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Gameboard of the Gods
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Magic Bites -  Ilona Andrews I've had this book on my shelf for a couple of years now. It's been patiently waiting for me while I flitted about with other books, all the while biding its time. I have no valid excuse for why it took me this long to finally read it except for the fact that perhaps my unconscious brain knew how much I would like it and the obsession that would ensue and was allowing me time to fully prepare. Once I started, I simply could not stop and I read my way through five books in the series as well as one spin-off book in a little over a week. Magic Bites drops us right into the middle of a future Atlanta where magic and technology fight for dominance and magic is winning. It's a world in which vampires and shapeshifters exist but where horses are a favored mode of transport. While there is a lot of information to process and it took me a while to remember all of it, I liked that Andrews is content to let the reader figure it out themselves. There's no obvious info-dumping and the world and its rules are revealed in a very natural way. I also liked her unique take on vampires. Instead of the glamorous, sexy creatures we're used to, they are horrible, grotesque creatures that are the stuff of nightmares. Kate Daniels is one of my favorite urban fantasy heroines to date. If you looked up "badass" in the dictionary, you would probably find a picture of her. Kate is the first person to run into a fight, swinging her sword and smack-talking the whole way. The upbringing that honed her into a fierce fighter has left her with some emotional scars and she's not always the friendliest person. But there's more to Kate than meets they eye and she is extremely loyal and kind. She is also hiding a BIG SECRET which I am sure we will learn more about as the series goes on.Now we get to Curran, aka the Beast Lord. He is arrogant but he has reason to be. Alpha of all of the shapeshifters, he is very powerful and protective of his people. He also annoys the hell out of Kate and she, in turn, is a thorn in his side. I don't know about you guys but insta-love is not my thing. I am all about the insta-hate, as my friends call it. I love it when two characters can't stand each other. If the level of dislike is any indication of how much chemistry two characters have, then Curran and Kate are combustible. Though there's no real romance in Magic Bites, you can feel it brewing and the fighting between Curran and Kate is just foreplay. I really enjoyed immersing myself in this new world. The mystery was unexpected and smart, with lots of twists and turns along the way. If you like fantastic world building and kickass characters, then you need to read this series. I can't wait to see what trouble Kate gets into in the next book.