Book Review: A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart

Hey there…

These days I’m always on the hunt for good urban fantasy. The gold standard for urban fantasy for me is The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Magic and sarcasm make a heady mix for Harry Dresden, wizard-for-hire, and it’s a tough combination to beat.

That doesn’t stop me from looking however. And a few months ago I saw a review of K.A. Stewart’s A Devil in the Details on the Fantasy Book Critic blog. I immediately ordered a copy and threw it into my “read when I get a chance” pile.

Thankfully I had a chance to read it a couple of weeks ago and it was both a quick read and a lot of fun. Jesse James Dawson has an interesting worldview and a unique set of skills that come in handy when you act as a proxy in a deal with a demon. Demons don’t look too kindly on breaking contracts it seems and it tends to get messy. That’s when Dawson’s katana comes out to play…

Dawson is a member of a loose network of Champions around the globe focused on helping people get out of their contracts with demons. And he won’t just take on anybody. If you’ve made a deal with a demon, you knew what you were doing even if you didn’t think through all the consequences. You really have to have reformed in some serious ways if you expect Dawson to take your case. Yes, he gets paid well by the people he helps, but that’s just so that his wife and daughter are taken care of in the event that he dies on the job. He knows eventually his luck will run out and his family must be safe and secure in his absence.

What is this job exactly? He intercedes on behalf of people who have sold their souls to a demon for something. It can be something as giving as asking for a cure for your dying child or as selfish as wanting a few more years in the limelight before you fade away for good. In this story, it’s a famous old baseball pitcher who approaches Dawson to help him out. He wasn’t getting any playing time as younger players were pitching better than he was and he wanted to go out on top… Well, he paid for the sudden turnaround with his soul. And now he wants out of the deal.

Once Dawson is involved, he discovers that other things are afoot and that some of his fellow Champions have gone missing. Is it all related? Can he keep his family safe and still fulfill his obligations to the pitcher? You’ll have to read it and find out, but A Devil in the Details sets the groundwork for a great new realm in urban fantasy I look forward to exploring further.

Though this is the first book in a series and Stewart’s debut, it really doesn’t feel like one. Her writing style was fluid enough that Dawson’s quests never felt forced or rushed. When a character was introduced, it was there for a reason and that reason was resolved by the end. And though all the loose ends were neatly tied up, this story left me wanting to know more about Dawson and his network of Champions in the next book.

Be sure to check out A Devil in the Details from K.A. Stewart at your favorite bookseller and check out her blog at Literary Intent.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up the book from Barnes & Noble below:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Contest: Autographed Set of Girls Know How Books!

Hi all…

A while back I reviewed The Girls Know How: Smart Alex by Ellen Langas Campbell, a book about Alex Martinez, a smart but troublesome 7th grader who discovers that math can be fun and that it can be fun to teach someone about it. My eldest daughter (age 9) enjoyed the book and I definitely appreciated the positive message and role models for young girls trying to find their own paths.

Well, the kind folks of Girls Know How® are giving away a complete set of the three Girls Know How® books, each signed by the author. Just in time for Christmas, this could be a great gift!

Each chapter book features a girl presented with a challenge who is encouraged by an accomplished woman at the pinnacle of her career, a character based on a real-life successful woman. A bio and exclusive Girls Want to Know interview are included at the conclusion of each book to guide readers wishing to learn more about that particular career. They are ideally suited for children in grades two through six.

The first in the series, Will Stephanie Get the Story? focuses on journalism. Raising the Roof introduces children to the world of construction. and Smart Alex explores teaching as a career. The books have been received enthusiastically by young readers, parents and teachers, and recently were named among the best in family-friendly media, receiving the Gold Award for Juvenile Level 2 Books ages 9-12 from the Mom’s Choice Awards®.

The contest is open to anyone in the United States (sorry – only those with US addresses are eligible) and will run until Sunday, December 12th.

What do you have to do?

Leave me a comment with a valid e-mail address below (so I can contact you if you win!) and explain who you think would be a good role model for the young women of today. Who should your daughters, granddaughters, and nieces aspire to be like or even better than?

Remember that the contest is only open through this coming Sunday! Good luck to all who enter!

For more about the Girls Know How® book series and fun, free activities, check out the GirlsKnowHow.com website too!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Laura DeLuca on winning the trio of books!

–Fitz

Enhanced by Zemanta

Book Review: Creepiosity by David Bickel

Hi all…

This book had my attention from the moment I saw the amazingly creepy picture of the hairless cat on the cover (Creepiosity Index: 9.47). Of course, I had to check out Creepiosity. Author David Bickel has managed to pull together about 90 pictures and concepts that somehow capture the bizarre, uncomfortable realm we all find ourselves dealing with from time to time. And like many people, Bickel’s response is to point them out to us and help us laugh about them. Will it help us get over how creepy some of these things are? Probably not, but let’s give it a shot.

Creepiness surrounds us in everyday life. From the creepiness of a restaurant’s animal mascot encouraging you to eat its own kind (p.36) to kids on leashes (p.86), from the ancient, mysterious candies found in a Grandma’s candy dish all wrapped in colored cellophane (p.104) to kiddie beauty pageants (p. 118), and everything in-between, above, below, and on the edges of things brought forth from the human mind.

But how do you measure this realm of the unintentionally creepy? I’ll leave the tale of how the Creepiosity Index came to be for Bickel to tell, but it all boils down to a fancy looking mathematical formula involving neck hairs per square inch standing on end, the number of time you wince, and a 10% factor if there are clowns involved. Clowns are damn creepy at times (Steven King’s It ring a bell for anyone?) so I certainly get that. And there’s enough pseudo-science to the formula to sell me on the idea. Some things in life are too creepy to NOT be measured!

Obviously Bickel is one of the world’s most respected creepiologists. “Creepiologist” is a term not to be confused with Creepologists who study creeps (which are in a different category all together), or Crêpeologists who study crêpes (tasty thin French pancakes served with a variety of fillings). Though Bickel might get a kick out of eating a crêpe with a creep, I’m guessing he’ll stick with finding creepy pictures and determining their Creepiosity.

By far my favorite part of the book talks about “Squirrels That Look At You a Bit Too Long.” He describes squirrels as basically rats “with a great PR person” and I’ve had my share of their knowing, creepy stares from time to time. These days, the squirrels in our neighborhood are more likely to raise the ire of my two dogs in the back yard. But every once in a while I still see an occasional squirrel with a suicidal streak standing his ground in the middle of the road tempting me to “make his day.”

Bickel manages to capture those odd moments we all have in pictures we can share with others and have a laugh together. I think Creepiosity would make a great gift for a friend or as something to break the tension in a room. But overall, I’m still pondering the Creepiosity of Nursery Rhymes (p.160) and whether I should continue to warp my children…

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this book below!

Enhanced by Zemanta