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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Magic Strikes -  Ilona Andrews Remember when I said I loved [b:Magic Burns|1811543|Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2)|Ilona Andrews|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1311280284s/1811543.jpg|1810889]? I might just love this book a little more. Just how good is it? Enough that it was my go-to when I was recently recovering from a headache--I wanted a dependable, awesome read and didn't want to start anything new that I'd end up hating.Magic Strikes is the third book in one of the best urban fantasy series out there. It maintains a very fast-moving plot with nicely developed characterization, has an unusual magic-technology premise, and stars a woman who is by far my favorite heroine.Kate's rescuing a banshee grandma for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid when she's called to a shapeshifter murder. Security chief Jim tells her to butt out, but she accidentally spills the news to Curran the next day when she and Andrea, her best friend, are out at lunch. Once Curran the shapeshifter king is involved, events spiral fast and draw in a large cast of characters, including Saiman in his real form, Derek and an attractive female, and Raphael and Andrea in their elaborate mating dance. Jim has gotten himself and his security team in hot water. Kate joins with them to save the girl, the Pack, and their reputations in a secret underground fight club. A couple sections of this book were an emotional challenge, but in the end, I loved that Andrews aren't afraid to play rough with their characters. It's a risky move that adds tension to the story. The plot is non-stop action, but leavened with Andrews' trademark humor. I love the balance they achieve. Kate's humor is sometimes only for herself, sometimes for friends, but when faced with a serious situation, she is all business and no laughs.As usual, characterization is a standout. I love Kate's intensity as she fights in the parking lot, and as she stands up to Jim's stonewalling. In one, she uses her amazing fight skills, in the other, hard-won legal knowledge, shocking Jim. The character Dali is introduced in a way that would be comical if it wasn't so plausible and her other form so beautiful. Julie returns in a moving scene. This book contains some of my favorite scenes, including the scene with Rene the guard, the scene with Jim where Kate quotes the law, the bit with Raphael and the fan that makes me laugh every time, and several fight scenes. The antagonists are unusual characters in UF, believable in their level of ferociousness and able to provide formidable foes for the crew.Kate continues to be my favorite heroine.There's Kate and her feelings on vampires: "Part cult, part research institute, part corporation, all vomit inducing."There's her opinion on inappropriate displays of emotion: "Saiman picked up a coffee mug, stared at it, and hurled it against the wall. It shattered into a dozen pieces. We looked at him.'Your date appears to be hysterical,' Rene told me.'You think I should slap some man into him?'Saiman stared at me, speechless. I had to give it to Rene--she didn't laugh. But she really wanted to."Then there's her friendships:"'Kate?'I have a superior reaction time. That was why although I shot out of my chair, jumped onto my desk, and attempted to stab the intruder into my office in the throat, I stopped the blade two inches before it touched Andrea's neck. Because she was my best friend, and sticking knives into your best friend's windpipe was generally considered to be a social faux pas.Andrea stared at the black blade of the throwing dagger. 'That was great,' she said. 'What will you do for a dollar?'I scowled.'Scary but not work a buck.'"Love it. Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/magic-strikes-by-ilona-andrews/