August 29, 2014

Review: Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

So. I am going ahead and reviewing Burn for Me, even though it doesn't come out for two months (I know), because I just can't seem to wait that long to tell you how fun it is. I knew Ilona Andrews had two full-length releases out this year and I was super excited about this brand new series, but somehow the latest Kate always overshadows other titles in my mind. I also had it set in my head somehow that this one resided more on the paranormal end of the spectrum, which is fine, even though I tend not to respond quite as well to that genre. I trust this author implicitly. But I was really pleasantly surprised as I was reading to find out that (shirtless cover aside), though the romantic subplot plays a much more central role and proceeds more quickly than it does in the Kate Daniels novels, it is never overwrought and in no way overshadows the rich world-building, fast pace, and fantastic characters I've come to expect from Ilona Andrews.

Nevada Baylor prefers not to attract attention. Of any sort. In a world ruled by rigidly stratified magical practitioners known as Primes, Nevada operates as far below the radar as possible. After the death of her father, she took up the reins of the family PI business. Making sparing and judicious use of her ability to determine whether or not people are telling the truth, and utilizing every scrap of talent from each of her siblings, her cousins, her ex-military mother, and even her mechanic grandmother, she is determined to provide for them all and stay afloat. But when their parent company calls her in and blackmails her into taking a case no one with half a brain cell would touch, Neva knows her days are numbered. And when she inadvertently (and completely against her will) partners up with Mad Rogan—the most notorious and insane Prime of all—she figures she might as well take advantage of Rogan's legendary abilities before the whole thing goes up in flames. Rogan has his own reasons for trying to track down the rogue Prime that's taking the city by storm. And so together the two set out to save the city. Whether or not they can manage it without killing each other along the way is another question entirely.

Burn for Me is just a cracking good read. The action, mystery, romance, and humor are all entwined in just such a way as to make the reading of it a nonstop pleasure. My interest never flagged, and I liked Neva and Rogan every bit as much as I hoped I would. My favorite thing about Andrews heroines is how hard they try. How doggedly they love and protect the ones that are theirs. How desperately they cloak their secrets. And how ferociously they fight to save the world. I loved Nevada for the way she held her family together, ran her business, and managed to handle crazy, magnetic Rogan. The glimpses we get of Rogan's past are painful and fascinating; his history as a telekinetic Prime and as a forged weapon is both twisted and suffocating. Working together, these two amount to a lit flame. And it was no hardship at all tracking them on their wild course through the city, arguing, plotting, and working their way closer together. Neva is rightfully guarded around Rogan, while Rogan doesn't know the meaning of the word "boundary." The combination of the two is something of a compulsive delight. My favorite moments, of course, are when Neva's deceptively simple ability allows her insight into Rogan. For example:
I was suddenly so tired. My eyes were burning. My throat still hurt.

Mad Rogan raised his hand. A bottle of water landed into it. He handed it to me. "Rinse your mouth and eyes. Don't swallow."

I opened the bottle, gulped, swished the water inside my mouth, and spat. The scratching subsided.

The younger of the men reappeared in the warehouse door and nodded to us. We started toward him.

"Thank you for saving my grandmother," I said.

"You're no good to me if you're burying a relative instead of looking for Pierce. I did it for completely selfish reasons," he said.

Lie.
I hated that it had to end. And I am already awaiting the sequel with the usual ill concealed impatience.

Burn for Me is due out October 28th
Buy

August 12, 2014

Tillerman Pretties


A couple of years ago, Atheneum Books put out these new editions of Cynthia Voigt's incomparable Tillerman Cycle and I swooned. I've never been over the moon for the past covers of these books, and my own set is a somewhat mismatched (but much beread and beloved) collection of mass market paperbacks. But this time—oh, this time they got it right. Something about these simple, slightly dreamy illustrations perfectly fits these stories of one family's struggle to survive and stay together. I require them.

As I never tire of talking about this series, have you read them? Which is your favorite? I waffle (don't I always?) between Dicey's Song, A Solitary Blue, and Seventeen Against the Dealer. Yeah. Yeah.

July 28, 2014

Dead Heat Cover

So a lot of times spin-off series fall somewhat flat for me. Either I'm so invested in those original characters that I have trouble shifting my loyalty as unswervingly to these previously side characters, or the story lines are just not as strong, or the genre shifts in a direction that just doesn't click for me as well, or what have you. But from the moment I picked up the introductory novella to Patricia Briggs' Alpha & Omega series, Anna and Charles were just in with me. And the three novels that followed only cemented that fact. It looked like we might not be getting another book for some time, which is why I was so thrilled to hear she'd gone ahead and written a fourth. Dead Heat is due out March 3rd of next year, and when I saw the cover all I could do was squee. Because Charles in human form. And because fourth book in a series I truly love.

July 22, 2014

Amour et Florand

Today, I'm over @ Chachic's Book Nook (one of my favorite haunts) with a guest post for her inspired Amour et Florand week. The week celebrates the works of Laura Florand, and I've contributed a few words on why I love her Amour et Chocolat series. If you've got a moment to spare, stop in and let me convince you to read these books sooner rather than later!

July 4, 2014

Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

I remember thinking nothing could top Shiver and then being introduced to Cole St. Clair in Linger and realizing Maggie Stiefvater had several more tricks left in her bag. Then Cole and Isabel proceeded to go for each other's throats and I forgot to worry at all. I loved them so much, though, that the continuation of their storyline was perhaps my biggest problem with Forever—the "conclusion" to the "trilogy." The two of them were just left hanging. And because at that point I really felt like Sam and Grace's story was winding down just as Cole and Isabel's was ramping up, I had a hard time with the wide open, barn door left swinging in the wind ending they were given. The funny thing is that I desperately wanted more but really didn't give any thought to the possibility of her writing more. That ship had sailed, we'd all moved on to killer water horses and dead Welsh kings. Which is why when the news hit that there would in fact be a companion novel to the Shiver trilogy and that it would clue us in on what was going down with our favorite emotional assassins, well, that my friends was a good day.

Cole St. Clair is back from the dead and better than ever. He's landed in L.A. and is slated to record his new record as part of a reality webseries with the notorious Baby North—a Hollywood producer known for destroying her subjects as a matter of course. But that's not why he's really in L.A. Not really. Cole is there because that's where Isabel Culpeper is. And in Cole's book, Isabel is pretty much the only thing worth pursuing. If he can revive his music career and make a killer album along the way, so much the better. But Isabel is supremely less than thrilled to see the former NARKOTIKA rocker darken her doorstep. That is to say, it is achingly good to see him. But everything about Cole has spelled nothing but trouble for Isabel, especially his addictive tendencies, be they for drugs, women, or turning into a big, bad wolf whenever the notion (or temperature) takes him. And so begins this epic dance between the two unhappiest people in L.A. Isabel refuses to be drawn into the glitzy hell that is Cole's life, and Cole refuses to be put off his dogged pursuit of the one girl he can be himself with. And as they dance, they're forced to step around Cole's former bandmates (both alive and dead), the new ones Baby North foists upon him, and the last dying gasps of Isabel's parents' marriage. The question is whether the whole cast and crew of the Cole & Isabel show will drag them under or whether they'll find a way to be. Together.
What I had earned was a trophy for generalized disinterest. It felt as if it had taken all of my energy to be so limply disengaged.

As I pulled aside the linen curtain to the back room, I heard the front door open again. If it was Christina returning to make a second effort at my leggings, I was going to be forced to get loud, and I didn't like getting loud.

But it wasn't Christina I heard at the front of the store.

Instead, a very familiar voice said, "No, no, I'm looking for something very particular. Oh, wait, I just saw it."

I turned around.

Cole St. Clair smiled lazily at me.

I gave so many damns at once that it actually hurt.
This is the passage that started me smiling, and I really did not stop until several hours after closing the book. If ever a pair of ruthless protagonists launched a full-scale assault on my emotions, Cole & Isabel are the ones. And just as I was hoping it would be, it was so crazy good to be back in their presence and to just listen to them snipe at each other and put an icily blank (Isabel) or dazzlingly jaded (Cole) face on things. The bright and shameless L.A. setting proved to be such a solid change-up for Stiefvater and the rest of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. Gone are the freezing temperatures, wooded forests, and quiet ennui of Minnesota. Bring on the baking sun and the sand and the concrete jungle that barely masks too many emotions, too much energy and life being shoved and sculpted into ill-fitting, empty boxes. They are both so strong in this book, Cole & Isabel. The signature alternating POV chapters sing with the distilled and chilled 100-proof vodka that runs in their veins in the place of warm blood. What's more, every side character worked for me, from Isabel's psychotically domestic cousin Sofia to Cole's clear-eyed ex-bass player Jeremy and his hilariously deadpan driver Leon. It was good to be somewhere new with new faces and new threats. The entire paranormal side of this series was notably dialed down in favor of the more human element. Sometimes Cole is a wolf. Sometimes he chooses to become one in lieu of shooting some other form of oblivion up his arm. Sometimes these two facts make Isabel want to murder someone. Preferably him. And that's it. These things are real. But more real, more tantalizing, is the possibility that if they could each just stop killing themselves trying to prove they don't give a damn—just for a minute—they might find a space in which the pain is held at bay. And the hope of that minute, that swoony, devastating minute of peace that could turn into two minutes and then an hour and then a kind of life worth something? That's worth reading.

Buy

July 3, 2014

Landline Audio Clip Teaser


For those of you who like your multitasking, I thought I'd let you know that Landline is also available on audiobook (read by Rebecca Lowman). Macmillan Audio was kind enough to offer up an audiobook teaser clip for your pleasure. Enjoy!