Book Review – White Night (Dresden Files #9) by Jim Butcher

Good Morning, Blogland!

Today I’m going to talk about White Night by Jim Butcher. I listened to this audiobook a couple weeks ago now, so this might not be as detailed as my book reviews usually are.

Beware the spoilers!

White night

So, this book picks up about a year after Proven Guilty. Harry is still a Warden, Molly is his apprentice, and Murphy lost her position as the Chief of Special Investigations. Thomas is still oddly aloof, and Harry can tell he’s been feeding again, but other than that, he knows nothing.

Things seem pretty calm, until Murphy calls Harry in to check out the scene of a suspected suicide. Turns out, there are some supernatural forces at work, picking off low-level practitioner women, and making it look like suicide. Now, these women aren’t strong enough practitioners to be members of the White Council, but they are citizens of Chicago, and that means they are Harry’s responsibility. He takes the case.

This book is great because all of my favorite characters make an appearance. Butters is around because he lets Harry into the morgue to inspect a corpse. Mouse is around for almost every scene, because that dog is freaking awesome, and really good at protecting people. Murphy’s investigating with Harry by taking some personal leave. Ramirez gets called in when the going gets tough, and even Elaine shows up because she was hired by the remaining cadre of women fearing for their lives.

And then there’s Thomas. He’s a main suspect of this book, which I balked at immediately. The evidence all points to him, but I love  Thomas and will defend him to my dying breath. I knew he wasn’t killing those women.

He was saving them.

Duh-Doi, Harry!

Dresden Warcry.jpg

Harry and  Thomas on the cover the of the graphic novel “Warcry”

So, Thomas is in the book a lot, which is always a good thing. And to be perfectly honest, any book that has  Ramirez and Thomas is almost guaranteed to be one of my favorites. I love snarky, cocky men. So sue me.

Anyway, it turns out there’s a plot by the White Court (Thomas’ type of vampire) trying to frame Harry for the murders so that the Court can move against the Council, as well as dethrone the Raiths (Thomas’ direct family, currently the leaders of the White Court). Harry calls their bluff and enters into a duel with the two vamps responsible for the murders, with Ramirez as his dueling partner.

Shit goes sideways quick, because it turns out the White Court wasn’t acting on their own. Remember Cowl, from Dead Beat? He was a powerful Necromancer that Dresden tried to crush with a car and couldn’t. Yeah, he’s back and he’s working for the Black Council trying to squish what remains of the White Council while it’s vulnerable in its war with the Red Court.

You know, when I started reading Dresden all those years ago, I never imagined it would get so political. I ain’t even mad.

Anyway, Cowl was helping from the Nevernever, causing all kinds of problems with a never-ending army of super-soldier ghouls. Pretty much the entire White Court, except for the Raiths, dies. Harry very nearly dies. Ramirez takes a knife to the calf and one to the gut and I almost cried. If Butcher kills Carlos Ramirez, I will riot. Thomas survives pretty much unscathed in true Thomas fashion, but he risks it all to save Justine, his former meal/lover of choice, whom he is madly in love with and therefore can never be with again.

Carlos Ramirez

Warden Carlos Ramirez, also in “Warcry”

That’s a whole long story that you should be caught up on if you’ve read the books.

But, the only reason any of them live is because John Marcone rides in with mercenaries and riddles the place with bullets. Oh, and plants a bomb to destroy the cave they were battling in.

I’m not really doing this scene justice, it was long and action packed and really well done, with lots of moving pieces to keep track of. By the end of it, Harry and the White Court are on thin ice, Ramirez and Elaine are hospitalized but will survive. The deaths are avenged and the practitioners of Chicago are safe once more.

And Harry finally finds out what the hell Thomas does to make so much money… He went to cosmetology school and opened his own Salon. Yep. Thomas, at work, is  Thomas (the French pronunciation: Toe-mah), a gay, French rockstar hairstylist. He makes the big bucks and is able to feed discretely without hurting anyone.

I laughed so hard, because it’s ridiculous and yet so perfectly Thomas.  The book ends with the brothers enjoying a laugh at the whole scenario, a rare and warm moment between them.

There are other developments throughout the book, including some big stuff between Dresden and Lasciel, and a coming clean discussion between Dresden and Ramirez. They had a rough summer in New Mexico when ghouls attacked and killed several Wardens-in-Training on their watch. Suffice it to say, I already loved Ramirez as a character, but he is now precious to me and I will defend him with my life.

Layout 1

Thomas and Ramirez working together in “Warcry”, because dreams do come true.

As usual, the narration by James Marsters was A+ quality. He had to read a really terrible scene in which a mother holds her dying child and his narration made me pause so I could pull myself together. It was… haunting. I can no longer even entertain ideas of reading these books instead of listening to them. It’s just not an option any more.

Needless to say, I love this series, and plan on continuing it until I’m all caught up.

Unfortunately my reading has really slowed lately as I’m trying to finish my fanfic before NaNoWriMo. But, hopefully I can finish The Stone Sky soon-ish.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

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Goals Summary Wk 41

Hello Blogland!

I’m writing this before work, so my time is limited. Let’s get right to it!

Last week’s goals were:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Madhu’s Chapters
  • The Steel Aramada chapter 3 edits
  • Start Sanctified chapter 29
  • Read The Stone Sky

How did I do? Well, there were two blog posts, including a Call for Submissions from The Audient Void! I think I actually pulled double duty on Madhu’s chapters last week, doing double the reading and editing, but I’m honestly not totally sure. I know I read at least 20 pages for her though. I finally did my edits on chapter 3 of The Steel Armada, which is proving very difficult to motivate myself to do. I also wrote about 500 words for Sanctified chapter 29, in addition to another 1800 words for an unrelated short story. So, not a bad writing week either, all things considered. I did not finish any reading last week, which is bad, because I am seriously falling behind in my Reading Challenge.

What do I want to do this week?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Mahu’s chapters
  • The Steel Armada edits, chapters 4+5
  • Finish chapter 29 of Sanctified
  • Read Audient Void submissions
  • READ The freaking Stone Sky

So, a bit more on my plate this week. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve already read one to story for The Audient Void, and let me tell you, this is going to be an experience. There are a lot of writers out there with a lot of stories. It’s really interesting to see how different people interpret story ideas, that’s for sure.

In addition to the above, I also have some tumblr prompt fills I’ve fallen behind on, and my Inktober doodles to catch up on! So, it’s going to be a busy week!

Wish me luck, Blogland!

 

BZ

Call for Submissions

Heya Blogland!

 

Audient Void issue 4

Issue #4, cover art by Allen Koszowski

Below is the official statement from Obadiah Baird, Editor of The Audient Void, regarding our open submissions:

 

Since the fourth issue of The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy is now out we are opening submissions for issue #5. We are looking for quality works of poetry and short fiction.

Poetry should be Weird or darkly fantastical with strong imagery. We pay $.35 a line with a $5 minimum payable upon publication.

For short fiction our tastes are broad and we will consider anything with Weird, horrific or fantastical elements. We will consider any length work but will be much less likely to publish stories over 5,000 words. Our rate is $5 per thousand words payable upon publication.

Please note that Weird Fiction is a distinct genre. If you are unsure if your work fits please familiarize yourself with its characteristics at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.Weird_fiction. We are not likely to be interested in stories that are simply strange or bizarre without belonging to the genres we publish.

To submit, please send your work as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file to:

theaudientvoidmag@gmail.com

Be sure to include a header with your name and email address. We do not accept simultaneous submissions and ask that you wait for our response before submitting elsewhere. The submission deadline is November 10, please do not inquire about your submission before that deadline and understand that it may take some time to follow up on all submissions after the deadline has passed. 

I look forward to reading everyone’s work!

In addition to my usual line editing duties, I have taken on the additional role of reading submissions! So, I also look forward to reading everyone’s work!

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The first four issues of The Audient Void, all cover art by Allen Koszowski

To learn more about The Audient Void, or to purchase previous issues, please visit our Facebook page.

Happy Submitting!

 

BZ

Goals Summary wk 40

Hey Blogland,

So, goals.

Last week:

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Madhu’s chapters
  • Revise The Steel Armada chapters 2+3
  • Start chapter 28 of Sanctified
  • read The Stone Sky

Well, it wasn’t my best week, but it wasn’t my worst either. I did publish two blog posts, including the review for The Dire King. I got Madhu’s chapters done, and wrote chapter 28 of Sanctified. I only edited about half of the page I needed to for The Steel Armada, and only read about 20 pages The Stone Sky.  I did start and finish the White Night audiobook, though, so there’s that!

So, what about this week?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Madhu’s chapters
  • Revise The Steel Armada chapter 3
  • Start Sanctified chapter 29
  • Read The Stone Sky

So, pretty similar to last week. But, I don’t have any obligations on Thursday, so hopefully I’ll get even more done!

I’ll be back later this week with the review for White Night. Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

P.S. here’s a picture I drew for Mass Effect Inktober on Tumblr.  Enjoy my terrible artwork!

Inktober Thresher Maw

This one is my favorite so far.

Book Review – The Dire King by William Ritter

Hello Blogland,

We’re here today to talk about the fourth and final book in Ritter’s Jackaby series. I have read and reviewed them all, Jackaby, Beastly Bones, Ghostly Echoes, and now The Dire King.

If you don’t want to be spoiled, know that I rated this book 5 stars on Goodreads. It made me laugh a lot, and I cried a couple of times. I think this was Ritter’s best book so far, and I look forward to what he will do next, now that Jackaby is concluded.

There are spoilers ahead, as usual. So, you’ve been warned.

the dire king

The Dire King finds New Fiddleham in quite a state. The Mayor has not coped well with the fact that his beloved wife was an Nixie in disguise for the last 10 years, and has decided to arrest every non-human citizen of New Fiddleham.

Turns out, the city is chock-a-block full of all kinds of faeries and goblins, giants and gnomes, and everything in between. When Jackaby goes to the jail and witnesses the chaos of so many fair folk behind bars, he earns his place among some of my favorite characters ever.

He’s furious, and full of this righteous anger that was beautiful to witness. “We cannot make the world less awful by being more so ourselves.”

That’s some powerful shit right there, and I had to stop reading for a moment to let it sink in.  I hope you do too.

Anyway, Mayor Spade releases them all, telling them that Jackaby’s house is the only safe place for them, so suddenly the quirky house on Augur lane is bursting at the seams with supernatural folk.

Including something that even Jackaby had never seen. The creature is called a Twain. It’s ancient and full of pure, old magic, and typically comes in pairs. It’s described as tiny, and furry, but bipedal. I pictured a tiny, brown Lorax.

the lorax

Apparently this is something that Ritter created, because I cannot find anything about Twains on the internet that aren’t related to Mark. And I have to say he did a wonderful job! The Twain, which was alone (a red flag for a creature that comes into being with a soul mate), was enigmatic and interesting, and extremely foreboding.

the Twain explains that his mate gave her life to create the Crown, Shield, and  Spear of the original Dire King, saving his life. Twains are incredibly powerful creatures created of raw magic. Giving their lives is the greatest magical act possible, and giving their life is the greatest gift a Twain can do.

On top of all this tension in the household is the fact that Charlie Cane is preparing to propose to Abigail, a fact that Jackaby makes a point to share with his assistant. I was pissed when he did that; you can’t just spoil a proposal! Come on , man!

Oh yeah, and the fact that the evil Unseelie forces are working together to revive the Dire King and sunder the veil that separates the Anwynn and Earth. You know, little things.

Despite all this tension, the book flies along, and I laughed a lot, because this book feels like a reunion. All my favorite characters from the past books come back. Hank Hudson, Charlie Cane, Hotun, Nudd the Goblin Pirate Captain, Miss Lee, among others.

So, Jackaby and company must figure out who the Dire King actually is, and how to stop him. Unseelie forces are growing, and even Jackaby’s ragtag army of supernatural beings can’t come close to beating them.

But, they get help from an unexpected source. Pavel, the fangless vampire that tried to kill Abigail in the third book. He was betrayed by the Dire King, and seeks his revenge. So, he leads Jackaby,  Jenny, and Abigail through a rend in the veil, and into the heart of the Dire King’s stronghold.

jackabt

He then, of course, tries to kill them, and of course, dies himself. But, not before he breaks Jenny’s amulet that lets her travel beyond the house on Augur lane. She fades away, and neither Abigail nor Jackaby know if the ghost could survive her dissolution from the Anwynn.

They move on, and discover the giant machine that the Dire King has developed to tear the veil. The key to the machine’s success is the eyes of the Seer, which means he needs Jackaby.

Things get out of control from there very quickly. Jackaby is captured, the Seelie forces arrive, only to be drained by the machine, and Jackaby’s militia storm the stronghold.

And Charlie Cane dies.

Yep.  I didn’t believe it at first. I freaked out, screamed, cried. Charlie was hands down my favorite, and I was not in a place where I was ready to accept that Charlie was dead. He never even got to propose.

I had to stop reading for a bit at that moment. But I held out hope. Jackaby had just taken a spear to the chest a chapter before and survived, so I thought maybe something like that would happen for Charlie.

charlie cane

So, Abigail is crushed, she watched her boyfriend die at the hands of the Dire King, and Jackaby is hooked up to this terrible machine that will use his Sight to destroy the world as they know it. And he can only see one way to save everyone.

When the Seer dies, the Sight goes to the person they are looking at. And so Jackaby stares at Abigail and whispers, “I’m sorry.”

He dies. Yep. People are dropping like flies in this book and I was not okay with it! Please stop murdering all my favorites!

And the Sight flows to Abigail. It’s overwhelming and beautiful and gives her what she needs to convince Charlie’s sister to join her and defeat the Dire King. The backlash of the power of the machine unloading and repairing the veil is too much for Abigail and her new capability, and she passes out, but not before seeing Jenny hovering over Jackaby, her ghostly hands submerged into his chest.

She nearly dies in the darkness of her unconsciousness, and the Reaper visits her, offering to take her to Charlie. But, Abigail refuses, because the world needs her, and needs the Sight.  Because she wants to continue Charlie’s work.

When she comes to, Jackaby is alive, resuscitated by Jenny who literally pumped his heart back to life in her hands. But, the Sight is hers now, for as long as she lives. Charlie is still dead, and the casualties to both the Seelie and Unseelie forces are great.

Alina, Charlie’s sister is made Queen of the Anwynn, although she treats it more as a Stewardship, vowing to make her brother proud and pay for her treachery.  But, Abigail is numb to it all, distracted by her new Sight and her pain at the loss of Charlie.

A couple days go by, and Jackaby is there for her, helping her learn to understand what she sees, but she’s hollow. She recognizes the beauty of the library now, she can see the magical auras around the books and understands Jackaby’s methods, but she can’t feel it.

abigail rook

And that’s when the Twain returns. He speaks with Abigail, acknowledging her pain, and realizes that Charlie was her Twain. He asks why she didn’t take the Reaper’s offer of death, why she didn’t go to Charlie. And she tells him that she could honor Charlie more in life than she could in death. The Twain is surprised, but vanishes.

At the funeral, Abigail sees the Twain, but no one else does. He walks up the center aisle and stands on Charlie’s casket. He looks at Abigail and tells her that he hopes she makes good on his gift and will use it to make the world a better place. Together.

The Twain drops down into the casket and there is a bright flash of light as Abigail sprints up the aisle.

THAT’S HOW THE BOOK ENDS!!!!!

WHAT?! Like…. WHAT? How can you end the book like that? It’s the last book!!! How can you leave me hanging? I mean, I believe in my heart that Charlie was resurrected by the Twain, but damn, a reunion kiss would be nice…

What this really means is that I really hope Ritter will continue his New Fiddleham stories. This is the last Jackaby novel, but at the end of this novel Abigail Rook is the Seer, and even the house recognizes her as a Private Investigator as she enters. So, all my hopes and dreams are pinned on the continuation of this franchise, but with Abigail as the Seer.

Please, William Ritter. PLEASE! I need more! I need more time in New Fiddleham, and I need more Abigail and Charlie! PLEASE!

Sorry this was so long, but this book had a ton of stuff going on, and all of it was important. I think this was some of Ritter’s best writing, and he juggled the multitude of plot points and character arcs really admirably.  I’m heartbroken that this could be the end for New Fiddleham, though I understand that he probably wants to write something else, at least for a little while.  I get it… just, come back someday? Please?

Anyway, I’ve got Audient Void business tonight, and am listening to the next Dresden book, and slowly reading The Stone Sky. Hopefully you’ll see another book review next week.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

Goals Summary Wk 39

Hi Blogland!

For the first time in over 6 months, I am here to share my goals with you all! It feels so good!

So, what did I set out to do last week? As follows, according to my whiteboard:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Madhu’s chapter revisions
  • Implement TSA chapter 1 revisions
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 27
  • Apply for position at a nearby library

And… moment of truth. How did I do?

I published two blog posts, including the book review for Proven Guilty. I not only got Madhu her revisions, but also helped her prep her query letter and a fellowship application. I implemented her suggestions and revisions for The Steel Armada chapter 1, and it’s much stronger for it.  I also finished chapter 27 of my fanfic, which allowed me to post chapter 25! And I applied for that job!

So, first week back in the game and I got everything done!!! I am doing happy dances over here, just so you know.

Now, what’s the goal this week?

IMG_20171001_213448

Exhibit A of “I Cannot Draw”

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Madhu’s chapter revisions
  • Implement TSA chapters 2+3 revisions
  • Finish reading The Stone Sky
  • Start Sanctified Chapter 28

In addition to the above I have some Audient Void business this week (issue #4 is out now!), as well a month-long doodle challenge on Tumblr. I cannot draw to save my life, but it’s proving fun so far.  I also need to think about NaNo WriMo and what I’m going to do for that. If I can get Sanctified finished by then, it would really help me refocus on From the Quorum, which is the project I’d like to work on for NaNo. But, we’ll see. I’ve got this month to write about 5 chapters and get this fanfic wrapped up.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got going on for now. Should that change, be sure you’ll hear all about it. I’ll see you soon with a book review for William Ritter’s The Dire King, the final book in his Jackaby series.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

Book Review – Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Hello  Blogland!

It’s a dreary Saturday here in the Willamette Valley, and I get to enjoy the view of raindrops and falling leaves from the lobby of yet another Starbucks. This one is close to my work, which is always a little weird because I see library patrons out in the wild. Not always a good thing, I realize, as my “Scooby Doo Villain” shuffles past me.

This week is going really well. I feel good. Accomplished, and excited for next week. I don’t want to go into too many details here, because I’ll be back on Monday to talk about goals and what’s ahead and all that.

So, let’s get on with the Book Review already! As usual, this is where I warn that there are spoilers ahead. Enter if ye dare!

proven guilty cover

Proven Guilty is the eighth installment of Jim Butcher’s popular Urban Fantasy Noir series, The Dresden Files. I’ve tried to read these books for the better part of ten years but always get waylaid or distracted. It wasn’t until I ventured into the world of audiobooks that I became rather fascinated with the series, largely thanks to the wonderful narration by James Martsers (Spike from Buffy the Vampire  Slayer). He is now my accepted canon for Dresden’s voice, and he just does such a wonderful job on these books in every way, it really revolutionizes them for me.

Plus, I can now call up Dresden’s growls of “Fuego!” and “Forzare!” with incredible accuracy at will, so there’s always a giggle just a thought away.

So, in this book, Harry is coming to terms with the events of the last book. If you need a refresher course, check out my review. He’s pretty glum in this one, and is trying to cope with a big chunk of self-loathing. The book opens with the Warden’s executing a teenager that’s used forbidden magic, another tense conversation between Harry and Ebenezer, and a cryptic message from the White Council about Black Magic on the loose in Chicago sets the tone of the book as pretty damn grim.

But, that all changes when the Carpenters’ oldest daughter, Molly, calls Harry to bail her boyfriend out of jail. Remember that the Carpenters are Michael and Charity, the most wholesome and good people Harry knows. Hell, Michael is one of the Knights of the Cross, and wields an actual magical sword named Amoracchius against the forces of Evil in the name of God.

Yeah. So, when Harry pulls up at the station to see Molly in all black Goth regalia, wearing a button that reads “Splattercon!!!” (Martsers read it, ‘Splattercon, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point,’ every single time and it was hilarious) the wizard is rightfully perplexed.

Turns out, Molly left home and is working at a Horror Film Convention with her boyfriend. But, things have been weird at the Con, and a local theater owner was attacked by mysterious means.

And so Harry is on the job.

It seems simple enough: find the baddies calling forth these mindless fae known as Fetches, who live on fear and so are manifesting as horror film terrors. All he has to do is a fairly complex spell that will bounce the Fetches back at the ones calling them, easy enough for the only practicing Wizard in Chicago’s yellow pages. Except, Dresden’s plan backfires. Bad.

The Fetches attack Molly, who had just been sent home with her mother. Where all the other Carpenter children live. Realizing what happened, and also realizing that means Molly must have done Black Magic for the Fetches to attack her, Dresden rushes to the Carpenter household.

Good news? Only one child was hurt, and he will be okay. Bad news? Molly was taken by the Fetches.  Best news? Charity is on the offensive and reveals herself as a complete badass. And I mean, COMPLETE BADASS. Chain mail-wearing, sword-wielding, faerie-killing badass.

Other good news? Harry brings in the whole crew on this one. Murphy, Thomas, the  Summer Knight and Summer Lady, and of course Mouse! It was awesome to see all these characters come together.

Dresden Files art

What was less awesome was that their hunt for Molly led them to the heart of the Winter Court, where it’s rumored that Queen Mab has gone insane. They run into Lea, Dresden’s godmother, who’s been taken hostage by the Mab, and shit gets a bit… complex from there.

Summer and Winter courts are on the verge of their own war, which keeps either from coming to the aid of the White Council in its war against the Vampires, which is going pretty poorly, by the way.

But, politics aside, they save the girl and barely manage to escape Faerie. It seems like they’ve won the day. And they did. But, Dresden and Charity both know there’s yet another threat looming. Molly used her magic to alter the minds of her boyfriend and her best friend, because both of them were addicted to heroin. But, mind control is considered one of the Blackest of Magics.

The White Council cannot abide the use of Black Magic. That’s why the Wardens exist. And Harry is a Warden. He has to report the happenings of his region to the Council. And they are very likely to call for Molly’s execution.

There’s a trial, and the Merlin has pulled strings and manipulated the system so that he alone represents the majority of the vote. It’s not looking good for Molly, and Dresden fears he might be forced to fight his fellow Wardens to keep his promise to the Carpenters to protect their daughter. But then Ebenezer breezes in, with the remainder of the White Council, and they take the votes from the Merlin.

Molly is allowed to live, as long as she is Dresden’s apprentice, and abides by all the Council’s rules. Should she break them, she and Dresden will pay the price.

There’s more little details throughout the book that set up side plots going forward, like Thomas’ mysterious new job, the revelation that Mouse isn’t a dog (although what he actually is has yet to be revealed), and that Murph lost her post as the head of Special Investigations.

dresden mouse

Yeah… he might be more than just a dog.

You know, important-ish stuff.

If you couldn’t tell, I really liked this book. I think it rates about even with its predecessor, but for completely different reasons. Dead Beat was amazing because there was a ton of really cool magic being flung around, and Harry resurrected a fucking Tyrannosaurus Rex. This book was amazing because of the complex political machinations happening all over the place, all with Harry in the middle. Where Dead Beat was a romping magical action flick, Proven Guilty was a political drama with some cool fight scenes sprinkled in.

I highly recommend this series, by the way.  Just sayin’.

I just finished reading The Dire King yesterday, so will have that book review out next week. I’m moving on to The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin, and will read Dark Sky by Mike Brooks after that. I’m not sure when I’ll pick up the next Dresden book, White Night, but I have the audiobook on my computer. I just need to load it onto my phone and I can get started.

So, I’ll talk at you all come Monday so I can go over goals and results, and set new goals!

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