Weekly Wrap Up…

booksIt is time once again to check out what we all have been reading this week. I was a week behind, but I got my hands on Magic Shifts from Ilona Andrews, and it was well worth the wait. I am pretty sure I have said in many, many other posts that I was really happy with this one. I liked the whole Guild direction, the changing dynamics of some of the main players, and the hints of what is to come. If I had one small complaint, it would be that I missed seeing more of the supporting characters – Derek, Ascanio, Andrea, Raphael – they were there, but not to the degree that they usually are, and I did miss them. It was a very Kate-and-Curran centric story, and that is ok, too.

My other biggie for this past week was the third and final book in the Sisters of the Craft series from Lori Handeland. Smoke on the Water saw the three sisters reunited, come into their powers, and take on the big bad. It was a really nice wrap-up for a series that I found to be a very pleasant surprise. And the very best part? The whole trilogy was released over the course of something like 8 weeks, so details stayed fresh and enthusiasm stayed high. It was great. This was my introduction to Lori Handeland’s work, and I am looking forward to trying more.

Aaaand, I have continued my “end it, already” quest to finish up some one-book-left series that I just couldn’t seem to bring myself to let go of. I am about half-way through Blood of Olympus, which is the final book in Rick Riordan‘s Heroes of Olympus series. I know, I know. I didn’t read Harry Potter, but I am a total Percy Jackson fan (and way, way too old for them, but moving on). The problem is that I am totally, completely lost. I couldn’t justify a re-read of the previous four monster-length books, so I thought that I should be able to handle a kiddie book without a week-long recap, right? Nope. I had totally forgotten the whole storyline up to this point, I keep having to google things mentioned in the book, and I barely remembered who half of the characters are. Being beaten by a kids book knocks you down a peg or two, to be sure.

Ok, your turn. What did you try out this week? Anything surprisingly good (or bad), or anything you would recommend?

Magic Shifts Winner

winner bannerWell, this was a quickie giveaway since Magic Shifts was released so early in the month (not complaining, though). Ilona Andrews and their latest Kate Daniels book is a real highlight for this month, and there were 34 entrants for the giveaway. The winner was #3…

Courtney Lakics

random winnerCongratulations, Courtney. I will be contacting you for your info shortly.

August BotM and Giveaway…

giveaway bannerI guess nobody is too surprised to find out that Ilona Andrews and Magic Shifts are the winners for the August book of the month poll. Because I figured that was the way it would go, I actually threw my support behind Kelley Armstrong‘s third Cainsville book, Deceptions. I am so looking forward to both of those puppies. Anyways, time for a little giveaway. If you are interested in winning a hardcover copy of Magic Shifts, just leave a comment in the comment section. Because this one is only days away, lets wrap things up quickly at say, Midnight Atlantic time on Monday? Contest open to all, winner to be chosen at random. Good luck!

magic shiftsSynopsis…

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…

Magic Shifts Review

Well, no one can deny that Magic Shifts is going to be a biggie, but Doug Meeks did up a review that confirms it. The last book was a total game-changer in more ways than one, but Ilona Andrews always somehow manages to top themselves.

magic shiftsWhat Doug said…

Where to start, I have written a review on most if not all of the books in this series and I find myself running out of superlatives. The plots are multilayered, interesting and unpredictable. The characters (all of them not just the main couple) are fully developed, no cardboard cutouts and you actually grow to care about all of them. The thing though that makes this such a huge success is that Kate and Curran are deeply in love at all times, add in the best “graveyard” humor ever and you have a mix that can’t lose.

This time you have to wonder, after last book (shame on you if you have not read that epic) what could even give them any problems? It seems there are a ton of things in this world that Ilona Andrews has crafted that can do that and one of them has come to town (no I won’t tell you, it is part of the plot to find out).

In addition to occasionally saving the world (or at least Atlanta), they seem to now need some kind of a job to go with their new lifestyle in suburbia and so they are getting involved with the Merc Guild which is something that makes me happy since I can see all kinds of fun things coming from that arrangement, providing everybody survives long enough to make something happen. The fact that they have some minor problems with the self-appointed neighborhood HOA in the midst of everything else is just another level of humor here, in spite of end-of-the-world plots I laughed more at this book than many romantic comedies I have read over the last year.

As usual there are a multitude of plots, they all seem to be able to tie themselves back together by the end of the book and we are left with a tidbit or two towards a future book (not always the next one) and in addition to everything else Kate and Curran are trying to look like a family unit, kinda hard but, hey, they are giving it a really great effort (nobody in the HOA was harmed in the reading of this book).

