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Book Reviews: The Dresden Files [Books 13-15] by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files [Books 13-15]
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.


Ghost Story

I’d been warned that Ghost Story was a “reset” novel of sorts and nowhere near as good as the rest of the series. I’d been dreading it, but found (to my surprise) that it was a decent read. It offered glimpses into many of the supporting characters that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise (the unusual circumstance of the book gave Harry an unique POV). It also was kind of funny – something I always enjoy about Butcher’s work. Load all that together with a couple of compelling mysteries, and you have yet another Dresden success. I think most of the objections come from Ghost Story feeling so different from the rest of the books, and the fact that not a lot really happens within it. I agree it’s not quite as strong as some of its predecessors, but it still gets a solid 3-star (I liked it) rating.

3/5 stars


Cold Days

There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that Ghost Story is the weakest of the Dresden Files, but I have to say I enjoyed Cold Days even less. My issues were twofold: I couldn’t figure out how certain side conflicts played into the plot as a whole (because they didn’t – they were just fillers), and I didn’t particularly like the way the author expanded the conflict. He didn’t quite “jump the shark,” but he expanded beyond the rules of the world he’d been developing up until this point in a way that felt forced – almost as if he’d been running out of ideas. Which, in all fairness, at 15 books published, was probably the case. All of the other factors such as character, humor, action, and mystery were consistent with his great storytelling, it was just the conflict construction that left me wanting a bit more. The good news? I accidentally started Skin Game before this one and loved what I’d read so far, which bodes well for what’s to come…

2/5 stars


Skin Game

Following my two least favorite books of the series, I went into Skin Game fearing Jim Butcher had lost his touch and had dragged the story on too long. What a delightful surprise when Skin Game turned out to be one of, if not my favorite Dresden book so far. It had a strong plot (complete with an interesting bad guy), a good integration of the many fantastic side characters, and, of course, a ton of that snarky humor. It quickly turned a novel I was determined to “get through” into a book I couldn’t put down. Skin Game reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the series and I am genuinely excited to see where the story goes next. I don’t know how I’m going to keep myself occupied now that I’m finally up to date with this series. It seems like I’ve been working on it for ages…

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 urban fantasy fan.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Reviews: Magic Bleeds [4] & Questionable Client [.5] by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Bleeds

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially, as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community. When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family…  -Goodreads

The Review:

It would have been difficult for any book to follow Magic Strikes (one of my new favorite books EVER.), but I thought Magic Bleeds gave it a good effort. Picking up right where the last one left off, the authors did a great job progressing the overall arc of the series. It didn’t have quite as much humor or romantic tension as the books before it, but made up for it with an extra dose of mystery and action. I admit I missed a bit of that passionate spark between the two main characters, but what’s a good literary relationship without a fallout here and there? At least the mystery was engaging. The authors integrate cool mythological beings from all over the globe and it was really neat to see manifestations from different cultures. Overall, Magic Bleeds was still a great installment in a series that shaping up to be a favorite. I can’t wait to see what happens next! :-)

A Questionable Client by Ilona Andrews

Book Info: A Questionable Client [Kate Daniels #0.5]

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I had so many issues with the first book of the Kate Daniels series, I almost didn’t continue on. That would have been a shame because I’ve enjoyed every subsequent novel and short story since. Had I started with A Questionable Client, I likely would’ve been a little more enthusiastic for the series. Heck, I think even if you’ve read the series, you’d probably enjoy this snippet. It was about how Kate and Saiman first met and I actually thought it gave Kate a lot of depth of character, showing how she became so proficient in mythological lore. In fact, I recommend all of the short stories that go along with this series – I’m only through about half of them, but so far they’ve really helped turn it into a full experience.

 by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

March 7, 2017

Title: Silence Fallen

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercedes Thompson #10

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release Date: March 7, 2017

The Overview: Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe… Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…  -Goodreads

The Review:

Anything written by Patricia Briggs these days is pure gold. I always try to savor them (the year-long wait between books is brutal!), but always seem to find myself devouring pages like there’s no tomorrow! The Mercy Thompson series is the sort of guaranteed good read that leaves me no doubt I’m going to love every moment. Silence Fallen was another awesome book in a long line of killer novels.

Without giving anything important away, I think it’s safe to reveal that Silence Fallen takes place primarily in another country. It was a much-appreciated change of scenery. Briggs provided an immersive experience rich in history and vibrant and description. It was a lot of fun getting to explore new environments (notice I haven’t mentioned where? The discovery is part of the fun! You’ll have to read it to find out). My only hold up is that I thought historical facts could’ve been integrated a little bit smoother. Briggs utilized the character’s personal knowledge of the place a little too often to be believable. Seriously, are you really going to be able to recall tiny details about a place you learned about in passing years ago in college? I didn’t totally buy it, but that’s probably because I can’t remember what I did yesterday. :) Regardless of delivery, the description was incredibly well researched and made me feel like I was there. It was a new adventure filled with fun discoveries and interesting villains. 

Silence Fallen also offered multiple POVs, something I LOVED because I just can’t get enough of Adam Hauptman. His perspective adds so much richness to the story and I’m hoping it won’t be the last time he gets a moment in the spotlight.

Overall, Silence Fallen was packed with an awesome mix of supernatural, humor, romance, and action, topping itself off with one wallop of a surprise at the end that will knock you out of your armchair. If you haven’t given this series a try, you’re totally missing out!

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Patricia Briggs, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Silence Fallen.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Title: Blood Cross

Author: Faith Hunter

Series: Jane Yellowrock #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: The vampire council has hired skinwalker Jane Yellowrock to hunt and kill one of their own who has broken sacred ancient rules — but Jane quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep…

With the help of her witch best friend and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries — and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. But in a city of old grudges and dark magic, Jane will have to fight to protect both sides, even if no one will protect her. -Goodreads
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The Review:

I’m not going to lie (as if I usually do) – I struggled with this book a bit, especially at the beginning. It was really slow and I kept waiting for something to make me care what was going on. The inciting moment came waaaaaay too far in for my tastes, and there were also a lot of needlessly repeating elements. The only thing that got me through was the memory of how much I liked Skinwalker.

Once things got going, however, I ended up liking it. Enough that I’ll definitely be picking up the third one at some point… with some reservations. I still wanted a bit more New Orleans culture infusion, which I thought gave the first book a cool understated atmosphere. I also don’t remember such a heavy focus on sex in Skinwalker, but Blood Cross felt amped up in that category. I admit part of my dissatisfaction with the first half was because I got tired of hearing how horny the main character was (in place of plot advancement, anyway. If the two were happening simultaneously I may not have noticed). This author also has a slightly annoying habit of writing in incomplete sentences. I get it that it’s just her writing style, but I feel at this point she’s sacrificing clarity for artistry.

Overall, I was split down the middle with Blood Cross, but at the end of the day enjoyed it enough to keep reading. It had good mystery, interesting characters, and decent supernatural elements. The next book will be critical in determining whether or not I invest in more of the series.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Turn by Kim Harrison

the-turnTitle: The Turn

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #0.1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release Date: February 7, 2017

The Overview: Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before! Can science save us when all else fails? Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction. Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them. -Goodreads

The Review:

For all of you Rachel Morgan fans wondering if The Turn is worth picking up, the answer is an emphatic YES!!! Even though the story takes place at least 50 years before Dead Witch Walking, it still managed to bring all the magic that made The Hollows series so great. Trisk was an amazing main character, comparable to Rachel, herself. In fact, all of the characters in this prequel were great – don’t be surprised to see a few familiar faces along the way (after all, we are dealing with a few of the more long-lived supernatural.) It was that infusion of old and new that made The Turn seem so special. It brought me back to when we first met these characters, and I now appreciate more than ever their individual growth arcs throughout the series and marvel at how far they’ve come. Notice I haven’t mentioned specifics? The surprise is half the fun! Although I’m sure you already have some theories…

I’m so glad Harrison decided to tell this story. Dead Witch Walking felt a little like jumping aboard a series already in progress, so it’s nice to see what came before, and I’d wager she’s been hoarding tons of notes for this backstory ever since that first book. It’s such a compelling segment of this world’s history. The basic premise is telling the tale of “The Turn” where a tomato-hopping virus kills off most of humanity and, as a result, the supernatural community comes out of hiding. It set the framework for The Hollows series and I was super impressed at how many other creative ways Harrison found to tie the entire thing together. It was masterfully done, loads of fun, and everything a Hollows fan could hope for. I loved every moment!

After finishing The Turn, I feel confident that there will be more to come in this prequel saga. I, for one, cannot wait!

If you haven’t read The Hollows series, you’ll still enjoy The Turn, but that’s like taking a single bite out of a cookie and putting it back on the tray. Dead Witch Walking takes a little time to get going, but once it does, it doesn’t let up!

I’d like to thank Gallery Books, Kim Harrison, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of The Turn.

Other books you might like:

 

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Strikes

Author: Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #3

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Overview: Drafted to work for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems these days than she knows what to do with. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot. But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games—an invitation-only, no-holds-barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament—she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community… -Goodreads

The Review:

Kate Daniels is making a strong case to claim the spot as my favorite urban fantasy (to even be in contention is saying something – this genre is filled with authors that I absolutely love). I can’t believe how much better the second and third books have been. If it hadn’t been for my amazing Goodreads friends urging me to continue, it might have been years before I picked them up again.

Why do I now love it so much, you ask? Well, for one thing, the love story turned into a slowly developing segment that practically sizzles with romantic tension. It’s showcasing a fun dynamic between the characters that has me laughing out loud at every turn. I found this book in particular downright hysterical. Kate might be even funnier than Harry Dresden, if you can imagine. But the story also had a compelling mystery, which gave it the perfect balance of light and dark.

Magic Strikes contained an arena-style competition (and if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you probably know how much I LOVE books with featured competitions) which sent the book from great all the way to the stratosphere as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been really stingy with solid 5-star ratings lately, even going so far as to re-rate a bunch of 5-star titles down to a 4 or 4.5. I decided it has more of an impact to only give 5 stars to books that make my all-time favorites list. And you know what? Magic Strikes made the cut – I am already itching to go back and reread it!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes