Book Reviews: The Dresden Files [Books 2-4] by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files [Books 2-4]
by Jim Butcher

That’s right, I’m reviewing in bunches now because 1) reviewing them by themselves just seems so repetitious unless I’m willing to discuss spoilers (which I’m not), 2) there are so many books in this series that to review each one individually would totally bombard you with Butcher, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I like a little more variety on my blog, 3) I’m reading so much faster than I’m reviewing these days that if I waited to do these individually you wouldn’t hear about them until next year (totally not kidding… I finished Fool Moon in June 2014) and finally 4) after three years of book blogging I finally figured out that I make my own rules for my blog and can review more than one book at a time if I want to… This seems like a really stupid epitome, but it has been liberating (I am blogger, hear me roar)!

So let’s talk about The Dresden Files for a minute. :-)

I can definitely see why Jim Butcher is considered a staple in the Urban Fantasy genre – he has an excellent main character (who is a tad whiny at times, but that’s kind of why I like him), loads of paranormal that will continually ding your creep-o-meter (even though I admit it doesn’t take much to set mine off), and plenty of action, humor, and intrigue. Overall, if you’ve never read an urban fantasy, this author is a great place to start. The best thing about him is that he seems to get better with each book.

Fool Moon:

I think this one might of been my least favorite so far, but when you’re dealing with 4 to 5 star titles, that’s not really a big deal. If you read negative reviews of this author, one of the number one complaints is the objectifying and over-sexualization of women in his novels. While I definitely see what they are talking about, I personally didn’t find it offensive… I found it funny. And because I found it funny, it made it difficult for me to take the book seriously. The story would start to spike my adrenaline with these ridiculously scary werewolves running around tearing people to pieces, then they would switch back to human and creepy went out the window in favor of bodies, bodies, and more bodies (and not of the deceased variety). I can’t quite figure out if Butcher is doing it on purpose or not – oversexualizing every female so that the most normal and relatable woman in the story, Murphy, stands out even more. If it was in fact a deliberate misdirection, it’s brilliant… Murphy always looks the most appealing to me because she has the most substance, and she’s one of the main reasons I was excited to keep reading at this point in the series.

4/5 stars

Grave Peril:

I remember hearing an interview where Jim Butcher talked about Grave Peril being the book where most fans thought the story came alive, and I can’t say I disagree – there seemed to be a lot more in-depth character development, as well as richer side characters who really added to the completeness of the story. Now was there still ridiculously over-sexualized women at every turn? Totally, but this time it felt like it was integral to the plot, making the bad guys seem a lot more dangerous in their allure rather than just being over the top for kicks and giggles (of which I have no issue with, other than they don’t add much substance to the plot that way). I also thought this book was the funniest one so far and think Bob is one of the best sidekicks I’ve read to date. Where Fool Moon dealt with werewolves, Grave Peril focused on Vampires, and I appreciate that each book seems to have a different paranormal focus. For the record, this one scared me the most… but keep in mind that I’m a wimp.

4.5/5 stars

Summer Knight:

The “whodunit” framework for this novel was a lot of fun – especially since the culprits were Fae and poor Dresden got caught up in their politicking. I think the overall atmosphere for Summer Knight was my favorite element – it had lots of magic, some interesting creatures, and we got to learn a lot more about the Fae and how they operate. Even though the “monsters” in this novel were a little more lighthearted than in the previous ones, the internal conflicts Dresden faced were as serious as I’ve seen them. Even though there was a lot of character growth (which I always like), there was no shortage of paranormal, action, and overall plot advancement. I think this one may have been my favorite so far simply because Murphy was really involved in the plot – I love the dynamics between her and Dresden. As of now, the series is going strong and I am eager as ever to pick up the next book.

5/5 stars

Overall, The Dresden Files are a ton of fun to read and I recommend them to anybody who likes urban fantasies… In fact, you’re kind of not in the cool-kids club until you’ve read them… just sayin’. I’d heard amazing things about Butcher for ages before I finally picked up Storm Front, but it was only after I read a couple of his blog posts I knew we’d get along. He had this one hilarious post where he copied and pasted at least fifty soul-crushing, vicious reviews of his books, and I’m talking pages and pages of Butcher-hating slander, then at the very end simply wrote* “sometimes it’s hard to get motivated.” And lucky for those of us who love him, his books are permeated with that awesome humor.

*Disclaimer – it has been years since I’ve seen that post and I haven’t yet taken the time to look it up, so forgive me if I misquoted him…. you get the gist, though.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Top Twelve Authors Who Inspire the Aspiring Author in Me!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s topic supposed to be Top Ten Inspiring Bookish Quotes, or some such, but I am yet again going my own route because, as much as I read, I’ve never been one to collect words of inspiration. In fact, I am far more likely to find inspiration out of the book as a whole and have said many times throughout the last couple years how much I admire certain authors for their ability to do certain things well. This week has ironically inspired me to compile all of those well-crafted books in one place.

Top Ten Twelve Authors Who Inspire the Aspiring Author in Me!


These three authors are definitely my favorite world-builders! Each story they create has a different setting, magic system, and atmosphere and each time I am in awe at their creativity. Honorable mentions for this category include Julie E. Czerneda and Ann Aguirre.


A lot of others do a good job the characterization, but these three authors stand out to me as exceptional because their characters are so rich and lifelike you feel like you’re reading about real people. They are often flawed and don’t always make the best decisions, which is probably why they always feel so human.


I will be the first to admit that I don’t read books to specifically appreciate how authors weave words together, but these three authors crafted their tales in such a way that I couldn’t help but pay attention. The language was beautiful and poetic without being pompous or over-the-top. Simply lovely!


How someone crafts a story together so brilliantly always blows my mind, and these three authors dazzled me with how well their stories were composed. I’m sure you’re all not surprised to see Harry Potter on the list, and I think story is what I’ve always appreciated the most about it.


I have plans to go back and reread all of these authors to help me improve my own craft. There are so many examples of  brilliant writing within each one – if I could absorb the skills from each I would be totally set! I would like to point out that many of these books could easily fit in all the categories, I just placed them the one I thought they represented the best.

What books inspire you? Any from my list?

by Niki Hawkes


Top Ten Books My Friends Recommended!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s TTT was supposed to be Top Ten Books About Friendship and I have to admit I found the topic a bit… underwhelming. So instead I decided to showcase the absolute perfect recommendations my friends have given me over the years. A good friend knows exactly what kind of books you like to read, and mine haven’t let me down yet! Without further ado:

Top Ten Books My Friends Recommended!

 Some of the books above are among my all-time favorites and I am totally grateful my friends knew my tastes in reading well enough to single them out for me. There’s a chance I may not have picked them up so quickly otherwise, or worse, I may not of discovered them all… that’s a horrifying thought.

Anyway, what great recommends have your friends given you?

by Niki Hawkes


Top Ten Books I Recommend to Nonreaders! (11/18/2013)

Top ten Tuesday pink

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 For avid readers like myself, there is no end to the number of great books just waiting to be added to our colossal TBR piles. For nonreaders, however, it can be really difficult finding quality reading if you’re not immersed in the book world. It has been my experience that most nonreaders select their next books based solely on word of mouth and personal recommendations.

 Because they are not familiar with many of the subgenres of speculative fiction, I always try to get them started on “gateway” novels – ones that aren’t too intimidating for the casual reader but are good enough that I can recommend them confidently to a wide range of people. As a side note, I consider anyone who reads fewer than five books a year to be a nonreader. These recommendations also work for avid readers looking to explore other genres.

Top Ten Books I Recommends to Nonreaders!

   Now keep in mind that I wouldn’t hand any of these titles to people who only like creative nonfiction or biographies. They have to be interested in these genres to begin with, and I do a lot of brain picking before I throw my heart and soul into a recommendation. I actually have a list of about five titles per genre that I mention to an interested person, but tried to pick the best from each one to represent here. Would any of these make your list?

by Niki Hawkes

Niki’s Book Recommendations! – If You Liked Sword of Shannara…

If you liked: Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks


Then you might like:

a2Title: The Cleric Quintet

Author: R. A. Salvatore

Series: Cleric Quintet 1-5

Genre: Fantasy

I felt the need to include this book in the list because, although it’s not highly adventurous, the overall writing style and character development made me nostalgic of Brooks’ work. Salvatore also happens to be excellent with epic battle scenes and intricate sword-fights, something I think fans of the Brooks’ books will enjoy (also consider reading the Drizzt series).

a4Title: The Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Series: Kingkiller Chronicles

Genre: Fantasy

This is the best book that I’ve read in a long time! It has the same overall world-building and general feel to the story that I loved in Shannara, but takes it so much further with everything from character development to plot. I deem this a masterpiece that any fantasy buff should have on their shelf. Read Full Review


a3Title: Pawn of Prophecy

Author: David Eddings

Series: Belgariad

Genre: Fantasy

Arguably one of the first-movers in the genre, these books have everything you’ve come to expect from classic fantasy: fun characters, high adventure, and good conquering evil. These novels are short, but memorable. Read Full Review


a5Title: The Misenchanted Sword

Author: Lawrence Watt-Evans

Series: Legends of Ethshar

Genre: Fantasy

This is one of my favorite authors and one that not many have heard of. All of his books are highly entertaining, and I daresay I liked them better than Brooks. Don’t let the cover scare you off – these are great!


a7Title: Magician: Apprentice

Author: Raymond E. Feist

Series: Riftwar Saga

Genre: Fantasy

This series is a family favorite, and my go-to for customers wanting a good fantasy. While it has the same adventure, I think the character development and overall storyline drew me in a bit more than Brooks’ work. It was also more fast-paced. Read Full Review


a8Title: Eragon

Author: Christopher Paolini

Series: Eragon

Genre: Teen Fantasy

For a kid’s book, this series actually reminds me the most of the Shannara series. Between the characters, the adventure, and the dark creatures they battle along the way, the similarities are endless – including the fact that they are both lengthy and entertaining.

eheTitle: The Eye of the World

Author: Robert Jordan

Series: Wheel of Time

Genre: Fantasy

I don’t think there are many people who haven’t read the Wheel of Time novels, but in case you haven’t, they follow along the same basic storyline of a young man taken from his home for a grand adventure. It compliments the Shannara series quite well. Read Full Review


a9Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Authors: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Series: Dragonlance

Genre: Fantasy

My final recommend is a series that boasts some of the funnest characters in the entire genre, and is yet another epic fantasy that most people I talk to really liked (including me).
There you have it! Did I miss any? :)

Niki’s Book Recommendations

If you liked: The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins


Then you might also like:

42Title: Partials

Author: Dan Wells

Series: Partials #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

This is my top recommend for books similar to HG. It has an excellent fast-paced plot, interesting characters, and compelling conflicts. It is also written beautifully, landing itself as my favorite book of 2013! Read full review

divergentTitle: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Series: Divergent #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

What I loved most about the HG (aside from how well it was written) was the unique concept behind it. Divergent also had a highly original plot that actually kept me up into the night (I hardly ever sacrifice sleep for books anymore). Read full review

aTitle: Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver

Series: Delirium#1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Although this dystopian novel focuses more on the romanic element, the overall arc of the plot and general writing style are quite similar to the Hunger Games.

a1Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

This series was one of the first dystopian books on the market, and no doubt an inspiration to many writers. I loved the idea, I loved the world, and I loved the characters. This is a must-read classic for any dystopian lover. Read full review

a2Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Series: Matched #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Like Delirium, matched is more focused on the romantic aspect of the story rather than fast-paced action, but it’s still an excellent dystopian novel in its own right. Its kind of a cool mix between Fahrenheit 451 and the HG. Definitely geared more towards women.

a1Title: Ship Breaker

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Series: N/A

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Ship Breaker reminded me a lot of the HG because it had a similar overall feel to the story.  It sounds weird, but it made me somehow nostalgic of Suzanne Collin’s work, and was such a good story I remember it vividly several years later. It definitely made me want to read some of his other fantasy novels.

Well, there you have it! My top picks for books like Hunger Games. Let me know if I’m missing any really good ones! :)