The ongoing [fill in the blank for what you call her relationship with her Dad] is still confusing to me, Kate leaves us no doubt as to where her feelings lie but they keep throwing just enough information into the mix that you have to remember some of the things from previous books to not start to like him a bit. He is still put forth as the big bad thing in some epic battle to be fought in the (I hope) distant future. There may be just the smallest bit of light at the end of that tunnel after this book but it was a teaser at the end of the book.

This book as many of the others revolves around complex relationships and loyalties between friends and loved ones, which is part of why this is such a great series, it is never as simple as “beat up the bad guys”, people’s emotions are involved and used to deepen plots, things that people would never risk are done for the sake of loved ones, and the list of such things is near endless but it takes this series from the swamp of interesting but average urban fantasy and raises it to the level of exceptionalism that you only get from one of the best series being written in this genre or any other.

I was going to do a trek to the nearest big city, pick up a copy, and get a hotel room for the night and just read. I even had a room booked in the best hotel in the city, but I had to change it to the week after because of work. Boo. I guess an extra week won’t kill me. Right?

Magic Shifts Review…

Thanks once again to Doug Meeks, who got his hands on an early copy of Magic Shifts from Ilona Andrews. Yes, that Magic Shifts. Holy crap, that really is a treat. Anyways, Doug was kind enough to share his spoiler-free review, but the rest of us will have to wait until August 4th to get our hands on it.

magic shiftsWhat Doug said…

Where to start, I have written a review on most if not all of the books in this series and I find myself running out of superlatives. The plots are multi-layered, interesting and unpredictable. The characters (all of them not just the main couple) are fully developed, no cardboard cutouts and you actually grow to care about all of them. The thing though that makes this such a huge success is that Kate and Curran are deeply in love at all times, add in the best “graveyard” humor ever and you have a mix that can’t lose.

This time you have to wonder, after last book (shame on you if you have not read that epic) what could even give them any problems? It seems there are a ton of things in this world that Ilona Andrews has crafted that can do that and one of them has come to town (no I won’t tell you, it is part of the plot to find out).

Their future involvement with the Merc Guild is something that made me happy since I can see all kinds of fun things coming from that arrangement if everybody survives enough to make something happen.

As usual there are a multitude of plots, they all seem to be able to tie themselves back together by the end of the book and we are left with a tidbit or two towards a future book (not always the next one) and in addition to everything else Kate and Curran are trying to look like a family unit, kinda hard but, hey, they are giving it a really great effort. The fact that they have some minor problems with the self-appointed neighborhood HOA in the midst of everything else is just another level of humor here, in spite of end of the world plots I laughed more at this book than many romantic comedies I have read over the last year.

The ongoing [fill in the blank for what you call her relationship with her Dad] is still confusing to me, Kate leaves us no doubt as to where her feelings lie but they keep throwing just enough information into the mix that you have to remember some of the things from previous books to not start to like him a bit. He is still put forth as the big bad thing in some epic battle to be fought in the (I hope) distant future. There may be just the smallest bit of light at the end of that tunnel after this book but it was a teaser at the end of the book.

This book as many of the others revolves around complex relationships and loyalties between friends and loved ones and that is part of why this is such a great series, it is never as simple as “beat up the bad guys”, people’s emotions are involved and used to deepen plots, things that people would never risk are done for the sake of loved ones, and the list of such things is near endless but it takes this series from the swamp of interesting but average urban fantasy and raises it to the level of exceptionalism that you only get from one of the best series being written in this genre or any other.

You just know this one will be epic. After the game-changer that was Magic Breaks, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next. I am on the favorite-character-death-watch, though, which is always tense. Derek must live!

Cover Lover – 6 New Titles

Time for a quick cover lover post. Let’s start with Sweep in Peace, the second book of the Innkeeper Chronicles from Ilona Andrews. The release date for the print release hasn’t been set yet, but the serialized version on the authors’ blog should be wrapping up shortly.

sweep in peaceNext up is The Warrior Vampire from Kate Baxter, which has a release date of December 1st.

the warrior vampireNaya Morales has always been able to track stolen magic. Experienced and capable, her gift makes her the best at finding it—and punishing those who take it. But when one desirously alluring call of usurped magic leads her directly to a handsome thief, Naya feels an instant connection she refuses to break, even if it means risking her place within her tribe…

Ronan knows Naya is his mate. He aches for her body, hungers for her blood—he feels his soul anchored to her instantly. But Naya refuses to believe it. Promised to other members of their groups, Naya and Ronan cannot mate without disastrous consequences. But as Ronan is held prisoner, it is Naya he captivates—and fueled by desire, he will stop at nothing to convince her they are meant to be together for eternity…

