Storm Front by Jim Butcher

storm-front-buthcerStorm Front (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher, published in 2000 by Penguin Roc.

Goodreads. Author. Book Depository. Amazon. Barnes & Noble.

Genre: urban fantasy.

Source: purchased (by husband).

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Harry Dresden – Wizard 

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever. 

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting. Magic. It can get a guy killed. (Goodreads)

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My rating: 4/5.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book like this. Harry Dresden is a wizard in a world where magic is thought to be something of a joke, which both makes his job easier and casts him as a kind of a scapegoat for all things related to magic. I liked that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, although he does have a very healthy ego. He’s one of those characters that you like despite their petty flaws and bad puns, if you know what I mean.

The best way to describe this kind of writing would be manly urban fantasy. Harry has something named “a wizard’s staff” and something called “a blasting rod”, he often takes on more than he can chew and he’s quite certain he’s God’s gift to women – though his experience says otherwise (don’t get me wrong, he’s never slimy, just really confident when I’m not sure he should be). He likes to make things go bang and he has a problem with authority.

What bothered me a bit were hints of a larger magical community – I felt like the whole magic thing wasn’t explained very well, though I believe the next FIFTEEN novels in the series might remedy that fact. I mean, I didn’t feel lost or anything, it’s just that there are some other magical beings that aren’t presented in great detail, there’s this whole thing of Harry being potentially sentenced to death and a history that’s suggested but never disclosed.

All in all, I enjoyed Storm Front, am thinking about getting part 2, and recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t mind an overly-confident, greasy-haired, slightly dorky wizard as a main character.

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Have you read this series?

I’d love to know whether it’s still interesting once you read a couple of books more!

 

Tough Travels: Travelling Folk

tough travelsSo I’m participating in this week’s Tough Travels meme again – hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, this is one great way to explore Fantasyland and create lists, YAY! Don’t forget to go and check out what other participating bloggers have put on their lists – my tbr expands every week because of them! :)

This week, we’re looking at TRAVELLING FOLK, which are quite common. There are two kinds: land travellers and river travellers. These people are merry, colourfully dressed, dishonest, and knowledgeable… they will cheat you, heal your wounds, and hustle you off to the cart of their oldest lady who will tell you something about the future you need to know.

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This one was hard. It doesn’t look like it at first glance but then I stared at my bookshelves, mentally shuffling the pages and looking for nomads, but though there are several possibilities, only few of them met the criteria outlined above. I thought about Jordan’s Aiel, but they’re hardly the fortune telling type and their grandmas would kill you rather than make you tea and read your leaves. I thought about Tolkien’s Rangers, but they’re individuals wandering the wild (I think), not a people as such.

way-of-the-leaf

The Way of the Leaf?

I think this topic is really interesting because it touches on the delicate questions of ethnicity and race. As in real life, the nomadic peoples of Fantasyland are often discriminated against, hunted, killed, and generally disliked. They do seem to mostly fall into the good guys category, at least those I found for my list:

  1. The Gyptians from Philip Pullman’s The Northern Lights (also known as The Golden Compass). Their children are among the first to be targeted by the Gobblers, who snatch them and sever the ties with their daemons. They are river folk and help Lyra on her quest. I need to re-read this trilogy…
  2. Edema Ruh from Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. Kvothe, the protagonist, is a child of this people, though his immediate family was slaughtered. They are excellent musicians and performers, but they’re often hated because of their nomadic ways. Also, this cover is horrifying. There are also the Tinkers – Ben, Kvothe’s first teacher, is one of them, I think.
  3. Tinkers / Tuatha’an from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. They are a sort of a spin-off of the warrior Aiel who now follow what is called “The Way of the Leaf”, a peaceful existence that rejects violence.

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Do you remember any other travelling folk?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and see your lists! :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read This Year

top-tenTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely people of The Broke and the Bookish – the number of people who participate is simply crazy and I always find interesting lists there, so go check it out.

This week’s topic is: the best books of 2014.

I read quite a number of good books this year. I don’t know how many I’ve read and I have no reading challenges to complete, as I only started this blog in May, so I think it’s actually surprising that I read ten books I would whole-heartedly recommend to anyone looking for a very good novel. So here are my choices:

  1. half-a-kingKetchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. I have a personal relationship with this one because I translated it into Slovenian. My review.
  2. Vicious by V. E. Schwab. She’s great. Seriously. Go read this book. My review.
  3. Half A King by Joe Abercrombie. This one was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t particularly care for his First Law trilogy, but Yarvi’s the best. My review.
  4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Can we talk about Jamie for a moment? Yes? The book is great all on its own, but: have you seen the series? If not, you’re seriously missing out on some gorgeous scenery, to-die-for accents, and handsome Scots. I don’t know why I didn’t write a review for it…
  5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I have yet to write a review for this one (I only read it recently), but I liked it very much. Along with Ketchup Clouds, this is the only non-fantasy book that I’ve really, really enjoyed this year.
  6. illusions-of-fateDreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Another personal one – I translated the whole Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy into Slovenian. My review.
  7. The Archived by Victoria Schwab. Yes, she made the list twice. She’s really great. My review.
  8. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White. I have so many reviews to write! Gah! This one was great, my first book by this author, I like that it’s a standalone and very strong.
  9. Half Bad by Sally Green. This was one of those surprising, fresh YA books that I enjoyed very much despite a slow start and a prickly character. My review.
  10. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan. This list would not be complete without a chick-lit/romance book on in and I think this one deserves its spot. I’m a huge Colgan fan – I had a hard time deciding between this one and Little Beach Street BakeryMy review.

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What were the best books you read in 2014? 

I would love to hear your recommendations and see your TTT lists! :)

Catching Up

Hello, lovely people! What have you been up to this past week?

christmas-treeI took some much-needed time off and I hope I’ll be returning to a normal blogging schedule from now on. I read some books, most of which were romances that I will probably never review because they were quite average, but I enjoyed their comforting repetitiveness all the same.

I also read Storm Front by Jim Butcher, which I liked a lot, but there’s this teeny-tiny fact that the series now has FIFTEEN published titles with more to come. Now these aren’t your average 700-page fantasy books, that’s true, they’re more manageable lenght-wise (so it’s not like tackling The Wheel of Time), but it’s still intimidating. I’m not entirely sure I want to read 14 more books about a slightly greasy-haired wizard named Harry (well, I would, but only if his surname started with a P…). I’m still on the fence on whether or not I should buy the next novel in the series.

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secret-santaChristmas is around the corner and while I still haven’t done any serious shopping for my friends and family, I did assemble the gift for The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa exchange. I’ll be mailing it on Monday and I really hope the recipient likes it! I also can’t wait for my gift to arrive – I lovelovelove gifts of all shapes and sizes and I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until Christmas to open it.

I’m not sure the photo of our tiny tree is good enough to showcase the ornaments, but there’s a snowy white owl on the top instead of an angel, and a cucumber-shaped ornament as well. I like odd-shaped Christmas decorations. 

cucumber-decorationChristmas was never a huge holiday in my family when I was growing up – we have our own version of Santa in Slovenia (and I guess in other Slavic, ex-socialist countries as well? I never checked…), Dedek Mraz – or Father Frost, as he likes to be called in English. We got our gifts on December 31, and they always magically appeared under the tree at some point during the evening, so my brother and I were always sad we’d just missed the old guy who flew by our balcony to drop off our gifts.

This year, our baby is still too little to care about bearded old men carrying gifts (he’s 3.5 months old now), but I can’t wait to do the whole hiding-the-gifts-and-sneaking-around routine in the years to come.

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How are your Christmas preparations coming along?

What’s the weirdest ornament hanging on your tree?

 

Here Comes The Sun

Tomaj-vinyardBefore you start reading this post, I suggest listening to this wonderful old thing. I’ve been saving this post for a while now and I think it’s a perfect antidote to the dreary, gray, rainy days we’ve been having.

GoatsA couple of weeks ago, we visited my parents’ weekend house which is located in the Karst region in the Western part of Slovenia. We had a wonderful time going for a stroll through the vinyards (my father was happy to push the baby around in his pram), had the pleasure of seeing a large herd of goats, and admired the golden persimmons growing in the courtyards of old houses.

Persimmons-treeThe Karst region is especially famous for its dark, heavy red wine, Teran, and the colours of the vines are absolutely breathtaking in the autumn.

vinyard1The day was warm enough to leave the house without a jacket but as we finished our walk, the evening brought a chill that signalled the end of a beautiful season.

vinyard2And while I enjoyed the warm autumn days very much (the weather was perfect for morning walks with a very young child), I’m looking forward to the cold days – and snow – as well.

sunset