Book Review: Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2)

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)

 

 

 

 

 

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fool Moon is your typical “Harry Dresden” book. Pretty much enjoyable (and funny as anything!). Plus a lot of fangs, furs, snarls, and howls. Few things didn’t work for me, though. But in the end, who doesn’t love a good ol’ Wizard vs. Werewolf face-off, eh?

Harry Dresden is your modern day Wizard, and a pretty good one at that. With his magic, he tries to keep the creatures of Nevernever from creating havoc in the world. As a Wizard-at-hire, he invests most of his time assisting Police (Special Investigations) and Detective Karrin Murphy.

“Fool Moon” begins with Murphy requesting Harry to look at a case regarding bestial attacks on a few local gangsters. After much investigation (and a bit supernatural help), he concludes that the attacks have been done by some kind of supernatural Wolf-thingie.

He starts to dig in. And soon finds himself surrounded by all sorts of Werewolves (Butcher divides supernatural wolves into four categories — Lycanthropes, Hexenwulfen, Werewolf, and Loup-garou, which was something fresh in urban-fantasy). All of which, for one reason or another, want him dead.

But wolves are just that. Animals. Dogs. They don’t do organized crime or planned murders. (Or do they?)

Beaten, broken, and bandaged too many times to count, Harry Dresden must now find the real culprit — the one who let the dogs out (sorry, couldn’t resist).

All good so far. But for some reason, I didn’t like Harry Dresden as much as I’d adored him in the first book. Don’t get me wrong, he was funny and imperfect and everything else that made me like him in the first book. But this time, he somehow had developed this irritating habit of feeling too much sorry. Everything bad that happened was somehow his fault. Always.

I also hated the part where Murphy completely loses her trust in Dresden. I mean, Murphy has seen some pretty bad supernatural forces at work, and has taken Dresden’s help on more than one occasion. Now after working together on several cases, how can she (how can anyone!) ever doubt the one person who uses magic for all the right reasons?

It felt as if that thing was there only for the sake of adding one more conflict to the story. Ew. The book tries to get emotional but utterly fails (at one time, even crossing tacky-meter). Again, ew.

This is not one of the most fascinating tales you will ever read. And certainly not one of the best Harry Dresden (or Jim Butcher) books. But this will keep you entertained through the end.

Talk about the the silver linings.

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Book Review: A Feast for Crows (ASOIAF #4)

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is no real review. Because the story is not yet done. I’m just jotting down the feeling that came after I read the last word of the fourth book.

A Feast for Crows is also a feast for the readers. Though the hunger goes unsatisfied as the book follows only the events of King’s Landing. You can tell that this is just a bridge… a setup for A Dance With Dragons, which, hopefully, looks to be the real feast.

That, however, doesn’t mean that this volume fails to delight the reader. It is beautifully written, as always, and some of the chapters really leave you biting your nails. Yes, there are no Red Weddings, Tyrion’s trail scenes, and the likes, but mayhaps GRRM never intended them to be. We are rightly impatient over the story of our favorite characters Tyrion, Daenerys, and Snow, but we must accept “A Feast…” for what it is — a well deserved pause in the saga and a build up to the moment when the winter finally comes!

Can’t wait to gobble up A Dance with Dragons!

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Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, #1)

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

 

I am yet to figure out how I came to love a story told in the third person omniscient this much! There is something about Le Guin’s style that binds you to her tale. You want to hear what she’s going to tell. She took me back to the days when I used to sit before my grandfather and hear him tell the legends of mighty Gods and Kings. Except, of course, my grandfather never spoke English.

The protagonist of AWoE is Ged (aka Sparrowhawk), a young boy with great potential. However, he is also your everyday adolescent so he possesses all the mighty traits of one — pride, vanity, overconfidence, temper, ambition. Le Guin makes Ged seem so realistic that you can’t help but identify with him. The fact that the author is spiritually inclined is also pretty clear from the subtle messages she leaves behind through Ged’s actions, mistakes, and regrets.

Okay. Now the story, itself, is not that great for me. A reckless wizard loosens an other-worldly shadow upon Earthsea and then strives to right his wrongs. Yeah, okay. But the manner in which the tale unfolds, the development of the character and the world, and the magic system alone deserves awe. I wouldn’t rate them similarly, but reading AWoE gave me a feeling that was pretty close to what I had as I read one of the Narnia books.

Loved the book and maybe I will read the rest in the series too.

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Book Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy/Western

The Gunslinger was an unique experience. I loved this book for its narrative brilliance, oddly intriguing characters, and its dark outlook on our future-world (which, save for all the magic, is a perfect possibility!).

This was my first western — my only prior experience in the genre being the cowboy movies.

The setting is terrific. Stephen King paints a vivid picture of a world long dead (a world that has moved on, as the protagonist would say).

King being King takes us to a dark world and makes us the live the horror and tension as lived by the protagonist and other major characters.

Meet Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger. The last gunslinger, to be precise. A lone adventurer, who leaves death in his wake. And he is in pursuit of the Man in Black.

Meet Man in Black, whose purpose, or even existence, is unclear. He creeps up every fucking place he visits — whether with his “magic” tricks or by his appearance.

Meet Jake, a boy who is alive — but not quite. Maybe he’s somewhere in between, we really can’t tell. He is the only one of the “earlier” world. He accompanies the Gunslinger in his hunt for the Man in Black and it is often through Jake’s eyes that we get the glimpses of how much darker the world has turned.

The world itself is a big puzzle. And all the answers lie in a Tower somewhere far away. That’s what the Gunslinger (really?) seeks. The Dark Tower.

The hook is established from the very first page, with the very first line, where King writes:

“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”

What is this world? Ours? Post-apocalyptic? Some near future? Post global-warming? What happened here?

Who is the Gunslinger? What the fuck does he want? Is he insane? Is he of the earlier world? Why is he so desperate to find the Man in Black and the Dark Tower?

Who is the Man in Black? Devil? Devil’s apprentice? Just a random bad guy?

King makes us hungrier and hungrier with each turn of page and before we even know it we are at the end of the book and now are in a severe need of going out to buy the second fucking book.

If you love fantasies with a dark setting and quirky characters, this book is for you.

However, being only the first book in the series, the story itself may not leave you satisfied.

Three stars for the narration, worldbuilding, and the characters. One more star for delivering the experience unlike any other book I’ve read so far.

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Book Review: Low Town by Daniel Polansky

Book: Low Town (First of its Name and the First in the Series of the Same Name!)

Author: Daniel Polansky

Genre: Noir/Fantasy (i’m told)

First thing’s first. (For those who’ve read the book; if not, kindly skip to next para) Low Town is a flawless, smooth read. But I can’t shake off this feeling that how closely it reads out like a game console. You know what I mean. Just think about it. The Earl is the place where the game is saved (where Warden returns every night to rest). We get information/messages from Adolphus (while Warden happily chomps at his food) and we set out on various mission for the day according to that. We meet various people who interact with us and help up gather up bits and pieces of the whole story. We solve one mystery at a time and learn something new about the world with every small mission and by the end of the game we are so confident of our abilities that we are ready to take on the main boss. Only, the main boss turns out to be someone else — and someone very close.

Just a feeling. Whatever.

Low Town is one quirky read. You’d think after reading the likes of Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie you’d get the hang of the grimdark side of things.

Nay, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Low Town.

Low Town is a thrilling detective story done in a fantasy setting. It is a tale of disgraced hero (who only wants to peacefully sell his drugs) against the cruel law enforcers, selfish crime lords, immoral sorcerers, and useless nobles.

Firstly, I must take time to talk about the protagonist. Because he. Is. Simply. Awesome!

Meet Warden, ex-army and intelligence agent, who has fallen from grace and now is an infamous narcotics dealer. That in itself is one hell of a character trait to not get intrigued into. Add that to his charisma and you have a gem of a read. He takes the story to the whole new level. He’s funny. He’s quirky, smug, snappy, realist… and just plain smart. He reminds me of Mark Lawrence’s Jorg! Hell, I daresay that they are somewhat at par.

The story takes flight when a child is found murdered in the street, severely abused. One way or another, our poor hero gets thrown into the midst of things and before you know it he must now either solve the case of this children-kidnapping/killing or be prepared to be blamed for it. Luckily, he had been one hell of an agent before his fall from the ranks. His contacts as a drug dealer didn’t hurt either.

With every page, Polansky takes us an inch deeper into the secrets of the Low Town (and what a marvelous Worldbuilding this is!) and of our hero. Each page grips us more than the last. It only gets juicier when other-worldly creatures and sorcerers start playing their part and the whole story unfolds as an exhilarating adventure.

I have given it a solid five stars with only pitfall being that I could easily second-guess the culprit of the whole crime. Nevertheless, a rewarding journey!

Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

Book: Carrie

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Here to Stay

I absolutely loved Carrie. The story and the character. I’m too late to arrive to the Stephen King camp but looks like I’m here to stay.

Carrie is a gripping page-turner. Filled with horror, a sense of excitement, relief… terror. Everything you would want in a thriller.

“Execution becomes content in the work of genius.”

Carrie constantly reminded me of this statement made by the legendary adman, Bill Bernbach.

Not to take anything away from the story itself… but the manner in which it is executed is simply brilliant.

I’m still curious what particular event inspired Mr. King to tell this story (in parts) through the excerpts of different newspaper articles, scientific reports, and autobiographies (there’s not much about that particular idea in On Writing, I think). It gives a certain depth… a certain touch of realty to the story. Adds to the tension and provides deeper understanding about character motivation.

An involving tale, through and through!

So all this makes Carrie such an involving story that albeit knowing an all-doom is lurking in the finale, we can’t help but stick our noses to the book to know how that inevitable doom unfolds.

Book Review: “Control Point” by Myke Cole

Book: Control Point

Author: Myke Cole

Genre: Urban/Military Fantasy

Talk about a powerful internal conflict!

From the very first page, Myke Cole feasts us with a gripping internal conflict that makes us care about the protagonist, Oscar Britton.

Should he kill the innocent Latents? Should he run away from the army? Is Army the bad guy? Are Probes the bad guys? Is SOC doing some bad for greater good? Or does its madness outweigh the goodness!

Oscar Britton juggles between these internal opinions and struggles to come up with a morally gratifying way of doing things. This is what makes him so interesting… so… real?

Magical action.

The magic system is simply awesome. And the action sequences, very Hollywood-esque. I say that in a good way. It’s very fantastical and at the same time very much believable. Myke’s military background definitely helps the cause.

I felt like I was playing a Delta Force console but instead of guns I had sorcery.

A time well spent.

To confess, I’m not much into (modern-day) military/war stories. But a (perfect) blend of military story and sorcery was a real treat and Control Point hooked me up from the very first page. Okay, may be not from the first page… but from the page where Britton goes latent.

So, all in all, Control Point is a time well spent.