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Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World, #1)Gun­metal Mag­ic by Ilona Andrews
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I’m fair­ly sure that I missed a Kate Daniels book, because I don’t recall some of the events referred to in this book. That annoys me, and I’ll have to go back and read what­ev­er the last one was out of order now. It’ll be worth it, though, because Ilona Andrews’ writ­ing is always fun. Gun­metal Mag­ic is no exception.

This is the first nov­el to focus on Andrea Nash, Kate Daniels’ best friend. Exposed as a shapeshifter, she’s been kicked out of the Order. She had just cho­sen to obey orders from a supe­ri­or offi­cer instead of fight­ing with the Pack, which led to a breakup with her lover Raphael. Now she has to rebuild her life from a shat­tered ruin.

Andrea is a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter, abused repeat­ed­ly in her ter­ri­ble child­hood and raised to be ashamed of and hide her shapeshift­ing nature. Her rela­tion­ship with Raphael is informed by their bou­da nature, but her human side isn’t left out by any means.

I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoy the part that Atlanta plays in Andrews’ books, but as a near-native Atlanta I’m bound to be biased in that respect.

This vol­ume and the bonus novel­la “Mag­ic Gifts” are def­i­nite­ly worth­while read­ing for any fan of the Kate Daniels series. 

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Review: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, edited by Trisha Telep

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance by Trisha Telep

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed this anthology! I picked it up intending to just read the stories by authors I know I like—Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews, Carrie Vaughn, Holly Lisle, Jeaniene Frost, Maria V. Snyder. I had never heard of some of the other authors. A few names I remembered seeing in other anthologies and not enjoying their work.

I did, however, deliberately put myself in a tolerant mindset: this is a book of romance stories. It wouldn't be fair to judge them as anything else.

That worked rather better than it has in the past. I still got a little annoyed at having so much of each story dedicated to couples (and all het/mono couples, at that!) rather than some intriguing world ideas, but managed to stay on track.

In the end, I only skipped one story—I just don't like the Weather Wardens stuff at all. I found a couple of others substandard, but all in all, Telep chose very well. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance (maybe even those who usually stick to just romance), and most urban fantasy fans.

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Book Reviews: Magic Burns and No Rest for the Witches

Magic BurnsI read two short books Wednesday and Thursday. The first, Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews, was great fun and very well written. It's book two of her Kate Daniel series, and it certainly left me eager to read book three (which has just been turned in to the publisher, as I understand it).

I think I'm missing something, though. There are references to an ex-almost-boyfriend, Maximillian Crest, in Magic Burns. I just read Magic Bites at the end of March, and I don't remember Crest at all. I don't remember Kate having a love interest at all, in fact. Only a fool could miss the sexual tension between Kate and Curran, but that's unresolved. I don't remember any prior encounters with a teenaged urban shaman, either. So did I just miss some things, or are there stories set between the books that I don't know about?

I do recommend these books to anyone who enjoys the urban fantasy genre. This one played around with Celtic mythology, which I also enjoy.

No Rest for the WitchesNo Rest for the Witches contains four novellas. MaryJanice Davidson is the headliner, since she's apparently the best-known of the four authors. I don't remember how this book ended up in my hold queue at the library, but there it was with the others, so I checked it out.

Davidson's contribution is "The Majicka," which might or might not be set in the same world as her Betsy Taylor and Wyndham Werewolves stories (maybe even the mermaid series, although I haven't read those so I can't be sure). You really need a good reason to toss a fairy, a vampire, a werewolf, a woman enchanted into a vehicle by her archmage ex-SO, and a dryad into one novella. I didn't really buy the explanation, honestly. I didn't find the main character interesting or attractive, nor did I see any reason for the obligatory love interest to find her irresistible. But it's a romance novella, and one of the absolute necessities seems to be people falling into love at first sight.

The setup of "Voodoo Moon" by Lori Handeland was a bit better, although that main character should turn in her FBI badge and forget having any career in law enforcement. The first guy she meets should have been wearing a red shirt, because it was way too obvious that he wouldn't last long.

Cheyenne McCray's "Breath of Magic" needs to be relabeled "erotica" instead of "paranormal romance." Even if the hot guy does whisper sweet nothings to the main character, this novella is about the two people bumping fuzzies. There's an intricate plot setup for absolutely no reason, as it certainly wasn't necessary for them to get naked together, and there isn't any resolution to any of the plot threads. The only way the sex scenes could have been more explicit would have involved wiring the two up to measuring devices, as inches and degrees are the only details not given. From the teaser of one of McCray's books, it seems that the intricate plot is explored more thoroughly in at least one book. I got the feeling that the sex would be similar, as well.

"Any Witch Way She Can" by Christine Warren opens with much grousing by the main character about her spinsterhood. She then proceeds to try a love spell, but does a lot of ingredient substitution and doesn't follow the instructions properly. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't work as expected. Unfortunately, she doesn't experience any dreadful consequences as a result of toying with things she doesn't understand, either. And of course she, like the characters in two of the other novellas, will end up in bed with a guy she meets right after meeting him.

I need to go through my hold queues at both libraries to be sure there aren't any more romances hiding there, because I obviously have a very bad attitude about them. I know that there's a formula, and it seems that all of these novellas do follow it. But I don't like formulaic fiction, and I don't know that it could be written well enough to really please me.

On to Blindfold Game by Dana Stabenow. That should provide a nice change of pace.