The Bird and the Sword

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

4.5 stars!

“Swallow Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ’til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ’til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.”

Amy Harmon just has this way with words, she infuses beauty into them. She takes words and gives them substance, she makes them pretty.

The Bird and the Sword is a high fantasy novel following a young woman named Lark. When she was a child her mother died to protect her, taking the fall for an ability Lark has so that Lark would not be killed. Now grown, Lark has not spoken since the day her mother died and she is heavily protected by her father. When King Tiras comes and takes Lark as collateral, Lark is swept away to a new place, one where she learns more than she ever could before.

Words are her power, and the knowledge of words was kept from her until now. And Tiras becomes aware of Lark’s power and needs it to help save everyone’s lives. But can Lark save Tiras from his own curse?

“You glow, Lark.” His hand climbed back up again and swept over my unbound hair. I swallowed, suddenly close to tears. Then why does no one see me? “I see you,” he said.”

I loved this book. Plain and simple. Harmon’s work can be a hit or a miss for me, before this book it was about a 50/50 split on the 4 books I had already read. I am a huge fantasy fan so despite my reservations I was intrigued. On top of that so many people have recommended this book and I basically waved them off, putting it off even longer.

As of late I have have trouble finding a romance novel that is worth my time, that doesn’t sound like everything else out there. THIS is that book, the one that is so uniquely special it blows all other books out of the water. Harmon’s magical writing style, not once did I skim, not once did I want to put the book down and I stayed up until 2 am finishing this novel. For a woman who normally writes contemporary, she nailed the world building required for a high fantasy novel. The imagery was stunning, I felt as if I was in this world myself.

So if you are hesitant to read this book for any reason, I say let your reservations go and try it anyway. That’s what I did, and it worked out wonderfully for me.

“I think I will keep you.”

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Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

4.25 stars!

“Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls.”

So basically this was my face throughout most of this book:

It’s easy to call this book the young adult Game of Thrones. The obvious similarities are the conflicting royal families and unexpected and frequent deaths throughout the book. Except there aren’t as many families in this book and because it’s young adult it’s a bit lighter in its themes.

When the Royal Princess Cleo visits a neighboring country with friends, what was meant to be a lighthearted wine trip turns into a nightmare, and inciting a political disaster and turning allies against each other. Now three countries are preparing for the worst, some for defense and others in offense. Choices are made and many are killed in the fight for power and survival.

“Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is darkness. The question is, will one give in to the dark or the light? It’s something we decide with every choice we make, every day that we exist. What might not be evil to you could be evil to someone else. Knowing this makes us powerful even without magic.”

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There are four main characters in this book: Jonas, Cleo, Magnus and Lucia.

-Jonas thirsts for revenge after watching his brother unjustly murdered. Honestly most of the time I found him a wee bit annoying, but I feel like he will be less so in the upcoming books based on his actions and thoughts near the end of this book.

-Cleo finds herself wound in a political web where she is used as a pawn for more power. Cleo isn’t terribly strong for the majority of the book. In fact she messes up a lot but she does grow as a character and does her best to fight for those she loves while facing many challenges.

-Magnus also known as the book boyfriend to me, Christine and Jasmine (just kidding ladies, I know I have least amount of claim on him). Magnus is the son of the king, and he hates his father. The only person he truly loves is his younger sister, Lucia. Magnus constantly finds himself at odds with what is expected of him, and what is morally right.

-Lucia is a princess with a secret, and it’s a secret that can change everyone’s lives.

“You’re the same as you were yesterday and the day before. Nothing has changed. Not really. Forget what troubles you. Regret nothing, but learn from any mistakes you make. Tomorrow will be a brighter day, I promise.”

So the only character I truly loved in this book was Magnus. That man makes my heart bleed for him in almost every scene. The other characters I like but kind of want to smack them some of the time. Basically I really enjoyed this book for the plot, but to me the characters needed a wee bit more development for my personal reading tastes. I cannot wait to jump into book 2 and see what happens next.

“You must continue to believe with all your heart. Sometimes belief is all if takes to make something real.”

Soundless

Soundless by Richelle Mead

4 stars

“Look what we’ve done so far. We’re pretty good at the impossible.”

I didn’t expect to like this one. The only book I’ve ever read by this author was Vampire Academy, and I wasn’t super impressed by that one (despite loving the movie as a guilty pleasure). So Soundless was a bit of a risk going in, but the premise is what had me intrigued.

