Book Review: Front Lines by Michael Grant

Book Review: Front Lines by Michael GrantFront Lines by Michael Grant
Series: Soldier Girl #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 26, 2016
Genres: Alternate Universe, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 576
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
1942. World War II. The most terrible war in human history. Millions are dead; millions more are still to die. The Nazis rampage across Europe and eye far-off America.

The green, untested American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled—the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

But something has changed. A court decision makes females subject to the draft and eligible for service. So in this World War II, women and girls fight, too.

As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering. Not one expects to see actual combat. Not one expects to be on the front lines.

Rio, Frangie, and Rainy will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. They will fear and they will rage; they will suffer and they will inflict suffering; they will hate and they will love. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.

New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant has created a masterful alternate history of World War II in Front Lines, the first volume in a groundbreaking series.

Book Review:

FRONT LINES is a brilliantly imagined and wonderfully told alternate history of WWII. A Supreme Court decision has extended the draft to all US citizens regardless of gender. But will men welcome women into their ranks? What does the enemy think?

FRONT LINES is told through the eyes of three very different girls. Rio is the classic all-American small town girl, maybe fighting for her dead sister, maybe for the disatisfaction she feels with the expectation of being a wife and mother. Rainy is Jewish, determined to use her brains in intelligence to do her part to fight Hitler. Frangie is African American, has dreams of being a doctor, but has to deal with racism and sexism while trying to save lives.

The author doesn’t try to sanitize the anti-Semitic, racist, and/or sexist attitudes of the 1940s. All the girls deal with those attitudes, from their fellow soldiers and up the chain, as well as their families and the people around them. I appreciated the honesty, and that the author didn’t stick with just Rio’s perspective for the book.

FRONT LINES is one of those books I just loved. I devoured it. I could have read another 500 pages about Rio, Rainy, and Frangie, as well as America’s first steps into the war. The action takes place in Tunisia, the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Most YA WWII historical fiction is set in Europe, so it was good to see a different area.

The author has a way of drawing you into the book, building on the little things and the experiences the girls undergo, to really ramp things up. The beginning of FRONT LINES is a little slow, but well worth it. I also liked that Grant spent a good amount of time on everyone’s training. I always enjoy that, but I also thought it was a good way to show how some male opinions on women in the forces changed. As well as to show how important friendships were for the girls, as they needed others who understood exactly what they were going through.

Considering how much I loved FRONT LINES, it’s going to be a long, long wait for the next Soldier Girl book!

Socialize with the author:

Michael Grant:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Arena by Holly Jennings

Book Review: Arena by Holly JenningsArena by Holly Jennings
Published by Ace on April 5, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming...

Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...


The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside...

Book Review:

I’m a long time gamer, so my review of ARENA might be a bit biased. But if you’re a gamer and/or have always wanted to check out the virtual world, this might be the book for you. The idea behind ARENA is super fun, the execution is good, and there are just enough pop culture references to classic games to add to the geeky atmosphere.

Kali Ling is a warrior. Every week she fights to the death in the RAGE tournaments, watched by millions around the world. Move over, football and soccer and basketball. Gamers have taken over as the star athletes in 2054. Games have evolved as well, to the point where gamers plug into pods and play with their entire bodies in an immersive world.

There’s virtual sports, racing, RPGs and more. The RAGE games are a classic example of capture the tower PVP, played by teams of five. This season, Kali is making history — she’s the first female team captain in RAGE. But Kali’s not so sure she’s up to the challenge. She’s dealing with the death of a teammate, melding his replacement into the team, the expectations of the team’s owner and the media, and her own increasing frustration at being a cog in the virtual machine. It’s a lot to juggle, and Kali has to keep the team from losing anymore games while dealing with all of that, because if they lose one more time, they’re out of the tournament.

As a gamer who would love to set foot in World of Warcraft, I loved the idea of Kali and her team playing in virtual reality. Fighting the other team and defending their tower to the death. Death doesn’t kill them in real life, but real life injuries transfer to the game. I especially liked that the gamers had to be skilled in real life at martial arts and weaponry — if you can’t swing a sword in real life, you aren’t killing anyone in the game. It’s logical. The evolution from watching gamers stream on Twitch to watching them play in Super Bowl like matches makes sense, too.

I liked that ARENA detailed a lot of the team’s training and matches. I geek out over that sort of stuff, and I also enjoyed Kali’s efforts at team bonding with classic games like Mario Kart. I could tell the author had really thought about how virtual sports would work, such as regular athletes not being able to cross over successfully, because they don’t have gaming experience. Jennings also considered how celebrity status could impact the gamers, talking about drug abuse, anxiety and depression, and virtual reality addiction. There’s even some dialogue on women in gaming, Kali’s Chinese background, and finding a balance between virtual life and real life.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance between Kali and Rooke in ARENA. At least it wasn’t the dreaded insta-love, but something about it just felt a little off. To me, it would have made more sense if they stayed friends, but then I’m usually critical of romances.

Overall, I had a ton of fun reading ARENA. It’s a fun book, with lots of gaming action, but it also delves into a few deeper topics. I believe this is a standalone, but I’d enjoy seeing more of Kali. Based on her journey during ARENA and the ending, I think she has a lot more story to tell.

ARENA’s over 9000!

Socialize with the author:

Holly Jennings:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on February 2, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Book Review:

I’ve studied World War II for years. I’ve read countless books, both nonfiction and fiction, and watched a lot of documentaries. My undergrad degree is even in history. But somehow, before SALT TO THE SEA, I’d only heard about the Wilhelm Gustloff once.

One mention of such an immense tragedy.

I’m thankful to Ruta Sepetys for writing SALT TO THE SEA. I always enjoy historical fiction that introduces me to something I didn’t know before, which she certainly does. But more than that, the author has such a deft, confident hand that I could sense the amount of research she did and the respect she has for the survivors and victims of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Sepetys doesn’t overwhelm you with her knowledge, but inserts it subtly, weaving it into the backstories, thoughts, and actions of the characters.

SALT TO THE SEA is told through the eyes of four characters. Joana is Lithuanian, a nurse who always wants to help people in need, even if helping them might place herself in danger. Florian is Prussian, a boy with a pack of secrets. Emilia is Polish, a girl on the run from unspeakable horrors. Alfred is German, a member of the Kriegsmarine, and loyal to Hitler’s every thought. By using characters of different nationalities and loyalties, the author is able to show the many sides of Operation Hannibal, when Germany evacuated soldiers and citizens ahead of the Red Army.

The “chapters” in the book are short, often 2-3 pages before hopping to another character. For the first few chapters, this bugged me a bit, as I couldn’t get to know anyone with such short chapters. Then I got used to it and liked the short chapters, because the sparseness was more impactful than overloading me with details would have been.

SALT TO THE SEA is one of those rare books that I’ll be thinking about for a while.

Socialize with the author:

Ruta Sepetys:
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– leeanna

Book Review: House of Rejoicing by Libbie Hawker

Book Review: House of Rejoicing by Libbie HawkerHouse of Rejoicing by Libbie Hawker
Series: The Book of Coming Forth by Day #1
Published by Running Rabbit Press on May 31, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 369
Format: eBook
Source: Own
Goodreads
5 Stars
House of Rejoicing is Libbie Hawker's long-awaited return to the lush decadence and dark power of ancient Egypt.

In the waning years of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty, when female power can only come at an unsettling price, four royal women struggle against the shadowy influence of Akhenaten, the infamous heretic Pharaoh. Akhenaten wields control of a strange, emerging religion unlike anything Egypt has seen. His power can’t be denied, but whoever can maintain her grip on the unpredictable Pharaoh will hold all of Egypt in her hands—and better still, will remain mistress of her own fate.

Tiy, once the undisputed might behind the throne, must choose to relinquish her hard-won influence, or manipulate the innocent in order to secure her hold on Akhenaten’s leash. Kiya, an idealistic foreign princess, will win Akhenaten with love—if he’s capable of feeling love at all. The celebrated beauty Nefertiti will use the Pharaoh for her own ends, turning the tables of a deadly political game to free herself from her ambitious father’s grasp. And Sitamun, kept imprisoned as the Pharaoh’s plaything, will defy the gods themselves to save her daughter from a similar fate.

Book Review:

I don’t usually review books I read for pleasure anymore, but I had to review HOUSE OF REJOICING. It’s the start of a new ancient Egyptian historical fiction series set during the Amarna period. AKA when Akhenaten raised the Aten above all other gods.

I’m always looking for good ancient Egyptian historical fiction. I’ve read a lot, but I always come back to Libbie Hawker (previously under the pen name L.M. Ironside). I’ve read her Thutmoside saga 3 times, so I was excited to see her tackle Akhenaten and Nefertiti. I like Hawker’s books because she grounds her stories in what’s known, but then makes educated diversions. I also feel like I’ve travelled back in time, thanks to the plethora of details and scene setting. I never feel like I’m reading about modern characters with an Egyptian window-dressing.

And then we get to the characters. Hawker takes the classic Akhenaten is crazy approach, but in a way that I found scary. Sometimes when authors go for that angle, he’s just laughable in his craziness. But in HOUSE OF REJOICING, Akhenaten is scary-crazy. And the author lays a better foundation for his craziness and focus on the Aten than I’ve read before, by spending a lot of the book on the end of his father’s reign.

HOUSE OF REJOICING is written from the viewpoints of four women. Kiya, a Mitanni princess sent to wed Amunhotep. Tiy, Amunhotep’s Great Wife. Sitamun, Akhenaten’s sister. And Nefertiti, raised by her father to be the next pharoah’s Great Wife. None of these women are fully good or bad; I liked and disliked all for various reasons, and also empathized with all of them. I like the way the author envisioned each of these women. Nefertiti is the ambitious beauty she’s always written as, but here she’s more than that. We see why she supports Akhenaten in his quest to glorify the Aten above all other gods. Partly for her own ambition, but also because she sees how dark the future could be, and that supporting Akhenaten might be the only way to gain any shred of control over him. And so on, with each character.

If you like ancient Egyptian historical fiction, I can’t recommend Libbie Hawker highly enough. I’m already looking forward to my next read of HOUSE OF REJOICING, and to the rest of the series.

Socialize with the author:

Libbie Hawker:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick NessThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

Book Review:

Most of the YA books I’ve read in the past few months have blended together, either just okay or blah, books with a good premise but bad execution, or books that have unrealistic romances (for me) or whatever. I had THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE sitting on my shelf to review, and boy, do I regret not reading it sooner instead of trudging through the sea of blah.

In THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE, there’s some kind of supernatural invasion or trouble going on, but instead of following the Chosen Ones, aka the indie kids, the book is about Mikey and his friends. They’re ordinary. They just want to make it through senior year before something blows up the school. Again.

Each chapter starts off with a short bit about what the indie kids are up to, and those short bits read a lot like the average YA supernatural/paranormal romance. And then it’s back to Mikey and his friends, who are trying to sort out their comparatively mundane (but no less important) problems. Mikey’s dealing with OCD, anxiety, and having a crush on Henna. Mikey’s sister, Mel, is a recovering anorexic, whose past is thrust back in the spotlight now that their mom is running for the US Congress. Mikey and Mel are each other’s rock, and they’re both there for younger sister Meredith, because mom’s busy with politics and dad’s an absent alcoholic.

I connected with every character in THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE. For the first time in a while, I eagerly flipped each page, because I had to know what happened next. Usually I’m not a big fan of contemporary — I need something extra to spice things up — but here, everything was just so real. The book felt authentic to me in a way many YA books don’t. I appreciated the author’s honesty and realism on various subjects: talking about sex, having sex, friends choosing to be family and being there for one another, that hardness you feel when you’re almost an adult but your parents still make decisions for you, anxiety about leaving behind everything you know, etc.

Plus, there are some great talks between Mikey and his psychiatrist, such as taking medication isn’t a failure, and that mental illness isn’t anyone’s fault, and it’s as real as any other medical problem.

Socialize with the author:

Patrick Ness:
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– leeanna

Book Review: A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion

Book Review: A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s RebellionA Year of Ravens by E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Russell Whitfield, Ruth Downie, S.J.A. Turney, Stephanie Dray, Vicky Alvear Shecter
Published by Knight Media on November 17, 2015
Genres: History
Pages: 440
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
5 Stars
Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Celt . . . and these are their stories.

A calculating queen sees the sparks of revolt in a king’s death.

A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war.

An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter.

A conflicted warrior hovers between loyalty to tribe and loyalty to Rome.

A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people.

An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions.

A fiery princess fights to salvage the pieces of her mother’s dream as the ravens circle.

A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Celts who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?

blog tour a year of ravens a novel of boudica's rebellion

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A YEAR OF RAVENS by Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, and Russell Whitfield. This is a very unique book, one I enjoyed quite a bit. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway. The blog tour is hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, and you can visit all the stops here.

Book Review:

I’m not a huge fan of short stories. I’d rather read a whole book about the same characters and their stories. But last year, I read A DAY OF FIRE, which showed the last days of Pompeii through six different characters in six different stories. All of the characters interacted in some way, and there were several plotlines that carried through the whole book. I really enjoyed A DAY OF FIRE, and so when I saw several of the same authors (and some new ones) were coming together to write about Boudica, I couldn’t wait to start it.

The beauty of a book like A YEAR OF RAVENS is that if one character’s point of view doesn’t interest you, you can easily skip to the next chapter and see events through someone else’s eyes. I personally enjoyed every section, but the book is written in such a way that you won’t be lost if you don’t like a certain section.

Boudica is someone I’ve always been interested in, but somehow I’ve never read much about her. A YEAR OF RAVENS doesn’t have any sections from her viewpoint, but by seeing her through the eyes of those around her, as well as her enemies, I feel like I got a great idea of the woman she might have been. Because there are so many viewpoints and the book doesn’t focus just on Boudica as a character but the overall rebellion, I also got a great picture of all the events leading up to and during the year of battle.

The viewpoints in the book include:

  • Queen Cartimandua, a client queen who did not revolt against Rome
  • Slave girl Ria, the illegitimate daughter of King Prasutagus of the Iceni
  • Roman Tribune Gnaeus Julius Agricola
  • Andecarus, an Iceni tribesman hostaged to Rome at a young age
  • Druid Yorath, the only druid to survive a Roman massacre; Felix, a Roman soldier captured by Yorath
  • Duro, Boudica’s war chief; Valeria, wife of Britannia’s procurator
  • Sorcha and Keena, Boudica’s daughters

As you can see, there’s something for everyone, and both sides of the story are also represented. I couldn’t pick a favorite character, which is unusual for me. I liked everyone! And I felt for everyone as their circumstances changed, which says something for me, since it usually takes me a lot of page time to get attached. The sections flow almost seamlessly — except for a few areas of expertise, like Russell Whitfield’s knowledge of Roman armies — it’s difficult to tell each section is written by a different author. The smooth continuity of the plotlines and character interactions in A YEAR OF RAVENS make it a very unique, very cool book.

Giveaway:

A Year of Ravens

*giveaway is tour-wide

A Year of Ravens authors:

a year of ravens authors
Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, & Russell Whitfield
Buy links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

– leeanna

Book Review: What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Book Review: What We Left Behind by Robin TalleyWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley
Published by Harlequin Teen on October 27, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, New Adult, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn't enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

Book Review:

Robin Talley’s first book, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES, was one of my favorites of 2014. When I saw she had a new book, one about a genderqueer protagonist, I couldn’t wait to read it. Books are slowly becoming more diverse, but it’s still rare to find one that explores gender identity. Just like the author’s debut, WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is a book that touched me deeply, made me think a lot, and is one I want everyone to read.

WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND kind of straddles the line between Young Adult and New Adult. Toni and Gretchen are eighteen, just starting their first year of college. That’s an important time for a lot of people, because it’s the first time you’re on your own, with the chance to explore your interests and start to figure out who you really are. I think the author captured the chaos and freedom of that time quite well, when you’re trying new things, juggling old and new friendships, distant parental expectations, and maybe even an ongoing relationship.

I like just about everything in WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, but a few things stand out. One is the relationship between Toni and Gretchen. Very rarely do YA books show the meat of a relationship — so much of the time, a book is focused on getting the characters together. In WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, Toni and Gretchen have been a couple for two years. So they’re sure they can handle the distance between Boston and New York City. For a couple that loves each other as much as they do, a few hundred miles is no big deal. Nevermind the fact that Gretchen didn’t tell Toni she applied to NYU, instead of following Toni to Boston. That’s fine, because they don’t fight. But when you don’t fight, and you don’t really talk about the issues that bother you, how well does a relationship work? And when you’re used to being Toni-and-Gretchen, what happens when you’re just Toni or just Gretchen? Does love change, or does it always stay the same?

I really appreciated that the author delved into Toni and Gretchen’s relationship. Both of their perspectives are given, and while the adorable first meeting/hookup scene is included, there’s so much more than that in the book. There’s actual relationship growing pains, and while at first their relationship is perfect, it becomes less perfect when Toni feels unable to talk to Gretchen about all the new life things. How can Gretchen be the perfect girlfriend when it seems like Toni doesn’t want to see her?

The second standout of WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is Toni’s gender explorations. At the start of the book, Toni identifies as genderqueer. At Harvard, Toni becomes friends with upperclassman who are all over the gender spectrum, which makes Toni think a lot more about where, exactly, Toni belongs. Is Toni gender nonconforming, gender fluid, non-binary, trans? Something else? Toni’s never felt like a girl, but being surrounded by others who know their gender identity, and also having the freedom for the first time ever to explore options, sends Toni on a quest to try everything from different pronouns to chest binding to more. Toni thinks about this a lot, and talks about with the new friends a lot, which resulted in me getting a good introduction and look into all the different labels out there, and why people would identify with/use different ones. Thanks to Toni, I also started thinking a lot more about pronouns, and how they reinforce gender constantly. Here’s a little example — it’s taking a lot of conscious thought to not use “she” or “he” to refer to Toni in this review. For another ah-ha moment, look at how Toni refers to others and how Gretchen refers to Toni in the first ~50 pages.

With Toni’s mad rush to figure everything out, Toni sometimes comes across, as well, somewhat of a jerk. Toni gets super wrapped up in figuring out the perfect pronouns and labels, and also fitting other people into neat little labeled boxes. Toni is often quite judgmental of other people. At first, that bugged me — I wanted to give Toni a good whack — but then I got it. If I wanted to be sure of myself and not constantly trying to figure out what label fit me, I’d probably act the same exact way.

WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is a book that spoke to me and made me think. I enjoy books like that, especially books that push outside the boundaries of the conventional boy and girl fall in love the end stories.

Upcoming:

In the near future, I’ll have an interview with Robin on the blog, so be sure to check back!

Interview with Robin Talley.

Socialize with the author:

Robin Talley:
Website
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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona AndrewsMagic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #8
Published by Ace on August 4, 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Book Review:

MAGIC SHIFTS is the eighth book in the super awesome Kate Daniels series. I just read the entire series to get caught up to MAGIC SHIFTS, and this is one series where the books get better and better. I can’t recommend this series enough if you like a snarky, kick butt heroine, solid and creative worldbuilding, and villains and bad magic from all over the globe.

In MAGIC SHIFTS, Kate and Curran are trying to live a normal life. As normal as life can be when Kate’s the daughter of the most powerful man alive and Curran’s the former Beast Lord. Thanks to Kate’s agreement with her father in the previous book, MAGIC BREAKS, they’ve left the Pack. But instead of settling into their new house, they’re catapulted into a confusing investigation when Eduardo, a werebison, goes missing.

THE GOOD:

♥ I was a little worried when I started MAGIC SHIFTS, because one of my favorite things about this series is the Pack. I liked watching Kate manage the shapeshifters, and seeing them bicker and politic their way around the Keep. But many of the characters I liked in previous books are still in the series, and you know what? Kate and Curran shine even outside of the Pack. Their relationship is solid but still growing, and seeing Curran try to behave for the neighbors was hilarious.

♥ At last, there are some real consequences for Kate throwing herself headlong into danger. I enjoy how Kate never hesitates to draw her sword and rush into a fight, but with the amount of abuse she puts her body through, you start to wonder how she’s still alive, even with magic. I won’t spoil things, but I loved what happens to her in MAGIC SHIFTS.

♥ Three words: Roland. Likes. Applebee’s. Those three words lead to what has to be one of my favorite scenes in the whole series. Again, I’m not going to spoil the fantasticness, but I like where the author’s going with Kate and Roland.

