Skin Game-Jim Butcher

Skin Game

Skin Game cover courtesy of Jim Butcher’s own website: http://www.jim-butcher.com. Visit it!

Oh Jim. Jimmy Jim, Jimmy Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim!* You have done it again. Absolute brilliance. Parkour! In case you needed to be told specifically, there be SPOILERS here.

Lucky old me got to meet Mr. Butcher (ish) at a signing just days after Skin Game came out and I got my copy signed! *fangirlsquee!* I hadn’t quite finished it by the time that I got to the signing but I did shortly thereafter and I have to say, I was not disappointed. Holy cow what a great book.

So we start out with Harry on his island/prison working out to keep in shape. He’s doing his own version of parkour among the creatures that are locked away in there. While shouting PARKOUR at the top of his lungs. Like ya do. His workout is cut short by the appearance of Queen Mab.

She has an assignment for Harry as the Winter Knight. She owes someone a favor. A very large favor. And that person has called in his chit because he has a very tricky assignment to be done and he needs Harry for part of it. Harry is suspicious and he’s right to be. The person Mab wants him to work for: Nicodemus  of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius.

At first, Harry refuses but Mab tells him that dire consequences would be fall him and the whole of the mortal world. Convinced but not happy, Harry and Mab meet with Nicodemus. After the meeting, Harry realizes that Mab wants Harry to be, well, Harry. Harry, who is known for fighting to thwart Nicodemus (among others) and just generally thumbing his nose at those who should make him cower.

Harry agrees to this whole scheme so long as he can bring in one person that he trusts to watch his back. Nicodemus is desperate enough to agree and Harry pulls in Karin Murphy to help. They aren’t the only players and soon enough they’re meeting with a number others who all have special, magical sneak thief talents. We get reintroduced to Binder from Turn Coat, along with several new people including a warlock that the White Council had been after for years.

We also get to see Michael and Maggie and Mouse. Special appearance by Hades himself and Butters. Oh magnificent Butters. I’ve always loved him but he was magnificent in this book. I do hope we get to see Thomas in the next book. Miss him.

I won’t go into too much detail since this book is in print but it is a brilliant, brilliant book. One of my all time favorite Dresden Files. I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. And, well, all the Dresden Files books really. Rating: A++

Magic Bites

urban_fantasy_book_magic_bitesAaaaaaaaaah finally. New job, less time to do things like blog. Ah well, I have plenty of books to review. 🙂 Let’s start with Ilona Andrew’s Magic Bites. This is book one of the Kate Daniels series. In this we are introduced to mercenary Kate Daniels. The book starts with her “fresh” off a case (covered in nasty goo and sewage is not fresh by any means) when she gets word that her old guardian has died. Been murdered actually.

Knowing that he was far too good at being a Knight for the Order of Merciful Aid, Kate knows it had to be a really bad situation. So she knows that she really needs to find who killed him. To do this, she heads down to Atlanta via ley line (convenient and quick but dangerous way to travel). She gets the okay from the Order of Merciful Aid to look into the guy’s death but with the understanding that she’s on her own. They’re not going to provide her back up (despite them really wanting to get revenge as well) but they won’t get in the way either.

Naturally things go wrong from the off. The Masters of the Dead (those who control the empty shell vampires) want her to find the murderer because a number of their vampires have also been brutally murdered (literally torn apart). And of course their natural enemies, the were/shifters, also want the murderer…but neither side wants to cooperate with the other. They’ll cooperate somewhat with Kate but never with each other. In fact, they currently think each other is to blame…with Kate right in the middle. So a bit of a cliche sitch right there but the good writing more than makes up for it.

Kate Daniels is not an investigator. She’s a mercenary. She tracks things down and kills them. Occasionally she bodyguards.  So it isn’t quite out of character for her to be stumbling along trying to fix things and actually doing a bit of bungling from the off. The nice thing about the lead character not being an investigator of some sort (PI, cop, fed etc) is that its harder to for you the reader to figure out the main villain is before the denouement. I love that in a book. I’m the kind of person who figured out the “twist” ending in The Sixth Sense less than half way through the movie. I’m always slightly disappointed if its easy to figure out the big bad in any fantasy book from the get go.

This is a pretty good book to get into the series with but I don’t necessarily think that you need to read it first. Personally, I like reading a book series in order as it tends to make things easier but not always. It introduces you to the main players in this series well enough and gives you a good mystery to boot. The one thing I couldn’t really wrap my head around at this point in the whole series is the Kate/Curran relationship.

I mean, sure, there’s a lot to be said for pure physical/sexual attraction (and boy does Kate fight that every step of the way) but Curran is overbearing as all hell. If a guy in real life treated me the way that Curran treats Kate (or any other woman for that matter), he’d be out on his ass long before sex ever came in the picture. Sure, a strong and confident man is sexy as hell (to me at least) but this guy expects to get his way. In everything. That’s not cool. He doesn’t deserve a woman just because he’s the Beast Lord. That’s creepy and, well, rapey.

Their relationship changes over the course of the series and Curran gets a bit better but he’s still a character I’d like to hit over the head with something and just yell “REALLY?!” right in his face. At any rate, I enjoyed this book (260ish pages in three hours? Yup, liked it). I recommend the series. Rating: A+