Book Review – Changes (Dresden Files #12) by Jim Butcher

Blogland,

This book was yet another wild ride with one Harry Dresden, Wizard. Probably the wildest installment yet, if I’m being honest. Harry is at his most desperate in this book, his back is up against the wall, and despite his better judgment he pulls his best friends and allies into the mix.

This was yet another wonderful narration by James Marsters. I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks now, and it’s safe to say he’s my favorite narrator so far. I’m not sure all these Dresden books would keep getting five stars if it weren’t for his fantastic readings.

A point of warning: DO NOT read this book out of order. This book is very big on plot with a capital P. Now, thanks to the internet, I knew what happened ahead of time, which was at once disappointing and thrilling. I knew an event was coming, but couldn’t figure out how or when. I kept waiting for it to happen on every page. That definitely raised the stakes for me.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Now, because of the very… explosive nature of this ‘event’ this review is going to stay pretty vague for once. I really don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

Without further ado, and only a tiny spoiler warning, let’s talk about Changes.

dresden changes
Notice that, unlike all the other titles in the series, this one is only one word.

As Chicago’s only wizard in the phone book, Harry is used to trouble showing up at his door. But when his ex-girlfriend, Susan Rodriguez, shows up, he knows it must be something really bad. Susan was attacked by a vampire of the Red Court way back in book three, leaving her partially turned. If she ever succumbs to her vampiric nature and kills someone, she will turn all the way, becoming a terrifying monster and shell of her former self.

Ya know, typical ex-girlfriend problems.

Well, Susan shows up, and her problem is a big one. The Red Court vamps have taken a child, killing the girl’s family, and are going to sacrifice her in a Bloodline Curse. The ritual will kill the girl’s entire family. You’d figure, so what? Her family’s all ready dead, per the vampire massacre.

But, of course, she’s Susan’s daughter. And if she’s Susan’s daughter… you guessed it. Congratulations, Harry! You’re a dad!

Eight years. That’s how old Maggie is. That’s how long Susan kept the secret of their daughter’s existence, and it is the final straw for Harry. He loves Susan, but this deception is the breaking point for him. He tells her that, no matter the outcome of their rescue attempt, there is no more hope for them to ever get back together.

Real talk here, I would have that this was the case ages ago. But, Harry is a stubborn fool, and it’s never more apparent than in this book. He goes to any and all lengths to rescue Maggie from the Red Court, consequences be damned.

Admittedly, the motivation of “that is my child and I will defend her with my life” did not work for me. That child may be his, but she was kept from you, secreted away without your knowledge. She doesn’t know you, and as calloused as it sounds, you don’t owe her anything. Especially not when Harry draws so many other people into the line of fire for her.

Dresden cast
Illustration from the Dresden Files Role-Playing Game by CharroArt

But of course, there’s the Bloodline Curse to tie up any lingering doubts in that regard, of which Harry has none. Thomas joins in willingly to save his own skin, seeing as his relation to Harry would equal his death should the Red Court succeed. But, Murphy, Sanya, and Molly? Yeah, they all want to help because they love Harry, but that’s a big ask, man.

Anywho, the gang is pretty much all on their own since the White Council is dealing with big problems of their own, as per usual, and even Ebeneezer’s plea that Harry let this be falls on deaf ears.

Harry’s immovable will is on full display in this book.

And really, that’s the bulk of the tale. Everything that happens to Harry in this book is directly related to his efforts to save Maggie. There are some past secrets that get revealed because of it, and (without going into too much detail) Harry sacrifices pretty much everything to try and save his little girl.

I’m already halfway through the next Dresden book, and will hopefully have it done by the time we leave for Arizona. I’m making slower progress on The Stone Sky than I’d like, but I still think I’ll finish it before we get on the plane. Dark Deeds, the third Keiko book, is next up after that, and it’s perfect travel reading, so I’m excited for that.

The Iron Gold book review will be up either Friday or Saturday, so keep a weather eye out for it.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

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Book Review – Turn Coat (Dresden Files #11) by Jim Butcher

Blogland!

Welcome to another book review, this time yet another Dresden book as I slowly get caught up with this series. Maybe I’ll actually be ready when Peace Talks comes out…

I wanted to make a note about my rating system, since I suddenly realized that I am quite kind in my estimation of fiction compared to other reviewers. I frequently give out four or five stars. If I give a title three stars, it means I was pretty unimpressed by it, and anything lower than that you can just assume I did not like it. Period.

I should also note that I rate based on my enjoyment of the story, how engaged I was throughout the book, and how I feel about characters. My Goodreads ratings are not critical responses to an author’s craft or technique. While those are things that I take into consideration while reading, if a book is enjoyable I tend to think less about those qualities because I’m enraptured by the story.Dresden Turn Coat

So if you’ve noticed that my ratings and reviews are generally positive, it’s because I’m reading with entertainment as the goal. That and, well, I’m a generally positive person to begin with.

 

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Another audiobook narration from James Marsters that absolutely blew my mind. I’ve given up on ever reading this series in printed format ever again, and have stacked up my Dresden paperbacks for donation. No sense keeping them on the bookshelf, taking up precious space, when I know I’ll never touch them again.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s main plot line was predictable (I guessed the main villain’s identity in the early chapters), but the side plots and the outcomes of the main conflict were well done and though grim, satisfactory. These books keep upping the ante in regards to intensity and consequences, leaving me more impressed with each book.

So, without further ado, prepare for spoilers!

turn coat audio alternate

Dresden is minding his own business for once, when Warden Morgan, the Warden that dogged Harry’s every move since he was a teen, who trusted him least and hated him most, shows up at his door. Bleeding. Harry, being the unwilling paladin that he is, takes Morgan in and sees to his wounds as he listens to the Warden’s tale of being hunted by the Wardens and betrayal from within the White Council.

Morgan was clever in going to Dresden. No one would expect Morgan to go to his least favorite person, and even if he did, no one would expect Harry to actually help him. And they’d be wrong on two fronts. The problem with that, however, is that helping Morgan makes Harry an accomplice. Morgan is suspected of murdering a member of the High Council. Dresden is aiding and abetting him, which makes not only himself a traitor, but Molly as well.

Which means Harry has to figure out what actually happened before anyone figures out where Morgan actually is. As usual for Dresden, that’s easier said than done. Especially since Morgan caught the eye of a Skinwalker while he passed through New Mexico.

Skinwalkers, aka Naagloshii, are supernatural creatures from Navajo legend. In Turn Coat it is a powerful sorcerer and shapeshifter, a semi-divine being that reeks of Evil intent. It thrives on fear, gaining strength as its prey becomes more frightened. Dresden senses the Naagloshii’s presence but was unable to see through its veil. So, he opened up his Wizard’s Sight, and very nearly crippled himself.

Turns out, seeing the psychic and spiritual representation of a Naagloshii is highly unpleasant and could drive you insane.

hells bells
Dresden’s preferred exasperated curse.

But, Shagnasty, as Dresden refers to the Naagloshii, isn’t the only thing he has to worry about. His investigation of the funds used to frame Morgan leads back to the White Court of Vampires. And while he’s on good terms with his half-brother Thomas, Lara Raith is less than pleased with him.

Harry involves her anyway, pulling her into his struggle against the Naagloshii after the Skinwalker takes Thomas. Shagnasty,  wants to trade Thomas for Morgan, so Harry sets a time and place.

Harry uses Lara’s testimony and presence to trick the Council into meeting with him on the uncharted island in Lake Michigan. Harry calls it Demonreach, after communing with the spirit that resides there, and now has a connection to the island. he can sense what the spirit senses and know what the spirit knows, as long as he is on the island.

Pretty cool, and totally useful if you ask me.

By bringing the White Council and the White Court together, Dresden hopes to flush out the traitor, who he now figures must be a member of the heretofore unconfirmed Black Council. If all goes to plan, he’ll reveal the true bad guy to the Council, proving both the Raith’s and Morgan’s innocence. And, with the added firepower of the strongest Wizards and the White Court, just maybe he can get his brother back.

Well, in short, all of that does happen.

turnCoat_1920x1200

The Naagloshii is defeated enough to turn tail and run, though there’s no guarantee the creature won’t make an appearance again someday. Thomas is much worse for wear, reverting back to his most base tendencies thanks to Shagnasty’s days of torture, and he almost eats Molly. Thomas is swept away by his family, and we’re left unsure of how he’ll recover from the incident.

It’s revealed that almost every member of the White Council in the Edinburgh headquarters has had their minds messed with, at least a little bit, and though the perpetrator gets what’s coming to him, Morgan dies in the process. Dresden figures out who really killed the High Council member, but promises to take Morgan’s secret to the grave.

And, remember how surprised I was at Luccio’s romantic interest in Dresden in the last book? Yeah. That was because her mind had been tainted by the Black Council. She wasn’t really herself. And now that she realizes that, she calls things off with Harry.

So, basically, Harry is more or less victorious, but left without his girlfriend or his brother. It was a grim ending to be sure, and it made me extra eager to get on to the next book.

I’ll have the Changes book review out sometime next week, and hopefully I’ll be caught up on my reading by then to have a new batch of reviews ready to write. I’ve got most of a Craft Discussion post written up, and will post it this weekend.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

 

Book Review – Small Favor (Dresden Files #10) by Jim Butcher

Blogland!

I started to write the Turn Coat book review, and realized that I never wrote the Small Favor book review! So, this is my attempt to dig into the depths of my memory and discuss all the gritty details. Buckle up and get ready for a ride.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

As usual, James Marsters’ narration was splendid. He really is synonymous with Harry Dresden for me now. I’ll never be able to hear him as anyone else. Now, tread with care, there are spoilers below.

Small Favor

Murphy calls in Harry to investigate an explosion one cold winter night, and that is just the beginning of his troubles. Turns out, Marcone owns the building, and the mafioso is missing. To make matters worse, Queen Mab (yes, that Mab) has enlisted Harry’s help to find the mob boss.

Whenever the Fae are involved, Harry knows he’s in for a bad time. As Winter’s Emissary, Dresden finds himself the target of the Summer Court’s assassins, known as gruffs. Yep, as in Billy Goat. Except, bigger, badder, and a whole lot scarier.

gruff dresden rpg
An example of Gruffs from the Dresden Files RPG manual.

So, with gruffs of varying sizes on his trail, Harry has to find Marcone’s. The hunt leads him to Union Station, where some of the mob boss’ blood samples have been secreted away in a locker.  Dresden can use the blood to track Marcone, but first, he and Michael Carpenter, of the Knights of the Cross, have to survive an onslaught from the Summer Court.

Sounds straightforward enough until, Luccio, Commander of the Grey Wardens, shows up with the Archive in tow. For those of us that don’t remember, the Archive is a little girl whose maternal bloodline carries all of human knowledge. If it has ever been written down, Ivy (as Dresden calls her) knows it. And the fact that her train was at the station was no coincidence.

Nicodemus, leader of the Order of the Blackened Denarius and all-around super villain, has requested her presence to act as a neutral third-party in negotiations between himself and Dresden for the release of Marcone.

So, you know, as if Fae squabbles and Marcone AWOL weren’t bad enough, now Harry finds out that the Denarians are at the root of it all. Dresden just can’t catch a break.

To no one’s surprise, Nicodemus is a liar. He was never going to negotiate anything. He just wanted to get to Ivy. Despite everyone’s Herculean efforts, six Denarians is just too much to handle. They get the girl.

If Nicodemus was unwilling to bargain before, he’ll be impossible to coerce now. He has all the power. Unless Dresden makes him an offer he simply can’t refuse. If Ivy were to take up one of the coins of the Blackened Denarius she would be an unstoppable force of evil. He can’t let that happen, so he offers the only thing he knows Nicodemus would want.

All the coins the Knights have recovered, as well as Fidelacchius, the Sword of Faith that he’s been entrusted with ever since Shiro’s death. It’s a ballsy bargain, but it’s one Nicodemus can’t turn away. So, they set a time and place, on an uncharted island in Lake Michigan. Dresden and company head to the island, unsure of what they’ll find, but determined to be prepared for it.

Was Harry wasn’t prepared for was a sense of familiarity with the island as he set foot on it. He had never been there before, and yet he knew where to step to avoid detection, knew that the Denarians were awaiting him at the dilapidated cottage at the base of the wrecked lighthouse.

dresden lighthouse
That looks about right. Creepy af.

Luccio explained the phenomenon, telling Harry that it meant that the island would be important to him sometime in his life. It was an ability some wizards got as they aged and gained experience. Not foresight exactly, but almost a stronger version on deja-vu.

Both Marcone and Ivy were on the island, both worse for wear. The Denarians were torturing the child in an effort to get her to accept one of the coins, to accept the Fallen Angel into her mind and soul. So far they had been unsuccessful, but it was only a matter of time before the child broke.

So, Dresden did what he does whenever he sees an innocent in trouble: Raised hell.

It’s an epic battle, in a really cool setting that’s just as creepy as the Denarians themselves. As planned, Marcone’s people fly in to extract Harry, Sanya, Murphy, Michael, and the two abductees. Of course, Dresden insists on going last, sending Michael up before him.

Except, the Denarians have no intent to let them go that easy. They shoot Michael as he’s being lifted up into the helicopter, and Marcone’s people are forced to leave, abandoning Dresden on the island. That’s about the time when the Eldest Gruff shows up.

Nothing can ever be simple for Dresden.

jelly in thy donutHe talks his way out of a duel with the gruff, and even gets a doughnut out of it (not even kidding), and then nearly kills Nicodemus, but the Denarians daughter interrupts just in tame for Harry to get rescued by Murphy and Thomas. Whether or not Nicodemus survived strangulation and unconsciousness in the lake remains to be seen.

The book ends with Harry checking in on Michael, who’s in surgery. He’ll live, but the prognosis isn’t good. Sanya, the only other Knight of the Cross, gives Harry Michael’s sword, Amoracchius, to keep with Shiro’s. Michael Carpenter, though alive, will never be able to wield it again.

As Harry wallows in guilt over the state of his friend, Annastasia Luccio comes to him and suggests that they get something to eat. It’s been a long day, and as the dinner goes well, it turns into a long night as well.

Now, I have to say something about that end scene. I was not happy. First of all, Luccio is his commander. You don’t sleep with your boss, Harry! Second of all, that seemed like a really weird thing for Luccio to do, in my opinion.  I mean, yeah, she’s in that young body now, and yadda yadda yadda, but still. This woman has been austere and severe the whole time we’ve known her. It rankles.

Also, one of your best friends is mortally wounded, because of something you dragged him into, and you’re getting laid? Harry. You’re better than this.

But, these tidbits aside, this book was quite wonderful. It did a lot of setting up for the future, which is typical of Dresden books. They’re always setting the stage for the next thing, always turning things up to eleven.

A lot of my favorite characters were in this one, and for the first time I found myself very emotionally invested in the series. I cried when Michael got hurt. I don’t even consider him one of my favorite characters, but dammit, he didn’t deserve that.

I felt like this book was probably one of the more intense installments. What I didn’t know was that it was really just the primer course for the next two.

I finished Changes today, and will have the review for both it and Turn Coat out sometime next week. Thanks for reading, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

 

 

Book Review – Dark Sky (Keiko #2) by Mike Brooks

Hello Blogland!

Welcome to the long overdue review of the second Keiko book, Dark Sky. If you haven’t read my review of the first book, Dark Run, now is the time to pop on over and check it out.

Dark Sky
Spoilers below!

You know what they say about the second creative endeavor, the supposed sophomore slump. I would say that Brooks was not affected by that particular expectation. I found Dark Sky to be just as good, if not better than the first book, which is a rare treat indeed.  I think that the book really benefited from the character introductions and development from the first book, so that there was no awkward reacquainting when I opened this book. I immediately felt at home with Ichabod and company, despite the many months between reading the first and second book.

So, what are Ichabod and his crew up to?

Why, gambling their hard earned money away on the Red Star planet New Samara, that’s what! While Apirana and Kuai heal from the damage they took at the end of the first book, Ichabod plays the high stakes games, and does well enough for himself to draw the eye of the casino’s owner. Or at least, that’s what he thinks.

New Samara
This is Monaco, but New Samara is the Monaco of space, so…

But, really, how many purple-haired Mexicans with a bionic eye do you think there are? Even in this imaginative take on the future. Safe to say, Ichabod stands out.

So, this casino big-wig who reeks of the Russian mafia has selected Ichabod for a little job. Because of course the captain can’t just gamble and drink in peace. It sounds easy enough, and the payout’s good, but what he really wants is a quick, easy job to instill some confidence in his crew again. the morale and trust of the Keiko’s crew really took a beating in Dark Run. Apirana and Kuai got shot, Ichabod was revealed to be Gabriel Drake, a pirate notorious for spacing his entire crew in order to escape the authorities, and Micah, the eastern European merc, died.

That’s a lot of hits in one book. Ichabod hopes that this little job, just some light intelligence smuggling, will restore his crew’s faith in him.

Yeah… about that. He really should know by now that nothing is ever simple for him.

So, he gathers the crew and they fly to the nearby mining planet Uragan. It’s a grim world, with the entire populace living in various levels under the surface in order to avoid the planet’s giant dust storms. Foreigners aren’t a common sight, but citizens with missing limbs replaced with metal are. Even in the future, mining is a hazardous profession.

The plan is to get on the planet, get the information, and get back to New Samara before a massive hurricane shuts down all travel from the planet. They’ve got two days. Tick. Tock.

But, when the informant plans to double-cross the casino head, Ichabod agrees to take the man and his husband away from Uragan. It’s more cash! He still gets the intel for the original job, and the added pay for smuggling the informant off the planet. Win-win!

Ichabod, Jia, and Kuai go to the local bar for celebratory drinks while Jenna, Apriana, and Rourke stay at the hotel to prep for their departure the next morning. The crew, for once, is separated. So of course that’s when the revolution starts.

Uragan

Rebels take to the streets, attacking the unprepared Politsiya. Ichabod just wants to get back to the hotel, to regroup, but anyone out on the street is a target for the police. Rourke just wants to obey the official communications commanding that all citizens stay indoors, but the hotel owner kicks them out, because he wasn’t supposed to accept foreigners anyway.

Long story short, Ichabod, in an effort to keep himself and the Chang twins alive, sides with the Politsiya, ingratiating himself with the police chief Alim Muradov. Meanwhile, Rourke finds herself helping the resistance in order to get her half of the crew through the locked down level, up to the docks, and back to the Jonah (their shuttle).

This book follows both sides of the crew as they fight and struggle to get back to their shuttle so they can get off the planet before the storm hits.

The majority of the book bounces between the two separated groups of the crew. Jenna and Apirana discuss the growing tension between them as they realize they both have feelings for the other (I squealed a lot during these super awkward conversations; I live for this kind of crap), and the Chang twins get a lot more time on screen, which was nice because they weren’t very prevalent in the first book. We also get more details on Jenna and Rourke’s pasts, which is always a good thing, since the whole crew is unlikely to speak about it given the Keiko’s one rule: don’t ask questions about the past.

But, what I really enjoyed is how Ichabod brought Alim Muradov onto the crew. Brooks developed his character well, making him someone I liked very much. I didn’t want to say goodbye to him, and since there was a gap in the crew ever since Micah died, I didn’t have to!

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

I’m looking forward to how Muradov assimilates to life on a smuggling ship after devoting his life to military and public service. should make for some nice tension in the next book, Dark Deeds.

Dark Deeds

My plan is to get caught up on my book reviews this week, so keep a weather eye out for more posts!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – The Children of Men by P.D. James

Hey Blogland!

Today I’ve got a quick book review for you.  So buckle up!

The Children of Men book
How creepy is this cover?

You might have heard of P.D. James, famous for her extremely popular Adam Dalgliesh mystery series. I’ve never read anything from her before, but The Children of Men has been on my To Be Read (TBR) list for years. Why?

Because of the 2006 film adaptation, directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Clive Owen. I remember seeing it in theaters with my mother as a impressionable sixteen year old and just being completely blown away by it.

Cuaron’s interpretation was a bleak, dystopian world in which women were no longer able to conceive. Humanity fell apart in the face of its looming death as no children were born for over 20 years. Until Clive Owen’s character, Theo Falon, is tasked with escorting a young woman out of the harsh, Dictator-ruled UK. Why?

Well, because she’s pregnant.

The film was very war torn and grizzly. Military police are terrifying, refugees are shown in their total desperation as resources are kept from them in favor of UK nationals. People die horrible deaths, and the previously uninvolved, apathetic Theo finds purpose for the first time in his life.

The children of men alternate
Alternate film adaptation cover

It’s the ultimate hope in the face of adversity film. I couldn’t get enough of it. The story enraptured me, and played in loops in my imagination for weeks after I saw it (Side Note: my mother hated it). So, when I learned that it was based on a book, well, I knew I had to read it.

Fast forward twelve years and I finally found time, and a copy of the audiobook. I decided to finally give it a shot.

Um… Oops.

Turns out, P.D. James’ dystopian novel is so far removed from Cuaron’s riveting film that I consistently fell asleep during its narration. Theo is there, as is his Dictator cousin Xan Lyppiatt. But, Julian was never Theo’ wife, and she’s the one that’s pregnant. There is no character of Kee, no young girl being swept away from everything she’d ever known.

Instead, there’ s a group of five dissenters who plan to overthrow Xan due to a number of political concerns. Julian is the wife of their leader, and as the book continues, it’s revealed that she’s pregnant, but not with her husband’s child.

Which actually brings me to my biggest issue with book. The novel is told in two narrative styles, the first being first person as Theo writes in his diary. The second is a typical third person limited. Regardless, Theo’s opinions and viewpoints on women are made clear as he discusses his tiresome ex-wife, his lack of feeling for his mother, and his descriptions of the women he encounters throughout the book. Almost all of his depictions of women focus on their physical appearance and how dissatisfying he finds them.

But, Theo finds pretty much everything dissatisfying.

The Children of men explosion
Yeah, Theo’s diary never mentioned bombings!

Another interesting difference between the film and the novel is that in Cuaron’s film women are the infertile ones, while in the book it is men who have gone sterile. I’d like to think that it’s this global condemnation of men’s virility that fosters Theo’s dislike of women, that P.D. James played a long game in bringing about the conversation of the perceptions of masculinity’s role in the wielding of power.

But, by the end of the book, I’m not convinced. I’m more inclined to think that Mrs. James may have actually thought critically of women herself.

The narrative rambles, taking rests in places that don’t appear to really matter in any capacity other than to world-build. Which, isn’t really necessary. It’s 2021 in Oxford, UK. I know that the book was written in the 90s, but even then, you don’t need considerable setting description to bring it to life for the reader. It’s a near future UK setting. Cool. Got it.

Oh. We’re talking about the country again? Yep. Uh-huh. Ayup. That’s a copse of trees, you got it.

Now, I know that British storytelling traditions are different than American ones. Words aren’t/weren’t at such a premium, there’s typically much more description and contemplation of those descriptions by the narrator. But I feel that James sacrificed potential action and narrative interest in favor of long-winded musings of a 50 year old white male who doesn’t really have any skin in this game.

Oh, wait! Except he does. Because, obviously, he falls in love with Julian and his overflowing adoration compels him to remain by her side through it all. He’s literally spent a total of maybe three hours in this woman’s presence, but he’s risking everything to keep her safe until her baby is born.

Ok. Sure.

Anyway, the cuckold husband leaves them to report their whereabouts to Xan, so Theo, the midwife, and Julian make a run for it. The midwife is murdered by Xan, but he’s too late to witness the birth.

Full disclosure: These last ten minutes of the book were by far the best.

So, Xan and his cousin Theo face off, pistols drawn. Theo is ready to die to protect Julian and the child. But, the baby cries, distracting Xan with a sound no one has heard in over 20 years, and Theo takes the chance to kill him. Shocked, he takes the ring from Xan’s hand, basically crowning himself as Britain’s new leader. Then he returns to Julian’s side, only to reveal what I already knew.

Theo never had purpose. He never felt truly passionate about anything. He was never a full member of the five dissenters, he didn’t care about their causes. He only cared about Julian and her child. And as he returns to her, and she sees the ring, she realizes what has happened. When she asks what he’s going to do, he basically alludes that he’s going to do basically nothing different than Xan would have done. Except that they’ll be together and she will never want for anything ever again.

Which was never what Julian cared about. She had been an actual revolutionary, wanting more for the people of Britain.

So, I guess, in the end, men are proven to be redundant and incapable of change? I don’t know. I think I came to this book prepared to analyze and pick it apart looking for the meaning and the social commentary that was so abundant in Cuaron’s film. I can’t really say whether it’s there or not. I want it to be, but if it is, it’s as unorganized and unclear as the rest of the narrative.

The children of men Kee

Cuaron has admitted in interviews that, once he heard the original premise of The Children of Men, that humanity had become infertile and that society crumbled as a consequence, he absolutely refused to read the source material. He kept a couple character names, but switched their roles around, and really let the premise and the current political and social climate stew in his mind to create the film.

I am so thankful for that. This couldn’t be further from the novel. It’s the one case where I would absolutely say that the film is 100% better than book. I never say that.

It should be noted that P.D. James did enjoy and approve of Cuaron’s adaptation.

This book received my lowest rating on Goodreads. I’d suggest you just watch the film and call it good. Goodreads Rating: 2/5 Stars.

Luckily, my other reads in 2018 so far have been quite lovely. Keep an eye out for forthcoming reviews!

 

BZ

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

 

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