Stardust Review

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This was my first Neil Gaiman novel! I know, insane that I haven’t read any of his works yet! I have Good Omens and American Gods on my list to read eventually but for now, I will have to suffice with just one novel. And let me tell you, I’m so happy I picked this one! I really enjoyed Gaiman’s style of writing and I was totally enamoured with the way he described the faerie world and I loved every single creature in it.

I do have a dirty secret to admit.

I saw the movie first, I didn’t know it was a book or who Neil Gaiman was at the time, I had been reading mostly The Mortal Instrument series, the Twilight series [where I threw the final book against the wall, but that’s a story for another time] and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and of course, graduating H.S. and starting Uni, so, I was a bit busy to notice the fact that Stardust was a novel when I first saw the film in 2007 [I told you all I was old].

Guess what?

love both the book and the movie. I thought the movie was a nice adaptation of it, and quite frankly I usually enjoy the movie versions of things…I can honestly say there’s only a handful of movie adaptations where I’m like ready to fight them on it.

Neil Gaiman does a great job with faerie tales from what I hear and this proved it to be true thus far at least in this novel for me. I cheered Tristan on as much as I did in the movie and I think I did like the book’s final scene between the Witch Queen and the Star better than the movie if I were going to nitpick anything.

I don’t want to give too much away and I really think the book speaks for itself, Tristan Thorn goes off to find a star as the woman he loves asks of him, and along the way he explores the faerie world and learns to become part of something that’s more than the town of Wall.

The book was also very quotable, though I think this was my favorite quote as someone who is constantly filled with wanderlust:

Have been unavoidably detained by the world. Expect us when you see us.”

I also read a version which gave a cute tiny short story about a girl and Wall and I hope someday Neil Gaiman decides to give us more from Wall and Tristan Thorn, I know he had plans too but, I think we all know this is one BUSY man!

Truth be told I also would have no complaints if he ever decided to write a book solely about the Witch’s servant [not giving anything away for those who haven’t read it, so sorry for using such vague terms for both those who haven’t read it and those who have].

If you’re looking for a book where you can just get lost in a faerie tale and it’s not filled with modern complexities but still has a modern feel, I would really recommend this. [I love modern retellings but sometimes it’s nice to have something more along the vein of the old faerie tales but, hey, I love everything usually lol]

Yet another five cups of coffee from me, and I can’t wait to read my next Neil Gaiman novel…but…*Stares at her NetGalley list* Well, it could be a while!

Tomorrow, expect mini-reviews for The Fourth Courier and Queen of Sea and Stars both who I have major bones to pick with lol.

Descendant of the Crane eARC Review

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GoodReads:

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?”

It’s rare that I find myself so completely infatuated with a book. I gush about a few, sure, but I mean this one was the sort that from the first chapter you knew you were reading something quite amazing.

Not only does it engage you in the first chapter but there was not one character that I wasn’t completely interested in, there were no slumps or any boring filling, it was pure gold from start to finish. Usually, I do a pros and cons list when I write a review on my blog and this time the cons will be superfluous ones. I’m sure there are faults but anything that might have stood out to me didn’t due to beautiful prose and quite talented world-building skills. But more than anything, Joan He had a way of making you feel for her characters in a way that I really hadn’t in probably over a decade of reading.

This isn’t a ‘Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones.’ This is an amazing work of fiction all on its own, He’s story is her own with no shadows of GoT and she can clearly stand on her own two feet without such a comparison needed. I would dare say her story even had more heart than GoT and I’m a big fan of those books, but really, Descendant of the Crane is this incredible fantasy book that contains the sort of world that we don’t have enough of in books.

Hesina was relatable the whole way through, even if you didn’t agree with her decisions, you could completely understand why she made her choices. The love between her and her father also made me super emotional at times to the point where I was like ‘who is this person reading this’ I can connect with books and I’ll feel things lol I’m soulless [inserted another ginger joke, go me], not emotionless, but, it was just the exact sort of feelings I could connect with.

Pros:
– I love every single one of those nuggets in the book
– Mei kicks so much butt
– Hesina and her Father’s love
– Hesina and her siblings
– The politics are pretty much exactly the kind of horror you’d imagine in their time or our own, it’s very believable to the readers (well, to me)
– Akira

Cons:
– Could have been more Akira
– THAT ENDING THO (It’s not a con, just an OMG)
– Why wasn’t this book longer?
– My Soul is broken
-What do you do to me, Joan He?
– This book will destroy your soul and break your heart (maybe her and Wilson talked about the ways they could break hearts while writing their novels, Idk)
– Omg my heart

^ These are notes from my journal while reading it. So, take what you will, I really couldn’t come up with cons for it.

This was my first read for YARC2019!! Yay! And man what a great first read for the challenge! Also if you’re like ‘man I need to read this book now, here’s my info about what you get if you Preorder: Descendant of the Crane Preorder [Note: Bookmarks are all gone but you receive 5 character cards instead of four as compensation for the bookmarks being gone. Also, depending on when you read this, this offer may no longer be available, but as of me writing this on March 15, the preorder was still live and the form open. This giveaway is open internationally and does include library requests!]

I felt honored in being able to read an eARC of this and I’m grateful for the chance to read such an amazing book. This was also my first buddy read and it was a lot of fun! Of course, this is all my own opinion and others will not feel the same but, I stick by what I’ve said. It’s quickly been shelved on my favorites on GR and I will be closely watching for anything else Joan He will come out with from now on.

**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion**

 

The Bird King eARC Review

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GoodReads: 

– …Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

So you all just saw this yesterday, but, surprise! I’m waiting until Saturday to review Descendant of the Crane and I have another review already scheduled for tomorrow, so here we go, two days in a row of The Bird King.

I really couldn’t explain why I liked this book as much as I did, I mean other than because in my opinion it was a really good book but if I were to give out a list of reasons, I’m not sure what would go on those. Wilson has a flowery sort of prose that’s really lovely to read, so that’s one, but I think the main reason would be because her characters are so beautifully human (the ones that are human!).

They are beautiful, selfish, ugly, kind, pious and sinning, and they are wonderfully flawed each and every one.

Think about it, a protagonist who is selfish but yet selfless and it isn’t grating on your nerves or made to feel fake. That said, I think it’s great because Wilson has decided to give you a protagonist that you can choose to love or hate but that will still make the story powerful.

The antagonist is frightening because of just how real they are and I always find those always make the best ‘villains’ the ones that are too plausible.

Fatima’s best friend Hassan is gay, and in the 1400s, well, it was the sort of thing the Inquisition could ‘get you’ for. But more than that, as I don’t want to spoil anything I’ll not say more about Hassan, there is this great feeling of fluidity when it comes to the sexuality of the characters.  I would say Fatima herself is maybe even more pansexual than anything? [Think Jack Harkness, she likes what she likes, but this isn’t really a romance novel]

^ Speaking on that last []^ It was a freakin’ BLESSING for me to read a story that didn’t try to force a romance down my throat, I mean with Descendant of the Crane that book was amazing, start to finish, and did its romance right as well but I’ve had this slump with people trying to force romances [I’m looking at you Ready Player One] and this was great for me. You are getting to know a different sort of love. A love of a friendship that just made my heart swell.

Wilson writes a fanciful historical fiction set during the Inquisition, the Spaniards, Granada, a Jinn (or more possibly? No spoilers), monsters human and not, adventure, loss, and the price of freedom with the worth of freedom as well. Poignant and with such a feel of humanity for better or worse, this book was well worth the read.

I would say that you have to be ready for this book, to go on this journey because I think if you’re not ready for it, it might be the reason it’ll drag for you.

I know some complained about pacing but I think because I like this sort of pacing in novel it wasn’t an issue for me, I didn’t think it went slowly but you do go from a sort of ‘frantic’ part to I guess could be seen as a lull but to me it was still on the edge of my seat type of thing. The Bird King is beautifully written and it was another great read for me, so, it’s been a nice group of great books.

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

**Content Warning:** Death, violence, and the chance the book will rip your heart out and stomp on it. But you know, no biggie. 

WWW Wednesday

It’s time for the WWW Wednesday meme brought to you all by Taking on a World of Words

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What are you currently reading?

GoodReads Blurb: – …Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

I’m really enjoying this book, this kind of mixture of historical fiction and magic/folklore really just speaks to me. I know some have complained about the pacing over 30% in, I haven’t faced that, yet, could be on the horizon though, who knows! So far it’s been really keeping me intrigued and entertained! (Actually, I just finished this an hour ago but I haven’t started anything new since then so pffft, it stays)

What did you recently finish reading?

I’d give you the blurb but I just did like two posts ago and I’m doing a review post on this, this week so I don’t want to be so redundant. Just know, this is five cups of coffee on my rating and shelved on my favorites list on GoodReads. It was amazing, I’m having a slight book hangover but knowing how much I have to get through, I have no choice but to buck up and move on!

What do you think you’ll read next?

GoodReads Blurb:

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

I’m super excited my friend’s FB Bookclub picked my suggestion for to read next, I got approved for an eARC for this after it was published, funnily enough, I had just bought it anyway, so, I suppose it was meant to be! I’m really looking forward to it, but I also need to get through six more eARCs for this month to meet some goals. Anyway, here you go, my WWW Wednesday!

Toodles!

Down The TBR Hole

It’s a meme kinda day after having a slight book hangover from finishing Descendant of the Crane. So which one have I picked? A new one for me to do!

Down The TBR Hole, a meme originally hosted by Lia @ Lost In A Story where you clean up your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it and get a better handle on what all you got! (If someone can slide me the current host, I’ll gladly update this post)

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change! – Lia @ Lost In A Story

What do you do?

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m laughing, this is going to be a very uneventful TBR cleaning. My earliest books are ones I own and just haven’t gotten around to yet and I’ve cleared out physical books I’ll never read already so…I’ll skip the first four and go to numbers 5-9.

The last place Suze Simon expects to find herself during Valentine’s Day is a cemetery. But that’s what happens when you’re a mediator – cursed with the “gift” of communicating with the dead.

That’s how Suze has ended up at the graves of a pair of NCDPs – Non-Compliant Deceased Persons – whose drama didn’t end with death. It’s Suze’s job to make sure they move on—for good.

But the NCDPs aren’t the only ones with problems. The reason Suze is spending her Valentine’s Day with the undead instead of her boyfriend, Jesse, is because he’s having so much trouble adjusting to life after death . . . not surprising, considering the fact that he used to be an NCDP himself, and now his girlfriend busts his former kind for a living, while he tries to cure his kind of what used to ail him.

Can Suze use her mediating skills to propose a mutual resolution, and bring all these young lovers together – including Jesse and herself – especially on the night Saint Valentine declared sacred to romance?

Or will she end up alone—and possibly undead—herself?

Stays. I’ve read the rest of the series and it’s one of the ones I like reread as well. I didn’t know this one existed until this year. [I did a super purge to my TBR a few months back but I’m back to accumulating them like candy]

In this exciting adventure about the wolf pack that saved the life of a young girl when she was lost on the tundra, Julie has returned to her family, but her wolf pack has a story all its own.

Fearless but inexperienced Kapu is now the new leader of the pack. He must protect his wolves from the threats of famine and disease and, at the same time, defend himself from bitter rivals, both inside and outside the pack, who are waiting for their chance to overthrow him. The strength of Kapu’s leadership will determine not just the well-being of the pack but its very survival.

Jean Craighead George’s research and first-hand observation form this engrossing epic tale that’s sure to draw readers into the fascinating world of wolves.

I’m actually not 100% sure I haven’t already read this back in grade school and I’m a huge fan of the other two, so, stays.

Dead to Me is a 10-page short story that connects The Dragon Heir to The Enchanter Heir. It picks up with Leesha Middleton on, as she would say, “the blind date from hell.”

The date gets worse when she encounters the magically damaged, undead victims of the Thorn Hill Massacre for the first time. 

Cinda Williams Chima’s new book The Enchanter Heir (10.1.13) is the first of two new Heir Chronicles novels in which familiar faces return, new characters take center stage, and not everyone gets a happy ending.

So this is apparently 3.5 in the series and I’m laughing because it’s only 10 pages, so, I’m not sure? I’m not a huge fan of this series but I’ve read the first three…or…four…no three? Anyway, they stare at my shelf and mock me for being lukewarm about them. I’m gonna say chuck it out [but I’ll probably end up skim reading it anyway, I’m horrible like that]

They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre—the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors, Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a global network that hunts the undead. He is being groomed to succeed Gabriel Mandrake, the sorcerer, philanthropist, and ruthless music promoter who established the Thorn Hill Foundation, the public face of Nightshade. More and more, Jonah’s at odds with Gabriel’s tactics and choice of targets. Desperate to help his dying brother Kenzie, Jonah opens doors that Gabriel prefers to keep closed.

Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. An unschooled wild child, she runs the streets until the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life—and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions.

Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Madison Moss and the Interguild Council, threatening the fragile peace brokered at Trinity.

Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid growing suspicion that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again.

So, I’ve read the first three apparently, I think I will say, Stay but if it doesn’t get any better then that means this one…

The delicate peace between Wizards and the underguilds (Warriors, Seers, Enchanters, and Sorcerers) still holds by the thinnest of threads, but powerful forces inside and outside the guilds threaten to sever it completely.

Emma and Jonah are at the center of it all. Brought together by their shared history, mutual attraction, and a belief in the magic of music, they now stand to be torn apart by new wounds and old betrayals. As they struggle to rebuild their trust in each other, Emma and Jonah must also find away to clear their names as the prime suspects in aseries of vicious murders. It seems more and more likely that the answers they need lie buried in the tragedies of the past. The question is whether they can survive long enough to unearth them.

Old friends and foes return as new threats arise in this stunning and revelatory conclusion to the beloved and bestselling Heir Chronicles series.

Will probably not stay if Four is somehow worse than the others. They’re not bad they’re just like straight up middle of the road kind of books for me.

So there we have it kept basically 3/5, possibly 4/5, I did horribly at this!

My Top 5 [YA] Fantasy Series

Hey guys, today I’m bringing you my favorite YA fantasy series. These are all favorites of mine so, there’s not really a particular order this time! Here we go…

5. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

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This trilogy was one of the first as a teenager to just suck me in,  break me, put me together again, and then repeat. I loved it and it’s something that I recommend with such, like, hope, I truly wish those who decide to read it love it as much as I do but it’s so not for the faint of heart. I only rec this to those who love darkness and beauty all wrapped in one. I have Libba Bray’s Diviners but I haven’t gotten around to it yet and I hope to. I honestly think Gemma is one of my favorite protagonists ever. (I WILL GO DOWN WITH THAT SHIP)

4. The Chronicles of Narnia

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I need to be upfront, I only got to book four as a child, but, I plan on reading the rest. I ended up just pausing and forgetting as I went on to read other things at that time. My favorite so far had been The Magician’s Nephew. There was something extra magical about it for me and I actually read it first as well so I didn’t read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe first like some do. One thing though I know, I always feel like Susan gets a bit of a crap outcome, so, that may have been why I dragged my feet with reading the rest. Still a land of magic that has stayed in my heart.

3. His Dark Materials

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Honestly, this one rocked my world to its core. Philip Pullman doesn’t mind about doing things that can cause an uproar in the real world. People were not happy with this book but I was, I was thrilled. And not to mention his world building just floored me. Lyra is another favorite protagonist of mine and the fact that we get to see her again in the second Book of Dust just has me screaming like a fangirl, and oh yes, I totally preordered it. This is one of the few series I also could get my husband to read, he hated me afterwards due to who his favorite characters was, but, it was totally worth it because he loved it as much as I did. Still can’t get him to read La Belle Sauvage though, bahah.

2. Immortals 

The Immortals was one of my favorite and first forays into proper fantasy. I mean I read others but this was one of the first YA/Middle Grade, aside from Harry Potter. And also like HP, it is also one of the handful of series that I reread frequently. In fact I’m due for another reread but I have so many things to read this. year, we’ll see what happens haha. This quartet focuses on a girl named Daine who has wild magic. Her powers remain my favorite out of all the magical powers I’ve read about and that’s impressive. Not to mention Tamora Pierce just dominates at writing strong women, and Daine is no exception to being a strong female in Pierce’s writing-verse. And it’s a book where I love the couple. Yes, that’s right, me, the cynic.

1. Harry Potter 

Am I that predictable? Yes. Do I care? No. I was the generation that grew up with HP books coming out, doesn’t make me a bigger fan than anyone else, it just means that I had to deal with waiting for the books to come out, so really, the rest that discovered it afterwards are awesome for that reason haha. But no really, like anyone can, I discovered this as a child, in fact I read the first book when I was 11, I had refused to read it the first two years it was out because it was all my friends would talk about, but afterwards, I was hooked like everyone else. There’s still nowhere I would rather be than Hogwarts or Diagon Alley, or even the Burrow. They all feel like home to me.

There we have it, my top 5 for this week! Next top 5 will be Manga. And don’t be put off, these were the ones I read as YA and you can bet my Fantasy picks will be including so many more diverse books, I already know Descendant of the Crane will be a favorite, halfway through and it’s gripping and engaging and all around amazing!

Toodles!

The Dresden Files: Storm Front


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First off, let me say that I was regarding this book with a huge amount of skepticism. Looking at the cover the man reminded me of people I knew in High School, people I did not at all like [I mean like specific people here lol not a generalization though I mean to be fair I hate everyone equally].

But it was for a book club, it was short, and it was a Wizard Private Investigator. I mean…you all know by now. MYSTERY IS MY WEAKNESS [And Sci-fi!]

So I rounded up my rating to four stars on GoodReads but it is a 3.5 in my books, a solid fun read, but had its issues.

Note: This is the first of The Dresden Files

Pros:
– Mystery and Fantasy a bit of a modern-day sprinkling of noir as far as it goes the office with the creaky fan with the mysterious woman client.
– We are getting a really awesome urban fantasy world.
– The author could really make me chuckle with some of the things he had our dear Wizard say
– It leaves you wanting to know more, what about this kind of mysterious White Council, when do we get to know more about Mac the Pub owner, how will his friendship with Murphy go after this?
– It’s fun and easy, it’s not there to make you think, but it’s not a bore either.
– Talking Skull ❤  Bob is literally the best part of this
– The reverence fairies have for pizza, I connected with them on a spiritual level
– The fact that Harry couldn’t really interact with technology, it was pretty amusing most of the time
– Deborah Chester was a Professor of his, I love her, she wrote my absolutely favorite Sci-Fi trilogy [*coughs and unashamedly links you back to the Sci-Fi picks post*]
– I want to go to Mac’s Pub, and I want a steak sandwich. Now please and thank you.
– A nice easy way of world building [gets a little too explanatory as Harry’s narrating it to you, but, overall enjoyable!]

Cons:
– I hated Harry most of the time. I hate how he saw the female characters but I could respect that this was done from his point of view so we don’t really know how the women are, only how he sees them [for the love of all that is good, please someone tell me he gets less horrible with this] I mean he basically is a chauvinist
– How are women attracted to him? I’m sorry but if my husband didn’t shower for a week, I would not be like -tosses bedroom eyes- [And I would hope he would throw my ass in the shower if the roles were reversed] But more to the point of it,
– At one point I wanted to take Murphy and shake the living crap out of her, she got so annoying and it seemed to really contradict the fact that they were supposed to have had trust in the first place, it didn’t feel like they did, to begin with in my opinion.
– So, someone brought up a good point that had been nagging me at the back of my mind in their Goodreads review; WHY DOES HE CONTINUOUSLY NOT HAVE HIS STAFF? THERE IS NOT ENOUGH WIZARDY THINGS FROM THE WIZARD
– Don’t read this for strong female characters, you’ll be filled with cliches, and, that works with some, like Mac, but not for the others
– Harry wears a duster and boots with sweatpants at one point, I was already annoyed that he wore the duster. This pushed me too far, I nearly screeched and flipped a table over
– This is no literary masterpiece, and a lot of times Butcher’s writing will get awkward and clunky but he always smooths it out at the end. But, don’t read this to be filled with meaningful insight.

A quick fun read I’ll be reading more Dresden Files, but, if the lack of depth to the female characters and Harry’s wardrobe continues, I may have to rate down more.