Fei lives in a small village in China, up on the mountains where they can only be reached by zip line. Years ago an avalanche blocked all exits from the village leaving the people up there for hundreds of years. The village has worked out a negotiation where they send down materials they mine, and food is sent up. The entire population is deaf and has been for a long time. But recently the people have begun to go blind as well.

One day Fei wakes up suddenly and she can hear. This opens up new possibilities of escape and a life greater for her people than just working in the mines. Fei and a childhood friend decide to make their way down the mountain, and what they find changes their lives.

“I went to the library seeking information on what might bring hearing back, but now I wonder if there’s a way to make it go away again. I can’t see why our ancestors thought hearing was such a great thing, why they mourned its loss so much. It’s jarring and distracting, making it impossible to focus on anything else.”

As I said before, I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. This book flowed fairly quickly and was fast paced, despite a lot of it being descriptions of surroundings and characters. I liked Fei as a character, she had hard choices to make and ultimately was a good person and made the right ones.

I am very glad this was a standalone, another book after this would have just stretched the story. It’s refreshing to come across a YA fantasy standalone as most publishers are making things trilogies for the money. The ending of this felt a bit rushed after all of the build up, but was still a great way to end things. Very romance light, with a hint of what is to come in the future.

If you want to try a different kind of YA novel, I recommend this one. It’s a very refreshing and unique read among a genre where similarities and tropes are endless.

“Some things don’t need words. Sometimes it’s enough to just feel. You don’t have to label and articulate all that’s around you.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by JK Rowling

5 Expecto Patronum stars!

I grew up with Harry Potter. Yes, I am that generation. I was a little bit young than 11 when the books were released, and when the final book was published I had just graduated high school. I’m also the same age as Daniel Radcliffe and he’s only older than me by less than a month. I also have a deathly hallows bumper sticker on my car. So, I think it’s safe to say that this series has had a profound effect on me, to the point where I am still a little bit bitter that I never got my Hogwarts acceptance letter.

A couple years ago I reread the first two books in the series and loved them just as much as when I was a kid. So when I got into a horrible reading slump, I saw my dad watching Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family (as he does for every fucking Harry Potter weekend mind you), I said to myself, what the hell. Time for a reread. So hence, Harry Potter 3 reread.

All of us may know the story but I am going to reiterate. In his third year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter learns that a dangerous man named Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban. Harry then overhears the fact that Black is the reason his parents are dead, as Black sold them out to Voldemort and then killed 13 people in broad daylight.

So in a unique part of the review from me, here are all the amazing parts of this book that I forgot because I’ve been watching the movies instead:

-Peeves the Poltergeist: Holy crap how did I forget about this hilarious menacing spirit? He’s not as present in this book but he has always had a part in the series and I completely forgot he existed! I know they can’t include everything in the movies but I wish Peeves had been included.

-Charlie Weasley: Ron had yet ANOTHER sibling that is only mentioned in the films! This one is the cool brother in Egypt.

-Cho Chang and Cedric Diggory: there are soooooo many mentions of Cho and Cedric in this book! I never really noticed Cedric until the 4th book where he becomes prominent. And this is the book where Harry’s crush on Cho began. Stomach flutters!

-More details on Whomping Willow/Shrieking Shack:This may be a spoiler for those of you who haven’t read it, but the Whomping Willow was actually planted to hide Lupin’s werewolfism as well as the shrieking shack to hide him. I thought this little tidbit was super interesting, along with the details of how Black escaped Azkaban.

And just in general, I love JK Rowling’s ability to tie things together. There’s so much in this book that becomes important later and tiny little details and sharp wit that make me giggle.

So in a small factoid, this book is probably my least favorite of the entire series. It’s good, obviously, but for some reason I like all the other ones better. The movie, well it’s my second to last favorite (just ahead of that godawful Goblet of Fire film which ruined everything but I digress). The movie director added so many unnecessary things that weren’t in the book, and I wish he hadn’t so he could of kept the good stuff! (And I’ve heard a rumor that he didn’t even read the fucking book until JK kept vetoing all of his weird ideas. Look it up!)

If you haven’t read these books, do not tell me!!!!! I will smack you!

Bound by Flames

Bound by Flames (Night Prince #3) by Jeaniene Frost
4 Dracul-A stars!

“Love cuts deeper than the sharpest blade, cripples more than shattered bones, and leaves scars that can never fade.”

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Yet another fun and action packed novel by Jeaniene Frost! I will say, I had my doubts about this spin-off series, but Ms. Frost has made me fall in love with Vlad and Leila.

In this third (yet not final) book in the Night Prince series, Leila and Vlad have discovered the existance of a once thought dead enemy. I would write his name in the review, but it’s so damn weird and complicated, I would have to look back into my paperback copy for the spelling and then copy and paste that shit because dude, it’s a weird name. Like souvlaki or something.

Anyways, Leila and Vlad are doing their best to find their enemy before his finds them, but this is easier said than done. I can’t say anymore about the plot without giving it away so I’ll stop while I’m ahead.

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Really loved the development of Leila and Vlad’s relationship in this one. It was a giant lesson in marriage being a give and take situation, and both Vlad and Leila did their best to support the other’s beliefs and actions to some extent. Well, kind of.

“Compromise Lesson One: Pull a dick move, and your dick gets denied. Every woman knew that, and now, so did the vampire sitting next to me.”

I will say, this book was HOT. And by hot, I mean steamy, and the fact that Vlad literally melted stone. Thats 2000+ degrees F!!

I don’t think I’ve said it before, but because I am a giant nerd I’m going to say it now. Did anyone else watch the tv show Angel? You know, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff? Well there was a character named Gwen who could electrocute people with her skin. Sounds familiar?
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“You are in my soul, and nothing you did before we met or will do in the future can change that.”

Well there’s not much more to say, this is a weird and short review for me. I absolutely enjoyed reading this book, and now I’m kind of pissed that there’s a fourth one out there in the universe. Now just got to wait patiently.

 

Wildest Dreams

Wildest Dreams (Fantasyland #1) by Kristen Ashley

4.5 Ho Boy stars

“She waits for me at windows and buys me dragons. There are reasons we walk this earth, I’m coming to realize mine.”

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Wow. I mean, wow. I did not expect this book to be as wonderful as it is. I love Kristen Ashley, I know that 99% of the time I can read one of her books and love it. Admitting that, I can now say I was extremely skeptical that KA, queen of contemporary romance, could pull off a fantasy book.

So I need to go and eat myself some humble pie. Because this shit was fucking awesome.

Finnie tragically lost her parents at the age of fifteen. Upon learning there is an alternate universe where everyone has a twin, and that her parents were still alive in that world, Finnie paid a huge sum of money to a witch to switch places with her and her other twin. Upon arriving in this new world, this is the note her switch twin left her:

Seoafin,
Tonight, you marry The Drakkar. In the ancient tongue, this means The Dragon.
Good luck,
Sjofn

And so Finnie is thus married to a man she’s never met before within one hour of reaching this new world. Even worse, he seems to absolutely despise her.

“My husband was clearly not only scary but also a dick.”

Finnie’s adventure begins from here.

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I was completely enraptured with this book. I could not put the damn thing down unless I had to for important real life things. You know, like work and stuff. I really wish I had begun reading this book on a three day weekend or something!!!

I loved the world building. This is one of the few KA books where I didn’t get annoyed with the endless clothing descriptions because well, the clothing was pretty damn cool in this fantasy world.

Example A (this is how I pictured the wedding dress):
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I definitely had some issues with Frey throughout the book, those of you who have read it know what I mean. Basically, he earns himself a spot on my “men can be stupid” shelf because his thoughtless actions throughout the book were guaranteed to make Finnie feel hurt and betrayed. Otherwise Frey was all KA alpha male sexiness.

Is this book perfect? No. But it’s incredibly interesting, enthralling and everything I hope a Kristen Ashley novel to be.

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Mortal Heart

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

3.5 stars

“If Death could grant you a wish, you would use it for someone else? Trade your happiness for someone else’s?”

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As I always do with my 3 star reviews, I maintain that just because I rated a book 3 stars does not mean I didn’t like it/it isn’t good. I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the two book before it. Therefore, 3 stars.

I truly believe that Robin LaFevers has brought something special to the young adult genre with her His Fair Assassin trilogy. I can’t recall a historical fiction book(s) within this genre that has been so beautifully executed with strong female characters. That being said, Mortal Heart is probably my least favorite book in this series, the second book Dark Triumph the best.

