Book Review – Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher

Well. Here I am. Writing a book review for the first time in months. Huh.

Gotta say, this is weird. But it feels damn good. If you’re keeping up on my Goodreads page, then you know that I’ve been reading up a storm the last few days. I don’t plan on slowing down, either.

Also, I had a bit of a breakthrough on the fanfic while I was in the shower today (of course), so I should make some serious progress on it over the next week or so.

My aunts have been staying with us this whole week, camped out in my writing room, so things have been a bit out of sorts for me. Even now  I’m typing this from the kitchen table, listening to Incubus in my headphones while Trevor plays his video games in his office. I didn’t realize how used to my routine I’d become, but man, this week has put it into perspective.

I started a new short story, and it’s really rough right now. I’m not sure if it’ll ever turn into more than some weird little tale, but I had a really great time writing it, so that seems good enough for now. I’ve also been doing a bit of research on the requirements for membership with the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association) which then spiraled out into all kinds of interesting searches about publishers, agents, and magazines with open submissions.

So, long story short, my brain is kicking back into writing mode, and I couldn’t be happier.

Now that you’ve got the short version of my thoughts these last few days, have a book review! This is the part where I tell you that there are spoilers below…

Dead_Beat
This book took me entirely too long to read. I started it as a digital audiobook on loan from the library back at the beginning of April. I was in the height of my Mass Effect playing then, so the poor recording was left neglected except for when I had a migraine. The digital loans aren’t renewable, and of course there were a bunch of holds on it, so I couldn’t get the audiobook again. I told myself that, since I owned the paperback, I’d just commit to finishing it the old-fashioned way.

Four months later I finally cracked it open and finished it in a couple of days. Because it was good! I know there’s no point in being upset with myself or trying to feel guilty about my sabbatical, but damn. I could have been so much farther in the series by now!

In this installment, Dresden is tasked with fighting off the Disciples of Kemmler, a notoriously evil necromancer whose acolytes are all vying for Godhood on a particularly stormy  Halloween. To make matters worse, Mavra, of the Black Court Vampires, also wants the “Word of Kemmler”, the necromancer’s book that all the Disciples are after. Within the book lies a ritual for calling forth the Erlking, lord of the Wild Hunt, and unlocks power that would bequeath enough power to make one a God.

So, a typical Thursday night for Harry.

big_dead_beat

Cover art for Wizard at Large, an omnibus of Blood Rites and Dead Beat, by Dan dos Santos.

 

But, shit gets pretty intense, pretty freaking fast. There’s necromancy galore, with zombies and spirits and ghouls running rampant. Butters, the coroner, tags along with Harry the whole time, and Thomas and Mouse are large players as well; a full cast of my favorite people.

Murphy is conveniently elsewhere for the duration of the novel, and I’m excited to see how her Hawaiian vacation with Kincaid went. It was obvious in the beginning of the novel that she wanted Harry to be jealous or to try and stop her, but he’s Dresden. He didn’t do any of that even though he really wanted to. He respects Murph way too much to audibly question her romantic entanglements.

Which… come on! Just kiss already!

Anyway, nothing is ever easy for Harry, and this book in particular put the wizard through the wringer. The Red Court did some dirty fighting to deliver a crippling blow to the White Council, almost completely decimating the Wardens. It was really cool to see the Wardens in action, and one in particular, Ramirez, was a new favorite character. Of course, that means his life is in immediate danger, because I like him way more than I should. Sorry, Ramirez.

Also, Butters gets ragged on by Thomas the whole book for being a coward, and then does some insanely badass shit in order to save Harry, including riding on the back of a resurrected Tyrannosaurus Rex whilst using his one-man polka suit to keep a drum beat.

 

Because Polka will never die.

And behind all of this is the longer arc of the war between the White Council and the Red Court, and the even longer arc of Dresden and Lasciel, the fallen angel he thought he’d locked away beneath two feet of cement in his basement. Yeah, she makes an appearance or three, and it’s some weird shit.

Anyway, I feel really rusty at this whole book review thing, but I needed to do this before  I got too deep into the next  Dresden book and couldn’t keep the details separate. Despite how long it took for me to finish this book, I really loved it. If you’ve made it this far through Dresden, are you really gonna give up on it now?

A sincere thanks to all of you that continued to visit the blog, even though I was gone for so long. I knew it’d be a while,but I didn’t think it’d be almost five months… But, I’m back now, and looking forward to balancing projects and getting back into my more productive routines.

books

Me, twirling through my TBR list.

I’m reading about five things right now, so I have no idea what the next book review will be. Probably The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7) by Eoin Colfer, because I just finished it. I’m also listening to Alan Cumming’s autobiography, Not My Father’s Son, which is phenomenal so far. I’m also listening to Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt’s first book, and enjoying myself. And I’m reading Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman.

Good gravy. I really am trying to make up for lost time. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So, stick around for more blog posts as my reading and writing reestablishes a working rhythm.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

I’m Back?

I think. It feels like it. I’m reading again, which is reflected on Goodreads and on my “What I’m  Reading” page.  I wrote the majority of an original short story the other day, and I’m still plugging away at my fanfiction. I’m ready to bring the plot points together and wrap it up.

I think.

There’s still a lot do for that story, but I feel good about it. Plus, my brain actually wants to start working on other projects again, so I need to finish this one.

Several books I’ve been waiting for come out in the coming months, and I can’t wait to read them all!  I’ll post book reviews when relevant.

So, don’t expect me to post with quite the frequency I did before, but suspect that I will be around. Hopefully I’ll finish Dead Beat this week, and can have a book review up for it some time next week!

Thank you to everyone that still reads this blog, even though I went AWOL for four months. I appreciate you.

Talk at you all soon!

 

BZ

Wave Goodbye

I’m sitting at my laptop shaking. I’m in tears. I am debilitated with a sudden, horrible, all-consuming grief. I’m trying to sob quietly, because it’s almost 2:30 in the morning and Trevor has to work in the morning.

But there’s nothing quiet about this. My heart is screaming.  My mind is wailing and reeling, grasping for a reality that can’t possibly be this.

I’m sitting here, in the relative dark, sobbing my eyes out, in my Chris Cornell concert t-shirt, listening to every song the man ever had a hand in.

Because he’s gone. Chris Cornell, aged 52 (younger than my dad!) has died.

I don’t really have any more words than that. I just… I loved him so much. His music saw me through so many stages of my life. My aunt’s death, my move to Oregon, my wedding. All my favorite shirts are from his concerts. So many memories attached to this glorious, creative, and immensely talented man and his music. All my favorite karaoke songs!

So much of his music, of his art and wonder, has coiled itself up into my life and I didn’t realize it until now. Now, so many cherished moments are so, so, sad.

And I’m in disbelief. I just saw him in November! He just tweeted 8 hours ago about how excited he was to play his next show! He was so alive…

This blog is named after a lyric in Say Hello 2 Heaven! It’s tattooed on my skin!  I carry him with me, everywhere I go.

And now every single song aches…

I know that eventually, I’ll be able to listen to his music and it will help me through all these emotions, but right now every note of his voice, every guitar solo, is just pure pain. Pure Mourning. No Euphoria in it yet…

 

And then I scroll through tumblr and facebook, and I see all these people who feel the same as me. They grew up listening to his music. First Soundgarden, singing all the words to Black Hole Sun, before I could ever hope to understand them or appreciate their grace.

And then my Junior High and High School years, worshiping the funky, grungy vibes of Audioslave, to the point that I still consider them my all-time favorite band. The shirt I stole from my mom in the seventh grade is one I still wear on a weekly basis, and it shows. It’s grey, instead of black, the logo is faded and cracked, and the collar is fraying. But it’s my favorite shirt that I own.

And then my early college days, trying to connect to something I’d thought I’d lost, so I found the Temple of the Dog CD used, and played it on repeat. And then my aunt died unexpectedly and Say Hello 2 Heaven was the song that helped me through. It’s the song I named this blog from. It’s the song I have inked in my skin.

And then, my wedding. We danced to his cover of Led Zeppelin’s Thank You. It’s been one of my favorite songs, and hearing Chris perform it just brought it from the otherworldly realms of Robert Plant and gave it this humanity that just suited starting your life with your best friend.

I first saw Chris in Arizona, with my mom as a joint birthday present. It was the original Songbook tour, the one I got this shirt at, and it was this magical evening of time travel via an acoustic guitar and his voice.

Then, I saw Soundgarden in Portland the first winter I moved to Oregon. My mom flew up and we went together. And it was… mind-blowing. I danced. I sang. I screamed.  For a little while, I was certain I had transcended, especially when they played Tighter & Tighter. Hearing that song live, singing and dancing to it,  I was more than what lives in this skin. And it sounds crazy but I don’t know how else to describe how Chris Cornell at his best makes me feel.

Shadow face
Blowing smoke and talking wind
Lost my grip
Fell too far to start again
A sudden snake
Found my shape and tells the world
Remember this
Remember everything is just black
Or burning sun
And I hope it’s a sweet ride
Sleep tight for me
Sleep tight for me I’m gone
Warm and sweet
Swinging from a windows ledge
Tight and deep
One last sin before I’m dead
A sucking holy wind
Will take me from this bed tonight
And bloody wits
Another hits me and I have to say goodbye
And I hope it’s a sweet ride
Here for me tonight
‘Cause I feel I’m going
Feel I’m slowing down

And then,  just in November, we went and saw Temple of the Dog in Seattle, on their final night of their tour. It was an amazing experience, one we almost didn’t do because it was so expensive. And while I thought it was worth it on the drive home at 4 in the morning, now I KNOW it was worth it. It was the last time I’d ever hear him sing live again…

And every single song just takes on new meaning now. My world view has shifted. As ridiculous as it might seem, as much as I’m trying to tell myself to calm down, he’s “just a celebrity” I know that’s bullshit.

He’s not just a celebrity. He was Chris fucking Cornell, and he was my all time favorite artist. He was the soundtrack of my life 50% of the time. He’s on every playlist, at every karaoke jam session. He is the artist I turn to when I don’t know how to feel.

The others, I know what I’m looking for, I know what they offer. Snow Patrol is love. AFI is angst. Night Riots is a little of both. Halsey is there for a good time, but you might want to forget about it later. Linkin Park, System of a Down, Korn, they’re all there for anger.

But, Chris Cornell is there for when I’m not sure who I am at the moment. When I need some words that go beyond their purest meaning and have this symbiotic relationship with the music that surrounds them to become something more.

Even one of my favorite holidays is connected to him! Every year I try and “light a roman candle and hold it in my hand,” just in honor of that song!

Because Chris Cornell, in every iteration, has interwoven himself into the fabric of who I am. Temple of the Dog. Soundgarden. Audioslave. Chris Cornell. Forever.

I am so heartbroken. And I know that this grief is nothing in comparison to that of his family and bandmates. I know. And I know that I am not unique in my loss. It has been expressed by thousands already, and as the morning creeps up on us, more and more will know.

I guess… It’s time for me to go to bed. Or lay on the floor of my office in the dark, listening to his entire catalog until I can figure out how the hell I’m supposed to function tomorrow.

Chris Cornell

How do I say goodbye to this man in a way that can ever actually express what a HUGE impact he’s had on my life? How could I ever pay homage to someone so unarguably beautiful and talented? How do I cope with the fact that the vast majority of the music I love and live by is now dripping in tangible grief?

fell on black days.gif

I don’t think I can ever write words I will find acceptable. They don’t exist. But, until they do:

Goodbye Chris. You were my rock n’ roll soulmate. I felt like your words and your music were part of my soul. I promise, some day I will lay a dozen white roses on your grave.

Love,

The girl sobbing in her oldest Concert T-shirt, listening to your voice, no matter how much it hurts.

Wait… I Wrote How Much?

Hi guys!

I just wanted to stop by and share something pretty incredible with you.

So, remember when I said I was reading and writing a ton of fanfiction? Well, that trend continued through the month of April. I’m pretty sure I just wrote more words in a month than I ever have before.

As of 4/30/17, I wrote a total of 31,113 words. Of fanfiction. Jesus Christ. That is a TON of writing, the most I’ve ever done in so short a time. I’m simultaneously impressed and disgusted/disappointed. Why haven’t I pumped out so many words for my own original content?

Granted, fanfic is “easier” since there’s very little world-building or slogging through early character development. That’s mostly done by the time you get your hands on the content.  I mean, you should still have those things, but the amount of discovering and fleshing out are considerably less. Which is the vast majority of work I’ve been doing on From the Quorum.

So, in a way, this has been a nice exercise. One that  I have no plans of stopping anytime soon. I’ve got another 3 chapters (at least) to write for this particular story, a oneshot (i.e. short story) outlined, and then another full fic planned after that.

But, if I can keep up this pace, that means I should be able to fall back into my own original works once Mass Effect lets me go. Right? That’s what I’m telling myself, anyways.

Saturday was the release party for the third issue of The Audient Void, and it was awesome. There is some really great fiction and poetry in this issue, and the artwork is fantastic as always. The event coincided with Independent Bookstore Day, which meant there were a lot of people there who might not have attended otherwise, and there were snacks and extra special merchandise on hand.

Oh! There was also a cool marionette show, with an original play by Adam Bolivar, that was really quite entertaining!Jack o lantern

But, my favorite part of the event (aside from the customary after party) was that I thought up a new story while I was there. Just a short story, and I won’t go into details about it here, but I hope to write it this year and submit it to the A.V.

We’ll see where I’m at in a few months. If I’m still writing at the pace I am now, I have no doubt I’ll get everything done that I set out to this year, even with this detour. Remember, I planned to fall off the face of the Earth for about two months after  Andromeda came out, so I’m still on schedule.

Anyway, just wanted to share with you all that I am a writing machine these days, even if it’s just fanfic.

See you around,

 

BZ

Well, Hello There!

Hi Blogland,

Huh. It feels kind of weird to be back. I’m still not promising anything, or even pretending I’m back in any sort of routine. I’m not. I still play Mass Effect just about every day, and I’m reading (and writing) way more fanfiction than I ought to.

But, I thought about From the Quorum for the first time in a month the other day. I call that progress. I also felt a pang of guilt/longing for The Steel Armada. We’re getting there.

The whole point of this was to keep me from falling into the spiral of guilt that I normally feel when I hyper-focus on something. When I start feeling guilty for doing things that I enjoy, I tend to further procrastinate the tasks I’ve sacrificed in order to hyper-focus in the first place.

Right now, I tell myself that writing fanfiction is better than not writing at all. And since I’ve put over 6k words into this one fic just in April, I’d say that’s damn good.

Also, The Audient Void #3 is out! Get you one! Available at the Book Bin in downtown Salem, or online at their Facebook page.

My reading has seriously slowed, but a steady stream of fanfiction keeps me going. I fully intend to pick things back up sometime in May. I promise. Pinky swear. All that good stuff.

Also, I wanted to mention that I’ve applied for another full time position with the library. I know better than to assume anything at this point, but I’ve learned a lot in the last 9ish months since my last interview with the city, and I have a lot more confidence in myself than I did even four months ago. Keep your fingers crossed for me just the same, huh?

Thanks for sticking with me through this gaming fog. The fact that I’ve come up for air is promising. I look forward to talking at you all on a regular basis again soon.

 

BZ

Goals Summary wk 11

Hi all,

Gonna keep this brief. I think. I wanted to let you know that  I’ve been using the Windows laptop exclusively now for about a month. I like it. I’m acclimating, and in general it’s much more reliable than my poor, ancient Macbook. It was the right decision to transfer over.

Last week’s goals were extremely straightforward. Publish two blog posts, and write the Mass Effect Fanfic.

Well,  I didn’t publish two posts, but I wrote over 3,000 words of fic. Plus another 1500 tonight. So that’s going well. I’ve had a few views, multiple follows, and one review so far, which feels really good for only two chapters.

I just posted chapter 3 tonight, so we’ll see how that goes. If you’re interested here’s a link. However, keep in mind that this is fanfiction. It’s barely edited, and not very indicative of my original work. I own nothing in it, it is purely my imagination running wild in a world I love. It’s how I’ve coped with the waiting for Andromeda.

Which is here TOMORROW!!!!! So long world, I’ll see you again in a few weeks/months, depending on how obsessed I become with it. Therefore, I will not be setting any goals for next week, unless you count “not leaving the house until Sunday”.

Until then Blogland,

BZ

Goals Summary wk 10

Hi Blogland,

Just wanted to let you know that I am still here. If you’re following me on Goodreads, then you know that I haven’t read anything at all in the last week. All my spare time is spent researching Mass Effect Andromeda before the EA Early Access opens on Thursday, and playing The Witcher 3 to keep my hands and mind busy.

Geralt

Sorry, Geralt. It’s not you, it’s me.

I did manage to edit a chapter of The Steel Armada last week, so at least there’s that.

And I took the dog on his first hike! We went to Silver Falls State Park, and though it was packed, we had a great time. The dog definitely has a lot to learn, and we need to work on socializing him with other dogs and more people. He gets a little too excited. But, we had fun with good friends on one of the nicest days Oregon has seen in months.

Simons first hike

Just a girl and her Doggo

But, the edits and the hike were the only thing I accomplished last week. And this week I get my hands on the first 10 hours of Mass Effect Andromeda. I’m not even going to kid myself with any sort of goals.

… Although, I was challenged to write a bit of Mass Effect fanfiction. A coworker suggested that I write a piece about a Krogan pastry chef who falls in love with his Salarian coworker. If you’re not into the series, that sentence won’t mean anything to you, but it made me laugh so hard that I’m committed to writing it now. Maybe I’ll do that this week to tide me over once I’m locked out of the Early Access.

I promise, if it turns out worth a damn I’ll post it on ff.net, and link it here.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I haven’t completely forgotten you yet. But, expect that next Monday will be my last post for awhile, as I’ll be living in the Andromeda galaxy come Tuesday.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