The following is my list of books read in the month of July. It was a serious month of reading. 16 total! (Well - 15 1/2...)
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews *****
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews *****
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews *****
Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews *****
Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill *****
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill *****
Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill *****
A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart *****
Pray for Dawn by Jocelyn Drake ****
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro ***
Double Dating with the Dead by Karen Kelley ***
One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell by Rick Maydak ***
Demons by John Shirley **
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane *****+
Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane *****+
City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane *****+
So, why so many 5 stars this month? Because it was a month of AUTHOR AWESOMENESS!
(5+ stars) I've already blogged about Stacia Kane's new series (Unholy Ghosts, Unholy Magic, City of Ghosts) and I honestly think these are right up there on my favorite list for gritty dark urban fantasy. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved the world it was set in. Each and every piece of it was brilliantly executed. It all made sense. It was so good, I actually debated turning around and reading it a second time just to enjoy it all over again. I want more of this series - more Chess, more Terrible and more Lex!!
Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series - 5 stars - (Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds) - this is my third time reading through this series. With each new book, I start from the beginning. They're that good. Kate, the main character is tough as nails. Curran, the beast lord, will melt your socks. Every character is thought out, well written and built into the story perfectly. And the world she's created is unique and interesting.
Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampire series - 5 stars - (Friday Night Bites, Some Girls Bite, Twice Bitten) is another great read. Merit is a vampire, not by choice but because of a late night attack on campus. Ethan is head of Cadogan House & saves her life by turning her. She's not exactly thrilled by it (even if Ethan is yummy as hell). Merit is smart, strong as a vampire and her own person. No one is going to push her around. Again, another well thought out world where vampires have come out of the closet so-to-speak. The shape shifters are not happy about it. And the fae? Hmm. I love this series.
A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart (5 stars) is the first in a new series about Jesse James Dawson, a father, a husband and a modern day samurai. Oh, and he fights demons. I loved the references to ancient samurai books as well as pop culture. Listening to anime soundtracks in the car? Priceless. And Jesse gets hurt & heals like the human he is. Which is only to be expected when you're fighting demons. The characters were well written, tho I'm hoping for more insight into some of them, the world was interesting and the story pulls you in slowly and lets you get comfortable before picking up pace and speeding to the finish with action-packed goodness. I can't wait to read more.
Pray for Dawn by Jocelyn Drake (4 stars) is the 4th book in her vampire series feature Mira, a 600 yr. old vampire & fire starter and Danaus, a thousand year old human/bori demon. This book is told from Danaus's POV, a first. I can't say it was my favorite in the series. Maybe because I really like Mira's POV, which I think is phenomenally well done. Part of it was the story, though. A lot of it seemed out of character to me. And I had issues with the end - things happened that I was NOT happy about, but I'm not saying what. I just didn't see the point. I'm currently reading the next book (Wait for Dusk) which I'm enjoying so much more. I do like this series quite a bit & the other books are all 5 stars for me. This just wasn't my favorite.
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro (3 stars) is about a plane, an ancient strigoi vampire, a vampire hunter, a CDC doctor and is more of a horror story than UF. I liked it. It hops from one character to another, but the main character is the CDC guy. It reminded me a lot of early Stephen King. I thought it read more like a movie than a book (like it was laid out to be a movie). I thought in the end the main character veered from who he was through the entire book so severely that it didn't make sense. I'm hoping in the sequel that series of decisions will be explained. Overall, an enjoyable read.
Double Dating with the Dead by Karen Kelley (3 stars) is a light, funny read. Good for days when you can't put too much thought into what you're reading. The two main characters are staying at a haunted hotel because they have a bet. She says ghosts exist, he says they don't. Thing is, she knows ghosts exist. Whoever loses the bet has to publish a column in their respective newspaper admitting they were wrong. You know from the get-go how the story is going to go & that's okay. Because its fun getting there.
One if by Heaven, Two if by Hell by Richard Maydak (3 stars) was by a local author, so I don't know how easy it is to come by across the country. Its the story of a man, Ethan, a real loser to be honest. He's overweight, slovenly, a raging alcohol and really unlikeable. Thing is, he can hear people's voices - all the time, everywhere he goes & it's basically made him a little nuts, not to mention anti-social & a useless person. When he was a kid, a "toad" creature haunted him at night. Now a man in white shows up. Angel? Devil? Well, I'm not saying but lets just say its up to Ethan to figure it out & save the world. My problem is he was so thoroughly unlikeable (he watches a girl he's in love with be gang raped in an alley and does nothing) I had trouble sticking with it. But in the end, I kind of liked the story as much as the main character disgusted me. It is very dark & the imagery is violent and creepy. It won't be everyone's cup of tea.
Demons by John Shirley (2 stars)....I haven't actually managed to finish this. In fact, I got to the end of the first chunk of it and couldn't read the second part. Don't get me wrong - the story, when its actually a story, is pretty damn good. I liked the world & I liked the storyline (where demons have risen up and are intermittently killing off humans). My problem was for every page of story, there were pages and pages of pontificating on the existential meaning of our very existence within this conundrum known as life and examining our choices as they pertain to the greater meaning of good vs. evil in a world where chaos reigns. Get the point? UGH. I found myself skipping huge chunks just to read the action sequences. When the first part finished, I looked at the second part and just couldn't bring myself to keep going. Will I finish it someday? Yes. But not anytime soon.