♥ As with the bad guys in other books, the author doesn’t go with the traditional Western European supernatural creatures. I’ve seen the creature in MAGIC SHIFTS before, but this time it was scary. Yet again, I don’t want to drop spoilers, but I will say I’ve never read such a cool theory on ghouls.

THE BAD:

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Socialize with the author:

Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona AndrewsMagic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #7
on July 29, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 348
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Book Review:

Daaaaamn. I just finished MAGIC BREAKS, and I’m at a loss for words. I’ve said this in almost every review I’ve written for the Kate Daniels series, but this is a series where the books just get better and better.

I’ve been looking forward to Kate’s confrontation with her father for seven books now. I had absolutely no idea how the author would handle it, since Kate’s always known that Roland has a gazillion times more magic than she does. I’m not going to spoil what does happen, but I like how it all went down. It makes sense and shows how much Kate has grown over the series. Because you know if she had met Roland in book one, she would have stuck Slayer in his heart, and he would have killed her, and that would have been it. But now that Kate has lots of friends, fiancé Curran, adopted street kid Julie, and the welfare of the Pack to worry about, she can’t go in sword point first.

In other books, I liked seeing lots of the Pack, but I also missed the Kate from the first few in the series, where she was more on her own. In MAGIC BREAKS, Kate’s separated from Curran and the Pack, and she has to rely on every bit of training from Voron to stay alive. I loved it. I had absolutely no idea where the story was going in this book, and I loved that, too. It was also great to learn even more about Roland and Kate’s powers, which is something I enjoy in every installment. The author has some super creative ideas for magic.

I’ve been binge reading this series, but if you’ve been following it all along and need a refresher, the author includes a handy list of characters and summary of events by Barabas, Kate’s bouda nanny.

One of my favorite things about the Kate Daniels series is how talented the author is at making me feel about every single character. Lots of old faces are back in MAGIC BREAKS as well as some new ones. Even though I’ve never really liked Ghastek before, I felt for him in this book. Same with the alpha wererat couple, Robert and Thomas. Christopher, the insane guy Kate rescued in MAGIC RISES, shows up too, and I felt for him. Seriously. These characters tug on my (mostly nonexistent) heartstrings.

And the last page of MAGIC BREAKS? As Kate would say, “Why me?” I’d have screamed that if I had to wait a year for the next book, MAGIC SHIFTS.

Socialize with the author:

Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Rises by Ilona AndrewsMagic Rises by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #6
Published by Ace on July 30, 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 355
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Goodreads
5 Stars
Mercenary Kate Daniels narrates a surprising trip with her bite-me humor. The pack of her mate Curran, werelion Beast Lord, need rare medicine from Europe to save children who die from stuck shapeshifting. Europe offers them barrels of the drug if they guard a spoiled princess. Knowing the invite is a trap, of course they sail right in.

Book Review:

MAGIC RISES is the sixth book in the Kate Daniels series. This is the first book where we get to see the rest of the world Post-Shift, as Kate and the Pack travel to Europe to guard a pregnant shapeshifter. They know it’s a trap, but they go anyway, because the promised payment is panacea, a medicine that can reverse loupism.

I really liked getting to see more of the world than just Atlanta. It’s good to see how other countries cope (or don’t) with magic, and who has come out on top. You won’t believe who the lord of the castle is in MAGIC RISES — but he’s an excellent pick. MAGIC RISES has a lot of Pack dealings, but it also moves Kate’s arc towards her inevitable confrontation with her father. I appreciate that the author isn’t making Roland a one book enemy, and I like how we’ve learned more about his background and Kate’s powers as the series progresses.

I wasn’t super thrilled with Curran in this book; it felt like Kate and Curran’s relationship took a step backwards. There are a couple of inconsistencies with how they act, and I wanted to slap Curran for a good portion of MAGIC RISES. I didn’t buy his excuse for the whole thing with Lorelei, and with the sheer amount of important stuff happening, I could’ve done without the relationship problems.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed MAGIC RISES. As usual, I can’t believe how much the author packed into the book: a bodyguard case, the lord of the castle, mysterious new shapeshifters, Kate/Curran, and some big important battles. There were a few scenes that made my eyes sting, because I care so much about the characters in this series.

Socialize with the author:

Ilona Andrews:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna