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Archive for the category “Magic”

Siren by Jennifer Melzer

siren
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Jennifer Melzer’s latest novel, Siren, is a fun, though certainly dramatic, romp through an ordinary world, where extraordinary things happen. Our heroine, Siren, spends much of the book convinced that she’s going crazy, especially when her beloved aunt and her best friend don’t understand what’s happening to her. And indeed, how could they? They’ve been manipulated to believe and feel exactly what Prince Less-Than-Charming wants them to.

I really enjoyed watching Siren finally come to terms with the terrible things that had happened to her, and make her stand beside the one person she’s always known she could trust. All she had to do was listen to her heart. And, oh yeah…to the talking cat, too. You romantic fantasy fans out there will love this, and I’d like to think there will be more to come, since Siren’s own powers have only just begun to show themselves. Check it out!

Siren

The Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison

thewitchwithnoname
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

I’ve been putting off my review of this book, hoping my feelings about it would come up a notch, but since that hasn’t happened, I guess it’s time to give it a go. First, I want to say kudos to Kim Harrison for writing a series that kept me coming back for thirteen books. That’s a huge accomplishment, and she must have been doing something right. Her fans are legion, and the series has been a best seller from Day One.

For me, it has never been a 5-star series, but it has always been a steady, reliable 4 stars, book after book. The things that kept me from giving any of the books a full 5-stars related most often to several characters I just did not like. And they were characters I was supposed to like, so they were featured often and extensively. I was caught up in the overall world and complicated plot lines, but those particular characters always stopped me from giving any of the books more than 4 stars.

Having said that, there were also several characters I loved. Rachel Morgan, herself, could be fun and interesting, though a flawed character, to be sure. Still, her flaws made her relatable, and I liked her. Trent Kalamack was a favorite of mine long before it was ever hinted that he might become a love interest. The pixie, Jenks, was always consistently funny and clever, and a staunch ally of Rachel, though never afraid to tell her when she was doing something stupid. And the demon, Algaliarept, was a wonderful draw. Always scary, always complicated, and often funny. Once in a while, he was even touching. Those four characters kept me coming back over and over.

The vampires in this book were not among my favorites. None of them. I wasn’t into the whole mythos, so when the final book, which I had long anticipated, featured them for a huge chunk of the book–probably more than half of it–it was bound to leave me feeling unsatisfied. I really didn’t care a lot what happened to any of them, I’m afraid, so that part of the last book just didn’t work for me.

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD

What I wanted most was a satisfactory ending to the relationship between Rachel and Trent. And actually, I got it in a way, so you’d think I’d be happier. But to me, it felt rushed and crammed into the last part of the book, and left me wishing I had been along for the ride as they worked out their differences. So. I got the outcome I wanted, but not the fun of sharing it with Rachel. Honestly, it felt like it should have been spread over two books, with the resolution of the vampire story line in one, and the resolution of Rachel and Trent’s story in another. That, I could have enjoyed a lot more.

This is the first book of the series I’ve given less than 4 stars, so you can surmise from that, I consider it the weakest of the thirteen. It was the one I enjoyed the least, anyway. If you’ve read the series so far, you will definitely want to see how it all turns out, and you might have a completely different take on it than I do. So be sure to get your copy. If you haven’t read any of the series, but are a fan of Urban Fantasy, you probably should give it a try. As I say, Harrison’s fan base is enormous, so she had to be doing something right to create that kind of loyalty. I know I kept on reading, even when there were characters and occasional plot lines that didn’t thrill me. And I’m glad I did. It was a good series, overall, and mostly fun. But it deserved a stronger, better-written ending, especially to the long-awaited Happily Ever After for Rachel and Trent. Just my opinion, as always.  

The Witch With No Name

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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My Rating: About 50…or Maybe 60…of 5!

After re-reading The Raven Boys, Book 1 of the Raven Cycle, I remembered all over again why I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.

After reading The Dream Thieves, Book 2 of the Raven Cycle, I have decided that I want to BE Maggie Stiefvater when I grow up.

There are no words to convey how powerful and moving her writing is. And I know a LOT of words. Just none that do the job adequately.

I enjoyed her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. It was sweet, and spooky, and an unusual take on werewolves. I LOVED The Scorpio Races, a dark, hauntingly beautiful tale of young love, unfolding on the backs of the capaill uisce, or water horses of Celtic legend. But the first two books of the Raven Cycle are simply beyond my ability to explain. With lyrical precision, and dark imagery, Stiefvater creates a cast of characters unlike any I’ve ever encountered. The four Raven Boys are a disparate, yet tightly bonded, group of young men who attend Aglionby Academy. They are at once admirable, flawed, driven by needs too complicated to explain here, and made alternately strong and weak by those same needs.

