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review 2018-07-30 21:32
Ghost Story / Jim Butcher
Ghost Story - Jim Butcher

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has no body, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends—and his own soul—Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...

 

 

“You’re dead, son,” Jack said. “Cheer is contraindicated.”

Mr. Butcher, you are a manipulative man. Your writing made me cry, unnecessarily I might add, over a fictional character that I will never meet. And I think you took a lesson from the old TV show Dallas on how to kill a character without really committing yourself to what seems like the logical outcome.

In some ways, this also reminded me of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life in that Harry Dresden gets to find out how many people he mattered to and how much. It turns out he was more important to the whole city, including people who didn’t know him personally, that he would every have imagined. His powerful presence scared off a lot of bad guys who might otherwise have made Chicago their place of business.

Harry gets to view his life, his city, and his friends from an entirely new angle in this volume of the Dresden files. Remember the sleazy ectomancer, Mort, from an earlier volume? An almost throw-away character who served his purpose and hasn’t been seen since? Mortimer has come up in the world and I’m thinking he may continue to feature in future volumes. He makes a good addition to the cast.

I read this book much closer in time to the last one than usual because of the cliff-hanger nature of the 12th story. I had to know what happened. Butcher took so much away from Harry during the last book. Next book, we’ll see what Mr. Dresden decides to do with this new lease on life that his author has granted him.

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review 2018-07-19 19:27
Changes / Jim Butcher
Changes (Dresden Files, Book 12) - Jim Butcher

Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden's lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry's not fighting to save the world...

He's fighting to save his child.

 

Jim Butcher must sit up nights thinking up ways to make Harry Dresden’s life miserable! Just when you think that his life can’t get any more complicated, Butcher dreams up worse things for him to deal with.

Susan Rodriguez returns to mess with Harry’s reality—and inform him that he’s a father and his little girl is in tremendous danger from the Red Court vampires. Harry has spent the last 11 books gathering friends, allies, and frenemies. He has to call on all of them, all his talents, all his anger & power, and all of his cunning to get through this tangle.

So Butcher throws everything into the blender and gives it a good whirl. There is a lot of action, a lot of blood, a lot of characters. I was happy to see the return of Butters and Toot-Toot. Also, it was great to have Mouse get to show off his powers. Harry makes a questionable deal in order to cope with the situation and gets assistance from unexpected quarters. The book ends on a cliff-hanger, so if you object to that sort of thing, consider having the next book queued up and ready to roll. Because, let’s face it, if you’ve read this far, you’re not going to quit now, are you?

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review 2018-07-13 18:55
Once Broken Faith / Seanan McGuire
Once Broken Faith: An October Daye Novel - Seanan McGuire

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

 

Thank goodness for Toby Daye. Yes, she’s a Fae hero who spends more time than she wants to rescuing the unwary and binding the wounds of her friends. And she even helped me—it’s true, this novel saw me through the last bit of the worst headache that I have had in many, many moons.

When I’m not feeling well, I reach for urban fantasy. It, along with pain killers, coffee, and soft lights, will see me through whatever is wrong in my world. This series is a particular favourite because I am also nuts about the Fae. Love ‘em. It all started with Patricia Briggs—I first encountered the Fae in her Mercy Thompson series—but it may culminate in McGuire’s October Daye series.

These books have perhaps become a bit predictable—Toby will end up covered in blood at least twice and will probably die/be on death’s door once. Two or three of her Buffy-like circle of friends will have something dire happen to them, which Toby must defy death to fix. Fae royalty will have to be told to get their heads outta their butts. But you know what? When you’ve got a migraine, predictable is good. It doesn’t take your best literary analysis skills to appreciate the book.

I enjoy all the various forms of Faerie found in these pages—someday I have to find time to read some folklore and get caught up on Selkies, Pixies, Coblynaus, etc. I also must reiiterate my fondness for the sea witch, the Luidaeg. She’s fierce and loving and uncompromising and loyal. And she’s got plans for our Toby girl. I’ll be reading on in the series to learn more about that, you betcha!

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review 2018-06-25 16:13
The Hazel Wood / Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

 

Don’t go into this novel expecting a romance featuring a handsome prince or some fae lord. It isn’t that kind of fairy tale. This is one with a dark overtones, like some of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales that lived up to the grim part.

The first section of the book sets up Alice’s life with her mother Ella. They have spent their lives in transit, trying to stay one step ahead of the weird bad luck that has dogged their lives. Ella refuses to talk about her own mother, Althea Proserpine, or Althea’s property, the Hazel Wood. The book that Althea wrote (Tales from the Hinterland) that made her famous (or infamous) is almost impossible to find and Alice has become quite fixated on acquiring a copy. When Alice’s grandmother dies and her mother is kidnapped, Alice must decide whether to follow her mother’s last instruction: stay away from the Hazel Wood.

Of course if Alice wants her mother back (and she does) there is only one thing to do—find the Hazel Wood and figure out what the heck is going on. She must brave the Hinterland and all its strangeness to learn about her heritage once and for all. She discovers that the Hinterland contains a variety of folk—those who are refugees from her world and those who are native, consisting either of Stories or those who surround the Stories as supporting cast so to speak. If you are a Story, you relive your Story over and over again without end. Can Alice disrupt the Story that holds her life hostage?

It struck me that many of us are caught in similar loops in our lives that we have a difficult time recognizing and breaking out of. Don’t we all have that one woman friend who flees one abusive man only to end up almost immediately in a relationship with another jerk? Or your friend who is so busy collecting people to take care of that her own life goes nowhere? Or the man walks by a room full of nice women directly to the one woman who will never be faithful or committed to a relationship? It’s easy to see these patterns in others, much more difficult to recognize them in our own lives and much, much tougher to actually break those patterns.

So no, this is not a fairy tale romance, but it speaks to the patterns visible in fairy tales and in our own lives.

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text 2018-06-22 17:59
Reading progress update: I've read 33 out of 368 pages.
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

 

I'm already entranced with this book, only a few pages in.

 

But I have miles to go before I sleep (or read) this evening.  Groceries to buy, supper to cook (Tandoori Chicken), a rhubarb apple crisp to make, charging my camera battery and getting all packed & organized for my mountain adventure tomorrow.

 

At least the desire to get back to The Hazel Wood will keep me motivated to get all the tasks done.

 

 

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