Suramya's Book Review Cafe

October 7, 2020

Battle Ground (Dresden Files 17) by Jim Butcher

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 11:23 pm

Battle Ground (Dresden Files 17)

by Jim Butcher

Description:

THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET SERIOUS FOR HARRY DRESDEN, CHICAGO’S ONLY PROFESSIONAL WIZARD, in the next entry in the No. 1 New York Times and No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling Dresden Files.

Harry has faced terrible odds before. He has a long history of fighting enemies above his weight class. The Red Court of vampires. The fallen angels of the Order of the Blackened Denarius. The Outsiders.

But this time it’s different. A being more powerful and dangerous on an order of magnitude beyond what the world has seen in a millennium is coming. And she’s bringing an army. The Last Titan has declared war on the city of Chicago, and has come to subjugate humanity, obliterating any who stand in her way.

Harry’s mission is simple but impossible: Save the city by killing a Titan. And the attempt will change Harry’s life, Chicago, and the mortal world forever.

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Rating: (5/5)

Review:

The latest entry in the Dresden Files picks up right from where it left off in the previous book. Dresden is hurting, his allies are scrambling and a Titan has declared war on the human race starting with Chicago. This is a fight that is magnitudes larger than anything Dresden has been in the past and in his own words, he is fighting way outside his weight class. But true to his character he can’t give up knowing that he could have helped save people and the book is a fast moving script with beautifully written fight scenes and even though Harry is fighting beings much more powerful than himself it never gets to a point where it feels ridiculous (looking at you Supernatural).

There are some major events in the book that will have lasting impact on the Dresden universe, specifically there is a scene about half way through that shocked me as it came out of the blue and I had to re-read the para to process it. It is a major spoiler so I can’t give more details but it rocked Harry down to the core.

Interestingly the book also sets up the stage for the next few entries in the series by making vague references to another threat. I am happy to see more books in the series are planned and thanks to the skill of the author I don’t see the series becoming a cliche anytime soon.

Final Verdict: Awesome Book, do read it (as long as you have read the previous books in the series otherwise it won’t make much sense).

September 22, 2020

American Demon (Hollows 14) by Kim Harrison

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 11:01 am

American Demon (Hollows 14)

by Kim Harrison

Description:

What happens after you’ve saved the world? Well, if you’re Rachel Mariana Morgan, witch-born demon, you quickly discover that something might have gone just a little bit wrong. That the very same acts you and your friends took to forge new powers may have released something bound by the old. With a rash of zombies, some strange new murders, and an exceedingly mysterious new demon in town, it will take everything Rachel has to counter this new threat to the world–and it may demand the sacrifice of what she holds most dear.

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Rating: (4/5)

Review:

This book was a surprise because the previous book in the series ‘The Witch With No Name’ had the feeling of being the last book in the series when it was released back in 2014 with the Happy ending and all that. This book takes place events of the previous book & the happy ending depicted at its end. Since it’s been 6 years since the last book in the series was released I was happy that the book had a summary of the major event’s, players etc at the beginning to refresh my memory as otherwise I would have been lost trying to understand the plot of this book.

Between the Elves trying to retain power & wipe out the demons and the vampires trying to regain their souls Rachel’s hands are full. Plus the fact that she needs to hide from the Goddess while trying to solve her problems is just the cherry on top that she needs. However, with the help of her friends she navigates this mess nicely. The story is fast paced without feeling too rushed and there is a lot of grey area that Rachel needs to navigate.

The book is a good read but I would recommend reading (or rereading) the previous book before starting this one as this book will make a lot more sense if you do that.

September 11, 2020

Spellcrash (WebMage 05) by Kelly Mccullough

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 7:22 pm


Spellcrash (WebMage 05)
by Kelly Mccullough

Description:

Prepare for a total systems failure in this WebMage novel from Kelly McCullough.

Ravirn—umpteenth great-grandson of one of the three Fates—is a talented sorcerer and a computer hacker extraordinaire in a world where magic has merged with 21st century technology. But even though he’s the best hacker around, there are some things that even he can’t fix.

Necessity—the sentient computer that runs the multiverse—is still broken, and the only thing that can repair her is a massive reboot. But while Necessity is offline, anyone with enough power can attempt to seize control of the entire multiverse. As the time for the reboot draws near, four clear contenders emerge: Zeus, Hades, Fate, and Eris—all Gods from the Greek mythos who are more than a match for any man, even a demi-god like Ravirn. Now, in order to protect Necessity, Ravirn has to utilize all of his skills as a mage and fight to prevent complete chaos—even if it costs him his life…

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Rating:

Review:

Ravirn or Raven as he is now know has managed to return to his home universe where Necessity—the sentient computer that runs the multiverse—is still broken and there are multiple factions trying to take over the computer by hacking in and whoever captures the flag and keeps it will end up ruling the universe. The stakes couldn’t be higher and Ravirn/Raven is still recovering from his wave-function escape trick which means that he can’t enter cyberspace by leaving his physical body behind.

Cerice & Shara have a pretty big role in the finale along with Fenris who accompanied Raven back to this universe. I really liked the ending of the book which neatly tied up all the loose ends while making sure it wasn’t a cliche. The book made sure most of the open questions had answers or sufficient mambo-jumbo to explain them away. A lot of what they talk about cyber security in the book actually makes sense even though it is layered in spellwork.

Final Recommendation: Fitting end to the series. Wouldn’t mind more books in this reality, maybe exploring some of the other Pantheons.

September 8, 2020

MythOS (WebMage 04) by Kelly Mccullough

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 1:45 pm


MythOS (WebMage 04)
by Kelly Mccullough

Description:

Computer savvy sorcerer Ravirn learns that not every world is user friendly in this WebMage novel from Kelly McCullough.

In the 21st century, magic has advanced with the times and gone digital. Ravirn—umpteenth great-grandson of one of the three Fates—is a talented sorcerer, a computer hacker extraordinaire, and in the process of becoming a minor demi-god. His best friend and familiar is both a goblin and a laptop, changing shape from one to the other as needed.

While repairing Necessity (the badly-broken sentient computer that runs the multiverse), Ravirn is thrown into a very different place, a parallel world where the Greek gods are only myths. This strange realm is ruled by the Norse pantheon of gods—Odin, Thor, and other fun-loving brutes—and their magic uses a completely different operating system. A system that Ravirn will have to hack if he ever wants to get out of Asgard alive…

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Rating: (4.5/5)

Review:

This review will have spoilers about events from the previous books in the series because it build on top of them. If you haven’t yet read the previous books, stop reading.

MythOS picks up a bit after the previous book in the series ended, where Raven is still trying to fix the problems with Necessity. This is the biggest problem I had with the book, since in the previous book at the end he takes over the powers of Necessity to play system administrator with the universe and fixes a lot of issues. However for some reason they never explore he doesn’t fix Necessity. Its a small thing but it bugged me.

While Raven is trying to fix the universe he is suddenly transported to elsewhere where the Greek Pantheon doesn’t exist and the world is ruled/managed by the Gods from the Norse mythology. We are introduced to some of the Norse Gods in the book while others are just referenced. I liked how the characters of Loki & Fenris were portrayed. In most depictions they are either a soulless trickster or the personification of evil, here they are shown to be someone who wants to get out of their preordained role and are cast as victims of fate who are trying everything to get out of their destined path.

The limitation on Raven & Tisiphone due to being in the wrong universe and not connected to Necessity make things a lot more interesting as otherwise they pretty much had enough power to bull through their problems and now they had to work for it (for the most part).

This detour also opens up the possibility of other universes based on other mythological figures from around the world. Maybe in the future Kelly will explore these other universes as well (If he does then I will be in line to buy the books)

– Suramya

September 4, 2020

Codespell (WebMage 03) by Kelly McCullough

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 11:48 pm


Codespell (WebMage 03)
by Kelly Mccullough

Description:

The universe needs a reboot in this WebMage novel from Kelly McCullough.

In the twenty-first century, magic has advanced with the times and gone digital, and Ravirn, a direct descendant of one of the three Fates, is a talented sorcerer—and computer hacker extraordinaire. Now that Ravirn has come into his own as a minor chaos power, he’s partying with Zeus, playing hard-to-get with a gorgeous Fury…and trying to stay one step ahead of Nemesis, the unstoppable goddess of vengeance.

But now Necessity—the sentient computer that runs the universe—has caught a virus that crashes most of the magical internet, and Ravirn is tasked with fixing it. And Ravirn hasn’t missed the fact that whoever repairs Necessity will, for that moment, run the universe, able to remake the worlds (and everything else) to their liking.

Unfortunately for Ravirn, some very dangerous beings have figured that out, too…

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Rating: (4/5)

Review:

This review will have minor spoilers about events from the previous books in the series because it build on top of them. If you haven’t yet read the first two books, stop reading.

Codespell picks up a few months or so after the finale of the previous book and Ravirn or Raven as he is now known managed to save the soul of his Girlfriend’s Webgoblin but in the process accidentally released a Virus in Necessity (Computer that runs the multiverse) causing massive damage. Now multiple parties are after Raven to get him to fix the problems he has created or just punish them for it.

In this installment Ravirn is finally starting to understand the Raven side of his nature. I especially liked how we cover the fact that the ‘Powers’ are being forced to act in a certain way even though they might not want to at that time, for example Raven’s trickster nature is pushing Ravirn to act more recklessly/chaotically than he would prefer.
We finally get introduced to a lot more of the Greek pantheon with Zeus, Athena and many others making appearance some with minor roles others with more active ones, I liked most of the characters in the book however the way ‘Cerice’ behaved felt a bit contrived and not natural, but it did help move the narrative forward so there is that…

In addition to regular computing that we have been dealing with so far we now have Quantum Computing also coming into the mix which makes things even more fun and interesting for the characters.

The Ending was interesting but I can’t talk about it here as Spoilers 😉 but I will talk about it in the review of the next book in the Series: MythOS.

Final Review: I liked the book a lot, a Fun & light read.

September 3, 2020

Cybermancy (WebMage 02) by Kelly McCullough

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 4:05 pm


Cybermancy (WebMage 02)
by Kelly McCullough

Description:
Hades has a hell of a firewall in this WebMage novel from Kelly McCullough.

Not just any computer geek can hack into Hades. But Ravirn, a direct descendant of one of the three Fates, is no ordinary hacker. Magic has gone digital in the twenty-first century, and Ravirn is a sorcerer with a laptop—otherwise known as his shape-changing best friend.

These days, Ravirn’s crashing at his girlfriend’s place while she works on her doctorate in computer science. Only one problem: all of her research is in her webgoblin’s memory, which is now in Hades along with its soul. To save Cerice’s webgoblin (and her PhD), Ravirn must brave Hell itself. But can he do it without corrupting the mweb—the magical internet—and without facing down the Lord of the Dead himself?

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Rating: (4/5)

Review:

This review will have minor spoilers about the first book because what events from the first book have significant bearing on the second book as it build on top of them. If you haven’t yet read the first book, stop reading.

At the end of the First book free will is saved, Ravirn is still alive but renamed as Raven and no longer part of the Fate’s family. Throughout this book he is still trying to come to terms with the changes in his life and pretend that the Raven side of him doesn’t exist. The book starts off with an awesome sentence “Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks ? The eyes of Cerberus glared down at me, six balls of black fire. There was no dog older or more dangerous. But here I was standing practically in his mouths, trick in hand.” and then takes off from there.

Ravirn is trying to retrieve the soul of his girlfriend’s webgoblin from Hades and in doing so unleashes a massive problem for the whole of reality. He is frantically trying to fix the issue while the major powers of the universe are out baying for his head making life a lot more interesting for him. Over the course of the novel he starts accepting his Raven side more as well.

The book is a fun read and I loved the way it covers the story of Persephone. According to mythology, Hades, god of the Underworld, fell in love with beautiful Persephone when he saw her picking flowers one day in a meadow. The god then carried her off in his chariot to live with him in the dark Underworld. Her mother Demeter created a great drought to convince the other gods to release Persephone from Hades. Finally after lots of people died Zeus finally sent Hermes to persuade Hades to release his ill-gotten bride. But Hades had tricked Persephone into eating pomegranate seed so had to spend three months of the year in Hades. Its a very stark tale but most books/tales gloss over how it must be for Persephone to live with Hades for 3 months every year after he had kidnapped and raped her. Persephone’s anger & despair are covered beautifully and with compassion in the book, it really highlights what victims of sexual violence have to deal with throughout their life.

The consequences of the events of this book are explored in the next few books so I ended up rereading the 3rd book immediately after I finished this one.

September 1, 2020

WebMage (WebMage 01) by Kelly Mccullough

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 7:45 pm


WebMage (WebMage 01)
by Kelly Mccullough

Description:

Magic is about to get an upgrade

Ravirn is not your average computer geek. A child of the Fates – literally – he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can zero in on the fatal flaw in any program. Now that twenty-first-century magic has gone digital that makes him a very talented sorcerer. But a world of problems is about to be downloaded on Ravirn – who’s just trying to pass his college midterms. Great Aunt Atropos, one of the three Fates, decides that humans having free will is really overrated and plans to rid herself of the annoyance – by coding a spell into the Fate Core, the server that rules destiny. As a hacker, Ravirn is a big believer in free will, and when he not only refuses to debug her spell but actively opposes her, all hell breaks loose.Even with the help of his familiar Melchior, a sexy sorceress (who-s also a mean programmer), and the webgoblin underground, it’s going to be a close call…

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Rating: (4.5/5)

Review:

There are some books that you don’t mind reading again and again, this is one such book. I was reminded of the book by the last book that I read (Hardwired) so I picked it up again. I think this is the 3rd or 4th time that I have read the book. The main character is a WebMage, which is basically a Hacker/programmer who uses programming to write control magic spells. The story is fast paced and is a light reading in the sense that you don’t need to spend much brain power while reading the book.

The characterization of the Fury’s was brilliant and in quite a contrast to the traditional portrayal of the characters where they are usually depicted with a serious deminor or just plain focused. Over here they are denoted with a sense of humor (dark humor but still funny) and each of them have a different personality. The book utilizes sarcasm and witty dialog to great effect. The character of Cerice could have used more screen time and is lightly developed in this book but that is addressed in the next book so its not a major complaint.

The Book is setting up the stage for the rest of the series so a lot of the setup is either not utilized or lightly utilized as they are explored/expanded in the remainder of the series.

Final Review: I love the book and highly recommend it.

August 26, 2020

Peace Talks (Dresden Files Book 16) by Jim Butcher

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 1:42 pm


Peace Talks (Dresden Files Book 16)
by Jim Butcher

Description:

HARRY DRESDEN IS BACK AND READY FOR ACTION, in the new entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files.

When the Supernatural nations of the world meet up to negotiate an end to ongoing hostilities, Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, joins the White Council’s security team to make sure the talks stay civil. But can he succeed, when dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago—and all he holds dear?

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Rating:

Review:

Jim Butcher is an author who is on my immediately purchase list which basically means that I immediately purchase any books released by him. This is the 16th book in his Harry Dresden series and was released 6 years after the last installment which is too long to wait for any sequel. (To make up the next book in the series is getting released in Oct 2020). Since it had been a while since I last read the series I was a bit wary about starting the new book without re-reading the whole series but I am happy to say that you don’t need to remember all the previous books as this one is self contained. (for the most part. A few points would be confusing if you haven’t read the previous books)

When a series goes on for as long as this one has its easy to get to a point where you can’t keep raising the stakes anymore without repeating yourself. Thankfully Jim is an expert in ensuring that while the stakes are raised it doesn’t get to a point where its ridiculous (Looking at you Supernatural).

Harry has fought Fae queens, monsters, and a homicidal Island entity in the past and in this iteration has a lot on his shoulders with his White Council wizard duties, his obligatory Winter Knight duties, and being a father to his daughter. In addition to all the above duties he is requested to serve as emissary for Winter at upcoming peace negotiations and help secure them from threats. Things almost immediately go for a toss and Harry is soon neck deep in trouble from all sides.

The main thing I like about the series is that all the injuries/physiological scars from the previous books don’t magically disappear once the book ends, Harry still feels the pain/damage from his injuries and has to work around them. He is actively trying to avoid depending too much on his Winter Knight persona to manage the pain & even karen’s recovery & physio therapy is realistic and nicely written.

The action throughout the book is well paced and exciting and the supporting characters are reasonably fleshed out with cameo’s from favorites from previous books. The book ends with a major cliff-hanger so its good that the next chapter is getting released so quickly.

Final Review: Loved the book, waiting for the next chapter eagerly.

July 3, 2010

Kitty Goes to War (Kitty Book 08) by Carrie Vaughn

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 9:12 pm


Kitty Goes to War (Kitty Book 08)
by Carrie Vaughn

Description:

K itty Norville, werewolf radio call-in show host, gets a call from an old friend at the NIH’s Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology, a friend with a problem, who doesn’t know where else to turn. Three Army soldiers who have recently returned from the war in Afghanistan are in custody at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs. They’re also werewolves suffering from post traumatic stress, unable to control their shape-shifting, unable to interact with people. Kitty agrees to see them, curious and wanting to help. Meanwhile, Kitty gets sued for slander after featuring Speedy Mart – a chain of 24-hour convenience stores with a reputation for attracting the supernatural – on her show, and an old friend-and-adversary has just been released from jail.

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Rating:

Review:The latest book in the Kitty series which stars a werewolf called Kitty is a good read. Kitty has her own pack now and is happily married to another werewolf.

The book didn’t re-cover most of the history of the major characters but at the same time covered just enough that we didn’t feel lost while reading the book.

The plot was decent and inspite of not having any twists and turns was interesting enough to keep my attention. This time Kitty’s radio show was sort of in the background as compared to the previous books where it had a more prominent role. Which was kind of disappointing for those of us who like the radio show a lot but still it was a different take on the story and kept the series from being repetitive.

The book was a very light read and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to read a book with a really heavy plot.

Final Recommendation: A great read

June 28, 2010

Shades of Grey (Icarus Project Book 02) by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge

Filed under: Urban Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 9:09 pm


Shades of Grey (Icarus Project Book 02)
by Jackie Kessler& Caitlin Kittredge

Description:

AFTER THE FALL OF NIGHT

Jet and Iridium – best friends turned bitter enemies – teamed up to foil the evil plans of the rogue superhero known as Night, but in defeating him they inadvertently destroyed the secret Corp-Co transmitter whose frequency kept the metapowered heroes of the Squadron in line. Now these heroes have turned against New Chicago, ransacking the city they once protected.

Even worse, the powerful antisuperhero group known as Everyman has taken advantage of the chaos to fan the flames of prejudice against all superpowered men and women. Just when New Chicago needs them most, Jet and the small band of heroes who have remained on the right side of the law find themselves the targets of suspicion and outright hatred.

Things aren’t going much better for Iridium. When she springs her father, a notorious supervillain, from prison to help her fight the marauding ex-superheroes, she finds that Corp-Co still has some nasty tricks up its sleeve.

But when the most dangerous man alive, the sociopath known as Doctor Hypnotic, suddenly surfaces, Jet and Iridium will once again be called upon to set aside their differences. Yet in the process, deeply buried secrets will come to light that will change everything the former best friends think they know about each other and themselves.

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Rating:

Review:The second book in the Icarus project series picks up a few weeks after the first book ended and mainly covers how Iridium, Jet and the few remaining heroes deal with the extra-humans who have revolted against the normal humans and Corp-Co after they found out that they were being mind controlled into obeying them.

The characters were quite well defined and well written. The plot had some twists and turns in it some of which I could predict and some I couldn’t. In all it made for a good read.

The other problem that I had mentioned in the first book where parts of the book read differently than other parts of the book was not an issue in this book. So I guess they figured out how to completely mesh their writing styles together.

The book ending leaves the way open for the next book in the series and I am quite eagerly waiting for it to be released.

Final Recommendation: A great read

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