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Recommended Reads Saturday: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Welcome to our new feature.  I had a reader email me to ask where she could buy the First Page piece. I explained that it was from an unpublished manuscript.  We exchanged a couple more emails in which she expressed interest in reading first pages from published books, as a way to discover new reads. However, it didn’t make sense to post first pages up for critique when the book had been published so instead we made up a form where readers can submit a recommended read. I then email the author and ask permission to post an excerpt.  Let me know what you think of the feature.


Magic Bites Ilona AndrewsMagic Bites  by Ilona Andrews is recommended by Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press, and general lover of books.  Angela:

I am recommending this book because Magic Bites and the rest of the books that follow are one of my favorite urban fantasy series. As a fantasy reader, i find myself interested in and compelled to read more about both the world the authors have developed, but also about the characters. It’s not just the protaganists we get to know, but also a cast of secondary characters, and supporting characters. Not in a way that overwhelms, but gradually, over time.

As a romance reader, I’ve found myself satisfied with the progression of romance that develops over the course of the series, and also finding that I trust the authors not to break my heart and suddenly kill of a character they’ve brought me to love, as I might otherwise be concerned about with a book from other authors who write fantasy/urban fantasy.

I’ve been recommending this series for years and will continue to do so whole-heartedly, to fans of both romance and fantasy, to those who love ongoing series with the same protagonists, to those who appreciate fine worldbuidling, character development, fascinating plots and fun mythology.

Excerpt from Magic Bites

The following is an excerpt from Magic Bites posted with the approval of Ilona Andrews

When life backs you into a corner and offers you no escape, when your friends, your lover, and your family abandon you, when you’re at the end of your rope, panicked, alone, and losing your mind, you know you’d give anything to make your problems go away.  Then, desperate and eager, you will come to Unicorn Lane, seeking salvation in its magics and secrets.  You’ll do anything, pay any price.  Unicorn Lane will take you in, shroud you in its power, fix your problems, and exact its price.  And then you will learn what “anything” really means.

Every city has one of those neighborhoods, dangerous, sinister places, so treacherous that even the criminals who prey on other criminals shun them.  Unicorn Lane was such a place.  Thirty city blocks long and eight blocks deep, it cut through what used to be Midtown like a dagger.  Half-crumbled skyscrapers stood there, mute witness to the past’s technology, the husks of GLG Grand, Promenade II, and One Atlantic, gnawed down to the bones by magic.  Rubble choked the streets and sewage overflowed from the busted pipes in foul-smelling streams.  Magic pooled there, lingering even in the strongest of tech waves, and hideous things that shun the light found refuge there, among the dark carcasses of gutted high rises.  Lunatic mages, vicious, perverted shape-changers who feared a death at the hand of an unforgiving Pack, Satanists, and rogue necromancers all ran to Unicorn, for if they could make it there and survive, no lawman on this earth would force them out.  Unicorn Lane held on to its own.

Hell of a place for a rendezvous.

I drove up 14th Street, parked Karmelion in a secluded alley, and walked the two remaining city blocks.  Ahead a stone wall had crumbled, a pitiful attempt of some fool on the city council to contain Unicorn Lane.  I climbed over the wreckage.  A large block of concrete barred my way, glistening silver in moonlight.  It looked slick, almost slimy, and I leaped over it.

Five minutes into the Unicorn an old sign on the side of an abandoned house announced that I had reached my destination, corner of 13th and Unicorn.  In front of me, an old apartment complex stared at the street with empty windows.  To the right, a tangled mess of concrete and steel framework marked a collapsed office building.  The debris spilled onto the street, burying the pavement beneath the rubble.  The street was open on the left, but shrouded in darkness.  I stood very still, waiting, listening.

The moonlight spilled onto the ruins, enameling concrete in silver and lead.  Thick, inky darkness pooled in the shadowy alcoves and burrows and stretched forth, mingling with light, spawning half-shadows, and blurring the lines between real and illusory.  The eerie landscape appeared false, as if the ruined buildings had vanished, leaving behind treacherous shadows of their former self.  Ahead in the depths of Unicorn Lane something howled, giving voice to a tortured soul.  The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood on their ends.

Someone or something watched me from the darkness.  I felt their stare press me like a physical burden.  Moments dragged by, with minutes in tow.  After a while I glanced at my watch.  It had stopped.

Somewhere in the darkness the Beast Lord prowled.  I didn’t know what he looked like.  I didn’t know the species of his beast.  Few people outside of the Pack claimed to have met him and nobody seemed willing to discuss the experience.  The only thing certain about him was power.  By the latest count, he commanded a force of three hundred and thirty seven shapechangers in Atlanta alone.  He wasn’t in charge because he was the smartest or the most popular; he ruled because of those three hundred and thirty seven he was unquestionably the strongest.  He was in charge by the right of might; that is, he had yet to meet anyone who could kick his ass.

Among the shapechangers wolves were the most numerous, then came the foxes, the jackals, the rats and then the hyenas and the smaller felines: lynxes, bobcats, and cheetahs. There were the exotic forms too, the werebuffalos and wereserpents, but the buffalos formed their own Herd in Midwest and the serpents were solitary.

Another howl ruptured the quiet, still too far away to be a threat.  The Beast Lord, the leader, the alpha male, had to enforce his position as much by will as by physical force.  He would have to answer any challenges of his rule, so it was unlikely that he turned into a wolf.  A wolf would have little chance against a cat.  Wolves hunted in a pack, bleeding their victim and running them into exhaustion, while cats were solitary killing machines, designed to murder swiftly and with deadly precision.  No, the Beast Lord would have to be a cat, a jaguar or a leopard.  Perhaps a tiger.

I had heard a rumor of the Kodiak of Atlanta, a legend of an enormous, battle-scarred bear roaming the streets in search of Pack criminals.  The Pack, like any social organization, had its law-breakers.  The Kodiak was their Executioner.  Perhaps his Majesty turned into a bear.  Damn.  I should have brought some honey.

My left leg was tiring.  I shifted from foot to foot…

A low, warning growl froze me in mid-move.  It came from the dark gaping hole in the building across the street and rolled through the ruins, awakening ancient memories of a time when humans were pathetic, hairless creatures cowering by the weak flame of the first fire and scanning the night with frightened eyes, for it held monstrous hungry killers.  My subconscious screamed in panic.  I held it in check and cracked my neck, slowly, one side then another.

A lean shadow flickered in the corner of my eye.  On the left and above me a graceful jaguar stretched on the jutting block of concrete, an elegant statue encased in the liquid metal of moonlight.

Homo Panthera onca.  The killer who takes its prey in a single bound.

Hello, Jim.

The jaguar looked at me with amber eyes.  Feline lips stretched in a startlingly human smirk.

He could laugh if he wanted.  He didn’t know what was at stake.

Jim turned his head and began washing his paw.

My saber firmly in hand, I marched across the street and stepped through the opening.  The darkness swallowed me whole.

The lingering musky scent of a cat hit me. So, not a bear after all.

Where was he?  I scanned the building, peering into the gloom.  Moonlight filtered through the gaps in the walls, creating a mirage of twilight and complete darkness.  I knew he was watching me.  Enjoying himself.

I gripped the saber.  A shadow darker than the rest shifted at the opposite wall.  It was low, around the level of my waist.  It made no move in response to my glare.

Diplomacy was never my strong suit and my patience had run dry.  I crouched and looking at the shadow, called out, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.”

Two golden eyes ignited in the shadow.  The darkness shifted and the eyes went up and up and up, towering above me.  A single enormous paw moved into the moonlight, disturbing the dust on the filthy floor. Wicked claws shot forth and withdrew.  A massive shoulder followed, its grey fur marked by faint smoky stripes.  The huge body shifted forward, coming at me, and I lost my balance and fell on my ass into the dirt.  Dear God, this wasn’t just a lion.  This thing had to be at least five feet at the shoulder.  And why was it striped?

The colossal cat circled me, half in the light, half in the shadow, the dark mane trembling as he moved. I scrambled to my feet and almost bumped into the grey muzzle.  We looked at each other, the lion and I, our gazes level.  Then I twisted around and began dusting off my jeans in a most undignified manner.

The lion vanished into a dark corner.  A whisper of power pulsed through the room, tugging at my senses.  If I did not know better, I would say that he had just changed.

“Kitty, kitty?” asked a level male voice.

I jumped.  No shapechanger went from a beast into a human without a nap.  Into a mid-form, yes, but beast-men had trouble talking.

“Yeah,” I said.  “You’ve caught me unprepared.  Next time I’ll bring cream and catnip toys.”

“If there is a next time.”

I turned and there he stood, wearing a loose T-shirt and sweatpants.  A modest shapechanger, how refreshing.  You wouldn’t even know that he had changed, save for the glistening sheen of dampness on his skin.

He approached, moving with the easy grace of a cat, and stopped a mere foot away from me.  Again I fought an urge to step back.  A couple of inches taller than me.  Blond hair, cut too short to grab.  The way he held himself gave an impression of coiled power.  His eyes, under reddish-blond brows, were gray-green and flecked with gold.  They contained no menace, but I knew, felt it on some primitive level, that he would kill me in an instant should it suit him.

He looked me over slowly, judging, taking my measure.  I could blush demurely or I could do the same to him.  I chose not to blush.

The Beast Lord had a strong square jaw.  His nose was narrow with a misshapen bridge, as though it had been broken more than once and hadn’t healed right. Considering the regenerative powers of shape-changers, someone must’ve pounded the Beast Lord’s face with a sledge hammer.

“What kind of a woman greets a Beast Lord with ‘here, kitty, kitty?'” he asked.

“One of a kind,” I murmured the obvious reply.

At first glance, he looked to be in his early to mid- twenties, but his build betrayed him.  His shoulders were wide, his back broad and corded with muscle, showing the strength and power a man developed in his early thirties.  Overwhelming confidence bordering on arrogance shone from his eyes.  This man expected to be obeyed and took compliance as his due.

I swallowed.  The way he looked it me…  I didn’t like the way he looked at me.  Like I was a mouse to be played with.

“I’m the Lord of the Free Beasts,” he said.

“I figured.”  Perhaps he expected me to curtsy.

He leaned forward a little, puzzling over me as if I were an odd-looking insect.  “Why would a knight-protector hire a no-name merc to investigate of death of his diviner?”

I gave him my best cryptic smile.

He grimaced.  “What have you found out?” he asked.

“I’m not at liberty to tell you that.”  Not with the Pack suspect.

He leaned forward, letting the moonlight fall on his face.  His gaze was direct and difficult to hold.  Our stares locked and I gritted my teeth.  Five seconds into the conversation and he was already giving me the alpha-stare.  If he started clicking his teeth, I’d have to make a run for it.  Or introduce him to my sword.

“You will tell me what you know now,” he said.


He said nothing, so I elaborated.  “See, this kind of threat usually has an ‘or’ attached to it.  Or an ‘and’.  ‘Tell me and I’ll allow you to live’ or something like that.”

His eyes ignited with gold.  His gaze was unbearable now.

“I can make you beg to tell me everything you know,” he said and his voice was a low growl. It sent icy fingers of terror down my spine.

I gripped Slayer’s hilt until it hurt.  The golden eyes were burning into my soul.  “I don’t know,” I heard my own voice say, “you look kinda out of shape to me.  How long has it been since you took care of your own dirty work?”


Guest Reviewer


  1. ms bookjunkie
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 12:22:35

    Confession: I read MAGIC BITES because of many recommendations and was… underwhelmed. The only reason I read the next book, MAGIC BURNS, was because I already owned it. I’m so glad I did, as this series gets better and better (and BETTER!) with each book. So if you don’t end up loving book 1, hang in there…or skip to book 2. It’s okay. You’ll love the series. I promise.

  2. trojanwalls
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 12:36:04

    The first time I read Magic Bites, the very slow build up in the first few chapters nearly made me give up on the book. I like romances and I couldn’t see any sign of the hero for several more chapters. But because of that very thing – the gradual setting of the scene – when things did start to go down I was thoroughly involved and utterly invested in Kate Daniel’s eventual triumph over the monster she hunted.
    It’s one of the best urban fantasies out there. The plot is always involved, complex but not too winding and the romance is steady. It’s almost refreshing not to have to read about the heroine beating of suitors with a stick. I like Kate, I genuinely like her. She’s witty, smart, cautious (well mostly – with the hero it all goes out of the window) and her education in magic is an ongoing process. She faces a battle of a life time but she knows she isn’t ready. Not yet.
    Anyway, I love the series and recommend it to all romance/fantasy lovers. Although the setting is dystopic it’s a world I wouldn’t mind living in. Ilona Andrews is that good.

  3. Kathryn
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 12:46:35

    ms bookjunkie is spot-on. It took many recommendations to move on to Magic Burns but I was grateful for the pressure to try MAGIC again. This is one of the few series for which I pre-order the next book (and then re-read the entire series in preparation for its arrival). Both the story arc and the character development keep building consistently over the series.

  4. Darlynne
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 13:19:03

    I love this feature. What a great idea, must think of who I’d like to recommend.

    The first paragraph of Magic Bites hooked me, a promise of great writing and atmosphere that has made this series, and everything else the Andrews have written, an auto buy for me. But “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty”? That sums up what I’ve come to love, respect and howl about Kate Daniels.

  5. Angela
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 14:17:56

    This is a great idea!

    I loved Magic Bites from the first moment I picked it up. I just fell right into the world. But I absolutely agree that it just continues to get better and better. It’s one of the few series that I recommend without reservations to anyone I can get to listen. And I urge everyone to read the second book even if they weren’t hooked on the first one.

  6. library addict
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 14:19:55

    I agree this feature is a good idea.

    I’m just trying to think of books by less popular authors to recommend. Most of them I’ve come up with were because of reviews here at Dear Arthor, so I need to keep thinking.

  7. Carolyn
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 14:36:52

    I’ve loved this series for years and I too keep recommending the books to anyone who’ll listen. The Andrews’ writing is exactly my cup of tea. :-)

  8. Mandi
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 15:35:47

    Oh..I love this new feature :)

    I agree with some above – get through the first book in this series. It starts slow. I’m SO glad I picked up book two and moved forward. This is absolutely one of my favorite series. Kate Daniels is awesome :)

  9. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 15:42:15

    I’ve seen Angela recommend this book for years, but I’ve never bought until…until now. I think what I like about this feature is that the excerpt is right there. I don’t really read a lot of urban fantasy (as in none), so I might see recommendations on Twitter or wherever, but I don’t leave where I am to go to the author’s site or wherever to read the excerpt because it’s probably not my cup of tea. Flowing right from the recommendation to the excerpt kept me reading and strong writing that sucks me in is always my cup of tea.

    This new feature’s going to cost me money, dammit. But I like it.

  10. Lady Jaye
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 15:54:13

    It took me about three starts to finally read more than the first few pages, and then I was confused for the next 50% or so. But I was entranced by the world and the characters by the end. I bought and read all the other 4 books immediately after I finished Magic Bites. Some of the best UF anywhere.

  11. msaggie
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 16:25:02

    I think this is a great new feature. Like some posters, I remember thinking “is that it?” after reading Magic Bites. I had gotten the first few books of the Kate Daniels series for several months, and was reading Magic Burns and Magic Strikes only because I already had them – and am I glad I did! I think the second book, Magic Burns, really grabbed me from the start. So much depends not just on the main protagonist, but also on the supporting characters. Magic Burns with the disappearing bowman early in the story really spiked my interest, and it just got better and better as the series went along. After reading Magic Burns and Magic Strikes, I went back to Magic Bites again, and appreciated it more in hindsight. Highly recommended indeed.

  12. Readsalot81
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:03:52

    This series, is hands down, one of my favorites, if not THE favorite, that I’ve picked up through the years. I love the characters, the way relationships are developed and cultivated throughout the series and the mesh of mystery, mythology, and romance.

    I echo the sentiment of this feature being hard on the pocketbook, but I really do love the idea of more book recs.

  13. kindle-aholic
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:07:54

    Great idea!

    The Kate Daniels series is one I read over and over again and still love it. It’s funny, a great escape, and I love the worldbuilding & characters. It’s a slow build for the romance but oh so worth it.

  14. Sandra Dee
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:10:57

    This really is a fantastic idea!! Sometimes I really like to form my own opinions of a book before reading what others have to say about it… this makes that possible!

  15. Patrice
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:40:06

    This is truly one of my favorite series of any genre. I read Magic Bites so long ago I’ve forgotten if I thought it was slow or not, but I agree with the others – keep reading it only gets better! I love Kate and Curran, as well as their friends and one of Kate’s clients. I still laugh when I think of Kate finding out what his feeding her soup meant. lol I guess that’s why I love it so, I’m fully invested in the world and all the “people” in it. Looking forward to some “side character” stories also. I’ve enjoyed the short stories as much as the full novels.
    I think I like this new feature. I look forward to finding more gems this way!

  16. Kaetrin
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:48:16

    I love this series too and I think its even better on audio – Renee Raudman narrates and she has a wonderful growly Curran voice. I can’t wait for Gunmetal Magic – Andrea and Raphael are great characters too.

    @Jane – my vote is yet – I like this new feature – I’m sure I’ll pick up some more recommendations and for those I’ve already read, it will remind me of why I loved them so much. :)

  17. Kaetrin
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:48:45

    um, I meant, my vote is “yes” LOL!

  18. Jane
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:50:24

    @Kaetrin: Ohh, I have been looking for some Audio recommendations. I am going to pick this up. I can see this feature is going to cost us all a lot of money.

  19. Nifty
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 19:03:30

    I actually started this series with the 4th book and skipped around, moving backwards, until I got to the beginning and then really read the books straight through. Great series, and it’s one of my favorites. I’m a huge fan of Kate and Curran, individually and as a couple, and can’t wait to see how their story develops.

  20. Sirius
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 20:26:16

    I started these series with book three and went back, and I so agree that it gets better and better with every book. Besides loving these books as urban fantasy, I really REALLY love Kate and Curan as a couple, their dance around each other was so hot, but at the same time they went against so many stereotypes that annoy me and I learned to expect the unexpected in the development of their relationship. Trust me, these two are the only het couple in the last few years that I love without any hesitation whatsoever.

  21. Susan
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 20:33:06

    Great new feature, and a terrific recommendation.

    Granted that this is probably the weakest book in the series to date, but it’s still a darn good book. I was never bored during my first reading (and have re-read it many times since). It just speaks to the excellence of the rest of the series when you consider how it’s all uphill from here.

    This is what other UF series aspire to be: the characters are well-developed, the world-building is strong and believable, the plots are riveting and move the larger storyline forward at a good pace, it’s scary, it’s sad, it’s hysterically funny, it’s–well, it’s just the total package. Even if you’re not normally a UF fan, give this a shot. And start with this book and proceed in order so you can get the full experience.

  22. CourtneyLee
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 21:40:42

    I utterly adore anything Ilona Andrews writes. Magic Bites does start slow, but it kept me curious and I was soon hooked. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Gunmetal Magic and I love the Edge series, too. Great recommendation!

  23. Tabitha
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 22:06:46

    I had book one and two sitting in my TBR pile for months. And when I finally dug out Magic Bites to read, I couldn’t stop! Love this series and this is a great rec! I am looking forward to other book recommendations!

  24. hapalochlaena
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 06:39:45

    I’d recommend the two novellas set in the Kinsmen universe also: Silent Blade (Samhain) and Silver Shark (NYLA).

    The Kate-meets-Saiman story A Questionable Client can be found in the two story collection Magic Graves (NYLA).

    These stores (and others) are available at OmniLit.

  25. hapalochlaena
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 06:42:17


    stories, not stores! *facepalm*

  26. erinf1
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 13:13:55

    Thanks for this rec! I have this book in my TBR mountain and I’m going to go dig it out now :)

    I really like this new feature. Yes gonna be hard on the wallet but I’m always on the lookout for new authors especially established ones. Thanks again!

  27. LisaCharlotte
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 18:34:11

    I was hooked from book 1. Her (their?!) writing just works for me on all levels. Ive also enjoyed all Edge books as well as the short stories and the other world that i am blanking on (Silver Shark). Ilona Andrews is the only author I preorder and pay full price.

  28. Lada
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 10:52:37

    @Lady Jaye: This is pretty much how it worked for me, as well. Took me a few tries to get into the first book but about 1/2 through, I was hooked. Now I actually appreciate authors who dump you into their fantasy world without any handholding and trust you to figure it out. This is a great introductory excerpt of the book and series.

    Like this new feature, Jane and look forward to discovering new-to-me authors this way.

    (Sidebar: I not exactly a big Nora Roberts fan but recently listened to her Circle trilogy series…her stab at fantasy. I think the books would have bored me but Dick Hill was wonderful to listen to. And if you’ve never listened to Jayne Entwistle’s reading of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, you’re really missing out!! I never thought I’d enjoy listening to books until I tried The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.)

  29. Gordon Andrews
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:28:20

    I cannot in good conscience recommend this book, it just ain’t no damn good. The third one is the bomb though. Just skip to that one.

  30. Ilona Andrews
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:31:34

    Dear Jane and Angela (and everybody else),

    Thank you so much! Like Gordon, I’m not that thrilled with Magic Bites. Looking back on it, we were so green and we made rookie mistakes. I’m very flattered people gave our work a chance anyway.

  31. Fangs for the Fantasy
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:34:41

    I’ve read and reviewded this book and I couldn’t recommend it enough

    This book -this series – is one of the best ones out there and one of my all time favourite Urban Fantasies. I can think of some series I like as much – but none I like more.

  32. Lauren Mc
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:40:26

    @Gordon Andrews: Hahaha! Is panning your own books a new marketing strategy? LOL :)

    Book 1 did start slow, but part of the reason why this is my favorite urban fantasy series is because each book keeps getting more amazing and the characters are growing in fascinating directions. And I definitely agree that book 3 is the bomb. There’s nothing better than sexual tension in a gladiatorial arena….

  33. Angela James
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:44:45

    @Kaetrin: I actually started listening to it on Friday! I’ve read it many times, but never heard it. I like listening to audiobooks I’ve already read versus ones I haven’t (long story haven’t to do with my impatience, lol). The narrator has actually taken some getting used to, for me, but I’m still enjoying it!

  34. Angela James
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:51:49

    @Gordon Andrews: I’m sure that Gordon and Ilona didn’t mean to infer that the person recommending the book (err, me) gave a sucky recommendation, but I do think that some groveling is now in order because I’m pretty sure that’s what they just said. Hmph.

  35. Jocelyn Z.
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:52:01

    I love this series, but I agree, I think it’s best to start at book two and then go back and read “Magic Bites” as a prequel if you want to . It’s good, it’s just not as compulsively readable as the rest of the Kate Daniels books.

  36. Ilona Andrews
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:58:42

    @Angela James: O_O

    @Gordon: Author PR fail, abort mission, I repeat, abort, abort, abort…

  37. Mark Vivian
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 17:07:37

    Blooming nora that’s torn it, that excerpts gone and made me want to reread the series, another five days lost to smiling, laughing, wincing and even shedding a tear or two. Our dynamic duo(the authors, and yes they do have the capes, i’m sure of it) have created characters that you not only like, but understand and relate to, even when you want them to not play as fair as they do. The first book, despite being disliked by the authors, is an introduction to characters that come alive for the reader and grow more and more with each book, to the point that sad old gits like me start telling the world, including all who now fall into the trap of reading this. *winks* Still i cannot do any less than say that the Kate Daniels series is endlessly addictive and just wonderfully interesting

  38. Melinda VanLone
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 17:17:37

    I’m so glad to see this recommendation because I love this series! I was so happy to find it. Can’t wait for the next in the series. They just keep getting better! and grrrr Curan…yum.

  39. Mark Vivian
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 17:20:06

    @Angela James: don’t you dare it was an honest recommendation and they loved it so much they shared it. *grumbles* blooming artists

  40. Jane
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 17:51:17

    @Gordon Andrews: Wow, I really enjoyed it and I am glad that Angie recommended. Not only that, but others have enjoyed the excerpt.

    I know you have a tendency to downplay or trash your booksbut when you do so, don’t you feel like you are being rude to the readers who actually enjoyed it?

  41. Gordon Andrews
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 18:38:13

    No not really, it was meant to be self deprecating, not mean to our fans, who are awesome. It is sort of like when you are a college senior and you look at a paper you wrote when you were a freshman and thought it brilliant, then you read it and cringe a little. If we could we would re write it and make it much betterer, that is all that was meant.

    As far as Alphas goes, the story as conceived is not the story that was written, or rather published. It was supposed to be a lot darker and without a happy ending. But neither of us realized that it was a romance anthology so we had to compromise a little ( or a lot) and really rewrite it. I am still a little bitter about it, but I tend to be seething with pent up rage :)

  42. Kaetrin
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 18:53:07

    @Angela James: I’m actually a big fan of Renee Raudman’s narration. I think she gets Kate’s snark and humour very well and she brings something extra to a very special series. Sometimes when listening to a book one has already read in print, there is a voice which the reader attaches to the characters already and if the narrator’s voice isn’t a match, that can take some getting used to. I listened to these first then bought the books because I wanted to pet them.

    @Gordon & Ilona Andrews I listened to the first 3 books in the series back to back and I was pre-warned that the romance takes a while to warm up but I remember enjoying Magic Bites very much. Maybe listening to the first 3 in a row made a difference to my perception of the story/character development but I didn’t struggle to get through it at all. In any event, whatever rookie mistakes, I didn’t notice them – this and Patricia Briggs’ excellent Mercy Thompson series was my introduction to UF and they are now some of my very favourite books.

    I think its a good thing when a series gets better – there are a few out there that go the other way! :)

  43. Angela
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 19:12:54

    @Angela James: Finally! Another person like me that prefers to listen to the audio books after reading the book. I’ve enjoyed listening to this series, though the narrator did take some getting used to for me as well. By the second book I’d really settled into her narration and now enjoy it a great deal

  44. Angela James
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 19:18:25


    It took me a few audio books, where I was convinced the pacing was SO SLOW in the books themselves, to realize it really wasn’t them, it was me. I’m such a fast reader, that my brain just could not slow down enough for the pacing of audio books. I wanted to get through the story faster. So I eventually realized that listening to books I’m familiar with (that I’ve already read and enjoyed) stops me from feeling that impatience to find out what comes next. It’s weird, but it really works for me and I like listening to books I enjoyed.

  45. Ilona Andrews
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 19:23:46

    @Angela James,

    No, it’s not weird. I’m the same way – I have to read the book first, because otherwise I get frustrated. I was listening to Still Life With Crows in the car on a long ride and the narrator had a very measured rhythm. It drove me bonkers. I had to reread the book right after the ride.

  46. Ilona Andrews
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 19:25:28

    @Angela James:

    And I just realized there is a Reply link in the bottom of the message. ::faceplam:: I’m in rare form today.

