Image

The Obsessive Bookseller’s Mini Book Review Blitz!

Mini Book Review Blitz!

I’m going to need a feature image… Anyway, even when posting three times a week, I found myself becoming increasingly behind in book reviews. Behold: my solution – the Mini Book Review Blitz! 


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Book Info: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I couldn’t really come up with enough material to do a full review for this one – I liked it well enough, but it didn’t knock my socks off. What it had going for it were interesting characters and some cool ideas (most notably, overlapping dimensions of London and a dude who can travel between them). There were some sections that I thought were interesting, albeit a little dry (mostly near the beginning) and others that had me totally riveted. Overall, as the first in a series I’d heard so much about, I can definitely see the appeal. It had a very “Muggles” feel to me, like at the beginning of Deathly Hollows where the Prime Minister is trying to reconcile the paradigm of his world with the Wizarding world he know exists. If you liked those sections of HP, you’ll love this.


Captain's Furey by Jim Butcher

Book Info: Captain’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Academ’s Fury and Cursor’s Fury were two of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read – I loved the snot out of them. They took me on a whirlwind of a ride and so, by comparison, Captain’s Fury was a slower burn, more on par with the first book (although the events that happened within this one still rocked my world). It seemed more like a set up novel for the last couple books in the series and it did a great job generating some momentum. I can’t wait to finish this series – almost everything about it has made me very upset that I didn’t start it ages ago (and that my library holds are taking sooo long to come in). I love it!


Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Book Info: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Rating: 4/5 stars

I now count myself among the Kate Daniels super fandom. Magic Slays was another great installment on what is shaping up to be an awesome series. Since I’ve gushed about it enough in other reviews, I’ll stick to specifics for this title. I especially loved how authentic the relationship was between the main character and her bff. They argued like real people, and it’s the kind of back-and-forth bickering that’s fun to read about. In fact, all the relationships are great, and I especially love how many interesting side characters get their own spotlights in some of the short stories (yup – it’s good enough to read all of the extra novellas that go along with it!). I’ll probably be doing a Kate Daniels short story blitz once I get through them all.


Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my Mini Book Review Blitz! As you can see, I’ve been reading a lot of great titles lately. :-)

by Niki Hawkes

Image

Mini Book Review: Cursor’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Cursor's Furey by Jim Butcher

Title: Cursor’s Fury

Author: Jim Butcher

Series: The Codex Alera #3

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: The power-hungry High Lord of Kalare has launched a rebellion against the aging First Lord, Gaius Sextus, who with the loyal forces of Alera must fight beside the unlikeliest of allies-the equally contentious High Lord of Aquitaine.  Meanwhile, young Tavi of Calderon joins a newly formed legion under an assumed name even as the ruthless Kalare unites with the Canim, bestial enemies of the realm whose vast numbers spell certain doom for Alera. When treachery from within destroys the army’s command structure, Tavi finds himself leading an inexperienced, poorly equipped legion-the only force standing between the Canim horde and the war-torn realm. -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

The Codex Alera is shaping up to becoming one of my favorite fantasy series. It’s already responsible for one of the best books I’ve ever read (Academ’s Fury) and I’d be hard-pressed to tell you why Cursor’s Fury doesn’t deserve a spot of honor right next to it. It focused more on the legionary aspect of the story, which brought along with it an excellent mix of battle scenes, intrigue, and character development. I loved absolutely everything about it. I’ve been stingy with solid 5-star ratings lately because I want them to signify an outstanding book and really mean something when I assign them. Cursor’s Fury deserved every last star and more.

Overall, I’m thrilled with this series and can’t wait to continue on. The first book, Furies of Calderon,was so average I almost didn’t keep reading. I am oh, so glad I did!

