The Kate Daniels series is a series that has consistenlty gotten better and better as it's gone on. Book 2 takes the world and characters introduced in Magic Bites and expands in a big way. We learn a little bit more about Kate's history and motivations. We learn a lot more about the world she lives in and the chaos that constantly just around the corner. We meet a number of new characters and get a little more insight into a few of the main characters from book 1. Overall, the story is well crafted, setting the stage for some big reveals and moments not only in this installment, but in future installments.
In some ways, Magic Strikes represents a major turning point in the overall plot of the series. The characters and over-arching plot points introduced in the first 2 installments of the series begin to coalesce into something more substantial in this 3rd book. Character's choose there sides, take their stands and show their true colors. For some, the consequences are devastating... This installment is a sentimental favorite (though I would have a hard time identifying any of the books in the series as a clear best). We really begin to see what some of these characters are made of. The author shows us what some of our favorite characters are really made of and starts to give us clear indications of where the series is going.
The Kate Daniels series is one of the best urban fantasy series available. Ilona Andrews creates a compelling world, engaging, interesting, complex without being too derivative or convoluted. As of this review there are 6 books published in the series. This first installment is certainly the roughest of them. Like many extended series, the author's are still feeling there way through the world and characters. That said, it's still a superb start. Kate Daniels is an utterly likable heroine. Her interactions with other characters are sharp. Her internal dialog is consistent and witty. Like most heroes and heroines, she has a tendency to take on too much responsibility for bad things that happen and carry a lot of guilt for things outside of her control. Unlike a lot of characters in her position, it doesn't cripple her or slow her down. For all her skill and power she's still very human and relatable.
I can't recommend this series strongly enough. Renee Raudman captures Kate's voice so eloquently, it's hard to imagine anyone else ever reading this series (and as of book 6, she remains the sole narrator for the core novels).
The second story of the Black Sun's Daughter series is the weakest of the 5 available at the time of this review. While not bad, it lacked the engaging quality of the first book in the series. That said, it is essential for the series as a whole and takes us deeper into the mythology of Riders as well as the character arcs for Jayne, Ex, Jake and Aubrey.
Hanover's first installment of the Black Sun's Daughter creates an interesting and engaging introduction into this world. Hanover does a great job at taking a new angle on the creatures of mythology and giving the reader what the need to know without beating them over the head with it. It's not complicated... not yet anyway, and that allows him to focus his energy on the story and the characters. One of the things I really like about this series is that the core cast of characters remains mostly intact and the attention remains on them no matter how crazy the plot gets (crazy in a good way mostly).
If you are looking to start a new Urban Fantasy type series with elements of action and a hint of romance, this is a good place to look.
The final book of the Sookie Stackhouse series can be summed up as "a little too..." fill in the blank. A little too cliche, a little too silly, a little too easy, a little to predictable but mostly, just a little too much. The series has lacked any real focus for some time and this installment is no exception. Sookie's predicament, the allies and enemies are too familiar. Harris fails to deliver anything new. My advice: stick with the TV series.
The second installment of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes, is a great continuation of a well done series.
The Shadowhunter world is reeling from the events of City of Glass. But the return of Valentine and the resurrection of his scheme to destroy the downworlders is only part of the problem for Jace and Clarey. The revelations he brought with him find the two in a very uncomfortable situation personally. The situation is complicated further by the arrival of the Clave's Inquisitor. The Inquisitor seems to have a personal beef with Jace in particular, going out of her way to make him as miserable as possible. Clarey, dealing with her new knowledge of not only the world of the supernatural, but her part in it, is also dealing with her mother's mysterious condition, her mother and surrogate father's true identities and her sibling connection to the boy she's romantically interested in.
As if that weren't enough, Valentine is back in town. After making off with the Mortal Cup in City of Bones, now he's taken the Mortal Sword as well and is using the blood of downworlder children to turn it into a weapon to control demons.
How much worse could it get for Clarey? When the mysterious vampire Raphael shows up on the doorstep with a dying Simon in his arms, things get a lot worse.
Clare does an excellent job of immersing her readers into the world and characters she's created. The well paced plot gives the reader's insight into the characters without bogging them down in their internal thoughts and deliberations. The action is crisp and well written... and there's a ton of it without being gratuitous.
Though I'm disappointed with the transition of narrator's from Ari Graynor to Natalie Moore, Moore's performance is quite good.
City of Bones makes an excellent start to Clare's Mortal Instruments series. With a trip into an all ages night-club, the series main protagonist, Clarey Fray, enters a rich, well-realized world of the supernatural. Like so many other books and series in it's genre, this world lies below the "real" world, boiling under the surface and glinting at the corner of the eye. Werewolves and Vampires, Faeries and Warlocks, Demons and the fabled Shadowhunters struggle with each other, good and evil, politics and magic, romance and revenge.
Clarey is remarkably likable for a 15 year old girl. Sassy, brave, hot-tempered and probably much more self-aware than most 15 year old girls, most of the story is seen through her eyes. Other characters get their turn as well, each having their unique place in the story.
Clare does an excellent job of drawing on classic literary themes while throwing her characters, and the audience, some big twists. Once you start, it will be difficult to stop with City of Bones.
The narration is done well. Ari Graynor gives the characters personality and voice without being overly dramatic or boring. Disappointingly, Ari Graynor does not continue with the series after this book.
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