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…

Dead_Beat
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.

big_dead_beat

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.

books

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

I’m Back?

I think. It feels like it. I’m reading again, which is reflected on Goodreads and on my “What I’m  Reading” page.  I wrote the majority of an original short story the other day, and I’m still plugging away at my fanfiction. I’m ready to bring the plot points together and wrap it up.

I think.

There’s still a lot do for that story, but I feel good about it. Plus, my brain actually wants to start working on other projects again, so I need to finish this one.

Several books I’ve been waiting for come out in the coming months, and I can’t wait to read them all!  I’ll post book reviews when relevant.

So, don’t expect me to post with quite the frequency I did before, but suspect that I will be around. Hopefully I’ll finish Dead Beat this week, and can have a book review up for it some time next week!

Thank you to everyone that still reads this blog, even though I went AWOL for four months. I appreciate you.

Talk at you all soon!

 

BZ

Wait… I Wrote How Much?

Hi guys!

I just wanted to stop by and share something pretty incredible with you.

So, remember when I said I was reading and writing a ton of fanfiction? Well, that trend continued through the month of April. I’m pretty sure I just wrote more words in a month than I ever have before.

As of 4/30/17, I wrote a total of 31,113 words. Of fanfiction. Jesus Christ. That is a TON of writing, the most I’ve ever done in so short a time. I’m simultaneously impressed and disgusted/disappointed. Why haven’t I pumped out so many words for my own original content?

Granted, fanfic is “easier” since there’s very little world-building or slogging through early character development. That’s mostly done by the time you get your hands on the content.  I mean, you should still have those things, but the amount of discovering and fleshing out are considerably less. Which is the vast majority of work I’ve been doing on From the Quorum.

So, in a way, this has been a nice exercise. One that  I have no plans of stopping anytime soon. I’ve got another 3 chapters (at least) to write for this particular story, a oneshot (i.e. short story) outlined, and then another full fic planned after that.

But, if I can keep up this pace, that means I should be able to fall back into my own original works once Mass Effect lets me go. Right? That’s what I’m telling myself, anyways.

Saturday was the release party for the third issue of The Audient Void, and it was awesome. There is some really great fiction and poetry in this issue, and the artwork is fantastic as always. The event coincided with Independent Bookstore Day, which meant there were a lot of people there who might not have attended otherwise, and there were snacks and extra special merchandise on hand.

Oh! There was also a cool marionette show, with an original play by Adam Bolivar, that was really quite entertaining!Jack o lantern

But, my favorite part of the event (aside from the customary after party) was that I thought up a new story while I was there. Just a short story, and I won’t go into details about it here, but I hope to write it this year and submit it to the A.V.

We’ll see where I’m at in a few months. If I’m still writing at the pace I am now, I have no doubt I’ll get everything done that I set out to this year, even with this detour. Remember, I planned to fall off the face of the Earth for about two months after  Andromeda came out, so I’m still on schedule.

Anyway, just wanted to share with you all that I am a writing machine these days, even if it’s just fanfic.

See you around,

 

BZ

Well, Hello There!

Hi Blogland,

Huh. It feels kind of weird to be back. I’m still not promising anything, or even pretending I’m back in any sort of routine. I’m not. I still play Mass Effect just about every day, and I’m reading (and writing) way more fanfiction than I ought to.

But, I thought about From the Quorum for the first time in a month the other day. I call that progress. I also felt a pang of guilt/longing for The Steel Armada. We’re getting there.

The whole point of this was to keep me from falling into the spiral of guilt that I normally feel when I hyper-focus on something. When I start feeling guilty for doing things that I enjoy, I tend to further procrastinate the tasks I’ve sacrificed in order to hyper-focus in the first place.

Right now, I tell myself that writing fanfiction is better than not writing at all. And since I’ve put over 6k words into this one fic just in April, I’d say that’s damn good.

Also, The Audient Void #3 is out! Get you one! Available at the Book Bin in downtown Salem, or online at their Facebook page.

My reading has seriously slowed, but a steady stream of fanfiction keeps me going. I fully intend to pick things back up sometime in May. I promise. Pinky swear. All that good stuff.

Also, I wanted to mention that I’ve applied for another full time position with the library. I know better than to assume anything at this point, but I’ve learned a lot in the last 9ish months since my last interview with the city, and I have a lot more confidence in myself than I did even four months ago. Keep your fingers crossed for me just the same, huh?

Thanks for sticking with me through this gaming fog. The fact that I’ve come up for air is promising. I look forward to talking at you all on a regular basis again soon.

 

BZ

Goals Summary wk 11

Hi all,

Gonna keep this brief. I think. I wanted to let you know that  I’ve been using the Windows laptop exclusively now for about a month. I like it. I’m acclimating, and in general it’s much more reliable than my poor, ancient Macbook. It was the right decision to transfer over.

Last week’s goals were extremely straightforward. Publish two blog posts, and write the Mass Effect Fanfic.

Well,  I didn’t publish two posts, but I wrote over 3,000 words of fic. Plus another 1500 tonight. So that’s going well. I’ve had a few views, multiple follows, and one review so far, which feels really good for only two chapters.

I just posted chapter 3 tonight, so we’ll see how that goes. If you’re interested here’s a link. However, keep in mind that this is fanfiction. It’s barely edited, and not very indicative of my original work. I own nothing in it, it is purely my imagination running wild in a world I love. It’s how I’ve coped with the waiting for Andromeda.

Which is here TOMORROW!!!!! So long world, I’ll see you again in a few weeks/months, depending on how obsessed I become with it. Therefore, I will not be setting any goals for next week, unless you count “not leaving the house until Sunday”.

Until then Blogland,

BZ

Goals Summary wk 10

Hi Blogland,

Just wanted to let you know that I am still here. If you’re following me on Goodreads, then you know that I haven’t read anything at all in the last week. All my spare time is spent researching Mass Effect Andromeda before the EA Early Access opens on Thursday, and playing The Witcher 3 to keep my hands and mind busy.

Geralt

Sorry, Geralt. It’s not you, it’s me.

I did manage to edit a chapter of The Steel Armada last week, so at least there’s that.

And I took the dog on his first hike! We went to Silver Falls State Park, and though it was packed, we had a great time. The dog definitely has a lot to learn, and we need to work on socializing him with other dogs and more people. He gets a little too excited. But, we had fun with good friends on one of the nicest days Oregon has seen in months.

Simons first hike

Just a girl and her Doggo

But, the edits and the hike were the only thing I accomplished last week. And this week I get my hands on the first 10 hours of Mass Effect Andromeda. I’m not even going to kid myself with any sort of goals.

… Although, I was challenged to write a bit of Mass Effect fanfiction. A coworker suggested that I write a piece about a Krogan pastry chef who falls in love with his Salarian coworker. If you’re not into the series, that sentence won’t mean anything to you, but it made me laugh so hard that I’m committed to writing it now. Maybe I’ll do that this week to tide me over once I’m locked out of the Early Access.

I promise, if it turns out worth a damn I’ll post it on ff.net, and link it here.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I haven’t completely forgotten you yet. But, expect that next Monday will be my last post for awhile, as I’ll be living in the Andromeda galaxy come Tuesday.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

Goals Summary Wk 9

Hi All,

I’m gonna keep this brief because my mind is anywhere but here. Tomorrow is the two week mark for the Mass Effect Andromeda release. I am an anxious, impatient, salivating mess. All I can seem to to do is re-watch videos I already have memorized, listen to soundtracks and songs that are reminiscent of space, and my attention span for anything else is just non-existent.

Mass_Effect_Andromeda_cover

Even the cover has me itching to play!

It’s going to be a rough month here at the blog. Probably a rough April too.

So, last week I wanted to:

  • Write chapter 13 of From the  Quorum
    • Done! Finished it up Monday night with 2,992 word sprint.
  • Read The Six-Gun Tarot
    • Not even close. Haven’t even broken 100 pages yet, which is a shame because it’s actually REALLY good so far. Again, no attention span at all.
  • Publish 2 blog posts
    • Done! Last weeks goals post, a general “How’s the Blog Doing?” post, and the book review for The Paper Magician.
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits
    • Done! I’m either on chapter 16 or 17 now, so this area of my life is going very well.

So, last week could have been much worse, and I’m proud of the work I managed to get done.

This week I’m going to be a bit more realistic, because I know myself, and I’m hyper-focusing really hard on gaming, and Mass Effect in particular.

  • Write 1,000 words of From the Quorum
  • Read 200 pages of The Six-Gun Tarot
  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Continue The Steal  Armada edits

I’m still doubtful that I’ll read that much, but I don’t want to abandon the book. It really is good. But, in my desperation for wonderful, immersive gameplay,  I’ve finished my millionth play through of the original Mass Effect Trilogy, and have picked up The Witcher III just so I can have something to do.

Because I am suffocating without Andromeda. Suffocating. Drowning in lack of gameplay. Like, yes, I love the Dragon Age series, and I’ve played the ever-loving shit out of those games. But, not like I’ve played Mass Effect. I have Mass Effect tattoos. I’ve played the original trilogy five times. I have Mass Effect jewelry, t-shirts, hoodies, and jackets. Hell, I even have Mass Effect socks, and I’m wearing them right now! I have multiple figurines and comics and novels. I’m an avid reader of terrible Mass Effect fan fiction (Dragon Age fics too, for that matter).

This is my all time favorite gaming franchise, and today marks the 5 year anniversary of Mass Effect 3‘s release. I’ve been waiting five years for Andromeda, and now that it’s so close, I’m physically suffering without it.

So, just be prepared for my presence here to dwindle, if not die off completely in the coming months. I swear I will try my damnedest to hold myself accountable and post, but don’t be surprised if I vanish for awhile.

Until Thursday, Blogland.

 

BZ