Book Review – Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant #2) by Ben Aaronovtich

Bloggos,

I’m in the midst of a fierce battle with a migraine. After a dose of Excedrin and Advil Migraine, I think we’ve reached a stalemate; I’m functional, but the damn thing refuses to leave me be. I’ll take it, since it means i’m not cooped up in bed writhing with pain and boredom.

Moon Over Soho is the second novel in the Peter Grant series, and while I enjoyed it just as much as the first book, I did give it a slightly lower rating. Beware minor spoilers for Midnight Riot (Rivers of London in the UK). Now would also be a good time to read my review for the first book if you haven’t already.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Moon over soho

PC Peter Grant is a magician. Well, he’s still an apprentice, but man can he make a mean werelight! His mentor, Constable Thomas Nightingale, was shot at the end of the first book which has him largely out of commission in this one. That’s a bummer for me, because I love him dearly, but he pokes his head in frequently enough that I’m not too put out about it.

Peter’s been busy while his governor is on medical leave. A string of seemingly unconnected deaths all have one thing in common: the victims were all jazz musicians. And while that’s the biggest case he’s working, there’s also the matter of the vagina dentata attacks happening throughout London.

Yes, you read that correctly. Vagina dentata. There is a pale woman running about the city who’s chomping off men’s dicks with her genitalia. It’s horrid, but the way everyone speaks about it, uncomfortable and dancing around it, is kind of hilarious.

And of course there’s the river folk and all their idiosyncrasies that Peter has to navigate. It’s been a very trying summer. But when he follows up a lead on one of his possible murder victims, Peter meets Simone and he’s immediately smitten. She helps him pass the time, all while he investigates the magical jazz scene in Soho, where she lives.

Now, let’s not forget that Peter’s father is a jazz musician and, even though Peter doesn’t have musical talent of his own, Jazz is in his blood. He knows good music when he hears it, and appreciates it all like a sommelier does a good wine.

I think that’s such interesting character development for this character. Mid-twenties, sarcastic as hell, mixed race cop, who also loves jazz. Say what?

Meanwhile, both Leslie and Nightingale are off screen a lot, healing from their ordeals from the first book. In that way, this book is really about Peter. We learn a lot about him and his family in this book, whereas, in the first one, we were meeting a ton of characters and establish dynamics and setting.rivers of london

I really enjoyed this book, because Aaronovitch’s grasp of London is really on display. When I read these books I feel like I know the city too, even though I’ve only been there once, as a teen. And it really makes me want to go back.

So, why not five stars then, you ask? Well, here’s why: I called the outcome. I knew pretty much from the moment a certain character appeared that they were responsible for what was going on in some way. It was a little frustrating. I’m not entirely sure if this was intentional on the part of the author, but I thought Peter was a bit oblivious not to see it.

That being said, the ending was really freaking good, and it set the stage for the larger, over-arcing bad guy of the series. The Faceless Man. Turns out, there’s another magician besides Nightingale, and he’s been a very busy, very bad man.

And he’s been training apprentices too.

dun dun dun

I’m slowly making progress on Whispers Under Ground, the third novel in the series. I also have the first graphic novel waiting for me at the library. I’m swimming in Peter Grant books, and am running out of time to read them!

I finished Bloodlist yesterday, thanks to this stupid migraine and a mountain of laundry that needed folding. I started Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and I’ve got the first volume of The Adventure Zone graphic novel just begging to be read. So there will be no shortage of reviews on the blog, especially if I get cracking on these Rivers of London books.

Sorry this one’s a little short today, but between the migraine and the heat, I think this is all I can manage. Talk at you all again Monday, when I check in for the weekly goals summary.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

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Book Review – Brief Cases (Dresden Files #15.1) by Jim Butcher

Blogland,

Sorry for the delay on this. I’m working hard to get The Steel Armada done in time for my August 1st deadline. And I’m working longer days at the library than I’m used to. Time to kick on those time management skills!

Brief Cases is Butcher’s second collection of Dresden short stories and novellas. I listened to it via my library’s Libby app which allows for downloads of ebooks and digital audio while simultaneously listening to its predecessor, Side Jobs, on CD in my car.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

brief cases

This book was a ride, let me tell you. While Side Jobs has a couple stories from side characters’ perspectives, Brief Cases really branches out. Luccio, Marcone, Butters, Molly, Maggie, and Mouse all have moments of first person narrative and in the audio recording, everyone but Maggie and Mouse have their own narrator! And of course, James Marsters is back and fantastic as always as Harry Dresden.

I really loved all of these stories, though Molly’s broke my heart. Being in Marcone’s head was really fascinating. He’s cold, almost unfeeling. But he has a code and he keeps to it. His motivations, on the surface, are steeped in his business, but deep down there’s some sort of emotion there; he just won’t acknowledge it. But you get to see how he thinks towards Gard and Hendricks, and how fierce he can be when it comes to their well being. They are his responsibility and he takes that very seriously. Marcone.jpg

I loved every minute of it.

Butters’ story was a little scary, but mostly sweet as he finds his feet on his first mission with Fidelacchius. Remember that Fidelacchius is the sword of faith, but Butters is a doctor, a man of science. He’s learning how those two worlds can blend and be a force of good. It was a very heartwarming tale.

And then there’s the last story, where Harry takes his daughter Maggie and their dog Mouse to the zoo. Each of them has their own version of events and their own antagonists to face while keeping the others in the dark about what they’re doing. It was really nice to get some time with Maggie, because so far she’s been pretty non-existent since she came into the Dresden world. Which made her feel like a MacGuffin in Changes, and not actually a character we should have any feelings about. Seeing her and her struggles (she has anxiety and it was really touching to read about) helped make her more real in my mind. And of course, anytime we can be in Mouse’s head is a good time.

There are, of course, Dresden centric stories in this collection, but if I’m being honest, I don’t really remember them. The Bigfoot stories found a home here, and now that I’m researching I do remember them, and they were good, but the side characters really have the standout stories in this collection.

This is something that has me concerned about The Dresden Files for a while, that I like the side characters more than I like Dresden. I find them more interesting, more compelling, I want to know more about them. I thought this would be a universal problem, but when I spoke with a friend he said he has a love/hate relationship with Dresden, that he identifies with him A LOT, but that he finds his arrogance and his lone wolf tendencies frustrating.

Meanwhile, I’m over here dreaming of spin-offs. Thank goodness for short story collections, huh?

If you’re a fan of the series I hardly need to recommend this book to you. If you haven’t read The Dresden Files, you might tell from my reading and my reviews, but I highly recommend them. They are fun, action-packed, and chock-a-block full of a wide range of fascinating side characters. This book is no exception.

I’m still (slowly) listening to Side Jobs, so there will be one more Dresden review sometime this summer. Then it’s the long wait for the next book, Peace Talks

I hate waiting.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be back this weekend to talk about Moon Over Soho, and hopefully share some good news about finishing this freaking book.

Until then,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 29

Bloggos,

This was an insane week for me! The most productive I’ve been in weeks and I am so ready to talk about it.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 8 of The Steel Armada
  • Finish chapter 6 of Sanctuary
  • Post a tumblr prompt
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Finish an audiobook
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 8 of The Steel Armada
    • YES! It took longer than I anticipated, with some very diligent writing sessions where I stared at the blank screen furiously, but I did it.
  • Finish chapter 6 of Sanctuary
    • YES! Whaaaaat???? I honestly didn’t think this would happen, but I got a second win after Gloomhaven last night.
  • Post a tumblr prompt
    • Yep. Actually, I posted two of them. The first was not my favorite, the prompt really fought me and I couldn’t really get it to come together the way I wanted it to. But the second one? Pure gold. Maybe one of the best oneshots I’ve ever written. So that felt really good.
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Yes! This was another project I didn’t think I’d get to, but I finished it up last night, before I dug into chapter 6 of Sanctuary.
  • Finish an audiobook
    • Nope. I’m getting really close to the end of Side Jobs, and might finish Bloodlist today while I do household chores. So, close, but no cigar. vampire files #1
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course!

Weekly Word Count: 8,599

Do you see that word count? Do you see it? How has my brain not turned to mush? How is it not dribbling from my ears and left me a gibbering mess? Instead I’m left feeling proud and energized and ready to tackle whatever comes next.

This last week I wrote an entire chapter of The Steel Armada, half a chapter of Sanctuary, and two tumblr prompts. I spread out my writing and that really paid off, obviously. I did fewer writing binges and had more steady sessions. I also was invited to join a writer’s discord server, and there were some sprints and really awesome and encouraging conversations.

I didn’t read as much this week, mainly because I’ve been reading a nonfiction book about writing, which has slowed me down a bit. Even as straightforward and concise as the book is, it’s no Peter Grant, so it goes a bit slower.

I’ve got two audiobooks on deck right now, as i have for the last few weeks. I’m really hoping to finish one this week, as well as the next Peter Grant book and this writing book. It’s one of those moments in my reading where things slow down because there’s too much on my reading plate. So, I don’t read as fast but then I finish four books around the same time!

The audio narration of Santa Sarita is going well enough. It’s a side project, something fun for me to learn and share with an audience I’ve already established. Voice acting is something I know nothing about, and I’m going forward with James Marsters as my inspiration. Now, I don’t have a repertoire of accents or much of a vocal range, but I’m trying damn it! And, let’s be real, it’s a ton of fun.

Madhu’s pages continue to come in, and we’re getting close to the end for both of our projects. August first will be here before we know it.

What’s Next

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish The Steel Armada
  • Finish an audiobook
  • Finish reading Whispers Under Ground
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Whispers_Under_Ground

I’m keeping it straightforward this week. I’ve got 8 days to finish The Steel Armada and get it cleaned up enough to send to Madhu for her feedback on the first of August. So, reading and writing only this week. No tumblr prompts, no fanfic.

I’ve still got a queue of book reviews to post, so I’ll be around this week to share my thoughts on Brief Cases and Moon Over Soho. I’m going to try to finish listening to Bloodlist while I catch up on some chores, and I’m working long days this week so I’ll have plenty of lunch breaks to tear into Whispers Under Ground.

Madhu’s pages might be late this week since she was having computer trouble last week, but I’ll be ready for them whenever they arrive. We’re too close to the end for me to fall behind now.

On an unrelated note, both Lifelike and The Cost of Rain are out still. The longer they go without hearing back, the better and I’m actually feeling pretty zen about it. Hopeful, but zen.

So, yeah. Another week in this writing life. Full steam ahead!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Midnight Riot (Peter Grant #1) by Ben Aaronovitch

This book was recommended to me by reader David, so thank you so much! I may have never discovered this series without your suggestion!

Midnight Riot, published as Rivers of London in the UK, is the first in an ongoing Urban Fantasy series that follows PC Peter Grant as he investigates paranormal crimes in London.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Midnight Riot

While guarding a murder scene, Peter Grant discovers a witness to the crime, but there’s a problem. The man is a ghost. Not the figural “difficult to pin down” sort of ghost, but the literal “lingering manifestation of the dead” sort. And to make matters even worse, Peter’s learned that he’s being relegated to a desk job.

Needless to say, he’s had a rough night.

That is, until he crosses paths with one Inspector Constable Nightingale and admits to the man that he’s trying to talk to a ghost. That catches the Constable’s attention, and suddenly Peter is out of the pan and into the fire; Nightingale is a bonafide magician, and has selected Peter as his apprentice.

He’s pretty sure Nightingale is bonkers, but anything’s better than desk duty, right?

But, as the months go by, there are more disturbing murders, in which people are being psychically controlled, and then their faces are broken to the point of death, and Peter actually learns to do magic! Turns out, Nightingale is the last member of what was once the Metropolitan Police’s magical investigations unit (that’s not the actual name of it, but you get the idea). They have their own headquarters, a big old house known as The Folly, where Nightingale begins the long and arduous task of teaching Peter magic. And latin. And history. There’s a lot more to being a magician than just saying funny words, you know.

This was an incredibly quick read, mainly because I opened it on a Sunday, a day off, and simply could not put it down. I credit that to the incredibly witty narrative and the tight and concise action sequences. Ultimately, the book is fun. Just pure, hilarious, and even gritty fun.

Peter’s first person narrative is distinct from Dresden’s because he has lived his life so far as an exceedingly normal man. He’s smart, with an interest and passion for science, but he’s also an underachiever. He was just a normal Constable until he met a ghost. Which is a pretty typical approach to fantasy, make the point of view that of the newcomer, so that the reader learns along with them. Peter Grant

But, it works really well in this book thanks to Peter’s dry sarcasm and his unique perspective as a mixed-race PC. His mother is from Sierra Leone and his father is a local jazz legend, brought low by a heroin addiction. Aaronovitch was sneaky in this regard, painting Peter as quite normal, the canvas for all the weird and paranormal to happen against, but as you get to know him, he grows into someone wholly interesting in his own right.

This series has a lot to recommend it. Peter’s narrative, well composed action sequences, exploration of local folklore and a wonderfully developed sense of place. The plot is really well done, original, with magic used in ways I haven’t really seen before. While there are similarities to Dresden (sarcastic magic wielders take on paranormal baddies), this series takes a different path to get there.

PC Peter Grant GN

I’m pleased to say that the second book holds up to its predecessor, as you’ll see in my forthcoming review. There are six books currently out in this series, as well as a novella, a free audible short story, and a slew of graphic novels. AKA, it’s perfect for me. I’ve got all the novels from the library, and have requested the novella and the graphic novels through Interlibrary Loan, because I cannot get enough of this series.

If you find yourself with a free weekend, give Midnight Riot (or Rivers of London if you’re outside the US) a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I’ll be back this weekend to talk about Brief Cases, and will have a couple of book reviews ready for next week as well. As usual, thank you for reading this far!

Talk at you soon,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 28

Bloggos!

Summer is finally here, at least according to the thermometers. Salem’s been enjoying a range of 90 degree weather, reminding me of home and filling me with a desperate need to find a swimming pool.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 7 of The Steel Armada
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Finish tumblr prompt
  • Finish a Dresden audiobook
  • Submit Lifelike
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 7 of The Steel Armada
    • *drum roll* YES!!!! I wrote over 2,700 words on the book last week and it feels so. damn. good.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Yes! I managed to squeeze in another 700ish words last night after our Gloomhaven session.
  • Finish tumblr prompt
    • Nope. Though, I did look at it, so better than last week, haha.
  • Finish a Dresden audiobook
    • Yep! Brief Cases is done and off to the next person.
  • Submit Lifelike
    • Yep! It’s been out for a few days and haven’t heard anything yet. I probably won’t hear more about it until next week.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course.

Weekly Word Count: 3,464

When I wrote this list down last week, I felt daunted. That was a lot of bullet points, a lot of hope on a whiteboard. But, looking at it now, I feel really good seeing so much of it in black. Six out of seven ain’t bad, in fact, I’d say that’s a win.

I didn’t get the book review up like I wanted to, but this is a new week, with plenty of time to talk about all the reading I’ve been doing! I finally sat down and really hashed out what the hell needed to come next for Val. The chapter went mostly where I expected, although the stakes did get a bit more dire for her, which is always a good thing in your writing. The stakes are high in Sanctuary as well, as my couple finally has a major discussion about their actions and what’s to come.

My shipwreck tumblr prompt is languishing in my google drive. I might bounce over to a different prompt, simple because this one isn’t shaping up the way I want it to. It’s supposed to be funny, and so far it definitely is not.

I’ve got two audiobooks on deck right now, Side Jobs on disc for car listening and Bloodlist on my phone for any other chances I get to listen to a book. I’m also almost done with Moon Over Soho, the second Peter Grant book, with the third one patiently waiting on my library book shelf.

Lifelike and The Cost of Rain are both out. I received word that the latter is being held for further consideration, so my fingers are crossed that the editor likes it enough to take it. Wish me luck!

Madhu’s pages continue to show great improvement and are a testament to all her hard work. We’re almost done with this read through, and then it’s just editing and then sharing the full manuscripts for a finally proofread before we ship them off to Tim the Agent™.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 8 of The Steel Armada
  • Finish chapter 6 of Sanctuary
  • Post a tumblr prompt
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Finish an audiobook
  • Review Madhu’s pages

This week I have two book reviews to share. First, the review for Midnight Riot, and then the review for Brief Cases. If my reading keeps on at this pace July will have a lot of reviews posted on the blog.

The next chapter in The Steel Armada is a bit of a blank spot in my mind. I know it needs to slow down for a minute and then things are gonna go crazy again, because we’re pretty much at the end. I expect the bulk of my week to be spent working this out. But, I’m about halfway through this chapter of Sanctuary and I’d really love to finish it. The same goes for recording the next episode of Santa Sarita.

I have ever confidence that I’ll finish listening to an audiobook this week, probably Bloodlist, simply because it’s portable so I have more opportunities to listen to it. And of course, there’s Madhu’s pages, which I always complete. But, I actually have pages to share with her this week! Whaaaaaaattttttt??????

So, yeah. That’s my week. Just trucking on, basking in last week’s successes and trying to keep the momentum going.

Wish me luck!

 

BZ

Editing Check-In #3

Hey Blogland,

I didn’t expect this post to take so long to get to. The last time I talked about this project was at the end of May; that’s how long it took me to write less than five thousand words on The Steel Armada. Yikes.

So, what’s the state of the book?

As of right now, The Steel Armada sits at 20,042 words. That includes the first two chapters, which will not be in the final cut of this story. Those chapters were really me finding my feet in this new world I’d built. So, I know right now that I’ll cut about 5,500 words when I get to editing.

I’ve started chapter 7, as of yet untitled, but I’ve got at least another 2k words to write for it.  Then there will be at least one more chapter, maybe two. So, that should put the final word count somewhere around 26k. Then subtract the two starting chapters… and it’s definitely a novella.

Now, here are my thoughts on this:

I’m focusing on one character’s specific storyline. There are more stories to be told, and who knows? They could all come together and form a novel, but as of right now there is no larger, over-arcing plot that connects them. But, I have the world and I have the people and the more I get to know both, the more stories will come. But, for right now? I’m just focusing on Val and her experiences in this relatively small arc.

There are some nebulous ideas swirling in my brain that take place in Exodus (the world I’ve built). I have a slew of characters (Val, Ethan, Mac, Reema, Marcus, Dorver, Mickey, Dean, Richard Elder, Mei, Cleric Richings, Moira… I think that’s everyone so far) and they all have the potential to have stories of their own. I think I will end up spending a lot of time in Exodus over the next few years, really getting to know them all.

This is the part where I feel the need to hammer out a plan, mainly because that’s my nature. I really like lists and plans. I want to have an executable course of action for any and every possible scenario. Type A personality, right here. But, writing doesn’t always fit the plan, and I don’t want to hedge myself in too much with my own desperate need to set expectations.

The (tentative) Plan

  • Finish Val’s Story
    • Madhu and I set a deadline of August 1st, to have our manuscripts complete and sent to one another for feedback. Once we’ve edited and incorporated each other’s thoughts, we’ll send them to Tim the Agent™.procrastinator
  • Figure out Exodus
    • This is a vague bullet point that really umbrellas a lot of stuff. This will be creating the organization for the project as a whole, outlining future story ideas, fleshing out characters and the world, etc. This also includes deciding if there is a novel in there somewhere, or just collections of novellas and short stories.
  • Prioritize
    • Once the above is done, it’s time to figure out what comes next. Do I continue in Exodus? Do I move on to my second novel, another giant rewrite project? Do I finish From the Quorum? Do I start something new? That’s a lot of question marks, which makes me nervous, but ultimately I’m excited. The Steel Armada has dogged my steps for five years; I’m ready to move on.

And that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve got just over two weeks to get these last few chapters done and get to the end of this story. I’d like to get it done sooner so I can do a few edits before I send it to Madhu, so… two weeks. Which means I really need to get writing.

The next time you hear from me about this project will be after I write “The End” on it. I’ll come back to do a sort of Project Wrap Up post, hopefully by the end of the month.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 27

Blogland,

Here we are, another week down. The time is flying by entirely too quickly, and from behind the haze of this migraine, this thing is likely to be short.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Start chapter 6 of Sanctuary
  • Write a tumblr prompt
  • Finish reading Kill the Farm Boy
  • Submit Lifelike somewhere
  • Record an “episode” of Santa Sarita
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! Actually, there were three last week, including the unexpected review for Kill the Farm Boy!Kill the Farm Boy
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • Nope. I did write a few hundred words, but that was it. There was a considerable reread and a few minor edits however.
  • Start chapter 6 of Sanctuary
    • Yep. Not much, a few hundred words, but it’s a start.
  • Write a tumblr prompt
    • No. I started one, but did not finish it. Again, a few hundred words only.
  • Finish reading Kill the Farm Boy
    • Yes! And I finished a whole ‘nother book on top of that!
  • Submit Lifelike somewhere
    • Yes. And I just received its rejection… c’est la vie.
  • Record an “episode” of Santa Sarita
    • No… I started recording then managed to get horribly distracted.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yes. As usual.

Weekly Word Count: 951

Yikes. That is not a stellar start to the month. But, I did more reading this last week than I did in all of June so I guess that’s a fair trade. For all my efforts yesterday I have a migraine today, so no writing to be had, but quite a lot of listening to Brief Cases, the only audiobook I have on my phone at present. I’m about halfway through it already, which means July is off to a very impressive reading start.

Now if I can just kick the writing back into gear.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 7 of The Steel Armada
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Finish tumblr prompt
  • Finish a Dresden audiobook
  • Submit Lifelike
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I should really add “record an episode of Santa Sarita” on there, but I didn’t want to add another bullet point. This is plenty. More than plenty, considering I only completed half of them last week.

I’ve got a long day at work tomorrow, a short day on Wednesday. I’m off Thursday and Friday and then work another long day on Saturday. My schedule is pretty weird right now because the branch I normally work at is closed for renovations. So, I’m still getting decent-ish hours, but have more days off. Hopefully I can turn those extra days off into productivity.

We’ll see.

Midnight RiotI’ve got the book review for Midnight Riot (published as Rivers of London in the UK) on deck, as well as my next editing check-in for this week, so expect to see me around a bit.

Until then,

 

BZ