26 March, 2017

{ Series Review } A Whole Lotta Fire & Sass

Hello friends! I'm bringing you two reviews today of my latest reads! It's full of action, friendships, and sarcasm, and I absolutely loved it. Here's Firebug and its followup, Pyromantic by Lish McBride!

Firebug by Lish McBride
Published September 23, 2014 by Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Firebug, book 1
Ava is a firebug-she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus-who is now her boss.

When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♪

Firebug was just so much fun. It's one of those books that makes you want to keep reading, never mind what the time is. I picked this book up on a whim and oh man, I'm so glad I did because this was the type of book that was just perfect for me.

This is an urban fantasy book, so there a lot of, er, creatures—I guess?—that hide amongst human crowds, pretending to be human by magic. Ava is one of them and she's a firebug, which basically means she and fire know each other very well. Due to that, she was forced to join a sort of magic mafia—the Coterie. Her work with them isn't clean—it involves lots of chasing, lots of death, and lots of ruined clothes. It's actually ridiculous how much of their clothing is ruined in this series so far.

I loved Ava. She was sarcastic when she shouldn't be and a badass most other times. The thing with sarcastic characters is that sometimes, the dialogue can be very... bad. It never felt like that here—not with any of the characters, all of whom I found myself really liking (or hating, depending. But I take that as a sign of good villain writing). Anyway, Ava is amazing. She cares for her family and would do anything for them, no matter how much it risks her life. She's by no means a saint—no one is when they work for the Coterie—but she'll definitely do whatever it takes to protect her loved ones.

Which bring me to: family. Oh my goooood, the familial relationships in this book were amazing. Ava's mother died when she was younger, so since then she's been living with her guardian, Cade. They aren't related but they act as if they were father and daughter. They have such a great thing going on between them—you can just tell while reading how much they love each other. Cade knows how to decipher Ava's sarcasm and, in return, he can always offer up a witty quip back. 
"Can I go to lunch?" 
"With Sylvie, or the delinquent?" 
"Right, because as an assassin, I should really watch who I'm seen with. Wouldn't want to impugn my own reputation." He grunted and I rolled my eyes, both of us winning the blue ribbon for maturity. "Besides, no one has ever proved he's a delinquent." 
Cade looked up from the book and stared at me over his glasses, "Don't you think it's a bad sign that your best argument for your beau is that nothing has been proved in court?"
Ava didn't have the easiest life before Cade, but after a few years with him, she's managed to find a home, both in Currant and with him. It's so heartwarming!

Part of Ava's family are also her closest and her best friends, Lock and Ezra. I won't lie, I didn't expect to love Lock, but oh man, it was so hard not to. I like to think of these as the holy trinity—or rather, the unholy trinity, because that's 100% more accurate. The camaraderie between these three is amazing. Friendships in books are my favourite kind, and while I was disheartened there wasn't a strong female one, Lock, Ezra, and Ava didn't disappoint. They're a unit for the Coterie, but family to each other. If one of them is in danger, then all of them are because there's no way in hell they're leaving anyone behind. They all have brilliant senses of humour and they all know how to act around one another so it's never awkward. And there's absolutely zero barriers between them! They're together for most of the book and it's made for some hilarious exchanges.
"I think what our friend is trying to say is that you scared us to death and we were extremely worried about you." 
"Ezra, when you say things like that, totally serious and without a single come-on or innuendo, I have a hard time taking you seriously." 
"Fine: We were worried about you, baby. Is that better?" 
"That was actually kind of weak," Lock said.
Look, I just really love them. 

The thing about these relationships is that, when you see your sarcastic darlings vulnerable or hurting, it means so much more and McBride definitely shows that. I love that they have this strong friendship so, so much.

Okay, so there is a lot of action. Things are constantly in motion—constantly happening. The three of them hardly get a break throughout and between running for their lives to stay alive and figuring out ways to solve the mess they're in, our protagonists don't get huge breaks. But it makes for an exciting book and between it and the humour—along with several references to pop culture, it makes for an amazing book.

I was kind of surprised by the lack of romance in the book. I mean, in the beginning, there is some, because Ava has a normal human boyfriend, but I knew that wouldn't last. I mean, when did a boyfriend in the beginning of a series ever last? Anyway, though, throughout the entire book, it was pretty much nothing. And I loved that! Ava was with her best friends for most of the first half and later one with another group, and the fact that there were no feelings to shake things up was amazing! The author waited until the end of the book and even then it wasn't the way one would expect it to go.

So! All of that being said, 4.5 stars! This was a great beginning to the series and I'd highly recommend it!


Pyromantic by Lish McBride
Published March 21, 2017 by Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Firebug, book 2
Ava is having a rough time. Getting rid of Venus didn’t set her free—she’s still part of the magical mafia called the Coterie. Her new boss seems like an improvement, but who knows if he’ll stay that way—the Coterie life changes people. And since Ava’s currently avoiding her friends after (disastrously) turning down a date with Lock, well, everything kind of sucks. And that’s not even taking into account the feelings she might have for him.

But when a mysterious illness starts to affect magical beings, it’s up to Ava and her team to stop its spread…or else one of them might be next.

♫ ♫ ♫ 

This was a great followup to Firebug! I only have two complaints but more on that later.

I absolutely adored Firebug and the characters in that book. In Pyromantic, the crew's actually bigger. They aren't new—they've been mentioned in the first book, but their roles here a lot bigger. 

And that isn't a bad thing at all. If anything, it shows how comfortable and how capable McBride is with having so many characters and, with it, a variety of personalities, powers, and relationships. I loved it, seeing new sides to these characters—primarily Alistair and Bianca. But with this is the sad decline of seeing my favourite trio—Lock, Ava, and Ezra—together.

Pyromantic takes place several months after Firebug and in the beginning, the three aren't even together. Ava's back in Currant while the boys are in the city and she's been avoiding them—primarily Lock—because she kind of turned down a date from her best friend. It was a bit sad not seeing them together because I love their friendship and how they just are around each other. They're hilarious and adorable and like a family and it makes me so, so happy.
I snatched my phone from Ezra, then smacked his hand as he reached to grab it back. I'm afraid the slap fight went on longer than it should have. Lock had to intervene by sitting on Ezra.

But McBride doesn't make that last for long. I loved how she dealt with the awkwardness between Lock and Ava, and how she made them a team again. 
I sat down next to him, my head resting on his shoulder. "Don't do that," I said. 
"Take all the blame. You make the problem all yours and keep me from having to deal with things, and I appreciate it, but this one's on me." 
Lock took my hand in both of his, absentmindedly massaging the pressure points. "How about we split it thirty-seventy. Then we can both be sorry but you can really torture yourself over it. And that way you'll have to make it up to me by not throwing yourself in front of every terrible and dangerous situation, and also maybe make me some wacky cake."
"You want me to bake? Are you sure you're not still trying to torture yourself?" 
"Wacky cake is pretty simple—" 
"Do I need to remind you of the great pudding fire?" 
"It was instant pudding, Lock."
See? They just get each other. 

It isn't like how they were in Firebug but that's mostly because there are more people so the three don't just have to rely on each other anymore—they have more backup.

That isn't to say the humour's gone. Most of the team knows exactly how to respond to Ava and Ezra and Lock. There's no one sucking the humour out of the scene except for the sense of impending doom—but then again, that's always the case, so y'know. At least the characters keep it going.

In any case, that was in tip top shape and for that I am glad. I know that this book came out over 2 years later after Firebug so it was great to see that, despite how long it took for the author to write this, she still had the characters how they were supposed to be.

Okay, so my complaints. It wasn't as action packed as the first book. I'm not sure if the series ends with this book, or if there will be a third book, but despite that, I was a bit disappointed. This one isn't boring by any means, not at all, but it felt like a while before things really started to happen. In the beginning and for what was about the first half of the book, they were all jumping from job to job, not really knowing what the hell was happening. And I get that—the need to build up to some reveal to the plot and whatnot, but it kind of dragged on for me.

There was also a severe lack of Ezra in the book. I love Lock and Ava a lot, but Ezra is my favourite character and he isn't in the book as much as he was in Firebug. There was another character, Sylvie, who was, and I can't say I was her biggest fan. There's nothing wrong with her, but she just felt like a liability and I just could not like her personality at all. Me thing, though, so not too big of a deal, but still.

One of the stronger points of this series is that it's not romance based. There are hardly any undertones. Part of me was disappointed, if only a bit, because of how book one ended, but a whole lot of me was glad that Ava didn't lose focus on the mission. Sometimes it came up, but only because the two parties were alone and it just happens. For the most part, though, it was romance drama free.

Overall, while Pyromantic was a good followup, I have to say Firebug is my favourite of the series. I still highly recommend reading them, especially if you love humour in your books! 4 stars!

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