Shattered (Iron Druid Chronicles #): A Book Review

shattered

*Contains spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read previous books in the series*

Shattered is the latest book in Kevin Hearne’s increasing popular Iron Druid Chronicles. Seven books in and these books are still wonderfully magical and action-packed, without sacrificing story. This is the first book of Hearne’s that was released in hardcover, but that doesn’t really matter to me, because I would never give up Luke Daniel’s excellent narration.

Atticus, Granuaile , and, of course, Oberon are back. They are joined by two new characters, Owen Kennedy, Atticus’s arch druid whom he saves from an island of frozen time, and Orlaith (Orlagh? Orla? What? I listened to the Audiobook and for the life of me cannot find how this was spelled in the book–if you can pick up your copy and verify, hit the comments, please), Granuaile’s new talking Irish Wolfhound. The story is told from the three different perspectives, with each of the druids getting pretty-much-equal storytime. Atticus is searching for who’s been plotting his demise, while Granuaile travels to India to save her father from a demon, and Owen comes to terms with the fact that two-thousand years have passed in a single moment for him.

As I was going along with the story, in the beginning, and middle for that matter, I had the feeling that this was a bridge book. It was meant to get the reader over a hump in the over-arching storyline, answering some small questions in order to move the story forward. It seemed as if it were just preparing readers for a big event which would happen in the next book, but nope. Things quickly and dramatically come to a head. Confrontation happens in a big way, and a huge storyline is dealt with.

Also, Granuaile’s side story of her journey to India turns out not to be a side story so much as a link to another of the big, bad story lines. So while some people may see the beginning of this book as meandering, everything really comes together and has a purpose.

This book includes *deep breath* Hindu gods and demons, Norse gods, Irish gods, faeries, yetis,  a selkie, Jesus, and a partridge in a pear tree. But it works! However, this is not a book you can just dive into. If you haven’t read the other Iron Druid books, you will be left with your head spinning. If you’re interested in a bad-ass urban fantasy series, check out the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.

5/5 Stars

Purchase Shattered on Amazon.com


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Cold Days (Dresden Files #14): A Review

colddaysCold Days is the 14th installment of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. Professional Wizard Harry Dresden is facing all new foes, and as Queen Mab’s Winter Knight, he has new abilities. After spending the last book as a ghost, it’s nice to see Harry up and running again. Even better, James Marsters is back as the audiobook’s narrator after a strange departure in the previous book.

Once rehabilitated, Harry receives his first assignment from Queen Mab–Kill Maeve, the Winter Lady. He is, of course, apprehensive, especially since he quickly learns that he also has some sort of parasite living in his head, that the Island Demon Reach is about to blow up, and that he has a hoard of supernatural baddies who want to kill him (what else is new?). Oh, and he has to deal with most all of this within 24 hours. Set the timer and prepare yourself for action.

Cold Days represents the real beginning of the Dresden reset. Change can be scary and difficult for any writer, but so is falling into a monotonous monster-of-the-week type of set-up. Butcher pulls off this transformation with little to no abrasion or pain (at least on the part of the reader, I’m sure it was quite a difficult feat of writing). Like most of the Dresden books, the main storyline is wrapped up nicely, however there are bits and pieces that hint at a much larger story yet to unfold, leaving the reader yearning for the next book.

5/5 Stars

Side Note #1: This is actually the second time I’ve listened to this book. I wanted a refresher before diving into Skin Game, the latest book in the series which was just recently released and will be reviewed soon.

Side Note #2: Does it annoy anyone else that the covers for the Dresden files always show him wearing a hat? Dresden doesn’t wear hats…


Search indie book stores for Cold Days on IndieBound.org

Purchase Cold Days from Amazon.com

Little Men: A Review

Little_MenLittle Men is the sequel to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It follows the story of Jo (nee March), her husband (Professor Bhaer), and her brood of young men. Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer have opened a school for boys at Plumfield, hoping to give these young men a leg-up in the world and to teach them right. There are many students at Plumfield: Nat Blake (The new kid), Dan Keen (A rough teenager from the streets), Demi Brooke (Meg and John’s Son), Daisy Brooke (Demi’s twin sister), Tommy Banks (A bit of a class clown), Nan Harding (A bit of a wild-child), Rob Bhaer (The Bhaer’s young son), Teddy Bhaer (The Bhaer’s toddler son), Emil Hoffman (Mr. Bhaer’s nephew), Franz Hoffman (Emil’s older brother), Ned Barker (The klutz), Jack Ford (A misguided trouble-maker), Stuffy Cole (The one who really likes food), Dick Brown (A young boy with a crooked spine), Billy Ward (A mentally challenged boy), and Dolly Pettingil (A young boy with a stutter). And a host of other, minor characters, and yes, I had to look up some of these listed names to remember them.

The stories are full of both adventure and morality, making the book a great read for younger folks.

It took me a bit longer to get through this book than it did Little Women, but it was not for lack of entertainment. I downloaded an audiobook version of this novel from Librivox.org and the readers were hit and miss in terms of their quality, so that slowed me down a bit. Also, I simply didn’t have as much opportunity to enjoying an audiobook. All that to say, don’t take my taking almost three months to finish this book as a bad sign. It was merely circumstances, not the story, that slowed me down.

4/5 Stars

Download Little Men from Librivox.org

Little Women: A Review

Little Women is the classic coming-of-age story of the sisters Jo, Amy, Beth, and Meg March written by Louisa May Alcott. The story follows the sisters as they grow-up poor in Massachusetts while their father is away fighting for the Union during the Civil War. They are left in the care of their mother and Hannah the cook. Early on in the story, they are introduced to Laurie, their young next door neighbor who from then on, shares in the girls adventures.

Meg is the eldest, and the only one of the sisters who can remember a time before their father lost his wealth. Jo is the tomboy of the family; she’s also the writer. I admit that she’s the one that I can relate to the most. Amy is the artistic one; however, she also wants to impress in society. Beth is the youngest and gentlest of the March sisters. She is considered the angel of the house. All of the sisters are different from each other, but they are tight-knit and support one another during each of their person trials and tribulations.

Little_Women_1102This is one of those books it seems like every female has read. It’s on several top 100 book lists (Including Amazon’s list of books that everyone must read), and yet I had never read it before. So I decided that 2014 would be the year I would remedy this. I downloaded a dramatic reading of the book from Libribox.org, and have been enjoying the book when I get the chance for the last month or so. It really is a nice little book for everyone to read, especially those who are also coming-of-age. There are ups, downs, and great life lessons to be learned. It’s heartwarming and heart-wrenching. My only complaint is that occasionally there are literary digressions that, for me, took away from the story. For example, in the beginning, the four girls put on a play, and every act is described for no real purpose. If the reader is supposed to get anything from it, it’s lost in all the unnecessary details.

Overall, Little Women a wonderful book. I really enjoyed listening to the audio version (though if you’re prone to crying, you may want to skip listening to it while driving). Now on to listening to its follow-up, Little Men.

4/5 Stars

The Sign of Four: A Review

signof4The Sign of Four is the second Sherlock Holmes novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is gratefully much better than the first novel. Doyle finds his writing grove and a literary hero is born. This is the novel that introduces the audience to many things, including Holmes’s drug use and Watson’s lady love.

Mary Morstan is a young lady who appeals to Holmes and Watson for help with an unusual case. Since her father disappeared several years before, she has received a yearly gift of a pearl. This year, however, she received a letter which urges her to meet with the sender that night. The letter also stipulates that she can bring two non-police friends, so this is where she enlists the help of our heroes.  Through the course of the adventure, there is murder, lost treasure, a peg-legged villain, and other mysteries a plenty. It makes for an exciting tale.

The Sherlock stories are always amusing; they’re also relatively short and can be read (or in this case, listened to) quickly.

4/5 Stars

A Study in Scarlet: A Review

StudyinScarletA Study in Scarlet was the first Sherlock Holmes book that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published. So it is this book that we have to thank for all of its sequels, spin-offs, movies, TV shows. It has also inspired countless other authors. A Study in Scarlet was the beginning.

So I’m certainly amazed with how mediocre it was.

Let me stop and back up. I’ve decided this year to read all of the original Sherlock books and stories by Doyle. I have read some before, most notably those that are the classics: Sign of the Four, “Hound of Baskervilles,” so on and so forth, so I know how good and fascinating these stories are. However, I had never read the first book. So I decided to read everything in order of publication—Well, listen, actually. I downloaded this book from Librivox.org. It is narrated by Bob Neufeld.

A Study in Scarlet is good, but you can tell it’s a first novel. Sherlock has yet to develop as the sardonic character that we love. He seems merely a slightly strange, condescending, and vain man. Of course, he IS these things all the way through, but he grows to have other qualities as the stories go on, and find more depth.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

The case in this particular story involves a body that has been found at an abandoned manner. There are no wounds on the body; however, the word “RACHE” is written on the wall in blood. They also find a gold wedding ring. Using his prime powers of observation and deduction, Sherlock sets off to unravel the mystery and bring the killer to justice.

Part one of the novel is Sherlock finding the killer. Part two takes the reader all the way to Utah and the foundation of the Mormon culture there. There is definitely some commentary on that particular religion and the life style choices they lived by during the late 1800s.

Now that this one is out of the way, on to more Holmes, Watson, and better stories!

3/5 Stars

Agnes Grey: A Review

agnes greyAgnes Grey is a novel by arguably the least known of the Brontë Sisters, Anne Brontë.  I listened to a free audio version (a dramatic reading) courtesy of Librivox.org.

Agnes Grey is the daughter of a poor minister. Wanting to help her family, Agnes becomes a governess. She bears many trials and tribulations with patience and composure. She finds little comfort in her life as a governess, except for the occasional interactions with the local parson, Edward Weston.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to Agnes Grey. This story is a subdued one. It’s comfortable. I’ve read people comparing Anne Brontë’s work to that of Jane Austen, and while I can see the similarities, Austen’s work is more intricate and complex. Agnes Grey is simple and straightforward. However, it gets a big bonus for its support of animal welfare. Agnes’s heart is wrenched when one of her first students is cruel to birds and beasts, and she finds companionship in a scrappy little dog. In her timidness and compassion, I saw a little of myself in Agnes.

4/5 Stars