Mortal Heart is Annith’s story. We know her from the previous books, as she is friend and sister to Ismae and Sybella. Unlike the other girls, Annith has spent her life in the convent since birth. Annith has been waiting and longing for years to be sent out on an assignment, like her sisters before her. One day while spying on the Reverend Mother, Annith discovers that she is not meant to leave the convent, but to stay forever and be the next Seeress. Finding this a horrible fate, Annith strikes out on her own after the Reverend Mother to demand answers as to her fate.

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Being that this book is almost 450 pages, it was really a sad things for me that it took almost 100 pages in for the book to finally grasp my undivided attention. In my opinion this book was also pretty scattered, with Annith doing one thing but then getting roped into other journeys by chance. Like when she leaves the convent with a set course but then ends up with the Helliquin, and then the women warriors. It just felt a little jumbled in my opinion. The plot at times was very straightforward, when it pertained to the political plot with the Duchess. It was not consistent when it came to Annith’s plot, I felt.

I liked the addition of the helliquin and Balthazaar; he was a very interesting and mysterious character and remained so throughout the entire book. The connection (romantically and otherwise) was a bit difficult to believe at the beginning, but near the end of the book it made a lot of sense.

“I am beginning to think that love itself is never wrong. It is what love can drive people to do that is the problem.”

I enjoyed the fact that we got to see a bit more of Ismae and Sybella, and a part of my wishes that the author would write some epilogue novellas for them. It felt to me like the stories of the 3 main girls remains largely unfinished.

I also liked the resolution of the Duchess’s struggles. After 3 books of trying to find a solution I believe the author found a very inventive and creative end to her story. I’m also kind of hoping for the Duchess to get her own book.

Strong end to a strong series, but not my favorite book of the 3.

“We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.”

Six of Hearts

Six of Hearts by L. H. Cosway

4 stars!

“People love shit that’s all obscure and mysterious.”

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Well, this is a book bandwagon I’m glad I jumped into. There’s been so many positive reviews written about this book since it’s release, and to be honest, I tend to stay away from the flavor of the month book because most of the time, I end up disappointed. That’s not the case with this book.

Placed in Ireland, Matilda works as a secretary for her father in his small law firm. One day the illusionist Jay Fields walks in and proceeds to turn their world around. A slanderous article has been published about Jay, and he wants Matilda’s father to assist him with the lawsuit. On top of this, Jay has rented a room with her father and is now living with the two of them for an indefinite amount of time.

“Note to self: Never try to out-trick a trickster.”

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I honestly put this book down around 17% because the pacing was slow and other shinier books were calling to me. But with the urging of many of my GR’s friends, I returned to this book to finish what I started. Around 22%, the book began to pick up some speed. At the beginning I really had to overlook how weird this book was set up. It all made sense by the end, but for me this dude just waltzed into these peoples’ live and made himself at home.

I really loved Matilda as the heroine. She was a little insecure from her dating inexperience, but it was charming and not at all annoying. Jay, well, we all know Jay is amazing. And I don’t want to inflate his ego so I will not continue.

About 50% of the way into the book I was growling with frustration. What was Jay’s game? Were he and Matilda friends? Dating? FWB? Give me a label people!!!! I call this point of the book the Frustration Game, as in:
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I mean really, he performs oral on her and then is all like “I can only be friends” to Matilda. Blow me asshole. Stop giving me whiplash!! Luckily, around 60% all that shit was remedied.

Was it my favorite book of the year? No. Was it a fun and entertaining read? Yep! The banter was witty, the chemistry off the charts, and the side characters very well developed. I call this book a success!

“I might tell you that you’re mine, but you need to understand that it goes both ways. I belong to you, too.”

Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers

4.5 stars!

“Hate cannot be fought with hate. Evil cannot be conquered by darkness. Only love has the power to conquer them both.”

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These books just keep getting better and better!

A daughter of Saint Mortain, Sybella has been trained in the art of assassinry and death. Now that she is a grown woman and fully prepared, the nuns send Sybella to return to her childhood home to spy on her father, and to endure the horrors within.

One evening, Sybella is tasked with aiding the prisoner, Beast, in his escape from the dungeon. From there I cannot say more, as it would give away much of the plot.

“Jewels can be replaced. Independence, once lost, cannot.”

First off, I’d like to note that I rarely if ever, read and enjoy historical fiction. My undergraduate major was general history, so I tend to find historical inaccuracies in many of the HF books I read and it bugs me. I always find myself second guessing what’s happening. For example I end up asking myself questions or making statements such as: “Why are you not pregnant already?!” or “They would never be unchaperoned in that time period.” or “That is such a modern word phrasing, they would never say that.” I never found myself doing these things when reading these books. Since this series has an element of magic, I pretty much have been able to overlook these. Plus, these books are just so good that I throw all of my history pet peeves out of the window.

I liked this book so much better than the first one for many reasons. For one, I found the main characters to be incredibly interesting and way more complex than the MC’s in the first book.

Sybella: she is cunning, smart, untrustworthy, not quick to trust others, haunted, and abused.

Beast: A man described as that ugly has never been more attractive in the readers’ eyes. Beast was a strong, kind, funny, loyal and caring man, and quite honestly, the perfect man for Sybella.

The romance between Beast and Sybella, while not at the forefront of the book, contained some of the sweetest moments. I love the two of them together. It made sense that Sybella would look past Beast’s not so handsome features and see him for the valuable man he was on the inside. Beast was also huge so he could easily overcome her in a fight, which not many can do. These characters, they just clicked right together.

The continuation of the themes from the first book was present in this book.
Do not use a higher power to justify your own actions.
-Think for yourself and make your OWN conclusions.
-(specific to the book) Just because someone is marked, does not mean they need to be assassinated.

Basically I loved this book. The only thing I don’t really care for is the political plot, as it doesn’t interest me. But it cannot be avoided as it is essential to the plot, so I do my best not to skim it.

“Truly, we are the gods’ own children, forged in the fire of our tortured pasts, but also blessed with unimaginable gifts.”

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Note: This book is the 2nd in a series and the 1st book must be read before this one in order to understand what is going on.

The Collectors’ Society

The Collectors’ Society by Heather Lyons

3.5 Binary stars

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“In pages we find worlds. In words, we find life.”

Do you think you know your literary characters? You might not know them as well as you thought.

Locked up in an asylum in Victorian London, Alice is hiding many secrets about her past. Upon a visit from a stranger with a mission, Alice is thrust into modern day New York City with a new purpose in her life. You see, Timelines were created out of our beloved books and tales, and the characters in them brought to life. They can travel in and out of them, and many choose to remain in the modern world as a part of the Collectors’ Society. I won’t get into it too much, but basically the Timelines existence is in peril, and Alice has been drafted into the fight to help save them, so that her Wonderland can be saved before it is deleted forever.

I really loved the concept of this book. I loved the world building. I loved the idea that the novels we read are only one side of the story and the authors’ perception of the events in them. And we all know that perception doesn’t mean truth. Heather Lyons in my opinion is a master at taking well known characters (or in the Deep End of the Sea’s case, mythological characters) and making them her own with their own new personalities.

“Sometimes our pasts are chains we cannot let go of, even if the key is in our hands. They define us in ways we resent, and yet they are somewhat precious, too. Because, logically, we understand that our pasts have made us who we are.”

Alice is incredibly secretive, even keeping secrets from the reader, which at times was infuriating as I was left a bit confused. All events and most secrets did reveal themselves, but mostly near the end of the book. The addition of Mary Lennox was a personal favorite of mine as The Secret Garden is a book I grew up on. And the choice Ms. Lyons made in making her into the nice bitchy girl was a wonderful touch.

Ladies, I am in the minority on the character of Finn. I didn’t care all too much for him. It may sound bad but Finn was too good of a guy, like too good to exist kind of a hero. He literally was perfect, the entire book. Handsome, fit, sensitive, caring, kind, loving. Maybe I’m just reading too much Alpha male’s in my books, but I wanted a little more from him. I honestly could not see how he fell for Alice when she exposed so little of herself to him.

The White King on the other hand, I want a prequel book in Wonderland so we can get his story with Alice! I was honestly rooting for the White King more than I was for Finn! A doomed romance where two people love each other but cannot be together? His passion and despair were so strong, I felt more emotion in the scenes with him and Alice than the ones she had with Finn. So I know it’ll never be, but I’m on Team White King. I shall make buttons and everything.

“Your destiny is not in Wonderland, no matter how much we may wish differently.”

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, but at some points it was slow and a little bit confusing. I feel if more of the backstory behind Alice’s life hadn’t been kept a secret for so long, I would have understood her and her actions a lot more earlier on. I also went into this thinking it was a standalone, but after reading the ending I think there is more to come.

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Magic Bleeds

Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews

4.5 stars!

“I can’t give you the white picket fence, and if I did, you’d set it on fire.”

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I’m a giant fan of urban fantasy. I read all kinds of genres of books, but when I read urban fantasy I get a feeling of being at home. The Ilona Andrews writing team created a universe where when I’m having a bad day or want to have a good time, I can open a paperback, and escape there effortlessly and happily. And that’s exactly what I did with this book. I recently had some crap come up in my personal life, and when I had the chance I transported myself into this world of mercenaries and werebeasts and didn’t want to come back out. So massive kudos to the authors, you did your job right.

In magic flare zone Atlanta, Kate Daniels is stood up. That’s right, she cooked the Beast Lord Curran dinner, and he never showed. Flash forward about a month or so and the two are at each others’ throats. On top of this, there’s a strange shaman who keeps showing up in bars and casinos and trying to magic blast the place with plague and disease. It’s not long before Kate gets called onto the case, and when she does she finds she might be more connected to it than she expected.

This was the best book of this series for me so far. The plot was thrilling, the banter was witty and humorous, and I couldn’t put the darn book down even when my eyelids were slowly closing due to a need for sleep.

My favorite part of the book? The pranks Kate and Curran were playing on each other. When she covered his bed in catnip and he glued her ass to her office chair? Priceless. The addition of the attack poodle to Kate’s daily life only made the story more entertaining.

“….I think a dog is a great idea. I just never pictured you with a mutant poodle.”
“He isn’t a poodle. He’s a Doberman mix.”
“Aha. Keep telling yourself that.”

Also, another reason why this book was awesome? It’s the hook up book! Yes, the Kate and Curran relationship finally comes to a explosive collision in this book and it was all it was cracked up to be.

“I miss you. I worry about you. I worry something stupid will happen and I won’t be there and you’ll be gone. I worry we won’t ever get a chance and it’s driving me out of my skull.”

This was also the book where I finally stopped skimming when it came to the plot. By this I mean the underlying issue or mystery. As much as I love the other books and their stories, there were points when I skimmed. That didn’t really happen in this book. All of Kate’s investigations had me utterly enthralled, and the parts with Kate and Erra was like watching an interrogation between a smart ass and a sociopath (it would make great television, just saying).

And that ending? When they finally got to flip it and Kate took care of Curran when he was injured? Heartwarming. It gave the viewer a small glimpse of what Curran goes through when Kate was injured or sick.

“You don’t pick the family you’re born into. You pick the one you make. I already chose my mate and glued her ass to the chair to make sure she knew it.”

Magic Bites

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews

4.5 stars

“What kind of woman greets the Beast Lord with ‘here, kitty, kitty’?”

The best kind of woman! To say I enjoyed this book was a serious understatement. But I get ahead of myself.

Kate Daniels is a mercenary who cleans up paranormal messes. When she gets news that her mentor, and last connection to any family she has, is murdered, Kate takes on the case. She is thrown into the world of Shapeshifters, Vampires and the People, and must make ruthless decisions in order to find the killer.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. I’ve been a long time fan of urban fantasy/paranormal romance and have been searching for a series to fill in the gap of series I have finished by authors such as Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong. It wasn’t until recently that I had even heard of Ilona Andrews, and that was through reviews I’d seen here on Goodreads from reviewers like Jessica (Rabid Reads), Lola, and Sharon is an Emotional Book Junkie (so thank you ladies!)

“I gave him my best cryptic smile. He did not fall down to his feet, kiss my shoes, and promise me the world. I must be getting rusty.”

I absolutely love the character of Kate. She’s not your typical heroine, she’s a smart ass, a fighter, a mercenary and yet so emotionally vulnerable at the same time. The 260 pages or so of this first book was not enough time with her, and I look forward to reading her development in the other installments.

“You know anything about investigative work?”
“Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilt party tries to make you go away.”

The world building style reminded me a bit of Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, in that Andrews threw you into this new world with little to no explanations as to how it came to be, and as a reader you were on your own. I personally like that because to me, the reader is as smart as you make them . Many authors assume their reader needs to be lead on a leash through their worlds and that’s not always the case. Ilona Andrews gave the reader the chance to use their intelligence and I greatly appreciated it.

Curran. That Beast Lord. I already am Team Curran but it’s just book 1, so I shall see. There wasn’t exactly a romance between Kate and Curran, but there is a tangible sexual tension that made me giggle and smile whenever they had scenes together in the book. Plus, he’s an alpha male, and I love the alpha males.

Another character I loved was Nick, the Crusader, but more because he reminded me a lot of Captain America’s Winter Soldier. I think he’ll have a great character arc.

Enough rambling on my part. This was a fantastic book and you should read it.

Grace Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers

4 stars!

“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

Battered and abused for the majority of her life, Ismae is saved right after her wedding ceremony from a disgusting man and sent to a convent of Mortain’s, the God of Death. There, she is schooled in the art of being an assassin and dedicated to carry out his work. For 3-4 years she is trained in many different ways to kill a man, and when she becomes 17 she is sent on her first assignment. Fairly soon Ismae is wrapped up in a mission to help the Duchess of Brittany, and forced to work with a man named Duval, who also does not want Ismae’s help.

“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?”

I’ve read and heard many mixed reviews on this book since it’s publication, so I didn’t know what to expect going in. I really liked this book, but it fell short of that something special that would make me love it.

Ismae is a very compelling character, if a bit ill-prepared for the assignment she was given. Duval was interesting as well, but I never really felt as if the reader really got to know him. The relationship between him and Ismae could technically be filed under slow-build, but it felt forced to me. I wish more time had been spent building their relationship because it very much felt like it went from “I can’t trust you” to “We will do our best to be together in the future” in a matter of 50 pages or so. The aboutface was too quick for my tastes.

“It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.”

I’m also not a giant fan of political plots in my fantasy/science fiction novels and this book was primarily that. It was done very well, but I grew a bit tiresome of it by the end of the book.

^^^Despite all of these issues I listed above, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I felt it was a very fresh idea in the young adult genre. The book also promoted important aspects such as to think for yourself, second chances, and first impressions are not always correct. All very important themes for a ya novel.

I am very excited to read Sybella’s book next, I feel like she would be an incredibly interesting character.

Heir of Fire

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

I’d give it 10 stars if I could, but 5 out of 5 stars for now 🙂

“You didn’t need a weapon at all when you were born one.”

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This is one of the best books I’ve read all year.

Heir of Fire begins with Celeana drunk and mistaken for a vagrant in a distant land. She is approached by the fae warrior Rowan, who is sworn to her Aunt Maeve, and they journey together to her realm to meet with her. In order for Celeana to obtain the secrets of the Wyrdmarks from Maeve, she must train with Rowan and prove herself worthy of entering Doranelle, where she will find the knowledge she seeks.

Rowan and Celeana clash instantly. Rowan believes Celeana to be nothing but a spoiled, royal brat (which we all know is the furthest thing from the truth) and Celeana sees Rowan as a judgmental tyrant. Training together tests both of their boundary’s and limits, physically and mentally.

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Darkness lurks in the woods surrounding where they train, and the two encounter many types of monsters over time. But nothing can prepare them for what is to come…

“It would not take a monster to destroy a monster – but light, light to drive out darkness.”

The first book in this series was very much a young adult fantasy book. The second book introduced a lasting political plot and the groundwork for the overall evil to come. This book, oh this book. I don’t really even see it as a “young adult fantasy” book. Heir of Fire was so much more than that, and it read like an adult fantasy book to me. There were so many complex themes, emotions and issues that are not usually present in ya fantasy, and Sarah J. Maas did an incredible job writing this book.

“These days, I am very glad to be a mortal, and to only have to endure this life once. These days, I don’t envy you at all.”

“And before?”

It was her turn to stare toward the horizon. “I used to wish I had a chance to see it all- and hated that I never would.”

The theme of this book was very much self-acceptance.

Celeana must come to accept her past and her heritage.
Chaol must come to accept that the King he serves is an unjust ruler.
Dorian must come to accept the magic within him.

I loved the characters, the world-building, the plot, the adventures, pretty much everything this book had to offer. And the most surprising part, this book had little to no romance in it, and I still loved it! (That’s almost unheard of from me).

