Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (Flash Impression)

Happy Monday!

blood rites book cover

Summary

So in an effort to try and get the “flash” back into these “flash impressions” I’m going to try and stick with this format of listing the “A, B, C Story” for the summary.  The way I figure, you’ve probably read this book and really this helps section out the pieces of the story. If you haven’t read this book, then I’m not entirely sure why you’re here? I mean, if you were looking for something to figure out if you wanted to read this series, let me say: yes. Go now. Read. (but first stay around here and read a bit because traffic numbers).

A Story: A wild Black Court Vampire appears!

B Story: Protect the Porn Stars!

C Story: Who the Fuck is Thomas?! (I felt there was a theme going here, ie the “?” and “!”)

Thoughts

(***spoilers ahead, duh***)

This book, more so than most of the previous seems to be split into two parts. Part one: puppies and porn stars; part two: white and black (court) vampires.  This isn’t to say that the white and black court vampires aren’t present in the beginning of the book (they are there from the beginning) and that the puppy or porn stars go away half way through the book (they just play a smaller role).  However it’s somewhere around the time when Dresden, Thomas, and Lara square off against the three black court vampires when the porn star part of the book ends.

Speaking of the fight with the black court vampires, I think I’ve read the best fucking death scene in the series.  Like easily so far in the series and I will go on record to say it might be the best death scene in the series up to Skin Game.  I’m not going to spoil it (it was a pretty fowl way to go though) but I will say it made me laugh so fucking hard that not only was I crying (all whilst at work) but I literally had to both pause the audiobook and rewind because I was missing parts of it over the volume of my laughter.  Overall the entropy curse makes for some pretty great deaths even if the rest of the funny ones were off screen, regardless the award for “Best Deaths” goes to Blood Rites. (insert best deaths award meme)

Now back to the puppies.  The book opens with maybe the best opening line of the series so far, “The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.”

I personally feel like this line is Dresden in a nutshell: “I like playing with fire and I know it totally looks like it’s my fault since I’m running away from the scene of the crime, however it’s not what it looks like. I promise.”  Now the reason the building is on fire is because Dresden is saving a box of puppies from a horde of demonic flying monkeys flinging their poo, which is on fire, after Dresden. You’d think “Huh, what big bad are we going to encounter that commands a fleet of flying monkeys who likes stealing puppies? Are we going to finally see Dresden fight a pop-culture-villain-who-is-just-different-enough-to-dodge-copyright-laws?” The answer: no(t yet).  I thought this was a rather bold move because not only do we never see these monkeys (or their master) again in the book but also the person who hired Dresden to save the puppies is never seen again either even though not all of the puppies were recovered. The missing puppy grows up to be mouse and holy. Fuck. He is the cutest puppy in literature. He has three scenes that just stick out in my mind like a scene from a movie. The first was when Karen agrees to dog sit Mouse and he’s playing with a little Snoopy doll, which is a nice call back to book two, and with Snoopy in his growling shaking jaws he stops and sees Dresden and tail starts wagging.  The Second was when Dresden placed Mouse in the back seat and was fighting a sock and was loosing. And the the third was towards the end just before Murphy’s family picnic when Mouse is in Harry’s coat pocket and hears Karen’s voice and starts wrestling around making funny shapes of the pocket until his little head pops out of the top. I kept finding myself unable not to smile in about every scene Mouse was in.

Speaking of heartfelt scenes involving the puppy, the scene where Dresden insists on soul gazing Thomas as proof that they’re half-brothers was heartbreaking.  Since the beginning of the book, chapter two maybe, Dresden has been contrasted with Murphy and her ambivalent feelings towards her family gathering, specifically seeing her mother, the contrast being that Dresden doesn’t have any known living family and therefore cannot relate going as far as to call Murphy’s complicated and irrational feelings “familial dementia”.  Fast forward several chapters back to the soul gaze and for the first time we get to see Harry talking to his Mother, even if it’s a construct from Thomas’s memory, which was a tear-jerker but then after the soul gaze Dresden’s reaction that he finally has what he kind of always wanted, someone to call family, he and Thomas have a happy-sappy reaction which causes puppy Mouse to come bounding over and jump up and down wagging his tail wanting to join in the joy even if he didn’t at all understand why.  Puppies + feels = all the warm fuzzies. 

I believe my last thought is mentioned right around the time of the soul gaze/half-bro reveal, which is something Thomas says that house Raith children are taught to memorise: “When every star in the heavens grows cold, and when silence lies once more on the face of the deep, three things will endure: faith, hope, and love.” This coupled with a quote from Butcher saying that the final trilogy of his books will be called “Stars and Stones, Empty Night, and Hells Bells” makes for an interesting juxtaposition being we may be given the theme for each of the final books: Faith, Hope, and Love.    

One last note, as of the events of the end of this book, the being known as “He Who Walks Behind” is now back in the mortal realm.  This is the same creature that Dresden’s adoptive and generally piece of shit parent, Justin, summoned to kill Dresden. Dresden was the last one to banish “He Who Walks Behind” however “He Who Walks Behind” has made a vow to come back for Dresden.  Just something to keep in the back of our, collective, minds.

Conclusion

Blood Rites is an extremely solid book and lays the groundwork for future plot points which both advance the overall story and build the world in equally amusing and complicated ways.  The ending of the book was a particular a stroke of mastery by having Thomas move in, Dresden decides to keep the puppy and muses about how his apartment might be small and growing smaller but at least now he has people to fill it with and capping the book off with the line “Why did you get large breed Puppy Chow?”

Stay tuned for next week when I finally cover the second book, Fool Moon or as I have taken to calling it: the bastard child of the series.

-fin

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Insomnia by Stephen King (first Impressions)

Happy Monday!

insomnia

For the record, I do try to provide a picture matching the cover art of the copy of a book I’m reading and failing that I will take a picture but I’m not very good at photography

I Stephen King’s “Insomina” on my girlfriend’s bookshelf and was instantly intrigued.  See what you need to you need to understand about me is I struggle with sleep. I don’t particularly know what type of insomniac I am(1) but I know that I go a bit fucking balls-nuts (a phrase I coined when sleep deprived) mad when I don’t have enough sleep. I’ve had hallucinations about men with 3 arms (I wondered where he got his shirts), I went to San Diego with no plan and no money (I slept in a gutter), and purple tastes like crushed velvet (which makes the inside of my teeth itch which is as unpleasant as it sounds).  These are the more amusing highlights (more typically I get really loopy, my brain feels ‘loose’, and I get really angry/paranoid).

 

insomia meme 1

Fun fact: Christian Bale whilst preparing for this role in American Psycho studied Tom Cruise and how he behaves in normal life.

However the good news is that I’ve started on some sleeping medicines that usually work(2) but Ralph Roberts, the protagonist of Stephen King’s novel “Insomia” isn’t so lucky (yet?). In this post I’m trying something a little different than the usual book review format.  In interest of being able to post more often with compromising my desire to read anything I want despite the page length, I’m trying this thing where I do “first impressions” and depending on both the length of the book and the amount of time it takes me to read the book I will be doing follow up pieces which include “midpoint impressions”, a proper book review, and maybe a “final thoughts” piece where I write something after the has sunk in.

The book opens in a similar fashion as the Disney movie “Up” does with a prologue that paints the picture of an elderly couple in the dusk of their marriage.  Ralph Roberts wife Carlyon has a terminal illness that keeps her in a constant state of physical and mental pain which is deeply heartbreaking. My first thought was that it was gonna take a few hundred pages for King to kill Carlyon but she ends up dying before Chapter One (and yes I cried a little bit).  What’s interesting is that Carlyon’s death is a seriously small side story in the picture being painted so far. Just prior to her death Ralph had some strange experiences. Before she died he could hear a “death clock” ticking, not as a metaphor for his grief but as he describes it as a literal constant “tick-tick-ticking” that stopped when she died.

Another strange thing that happened is he saw his usually mild manouored neighbor Ed Deepeau getting into a paranoid fueled violent altercation with another guy claiming that he had dead babies in fertilizer barrels in the bed of the guy’s truck.  After the the altercation Ralph is getting a ride home from a friend and draws a Chinese symbol (or so they say in the book and it kinda looks like it to my best guestimation(3)) which he has no idea where it came from or what it means.

Other than that, most of the plot has been establishing how small the town of Derry, Maine is and the daily dramas that happen in a tight knit community but there is this mounting sense that something just past the edge of the pages is coming.  One of the clues has to do with this voice that speaks to Ralph but as it’s been presented so far it “feels” like his interior monologue but I cannot say specifically why it isn’t but I am pretty confident that it is something “not-Ralph”. There has also been mention of this entity “The Crimson King” which is supposed to be returning.  The mention of this mostly comes from Ed Deepneau, the wife beating piece of shit, whilst Ed is in some strange paranoid rant. From the first time we meet Ed, from Ralph’s perspective, Ed has been “out of sorts”. Ralph notices that Ed has been acting increasingly paranoid, violent, and generally like “someone else” which leads me to believe that maybe he was a nice guy once or at least a slightly less belligerently violent and paranoid person.

Paranoia_meme

I’m pretty sure I’ve used this exact facial expression in times of great confusion whilst trying to understand flavours of crazy that are beyond my own.

I suspect these things have some ties into King’s Dark Tower series(4)(of which I haven’t read, YET), particularly “The Crimson King” reference, however I am REALLY trying to avoid spoilers but I may end up reading up on the Stephen King Multiverse because that shit deeply impresses and intrigues me.

stephen king multiverse chart

Marvel’s Cinematic “multiverse” can eat a dick.

So far, the book is good however it is what I would catagories as a… “sleeper” (HAHAHA I’m sorry but puns are funny and if you’re one of those fucks who repeats the stupid fucking phrase “puns are the lowest form of humour” then maybe you can stop reading my blog? I don’t know either way you make a little sad because not only is that phrase untrue, dick and fart jokes are the lowest form of humour [because they’re about

joker imaginary fans

Have I ever mentioned that as far as comic characters I most identify with the Joker?

baseline bodily functions] but puns utilise many linguistic tools from rhyming to double entrendas and abstract thinking, anyway I should stop yelling at my imaginary audience (INSERT PIC OF JOKER “SOME PEOPLE HAVE IMAGINARY FRIENDS BUT I HAVE IMAGINARY FANS!)) becuase it has been slow but I only being 126 pages in, of 663 pages, I’m sure things will get intense soon and around then I’m sure the book will be GIVING me Insomnia in that way really good books tend to.

 

bobby hill insomia meme

Stay tuned, folks: more to come on “Insomnia” and I promise there will be more comics coming (my next focus is to get a few comics drawn for Act II of “The Adventures of Fin & Louie: Reluctant Partners in Crime”)

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. I suspect I have Cromoid Insomnia but here are many different types as you can read more about here.
  2. Lunesta is one hell of a hallucigen if you are able to manage to stay awake.  The last time it didn’t work part of me was laying in bed but the rest of me was going on an epic adventure 20,000 leagues under the sea with Captain Nemo wrestling sharks with my bare hands and, for some reason, flying out in space in the same submarine searching for the pearl of eternity which was supposed to grant us time travel capabilities with the side effect that our hands would randomly turn into Portuguese speaking gerbils. We were convinced it was worth it.
  3. I eat a lot of Chinese food.
  4. I recently had my mind fucking blown when I learned about Stephen King’s Multiverse despite the fact that since I was 10 I’ve read maybe 20 of his books which might be more than I’ve read form any single author.

Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians (Book Rev)

Happy Monday!

A few weeks ago I wrote a review of Serial Reader (full review here) and in my review I mentioned having an unofficial and non-intentional avoidance for kindle readers.

I really don’t know why I have had this unofficial kindle reader boycott, maybe it’s because I avoid apps that want me to enter payment information or something.  I think it’s a money-fueled-fear aversion. Or maybe I’m a trendsetter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Source: Serial Reader (app review) footnote 1

However since then my friend has given me his old kindle fire with the book recommendation “Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians”

alcatraz

So today’s post has 3 parts:

  1. An update on Serial Reader (I have found more bugs since the initial review)
  2. A review of the book Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians
  3. Initial impressions of the Kindle Fire

Update on Serial Reader:

I’ve gone through a few phones since I wrote about Serial Reader(1) and one thing I’ve noticed is that I have trouble signing into my account across devices despite the “forgot password?” feature.  The issue this brings up is that when you have to “re-create an account” (I literally had 3 accounts under the same email, same password) you lose your place in your book(s) and have to wait until the serial catches up to where you were in your book UNLESS you get a premium membership (pretty reasonable at about 3$) however the issue remains: IF I CANNOT SIGN IN, I CANNOT ACCESS MY ACCOUNT PREMIUM OR FREE-MIUM.  This being the case, I’ve lost my place in the two books I was reading(2) a couple of times each.

Also it had this relatively minour/inconsistent bug where it doesn’t keep my place.  It most often happened when I finished a chapter and then the next time I came back to read, it started me at the end of the last chapter instead of where I was into the next chapter.

So all things considered, I can recommend Serial Reader if you’re not going to change devices anytime soon but because of this issue I do have trouble recommending it for purchase.

Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians Book Review:

Alcatraz Vs The Evil Librarians is about the titularly named character, Alcatraz Smedry, who is really good at breaking things.  Not like being clumsy or destructive, in fact Alcatraz makes a very specific distinction between “break” and “destroy”\

There was that word again. Destroy. I felt my hair bristle in annoyance. I don’t destroy things, I thought. I break them. They’re still there when I’m finished, they just don’t work right anymore.

Page 9

Shortly after accidentally burning down his foster parents’ kitchen we’re introduced to the eccentric Grandpa Smedry who reveals “Yer a wizard Alca…” No I’m sorry that was uncalled for, this book isn’t a Harry Potter knock off.  For one thing, this book is much better(3). These books are very self aware in the currently fashionable post-modern style which includes that Alcatraz will speak to the reader directly and frequently, often noting how this being a story about his life and him as a character.  We learn that the world we know is under the rule of a network of evil librarians (though why they’re evil is never fully explained…) and that there is another world somewhere around ours (I suspect it’s an “occupies the same space but not the same time” kind of situation but again, not entirely explained in this first installment) and it’s up to the extended and extensive Smedry family to recover Alcatraz’s father’s life work: The Sands of Rashid (which was stolen by the evil librarians).