Purchase at Amazon.com

Coming in at number three is the third and final book in the Vamp City series from Pamela Palmer. Of Blood and Passion is due out later this year.

passion_450-300x450In the gripping conclusion to the Vamp City trilogy, sorceress Quinn Lennox and vampire Arturo Mazza battle the dangerously powerful vampire master, Cristoff Gonzaga, in a desperate attempt to save both of their worlds. As Vamp City crumbles around them, their only chance of survival demands an unconditional trust that will test the very foundation of Quinn’s soul, and surrender to a powerful love neither can deny.

Paige Tyler continues her SWAT series with the release of In the Company of Wolves on December 1st.

in the company of wolvesThere’s a new gang of criminals in town and it’s organized, ruthless, and, most importantly, a pack of wolf shifters. Eric Becker and his Dallas SWAT Team are determined to rid their streets of these lowlifes, but when his fellow cops collide with the criminals in a shoot-out, he finds himself face–to-face with the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.

Incapable of shooting or arresting the alluring shifter who’s stolen his heart, Becker decides to hide her and leave the scene with the rest of his team. Now Jayna, his mystery woman, is left not only wondering why she was protected, but also what a street-savvy thief like her is going to do with a hot alpha wolf officer like him…

Purchase at Amazon.com

The next two are young adult releases. Alexandra Bracken starts an as-yet un-named series on January 5th with the release of Passenger.

passengerViolin prodigy Etta Spencer had big plans for her future, but a tragedy has put her once-bright career at risk. Closely tied to her musical skill, however, is a mysterious power she doesn’t even know she has. When her two talents collide during a stressful performance, Etta is drawn back hundreds of years through time.

Etta wakes, confused and terrified, in 1776, in the midst a fierce sea battle. Nicholas Carter, the handsome young prize master of a privateering ship, has been hired to retrieve Etta and deliver her unharmed to the Ironwoods, a powerful family in the Colonies–the very same one that orchestrated her jump back, and one Nicholas himself has ties to. But discovering she can time travel is nothing compared to the shock of discovering the true reason the Ironwoods have ensnared her in their web.

Another traveler has stolen an object of untold value from them, and, if Etta can find it, they will return her to her own time. Out of options, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the mysterious traveler. But as they draw closer to each other and the end of their search, the true nature of the object, and the dangerous game the Ironwoods are playing, comes to light — threatening to separate her not only from Nicholas, but her path home… forever.

Purchase at Amazon.com

And wrapping up this batch is Dark Tide. It is the third book in the Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly, and it is due out on October 13th.

dark tideOnce a lost and confused princess, Serafina is now a confident leader of the Black Fin Resistance (BFR). While she works on sabotaging her enemy and enlisting allies for battle, her friends face challenges of their own. Ling is in the hold of Rafe Mfeme’s giant trawler, on her way to a prison camp. Becca meets up with Astrid and learns why the Ondalinian mermaid is always so angry: she is hiding a shameful secret. Ava can’t return home, because death riders await her arrival. And it is getting more and more difficult for Mahdi, Serafina’s betrothed, to keep up the ruse that he is in love with Lucia Volerno. If Lucia’s parents become suspicious, his life–and all of Sera’s hopes–will be extinguished. Political intrigue, dangerous liaisons, and spine-tingling suspense swirl like a maelstrom in this penultimate book in the WaterFire saga.

Purchase at Amazon.com

So, which ones will you be picking up? I have actually been following along with Sweep in Peace at Ilona Andrews’ website, but I am looking forward to giving the whole book a re-read when I pick up the print version. That is probably it for me from this batch. What about you?

Vote! Vote! Vote!

O.K. everyone, time to show Ilona Andrews some love – a couple of times. The final four voting is on at dabwaha, and both Burn for Me and Magic Breaks are up. When I picked the brackets at the beginning, since there were no Nalini Singh books to pick from, I had both of Ilona’s books as the final two. It could still happen.

If you have a moment, pleas vote HERE. Oh, and as a bribe, Ilona has upped a Twitter conversation between Kate and Curran. It involved laundry.

New Series Alerts…

Well, it was close for a while, but both Burn for Me and Magic Breaks advanced to the final four of the dabwaha contest, making my prediction of an all Ilona Andrews final a possibility. Not sure when the rest of the voting will start up, but I will be keeping an eye out.

