Friday, March 20, 2020

REVIEW: Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond by Kim Harrison

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Into the Woods is a collection of short stories from the Hollows and beyond. While many of these stories take place in the Hollows universe, others are from a completely new world, engaging nonetheless.

Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison
Read 6/8–6/9/06 & 10/12–10/13/19
This is Ivy's story, before she meets Rachel and Jenks and starts Vampiric Charms. We learn a lot more about what makes Ivy tick, and how she comes to her decision to live blood-free as a living vampire. I don't think I enjoyed it quite as much as the full-length novels because I missed having Rachel and Jenks too, but still, I appreciate this story for what it is... a deeper look into Ivy's life pre-Rachel. :)
Rating: 7 stars

Dirty Magic by Kim Harrison
Read 10/14/19
This short story takes place in Kim Harrison's Hollows universe. Mia is a banshee previously introduced in the short story Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil. This is her story... I understand she's to become a major antagonist in the full-length Black Magic Sanction (book 8) so this is a good look into what makes her tick. I found it quite interesting and look forward to delving deeper into her character in an upcoming novel.
Rating: 7 stars

The Bridges of Eden Park by Kim Harrison
Read 10/18/19
A short tribute to Kisten, this short story actually takes place prior to For A Few Demons More. We briefly meet Kisten's sister Chrissie, who's ex-boyfriend is after her son. Rachel steps in to help and save the day. It's a decent story, quite short, but gives a brief glimpse into Kisten's feeling about children and shows him as a kind and tender soul.
Rating: 7 stars

Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel
Read 10/27 – 10/30/19
This is Rachel's story, before she joined the I.S. We get to meet Rachel's brother, Robbie whom we've heard about in the books. And we learn a little more about what makes Rachel tick and what prompted her decision to join the I.S. (before she eventually left with Ivy). At 84 pages long, this was more of a novella than a short story, and that made it even better... more time to flesh everything out. And the story about the ghost and how things go wrong is true Rachel. Loved this one! <3 Rating: 9 stars

Bespelled
Read 10/21/19
This is a short story that gives us more insight into the demon Algaliarept, "lovingly" referred to as Al throughout the series. This is pre-Ceri and we get to learn what makes him tick and how he came to be the demon he is today. Perfect timing to read it right after The Outlaw Demon Wails due to the major turning point taking place in that book. NO SPOILERS! :p
Rating: 8 stars

Ley Line Drifter
Read 12/7 - 12/9/19
This was a fun little Jenks and Bis short story, with a short Ivy appearance. Jenks takes on a job on his own and proves he's more than just a sidekick. And if I didn't already love Bis, this story would indeed win me over! We are introduced to a Dryad named Daryl who is mentioned in some later Hollows novels.
Rating: 8 stars

Million-Dollar Baby
Read 2/2/20 - 2/3/20
Remember in Pale Demon when Trent went off with Jenks on his elf quest? Well, this is that story... In it, we get to see Trent's self-doubt that he will be able to properly care for Lucy, his love for her the moment he set eyes on her, and his deep inner feelings on wanting to become a better person—one that doesn't turn to murder first when faced with trouble. We have really begun to see an entirely different side of Trent over the last couple books (Pale Demon & A Perfect Blood) and this story really brings all that home!
Rating: 7 stars

Non-Hollows Shorts


Pet Shop Boys
Read 2/8/20
This is the first of 4 non-Hollows-related short stories, and even though there was no Rachel, Ivy, or Jenks, Harrison's writing style still made it a joy to read nonetheless. The depiction of the darker side of Fairies—similar to blood-sucking vampires—is something that usually remains hidden from the eyes of most humans. Until one stumbles through the veil one night and has to fight for his life to escape!
Rating: 8 stars

Temson Estates
Read 2/8/20
This was a short 15 page story, but was a different take on dryads from what Ms. Harrison portrayed in Ley Line Drifter. An interesting read!
Rating: 6 stars

Spider Silk
Read 2/9/20
I really liked this story--which actually read more like the first few chapters of a book--since it definitely left me hanging at the end! I really would've liked to find out what happened to Kevin for one. I sincerely hope that Ms. Harrison considers taking this story further and gives us a full book, perhaps even jumping forward into Meg's adulthood, as I really enjoyed this glimpse.

The portrayal of the Dryad here is fierce but kind, loving yet cruel... it reminded me more of the Fae than any Dryad I've ever read about, the only minor difference being that they could be imprisoned within living trees—which I suppose is what makes them Dryad.
Rating: 8 stars

Grace
Read 3/17/20 - 3/18/20
A bit of a different take on magic, which focuses more on the transfer of energy and imbalances in the body, versus its usual association with witches or other Inderlander species like in the Hollows series. Throws, as they're known, have an imbalance of energy in their body such that they can do all sorts of things from shorting out electrical equipment to restarting someone's heart. But with all that power comes a need to control it, and that's where the Strand comes in. Grace is one such throw, having been discovered by the Strand in her mid teens and now working among their ranks—for anyone that refuses to work within the system must undergo a procedure to have it the "imbalance" burned out of them. Kinda like a lobotomy! So yeah, this is energy manipulation without any of the spiritual or magical stuff that goes along with it.

I found it an interesting angle, though I'm predisposed to enjoy the paranormal side of things more so than the science, so I can't say I liked it quite as much.
Rating: 7 stars


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Wednesday, March 04, 2020

REVIEW: The Undead Pool (The Hollows #12) by Kim Harrison

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

When The Undead Pool was originally published back in 2014, it was planned that the series would come to a close after 13 books. This being book 12 would indicate we're nearing the end of the story arc. But woohoo! Ms. Harrison is publishing a return to the Hollows book later this year titled American Demon so hopefully we won't be saying goodbye to Rachel and Jenks for some time yet. :)

In The Undead Pool, Rachel is again out to save the world, with Trent right by her side. I don't want to give away too much, but if you've been watching the relationship (or previous lack thereof) between Rachel and Trent, you'll definitely be surprised how things develop here. Suffice to say, I was gleefully happy with the direction it's taken. ;)

Overall, this was a fantastic addition to the series—fun, fast-paced, and exciting. Highly recommended!! But definitely start with Book 1, Dead Witch Walking.

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

REVIEW: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

A Conjuring of Light is an action-packed conclusion to the Shades of Magic trilogy. Unlikely heroes come to light, while some previously favorite characters started to become a little bit annoying... for me at least. While I adored the first two books in the trilogy, this one took a little bit longer to really gain its wings, which is why I rated it slightly lower than the first two. At 600+ pages, I felt the author could've dispatched with a little of the brooding and some other superfluous stuff and left us with a juicer book that keeps the action going non-stop.

Suffice to say, if you enjoyed the first two books in the series as much as I did, you'll definitely want to read this one since A Gathering of Shadows ended on a cliffhanger. And I'm sure you'll be just as happy with the ending as I was. I just wish the journey was a little less arduous.

If you're interested in this trilogy, do check out my reviews for the first two books here:
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab


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Saturday, February 22, 2020

REVIEW: Ever After (The Hollows #11) by Kim Harrison

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Wow! While this one started off a little slower than the last few novels, it quickly picked up speed and became a fast-paced read I had a hard time putting down.

The demon's world of Ever After is shrinking—slowly at first but then rather quickly—as a genetically modified day-walking demon set on revenge is attempting to do everything in his power to bring Rachel down—and have her take the blame for his trying to bring an end to the demon world.

Despite all the demon's calling for her blood, Rachel is doing everything she can to stop the demise and force the blame where it should rightly be—on Ku-Sox's shoulders. But with the time limit fast approaching, the genetically modified demon will do anything to stop her—even if it means taking out everyone who stands in his way!


Also included at the end of the book was the short story, Trouble on Reserve:
A quick little short story of Rachel and Trent on a job that should actually come AFTER Ever After—not before—as evidenced by the girls being with Ellasbeth, plus the mention of a half-drunk confession. So while the copyright date on this short story appears to be a year earlier than Ever After (2012 vs 2013), Ms. Harrison obviously rewrote parts so that it clearly fit AFTER, and thus more precisely as a short story at the end of that novel.

That said, this particular story seemed to come to an abrupt end with no resolution... who knows, maybe it'll all be brought to light in The Undead Pool—the next full-length novel in the series.

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Saturday, February 08, 2020

REVIEW: The Hollows Insider (The Hollows #9.5) by Kim Harrison

The Hollows Insider
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

LOVED IT!!! ❤❤❤

Devin Crossman is a reporter/blogger for The Hollows Gazette who's got an axe to grind with one Rachel Morgan. After one of her spells goes awry on the bus while trying to catch an escaping Were, Mr. Crossman ends up losing all his hair! Hey, it eventually grows back so no harm, no foul, right? But he won't let it die and is determined to bring Rachel down, using all the resources at his disposal to dig up all the dirt he can find on Rachel, Trent, and anyone else in her life!

The book is laid out in a dossier format—with file folders, post-its, and taped in cards and pages—really fun to read! And while it isn't really a story in the true sense of the word, a story is indeed being told through its pages. We discover some little known facts about Rachel and the gang, get some reminders about some of the important points in her life, and even get a map of the Hollows and downtown Cincinnati. We've also got several interoffice notes and memos between Trent and Quen, and Trent and Jonathan, obviously dug up somehow by the reporter, and through this, we also come to understand how or why certain events that took place in the book happened.

I'm really glad I grabbed the print version of this book—hardcover actually—as I'm not sure it would be readable on the Kindle... maybe on a Fire where you could read it in full color and have full-size pages, but don't even think of trying to read it on an e-ink device like the Paperwhite or Voyage... the latter being what I own. But I totally loved it and plan to hang onto it as a keepsake for one of my favorite series of all time!

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Monday, February 03, 2020

REVIEW: A Perfect Blood (The Hollows #10) by Kim Harrison

A Perfect Blood
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

A powerful underground hate group that targets Inderlanders has resurfaced, and you can bet Rachel's on their radar! But they've changed the rules, and now magic is their weapon instead of their enemy. While Rachel has successfully faced off against all manner of Inderland species—vampire, werewolf, banshee, and more—this group of supernatural-hating humans, with their never-ending supply of resources and funding, is proving to be quite tough to handle!

After the events of the previous book, and Trent's elven quest, Rachel and Trent have finally moved past their adversarial relationship and are beginning to trust one another... possibly even become friends, if you can believe it! w00t w00t! And if you read the version of this book with the bonus chapter, you'll even get to read a separate chapter 19 from Trent's POV. It's quite enlightening to say the least.

This was one of my favorites in the series thus far... although I feel like I've been saying that for the last couple of books at least. But seriously, as this series begins to draw to a close (or will it?) things are getting really juicy!


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Sunday, February 02, 2020

REVIEW: Pale Demon (The Hollows #9) by Kim Harrison

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

What do you get when a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy go on a cross-country road trip? One rip-roaring hell of a ride, that's for sure! But as a new day-walking demon is unleashed, can Rachel learn to embrace her demon side in order to save those she loves?

While battling some new and usual villains, this particular installment in the series focuses a lot on Rachel's relationships, including the heretofore strained relationship she's always had with Trent... and I totally loved where all this was going! So hard to put this down!

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Monday, January 06, 2020

REVIEW: Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8) by Kim Harrison

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

Rachel is again running for her life, this time from her own kind. The Coven of Moral & Ethical Standards, the powerful force that polices all witches, is convinced Rachel's a black witch and is determined to take her down.

But Rachel's not one to let a public shunning, fairy assassins, or the burning of her church get her down—she comes back kicking ass and taking names!

This pulse-pounding romp through the Hollows is book number 8 in the series, and it's been one of the best and most complex thus far. We not only discover a great deal about the witches' origins, but we finally understand more of what makes Rachel so different. Sooo looking forward to Number 9 !!!

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