Ilona Andrews

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)

Emerald Blaze

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)

Release Date: August 25, 2020

By: Ilona Andrews

Blurb:

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

Review:

When I got the email saying I’d won an ARC of Emerald Blaze, I screamed. I then proceeded to be so swamped with library books that I had to set it aside. Three, or so, weeks later, I was finally able to read, and it was definitely worth the wait.

At this point, it should be clear Ilona Andrews is my favorite author.

Catalina is very different from Nevada, her older sister and the star of the first three books. They’re both smart, but Catalina is more analytical. She’s also an overachiever. If a teacher mentions a book in passing, she is the type of student who would go out and read the book, then probably the author’s entire catalog. She is thorough.

She has the weight of taking care of her entire House on her shoulders, and Catalina does everything she can to protect them. It’s a trait that she shares with the rest of her family. She keeps things closer to her chest than Nevada did and plans years in advance like a chess player. She’s a woman after my own heart.

Alessandro is not as cocky as he was in the previous book. Things have happened to him that has made him reassess his life and goals. He’s still a badass, he’s still gorgeous, and he’s still into Catalina. But he’s matured, and it looks great on him.

The story in Emerald Blaze might be the biggest in the series in terms of threat. However, since the family is so overpowered, you never doubt that they’ll succeed. I like that in my books, but I can see why others wouldn’t. The entertaining part is discovering how they’re going to save the day, not in wondering if they will.

There is a decent amount of development with the entire Baylor family in Emerald Blaze. Unlike the last book Nevada and Catalina talk in this one several times. It was nice to see Nevada again. Everyone in the family has their moment, and all the characters I liked from previous books were here as well. That’s one of the difficult things with later books, the cast of characters is larger. It never felt like people were being forced into the story, though.

If you haven’t read the previous books, you would be able to follow the story, but you’d miss out on so much that I wouldn’t recommend jumping in here. Emerald Blaze was a great addition to the series and more than lives up to what I’ve come to expect from Ilona Andrews. I’m incredibly excited to see what happens next.

5/5

2019 Top 10 Books of the Year

Yeah, so January is almost over, but it took me a bit to catch up on the books I was most looking forward to that came out in 2019. There are still books from 2019 that I haven’t read, but what’s left I don’t believe would make the list. Maybe I’m wrong, I’ll find out in ten years if I ever catch up on my to-read list.

  1. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – Great LGBT fantasy with wonderful characters.
  2. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – Love Helen Hoang, this book was a great romance with an autistic hero and a mixed race heroine.
  3. The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – Holy shit I never knew astronomy could be so hot. Same sex historical romance that was just beautiful.
  4. A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole – This is a book in the Reluctant Royals series and like all the others I devoured it. So freaking good.
  5. Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh – Book 18 in the Psy-Changling series and somehow this series just continues to deliver amazing stories. I loved this empath wolf story and all the development that was done in the universe.
  6. Well Met by Jen DeLuca – I never expected a book to make me want to attend a Ren Fair but this one did. Cute romance with wenches in corsets.
  7. Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews – I love Ilona Andrews, there will always be a book from them on my list (I hope)
  8. Paper Girls Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson– Final volume in this series and it was a wonderful wrap up to the story. I love the art in this series and the fact that it’s a mostly female cast.
  9. Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day – This book was so positive and uplifting. Even though I haven’t finished it yet I had to include it on my list.
  10. Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore – I’m loving these historical romances that infuse a lot of modern day ideals. I don’t care if it bends historical accuracy, the books are fiction after all, I just want more.

 

Honorable Mentions

  1. Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon – This book was ridiculously hot. Like holy cow fanning my face as it turns beet red.
  2. Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews – Maud is a kickass mom that is so smart and capable and I have a weakness for characters like that.
  3. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks – Great art, super sweet story, lovely characters.

Dynamite Review Best of 2018

Each year I try to make a list of all my favorites for the year. Most years I don’t see or read or play much that came out in the actual year, but for once I was able to make lists of stuff that exclusively came out in 2018.

Black Panther

Movies
I feel like I should place a warning here before anyone can read my list. It is going to be heavy on the Superhero films. I watched Hidden Figures and Girls Trip for the first time in 2018 and loved them, but because they didn’t come out in 2018 I decided not to include them. So I apologize for the following boring list of movies.
1. Black Panther
Holy shit I still love this movie. I watched it recently, wondering if it would hold up from my original viewing and it did. If anything I like it more than I did the first time around.
2. Deadpool 2
I really need to re-watch this. I was finally able to get ahold of the unrated cut and I haven’t yet watched it. Still, the first viewing was incredibly memorable and I’m looking forward to seeing what was added. Also, they fucking made a PG-13 version with a tie in to my favorite movie, The Princess Bride!
3. BlacKkKlansman
This movie stands out like a sore thumb on my list, but I can’t help it. It was a great movie and hit me right in the soul.
4. Ant-Man and the Wasp
I loved the Wasp, she was such a badass.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
I’m still not sure about this movie. It was great, hit all the right notes, and got me super excited for the 2019 Marvel movies, but my final opinion of it is not going to be settled until those come out.

Honorable Mentions
Incredible 2
Oceans 8
The Hurricane Heist

Magic Triumphs

Books
The wonderful Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is not on the list since it didn’t come out in 20118, but it is definitely one I loved reading. Sadly, this will also be the first time I’m not including a Patricia Briggs book on my list, Burn Bright just did not cut it for me. I debated whether or not I should add Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews to my list since it’s a novella, but ultimately decided I liked having a nice round number for my total.
Like my movie list, my book list is kind of heavy on one side, namely Ilona Andrews’s book. Often in the past I’ve just listed them as one entry, but I did not read much this year, and my list would be bare without them.
So without further ado, my best of 2018 books!
1. Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) By: Ilona Andrews
This was THE climactic conclusion of possibly my favorite series. It was well worth the wait.
2. A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) By: Alyssa Cole
This was my favorite find of the year. I freaking LOVED this book and I’m so excited for the books to come.
3. Ocean Light (Psy-Changling Trinity #2) By: Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh is such a great author and I was so happy to finally have a human love interest in this series. It was all so sweet.
4. Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacies #3.5) By: Ilona Andrews
This may have been a novella but it packed a lot into the limited pages. I’m beyond exited for the books coming up and looking forward to seeing more of Catalina.
5. Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant #1) By: Ilona Andrews
Before I read this I was not excited that Hugh was getting his own series, but I have now been converted. I never should have doubted Ilona Andrews.

murphy-brown-season-11-cast-photo

TV Shows
I watch a LOT of TV. I also, rarely write reviews for what I watch. I try to do season recaps after I binge, and I succeed at that about fifty percent of the time. I do better reviewing pilot episodes.
Like everything else, I’m going to limit myself to seasons that aired in 2018, which means that one of my favorites, Dramaworld, won’t be on the list. I’ll also try and include shows that I wrote reviews for, but sadly I haven’t gotten around to writing a review for The Good Place and I have to include it on my list.
So here we go!
1. Murphy Brown
You have no idea how much I love this series. I honestly had no idea how much I loved it until it came back and I actually set my little rabbit ears up and watched it live. I know the likelihood that I’ll actually get another season is slim to none, but I can’t stop myself from hoping for more.
2. The Good Place
Holy shit this show does not fail to deliver. Every episode I have no idea what the fuck is going to happen and it does not disappoint. It’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched.
3. Westworld
Just when I think I’ve got a handle on what’s going on I’m thrown for a loop. Then they have an episode that shows an entirely new side of the hosts and I learn even more. It’s an interesting and beautiful show.
4. Jane the Virgin
Apparently, I love twists. That’s what my list is teaching me this year. Jane the Virgin gave me the biggest twist of the year with the season finale and I’m still on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next.
5. 12 Monkeys
The final season wrapped up a complicated story very well. It gave me closure and had me guessing right up until the very end. It was a fitting conclusion to a great time travel sci-fi TV show.

Honorable Mentions

Timeless

Doctor Who
Anne with an E
Sense 8

20180924183849_1
Games
I love playing games, but it is one of my hobbies that ends up getting pushed aside for other things, so I don’t play as much as I would like. I also, don’t review many games, but here’s a list of my 2018 favorites.
1. No Man’s Sky: Next (PC)
I’ve enjoyed No Man’s Sky since the beginning, but the Next expansion brought me back to the game. The added content was amazing, and was quickly followed by more expansive updates. I spent well over 100 hours playing it this year and had so much fun doing it.
2. Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch)
Smash Bros Ultimate just came out and I haven’t had much time to play it. I’ve definitely not beaten the “story mode” yet, but I’m having a blast. I haven’t liked a Smash game since the original on N64 and I’m so excited to finally be enjoying the franchise again. There is so much content that it’s going to take some time before I’m able to finish it, if I’m able too.
3. Splatoon 2: Octoling Expansion (Switch)
It honestly feels like this came out forever ago. I downloaded it day one and somehow ended up beating it. The Octoling Expansion felt like the story we should have gotten with Splatoon 2 originally. It was fun and creative, several times infuriating, and just an all-around pleasure to play.
4. Civilization VI (Switch)
I love the Civilization franchise. I’ve been asking for it to come back to consoles ever since I moved away from playing on the XBOX 360 and I finally got my wish this year. I’ve only had it for about a month, but I’ve already spent over 60 hours playing. It’s so easy to say just one more turn and since I can play in bed, instead of at the PC, I’m playing it more than ever. It doesn’t have as much as the PC version, but so far I’ve been incredible happy with all that’s been included and with how it runs. I tend toward the Standard map, so I’m not sure how well it goes on larger maps, though.
5. Overcooked 2 (Switch)
My husband and I beat the original Overcooked together and for Christmas we started the sequel. Overcooked 2 is everything that I love about the first, but with polish. It looks nicer, the mechanics are better, and it still has all the fun and frustration of the first. It’s been a great game to coop with my husband and we’ve both been enjoying it.

Magic Triumphs

Magic Triumphs

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) By: Ilona Andrews

Plot:

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Review:

The climactic conclusion to the Kate Daniels series! I have not been this excited for a book since the final Harry Potter. Somehow I was able to resist staying up into the wee hours of the morning to finish this, but it was close. The only reason I resisted reading it so long was because I was afraid of doing that and I need my sleep lately.

There were a couple heart wrenching moments, aided by the fact that my baby is just a couple months older than Kate’s baby. I cried. A couple times. I ignored my children as they destroyed the house around me.

SPOILERS

Kate has become a helicopter parent. She is definitely experiencing some post pregnancy hormones and has come such a long way from the original character. She loves so much and so afraid to lose it all and will do anything to protect those she loves. It hurts when you allow people in your heart, but she doesn’t regret it at all.

Not as many people died as I expected. In fact no one I really thought of as important died, which kind of lessened the impact of everything, but I don’t care. I love these characters and it would have hurt so much if they’d died.

Kate and Curran got their happy ending. We got to see Hugh and his woman and pretty much everyone in the universe we’ve met so far. They all had their part to play, but it never felt too chaotic. There was also a set up for another series, though, it doesn’t necessarily have to happen because things were wrapped up really well. It was nice that the world won’t necessarily be ignored and we can look forward to more stories in it.

I didn’t want to do anything after reading this, I just wanted to absorb, and then re-read the entire series. I might just do that, we’ll see, it’s been a while. If you’ve been waiting until the series is over to start it, here you go, never a better time to start.

5/5

Diamond Fire

Diamond Fire

Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacies 3.5) By: Ilona Andrews

Plot:

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan’s extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for her sister’s happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.

Review:

I devoured this novella. The world that has been created in the Hidden Legacy series is so interesting and complicated. The Baylor’s are such capable strong women and I love reading about them

This story was basically just an introduction to Catalina. We’ve, of course, seen her before, but we’ve never had her point of view on things. She is protective of her family, but also shy and more reserved than Nevada. She is scared of her power, for understandable reasons, and she doubts what her future holds.

The story was fun. There were moments of righteous outrage that I loved. A whole plethora of characters that may or may not show up later. Tons of family secrets revealed. It was a highly entertaining short read and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

5/5