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.

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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.

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Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Slays by Ilona AndrewsMagic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #5
Published by Ace on May 31, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 308
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Goodreads
5 Stars
Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she's still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate's mate.

So when Atlanta's premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price.

Book Review:

MAGIC SLAYS is the fifth book in the Kate Daniels series. I say this every review, but the books in this series just keep getting better and better! I’m a latecomer to this amazing urban fantasy series, but that’s good in a way, because I can’t imagine waiting a year between installments.

If you thought Erra was bad in the previous book, MAGIC BLEEDS, the bad guys in MAGIC SLAYS are even worse. Kate’s case this time spotlights a danger to the entire city of Atlanta. It’s something she can’t handle herself, even though she’s quit the Order and doesn’t have them holding her back anymore. I really liked the big fight in MAGIC SLAYS, because lots of different groups come and fight together — it felt epic in scope.

My favorite things about this series include Kate, Kate and Curran, the Pack, and the other characters. The author continues to deliver on all of those points.

♥ Kate has grown so much from the first book in the series while staying true to herself that it’s incredible. She’s still snarky and bad ass, but now more vulnerable because she’s formed attachments and friendships with people.

♥ Kate and Curran — their relationship has become one of my favorite in an urban fantasy series. They bicker and have to work to develop their relationship and support each other. It’s realistic, which is always important to me.

♥ I do so enjoy the Pack. It’s great to see Kate act as the Alpha, showing the shapeshifters that she can act like them without going furry, and that she’ll protect them just as much as Curran does.

♥ I love Kate and Curran, but I also love all the other characters in this series. The author’s really good at making you feel for everybody, if they’re in one scene or multiple books. Andrea is back, which was great, since I like her friendship with Kate. Julie’s also back, yay! Although maybe not yay, because the poor kid goes through some rough stuff. The new bouda Ascanio’s a hoot, and the attack poodle Grendel is back. Seriously, there are some great characters in this series, and I’m greedy enough to want novellas about all of them.

MAGIC SLAYS slays it.

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Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Bleeds by Ilona AndrewsMagic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #4
Published by Ace on May 25, 2010
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 349
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Goodreads
5 Stars
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle - especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community. When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years - and who rode to war at the side of Kate's father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.

Book Review:

MAGIC BLEEDS is the fourth book in the Kate Daniels series. I’ve been binge reading this series, and each book is better than the last, which is rare in a series. Kate Daniels has a spot on my favorite kickbutt characters list. She’s just plain awesome.

MAGIC BLEEDS digs deeper into Kate’s background than previous books have. Kate’s case starts out as a typical Order investigation — as typical as something involving magic, death, and deadly diseases can be. Which, of course, is pretty typical in the author’s version of Atlanta, where magic and tech alternately rule supreme. But the case becomes something more when she finds out the true identity of the Steel Mary who’s been infecting corpses with diseases like syphilis and cholera.

As with the other books in this series, I enjoyed the lore of the bad guy, which was inspired by Babylonian mythology. I never know what’s going to come next, or how Kate will save the day, which is something I love. It’s never fun when books are too predictable. I was scared for Kate and Curran and Atlanta, because there were some nail-biting action scenes where it looked like the end was about to come.

Kate and Curran’s relationship takes a huge step forward in MAGIC BLEEDS. I’m usually picky on romances, but I like the way the author’s developed theirs over the course of the series. I thought what happened between Kate and Curran was realistic, which is really important for me with romances. They act as they’ve been characterized — they don’t change personalities as things heat up or cool down.

I also liked getting to see more of Pack politics. How well do wolves, rats, cats, hyenas, and other shapeshifters get along? Not very well. The Pack, its structure, and politics are just one more thing I enjoy about this series. I like how the author’s given each clan a distinct personality and place in the hierarchy, because I love seeing Kate come in and totally ignore everything.

MAGIC BLEEDS is full of everything I like about the Kate Daniels series: inventive magic, a scary world, well-developed characters, creative use of mythology and supernatural creatures, and too many other things to name.

Socialize with the author:

Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona AndrewsMagic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #3
Published by Ace on March 31, 2009
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 310
Format: Paperback
Source: Own
Goodreads
5 Stars
When magic strikes and Atlanta goes to pieces, it’s a job for Kate Daniels…

Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.

But when Kate's werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games—an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament—she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta's shapeshifting community…

Book Review:

MAGIC STRIKES is the third book in the Kate Daniels series. I highly recommend this series if you like creative urban fantasy with a side of kickbutt heroine, sizzling chemistry, and non-stop action.

