Gunmetal Magic

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona AndrewsGunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels # 5.5
Publisher: Ace
Number of pages: 326
My copy: mass market paperback, from Book Depository

After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano—the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea’s former lover—die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world…

* * *

I’ve had Gunmetal Magic on my shelf for a long time now, and but I don’t really know why I never picked it up as fast as I ought to, especially since I love the universe this was written in. But I guess I was too busy to pick it up, and I didn’t feel the need to hurry, because the next Kate was far from the release date when I got this, and frankly, I wasn’t really sure if I would like being in Andrea’s head as much I liked being in Kate.

Andrea Nash is Kate Daniels’ best friend, a former member of the Order of the Knights of the Merciful Aid, loves her weapons, and a beastkin. Oh, and she also has a broken heart because her boyfriend, Clan Bouda’s male alpha, Raphael Medrano, left her after a particularly bad fight. So now Andrea tries to pick herself up by working with Kate on their private investigative firm. When shapeshifters were found dead, Andrea takes on the case. Never mind that these shapeshifters were working for her ex-boyfriend, and never mind that Andrea was never over him. She has work to do, and her feelings are just secondary…right?

As with all other Kate Daniels books that I’ve read in the past, this one was fun. It was fun to be back in this version of Atlanta, to watch the magic rise and fall and technology fighting against this. I was more into the world of shapeshifters here, being that Andrea is sort of one, except that others view her as an abomination of sorts. Andrea is a tough girl, and there were a lot of reasons behind this toughness. She’s not just the girl who likes guns — she had reasons why. I liked Andrea from the previous books, and it was interesting to read a story from her POV. She’s just as snarky as Kate, and I guess best friends really rub off on each other because they sort of sound a like at some point.

The story was just what I expected from Ilona Andrews: myths, strange people and lots of crazy other things that all of them had to deal with. It was well thought out again, and there were always a lot of things at stake here, especially for Andrea. I loved that Roman the volhv was back — he’s such a crazy fun (and yeah, quite hot) character, and I wish he’d be in the other books, too. Doolittle was also fun here, especially the headbutt part! Hee.

Gunmetal Magic just felt a tad long at some parts, and I wasn’t completely gripped as I am with other Kate books. I liked Andrea, but after some time, I kind of wished I was back in Kate’s head again. I missed her brand of snark, I guess, plus I liked her sparring with Curran more than I did with Andrea and Raphael. Perhaps it’s different because the latter were both shapeshifters?

Overall, I enjoyed reading Gunmetal Magic. It’s a good addition to the Kate Daniels series, and I guess if I read this the moment I got it, it would have been enough to tide me over while waiting for the next Kate book. But since it took me a while to pick it up, I don’t have to wait too long to read the next Kate book because it’s already waiting for me in my TBR. :)

Number of dog-eared pages: 10

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

“That’s a lesson for you – when you get a chance to be happy, you take it and you treat the other person the way they deserve to be treated. Don’t take things for granted.” (p. 58)

“If it was sharpened and shorter, it might be a variation of a karambit, a curved knife from the Philippines.” (p. 140)

Rating:

rr2014-01

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Kirkus Reviews

Minis: Felons, Summer and Magic

So I still have a backlog of books that I need to review and want to write about before the year ends. Some of the books I read were kind of short, so I thought why not make mini reviews instead? So here’s my first series of Minis, which I hope to continue in the next year. :)

Felon Blames 1970s Church Architecture for Life of Sin (The Ironic Catholic News) by The Ironic Catholic

Felon Blames 1970s Church Architecture for Life of Sin (The Ironic Catholic News Volume 1) by The Ironic Catholic
My copy: Kindle edition, from author

In the style of The Onion, Stephen Colbert, and occasionally Jonathan Swift, the writer of “The Ironic Catholic” website offers mild satirical takes on the world of Catholic news, focusing on the rich vein of human foibles in living the life of faith. The fake news stories (Attendees of Flannery O’Connor Conference Meet Dire End, Tired Mother Announces ‘Come and See’ Weekend, Re-gifting Chia Pets Not Considered Lenten Sacrifice, etc.) both entertain and teach what it means to be a faithful Catholic in a confused world with a light touch.