On the subject of new series, there are a few to look forward to this week. Let’s start with the new one from Shelly Laurenston, Call of Crows. The first book is called The Unleashing, and I have been really trying to get into this one for a few weeks now, but I just can’t seem to make myself get interested in the story.

the unleashingSynopsis…

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Shannon Mayer also fires up a new series this week with the release of Recurve, the first book of The Elemental Series.

recurveSynopsis…

I’ve been accused of attacking the queen, my wicked stepmother, and my life is suddenly on the line. I have only two options left to me: banishment, or training to become one of the King’s Elite Guards, an Ender.

Option one will kill me.
Option two is meant to break me, but is the only way to survive.

Did I mention I have no power like the rest of the elementals, and my connection to the earth is worth next to nothing?

Could things get any worse? Of course they can. Welcome to being an Elemental.

Purchase at Amazon.com

And this final one is a young adult release from Kady Cross. Sisters of Blood and Spirit is the first book in the series of the same name.

sisters of blood and spiritSynopsis…

Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living.

Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands—the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn’t exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she’s not ready to join her sister in the afterlife.

Now the guy who saved Lark’s life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins—who should know better than to mess with the dead—may be their only hope of staying alive.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Which of these will you be trying out? I am a bit bummed by The Unleashing, but I am going to try and pick it up again in the next few days. Here’s hoping I was just too distracted the other times and I can actually give it a full read.

Time to Vote..

I am not sure how many of you follow the dabwaha book-thingy, but Ilona Andrews is part of the final eight competitors – twice. Magic Breaks has already made its way through to the final four, but if you are interested in showing your Ilona love Burn For Me voting is still open. Ditto for Meljean BrooksThe Kraken King.

So, if you have a couple of minutes, you can head over to the dabwaha site and vote.

Cover Lover – 5 New Titles

As I keep an eye out for the White Hot cover from Ilona Andrews (which should be released soon), I came across a few others to highlight. Looks like shades of red is the theme of the day, starting with the next one from Jacquelyn Frank. Bound in Sin is part of the Immortal Brothers series, and it is due out on September 29th.

bound by sinAfter being chained to a star to burn endlessly as punishment for stealing immortality from the gods, Jaykun has been unshackled to wage war alongside his brothers. But his freedom comes with a price: Each night Jaykun must still suffer—his body burning from the inside out. One early morning, recovering from his torment, he encounters a beautiful stranger on the beach. Naked from her midnight-black hair to her sandy toes, she approaches him with starry-eyed innocence and the unmistakably full body of a woman.

Soon Jaykun is swept up with the force of a comet, his desire for this woman hotter than any sun. His brothers fear he is blinded by her radiant beauty, and that she has been sent by their enemies to seduce and destroy him. Jileana is indeed from another world—one Jaykun cannot begin to imagine. But will their passion burn brightly enough to light the way through the darkness that threatens to consume all in its path?

Purchase at Amazon.com

The second book in the Black Dragon series from Katie MacAlister will be called Dragon Storm, and it is due out on November 24th.

dragon stormAccording to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .

Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Katie Reus will release a novella from her Moon Shifter series on May 19th called Protective Instinct.

protective instinctThe next book in the Dark Caravan Cycle series from Heather Demetrios will be called Blood Passage, and it is due out on October 6th.

blood passageA jinni who’s lost everything.

A master with nothing to lose.

A revolutionary with everything to gain.

When Nalia arrives in Morocco to fulfil Malek’s third and final wish she’s not expecting it to be easy. Though Nalia is free from the shackles that once bound her to Malek as his slave, she’s in more danger than ever before.

Meanwhile, Malek’s past returns with a vengeance as he confronts the darkness within himself, and Raif must decide what’s more important: his love for Nalia, or his devotion to the cause of Arjinnan freedom.

Set upon by powerful forces that threaten to break her, Nalia encounters unexpected allies and discovers that her survival depends on the very things she thought made her weak. From the souks of Marrakech to the dunes of the Sahara, The Arabian Nights come to life in this dazzling second instalment of the Dark Passage Cycle.

Purchase at Amazon.com

The odd man out from this batch is Down the Rabbit Hole, a novella collection featuring an Eve Dallas story from J.D. Robb. It has a release date of September 29th.

down the rabbit holeYou’re late for a very important date…

Enter a wonderland of mesmerizing tales. It’s a place that’s neither here nor there, where things are never quite as they seem. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s whimsical masterpiece, ranging from the impossible to the mad to the curiouser, these stories will have you absolutely off your head.

Don’t be afraid to follow them…Down the Rabbit Hole.

Purchase at Amazon.com