I’ve mentioned before about my general reluctance to get involved in book series that span more than 1200 pages and/or 3 books however this series started and ended so very strongly that I’m interested in at least reading the next couple of books (there’s a total of 5 books and book 2 and 3 would have to be pretty amazingly bad for me not to try and power through the last couple of books).  I will be taking a break on the series for a couple of books (variety keeps me going) but stay tuned because I do plan to review more as the series goes.

Thoughts on the Kindle Fire:

It’s pretty brilliant.  I am a bit reluctant to admit it, it’s like admitting to liking Taylor Swift (just her early stuff, like most songs before the “Red” album), but I’m coming out and saying that I like it a lot so far.  It just has too many damn features that I love, like the blue light mode, the highlight and note system, even the fucking cover is brilliant. The only things I kinda don’t like is that it’s a little too “COME BUY EVERYTHING! We’ll make it obnoxiously easy…” however I guess that’s apart of its brilliance.  In Google/Amazon we trust (in a capitalist society, who needs governments anyway? I’m sure someday when Google or Amazon, if one doesn’t buy the other first, buys the US Government, Okay Google/Alexa will be happy to answer my question).

 

Footnotes:

  1. I’m really rough on phones.  I blame my first phone, an old sprint sanyo , mostly because it was a fucking tank.  I got that phone just as I graduated high school and it went through a litany of punishment, including one time where I played beer pong
    sanyo

    This phone was a tank.

    with it, and it JUST. KEPT. GOING.  I appreciate that phones have gotten much more complex and fragile since then but it seems to come at the cost of being so damn fragile.

  2. The Sleeper Awakens by H.G. Wells and House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
  3. I read the first 2 Harry Potter books and really just couldn’t get into them.  The movies were okay. I’ve seen them all once because of my kid sister otherwise I probably would have quit them too after movie 4 I think.  I remember there was a lull a bit around half way through the series.

 

***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***

 

Thoughts on the story:

“‘…we’re here to interfere! We’re trying to overthrow Librarian domination of the Hushlands, after all.’ ‘Why not just let people live their lives, and live yours?”

Page 112

This is an excellent question and one that gives me the feel that these Smedrys are acting as “world police” liberating people, who didn’t ask for it, and with out regard for the consequences of crumbling a regime that in, the cannon of this story, is fairly peacefully and the further consequences of the sequential awareness of said “evil regime”.  Alcatraz frequently mentions things like “I am no hero” and “I am not a good person” which makes me wonder if this is a foreshadowing of a moral crisis he will have later in the series.

“Do you have to have a point if you’re an evil sect of Librarians?” Bastille asked with annoyance.

Page 145

This begs the question: Does evil have a “point”? (read: purpose) or more generally does any morality have a “point”? This, being a quote from one of the “heroes”, goes unchallenged which does trouble me a bit because it implies that Bastille, a native of The Free Kingdoms and a child still, has never been challenged to think about WHY librarians are evil and if there is a purpose to the things they do.

“The Scrivener [the founder of the evil librarian cult]. He taught that the world is too strange a place — that it needs to be ordered, organized, and controlled.  One of Biblioden’s teachings is the Fire Metaphor. He pointed out that if you let fire burn free,it destroys everything around it. If you contain it, however, it can be very useful. Well, the Librarians think that other things — Oculatory powers, technology, Smedry Talents — need to be contained too.”

Page 145

This is an interesting philosophy but one that’s kinda one dimensional.  The deal with fire, both in reality and as a metaphoric symbol for society, is that in small amounts it can be sustained without burning everything in sight without oversight.  Once a fire/society gets beyond a certain size, it can/will grow out of control without oversight. Now to continue this metaphor, a small fire may be able to contain it self but it hasn’t enough energy to do much whereas a large uncontained fire has enough energy to do a great many things but without oversight it will consume everything in sight which would be an effective waste of said energy.  It comes down to the debate between Anarchism and Statism. Anarchism can work in societies up to a certian size but beyond that size it falls into a “Lord of the Flies” brutalism just as Statism works on large societies but when applied to too small of a society it becomes a sort of fiefdom. I’m not saying absolute of either works in any size society but a blind acceptance/rejectance of an opposing ideology is generally foolish.

“Librarians named mountains after themselves — just like they named prisons after [Smedrys].”

Page 158

Still not sure of the significance of this but it’s certainly interesting.

“So, my parents game me up so that they would make a spy out of me?” [Alcatraz] asked.

Page 293

This is some fucked up “the ends justify the means” shit here.  I am more strongly suspecting that The Free Kingdoms have some more problems than is let on in this first book.

