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review 2014-10-16 11:53
Another action packed Harry Dresden adventure
Small Favour (The Dresden Files, #10) - Jim Butcher

Well, there is one more Harry Dresden book sitting on my shelf and I think that after that one I will call it quits. It's not that the Dresden Files are particularly bad – I have certainly read a lot worse – and it is not that they are all beginning to seem the same, it's just that I have probably grown out of this type of literature. I'm not saying that people who enjoy these books are immature – by no means – but I guess as I have grown older my taste in literature has changed somewhat, though I still have a number of 'popular' novels sitting on my shelf that I intend on reading, and I wouldn't mind getting a few more Forgotten Realms novels (though I am not rushing out the door, or scouring Ebay for them). However as I look at the collection of books on my shelf that are slowly diminishing (but not by much mind you, though I am trying to make a habit of buying less books than I am reading – though that is not necessarily what is happening with my 'To Read' shelf on Goodreads) there isn't really all that much room for never ending series.

So, I think I should probably say a few things about 'Small Favour' though I am finding it difficult to work out what to say without actually spoiling the book. Mind you, it is not really my intention to encourage anybody who hasn't read the Dresden Files to start reading them, and I would certainly not recommend that they start at this book (there has been too much going on before that you would probably be lost if you started this far into the series). I know that there are a few people out there that trash this series on the grounds that Harry Dresden is a womaniser, but I believe I have already said enough on that subject.

What I can say about this book is that the crime boss of Chicago, Johnny Marcone, has gone missing, and when Queen Mab appears and asks Harry to do her a 'small favour' we start off by thinking that this book is going to involve the <i>fae</i>. However, as it turns out, it doesn't (and by suggesting that, people who are familiar with the series, but have not read this book, would probably have already worked it out, if they didn't know already). Butcher also introduces some creatures named the gruffs, named after, surprise, surprise, the three bully goats gruff (yes, I thought it was a little lame as well).

However, this book was a lot less soap operary than some of the others (oh, Thomas, are you really my brother?), but on the other hand much of the book seemed to orientate around three major battles (not counting the one with the gruffs at the beginning). As such, it feels that there is a battle, a pause, and then another battle. Also, there seems to be a major influx of characters from other books, not that it was confusing, it just felt that there were quite a few characters all struggling with each other for a spot in the lime light.

In the end though, I must say that I did end up enjoying this book, but since this is book nine of sixteen, I'm not in any real rush to finish off the series (if it is ever going to end that is).


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1074073190
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review 2014-05-01 02:33
Another case in the life of Harry Dresden
White Night - Jim Butcher

Some have suggested that maybe Butcher's first venture into the world of the science-fiction/fantasy novelist is original but as I began to read his ninth Harry Dresden book I suddenly realised that he is not actually writing anything new. While the world of Harry Dresden may be Jim Butcher's own, the concept and the setting itself is no. In fact urban fantasy has been around for quite a while, with one of the most familiar being this:


Vampire: The Masquerade



though this is the rulebook that one uses when one is playing a magician:


Mage: The Ascension


who happen to be quite a lot more powerful than any of the wizards that appear in the Harry Dresden novels as they have the ability to mess around with reality (though they have to watch out for something called backlash which, I believe – it has been a while since I have played it – means that if you try to do something too unbelievable then the effect comes back and bites you).

Anyway, this book was okay but the stories don't really seem to be going all that far at the moment, and the fact that I am up to book nine in what seems to be a never ending serial that reminds me of a soap opera, I am starting to realise why I ended up moving away from the modern science-fiction/fantasy scene. In fact this is just another episode in the life of Harry Dresden and another case that he gets involved in that involves the dark and supernatural world. Okay, the overall story arc does move forward, but as I have suggested, there does not seem to be any big end point, just another movement along the Harry Dresden timeline. Hey, in reality there is nothing really all that wrong with that, especially if you like these types of books, and I must admit Jim Butcher does do a better job at it than other authors do because, in a way, the books are separate and stand alone, yet, what I have discovered, at least here, is that by book nine you begin to forget which character is which, and who all these other random characters that seem to pop up are (or the minor characters at least because there are a number, such as Mouse, who I do recognise).

I have also noticed that it seems that the further along the series you go the thicker the books become, which is also interesting because in the older days many of the books (and I am thinking of the Enid Blyton books here) were all generally the same length. However, these days it seems like the first book starts off slim, and they get thicker and thicker (Harry Potter and Robert Jordan are a case in point). Maybe it is because the earlier books are just there to test the waters, and if they succeed, then the authors end up going out and writing much, much more.


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/920816609
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-11-11 02:49
Things are starting to get interesting
Proven Guilty - Jim Butcher

Some people seem to love these books but for me they are just another fantasy series that really adds little to the literary canon of the western world. Mind you I used to read heaps of pulp fantasy when I was younger and I still enjoy reading it (which is why I didn't rate this book as being crap) but compared with some of the other books around that do challenge the way we think, this book is simply only good for reading when your mind simply cannot take too many more intensity.

As for this particular book, well, the soap opera that is the life of Harry Dresden continues. The reason that I didn't like the previous book was because there was really no twists, the book dealt with, once again, creatures that seem to be more at home in a horror movies, and the dialogue that occurred between Dresden and Thomas sounded like something straight out of 'Days of Our Lives'. As such, when I got to this book I was expecting more of the same, and when the action came about in a schlock horror movie convention and was about phantoms mimicking monsters from horror movies, I pretty much rolled my eyes. Oh, and the stupid war between the vampires and the magicians was continuing, which I'm also finding pretty lame.

However the plot suddenly twisted ninety degrees, and some seriously interesting things were suddenly revealed about some of the main characters, and as such my enjoyment of this book suddenly jumped. Okay, I'm not necessarily itching to read the next book in the series, but I guess the direction that Butcher has moved the series has made me a little more interested.

Anyway, at book club on Saturday, when we were asked to talk about the books that I have read during the month, I mentioned that I was reading this book, but was too embarrassed to pull it out of my bag, but they encouraged me to do so, and it sparked a discussion on whether such novels had any place in literature. The general agreement was that it did, especially if it encouraged people to read, and to read more. However my feeling is that while reading such novels may be useful, I also feel that there is a time when people need to move away from them and move onto some more serious novels – for instance books that will seriously mess with your head. It is in a way what my English teacher suggested, and that is that while reading may be a good thing, if one is not challenged by what one reads, then, as he believes, the whole purpose of reading is lost. I think reading novels like Harry Dresden is good because reading challenging books can be a little exhausting at times and sometimes you do need a break. In a way, sitting back and reading a simple book that has an entertaining story, can be a good thing, but too much of a good thing can, in the end, can turn out to be a bad thing.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/758089454
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review 2013-09-21 02:15
The series is starting to get a little bit melodramatic
Dead Beat - Jim Butcher

I really don't know why I am still reading this series, maybe it has something to do with the fact that the first couple of books managed to get me interested and since that I ended up borrowing a whole bunch of them from a friend of mine so that I could see how the story panned out. Anyway, I suspect that this is what Butcher wanted, namely to get people hooked on the first few books, and then we end up buying the rest of the series (and if I were Butcher, I wouldn't be complaining).

To be blunt, by this book the series is starting to sound like a soap opera, and in fact the discussions that Harry Dresden has with some of the recurring characters are really starting to get melodramatic. For instance, when Harry tells Thomas, who happens to be his brother, despite the fact that Thomas is a vampire, of the White Court no less (and they are vampires that feed on human emotion), that he has to call in the wizard's council to deal with this monumental problem (and they get even more monumental as the books progress) that Thomas has to stay right out of the way.

Basically, Harry is approached by another vampire (of the Black Court, and I still don't actually know what they feed on, as it is not blood, because the Red Court feed on blood) and asked to get this book that was written by a necromancer. However, a bunch of other necromancers also want this book because Halloween is coming up, and Halloween is when necromancers start getting up to mischief, and because the necromancers are getting up to mischief, Harry has to step in an stop them, despite the fact that it is more than he can handle, and he is simply some private detective that hasn't had sex in a very long time (though the fact that he is a magician does set him apart from other private detectives).

Things are starting to get a little complicated in this book though because you have the vampire that we thought was dead, but is not, and we have some demon posing as a woman to try to get Harry to serve him, and we have the fairies trying to recruit him as a knight, and also we have some forensic scientist questioning Harry's sexuality. In fact I actually wonder what this whole thing about Harry being questioned as to whether he is gay or not is about because the one thing that I didn't think Harry was was a homosexual, and the guy that suggests this seems to pull it out of thin air.

Okay, there are morons out there than simply do not understand the nature of sexuality, and as such constantly fire blanks about whether somebody is a homosexual or not, but to be honest with you, the one person that didn't seem to be like that was Butter', the character that raises this question. I guess this is one of the things that people raise with regards to Butcher's writings, and that is fact that he seems to be very, very, interested in sex (maybe he is not getting enough of it, though I must admit that he is nowhere near as bad as Piers Anthony).

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/721712657
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-07-24 03:03
Harry Dresdan and the Porn Industry
Blood Rites - Jim Butcher

Gee, I have actually read six of these books now and I really don't know why. I guess it is because the setting is at least different from what I generally get from most fantasy novels, and that there is at least a half decent story arch that sort of makes me want to find out what happens (though the fact that these books tend to end up sitting on my 'I may get around to reading it' shelf suggests otherwise). Anway, what did I learn from this book? Well, maybe that Jim Butcher used to, and probably still does, play roleplaying games.

Basically Harry is hired by an independent film maker (and while I could be a little more subtle about the type of films that he makes, I won't, and will simply say that he makes porn) who is having his cast die of mysterious deaths while trying to produce some films to make a name for himself in the industry. Fortunately Butcher is not so crass as to make the bad guys a bunch of fundamentalist Christians who have decided that the best way to deal with a licentious society is to enact their own version of God's vengeance, and simply resorts to the old corporate monopoly trick.

Once again we delve into the world of the vampires, but this time we mingle with the vampires of the Black Court (who are just plain evil) and the vampires of the White Court (who feed off human emotion). We initially, in the earlier books, received the suggestion that the White Court vampires were good, but when we come to this book, we suddenly discover that they really aren't (though in the world of Harry Dresden, there isn't really a sharp line between good and evil). We also learn a few more things about Harry Dresden, however, for some reason, I found that the peeling away of the mystery that is this wizard who advertises in the phone book was not all that revealing anymore.

Now, this book was written in 2004, and I sort of wonder these days if the porn industry is on its way to obsolescence. The reason I say that is because computing power has reached such a point that any old person could simply make their own home made porn movie and upload it too the internet. Look, people basically watched porn because, well, they got off on it, and we didn't have broadband internet, or an adult only version of You-tube. These days we have it, so I wonder what is the point of actually going out and making a full length pornographic feature when, in reality, nobody is going to buy it (simply because they have either subscribed to some adult only website, or, if they are smart, have realised that you don't actually need to pay for it).

I guess back in 2004 the porn industry, at least when it came to movies, still had a customer base. Mind you, as is suggested in this book, they are hardly Hollywood movies, and were churned out at an alarming rate. The ones that did actually have a following tend to have some form of plot tied into them (such as Flesh Gordon). I do remember people joking about such films, but they did exist. In fact, I remember when Flesh Gordon was showed at one of the cinemas in my home town, and I went with (surprise, surprise) a woman. We both thought it was hilarious, and I think that was the point of the movie. While it was porn, in another sense, it wasn because it was pretty much a really bad take off of a popular story. Hey, proper porn doesn't actually have a plot. It's like some house wife is at home and the pool cleaner (electrician, computer repair man, vacuum cleaner salesman, or any other random guy that just happens to be really well endowed) turns up and they have a bit of a chat, and then start performing acts that some of us still believe children shouldn't be exposed to. In reality there is no plot, and films that I have seen (and yes, I've seen porn) would normally have us fast forward all of the boring bits (which involves really bad and pointless small talk) until we got to the gratuitous sex. The funny thing is that with those movies I never actually watched one alone, but with a group of us, and we would simply all sit around the television and laugh.

Mind you, we were all pretty young at the time.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/671146223
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