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Niki’s Book Journal [September 2018]

Niki’s Book Journal [September 2018]

September was a slow month in reading. It took me almost two weeks to get through Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself (liked it) and I haven’t really read anything of substance since. It’s not a lack of desire, but more a lack of time and some shifting priorities (I’ve been doing a ton of research trying to formulate a better fitness plan, and at work I’ve been doing more tv watching and YouTube surfing than audiobook listening). I’ve also been a little stressed and mentally distracted, so when I do pick up a book, it’s usually not for long.

Slow month aside, I’m still working to reach some reading goals by the end of the year. A friend and I started a challenge on FBR that involves a race to zero-out all of our outstanding incomplete series by the end of the year (she’s totally going to kick my ass lol). To that end, I created a little tracker in my bullet journal to help me plan.

As I mentioned in my Instagram post, I hate the way it turned out haha, but it’ll work just fine for functionality.

On to the mini reviews!!


The Lion of Senet by Jennifer Fallon

Lion of Senet (Second Sons #1) by Jennifer Fallon [3.5/5 stars]

The Lion of Senet was a very character-driven novel. Even though it had an interesting overall plot, the main appeal was how richly the characters were developed and how well they played off of one another. It reminded me a little of Robin Hobb’s Liveship trilogy in that all the characters were flawed (some I outright despised) but I still managed to have compassion for them because they were well written. The whole book was decent, but somewhere around the 75% the story really took off, and I found myself glued to it. I also really liked the overall concept (a subtle religion vs science juxtaposition) and it was fascinating to see how blind faith shaped the characters and the society. I’m very curious to see where Fallon takes it next.

Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

Brief Cases (Dresden Files #15.1) by Jim Butcher [4/5 stars]

Brief Cases was just what I needed to hold me over for the next Dresden book. It had a few short stories I’d read before (in his Working for Bigfoot collection, which honestly I could’ve done without both times), but the ones that were new to me, I absolutely loved. The highlights were AAAA Wizardry, which is a sort of school setting case study (which I always seem to love), Even Hand, a previously printed short about the fascinating Johnnie Marcone, and it all culminated in Zoo Day, easily my favorite story of the bunch. Zoo Day provided a lot of character exploration between Harry, Maggie, and Mouse, and may have even given an insight to where the series is headed next. This collection is a definite keeper for Dresden fans, and I think y’all will have a lot of fun with it (I sure did).

Personal Demon (Women of the Otherworld #8) by Kelley Armstrong [3.5/5 stars]

I’m at the point in this series where I still love all the characters, but I’m basically only reading because they’re fun books and I want to see how it ultimately ends. Every now and then, one will reinvigorate my passion for the series (ahem, No Human’s Involved), but for the most part, I pick them up knowing, if nothing else, the story is going to mindlessly entertain me (not a bad thing). Personal Demon had an interesting main character, and I enjoyed learning more about the demon magic in the world, but nothing truly profound struck me about it. I did like the infusion of all the other characters, but wasn’t crazy about the love interest. Even so, I’m still looking forward to the next book. :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

47212Title: Storm Front

Author: Jim Butcher

Series: Dresden Files #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: For his first case, Harry is called in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with the blackest of magic. At first, the less-than-solvent Harry’s eyes light up with dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage. Now, that black mage knows Harry’s name. And things are about to get very…interesting.

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The Review:

I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation about urban fantasy books without this series being brought up. It’s definitely one of the most recognizable stories of the genre and certainly among the top sellers. For some reason, I’d been stalling on reading it. It was one of those that had so much hype surrounding it that I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. Then, after some encouraging feedback from both my husband and best friend, I finally read it… and loved it.

The story was well woven and interesting – taking on a traditional mystery with a paranormal twist (as most urban fantasies tend to do). It had a delightfully layered plot that gave the protagonist plenty of things to “peel” away as the story progressed. It also had plenty of action, which increased in its intensity as it got closer to the end. Overall, it was a very well-conceived and well-paced book.

Character was my favorite writing element of Storm Front, specifically the voice in which the book was narrated. It was dry and sardonic, yet completely hilarious. Butcher’s great use of humor when a long way to revealing the character of his protagonists and making him someone I enjoyed rooting for. I also appreciated the myriads of side characters and look forward to seeing where their individual stories go in future books.

Overall, if all of his novels are as funny, fast-paced, and intricate as this first book, I’m going to be one happy camper.

Recommendations: this was a fantastic mix of mystery and paranormal. I would hand this to customers as a “gateway” novel to get them into urban fantasy (along with Moon Called by Patricia Briggs). It definitely deserves a place in the top five best urban fantasies out there… at least as far as I’m concerned.

Other books you might like:

Hounded Review   •   Dead Witch Walking Review   •   Blood Engines Review 

by Niki Hawkes

Coming Soon: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Title: Cold Days

Author: Jim Butcher

Series: Dresden Files #14

Release Date: November 27, 2012

Considered by some to be the best urban fantasy series on the market, the Dresden files are always mentioned when I talk to people about the genre. I am shamefully going to admit that I haven’t read them yet… what can I say? Too many books, not enough time! Anyway, it’s been on my radar for years now, and I am looking forward to picking up “Storm Front” within the next couple of weeks. As for you avid Butcher fans out there, I hear the series is supposed to have around 23 “case” books, then an additional 3 for an “Apocalyptic” trilogy (sounds awesome!). So if you love him as much as everyone else seems to, there’s a lot more to look forward to!

By Niki Hawkes