What did you expect? That [Grandpa Smedry] would leave [Alcatraz] here all summer, in the exact place where your enemies know where to look? With people that aren’t even your family? In a place you don’t really like, and that is depressingly normal compared to the world you’ve grown to love? Doesn’t that seem a little stupid and contrived to you?

Page 306

Damn…that’s got to be shots fired at Harry Potter.

Okay folks, that’s all I have for you today.  I’m working on finishing the “Looking for a Friend” story arc in The Adventures of Fin & Louie.  If you’re interested in catching up on back issues, they can be found on my new page: The Adventures of Fin & Louie

-fin

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher (book review)

Happy Tuesday!

Okay guys, I admit that things got a bit weird last week with my Valentine’s Day post (The Golden Ass: A Valentine’s with Something for Everyone) but to your, very likely, welcoming this week I don’t have anything nearly as topical nor as weird (but if you like weird, trust me there is plenty of weird left in the tank).  No this week I have something fairly pedestrian in comparison to last week’s book, something more fantastical but in the traditional way.

This book, Furies of Calderon(1), is another series from the wonderful and imaginative Jim Butcher (best known for The Dresden Files books, I wrote a review of the first book in the series and can be seen here: Storm Front by Jim Butcher and my friend wrote a review on the comic omnibus which covers the events of the first three books here: Spoiler Free Book Review Dresden Files Graphic Novel Omnibus One).  I got this book as a xmas present from my best friend Evan and was extremely excited when my other reader friend Marc told me the backstory to the conception of this series:

How did you come up with the original idea for CODEX ALERA? We’ve heard rumours that it involved a bet on whether you could combine the Roman empire and Pokémon… is that true?

The bet was actually centered around writing craft discussions being held on the then-new Del Rey Online Writers’ Workshop, I believe. The issue at hand was central story concepts. One side of the argument claimed that a good enough central premise would make a great book, even if you were a lousy writer. The other side contended that the central concept was far less important than the execution of the story, and that the most overused central concept in the world could have life breathed into by a skilled writer.

It raged back and forth in an ALL CAPITAL LETTERS FLAMEWAR between a bunch of unpublished writers, and finally some guy dared me to put my money where my mouth was, by letting him give me a cheesy central story concept, which I would then use in an original novel.

Me being an arrogant kid, I wrote him back saying, “Why don’t you give me TWO terrible ideas for a story, and I’ll use them BOTH.”

The core ideas he gave me were Lost Roman Legion and Pokémon… Thus was Alera formed.”

(Source: “Jim Butcher chats about Pokemon, responsibility, and Changes” by Beth Johnson, guest reviewer for fantasyliterature.com)

See this series hit a golden triad of nerd-topia for me: Jim Butcher style fantasy, anime, and action/adventure.  Plus after being recommended by two different reader friends who’s tastes I trust to be closely calibrated to mine (but both of their tastes are heavier on the fantasy side, I’m more of a realism/so-fucking-weird-it-leaves-you-wondering-what-you’re-doing-with-your-life kinda freak(2)), I knew I was in for a treat.

Furies of Calderon is an early Jim Butcher work, or at least it feels like it.  Being published in 2004 he had a few Dresden Files under his belt and his experience shows in this book however that’s not to say there are no flaws with the inaugural piece in his 6 book series(3).  This book has some imperfections which doesn’t hold it back from being an excellent fantasy adventure by it self but does keep me from being driven towards the 2640 page commitment that entails the rest of the series.

So O.K. Corral style here is my thoughts on the book: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly style.

The Good:

Even this early in Butcher’s career he’s really good at misdirection or leading this reader to think that things are more grim than they are but still leaving clues to the observant to keep it fair. Let’s take an example from the second chapter after Alera and her mentor Fidelius are captured by the enemy and in a compromising position:

Aldrick drew his sword and said, “The old man [Fidelius] isn’t necessary.” He went outside the tent.

A moment later, there was a sound not unlike a knife sinking into a melon.”

(Furies of Calderon, 24)

At this point we as the readers have developed a 1.5 chapter (24 pages) bond with Almara and Fidelius and then we are lead to believe he was executed stage left however we later discover that he was faking his death and there was a literal melon being stabbed to simulate the sound of a man being cut through the gut.  It’s small details like this that make me appreciate an author more because they’re thinking about the reader’s experience reading the book a second time.

Butcher also does a good job at inciting curiosity such as only partly explaining how the “Fury magic system” works, who some characters are like (Fade? Aldrick? The fucking furies mapentire Marat “species”[are they even human?!]) and locations like most of the map beyond “Vallis Calderon” specifically what lies beyond “The Shield Wall” (okay, I admit to being a “Game of Thrones” fan(4) and I guess I’m conditioned to have curiosities about a mysterious northerly wall).

