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Mini Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks

Title: Magic Breaks

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #7

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…  -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

Even though I still love this series, Magic Breaks might be my least favorite since the first book. It’s still good, but compared to all the other individual books, it lacked a little magic for me. All of the other installments have a fantastic balance of action, humor, romance, and mystery. As Magic Breaks was the end of the story arc, there was very little room for anything other than action. All of the battle scenes were superbly done, but I missed the other elements to help break it up a bit. There was, however, an especially funny scene at the very beginning (involving a fluffy pet) that might be one of my favorites from the whole series. I wish more of that tone had carried throughout the book. That said, I cannot wait to read the next one!

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Book Reviews: The Dresden Files [Books 13-15] by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files [Books 13-15]
by Jim Butcher

I can definitely see why Jim Butcher is considered a staple in the Urban Fantasy genre – he has an excellent main character (who is a tad whiny at times, but that’s kind of why I like him), loads of paranormal that will continually ding your creep-o-meter (even though I admit it doesn’t take much to set mine off), and plenty of action, humor, and intrigue. Overall, if you’ve never read an urban fantasy, this author is a great place to start. The best thing about him is that he seems to get better with each book.


Ghost Story

I’d been warned that Ghost Story was a “reset” novel of sorts and nowhere near as good as the rest of the series. I’d been dreading it, but found (to my surprise) that it was a decent read. It offered glimpses into many of the supporting characters that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise (the unusual circumstance of the book gave Harry an unique POV). It also was kind of funny – something I always enjoy about Butcher’s work. Load all that together with a couple of compelling mysteries, and you have yet another Dresden success. I think most of the objections come from Ghost Story feeling so different from the rest of the books, and the fact that not a lot really happens within it. I agree it’s not quite as strong as some of its predecessors, but it still gets a solid 3-star (I liked it) rating.

3/5 stars


Cold Days

There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that Ghost Story is the weakest of the Dresden Files, but I have to say I enjoyed Cold Days even less. My issues were twofold: I couldn’t figure out how certain side conflicts played into the plot as a whole (because they didn’t – they were just fillers), and I didn’t particularly like the way the author expanded the conflict. He didn’t quite “jump the shark,” but he expanded beyond the rules of the world he’d been developing up until this point in a way that felt forced – almost as if he’d been running out of ideas. Which, in all fairness, at 15 books published, was probably the case. All of the other factors such as character, humor, action, and mystery were consistent with his great storytelling, it was just the conflict construction that left me wanting a bit more. The good news? I accidentally started Skin Game before this one and loved what I’d read so far, which bodes well for what’s to come…

2/5 stars


Skin Game

Following my two least favorite books of the series, I went into Skin Game fearing Jim Butcher had lost his touch and had dragged the story on too long. What a delightful surprise when Skin Game turned out to be one of, if not my favorite Dresden book so far. It had a strong plot (complete with an interesting bad guy), a good integration of the many fantastic side characters, and, of course, a ton of that snarky humor. It quickly turned a novel I was determined to “get through” into a book I couldn’t put down. Skin Game reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the series and I am genuinely excited to see where the story goes next. I don’t know how I’m going to keep myself occupied now that I’m finally up to date with this series. It seems like I’ve been working on it for ages…

4.5/5 stars


If you haven’t picked up a Dresden book yet, just know you’re in for a well-conceived and sustainable series, jam-packed with scary monsters and a lot of snark. I consider them a must-try for any urban fantasy fan.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Grim Tides by T.A. Pratt

Grim Tides by T.A. Pratt

Title: Grim Tides

Author: T.A. Pratt

Series: Marla Mason #6

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Marla Mason, ousted chief sorcerer for the city of Felport, is languishing in exile on the island of Maui with her best friend, the psychic (and rather hedonistic) Rondeau. Driven from the city she loves, Marla is adrift, nearly friendless, and stripped of almost all her power and resources. It’s the perfect time for old enemies to try and kill her. A group of sorcerers, all with their own reasons to want Marla dead, assemble and prepare to attack her while she’s at her most vulnerable. The members of this Marla Mason Revenge Squad include the one-armed witch Nicolette, the cheerfully murderous psychopath Crapsey, a criminally insane shapeshifter, a man who hunts werewolves for fun, and a master of anti-magic, among others. But they aren’t taking chances with an enemy as formidable as Marla. They hire the world’s most notorious–and deadly–chaos witch, Elsie Jarrow, to lead their assault. But Elsie is impossible to predict and may well have an agenda of her own. But Marla isn’t as helpless as they think… -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

