I continued reading the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews backwards. I liked doing this because so many people die in the series that it’s nice to know not to get too attached. But one problem is that the books get better as the series goes on and there’s pretty large leaps in quality between the first five books. The first book just is not very good (which is probably why I didn’t finish it the first time through… I skipped large chunks this time around). It’s rapey and people do dumb things. The second book is readable but not ownable. The third book still has people doing nonsensical things. The fourth book is reasonably good. The fifth book is great and smart people stop doing dumb stuff (dumb people do dumb stuff, but that makes sense because they should do dumb stuff). The side stories are all lots of fun and worth tracking down. I’ve also been reading drips and drabs of the new first book starring Kate’s adopted daughter, Julie on their website. After the fifth book, each consecutive book is better. It’s a great series. Except, maybe skip the first book and keep plowing through the next few.
Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews was terrible and I deleted it.
On the Edge by Ilona Andrews was a really odd mix– it reads kind of like Paper Moon with magic… that kind of genre, almost 1930s black and white rural depressed. The premise is really interesting with people living in between a magic world that’s kind of stuck in regency/Victorian times but like with somewhat better government and the real world (maybe early 2000s) US, a town with a Walmart. But then it combines that with kind of a delightful standard regency romance? The second book, Bayou Moon was pretty awful. It’s really long and there’s a psychotic child murderer and I dunno, there’s no joy in it. I skipped most of the middle and didn’t feel that happy at the end, although I did like seeing the characters in the first book again in the epilogue that kind of comes out of nowhere (after the heroine inexplicably plays hard to get? I mean, this book is just full of stupid in addition to the awful.). I’m not sure I have it in me to try the next two books. Maybe if the library has them.
As predicted, I just didn’t like Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. I guess I just didn’t care about the main female protagonist that much? She’s a bit twee and manic pixie but with an almost mean selfish streak, which is maybe cynically tongue in cheek but is it really? She also doesn’t want a long-term relationship (not because she’s been burned or anything so far as I can tell, just doesn’t want one) and like, I don’t see why the book needs to force one on her? The hero is an odd mix of bright and not very bright, but he’s a genuinely nice guy. The McGuffin wasn’t enough to be convincing about a fake relationship or particularly interesting on its own. Overall I skipped huge chunks and returned it to the library. (And I still would have preferred reading a more realistic book about her overcoming realistic relationship difficulties with someone who challenges her like her ex-girlfriend instead of a cinnamon bun of a man, as much as I love the cinnamon bun combination for many of her other heroines, but those are heroines who need unconditional love.) I mean sure, the relationship works and they seem happy, but deep down I think almost anybody would be happy with someone with cinnamon bun like qualities like my DH (and he would be happy too) but that doesn’t mean I want to read about all such pairings. I still plan to read about the third sister.
The Shinigami Detective series is DELIGHTFUL. All of my worries about inappropriate appropriated “Orientalism” were completely unfounded– she’s only called that because (and this is in the prologue, so not a spoiler) she reads manga and made a side-comment that roughly translates to oh, I’m an angel of death, and then the word shinigami stuck. She’s from California and the only mystic secrets she knows are the kind that someone with her background in California would believably know. The books are not really mystery novels so much as police procedurals. You’re not going to figure out who the guilty person is on your own because often the suspects aren’t introduced until you’re fairly sure they’re the guilty person. So more Conan Doyle than Christie. Still, quite enjoyable reads. (My mom would not like them though! She prefers figuring out whodunnit,) After reading the first one I ended up buying the remaining 3 (each as I finished the last). I am pondering trying her other books.
As per usual, The Sugared Game by KJ Charles was great. This series is not one of my favorites of hers, but all her books are so good that even the ones that aren’t my favorites are still really fantastic books. (And they’re generally only not my favorites when they’re darker– her Sins of the City series are incredibly high quality and yet I do not want to reread the first two because they’re so grim even with the happy endings and the other books in that series and related series being lighter and all around wonderful.)
Two Rogues Make a Right was decent. It’s another Cat Sebastian where not much happens but the characters grow together. I am not disappointed with these kinds of books– I like them much better than introducing stupid misunderstandings just to have conflict and a plot (though I guess this book does have some of that). Still, I do like her rollicking romances where there’s an external plot happening while the characters fall in love a bit better– I recently reread The Soldier’s Scoundrel/Lawrence Browne Affair/Ruin of a Rake— so very good..
Stormwalker by Allyson James was pretty decent, though there were some uncomfortable tropes in it around consent and so on. I really liked the novella set right after this book in Hexed, so I decided to try the main series. If the rest were available from the library I’d read them, but I have no desire to own.
Reread the Carhart Series by Courtney Miilan (because she tweeted about how nobody got her math pun in Proof by Seduction, but I did!) Still good.
The Last Adventure of Constance Verity was a fun fun romp. I thought I’d outgrown the Craig Shaw Gardner variety of humor, but apparently I just needed a better version of it. Constance Verity Saves the World was also fun, though not quite as funny. They make fun of so many tropes.
Last, if you obtain just one book from this list, I suggest it be the latest Courtney Milan. The Duke Who Didn’t is like a warm hug. Just read it.
What are you reading these days?