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

Image

Mini Book Review: Academ’s Furey by Jim Butcher

Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher

Title: Academ’s Furey

Author: Jim Butcher

Series: The Codex Alera #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: For centuries, the people of Alera have relied on the power of the furies to protect them from outside invaders. But the gravest threat might be closer than they think. Tavi has escaped the Calderon Valley and the mysterious attack of the Marat on his homeland. But he is far from safe, as trying to keep up the illusion of being a student while secretly training as one of the First Lord’s spies is a dangerous game. And he has not yet learned to use the furies, making him especially vulnerable. When the attack comes it’s on two fronts. A sudden strike threatens the First Lord’s life and threatens to plunge the land into civil war. While in the Calderon Valley, the threat faced from the Marat is dwarfed by an ancient menace. And Tavi must learn to harness the furies if he has any chance of fighting the greatest threat Alera has ever known . . .   -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

I liked Furies of Calderon (the first book in the Codex Alera series) but thought it was pretty average compared to other works in the genre. Academ’s Furey, on the other hand, was AMAZING!!!

Seriously – I couldn’t put it down! It delivered on every promise made in the first book and completely blew me away with its stellar pacing, fantastic battle scenes, exceptional characters, and overall creativity. I felt like my heart was ripped out a few times while reading it and I love it when a book can make me feel that engaged. I already liked Jim Butcher, but this book launched him forward a few more notches in my book.

If I had any criticisms, it’s that the main character was sometimes more suave and resourceful in difficult situations than I thought believable… but it did make for some excellent and memorable moments, so I won’t complain too much. :-)

Overall, if you are on the fence with whether to start the series or continue on after the first book (like I was), take it from me – totally worth it!

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

Image

Book Reviews: The Dresden Files [Books 11-12] by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files [Books 11-12]
by Jim Butcher

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.


Turn Coat

Finally! We dig into the wizarding White Council and find out more about how it operates (and the many interesting characters involved). Delightful politicking ensued left and right, and it was really fun to see how Dresden fit in (or stuck out, depending on how you look at it). My favorite elements of Turn Coat were the settings and the mystery surrounding the Council. I had lots of theories on “whodunit,” and even though none of them turned out to be correct, I love it when books get me so involved.

4/5 stars


Changes

What an appropriately titled book. Changes marked the turning point in the series where Butcher brings all of his conflicts to a head so he can take the story in a new direction. I admit I wasn’t thrilled with this book – I found the plot construction for it uncharacteristically all over the place. There were a few conflicts that had absolutely nothing to do with the overall plot that only managed to drag the story down (his books usually have subplots, but they are normally at least a little related). For that matter, the entire novel felt a little random and forced. It came together eventually, but I can’t say as though I enjoyed the journey as well as his past novels. However, I liked the ending enough to want to keep reading…

3/5 stars


Side Jobs

All the Dresden fun, but with a few alternate POV’s like Murphy and Thomas to sweeten the deal – sign me up! I enjoyed this compilation of novellas immensely – maybe even slightly more than the last couple of novels. Every story brought something new and interesting to the table, and I kind of wish I had read them alongside the novels chronologically. Overall, I’d say don’t skip this one – it’s every bit as worth your time as the main series itself.

4.5/5 stars


If you haven’t picked up a Dresden book yet, just know you’re in for a well-conceived and sustainable series, jam-packed with scary monsters and a lot of snark. I consider them a must-try for any fan of the genre.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

Image

Book Reviews: The Dresden Files [Books 8-10] by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files [Books 8-10]
by Jim Butcher

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.


Proven Guilty

I really liked Proven Guilty, and although it’s been a while since I read it, I still remember quite a bit about it. It sits nicely in a long line of great Dresden books, that’s for sure. This is the novel where you start to get to know Molly – Michael’s rebellious teenage daughter (and a character I quite like). The coolest part about this book is the plot: Molly and her boyfriend get mixed up in a phenomenon of horror movies brought to life. Dresden, as usual, has to figure out what’s going on. It was a mystery I enjoyed watching him unravel. Overall, a solid installment.

4/5 stars


White Knight

White Knight was my least favorite of the series so far (of the latter books, anyway… the beginning of the saga started out admittedly rough). That is, however, until I started writing this review. You see, the book as a whole was actually comparably good. The culprit for my dissatisfaction was a single, prolonged dream/alternate plain of existence scene right in the middle of the book that took me out of the action and added absolutely nothing to the plot. It was weird. Had it not been included, I’m sure I’d be sitting here praising White Knight with the same enthusiasm as the rest, but that one scene managed to leave the taint on the whole thing. Aside from that, the book was actually pretty entertaining – containing a mystery surrounding Thomas (whom I love), and a few hilarious moments. If you read it, just skip that weird part and all is good.

3.5/5 stars


Small Favor

I actually liked Small Favor a lot. Like, enough that it may be my favorite of the series. Here’s where I have to admit that I’m composing this review way after reading the book and have already ventured on as far as book 14. It’s still my favorite so far… mostly because, in a long series where individual story lines start to blend together, I can still remember with vivid clarity everything that happened in this book. It had a great conflict right off the bat (a good start), and ended with one of the coolest battle settings so far (a good ending). Not to mention it was funny as shit. Consider book 10 Obsessive Bookseller endorsed.

4.5/5 stars


If you haven’t picked up a Dresden book yet, just know you’re in for a well-conceived and sustainable series, jam-packed with scary monsters and a lot of snark. I consider them a must-try for any fan of the genre.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

Image

Book Review: The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

furies of calderonTitle: The Furies of Calderon

Author: Jim Butcher

Series: that The Codex Alera #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal. But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.” “Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.” Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

The Review:

I am a huge Dresden fan and loved the unconventional means by which this series came into existence –

It’s basically a series of half a dozen books set two thousand years after a lost Roman legion travelled through a rift to a world where pokemon exist, and now the legionnaires live and work with pokemon, except they’re called “furies” (I’m not even making this up, he did it as a dare after being called on one of his assertions by a crowd at a convention: He said everything in writing is about execution. They said prove it. He said give me three crazy horrible topics and he would make something out of it. They said lost Roman Legion, Pokemon, and the Zerg. A year later he released Furies of Calderon).

-D.R. Sylvester at www.drsylvesterfiction.com (who was kind enough to clue me in with this comment on one of my posts. You should check out his blog – it’s one of my favorites).

Needless to say, I knew I had to at least give it a try. And I liked it!

It’s probably not the strongest series starter I’ve ever read, but it was at least consistently entertaining from start to finish. And the characters were fantastic – so many great POVs, and each brought something special to the story. I liked all of them pretty equally and am most excited to see where their paths lead next. Great characterization is definitely one of Butcher’s storytelling strengths, and Furies of Calderon was no exception.

It’s a good thing the characters were good because their minor, interpersonal conflicts are what got me through the story when I found the overall arc a bit too narrow. Butcher kept this first book on a fairly minor scope, which I didn’t like, but I have a lot of hope that its potential will be realized in the next few installments. There just wasn’t enough focus on the handful of things that initially drew me in. For one, the furies (Butcher’s interpretation of Pokémon) didn’t play as big of a role as they could have, to the point where it felt almost as if the wielders were controlling elements rather than elemental beings. Also, there were strong references at the beginning of the book about an academy for these fury-wielders, which wasn’t expanded on it all throughout the rest of the story. There’s plenty of time for these things to become the focus in a six book series, so I’m not too stressed, but they’re definitely the things I will be specifically looking for going forward. How well they are brought to life will ultimately determine my overall satisfaction with the series.

At the end of the day, Furies of Calderon had great characters, good writing, a somewhat narrow focus, and some excellent ideas that were a bit under-realized (but with colossal potential). Incidentally, this is almost identical to how I felt about the Aeronaut’s Windlass – the first book in his newest fantasy series. I’m very hopeful that both will dazzle me in books to come. After all, even the magic that is Harry Dresden took a couple of books to really get going.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes