Sunday, August 27, 2017

Review: Into the Fire (Night Prince #4)

In this explosive finale to Jeaniene Frost's Night Prince series, Vlad is in danger of losing his bride to an enemy whose powers might prove greater than the Prince of Vampires. In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.

Into the Night, by Jeaniene Frost, is the fourth and final novel in the Night Prince series. For nearly 600 years, Vlad Tepesh (famously known as Dracula but do not dare mention that name in his face) cared for nothing. Essentially, he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolish stayed away from him. However, falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. His enemies see his love as a weakness worthy to exploit. As a result, one adversary indeed has found a way to use Vlad's new bride against him in the most tormenting way possible.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires. While this spell backfired for the necromancer, it also means that Vlad cannot torture the man who tried to hurt his bride. Worse, Vlad has no idea where the necromancer is hiding. So Vlad and Leila seek the most unlikely guide (fans of the Night Huntress series with Cat and Bones will get a kick out of this character) to search for a way to break the spell. But another ancient enemy is upon them, capable of turning Vlad and Leila's closest friends against them and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

This novel concludes the NIght Prince series. As the previous novels mentioned, Vlad and Leila’s man mission is to find Mircea and break the bond that is between him and Leila. When either one is cut or inured, the other feels that pain too. Mircea has been nothing but a thorn in Leila and Vlad’s side and now the overprotective Vlad is determined to find a way to break the bond so that he can kill Mircea. The hunt kicks into full gear once they learned that Mircea has been kidnapped by an ancient cult of magic users. Vlad turns to Mencheres and--shocker--Ian! Much to his dismay, Vlad does not have a choice as his usual ruthlessness does not work in the magical realm. Ian! Much to Ian’s own dismay, his love for Mencheres has him doing his bidding. Unfortunately for Vlad, the trio run into unexpected guests (and tragedies) that makes the journey even more dangerous. It also doesn't help that Vlad continues to harbor secrets and do things without consulting Leila. Whatever Vlad does is always out of love for Leila Still, the humor and cameo appearances are the main highlights of this novel. However, I felt like Frost did not define any resolution between Vlad and Mircea. Besides the cliché fatherly talk, I wonder if Frost is saving this cliffhanger for a future story.

Stay tuned for the next likely series on more side characters in the Night Huntress Universe, especially Ian! He played a large role in this book, and I am thrilled he's finally going to get his own story! He's hard to ignore once he opens his mouth and spews his raunchy sense of humor. He does something drastic in pure Ian fashion and the consequences are dire. And we also get to see who will be starring alongside him in his book, a fact that is confirmed at the very end of the novel! Which only makes me more excited for Ian’s book, something I’ve been longing for ever since Jeaniene ventured to Mencheres' and Spade’s books! I also highly recommend the entire Night Huntress series, which has been covered previously on this blog, starting with the exciting first novel, Halfway to the Grave.
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Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this...

Magic Binds, by Ilona Andrews, is the ninth novel in the Kate Daniels series. Kate Daniels is a mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical problems. She knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar.

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person--her mentor--Kate can ask for help is long dead. The odds are not in her favor. The future even looks grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules. And she will show Roland that nothing is impossible.

Another impressive novel by Ilona Andrews in the Kate Daniels series. Just when you think Kate has reached her greatest, she continues to outshine her previous records. Her persona, magic and abilities are unbelievably kickass. Kate and Curran continue to be the most intriguing pair of characters in urban fantasy fiction. These lovers work well as a team. While they are very strong alone, they become incredible together. That is what makes these series so fascinating to read. Not only the kind of trouble Kate Daniels gets herself into in the worse way possible but how she continues to outdo herself through courage and care for others. This is definitely one of the best female warrior protagonists to follow. I don't want this series to end, but from what happened in this novel, I have no doubt that the series finale is very close.

Stay tuned for the tenth novel(and possibly the finale) in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Triumphs. In the meantime, check out the other novels/novellas in the Kate Daniels Universe: Gunmetal Magic (2012), Magic Steal (2016), and Iron and Magic (2017).
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: Grave Ransom (Grave Witch #5)

Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to happen. And yet reanimated corpses are committing crimes across Nekros City.

Grave Ransom, by Kalayna Price, is the fifth novel in the Grave Witch series. Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say. In addition, she learns about her fae ancestry and her unexpected nobility as a Sleigh Maith in previous novels. With this revelation about her origins, Alex's life changes in drastic ways--she discovers her planeweaving ability and must live like a fae (for example, fae are allergic to iron and cannot thank another person or they risk inheriting a debt). Nonetheless, she is determined to live an independent lifestyle with no court allegiance so that she can continue her private investigation business in the human world. On the positive side, it doesn't hurt to have your own castle in Faerie.

Alex’s investigation leads her deep into a web of sinister, forbidden magic. Deceased people who appear alive are walking about which is both strange and unprecedented in Alex's professional experience as a grave witch. Worse, her grave senses reveal that the soul piloting the deceased body do not match. How is that possible? When Alex When Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau gets involved, Alex finds herself with an unexpected ally of sorts. But as the dead continue to rise and wreak havoc on the living, can she get to the soul of the matter in time? Alex must race against time to find the culprit or she becomes a target herself.

I have enjoyed the Alex Craft novel series very much. Kalayna Price (who is an underappreciated brilliant writer) introduces her readers meticulously to the world of Nekros City where normal humans live in a society where magic exists. Those who are sensitive to magic attend a boarding school to hone their abilities (in Alex's case, she becomes a grave witch). What Alex did not realize that she was born fae. As a result, her encounters with the alternate realm of Faerie has presented new challenges for her both as a grave witch and as a a private investigator. Although I won't spoil the details in Grave Ransom, I will say that Alex has become a more confident protagonist both in her fae abilities and empathy towards others. She listens to her gut feeling in cases which is a very strong trait when dealing with mysterious magical phenomenon. Her cases may become more bizarre and dangerous but she has a strong support network to help her in need. Her personality is attractive in her desire to protect her friends and provide assistance to the police--even if she's easily misunderstood. I recommend this series.
Stay tuned for the next Alex Craft novel.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: The Heir and The Crown (The Selection Series #4-5)

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

The Heir, by Keira Cass, is the fourth novel in The Selection series. The Heir is from a new perspective, Maxon's and America's daughter, Princess Eadlyn. Many known characters and new ones appear in the story. Eighteen-year-old Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible. But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests. Eadlyn doesn't expect to find true love. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her--and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series has captured the hearts of readers from its very first page. Now the end of the journey is here. Prepare to be swept off your feet by The Crown—the eagerly awaited, wonderfully romantic fifth and final book in the Selection series.

The Crown, by Keira Cass, is the fifth novel in The Selection series. A sequel to The Heir, it is the final full-sized novel in The Selection Series and the end of Eadlyn's Selection. Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising a person. Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected. Follow Illéa’s royal family into a whole new Selection—and find out what happens after happily ever after.

I looked forward to learning what happened in these next installments of the Selection series. The last two books follow the journey of Princess Eadlyn Schreave. The book begins with Eadlyn explaining that she was born seven minutes before her twin brother, Ahren. Previously, it would be his right to be the heir to the throne of Illéa, but their parents King Maxon Schreave and Queen America Schreave changed the law and made it possible for Eadlyn to be the first female ruler of the country, something that often overwhelms her, but also makes her feel powerful. Maxon and America have two more sons: Kaden (14) and Osten (10). Yeah, I know what you're thinking -- the novel not only promotes women empowerment and women in leadership roles but also tries to hype up the possibility of the first female U.S. president--which, to this day, is still a dream rather than reality. Her father has eliminated the castes, but although people were initially relieved, many citizens begin to riot all over the country due to post-caste discrimination. To distract the attention of the public until they can figure out a way to fix the situation, her parents suggest that Eadlyn should go through her own Selection. In this way, public support will focus less on the social inequities since everyone will focus on the budding fairy-tale romance on their televisions and radios.

Overall, I felt somewhat disappointed with the story of Eadlyn. She came across as a pompous, irritable know-it-all. As a result, her world outlook is narrowed within the confines of the castle with a general understanding of the people in her kingdom. She knows that she has to appear confident in front of the camera, but she has no clue how the people live or struggle outside the halls. What was so refreshing about the America character was that she was outspoken and realistic to the prince. She wanted positive change for the people. While the novel implicitly highlighted reforms under King Maxon, the couple realize how much harder it is to change the hearts of conformists and enact policy reforms. I also thought the finale was rushed because everything was crammed into the fifth novel. Sadly, the couple--America and Maxon--that fans adored in the first three novels appeared stiff and exhausted--even though they were in their early 40s! While the twist was innovative (I wasn't spoil the ending), I wasn't rooting for Eadlyn the same way I felt optimistic for America. This series was in general very good but the last two books could have been hit-or-miss novellas given the lukewarm reaction from fans.
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)

The thrilling final installment of Chloe Neill’s New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series sees a sinister sorcery advancing across Chicago, and it may usher in the fall of Cadogan House

Blade Boundis the thirteenth and final installment in the Chicagoland Vampires series featuring Caroline Merit and Ethan Sullivan. Since the night of her brutal attack and unwilling transformation to vampire in the first novel, Merit has stood as Sentinel and protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House. In her former human life, she was a graduate student working on her PhD in English literature and languag at the University of Chicago. Having accepted her new role as a vampire, she set aside the academic life and transitioned into her guardian role. She has saved the Windy City from the forces of darkness time ’s and again with her liege and lover, Ethan Sullivan, by her side. They have proven to be inseparable time and time again. At long last, there is a happily ever after.

But that romantic atmosphere was abruptly interrupted. When Cadogan House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire seemingly under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have ever imagined. As sorcery from the past spreads throughout the city of Chicago, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension. It is her last chance to save everything—and everyone—she loves. It becomes an apocalyptic nightmare with a stunning finale that will excite fans and even the vampire couple.

I am so elated that I picked up these series years ago. As a native Midwesterner, I love to read paranormal romantic novels that take place in my home region. What's even better--Chicago is where I went to college. Chloe Neill is a fantastic under-rated writer who took her fans and audiences through a riveting and adventurous journey of vampires, angels, shapeshifters, and wizardry. If you have not checked out this series, I highly recommend it for the older young adult crowd (over the age of 21). I will miss this couple tremendously. Merit becomes such a captivating protagonist and her lover, Ethan, becomes a even better leader of his people. But I look forward to future spin-off novels and novellas that feature Team Merit and Ethan.

Stay tune for more information about the next series in the Chicagoland Vampires universe, Heirs of Chicagoland. I won't reveal any spoilers, but if you are anxious for information, it will be similar to the surprising ending in the season finale of Grimm (2011-2017).
When the House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire seemingly under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have ever imagined. As a malign sorcery spreads throughout the city, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension. It’s her last chance to save everything—and everyone—she loves. Click here to read the rest of this post...