White Night by Jim Butcher

ButcherWhiteNightWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 14 hours 13 minutes

Series: Book 9 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Karrin Murphy has taken a vacation day and she has chosen to spend that day showing Harry a supposed suicide crime scene. She has her doubts and Harry Dresden, Chicago’s wizard PI, has his ways of accessing info that most people aren’t privy to. Now Harry finds himself drawn into a series of murders (which look like suicides on the surface) of low-level magic users. As he starts chasing down leads, he and Karrin can’t help but turn a questioning eye towards Thomas Wraith as a man matching his description was last seen with several of the victims.

Harry is now in charge, officially, of Molly’s magical training and this is the first murder investigation he takes her on. The first step is the morgue and a visit with the mortician Waldo Butters. Harry takes the time to teach Molly the basics about reading a corpse of some of it’s final memories. Molly was pretty nervous but her first foray into this little magic trick isn’t what any of them expected. Ha! It does give Harry one more piece of info on the killer but not near enough to figure out who it is.

This book brings back some old enemies and frenemies and brings in some new ones. There’s gentleman John Marcone, Chicago’s crime lord, and a personal favorite of mine. Harry and Marcone often grudgingly swap info and this time Harry will need Marcone’s muscle. Then there’s Thomas’s sister Lara Wraith. A new enemy plus an enemy Harry thought was dead bring some ghouls to the party and the festivities are well underway.

Murphy and Harry have messed with ghouls before. Pretty messy things and hard to kill when they are in a group. In this book, Harry has some flashbacks to one of his side jobs during a summer in New Mexico when he was training some of the new Wardens in combat magic. Ghouls are gruesome and Harry has it out for them. I like that we have this degenerate enemy that we can feel guilt-free in totally hating but I also like that Butcher doesn’t make them mindless.

Harry and a few other wizards have suspected for a while that there is some evil force working within the White Council but Harry has had no proof and no person to point the finger at. In this book, Harry gets a few more hints and some definite indicators that this nebulous evil force wants Harry out of the picture. This being a reread for me, it’s great to see how well Butcher lays some ground work here for some big things that come later.

Harry’s old flame Elaine returns to the storyline and provides Murphy and Harry with some help on their investigation. Now, I’ve never quite gotten around to trusting Elaine fully. But Harry does and for now that will have to be good enough for me. On one hand, I find her hard to trust because she doesn’t have an allegiance to any group and she works hard to stay under the radar. On the other hand, I think younger Harry might have done much the same if he had gotten the chance. So until Elaine proves to be a bad guy, I have to mark her down as an asset and a good guy.

Ramirez strolls back in to the plot and strikes up a flirt with Molly. Ramirez talks a bit of a game but once he’s faced with the White Court vampires, his sexual prowess is revealed in detail. Ha! Still, Ramirez stands besides Harry in the thick of it at the end of the book. It’s quite a show down. It is one of my favorite fight scenes in the series, and a lengthy one at that too. Harry’s snark is allowed to run lose and Lara takes the brunt of it at one point. Mouthwash indeed!

At the end, Harry discovers how Thomas has been keeping himself so well fed and he’s quite surprised! So was I the first time around. Molly has learned a bit about her own limits when it comes to combat magic and situations. Mouse, Harry’s dog, is more than he seems. And there’s tons more fall out from the happenings in this book but I don’t want to get spoilery. Over all, this book has a bit more serious tone to it. Harry is still a smart mouth and that brings some much needed comic relief to certain scenes, but the stakes have gone up. With that, the characters are all getting a bit more serious, pushing on each other harder, lines are drawn in the sand. All together, this is one of my more favorite books in the series.

Narration: James Marsters continues to give this series a fine performance. I greatly enjoyed his voice for Thomas especially when Thomas is putting on a fake French accent. His ghoulish voices sound just as demented, wet, slurred, and deceitful as I imagined they would. Once again, he does a very convincing seductive and charming Lara Wraith.

