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

Blogland,

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

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

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

brief cases

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

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

I loved every minute of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then,

 

BZ

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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.

 

 

Book Review – Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13) by Jim Butcher

I almost forgot about this book review. I was so excited that I finished reading The Stone Sky and Dark Deeds that I was going to write both of those instead. Depending on how the week goes, I still might.

ghost story

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

This book was probably my least favorite Dresden book so far. That makes it sound like a bad book, which I don’t think is actually fair. It is not a bad book. In fact, as far as action, plot, and character development are concerned, it’s a really good book. But, by the end, I found myself asking, was it really necessary?

I mean, it was good to see Dresden finally realize the ramifications of his actions, to see how much his decisions (good or bad) affect the people around him. I did not like seeing Murph, Molly, and Thomas in their various states throughout this book, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessary for Dresden nor good for the story.

It was also nice to see Mort again, reunite with some old faves like Butters and the Alphas, and meet new folks like Sir Stewart and Daniel Carpenter. There were some interesting viewpoints explored and some good character development that might not have happened otherwise.

But overall this book just left me with a big old question mark over my head. Was this really necessary? Did anything in this book matter to what came before? Will it matter to what comes after? I’m unsure. I’ve started Cold Days, but just barely, so there’s nothing to report on that front.

I think what made this book so difficult for me is that, despite the Dresden first person POV, this book wasn’t really about Harry. It was about his friends and allies, all characters I love, but am unused to having such a priority in the narrative.

I should mention that I still thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book. It was a good story, and I’m always happy to be in Dresden’s world, especially if James Marsters is narrating it. I had to join Audible to get the Marsters version, because the original recording was with a different voice actor. There was no way, after twelve books with Marsters’ fantastic readings, that I could listen to somebody else pretend to be Dresden. To me, it was worth the effort to sign up and get the 30-day trial.

By now you’ve probably noticed that I am avoiding any concrete details in this review. That’s because this book is one great big spoiler. I will do my best, going forward, to keep spoilers in my reviews from being too egregious. I don’t want to accidentally ruin anything for anyone, especially in a series this long. It’s a lot of time and dedication to read/listen to all of these books. I refuse to be the person that let’s the cat out of the proverbial bag.

Later this week I’ll post the review for The Stone Sky. If all goes well with my goals for the week, I might post the Dark Deeds review. If not, it’ll get slated for next week.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

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.

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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 – 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!

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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 – Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Hello  Blogland!

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

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

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

proven guilty cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so Harry is on the job.

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

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

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

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

Dresden Files art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dresden mouse
Yeah… he might be more than just a dog.

You know, important-ish stuff.

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

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

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

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

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