Tuesday, August 21, 2018

#Review - A Girl of White Winter by Barb Hendee #Fantasy #Paranormal

Series: Dark Glass # 3
Format: E-Galley, 327 pages
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Rebel Base Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal

Kara, as a ward with no parentage and no future, has been raised knowing nothing outside her lady’s chambers. Until Royce Capello, a visiting nobleman, is struck by her ice-pale looks, and demands her as payment for the land the family needs.

With barely time to protest, Kara is sold and packed off for a life as a concubine—until a raiding party descends on Royce’s company and she’s kidnapped for the second time in as many days.

Whatever happens, Kara will be alone in the world, inexperienced and fearing even the vast unfamiliar sky. But one raider gives her a choice—and a magic mirror appears to show her where each path will lead…

Her fates twist and turn to affect far more than she could have guessed, tangling the bitter with the sweet—and Kara must choose which consequences she can live with…

A Girl of White Winter, by author Barb Hendee, is the third installment in the authors Dark Glass series. This is a series that began with the story of a witch who was killed, and found herself trapped in a 3-way mirror. As we have learned, the 3-way mirror seeks out those facing difficult decisions.  The mirror gives the chosen 3 paths. They each live out their 3 paths, and then must make a choice between the 3. There are no do overs. Once the choice is made, it can't be undone.

This is the story of Kara, a young woman who is basically an orphan who has been kept hidden by Lady Giselle. She is small, slender, pale skinned, with blonde/silver hair and crystalline blue eyes. Soon after the story begins, Kara is sold to Royce Capellos even though he is already married. However, before Royce's caravan can arrive safely at home, Kara is taken by masked men who ambushed by a man named Caine and brought to a place called the settlement. There she is given a choice, and her is where the mirror makes its first appearance. 

Kara finds herself being told by a 3-way mirror that she is at the crossroads of her life, and she is here to offer 3 different paths.

~She can leave with her protector Raven and journey with his performing troupe, competing for his mercurial affections.

~She can flee the raiders’ settlement, and return to Royce’s manor, chattel among devious nobility.

~Or she can stay in the settlement, bound to firm, silent Caine, who is as gentle as he is staid and inscrutable.

Unfortunately, I have to say that A Girl in White Winter was probably the most disappointing story of the three books that have been released so far. Kara is pretty much a nobody who has been sheltered as a lady's companion for all of her life. She is cannon fodder to a noble who wants to purchase land, and ends up being sent away to live in a world she knows absolutely nothing about. Even after she makes her final choice, it seems as though she clearly made a huge mistake since she found a connection to a stranger which nobody can understand. 

I didn't like the second choice Kara was given. It was wrong in so many ways that I can't even talk about for fear of spoiling something. One could say the third choice was also the most distressing because of how Kara is made to feel in the settlement. No, I won't spoil the choice she made. Of all the options she's given, only one really made any sense, and it wasn't the one she choose. One could honestly say that the first and third choices grant Kara the opportunity to actually explore who she is. Kara falls clearly into the category of men everywhere want to have her, while women everywhere want to get rid of her quickly for they fear she may intrude into their little cliches. 

The positive of reading this series is that each book is a standalone with a beginning and an ending. You don't actually have to read the first 2 books in order to understand what is happening in this story. Let's hope the fourth book excels where this went lacked.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34913650-through-a-dark-glass https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35117460-a-choice-of-crowns


Monday, August 20, 2018

#Review - Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black #YALIT #HIstorical

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 336 pages
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Historical 

Early Libba Bray meets Stalking Jack the Ripper and William Ritter’s Jackaby series in this richly atmospheric Gothic tale of murder and romance in 1850s New England

Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.

Debut author Terri Bailey Black unearths the long-buried secrets of a small New England town in this richly atmospheric Gothic tale of murder, guilt, redemption, and finding love where least expected.

Girl at the Grave is the debut novel from author Teri Bailey Black. It is a Gothic tale of murder and romance set to the backdrop of 1850s New England (Feavers Crossing, Connecticut). The story's protagonist is 17 year old Valentine Barron Deluca. Val has spent 11 years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. When she was 6 years old, Isabella Deluca was charged with murdering a man and quickly hung after being found guilty.

