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Book Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne

hammeredTitle: Hammered

Author: Kevin Hearne

Series: Iron Druid #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 2/5 stars

The Overview: Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

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The Review:

I’m finally ready to admit that I’m just not getting everything out of this series that I hoped I would. I’ve given it the benefit of the doubt for three books now, and unfortunately found this one to be even more disappointing than the first two. Hammered was one giant tangent – sort of enjoyable tangent, but way off-story nonetheless.

There wasn’t any part of it that was particularly plot advancing, at least in any way that I found meaningful (okay, maybe there was one thing, but it was less than a page long so I’m not counting it). I mentioned in my reviews for both Hounded and Hexed that I wanted to see some sort of character growth for Atticus, but this novel continued the trend of being externally focused. I also wanted some sort of love story, not just a series of sexual encounters with flawless goddesses. In short, I needed something real and relatable… but was disappointed yet again.

In Hammered, Hearne essentially took the element of the series that I was least interested in and made it into a novel. There were so many other plot points that he could’ve expanded on, so I’m bummed it took this route. I will note that this is entirely a preference thing, so don’t let it sway you if the synopsis sounds exciting. I think the reason I was disappointed was because of personal and expectations rather than any fault with the author – I always had the impression he was telling exactly the type of story he intended to.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this series is great for light in-the-moment entertainment (which is sometimes just what the doctor ordered), but is not the type that draws you in emotionally. I enjoyed it in the moment, for the most part, but I won’t be remembering it for years to come, that’s for sure.

Recommended Reading: for those who want a fun, adventurous, he-man story with a cheeky comic-book flair. Also for anyone who doesn’t mind an entirely external-driven story.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne

9595650Title: Hexed

Author: Kevin Hearne

Series: Iron Druid #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to “make nice” with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial non-aggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. The new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of WWII.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch-hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

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The Review:

I am happy to report that the second novel had all of the elements I loved about the first one (Hounded). The series is the unique voice in the urban fantasy genre and opens up possibilities for more than just the same old werewolf and vampire plots (as good as they may be). There are so many things done well – world building, character, pacing, adventure, and humor (to name a few) – that I almost have to get nitpick to find any fault with it.

I might be just getting a little impatient but I’m still waiting for some sort of profound character growth and development with the main protagonists. Thus far, he’s kept us readers at arm’s distance and we really haven’t seen him get overly involved emotionally in anything yet. It’s always a “just another day at the job” attitude emitting from him, and he’s such a great character that the author would need to add only a little to make him outstanding.

I think this is sort of why I’m still hoping for a love story to develop – I crave some of that internal conflict to help me really feel for this character. Heck, I would even settle for a sex scene with someone he actually, you know, gives a crap about. At the very least, I want the author to “hang a lantern” on why the protagonists isn’t seeking a mate. Whether it’s fear of losing them or just plain enjoyment of his promiscuity, I want to know. you would think someone who’s been alive for so long would have had love in his past, and I think it’s a too important element of story to continue ignoring completely.

Overall, this has been a highly entertaining series so far and I fully intend to keep recommending it to urban fantasy lovers looking for something different. The concerns in my review are really only minor ones when compared to the whole scheme of things, and the author still has plenty of time to address them in future books. For a more thorough evaluation of the series as a whole (so far), click the link above to read my thoughts on book one.

Recommendations: Hey, all you Harry Dresden fans – I think I just found your next series. :-)

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like: 

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Coming Soon: Hunted

june 25Title: Hunted

Author: Kevin Hearne

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #6

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: June 25, 2013

The Overview: For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
 
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

Nik’s Notes: I was extremely excited to have the first in this series (Hounded) featured in March’s Your Pick for Nik! book club. I loved the main character and his wolfhound sidekick, I loved the magic system, and I loved the story. All-in-all,  I think it is well worth your time if you like urban fantasy. I’m hoping to be all caught up in the series by the time this one comes out in June!

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Your Pick for Nik! – March’s Review!

Title: Hounded

Author: Kevin Hearne

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The OverviewAtticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

The Review: 

World Building: The setting was great – Hearn does a great job at selling the perks of living in Arizona. You could tell he’d done a lot of reasearch on what the local flora and fauna are, and I particularly liked the way he incorporated them into the story. Let’s face it, you don’t see a lot of urban fantasies outside of big concrete-jungle cities, so it was neat to have a change of pace.

The biggest draw of world-building for me was how much information he included about druidic lore and religious culture (ancient Gods and Goddesses brought to life). These elements were great, but my favorite draw was the magic. Druidic magic is interesting enough, but Hearne took it one step further by making the protagonist a master of his own unique magical development. This ranges from the charmed necklace he wears to his extensive knowledge of herbal remedies. I thought it was well done, and I always love feeling like I’ve learned something from a book.

Character Development: The main character was well-rounded and frankly fun to read about. His cheeky attitude that referenced modern sayings while maintaining the dignity of one so old was a cool balance. Although there really wasn’t a lot of personal growth with Atticus, I liked his story. I think to keep enjoying him in future books, there’s going to have to be some sort of inner conflict, not just the external of people coming after him. I mentioned in my pre-review that I thought the author missed an opportunity to introduce a love interest. While I still think that’s true, I don’t mind that it didn’t happen in this first book. I’m also hoping for more in the future (I’ll talk about more in the “story” portion of the review).

Most of the characters were either gods and goddesses or supernatural beings of some sort. While interesting, they weren’t exactly relatable. Because of this, I latched on to some of the more “normal” people and actually found them to be the most interesting. I’m not sure the author intended this, but if he did it worked. My favorite element was actually the wolf-hound sidekick. I thought he was a charming comic relief, and I enjoyed the scenes he was in the most. He just made things more fun, and I went with the idea that he thought more like a human than a dog (although I wasn’t sure at first if it would work).

Pacing: One hit after another, this author can’t be criticized for taking things too slow. Not to say it went too fast, either. There was plenty of down time between attacks to learn more about the world and the characters. I also thought it did a good job building momentum for the climax of the book. Pacing is usually something usually talk a lot about, but with Hearne I think the best compliment I could give is that I never stopped the story to see what page I was on.

Story: I like a book with more information up front. In Hounded, we know who we’re rooting for and against right away, and I thought it gave the story a great sense of direction. The concept of finally having to face something he’s been running from for hundreds of years put the reader into the action right away.

I mentioned earlier that I love a book where I feel like I’ve learned something. Not life lessons, mind you, but things that I would never have the opportunity to learn in a magic-less world. Any time a character has a special skill or ability I latch on to those elements and almost always enjoy the book. I want to talk about it in this section because not only do these special skills help round out your character, they also makes for a much better story. Atticus’ apothecary, herbal knowledge, and special iron magic skills were fascinating to read about. One would’ve been interesting enough for me, but the fact that we get three leaves me a very happy reader.

I’m also going to bring back up the love interest for this category. I have a hard time believing that Atticus has live for two thousand years without having experienced some sort of epic love. I sincerely hope the author addresses this in future books and maybe give solid reasoning why he’s not seeking it in this day and age. I should disclaim that I thought the book was well-rounded without this element, I just think it could’ve been even better. It was the only reason the book wasn’t a solid 5/5 stars for me.

Recommendations: Overall, this was a great month in the book club world. I got to experience a great new author and see the magic in a setting not that different from where I live now. This was a great book, and I’d recommend it to those who like urban fantasies but also enjoy epic hero tales. Heck, I’d even hand this to someone looking for something “fun”. :)

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

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Your Pick for Nik! (Book Club) – Hounded Update!

Book #1

Book #1

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into March, I thought I’d take time to give some early feedback on this month’s book. In case you missed it, our selection was Hounded by Kevin Hearn, an urban fantasy about a Druid hiding out from ancient enemies in Tempe, Arizona. 

I’m not very far along yet, maybe 75 pages or so, but it’s shaping up to be an excellent read! Don’t believe me? Just skim through the first page or two, and you’ll have a good inkling as to why I’m enjoying it so much. Hearne has a cheeky voice, but doesn’t overdo it to the point where the writing sounds cheesy. Right now it is definitely exceeding my expectations!

Positives:

  • World-building: Hearne brings in a lot of celtic lore, but does so in a way that’s fun to read. The magic system also intrigues me… I think it might be my favorite element of the story so far.
  • Characters: I know who I’m rooting for and against right away, and there’s a good sidekick to boot!
  • Originality: a Druid as a main character for an urban fantasy isn’t very common…
  • Voice: I like the tone he sets early – it makes the main character incredibly likable.
  • Pacing: Good, but it’s still too early to tell.

Negatives:

  • Writing: at this point, I am enjoying the voice but there was one incredibly blatant info dump which could’ve been  incorporated a little more smoothly with some drop-in back history.
  • Romance: I realize it’s a bit early to tell for sure, but right now it looks like there’s going to be an abundance of sex (non-graphic), and little in the romance department. I realize there’s a time and a place for everything, but I think a love interest would add to the suspense of the entire novel (if done in a subtle way); raising the stakes, and all. Personal preference.

Anybody else started it yet? Thoughts?

There are going to be 9 Iron Druid novels total, and here’s a look at what’s available so far:

For tidbits about the series, check out Hearne’s website (www.kevinhearne.com). It’s pretty interesting.

For those of you new to the book club, Your Pick for Nik! is a monthly feature where I turn over control of my reading list to you!

Here’s how it works: I nominate titles from my TBR list and YOU choose which one gets featured. It can be one you’ve already read and want to discuss, one you want to read but wish to see my feedback on first, or – and this is my favorite part – you can read it along with me! A review and discussion for Hounded will take place March 29th, so there’s still plenty of time to pick it up if you want to join in!

Your Pick for Nik! – March’s Selection!

gggThank you all for your votes!

This month’s winner is… Hounded by Kevin Hearne!

A thorough review and discussion for this book will take place on March 29th, so there’s plenty of time to pick it up if you want to participate. My husband and I have been really looking forward to starting this series, so we’re doubly excited it won the votes!

For more information on the Your Pick for Nik! book club,  click here

**Don’t forget to tune in Friday March 1st for the review and discussion of January’s Selection: Drowning City by Amanda Downum.**

“If you think reading is boring, you’re doing it wrong.”