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Book Review: Skin Game

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Skin Game, by Jim Butcher

★★★★★

Skin Game is the fifteenth book in the Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher.  The book follows Harry Dresden, after Mab forces him to join his arch nemesis Nicodemus, on a quest into the Underworld. Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: Cold Days

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Cold Days, by Jim Butcher

★★★★★

Cold Days is the fourteenth book in the Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher.  The book follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard fighting crime in Chicago, taking up his new mantle as the Winter Knight, and having to save Chicago from disaster on Halloween night. Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: Ghost Story

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Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher

★★

Ghost Story is the thirteenth book in the Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher.  The book follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard fighting crime in Chicago, following his death at the end of Changes and his attempt to find out who murdered him. Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: Changes

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Changes, by Jim Butcher

★★★★★

Changes is the twelfth book in the Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher.  The book follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard fighting crime in Chicago, and his journey to save a little girl from a blood ritual by the Red Court. Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: Turn Coat

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Turn Coat, by Jim Butcher

Turn Coat is the eleventh book in the Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher.  The book follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard fighting crime in Chicago, and his adventure proving the innocence of his most hated Warden while discovering the White Council turn coat.


Warning!  Spoilers follow here.

The book starts with Harry opening his door to find Morgan standing there asking for his help.  Morgan has been wrongly accused of killing a fellow warden and asks Dresden to help prove his innocence.  Dresden takes him in, cleans him up, and proceeds to watch over him for the next 48 hours — how much longer Morgan’s veil against the people looking for him will hold up.  Morgan swears he is innocent and woke up in the deceased’s room holding a bloody knife with no recollection of how he got there.  He believes the traitor, who has been feeding information to the enemy for several books, framed him to take the attention off himself while he continues to feed information.  Dresden runs with that idea and seeks out to discover the traitor.  Along the way, Dresden is stalked by a skinwalker — an evil spirit who can take any form.  When Dresden looks upon the skinwalker with his Sight, his mind is nearly disabled at how powerful the being is. He arrives at Will and Georgia’s apartment to take shelter and recover from the vision.  The skinwalker follows him and instigates a fight with the Alphas.  Kirby is killed and Andi is severely injured.  The skinwalker flees.  Dresden, Molly, Thomas, and Morgan attempt to hide in a storage unit.  Binder, a British foe who can conjure these weird gray beings, is introduced and tries to take out Dresden before he can find out anything else regarding the traitor.  Binder, as we later learn, is working with Thomas’s cousin Madeline in cahoots with the traitor.  While Dresden is fighting Binder, Thomas gets snatched by the skinwalker.  After enlisting the help of Murphy and a private investigator named Vince on a side mission, Dresden returns to Demonreach — the island from the previous book — to take everyone out at one time.  The Raiths come with him to aid in the fight.  He brings out the Council, by telling them he has Morgan in his possession, the skinwalker, on the grounds of a swap (Thomas for Morgan), and Binder and Madeline by bringing the Raiths along for the fight.  A huge fight ensues, and the skinwalker shows up toting Thomas.  He has scarred Thomas and turned him into a primal beast.  Listens-to-Wind helps Dresden fend off the skinwalker.  Lara Raith takes Madeline out and Dresden lets Binder go under the agreement to never do business again.  The wardens take Morgan back to Edinburgh to hold his trial and prove him guilty.  At the trial, Dresden uses photos from Vince to reveal that Peabody, the secretary for the Council in Edinburgh, is the traitor.  Peabody enchanted the ink he uses to write with, and when others also wrote with that ink, he harnessed power over them and could control them psychically.  He psychically controlled Luccio to kill the warden, but Morgan made it look like he did it because he loves her and didn’t want her to take the fall.  After a short chase, Morgan kills Peabody and then dies.  Ebenezar walks Dresden back to Chicago and the idea of the Merlin being in on the Black Council comes up.  Dresden decides to team up with Eb and a small group of others to fight against everyone, calling themselves the Grey Council.  The book wraps up with Dresden finally getting to see Thomas since his kidnapping.  Thomas is different and stoic.  After a cold meeting, Dresden assures Thomas that he’s still here for him.  Dresden brings Butters to Will and Georgia’s for game night, which Kirby always held before his death, and they begin a new game.


Where the hell do I start.  I hate what happened to Thomas.  He’s my favorite character.  That shit better get fixed.  The fact that Luccio’s love for Harry was all a result of the mind control was some BS.  The guy just can’t catch a break.  We still know nothing about Michael’s condition from the previous book.  The idea of the Merlin actually being bad is very intriguing, but I don’t see a motive for it.  I do like the secret Grey Council, though.  In the book, it’s mentioned that because Luccio gained a new, younger body she is now receptive to Peabody’s mind control, which is most effective on young people.  I find this a little weak because even though her body is young, her mind and soul isn’t.  I don’t think it should have been that easy to control her. Maybe she wanted a part of it; maybe she’s bad, too.  I never liked her.  Morgan didn’t deserve to die.  He was like the Snape of the Dresden universe.  I give this book a 4/5, because, while gripping, the ending made me feel so much like the HIMYM finale.  So much development to be torn down so quickly.


For Next Time

Changes, by Jim Butcher

Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover—until she was attacked and left struggling with the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Now, she needs Harry’s help. Harry’s enemies have found the secret she has hidden for so long, and he will have to unleash the full fury of his untapped power.

-bn.com

2014 Can Officially Begin.

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I suppose it’s time I finally write my annual new years post.  I began writing them on my old blog as a way to record my new years resolutions and review the past year.  Traditionally, I’ve written the premier post on January 1st.  In the post, I recall my previous resolutions and how well those held up, as well as introduce new ones.  I’m quite late getting the first official post of 2014 written this year.  We’ll just say I gave myself a month to think about it.

I wrote a short post at the end of last year capturing some of 2013’s biggest moments for me.  I would like elaborate on each of those points to have them on record, but I’ll make individual posts for them.

Last year was incredible.  So many wonderful things happened and my world changed drastically.  For the last six months of 2013, I felt so alive in everything I did.  Electricity popped within me at every task I accomplished and every milestone I passed.  I’m convinced still that 2014 won’t hold a candle in many ways, but I don’t want to diminish the year’s light so early in.

As I was looking over last year’s post on the old blog, a few things really stuck out – things that weren’t even actual resolutions but observations or comments in passing that came to mean something later on.  Things like:

  • “I attempted to start writing at the start of last year, but couldn’t stick with it and eventually lost interest.  A resolution for this year is NaNoWriMo.”  This was part of a recap on a 2012 resolution to write more.  It’s interesting because NaNoWriMo wasn’t an actual resolution, it just happened.  I remembered it existed at the end of the year and felt like doing it.  I didn’t even remember making this comment in that post until I reread it in preparation for this one.
  • “Basically, I just sat back and expected good things to fall in my lap.  I’m a Christian, and I’d heard so many times to just “hand it over to God.”  But I think it’d be better if I met God halfway.  So this year, the mantra is, “Try Harder, Do Better.”  I want to give a better effort to things, and physically do more.  So there’s that.”  I couldn’t have possibly known what I’d accomplish or how far I would come from where I was.  I also think the “meet God halfway” strategy should stay in place.
  • In tandem with the previous bullet, “I’m on a mission this year to find a real job.  I’m tired of being a sell-out and a joke to everyone who looks at me and sees an unemployed job-seeker.  If it comes down to an unemployment agency, then so be it.”  My, how prophetic.  For it was exactly this act that led me to my dream job.

And now, a recap of 2013’s resolutions – the year preemptively described as “lucky” in that previous post:

  1. Do more.
  2. 1a.  Do less.  (i.e. Less whining, less complaining, less stressing, less lashing out, and less bad.)
  3. Lose more weight/run more.
  4.  2a.  Participate in another 5K.
  5. Take more pictures.
  6. Red Binder.
  7. Find a job.

How did I do?

  1. I like to think I accomplished a lot last year.  I went out of my way and sometimes out of my comfort zone to get the things I wanted.  So worth it.
  2. I don’t know that there was actually less of any of the examples I wanted to work on, but I did give an effort.
  3. I ran on a somewhat regular basis until I started my job.  It became difficult to balance the two, especially since I had to get up early to get ready.  I’m hoping to get back into running this year.
  4. That being said, I also want to run another 5K.  I didn’t run one last year, but I’m already looking at one for this year.
  5. At some point, I actually consciously calculated it and I take an average of 3 pictures a day.  I doubt that’s any more or less than what it’s been in previous years.  I also think the pictures mentioned in the resolution were in reference to Delilah, my big DSLR – a call to take more creative shots.  This did not happen.
  6. Yeah.  Still need to do this.  I’m tired of it taking up a resolution spot every year.
  7. Finally.

So, what’s next?

Here are the traditional 5 resolutions for 2014:

  1. Run again.  As already mentioned, I want to start running again.  I’m going to start training in mid-February for this 8K at the end of May.  I’m so excited – I’ve wanted to run this race since I moved here!
  2. Less sleep.  I made the executive decision that I need less sleep.  While some people require the exact opposite, I think I get too much sleep.  It’s a vicious cycle: I fall asleep super early, sleep through the whole night, wake up early, feel tired from getting too much sleep and acting sluggish, then fall asleep early because my body is telling me it’s tired when in reality it’s just over-rested.  I’ve already been making some strides to staying up later, so hopefully this will continue.
  3. Write more.  I may or may not do NaNoWriMo again, we’ll see how I feel about it in October.  For right now, this resolution will be slightly revised to, “edit and publish manuscript.”  I’m giving myself the month of February to edit it and create the cover.  Then all that’s left to do is publish it!
  4. Finish: Dresden, X-Files, Star Trek, KK.  This isn’t exactly a constructive goal as it’s purely for entertainment purposes.  I want to finish the Dresden Files series (up until the current book) as well as the Kingdom Keepers series, and I want to finish X-Files and watch all the incarnations of Star Trek.  I’m stupidly excited to watch Next Generation, but I feel it’s only proper to watch TOS first.
  5. Red binder.  Seriously.  In short, my mother-in-law gave me this red “binder” (which is actually a photo album) that had a lot of pictures in it from when Justin was a baby.  I wanted to scan the pictures and then return the red binder to her.  I think she gave me the binder back in 2010.  It’s time to cross this one off.

So there you have it.  That’s what I hope to accomplish/do/watch/read in 2014.  I’m sitting in my rocking chair with a red pen behind my ear, my manuscript on the floor next to me, and the sunrise illuminating my apartment.  For all intents and purposes, I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year.

newyears

Book Review: Small Favor

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Small Favor, by Jim Butcher

★★★★

Small Favor is the tenth book in the Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher.  The book follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard fighting crime in Chicago, and his adventure fulfilling his second favor for Queen Mab.


Warning!  Spoilers follow here.

The book starts with Harry playing with the Carpenter children in the snow at their house.  Gruffs attack and everyone runs away to safety.  Shortly after, Dresden is confronted by Queen Mab, who asks that he fulfill his second favor of the three he owes her.  Marcone has been abducted and Mab asks for his safe return.  Dresden sets about to do this when he discovers that Nicodemus and the Fallen are who abducted him. Dresden works with Gard and Hendricks, Marcone’s henchmen, throughout the book to help get him back.  Dresden originally assumes the Denarians want Marcone to persuade him to take up a coin and use his connections to wreak havoc.  As a means of meeting with Nicodemus to talk with him and get back Marcone, Dresden sets up a meeting at the local aquarium as neutral ground and brings along Ivy and Kincaid as neutral parties.  The whole thing turns out to be a setup meant to kidnap Ivy, with Marcone’s abduction having been a huge decoy.  The Fallen want Ivy to accept a Denarian coin to give them an insane amount of power.  Despite a short but intense battle, the Denarians make off with Ivy and Dresden must fight to get her back.  Along the way, Dresden and Luccio strike up a relationship and Dresden is constantly running from the Gruffs – servants of Summer who are out for Dresden for siding with Winter.  Dresden is finally forced to offer up all of the collected Denarian coins, plus Shiro’s sword Fidelacchius, to Nicodemus as a trade for Ivy.  Drunk off the power to wield a Holy Sword, Nicodemus accepts this offer and has Dresden meet him on an island.  Both Ivy and Marcone are being kept prisoner on the island.  Dresden get a strange sensation that the island is familiar to him, and he knows several things about the island once they arrive.  Dresden is accompanied by Michael and Sanya, who throw everyone on the island for a loop and start attacking.  Gard and Hendricks show up in a helicopter and start lifting people into it.  Sanya, Marcone, and Ivy get up safely, but as Michael is being lifted, a Denarian takes a sawed-off shotgun and opens fire right under him, wounding him almost instantly.  The helicopter, suffering from some of the close gunfire, flees, leaving Dresden alone on the island.  After a long battle and a run-in with the final Gruff from Summer, Dresden manages to escape the island.  Thomas and Murphy drive up in Thomas’s boat and rescue him.  Ivy starts recovering, but Michael is left open-ended as to whether or not he’s truly okay.  On a date with Luccio, she tells Dresden that his familiarity with the island is a sign of his Sight strengthening.  Impressed with his ability to ward off Denarian shadows, archangel Uriel offers Dresden the power of Soulfire, a power he can put to good use.  The book ends with implications about Dresden and Luccio’s relationship.


I give this book a 4/5.  I enjoyed it, but not as much as some of the others.  This book does not end with a neat little bow, and is one of the first to do so.  There are lots of open-ended questions at the end.  Is Michael okay?  Why does Dresden now have his sword?  Is Nicodemus actually dead?  Hopefully lots of these will be answered in the next book.  I loved Dresden’s affection toward Ivy and Thomas’s and Dresden’s brotherhood.  I don’t know how I feel about Dresden and Luccio getting together.  And I really want to know who the traitor is, and where they are.  It’s been indicated that the traitor is either on the Council, one of the Fallen, or even in the church.  Seriously, Butcher has dragged this out for like four books or something.  I’d like to think that the next title means we’ll find out, but you never know with Butcher.


For Next Time

Turn Coat, by Jim Butcher

The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council-and there’s only one final punishment for that crime. He’s on the run, he wants his name cleared, and he needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Like Harry Dresden. Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake could cost Harry his head…

-bn.com

God & Good

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This morning, as I do every morning, I prayed on the way to work.  Praying is a daily thing for me, and one of the only reoccurring religious things I do.

One of my favorite things in the Dresden Files is how Butcher describes the feeling of security that prayer gives the believer.  In one such description, Butcher writes about Michael – a religious friend of Harry’s – who says a prayer before they go into battle in book 3:

“‘Lord,’ Michael said.  ‘We walk into darkness now.  Our enemies will surround us.  Please help to make us strong enough to do what needs to be done.  Amen.’   Just that.  No fancy language, no flashy beseeching the Almighty for aid.  Just quiet words about what he wanted to get done, and a request that God would be on his side-on our side.  Simple words, and yet power surrounded him like a cloud of fine mist, prickling along my arms and my neck.  Faith.  I calmed down a little.  We had a lot going for us.  We could do this.”

Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher

This is exactly what it feels like to me whenever I pray.  It feels like a cloud, a ring, a safety net, has been placed midair around me.  It’s hanging there, doing what I’ve asked it to do.

And then sometimes, that same feeling is achieved not so much through prayer but through another medium.

This morning on the drive to work, I had my phone plugged into the car to listen to my music.  One of my favorite songs from the Cardiology album came on, “Right Where I Belong.”  While GC isn’t classified as a Christian rock band, nor do many of their songs feature religious messages, this song is specifically about the singer’s relationship with God.  It’s a wonderful song and once it came on in the car this morning it was the only thing I listened to.  Just on repeat, over and over.

Here are the lyrics and the song for your enjoyment.  I hope it enhances your Thursday like it has mine.


Right Where I Belong

by Good Charlotte

~

As I leave the empty station,

The first thing I see is the sun over the mountains.

West Hastings Street, anxiously waiting

That’s when I feel that God is all around me.

~

And I don’t know where to begin,

To say I’m sorry for my sins,

So I collapse into your open arms.

~

I’m sorry it took me so long, out here

For me to find my way back home.

I didn’t have a reason for when I stopped believing,

But I needed you to know, that I’m right where I belong.

~

Now I can see everything clearly,

In the rearview, that you were right beside me.

So long ago, my voice of reason

It disappeared, along with my convictions.

~

And now I know where it begins,

Accept forgiveness for my sins

And just collapse into your open arms.

