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review 2018-12-12 12:22
"Magic Binds - Kate Daniels #9" by Ilona Andrews - highly recommended
Magic Binds - Ilona Andrews

This series has rebooted with a vengeance. The game changed in "Magic Shifts" with Kate and Curran stabilising their relationship, leaving the Pack and building a new power base of Mercs and former pack members and with the conflict between Kate and Roland, her I-WILL-dominate-the-world father, now out in the open.


"Magic Binds" uses this new situation to put Kate under intense pressure and see what happens.


Her father is the first pressure source. Now that the confrontation between him and Kate is no longer covert, it has become much more intense,  partly because Kate is becoming more and more like her father. They are both powerful and territorial and seem incapable of not pushing one another. Being who they are, each "push" costs people their lives. Roland's public demonstrations of how ruthless, powerful and cruel he is are more than just vanity. They're designed to push/tempt Kate to retaliate in kind. The question as to whether Kate's true nature is to give herself up to her power and become more like her father is central to the tension of the story.


The second pressure source on Kate is the Oracle's visions. These are cleverly conceived not as prophecies but as images of pivotal points where Kate's decisions will change her future. That the pivot points all seem to lead to Kate choosing between Curran's death or the death of their as-yet-unborn son drives Kate's aggression but also makes her desperate to find a third way.


There's more to this book than a power puzzle to be solved with ingenious strategies. I was impressed by how well characters from earlier books are incorporated into the story in ways that develop them as people and also change the meanings of earlier events. It was fascinating to see the Pack from the outside again and to understand just how deeply the Order hates Kate and to see how Curran and Kate bind their new team together. Both Barabas and Christopher develop in surprising ways and the emergence of a previously unknown cult, built by Roland to assassinate Kate, is cleverly linked to earlier events as well as giving Kate a reality check.


There's some interesting and emotionally intense stuff going on between Kate, her adopted daughter and her recently deceased aunt (yeah - that takes some explaining but it works).


As always, Iona Andrews excels at both humour and at big battle scenes.  The book kicks off with an almost slapstick scene in which Curran and Kate ask her Priest of Death cousin to marry them and wit, banter and absurd juxtapositions provide light relief throughout. When the battle finally arrives it is bloody, emotionally charged and intense.


This is an extremely accomplished urban fantasy. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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text 2018-11-22 13:17
Reading progress update: I've read 52%. mmmm, the sweet smell of a new Peter Grant story in the morning.
Lies Sleeping - Ben Aaronovitch

The Peter Grant series continues to be one of my most satisfying urban fantasy reads.



Peter's slightly off mainstream centre but ever so accurate view of the world is intoxicating, whether he's commenting on architectural faux pas, describing how rooms can be lies told by their inhabitants, critiquing the dynamics that result in police officers using terms like "pro-active, intelligence-led operations" or looking deeper into the history of London, his thoughts are intoxicating.



Add to that a plot filled with threat, mystery and humour and I'm not at all surprised that I'm halfway through this book less than a day after starting it.

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review 2018-10-31 21:51
"Fangs - The Baron Blasko Mysteries #1" by A. E. Howe - nice idea but...
Fangs - A.E. Howe

Fangs" had an intriguing premise: a Romanian vampire transported to Depression-era Alabama and then involving himself in investigating homicides in the small town he now lives in.


The start was promising: a strong-minded, single woman in her thirties who has just inherited the town's only surviving bank sets off to Romania to spread her grandfather's ashes in "the old country", taking with her only her black maid for a chaperone.  This gave us the opportunity to see how lone women (even lone white wealthy women) were patronised and threatened when they travelled and how black women were treated as not quite human, at least until the pair reached France.


The adventures in Romania were quite fun, avoiding clichés and creating an interesting set of reasons for our heroine to take our Baron-turned-vampire back the US with her.


After that, it seemed to me that the novel ran out of steam. The relationship between the Baron and our heroine didn't really go anywhere. The maid receded into the background when I had expected her to be a major character. The murder mystery and investigation were complicated without really being either exciting or credible. 


It was an entertaining read that became less so as it went along. I won't be joining the Baron on his next adventure.

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text 2018-10-31 19:23
Reading progress update: I've read 12%.
Magic Binds - Ilona Andrews

This series has rebooted with a vengeance. I’ve just read Kate’s confrontation with her I-will-dominate-the-world father and it’s much more intense than in the earlier books. I think this is going to be good.

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text 2018-10-25 08:55
Reading progress update: I've read 29%.
Fangs - A.E. Howe

Apologies for the multiple authors cited for this book. BL wouldn't let me add it with just A. E. Howe as the author. This is odd as he has sixteen books to his name.


Anyway, this is one of his most recent offerings and, if you're still hungry for some Halloween fun, you might want to take a look.


This is a fresh, fast, fun read. Set in the early 1930s, it tells the story of a single woman from Alabama who, to honour her father's dying wish, travels, accompanied only by her black maid, to the Carpathian mountains to scatter her grandfather's ashes in "The Old Country". When she returns, she has a rather unusual companion in tow. One who can't go out in the day.,,


This is much more about fun than fear. but it isn't totally light-weight. Showing how dangerous it was for a black woman to travel at that time isn't something I've often found in novels. I'm only a third of the way through but so far, it's making me smile. It's certainly providing much-needed light relief from reading "Z for Zachariah".


This is the first book in a series. The second is already in print.

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