Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Just wow! I know I am really late with this one. But, I found myself in a snit when I bought Bayou Moon on the date of its release and found that it was not about Rose and Declan. I am not a fan of series that are about different characters in each book, even if there is a bit of crossover. But, now that I finally picked it up I found myself seriously engrossed in this book and it took me less than 2 days to finish it. I found myself on the edge of my seat and ignoring television. When I reached the last few pages I was not happy that it was about to end. I immediately went to the Ilona Andrews site looking for news about if and when the next book would be out. I was excited to see 2 more books under contract.

Bayou Moon was a spin-off of the tales surrounding The Edge, which apparently borders Louisiana. It feels almost like it is more of a border into another realm as opposed to a separation between land where magic rules and land where people who also have magic but are exiled. This place borders what is considered The Broken that is where non-magical humans live. This story focuses on William from On The Edge and what happens in his life after that story concludes. We learn more about him and his childhood and how his life evolved. He takes on a mission for a group on his side of these strange worlds which takes him right into a conflict with Spider, his arch-enemy. In the beginning of this story William is traveling with Cerise who is from the swamp area of The Edge. I see some similarities between Cerise and Rose which makes it understandable that William would be drawn to her. Cerise's family, The Mars are an amazing, quirky group of people and this book is their story also. One of my favorites is Kaldar! He is funny and great comic relief. But, the strength of this group of people is their love and devotion for one another.

I am not sure if Gordon Andrews writes the male parts and Ilona writes the women parts. However this happens they make it work. They are an excellent writing team and somehow play off each others' skills very well. I thought I could love nothing as much as I love The Kate Daniel Series, but, this series comes really close. The magic is amazing and one of my favorite parts and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grave Dance (Alex Craft, #2)Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grave Dance was a good read. When I first started it I did not remember anything from Grave Witch. I re-read my review which did not have enough details in it to remind of anything. I decided to get it out of my library and re-read it. I read the first few chapters again and the characters and story started coming back to me. I read the last 15 pages again and remembered. I really liked Grave Witch and was now looking forward again to seeing what happened to Alex, Falin, Caleb, Holly, Rianna, and even Death. I was not too fond of Alex's father and sister by the end of Grave Witch, but, I had high hopes for her father.

In this latest portion of the story, Alex is called out to use her grave witch gifts to help the police when body parts are found in a remote area of "Nekros". I am not sure where the name of this city comes from but, it reminds me of New Orleans when it is described throughout the book. Alex is brought into the investigation and the story goes sideways. I was not in love with part of the way the end unfolded. But, it was not enough to keep me from the story or to stop me from enjoying Grave Dance.

Grave Dance was intricately woven with detail and what appears to be several story lines. I cannot imagine the map or flowchart Kalayna Price had to use to keep up with things. This story started out as a mystery that appeared to be tied to the Fae and then it appeared to be tied to the witches, then the collectors. To borrow from Winston Churchill, "it was a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma." For a while I thought I would get confused by the way the mystery was unfolding especially when Fae politics came calling. I love Fae politics. I detest the machinations of some of the Fae, but, it makes for great entertainment.

One of the things that I found myself liking about Alex is that she was strong but, she had a couple of major weaknesses, some of which revolved around the use of her powers. The other revolved around her relationships with her friends and men. The unfolding of one of the relationships was a zinger and I loved it. Alex showed some serious backbone and I loved how she stayed true to herself, especially as she learned more about her own past and met people that were more a part of her life then she realized.

In addition to Fae machinations we get to see more about Death and his cohorts. We also get a better glimpse at how his and Alex's relationship evolved. Another great thing about Grave Dance is Roy the ghost. I'm happy to see he is part of the story. He is great! Not only is he funny, but, he makes an excellent sidekick. Although his story is told in Grave Witch, we get reminders of what happened in that story, which makes it a bit easier for people who read Grave Dance without knowing it has a predecessor. You can read it without it but, you miss out on a great story if you do not start out with Grave Witch. I look forward to the next installment in the Alex Craft series.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

HourglassHourglass by Myra McEntire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hourglass is a breath of fresh air. In a young adult arena that is flush with love triangles, werewolves, vampires, and now dystopia, Myra McEntire has found a place in the YA genre to call her own, and shine. I made a couple of tweets about the great editing really early on and became very worried that I I had gotten ahead of myself. Unfortunately, or maybe not, this made me scrutinize the writing and editing even more. I am in the middle of writing my dissertation proposal so I cannot help but read and critique a little more harshly on the style and editing. It is a habit. I was ecstatic to see that Myra McEntire and whomever she has editing on her behalf did an amazing job.