~

I’m sorry it took me so long, out here

For me to find my way back home.

I didn’t have a reason for when I stopped believing,

But I needed you to know that I’m right where I belong.

~

If all we are is where we’ve been,

Then I know where I want to be.

No matter how far I drift again,

You keep on waiting for me

~

Out here, so I can find my way back home.

I didn’t have a reason for when I stopped believing,

But I needed you to know – I’m right where I belong now,

With you, so I’ll stay quiet in your arms.

~

Words don’t have the meaning,

There’s no use in repeating,

But I needed you to know that I’m right where I belong.

~

Book Review: White Night

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White Night, by Jim Butcher

White Night is the ninth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  The series follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard living in Chicago.  In this book, Harry investigates a string of murders and missing persons where the victims are all magic practitioners.  After meeting up with Elaine, who has come from California to help the organization most of the victims belonged to, Harry finds footage of some of the missing girls leaving with someone who looks an awful lot like Thomas…


Warning: Spoilers follow here.

Harry immediately goes to Thomas’s apartment to talk to him, but Thomas is gone and Harry has to improvise with what is possibly the best scene ever in a Dresden novel and pretend to be Thomas’s lover.  While in the apartment, Harry notices a wall in one of the rooms completely covered in photos and notes of the missing girls.  Evidence is not looking good for Thomas.  After meeting the surviving women of the Ordo, the group that the missing women belonged to, Lasciel informs Harry that a veiled presence was at the meeting.  This veiled presence turns out to be Elaine, who has been hired to help the Ordo.  After discovering Elaine’s veil, the building is set on fire.  Mouse starts barking to wake people up and everyone seems to escape the fire.  Harry sees a gray-cloaked figure running away from the scene, and follows him until he gets into a car and drives away.  Harry follows Gray Cloak using a spell and through eavesdropping finds out that not only is the real killer a Skavis vampire, Gray Cloak also works for Cowl – the mean villain who was supposed to die at the end of Dead Beat.  Cowl finds out that Harry is listening and disrupts his spell.  Harry deduces that the Skavis must have had an informant to give him info about the victims, and he automatically suspects Helen Beckitt, whom you may remember from the first novel.  Helen is a member of the Ordo, and would still presumably be a bad guy, so Harry’s first thought is her.  Helen convinces everyone that she isn’t a spy, and that’s when Harry is shown footage of one of the girls walking away with Thomas.  Everyone heads to Thomas’s boat for answers.  They find Thomas there, along with all of the missing people, who Thomas was protecting and smuggling to a safe place.  Everyone is suddenly attacked by Madrigal, Thomas’s cousin, and a huge group of ghouls.  Everyone cleanly escapes, except for Harry, who falls into the water and is knocked unconscious.  After Harry comes to and everyone appears to be unharmed, he finds Anna, a girl from the Ordo, dead in a hotel bathroom – an apparent suicide.  Helen is missing at this point.  More research tells Murphy that one of the victims was a prostitute for the new Velvet Room, which is now owned by Marcone.  Harry asks Marcone to let him speak to the Madam, and is given Helen Beckitt.  It is revealed after their meeting with Helen that a girl from the Ordo named Priscilla is actually the Skavis, parading around as a girl, and that she is actually the killer.  After a showdown at the hotel where the remaining members and the Skavis are staying, Elaine winds up in the hospital.  Harry devises a plan to fight Madrigal and Gray Cloak, otherwise known as Vitto, and asks Ramirez to help him.  Molly drives them to the Raith mansion where the fight will take place, and stays with Mouse in the car, waiting on further instructions.  Harry and Ramirez are greeted by Lara Raith and led to the Deeps, the same place Thomas almost met his doom in Blood Rites.  Madrigal and Vitto agree to a duel to the death and the battle begins, complete with several vampire onlookers.  Harry takes Madrigal out, and is then accompanied by backup from Thomas, Murphy, Marcone, and lots of Marcone’s thugs.  When it looks like Vitto is almost done for, he calls on Cowl, who opens a passage to the Nevernever, and unleashes an unending flock of ghouls.  Vitto controls the ghouls and orders them to kill everyone present.  While the ghouls are taking their time moving through the crowd of surprised vampires, Harry opens his own gate to the Nevernever and starts helping his posse through.  Suddenly, Harry, Thomas, Lara, and Marcone are all hit with a psychic hold by Vitto, forbidding them to move.  Lasciel appears, and after a long talk with Harry about finally accepting the coin, she helps Harry to not feel the effects of the hold anymore.  He gets up and shoots Vitto’s right hand, severing it and effectively the spell.  Once the spell is broken, Thomas grabs Marcone and they make it into the gate, just before Cowl forces the gate to start closing.  Lara and Harry are left, against Vitto and Cowl, with Marcone’s explosives planted in the Deeps to go off in less than 20 seconds.  Harry has Lara show him to the mouth of the tunnel, and asks her to kiss him.  She does and the kiss gives him enough power to effectively hold up a shield as the explosives go off, shooting them out of the cave.  They land safely in the mansion, where it is revealed that Lara was behind the killings as a way to get everyone’s mind off the White Court so her new leadership didn’t run the risk of being discovered.  Harry demands reparations for the victims’ families and leaves.  He meets up with Ramirez and Elaine at the hospital.  Ramirez is recovering well and Elaine is checking out.  Elaine agrees to give Harry details about each victim to distribute the reparations.  Elaine tells Harry that some of the victims, like Anna, didn’t have dependents, and Harry offers to use that money toward a network that would aid newcomer practitioners and offer self-defense classes, mutual support, and a hotline for supernatural problems.  Elaine happily agrees.  Later that night, Harry notices that the sigil of Lasciel is gone from his hand.  He shows this to Bob, who offers the explanation that she is gone.  When Harry was under Vitto’s spell, Lasciel was able to choose the parts of the brain it affected, namely the parts where she lived in Harry’s brain.  When the spell was disrupted for Harry, she technically killed herself.  Harry finds peace with this, and calls Father Forthill to come retrieve the coin in his basement.  The next day, Harry follows Thomas to a salon where Thomas is washing a woman’s hair and talking in a French accent.  After being ambushed by Harry, Thomas confesses that he’s been attending cosmetology school and working as a night guard to pay for it.  Afterward, he opened this salon and he feeds by doing women’s hair, which is an intimate act.  He gets a little at a time, through each customer, and works all day – which amounts the usual session normally used for feeding.  After finally knowing what Thomas has been up to, Harry just throws his head back and laughs.