Val has been an outcast ever since. Nobody wants to associate with the daughter of a murderer or a girl who is from the poor side of town. Thankfully, a gracious benefactor has seen the light of day and given Val the opportunity to attend the prestigious Drake University which was once an all boys school. Her best friend, Sam Frye, may be the only one who has the worst reputation. His family is a hot mess, and one that truly scares Val.

Living in a small town, residents tend to have long memories. So, when a string of new murderers occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer. Only one person believes Valentine is innocent and that would be Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Val vows to find the real killer. But, when a her father, and a girl she is friends with go missing, she uncovers the horrifying truth; her mother may have been innocent. She must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end. 

Feaver's Crossing is a town filled with secrets. Some of them bubble to the surface as Val struggles to keep her self from unraveling and ending up like her mother. There are more than a few characters who have such an obvious hatred and agenda when it comes to ruining Val's life. I like Val a whole lot because she has to deal with not only unseen threats, insurmountable roadblocks, and those hostile towards her. Val doesn't always make the best choices, but she wants to find the truth and do what is right. 

Girl at the Grave doesn't have any ghosts or scenes I would describe as horror filled. I have no hesitation in putting this story into the category of mystery. The author does a brilliant job of letting the reader guess who the real killer is while also adding a few shocking surprises. The bad news is that the story turns into another twisted love triangle which I absolutely loathe. Val is friends with Sam, but Sam wants more. Meanwhile, Rowan ends up being the person she needs at the right time. I love that Val could have been like everyone else and ignored the town's outcast. She tried her best to do what's right for her while maintaining her status as an honor student at Drake. 

Overall, a pretty good story for a debut author. Will be interested in seeing what the author comes up with next.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

#Review - Run and Hide (Eva Driscoll #1) by Alan McDermott #Thriller

Series: Eva Driscoll # 1
Format: Trade Paperback, 304 pages
Release Date: August 22, 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Source: Publisher
Genre: Action & Adventure

There’s only so long you can run for your life.
Eva Driscoll is used to chasing down bad guys, but now the bad guys are chasing her. She knows they won’t stop until she’s dead.

After her brother is killed in a faked suicide, Driscoll teams up with ex-soldier Rees Colback, the one person who can help her find answers. Together they’re determined to uncover why members of his Special Forces squad are dying in mysterious circumstances.

But with every agency in the country in hot pursuit, their only choice is to flee.
The clock is ticking. They can’t run forever. It’s time to make a choice: kill or be killed…

Run and Hide is the first installment in new to me author Alan McDermott's Eva Driscoll series. Protagonist Eva Driscoll has been trained to be a lethal force to be reckoned with. But, after her Special Forces brother Jeff is murdered in a cover up operation, she will stop at nothing to expose the truth. But, is she ready to face a foe so formidable it has the government in its pocket? This is a fast paced, action packed story that will grip your attention from the first page and hold it right thru the disturbing ending.

In New York City, former Army Special Forces combat veteran Rees Colbeck encounters men who claim they are from Homeland Security. After escaping using techniques learned in a previous life, he escapes and a thrilling chase ensues. In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Rees finds himself being rescued by a woman who tells him that he is being hunted by those who operate and run the US government called ESO. He will learn that Eva is the sister of Jeff Driscoll who served with him, and is now dead as is the others that he worked with.

Rees has no idea why they have targeted him, or the others, but allies himself with Eva who seems as though she can more than take care of herself. In fact, Eva has a way of introducing people to fatal accidents and making others look like amateurs. Eva trained with the CIA to do wet work for them. She may be the most dangerous operative to ever live, and she knows where the bodies were buried which makes her a target for those who want to keep her from revealing everything that she knows. Eva isn't perfect. But, she is damn good at wiggling out of life and death situations.

Along with too smart to be appreciated computer genius Farooq Nasser, and two former British Mi-5 members, Sonny Baines and Len Smart who work for former SAS leader Tom Gray, the group targets a conspiracy that has its hands in ever single level of the American government, banks, and other assets as well. With a snap of their fingers, this group, led by Henry Langston, can eliminate anyone they think goes against their prosperity, and can make or break a presidential candidates chances of winning the White House.

