Kate Daniels

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

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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

Iron and Magic


Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant #1) By: Ilona Andrews

Plot:

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she’s trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.

Review:

“Iron and Magic” takes place in the Kate Daniels universe, but Kate and most of the people in her books are hardly in this. There is a small bit with the Bouda clan alphas, and Kate is mentioned several times as well as Roland, but this story is about Hugh and Elara.

Before this story, just based on what we already knew about him, I wasn’t a fan of Hugh. Honestly, I was looking forward to this book because it’s Ilona Andrews, but I wasn’t in a hurry to read it because I didn’t care about him. He’s blood thirsty and seemed evil from what we’d seen in Kate’s series, I’m also tired of the whole taking a villain and making him not bad anymore. However, by the time I was finished with this book I’d had a complete change of heart. I can’t help but love a broken badass.

Elara is still a mystery, her powers and history are only hinted at in this story never given too much detail. She seems to be possessed by some kind of god? Or maybe she is a god? She’s super powerful but can be wounded and killed, her people can pray to her, and apparently she’s terrifying in her powerful form. She loves her people and wants to take care of them and so she marries Hugh because he can provide protection she can’t.

The couple fight constantly and Elara is forever withholding information that Hugh needs to do his job. She second guesses him, puts roadblocks in his way, and is very much like his nickname for her, harpy. I was not a fan, there’s being strong because you have to be and then there’s just being stupid. I understand that she’s having issues trusting him, but come on, she married him, she signed a contract, she had to trust him to do all of that, but she was one of the biggest obstacles in the story.

Hugh does his own withholding, but it didn’t feel like the same level. He was a pretty massive baby about some things, though. Honestly, they’re both super flawed and deserve each other, but Elara’s flaws bothered me more.

There’s definitely a spark of romance between the two and there’s a pretty hot sex scene that happens right after an intense fight with an army of tough bad guys. I guess being a healer means that Hugh doesn’t need as much sleep as a normal person.

Lots of unanswered questions about Hugh and Elara have me interested in what happens next but I’m glad that it’s only going to be three books. Hopefully, it’s not a trilogy like the Hidden Legacy series was a trilogy where we don’t get a proper ending with the third book.

4.5/5

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) By: Ilona Andrews

magic-binds

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) By: Ilona Andrews

Plot:

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Review:

A lot happened in this book. A whole lot. Even with that, though, I never felt over whelmed or on edge. I didn’t feel much urgency, which kind of makes me sad. The book was good, very good even, but I not once doubted that Kate and her entire crew would make it out alive. On the one hand I’m glad of that because I love them all and in my current state it would destroy me if anything happened to them, on the other hand it makes the book somewhat less exciting.

It’s possible it was just me, I’m hormonal and moody and things aren’t striking me like they normally would so I’m not sure if I would feel the same way if I read it at another time.

I will say I’m getting tired of the buildup for the climax between Kate and her father. The main plotline in Magic Binds was all about her father, but it ended with him still alive and only suffering a minor defeat. After nine books I’m kind of ready for that threat to be over. I’m actually hoping right now that book ten is where the series ends, I love Kate Daniels but I don’t want it to become a series that’s never ending and loses itself in the process. We’ll see what happens.

4.5/5

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) By: Ilona Andrews

MagicShifts_CV

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) By: Ilona Andrews

Plot:

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Review:

*Sigh* There are few things better than a new Ilona Andrew’s book. Normally I put off reading as long as I can, but when this was delivered to my kindle at midnight the only thing keeping me from reading it was the fact my kindle was downstairs and I was warm and cozy in bed. My laziness wins out over a new book apparently.

Anyway, I devoured this book in one day and now the wait begins for the next. I was curious to see how Kate would figure out how to fight her super powerful father and thought they had forgotten about it until the absolute end of the book and I realized the entire book was really a way to fight her father. It was interesting and unexpected since I didn’t try and think up my own solution. Nothing I could come up with would be better than what Andrews creates. NOTHING.

The book starts out immediately with Kate killing some ghouls and because of that it took me a few pages to get into it. I wanted to know how they were coping living in the suburbs, I wanted all the relationship stuff. I was impatient but they didn’t make me wait too long. I am a little concerned about how things there are developing. I hope in a later book a human that isn’t a difficult/annoying person is introduced. They’ve moved from one pack but they’re being joined by everyone it feels like. On one hand I love the characters and I’m glad they’re there, but how is that going to work with the real pack?

So many questions left in the series and there are so many amazing characters that I feel that Ilona Andrews should be in line to have their consciousness uploaded to a computer so that we will always have a new book

5/5