Emerson Cole is a strong girl who sees herself as the exact opposite because of her past. She has had a very tough childhood and the next few days just seem to add on to that. Despite all that she has been through she has some good people standing by her who all have a lot to lose themselves. The one thing I love about this story is how much her sister-in-law stepped in and loved Emerson, and helped her brother, Thomas, make a family for Emerson. Her best friend, Lily, is made of true best friend material. I wish she was more a part of the story and hope she is in future books, that is, if I am guessing correctly and this is the great start of a new series. Thomas is a smart, gifted, amazing man who steps up and takes in his younger sister. He straddles a thin line between being a supportive brother and being a father to his minor sister. He works diligently to find help for his sister and when she is experiencing some things that most would merely assume were the hallucinations of a mentally ill person he steps out on faith that there is more there. He finds her help even if it means unconventional methods.

Now Emerson's world has taken on a completely different slant. Good or bad she has stepped into something big and dangerous. Myra McEntire does a good job of developing this world, these characters, and this story. Every time you thought, is this going to be predictable? It was not. Every time you thought, are the characters just going to be like characters in other books or thought you saw right where the story was going, you were wrong. That is what makes this book so brilliant! Not only is it a great urban fantasy, but, now the story steps up and pulls in some science fiction and a bit of romance. There are twists and turns with not only the story, but also with the characters. People we thought were one thing might just be something else. That means we also have a bit of mystery and thriller going on here, and a bit of action. Emerson is a fighter and I look forward to more of her story.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Goddess With A BladeGoddess With A Blade by Lauren Dane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. The funny thing is that when I first read the title I thought, hmmm, what a catchy title. But, when I read the book and the history that explained that it meant more than some woman with a sword, I thought, now that is really good. I like that it is set in Las Vegas. I've only visited once and for only 24 hours at that, but, it was a truly different place. I also visited someone's home that was enough away from the strip that I could see what it was like for families to live there and what lawns and yards looked like. We drove in from Arizona so I got a good look at the scenery on the way in before it turned dark outside, then the look of things as the lights blazed at night from all the casinos and wow what a huge contrast. But, this book with the descriptions of the different places where Rowan went each day fed my mini-vacation imagination Even the descriptions of Ireland left me wanting to see them for myself.

The characters were a bit different. It is hard to have a vampire book stand out and also very difficult for an author to have originality. Outside of the romance genre vampires seem to have taken a backseat to dystopia and zombies so there is some room there for authors still writing about vampires to branch out and hopefully find their own place. Goddess With A Blade does that. It strikes out and tries to find its own place in a genre that is pretty-well saturated especially when publishers and pushing paranormal romance as urban fantasy much to my dismay. As someone who does NOT like a strictly romance book, regardless to whether it has vampires in it I prefer for a book to advertised according to what it truly is and saying a paranormal romance is urban fantasy or muddying the waters is really bugging me. I do not mind if the book is urban fantasy with a romance in the background but I do not want it to be the cusp of the story. Goddess With A Blade is being shelved with the paranormal romances but so far the cusp of the story is Rowan, her history, and the mystery she is trying to solve. There are other parts to the story but they do not overwhelm the story so I can accept this book as one written the way I like them, with a kick butt hero/heroine and it doesn't matter to me which as long as there is action and cool supernatural powers. A good mystery is always a clincher.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5)Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It appears that The Andrews writing duo can do no wrong in my eyes when it comes to the Kate Daniels series. @JulieYMandKAC's letter to the authors is an excellent depiction of how strongly the fans of this series feel about the characters and the story itself. They have mastered urban fantasy storytelling and the readers are the benefactors.

In this installment Kate Daniels is trying to get her new business off the ground and takes on a new case that has a huge gotcha in it that puts everyone she loves at risk. She and her new business partner as well as one or two reluctant ones put in some very hard work against the clock to determine who the threat is and neutralize it or them. One of the things that is great about these books is that the authors pick up threads from previous books that sometimes we forget about and resolve them. This happened here because so many of the people in the books leave messes where ever they walk. It's just who they are as people.

We have some new characters introduced, some serious growing pains, and more fallout to deal with from Magic Strikes. I'm always impressed with the way they handle how things happen with Kate's supernatural abilities and the impending meeting that is bound to occur between Kate and Roland. I can see how the future might play out with the new bouda member and changes that are occurring with other members of the pack as well. Aunt B is a wild card and I guess her name is a huge misnomer and I keep getting a shock with how much of an alpha she really can be in her behavior. I expect Mahon to be who he is because he is the pack executioner. But, sometimes it seems Aunt B could just as easily slide into that role.

I really wish we did not have to wait a full year to see what happens next. But, I will be one of the first in line to purchase my copy.

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London Prep by Jillian Dodd My rating: 5 of 5 stars What a great adventure! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book...