I am a huge fan of this series. It’s so dang fun – including everything I look for in an urban fantasy. Broken Mirrors, book 5, went a little too far off the rails for my tastes, but Grim Tides was an excellent bounce back. The author usually has a ton of fun with his characters, but the dynamics were particularly interesting in this installment – bringing together a whole host of eclectic personalities. Pratt also brought back one of my favorite characters, whom I’m hopeful to see next book as well. I also really liked the mystery in Grim Tides, involving nonhuman(ish), hive-minded beach bums… I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff, but I’m so glad he does, lol. Overall, this series is totally worth your time and currently my go-to for a delightfully snarky read.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Reviews: Magic Bleeds [4] & Questionable Client [.5] by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Bleeds

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially, as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community. When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family…  -Goodreads

The Review:

It would have been difficult for any book to follow Magic Strikes (one of my new favorite books EVER.), but I thought Magic Bleeds gave it a good effort. Picking up right where the last one left off, the authors did a great job progressing the overall arc of the series. It didn’t have quite as much humor or romantic tension as the books before it, but made up for it with an extra dose of mystery and action. I admit I missed a bit of that passionate spark between the two main characters, but what’s a good literary relationship without a fallout here and there? At least the mystery was engaging. The authors integrate cool mythological beings from all over the globe and it was really neat to see manifestations from different cultures. Overall, Magic Bleeds was still a great installment in a series that shaping up to be a favorite. I can’t wait to see what happens next! :-)

A Questionable Client by Ilona Andrews

Book Info: A Questionable Client [Kate Daniels #0.5]

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I had so many issues with the first book of the Kate Daniels series, I almost didn’t continue on. That would have been a shame because I’ve enjoyed every subsequent novel and short story since. Had I started with A Questionable Client, I likely would’ve been a little more enthusiastic for the series. Heck, I think even if you’ve read the series, you’d probably enjoy this snippet. It was about how Kate and Saiman first met and I actually thought it gave Kate a lot of depth of character, showing how she became so proficient in mythological lore. In fact, I recommend all of the short stories that go along with this series – I’m only through about half of them, but so far they’ve really helped turn it into a full experience.

 by Niki Hawkes

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Book Reviews: Sideswiped and The Drafter by Kim Harrison

The Drafter by Kim Harrison

Title: The Drafter

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles #.5 & #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: Sideswiped [4.5/5 stars] The Drafter [2/5 stars]

The Overview: The Bourne Identity meets Minority Report in this first highly anticipated installment in number-one New York Times best-selling author Kim Harrison’s sexy new romantic suspense trilogy, featuring a brilliant special task agent at the top of her field and set in a futuristic Detroit.During a routine but dangerous Opti task, Peri Reed finds out her trusted partner has made her a corrupt agent. Her unique ability to jump back 40 seconds in time to correct a mistake leaves her vulnerable when her partner, who is responsible for replacing her memory of the event, gives her a false one. But Peri lives and dies on her intuition, and she begins to piece her twisted reality together as she flees her one-time secure situation at Opti and tries to find the truth with a sullen but talented psychologist named Silas who works for the very agency trying to bring the Opti corruption to light. -Goodreads

The Review:

I’d actually like to start out with an ultra-mini review of Sideswiped: It was a perfect introduction of the characters, magic system, and slightly futuristic/alternate society. I thought it was absolutely delightful, yet heart wrenching at the same time. I loved every moment and afterward was totally AMPED to pick up The Drafter. [4.5/5 stars]

Then I picked up The Drafter.

I read a few posts on Kim Harrison’s blog a few months ago where she conveyed how disappointed she was that The Drafter wasn’t being received as well as she’d hoped. She stated something along the lines of “people just aren’t getting what I’m trying to do.” After finally reading the book, I can definitely see why some readers may have had trouble with it and why someone new to Kim Harrison’s work might not have the trust needed to push through the harder patches. It wasn’t a lack of characterization, world building, or writing in general – it’s clear Kim Harrison is still a master of all these things (especially with my impressions of Sideswiped), but rather the result of some unfortunate choices she made while outlining.

