Nov 282012

Cold Days: A Dresden Files Novel Harry Dresden is back, and mostly kicking!  Being reunited with the body he is pretty fond of comes with a price; he now wears the mantle of the Winter Knight, the burden he tried so hard to avoid. Something is badly wrong in the Winter Court of Faerie and it’s now his job to solve it.  The pay freeze sucks though.

After the emotional overload of Ghost Story it was good to get back to a more ‘normal’ Harry (read those quotes as huge honking flashing ones!).  Apart from the first few chapters, the majority of the book takes place in a very short space of time, so the pace of the story as you can imagine is pretty much full on, breathtaking, balls to the wall action.

To say Harry is on a huge learning curve would be an understatement but he still manages with gusto, witty comments and his own imitable style. He gets reunited with most of the people I have grown to love and I consider them to be an integral part of Harry’s world.  Things changed however during the course of the previous book so it’s not just Mr Dresden who is learning a new way.

There are so many things I want to mention about this book but they would be complete spoilers so I will just say this – The things… that happened!  OMG NO WAY! and finally, Awesome!!  I think that about covers it ;)

I loved Cold Days so much, Jim Butcher’s writing style is so distinctive yet eminently readable and the flow just drags you in deeper, while the charm wraps itself around you and before you know it, you are caught.  Add in the laugh out loud moments, the pop-culture jokes, the shocks that smack you upside the head but then make complete sense and you have a book that stands head and shoulders above anything else in the genre.

I think Jim Butcher is holding out on us, I think he is a wizard and enthralls his readers, with his books as spells.  Or you know, he is just an awesomely good writer ;)  Either way, you need to read Cold Days!  If you haven’t experienced Harry Dresden yet, track down a copy of the first book Storm Front and get started, you won’t regret it!  I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Series: Dresden Files (14)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Aug 142011

It’s incredibly hard to write this review without spoilers.  I keep wanting to go ‘ooh and there was this and that!!’ but I shall try not to spoil it. If you haven’t read Changes yet though, you need to go and read that first, before Ghost Story.  You just have to!

This book has so much that is good about it.  The humour, drama, action scenes; all part of Jim Butcher’s unique and engaging writing style, but in Ghost Story, somehow he’s turned that dial up to eleven.  It is simply phenomenal and such a fantastic read that I couldn’t put it down.  I laughed out loud, I cried, I even shouted at one point, so I’m glad I was reading it at home.

I think the best of Harry comes out in this book.  Because of his situation, he has to think and plan, rather than fireball first and ask questions later.  It lets you see more of the man behind the wizard and how intelligent he really is.  That’s not to say he isn’t still running full pelt into trouble, he wouldn’t be the Harry we know and love if he wasn’t.  Just without his usual methods of dealing with things, he has to get… creative.  I also have to highlight the puns and pop culture references in this book, they provided much needed laughter and were brilliantly used.

The pace of the books in the Dresden Files is as much a part of Butcher’s style as the stories are, and Ghost Story is right there, leaving you breathless.  There are moments of reflection and realisation but they are most definitely the calm before the storm.  You know it’s only a brief respite, time to gather yourself, before you are off again.  In some books that relentless pace might be considered a bad thing but in this series it’s an integral part of the experience, and I would be disappointed if it was any different.

The story itself is amazingly well written, gripping and has more twists and turns than a twisty turny thing.  There is one definitive ‘Oh my God‘ moment and it was gloriously done and I did not see it coming.  At all.  If you’ve read it, you will know exactly what I mean.  If you haven’t, hopefully you will have to read it now!

Because of the events in Changes, some of the usual cast of characters are different and not necessarily in a good way.  You see the effect Harry has on the people in his life and what happens when he is not there for a time.  I fear some things are too broken now to repair, but I still hold out hope.  Just two simple paragraphs towards the end reduced me to tears, and they weren’t even about any of the human cast.  The characters, as always, are vivid and well realised.

The Dresden Files is a series that just gets better and better, and I honestly think this is the best one so far.  So much so, I worry where it goes from here, can it actually get any better?  Does it need to?  I don’t have an answer to that other than, I need the next one now!

Jim Butcher is the absolute ruler and master of Urban Fantasy and long may he reign!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

May 302011

Side Jobs is a collection of stories set in the world of Harry Dresden, occurring in and around the main series.

It’s always good to be back in the Dresdenverse, even if it is only for brief dips.  I had already read some of the stories collected in this book, in their respective anthologies, but others were new to me and a complete joy to read.  Butcher loses none of his charm and style even though the stories are short, and every one had a different feel to it, fitting to the situation at hand.  His trademark laugh out loud moments are still very much prevalent and as with the full books, they are totally appropriate to the scenes.

