Sixteen-year-old Lillim Callina is good at two things: running away and magic. Now Lillim's half-demon ex-boyfriend is contacting her for help, she has somehow gotten herself mixed up in a kidnapping, and her long-dead rival has risen from the grave. So when a dragon plotting to take over the world offers her a choice - work for him or else...
Lillim Callina is going to choose else.
©2014 Jason A. Cipriano (P)2015 Jason A. Cipriano
My actual rating is 3.5 but we don't have half stars here so I'll round it up to 4.
This was a good read though at times a little confusing. I'm going to list my likes and dislikes for this review so let's do the negative first.
What I Disliked:
There are many many characters and some that I still have no idea why they were part of the story, though maybe it will be revealed in future books.
The world building was lacking a little aswell. It had the potential to be explosive but it fell flat.
There wasn't much back story where Lillim is concerned. She was always on about being reincarnated and people knew her from her last life, but who was she? Why was she reincarnated etc? Not enough detail.
What I liked:
Lillim was a solid character. She was easily likable and you can't help but root for her.
The plot was really fast paced. There is plenty of action and adventure that you fly through the book and it's an enjoyable read.
There is a lot to this book which you know will slowly unravel over the series so it keeps your attention.
It has Dragons!! Admittedly not much to do with them, but still Dragons!!
In all an engaging if some what confusing read. Even though I got lost sometimes, it held my attention to the end and I liked the idea of the book enough to continue on with the series.
Rebecca Roberts did a good job reading the book. Even with the amount of characters, I knew when she voiced a new one. I will definitely check out more read by her.
*I received this for review from AudioBookBlast. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
Story is about a girl who is running away from her past life. She’s tired of everybody comparing her to the girl she used to be—a girl who selflessly ended her own life to save many others. But when her ex-boyfriend contacts Lillim for help, she has no choice but to be involved in the life that she had been so desperately trying to get away from. Lillim is thrust into a mystery and desperately tries to stop a dragon from taking over. In the process she meets several mysterious characters.
I'd have to say, unique fantastic tale.
A unique, talented voice to the words.
An interesting, entertaining audiobook.
The reading and presentation of the characters and the world felt natural. I didn't find myself questioning the story or the setting.
Not sure? The tone was light with enough excitement to keep me reading. I find that a rare combination.
I love Rebecca's voice. I could listen to her read tax codes and still give a standing ovation.
I received this audiobook free from Audiobook Blast! in exchange for an honest review; thanks. I just wish that I could honestly give it a more positive review, especially since it’s my first book through the program.
It’s a sort of odd young adult-flavored cross between Gardens of the Moon and the Dresden Files. This is not meant as a compliment. It attempts the cocky quippy fast-paced style of Dresden, and also boasts many similar features: it’s in the first person; there are vampires who are succubi, “the nether” (essentially the Never-Never), named and powerful swords, “Ethereal sight”, and main characters who go into battle with a snarky remark and get the ever-loving snot beaten out of them several times and still bounce back up with another snarky remark (or deliver said remark from the ground while still unable to get back up).
What reminded me of Malazan was an irritating refusal to info-dump. Now, info-dump is usually a bad thing; it’s one of the hallmarks of poor writing. But its polar opposite is, I think, in its way just as bad, where the story galumphs along and tosses out fragments of detail without any attempt to weave it together or explain much of anything at all.
The latter is what happens here. Words are tossed out, from Japanese phrases to setting-specific phrases, with no explanation. What on earth is the shield of Kongounoikutai? Why are Japanese phrases used in spells, especially when the girl’s Japanese swords are (bizarrely) named for Egyptian gods, and why is “White Sparrow” in English? The heroine lives in Southern California, we are told (it has zero bearing on the story), and it is mentioned that there’s a sort of glamor that keeps normal people from seeing creatures like demons and such. So, I thought, fairly standard contemporary urban fantasy setting. But then came this: “Now Rome was home to little more than biker gangs and street rats, a stunningly permanent reminder of the horrors of war.” It turns out that Rome, and Jerusalem, have been nuked. What war? When? Long enough ago that Lillim can wander through Rome without hazmat gear. By whom? In what context? Who knows? But there is silver dust in the air, and that is completely unexplained. It is an effective deterrent to weres – but was it done on purpose to keep weres out? Don’t know. Lillim’s story is, eventually, fairly well fleshed out, but it takes a while, and the setting in general is still up in the air by the end of the book.
And the plot? It starts off with a message calling her on a quest, but then she is sidelined by another mission, and then something else happens, and by an hour in the plot is as tangled as the proverbial bag filled with yarn and kittens.
It's a kind of a kitchen-sink story: Bears and Owls and weres and dragons and vampires (and a vampire “founder” named Bob) – only apparently the bears and owls are vampires? And succubi, who are, as in Harry Dresden, another breed of vampires. A katana and a wakazashi (with Egyptian names) (and introduced almost every time they appear – “my katana, Isis”, “my wakazashi, Set”) (and from what I can tell it ought to be wak-I-zashi) – a twice-kidnapped baby; demons (with souls?) and Deoscuri, ghosts, nuclear war … reincarnation and gargoyles. Talking swords. “Goblin maintenance” on the apartment. A pet hedgehog (with no meteorological awareness). And oh you have got to be kidding me, an asteroid. No – several. Or, you know, meteors; the words are used interchangeably. (They’re not interchangeable.) Wait a minute, wait a minute – a Magic Eight Ball?! Oh. Lord.
I’m sure there’s a way to incorporate this much … stuff – but this isn't it.
I seem to always say this, but there are some good things in here. That’s why I originally gave it two stars instead of one. It’s just so hard to discern the good stuff in the flurry of cliché and excess.
Take the main character, our Heroine Lillim Callina (who is usually referred to by her full name). She’s been reincarnated, sort of. She’s sixteen, but not really, being both much younger and much older. She looks just like her previous incarnation, and spends half the book protesting that she isn't Dirge (yup, Dirge. I was disappointed when I saw it in print). Her mother is terrible (Ivan the Terrible terrible), so she lives on her own – with a ghost (and a hedgehog). (How she pays for her “tiny” apartment is, I think, never explained.) Her appearance? “I had soft lavender hair. It was so pale that it was nearly white. I’d taken to dyeing it black to cut down on the stares from random people. I had to do this pretty often, because, for whatever reason, my hair would start to lighten after a couple days.” Why? To reiterate: “For whatever reason.” She has a scary ex-boyfriend (we are told he’s scary, though not why for a while), and there’s another guy who gives her tingles (no, sorry, the nauseously coy phrase actually used is the “tightening of things low in my body”), and neither can be trusted (unless they can), and frankly I never got them straight. For me they were as interchangeable as asteroids and meteors, but I might not have been paying much attention; I had just noted to myself, happily, that there was no current love interest when abruptly there appeared a rather Biblically named love triangle. Lillim isn't very big, and says several times she’s not very strong, and she’s sixteen, but she kicks the butt of every opponent she comes across (but still needs rescuing in the end). (Which is why I made sounds of protest when she said “You came to rescue me. …No one’s ever done something like that for me.”) At one point she says “Of all the elements ice was the one I had never quite mastered”… Aside from the fact that ice is not an element, isn't it a bit remarkable that at sixteen she has apparently mastered all of the other elements? Unless she’s including her past life/lives. Basically, she’s sixteen when it is convenient, and whatever else when that is useful.
The writing… I liked the semi-Dresden-esque quality; it was pulled off fairly well, in places. But the majority of sentences follow the same basic structure: "I (verb)", "He (verb)", "I (verb)", "It (verb)"... (see example above, re: hair). And the author leans very, very heavily on simile. I enjoy a good simile, and some of these are good: “The inside of the room felt like wet breath”. Most, though, are not: “The rain was coming down so hard that it was like standing in a monsoon” (the common usage of “monsoon” basically means “heavy rain”, so the heavy rain was like … heavy rain); “eyes surveying me like a prowling lioness” (her eyes were like the lioness? Or the eyes of the lioness?). A search on Google Books brings up 94 uses of the word “like”, but with current books it won’t search the whole text so I’m sure there are many more; simile is used several times per page. “His hand burst from the ground like a zombie… Pain, so intense that it was like rubbing lemon juice soaked sandpaper on my flesh”… Language bloopers include - among several others - the misuse of “impales”, as above, and “grabbed me by the scruff of my collar”. “Return to me when you have gained the respect worthy of your master” – um, what?
And there is a fair larding of cliché, unfortunately, including among the similes: “parting like the Red Sea”, “lit up like a Christmas tree”, “Well look what the cat dragged in”.
And repetition. Now and then it’s as though the author came up with a phrase she enjoyed so much she couldn't resist using it again. The problem with a neat phrase is that it might be memorable, and noticeable when used more than once. “The blade would be no more than a pretty sword” is used twice. The repulsive “blood and thicker things” is used at least twice. Also, repetition of cliché stands out: “not high on my bucket list” “neither of those ranked very highly on my bucket list”. There is also far too much reiteration of fact – yes, I know Maddoc the ghost will not appear in front of others. Yes, I know you’re not Dirge. Yes, I know your swords’ names. Overall, there was often a sense of I just want to make sure the reader gets the point: “There was a loud pop, almost like an exploding balloon as the butterflies within him exploded.” But tell me … what did it sound like? In one paragraph you find “She moved” “I couldn't move” “with one exaggerated movement”. Voices are compared with food at least twice: one voice like chocolate and cream; “voice rolled over me like warm honey”. There are not one but two edifices made of human flesh (and I could have lived without ever coming across one). I did a Google count on two words: “like”, and “so”. The latter came up 89 times. “So cold”, “so suddenly”, “so close”, “so bright”, “so hot”, “so wide”, “so loud”… “so much so” … This might not be an unusual usage of these words, but it stood out.
The profanity bothered me a bit; maybe things have changed, but no one swore this much when I was sixteen, and I found the blasphemies particularly grating. For one thing, a user of magic ought to be more careful using words of power, and the name of God is a powerful word. But then again the author/main character seems a bit unclear on some aspects of Christianity: "The nails used to impale Christ" may be technically correct, but … isn’t. Also, you’re not really allowed to accompany someone to Hell. That’s kind of part of the point.
There are a number of silly gaffes throughout the book. Mattoc the ghost goes missing – so Lillim physically searches her apartment. For a ghost. She notes to herself that the hedgehog isn't concerned about the asteroid. (Tell me true, should it be? Really?) She whips out a gun over and over in the many fights she gets into – but not a single one of the things she shoots is discommoded for more than a few minutes. (And where she gets hold of all these firearms, not to mention magical swords and other weapons, isn't really explained – but she always, always has one or more ready to hand.) She mentions having two last special bullets, but as far as I could tell she fires three.
This might not be so much a gaffe, as (to me) evidence of poor taste: “It was like walking through one of those oil paintings that didn't focus on details quite as much as it should have.” I'm sorry, are you referring to (and dissing) Impressionism? Really?
For the most part I enjoyed the narration by Rebecca Roberts – except that, twice, the “c” in “scintillating” was pronounced, which made me twitch. There were the usual missteps in inflection here and there – emphasis on the wrong word in a sentence – but almost all narrators fall victim to that. Character voices were all right, though Lillim was a bit too little girl. I won’t avoid this reader in future, but neither will I seek her out.
Meantime, I think I rather will avoid this author. I’d rather read the actual Dresden Files. Or maybe even Malazan. I was leaving it at two stars because it didn't actually make me want to throw anything, but if I realize I'd rather read Malazan than anything else by this author... Yeah. One star it is.
Tell us about yourself! : I am an author who loves to read, more like loves to listen, since I spend so much time writing.
Less back and forth between her apartment and the other world. It was confusing for me.
Yes. The narrator did a good job.
No, unless I was taking one of my grandchildren to see it. It's not the type of movie I would normally choose.
I read this book to give a review. That being said, you should know I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels. So, in fairness to the author I just wanted to let you all know that, in case my review is reflected in that.
The author: J.A. Cipriano definitely has an eye for image. I was impressed with his choice of descriptions for his characters.
The story: The story started out strong and caught my attention quickly. However, it went down from there as I got deeper into the story. I listened to the audio version and often found myself confused by what was going on and would have to rewind the tape. I felt the Jilliam's quest was nearly the same scene only different monster with a few variations. Overall, though, I like the story.
Recommend: I would definitely recommend this story to teenagers who were into vampires, werewolves, dragons...etc. It's a good story but you have to pay attention or you will get lost on your journey.
All of my reviews are on my blog audiobookreviewer dot com
What a strange story. I expected to check and see that this was part two or even three of a series but it is part one.
This story has Lillim working with werewolves, and then she’s against vampires, but then demons and even dragons. I do know that all of these creatures can be in fantasy books, and sometimes they make fabulous stories, but it seemed way too convoluted for this one.
Then, Lillim tells her stories as in she was doing such and such way back then. Or the fact that she was the other person in another life. That’s all great but how did this stuff happen and why? I never felt like I understood her story and never cared if she lived or died while fighting all of these mystical creatures. There was no real connection because it is sort of flat.
The narrator, Rebecca Roberts, does a great job of acting the way the book says Lillim would act, but again, the story says that she will or will not do something and I would rather just feel it than be told how something is supposed to go. Rebecca Roberts does do a good job of inserting emotion into Lillim and allowing the listening to try to get close to her.
Sadly, for me this was just too far fetched. Way too much stuff going on and too many characters to understand why they were in the story.
Audiobook provided for review by the author.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog
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Librarian with chronic migraines which cuts into reading a LOT so I listen and it is awesome for me keeps me in the blogging/reviewing game.
This book caught me from the beginning. I actually had the audiobook and Rebecca Roberts made this book easy to listen to with her great narration. Lillim is a sixteen year old, on her own tasked with fighting demons, vampires, and other paranormal badies. So really, what is not to be a bit bitter about. A sixteen year old girl, on her own, who has to fight off and kill bad things that aren't suppose to exist, great teen years and love life, yeah not normal, so yep that might make any girl a bit bitter. So I totally understand Lillim's sarcasm and off the wall humor, and I liked it. I enjoyed the fast paced, strong willed girl, who took charge and did what needed to be done to save herself and her friends. I can't wait for more on audio, because I can not wait to see who Lillim pisses off next.
Any novel that has a vampire king named Bob has to be good! This novel did not disappoint. The action felt real and the sarcasm was a delightful break. I received a free copy of this audiobook but was not obligated to like it. That came through the story. Truly enjoyed this audiobook and will buy the next. It was that good!
I dream about you wide awake in my armsIt’s the last time I sleep alone dreaming of you in my armsI’ll kiss you every day & every night
Almost 4 stars.
Why? Because I like the writing, the pacing was fun. So many adventures in between!
Kill It With Magic is book one in the Lillim Callina Chronicles by J.A. Cipriano.
The Author kindly offer a free read.
I don’t normally read “YA” Fantasy books.It was my first.
The book starts out with lots of crazy action and it goes on until the end.
There were so many characters and some came up from nowhere and I was a little lost...had no idea why they were there and part of the story, hopefully they will be revealed in the future. I think there is a previous book about Lillim...
Talking about Lillim. I liked Lillim, she was easy to like, although she was always fighting for her name, after that not forgotten reincarnation,why did people remember.
It was really bad ...I guess.
It was just funny, how she was that strong, had a lot of magic, but young to know how to use it, so much power, no time to learn, just react, to help an ex boyfriend...hmm...getting almost killed and be 100% renewed the next day or hour and getting nauseated all the time!!!! hahahaha
Teletransportation by phone, wow! Like a super dangerous roller coaster with no end!
The read or listening was enjoyable, the narrator did help with the pace of the story.
Had a "Kill Bill" fantasy magic paranormal supernatural moment :)
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