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That's What I'm Talking About

I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent. 


Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.


A+  Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A    Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A-   Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+  Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B    Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B-   Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+  Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C    Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C-   Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D    Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E    Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish


updated July 9, 2015

Currently reading

Operation: Endgame (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Book 6) (English Edition)
Philippa Ballantine, Jeanne H. Ballantine, William Morris
Just You and Me (A Contemporary Romance Collection)
Fiona Miers, Caitlyn Lynch, Liz Durano, Deelylah Mullin, Cate Farren, Jacquie Biggar, Vicki Batman, Kate Richards, Brenna Zinn, Dalton Diaz, Tierney O'Malley, Desiree Holt, Nicole Morgan, Ashlyn Chase
Bitter Bite: Elemental Assassin, Book 14
Audible Studios, Jennifer Estep, Lauren Fortgang
Progress: 27 %
Magic Rises - Ilona Andrews My Rating: 5 stars: Personal favorite - a must read (A+)
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
E-ARC provided by publisher for honest review

NOTE: The Magic Rises book also contains the short story "An Ill-Advised Rescue," which centers on the kidnapping and rescue of Saiman by Kate and Derek. The events in the story occur prior to the start of Magic Rises, and the authors recommends you read it first. The story starts on page 331 of the mass-market paperback. 

As a stand alone “short,” "An Ill-Advised Rescue" is a wonderful little story that highlights Kate's talents, how she processes information, and the way she thinks. It's a great warm up for Magic Rises. 

Now for Magic Rises…
Our story opens some time not too far off from the end of Gunmetal Magic. Kate and her ward, Julie, are sparring, where we witness Julie being a teen, and Kate struggling with being a mom, never having had one herself. The scene quickly moves inside the Keep where Kate is accosted by a desperate mother trying to save her twin daughters who are going loupe. Loupe to shifters is the point when the animal takes over and the human never returns, and they are killed pretty much onsite. Although she’s witnessed loupism before, Kate experiences the destruction it has on a family first hand as the life of Julie’s best friend is in the balance.

I have never read such a powerful and emotionally intense first chapter in my life! The raw pain and suffering by all involved was incredible and so well done. The reader is immediately pulled into Kate’s world, and the chapter sets up the entire story. It was just an spectacular start to the book.

The story quickly moves away from the Keep as Kate and Curran, plus the usual suspects, must travel via boat overseas to the Black Sea. Enter Desandra, a pregnant wolf shifter and only child of alpha Jarek Kral. Jarek has made a habit of pimping out Desandra, trying to gain sons to further his empire. Now she is pregnant with two children fathered by males from two rival packs. The first born will inherit strategically important land. Now all three packs are concerned for the safety of Desandra and her children, so they hire Curran (who has a brief history with Desandra) to protect her. Kate, Curran and all of their trusted advisors know it is a trap of some sort, but the families are offering panacea as payment. Panacea is a extreme hard to procure cure for loupism. The amount being offered would be enough to protect the children of Curran’s pack for many years to come. (See how that opening scene sets you up!)

But wait... there’s more! Because nothing is ever easy for Kate, let’s note that there is a powerful enemy storming the castle when the pack arrives in Europe. In addition, a pretty shifter princess, who is determined to mate with Curran, is slinking a bit too close to Curran for Kate’s liking. Plus, everyone dislikes Kate because she’s not a shifter, and there are some human-eating flying shifters trying to kill Desandra’s unborn children. Is that enough tension for you?

There really is very little I can say about Magic Rises that isn’t pure unadulterated mushy love for all things Kate Daniels. Seriously and truly - if you haven’t read this series, GO DO SO NOW!

First and foremost, I love Kate and Curran, period. I enjoy their easy banter--whether fighting, solving problems, or just hanging out. They exude strength and love so deep, it hurts. They aren’t perfect - and let me tell you, Kate is put through the ringer emotionally in this one. Which means that I, too, was punched in the gut a few times as I sat there, right next to Kate, questioning Curran and even fearful of what was happening. But they do love each other, and it infuses all that they do. Although emotionally, there were some very tough moments for this pair, I feel it was a needed journey for both Kate and Curran to travel. They will be so much stronger for it in the long run. Kutos to the authors for allowing their characters a space to grow and develop.

But the primary focus of the story and series is not Kate and Curran’s relationship. Magic Rises is a wonderful mystery filled with intense action and powerful clashes. I enjoy the way Kate’s mind works - how she solves the puzzles presented to her - whether through careful and conscientious methods or via force and sheer power. She is an extremely smart woman, with a side of sarcasm and wit that has me laughing out loud.

As Kate closes in on the identity of who is after Desandra and her children, the stakes are elevated. The intensity of each encounter and every action kept me glued to the pages of the book. And how the entire situation impacts Kate, Curran and those they hold dear to them is magnificent. Several of the series reoccurring favorite characters play big rolls in Magic Rises, yet they never outshine Kate. Their actions and words only add value to the story and never detract from the primary plot.

In the end (which was the best ending EVER!!), I was speechless and blown away. Once again, the writing team of Ilona Andrews has outdone themselves. One thing that I adore about this series is that each story, while continuing from the previous one, is unique. Magic Rises is no exception. From the gut-wrenching emotional opening to the wonderful happy ending, this book takes readers on extreme highs and lows - all while spinning an amazing story. There is substantial forward progress on the overall story arc, and also wonderful character development and progression. 

The action is intense - much of it is highly charged and gruesome. But not overly so and not gratuitous. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time - never knowing what would happen to our favorite heroine next. Danger was waiting for Kate around every corner and from multiple sources. Only this time, she wasn't certain if she had the backing of her powerful mate, Curran. 

The emotional intensity of this one was off the charts. I think I had tears in my eyes at least five different times. We also see a side of Kate that we haven't before - insecurity over Curran. Jealous. Worried that she shouldn't have trusted him, or anyone, ever. It was an incredible journey to watch the pair from Kate's eyes. Realizing how she must work to compartmentalize what is going on around her. Watching her wonder if she will ever be accepted by the Pack. All the questions that needed to be explored where opened up - only help make Kate a stronger woman. 

So much happened, and there is so much yet to come. Hands down, this is my favorite series. The mythology is original and fantastic. The story lines are intense, well thought-out and amazing. Each story provides an adventure like none other, with emotional highs and lows, and I cannot wait to read the next adventure!