Book Review – The Master Magician (The Paper Magician #3) by Charlie N. Holmberg

Blogland,

I embarked on this journey with Ceony Twill and Emery Thane over a year ago. I found The Paper Magician to be a cute, lighthearted read that appealed to me for a multitude of reasons. A young, determined heroine embarks on a chilling journey through her mentor’s heart in order to save his life. Also, the mentor just so happens to be handsome, kind, and a bit of an enigma.

dot dot dot yes

But, while I enjoyed the first story immensely, the second one seemed to be a bit fumbling. There were a lot of characters that simply didn’t get enough screen time, Ceony’s decisions were almost indefensible, and the ending was… terrible. I had to take a break from the series, it was that bad.

But, here we are, finally ready to talk about my stalwart slog through what was supposed to be the final book in The Paper Magician series, The Master Magician. Beware some spoilers below.

Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars

master magician

This book was… frustrating. Ceony was foolish, childish, and often downright manipulative throughout the book. She was obsessed with Saraj, and unwilling to trust the people around her to do their jobs, putting herself at risk and allowing others to jeopardize their lives and livelihoods to help her.

I did not like Ceony in this book. I waited and waited for her to get her comeuppance, her karmic just desserts, or face some kind of consequences for her reckless and hurtful behavior.

… nope. She has a complete tantrum with her testing Magician, and though he’s snippy with her, that’s it. In fact, he sort of respects her more after she “stands up for herself” by screaming at him. She passes her test with only the slightest of hiccups. And all her snooping into Saraj’s whereabouts pay off when she finds Emery doing the same and they join forces to nearly get murdered, but end up saving the day.

Ceony’s ability to break her bond to paper and rebond to any magic is told to one person and then swept under the rug, never to be addressed again. And her completely pointless falling out with her sister is resolved by another stern talking to and the promise of hooking said sister up with her surly testing Magician.

Yes. You read that correctly.

So, Ceony gets everything she ever wanted, despite the fact she was a terrible person throughout this book. What really pissed me off about it was that her actions and obsession with Saraj are attributed to her PTSD over the events in the second book. I think Holmberg meant for it to come across as her seeking closure, that Ceony couldn’t take the next step in her life (passing her Magician’s exam, marrying Emery, etc.,) until she put Saraj and the Excisioners behind her.

What better way to do that than hunt down a known murderer yourself?

I also had problems with Ceony’s methods. She tracked down Saraj multiple times using her magic, which was cool to see, I guess. But Criminal Affairs, you know, the freaking magic police, couldn’t find him? Give me a break!

By page 130 I was prepared to give up on this book. Truly. I rarely give up, but I was so frustrated and disappointed that I wasn’t sure I could get through another 70 pages. But, I buckled down, got cozy in bed with a bunch of pillows, and made it happen.

And… I’m glad I did. This was not a good book. It was not a good way to end this series. I, obviously, have a lot of issues with it. But, those last 70 pages were fun and easily the best part of the whole book. Seeing Emery and Ceony work together to take out Saraj was really awesome, and it was written surprisingly well. I’m happy that Emery gets his happy ending.

I just wish Ceony could have suffered more consequences and had a growth arc of some kind. Because she was a petulant child through this whole series, and that was never addressed.

the plastic magician

There is now a fourth book in the series, The Plastic Magician. It follows another newly graduated student as she becomes a Polymaker. I am not going to read it. To me, it sounds like The Paper Magician all over again, but with a ‘different’ character. A young woman come from America to study under a mentor in her field. There’s romance, intrigue, and magic. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Reviews on Goodreads are mixed, with most folks stating they like the main character more than they liked Ceony, which is understandable. But that the plot was just meh. Which, I also find likely.

Ultimately, I have so many other books queued up, waiting for my attention, that I can’t waste time on more Holmberg books. At least, not for a long, long time. Maybe in a year or two I’ll come around and decide to give it a chance. Maybe.

Ugh. I hate writing critical reviews. I know how much effort and work goes into writing a novel. I know that Charlie N. Holmberg loves her characters like they’re children, little pieces of herself that she put out into the world. I’m sorry. I really did love the first book. I just… didn’t love the other two.

I’m chipping away at Kill the Farm Boy and Side Jobs, and Brief Cases showed up on the hold shelf yesterday. I’ve got Nightflyers chilling on my entry table, along with Midnight Riot, and the digital audio for Bloodlist downloaded and waiting.

I have a lot of reading/listening ahead of me!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 22

Ahoy Blogland!

It is a quintessential spring day here in the Pacific Northwest. Sunshine, wind, a smattering of clouds, and a comfortable 70ish degrees. It makes sitting still difficult,  but I’ll see what I can manage.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • Yes! I didn’t think I was going to cross the finish line this week, but the writing came very easily last night, giving my word count the boost it so desperately needed.
  • Finish reading The Master Magicianmaster magician
    • Yep! I managed to sit my butt down and give this book a chance. Turns out, the last 70 pages are by far the best. But, I’ll talk about that in more detail later this week.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course! This is the one thing I always do. Need I say more?

Weekly Word Count: 3,866

This week was a really good one. I committed to my goals and made sure I did what was necessary to see them through. I can’t say I do that every week, but I’m doing better. I’m trying, and sometimes I even manage to succeed!

Aside from the writing going so well, my biggest win of this week was finishing The Master Magician. I was horribly opposed to that book by the middle of the week, but I finished the last 70 pages in one sitting, and I even liked them! So, that shows that sometimes, you really should forge ahead through that book that’s giving you grief. It might just be worth your while.

Progress continues on The Steel Armada. I wrote quite a bit on it this week and it continues to surprise me. I’m excited for the scenes I’ll be exploring in the days to come. And I think I might have come up with a new title! But, I’m not sharing until I’m certain, sorry.

My husband and I also did a TON of work on our front yard this weekend and found time to hang out with family and friends. It really felt like I was Superwoman this week, capable of anything and everything!

That was until the rejections for The Cost of Rain came in. One last week and one this morning. Now, I’m not too bummed, I know this is par for the course in writerland. But, it still stings a little, yeah? It still sucks for a second, before you decide to buck up and submit it to the next place on your list. I tell myself this is the harder story to place, that it falls between genre lines and between desired word counts and yadda yadda yadda. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what I tell myself, I’ve already decided to submit it until it sells. So there, self.

It was nice to keep things straightforward this last week. It made buckling down and getting the work done that much easier. Unfortunately, there’s a bit more on my plate this time around.

This Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish listening to Side Jobs
  • Submit Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship application
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Thoughts

I really should add a bullet point for Sanctuary, because I need to make sure I actually work on it this month. But there’s a lot of bullet points on this week as it is, and that doesn’t include my non-writing goals for this week! I have to get my passport application turned in, work on the yard some more, and do some of the general house chores that are starting to fall behind. Yikes!

The good news is that I’ve got the review for The Master Magician for this week, so there’s one goal that’s good to go. I’ve also got a big ol’ blog post planned that’s a bit of a self-indulgence. I think you’ll like it though, don’t worry! I’m not sure when it will be posted, but I promise it’s coming.

Since setting my writing goal of 500 words/day, I’ve only fallen short once or twice. I’m really plugging away on this book, and so far there’s no end in sight. That feels good. Like, really, really good.

side jobsI maybe, kinda, sorta forgot I had the audiobook for Side Jobs. I’m so used to digital audiobooks on my phone that I completely forgot about the CDs in my car! I started listening to it Saturday, and am making some decent progress. They’re fun, though a little repetitive. Hopefully I’ll get through them quickly, since Brief Cases comes out tomorrow!

Yes, you read that next bullet point correctly. I am applying for the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. My dance teacher, Mrs. Buren, always said that you should always try for the things you want, because the worst they can tell you is ‘no’. That’s damn good advice for any kind of endeavor, but particularly artistic ones. And well, this was another unexpected writing thing that came across my radar thanks to Madhu. And since I wouldn’t have thought to apply otherwise, getting declined won’t sting half so much as some of these short story rejections.

And who knows? There’s always a chance they’ll say yes! “You can only catch fish that are in the lake.” More sage advice from dear Mrs. Buren. If I don’t apply, then I have no chance at all. So, I’m applying, and other than next week’s Goals Summary, I won’t be talking about it again until I get the results.

Anyway, that’s the plan. That’s what’s up. That’s the skinny, the downlow, the scoop. You know, all those cool catchphrases only dads and cutesy moms still use. You know the ones, the ones that say “cool beans” unironically. Those ones.

Until later, Bloggos!

 

BZ

 

The Recap – May 2018

Blogland!

I can’t believe it, but May has come and gone. Hello June! This morning, as I stepped into my office my bare toes found rays of sunshine that were so warm I smiled. That’s a simple joy, a promise of summer and the warmth to come over the next couple months, and I am here for it!

Now then, what the heck happened in May?

May Goals

  • Write 500 words/day for The Steel Armada
  • Write 2 chapters for Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading

How’d I do?

  • Write 500 words/day for The Steel Armada
    • YES!!!!! I wrote a total of 15,758 words for The Steel Armada this month. That’s just over 500 words a day. Now, I didn’t actually sit down every day, but I did write more this month than I have any other month this year.
  • Write 2 chapters for Sanctuary
    • Nope. I finished chapter 3 and started chapter 4, but that was it. Just under 1,000 words total for the month on this project.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yeppers. Lifelike is still out (day 41!), and I just received another rejection on The Cost of Rain this morning. Don’t worry, I just turned around and sent it out to another magazine. No tears over here!
  • Keep reading
    • Slowly but surely. According to Goodreads, I read four titles this month. Not great, but I’ll take it.

Total May Word Count: 18,545

I kept May’s goals straightforward because I wasn’t confident in my ability to meet my word count goals. But, I did well! I’m really proud of myself.

During this month I wrote a ton, outlined some chapters, and had a heck of a time corralling ideas into something cohesive. This rewrite is a wild ride, and for now I’m following wherever the characters lead me. I think I’m starting to see how it all gels together, but I won’t know for sure until I get there. Scary stuff, but fun too.

Oh, Sanctuary, I’m so sorry I didn’t get more work done on you. I may have to admit that this project is going to take longer than I initially planned. As long as I finish it this year, that’s fine, but a part of me was really hoping to knock this one out quick.

I did write a couple tumblr drabbles this month, which padded my word count a bit, but they were good fun and had good responses from readers, so yay!

Short story submissions are trucking along. I have a couple thoughts for blog posts about this process so far, so that will probably go up sometime in June.

Reading has ground to a bit of a standstill as I’m caught in a battle of wills with The Master Magician. I’m having a really tough go of it, but I only have 70 pages left. I’m going to make an effort today and tomorrow to just get it over with.

Honorable Mentions?


Betrayal-at-Baldurs-Gate

I’m wracking my brain to think if there were any extra-curricular activities this month. I’ve been table top gaming with my husband and our good friend Ben. One such game saw me acting as the “Game Master” for the very first time. I was nervous, but I had a blast, and I’m definitely considering running a game as a nice storytelling alternative when I need a break from blank pages and condemning cursors.

The blog had its best month EVER this month! Here, have some stats!

  • Posted 11 blog posts; 4 Weekly Goals Summaries, 3 Book Reviews, 2 Editing Check-Ins, 1 Monthly Recap, and 1 personal post about my laptop.
  • 525 views, with 406 visitors!
  • Links were clicked 14 times!
  • 7 comments were left!
  • 8 new followers!

This blog is a tiny thing, a determined little tank engine of a site that keeps chugging along despite its relatively low viewership and interaction. There are plenty of writing blogs that have thousands of followers and a number of views that would make my head spin. But that isn’t this blog. And that’s fine. I initially created this site as a place to hold myself accountable and to share my writing experiences. This year, I’m finally doing that. And book reviews, random thoughts, and opinions on fandom and fanfiction.

This consistency in posts is proving itself in the blog’s stats this year. Expect a post about it around the end of June, a sort of six month update.

Madhu and I have been going on biweekly Walk ‘n’ Talks. She’s a morning person, so we usually hit a local park around 9/9:30, before the masses, and march about talking about our books. We hash out any foggy areas in one another’s feedback and I tend to do a lot of brainstorming/thinking out loud when I’m with her. Plus, I need motivation to do more activity out of doors. I’ve been a bit of a hermit this month.

Which brings us to June.

June’s To-Dos

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Write chapters 4 and 5 of Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Straightforward worked last month, why change it? I am upping my workload on Sanctuary, mainly because I don’t want to sit on this project forever. I’d really like to have both The Steel Armada and Sanctuary done by November so I can work on something new for NaNoWriMo this year.

Short story submissions will continue until the stories find homes. It sort of feels like cheating making it a goal for the month, but I suspect that, as the rejections pile up, it will be harder and harder to convince myself to carry on. So, I keep it on the board. That way I’ll be reminded and determined to keep submitting.

And the reading. We all know by now that writing and reading go hand in hand. What’s the phrase? Can’t stop, won’t stop! Also, a quick shout out to the lovely folks that left series recommendations on my review for Skin Game. I’ve got the first Vampire Files audiobook on hold, as well as the first book in the Peter Grant series. I appreciate you both, and can’t wait to try these stories out!

As for non-writing/reading plans in June… I got pretty much nothing. Which is wonderful. We’re supposed to start playing Gloomhaven this month, which I can’t wait for. I’m trying to keep myself spoiler-free for this game, but what little I’ve heard about it sounds very, very exciting.Gloomhaven

Um… other than that, yard work, a couple of nebulous hiking plans, and catching the Farmer’s market on Saturdays. That’s all I got, but it’s wonderful.

Happy June, everyone.

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Skin Game (Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher

Bloggos,

Excuse me for a moment.

 

STARS AND STONES, THANK GOODNESS FOR THIS BOOK!

 

Ahem.

Right. Now that’s out of the way, on to the actual review. Beware some spoilers ahead, but let’s be real, this book has been out for almost four years. If you’re like me and arriving late to the party, you’ve probably come across worse spoilers on the internet than these.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

skin game.jpg

After two full books of Dresden moping over the events at Chichen Itza and the decisions that led him to be Mab’s Winter Knight, we finally see the Harry Dresden we know and love back in action!

Harry’s spent the last year-ish on Demonreach, keeping himself busy with homemade obstacle courses and shouting “parkour” at the top of his lungs. Let me tell you, hearing James Marsters yell that over the course of this book never got old. I laughed every single time.

Mab shows up and whisks Dresden off to a meeting with Nicodemus Archleone. Now, anytime Harry and good ol’ Nick are in scene together is damn good reading. Tension galore, and usually even more of sassy pants Harry than usual. You know how Dresden gets when faced with a “big bad”; snark-a-palooza.

So, turns out, Mab owed Nicodemus a favor? And as payment she’s loaning her Knight to him as he attempts to rob a supernatural vault filled to the brim with occult artifacts. Previous experience tells us that anything Nicodemus wants cannot possible be good, and Dresden does NOT want to help the Knight of the Blackened Denarius.

But we also know that Mab never reveals all her cards at once. And she’s always stacked the deck in her favor. So, off Harry goes to join a preternatural heist and he brings Murphy with him. Some old characters and new ones come in and out, including Michael, Uriel, Butters, Mouse, and Bob.

dresden-thomas
Who wouldn’t want more time with this guy?

This book felt like an old school Dresden book. There was adventure, forces of good and evil, sneaky faeries, and insane stakes and odds. Lots of sharp, humorous dialogue too. The only thing missing was some quality Thomas time, which I usually think is lacking because there’s always room for more time with Thomas Raith.

If you read my review of Cold Days, you’ll remember that I had a lot of doubts about Dresden and this series moving forward. Changes, Ghost Story, and Cold Days were all decent stories, but they were trying for me. I didn’t agree with Harry’s actions or motivations for most of those books and found my enjoyment of the series really depended on the side characters.

Skin Game does not suffer from that. This is the book where Harry gets his groove back, if you will. And I have to say, I am so glad he’s back! Of course, it remains to be seen what happens in the next book, since it still doesn’t have a release date, but for the first time in a few books, I have high hopes! This book really saved the series for me, I think, or at least revived it enough that I’ll be sure to come back for the next one.

I hesitate to say that this was my favorite of all the Dresden books, mainly because I loved Blood Rites and Dead Beat so much. But, I would lump it into a top three with those two in a heartbeat.

Here’s hoping that Peace Talks can keep that momentum going.

Yet again, James Marsters gave a stellar performance as Harry and company. I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and effort it must take to read and record these novels and keep the characters consistent across all of them. It really blows my mind if I think about it too much.

I’m moving on to the first Dresden short story collection, Side Jobs, just in time for the release of the second one on June 5th. Brief Cases appears to only be available in digital audio, which I am not okay with. I’ve got a hold on the hard copy book and suggested my digital library service purchase a copy of the audio, but have yet to hear back about it. either way, I’ll review it and share my thoughts with you all here.

You know, as per usual.

Honestly, I’m getting a little anxious about being all caught up on this series. I’ve had The Dresden Files as my back up read for so long that it became a sort of security blanket. If I ever found myself without a shiny new book, I could fall back on Dresden. Harry would always be there, waiting in the wings to whisk me off to Chicago for supernatural high jinks.

And now… now I’m done? I mean, yeah, there are a couple short story collections left, but that’s it! I’ve read all the books, I’ve read all the graphic novels. After these two collections, I’m stuck waiting for the next book like every body else!

Oh, God. That’s sounds terrible!

Quick! Someone give me a series recommendation!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 20

Bloggos,

This last week just flew by! Reading, writing, and helping a friend tackle some major yard projects while the weather was nice helped my time go real quick. We also finished a campaign of Arcadia Quest, which was a lot of fun.

But enough talk about fun, there was work to be done!

Last Week:

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • YES! This has been going very well so far. I’m not technically writing every day, but I’m crossing the 3500 word mark each week, so I’d say that counts.
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
    • Yes! Finally! This took longer than I liked, but it’s done and I’m ready to move on to the next one.
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
    • No. But, I did finish listening to Skin Game, so I feel like that’s a win.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course! She’s making a lot of quality changes and working hard on her novel. It’s good to have someone to work in tandem with; it’s inspirational!

Weekly Word Count: 4,803

I don’t have a whole lot to reflect on today. Rewriting The Steel Armada is going well, and I have some very nebulous thoughts and ideas about where the story is going and what format will let me tell the story best. It’s beginning to look like I might be taking a very roundabout route to getting to the real story, which is somewhat disappointing. But this is also a huge learning experience for me. This is my first novel, so there’s is a lot to learn.

But, I’m not going to commit to any further changes until I get more words down. I just crossed the 12k mark, which is good, but not quite enough to start making big decisions.

Sanctuary is coming along slowly. It’s the project I work on when I’ve reached my goals everywhere else and I still have some creative juice left. That’s not often the case, so sadly Sara and Reyes are taking a back burner.

I also opened up my NaNoWriMo project from last year and proofread it this week. It’s a crossover fic of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Mistborn: Second Era, just over 52k words. A tumblr friend is doing illustrations for each chapter, and then we’ll post it as a weekly serial, starting in November. Since we’ve got the time, I’m going to start doing some simple edits and fleshing out certain scenes.

wayne and wax triptych
Mistborn Era 2 triptych by Marc Simonetti

… You know, in my downtime.

I did receive my form rejection from the magazine I sent The Cost of Rain to, so there’s that. However, I console myself that the story “reached the highest level of consideration” before being declined. It’s a professional level magazine that accepts about 2% of the submissions it receives. I’d say this rejection isn’t all that bad.

I still haven’t heard back about Lifelike. It’s been 30 days. I’m trying very, very hard not to get my hopes up. Very, very hard.

That was my week. Lots of writing, reading/listening, and nail-biting as I awaited submission news.

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Start Sanctuary chapter 4
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Thoughts

I’ve got a couple different posts lined up for this week. The Skin Game review and Editing Check In #2. If I get any news on the submission front I’ll share that too. And you know, I might just have some personal rant or observation that might eke its way onto the blog.

The Steel Armada continues! Just writing away, trying to figure out where this story is headed and how I can help it be the best version of itself. I’ll have more on this subject later this week.

Oh, Sanctuary. I want to spend more time with you. I do. Maybe I’ll finally make some headway in this department. I’ve got a pretty good outline of events, I know what scenes come next, but the plot has (yet again) grown out of my control. The whole point of this fic was to wrap up the Santa Sarita series completely, not keep it alive forever.

The Master Magician is going kinda slow. If it doesn’t pick up and end on a high note, I might not bother with The Plastic Magician. It’s all feeling a bit underwhelming, so far. But, it’s quick and easy reading at least.

I haven’t received Madhu’s pages yet, but I’ve been promised some new scenes with one of my favorite characters, so I’m looking forward to that.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and my best friend will be in town! We’re going wine tasting on Saturday and I cannot wait! Other, non-writing things I need to do include figuring out where the heck my birth certificate is, applying for my passport, and enjoying the weekend with friends and family.

I’ll be back this week to talk about The Steel Armada rewrites, and to share my review of Skin Game.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

 

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 19

Bloggos!

I apologize for the silent weekend. I’ll get into the details of what happened, but for now let’s talk about gooooooooaaaaaaalllllllllsssssssss!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! The Cold Days book review is up now! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the Blackfish City review thanks to a god-awful migraine.cold days cover
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • YES! I absolutely killed it this week writing-wise.
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
    • Nope. Not even at all.
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
    • Yep! It was a ton of fun to write, and it got a decent amount of praise after it was posted. Always good.
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
    • Yes! Look for the review this week!
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yeppers. Madhu’s making good progress on her rewrites and i’m excited to see where this process takes her.

Weekly Word Count: 5,103

Tuesday and Wednesday were both very productive days, and Thursday I got a wonderful surprise in the mail that I will tell you all about, probably tomorrow. Sadly, Thursday evening led to a migraine that completely derailed my weekend. Friday I had to call out of work, and I spent the day sprawled in bed, half-asleep listening to Skin Game. Then we celebrated Mother’s Day on Saturday, which was fun, but I didn’t get any quality writing time until Sunday evening.

That didn’t stop me from writing over 2,500 words Sunday night! The rewrites on The Steel Armada are going well. It’s a totally different animal than the first draft and I’m still having a great time. There are some new characters, more backstory, and SO MUCH MORE worldbuilding. I think I’m in love.

Sanctuary was sadly neglected in the face of all this rewriting. I’m hopeful that I can get back to it this week. I did write a 1,300 word tumblr prompt this week, for the Dragon Age fandom that was entirely too much fun. I imagine it won’t be my last time writing those characters.blackfish city

Blackfish City is done and already returned to the library. I’ll have the review up this week. I pinky promise!

Exchanging pages with Madhu is still going well. We’ve become each other’s cheerleaders and have planned another Walk ‘n’ Talk for later this week. It’s nice to get out in the nice weather and discuss our ideas and concerns for our writing.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

This week should be pretty straightforward. Read and write. That’s it. I can do that. Basically all I do with my life anyway. I’ve got the Blackfish City review to post and a personal announcement to share this week as well. If I’m disciplined I should get The Master Magician finished up this week, just in time to read the new book, The Plastic Magician.the plastic magician

Otherwise I’ll just be working on The Steel Armada and Sanctuary. And avoiding my email inbox as I eagerly await news of my short story submissions. It’s been a few weeks and I’m getting anxious. I should hear back soon, so please wish me luck!

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) by Jim Butcher

Blogland,

Sorry this book review is so late. It’s been a while since I finished the audiobook, so there are only minor spoilers below. Beware that I am a bit Dresden critical in this review

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

cold days cover

Harry’s back in Chicago for less than six hours and he almost dies at least twice. The stakes are high in this book, as they always are whenever Mab is involved. There’s a lot of tension and fallout between Harry and his friends/family over what he did in the last couple books. It’s been a long year, and everyone in Chicago has felt Dresden’s absence.

So what’s he up to? Oh, you know, the usual stuff. Preventing a horde of spiritual inmates from escaping into the world and rending it asunder. All while coping with a power grab from Maeve and dodging the Summer Lady and her Knight. Oh, and it’s Halloween, so all kinds of weirdness is afoot.

Blessedly, this book is full of characters I want to spend time with. Thomas, Murphy, Butters, Molly, Mouse, and Bob all play major roles. Which is for the best, because Harry is on a slippery slope and it won’t take much for him to be on the fast track to unlikable.

I think that’s good tension, story-wise, but as a reader it is exhausting to read book after book of Harry internalizing all this supposed temptation. Dude. Molly has been your apprentice for years. You’ve known her for more than a decade. We get it, she’s hot. But you shouldn’t still be distracted by the fact. Move on.

The sexualization of every single female character is a big part of why I’ve stepped away from this series for a moment. I get that the White Court Vampires are inhumanly gorgeous. They are succubi, they are literally supposed to preternaturally sexy and tempting. And I have zero beef with Dresden spending a paragraph or two describing and coping with the Raith sisters’ insane sex appeal.

molly stupid stance
She’s looking at something slightly to her left. So of course she angles her body toward the right…

But Molly? Dresden has known her since she “was in a training bra” (which is his super cringe-y way to say he’s known her since she was a kid, btw), she’s the daughter of his BEST FRIEND, and yet every single book we get a paragraph or more to see just how incredibly hot she is and how Harry constantly has impure thoughts about her that he has to beat back with a mental baseball bat.

There’s a word for that…. Oh. Right. Gross.

And it’s not just Molly. Murphy is starting to get this treatment too. Now, she gets a lot more respect from Dresden’s narration, mainly because Karrin would kick his ass if it was ever otherwise, but now that they’re addressing the sexual tension between them and talking through the idea of the two of them dating, suddenly Murph is reduced to physical descriptions and lips that “taste like strawberries”.

Yep. Strawberries. After a crazy midnight ride through Chicago with the Wild Hunt and an even longer day coordinating movement against bad guys and helping Dresden, Murphy’s mouth tasted like strawberries.

I call bullshit. What did she do, pop an altoid right beforehand? Does she have a secret strawberry stash in her Harley’s saddlebags for just this exact reason? Please.

molly_wildcard
The most modestly dressed Molly is ever portrayed, but it’s all skintight. Because sitting criss-cross applesauce in jeans that tight is even possible.

This is a little bit of a tirade on my part, and I apologize, but this really took me out of the story. I was walking through a parking lot, listening to the audiobook in my headphones, and I went from cheering that they kissed to screeching at how preposterous that was. It made me so mad. It was a stupid little superfluous line and it ripped me from the book completely.

But, there are some really good elements in this book. Thomas is in peak form, giving Harry the patience, care, and good sense of humor he probably doesn’t fully deserve. Murphy is realistic and a total badass when it comes to standing up to Harry when he’s wrong and holding her own once she’s made a decision.  Molly has truly come into her own, and seems to have coped well from her time as the Rag Lady. And even Butters has grown into a character with some semblance of spine.

Queen Mab
She changes her appearance at will, but pale and icy blonde tend to be the favorite interpretations.

And, surprisingly, Mab was fantastic. I have never once liked Mab, in all fourteen books. I still can’t really say that I like her, even now. But by the end of this book I saw Mab as more than a force of cold devastating power, as more than just a mad, tyrannical queen. For the very first time, I saw Mab for what else she is; a mother, a woman, a person.

And man, that was a powerful moment.

Mab
Mab concept

I’ll be frank, this was my least favorite Dresden book. It dragged. It was fifteen discs, and only the last six were actually fun or enjoyable. Everything before that felt like needless preamble. Another big problem is that Harry isn’t as likable to me as he used to be. I struggle with him. He says, thinks, and does things that make me sigh and roll my eyes.

Increasingly, my enjoyment of this series is reliant on the side characters. And that is a dangerous thing for a series. I shouldn’t like the secondary characters more than I like the main character, especially in a first person narrative. I guess I just have very little patience for Harry right now.

Which is why I’ve taken a bit of a break from the series. I keep meaning to start Side Jobs, but I can’t seem to muster the will to do so. With Brief Cases coming out in less than a month, I really need to finish Skin Game so I can read the book when it comes in at the library. So, I’ll be changing my reading page once more to reflect my decision to listen to the fifteenth book in the series, and then the first short story collection.

I’ll be back this weekend with the review for Blackfish City. I’m excited to talk about it with you all!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

P.S. It should be noted that, once again, James Marsters narration was fantastic! I absolutely love his voice and his efforts to give each character something unique in their tone or cadence. I always know who’s speaking, even before the narration explains it to me. It’s the main reason I keep coming back to this books. So thanks for that, James.