The first two Eddie LaCrosse books by Alex Bledsoe

The Sword-Edged Blonde

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In the kingdom of Arentia the reigning Queen has just been charged with murdering her son (and royal heir) in a particularly brutal way. King Phillip doesn’t want to believe that his wife is capable of such violence but is very low on options. Queen Rhiannon was found in a locked room surrounded by blood and bones after all. The king can only think of one person he trusts enough to look into this horrific crime, his old friend Eddie LaCrosse. Eddie has spent years running from a painful past and now, reluctantly, heads back to the last place he wants to be to help out his friend.

What follows is a reasonably interesting locked-room mystery. Most places will describe this story as a: ” hardboiled noir in a fantasy world”. While that is pretty close to what it is, i felt that it wasn’t as hardboiled as I was led to believe. Oh sure a lot of terrible things happen in this book and the backstory for our main character Eddie is pretty dark the horrors were really low key. Perhaps I’m just so used to everything that happens because of my reading habits. It did read very “realistic” and there was all the good things I like about Hardboiled detective fiction such as corrupt officials and detectives with very gray moralities.

That’s not to say i didn’t like it. Quite the opposite actually. I felt that the story set up the vaguely medieval fantasy setting well and the characters were all pretty well drawn. The mystery held my interest and had some good twists in there that surprised me. It also got pretty mystical and magical which did surprise me, as I wasn’t informed ahead of time that the book contained such things. I liked it though! It’s good to be surprised once in a while, there’s nothing worse than being bored by a book.

The characters are all pretty well drawn. Eddie LaCrosse, our main character, is a little flat in this first book. He is hard-edged and cynical….but only mostly in his own head. He truly cares about others and works hard to protect them and fight for the truth. His angsty back story is dark but thankfully doesn’t consume the whole story or make his too depressing to read about.

The women in this story…..are less well drawn. I felt they were mostly one-dimensional and mostly there to be tragic or sexy or tragically sexy. There are some exceptions, but not very many. My hope is that in future stories that this gets better.

Overall, I’d recommend these stories to read. They won’t set the world on fire with a mind blowing tale, but they are really fun fast reads. The main character is interesting with an interesting backstory that doesn’t drag down the plot and the mystery is interesting with some good twists.

 

Burn Me Deadly

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Eddie LaCrosse is back in a new mystery! Eddie’s on his way back from a routine investigation when his horse almost runs down a half-naked blonde in serious trouble. Against his better judgment, he promises to protect the frightened young woman, only to find himself waylaid by unknown assailants and left for dead beside her mutilated body. Who killed Laura Lesperitt? And Eddie’s awesome horse? And left him for dead beside the both of them? Eddie is out for revenge and nothing will stop him.

I liked this story better than the first one. I felt the plot had more movement to it. The first book had some pacing issues and places where I felt it got bogged down in backstory exposition. I didn’t feel that this book had that problem. It did have a few other problems but nothing that made me dislike the book and I did give it five stars on goodreads. The writing is still as crisp and fast-paced as ever and the story is interesting and fun. The story goes to some interesting places that I really enjoyed.

I like that these stories aren’t afraid to hurt the main character. A lot of stories will have a protagonist that is basically immune to being injured. Those stories always have some sort of save for the main character or deus ex machina that helps them get away unscathed from most of their troubles. Eddie gets hurt….a lot. And so do the people around him a lot of the time.

Eddie is written better here and seems to be less flat than the last book. His issues from the past have mostly resolved and he has dealt with them so there isn’t a need to dwell on them in this book. He seems happier in general and more content with his life. One reason is certainly his new girlfriend Liz who was introduced at the end of book one.

Liz is a pretty good character in her own right. She has her own job and past secrets but they never fall int o the cliche of seriously affecting the relationship with Eddie. These are both older characters (i.e- not angsty teenagers) who know that , well, life happens. And sometimes in life secrets happen that you feel you can’t tell your romantic partner about. Both Liz and Eddie have some serious secrets weighing on their mind, but luckily they come out in to the open and DO NOT affect the relationship they are working on. THANK GOD. I hate books like that, I want people in relationships to deal with things like the adults that they are.

This is a story with lots of murder, crime bosses, secret dragon cults/religions, and some torture. I really did like a lot of it and the points that dragged didn’t do so for long and nothing made me exasperated or roll my eyes. Definitely recommended.

The Alex Verus Series by Benedict Jacka

 

I love stories about wizards. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books are maybe my favorite series of books. When I finished with the last Dresden book I didn’t know what to read next and someone recommended this series to me. I’ve read the first four books in a very quick amount of time so I just put these shorter reviews all together.  🙂

Fated

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Alex Verus  runs a magic shop in London and is just wanting a quiet life free from distractions or life-threatening schemes and plots. Sadly he is also a mage, so schemes and plots just tend to land on his doorstep much to his chagrin. He has successfully been keeping his head down for quite a while but now the Council of Mages has a job for him (as do a couple of other factions), and he finds it hard to say no. His regret is immediate and ends up pulling others in his life, friends, into life-threatening situations.

I thought the plot was well crafted and the characters are really well drawn. Alex Verus as our main characters has some darker secrets in his past that I am looking forward to finding out more about it. The secondary characters, which included a cursed girl named Luna and a Time Mage named Sonder, are pretty good although I hope they get more fleshed out in later books.
I’m so glad they did! I liked it an awful lot and I look forward to reading the rest of the series!

Cursed

cursed

About five months have passed since the last book and Alex Verus has been keeping busy with his shop and keeping his head down so it stays attached to his shoulders. That all changes when he finds out something is killing magical creatures. Not just killing them but draining their magic away completely. He runs into several different factions who really object to him looking into the problem but his conscious (and his friendly relationship with Arachne) cause him to run ahead into danger anyway.

The plot was a little same-y but I found it interesting and the world was still interesting. Verus is still a great main character with an interesting backstory and multiple grey areas in his life. Luna suffers in this book as she appears to get dumber and more helpless and is easily mislead into danger. Still, the plot was satisfactory and I’m still looking forward to the rest of the series.

Taken

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Still reading this series and still loving it!

I think the world building in this series is top notch with a unique world and fun, interesting characters. Three books in and I am still very interested in all the main characters and even most of the tertiary and secondary characters. Alex Verus is a great character with real dark stuff in his past and I feel that has led to his extreme need to protect people and help when he can.

The plot to this book is pretty interesting. Mage apprentices have been vanishing without a trace and Alex Verus is tasked with finding out why. The new characters introduced with this book are universally interesting and not cliched and I found myself basically speed reading to find out where the story was going.

Definitely recommended!

Chosen

chosen

Alex Verus #4 is still fantastic and still immensely readable. I found these books through my love of Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files. I was looking for something to read in between books and these were recommended. I am eternally grateful to the friend who introduced them to me. I find them endlessly entertaining and really fun overall.

Hmmmm…I just realized I just called them “really fun” in a review for the book that takes a dive towards the darker aspects of magic life. This is a book centered around Alex Verus and his less-than-savory past life as an apprentice to a Dark Wizard. It is by turns tragic, painful, and depressing in certain parts of the story and I read it in a day.

Rumors are swirling in the magical community that Alex Verus’ old master is back and starting up anew with misdeeds and dastardly plots. Alex has long ago abandoned that terrifying life for a much better (and safer) life he loves. He has friends now, real ones, who he refuses to abandon. But how will they react to his darker past life? Setting off this introspection and internal drama is a young adept who is gunning for Verus. He wants his revenge and he’ll get it no matter who gets in the way.

There are a lot of major twists in this series and this one has one that made me gasp out loud!

Absolutely recommended to everyone!

Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

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I love Luke Skywalker. Over time he has become one of my favorite characters in Star Wars. Yes, even over Leia and Han Solo. I just really love his unending enthusiasm and love of being a Jedi. However, he is very hit or miss in the various EU Star Wars books. It is very dependent on who is writing him. He can be wise and a calm presence in the Force, A big whiny emo crybaby, ineffectual and a pushover, or a hundred other personas. It was maddening and very eye-rollingly bad as you read the old EU books.

That is, of course, up to the fact that there were a lot of different writers and they all wanted to portray the Jedi and Luke in particular a certain way. My hope for the “new” EU is that they focus really tightly on making the characters consistent between books and writers. Only time will tell if they can maintain an iron grip over the continuity needed.

That brings me to this book. I liked it overall, I felt the plot was fine and the characters were also fine…..but just fine. This pains me in a way because I really like Kevin Hearne and love most of his writing. His Iron Druid series is pretty great with good characters and good plots. Although I’ve cooled a bit on them lately, I’m still very interested in the next book in the series.

I think my main problem with this book is that it’s plot felt very….thin. Luke Skywalker is tasked with rescuing alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems from the Empire and delivering her to her family on another world. There are some space fights and fights on several planets, Luke spends some time contemplating what being a Jedi means to him and bemoaning the death of Obiwan. He also gets a fun partner Nakari Kelen who he falls a bit for……Spoilers………..

 

 

 

 

who then dies tragically at the end of the book. Because of course she does.

I just felt there wasn’t anything really exciting in the book. Everything was perfectly fine but I found it to be mediocre and just kind of there as a book. This was the first of the new EU that I’ve read and I hope they improve from here.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

jimbutcherAeronaut

First Book of the Year!

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I have been looking forward to this book since it was announced. I love the whole steampunk aesthetic and I love the idea of airships.  The idea of the book is that society has moved off the planet and now lives completely up in “spires” which are gigantic towers made of stone. People use airships to travel up and down the spires (and also travel to other spires), with the richest and most well off at the top and the poorest closest to the ground. Captain Grimm is one such captain of an airship named Predator and when he has a run-in with a bigger ship that leaves him grounded on Spire Albion waiting for repairs, the Spire is attacked by another,Spire Aurora. Thus starts WAR! Captain Grimm and a band of allies are charged with finding out where a conspiracy starts (and who is involved). Unbeknownst to everyone an old evil is maneuvering and pulling the strings on its puppets for mysterious purposes.

Jim Butcher is one of my favorite authors and he doesn’t disappoint here. As is usual for him, his world-building is top notch and I found most of the characters to be fun and interesting. The only character I didn’t care for was Gwen. She was insufferable throughout the entire book and her slight shift at the end was a bit too little, too late. Captain Grimm was probably my favorite character in the novel. He had an interesting backstory and I loved the level of loyalty he inspired in others.

My second favorite character is Rowl. Who doesn’t love a talking cat? He is funny and his chapters are among my favorites in the book. His “voice” is exactly how I would picture my cat talking to me if she could. In fact the whole Cat society is fantastically written and really unique and interesting.

The naval airships with their awesome battles in the mists were the highlight of the book for me. They were very well written. I’ve read other books with airship battles that left me confused and ultimately cold to the story as a whole, but these were thrilling and fast-paced.

Butcher also has a great way of making things very tense and exciting that I really like.

I found this book to be a fast read and I am really looking forward to the next book and the rest of the series.

The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry #1) by Guy Gavriel Kay

SummerTree

I am so mad at myself right now. Guy Gavriel Kay is an author that many people in my life have recommended I read. I always put it off because I always had other books to read that seemed more interesting and so this book kept being pushed back farther and farther. That was such a mistake.

I think you can probably tell how this review is going, but just to clarify: I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. On the surface it doesn’t seem that interesting. It involves Five men and women find themselves flung into a magical land and (of course) they all have a role to play in the upcoming drama and conflict. On the surface this seems so cliche and boring. It is far from that. The writing is fantastic. Guy Gavriel Kay pulled me into each of the characters lives and inner conflicts so easily that I was concerned and sad and apprehensive as the overarching plot started to pull them all in and change their lives. Kay’s writing is basically magical. The story starts out slow but soon enough it crystallizes into something hauntingly beautiful.

Beware though, this is a FANTASY story with all the tropes and trappings that this kind of story usually entails. This is a very Tolkien style story, with a band of people from different areas and cultures working together to defeat ultimate evil. Perhaps when the book was first published in 1984 this sort of thing wasn’t totally played out. It is Kay’s writing that elevates it from Tolkien rip-off to a beautiful story of an adventure.

This is only the first book in the series (of three) and I am so excited to read further.

I actually finished this book a while ago but couldn’t find the words to articulate how much i liked this book. Just saying, ” It’s amazing, go read it!” doesn’t really do it justice.  but:

It’s amazing, go read it!

It’s Almost That Time Again!

What time? This time:

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NaNoWrMo! I’m doing it again this year, but I am pretty sure I won’t be finishing. For one, I am absolutely not prepared. Last year I had a whole outline and a bunch of back-up ideas if I got bored, This year? Nothing. I’m just doing it for funzies and who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised!

Another reason I might not even finish is that I am way more busy this year. Longer hours at work = less motivation to sit and write.

Time to write!

(PS: if you are on there and want more writing buddies my name is srlemon32 here: NaNoWrMo )

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The Undays of Aralias Lyons by K.L. Horvath

undays

(Note: This was an early release copy given to me from Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. There might be some changes in the final copy of the book.)

Aralias Lyons can fall back into time, He can’t go forward (not anymore) just back.

Clara Elizabeth Heartwell is an archaeologist That provides a lot of help in this adventurous tale. She is smart and full of spirit and she is not the type of girl to sit around or run when friends are in danger.

Jack is Aralias’ son. He is kidnapped by a power mad, crazy person and must be saved. He has the same gifts as his father, except he can go forward into the future.

Together with various allies Clara and Aralias must race against time to save Jack and the world!

Some of the crazy things they come up against are: iron dragons, marsiders, derailed trains, prison and an army of clockwork men.

The story itself races along at a good pace. I read most of the story in a day and didn’t really get tired of it at all.

I found all the characters interesting, with unique quirks and problems. The worst I can say is that some of the side characters aren’t very well drawn or interesting really, but that is made up for by the mains.

The setting was interesting and full of cool inventive ideas. A big plus for me was the fact that I love time travel stories. If a book (or movie or TV show) has interesting take on time travel that seems plausible and doesn’t confuse me or use it to cover up plot holes, I’m most likely going to like it.

Maybe my favorite thing about the book is, well….It’s fun! I miss reading fun adventurous stories. As you get older there is pressure to leave such things behind and read “important” books only. It’ why people look down on others for reading and enjoying YA novels, I suppose. I think that’s a load of BS. Read what you want!

Ahem, ANYWAY, I really liked this book! I found it fun, adventurous and exciting! I liked all the characters and the world it was set in was very well done.

(you can find out more about the book here: Goodreads )