The Bad:

Okay so Jim is capable of bad writing, as I learned from this 650+ page novel.  Thankfully the bad isn’t concentrated in parts like books I could mention(5) however the mercy is spread among hundreds of too many pages in a couple of paragraphs segments:

[Pirellus] was lean with hard, fat muscle, and bore a slender, curved sword of metal blacker than mourning velvet in his hand.”

(Furies, 477)

Goddamn that’s a deadly sexy description of a serious swordsman.  This is our introduction to one of the most deadly swordsman in the cannon (as far as we know) and he was challenged by one of our main characters, Almara (as we have met from chapter one) however Butcher kind of ruins the sexy tight writing he showed us with spoon-feeding the reader exactly how deadly this Pirellus is

Pirellus was a master metalcrafter, one of the finest swordsmen alive. If he chose to engage in the duel, he could kill [Almara], and there would be little she could do to stop him. And yet it was necessary. Necessary to convince him of her sincerity, necessary for  him to know that she was willing to die to get him to act, that she would sooner die than fail in her duty to Alera, to Gaius. She stared at his eyse and focused on the task before her and refused to give in to her fear or to let it make the sword tremble at all.

(Furies, 480)

Notice this isn’t the beginning of a paragraph nor even close to the last page where we got a very distinct description of the swordsman and his prowess. It’s three pages later of sword-waving (in the metaphorical sense, Amara is a biological woman after all) and a very long paragraph of describing how deadly this Pirellus is, we are FINALLY granted some action (a page later mind) and that’s not even between her and her perceived adversary.

This nicely segues into my final and main complaint about the book which is a general complaint across most of the book but becomes most evident after page 490: the book is too long and accomplishes too little.  I’m inclined to believe Butcher was paid by the page/word for this novel because the “climax” of the book was about 150 pages and the falling action was around 20 pages). In almost 700 pages, Butcher accomplished what could have been finished (with some tight editing) in around 400 pages (give or take, I didn’t count strictly but even given space for world building, there’s still a significant amount of purple text even for a fantasy novel(6)).

The Ugly:

Thankfully there’s not much of this here.  Butcher does make some minor mistakes that did bother me (such as using too many similar names in the same story arc IE Aldrick grrm diesand Asturak, having some flat characters on both the “good” and “bad” side such as Bernard and Kord respectively, having places mentioned by name in the narrative but not appear on the map, etc) however the worst of the lot was at the end of the 150 page climax Butcher pulls a a GRRM and kills just about every character we’ve been following in this  book including my personal favourie, Fade (for the mystery mostly but also he has the best name in this  book) which is a pretty bold move.  Except that it wasn’t.  As the magic system works in this series there are healers who are capable of reviving people from the dead but it’s only available to extremely strong and experienced healers which even then it’s risky to both the healer and the patient.  So after this  long drawn out battle which has left everyone injured, dead, or otherwise indisposed, somehow there’s a healer available who can revive like 6 people (I don’t have the book in front of me but I can think of at least 3 people who are “killed”) which effectively tells me as a reader: THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES! DON’T WORRY NO ONE REALLY DIES!

Final Verdict:

This is a solid, if long, fantasy book.  I have read much worse and I have read much better.  The problem I have is that, like a blog post series, the interest nose-dives after the first installment and I won’t say I fully understand the loss of interest in every case but I can say I understand my personal loss of interest in this series beyond the beginning and that’s largely to do with the pacing of the novel and the ability for watercrafters (the healers of this magic system) to be able to reverse the condition of death even with seemingly-dire-canonical-implied-risks which ends up in being a Chekhov’s Gun full of blanks.  It’s almost like a GRRM book except remove the lasting implications of tragedy.

Overall:

I in no way regret reading this novel regardless of my apathy to continue with the series in general.  If you like high fantasy and like Jim Butcher’s works you’ll very likely like this book however if you’re like me and kinda borderline on fantasy or generally a slow reader (my main reason for not reading more fantasy novels) you might be best off renting it from the library or generally passing on this novel.  It’s an interesting world with some interesting characters but Butcher wasn’t able to cut enough fat for me to remain interested for the remainder of this series.
-fin

 

Footnotes:

  1. I keep mis-reading/mis-typing this title as “Furries of Calderon” which has an entirely different connotation. furry test
  2. A good example of the realism I like is the “dirty realism” of Bukowski (see my reveiws of Bukowski’s “Post Office” and “Notes of a Dirty Old Man”) and a good example of “o-fucking-weird-it-leaves-you-wondering-what-you’re-doing-with-your-life” is Infinite Jest by the late David Foster Wallace).
  3. I am sorry to disappoint however I will not be reviewing all 6 books in this series, which is to assume I will finish all six books.  I very likely will not for reasons that will be outlined.
  4. I specify “Game of Thrones”(GoT) versus “A Song of Ice and Fire”(ASoI&F) because as I’ve read and deeply enjoyed the first two ASoI&F books, I was warned of way way too much purple text (filler content) come book 4 and 5 whilst when I just finished ASoI&F book 2 was when GoT season 2 was ending and it seemed like a good point to segue between the book series and the HBO series.
  5. See The Pesthouse by Jim Crace book review
  6. I appreciate that due to the nature of the fantasy genre, more time and text needs to be invested in developing the world however that does not give license for the author to be redundant in descriptions nor to drop 200+ word interior monologue thought processes of the characters we are following. Let there be some blanks that my imagination can fill, please.

Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Bukowski (book review)

Happy Wednesday!

I wrote about a Bukowski novel before, Post Office, which sometimes I kind of wish I kept my copy of but ultimately it wouldn’t make a difference since I’m once again on the road.  Much like Bukowski himself, I’m a ragman who has a penchant for writing and being frequently called insane.  When I saw another Bukowski novel at the local goodwill, I snatched that shit up.

I will be the first to admit, I can be kind of a dumb bastard sometimes.  When I began reading Notes of a Dirty Old Man, like most other books I read, I went in corpse cold: no preparation just going in and seeing what happens.  This has lead to some confusion over the years because I’ll begin reading a book and think “HOLY SHIT! What the fuck am I reading? Is this a work of fiction?” or “Uhh…is this supposed to be a comedy because this guy’s monologue about suicide is kinda funny” or similar oddities.  I  know this is easily fixed, I do frequent wikipedia, but I think that would ruin some of the experiences I have with books for me.  Either way this happened again with Notes of a Dirty Old Man.

When I began reading Notes I thought maybe it was an experimental novel given its broken and non-sequenced pieces, the lack of proper capitalization and a general lack of obvious structure.  I was trying to find connections between Bukowski recounting beating the crap out of his friend “Elf”, a baseball playing angel getting his wings butchered off, and philosophical waxings at the race track before one day recently (I started Notes months ago, but took a break to read a book my now-ex-girlfriend highly recommended then the hiatus continued when my best friend gave me a few books for xmas and then after finishing one of the books I got for xmas [“Briefing for a Descent into Hell” by Dorris Lessing, which is phenomenal for the record, review coming someday] I really felt a need to get back to Notes) I looked up the wiki article on Bukowski himself and discovered that the novel I’m reading is a collection of pieces Bukowski wrote as a column for an independent newspaper called OPEN CITY.  Sudden a couple of things made more sense however even after completing this novel and doing some research I still think there’s plenty that’s unknowable about this book.

I’m not including a spoilers tag in this book review because I don’t know if there’s anything to spoil about this book but here’s what I feel one should know going into the book, if you’re that kind of person:

  1. Bukowski is a bastard.  Accept it or don’t but you have been warned.
  2. Bukowski is a drunk, a drifter, and has no apparent moral compass.
  3. Bukowski is very sexually deviant in his writings.
  4. If you’re the sensitive type who requires “trigger warnings” FUCKING RUN AWAY.  I’m serious you will not be able to handle his works particularly this book.
  5. Don’t feel bad for laughing at necrophilia, suicide, or murder.

Given these things, you may start thinking to yourself “Chessis Christ, what kind of person are you if you can identify with Bukowski?” and you’d be accurate in thinking this.  I have no answers.

Here’s some quotes that I liked from this book:

“Eliot Mintz — he’s like a kid’s accordian: no matter how you squeeze him you get the same sound” (24)

“every man is afraid of being a queer. I get a little tired of it. maybe we shouldall become queeers and relax.” (33)

“(by the way…I realize I switch from present to past tense, and if you don’t like it…ram a nipple up  your scrotum. — printer: leave this in.)” (37)

“…I’ve  got an old saying (I make up old sayings as I walk around in rags) that knowledge without follow-through is worse than no knowledge at all. because if you’re guessing and it doesn’t work you can just say, shit, the gods are against me. but if you know and don’t do, you’ve got attics and dark halls in your mind to walk up and down in and wonder about. this ain’t healthy, leads to unpleasant evenings, too much to drink and the shredding machine.” (49)

“…the world makes madmen (and women) of us all, and eventhe saints are demented, nothing is saved. so shit. well. according to my figures I’ve only had 2500 pieces of ass but I’ve watched 12,500 horse races, and if I  have  any advice to anybody it’s this: take up watercolor painting.” (50)

“‘Love’ is something you need penicillin for.” (59)

“The next guy that calls money ‘bread’ should be paid off in whole wheat.” (59)

“there is only one place to write and that is ALONE at a typewriter.” (77)

“God got out of the tree, took the snake and Eden’s tight pussy away and now you’ve got Karl Marx throwing golden apples down from the same tree, mostly in blackface.” (83)

“this is the way a Loner ends up: dead alone. dying alone. a Loner should get ready early.” (90)

“there are times when insanity becomes so real that it isn’t insanity anymore.” (125)

“some cunt had decided to stay with me — that was love, that was bravery. shit, who could really stand me? anyone who could stand me had a lot of forgiveness of soul. I  just had to REWARD this sweet, little dear deer for having the guts and insight and courage to stay with me.
what better reward than to fuck her in the ass?” (181)

“When Love becomes a  command, Hatred can become a pleasure.” (206)

“I’d rather hear about a live American bum than a dead Greek God.” (207)

“love arrives and departs without notice.
is it possible to love a human being?
of course, especially if you don’t know them too well.” (221-2)

“…sometimes you just have to leave those crazy broads and get yourself back together. There’s a certain price on pussy that no man will pay; meanwhile, there’s always another fool who will pick up  the one you’ve dropped, so there’s really no sense of guilt or desertion.” (254)

The next comic in “The Adventures of Fin and Louie” coming soon.

-fin

Video Log #3 I really need to stop picking my face during these (surprise ending)

Happy Monday!

I’m anxious because tonight is the first night I believe I’m on my own as far as finding a place to stay. Shelters are full up because of the weather, it’s literally snowing, and I’m without a sleeping bag. Morale: 4.5/10 (10 = this is the best day of my life; 1 = I’m really close to giving up).

Video Log #3 here:

My primary plan is to sleep as much during the day and find a 24 hours fast food place to stay and write at night. Failing that I will walk around muttering to myself trying to keep warm until the Metrolink starts again or something.

Hope to post again tomorrow.

-fin

Wreck the System Releases New Album “Wreckfest”

Happy Monday!

Heya folks earlier this year I had an amazing time at my first nerdcore show in

MEGARAN

One cool dude.

Manchester and scored an interview with some new and some familiar nerdcore rappers including Mega Ran who is in the super group “Wreck the System”.

 

 

 

After that Wreck the System reached out to me to do a press release for their music video “Link with a Link” which if you haven’t seen the video yet, have a listen.

Wreck the System released a new album this week called Wreckfest.  Wreckfest is a concept album about a few friends going to a comic con and Ian, the main character, is going for the first time.

Each song takes us through the experience of the three day convention through both their catchy lyrics and outro sketches at the end of many of the songs.

Here’s the official trailer to their new album.

 

 

Lucien Storm: with kindness in his eyes and a fire in his heart (STL Shines)

Happy Wednesday!

Sorry for the late posting. Monday was a struggle after a busy holiday weekend, Tuesday was busy with work, but here I am today bright eyed and bushy eyebrows! orca-image-1509586175703.jpg_1509586175829

Welcome to my first installment of the experimental series of profiles on rising St Louis stars and artisans.  This week we’re featuring the equally talented and beautiful Lucien Storm.  Without further ado, let me introduce this weeks guest:

Lucien Storm greets me at the door of his home, located in Ferguson, a small city inside St Louis North County.  Storm stands tall, or at least tall to me, with out a sense of inflation, “Welcome to Storm’s Hollow”.  

Entering Storm’s Hollow is an experience I won’t soon forget, the anteroom serves as a hub for the rest of the labyrinthine.  A mural of a tree climbs up the right angled stairs, straight ahead through a door frame I can see a table which appears to have a gigantic body shrouded laying on top, however despite my curiosity and anxiety (both stemming from a mounting sense of excitement) Lucien directs me to the left through a door way into a room straight out of my dreams: book shelves (filled with books and just books) from  floor to ceiling, a fireplace, exposed ceiling allowing the century old wood to show off how well it’s aged, a Ouija board and  some faux candles “float” (fishing line from the ceiling) above a coffee table which sat in between two lush period appropriate wooden chairs the style where the apolstery is attached by patina penny coloured studs.  Storm’s Hollow is one of most home feeling places I’ve ever entered, which as Mr. Storm explains to me is the purpose of his Hollow: a safe place for friends, family, and community.

“Storm’s Hollow is our home, but isn’t just a home.  It’s a space for crafting, hosting, a community center for the pagan/alternative community, and fire and burlesque performance troupes.”  Mr Storm explain.  The primary fire and burlesque troupe that takes refuge in Storm’s Hollow is a cooperative called Hidden Flame.  Hidden Flame will be performing at the Lantern Festival 4th and 5th of November in Eureka MO.

However Storm’s Hollow is more than just a community center and gathering place for makers and performers.  Lucien Storm shared with me a glimpse into the future of his vision, something I’m calling “Storm’s Hollow 2.0”, “What I would like to eventually expand into is building an earthship home (an eco-home built into the earth from re and up cycled products).”  From there he plans to expand into offering classes to other people seeking to build their own earthship and learn more ecological living, and then long term he would like to build an eco-friendly community of earthships somewhere near the St Louis area.

Tune in Friday for the weekly funny! This week is inspired by my mystery guest from Friday the 13th comic

Lady Sugar Skull

May I present “Lady Sugar Skull”?