Book Review: The Drafter – Kim Harrison

the-drafterTitle: The Drafter
Author: Kim Harrison
ISBN: 9781501108693
Pages: 432
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher

Summary:

Peri Reed is a drafter, which means she has the rare ability to travel back in time in order to change events. The only catch is that, when she drafts, she can’t remember events as they previously occurred. That’s why she travels with a partner who can fill in the gaps in her memory and reorient her. But when Peri’s name shows up on a list of corrupt agents, those who have betrayed the organization they work for, Peri begins to question everything she’s been working toward and everyone in her life. The catch: Will Peri be able to remember the truth?

Review:

I enjoyed the first book in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series and have always meant to go back and read more, and now that she’s brought the series to a close, I may just do that soon. But first, I couldn’t resist picking up the first book in Harrison’s new series, The Peri Reed Chronicles, which features a young woman named Peri Reed who has been lied to and manipulated by those she is supposed to trust most—and she can’t even remember it.

Peri is a frustrating character at times in The Drafter, and it’s not even her fault. The reader has so much more information than Peri, so they know exactly who is using her (even if we aren’t fully clear on why). But Peri doesn’t know this; as she drafts, she forgets things, and the people working against her are very very good at what they’re doing. But Peri is a strong, resilient woman, and the reader knows that she has the strength to somehow overcome what’s being done to her. The great thing about The Drafter is that though Peri can be viewed as a victim, she never is one.

Harrison has built a strong series with a very intriguing premise and a kickass main character in The Drafter. This novel will appeal to fantasy fans, of course, but if you haven’t quite made the genre leap, you should still check out this novel. It takes awhile for all the pieces to fall into place, but once they do, the speed and pace of this novel is breathtaking. It’s definitely one for the shelves.

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Book Review: Visions – Kelley Armstrong

Visions coverTitle: Visions
Author:  Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: 9780525953050
Pages: 464
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Olivia Taylor-Jones has settled in Cainsville and is still working to clear the names of her birth parents, accused of killing multiple people. But Olivia is about to get a lot more than she bargained for when she finds the body of a young woman in her car, dressed like her. Gabriel and Olivia must figure out who this woman was and why someone would want to hurt Olivia, and they disturb some powerful supernatural forces in the process.

Snapshot Review:

Olivia Taylor-Jones is back in Visions, the sequel to the slow burn supernatural novel Omens, and now the focus is less on her birth parents than herself. Olivia broke away from the privileged lifestyle she was accustomed to in the first book; she struck out on her own and was determined to make it work. Now, in Visions, the reader sees Olivia struggling to make it on her own. It makes for some interesting character development. The mystery in this novel is slow and takes awhile to unfold, as the focus is on the character rather than the plot. More is revealed about the nature of Cainsville and what is happening behind the scenes, but there are still enough mysteries to leave readers guessing. Those who enjoyed the first novel should certainly be interested to see where Armstrong takes her characters, and leave them eagerly anticipating the third book in this entertaining series.

Other books by Kelley Armstrong:

Omens

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Book Review: Sandman Slim – Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim cover

Title: Sandman Slim
Author: Richard Kadrey
ISBN: 9780061714351
Pages: 416
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

When James Stark was sent to Hell, he figured he’d never see the world again. So he made a deal: he would fight for one of the fallen angels in exchange for the protection of his girlfriend, who was still alive. But now, 10 years later, he’s back in the world of the living and set on avenging his girlfriend’s murder. But Stark gets caught up in a larger plot, as something is brewing in the city of Los Angeles, and he must figure out whose side he’s on once and for all.

Snapshot Review:

Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim jumpstarts an exciting urban fantasy series, with an antihero who readers can’t help but root for.

Full Review:

If you read my reviews regularly, you know I’m a huge fan of The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher’s series featuring Chicago wizard Harry Dresden. I love the gritty urban fantasy of those novels, so when someone described Sandman Slim as “a jacked up Harry Dresden,” I was immediately intrigued. And that description is fully accurate, as I came to see. This novel is exciting, crazy, and adrenaline pumping from beginning to end.

James Stark is not really a nice guy in Sandman Slim. He’s spent the past 10 years doing the work of the devil—literally. One thing Stark knows how to do very well is see the gray areas in a world where he’s caught between black and white. He has his own way of doing things, but you come to discover that Stark does indeed have a moral code. He’s an antihero to be sure, but one you’ll root for, as he tries to make sense of this world he left behind long ago.

The world building in Sandman Slim is solid; Kadrey does a great job laying the foundations out without saddling the narrative with unnecessary details and descriptions. It’s clear that there’s a lot more to learn, though; Kadrey doesn’t ever give too much away. The story is absolutely exciting, as the stakes just keep getting higher and the tension keeps building. It can feel a little jerky, as sometimes events seem to stumble together sideways, but that doesn’t change the fact that this novel is just a lot of fun.

As a standalone novel, Sandman Slim is good. As the beginning of a series? It’s really great. There’s so much potential here with Stark and his abilities, a lot of which we haven’t even really seen in full force yet, and the world Kadrey’s created has amazing nooks and crannies to explore. There are five books out in the series now, and I am eagerly looking forward to all of them, as I’m so glad I was introduced to this fun, escapist urban fantasy series.

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Book Review: Skin Game – Jim Butcher

Skin Game cover Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
ISBN: 9780451464392
Pages: 464
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Roc
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Because of how far along the The Dresden Files is, I’ve changed the format of this review. The Snapshot Review is first and contains no spoilers for previous books. The summary and full review come next, and while they contain no spoilers for Skin Game, they may discuss plot points that occurred in previous books.

Snapshot Review:

Harry is back in fine form in Skin Game, the 15th installment of The Dresden Files. The novel steps back from the breakneck pace of previous installments; it feels lighter, with fewer world-changing consequences and more of a standalone story. The story is exciting and gripping, revisiting many old favorite characters, and Harry must finally face some demons and come to a resolution about what he believes about himself and what he’s fighting for. It’s a worthy installment for such a great series, and like all other fans, I can’t wait to see what happens to Harry next.

If you haven’t read The Dresden Files yet, there is only one reason why you should: this is, quite simply, the best series being written right now. In any genre. Period.

Summary:

Harry’s being rented out and he doesn’t like it one bit. As the Winter Knight, serving Queen Mab, Harry knew he’d have to do many things he didn’t like. But helping Nicodemus Archleone, an old foe who’d like nothing better than to have Harry’s soul in one hand? It’s almost too much. Almost. But Harry knows he has no choice but to stick to the letter of Mab’s agreement with Nicodemus. As he tries to find a way to move within those restrictive terms, he brings in old friends and allies to help him best his nemesis.

Full Review:

The last few novels of The Dresden Files have been exhausting. Good, yes, but incredibly complex, with basically nonstop action, giving Harry (and the reader) no time to think or breathe before the next enemy comes calling. These novels have been heavily woven into the overarching story; every action that Harry takes has huge consequences, far larger than him. Butcher’s crafted an amazing overall narrative for this series, and the last few novels have been all about it. That’s why Skin Game comes as such a breath of fresh air. Yes, it’s still important for the bigger, wider story, but it also feels a little quieter, a return to the earlier books where Harry is just doing a job (albeit one he hates) and needling anyone and everyone who comes his way.

Harry has been through a lot in the last few novels: dying, becoming a ghost, failing to protect his friends, becoming Winter Knight, just to name a few. He really, really deserves a breather, some time to think about what he’s becoming. He finally gets that in Skin Game. There is a scene between Harry and Michael Carpenter in this novel, and while I won’t spoil it for anyone, let’s just say that Harry finally gets the talking-to he needs. Because Harry was on the verge of becoming emo, and that just wouldn’t have been great for anyone.

Skin Game is fun, in the adventure sort of way that Harry does best. Harry’s constantly outmatched and outgunned, but he’s smart and sharp. He does a great job trying to stay one step ahead of Nicodemus. It’s clear that what happens in this novel will have far-reaching repercussions, but all readers have to worry about with this book is that Harry and his friends get out in one piece. It’s a nice change.

So. Why did I love Skin Game? It was lighter, with lower stakes (which seems counterintuitive, unless you’ve read the last few Dresden Files novels). It gave Harry and his friends time to really spend time together, for us to see some of the faces we’ve been missing. It also gave Harry the chance to really think about his own circumstances and decisions, as well as the relationships in his life. I realize this novel was probably a breather for the onslaught that is to come in the next few books, but it was very much needed and welcome.

Okay, now I’m ready for action again. Where to next, Harry?

Other books by Jim Butcher:

Welcome to the Jungle
Storm Front

Fool Moon
Grave Peril
Small Favor
Turn Coat
Changes
Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files
Ghost Story
Cold Days

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Book Review: Hollow City – Ransom Riggs

Hollow City cover

Title: Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Author: Ransom Riggs ISBN: 9781594746123 Pages: 400 Release Date: January 14, 2014 Publisher: Quirk Books Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Publisher Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: In this sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ,our favorite group of peculiar children is trying to escape their […]

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Book Review: The Descent – Alma Katsu

The Descent cover

Title: The Descent Author: Alma Katsu ISBN: 9781451651829 Pages: 352 Release Date: January 7, 2014 Publisher: Gallery Books Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Publisher Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: In this conclusion to The Taker trilogy, Lanore must sort out her feelings for Jonathan, Luke, and Adair once and for all, even if it means […]

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Book Review: The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves cover

Title: The Dream Thieves Author: Maggie Stiefvater ISBN: 9780545424943 Pages: 416 Release Date: September 17, 2013 Publisher: Scholastic Genre: Teen/YA, Urban Fantasy Source: Publisher Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: The ley lines have been woken, and Gansey is one step closer to finding the old king, Glendower, and awakening him. But dark things are […]

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Book Review: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic – Emily Croy Barker

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic cover

Title: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic Author: Emily Croy Barker ISBN: 9780670023660 Pages: 576 Release Date: August 1, 2013 Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Publisher Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: There’s no such thing as magic. Nora Fischer knows this, yet when she wanders off a mountain path into […]

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