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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 Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Strikes

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #3

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Overview: Drafted to work for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems these days than she knows what to do with. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot. But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games—an invitation-only, no-holds-barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament—she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community… -Goodreads

The Review:

Kate Daniels is making a strong case to claim the spot as my favorite urban fantasy (to even be in contention is saying something – this genre is filled with authors that I absolutely love). I can’t believe how much better the second and third books have been. If it hadn’t been for my amazing Goodreads friends urging me to continue, it might have been years before I picked them up again.

Why do I now love it so much, you ask? Well, for one thing, the love story turned into a slowly developing segment that practically sizzles with romantic tension. It’s showcasing a fun dynamic between the characters that has me laughing out loud at every turn. I found this book in particular downright hysterical. Kate might be even funnier than Harry Dresden, if you can imagine. But the story also had a compelling mystery, which gave it the perfect balance of light and dark.

Magic Strikes contained an arena-style competition (and if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you probably know how much I LOVE books with featured competitions) which sent the book from great all the way to the stratosphere as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been really stingy with solid 5-star ratings lately, even going so far as to re-rate a bunch of 5-star titles down to a 4 or 4.5. I decided it has more of an impact to only give 5 stars to books that make my all-time favorites list. And you know what? Magic Strikes made the cut – I am already itching to go back and reread it!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Burns

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare… As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one. When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive… -Goodreads

The Review:

After a while, all urban fantasies start to sound alike. Magic Burns was, unfortunately, no exception. Boasting a kickass, gun-toting heroine with unique powers, it was the epitome of typical. It also utilized cultural mythology to create the bad guys, which I suppose is a mite more creative than your typical werewolves and vampires, but still pretty common. So for those reasons, I can’t say I found anything about Magic Bites original…

…But I still really liked it.

Especially compared to Magic Bites (book 1 in the series), with which I had a lot of issues. This writing duo seems to have gotten into their stride with the second novel because all of my issues with the first one were nonexistent here. There was great romantic tension, the storyline felt more structured, and there was a more clear direction. I also laughed more within the first few chapters then I did the entire first book. In fact, I think it cracked me up more often than Harry Dresden, and that’s saying something.

I have to say thanks to all my Goodreads friends who urged me to keep reading because I enjoyed it Magic Burns thoroughly and can’t wait to pick up the next one. I’m now starting to appreciate why Ilona Andrews is considered a staple of the genre, and I have it on good authority that I ain’t seen nothing yet! :-)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Bites

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 2.5 stars

The Overview: Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic… One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy…

The Review:

I think I have a “read only the first book of every urban fantasy series you come across” problem, and Magic Bites is just one more victim in a long line of my series ADD. My intention is to continue on in all of them eventually, but unfortunately this one is pretty low on that list.

It started out with such a bang, too: a strong female protagonists who totally handles her shit against an ugly vampire (a small, misshapen creature that had me celebrating a grittier take on supernatural beings). It even had a compelling mystery to get the story started. These attributes remain in place throughout the novel, so it’s fair to say my disappointment comes down to a specific issue: the development of the love story (or lack thereof).

Frankly, for the first half of the book, I wasn’t sure who the love interest was supposed to be, which is just fine with me because the protagonist had a few viable options and I was actually looking forward to seeing how (and if) the sparks would begin to generate. Then, all of a sudden, she was in LOVE with one of them, and I’m over here reeling in my recliner wondering “did I miss something??!” No joke, I flipped back and skimmed the previous few chapters and even checked page numbers to make sure I wasn’t the victim of a misprint. Nope… It really happened that fast.

It’s probably because I’ve tried so many urban fantasies that I’ve come to expect strong relationship development within them, even if it’s not the main focus of the story. I also received oodles of positive feedback on this series from customers and fellow bloggers, so I definitely expected more right from the start.

Going forward, I have high hopes. I mean, people love these authors for a reason, and there were so many other things that showed promise that I’m willing to give it another go eventually… I just want to delve a little deeper into the other handful of series that hits bullseyes on all accounts first.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes