Sunday, February 5, 2012

Minis: Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews, Pricks and Pragmatism by J.L. Merrow

It's Super Bowl Sunday in the US! For those of you who love football, I wonder if you're excited about this year's game? It's an East Coast battle this year, New England Patriots v. New York Giants. My chosen team is out of contention, but I'll be watching my husband and brothers root for the home team. Enough about football, there's sufficient hype about it on our local TV programming, right?

Today, I'm posting a couple of minis for two novellas I read in January -- urban fantasy and gay romance. Neither was perfect, but interestingly enough, both were quite enjoyable for different reasons.

Magic Gifts (Kate Daniels #5.4) by Ilona Andrews

Magic Gifts was a free Christmas present from the authors to fans of the Kate Daniels series. The novella serves as a bridge between Magic Slays and the upcoming book Gunmetal Magic where Andrea will be the central character. Magic Gifts, however, is all about Kate and Curran, and Andrea only plays a small role. I believe we will find out exactly what happened to her in this story in the upcoming book.

The story begins with a date between Kate and Curran at a local restaurant. The date quickly deteriorates into a battle with vampires when a female vampire navigator is choked by a magic necklace given to her by her boyfriend. When a child is placed in danger by this same necklace, an investigation and a race to save the child's life ensues.

The Andrews team takes the time to incorporate mythology in this novella, as they bring into the picture the Nordic Vikings and their fun, rather superficial society. They also showcase the growth that continues to take place in Kate and Curran's relationship in both intimacy and team play, as well as Kate's increased role within the Pack. As always, the characters are well drawn, the plot well developed, particularly for a novella, plus I found the pacing and action to be quick and exciting. My one concern? Kate's involvement with the Mercenary Guild seemed to be unnecessary, although it's understood that their help will probably be necessary in the upcoming battle. However, how many roles is she supposed to play? Where exactly are they going with Kate's character? Is she supposed to be Queen of Atlanta by the time this series is over? And, why didn't Jim take on that role? He easily could have.

I'm a glutton for Kate Daniels and once I began reading this novella, I wanted more! More story, more Kate and Curran, more Jim, more Julie, more depth, more everything! So, now we wait for Andrea's book in 2012, and the next Kate Daniels installment in 2013! Ahhhh... Grade: B


Pricks and Pragmatism by J.L. Merrow

I liked this novella by J.L. Merrow. Pricks and Pragmatism's main character is Luke, a young man who is accustomed to exchanging sexual favors for a place to live. His usually type is the well-to-do sugar daddy. However, when his current roommate finds a replacement and tells him it's time for him to leave, an old flame hooks him up with a friend willing to let him stay at his place. His new roommate Russell is a geeky engineer and not Luke's type at all, and when he makes it clear from the beginning that he doesn't want sexual favors in return for room and board, this confuses and angers Luke.

In the span of this novella Russell attempts to show Luke his worth as a man and a human being, and Luke learns about himself and ends up yearning for a new type of relationship based on friendship, real attraction and understanding. The story is told from Luke's perspective, and I enjoyed witnessing Luke's growth as a person and experiencing that all-important emotional connection with Russell along with him. I just couldn't help but wish that there had been more depth to Russell's characterization, or that the couple's happy ending had been less abrupt and a bit more satisfying. Overall, however, this was an enjoyable short by Merrow. Grade C+


  1. I'm so looking forward to reading Magic Gifts (hopefully starting tonight :) And I can't wait for Andrea's books as I'm a hufe fan of her and Raphael!

    I think I'd like to try Pricks and Pragmatism :)

  2. I graded Magic Gifts a bit higher than you Hils :) Guess I went into fangirl mode, but I'm also thinking since it was free, it's was a really good novella :)

    I don't really mind Kate's role. Yes, Jim could have taken the job, but ultimately, I think he would have reported to Curran and Kate anyway. So why not have Kate just do it? Also, while Kate has an in with the Pack, she's not a shapeshifter...

    As for her becoming the Queen of Atlanta LOL. I know you said it as a joke, but really, technically speaking, if Kate is ever going to face Roland, she will need support and allies...

    And I'm sure we'll see some of Kate in Andrea's book. I wonder if there'll be a bit of Andrea and Dali, that'd be fun :)

  3. This reminds me that I still need to read Magic Gifts although I might wait until Andrea's book comes out.

    Hope you had fun yesterday. :)

  4. Orannia, enjoy Magic Gifts! Andrea is a hoot, and who doesn't love Raphael? I'd like to know. *g*

    Pricks and Pragmatism was another good read for me by Merrow. Give it a try. :D

    Nath, I think Magic Gifts was definitely a good novella, especially since it was a gift and free, lol! It was longer than I expected and well developed. I was pleasantly surprised!

    And lol, I see you get my sense of humor by now... Kate as the Queen of Atlanta, hah! SPOILER: No... seriously, I see why she went to negotiate, I just don't see why she has to continue to do the honors with everything else she has on her plate -- it's a lot already. I don't think it's necessary. AND, I would love, love to see Dali featured in Andrea's book, she's a great character. :)

    Leslie, it's a really enjoyable read! I left it for later, and was sorry. But FYI, you don't need to wait for Andrea's book to read this one, not really. ;P

    PS: I had a BALL yesterday! My little bro came from Orlando just for the SB and all 4 of us, plus my husband had a Super Bowl party. His trip was not wasted and the celebration was hardy. *wink*

  5. I have Magic Gifts on my ipad, but am waiting obviously--to catch up in the series first. I still have to read Magic Bleeds AND Magic Slays. I know I'm going to kick myself when I finally do..

    We don't follow American football in our house, but I'm still glad that the NJ Giants won. I mean NY Giants. I don't get that... they live, train and play in NJ but they're the NY Giants. What the heck is up with that?

  6. Christine what are you waiting for? Magic Bleeds... wow... that was one of my favorite reads, and Magic Slays is no slouch. :) Catch up, it will be worth it. Besides, the series is almost over. :(

    RE: NY Giants. So, I'm not the only one with THAT pet peeve!! It's one of the reasons, I still root for my West Coast teams, (grumble, grumble lol!) the San Francisco 49's and Raiders. (Steelers in the East Coast). But when it got down to it during the SB, I couldn't help but root for them this weekend.

  7. I think Dali and Andrea would be another funny duo LOL.

    it's hard to tell why it has to be Kate. Maybe we'll see it in the future. Perhaps it's because while she is part of the Pack now, she wasn't always? Perhaps she has more free time than Jim? LOL.

  8. I agree about Dali and Andrea, Nath. Although I do love the dialogue between Andrea and Kate. :)

    LOL, we'll see what the authors have in mind for the Mercenary Guild and Kate's character. They're great with tying it all together. Kate is the star of the series afterall. LOL!


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