Tag Archives: 5 stars

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels Book 2) by Ilona Andrews.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

I started reading this book with a lot of apprehension and even fear, because in my experience with other series, the second book is usually the weakest one of the lot. And since I had really loved Magic Bites (which I also reviewed), I really didn’t want to be disappointed by book 2 and stop reading what was promising to be an excellent series.

Well, I’m glad to say that Magic Burns is the exception to the rule. This book is just as good as Book 1, if not better.

Ilona Andrews continues to develop the wonderful world she has created and gives us a little bit more insight into Kate’s past along with a few explanations about how she came to be as kickass as she is. I’m happy that she isn’t one of those heroines that just wakes up with superpowers. No, Kate had to work, sweat and bleed for every single one of them. And this is also so very refreshing, after reading about some indestructible heroines who seem to acquire a new level of badass with every consequent book without seemingly lifting a finger.

So far, Kate is by far my favorite Urban Fantasy heroine, with October Daye just a little bit behind. She is smart, she is strong, she is badass, but she is also very human and vulnerable in some things. She really feels like a living breathing person.

The wonderful world she lives in has also been developed further. In an alternative Atlanta where magic comes in waves, people (both magical and normal) have learned to adapt to the changing nature of their environment. They have electricity as well as runes and magelights and use either one of the other depending which wave is upon them. And car rentals and garages have both normal as well as magically altered cars, and even horses. But every seven years or so, an exceptionally powerful magical wave rolls over the land, leaving destruction in its wake and often drastically changing both the physical and the metaphysical landscape. One such wave is coming, and Kate finds herself smack in the middle of its path, even if she doesn’t want to.

All of the characters from book 1 get further development in this book, and we are introduced to several new people as well. I love the fact that they aren’t there just to play second fiddle to Kate. They all have their own lives and agendas, and even though most of that happens outside of this story, you still can feel that.

And for the lovers of paranormal romance, the relationship between Kate and Curran develops even further. I love the fact that those two don’t go all love / lust at first sight like it so often happens in other books. I love the progression of their relationship from rivals to reluctant allies who come to respect each other and realize that they can count on the other to have their back in a fight. Trust is a very important aspect to any relationship and it’s not easily gained, especially  for people with difficult pasts like Kate and Curran.

I also like the fact that Kate finally decides to make herself vulnerable enough to actually connect with other people and acknowledge that she might consider some of them friends. And we are introduced to several other strong female characters that are not portrayed as rivals or complete b$#%es or anything else we often see in the paranormal romance books. Ilona Andrews shows us that having other strong women as the protagonist’s friends doesn’t bring the protagonist’s awesomeness down at all. In fact, it makes her even more awesome.

So, as you have probably gathered from all the praise in this review, I think Magic Burns is a must read. I love this series and I will definitely pick up book 3 very soon.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

This is the third book in the excellent Others series by Anne Bishop. I have already reviewed the first two books, if you are interested in my opinion – Written in Red and Murder of Crows.

I love this series, I love the wonderfully complex world Anne Bishop has created and the diverse and engaging characters, both Other and human, so I was waiting for this new book with barely concealed excitement. I must admit that I wasn’t disappointed.

Meg and Simon and everybody else in the Lakeside Courtyard are back, and we get a glimpse into other parts of this fascinating world as well.

The story picks up right after the events of the last book and in part deals with the consequences of what happened. I love the fact that Anne Bishop didn’t gloss over the liberation of cassandra sangue and the issues that resulted from this. It would have been so easy to just say, “they were all freed and everything is well for them now.” Well it’s not, and it couldn’t have been.

Most of them have lived all of their lives in a controlled environment, have never been outside of the compound and are not prepared to cope with this huge change. Plus a lot of other  compound owners panic and dump their charges on the side of the road before the Others reach them. So we see a lot of scared and overwhelmed girls let loose in a world they fear and don’t understand.

The results are predictable and rather sad. A lot of the cassandra sangue choose suicide instead of trying to face this new frightening world. They cut too deep and bleed out, spilling prophecies and riding the waves of bliss into their death. Others try to adapt, but they don’t know how, and their new guardians, whether Other or human, are just as clueless about how to help them.

So they turn to Meg and Simon for help, because Meg is a cassandra sangue, but she managed not only to flee her compound and make it to the Lakeside Courtyard, but also to adapt enough to be able to perform her job and interact with others without shutting down every time the information input became too much. I loved reading about how Meg and her human pack start picking apart her routine and analyzing what helps her cope and how it can be applied to the other girls as well. And it works.

The other huge topic in this book is the growing tension between the Others and humans and the rise of the Human First and Last movement. The author does well to instill tension into every word – the whole continent feels like a huge powder keg ready to explode into blood and violence. And the reader knows that humans have the most to lose if that happens, even if they seem to have forgotten that. So it puts even more emphasis on the tentative truce and cooperation between the Lakeside Courtyard and the Lakeside police, because it sets an example that humans and Others can in fact work together. But will that small step be enough to steal the hand of those who roam the Wild Country if they decide that the monkeys have no place on their land anymore?

If you have read my review of Murder of Crows, you probably know that my main complaint had been that there since Meg can predict almost anything that happens to the people she cares about, the reader doesn’t have a sense of urgency or dread when bad things are afoot. Well, that changed in this book… and I won’t say anything else in order not to spoil you.

This is a wonderful series and I would recommend it to everyone. If you are new to the world of the Others, pick up the first book, Written in Red and enjoy. If you are already familiar with the series, fear not, Vision in Silver delivers everything it promised and more.

PS. I received and advanced copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Locksmith by Susan Kaye Quinn.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

The Locksmith is a short novella is is set in the Mindjack world (I have reviewed the first book of the series Open Minds if you are interested), and I must admit that it felt good revising it.

This story had all the ingredients I loved about the original books – the complex world, engaging characters and often serious problems they face. I also love that the author doesn’t pull any punches when exploring the social problems that arise when the normal mindreading society discovers the existence of mindjackers…

But I digress, so let’s concentrate on this story. We are following Zeph, who is a mindjacker with a unique ability even for his kind: he can not only jack into other people’s brains, but also modify them (lock or unlock as he puts it). He tried very hard to stay hidden, to pass for normal, even though he is forced to work for the local mindjacker clan. He doesn’t like what he is forced to do for Clan Marshall, but he understands that the jacker would come after his family if he disobeys. Yes, his life is difficult as it is, but at least he manages to pass for more or less normal, even if he has to lie to everybody around him, even his family.

So when Kira drops the bombshell and reveals the existence of mindjackers to the world, I understood perfectly well why Zeph was mad about it. She had just destroyed all hopes for him to live a normal life. Of is she didn’t annihilate them entirely, she made it so much more difficult.

It’s interesting to see the repercussions of Kira’s decisions and the events of the original 3 books of the Mindjacker series on other mindjackers, to see the reaction of another other jacker kid to the fact that hiding his ability had just become 100% harder.

I liked Zeph. He is a completely different character than Kira and he is very far away from the hormone-driven teenager stereotype we encounter so often in YA fiction. He is aware of his powers and slightly afraid of them, because he doesn’t understand what he does or how he does it and he is scared to hurt people. He is also a very responsible young man. Unlike some other mindjackers we encountered in this world, he doesn’t think mind controlling someone to like him is right. When other jackers bask in attention and jack everyone to like them, Zeph skirts the crowds, staying in the shadows and doing just enough to get barely noticed and immediately discounted as insignificant.

His attempts at a normal conversation with Tessa were really rather cute and heartbreaking because he realizes that he can’t have a normal relationship with her without having to lie to her constantly.

I also loved the fact that when Zeph was presented with a very difficult choice, he had the courage to do what’s right, even if it was difficult and dangerous and presented him with potentially dire consequences… And I will not say anything else about the plot of The Locksmith because I don’t want to spoil the story for you!

All I will add is that this is a fast paced story that keeps you on the edge of your sit until the end. It’s only five chapters long, so if you are looking for a quick, but still good and entertaining read this weekend, definitely buy this book. It’s a wonderful new installment in the Mindjacker universe.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett.

Stars: 5 out of 5

I received an ARC of this book for free from NetGalley.

There are books that grip you and don’t let you go until you read the very last line on the very last page. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett is one such book. I finished it in three days, which is no small feat for me, considering that I have a full time job, a family and my own writing fighting for my time most of the days.

So what is City of Stairs about? Bulikov used to be called the Seat of the World, the city where all six Divinities governing the Continent resided. But the Divinities had been slain 80 years ago, and the Continent was invaded by the people who used to be their former slaves. The passing of the Divinities laid waste to the land, with whole cities disappearing, collapsing or shrinking in the blink of an eye. Even the climate has undergone a drastic change, and the whole land went from being a lush tropical paradise to a frozen wasteland.

The city of Bulikov suffered the most damage. Even 80 years later, it lies in shambles. Its citizens are the poorest on the Continent, the infrastructure is non-existent and the living conditions are atrocious. And the invaders intend to keep it that way, as punishment for everything they had to suffer at the hands of the citizen of Bulikov and their Divinities.

But the citizens of Bulikov remember their glory days. Hatered and discontent brews in the streets and the whole city is a powder keg ready to explode. Will the murder of Efrem Pangyui, celebrated Saypuri historian, be the spark that ignites the city and starts yet another war?

The world created by Robert Jackson Bennett is absolutely fascinating. Each of the six Divinities had their own creation myths and rules by which the world functioned, and those rules were absolute in the zone of their influence. But when they died, all those different view of reality clashed together and produced the Blink, when entire parts of the continent simply vanished; others got warped beyond recognition while those realities fought for dominance. It’s a broke and strange world that we get to explore along with the characters of this story.

Speaking of characters, I absolutely loved Shara and Sigurd, her secretary / bodyguard / enforcer. They are interesting characters with their own flaws and strengths, and I was genuinely engaged with their stories and problems. But the book doesn’t rely solely on its main protagonists. The secondary characters are also memorable and “alive”. You love them or you hate them, but they don’t leave you indifferent.

Most of all, I found the general ideas behind this story extremely compelling and thought-provoking: do the Divinities create their followers or are they created by them? Or is it a two-way relationship? Can they break free from each other without losing their identity? Can whole nations become obsolete along with their Divinity? Is change really such a bad thing? All those questions apply not only to the fictional world of City of Stairs, but to ours as well…

I am glad I found this story and go to read the ARC before the release. I also heard that the author is working on the second book, so I’m definitely placing it on my “books to watch for” list. My advice is – go buy City of Stairs, it’s a guaranteed good read.