* * *

I’ve had this book for a while now (thanks to The Ironic Catholic for the review copy!), and I meant to read it while plane hopping in Europe but other books won me over. I was at the salon two weeks ago, just finished with a women’s fiction novel and I couldn’t really jump into another one just yet, so I decided to choose a slim ebook to cleanse the reading palate before going back to the other book I had in progress.

It turned out to be a very good choice, too. I love The Ironic Catholic’s style — poking fun at the little quirks of the Catholic faith but never disrespectful and still allowing people to learn a little more about the faith than a regular, Sunday mass-going Catholic knows. The news format of the book makes it easy to digest, and sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s fiction because some of them felt like odd stories you read every now online. My favorite story? The World Old Day celebration, which is the senior citizens’ version of World Youth Day. It not only made me laugh, but it brought fond memories of my own experience in WYD.

I just really wish this book was a little bit longer, but then the volume number in the title probably means there will be a volume two…right?

Rating:

One Crazy Summer by Ines Bautista YaoOne Crazy Summer by Ines Bautista Yao
Publisher: Summit Books
Number of pages: 144
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

 

A Recipe for Disaster?

Ingredients:
1 college junior, fired from summer internship
1 secret crush, the cute and flirty type
1 crush’s best bud, with a secret of his own

1. In large bowl, mix together college junior and secret crush.
2. Gradually add in crush’s best bud.
3. Stir until best bud’s secret is revealed.
4. Let mixture rest in a sleepy provincial town.
5. Bake under the blazing summer sun until golden brown (be careful, batter might burn).

Tania’s summer is more than she can handle! Her cooking career comes to a screeching halt before it can even take off. Then, best friends Rob and Mateo enter the picture. Can she figure out her feelings for them, AND get the internship credits she needs to make it to senior year?

* * *

One Crazy Summer‘s story is the stuff that teen TV shows are made of, and kind of like what happens in Sarah Dessen novels with the infinite possibilities that a summer could bring. The story was cute and there was enough romance, but I never felt a connection with any of the characters. I wanted more background story with Tania and Mateo and Rob, but instead I was just presented with the facts of who likes who and I just had to accept it. I also felt that I never really got to know Tania, and all I have were hints of her personality.

It’s not that it’s a bad novel. I just felt that it lacked something. The setting was very good and I liked the description of the lazy summer town that the characters spent a lot of time in, but I wished there was just more. I wonder how the book would have fared with me if it was a little bit longer, so there was more time to flesh out the characters and dig up their back stories and relationships with one another. It’s still an okay read, and I think the book is worth keeping One Crazy Summer for the recipes that it contains (especially the one with Nutella — mmm. All these food books make it hard to go on a diet, especially with knowing some diet pill numia side effects). :)

Rating:

Magic Gifts by Ilona AndrewsMagic Gifts by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels # 5.4
Publisher: Ace Books
Number of pages: 97
My copy: Kindle Edition, free from author

A dinner date after a hard day at work sounds heavenly. Of course, when that date is between the Beast Lord and Kate Daniels, things don’t go as planned. Before you know it, undead are running amok, heads are being chopped off, lawyers are deployed and used with extereme prejudice, and drunk vikings are calling people out.

Read at your own risk.

* * *

Oh Ilona Andrews, did you know how the two of you just made my Christmas so awesome? Thank you so much for this free Kate Daniels novella. :) Magic Gifts is set shortly after Magic Slays, and it starts with a dinner date between the Beast Lord Curran and Kate. Of course, the chance of normalcy is slim as some moments after their date has started, heads started to roll — literally. Soon, Kate and Curran and everyone else is fighting to save a boy’s life, running after vikings and dwarfs while ensuring that the rest of Atlanta will not fall apart with a breakdown of sorts.

General spoiler warning for those who haven’t read any Kate Daniels books yet1. Two words to describe this book: SO. GOOD. I love it, I love it. Even if it is shorter than the other Kate Daniels novels, this book is just as good. Kate and Curran are still as awesome (and romantic) as ever, and how mature their relationship seems. I love it when they spar verbally, and how Kate cares about him and how he cares for her. I also love how we see all the other characters here too besides the two of them: Doolittle, Derek, Jim, Andrea, Ascanio, even Grendel the attack poodle! And I have to say now that my favorite vampires are in Kate Daniels’ world. Or, my favorite necromancers, rather. Gasthek is such a character!

This is a must-read for all fans of the series, and the ebook is still available for download from the author’s website — and I think you only have a week to get it! If you missed it, though, this novella will be available as a bonus in Gunmetal Magic, Andrea’s story, which will be released in August 2012. :)

Rating:

  1. And why haven’t you read any, for the love of all things awesome? []

Magic Slays

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels # 5

Publisher: Ace Books
Number of pages: 308
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . .

* * *

We experienced heavy rains last weekend, which got me stuck at home with no Internet to boot. Having no Internet is not fun, but my annoyance was alleviated with the fact that I had good books waiting for me on my shelf. So, instead of being frustrated at our non connection, I decided to sink back on the cold, cold sheets, and plunge into the world of Ilona Andrews in the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Slays.

Spoiler warning: Inevitable spoilers for the first four books in the series in this review.

In Magic Slays, Kate is no longer working for the Order and she is also no longer living in her old apartment. After a particularly big fight with her seemingly immortal now dead Aunt Erra, she has not only quit the Order, but started her own independent paranormal clean-up business, Cutting Edge. But wait, there’s more! She has no house to speak of because she now lives in the Pack’s Keep, because she’s mated to the Pack’s alpha, Beast Lord Curran. After all the tension in the past four books, Kate and Curran had finally admitted their feelings to one another. Even so, Kate still insists on doing things on her own, worried that her past would catch up with her and kill everyone she loves. However, business for Cutting Edge is kind of bad, until the People asks Kate for help to secure a loose vampire. Things go south quickly and soon Kate is faced with a more serious mission that could wipe away the magic community of Atlanta in a snap.

It’s been almost a year since I last read Magic Bleeds, and I was kind of worried that I would be a bit lost when I started reading the newest book. I considered rereading the fourth for a while, but sheer laziness told me I can just try to Google if I can’t remember. (Then I remembered I had no Internet after that, haha) But I was glad that it didn’t take me long to sink back into Kate’s world. The magical Atlanta is still as vivid as ever, and I felt like I never left at all. The characters were quite easy to remember, too, and I was very glad to see so many familiar faces again — Dr. Doolittle, Julie, Aunt B, Derek, Andrea and Grendel the attack poodle! I loved how every character had their role, and they all fit neatly into the world that the authors built.

I also really liked how the authors really do their mythology research in every book in this series. I was one of those people who concentrated on Greek and Roman mythology when I was younger, so discovering other myths is always a treat. I liked the Russian element in this story, and it’s worth to mention that despite the gloom and doom prediction of the story, they always manage to insert crazy funny things, such as the volhvs and the witches. That truly cracked me up. More magical communities were brought in the story, too, and it made for an awesome (albeit short) showdown at the end. See, this is how you bring in the troops to fight a common enemy — you build it up really good and end with with an actual fight, not just a conversation and the main character casting an unbreakable shield around everyone (yes, Breaking Dawn, I’m looking at you).

Kate and Curran’s relationship were also nicely done here, and I really like how the authors treat it. It’s never going to be always rainbows and butterflies for both of them, but their relationship is very fun to read because it’s grounded. It’s healthy, despite it being a bit violent, and it never really takes center stage so much that it becomes the main point of the story. It’s just there, and it’s a part of Kate and it gives so much to her character development.

The book’s conclusion is also nicely done, and I am truly, truly excited for the next book. Kate’s past life is slowly unraveling, and I can’t help but wonder what she will do next in order to fulfill the “mission” she has grown up believing in. Magic Slays is a solid installment in this already awesome series. I never expected anything less, really, and I bet it can only go better from here.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Angieville

Reviews for other Kate Daniels books:
#1 Magic Bites
#2 Magic Burns
#3 Magic Strikes
#4 Magic Bleeds

10 for 2010: Favorite Male Characters

Favorite Male Characters

We kick-off the 10 for 2010 series with my Favorite Male Characters in 2010. I like strong, male characters in books, but by strong, I don’t mean macho or all gung-ho and just masculine. I like guys that leave an impact — guys who are not afraid to admit their weaknesses, guys who aren’t afraid to cry, guys who know how to respect the people around them and still stand up for themselves or their family when needed. In short, I like my male characters real, as real as they can be in fiction.

Not all of these characters listed below are the main heroes. Some of them are sidekicks or supporting characters, and they deserve as much credit as the heroes do. The heroes won’t be heroes without them!

And now my 10 Favorite Male Characters from 2010 — these came from books I read this year, and in no particular order.

1. Happyface (Happyface by Stephen Emond) – He has no face except for a happy face. He’s probably one of the most real characters I’ve read this year, and I cannot stop expressing my love for this guy. He’s just…aww. To quote my review:

Happyface is the dorky boy in school who you would never have a crush on, but would be really good friends with. He’s the guy who’d draw stuff for you, join you in shopping and hand you a Christmas gift that he made himself, looking all awkward and blushing. He’s the guy you will call when you’re dating someone and you need someone to encourage you or tell you that everything will work out — heck, he may even help you work things out with the guy. Happyface is the guy who is secretly in love with you, and you may never ever know because he’s too shy to tell you about it.

2. Radar (Paper Towns by John Green) – one of my favorite John Green sidekicks. I love that he’s black, and I love that he’s the ultimate geek in their little trio. I also love that Radar’s parents have the biggest collection of black Santas in the world. Radar is the type of friend who you’d normally forget, and he knows it, but when you need him, he will be there. Q is lucky to have him as a friend.

3. Jinn (As You Wish by Jackson Pearce) – for a paranormal creature, Jinn is not perfect. I really liked how the author wrote him, and how I was given an opportunity to see his side of the romance in the story, instead of just seeing everything from the girl’s side. Jinn is snarky, sarcastic and vulnerable at the same time. I rooted for him from the start all the way to the end. :)

4. Curran (Kate Andrews series by Ilona Andrews) – Ah Curran. I wouldn’t have discovered him if it weren’t for Chachic and Michelle pushing me to get the books. And I am very, very thankful for giving in because Curran is awesome. How do I describe the Beast Lord more accurately? I don’t have the words. Let’s just say he’s the guy who’d go through hell just to save his Mate. Who would not like that? I cannot wait for Magic Slays.

5. Bennett (Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick) – Another sidekick that won my heart. Bennett is your standard sci-fi geek who has a blog, a Twitter and is normally there to annoy the heck out of other people. However, he’s also the guy who you can count on to be there when things get ugly. I liked how complex his character was in Tweet Heart, and that’s saying a lot because that’s a book written in tweets and emails. :P

6. Shaun Mason (Feed by Mira Grant) – I love Shaun because I love brothers. And I like that while he can be reckless, he’s also very loyal to his sister, Georgia. This is a guy character who supports the female character and he still shines with his own wit and personality. I cannot wait to read more about him in the next book, Deadline.

7. Arnold Spirit / Junior (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexey) – As I mentioned in the review, Arnold reminds me of Happyface and that was already an ultimate plus for me. I liked that he fought for what he wanted even if he knew no one really believed in him. I liked how he let things roll off his back and he keeps on standing up again. We could all learn a lot from Arnold Spirit. :)

8. Hassan (An Abundance of Katherines by John Green) – I am conflicted between Hassan and Radar as the best John Green sidekick, but who says I cannot love both. Just like Radar, Hassan is funny and loyal. I love that he’s Lebanese and even if Colin has been ditching him for all the Katherines, he stuck by him and he’s always there to pick him up after a break up.

9. Brigan (Fire by Kristin Cashore) – I loved Brigan the moment he first showed up in Fire. He’s the kind of guy that you’d initially be intimidated with, but you’ll also find him quite attractive. He’s the kind of man you know you could trust with your life, and would do everything in his power to keep his loved ones safe.

1o. Etienne St. Clair (Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins) – Etienne St. Clair is probably the most popular guy character in the contemporary world now, ever since Stephanie Perkins’ debut novel came out. And who wouldn’t like him? He’s funny, he’s witty, and he’s wonderfully imperfect. His British accent really helps up the hotness factor, too. :P

Runners-up:

Oh, and you do know I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway, right? Win awesome books such as Stephen Emond’s Happyface — this happy/sad graphic novel like book has one of the most real heroes I’ve ever read, and it deserves more attention! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

Magic Bleeds

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels # 4

Publisher: Ace Books
Number of pages: 349
My copy: paperback, bought from PowerBooks

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…

* * *

Since I loved how Magic Strikes ended, I knew I couldn’t wait to read the fourth book in the Kate Daniels series, even if it meant finishing the book would make me itch for the fifth book already. But when the last book has left you smiling and the fourth book is just waiting to be read, well…you just have to grab it to keep the magic going. That, and I needed to know what happened to Kate and Curran. Yes, I needed to.

Magic Bleeds opens up a whole lot of doors into Kate and Curran’s lives, both individually and in their lives together. It picks up right where the previous book left off, of course we know that there will be a bump in the road where their relationship is going. The book starts off with that, and it left me wondering what will happen once their paths cross again. That doesn’t mean the story revolved only around their romance. Kate is faced yet again with a problem of epic proportions, and it truly is epic because of the connection to her past. Here we get to see and know just who Kate is preparing to fight. The result of all the fighting leaves me wondering if she is really capable of winning the fight of her life and still save the people she cares for. Of course we know she’ll win in the end, but how she will win is the big question. Kate is stronger here but also she’s grown softer now that she forming relationships with the people she works with. She’s still as snarky as ever though, and the book is littered with a ton of quotable quotes and funny anecdotes with the same deadpan humor that somehow lifted the feeling of impending doom.

We also learn more about Curran and how he became the Beast Lord, and why he acts the way he does. I like that he’s not the perfect guy, and I like that he’s just as flawed as Kate is. This just goes to show how good they are for each other. More Pack dynamics were discussed in this book, which showed that there was even a more complicated world inside the magical one that they live in. The diversity of the Pack and their politics were so well-thought out that we absolutely understand why Curran acts that way. It’s been said many times already, but I must say it again: Ilona Andrews knows how to build worlds, down to the smallest details.

Which brings me to the Kate and Curran scenes in this book: wow. Totally absolutely satisfying (and if you don’t mind this tiny spoiler — there is lingerie involved)! I have to admit that sometimes I like the sparring and the romantic tension more than the actual relationship itself. Sometimes I don’t want the characters to “level up” because when something finally happens I know things will change. I was afraid for that to happen with Kate and Curran, but the authors did a very good job in keeping the relationship exciting while making it grow. I’m content with the fact that Kate would still be the same snarky heroine that I loved from the first book, and Curran will still be the control freak Beast Lord, despite all the developments. :)

One more plus point about this book: Kate adopted a dog. IMHO, you can never go wrong when the protagonist adopts a dog. ;)

And like with the rest of the fans of the series, I absolutely cannot wait for the fifth book. When, oh when will it be out? :o

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Angieville
Artseblis
Janicu’s Book Blog
Book Harbinger
Emily and her Little Pink Notes
Attack of the Book