Issue 1: the biggest problem I had with The Drafter was it’s repetitive use of dramatic irony.

dramatic irony: where the full significance of the character’s words or actions are clear to the reader but unknown to the character.

Using it was a risky move on Harrison’s part, and I don’t think it paid off. I was aware of the foul play from the very beginning and therefore was forced to sit patiently through 400 pages as the main character figured it out for herself. It was tedious and a little bit frustrating, but the biggest issue was that a storyline constructed entirely around dramatic irony gave me no opportunity to get emotionally invested in the plot or feel any kind of suspense. As this is supposed to be a thriller of sorts, that’s a problem.

Issue 2: I don’t think the book started at the best place. It began way too far into the story arc (which felt like a scene out of the second or third book where the framework for the world had already been established and all of the characters properly introduced). Instead, we were thrown into the middle of the controversy without any backing of the situation showing us why we should care. Betrayals of certain characters were no big deal because to me, the fact that they betrayed is literally the only thing presented thus far about them.

Where the story started also provided very little time to understand the art of drafting itself, so I was shoved at even more of an arms distance from the plot while trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I imagine had I not learned a basic understanding of it in Sideswiped, I would have been struggling even more.

Finally, it didn’t provide any time to get to know the characters, which brings me to…

Issue 3: all the characters came across very unlikable right from the beginning. In sideswiped, Peri was introduced as a spunky, ambitious, and intelligent woman who was destined to do great things. In Drafter, she immediately appeared arrogant and flippant to the point of recklessness (also as an insufferable know-it-all with no back story to substantiate it). I didn’t like her or any characters around her. Again I mentioned that if I hadn’t read Sideswiped, I might have been put off permanently then and there.


So you see, there are plethora of reasons I think The Drafter could’ve been better – all of them a result of construction choices rather than any flaw on the author’s writing ability. I think if the events and timelines of the prequel have been expanded on as the first book, Harrison would’ve had another hit on her hands (yes – it really was that good, containing the missing pieces that made The Drafter feel incomplete). Because of how much I liked Sideswiped how much I trust Kim Harrison as an author, I am cautiously optimistic to see what The Operator has in store for me next.

If there’s one takeaway with my experience with The Drafter, it’s that if you are planning to read the series, for the love of God – read the prequel first.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

March 7, 2017

Title: Silence Fallen

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercedes Thompson #10

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release Date: March 7, 2017

The Overview: Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe… Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…  -Goodreads

The Review:

Anything written by Patricia Briggs these days is pure gold. I always try to savor them (the year-long wait between books is brutal!), but always seem to find myself devouring pages like there’s no tomorrow! The Mercy Thompson series is the sort of guaranteed good read that leaves me no doubt I’m going to love every moment. Silence Fallen was another awesome book in a long line of killer novels.

Without giving anything important away, I think it’s safe to reveal that Silence Fallen takes place primarily in another country. It was a much-appreciated change of scenery. Briggs provided an immersive experience rich in history and vibrant and description. It was a lot of fun getting to explore new environments (notice I haven’t mentioned where? The discovery is part of the fun! You’ll have to read it to find out). My only hold up is that I thought historical facts could’ve been integrated a little bit smoother. Briggs utilized the character’s personal knowledge of the place a little too often to be believable. Seriously, are you really going to be able to recall tiny details about a place you learned about in passing years ago in college? I didn’t totally buy it, but that’s probably because I can’t remember what I did yesterday. :) Regardless of delivery, the description was incredibly well researched and made me feel like I was there. It was a new adventure filled with fun discoveries and interesting villains. 

Silence Fallen also offered multiple POVs, something I LOVED because I just can’t get enough of Adam Hauptman. His perspective adds so much richness to the story and I’m hoping it won’t be the last time he gets a moment in the spotlight.

Overall, Silence Fallen was packed with an awesome mix of supernatural, humor, romance, and action, topping itself off with one wallop of a surprise at the end that will knock you out of your armchair. If you haven’t given this series a try, you’re totally missing out!

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Silence Fallen.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes