I’m writing this before work, so my time is limited. Let’s get right to it!
Last week’s goals were:
Publish two blog posts
The Steel Aramada chapter 3 edits
Start Sanctified chapter 29
Read The Stone Sky
How did I do? Well, there were two blog posts, including a Call for Submissions from The Audient Void! I think I actually pulled double duty on Madhu’s chapters last week, doing double the reading and editing, but I’m honestly not totally sure. I know I read at least 20 pages for her though. I finally did my edits on chapter 3 of The Steel Armada, which is proving very difficult to motivate myself to do. I also wrote about 500 words for Sanctified chapter 29, in addition to another 1800 words for an unrelated short story. So, not a bad writing week either, all things considered. I did not finish any reading last week, which is bad, because I am seriously falling behind in my Reading Challenge.
What do I want to do this week?
Publish two blog posts
The Steel Armada edits, chapters 4+5
Finish chapter 29 of Sanctified
Read Audient Void submissions
READ The freaking Stone Sky
So, a bit more on my plate this week. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve already read one to story for The Audient Void, and let me tell you, this is going to be an experience. There are a lot of writers out there with a lot of stories. It’s really interesting to see how different people interpret story ideas, that’s for sure.
In addition to the above, I also have some tumblr prompt fills I’ve fallen behind on, and my Inktober doodles to catch up on! So, it’s going to be a busy week!
It’s a dreary Saturday here in the Willamette Valley, and I get to enjoy the view of raindrops and falling leaves from the lobby of yet another Starbucks. This one is close to my work, which is always a little weird because I see library patrons out in the wild. Not always a good thing, I realize, as my “Scooby Doo Villain” shuffles past me.
This week is going really well. I feel good. Accomplished, and excited for next week. I don’t want to go into too many details here, because I’ll be back on Monday to talk about goals and what’s ahead and all that.
So, let’s get on with the Book Review already! As usual, this is where I warn that there are spoilers ahead. Enter if ye dare!
Proven Guilty is the eighth installment of Jim Butcher’s popular Urban Fantasy Noir series, The Dresden Files. I’ve tried to read these books for the better part of ten years but always get waylaid or distracted. It wasn’t until I ventured into the world of audiobooks that I became rather fascinated with the series, largely thanks to the wonderful narration by James Martsers (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). He is now my accepted canon for Dresden’s voice, and he just does such a wonderful job on these books in every way, it really revolutionizes them for me.
Plus, I can now call up Dresden’s growls of “Fuego!” and “Forzare!” with incredible accuracy at will, so there’s always a giggle just a thought away.
So, in this book, Harry is coming to terms with the events of the last book. If you need a refresher course, check out my review. He’s pretty glum in this one, and is trying to cope with a big chunk of self-loathing. The book opens with the Warden’s executing a teenager that’s used forbidden magic, another tense conversation between Harry and Ebenezer, and a cryptic message from the White Council about Black Magic on the loose in Chicago sets the tone of the book as pretty damn grim.
But, that all changes when the Carpenters’ oldest daughter, Molly, calls Harry to bail her boyfriend out of jail. Remember that the Carpenters are Michael and Charity, the most wholesome and good people Harry knows. Hell, Michael is one of the Knights of the Cross, and wields an actual magical sword named Amoracchius against the forces of Evil in the name of God.
Yeah. So, when Harry pulls up at the station to see Molly in all black Goth regalia, wearing a button that reads “Splattercon!!!” (Martsers read it, ‘Splattercon, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point,’ every single time and it was hilarious) the wizard is rightfully perplexed.
Turns out, Molly left home and is working at a Horror Film Convention with her boyfriend. But, things have been weird at the Con, and a local theater owner was attacked by mysterious means.
And so Harry is on the job.
It seems simple enough: find the baddies calling forth these mindless fae known as Fetches, who live on fear and so are manifesting as horror film terrors. All he has to do is a fairly complex spell that will bounce the Fetches back at the ones calling them, easy enough for the only practicing Wizard in Chicago’s yellow pages. Except, Dresden’s plan backfires. Bad.
The Fetches attack Molly, who had just been sent home with her mother. Where all the other Carpenter children live. Realizing what happened, and also realizing that means Molly must have done Black Magic for the Fetches to attack her, Dresden rushes to the Carpenter household.
Good news? Only one child was hurt, and he will be okay. Bad news? Molly was taken by the Fetches. Best news? Charity is on the offensive and reveals herself as a complete badass. And I mean, COMPLETE BADASS. Chain mail-wearing, sword-wielding, faerie-killing badass.
Other good news? Harry brings in the whole crew on this one. Murphy, Thomas, the Summer Knight and Summer Lady, and of course Mouse! It was awesome to see all these characters come together.
What was less awesome was that their hunt for Molly led them to the heart of the Winter Court, where it’s rumored that Queen Mab has gone insane. They run into Lea, Dresden’s godmother, who’s been taken hostage by the Mab, and shit gets a bit… complex from there.
Summer and Winter courts are on the verge of their own war, which keeps either from coming to the aid of the White Council in its war against the Vampires, which is going pretty poorly, by the way.
But, politics aside, they save the girl and barely manage to escape Faerie. It seems like they’ve won the day. And they did. But, Dresden and Charity both know there’s yet another threat looming. Molly used her magic to alter the minds of her boyfriend and her best friend, because both of them were addicted to heroin. But, mind control is considered one of the Blackest of Magics.
The White Council cannot abide the use of Black Magic. That’s why the Wardens exist. And Harry is a Warden. He has to report the happenings of his region to the Council. And they are very likely to call for Molly’s execution.
There’s a trial, and the Merlin has pulled strings and manipulated the system so that he alone represents the majority of the vote. It’s not looking good for Molly, and Dresden fears he might be forced to fight his fellow Wardens to keep his promise to the Carpenters to protect their daughter. But then Ebenezer breezes in, with the remainder of the White Council, and they take the votes from the Merlin.
Molly is allowed to live, as long as she is Dresden’s apprentice, and abides by all the Council’s rules. Should she break them, she and Dresden will pay the price.
There’s more little details throughout the book that set up side plots going forward, like Thomas’ mysterious new job, the revelation that Mouse isn’t a dog (although what he actually is has yet to be revealed), and that Murph lost her post as the head of Special Investigations.
You know, important-ish stuff.
If you couldn’t tell, I really liked this book. I think it rates about even with its predecessor, but for completely different reasons. Dead Beat was amazing because there was a ton of really cool magic being flung around, and Harry resurrected a fucking Tyrannosaurus Rex. This book was amazing because of the complex political machinations happening all over the place, all with Harry in the middle. Where Dead Beat was a romping magical action flick, Proven Guilty was a political drama with some cool fight scenes sprinkled in.
I highly recommend this series, by the way. Just sayin’.
I just finished reading The Dire King yesterday, so will have that book review out next week. I’m moving on to The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin, and will read Dark Sky by Mike Brooks after that. I’m not sure when I’ll pick up the next Dresden book, White Night, but I have the audiobook on my computer. I just need to load it onto my phone and I can get started.
So, I’ll talk at you all come Monday so I can go over goals and results, and set new goals!
Well. Here I am. Writing a book review for the first time in months. Huh.
Gotta say, this is weird. But it feels damn good. If you’re keeping up on my Goodreads page, then you know that I’ve been reading up a storm the last few days. I don’t plan on slowing down, either.
Also, I had a bit of a breakthrough on the fanfic while I was in the shower today (of course), so I should make some serious progress on it over the next week or so.
My aunts have been staying with us this whole week, camped out in my writing room, so things have been a bit out of sorts for me. Even now I’m typing this from the kitchen table, listening to Incubus in my headphones while Trevor plays his video games in his office. I didn’t realize how used to my routine I’d become, but man, this week has put it into perspective.
I started a new short story, and it’s really rough right now. I’m not sure if it’ll ever turn into more than some weird little tale, but I had a really great time writing it, so that seems good enough for now. I’ve also been doing a bit of research on the requirements for membership with the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association) which then spiraled out into all kinds of interesting searches about publishers, agents, and magazines with open submissions.
So, long story short, my brain is kicking back into writing mode, and I couldn’t be happier.
Now that you’ve got the short version of my thoughts these last few days, have a book review! This is the part where I tell you that there are spoilers below…
This book took me entirely too long to read. I started it as a digital audiobook on loan from the library back at the beginning of April. I was in the height of my Mass Effect playing then, so the poor recording was left neglected except for when I had a migraine. The digital loans aren’t renewable, and of course there were a bunch of holds on it, so I couldn’t get the audiobook again. I told myself that, since I owned the paperback, I’d just commit to finishing it the old-fashioned way.
Four months later I finally cracked it open and finished it in a couple of days. Because it was good! I know there’s no point in being upset with myself or trying to feel guilty about my sabbatical, but damn. I could have been so much farther in the series by now!
In this installment, Dresden is tasked with fighting off the Disciples of Kemmler, a notoriously evil necromancer whose acolytes are all vying for Godhood on a particularly stormy Halloween. To make matters worse, Mavra, of the Black Court Vampires, also wants the “Word of Kemmler”, the necromancer’s book that all the Disciples are after. Within the book lies a ritual for calling forth the Erlking, lord of the Wild Hunt, and unlocks power that would bequeath enough power to make one a God.
So, a typical Thursday night for Harry.
But, shit gets pretty intense, pretty freaking fast. There’s necromancy galore, with zombies and spirits and ghouls running rampant. Butters, the coroner, tags along with Harry the whole time, and Thomas and Mouse are large players as well; a full cast of my favorite people.
Murphy is conveniently elsewhere for the duration of the novel, and I’m excited to see how her Hawaiian vacation with Kincaid went. It was obvious in the beginning of the novel that she wanted Harry to be jealous or to try and stop her, but he’s Dresden. He didn’t do any of that even though he really wanted to. He respects Murph way too much to audibly question her romantic entanglements.
Which… come on! Just kiss already!
Anyway, nothing is ever easy for Harry, and this book in particular put the wizard through the wringer. The Red Court did some dirty fighting to deliver a crippling blow to the White Council, almost completely decimating the Wardens. It was really cool to see the Wardens in action, and one in particular, Ramirez, was a new favorite character. Of course, that means his life is in immediate danger, because I like him way more than I should. Sorry, Ramirez.
Also, Butters gets ragged on by Thomas the whole book for being a coward, and then does some insanely badass shit in order to save Harry, including riding on the back of a resurrected Tyrannosaurus Rex whilst using his one-man polka suit to keep a drum beat.
Because Polka will never die.
And behind all of this is the longer arc of the war between the White Council and the Red Court, and the even longer arc of Dresden and Lasciel, the fallen angel he thought he’d locked away beneath two feet of cement in his basement. Yeah, she makes an appearance or three, and it’s some weird shit.
Anyway, I feel really rusty at this whole book review thing, but I needed to do this before I got too deep into the next Dresden book and couldn’t keep the details separate. Despite how long it took for me to finish this book, I really loved it. If you’ve made it this far through Dresden, are you really gonna give up on it now?
A sincere thanks to all of you that continued to visit the blog, even though I was gone for so long. I knew it’d be a while,but I didn’t think it’d be almost five months… But, I’m back now, and looking forward to balancing projects and getting back into my more productive routines.
I’m reading about five things right now, so I have no idea what the next book review will be. Probably The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7) by Eoin Colfer, because I just finished it. I’m also listening to Alan Cumming’s autobiography, Not My Father’s Son, which is phenomenal so far. I’m also listening to Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt’s first book, and enjoying myself. And I’m reading Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman.
Good gravy. I really am trying to make up for lost time. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So, stick around for more blog posts as my reading and writing reestablishes a working rhythm.