Review: Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman

Trick of the Light
Trick of the Light

Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman.

Oh, Ms. Thurman how you have confounded and delighted me through the course of your published works. For your first three published novels I was convinced you were male. This is probably not surprising, given your choice of abbreviating your name. I was elated, for those books, at getting what seemed like a titillating and a bit illicit glimpse into the male psyche. If it were not for a google search trying to find the next release date, I may have never known the difference. I was dismayed, for a moment, and then decided that your being female and writing male lead characters so well merely meant that you were an even better author than I had surmised.

I must confess to an abiding love for Cal and Niko Leandros. The wit. The snark. The guns and monsters and blood. These are a better gift for a girl than flowers. But then, you knew that, didn’t you? Alas, I still hold a special place in my heart for kick-ass female leads – a place that neither Cal nor Niko could ever touch. Which is why, when I first heard Trick of the Light featured such a female, it was immediately placed on my Books I Must Have. Now. List.

I read this book in two days. It would have been a much shorter amount of time, but I had this pesky thing called ‘work’ getting in the way of my reading time. It’s such a burden, but they tell me I have to go in order to have ‘necessities’ such as food and clothing. I have not yet been able to convince anyone that a good book is really all one needs. Oh, well.

But you came here for a review, didn’t you?

I adored Trick of the Light. I have this surety that I could (and will) read Trixa’s story over and over, and it will make me laugh every time. At first glance, the story is merely a fast-paced carnival ride into the battle between angels and demons in Las Vegas. Trixa Iktomi, our previously mentioned kick-ass female, cares for neither side. She cares only for these things: her run-down bar, her wise-ass crow companion, the two foster-home-runaway boys she practically raised to adulthood, the color red. And her brother’s killer.

With this in mind, she searches for an artifact older than time itself. The Light of Life is a protective item that could sway and possibly end the battle between Heaven and Hell. No one knows what it looks like, but whomever possesses it is unassailable. With the Light, Heaven (or Hell, or anywhere else) would become a haven that could not be entered or attacked.

This makes the  Light priceless. Needless to say, everyone wants it. When Trixa finds the item’s supernatural trail first, she ends up with demons, angels, and a group of holier-than-thou humans (called Eden House) on her tail. She very expertly plays each group against the other, leading them by the nose to the final battle royale – where all the expectations the reader has built up through the course of the story are shattered into a million glittering glass pieces across the barren desert sand.

Until this final free-for-all, Trick of the Light is a great book. Once the final revelations start to be revealed, however, Trick surpasses ‘great’ for interstellar travel. There are very few gems of storytelling that, when revealed, will light up my eyes with a murderous gleam and make my heart pound with excitement. I won’t reveal any of these here, because most of the fun is finding out for yourself.

What I will tell you is that Trick of the Light, has made its way into my top five books of the year with the force of a gunshot from Zeke’s Colt Anaconda. Read it. I’d bet Las Vegas itself that you won’t regret it.

(PS – Ms. Thurman, I just want you to know that I’ve never watched more than an episode of Supernatural but remain convinced that they copied off of you and not the other way around.)

[xrr rating=4.75/5 imageset=tiny_star]

Review: Black and White by Caitlin Kittredge and Jackie Kessler

Ok, I admit it. I have a thing for superheroes. Wolverine. Gambit. Batman. Darkwing Duck. Well, maybe not that last one; but I have a serious weakness for superhuman powers and shiny high-tech toys. And I always root for those heroes who aren’t afraid (or who are at least willing) to be bad in order to do good.

I have to be honest in the interest of full-disclosure. Since first reading a small teaser blurb about Black & White, I’ve been nutty about it. Superheroes? Female superheroes? Female superheroes at odds with each other, one working for good and the other for villainy? Oh, I am so there. I’ll freely admit that I totally went fangirl; but that story’s for another time.

I raved about this book before I read it and now that I’ve finished every delicious page, I have to say that my raving was not premature. Black & White is cover-to-cover superhero girl power awesomeness.

Set over a century in the future, mega-corporation Corp-Co employs the world’s only legitimate superheroes. Extrahuman rebellion is illegal, and anyone daring to lift a hand against Corp is deemed ‘rabid’ and hunted down to be either incarcerated or sent for the ominous-sounding Therapy. Yet for all of that, Corp-Co stands for justice and goodness, with thousands of extrahuman heroes protecting citizens all across the world. Or so say the sound bites, anyway…

Jet is the official hero of New Chicago, known as the Lady of Shadows for the superpower that simultaneously haunts her and allows her to do her duty. Duty is number one for Jet, who strives above all to do nothing but assist and save the citizens of her dear city. She’s haunted by the memory of the father who murdered her mother in front of her; and by the well-known fact that all Shadow powers eventually go insane.

Iridium, ex-classmate of Jet, grew fed up with the media and politicking of Corp-Co years before. She’s given up trying to protect anything but a small sliver of New Chicago (known as Wreck City), where she can negotiate with the prolific gangs to keep a tiny number of citizens safe – including herself. She set herself against Corp years before and now she’s the city’s most notorious (and most wanted) supervillain, playing Robin Hood to the city’s downtrodden and forgotten. Jet has vowed to bring her old friend to justice.

And then the plot thickens.

Oh, I won’t ruin it for you. I’ll just give you a taste. There’s Night, Jet’s mentor, the only other Shadow-wielding superhero on the continent. In my head, he’s Sam Jackson in a cowl. Then there’s Taser, free-lance (and therefore rebel) superhero who’s powers are… electric. He’s teemed up with Iri for now – but is he really friend or foe? If you think you can guess, you’ve got it wrong. Last but not least is Bruce, Jet’s new assistant, who’s obvious sexiness makes her acknowledge the loneliness of her off-duty life. Is he what he seems to be? Or is he a little extra?

Toss in the mystery of a decades-old, defunct genetics lab and a missing star reporter, and you’ve got a recipe for chaos.

Black & White is a wild, fun, irresistible ride. It’s fast-paced enough to read in a day. Just don’t plan on doing anything else until you’re through – seriously. The story is told from the viewpoints of Iri and Jet in alternating chapters, interspersed with flashbacks of their school days together at the Corp-Co Extrahuman Academy.

Read more about it here. Or just go ahead and buy it. You know you want to.  There is a second volume planned for July of 2010 in what has been dubbed The Icarus Project.

[xrr rating=5/5]

5 Authors I Just Found (Now You Should Too)

  • Simon R. Green – Now, I know Mr. Green has been writing for a very long time. I was, however, only recently lucky enough to find his Nightside series. Fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files should definitely check this out. It’s a bit darker, a bit less funny, but still excellent.  [link]
  • Rachel Caine – Ms. Caine has also been writing for awhile. I kept hearing great things about her Weather Warden series. When I finally picked it up (I’ve read the first two so far), I realized that I had been missing out. The cover blurb is correct, after reading about Joanne and the Weather Wardens – you’ll never watch the Weather Channel the same way again! [link]
  • Devon Monk – Ms. Monk is probably my favorite of this list. Her first two books in the Allie Beckstrom series are out now and you should run– not walk- to go pick them up now. She’s done such an interesting and unique twist for her magic system that it’s worth reading for that alone. [link]
  • T.A. Pratt – Mr. Pratt (yes, it was a surprise to me, too) has several books out in his Marla Mason series. I love Marla. She is a cold-blooded bitch when it comes to protecting her beloved city. Yet she’s a caring, warm person once we’re inside her head. My fingers are itching to pick up book #3 (it’s on my shelf right now), but I promised myself that I wouldn’t read them all at once.
  • Jackie Kessler and Caitlin KittredgeThis pair has written my third most anticipated volume of the year. (White Witch Black Curse and Naamah’s Kiss, thanks for asking). Black & White is the story of a pair of superheroes – one heroine, one villainess- written in tandem. I admit I’ve read nothing by either one of these ladies (yet), but the short story on B&N.com was enough to get me salivating. [link]

So there you go, head out and pick up some new books!

Books I Want

I’ve promised my readers a  list of the upcoming books that I’m just dying to have. So without further ado, here they are… (Readers, authors, publishers and admirers – feel free to send me copies of any of these as gifts 🙂 . )This list mostly only encompasses the next three months of releases.

In order of release:

  • May 26, 2009 – Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison (YA)
  • May 29, 2009Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
  • June 2, 2009 – Black & White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge
  • June 15, 2009 – Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
  • June 24, 2009 – Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey
  • June 30, 2009 – City of Souls (Zodiac #4) by Vicki Pettersson
  • June 30, 2009 – Dying Bites by D.D. Barant
  • July 7, 2009 – Strange Brew (Anthology) edited by P.N. Elrod
  • July 7, 2009 – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
  • July 28, 2009Redemption Alley (Jill Kismet #3) by Lilith Saintcrow
  • September 30, 2009 – Soulless by Gail Carriger

I’ll update this post as I run across other great upcoming books.

Looking Ahead – New Releases in 2009

Below is my personal shopping list (so far) for 2009!

January 5th – Karen Miller – Hammer of God (Godspeaker, Book 3)
January 27th – Gail Z Martin – Dark Haven (Necromancer, Book 3)

January 27th – Lois McMaster Bujold – Horizon (The Sharing Knife, Book 4)

February 26th – Kim Harrison – White Witch, Black Curse (The Hollows, Book 7)
March 3rd – Anne Bishop – The Shadow Queen (The Black Jewels, Book 7)
April 7th – Jim Butcher – Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, Book 11)
April 7th – Karen Chance – Curse the Dark (Cassandra Palmer, Book 4)
May 26th – Kim Harrison – Once Dead, Twice Shy (YA) (Madison Avery, Book 1)
June 24th – Jacqueline Carey – Naamah’s Kiss(Kushiel, Book 7 – New series)
June 30th – Vicki Pettersson – City of Souls (Signs of the Zodiac, Book 4)