Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: Scorch

Scorch (Croak #2)
By Gina Damico

"Hi, I'm Driggs."
"Damn, boy. You're even cuter up close." Cordy looked him up and down hungrily. "Got any dead brothers in here?"
Lex made a face. "Cordy, ew."
"Doesn't hurt to ask!" She peered at Driggs. "Now tell me, what are your intentions with my sister?"
Driggs became flustered. "Um, I don't know. To love her...and, uh...honor...protect..."
Lex went red. "Driggs, shut up."
"Awkward." Cordy beamed. "Love it."
"We have to go," Driggs said in an unnecessarily loud voice.
A couple of months ago, I reviewed the first book in this awesome series, Croak. After fighting Miss Michelle for the sequel (she got to read it first), I finally got my chance at it! Before I review the book, though, I'd like to send a little note to the author:

Dear Ms. Damico,

What are you trying to do to me? You break my heart into little tiny pieces in Croak, tape it up so I think I'm ok, and then you STOMP on it in Scorch! You know, there's only so much damage you can do to my poor heart before it's too mangled to repair. You're doing this on purpose, aren't you? You're a very mean woman.

When's the next book coming out?

Sincerely, a devoted reader (to my own detriment),

I'm going to attempt to write this review as spoiler free as possible. Scorch picks up a few months after Croak left off, and Lex is finally back in the town of Croak. The surprise baddy is now on the run and most everyone blames Lex, particularly the nasty Norwood and his hellish wife, Heloise. These two are right up there on the hate-scale as Professor Umbridge of the Harry Potter books, and I hated that character more than I hated Voldemort. She tries to get back to normal, but the Sadistic-Spouses make that impossible. Lex and her friends end up on the run from both the town and the surprise baddy. Things go from bad to worse until Gina Damico ripped my heart out again. Some puzzles are solved, but the ending leaves you dying for more (See what I did there? It's a story about grim reapers, and it leaves you dying for more?). Apparently I'm a glutton for punishment, because despite the repeated cardio-vascular annihilation, I love this story and I love these characters - I guess that's why it hurts so good! Seriously though, this book is awesome, and you'll be doing yourself a disservice if you don't read it.

This seemed appropriate for a book about Grim Reapers.

UPDATE: I'm excited to say that Ms. Damico responded to my Tweet about this blog entry and she says the following:

Thank you! And in response to your letter: Mwahaha! *twirls mustache, swishes cape*
I knew it. I knew she was an evil mastermind. She also said that the next book is scheduled to be released in Fall 2013! Thanks for the info, Gina!

Book Review: Gunmetal Magic

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World #1)
By Ilona Andrews

Kate smirked
"Your horse is pink."
"If you paste some stars on her butt you'll be riding My Little Pony."
"Bugger off." I patted the mare's neck. "Don't listen to her, Sugar. You are the cutest horsey ever. The correct name for her color is strawberry roan, by the way."
"Strawberry Shortcake, more like it. Does Strawberry Shortcake know you stole her horse? She will be berry, berry angry with you."
"I can shoot you right here, on this road, and nobody will ever find your body.”
In Kate Daniel's Atlanta, magic rises and falls, the People controlling the vampires wrestle for power with the Shape Shifters, and Kate regularly struggles to save the city (and sometimes the world as they know it). There are currently five books in the Kate Daniels series, written by a husband and wife team, and Gunmetal Magic is the first book in a new spin-off series. Kate's best friend is a shifter named Andrea. She's introduced in the Kate Daniels series and is a major secondary character. She's a badass with a gun and had a career using it with the Knights of Merciful Aid, but when they found out she was a Shifter, they gave her the boot.

But Andrea isn't a regular Shifter. She's Clan Bouda (a hyena pack), but while her mother was a human who could turn into a hyena, her father was a hyena who could turn into a human. Her mixed heritage is looked down on from most of the Shifters, so she's kept what she is to herself. In previous books, Andrea had a love interest, but when the Big Bad happened in the last book, she lost her job and lost her love. Gunmetal Magic opens when she's just starting to get her life back together. And then all hell breaks loose.

Ilona Andrews writes a fully fleshed out world with relatable characters (minus the magic wielding and shape shifting). Andrea is faced with a murder mystery and various magical dangers that kept me on the edge of my seat, but the story also delved into her tortured past and how she's trying to change and grow in the present. There's blood and gore, battles and investigations, plus romance and personal growth. This book has it all, and I can't wait to see how this new series affects the original series. I plan to read every book of both of them to find out - and I can't wait to get started! Next installments, please!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: Dragon Justice

Dragon Justice (Paranormal Scene Investigations #4)
By Laura Anne Gilman

Urban Fantasy Meets Forensic Investigations

Gilman created an amazing world in her Retrievers series, then made fans like me thrilled with a spin-off series. The story takes place in NYC and parallels our everyday world. What most of us Nulls don't know is that there is magic in the world. But rather than just stick to secret magic people in a non-believing world, Gilman added science. What her characters can do mimic many of the elements of electricity - they get a boost from generators and lightning storms, among other things. And in the spin-off series, a cast of characters attempt to do something completely new to this magic world: they create a form of magical forensics to solve magical crimes. This group is called PUPI, or Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations.

The series follows Bonita "Bonnie" Torres, introduced in the Retriever series, as a young woman who couldn't find her "fit" in her post-academic world. Then she's called to join PUPI and combine her particular strengths and gifts to the organization. It's difficult work, but rewarding. They manage to solve the crimes, with the occasional threat to their own well-beings, and in the process they make both allies and enemies. The story delves into the politics of this world, the relationships between the PUPI investigators, as well as the science of the crimes. Gilman's world-building is both detailed and engaging - it drags the reader in and makes them itchy for the next book!

In the fourth installment in this series, Bonnie is due for a break, and just because she leaves for one, doesn't mean she's going to get it. This story takes us through the regular series' haunts, like The Wren's appartment, the PUPI headquarters, and an intriguing story in Central Park, but then it takes a detour to Philadelphia. Here Bonnie finds herself figuring some things out with her relationship to one of the Big Dogs, Ben, with whom she has a unique relationship, and she also gets thrown into a new mystery. Both of these things end up changing things for Bonnie and the Pups; some of these changes involve growing closer together and creating new bonds, while others lead to loss and heartache.

I highly recommend this series to any urban fantasy fan, or anyone who appreciates solid world-building or forensic mysteries. I would recommend starting with the Retriever series, though - you'll understand Bonnie's world much better that way, and the forensic elements will make more sense with the foundation of the original series behind it.