And then there’s Blue, the non-magic girl in a house filled with seers and diviners, and whose gift is amplifying the magic of others. Once Blue becomes part of the group of Raven Boys, things change in so many unexpected ways, it would be hard to keep up, without the skillful plotting of the author. Her lyrical turns of phrase aren’t the only thing at work here, though to be sure, it’s her writing that makes the tale as powerful as it is. Her story line is terrific, but her words are positively inspired. As I said in an earlier post, Stiefvater  can lay open a character’s soul more efficiently than a boning knife, and often, with equally painful results. Her words left me gasping more than once, because, quite simply, her writing has a kick like a mule.

I can’t recommend this series highly enough. Hands down, the best two books I’ve read in several years, and I’m counting the days until I can read the last book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, coming October 21.

The Dream Thieves

Monday Giveaways: Jim Butcher and Dean Koontz

ProvenGuilty

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Happy Moon’s Day! Time once again for my Monday Giveaways. Read more…

Monday Giveaway: Jim Butcher and Dean Koontz

OddThomas

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Continuing with my Dresden Files giveaway today, plus Book One of another of my very favorite series, Odd Thomas. Read more…

The Dark Witch & Shadow Spell – Nora Roberts

DarkWitch

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

The Dark Witch and Shadow Spells are Volumes 1 and 2 of the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy, so I’m reviewing them together. I read these two books back to back, and couldn’t possibly separate where one left off and the other began, anyway. First, let me say that I haven’t read Nora Roberts in years and years. I thought I remembered that I wasn’t drawn to her writing way back when, but since a reviewer of one of my books suggested her fans would like my work, I thought I’d better get busy and check her out again. Secondly, let me say that said reviewer was being very kind. Only in my wildest dreams, would I ever become the popular author that Nora Roberts is, though I loved the compliment. And third, I want to say that whatever I was remembering from the book(s) I read years ago, well…it turned out to be total applesauce. Probably wasn’t even remembering the right author.

If you have guessed that I enjoyed these two books, you’d be right. I was pulled into this tale of good witches and evil sorcerers in Ireland by the end of the first sentence. And I remained engrossed straight through to the last sentence of the second book. The only reason I haven’t already read the third book is that it isn’t out yet. But it is marked on my calendar, believe me. And the reason I was so completely invested in the story is a simple one. Characters. They were engaging, interesting, and just quirky enough to make me enjoy watching them plot and scheme against their mutual ages-old enemy. I did read a few reviews from fans who were disappointed, saying the books were too similar to another of her series. I suppose that could be a problem for some readers, but since I hadn’t read the other books in question, it certainly was not one for me. The plot was solid, if not brilliantly unusual, the magic was well described and interesting, and again, the characters were fun. That’s enough to rate 4 stars in my book, and I recommend these books to you folks who love a little magic with your romantic suspense. No, better make that a lot of magic. 🙂 Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the covers are cool, too, especially The Dark Witch. It has “Ireland” written all over it! Check ’em out!

ShadowSpell

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

The Dark Witch

Shadow Spell

Only Six More Days!

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I’m sure I speak for a lot of us when I say I can hardly wait for next Tuesday to arrive! Jim Butcher’s newest Dresden Files book, Skin Game, will be released, and I’m heading straight to my local book seller to pick up my copy. I can’t even wait for it to be sent from Amazon! With the exception of Ghost Story, I’ve never been more eager to get my hands on a new Dresden Files book. Or any other, for that matter. Harry’s world gets bigger, badder, and more complex with every single book, and Harry, himself, has grown so much as a character, it’s hard to believe how it all started out. This one sounds like it is going to be fantastic, and after waiting over a year and a half for it, I really hope it is. And the GOOD NEWS is that someone will win a free download of this next Monday afternoon. Yep. I’ll be giving away a copy of Skin Game to one of my followers. And all you have to do to win, is ASK. Simply email me any time after 3:00pm EST. If you are the first person I hear from, the download is yours!

Mark your calendars! You know you want this one, and FREE…IS…GOOD! 🙂

The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

undeadpool

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Okay, before I get too far into this brief (for me) review, I just want to get one thing out of the way, right up front. As much as I enjoy Kim Harrison’s series, and as fun as this image of Rachel Morgan is, the man in the background doesn’t even resemble the way that Harrison has described Rachel’s main Elf, Trent Kalamack, as looking. The most obvious discrepancy would be the lack of almost white, floating, fly-away, “dandelion fluff” hair. And for me, not much else looks like the Elf described through all of these books, either. Now everyone has their own take on how he should look, I’m sure. But without that hair, the fair skin, and the pointy ears, he just doesn’t look very…Elvish. Therefore, I have decided he must be…wait for it…an Elvish Impersonator. (Oh, hahaha. Sometimes I crack myself up.)

Seriously, the cover does bother me, but not enough to stop me from enjoying the book. I’m keeping this review on the short side, because I can’t think of a way to say what I want to without spoilers. What I will say is that the plot turned into something I wasn’t expecting at all, though given the Ins and Outs of The Hollows, the Ever-After, and the ley lines, plus demons, weres, vamps (both living and dead), elves, pixies, fairies, and even gargoyles, I guess I should have been ready for just about anything. But she still managed to surprise me.

In my opinion, Kim Harrison’s forte is in that same complex world-building I mentioned above. The history of elves and demons, the complicated rules they all live by, the way Rachel morphed from an “ordinary” witch into something quite extraordinary, able to converse with demons and goddesses–all of these things make for very entertaining reading. As for the one burning issue that has kept me coming back over and over again–the slowly evolving relationship between Rachel and Trent–well, all I can say is this book left me smiling…from ear to ear. 

If you’ve followed this series from the beginning, and you haven’t read The Undead Pool, yet, what are you waiting for. Get it! And get ready for the next book, which I believe is going to wrap up the series. (If I’m wrong on that, feel free to jump in here and let me know, anyone.) It’s been a long and wildly imaginative ride. The books haven’t all been perfect, and there are things (and characters) I don’t like very much, even though I’m supposed to. But overall, I’m really glad I picked up Dead Witch Walking way back when. If you love Urban Fantasy, I definitely recommend it to you.

The Undead Pool

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

cleansweep

My Rating: 4-1/2 of 5 Stars

“On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast.” Of course, you know the husband and wife writing team of Ilona Andrews never settles for worlds where things are as they appear “on the outside,” Read more…

Re-read of the Month: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

bayoumoon

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Do you have books that just call you back for another visit, long after you read them the first time? I do. Classics going back to Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights, up through Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and into many newer books, including a lot of recent Urban Fantasy. While looking for something to read at the hospital, as I waited long hours in my mother’s room, I decided Read more…

Summer Magic Has Gone Live!

Summer Magic_

Exciting news here today! My little volume of verse (also called a “chapbook”) has gone live on Amazon.com today. Wow. Two books live in less than a month and a half. I’m feeling pretty good right now, for sure. 

Summer Magic is a 44-page collection of seventeen poems. Part One of the book is called Mac At Ten, and features the main male character from my novel, Wake-Robin Ridge, as a little boy, camping in his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains, where he sees the magic in all that nature has to offer. From tales around the campfire to watching the sunrise, he knows instinctively that he is in a special place, and he throws himself into the pleasure of it all, with reckless abandon.

Part Two concerns itself with a variety of topics…whatever was on my mind on any given day, pretty much. Life, death, summer and autumn, betrayal and abiding love. 

I thought this little book would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about Kindle’s new Cover Creator, and I will be doing a post on that another day, as part of my series on self-publishing. I think it probably worked well enough for this project, but I’m not trading in my graphic designer yet, by any means.

Hope some of you will enjoy Summer Magic. I had a wonderful time writing it, and am already at work on another collection of poetry.

Summer Magic

Four Summoner’s Tales by Kelley Armstrong, et al

FourSummoners

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

This four-novella anthology appealed to me from the first moment I saw it on Amazon. The cover caught my eye, and the premise behind each tale jumped out at me: A strange visitor comes to town, offering to raise the townsfolk’s dearly departed from the dead–for a price . . .   And therein lies Read more…

Thieves’ Quarry by D. B. Jackson

ThievesQuarry300

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Plus Bonus Points for Gorgeous Cover

Thieves’ Quarry is the second book in the Thieftaker Chronicles, and it is even better than the first one, Thieftaker, was. D. B. Jackson has done a first-rate job of writing historical fiction with an Urban Fantasy slant, and it makes for a lot of fun reading.

The hero of the book, Ethan Kaille, is a thieftaker by trade (a sort of Early American bounty hunter), and a Read more…

Chimes At Midnight by Seanan McGuire

Untitled-6

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
and a BIG Woohoooooo!

I have been a fan of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye novels since Rosemary & Rue came out in 2009.  I don’t know of another series more jam-packed with Magic (with a capital “M”) than this one. It is true Urban Fantasy, set in the streets of San Francisco, yet connected to the world of the Fae, and it is utterly filled with every type of mythical creature Celtic folklore has ever spawned. Selkies and barghests and mermaids, oh my! Rose goblins, sea hags, and Cobblynaus, and far too many Read more…

Biting Bad by Chloe Neill

BitingBad_sm1-398x600

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series has had me hooked from book one. I like our heroine, Merit, and think she does fewer really dumb things than many female leading characters. Now and then, I want to knock her up beside the head, but mostly, Read more…

Dead Iron by Devon Monk

deadiron

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I’ve only started reading steampunk in the last two years or so, but hands down, this is my favorite book in the genre, so far. Written with far more intelligence than most, Dead Iron is filled with characters who pull you in, a plot that is Read more…

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

libriomancer

My Rating: 3-1/2 Stars out of 5

This book was a lot of fun. So much fun that I debated giving it a full four stars, but then decided that “fun” would only carry it so far. The premise is wonderful. A certain group of magic folk, libriomancers, can reach into books and pull forth objects, Read more…

Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson

thieftaker2

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I have admired this book for some months, loving the beautiful cover art by my favorite, Chris McGrath, but I kept thinking I probably wouldn’t enjoy the story. Maybe too many things converging in one book: magic, history of the American colonies, thieves and murderers. Hmmm. For some reason, Read more…

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

magicrises

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Finally! Found a few minutes to finish this book. All I can say is, wow! Maybe I’ll say it twice. Wow. Louder this time. WOW! Are you getting my drift, here? I loved this book! It had everything I wanted in it, and then some.

I’ve been a fan of the Kate Daniel’s series for some time, and an even bigger fan of Read more…

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

oceanattheendofthelane

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I hardly know what to say about this magical, yet creepy, little book. In some ways, it was everything I hoped it would be. For certain, I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. In other ways, I found it disturbing and, in part, a bit unsatisfactory. NOTE: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD! Read more…

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

stardust

My Rating: 3 1/2 of 5 Stars

I have very mixed feelings about Stardust, I’m afraid. It is a sweet, though short, fable with a mystical touch of fairy magic and a strange assortment of characters. There were surprises here and there that I really appreciated, and the ending was touching. Mostly. Our hero, Tristran Thorne, is off on a mission to collect a fallen star Read more…

What Are You Reading?

bearreading

Yep, it’s time for another What Are You Reading post. Inquiring minds wanna know!

I have just gotten started on Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I’m not very far into the book, but I am thoroughly enjoying what I have read to date. I can’t wait to see how all these many characters connect to each other, and whether or not the hero’s search for a fallen star, which he intends to present to his lady love, will be fruitful. And if it is, will said ladylove really have been worth the journey, or is his destiny to meet someone else along the way? This is the third book of Gaiman’s I’ve read, and so far, his writing hasn’t failed to pull me into worlds of fantasy and dreams and occasionally, nightmares.  I will be reviewing Stardust as soon as I manage to find time to finish it.

So tell me, my fellow bloggers, what are YOU reading this week?  Let us hear from you!

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

neverwhere

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I have come to the conclusion that Neil Gaiman just may be my Go-To Man when I’m in the mood for Major Creepiness. Capital M. Capital C. Really! I’ve read books that were scarier, books that were funnier, and books that were more convoluted or complex, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything creepier than Neverwhere in my life. And I mean that in a GOOD way, of course.

The story of a secret world beneath London, Read more…

House Rules by Chloe Neill

houserules12958034

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

The Chicagoland Vampire series has kept me coming back through seven books now. I have enjoyed each and every one of them, except for the major WTF moment in Book #4,  Hard Bitten. That one nearly gave me apoplexy! But I forged ahead Read more…

New Releases!

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Just Released!

For those not following my New Release Widgets in the sidebar, just a heads up.  Several of my favorite series have just released new books, as follows:

Seanan McGuire’s second book in the Incryptid series, Midnight Blue-Light Special, was released yesterday.  The first book, Discount Armageddon was terrific.  Can’t wait to see how the sequel goes.

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Slashback, the newest Rob Thurman book in the Leandros Brothers series is out.  I’m really eager to receive my pre-order on this one.  I’ve been crazy about this series since the very first book, though the last one troubled me greatly. I’m hoping Slashback will leave me feeling better about the changes Caliban is going through.  

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And last, but by no means least, Frost Burned, the new Patricia Briggs book in the Mercy Thompson series is now out.  I really can’t say enough good things about Patricia Briggs. Her Mercy books, as well as her Alpha & Omega series, are among my very favorite Urban Fantasy reads. 

If you’ve been following any of these series, you’ll want to check out these new books ASAP. I have high expectations for all of them.

Midnight Blue-Light Special: An Incryptid Novel

Slashback: A Cal Leandros Novel (Cal and Niko)

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, Book 7)

If you decide to place an order with amazon, clicking through from my links will give me credit.  If you are enjoying  my reviews on Bookin’ It, it’s a great way to let me know!  Thanks!

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