Book Review – Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher

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…

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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.

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Cover art for Wizard at Large, an omnibus of Blood Rites and Dead Beat, by Dan dos Santos.

 

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.

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Me, twirling through my TBR list.

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.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

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Book Review – Blood Rites, Dresden Files #6 by Jim Butcher

Hello Blogland!

Welcome to the first book review of 2017! I am NOT used to typing that. Really I’m just not used to typing anymore, it seems. This whole “not biting my nails” thing has been an adjustment. But, for the first time in my life I have pretty, feminine hands that aren’t likely to chip, break, or be covered in Frappuccino Roast or Mocha.

It’s so liberating!

Anyway, a little of the backstory of me and this book.

I’ve been reading Dresden for a while now, and was even a fan of the doomed Sci-Fi Channel (back when it was still spelled that way) series based on the books. Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden will always be my accepted Canon.

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Notice the hat? He wears one on every cover, but never wears on in the books…

So, I’ve read the first five books multiple times, mainly because I keep telling myself that I should reread them in order to get back into the series and finally catch up. Spoiler Alert- that never works. Inevitably I get to book six, Blood Rites, get to about page 60, and then get bored, distracted, or just plain old give up.

 

It’s been a real problem.

And then, I discovered the magic of Overdrive, and my library’s Libray2Go service. You see, we have a downloadable program, where cardholders can download ebooks and digital audiobooks in addition to the items they check out in person. And that service had Blood Rites as audio.

On a whim, I put it on hold, and waited for it to show up. Honestly, it’d been so long that I actually forgot I was waiting for it until my email notice reminded me that it was now available for download.

At about that time, I was struck with a persistent and angry migraine, and it snowed. Now, snow here in Salem is a big deal. We’ve had four or five snow days here this winter all ready, and that is not typical, so basically the whole town shuts down when frozen water falls from the sky.

So, stuck indoors, in pain and unable to sleep through it, I turned to my audiobook for some sort of entertainment that wouldn’t make me want to vomit. And it was heaven. If heaven can be so painful.

I listened to the bulk of the book in just two days, and promptly put book seven on hold. It’ll be another long wait, but it’ll be worth it.

Now, on to the story!

I think what really made this experience so wonderful was James Marsters’ narration. That’s right, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the voice of Harry Dresden, and he is phenomenal!

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Everyone’s favorite Vamp Bad-Boy lends his voice to our favorite Wizard for Hire.

He has Harry’s tone and humor down perfectly, and he does all these different voices for the various characters so that you know at any given time who is speaking. He even yawned part way through a line of dialogue, which made me stop mid-dish scrubbing to say, “did he just yawn?” And then the dialogue tag followed, “I said with a yawn.”

 

Talk about attention to detail. It’s true when someone says that the narrator can make or break an audiobook. One. Hundred. Percent. True. And Marsters brings this series to life.

As for the actual guts of the tale, without some serious background, it won’t make much sense. The gist is this: Harry takes on a case helping a Porno director fend of an Entropy Curse, all while planning to attack Mavra, a Black Court vampire that’s trying to kill him.

But, the best thing about this book is that it centers around one of my favorite characters in the series, Thomas. He’s a White Court vampire, which means he’s a sexual energy vampire, more or less.

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Fanart (artist unknown) of Thomas Raith

Still basically immortal, still unnaturally strong, but otherwise incredibly human seeming. Which makes him, and his kin, even more dangerous. They don’t mind daylight, and religious artifacts and talismans mean nothing to them. They’re alluring, charming, and undeniably attractive.

 

But they can kill you just as quick as any Red Court or Black Court vamp (think Dracula).

Anyway, Harry and Thomas have a tense, but hilarious working relationship that fills the majority of the book. Also in this installment, Harry has the first flickering of non-platonic thoughts for Karin Murphy, his Cop friend/occasional partner. While I don’t know yet if this ever comes to fruition, and honestly don’t think it will because Harry and Karin are stupid and stubborn, I was glad to hear Harry at least admit the thoughts were there before he banished them.

And of course, this book is full of mystery, death, magic, and Harry getting hurt. Really, by the end of every book Dresden is lucky to be alive, and is usually in immense amounts of pain and in need of medical attention.dresden-what-i-do

In this respect Blood Rites does not disappoint.

In character development, I found Blood Rites to be wonderful. We learn so much about Harry, Karin, and Thomas that I found the Mavra plotline to be almost distracting from the characters. Don’t get me wrong, those scenes are great and important, but I just wanted to get back to learning about these people!

So in short (too late!), only read this book if you’re reading through the series. You can’t just pick this one up and expect to understand anything. You won’t. But, if you’re a fan of Dresden, this is a very good installment.

And I highly recommend giving this series a try on audiobook! It was so good that, despite owning a print copy, I’d rather wait for my audio hold than just read it.

Who knows when that will be, but be sure that once I’ve listened to Dead Beat, I’ll be right here with another review!

Talk at you soon, Blogland.

 

BZ