Friday, January 30, 2015

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "Magic Bites" by Ilona Andrews


Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews; Narrated by Renee Raudman
(Kate Daniels #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Audible
Author Website

For Ages 18+ (Violence, Language)
Urban Fantasy

Ace -- Published in 2007
Audiobook, 9 hours and 6 minutes
Read in January 2015
Purchased from Audible

THEMES
Alternate Universe, Kick-Ass Heroine, Magic, Vampires, Shapeshifters

SUMMARY
When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate's guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta's magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate's guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she's way out of her league—but she wouldn't have it any other way.



FIRST LINE
"I sat a table in my shadow kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone's Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit."

MY THOUGHTS
Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels is the one series that I have been meaning to start for years.  While I am far from an urban fantasy fangirl, I do enjoy the genre and this one is considered a classic for many readers/bloggers.  I bought Magic Bites a long time ago and just had never had the motivation to jump into it.  But, after finishing and loving the audiobook of Burn For Me, I knew this was the time to get going and it was a hella of a ride!

Magic Bites is told from the point of view of Kate Daniels, a mercenary who is willing to take on almost any job in order to survive.  She does have a small issue with authority that requires her to remain independent for the most part.  But, when her guardian is found dead, she decides to use one of the powerful magical organizations and their resources, to find his killer.  I really liked Kate and can see that I will have a great time seeing her develop.  She does have some annoying habits like smarting off to people/creatures she shouldn't, but they make her relatable and flawed.

Because this is just the beginning of a longer series, there are also introductions of a large cast of side characters.  I liked how different all of these personalities were and how seamlessly they fit into the world as a whole.  Some of my particular favorites included Jim, the werejaguar who often worked as partner for Kate, the clairovoyant Annie, and the head of the Atlanta-area necromancers, Nataraja.  And, course, I can't forget Curran!  The moment he stepped on the page, I took notice and had a blast reading the back-and-forth with him and Kate.

The first thing that I noticed about the setting was how complicated it was.  I actually had a difficult time understanding what was going on due to the fact that readers were just thrown into the action.  But, after awhile, I started figuring out the ins and outs, so I was able to get more immersed into this fascinating mix of magic, vampires, and shapechangers.  I really liked the unique approach to vampires as the furthest thing from the current trend of sexy bad boys.  And, of course I have to mention, the shapechangers who I have a feeling will become a huge part of the series.

In conclusion, while it had a slow start, Magic Bites started the Kate Daniels series with a bang.  It threw a lot of information at the readers, but it works well by the end.  I am definitely excited to read more as soon as I can get my hands on Magic Burns.  I also recommend the audio version if only to get Renee Raudman's amazing narration.


4 STARS


FAVORITE QUOTE
“What kind of a woman greets the Beast Lord with 'here, kitty, kitty'?” 


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
0.5. A Questionable Client
1. Magic Bites
2. Magic Burns
3. Magic Strikes
3.5. Magic Mourns
4. Magic Bleeds
4.5. Magic Dreams
5. Magic Slays
5.5. Gunmetal Magic
6. Magic Rises
6.5. Magic Steals
7. Magic Breaks
8. Magic Shifts (Coming 2015

OTHER REVIEWS
SF Site
Dear Author
Heroes and Heartbreakers
On a Book Bender

Thursday, January 29, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY-HISTORICAL ROMANCE EDITION (61)

Happy Thursday, everyone! This is a new feature hosted by Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.  Since Tin and Mary C. are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, they've decided to focus on this beloved genre.

Here are the rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 2008.

THIS WEEK I AM FEATURING...

The Spymaster's Lady The Spymaster's Lady (Spymasters, #1) 
The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne
Originally published in January 2008

She's braved battlefields. She's stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She's played the worldly courtesan, the naïve virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can't outwit...

British spymaster Robert Grey must enter France and bring back the brilliant, beautiful-and dangerous-Fox Cub. His duty is to capture her and her secrets for England. When the two natural enemies are thrown into prison, they forge an uneasy alliance to break free. But their pact is temporary and betrayal seems inevitable as the fates of nations hang in the balance.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

REVIEW: "The Burnt Toast B&B" by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz

The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5)
The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz
(Bluewater Bay #5)

Goodreads -- Amazon

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Male/Male Romance -- Contemporary

Riptide Publishing -- Published on January 10, 2015
Ebook, 241 pages
Read in January 2015
Received from Netgalley

THEMES
Opposites Attract, Small Town Setting

SUMMARY
After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.

Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city-boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than just how to put out kitchen fires.


FIRST LINE
"Derrick recited the order to himself as he clattered around his parents' cramped kitchen: two plates of eggs, one of them scrambled and the other soft-boiled."

MY THOUGHTS
While I have heard of the writing duo of Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz, I haven't read any of their books since I find the subject matter to be a bit dark for my taste.  But, I have been enjoying the Bluewater Bay series and I wanted to know more about stuntman Ginsburg who had a decent role in the first book, Starstruck.  This was a very unique romance and one that I really had a great time reading.

The Burnt Toast B&B starts off with Derrick Richards, a logger who left a job he loved to care for his parents' bed and breakfast after their deaths.  Derrick tries to be a good host, but things like cooking an edible breakfast and keeping things tidy are a struggle for him to deal with alone.  So he decides to just let it go until Hollywood stuntman Ginsburg shows up injured and without a place to sleep for the time being.  Together these two work out the bugs in the bed and breakfast and deal with their own attraction to one another.

For me, the star of this book was Ginsburg.  I liked him in Starstruck and fell for him even harder here.  I loved how comfortable he was with himself and his place in the world.  It is obvious that it took some time for him to get to this level and I admired that.  In terms of Derrick, I did like him and thought his development was well-written.  My biggest issue was with the way that he treated Ginsburg especially towards the end.  He needed to do some serious groveling and, while he did, I wasn't sure if it was enough.

Despite my problem with some aspects of Derrick's personality, I had a great time reading The Burnt Toast B&B.  I had never read a book with a main character who was trans and I found it to be refreshing and very respectful.  I also loved the fact that, while Derrick and Ginsburg obviously found each other attractive, their relationship was based on friendship first before jumping into bed.  I am definitely excited to see more of Bluewater Bay in the upcoming Valentine's Day anthology, Lights, Camera, Cupid.

I received a free copy of this book from Riptide Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

4 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Starstruck
2. There's Something About Ari
3. Hell on Wheels
4. Lone Wolf
5. The Burnt Toast B&B
6. Lights, Camera, Cupid (Coming February 2015)