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review 2017-06-14 04:54
Not Butcher's best, but Marsters is still rockin'
Jim Butcher - Dresden Files: Books 1-4: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight (The Dresden Files) - Jim Butcher,James Marsters

Let's keep this short:


I didn't love this one as much as <b>Storm Front</b>, and I remember things as a whole being better. Still, we get the introduction of the Alphas, we get to see a little bit of every type of Werewolf in this world (I'd forgotten 1 of them), Dresden makes some smart choices re: Karrin Murphy (but man, most of what happened between the two of them in this book was annoying to a fan, and poorly constructed I think), and a (in retrospect) dumb one about Susan.


The main story was pretty good -- I'd have liked to see Harry be a little quicker to figure things out, but he's not perfect. Nor is he the investigator he'll become eventually. I need to remind myself these are early days. As I recall, book 3 is a little less-good than this, which doesn't make me look forward to it. But I know I like where things go pretty quickly, so I'll keep going.


Marsters was fantastic -- this would've been a 3 in just about any other narrator's hands, er, vocal cords. I can't say enough good things about him.

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review 2017-05-30 14:16
#Audiobook Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher
Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files, Book 15 - James Marsters,Jim Butcher

Skin Game opens with Harry on Demonreach, a place he’s been living alone for the past year. He can’t leave until he removes the parasite from his head, and it’s clear that Mab has been running interference when he tried to reach out to his friends. Harry spent the time learning more about his new job as the prison warden and perfecting his parkour moves. When Mab finally shows up, she tells Harry his next task is to work as her emissary helping Nicodemus. 


I have always been a bit fearful of the stories revolving around Nicodemus and the Blacken Denarius. The stories tend to be a bit darker, and Skin Game is no exception. However, I have to say that even with my initial apprehension and the terrible violence of the book, I think this was my favorite Blacken Denarius story. The book is filled with plot twists and gritty action, but also tender moments (Harry and Maggie finally connect!!) and Harry’s trademark humor. 


Overall, I enjoyed Skin Game. There were great highs, but some very dark lows. The darkness of the mood and malice found in several scenes was a bit much for me at times. I loved several of the changes; most notably what happens with Butters, the changes between Karen and Dresden, and Harry uniting with Maggie. I also loved the addition of Goodwin Gray and Hades, and would love to see them again in future titles. Harry is finding his way again, learning to trust both himself and his friends. There was a lot of positive emotions in the underlying storyline message. But the gruesome scenes were hard to handle at times. 


James Marsters turns in another amazing performance. Expanding his cast of voices with the addition of several new characters. The voice for the evil forest creature was ominous and dark, the voice for mercenary Gray was laid back and charming. Perfect. 


Now that I’ve finished Skin Games, I’m 100% caught up and have nothing new. With the delayed and unknown release date for the next title, I’m a bit sad.


My Rating: B+

Narration: A

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review 2017-05-23 18:34
#Audiobook Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher
Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14) - James Marsters,Jim Butcher

Cold Days opens with a fully alive, yet still recovering, Harry under the care of Mab, who is determined to shape him into her active Winter Knight. It takes a few chapters, but eventually, Harry makes his way back to Chicago and reunites with his friends and brother.


Cold Days tackles a lot! Not only is Harry back from the dead, but he’s taken on the mantle of the Winter Knight. He’s got to figure out if he should and how to fulfill Mab’s first task for him, save Demonreach from exploding, which in turn will save all of Chicago, deal with a new and extremely powerful player on the paranormal scene, and by the way, he has a parasite stuck in his head. Honestly, it was all a bit too much for me at times. That, coupled with the several too-close calls, made the book drag a bit because it was over the top. Yet, it was filled with undeniable wit and a sense of humor that complements Harry’s new found fearless attitude.  My new favorite word may just be Vajazzled… referring to the “costume” of jewels Mauve wore along her woman parts (and nothing else).


The best parts of the book came when Harry reconnected with his friends, most especially the scene with Thomas. I was in tears. And Karen… she’s really changed since his death. But I was so glad to see she and Harry working together. 


The narration was excellent. There were times of fast-paced bantering, when dialogue tags were dropped, and I clearly knew who was who. There were scenes of heighten emotions that were so palatable, my own heart nearly broke. The inner battle of Harry the Wizard vs Harry the Winter Knight rivaled Andy Serkis’s performance as Smeagol/Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The vast array of voices, both human and other, are unique, distinct, and perfectly formed. Listening to James Marsters is like listening to a cast of dozens.


In the end, I enjoyed Cold Days, even though I felt it went on a few too many chapters. But knowing I only have one book left until I’m caught up leaves me a bit melancholy. I’ve enjoyed exploring this series and don’t want to have to wait for more chapters from Dresden’s life.


My Rating: B

Narration: A+

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review 2017-01-19 12:35
#Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
Ghost Story (The Dresden Files, #13) - Jim Butcher,John Glover

Having been shot and killed at the end of the previous book, Changes, Dresden finds out he's in the Between, not quite dead, but not alive. Discovering that the “bad guys” somehow cheated when they killed him, he cannot move on until he finds out who killed him and why. So Dresden heads back to Earth as a ghost to solve his own murder; however, he gets caught up trying to save his friends in the process. With his own soul and eternal rest on the line, Dresden must learn the rules of his new existence before his time runs out.


After that somewhat scary ending to Changes, and the gap novella, Aftermath (found in the anthology, Side Jobs), I knew two things: Dresden was apparently dead, and Chicago was being overrun by some bad paranormals due to the power vacuum Dresden created in his battle with the Red Court. I was a bit leery to start this one out of fear I would get some lame ghost story (let’s face it, there have been some big letdowns in favorite series involving the death of a main character), but what I was treated to was a beautifully detailed, complex story that brought together many aspects of the series thus far.


Mr. Butcher successful sold me on not only the mythology behind ghosts in this world, but that Dresden is able to remain a productive investigator and crimefighter. The author creates a whole new set of rules for Dresden that govern spirits, including their use of magic, ability to manifest, and how they interact with both mortals and paranormals. The fact that it was relayed to listeners through Dresden’s own experiences, trials, and errors, made the additional information feel natural, like it was a given all along.


Ghost Story is emotionally difficult in a few ways. First, we witness what has happened to Dresden’s friends, family, and Chicago since his death six months prior. It’s not pretty, especially Karen and Molly. They are changed, and the state of the world is hard and dark. Things are messed up, and it hurts me as it hurts Dresden. Additionally, Harry must come to terms with the choices he made prior to his death. I really enjoyed Harry's introspections as he contemplated his actions and how he realizes the wrongness and excepts blame, knowing he'd do it all again. I've come to love Harry as a friend, and these moments of self-reflection allow listeners to learn more and grow closer; to accept Harry for all his dark and light. It also generally leads to a clue to help propel him forward. 


The mystery of Dresden’s murder, together with his attempts to save his friends from some fiendish spirits, is an excellent storyline. More so than ever, Mr. Butcher weaves all the aspects of Harry’s actions into one cohesive life lesson. I love how all the parts tied together by the end, reaching back several books in the process. I just adored the overall ending.


Once again, James Marsters works his magic with the narration. The book was originally released with a different narrator, but due to requests from fans, Audible rerecorded it with Mr. Marsters. I’m so glad they did. Marsters is Dresden, and to change it this late in the game would have been a shock to the system. There were some new nuances to the different characters, most notably Bob, as the characters have all changed in the aftermath of Harry’s death.


In the end, Ghost Story is yet another amazing tale from the Dresden Files, which should NOT be read out of order! Ghost Story was well written, if not a bit long and wordy. There is definitely an air of closure near the end, which gave it the feel of a final book in the series. But fear not, there is more Dresden to come, and I truly look forward to see how everything shakes out in the next title. 


My Rating: B+

Narration: A 

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review 2017-01-11 16:26
#Audiobook Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files - Jim Butcher

After the cliffhanger-esque ending of Changes, I wasn’t sure I wanted to sift through a “side story” rather than going straight to the next book to find out what becomes of Harry. However, I am so glad I took the time to listen to this wonderful anthology from the Dresden Files. The book contains a set of mostly previously released short stories and novellas, ranging chronologically from before the first Dresden book up to a brand new story that takes place after the conclusion of Changes.


The stories cover a variety of subjects and star a range of characters. All but two of the stories are shared from Dresden’s traditional point-of-view, some more humorous than others. I loved seeing Harry react as Harry would in different settings and shorter, less dark adventures. Additionally, much can be learned about those side characters Harry considers friends and family. 


While it’s very difficult to pick my favorite of the bunch, the two stories not told from Harry’s POV stand out the most. The first is “Backup,” a novelette told from Thomas’ POV, where he must protect Harry from an ancient evil, without Harry knowing he was doing it. The story shares Thomas’ struggles with his vampire monster, and the reader glimpses how much Thomas actually feels under his tough guy, nonchalant persona. 


The other highlight in this anthology is the final, all-new novella, “Aftermath.” Told from Karen’s POV, we find out what happened the hours after the shocking conclusion of Changes. No only was the story extremely adventurous and exciting, but the emotional content was powerful as Karen and Harry’s friends deal with Harry’s disappearance. 


Each story is narrated by the fabulous James Marsters, who gets kudos for maintaining consistent voices for a wide range of characters, taking place over the course of several years. I especially enjoyed his work in the two stories not told from Dresden’s POV.


Side Jobs is an amazing treat for fans of the Dresden Files and it SHOULD NOT be overlooked and passed by for the full-length titles. While one could read/listen to it at anytime after Changes (if one wants to avoid spoilers), the timing coming after Changes was ideal. It was a great way to review Dresden’s history and life thus far, because things are going to be much different for Harry from here on out.


My Rating: A

Narration: A

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