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Book Review: The Turn by Kim Harrison

the-turnTitle: The Turn

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #0.1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release Date: February 7, 2017

The Overview: Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before! Can science save us when all else fails? Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction. Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them. -Goodreads

The Review:

For all of you Rachel Morgan fans wondering if The Turn is worth picking up, the answer is an emphatic YES!!! Even though the story takes place at least 50 years before Dead Witch Walking, it still managed to bring all the magic that made The Hollows series so great. Trisk was an amazing main character, comparable to Rachel, herself. In fact, all of the characters in this prequel were great – don’t be surprised to see a few familiar faces along the way (after all, we are dealing with a few of the more long-lived supernatural.) It was that infusion of old and new that made The Turn seem so special. It brought me back to when we first met these characters, and I now appreciate more than ever their individual growth arcs throughout the series and marvel at how far they’ve come. Notice I haven’t mentioned specifics? The surprise is half the fun! Although I’m sure you already have some theories…

I’m so glad Harrison decided to tell this story. Dead Witch Walking felt a little like jumping aboard a series already in progress, so it’s nice to see what came before, and I’d wager she’s been hoarding tons of notes for this backstory ever since that first book. It’s such a compelling segment of this world’s history. The basic premise is telling the tale of “The Turn” where a tomato-hopping virus kills off most of humanity and, as a result, the supernatural community comes out of hiding. It set the framework for The Hollows series and I was super impressed at how many other creative ways Harrison found to tie the entire thing together. It was masterfully done, loads of fun, and everything a Hollows fan could hope for. I loved every moment!

After finishing The Turn, I feel confident that there will be more to come in this prequel saga. I, for one, cannot wait!

If you haven’t read The Hollows series, you’ll still enjoy The Turn, but that’s like taking a single bite out of a cookie and putting it back on the tray. Dead Witch Walking takes a little time to get going, but once it does, it doesn’t let up!

I’d like to thank Gallery Books, Kim Harrison, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of The Turn.

Other books you might like:

 

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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Series Review [So Far]: Heartstrikers by Rachel Aaron

The Heartstrikers Series:
Nice Dragons Finish Last – 4/5 stars
One Good Dragon Deserves Another – 3.5/5 stars
No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished – 5/5 stars
  by Rachel Aaron

Rachel Aaron (who also writes as Rachel Bach) is easily one of my top ten favorite authors – I’ve read everything she’s published so far and have been blown away with every book (check out her Eli Monpress fantasy series and Paradox scifi series if you have a chance – you won’t be disappointed!). Then along came the Heartstrikers series – an urban fantasy about a clan of shapeshifting dragons and one who doesn’t quite fit in – and I was beside myself with excitement!

The coolest thing about Heartstrikers is that it’s a true hybrid of all my favorite genres. The story and presentation is very urban fantasy, but the dragons and other magical elements give it a low-fantasy feel. Also, even though it’s an adult series, it has that same accessibility and fun factor of a young adult novel. Regardless of how you classify it, the most important thing is that it’s a dang good series!

The books have so many interesting dynamics! Especially surrounding the characters. Starting the series, I thought they were all going to be pretty surface level. Fun to read about, but not much depth. Boy, was I wrong! Each book takes you deeper into specific characters and they just get more and more fascinating as time goes on. After finishing book 3, I’m agonizing that it’ll be at least 8 months before I can unravel even more mysteries about these great characters.

I also love the relationship between the two main characters, Julius and Marci. They are enamored with one another, but too uncertain and insecure to act on those feelings. It’s a dynamic I have never seen work well before, but Aaron found a way to make it charming rather than insufferable.

Last but not least, my favorite element of the books are the dragons. They’re every bit as powerful, greedy, and cruel as they are supposed to be, which is why Julius (a nice dragon) has so many problems fitting in. The dragons have strict hierarchy, lots of interfamily dynamics, and plenty of cultural backstory to make the society feel rich and well-rounded. For this reason, the world building gets top points in my book for creativity.

Overall, heartstrikers (particularly book 3) was one of my favorites of the year, and I highly recommend them to anyone wanting a fun series to read!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Title: Winter Halo

Author: Keri Arthur

Series: Outcast #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: The humanoid supersoldiers known as the déchet were almost eradicated by the war. Ever since, Tiger has tried to live her life in peace in hiding. But in the wake of her discovery that Central City’s children are being kidnapped and experimented on, Tiger’s conscience won’t let her look the other way. The key to saving them lies within the walls of a pharmaceutical company called Winter Halo. But as she learns more about the facility, Tiger’s mission is derailed by a complication: Winter Halo’s female security guards are being systematically attacked by an unknown force. Now Tiger must summon all her gifts to stop those responsible for both atrocities—no matter the cost to herself… –Goodreads

The Review:

There are a few reasons why Keri Arthur is one of my top authors:

  • Her heroines are always kickass and fun
  • Her writing is page turning good
  • Her stories are always creative, and
  • Her books are always packed with a great mix of action, mystery, and romance

Where Winter Halo takes it one step further is the love story. Many urban fantasies hit you over the head immediately with a love interest (or two). In this case, all we’ve gleaned so far is the potential for a good love story, which is both promising an excellent payoff down the road and allowing the story to focus on all the other aspects that make it so good. Like how strong the main character is.

Tiger is a lab-created shifter/vampire hybrid bred for subterfuge during the apocalyptic war between shifters and humans. Her specialty is seduction and intelligence-gathering, a combination which led to some “steamy” moments. Even with such a unique backstory, it’s Tiger’s actions and motives that make her so interesting. Having not been able to save children under her care during the war, she’d go to the ends of the earth to help them now. And, as the overall arc of the series so far is finding and rescuing some missing kids, it’s a combination that is as compelling as it is heart-wrenching. I love Keri Arthur’s characters (Riley Jensen being one of my favorites from a past series), and Tiger is just as good.

Awesome characters, great writer, and understated love story aside, it’s the overall mystery of the series that has me chomping at the bit for the next one. Arthur did a great job weaving all of her plot points into a complex storyline. If I had just one complaint it’s that many of these plot points are revamped (no pun intended) ideas from her other series. However, They were spun freshly enough that I found them more nostalgic than tiresome.

If you’re looking for an urban fantasy that’s interesting and slightly off the beaten path, City of Light is a great place to start – the series only seems to be getting better and better!

I’d like to thank Penguin Group Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, Keri Arthur, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review a reviewer copy of Winter Halo.

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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Coming Soon: The Turn by Kim Harrison

the-turnTitle: The Turn

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #0.1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: January 26, 2017

The Overview: Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before! Can science save us when all else fails? Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction. Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Nik’s Notes:

I was just lamenting to a friend how sad I was that The Hollows was finished. Even though The Turn won’t center around Rachel or any of her awesome co-stars, it covers a time period before the series that I’ve always wanted to know more about (the turn, obviously). I’m so excited – this prequel feels like finding an extra present under the Christmas tree!

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes