Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews



Kate Daniels #9

I've had this book for over a month. Thank you, Netgalley. I gave myself ample time to re-read it for a 3rd time before posting on my blog. For one, it's one of my favorites out of the series now, dethroning the Black Sea trip and the Midnight Games. Second, when I enjoy a book so much and then post right after (see a ton of reviews on random Jane Yellowrock books), it's a mess of  'OMG OMG OMG OMG' and not much else. So taking my time to review it gives a better review in the end. Here we go ...

With Kate and Curran now separated from the Pack, they're getting their own private affairs in order. Curran has the Guild and Kate has the entire city of Atlanta. Now, the witch oracle has foreseen the death of Curran and/or the son he and Kate would have when they go to war with Roland. So of course, the entire book revolves around trying to prevent that battle, failing at that part, but at least preventing the deaths. I'll touch on scenes from the book during the review. Let's do this.

I can't give a proper review about the actual book itself without my feelings getting in the way. For me, this was the most emotional but not in a way you would think.

***Prepare yourself for spoilers***

Saiman has been kidnapped by Roland and it starts off a chain of events.

In this book in particular, Roland is basically poking at Kate with a long pointy stick. The stick isn't sharp enough to stab but if you keep making knicks, blood will be drawn. And it's really incredible to see how Roland purposefully does this to push Kate. He tries to talk his way out of things with her or talk his way into things with her all the same. But the thing that I hate about it is I'm so drawn into the picture of Roland that Ilona Andrews has created for him that I want to give in to his whims. I want to do everything he wants me to do if I were in Kate's shoes. Roland has been described as being so fatherly and loving-looking that any child would want him as their dad and desperately want his approval. Apparently, when you are favored by him and he smiles at you, the sun shines. And I've become so drawn to that when Roland is in the scene that I get so sucked in that I'm wondering whose side I'm on. It's ridiculous! I've read this and wondered ... Would it be so bad to go over to his side? Maybe he won't treat 'me' as badly as he treated Hugh because I'm his daughter (I'm aware that I've completely thrown myself in this as if I'm Kate and this is my memoir, lol). Surely, I'd be treated with much more care.

It's that same lull into a false sense of security that he's trying to work on Julie. The difference between Julie and I is that she's much smarter than I am or give her credit for. She's an orphan and she's been taken in my Kate and Curran, then here comes 'grandpa' teaching you all these amazing magical things that you've longed for so you'll do something for him later. Surely, she'd fall for it. And just when you think she would, a situation with an anchor slaps her in the face.

Let's talk about those anchors.

Out of all the anchors, the one I'm going to talk about is the one that had the most profound effect on the events of the book.

The witch oracle is really a tricky bunch. We learn that their are anchors ... Things that need to happen in order for the 'correct' version of the future to take place. Sienna, one of the witches, will call Kate with some cryptic warning that ends up being an anchor. Kate goes on with what she needs to do for the day, encounters it and deals with the fallout. So, basically, if Roland gets to the anchor first, the chain of events will fall in favor of his version of the future. But in order for Kate to alter it to her version, she has to secure the anchor. A lot of the big moments in this book come from having to deal with those anchors. Although one didn't have a direct effect on Julie, it shattered her a little. Don't worry, though, she picks herself up and keeps moving with her eyes open a little wider than before.

The same anchor I mention above will also effect the Pack and how the battle is played out in the end. I mean honestly ... if Jim hadn't done what he did, I really think the battle could have been avoided. But ... Yea, he was going to do SOMETHING after what happened, I would expect nothing less.

Moving on ... I was complaining to a friend a few weeks ago that in certain books, when someone has awesome cosmic powers, they're always fighting against them so they don't become evil. I was saying that I, for once, want someone to get those powers and just do whatever the fuck they want. That didn't happen here ... But ... Some pretty cool shit did happen.

Ever since Kate claimed the city, her power has been growing. And you don't really get the full breadth of it until Kate has a run in with her dad after she confronts him about something early on. It's so difficult to explain, the sheer elation I felt when Kate was being sucked in by her own power. It's like ... Dad is getting in her face, literally, with his power flailing and Kate is like ... Oh hell no, let me show you what's up. All this power from Roland is bashing up against all that power from Kate while they're having a yelling match. It's like ... you push me, I'm going to push you. I can't describe it. A storm came! A fucking storm. All because of this argument. Later, in the Guild, Roland will appear and argue with Kate again, but that argument won't be in English. When the argument ends, she'll notice everyone cowering in corners, noses bleeding and all that and she'll realize that she was speaking an old/timeless Language of Power that she didn't even know she could speak.

The other cool thing about all this is that the power is at a point where it's talking to her, trying to change her and Kate is slipping. When I say slipping, I mean ... Questioning herself. She's hesitating before she realizes that this isn't something she wants. In future books, I'm going to be cheering death-bringing Kate on. I want it so badly I can taste it! But with that, comes Curran, who I believe will follow her to the ends of the Earth because he loves her so much. He says so ... That's another conversation worth really paying attention to when you read it.

I'm almost finished, I just need to touch on one more conversation. Roland comes to see Kate at Cutting Edge and they talk. They sit quietly, share a beer, talk about the past and the possible future and I found myself unable to keep my head clear. There was a part of me that was sitting there in Kate's place on the verge of tears. Roland was saying all the right things and making the right gestures. Kate even thought about giving in before remembering just who she is and what she's fighting for. Had it been me, I would have been out of there, on Roland's back, killing people as I walked down the street. It was the most genuine moment between the two of them and one of my favorite scenes of the book.

There are a million big things that take place in just this book and it's one of the primary reasons why I read it 3 times before I posted this review. It goes with out saying ... I love it. The battle at the end is everything you want it to be. The way Kate got her army together is everything. The surprise that is Christopher is MORE everything. And let me say ... All this is going on while Roman is planning Kate's wedding. Yes, Roman.

A few things I will keep a look out for in the next installment: The Iron Dog that was on the cross, Adora, the conversation Kate had with the witches at the end, Saiman being bled dry, Curran and his 'dinner', Hugh (slim chance), and Red (Julie's ex but he may not pop up until further down the line if at all).

Yea ... I think this one is my favorite. I don't think any book that comes out the rest of the year will top this.


5 Stars
P.S. F*ck Jim! And I say that with equal amounts of love and hate.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Need Design Services?

For years, I've had this amazing friend with great design skills and I have been doing her a disservice by not telling people about her. I know. I suck at friendship. Anyhow ... If you need design services, Candice does book covers, logos, print ads and more. Check out these samples and then click on the information below to put her to work!

 



Monday, August 15, 2016

Awakened by C Steven Manley



Paragons, Book 1

This urban fantasy novel has tons of sci fi elements that are reminiscent of the XFiles and I felt a bit of nostalgia while reading it. Anyway. As soon as the book begins, we meet Israel and Erin. They find themselves in a 'facility' of some kind after a massacre has taken place. Since they have just woken up, they have no idea how they even got there, let alone what's going on and what's eaten the people around them.

From jump, the book starts moving and almost doesn't stop. Israel is a journalist, and true to his profession, he asks A LOT of questions. Erin, on the other hand ... I don't even remember what her previous occupation was but she was the most annoying person in the book, which isn't good seeing as how she's one of the leads. She's kind of bratty and curses way too much. It reminds me of a teenager who leaves their parents house to hang out with their friends, finds out they have no adult supervision, and uses 'fuck' with every other word. Because of that, and her bratty nature, I found her to be nearly insufferable ... At least for most of the first part of the book, later, when you get more story on her, she becomes bearable.

I can't give you many details about what's going on but it's your basic government level corruption mixed with disgusting creatures and finding out why Israel and Erin are so special ... Then more of the XMen type stuff comes in.

I thought the book was decent. It's well written, the world building is good and the character development went well. I just wish I'd liked the characters more. I thought they were incredibly basic. However, the Paragons were delightful. The action was pretty good and lots of it. One thing I wish the author hadn't done was force the romance. It just seemed like those two shouldn't even happen.

Overall, it's decent. I enjoyed it and will recommend it but probably won't be reading future installments.




3 Stars
Israel (Black)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wander This World by GL Tomas



When I first started reading this, it came across as a standard romance. I knew that their would be some kind of twist to it based on the amazing cover. I had an idea but it just screamed ROMANCE. Anyhow ... Despite knowing the twins (online), Guinevere and Libertad, for a little while now, this is the first book of theirs I'd read. They know my taste and probably were expecting me to hate this book. By all accounts, I should hate it, but I can't. I actually loved it.

Melanie Blue is not your run of the mill vampire. She's ... Different. Despite being so old, she's not stuck in the old ways. She's socially conscience, quirky, a big Doctor Who fan, and as normal as normal can get. This isn't a standard vampire book either. Melanie is the only one like her. She has no aversion to sunlight, she doesn't grow fangs, but she does drink blood ... She simply draws it from a regular bite with her blunt human teeth. Yes, pain is involved, but she can get her fill. She's a petite curvy 'morenita' (black/latin or Latinx) with a shock of red halo curls, and from what I gather, she's beautiful.

Penley is my first love. He defines himself as Hapa but most people would see him as Filipino. Both of his parent are but both have other things in their background like spanish. Anyway ... He's a college freshman with a big crush on the junior in his class (Melanie). Needless to say, the rest is pretty standard. They end up in the same group for class, get into each other, start having sex, start spending tons of time together without a label ... all that jazz. The thing I love most about Penley is he's just a boy. He's normal and normal and addicted to his phone and ... Normal. I read a lot of UF and Paranormal and the male love interests are always remarkable in some way. Penley is simply normal. He has lots of tattoos, listens to a variety of different music, takes care of his body in a deliberate but not overdone way, and is just ... Normal.

Let's talk about the sex. If you're a regular reader of my blog, or you just know me, you know that I don't enjoy reading sex unless it's written in a certain way. GL Tomas has finally cracked me. The sex Melanie and Penley had in this book was basically the sex I would have. How can I hate that? It was believable sex. Sex that real people have! There was nothing over the top, no ton of talking during ... It was just two people really enjoying each others bodies. Yea, the word 'cock' popped up, but because the scenes weren't nasty, I could deal with it.

On to the story ... Someone is stalking Melanie. You'll get that sense from the start of the book but I felt like it was kind of ... Cliche. A lot of stuff in the book was cliche. I'm not sure how bad it is though. Anyway ... Some random guy is stalking her and at the end, he ends up getting his just desserts. I don't want to give away what happens but i basically goes the way you would predict it goes. Not only was the story cliche but some of the conversation was cliche. Well not really. How can I put this? It almost felt try-hard. There's a lot of talk, everywhere, about labels. Specifically Black Latinos. The term 'latinx' comes up a lot. It's used in this book. If you don't hang in the same circles as I do, then you wouldn't know what it was. The term 'hapa' is used and it's a term I literally only heard of 3 days ago because I read about it in my Cultural Studies and Diversity class. The terms 'cis' and 'pansexual' are used as well. Two terms I still don't have a clear definition of but I think I have an idea. I thought the whole labeling conversation was trying too hard to accentuate those terms. In a book this length, I didn't think it was a good idea. If this had been a full length novel, then great. There would have been ample time to explain, but not with this one.

The ending is hurting my soul. I won't give it away but it ends the way you think it would end, and for me there is no closure as to how the future would pan out. Will there be another book? Was this a standalone? Will I be forever left to wonder how these two handle the future? Is there a future based on what was said at the end? I NEED CLOSURE, PLEASE, LADIES.

Overall, I loved the book. I connected with both Melanie and Penley fully and would invest in those two if given the opportunity for more books with them as the focus. However ... Because of how cliche it was, the amount of stars dropped. Still ... I really enjoyed it. It was an easy read. It was easy to follow, the characters were great and I felt every bit of everything they felt along the way. Thanks for letting me read this, GL. I really appreciate it. But hey ... I WANT MORE!


3 Stars

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Summer Court by SM Reine



Tarot Witches: Book 4

This was my first time reading any book from the Summer Court series. I knew about the witch courts and sidhe and all that but I never just WANTED to read it. Anyway ... This was a fast read, and since this is an ARC, I won't give many details.

The Breaking is happening. A void is swallowing up the world and some witches have received Tarot cards from God. This story focuses on Samita, a young Hindu woman who receives the Death card. Unfortunately, I never connected with Samita or her 'boyfriend' Slater. No. I did, but not until the very end. I loved that Samita was Hindu and became wheelchair bound. I hadn't yet read anything with anyone who was differently-abled and was excited for this.

I'm not a huge fan of erotic books. I don't think this one falls into the category of Erotica but the witches had to use sex magic. For one, when the witches' wolf mates changed shape, sex made it shift easier. I think the major complaint I have is that the sex, outside of the witch/wolf orgies, really wasn't needed to further the story. That time could have been used to fill in more story, details, character development, anything except sex, anything that mattered. SOME backstory was given for a couple of the characters in the form of a viewpoint change with flashback. But even that felt like filler.

The story would have been really good given a more appropriate page count. I could have been all in even if I didn't like Samita because of how things turned out. It's really the only thing that kept me reading it and even then it took me over a week.

Overall, the book was decent. Because of the length, a lot of meaty things for the characters were left out. I really had no idea what anyone looked like other than basic physical description. One woman was described as having bronze skin, someone had a mohawk, Samita has light brown skin, Slater is a pretty nicely built guy and ... If you're going to write a character that has a rich cultural background, I like for something to be included. This felt generic. The world building wasn't there, but there was enough seeing as how the book was short.

I don't know ... I really liked the story, the ending with Ben brought it all home, especially THAT reveal, but I wanted it full-length and minus the extra sex scenes (the ones between Samita and Slater ... Well maybe 1 could stay). A rating for this is hard. Damnit. I love SM Reine so much but this one was a miss for me.


2 Stars

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My Favorite Diverse Books ... So Far

Series: Bone Street Rumba
Author: Daniel Jose Older
LinksTwitter: @djolder / Amazon Author Page / Website
Why I love it: To put it simply, the writing is superb. Each and every character is fully developed. The series is very diverse and also authentic in it's diversity, which isn't always the case in other books. It also gives a fresh take on what could be a 'zombie' that we hadn't seen before. Older does a great job of making you feel like every single character in the book.
Series: Tales of Y'Myran
Author: Shaylynn Rose
LinksSmashwords Author Page / Ylva Publishing
Why I love it: It's a high fantasy, mildly diverse, lesbian story. The world building is divine and really a big draw for the story outside of the lead character, Azhani. She's kickass, smart, honorable, and well respected. I think the respect that everyone else in the book has for her sets this series apart from others with female leads.

Series: Jane Yellowrock
Author: Faith Hunter
LinksTwitter / Website / Amazon Author Page
Why I love it: I pride myself on sticking by kickass females and Jane Yellowrock is the cream of the crop. This is a diverse book lead by a full blooded Native American Skinwalker. This Urban Fantasy series perfectly blends the real world with some seriously believable paranormal fiction.

Series: Iamos Trilogy
Author: Lyssa Chiavari
LinksTwitter / Website / Amazon
Why I love it: This could possibly be the first Young Adult novel that I fully enjoyed. I was also surprised that I enjoyed a SciFi novel. The main thing I loved is the difference between one teen's upbringing verses the other's and how each processed it. Plus ... Those teens are smart!

Series: Population
Author: Elizabeth Stephens
LinksWebsite / Twitter / Amazon Author Page
Why I love it: It's full length but fast paced with no filler BS and a black woman in the lead. You're tired by the time you finish, you're irritated, you're excited, you've been beaten up, nearly killed, or want to die ... And you love every word of it. This book, in my opinion, isn't one for anyone who is looking for some Dystopian fun with a love story. This is real work! 

Series: The Kingmaker Chronicles
Author: Amanda Bouchet
LinksTwitter / Amazon Author Page / Sourcebooks
Why I love it: This one isn't diverse but I have no doubt you'll love it as much as I did. I'm a sucker for kickass female leads and Cat is right up there with Jane Yellowrock and Kate Daniels. This is high fantasy with fire breathing, castles, armies and incredible character development. This series is new but I am eagerly awaiting the next book.

Series: Mage Craft Series
Author: SM Reine
LinksTwitter / Amazon Author Page / Website
Why I love it: I hate to think of the people who enjoy diverse books but have slept on SM Reine. How could you? Every book is diverse whether the lead is or not. For this series, I simply enjoy Seth. It's like he changes from book to book but then not at all. The author has lots of series that all play in this world and everything ties in some form. And the plot twists?! Honey YES!

Series: Soulwood
Author: Faith Hunter
Links
Twitter / Website / Amazon Author Page
Why I love it: This brand new series is different than the Jane Yellowrock books but set in the same world. Nell doesn't have the physical capabilities to match anyone in a fight but she has a special ability that will even the odds. I love this new series because this is something I haven't seen. The character development is wonderful and you fall in love with the characters quickly. And of course, the diversity is there.









Series: Kate Daniels
Author: Ilona Andrews
LinksWebsite / Website / Amazon Author Page
Why I love it: Although I have not yet posted my review for this book, it will be coming soon. This is the only series that I feel can overtake Jane Yellowrock. Kate Daniels is the #1 most kickass female out right now. The series is diverse although some of it is masked. It still doesn't take away from anything. This is action at it's best. Character development and world building at it's best and everything counts. Everything. Even the separate novellas are just as good. This is the series you go through in one week and skip on sleep.






Monday, August 1, 2016

Blood of the Earth GIVEAWAY WINNER IS ...


***Helen Wawrejko***

Congratulations, Helen. Message me on twitter (@upbookblog), to claim your prize!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

AudioBooks, Anyone?

I'm not sure if anyone understands how much work goes into an Audiobook. I don't think I fully comprehend it either but ...

So ... My library has the audiobooks of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (I already own the ebooks, plus shorts because well ... its amazing). Although I've listened to them once, I did it again the past 2 weeks.

Renee Raudman is a beast.

I mean ... Honestly ... This woman is so convincing that if I ever heard her speak in real life, I'd be looking around for Kate. It has to be incredibly taxing to sit and create voices for each individual character, accents, and everything ... My goodness! I really think she's a genius and the best out there. I listen to audiobooks while at work and she's the best. Hands down.

Yes. Audiobooks are pricey. But I don't care. She is too good to go unnoticed.