Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ARC Review: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date:  December 18th, 2012

Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I gave the first book in this series, Touch of Power, a rave review (read it HERE), and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this book, Scent of Magic, ever since.  I thought Touch of Power was brilliant; it had fantastic world building, a flawless storyline, and awesome characters.  I truly didn't think Maria V. Snyder could outdo herself, but she has.  Scent of Magic was even better than its predecessor.

As with my review of the first book, I can't delve deeply into the story and why I loved it so much without giving up major spoilers (especially if you haven't read Touch of Power yet)...  I will say that Scent of Magic picks up right where Touch of Power left off, and the story unfolds in beautifully unexpected ways.  Avry, Kerrick, and his men are set on taking down the evil (and VERY sexy) King Tohon and his army of dead (Hi. Zombies in a High Fantasy? Yes, please!).  They align themselves with some rather unexpected people and action, adventure, magic, romance, and intrigue ensue.  

Where the world building and lush descriptions played such a major role in the first book, characterization and emotion play the central roles here.  The settings are still described in Maria's brilliant way, but I got so much more from the characters this time, particularly Avry.  The relationships are tangled and messy, and things are never what they seem.  Lots of questions are answered, and many more arise.  The plot and pacing were spot-on, and I had a very difficult time putting this book down to satisfy even my basic needs.

There is nothing remotely predictable in this book, and I flew through it, never even realizing it was 400 pages until the end.  This book has it all, and I cannot wait until the third book in the Healer series, Taste of Death, comes out in 2014.  I will be begging the publicists at Harlequin MIRA for a copy, for sure!

If you have not picked up Touch of Power yet, I have to ask you... What the hell are you waiting for?  If you have read it, know that Scent of Magic is even better, so you should run right out to get it.  Today.  That is all.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  There are a few hot and heavy scenes in this book, and there is some mention of sex.  There is also a good bit of violence.  I would say this is most appropriate for MS readers and up.  Grades 6 and up (ages 11+).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: Bad Hair Day by Carrie Harris

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  November 13th, 2012

Senior year is positively hair-raising.

Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school’s pre-med program. Except when he’s arrested for murder, she’s left with the bodies. And when Kate’s brother Jonah stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, she realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone’s murdering kids—something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.

Is it werewolf awesomeness like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate’s supposed to be a butt-kicking zombie killing genius...but if she can’t figure out who’s behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what’s left of them—are going to keep piling up.

It’s scary. It’s twisted. It’s sick. It’s high school.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This book is the second in Carrie Harris's Kate Grable series, and since I really loved the first book, Bad Taste In Boys (read my review HERE), it was a no-brainer that I would want to read this one.  I love that Carrie's heroine, Kate, is a total brainiac nerd, and yet still manages to be kind of hot, even if it is in an awkward sort of way.  (SO much hope for the cute nerds of the world!)  Not only is she not afraid to be smart, she is proud of her intelligence, and that is just awesome.  Also, Kate has a sharp, sarcastic wit that reminds me so much of me that I have no choice but to love her!  Anyway, I think ya'll get that I think brains are sexy and that I think the main character in this book series rocks, so...  Moving on.

Bad Hair Day starts off right where Bad Taste In Boys ends.  Kate has discovered a cure for the zombie sickness, now dubbed Grable's Disease, got her hot guy, and is pretty famous.  Now she is getting ready to embark on an exciting adventure as an intern at the hospital as part of a future doctors program at her high school.  She is assigned to work in the morgue with the medical examiner, which is something she is not crazy about until minutes in, he is arrested as the primary suspect in a gruesome murder.  Interest piqued, Kate decides to investigate and finds things do not add up at all.  Add to that the fact that murders and attacks are continuing, and Kate just can't resist.  There might be some genetic modification conspiracies and werewolves involved, and there might be a hysterical little brother showing up once again, but I don't want to spoil...  Of course, that's not all...  There's a love triangle of sorts, and ya'll, it DOESN'T suck!  It's funny, and I found myself laughing out loud more than a few times at Kate's observations of and reactions toward the girl trying to get between Kate and her man.  The story had a few issues, but I can't even bother with them because it just had so much awesomeness.  If you like humor and science and nerds and sarcasm and werewolves and mockery then you should really read this one, just maybe wear Depends when you do it because you might find yourself laughing hard enough to pee.  (Just sayin'!)

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book is pretty clean.  No sex, just a few make-out scenes.  Bad Hair Day was even more tame than its predecessor as far as content is concerned.  Perfectly fine for ages 10 and up (5th grade+).