A Madness of Angels

a-madness-of-angelsA Madness of Angels (Matthew Swift 1)
by: Kate Griffin


(Urban Fantasy)


458 pages [Hardcover]


Matthew Swift awakens two years after a particularly violent and untimely death, not quite his old self, with one thing on his mind; revenge. Revenge against whoever killed him, and revenge against whoever brought him back.

I had picked this book up a while back at the library and at the time I just couldn’t get into it. I figured it was because I had snagged several books at the time and those just seemed more appealing in the moment. But, as I got further along with the book this time, I think I know why I put it down before.

There are some cool things in this book, which I will get to in a minute, but I think I’ll start with what I didn’t like so much first. There is something in this author’s writing style that made reading feel a little more like work. The words didn’t fly effortlessly off the page, painting pretty pictures in my head, like a lot of the other books I’ve read. I think it had a lot to do with the level of description and frequent name dropping of London locations.

While description is generally a good thing in a novel, in this case, the frequency of it seemed to overburden the narrative. Every time the character moved from one location to another I was confronted with specific names of places that were generally meaningless to me, since I have never been to London, and detailed descriptions of those places. Periodically, this wouldn’t be so bad, but it seemed to happen quite often and interrupted the flow of the story for me.

Abundant description aside, there are some things I really liked in this story. Instead of bringing well-known supernatural creatures into the urban environment, like most urban fantasy novels, this story’s creatures evolved out of the urban environment itself, creating original gods and unique entities. Anywhere there is life there is magic and that magic grows from that world.

Matthew Swift himself was fun to watch and the way he was written from the beginning, given his special circumstances, was well done. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

If it weren’t for my problems with the location dropping and description, I would have liked the story a lot more. I had no problem with the plot or the characters and the world building was quite good. I can’t decide if I will continue with the series or not. This book was a little more work, but perhaps not completely unworthy of a little extra effort. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Fool Moon (Dresden Files)

Fool MoonFool Moon (Dresden Files)

By: Jim Butcher

www.jim-butcher.com

(Urban Fantasy/Mystery)

320 pages (Hardcover)

 

Harry Dresden is at it again, this time with werewolves… lots of werewolves.

I know I’ve said in the past that I wasn’t that into werewolves and vampires these days, but I guess I like contradicting myself. Also, I wanted to continue the series so I didn’t have much of a choice.

This book was quite a bit more violent than I expected from the tone of the first book. There was some gore in that one as well, but this one was worse. I guess werewolves are like that, and Harry spent most of the book getting ridiculously beat up. Ultimately though, I think it reminds the reader of his vulnerability. He’s just a guy with some knowledge and power, doing the best he can, although given how many close calls he has, he’s pretty lucky too.

What kept this book a little more interesting was the different types of werewolves. Rather than just hunting down one target, we get to see different ways one can become a wolf. I liked the variety. It added some much needed complexity to a potentially simple and predictable subject.

There are also hints about deeper things in the story like Harry’s past and who might be setting certain things in motion, all with the desired effect of subtly killing him off. These bits and pieces pop up here and there, which make these books more than a monster of the week kind of thing. I’m interested to see where all this goes. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Charming {Pax Arcana Book 1}

Charming

Charming {Pax Arcana Book 1}

By: Elliot James

elliottjamesauthor.wordpress.com

(Urban Fantasy)

366 pages

 

I give this book a solid like, but I didn’t love it, for a couple of reasons. Three reasons to be precise.

Ohhhh, so this book is about vampires…

I had been hoping for something more than the age old vampires and werewolves thing. To be fair, the back of the book did mention something like “a vampire and a hot blonde walk into a bar” so maybe I should have paid more attention to that. While the story does involve some cool lesser known supernatural beings, it was really about hunting vampires. I think it would have been more interesting if the lesser known beings had been more prominent in the story. Everything is so vampires and werewolves these days that it starts to feel predictable.

On the subject of Prince Charming…

Well, that’s the thing…see, there wasn’t a very strong link to the Prince Charming aspect of things. Sure it’s his last name and he is supposedly a descendent of theirs but that’s where it ends. I was expecting it to feature more in the story than it did. It’s mentioned in the beginning and the end but that’s about it. I wanted John Charming to be more directly linked to those ancestors and really he’s more involved with the Knights Templar than anything else. I found that to be rather disappointing since “Charming” was plastered all over the cover of the book, and that was mainly why I picked it up.

Charming and the hot blonde…

Something about his love interest being the athletic blonde woman just seemed obvious and I didn’t love how she was so physically tough, but so emotionally weak. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I just didn’t love it.

——————————————————————————

Complaints aside, I liked the humor and irreverence, especially in the chapter titles. It moved quickly enough and I don’t recall any serious lulls. I absolutely loved Molly’s character and would have been happier if someone more like her had been set up as Charming’s love interest. She’s meek and scared, due to a traumatic experience with poltergeists, but she is so brave in how she handles it, especially her use of Christmas things to keep her feeling safe and happy. Her character seemed more interestingly complex to me than Sig (that would be the blonde).

In the end it was an enjoyable enough read, but I was hoping for more. Will I read future books in this series? Honestly I’m not sure. The next one focuses on werewolves and I’m not all that interested in that particular topic at the moment. I’ve got a lot of books on my list so there is a good chance this series will get pushed to the bottom. But if you’re looking for some light, irreverent, urban fantasy, don’t mind a cliche or two, and are into werewolves and vampires  then you’d probably enjoy it. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Echoes

EchoesEchoes

By: Therin Knite

knitewrites.com

(Scifi/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal)

213 pages

My first ever indie review…yippee!!

Before I get into the story, I’d like to first say that I’m impressed with the whole package. I chose to purchase the paperback version rather than download it (I have this thing about being able to physically hold the things I pay for) and the printed version is wonderfully professional. The cover art is great, and this thing was edited well, better than a few big name publishers I’ve reviewed before. I have come across entire repeated paragraphs in books published the traditional way and I didn’t find a single typo in this. Well done.

This was a fun story, not too serious, but not too light either. It was a lovely balance. It’s difficult for me to nail down the genre which had elements of science fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal, and even felt a bit like a thriller in some places. I liked the mix of elements in this. Government agencies, super powers, deadly dream dragons…yup, that’s just a fun combination.

The characters were all nicely unique and I enjoyed the interactions between them. There was plenty of snark and attitude, but not in an over-the-top kind of way. It was entertaining rather than irritating and it felt genuine rather than being there just for the sake of it. I liked the characters a lot, especially Dynara Chamberlain. Her personality is sprightly but tough and I find her fascinating…not to mention kick-ass.

What was truly wonderful about this book was that I didn’t guess the ending at all. I have what I like to call story brain. I have a tendency to predict things in stories based on all the stories I have already experienced and the stories I’ve been writing in my head for so many years. There weren’t any slow parts with this story either. It didn’t drag on in any way and at 213 pages it was a refreshing read. So many of the books I’m drawn to turn out to be 700+ pages, so when I find something I like that’s short and sweet I’m very happy.  Can’t wait till the sequel!

And I will leave you with this brief quote from the story. I just really liked the description here so I thought I’d jot it down.

“His hands are as steady as rocks, the result of decades of laughing in the face of death until he came to believe it was truly funny.”

Awesome. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Libriomancer

Libriomancer Libriomancer

By: Jim C. Hines

www.jimchines.com

(Urban Fantasy)

346 pages

“Some people would say it’s a bad idea to bring a fire-spider into a public library.”

This book has everything I love: books, magic, libraries, used book stores, steampunk automatons, except for one major thing. I hate spiders! How could I have overlooked the arachnid sitting atop the protagonist’s shoulder on the very cover of the book? I soon had to reconcile the fact that I would have to find a way to deal with Smudge the fire-spider, or give up the book entirely. I couldn’t abandon the book, so I learned to love Smudge instead.

That’s really saying something. Spiders totally freak me out, and the thought of tarantula-sized Smudge sitting on his master’s shoulder, or retreating into the web in his cage is enough to make me shudder. In the end it was his personality that won me over.

I have a thing for animal companions in books. Maybe it’s a result of too many Disney princess movies when I was young, but I’ve always liked the idea of having a whole bunch of loyal animal friends. There is something about how animal companions communicate with their human friend, whether with actual language or action, that leads to my favorite kind of character development. In Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer, Buru made the story. Here Smudge adds a wonderful balance to the main character.

This book is so much more than fire-spiders! Who doesn’t want to magically pull items out of books? This ability makes books into weapons in a way that I haven’t enjoyed since the Read or Die anime (if you haven’t seen it, they use paper as weapons, and carry a lot of books…it’s cooler than it sounds). Now add to this Johannes Gutenberg, Ponce de Leon, vampires, madness, a threat to destroy the world, and a main character who geeks out over everything I love (Doctor Who, Firefly, etc.).

Basically, this is an awesome book, and I love where the series seems to be heading. Codex Born is already out, but it might be a little while before I get to it. Even so, I’m looking forward to it. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Storm Front (Dresden Files)

Storm FrontStorm Front (Dresden Files)

By: Jim Butcher

www.jim-butcher.com

(Urban Fantasy/Mystery)

308 pages

My first introduction to the Dresden Files series, came in the form of a sadly short-lived TV series on the SciFi channel some years ago. I really loved the show, and although I looked into reading the books at the time, I wasn’t thrilled with them. There were certain changes they made to the characters in the show, making them just a wee bit more serious, and I liked that more than what I read briefly in an excerpt from the novels online. Maybe I just liked what I was more familiar with, but like so many other under appreciated shows, it was cancelled after half a season.

For a long time I considered reading the books, since I couldn’t watch the show, and recently, after seeing Cold Days on the bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble, I thought it was about time I gave it a try, regardless of my first impressions.

I came at this series with an open mind, not expecting it to be the same as the show, and it’s really growing on me. Harry Dresden is still his moody, irreverent self, and the tone is similar but slightly lighter than the show. I’m not sure where to place Murphy in all this. Her character is probably the most different. I’m still adjusting to it, but I think I’ll manage. The overall tone is light, like I said, but with enough serious danger to keep me reading. It was a really quick read in fact, and I like that, since I tend to pick up so many long books.

The premise of a wizard who is essentially a private detective, is a fun variation of urban fantasy. Dresden’s dark past, gloomy present, and grumpy attitude actually make for a fun and likeable character, believe it or not. He’s not a hero, but saves lives when he can. He’s not the most powerful wizard either. He just does the best he can with what he’s got, and often goes above and beyond to do it. Maybe that last part makes him a little bit of a hero, but he certainly doesn’t regard himself as such.

Overall, it’s a quick, fun read, with plenty of adventure, magic, and danger. I like to think of these books as good “in between” books, the kind of books I like to read in between the epically long ones. I also happen to have a copy of the first novel in his fantasy series The Codex Alera, so I’ll have to see how that series pans out as well. You’ll probably be seeing more Jim Butcher reviews from me in the future. Until next time…

Happy Reading!