Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: Peace Talks is the sixteenth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. All the magical powers in the world are holding negotiations to end hostilities, and that’s when Harry’s brother, Thomas, decides to do something stupid. Already caught between four very different and conflicting lives, Harry must navigate these tightropes that can’t coexist. But most people aren’t even remotely interested in peace. One group plans to use this for its own ends.

Character: On one hand, it was just so good to see Harry and Murph and the others, that a part of me just sort of relished having them back. I remember feeling like this book was good to see old friends, but that the story itself didn’t really move for me. However, just having the gang back after I don’t know how long, made me happy. I must also note (and I feel this is the right section to do this) that I sort of consider these two books to be one larger story kindly split in two reasonable chunks. They are absolutely part of one narrative arc. However since both were individual titles, I kept them as separate reviews. I think readers should read both one right after the other to get the right effect.

Exposition: I was a little surprised here because while there is exposition, I actually expected there to be more. It’s be a looooong time since we’ve seen Harry, and I for one didn’t re-read the other books to re-familiarize myself with the plot. There’s really not so much going on that one can’t catch up, but maybe this isn’t the book to start. Honestly, this book (if I understand what I think I understand) is sort of leading up to the very end of the Dresden Files, which I disagree with. There’s so many more directions for this story to go. Hopefully I’m wrong. Regardless, it’s still leading to the end of a conflict that has been building for a few books now. So new readers will, I think, be a bit lost.

This image of Jim Butcher was taken from his website (quite some time ago) for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: Given that this is the sixteenth book, Butcher doesn’t really expand on the world he’s been writing in. Instead, he just uses it as a launching point. This is another reason why it’s not a recommended path for new readers. It’s a solid edition to the series, though not great in and of itself.

Dialogue: Most of my favorite authors have witty dialogue. This is no different. It’s good to hear the banter between characters. It’s every bit as enjoyable as any other. I don’t really know what one would have to do to have “great” dialogue. But good dialogue is that in which the conversations express character at least (if not more than) advance the plot or provide exposition.

Description: If I’m being fair, it’s hard to evaluate something I don’t typically want to think about. I know Harry is tall. I know Murph is short. I know Thomas is handsome. I know Harry’s grandfather is old. So I have what I need to a certain degree. I think Butcher is great with fight description and scene description. But I don’t know that I can see the characters so much. I don’t personally care. I tend to want stories where I can sort of book my own cast. But then I think about Wheel of Time, which got annoying with description, but I can picture those characters in my head. I think writers should consider this and what they want readers to do when they write stories.

Overall: This book is more of a ramp up to the next, and that’s OK. It’s not a great stand alone story. I even remember feeling a bit let down when it came down to it. However, the next book (see my review next week), delivers on the promise this book makes.

Thanks for reading,


Book Review: Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis

Book Review: Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis



Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis is the first story in the Monsters and Men trilogy. First, I’ve already declared this the best book I read in 2019, and I stand behind that. Janzen Robinsion is a former apprentice to a group of heroic magic-wielding heroes, but that was five years ago, and none of his friends are alive. However, he stumbles into something that will cause him to choose to continue to lay low or rise to be the hero he was training to be.

Character:  Janzen is a great character. He’s every bit as proactive as he is sympathetic. He’s competent in his own way, but his flaws lie in his stubbornness.  I wouldn’t be shocked to hear Janzen was heavily inspired by Dresden. I don’t mind this at all given how long I’ve been waiting for a new book (which is coming by the way). I was such a fan of Janzen that I bought the next book in the series. 

Exposition: Even for a first-person narrative story, the exposition is smooth. It helps that Janzen is custom made for first-person narrative. His voice and thought process brings life to the expositional content. The other note is the author does a great job of weaving in the pain of the main character’s past. 

Worldbuilding: This is urban fantasy, so he had a lot to start with. However, we get introduced to some of the magic elements in ways that move the plot and expand what we currently know. In a book full of brilliant writing, this is actually the best part of the book from a critical standpoint. Anyone will notice the great characters and clever dialogue, but to be introduced to world-expanding elements in a perfectly-timed manner is impressive.

Image taken from the author’s Goodreads page for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Dialogue: Janzen as a character and the dialogue are the two reasons this feels like a Dresden book. It’s clever and quick. It keeps the reader chuckling and tearing up in all the right moments. 

Description: Like everything else about this book, the description was on point. It was visceral, activating all the senses. Davis put a lot of effort into not just helping us see the creatures (which a lot of urban fantasy writers do), but he also helps us see the characters. Side note: some of the characters have disabilities, and that brought a new dimension to the story. 

Overall: This book was simply wonderful. The characters are charming. The plot grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags your mind and heart through a range of thoughts and emotions that leave you hungry to read Janzen’s next adventure. If you love urban fantasy like Dresden, you need to read this book. 

Thanks for reading



Cover Reveal! Smoke and Mirrors by C.L. Schneider

Cover Reveal! Smoke and Mirrors by C.L. Schneider

Greetings all,

C. L. SchneiderIf you’ve been following my blog for long, you’ll know that Cindy (C.L. Schneider) is a dear friend of mine who has been incredibly supportive. Today I have the distinct privilege to offer her my support.

Her Nite Fire series has a new edition, and I get to show you all the cover!  I read Flash Point, and you can see my review for that here. As I usually do, I’ll wait for the saga to end before I jump on any other books in that series (unless the audio books come out when I have a credit or two). But I am excited to see where the series goes.

Without further delay, I present to you the cover for Smoke and Mirrors, the third book in the Nite Fire saga.

Smoke Mirrors FINAL


I love the color of this image. Backs of heads are usually a no-no in the image business, but given the cool dragon in the mirror, it works. The warm of Dahlia’s hair (the fire is so well done) contrasts perfectly with the cooler surrounding colors.

Here’s the cover blurb:

Secrets are a dragon’s best friend. Deception is a close second. Both provide a sturdy armor, allowing half-dragon shapeshifter, Dahlia Nite, to live undetected among the humans. Walking in two worlds, belonging in neither, she wraps herself in a shroud of lies to hide in plain sight. But nothing stays hidden forever.

When dismembered bodies of multiple species are dumped on the riverbank, the case falls to Dahlia and Detective Alex Creed. Backed by Sentinel City’s new task force, the pair find themselves urged along by clues that seem too good to be true. Bouncing from one crime scene to the next, they hunt for a clear motive in a murky sea of conflicting evidence. Already on edge from the recent string of unexplained crimes, the city begins to unravel.

Drowning in missing creatures, slaughtered remains, masked men—and the search for her sidekick’s missing sister—Dahlia burns the candle at both ends. Seeking answers, she employs her empathic abilities, and uncovers something deeper and more sinister than a simple serial killer’s web. As the dots connect, and worlds collide, she struggles to shields her friends from the truth. But secrets can be deadly. And Dahlia’s not the only one who keeps them.

Smoke and Mirrors is scheduled to be released in May of 2019. So if you’re interested, and you want to catch up, you have plenty of time (especially since book one is on Audible).

Cindy truly is an amazing author, and I’d recommend her book to just about any fan of fantasy, but her books are best suited for fans of dark fantasy with some steam (if you catch my meaning).  She doesn’t get graphic though.

Please check out her work; you’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for reading,


Book Review: Flash Point by C.L. Schneider

Book Review: Flash Point by C.L. Schneider

1d9390_4ee81ce131994bb6a2bd27ca1f5088ab~mv2Spoiler Free Summary:  Flash Point is the first book in the Nite Fire saga. Dahlia Nite is a half-dragon shifter who patrols Sentinel City for magical creatures who’ve gotten out of line. If they snack on humans, she’s the one who enforces the diet plan. But when the secrets of the past she thought she’d escaped return, she’ll have to protect humanity from the ghost of her own history.  NOTE: remember, this book just won the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal in the Adult – Fiction – Urban category.

Character:  Strong female characters are so rare in fiction these days, but Dahlia delivers. Schneider’s strength is in her character (and world building), so this isn’t surprising. She does have weak moments, and some of them are even traditional problems women are given in fiction, but that is a sub-plot in a complex story, and not the main crux of a plot that most other authors use far too much. Dahlia is strong, smart, resourceful, and proactive which are all things I love in any character. The biggest problem some authors have when they use female characters is they give them nothing but relationship problems. This character is a woman who is a cop. That character is a woman who is a mage. Dahlia is a bad-ass, half-dragon detective who happens to be a woman. This alone would have made this book stand out, but there’s more. I will say that, unlike her Crown of Stones series, I didn’t necessarily connect to the other characters the way I did with those in Stones. Then again, I didn’t exactly connect with to many people besides Ian in Magic-Price either. I do expect these other characters to continue to grow on me, but they didn’t quite snag my heart the way Dahlia did.

Exposition: As the first book in a series told from first-person, I expected a bit more exposition than I would have liked. Honestly, I got about as much exposition as I thought, but I didn’t get any more, and what I got all connected to the story. Schneider doesn’t overwhelm the reader with too much foreshadowing. There is more going on. This story hits at that, but what the reader sees is what the reader needs to have a sense to this story.

Dialogue:  I’m a bit neutral here. It wasn’t boring or stilted by any means, but it wasn’t overly memorable either. It didn’t have the same punch as her previous work, but holding someone to that high a standard is perhaps unfair. The dialogue is effective, but not crisp.

Description:  What helps Schneider here is her use of intense detail in key moments. My imagination does a ton of work for writers, and when someone beats me over the head with detail, it slows me down and frustrates me. Here, Schneider gives general settings, but hones in on the key parts (Dahlia’s shifting and empathy come to mind first).

Overall:  CONTENT WARNING: There are some steamer scenes here, though none as visceral as those in Crown of Stones. I still think the Mageborn saga (all eras) is my favorite story of the year so far, but I give Flash Point a solid second best book I’ve read in 2017 so far. I can’t remember the last Dresden Files book (when it came out) I read was, but Dahlia stepped in and filled that void quite nicely. I’m confident fans of that series will enjoy this one.

Thanks for reading