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The Turn by Kim Harrison #TuesdayBookBlog


My Rating: 3.5 Stars

BLURB:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce you 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, Kal, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.

But 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 rises, giving the paranormal species the choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague-torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved, and Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found.

~~~

When I saw that a prequel to Harrison’s very popular Rachel Morgan/Hollows series was coming out, I had mixed feelings. Yes, I read every one of the Hollows books, right to the end, but I might not have done so, had I started them after reading a lot of other urban fantasy books. (Thus having more experience with what the genre ought to feel like.) For me, the books were always a mixed bag. There were some story lines and some characters I really loved, and some I definitely did not. And sadly, several of the ones I truly didn’t like were supposed to be the good guys. Not a single book made me happy all the way through, I’m sorry to say. And yet I kept reading.

I think I stuck with the series primarily because I really enjoyed the character of Trent Kalamack, and wanted to watch his relationship with Rachel grow into something permanent. No way to tell you whether or not that happened, without spoiling the books for those who might still like to read them. I can say that the final book was not nearly as well done as I had hoped it would be, and the ending felt rushed and incomplete to me. (Ducking for cover, here, because Harrison’s fans are legion, and I don’t want anyone throwing things at me. Like lethal, virus-riddled tomatoes.)

I will say this. You have to be doing something right to keep a reader coming back for thirteen books, which I did, so my hat’s off to Kim Harrison for creating series that, to me, was flawed, but was still absolutely addictive. I will also add that the things I did like, I liked very, very much, and they mostly made up for the things I hated.

Now, comes the prequel. Did I like it? Yes and no. Was I engaged with any of the characters the way I was with some of the ones from the Hollows book? No. They weren’t badly done, per se. They just didn’t pull me into their stories as much as I’d hoped. The book isn’t bad, by any means, and since I seldom gave any of the Hollows books more than 4 stars, 3.5 for this one feels about right. I did very much enjoy finding out how the tomato virus happened. And I must say that meeting Kal explained a lot about what made Trent Kalamack the conflicted and complicated character he was in the Hollows books. Oh, my. Talk about the sins of the fathers.

All in all, I would recommend The Turn to anyone who enjoyed the Rachel Morgan books. You’ll have to decide for yourself how it stacks up against those. I believe that there will be more books in this new series, and I’ll probably read the next one, too, having come this far. If the characters start to engage me a bit more, I’ll continue, but if not, I’ve got a TBR list as long as my arm, waiting. So, you Hollows fans, read this one  for yourself, and let me know how it works for you. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it, and we’ll find out together if the next one is a bit stronger. Sometimes a new series just needs to get its sea legs under it, and then, it’s smooth sailing.

The Turn: The Hollows Begins With Death

My Top Ten Urban Fantasy Series

storm front

Was thinking yesterday about all the great Urban Fantasy series there are out there, and decided to make a list of my very favorites. I tried to list them in order, and then realized that they tend to shift up and down the list a bit, based on the latest book, or a current favorite plot twist, perhaps. All except one. I’m sure it’s no surprise to those of you who have been following this blog for a while. My number one all time favorite Urban Fantasy series has never changed. Why? Because none of the rest appeal to me quite as much, in spite of the fact that I love some of them like crazy. Here they are, in order from first to…everything else. 🙂

1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: The best characters, good and bad, best plot lines, best adventures, best…and longest drawn out…love affair)

2. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz: Yes, he’s a master of horror, but while the Odd Thomas books can be scary, they are so much more than that…funny, endearing, hopeful, and poised on the edge of redemption, since I haven’t read the last one yet. Been saving it for just the right moment.

3. The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire: Toby Daye’s world of the fae is filled with all the Celtic legends a person could imagine: selkies,  kelpies, mermaids and mermen, The Luidaeg or sea hag, barghests, trolls, and all the high Queens and Kings of the Fae, complete with their courts and the attendant political intrigue and discord. There are banshees and barrow wights, kitsunes and Tylwyth Teg, and best of all for a cat lover, the Cait Sidhe, led by Tybalt, King of Cats. And all set in  San Francisco! *sigh* It’s a world like no other!

4. The Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill: Talk about political intrigue…those obsessive, control freaks, the vampires, pretty much outdo every other supernatural being when it comes to mind games and power plays. I love how well it’s done in these books, but most of all, I love the liege of Cadogan House, 400-year-old vampire,  Ethan Sullivan. Best. Vampire. EVER. He and his house Sentinel, Merit, are a couple to be reckoned with, though it took them a few books to get to that point. A solidly entertaining and satisfying series.

5. The Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs: This one is a spin-off of the popular Mercy Thompson series, mostly about shifters and skinwalkers, though a few other creatures pop in now and then for good measure. While I very much enjoy the Mercy books, I think the Alpha & Omega books are even better. I’m very partial to Charles and Anna, largely because angsty, somewhat frightening men are interesting (as long as they aren’t actually hurting innocent people or battering their women around, of course), and this was the first series to introduce me to the concept of an Omega wolf. It’s extremely well done and never fails to hold my interest to the last word.