What I Liked: Thomas is a suspect; Marcone returns to the plot and there is a price for his assistance; Murphy continues to pay a price for helping Harry –  it’s not fair but it’s realistic; Molly’s first on a lot of stuff; the lengthy fight scene at the end; Thomas’s job.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a joy to listen to!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

SF Site

The Founding Fields

The Book Bag

Sarah’s Reviews

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

ButcherProvenGuiltyWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 16 hours 16 minutes

Series: Book 8 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only PI wizard and now a Warden for the White Council, gets called up by Molly to bail her friend out of jail. He’s not happy about it, but he knows that Molly is having some issues. He gets talked into checking out SplatterCon!!! where Molly is one of the lead organizers. The White Council has reports of some evil magic happening in Chicago and they’ve tasked Harry with finding the source and dealing with it. SplatterCon!!! turns out to be a bit scarier than anyone figured when a horror movie monster comes to life and starts taking out the guests. Someone is inviting in phages from the Nevernever. Not good!

Later on, Molly disappears and Harry has to try every trick in the book to locate her. While he is attempting to locate her, he learns some interesting things about Charity, Molly’s mom. I really liked that we get to learn more about her as she has been a rather minor character in the series so far. As we know from previous books, she doesn’t like Harry, and now with Michael (her husband and a Knight Templar) away on ‘business’, she is stuck in this position where Harry is her best hope of finding and helping Molly.

Later on, Harry and some trusted allies have to suit up and head into the Nevernever. Without giving too much away, Thomas of the White Court vampires, is an excellent fighter and there are some great scenes with him kicking in teeth and stomping on faerie wings. The efforts of Harry and crew in the Nevernever have repercussions, some of which are known by the end of this book, but then there are some that don’t become apparent until later in the series. That’s another cool thing about these books. In rereading the series, I can see these ripples easier and it’s just amazing how well laid out the big arching plot is for the series.

Before the book is over, Harry has to face some of his fears as well. One of them, he knows is coming and he has time to think about how he will handle it. The second comes as a bit of a surprise and a relief once he starts talking about. I really liked that Harry had to deal with some of his biggest fears in this book.

At the end of the previous book, Dead Beat, Thomas moved out of Harry’s place. Harry spends the entire book wondering what Thomas is now doing for a living. He’s looking healthy and Harry worries that he’s turned to the dark side in feeding. The ending to this little mystery is quite amusing but we don’t get that until later in the series.

As usual, there’s a slew of returning characters in this book. Police officer Rawlins, who knew Murphy’s dad back in the day, is tasked with guarding a crime scene that Harry wants access to. Murphy of course is around and also accompanies Harry into the Nevernever. Lashiel’s carbon copy in Harry’s head is rather insistent in being of assistance and Harry learns some mental skills in blocking her out. The Lady Summer Lily and her Knight Fix put in an appearance as well. Even Harry’s godmother has a little role. There’s more, but these are the ones that stood out to me. This book is another great addition to the series and I had a lot of fun with the fear theme for the book.

Narration: James Marsters continues to do a worthy Harry Dresden. His female voices are on good display with this book : Charity, Molly, Lashiel, Murphy, Harry’s godmother, the Summer Lady, etc. He makes them all distinct and feminine.

What I Liked: The theme of fear used throughout the book; SplatterCon!!!; Molly has a lot of issues; Charity’s trusting of Harry; the gang goes to the Nevernever; Harry has to face 2 of his biggest fears.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a joy to listen to!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

SF Site

The Founding Fields

The Ranting Dragon

L. K. Evans

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

ButcherDeadBeatWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 15 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 7 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5 is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extend, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

It’s going to be another long weekend for Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard. Mavra, a Black Court vampire that Harry has previously tangled with, blackmail’s Harry into seeking out the Word of Kemmler (a powerful book by the necromancer Kemmler). This will be no easy task for Harry and he will be constantly weighing which is the lesser of two evils for the entirety of the book.

This is one of my favorite books in the series for several reasons. First, I really felt the stakes were higher in this book and I like that Harry doesn’t have many clear cut good/bad choices in this story. True, he’s trying to save all his friends some grief, but in order to truly pull that off he has to deal with Mavra or find a way to double cross her that doesn’t put any of them in peril. Second, Harry gets more responsibility in this book. I think he’s ready for it even if he doesn’t and while he doesn’t like the guise that responsibility comes in, I think he will be a positive influence on others who share the same responsibility. Finally, there’s a dinosaur. Yup. Harry Dresden and a dino. Freaking awesome!

Waldo Butters, the mortician, gets a larger role in this installment of the series as well. I really like how Harry doesn’t discount Butters’s abilities just because Butters is afraid. There’s plenty of scary bad guys in this book and it makes sense that non-magic users would find them super intimidating. Polka will never die! – thanks to Waldo Butters.

Sheila Starr, a woman who works at a bookstore, is another interesting character. She offers Harry the chance to flirt but she also has her secrets. Then there is Carlos Ramirez, one of the Wardens for the wizarding White Council. I like his cockiness and willingness to jump into the middle of things. Then there is the Wild Hunt and the Erlking who makes life for Harry just that much harder. Bob the Skull also plays a critical role and we learn a bit more about Bob’s past.

Harry – the poor man! He has to face some tough truths in this book and one of them is about his own flexible moral compass. Another is about what powers he is offered by stronger beings and how much he is or is not willing to lean on them. However, the ending was just as satisfying as ever. I like that things are a little messy and that not everything is wrapped up with a pristine halo at the end.

Narration: James Marsters continues to do Harry Dresden justice with this series. I also like his nerdy, Jewish voice for Waldo Butters – he does a great job with this character when he is panicking. Ramirez’s smooth Hispanic accent was nicely done as well. Captain Antonia Luccio’s Italian accent was lovely as well as decisive and tired from the fight. Marster’s voice for Mavra once again sent chills down my spine.

What I Liked: Playing with dead things; Waldo Butters’s keeps the beat; a dino!; Harry has to deal with bad guys every step of the way; Harry gets more responsibility foisted on him; great narration; we learn some of Bob’s past; the Wild Hunt!

What I Disliked: Nothing – tons of fun!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

Love Vampires

The Founding Fields

The Useless Blog

Confessions of a Christian Freak

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

ButcherBloodRitesWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 13 hours 11 minutes

Series: Book 6 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: The previous book (Death Masks, Book 5) is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extend, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Many years ago, a friend lent me her old Kindle in an attempt to bring me into the 21st century and this book was one of the first books listed and so I jumped right into it not knowing it was Book 6 in this series by some author I had never heard of. I absolutely loved it and went back and read the previous books. Now, finally, I have recently read the first 6 in order and I’m glad I did. Each book definitely builds upon the others and the larger story arc that holds them all together is much more apparent when the books are read in order.

Chicago’s only phone-book listed wizard is about to get pulled into a very odd job. Thomas Wraith, a White Court vampire, has helped Harry more than once and Harry isn’t too sure why. But now Thomas calls in a favor – he wants Harry to help his friend, a movie producer. He believes he is at the center of a curse, the Evil Eye. And since Thomas just helped him rescue a litter of Temple dogs from monkey poo flinging demons, Harry can’t say no. However, Thomas failed to mention that his friend works in the adult film industry. Harry is in for an education!

As Harry digs into the Evil Eye mystery, he is attacked by a vampire. It looks like he has to deal with a nesting Black Court vampire in the area and he suspects Mavra. Harry starts building his team of vampire hunters even as he narrows in on the cause of the Evil Eye. He taps Karrin Murphy for this hunt which is great. She was mostly absent in the last book. He also calls in Ebeneezer McCoy, his old mentor, and Kincaide, the bodyguard of the Archive. This mix leads to some interesting revelations about Ebeneezar and Kincaide. Pretty serious stuff!

Another reason I really enjoyed this story is that it introduces Mouse, Harry’s dog. In this book, he’s just a puppy and he gets snuggles from everyone, whether they be a police detective, a porn star, or a vampire. Everyone loves a floppy-eared pup. There’s also this dynamic between Harry and Thomas. They aren’t quite friends but they do have some mutual trust going on. Yet Harry still wonders why Thomas has helped him out as often as he has. In this book, Harry finds out. It’s pretty intense and we get to see the darker side to the White Court, which up to this point has been a rather mild bad guy organization of incubi.

There’s plenty of Harry’s snarky humor flung about in this book. I recognized some favorite movie references as well. While Harry works the Evil Eye case, he makes some interesting observations about the adult film industry, like how it’s not all that sexy to have someone yelling directions as you get busy. It’s done really well without being raunchy. By the end, Harry has suffered a serious physical injury and he’s also learned some truths that are hard to swallow. While the humor is great in this book, I enjoyed the serious parts more. I definitely feel like Dresden is being prepped by something (fate? a twisted author?) for something bigger.

 

The Narration: James Marsters is a continued win for the voice of Harry. He also did a Greek accent for the movie producer that was well done. I really liked the screaming of Harry and Thomas as they attempted to avoid the demons in the opening scenes. His regional accent for Ebeneezar was great and his ultra-spooky voice for Mavra was hair raising!

What I Liked: Fun with the adult movie industry!; Mouse the pup; some key revelations in this book; Yeah! Murphy’s back!; learned more about the White Court; Harry takes his first serious long-lasting injury; the mix of seriousness and humor.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this one!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

Love Vampires

L. K. Evans

Merric’s Musings

The Founding Fields

That’s What I’m Talking About

Daniel’s Corner Unlimited

Death Masks by Jim Butcher

ButcherDeathMasksWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 11 hours 21 minutes

Series: Book 5 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: This is the book where reading them out of order stars to do you an injustice. It does work as a stand alone to some extend, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the first 4 books before you jump into this one.

 

Harry is about to have yet another tough weekend. It’s not going to be just one thing coming down hard on him. Nope. He’s going to have to deal with John Marcone (Chicago’s crime lord), hunting for the Shroud of Turin, Michael Carpenter’s fiery wife Charity, his old girlfriend Susan Rodriguez (who’s dealing with her semi-vampiric state), a scheduled duel with a Red Court vampire, and a new breed of bad guy – the Denarians. It’s amazing Harry gets to be as old as he does.

I’ve been so-so about the character Susan for the series so far. This is the book that changes my opinion of her. She took a very hard hit back in Book 3 (Grave Peril) and I can see that it sobered her. Harry had been telling her again and again that the supernatural beasties she so wanted to catch on camera and write about were very dangerous. She really didn’t take those multiple warnings to heart and it cost her dearly. So here she returns to the series with this new and weighty knowledge. She’s also learned the advantages of body armor, weapons, hand-to-hand combat training, and following Harry’s orders in the midst of a fight. She’s not a total bad ass, but she has learned a bit and she does have some vampiric strength too.

Wow! The Denarians! Let me say that these are some of the most dangerous foes yet for the series. The Denarians, lead by Nicodemus, are a collection of fallen angels/demons. Each one resides within a coin and the owner of that coin can communicate with the specific demon, gaining knowledge and power. Of course each demon does their best to insinuate themselves into their master’s life and eventually take it over. Couple that with the supposed powers of the Shroud of Turin and you have a formula for disaster for Chicago. Which means that Michael Carpenter, knight templar extraordinaire, is returned to the story. And he brought friends (Shiro from Japan and Sanya from Russia).

As always, the plot is fast-paced and with the several threads weaving in and out of each other, I was never bored. Butcher does a great job of packing character development into the little downtimes (such as driving from point A to point B) the plot permits. For instance, Charity and Harry get to have chat while making dinner together. Charity is not a fan of Harry and they get to clear the air a little.

The duel with the Red Court vampire War Lord Ortega comes up early but doesn’t happen until later in the book. This particular plot thread brings into play two very interesting side characters –  the Archive (who presides over the duel to ensure fairness and record the outcome) and her bodyguard Kincaide. Also, Thomas (the white court vampire we met in Book 3) makes a reappearance. The White Council (ruling body of good wizards) are quite willing to sacrifice Harry if it means an end to the war with the Red Court vampires. Argh! Makes me want to strangle them!

Butcher ups the ante with this book, sacrificing some characters and forcing others to make tough choices. I really like how the seriousness continues to ratchet up for each series installment so far. The Denarians play rough and Harry and his friends will not get out unscathed. We also learn a very interesting thing about John Marcone that makes him a little more human. There’s very little Murphy in this book and I missed her. However, we get to meet Wizard Ebeneezer McCoy, who fostered Harry in his late teens.

So far, Harry has ended up in cuffs in each book for one reason or another. That happens again here. I find that amusing. Harry continues to grow as a character. We know he isn’t invincible and he knows it too. Yet he can’t stop helping his friends, protecting Chicago, and standing up to the bullies. The ending had a little unexpected twist for me that I expect will have major repercussions for Harry later on.

The Narration: James Marsters continues on as Harry Dresden and he does a fine job of it. In this book, his performance includes believable Spanish, Japanese, and Russian accents. I especially liked his kid’s voice for the Archive. He also does a great job with Wizard McCoy who comes from Arkansas and has that noticeable regional accent. 

What I Liked: So many bad guys for Harry to deal with; even those on the side of good aren’t always on Harry’s side; John Marcone does have a heart; Susan returns and is a useful character; Michael returns with friends; the Denarians are a major complication; interesting little twist at the end; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: I did miss Murphy.

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

The Ranting Dragon

Love Vampires

Geeks of Doom

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

ButcherSummerKnightWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 11 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 4 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, it works mostly OK as a stand alone. There is a significant spoiler for Book 3 (Grave Peril) that is referred to in this book, but if you don’t mind that, then it works fine as a stand alone.

 

Things continue to intensify for the only phone book listed wizard PI in Chicago, Harry Dresden. After the events of Book 3, Harry has been in a slump. His girlfriend had to leave him and he is guilt-ridden over the reasons why. He’s not taking cases and, quite frankly, not showering often enough. He’s also not paying rent and you can forget about food shopping. However, he does still have friends and one of those friends, Billy the college student werewolf, makes sure he makes it to an appointment on time that could lead to a paying PI case.

This episode in Harry’s life explores the world of the Fae. There’s the Summer Court and the Winter Court and each court has three queens, denoting the rise, peak, and fall of each of the two main seasons. Someone has killed the Winter Knight, a champion of the Winter court who is given great powers to carry out his tasks. Now, Harry has been hired, or rather compelled, to find out who and why. We briefly met Harry’s fairy godmother in the last book and Harry fears few others like he fears her. So I was very interested to see how the other Fae compared the first time I read this book. My enjoyment of the book has not diminished with time. Harry is in for a wild ride!

In the previous books, Harry has briefly mentioned his first girlfriend Elaine. Now, Elaine’s character gets filled out and Harry has to deal with yet more emotions. Plus he has to save the world. I think for Harry, saving the world is easier on him than dealing with emotions. The Fae courts have set Harry and Elaine at odds with each other and that makes things rather interesting. There’s plenty of sneaking about and trickery in order to unravel the mystery.

I like this book quite a bit because we have some demented characters and we don’t always get to damage or kill them. This is to the plot as the fifth taste, umami, is to my tongue. It’s a little sour, a touch sweet, and chunk of it is bitter. Harry can’t undo all the damage they have done. The sweetness is the anticipation (or sometimes merely hope) of these unsavory folks getting trounced eventually. Then, sometimes, the bad guys do get away.

Counter to that, is Harry’s humor. It’s nearly always bravado against something bigger and tougher. It sometimes veers into self-depreciating, but who wouldn’t want to rename the attacking saplings as a chlorofiend? It sounds bigger and nastier. The chuckle here and there helped relieve the tension.

Once Harry has a grasp on what happened to who and why, he then has to figure out how to save the world, literally. The final chapters are big and epic and if I had not come into this series late, I would have been concerned that the series might end with this book here and now. A lot of worthy scenes played out in those last few chapters.

The Narration: James Marsters continues on as the voice of Harry Dresden, and doing it quite well. I feel that he’s a bit more refined in his skill for this book. While I enjoyed his pauses or sighs or light coughs of embarrassment for Harry’s character in Books 1-3, I found there to be quite a bit less of that for this book. I don’t particularly miss it and I think this is more in line with audiobook narration instead of leaning towards radio drama. Marsters did great with all the smug female Fae voices. I continue to enjoy his TootToot fairy voice. 

What I Liked: The Fae courts!; Harry is forced out of his slump and into a case; the college werewolves; Harry’s old flame returns unexpectedly; the epic battle scenes at the end; some truly unscrupulous characters; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a great story!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

J. N. Cahill

Only the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

 

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

ButcherGravePerilWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 11 hours 59 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

Harry Dresden, Chicago-dwelling PI and wizard, is about to go head to head with a very powerful foe. But first he has to subdue the ghost in the baby ward of Cook County General hospital. Luckily, he has brought along his pious friend, Michael Carpenter. Something has been stirring up the ghosts in Chicago and the two have been quite busy of late putting these angry shades back to bed.

This is the book where the series starts to get serious. Significant things happen in this book that ripple throughout the rest of the series. There’s a fairy godmother, the Red Court vampires, these irritated ghosts, not to mention things getting a bit more serious between Harry and Arcane news reporter Susan Rodriguez. Then there’s Michael with his solid faith and Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD. Meaningful things happen to all these characters and not all of them are good things.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like Michael because I wasn’t sure how preachy (or not) he would be. It turns out that Michael isn’t preachy so much as he is sure that his path is one of virtue. His mild reminders to Harry of the so called right path are given from a place of love, respect, and friendship. Quite frankly, it’s part of his personality and he wouldn’t be Michael if he didn’t periodically remind his good friends of the Christian way. With that said, he’s a badass in a fight. Harry is lucky to have him around.

I found Harry’s fairy godmother, the Leanansidhe, to be a very intriguing character. There is definitely history between these two. I have never seen Harry so scared of any one person! Bianca of the Red Court vampires makes another appearance and she’s still holding a grudge over what happened in Book 1 (Storm Front). If these two ladies aren’t enough, there’s another bad guy or two waiting in the shadows, secretly causing Harry grief.

The mystery behind what is stirring up the ghosts was pretty chilling. It had ties to more than one bad guy so this made it harder for Harry to nail down and solve. Unfortunately, some of Harry’s friends get hit by the bad guys and there are lasting ramifications from this. I really felt for those affected, and for Harry who feels he should have been able to protect them, but I also applaud the author for having such consequences – it makes the story that much more interesting and intense.

Susan is ever on the hunt for a good story. While Harry is her boyfriend, she’s not above hanging out with him to get a great interview or a few awesome pics of something supernatural. She keeps pushing the envelope, thinking she is safe from these supernatural critters, and it blows back on her. She’s not an idiot but she can be one when it comes to running down a story. She’s too blithe about what can hurt her and that doesn’t work out for her. While I wasn’t particularly glad that happened, it was almost inevitable and I am glad the author kept the cause and effect logic going for her storyline.

We also have our first appearance of Thomas Raith and his lover Justine, which introduces the White Court of vampires, which are essentially succubi. Thomas is glamorous and likes to play the fool. His manner towards Harry is almost playful and it’s definitely hard to tell what side, if any, Thomas is on.

All around, this is another great addition to the series. I really liked that the take-me-seriously bad guy level was raised. It made the whole story much more intense and, hence, more enjoyable.

 

The Narration: James Marsters continues on as the voice of Harry Dresden, and still does a spiffy job of it. His playboy voice for Thomas Raith is also great. Marsters also got to show off his spooky voices with this one – from the lullaby-singing ghost in the opening scenes to Mavra (a seriously creepy vampire) to the thing that is behind the riled up ghosts – all were done very well.  

What I Liked: Idiot moves have real consequence; this is the book that makes the series serious; the bad guys behind the ghosts; Harry’s fairy godmother; a rather poignant end; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a great story!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

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Fangs for the Fantasy

 

She Who Writes Monsters

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

ButcherFoolMoonWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

 

Werewolves! Chicago has enough problems without werewolves and PI wizard Harry Dresden has enough problems without the FBI being involved. Harry put some serious strain on his friendship with Lt. Karin Murphy in Book 1 (Storm Front) and he’s been suffering because of it, and not just because a solid chunk of his monthly income comes from Murphy’s Special Investigations unit at Chicago PD where Harry used to do a fair amount of consultant work. Reluctantly, Karin Murphy asks for his professional opinion on a death and Harry isn’t too pleased at what he finds.

This is my second time reading this book, but I last read it years ago and had forgotten many of the details. Right up front we know the story is dealing with werewolves, but as Bob the skull points out, there are several types of werewolves. Harry has to figure out what type he’s dealing with before he can work out how to stop the killings. Also, there’s this tricky thing called motivation that he also has to figure out. But in this fast-paced urban fantasy, there is no time for Harry to simply sit and contemplate.

The end of the previous book left with things strained between Karin and Harry. They each have trust issues and hence they have trust issues within their friendship and working relationship. Luckily, they do have a few brief moments where they can clear the air. However, there’s still a big, big mistake in trust that costs the police force dearly. At the end of the book, there is this intense scene that does an excellent job of illustrating how far, or not, their mutual trust has come.

Susan Rodriguez, a reporter for The Arcane, is also a part of this tale. She, of course, wants to get some footage of some real werewolves but she’s not really listening to Harry when he tells her how dangerous they are. I’m still luke warm on Susan’s character. She can be fun and even a bit sassy, and she definitely has chemistry with Harry, but she also strikes me as a but of an idiot at times. Put on some body armor and get some weapons training if you’re going to go werewolf hunting, even if it’s just with a camera! With that said, I do become a fan of Susan later in the series.

Then there is Tara West. She’s the fiance of this multi-millionaire/environmental activist who is missing. Tara has some of the best lines for the entire book. She’s not like anyone Harry has dealt with before and it takes him a long time to figure her out. The first time I read this book, I didn’t get Tara either until the very end.

Since we are dealing with werewolves, there’s a fair amount of nudity as they shapeshift. However, it is practical nudity. So, don’t let the naked body count for this book turn you off. Not that it would turn me off anyway.

The FBI crew was a pain in the arse in more ways than one. Of course, they start off as a hindrance and it takes Harry some time to figure out how to either get them out of the way or get them on his side. Crime lord John Marcone also returns to cause Harry some grief. However, the man does have some interesting knife skills that a person has to respect. Yep, I do believe I enjoyed this book just a smidge more than Book 1.

The Narration: James Marsters continues to make an excellent Harry Dresden. He does a really great job of getting Harry’s emotions (an his occasional nausea) across to the listeners. His gravelly, tense voices (both male and female) for the werewolves were great. I love Bob’s proper accent and Gentleman John Marcone’s stiff replies to Harry’s snark. 

What I Liked: Harry tries hard to repair his friendship with Murphy; the mistake that costs the Chicago PD dearly; different types of werewolves, and their various motivations; the FBI crew; Tara West and her practicality; intense ending.

What I Disliked: Susan Rodriguez is a little bit of a ditz.

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Fantasy Book Review

Knite Writes

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Best Fantasy Books

Sarah’s Reviews

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

ButcherStormFrontWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 8 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

 

I’ve reviewed this book before but I was writing for a different blog at the time. Also, it has stood the test of time quite well and I feel it deserves another review.

Harry Dresden, the only openly practicing wizard in the country, is about to have a very rough weekend. Set in the city of Chicago, Harry must help the local Special Investigations unit figure out who is behind the grisly deaths of two people. While Harry would like to steer clear of this one and just focus on the mundane case of a missing husband, rent’s due and the Chicago PD is willing to pay for his services.

Harry is a very interesting lead character. He’s got this past that he doesn’t really want to talk about. Then he has this whole life that seems to be built around walking on the edges. The wizarding community doesn’t like that he so openly practices his abilities (let alone listing his services in the yellow pages). Meanwhile, the bulk of normal society scoffs at him and asks him to perform at kids’ birthday parties. He’s also a flawed character. He has trouble trusting people and he’s sometimes arrogant and bullheaded. Yet he is also a gentlemen to the ladies without being a chauvinist and is always willing to fight for what is right.

The plot moves quickly but there’s also these luscious moments of introspection tossed in throughout the story. I got to know Harry but was never bored with the ‘getting to know you’ parts. Harry’s wrapped up in two cases and his efforts on one or the other wrap around each other, always keeping me guessing as to where things will end up.

Then we have a plethora of interesting side characters. The infamous Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD is both a support and pain in the arse to Harry. These two don’t fully trust each other and that leads to difficulties in coordinating efforts. Bob, Harry’s wizened friend, has some of the best lines of the book. Mister is a 30 pound cat that deigns to call Harry’s small apartment home. Susan Rodriguez is a reporter of supernatural events and doesn’t mind doing a little flirting to pick up a lead. Meanwhile, we have John Marcone, one of the main crime bosses of the city.

This is the book that got me hooked on urban fantasy. Now, years later, after having read many, many urban fantasy books, I have returned to it. This book has stood the test of time and is still one of my favorites of the genre. I do believe I enjoyed this book even more on the second reading. There’s plenty of small details I had forgotten. I’ve read up through Book 14, Cold Days, and I really enjoyed coming back to beginning.

The Narration: James Marsters makes a great Harry Dresden. He’s got the beaten down PI voice, with a little gravel in it. I also love his uppity voice for Bob. His female character voices are believable and each one is distinct from the next. 

