of chaos and terror is in Atlanta reeking havoc and she's brought along seven warriors who yield strong powers: Deluge (water), Tremor (earth), Gale (wind), Torch (fire), Venom (Disease), Beast (strength) and Darkness (emotional influence). Erra is not only Kate's more formidable opponent yet, she also happens to be her aunt. 

The opening scene of this book was great. Kate has cooked dinner for Curran (including an apple pie with one of the immortality apples from 'Magic Mourns'!) and is ready and waiting for him (she has even put on makeup and put on her best underwear). When he doesn't show up, she calls the Keep and she essentially brushed off. While it was very frustrating so see how immature Kate acted throughout most of the book in relation to Curran (even when she knew it was a communication problem) it was very true to her personality and lack of experience in relationships. I won't spoil the outcome of the romance subplot, but suffice to say, I was very satisfied! 

In terms of Erra and her warriors-I loved everything! The battles were fierce, Kate was the perfect balance of smart ass/bad ass and we finally learn a lot about Roland's history. Kate also sees how powerful her aunt is and realizes she has a lot more work to do with her own magic (specifically working with her blood as an armor, that was very cool). There was a small subplot involving Andrea and Raphael which should set up Andrea's book very well and I have a feeling we'll be seeing Jennifer, alpha wolf (and supreme bitch) in the coming books. Great read!

Grade: 5/5

Magic Mourns

Book: Magic Mourns
Series: Kate Daniels 3.5
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: A shapeshifter is being chased by a giant dog and Andrea is on the case. Things quickly become complicated when she realizes the shapeshifter is sexy bouda Raphael and the dog is Cerberus. It turns out Aunt B's (alpha of the boudas and Raphael's mother) mate's body has been stolen and Raphael is trying to recover it. 

I am typically not a fan of short stories and up to this point, Andrea was not one of my favorite characters. I didn't dislike her at all, she was just someone I thought of as 'Kate's friend from the Order.' Of course, Raphael has had a fun presence throughout the series thus far so and I've really enjoyed everything I've read by Ilona Andrews, so I decided to give this a go. I am SO HAPPY that I did because this was really fun! Prior to this book, sexy playboy Raphael has decided he wants Andrea. He's been very patient with her, calling several times a day for months. Andrea has been maintaining her distance, but now that they are working together, she finds it difficult to keep her feelings at bay. We also learn a little bit about Andrea's traumatic past (very sad, great character building though). I think my favorite thing about this book though was the mythology: immortal apples, three headed demon hound and an angel of death who happens to live in a trailer park. Pure fun!

Grade: 4.5/5

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Book: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks

ReviewThe Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time.World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years. -Goodreads

This book was equal parts gripping, creepy and fascinating. It was also completely unique and unlike anything I've ever read. I loved the alternating narratives and perspectives of different survivors of the war. Brooks shows us the full spectrum from soldiers, commanding officers, government officials, doctors, regular families, opportunists, children, etc.  Although the book dragged on after awhile, I was immersed in the story and couldn't wait to see how humans rose above the undead. A super fun read!

Grade: 4/5