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Archive for the tag “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

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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

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

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

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My Rating TEN out of 5 Stars!
Yes, it’s THAT good!

After waiting about a year and a half for Skin Game (Note to Jim Butcher: WRITE FASTER!), I had my doubts as to whether it could really live up to my hopes and expectations. I needn’t have worried. The book is flat out fantastic! I finished at midnight last night, and couldn’t sleep for two more hours, I was so worked up. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (probably many, many times)–Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is simply the best Urban Fantasy series out there, hands down. (And I read several very good ones, believe me.) It has everything you want in a series, including, but not limited to, bigger and better plot lines, an ever-growing cast of characters, and a hero who continues to gain more and more power, and grow as a person, as well. Read more…

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

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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

“Black Arts” by Faith Hunter

blackarts

Coming January 7

The new Jane Yellowrock novel arrives in just three days! I can’t wait. I’m dying to know what’s next for Jane and Rick. Oh, yeah…and all those other characters, too. 😉  Mark your calendars!

Release Date For Skin Game by Jim Butcher!

skingameCOMING:  May 27, 2014

Finally! A release date for the long-awaited next book of The Dresden Files. I won’t say this is my favorite cover of the series, by any means…and what’s up with that gun, Harry?…but I don’t care. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this book!! I am pre-ordering it already. (Yes, it’s available for pre-order on amazon now.) I was beginning to think Jim Butcher had gone off to write comic books…ahem…I mean graphic novels, of course…forever, so now that there is an actual date for this release, I’m both relieved and ecstatic–even though it’s still almost HALF A YEAR away!!! 😯

I don’t know about you other Dresden fans, but I will not rest until I know what’s up with Harry and Mab, the wicked faery queen. And even more than that, what’s up with Harry and ex-Sgt. Karrin Murphy? Don’t disappoint us, Jim Butcher! We fans can turn on you in an instant, you know. 😉

Let the countdown begin!

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…

Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks

Ritual Magic

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Due to serious time constraints in my life right now, I don’t have time to wax eloquently about how much I loved this book. I will have to keep it short and sweet, so let me just say that Ritual Magic: World of the Lupi #10 is the best book of the series, so far! Hands down! If you have been following Lily Yu and Rule Turner, you will want to get this book immediately and find out where the story has gone. 

Eileen Wilks has built one of the most interesting, complex, and yet easily understood, magical Urban Fantasy worlds out there. I absolutely love her beautifully structured Lupi politics, the careful layering of history and mythology, the use of other forces the Lupi must deal with, and so much more. Especially the dragons. I have mentioned there are dragons in past reviews, but it bears repeating. Dragons. Of great beauty and power and wisdom. Oh, how I love their relationship with the Lupi and the world at large.

If you haven’t read any of this series, pick up the first book, Tempting Danger, and get started. Each book is better than the one before. And don’t be alarmed at all the romance books Wilks has written, if that is not your cup of tea. She is a very successful writer in that genre, but the Lupi books are pure Urban Fantasy, through and through. And terrific Urban Fantasy, at that.

Ritual Magic: World of the Lupi #10

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Thieves’ Quarry by D. B. Jackson

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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…

Biting Bad by Chloe Neill

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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

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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…

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

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My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars and  A Lot of Romantic Swooning

Let me get it out of the way up front: This series made me “squeeeeeeeeee” like a fifteen-year old fangirl! I admit it. I’m a hopeless romantic, and a growing fan of steampunk, and the series worked for me on every level. It was crazy good, for what it is. Is it “Great Literature?” Probably not. Do I care? Definitely not. Why? Because I was pulled into the world from the very first book, Clockwork Angel, and wasn’t sent back to the merely mundane (pun intended) world until the last page of the last book, Clockwork Princess. And  frankly, I really didn’t want to return to reality at all. I wanted the story to go on and on and on, kinda like the theme song from Titanic! Read more…

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

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My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

In keeping with my promise to myself to read the four Tiffany Aching stories before starting at the beginning of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, I finished the second Aching book over the weekend. A Hat Full of Sky started a wee bit slower for me than The Wee Free Men, but it began to pick up pace rapidly, and I was soon Read more…

New Release – House Rules

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Just a heads up for those following Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series…House Rules is here! Some of us who shall go nameless (me!) are totally addicted to this very clever series, Read more…

Dog Days by John Levitt

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My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Well, I’m not sure what to say about this book.  It has good points. And it has bad points.  I’m still pondering them to see Read more…

Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

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My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I have often said that the husband and wife team of Ilona Andrews simply can’t  write a bad book–just varying degrees of good ones.  There was nothing in Steel’s Edge to change my mind about this.  The only thing about it I didn’t enjoy Read more…

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich

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My Rating: 3-1/2 of 5 Stars

Let me say right up front: this book is not serious literature. It isn’t to be compared to the “Great Works” of any literary genius I’m aware of. I didn’t learn a single thing about improving myself or making the problems of the world go away. Nor did I add any new Read more…

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

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

Anyone who has read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series knows how funny she can be.  This spin-off series is no exception.  It might not win any prizes for originality, but you just can’t read it without Read more…

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

When I began this book, the opening pages immediately transported me back to 1962, when I read Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes for the first time; after all, a carnival, or a circus, that appears out of nowhere in the dead of night, Read more…

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