6. The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews:  This one has it all, too. Shifters and magic, horrible, totally non-sparkly OR sexy vampires, and all sorts of complex shenanigans going on. But mostly, it has Kate and her love, Curran, who just happens to be a lion when the mood strikes him. There’s a healthy dose of humor, which I love, and which Kate uses to keep; “his furriness” in line. I’ve enjoyed every single book in this series, and am always looking for the next one.

7. The Weather Wardens by  Rachel Caine: This one wrapped up a couple of years ago, but it was one of the most original concepts I’ve come across. The weather wardens keep the earth safe and spinning smoothly, controlling rain, storms, floods, fire, earthquakes, etc, to the best of their ability. They can’t eliminate these things, but they can shape them, soften them, steer them a bit, and otherwise try to blunt the trauma wrought by Mother Nature, who is always trying to scrape humanity off  the surface of the planet. And did I mention there are djinn? Oh, I love djinn. Especially David, who is the love interest in this series. It’s a fun, action-packed romp, and the 4-book spinoff series, The Outcast Season, is equally entertaining.

8. The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater: This is a YA series that is profoundly moving and beautiful. Stiefvater’s writing is second to none to my mind. Lyrical, strong, and often heart-wrenching, without being maudlin, it will suck you in and wring you out! I’ve read the first two books, and have the third lying right next to the final Odd Thomas book. I’m torturing myself with them, daily, but soooooon. Sooooooon, my precious! I WILL read them, and mourn them when I’m done. If you’ve never read Maggie Stiefvater, I recommend starting with The Scorpio Races, a book so beautiful and dark, it will speak to your heart in shivery whispers you won’t soon forget.

9. The World of the Lupi series: Eileen Wilks: Shifters with intriguing pack politics, power struggles, and romance, all done better than most, by far. Interesting secondary characters, and complex plotting make this series a solid standout, book after book.

10. Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs: Mentioned above, this is a solid series featuring Mercy, who is a coyote skin-walker, and a host of other interesting characters, including the occasional vampire and troll. Some Native American lore here and there, and enough drama to make it all very interesting, and all of it, very well done.

Ooops…did I say TEN? Surely I meant FIFTEEN? And since they are ALL tied for second place after The Dresden Files, it doesn’t matter too much, anyway.

11. The Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison: This one is at the top of most lists, and I admit that I enjoyed it very much, and looked forward to each book, but I can’t put it at the top of mine because there were some things…and some characters…I just didn’t like. Don’t get me wrong…the series was still worth reading every single book, but I can’t quite rate it as highly as I have some others. I’ve reviewed enough of these books that some of you already know the things that annoyed me, so I’m not going into that here. But suffice it to say, no self-respecting list of good Urban Fantasy would be without these books. And Trent Kalamack will always be a favorite character of mine, as will the demon Algaliarept, and the obnoxiously funny pixie, Jenks.

12. The Leandros Brothers by Rob Thurmon: I’m adding a caveat to this series. It was one of my very top favorites…until it wasn’t. Things happened, and I found I wasn’t enjoying the new direction the books seemed to take. So I was hesitant to mention it in this list. However, if I’m honest, I got enough enjoyment, shivers, AND snarky laughs out of the first 7 or 8 books to warrant including it, even if I won’t be reading any more. Cal Leandros was a character I truly adored for a long time, and I won’t forget the books I loved, though I’ll try to forget the ones I didn’t.

13. Tales from the Nightside series by Simon R. Green: These quirky, off-the-wall, sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying books are like nothing elses out there. Noir meets Poe meets King, perhaps. Just bizarre, and filled with wonderful characters like John Taylor, Private Eye…who actually HAS a private…EYE. And Dead Boy, and Suzie Shooter. Oh, there’s no way to describe all of them. You’ll just have to visit the Nightside yourself…that world beneath London, where it’s always three o’clock in the morning, the hour of the wolf, when most people die, and most babies are born. You want shivers? Head to the Nightside.

14. The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine: Another YA series, but one with such a well-done cast of characters, and entertaining plot lines, I just couldn’t leave it out. I devoured every single book, because…hello? Town run by vampires. You can get in, but you can’t get out. And yet, the good guys never give up, and their way of making it all work is totally believable. Assuming you’re the kind who can believe in vampires at all for the duration of a book. Solid writing, unexpected twists, and a very satisfying ending to the series.

15. Monster Hunters International by Larry Correia: Non-stop action from page one right through the series. This is serious, kick-butt and take no names stuff. A manly kinda supernatural series, with plenty of things that go bang and boom and give off a lot of smoke. Manly, yes, but I like it, too! 😉 Fun. That’s it in a nutshell.

And there you have it, folks. Fifteen terrific Urban Fantasy series, with something to please just about everyone. Hope there are one or two in the list you haven’t yet tried. Check ’em out! Tell ’em Marcia sent ya!

😀

Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas Cover

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

What Are You Reading Today?

baby_reading2

It’s that time again…time to tell the world what you are reading. I’ll go first, shall I? 🙂

I just finished Book 2 of The Raven Cycle, The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater, and will soon be doing a review on that. Assuming I can find the words to describe how powerful her writing is. She astounds me. I’m on the opening page, literally, of the final Rachel Morgan/The Hollows book, Kim Harrison’s The Witch With No Name. Been holding off on it for a couple of weeks, because I really hate to see the series end. I also have reviews coming up for Magic Breaks (Ilona Andrews), and The Winter Long (Seanan McGuire. Not to give away too much, but all of these rated 5 stars with me, so I can’t wait to get the reviews up for you.

Now it’s YOUR turn! What’s new on your Kindle, or your reading table? As always, inquiring minds wanna know, so share! I’ll be taking notes, here.

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

Spring Is Here For Sure!

What a glorious day it is today. You can tell by the flowers in my header, I’ve been in the yard for several hours. I picked up two hanging baskets and they inspired me to get up from this computer and get out in my garden. How could I resist, with colors like those? Did you ever see anything more cheerful in your life? 🙂 I put a basket at each end of my back porch, and I can see them from the patio, as well.

I missed What Are You Reading Friday, yesterday, so I thought I’d take a break from planting my coleus, and touch base with you guys for a change. (MUST get back to my blogging again. I really miss it!) I’m a bit over halfway through Kim Harrison’s latest, The Undead Pool, and loving it, so far. Although, I must say, Harrison is toying with our emotions in this one. At least those of us who have been fan of Trent since the beginning of the series. She’d better deliver before this book is done, or I just might start to lose patience, here. It’s definitely time for the relationship between Rachel and everyone’s favorite elf, “Cookie Bits,” as Jenks the pixie calls him, to get it on, for Pete’s sake. I’ll be reviewing the book as soon as I finish, which takes a lot longer lately. (Writing has a way of consuming every minute of my days, any more.)

So, your turn. What are you reading this weekend? Inquiring minds, and all of that…??

Fort Myers Book Festival – March 16, 2013

  PR2KimHarrison09  JeanieneFrost

Kim Harrison and Jeanienne Frost

Sorry it has taken me so long to post about this event, but I’ve been really swamped the last couple of weeks. My To Do List gets bigger every day instead of smaller, as I’m trying to get ready to fly to San Diego on a moment’s notice for the birth of my first grandson.  Lots to do to be sure I don’t leave hubby in the lurch while I’m away. But finally, I realized if I didn’t take a few minutes to post about the Festival soon, Read more…

Ever After by Kim Harrison

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My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I finally got back to Kim Harrison’s latest Rachel Morgan/Hollows book, Ever After. I had to take a break in the middle of the book because things were happening that had me really tense and nervous, and for some reason, I just needed to get out of that world for a bit. So I read a couple of other books, and then picked it up again. I’m glad I got back to it. The second half Read more…

What Are You Reading Today?

kid-reading-book

Been a bit under the weather for the past week, but I’m vertical today, and ready to catch up with my blogs again.  I thought I’d start the ball rolling with a quick “What Are You Reading” post.  I’m actually reading two books at once, currently.  I guess lying around all day with no desire to lift a finger to do anything productive in the house or garden means I can read double time.  It’s something I do now and then, anyhow, but feeling “puny,” as my grandmother would say,  gives me a legitimate excuse to indulge in as many books as I want.  That’s MY story, anyway!

I finally started Kim Harrison’s latest Hollows book, Ever After, and, as usual, Harrison’s “Itchy Witch” is involved in yet more trouble as the Mother of All Demons tries Read more…

What Are You Reading Today?

  bearreading

It’s that time again. Inquiring minds wanna know what you are reading today!  Please take a minute to share.

I finally decided to find out for myself who this Terry Pratchett guy is, and why Read more…

Release Day!

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Released Today!

For those who haven’t been watching my ” countdown tickers” in the right sidebar, today is the release date for Kim Harrison’s  Ever After, the next book in the Rachel Morgan/Hollows series.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book, in the fervent hopes that a certain two characters who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are Rachel & Trent, finally figure out they are destined to be together.  Oh, and of course, there’s the whole “save the world, stop the wars between the elves and the demons, and make life happy for all of Mankind” thing, too.  But still.  For a romantic like myself, it’s all about those two unnamed characters.  I highly recommend this series to any Urban Fantasy fan.  It has everything you want in a good UF, in spades! Check it out, starting with the first book, Dead Witch Walking, and read the books in order.  It would be pretty much impossible to follow the goings-on if you didn’t.

I’ll be reviewing this book as soon as I receive my pre-ordered copy.

Ever After (Rachel Morgan)

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!

Into The Woods by Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison's Into The Woods Cover

My Rating 4 of 5 Stars

I waited all summer for Into The Woods to come out, since in addition to several short stories set in Rachel Morgan’s Cincinnati “Hollows” neighborhood, it also featured a short novella about Read more…

Good Stuff Comin’! Sept/Oct Urban Fantasy Release Dates

Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys Cover

Coming Soon!  Release Date:  9/18/12

For those who enjoy Urban Fantasy, like myself, there’s good stuff ahead!  Here are a few of the titles coming to a bookstore near you.  All are available on amazon.com, too. Read more…

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