Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

The Kate Daniels series by Ilona and Gordon is my favorite adult urban fantasy (UF) series. That may not be saying much since I currently only follow two adult UF series: Kate Daniels and World of the Lupi by Eileen Wilks. I have, however, tried other series but didn’t feel compelled to continue beyond the first few books. I read more epic fantasy than UF prior to falling in love with the Kate Daniels novels but I’ve been more willing to try UF after that. I can still remember when I was first introduced to the series, there were only four books out at that time. I’ve been eagerly anticipating each new novel every year since then. If you feel like we have similar tastes in books, I think you should give this series a try. Also, see my blog banner with the huge lion and the warrior girl? That was totally inspired by Kate and Curran.

Here’s the reading order:
Magic BitesMagic BurnsMagic StrikesMagic BleedsMagic SlaysGunmetal MagicMagic Rises

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Magic Breaks by Ilona AndrewsAs the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe — especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

It’s always such a comfort to dive into a new installment of a favorite series, books that are set in a familiar world and have characters who feel like old friends. Magic Breaks was one of my most anticipated releases for this year and I was super excited to read it. The authors also announced that this book will conclude the main arc and conflict that has been building up in all the previous books. So I was also a bit nervous going in because I had no idea what would happen. I shouldn’t have worried. Ilona and Gordon are great storytellers and I had so much fun reading Magic Breaks. The humor that I’ve come to love in the series is present in this one. Certain scenes with back and forth banter cracked me up.

I also like seeing how much Kate has changed and matured since the series started. She’s a much better leader now and is more level-headed. I like her development as a character, the way she started as a lone wolf (figuratively speaking since she’s not a shapeshifter) to someone who is now in charge of a huge shapeshifter Pack and has a handful of people she trusts. She’s willing to go through so much to keep these people safe and they are willing to do the same for her. I also liked seeing the growth and transformation of secondary characters – this far into a series, we’re all bound to have our own favorites. Some of the ones I really like are Andrea, Raphael, Jim, Derek, Ascanio and Dolittle. Even the villains have such interesting personalities that it’s hard not to like them even if I know they’re evil, they come in shades of gray and we see the motivations behind the things that they do. I missed seeing certain characters but then it’s expected that not all of them will get page time in each novel. I have always been a big fan of the slow burn romance in the series and I love seeing Kate and Curran’s relationship develop over time. Even after they got together, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for them. As both of them continue to grow, so does their relationship. I’m happy to announce that their romance is on much better footing in Magic Breaks compared to Magic Rises.

It’s difficult to discuss how much I enjoyed Magic Breaks without going into details and spoilers. Let me be vague and just say that I was satisfied with how the main arc was resolved because I found it believable. I was thinking that if it went in a different direction, I might not have felt that it was realistic for the characters. Magic Breaks just really worked for me and I loved it. The Kate Daniels series remains my favorite urban fantasy series and I can’t wait to find out what the last few books will have for its fans. I felt a bit lost after finishing Magic Breaks and kept discussing it with friends who have read the book. I had a book hangover and some of my favorite scenes from the series kept running through my mind. It took a few days for me to start another novel (which is rare for me unless I’m in a slump) since I wasn’t in the mood to leave the series behind. It’s a good thing the authors have another book scheduled for release this year, Burn For Me, so I still have something to look forward to.

Other reviews:
Fantasy Cafe
The Nocturnal Library
Smexy Books

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

I’ve been saying this a lot recently: the Kate Daniels series by Ilona and Gordon is my favorite urban fantasy series. The latest installment, Magic Rises, was one of my most anticipated releases this year. When a title I’m excited about becomes available, I usually read it as soon as I can. But since I haven’t reread this series since I first discovered it, I thought it would be a better idea to reread the earlier books instead of diving right into Magic Rises. I crammed as much reading time as I can during the past few days. I was hoping that I’d have time to catch up on reviews and other blog posts while rereading but no, I was sucked into Kate’s world again and ignored the blog while I was rereading. If you haven’t read the series, then please skip this review because I wouldn’t want you to see any spoilers.

Here’s the reading order:
Magic BitesMagic BurnsMagic StrikesMagic BleedsMagic SlaysGunmetal Magic

Summary from Goodreads:

Magic RisesAtlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them — no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute — and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer — but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

It feels great to be immersed in a make-believe world that I love, one that is filled with characters I’m fully invested in. When it comes to good storytelling, the authors continue to build upon an established setting as the series progresses and that is exactly what Ilona and Gordon have been doing with the Kate Daniels world. In each book, a different kind of mythology is presented and we get introduced to new (good and bad) characters. What sets Magic Rises apart from the other books in the series is that Kate, Curran and company travel to a different region and the readers get a glimpse of how things are like outside the United States. The beautiful Mediterranean setting was like a breath of fresh air and it was interesting to see how different European shapeshifter packs are compared to the Atlanta Pack that we’re used to. I love how relationships got explored and developed further in this novel. After a couple of books into the series, we already know some of the characters quite well and yet there are some aspects of their personalities that were shown in a different light. I may not have been a fan of the actions of certain individuals in this one but I had a feeling that they were being done for a reason so I didn’t let it bother me. I was just going with the flow, waiting for the story to unfold.

There was one scenario that occurred in the book that I was able to predict beforehand and I had so much fun reading about it. I found it funny, especially because it made things more complicated. Yes, I am being very vague on purpose. I don’t want to ruin the reading experience for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read this yet. Magic Rises managed to surprise me in different ways and as a result, kept me glued to the screen of my Kindle – it is an action packed story peppered with the humor and wit that we’ve come to expect from the series. The fight scenes in this one were made of pure win, I really enjoyed reading them even though I know next to nothing about physical combat. They were the kind of scenes that I would love to see on a movie screen. On the night that I started reading Magic Rises, I stayed up late to go through as many chapters as I can. I would have kept going if I didn’t have to worry about getting up in the morning to go to work. When I got to the office the next day, I couldn’t wait for the work day to end so I could get back to reading this and I was distracted for most of the day, thinking about the book. Definitely one of my favorite reads this year. I can’t wait for the next novel! For some reason, I thought the next one will be the last in the series but apparently we will be getting more Kate Daniels books. I look forward to reading all of them.

Other reviews:
The Nocturnal Library
Ivy Book Bindings
Adina’s Book Blog
Fantasy Cafe
Lurv ala Mode

Kate Daniels: My Favorite Urban Fantasy Series

There was a time when I used to think that the only kind of fantasy that I enjoy reading is epic fantasy. I believed that urban fantasy wasn’t for me. That changed when I was introduced to the Kate Daniels series, written by power couple Ilona and Gordon. I still remember my reading experience – I was interested enough in the first two books, Magic Bites and Magic Burns, but it was Magic Strikes that made me fall in love with the series. There was no looking back after that. There’s so much to love about the series – kickass characters, the worldbuilding including the different types of mythology in each of the novels, the swoon-worthy romances. When my friend Kim Bartolome was working on the design for my current header, I described Kate and Curran as one of my favorite fictional couples and he used that as the basis for his artwork. The huge lion and the lady warrior can represent them, except that the latter is in medieval attire (to also stand for some of the other fictional characters I love).

If you haven’t read the series and you feel like we have similar tastes in books, then you must check it out. Here’s the reading order:

Magic BitesMagic BurnsMagic StrikesMagic BleedsMagic SlaysGunmetal Magic

I’ve tried to read other urban fantasy series but aside from the Edge series (also by the same authors), I haven’t found another one to really follow. I started rereading Magic Bites last week because I was hoping to reread all the books that are currently out before the release of the latest one, Magic Rises on the 30th of July. I had a pretty busy weekend so unfortunately, I’m still not done rereading Magic Bites. I’m so excited for the next Kate Daniels novel and I have no idea if I’ll be able to continue with my rereading plans or if I’ll drop everything and just read Magic Rises as soon as it’s available. Let’s just see how it goes. How about the rest of you, what is your favorite urban fantasy series? Are you a fan of Kate Daniels as well? Did you reread the rest of the series in preparation for the next book?

Curran / Lion shirt

I call this my Curran shirt, got it from the Singapore Zoo

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds is the latest installment in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It comes after Magic Bites, Magic Burns and Magic Strikes. This came out just this May and I’m so glad I got to read all of the four books together.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

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…

Kate’s adventures continue in this latest installment in the wonderful series created by husband and wife tandem Ilona Andrews. I already mentioned that Magic Strikes clinched the deal to make this series my favorite in the urban fantasy genre. Because of this, I had high expectations when I started to read Magic Bleeds. No worries though because it went beyond what I expected. It’s pretty hard to go into details about the book without giving away spoilers. I can just say that Kate was her usual snarky and kick*ss self. She had to make some pretty though choices in this one. With her background (and we learn so much more about her family history), she comes with a lot of baggage and she can’t make decisions based on just what she wants. I love where the authors decided to take the story, it really was time for Kate to make these big decisions. I’m also glad that there’s a LOT of Curran in this one. ♥

Instead of giving away the story, I’d rather talk about how wonderful this book was. I had to catch up on lost sleep because of Magic Strikes so I decided to bring Magic Bleeds along on our company outing to the beach. I then proceeded to read during every available moment: under the sun while everyone else was swimming and on a shaded balcony overlooking the beach after lunch while everyone else was taking a nap. I wanted to read as much of the book as fast as I can yet at the same time, I wanted to savor every scene. As with the rest of the Kate Daniels books, there were several scenes in this book that made me smile and chuckle quietly to myself. There were scenes that me sigh and think “Aww how sweet!” and there were scenes that made me fear for Kate and her friends’ safety. Magic Bleeds had everything – jampacked action, solid worldbuilding supported by the setting’s history, lots of humor and a love-hate relationship between two fantastic individuals. Isn’t this enough to convince you to read this series? 🙂

In the authors’ website, there are snippets from Kate 5 that can be found here. I can’t wait for this book to come out! I’m not sure when it’ll happen though since there still isn’t a title for it. There are also some snippets from Curran’s point of view here. These snippets are great because the books are told from Kate’s point of view so it’s interesting to see inside Curran’s head.

I still can’t stop thinking about this book. In the meantime, I wonder where I can grab a copy of On the Edge?

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Magic Strikes is the third installment in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I started reading this series at the start of the week and I’ve been reading the books one right after the other. Click here to see my reviews of Magic Bites and Magic Burns.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.

But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games — an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament — she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community…

It’s official. The Kate Daniels series is now my favorite urban fantasy series. Magic Strikes sealed the deal. I LOVED this book! Want proof? I was out the whole day yesterday so I didn’t get to read. I got home late at night and I only wanted to read a couple of chapters before sleeping. I ended up finishing the whole book, I just couldn’t put it down. I’m functioning on two hours of sleep right now and I can’t say I regret reading last night (or early this morning if you want to be technical about it). I still can’t stop thinking about the book. This is such a great book! There were a lot of scenes that I had to re-read over and over again because they had me laughing out loud. I also love the character development, how Kate changed from being an isolated person to having a few people close to her heart. It’s amazing how much Kate is willing to sacrifice for these people. She has her reasons for trying to keep everyone at arm’s length but when she starts to care, she’s fully committed. She’s such an awesome character.

Just like the first two books, the worldbuilding in this one is brilliant. I love how the story can delve into different mythologies with Magic Strikes concentrating on Hindu folklore. There’s also a touch of Roman influence embodied in the Midnight Games, where gladiators form teams and fight to the death. It’s a bloodthirsty practice and the characters’ fighting skills are put to the test.

On one hand, I’m happy that I found out about this series when four books have already been released because I get to read the books one right after the other. On the other hand, I feel like I want to let the story of Magic Strikes settle first before I dive into Magic Bleeds. But since I already have a copy of Magic Bleeds, I’m going to read it as soon as I can. All of the reviews that I’ve seen are positive so I have high hopes for that one. I hope it’s just as good, if not better than, Magic Strikes. Do you guys know when the next book will come out? 🙂

I know I always try to have spoiler-free reviews so minor spoiler warning here. If you haven’t read any of the books, please don’t read this paragraph. Kate and Curran! ♥ The scenes between the two of them in this book… AHHHH. They are simply wonderful. I love both of them. I really want things to work out for them and I’m scared that something bad will happen and it’ll be a long journey before they can ever be together. You know the feeling when you’re invested in certain characters, you feel like you know them as real people? That’s how I feel about these two. I will be devastated if either one of them gets hurt.

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Edited to add: I saw in the official Ilona Andrews website that there will be seven books in the series. Seven books! I don’t know if it’s a good thing that we still have three more books to look forward to or if it’ll be a long wait for those books.

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Lovely Wednesday morning to all of you! Today is the inauguration of our new president so it’s a holiday over here. To all the Filipinos out there, I hope this signals a better time for all of us. 🙂 On to the review!

Magic Burns is the second installment in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I finished Magic Bites a couple of days ago and decided to read this right after that one.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic goes wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale; a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

As I said in my review of Magic Bites, I really liked the worldbuilding in this series and Kate is one heck of a main character, tough but with the right amount of humor. She has to deal with another magical conflict, this time involving the effects of a flare – a time when magic is at its peak. Curran sums up Kate quite nicely:

You don’t cause problems. You cause catastrophes.

Oh Curran, I have a feeling I’ll develop a crush on you before I finish reading this series. As it is, I wait with bated breath for every scene that has you in it. In this installment, some details come to light. How the world came to be occupied by magic is explained and more is revealed about Kate’s history. I already had an inkling of who her father is but I’m glad to get confirmation. Also, a warmer side of Kate is shown as she does her best to take care of a young girl, Julie. This book explores Kate’s interactions with the people around her and paints a picture of how lonely her life must be. But Kate is very matter of fact about things and she accepts her fate. She’s not just strong physically but emotionally as well. The ending of this book gives me hope that eventually, Kate will get the happiness that she deserves. Also, can I just say that I loved the battle scene? I don’t know why, maybe that says something about me. I’m a war freak when it comes to the books that I read? Hmm.

So, so, so. Is this what I’ve been missing, urban fantasy-lovers? Are there any other books out there that you’d like to recommend so I can catch up on lost time and explore more of this wonderful genre? 🙂 Also, do you guys have any idea how many books are there going to be in this series? I’m just curious, so I know how many more books I have to wait for.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

I’ve seen rave reviews of the Kate Daniels books in the blogosphere and they have made me intensely curious about these books. They were my Want Books pick a couple of weeks ago. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt while I was looking for these books. Only the second and the fourth are available at my local bookstore, Fully Booked and they said they could order the rest but I didn’t want to wait 4-8 weeks to get the books. Luckily, I saw that Book Basket was selling a used copy of Magic Strikes so I grabbed that right away. So I already had the latter three books but not the first one! Good thing one of my friends was on vacation in the States and was kind enough to drop by Barnes and Noble to get a copy of Magic Bites for me. Finally, I could start reading the series! I got it on Saturday and I stayed up late last night to finish reading it.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

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 arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

I’m a huge fan of epic fantasy and not so much of urban fantasy but I always say that maybe that’s because I still haven’t found an urban fantasy series to love. That may change with this series. Magic Bites was an engaging, fast-paced, action-packed story set in a modern-day world where magic exists together with technology. Whenever magic flares, technology shuts down. I loved the worldbuilding in this one. There are necromancers who control the undead (vampires) and they have a long feud with the shapechangers, humans who can take on certain animal forms. The cast of characters is excellent as well. Kate Daniels is a smart, sassy, sword-wielding, kick*ss heroine who deals with problems brought about by magical activity. She’s accompanied by a set of secondary characters that are fascinating in their own way.

I can’t wait to read the next books in the series. I want to know more about Kate, who her father is, what her power really means. Since all of the book covers feature Kate and a lion, I think it’s safe to assume that the relationship with Curran will progress throughout the books. I would love to read about that as well. All in all, it seems like a promising series and I’m excited to read more about this world. I’m glad that Wednesday is a holiday over here (inauguration of our new president) so I have more time to read.

I also have a favorite quote from somewhere in the middle of the book. Kate was on a date with Crest, the handsome plastic surgeon and she just asked him why he’s interested in her:

“Have you ever met someone and felt… I don’t know how to describe it, felt a chance at having something that eluded you? I don’t know… Forget I said anything.”

I knew what he meant. He was describing that moment when you realize that you are lonely. For a time you can be alone and doing fine and never give a thought to living any other way and then you meet someone and suddenly you become lonely. It stabs at you, almost like a physical pain, and you feel both deprived and angry, deprived because you wish to be with that person and angry, because their absence brings you misery. It’s a strange feeling, akin to desperation, a feeling that makes you wait by the phone even though you know that the call is an hour away. I was not going to lose my balance. Not yet.

To those who’ve read the series, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this book and for those who haven’t, I encourage you to give it a try. I’ve seen Kate Daniels compared to Mercy Thompson (another series that I should delve into soon) but for some reason, this book reminded me a lot of Robin McKinley’s Sunshine.