Run and Hide is well written story with plenty of suspense and action for everyone. Eva's eyes get a rude awakening in this story. She once thought she was doing work that was in the best interest of her country. But, after she learns about her brother and the others, and looking at her own actions, she understands that she was just a piece in a much larger game that will pit her against her former agency, as well as those she once worked with. A bit of a warning. There are so many different characters who get involved in telling this story. Conspiracy theories, money, greed, power in the hands of a cabal? Yep, it's all in here.


Friday, August 17, 2018

#Review - Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre #YALit #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense 
Young Adult / Romance / Contemporary

Liv Burnham thinks nobody knows Morgan Frost like she does, but a terrible accident pushes her down the rabbit hole where Morgan's secrets hide and she'll be lucky to make it out alive....

On a hot summer night, Liv, Morgan, Clay and Nathan are on the way home from a party in Clay's convertible. Best friends dating brothers? It doesn't get better than that. But the joyride ends in sudden impact, a screech of brakes, and shattering glass. On that lonely country road, four lives change forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital. At first she's confused when they call her Morgan, but she assumes it's a case of mistaken identity. Yet when the bandages come off, it's not her face in the mirror anymore. It's Morgan's.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life. But as Liv tries to fit herself into Morgan's world, she discovers endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety and a dark task to finish...if she doesn't lose her mind first.

Forced to confront the disturbing truths that Morgan kept hidden in life, Liv must navigate a world of long-buried murder, a dangerous love affair—and a romance that feels like a betrayal.

Ann Aguirre's Like Never and Always is a dark, romantic, Young Adult suspense novel edged with a bit of paranormal. There's plenty of angst for those who love that sort of thing, mixed with layered secrets, a screwy love triangle, and the underlying story about how well we really know the person we claim to know best. The plot centers on a supernatural soul-switching/body-switching theme achieved a perfect balance between being goosebumps-inducing, fascinating, and singular.

One summer evening, best friends Olivia (Liv) Burnham and Morgan Frost are passengers in a car along with their boyfriends, brothers Clay and Nathan Claymore, when an accident changes all their lives forever. Liv wakes up in the hospital, but the visitors by her bedside are not her parents or her boyfriend Nathan, but Mr. Frost, Morgan’s father, and Clay, Morgan’s boyfriend. They all call Morgan by Liv by her best friend’s name, which frightens and confuses her—especially when they break the news that Liv did not survive the crash.

Any hopes that this is just a horrible case of mistaken identity are dashed, however, when they remove Liv’s bandages and it is Morgan’s face starring back at her in the mirror. Not wanting to appear crazy or upset anyone further, Liv decides to go along with it in order to buy some time to figure out what’s going on. But, becoming Morgan and stepping into her life is turning out to be more difficult than Liv realized. Her best friend, heiress to her father’s successful tech company, has lived in privilege and luxury, but her life had not been as well put together as anyone thought. 

Liv also discovers that, despite being popular and beautiful, Morgan Frost was a lonely girl with not a lot of close friends. And underneath that perfect and happy exterior, she was hiding all kinds of dangerous secrets, including an underage affair with a married man. All of it was part of Morgan’s plan to uncover the truth behind her mother’s mysterious death ten years ago, and now it is up to Liv to finish what her best friend started.  

I was conflicted at times and not because the story was boring. I was trying to cut through the cliche of whether this was a YA Romance novel, or a YA Suspense novel, or a combination of a whole bunch of genre's, including a bit of paranormal when Morgan has to decide whether or not she is really Morgan, or Liv, or a combination of the two characters mixed together. Liv (trapped in Morgan’s body) is a very compelling narrator, not the self-centered and overly dramatic teen we’ve come to expect in YA contemporaries. 

Liv is a relatable character. Totally out of her depth, in an unimaginable situation, she manages to survive, and do the one thing her best friend asked her to do. With no one who truly understands her situation, she is alone in dealing with her grief, both for her best friend and for her own life. She's caring and considerate, but also smart and strategic. I agree with others in that the best parts of this book were when Liv/Morgan had to decide who she really was, and how she is expected to move forward. Then there is the dreaded love triangle.....nope, I'll skip it, but thanks! I will say that there is definitely an edge that stands behind Clay, while wanting to totally dismiss Nathan who just doesn't do anything to help the story along.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

#Review - Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Dance of Thieves #1
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Romance / Dystopian

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty's resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

Dance of Thieves is the first book of what appears to be a duology by author Mary E. Pearson. The series is a spin-off from the authors The Remnant Chronicles. It is set in the same world, but 6 years after the Great Battle which readers would have read about in The Beauty of Darkness. Dance of Thieves it told in alternating POVs with Kazimyrah of Brightmist (Kazi, or Ten), and Jase Ballenger as the main characters. 

"Before you go about the task I have given you, see the devastation and remember what they did. What could happen again. Know what is at stake. Dragons eventually wake and crawl from their dark dens.”

Kazi is a street rat/talented thief turned Rahtan soldier. She and her fellow Rahtan, Wren, & Synove, are been sent by Queen Jesalia to find Captain Illarion, the man who betrayed his kingdom and one of only a few architects of the war not captured or killed. He is the most hated and the most hunted fugitive on the continent, and if you actually read The Beauty of Darkness you'll know why. Rumor has it he's in Hell's mouth, a city that's supposed to be under Venda's jurisdiction, but that's actually under the control of the Ballenger family.

Jase and family have been called an illegal dynasty by those who want access to Hell's Mouth, Tor's Watch, and the impressive trading arena. The Ballengers have been fighting for a long time to be recognized as the first kingdom, but they've never been able to and now is a particularly bad time because the last Patrei (the ruler) has just died. Jase has just become the new Patrei and has lots of challenges ahead of him, including from his own family and some underhanded cousins who are willing to undermine his authority. Jase is like the Don of a mafioso family that has it's hands in everything.

Soon after arrival, Kazi and Jase find themselves captured by hunters, shackled together, and forced to work together in order to survive and avoid anyone with bad intentions from recapturing them. Kazi is a surprising character, and I mean that in a good way. She's known as Ten because after years of being a thief, she still has all ten fingers. She survived the relentless Komizar rule, and the disappearance of her mother, and was made part of Lia's guard because of her daring actions. 

Jase is all about his family, and they are absolutely brilliant. From his mother down to the youngest, you can't really ignore any of them. Kazi and Jase, while constantly dancing around each others feelings and each others responsibilities, she to the Queen, he to his family, grow closer as they tackle a multitude of problems and their growing feelings for one another.  I have to say that this is definitely a book of many different storylines. 

First, there is the relationships between Kaz and her Rahtan which I loved. All three women shouldn't be taken for granted, nor should you turn your back to them. Then there's the back and forth between Kaz and Jase, between Jase and his family, including an overbearing and untrustworthy cousin. There's a whole lot of drama between Kaz and Jase, including the fact that they fell for each other rather quickly, and have to sift through a crap load of twists and turns in order to attempt to move forward. 

I am going to mention that Lia does show up in this story. It's towards the end, so readers can take a deep breath and not worry that the two series wouldn't somehow connect. The climax of the story felt like everything was going to be wrapped up nicely, until the final chapter when you are thrown for a loop with one of the more diabolical endings you will read about. Vow of Thieves is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2019. I'll be there.   


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#Review - Bright We Burn by Kiersten White #YALIT #Historical #Fantasy

Series: And I Darken (#3)
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Historical / Medieval

The tumultuous, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the New York Times bestselling AND I DARKEN series—the epic saga that reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones…if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Who will live? Who will die? And who will rule triumphant?

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever…and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed…and would he even want it?

Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before—including her relationships—can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

Bright We Burn, by author Kiersten White, is the third and final installment in the authors The Conqueror's Saga trilogy. Bright We Burn delivers all the action and intensity of the first two books and is the epic conclusion fans have been waiting for. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters. 

The story is being compared to Game of Thrones due to the dark, sophisticated, and bloody nature of the series. There are castles, secrets, murders, political intrigue, war, betrayals, violent uprisings, and romance.  The story takes place in 15th Century Transylvania (historical region in the central part of Romania); Wallachia (historical and geographical region of Romania); as well as Constantinople which has been conquered by the Ottoman Empire. 

“She was a dragon.
She was a prince.
She was a woman.
It was the last that scared them most of all.” 

The story opens right where Now I Rise finished. Lada Dracul is in Wallachia where people are telling exaggerated stories about her escapades, but they're not far from the actual truth. Lada is taking out her enemies while imposing new rules which really don't get a whole lot of respect. She's now the Prince she was always hoping to be, but there are enemies surrounding her on all sides, and allies who would gladly stab her in the back in order to keep on the new Ottoman Empire's Sultan, Mehmed good side. 

Lada basically spits in the face of Mehmed and tells him and Radu to come get her by not only refusing to become a vassal state like other countries, but by going to war on his troops who have committed crimes against her people. Good idea? Bad Idea? The point is that Lada isn't a heroine. She may be considered an anti-heroine in all reality, and I'm perfectly fine with villain stories. She isn't afraid of killing and slaughtering and getting her hands bloody if it fits her narrative. She's broken. 

She's been left behind by her own brother who she promised to protect. She feints love for someone she grew up with, but it's basically just for sexual enjoyment.  She's urged to return to Mehmed where she knows she won't be in charge of her own destiny. In Wallachia, she fights for her land, her people, and forms a strange kinship with both. Wallachia’s hardened landscape isn't for everyone, as Mehmed soon learns. 

Folks, let me just say this. You all knew going into this series that the author was doing a retelling of Vlad Dracul, except by flipping the genders and making Vlad, Lada. So, if you are at all unhappy with the way this series ends, please refer back to history and you will definitely see a correlation.

Meanwhile, Radu is called back to Constantinople by Mehmed like a good little dog whenever its master calls him home. But, he's a changed man. His indecision cost people their lives and now on the other side of the fence, he no longer knows what he’s fighting for. Radu is driven now more than anytime before by love for his family made up of Nazira, Fatma, and even Cyprian. Radu is not Lada or Mehmed. Where their decisions come from a place of ruthlessness and ambition, his comes from a place of love and mercy. I think the most poignant scene in all the book was when Radu and Lada reunite and they both have to look at their lives since being sold to Mehmed's people when they were children.

I'm not going to talk about Mehmed all that much since he really is a historical character. But, he genuinely pissed me off by the way he completely disregards Lada’s ambitions, and the way he underestimated her intentions when it came to her home. He acted as though Lada is something to be conquered and possessed. His desire to kidnap & drag back Lada to where HE believes she should be, was a perfect example of someone not wanting a woman like Lada to have any sort of happiness.  

I am absolutely OK with how this story and series ends. If it had ended any other way, then it would have been considered alternative history fiction. 

1454, Wallachia
Lada Dracul had cut through blood and bones to get the castle.
That did not mean she wanted to spend time in it. It was a relief to escape the capital. She understood the need for a seat of power, but she hated that it was Tirgoviste. She could not sleep in those stone rooms, empty and yet still crowded with the ghosts of all the princes who had come before her.
With too far to go before reaching Nicolae, Lada planned to camp for the night. Solitude was increasingly precious—and yet another resource she was sorely lacking. But a tiny village tucked away from the frosted road beckoned her. During one of the last summers before she and Radu were traded to the Ottomans, they had traveled this same path with their father. It had been one of the happiest seasons of her life. Though it was winter now, nostalgia and melancholy slowed her until she decided to stay.
Outside the village, she spent a few frigid minutes changing into clothes more standard than her usual selection of black trousers and tunics. They were noteworthy enough that she risked being recognized. She put on skirts and a blouse—but with mail underneath. Always that. To the untrained eye, there was nothing to mark her as prince.
She found lodging in a stone cottage. Because there was not enough planting land for boyars to bother with here, the peasants could own small patches of it. Not enough to prosper, but enough to survive. An older woman seated Lada by the fire with bread and stew as soon as coins had exchanged hands. The woman had a daughter, a small thing wearing much-patched and too-large clothes.
They also had a cat, who, in spite of Lada’s utter indifference to the creature, insisted on rubbing against her leg and purring. The little girl sat almost as close. “Her name is Prince,” the girl said, reaching down to scratch the cat’s ears.
Lada raised an eyebrow. “That is an odd name for a female cat.”
The girl grinned, showing all the childhood gaps among her teeth. “But princes can be girls now, too.”
“Ah, yes.” Lada tried not to smile. “Tell me, what do you think of our new prince?”
“I have never seen her. But I want to! I think she must be the prettiest girl alive.”
Lada snorted at the same time as the girl’s mother. The woman sat down in a chair across from Lada. “I have heard she is nothing to look at. A blessing. Perhaps it can keep her out of a marriage.”
“Oh?” Lada stirred her stew. “You do not think she should get married?”
The woman leaned forward intently. “You came here by yourself. A woman? Traveling alone? A year ago such a thing would have been impossible. This last harvest we were able to take our crops to Tirgoviste without paying robbers’ fees every league along the road. We made two times again as much money as we ever have. And my sister no longer has to teach her boys to pretend to be stupid to avoid being taken for the sultan’s accursed Janissary troops.”
Lada nodded as though hesitant to agree. “But the prince killed all those boyars. I hear she is depraved.”
The woman huffed, waving a hand. “What did the boyars ever do for us? She had her reasons. I heard—” She leaned forward so quickly and with such animation half her stew spilled, unnoticed. “I heard she is giving land to anyone. Can you imagine? No family name, no boyar line. She gives it to those who deserve it. So I hope she never marries. I hope she lives to be a hundred years old, breathing fire and drinking the blood of our enemies.”
The little girl grabbed the cat, settling it on her lap. “Did you hear the story of the golden goblet?” she asked, eyes bright and shining.
Lada smiled. “Tell me.”
And so Lada heard new stories about herself, from her own people. They were exaggerated and stretched, but they were based on things she had actually done. The ways she had improved her country for her people.
Lada slept well that night.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#Review - Magic Triumphs by @ilona_andrews @AceRocBooks (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Kate Daniels (#10)
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: ACE
Source: Finished Copy Via Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Urban

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

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 Atlanta.

Magic Triumphs is the tenth and final installment in Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series. What an absolutely brilliant way to end the series that got me started as a blogger. True fact! The series is set in alternative Atlanta where mercenary Kate Daniels-Lennart has kept the paranormal elements of Atlanta, which includes shapeshifters, vampires, witches, mages, mercenaries, and necromancers, in check along with her husband Curran. 

As the story opens, readers are introduced to the brightest, the cutest, the most dangerous baby you will ever meet; Conlan Lennart. Unfortunately, Kate's father Roland desires the baby for himself to do what he did to Hugh, and would have done to Kate had she not escaped. It is all hands on deck in order to prevent Roland from winning. If Roland takes the baby, it is the end of everything that truly matters. 

The story then moves 13 months into the future where we find Kate dealing with a new role as mother of an extraordinary child. as well as going back to work at Cutting Edge. But, something really bad happens which leads to a stunning revelation. When Kate receives a strange gift, she knows that things are quickly moving towards a major conflict with a villain who might be more powerful than Roland. The fact is, Kate's family has met this villain and wasn't the winners.

As much of a threat that Roland is on his own, this new villain is supercharged, and has an army that could easily ride through Atlanta and destroy everything and everyone Kate loves. It's nice that the authors have come up with such a dynamic villain along with his followers who we've seen before ::hint hint:: I have said this before, I shall say this again, please do yourself a huge favor and read Hugh and Elara's book. What happens in Hugh's book, happens in Kate's finale in a much, much grander way.

Even though there are some who consider Kate to be too powerful, she attempts to do the impossible. Bring all factions together in order to save Atlanta and defeat the villain. From the Pack, to the Order, to The Guild, to The People, and everyone else who stands alongside Kate in her desire to keep the newest villain from not only destroying Atlanta, but the world as well. In all honesty folks, even though I give this book FIVE huge stars, I would have loved to have one final battle between Kate and Roland, with Hugh, Elara, Conlan, Erra, Evdokia, Andrea, Teddy Jo, Raphael, Derrick, Saiman, Christopher, and Julie to name a few on Kate's side. 

I have to say, that while I am sad that this is the end, I absolutely believe it is the right time to walk away. Who knows readers, we might see Kate, Curran and the crew back for yet another visit sometime down the road. As I peer into my crystal ball, I foresee a series featuring Conlan Lennart. He is so adorable, and badass, and every single time he was in a scene I was laughing and laughing, and I couldn't help not wanting a Conlan of my own! I am happy that my wish was granted in that Hugh and Elara came to help Kate and mended some battered fences. After all, who is more of a brother than Hugh? Kind of curious where the authors will take a few others characters from here. You know that they will most likely continue with Julie and Derek sooner, rather than later. You know that Hugh and Elara have another book or two to come. Wherever they go, I will be there.
In the immortal words of the group known as the Doors:
This is the end, beautiful friend
 This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
It hurts to set you free
The end of laughter and soft lies, the end.