In MAGIC STRIKES, we at last learn more about Kate and her background. Previous books in the series had some clues, but here we get the full story. Why Kate is so careful about never leaving her blood or any traces of it around. Why Kate knows so much about the powerful, mysterious, and secret leader of the People. And why Kate is a loner, which might be the most important information of all, since she bucks all of her life experience and training to help her friends.

Kate doesn’t have many friends, you see, so when Derek ends up nearly dead, she’s willing to take part in a deadly tournament to get revenge on his attackers. The bad guys in MAGIC STRIKES are inspired by Hindu mythology, and damn, they were creepy and scary, but also cool. I like how the author never sticks with the traditional Western European baddies, but draws inspiration from all over the globe.

I enjoyed every aspect of MAGIC STRIKES, from watching Kate’s protective side come out again to seeing her growing friendships with a variety of Pack members. Julie from MAGIC BURNS even makes a cameo appearance; I was happy to see her again. And I can’t forget the romantic relationship developing between Kate and Curran. I’m not always a fan of romances, but I appreciate that this one hasn’t been rushed, and that Kate doesn’t lose herself whenever Curran shows up. She admits she’s attracted to him, but she doesn’t let that attraction override her brain.

The ending made me snort with laughter. I’m not going to spoil, but it’s good. That’s just one more thing I like about Ilona Andrews’ writing — it makes me laugh all the time, even in the middle of a dangerous action scene or when Kate’s just sitting in her apartment.

Socialize with the author:

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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsMagic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #2
Published by Ace on April 1, 2008
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260
Format: Paperback
Source: Own
Goodreads
4 Stars
Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

Book Review:

MAGIC BURNS is the second book in the MAGIC BITES, Kate’s now working as a liaison between the Order and the Guild, toeing the line between law-abiding citizen and mercenary. Naturally, within chapters, she’s in the middle of a real mess. While helping a street kid named Julie find her missing with mother, she’s also hunting down a guy who stole something important from the Pack. A guy who can disappear into thin air. Oh, and Kate’s dealing with a flare, which equates to a very powerful wave of magic taking over the world for a while.

In MAGIC BITES, I wanted more worldbuilding as to how waves of magic or tech alternatively ruled. The author delivers on the worldbuilding in MAGIC BURNS, and even better — the reasons make sense! I can get behind just about any fantasy premise, but it’s even better for me when the author has a good reason for why the world is the way it is. Here, the idea is that tech and magic once coexisted, but when technology boomed, magic waned. I like.

The bad dudes in MAGIC BURNS? I’ve seen them before, but never have they been so scary. I like how the author is pulling from different pantheons of mythology with each book. It’s quite cool — I enjoy seeing her version of Celtic mythology, including Morrigan and the Fomorians.

I think my favorite thing so far about this series is how much is packed into each book. MAGIC BURNS is only 260 pages, but I felt like I read a longer book. Which made me happy, because I like watching events through Kate’s eyes, from putting clues together to epic battles to bickering with Curran. I can’t get enough of Kate and her world.

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Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsMagic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Published by Ace on April 1, 2007
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260
Format: Paperback
Source: Own
Goodreads
4 Stars
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up paranormal problems. Atlanta has two factions struggling for power. Masters of the Dead are necromancers who control vampires. The Pack are a paramilitary clan of shapechangers. When Kate's guardian is killed, she is caught between.

Book Review:

MAGIC BITES is the first book in the Kate Daniels series, an urban fantasy series set in Atlanta, Georgia. But it’s not the Atlanta we know, of course — it’s an Atlanta transformed by magic. In Kate’s world, magic and technology go in and out, like waves. When magic’s up, the monsters come out to play. When tech’s up, cars and phones work.

While MAGIC BITES doesn’t have a lot of worldbuilding as to how magic waves took over the city, the book does an excellent job of showing how Atlanta is now. I feel like the author really differentiated between magic and tech, and considered the little things that really make a reader feel like they’re in the main character’s world. Such as cars needing magic-infused water to work when the magic’s up.

I liked Kate a lot. Her mouth’s great at writing checks it can’t always cash, but she doesn’t let that stop her from jumping into a fight anyway. MAGIC BITES follows Kate as she tries to find out who killed her guardian. While trying to solve his murder, she also has to try and keep a war from breaking out between the People (vampires) and the Pack (were-creatures). I won’t spoil things, but I also liked that the author didn’t go with a “traditional” supernatural baddie, instead using Slavic influences.

I think MAGIC BITES is a great kick off to the series. I’m super curious to learn more about magic-stricken Atlanta, Kate’s past, and see more of the Pack.

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Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Book Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan GriffithThe Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith, Susan Griffith
Series: Crown & Key #1
Published by Del Rey on June 2, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Book Review:

A couple of years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed a wickedly good vampire book, THE GREYFRIAR, by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. Ever since finishing the Vampire Empire series, I’ve kept my eye out for new books by the authors since I couldn’t wait to read something else of theirs.

THE SHADOW REVOLUTION kicks off a new urban fantasy series set in Victorian London, Crown & Key. Simon Archer may be the last scribe around, but he prefers to squander his time attending parties and finding his way into corsets. He and mentor Nick happily stick to the shadows until one of his old paramours is killed in front of him … by a werewolf.

It’s the kick Simon needs to realize he’s wasting his potential. But of course, he soon finds himself in a world of trouble when he helps Kate Anstruther rescue her sister from another werewolf. Because one werewolf just isn’t enough — they manage to find a whole pack.

THE SHADOW REVOLUTION has a magic system I like; I’m always craving inscription and alchemy! I do wish we saw more of both, but what was there was good. I was particularly intrigued by Simon’s tattoos (the cover is a great representation), which allow him to quickly cast spells. Aether sickness, which comes on from using too much magic, is a fitting downside.

The characters are also fun, and I look forward to seeing more of them. Simon’s described as a playboy, and there’s a little of that, but I was also happy to a deeper, more responsible side to him. Kate’s good too, a woman who bucks society’s conventions in favor of her interest in alchemy. I would have liked to see more about Nick, Kate’s servant Hogarth, cool inventor Penny, and werewolf hunter Malcolm.

There’s a LOT of action in THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, and so I found there was less character development because so much time was spent fighting. The action scenes were good, but after a while, I have to confess I wanted to drug everyone with a potion so they’d take a break. There was a lot of charging into danger when worn out and injured from the last fight, and the fights got a bit repetitive.

However, even if I did have a few quibbles with THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, I will definitely check out the rest of the series. I’ve never seen such creepy homunculi, for instance, and I’m super curious about the key, as well as if Simon and Kate’s fathers will have any importance on the story.

This is a great time to start, because book two, THE UNDYING LEGION, will be out at the end of June, and book three, THE CONQUERING DARK will be out at the end of July. No year long wait between installments!

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Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith:
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– leeanna

Book Review: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

Book Review: River Road by Suzanne JohnsonRiver Road by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #2
Published by Tor on November 13, 2012
Genres: Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 334
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Book Review:

The second book in the Sentinels of New Orleans, RIVER ROAD picks up a couple of years after ROYAL STREET. This is an urban fantasy series set in New Orleans with all manners of preternatural creatures from the historical undead to nymphs to mermen and beyond. This is a series that gets better with each book; I recently read number four, PIRATE’S ALLEY, and reading that sent me back into a reread of the whole series.

Drusilla “DJ” Jaco is the Sentinel of New Orleans, and it’s her job to take care of any magical crises. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina, the borders that kept preternaturals out of the city have fallen, and rather than put them back up, the wizards are keeping an eye on the situation and seeing what happens. Naturally, plenty happens in RIVER ROAD. DJ has to juggle territorial mers, murdered wizards, and a sudden increase of activity in her personal life.

I enjoyed the author’s take on mermen. They’re not the sexy fish you’d expect them to be — no, Suzanne Johnson’s given them her own spin. I had a good laugh at the “Mer Twin” license plates for Rene and Robert. I really liked Rene’s character: he’s a tough guy, and even though mers traditionally hate wizards, he’s willing to work with DJ to keep his clan from getting sick. And all the time DJ spends with the mers shows off Plaquemines Parish, which is just outside of New Orleans.

The murder mystery aspect of RIVER ROAD was interesting to me; you’ll probably never look at the culprit in the same way again. DJ’s efforts in solving the murders and cleaning up the poisoned water showcases the unique magic system in this series. DJ is a Green Congress wizard, meaning she uses potions and rituals and charms, along with plenty of research.

DJ’s dance card is a bit full in this installment, but romance isn’t the main focus of the series. So I didn’t mind DJ’s dates and diversions with the men in her life, and even better — those relationships often tied into the plot of the book.

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Suzanne Johnson:
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– leeanna