What I Liked: Harry Dresden – a PI and a wizard!; more than 1 mystery to solve; Harry has a complicated past; not all his allies trust him; some of his enemies want him to sit this one out; Mister the cat; Bob; the Blue Beetle.

What I Disliked: Nothing! I really enjoyed this one!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Fantasy Book Review

Knite Writes

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The Ranting Dragon

Castalia House

Dragon Gate by Gary Jonas

JonasDragonGateWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing LLC (2016)

Length: 7 hours 30 minutes

Series: Book 3 Jonathan Shade

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series, it works mostly well on it’s own. Of course, the first two books were really good, so I highly recommend giving them a read.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series and that set the bar pretty high for this book. Jonathan and his crew (Kelly Chan, her boyfriend Brand, and the ghost Esther) are hired by Dragon Gate Industries to protect the Nobles from the revenge-seeking Marshall clan. It’s not the normal case Jonathan takes on, but he owes the guys at DGI a favor. However both the Nobles and the Marshalls come from a culture that demands the Nobles willingly give up their lives to maintain family honor.

There were several things I liked about this book but then there were also some things that didn’t work for me. The set up is interesting and not something I have come across too often in urban fantasy. The Nobles are unwilling to defend themselves and some will willingly kneel for the sword. This makes it very difficult (and a bit infuriating) for Jonathan & his team to protect the Nobles. However, the reasons driving the Marshall clan to wipe out the Nobles, including the next generation that wasn’t part of the crime that lies between the two families, never fully gelled for me. For instance, the Marshalls take heavy damage and several deaths (which can only be expected when you go up against Kelly Chan). I don’t think it was worth the cost to the Marshalls but we never get inside their heads, so we never know why they keep coming.

On the plus side, we get plenty of Kelly time, which is awesome. My love affair with this character continues. Through the form of journal entries (yep, Kelly’s got a diary!), we get her opinion on everything from the use of high heels as weapons to worrying over Jonathan’s recent personality change. And that leads me to Jonathan and how he is suppose to be rather removed from his friends, harder, and not his normal joking self. Jonathan’s friends comment often on his new harsher self,  but when we ride around in his head he doesn’t sound any different from the first two books. He’s worried about his friends, takes pride in his work, etc. After what he suffered at the end of Book 2, I was really expecting more of a change in him and that change wasn’t fully crystallized in this book.

But then we have more awesomesauce. Esther’s character continues to grow. Through the typewriter keys that she haunts, she has a wider circle of friends and all the places they visit as well. Brand, a second generation sekutar (a magically manufactured warrior of sorts), also continues to evolve. His relationship with Kelly has forced him to develop his sense of empathy. I was convinced he wouldn’t live past Book 1, but I am glad the author kept him around to play the humorous, usually oblivious jock.

Jonathan & crew are left protecting Rayna and her brother Graham, who aren’t too enthusiastic about the body guards. The Nobles have special abilities that get revealed little by little. I really liked how reticent they were to show off their paranormal or magical abilities. For the bulk of the book, Rayna and Graham need to be protected, having no evident fighting skills. However, at the very end of the book, the author suddenly tosses in some warrior skills for the Nobles and I felt this was too convenient and didn’t match up with the character and what little we learned about the culture of the land the Nobles and Marshalls are from.

So while this book was a bit of a mixed bag for me, I plan to continue the series. Books 1 & 2 were so entertaining that I trust the author to get this series back up to that same level.

I received a copy at no cost from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Joe Hempel continues to be an excellent narrator for this series. I love his voice for Esther, especially when she says, ‘It’s all berries.’ Once again, he nails the voice for Kelly Chan with her light Asian accent.    

What I Liked: Jonathan & crew are outside of their comfort zone; lots of Kelly time; Brand and Esther continue to grow as support characters; there’s some magical beasties; the conundrum of the feud between the Marshalls and the Nobles.

What I Disliked: Some of the basics never fully crystallized for me, leaving me with lots of questions at the end of the story concerning the Marshalls and the Nobles; We’re told often that Jonathan has become harder, more aloof, removed from his friends but when riding around in his head, that isn’t apparent; A new character gets one too many previously unknown abilities at the end of the book at a most convenient time.