  47. MaryK
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 21:00:30

    I liked this book too. When I picked it up, I wasn’t expecting there to be any romance. I’d seen it recommended, and it had a Patricia Briggs cover quote which you don’t see often. I don’t understand why people say to skip it but then I read for character with plot secondary and worldbuilding a distant third so if those have problems I wouldn’t necessarily notice.

    I’m another who listens to books I’ve already read. I get impatient to find out what happens. I don’t think I’m a particularly fast reader though; it’s more that my eyes process language better, and faster, than my ears.

  48. MaryK
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 21:41:10

    Re audiobooks: If you like fantasy at all, you should try Lloyd James’ reading of The Curse of Chalion. It’s one of my favorite audiobooks of all time, and I say that as a dedicated Romance reader. I have a review of sorts on Goodreads.

  49. Jana
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 21:47:58

    This snippet is an excellent example of why I consider this series one of the finest urban fantasies available at the moment. A complex hero and heroine, a dynamic world and stakes that transcend the individual. Consistently awesome. Yeah, I’m a fan.

  50. Poppy
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 02:32:37

    I was told the other day that a a lot of people listen to audiobooks at double speed to deal with the slow pacing. I would think it would just sound weird.

  51. CheeseBK
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 06:34:06

    I really like this new feature and the fact that you recommend this book makes the feature even more likeable :D

    I loved the first book. Sure, you can see how Ilona and Gordon’s writing grows and gets even better with every book, but I think they already did a splendid start with this one.
    So, I absolutely second this recommendation :)

  52. Janeen
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 08:38:23

    Years ago a friend handed me a book and said “read this, it looks good. I never read it, but you should.” The book GhG handed me was Majic Bites, my first introduction to Urban Fantasy. I bought the book and have simply been hooked ever since. Thank you GHG for pointing out the book, and thank you Ilona and Gordon for writing the awesomeness.

  53. Shaineinok
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 09:11:23

    I loved this first book! And then the rest of the series just gets better and better!

  54. Amy
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 01:01:11

    I’ve only paid attention to a handful of previous reviews of Ilona Andrews Magic novels because of the “urban fantasy” label as opposed to paranormal romance, and that leads me to think that romance and HEA may not be play much of a role.

    This morning I read my first Ilona Andrews novel — the short story in the anthology, Under Her Skin. I enjoyed it so much that I went ahead and bought another short, Silent Blade, which was incredibly romantic despite all the talk about cut-throat businesses and killings; I loved the strong characters and the dialogue, and I even got teary eyed at one point. Silent Blade packs a lot in a small package and was truly terrific. So I’m looking forward to checking out more of their novels, and it seems like the Kate Daniels series may have more romance elements than I had previously assumed.

  55. Jess B
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 02:07:20

    I *heart* Ilona Andrews hahaha

    I have read everything that I can get my hands on. Ilona has such wonderful talent and her books are comfort reads for me.

    I will soon have to buy new copies of Magic Bites and Burns because of all the rereads I have done. (I reread while waiting for next installment).

    I follow Ilona’s blog (which is hysterically funny and brutally honest) and it often has snippets and other cool stuff.


  56. kitkat9000
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 03:43:52

    Kept seeing Magic Bites in the library every time I went. About the 5th time, I started reading it to see if it was worth checking out. Walked out of the library & to my car still reading. Couldn’t wait to get home to finish it. And as soon as I did, I reread it.
    Like so many others have said, the world building is excellent. Coming back to SciFi/UF after years away reading mysteries, the lack of an immediate romance didn’t bother me. Actually, what does is the speed with which characters continually fall into bed and HEA w/o knowing one another. The sparring and dancing Kate & Curran do around each other is much more satisfying. And when they finally hook up? You know that it’s important to them and they will work together to keep what they’ve got.
    Love that the Andrews have come at this with a fresh viewpoint. Their vampires are not romantic figures and do not sparkle or glow. Every book introduces a new mythology, different problems and continual character growth. Seriously can’t recommend this series enough.

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