Despite there being no romance, there seem to be 4 men who Celeana could end up with. FOUR!

-Chaol: her ex-lover who still pines for her and regrets the choices he made that led to their end. Chaol believes Celeana to hate him, yet he risks his own life and betrays his King who he serves to help keep her alive. (And I felt so freaking bad for him the entire time. I have a soft spot for Chaol).

-Dorian: I’m still listing him as a contender because there are 3 more books in the series, so we will never know. It would be nice if he got a chance at Celeana.

-Rowan: Their relationship was strictly friends in this book, but it has the possibility to turn into something more. The connection the two have runs deep.

-Aedion- Celeana’s very distant cousin and childhood friend, who she has not seen in years and yet he is still loyal to her. I suspect he has feelings for her…

My favorite part of the book was the character development between Rowan and Celeana. Their relationship is not one that can be defined by words, but only with feelings. Both know what it is to be enslaved in one form or another, and their connection is spectacular. I really hope their is more about the two of them in the books to come.

“You collect scars because you want proof that you are paying for whatever sins you’ve committed. And I know this because I’ve been doing the same damn thing for two hundred years. Tell me, do you think you will go to some blessed Afterworld, or do you expect a burning hell? You’re hoping for hell–because how could you face them in the Afterworld? Better to suffer, to be damned for eternity.”

I would say my least favorite part of the book was the witch plot. To be honest, I did a giant reader NO-NO and began skimming and then skipping those chapters. My rating of the book does not include those parts because I didn’t really read them, as I had a hard time trying to care about those characters.

….So now I guess I can twiddle my thumbs until the next three books. After this book, I have faith that Sarah J. Maas will deliver something incredible in the next three volumes. I am so happy to be on this journey.

“She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”

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The Witch with No Name

The Witch with No Name (The Hollows #13) by Kim Harrison

5 I can’t believe it’s over, stars!!

“I liked beginnings better than endings.”

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Well ladies and gents, this is the end of an era for me. I’ve always loved the urban fantasy genre and this is one of my all time favorite series, in the genre and out of it.

I initially read this series at the urging of a coworker of mine (the same dude who made me read The Maze Runner and other awesome books). After reading the first book Dead Witch Walking I wasn’t super impressed and I gave the book a 3/5 stars. I continued to read the series when my coworker promised they would get better. And HOLY SH** did they get better. It’s really true, this is one of those rare series of books where with every book I became more enthralled with the world it’s placed in.

In this final installment, Cormel places an ultimatum with Rachel. She must find a way to help vampires keep their souls when they die the first death, or else. This evolves into a power battle between the vampires, demons and elves which have dire consequences, and Rachel and her trusty group of friends and allies are stuck in the middle of it.

“Because for all the changes, some things were immutable truths: friendship transcends all barriers, understanding trumps fear, and great power can always be surmounted by determination.”

It took me a while to read this book because a huge part of me didn’t want it to be over. Over the past couple of years of reading these books Rachel, Ivy and Jenks feel like friends to me and I didn’t want to say goodbye.

And Trent, oh Trent. I want a cookie maker of my own! This man (elf) was absolutely perfect, and he and Rachel complement each other beautifully. Surprisingly, the scenes with Rachel and Trent were very emotional, but I felt it worked as they were fighting side by side in dire circumstances and fighting to stay together despite the insurmountable odds stacked against them. Trent is a best book boyfriend in my world.

“Love died in the shadows, and it shouldn’t cost so much to keep it in the sun. But as Trent would say, anything gotten cheap wouldn’t last, so do what you need to do to be happy and deal with the consequences. That if love was easy, everyone would find it.”

I have very few issues with how the book ended, but one big one would be Nina. I’m sorry but I saw absolutely no redeeming qualities in Nina and found it hard to believe that Ivy could stand being around her, let alone being in love with her. There was no connection! **SPOILER** I’d rather Kim Harrison kill Nina off than tie her soul to Ivy forever, but whatever. Not every ending can be perfect, huh?

That was quite possibly one of the best epilogues ever. I’m sad this series is over :((((((((

“Give up? Leave? echoed in my thoughts as his lips met mine, holding both a promise and a desire. Never, I answered myself as we parted and, hands still connected, turned to those who meant most to us and were welcomed in between the pixy dust and the blue butterflies. THE BEGINNING.”