3 out of 5 stars
You know how that saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Well, that’s kinda of what happened here with the final book in Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series, Magic Triumphs. We all knew that the end was coming but I just didn’t think it would be such a let-down. The author(s) tied up every loose end from the series, and that’s the problem. It was all too convenient and the ending felt rushed. (This could just be my sour grapes that one of my favorite series is coming to an end but I don’t think so.)
From the book description:
Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.
Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.
Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.
For her child.
For the world.
Despite my disappointment with this final installment, I am looking forward to Andrew’s new material.
3 out of 5 stars
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep was a solid, entertaining fantasy but it did not blow me away. The world building was fine, the magic system was believable, and the plot ticked all the boxes. That being said, the things that killed it for me were the usual fantasy tropes, the heroine who becomes an expert fighter in mere weeks, the villain (in this case, the Princess Vasilia) with zero redeeming qualities, the plucky band of supporting characters, add in a dash of romance and the whole thing felt lacking and a bit unoriginal.
From the cover description:
Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
It was a quick read and I was entertained which is why I gave it three stars but I probably won’t pick up the second book in the series. That’s all for today. Happy reading, everyone!
4 out of 5 stars
I loved reading A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan and I couldn’t be more delighted to find out that this is the first in a series of five books, The Memoirs of Lady Trent. The book is set in an alternate Victorian universe, one that stays true to the manners and rules imposed on the gentry during those times but populated by dragons. Lady Isabella Trent just wants to study dragons but is constrained by her family and society’s rules for ladies at that time.
Per the back cover description:
All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.
Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.
This book is no bodice-ripper, and some readers may be put off by the stilted language and exasperating choices made by Isabella throughout the story, but she lives in a time where (in our world), people covered up chair and table legs so as not to shock the ladies and possibly arouse the men with thoughts of uncovered ankles. I feel like author captured that feeling perfectly. The world-building was excellent and I enjoyed the characters immensely. The dragons were not as fleshed-out, but that is to be expected when the premise of the book hinges on the fact that they have not been studied extensively and that is what Isabella endeavors to do.
I highly recommend this book for young adult on up, and I will be looking for the next book in the series, The Tropic of Serpents.
3 out of 5 stars
Let me just start by saying I enjoyed this book enough that now that I know there is a sequel, I’ll hate myself but I’ll probably still buy it. That said, it still drove me crazy. It was a slow start for me and the protagonist, Kincaid Strange felt like a very familiar character, a conglomeration of similar tough women leads you find in urban paranormal series (like a Jane Yellowrock or a Kate Daniels.) Leather jacket – check. Motorcycle – check. “Don’t give a shit” attitude – check. Kincaid is a quasi-voodoo practitioner who makes her living by raising zombies and communing with ghosts in Seattle. Despite the slow start, the middle parts flew but then you get toward the end and it just becomes a mess again. It made for a confusing, unsatisfying ending.
Per the back cover description:
For starters, she’s only twenty-seven. Then there’s the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she’s broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker–who happens to be Kincaid’s on-again, off-again roommate.
Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighborhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he’s tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle’s infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City’s oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She’s broke, but she’s not stupid.
And then she becomes the target… As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.
I suppose if you look at this book as more of a foundational, world-building story, then that would go a long way toward excusing the disorganized plot. I like it enough to stick with it and I have high hopes that the second book will be better than the first. I’ll let you know, once I get a chance to read it.
I’m not reading as much these days as I’m focusing on my writing for the next few months. I’ll also be working on setting up an Etsy shop for some of my handicrafts and vintage tea cups. My plate is full but that’s the way I like it.
Best wishes for the New Year!