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Devil's Punch: A Corine Solomon Novel
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
How far would you go to save your best friend? If you're anything like Corine Solomon, you would take a one-way ticket to hell without a second thought.

This is my tenth book by Ann Aguirre, and she has yet to write a single sentence that I won't like. From her restrained writing style to her astonishing worlds, everything she does demonstrates calmness, precision and experience not many authors have.

My relationship with Corine Solomon got off to a rocky start. Just like Sirantha Jax, she was insufferable at first, mildly infuriating later and a role model by the end. Not that we got to see much of Corine this time around, as she was sharing her body with a vicious demon queen. She was mostly in the background, a helpless spectator in her own life, and even when she found the strength to push the queen down, she was rarely the Corine I know and love. She and the queen started out as complete opposites, one gentle and mellow, the other evil incarnate, but the lines started blurring pretty soon and suddenly I had no idea where one ends and the other begins. Just like Chance, I was unsure about her actions, constantly wondering which part was Corine, and which the demon queen. If that isn't proof enough of superior writing skills, I don't know what is.

I adore that Aguirre toys with the genre, stepping in and out as she sees fit and abandoning it altogether when the need arises. Hell Fire, book two in the series, was really a small-town horror story, compelling, utterly creepy and so much better than the small town horror story that won 2011 GoodReads choice award. That's when it became clear that the author refuses to be confined by the genre and it was around that time that I started worshiping the ground she walks on... with much dignity, of course. ;) She took a step back with the third book, Shady Lady, which was a real urban fantasy if I ever read one. It was, at that moment, the best one of the series. I loved an impossible man together with Corine, I suffered with her, I fought right alongside her and I cried when she lost the things she valued most. I thought it would be a hard one to top, and it was, but I might have underestimated Aguirre's ability to surprise her readers. She wrote a book so unlike Shady Lady, or any of her books for that matter, that it's simply impossible to compare them.

Flirting with high fantasy did wonders for this series. The second Corine and Chance jumped (literally, they jumped) into the demon realm, my jaw dropped and that's where it stayed. From the gate and the sacrifice the crossing required to Xibalba, a huge demon city they ended up in, every single detail was in its place. The demon queen's palace was as real to me as my own back yard, and the creatures that gathered there will feature in my nightmares for a long time to come. I've said this before, but it deems repeating: nobody builds worlds like Ann Aguirre. Each one is a work of art, but when the time comes to destroy them, she shows no mercy. I think that's what I appreciate the most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2012
Fourth in the Corine Solomon urban fantasy series revolving around a touch psychic living in Mexico.

My Take
I was enjoying the promise of Corine and Chance together again, building a life. Then Aguirre comes along with this kidnapping. Okay. Obviously, a new story needs a new bit of drama. And it's good for a while, but then Corine is making all these stupid decisions, just rushing on in without thought.

One word sums it up...drama queen.

It's certainly an interesting journey into Hell. Then there are the distinctions the demons themselves make between each other.

Oh brother...the whining begins. Up to this point, Corine has been a pretty courageous and intelligent person. She knows it's the Chasm of Despair...hullo. So she just spills everything. And I mean...everything. Idiot. Corine's interactions with Sybella and her escape are just too easy. There's a shallowness in this story that is irritating. Almost like taking a ride through Disneyland. This should be such an important chapter in Corine's life and...phfft.

Xibalba is the, well, I guess capital city of Sheol, and it certainly sounds pretty. It has its range of neighborhoods with their particular quirks and dangers. Just as the different classes of demons do. Whoa, the information about the archangels and the nephilim is rather disturbing.

Wow, Chance really does want to get back with Corine. Compared to their first time around, he's practically spilling all of his back history. Including all about his old girlfriend Lily and how she met her demise. It's just too not-Chance. I feel as though Aguirre skipped a major part of Chance's "life change". We also get a view on how Shannon fared after Shady Lady: Corine Solomon, #3.

The whole possession thing is weak. Aguirre builds some really nice tension, but then just lets it go. The Saremon demons are such a danger to her and yet she concentrates on making her house all pretty?? WTF?? Her encounter with her dad and Shannon's remembering was just...weak.

The Story
Chance is serious. He fully intends to romance Corine and he's followed her to Mexico and taken a house nearby as Corine rebuilds her shop. But fate has no intention of allowing them to relax for demons have kidnapped Shannon. If Corine wants her back, she'll have to take a trip to Hell, one on which her powers begin to manifest.

Seems there is a demon faction who wants Corine to take her rightful place in Hell. As her lover, Chance, too, has a role to play, one which may drag him under. Unfortunately, there are other factions who disagree with Corine's "promotion".

The Characters
Corine Solomon, a.k.a., The Binder, is carrying a darkish aura (a result of feeding those men to a demon in Shady Lady) and something in her family lineage gives Corine power over demons. Tia sees into her heart though and is accepting of her. Butch is her very-sentient Chihuahua. He knows more than Corine can understand. Chance is lucky. No, seriously. He was born with good luck, but woe to the person next to him as the bad side of the luck has to go somewhere. His mother Min is human and we finally learn about his father. We also discover Corine's father, Albie Solomon, and what really happened.

Tia is a witch who has offered to teach Corine to use her magick and let her stay at her place while her old place is rebuilt. Kel is a fallen angel, a Nephilim, charged with destroying evil--and protecting Corine in Shady Lady. Shannon was Corine's best friend and Jesse Saldana was much more than that but now they are that story's casualties. They no longer remember Corine, but they remembered each other. Chuch and Eva have had a little girl, Camellia.

Greydusk is the Imaron demon hired to guide Corine and Chance to Sheol. Sybella is a Luren demon, its Knight, and the one who ordered Shannon kidnapped. Only they don't have her anymore. Nenlil is a demon queen who lost her power, her existence due to her own greed.

The Cover
The cover is complex. A tarty looking Corine in a black tank top and jeans is walking away but with her head turned back to look at us with a huge knife in her right hand. In the background is a cityscape of towers and spires with a purple sky.

The title is the beverage served at Corine's formal coronation ball, Devil's Punch.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2012
Devil's Punch
Reviewed by Ann & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog

I would love to have Corine Solomon as a friend. When she learns that her best friend, Shannon has been taken by the demons she has provoked, Corine makes no hesitation as she sets her plans in motion to get her back. She is loyal and kind, and although her life right now is still murky, she knows that she has people in her life that are worth fighting for.

DEVIL'S PUNCH begins in Mexico, where Corine and Chase are trying to work their relationship out. Chase has been giving Corine her space, but I have to say that I loved how he was able to convey his feelings without smothering her. Those tender kisses and longing glances really solidified the fact that he really does care about her and what happens between them. I loved the glimpses into his past and really wished there was more of that because I enjoyed more of his character that way.

Though the book starts off in Mexico, it doesn't really stay that way. Early on, Corine's journey to find her best friend takes them out of Mexico and into Sheol, or Hell. I found that the pacing was good. There wasn't a moment that dragged for too long. I thought that that was noteworthy because in most of Ann's books, she is able to move the story on smoothly while punching you in the teeth. She's that good of a writer.

Another nice thing about this book is the action. Aguirre incorporates interesting mythology while making it her own. I noticed that Aguirre's writing style isn't flashy and yet it still manages to hold my attention. But don't get me wrong, the action is in no way subdued. There are demons, so there is no way that this book could be passed up!

Interesting things occur in this book that makes me eager to read the next book in the series, AGAVE KISS. I can't help but wonder what Aguirre has in store for her readers next!

*Review Copy provided by author
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2012
Devil's Punch picks up right where Shady Lady left off. Corine and Chance are in Mexico, Corine's trying to rebuild the shop, her home, and work on her magical skills. Things are going great until Corine gets a note saying that Shannon has been kidnapped. Because of events in the last book, Corine knows that demons are involved.

I like this book but I don't think it was nearly as good as Shady Lady. I really missed Kel. Chance was awesome and has definitely changed and is serious about being with Corine. There were times when I questioned his sanity for standing by her. We finally find out more about Chance, which is great! It's kind of a shocker, to be honest :)

I don't know exactly what made this one less enjoyable for me, it had all the right stuff but it just wasn't as interesting. I think the problem may have been the setting or Corine??

It ends with a huge cliffhanger so I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Since Blue Diablo I have awaited each new installment of Corine Solomon's adventures with baited breath. I should have watched Survivor or some other pointless television show. Devil's Punch is a dreary never-ending whine about lost love and demon life. No wonder they call it hell, if I had to listen to this all of the time I'd find a way to jump ship. I never liked the character Chance and am happy he's met an end although there are signs he'll make a come back. If you find Harlequin Romances too challenging this is just the thing. So long Binder don't hurry back.
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on June 22, 2012
More 3 1/2 stars for me.
Corine is helping Chance move into his new apartment, in Mexico not far from her, and both have agreed to a fresh start. Corine is rebuilding her pawnshop and has started training in spells and charms with Tia, someone she has become close to in Mexico. All seems to be going well; dating Chance - slowly, learning spells, and rebuilding her shop, with the exception of a missing piece that she created with a over powerful spell, and is hoping will wear off. Corine then receives a mysterious anonymous note. "Save the girl or claim your crown. Either way, you'll come to us." Corine believes it's from the Knight of Hell she crossed and now her enemies very well could be demons this time. Corine has to make a dangerous trip to Sheol. What temptations will Hell hold for Corine? She could learn more of herself and her heritage. Can she handle hell, or better asked... can Hell handle Corine?

This is the fourth book of Corine Solomon, and things are starting to look a little better with a few shadows in the past, but being Corine that can't last for long. The beginning felt to move a little slower for me, but I know Ann and this is all setting up for whats to come. For me, we got to get close to Corine and Chance (which I've always been a Chance supporter since book one) and the story really started kicking up the pace and action about 75 pages in. Not that the first 75 are bad, they are wonderful, seeing Chance, oh... and Corine too. Quickly the highlights of previous books are all given showing the connection to each other and importance along with impact on Corine and her friends.

Then all breaks loose and we make the trip to Sheol with Corine and Chance, meeting Greydusk (a demon guide) to Xibalba, a city on Sheol. Oh God! The things Corine learns and finds in Sheol!! Oh my, for this trip it is a need to read this book. You would not believe what she learns, about herself, her family, what it is to be a Solomon, and more on Chance too!

Corine is doing more magic, other than her touch magic. It is cool to see as she is new to it what she is learning, and working at it. She is concerned about the dark spot on her soul, but she tries to work past it to make for the better and good. We even have hints from page one that Chance is more than he appears. Maybe not entirely human? We don't know much of his father, and it appears he doesn't either. But that and more comes up in this book as well.

This book is another of Ann's that takes my emotions from one high to another. She is amazing at taking me through different stages of a persons life no matter how deadly they become and loving them, then flipping it all around to make me love them again. Even demons, even though evil, I feel okay with the way they are, and dare I say almost understand. Ann is wonderful at storytelling, and appealing to your heart and rational mind with things that should not be so easily done.

In the end, I wanted to scream. Ann takes the leaps some authors may not. I cried, and cried again because I have to wait for the next book. A wonderful addition to the Corine Solomon series.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Chance has moved to Mexico to be with Corine and although their relationship is progressing slowly there time alone together is all cut short when Corine finds out her best friend has been kidnapped by Demons. The pair quickly find out that the kidnapping is to get Corine to jump into the demon realm and take her place on the throne.

I was really sad that the ending of book 3 SHADY LADY left some of Corine's closest friends without any memories of her. Although they finally get their memories back so much has happened and so much has been lost that it still leaves you really sad at the end of DEVIL'S PUNCH. The setting of book 4 takes place pretty much fully in on the Demon plane. I cant say I enjoyed it as much due to the fact that everything changed so much from what I'm used to reading about Corine. The world building is really great and the new characters were interesting but it just didn't feel like the other Corine books. The situation with Chance pretty much falling head over heals for the Demon Queen really bugged me. I understand a little bit because of the overall situation but come on, he is in love with CORINE and he didn't see anything seriously wrong with his behavior? I just had a really hard time with that overall and it made me lose faith in him. There is a lot of high emotion throughout the book and I did find myself bawling in a few parts. It will be interesting to see where Ann takes the series next.

DEVIL'S PUNCH was not my favorite of the series but a lot did happen to move the series along and I will be reading book 5 when it comes out.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
First and foremost, I think people who've read the previous Corine Solomon books should know... this is like nothing you've ever read before.

All of the standard Corine goods are there: a smart, loyal, witty heroine. Her delightful sidekick, Butch. And the cast of characters we've come to know and love throughout the series.

But make no mistake about it. There are no warm and fuzzies here. This is a dark, torturous, heartwrenching book where you feel that - at any moment - a character you adore could be snatched from your grasp forever. Corine's slippery slope into the darkness of the underworld is fascinating to read, and in the hands of any author other than Aguirre it might have felt silly or heavy handed.

This book had me gasping, wringing my hands, shaking my head and crying. Say what you will about the dark tone and the mind spinning ending, but Aguirre is a great story teller and this book has left me frantic to read the next. A top notch urban fantasy (just don't START reading the Corine series here, I beg you.)
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on November 29, 2013
Book four in the Corine Solomon series is able to stand alone as a complete story; Devils Punch is yet another jewel in author Ann Aguirre's crown. No one so seamlessly intermixes reality with fantasy; its hard to tell where one starts and the other stops.

Corine Solomon will stop at nothing to save her best friend, even entering the very bowels of hell if necessary. Even if it means sharing her body with a Demon Queen set on taking over Corine completely. Accompanied by her trusty chihuahua Butch and her old beau Chance, Corine must enter Sheol to battle with demon after demon lest Shannon perish. But the true danger is within Corine herself as she is forced to rely on the demon inside. Readers will sit on the edge of their seats wondering if any of them will make it out alive.

A true mix of romance, suspense, and fantasy Devils Punch is a book readers will want to clear some time for as they will find themselves not wanting to put the book down.

-Lanine Bradley, posted on Sacramento Book Review
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I can easily say this was the darkest of the novels in this series to date. I normally do not read dark themed novels, but, Ann Aguirre finds the light no matter how dark themed it gets. Once I joined our angel/demon Corine Solomon on her journey to Sheol, I was amazed at the descriptive powers of Ms. Aguirre's pen. The scenes became alive and you could visualize the characters.

The quest was to save her best friend, Shannon. We met Shannon earlier in the series, so we know how deeply Corine feels for her. Having her kidnapped by demons was not something our Corine could sit by and not try to save Shannon.

Along for the journey is Chance, Corine's boyfriend who also possesses the gift of 'Luck.' We get to learn a great deal more about him and why Corine is so attracted to him.

This is an adventure novel. Written with dimension and care. I hope that Ms. Aguirre keeps the series going for a long time, but, maybe a wee bit lighter? Corine deserves a break, perhaps in the heavens?
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