This book took me the longest to read, and for no good reason.  I just couldn’t get into it for a while.  But now that I’m done and have the opportunity to read back over what happened, it’s so well-rounded.  I really liked the inclusion of past events here – and Helen Beckitt?  Didn’t see that coming!  I thought it was so sweet how Lasciel put herself out there one more time for Harry before being set free.  I am thrilled that Ramirez is getting closer in Harry’s inner circle, but I’m super curious as to who the traitor is.  I hope it’s not Ramirez!  I want Molly to get even better at magic now that she’s willing to listen to Harry and not defy him.  I’m really-but-not-really surprised at what Thomas’s new job is.  As I was reading that part, I thought for sure he was going to be a masseuse.  That made more sense to me in terms of intimacy.  But when he told Harry that doing the hair would help him to not lose control, I understood it better.  Still don’t know who rammed Harry’s car in the last book.  And there’s more questions left at the end of this one.  I really want the war to be over.  This was a good one, for sure.


For Next Time

Dark Passage (KK6), by Ridley Pearson

The five Kingdom Keepers and their core friends have uncovered a startling truth: Maleficent and the Overtakers (Disney villains) are plotting a catastrophic event that could have repercussions far beyond the world of Disney.

Aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s inaugural passage through the new Panama Canal, the Keepers and their holograms uncover a puzzle hidden within the pages of a stolen journal. The point of that puzzle will reveal itself in the caves of Aruba, the zip lines of Costa Rica, and the jungles of Mexico. A destructive force, dormant for decades, is about to be unleashed. The five Kingdom Keepers are to be its first victims.

-bn.com

Book Review: Proven Guilty

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Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher

Proven Guilty is the eighth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  The series follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard living in Chicago.  In this book, Harry starts his position as a Warden on the White Council by witnessing an execution.  This forces him to look back at his own time of trial before the Council.  After the council meeting, Ebenezar asks Harry to look into why Winter isn’t willing to aid the Council in the war when Summer is.  Meanwhile, Molly Carpenter calls Harry to bail her out of jail.  She says dangerous things are happening and that she needs his help.  Harry always has so much on his plate.


Warning: Spoilers follow here.

Harry decides to do what Eb asks of him and see why Winter is acting weird.  That same night, he gets a phone call from Molly saying she needs to be bailed out of jail.  Once Harry gets there, he realizes that it’s not Molly who needs to be bailed out, but her boyfriend Nelson.  Nelson was arrested after he was accused of brutally attacking a famous movie director at a horror convention.  Nelson claims that he didn’t do it, even though he was the only other person in the bathroom where the assault took place.  Harry takes Molly back home, where she hasn’t been in a while since dropping out of school and leaving home due to differences between her and Charity.  Michael is getting ready to leave on a mission and asks Harry to look after his family and see if he can’t get Molly and Charity to reconcile.  Harry says he will.  Harry heads over to the hotel where the convention is taking place to check things out.  There, he meets Rawlins, a cop who’s worked with him before.  After getting reacquainted, Rawlins and Harry team up to find out what’s happening in the hotel.  Suddenly, the lights go out.  After going up against a movie villain known as the Reaper (who resembles Jason Voorhees), and watching him turn into ectoplasm, Harry realizes the monsters terrorizing the convention are from the Nevernever.  They are beings called Phobophages, and they feed on fear.  So they “dress up” as famous movie villains to elicit fear from the people who were most scared by that villain.  Harry deduces that the phages were called upon by someone, a summoner.  He starts a spell that will redirect the phages to their summoner the next time they show up.  Then the summoner will be done for and the phages will be gone.  The spell works on all but one phage, and Harry finally manages to take her out.  Afterward, Harry and Rawlins leave the hotel and are ambushed by a man named Darby, a movie producer, and his lawyer, Glau.  Darby and Glau take Harry and Rawlins to the Full Moon Garage, the same place Harry was help captive in Fool Moon.  After teaming up with Lasciel against his better judgment to escape, Harry gets Rawlins and himself out of the garage only to be ambushed again by Darby and Glau.  Out of nowhere, Thomas, who had officially moved out of Harry’s apartment and made himself scarce, shows up and uses his sawed-off shotgun to resume order.  Turns out Darby is actually Thomas’s cousin Madrigal.  An unseen figure interrupts the family reunion and kills Glau out of sight.  The figure steps out and reveals himself to be the Scarecrow, another movie villain.  Even with Hellfire, Harry’s magic doesn’t so much as deter the Scarecrow.  Confused, Harry, Thomas, and Mouse all take turns trying to defeat the Scarecrow.  Once the Scarecrow is distracted, and Rawlins is loaded into Madrigal’s rental van, Thomas drives everyone away in the van.  After narrowly escaping the Scarecrow again in the street, Thomas and Harry take Rawlins to the hospital.  Harry decides to follow the trail he placed on the phages when he cast the summoner spell.  The trail leads to the Carpenter’s house, which is completely disheveled.  Seriously worried, Harry runs into the house screaming for someone to answer.  No one answers.  Thomas finds Daniel in the treehouse in the back yard.  Daniel tells Harry that three movie monsters showed up and took Molly away.  Then he tells Harry that the rest of his family is upstairs in the panic room.  Harry hurries up there and gets the whole family to Father Forthill.  Charity confesses to Harry that the reason she and Molly are at odds is because Molly has magical talent, and so did Charity when she was young.  After getting in with the wrong crowd, Charity gave up magic and is now wanting Molly to do the same.  Worried about Molly, Charity, Thomas, and Harry head back to Harry’s apartment as he tries to cast a spell to find Molly in the Nevernever.  The spell fails initially, but after a call from Thomas Murphy shows up and suggests using Charity’s blood as a tracking device.  The foursome decide to take that chance and head into the Nevernever the next morning.  Having previously met up with Lily and Fix and learned that Mab is going crazy and urging Winter to attack Summer since Summer is at its weakest trying to aid the Council (hence Winter not participating), Harry asks the two to accompany his group into the Nevernever.  After defeating three phages inside the theater where the portal to the Nevernever is, Lily admits that she will have to hold the portal open until they can return, which would rob her of all her power – so she has to stay.  And since the portal will just be standing wide open, Fix will need to stay back as well to fight off any creature attempting to come through.  So the four are on their own.  They are led through the snow and ice by a fiery butterfly that Lily supplied them with.  They follow the butterfly to Mab’s castle, Arctis Tor.  The grounds are littered with bones and it takes a long time to wade through them.  The gang finally gets inside the castle and battles more phages before ascending a spiral staircase that leads to the area where Molly is being held, screaming.  While Thomas and Murphy hold the door to the staircase, Harry and Charity go ahead to face the Scarecrow, the phage holding Molly hostage.  After an epic and intense battle, Harry finally defeats the Scarecrow by figuring out that the butterfly is actually a small generator of Summer’s power.  He uses the butterfly to call up one last big spell and wins.  The use of the summer power however alerts all of Winter that Summer is present and the war horns are heard from miles away.  The gang grabs Molly and makes a mad dash back to the portal.  They finally return and Harry confesses that he used Summer power and that now Winter is on his heels.  Fix is taken aback, but Lily admits that she planned it that way, because now that Winter is all the way on the other side from Summer, Summer can now aid the Council against the vampires, which they do.  Everyone heads back to the church, and Harry takes Molly aside for a talk about being a wizard and what her new power means.  Along with Harry’s advice, and against Charity’s wishes, Molly elects to go before the Council of her own accord.  Upon arrival however, Ramirez tells Harry that Luccio, Eb, and Injun Joe are all away at their boot camp.  This means that everyone who favors Harry is absent and that the verdict looks to be grim.  Following a strict trial, Molly is ordered to be killed.  The Gatekeeper steps in and distracts the Council until Ebenezar and the rest of the good guys, including Michael, can show up.  Turns out the mission Michael was called on led him to help out Luccio’s boot camp.  It’s almost as if the Council owes him now.  Harry is finally appointed as Molly’s teacher.  That same night, Harry, Michael, and Molly are driving in Harry’s car on the way to Michael’s house, and Harry finally tells Michael about Lasciel.  Michael says he already knows and that he’s here for Harry, for either path he takes.  Harry and Molly head back to Harry’s apartment to discuss how their relationship is going to work.  After making it bluntly obvious that anything romantic is completely off the table and establishing a schedule for training, Harry takes Molly back home, where she is expected to move back in and enroll in school again.  The next morning, Eb drops by to discuss Council matters with Harry.  They both suspect there is a third-party at work here, not only trying to bring baddies to Chicago, but also messing with Mab.  But whoever/whatever the third-party is is a mystery.  Harry and Eb finally reconnect and head off to grab dinner together.


I really enjoyed this one.  This one is my favorite so far, other than Blood Rites.  Two questions stick out: who ran into Harry with their car at the beginning, and what does Thomas now do for a living?  I need to know!  It blew my mind when I learned about Charity.  Everything of course made a little more sense after that.  I hope Mouse is all right.  He was limping badly for the last half of the book.  Near the end, when Molly sort of tried to seduce Harry, it really made me uncomfortable, like in a pedophilic way.  I’m glad he didn’t give into that.  I was so happy when Harry told Michael about Lasciel.  I actually took in a breath when he said it.  It was surprising to me that Michael already knew, but I appreciated his friendship for Harry.  Thomas was super mysterious this book, so I’m hoping a lot of that gets cleared up next book.  There’s a lot of hinting that Murphy and Harry will get together, but I’m not sure I want that.  I’m still so hopeful for Susan’s return.  I want something more to come of that.  I almost feel like Harry’s just settling for Murphy because she’s there and they’re close.  I’ll be interested to see how Molly’s training goes, and if Charity is any nicer to Harry.


For Next Time

White Night, by Jim Butcher

In Chicago, someone has been killing practitioners of magic, those incapable of becoming full-fledged wizards. Shockingly, all the evidence points to Harry Dresden’s half-brother, Thomas, as the murderer. Determined to clear his sibling’s name, Harry uncovers a conspiracy within the White Council of Wizards that threatens not only him, but his nearest and dearest, too…

-bn.com