He writes a little about each story before it starts, how it came into being or what his reason for writing it were, and they provided quite an insight into Jim Butcher himself.  The very first introduction actually made me laugh, and also realise his ego, or rather lack of one, has not been affected by the success of his books at all.  He believes it to be a beginner’s effort and there I have to disagree with him completely.  It might not have been up to the quality of his later work, but it had all the flair and energy that attracted me to his work in the first place.

There are eight stories about Harry, a very short vignette which I found very amusing, and two told from other character’s perspectives.  One is told by Thomas and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it; there is definitely more going on in his mind than I expected.  I also loved that a few old beloved characters came back into action again, even if it was only for a short time.

The big surprise, however, was the final story, told from Karrin Murphy’s perspective which takes place directly after the last book, Changes.  I won’t say much more because of spoilers, but he wrote her extremely well and it was good to see the world from her perspective.  I’m really glad it didn’t become an attempt to have a female version of Harry, she is her own person completely, stayed true to the character I love in the series, and it was great being able to delve into her mind.  I absolutely cannot wait for the next Dresden book, Ghost Story!

Jim Butcher is a master storyteller that always leaves me wanting MORE!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Mar 302010

Harry Dresden, the only Wizard in the phone book is in for the shock of his life.  After a phone call from his ex-girlfriend Susan rocks his world, he realises Arianna Ortega has sworn revenge for the death of her husband and she is going to get it by killing his daughter.

The White Council, still reeling from betrayal and foolishly trying to garner peace with the Red Court vampires can’t help him and his list of allies is thin.  Those who mean the most to him however are ready to stand and fight by his side and Harry must find a way to take on the Red King and the entire Red Court, or lose the daughter he’d never known about.  With few options open to him, some of them down a very dark road, and growing more desperate, he must choose the best way he can to save his daughter and his friends.

Since Changes is the twelfth  book in the Dresden Files series, there are certain things you have come to expect.  Fast paced action, Harry being witty, heroic in the face of all evil and being regularly beaten into a pulp.  This book has all that and much, much more.  The very first sentence of the first paragraph gives you a big UH-OH moment and really, it doesn’t stop til the OH MY GOD moment at the end of the book.  It’s an emotional, engaging, gritty ride that doesn’t really let up apart from the laugh out loud sections that Butcher has such a talent for.

This book is a much more personal look into Harry’s life and what he believes in than previous novels.  The sections that show just what he’s capable of and willing to do for those he loves reduced me to tears.  I really can’t say more than that without spoiling it.

I absolutely love these books and while they have never become formulaic and samey for me, some are better than others and I honestly feel Changes is one of the best.  The title says it all really, there are some big changes in store for Harry and if you like this series, it’s an absolute must read.  Jim Butcher at his very best.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Oct 232009

About Jim Butcher

Jim enjoys various diverse hobbies – martial arts, fencing, singing, riding, roleplaying and while that should make him seem like a fairly scary individual, all reports suggest he is a very nice man.  He also does LRP (Live Roleplaying) which in my book makes him fairly awesome!  He lives with his wife, son and dog and is without a doubt one of the best writers of urban fantasy and fantasy I’ve come across in a long time.

My Comments

I managed to start the Dresden Files right at the beginning with Storm Front and was blown away (no pun intended!) by Harry Dresden.  As a character he is brilliant, sarcastic, enigmatic and often downright hilarious.  You also see him develop a more sombre, angry side which adds more depth to the character and just helps you empathise with him all the more.  The books themselves are a bit like riding a runaway horse.  You can’t get off, you have to just hang on and keep going and eventually it will stop but you also know you just had the ride of your life.  They are pure entertainment and just get better with each book.  There was a short lived TV show which was a lot of fun and it was a crime when it was cancelled.

The fantasy side of his writing talent comes with the Codex Alera, a series based in a world where the ordinary is extraordinary and it’s down to a boy without the talents everyone else has, to use his wits and intelligence to get by.  I wasn’t reading much fantasy at this stage but since it was a Jim Butcher book I thought I would give it a go and again, it was fantastic.  Very different in theme and even writing style to the Dresden Books which I thought was good because we didn’t need another Harry Dresden but in a fantasy setting.  All I can say is give the first one a go!


Dresden Files

Short Stories

Codex Alera

Apr 172009

Harry Dresden is used to being in over his head where the supernatural community is concerned, even used to it turning up on his doorstep.  When a severely wounded Morgan, Warden and Executioner for the White Council (and regular pain in Harry’s ass) turns up at his door asking for help, Harry is of the mind to refuse.   Morgan is accused of murder and the penalty for the crime is death, along with anyone who helps him.  In spite of overwhelming evidence Harry knows Morgan is innocent and there is something much larger happening.  Can he let an innocent man (even if it is Morgan) die for a crime he didn’t commit and can he stop the plot that threatens to bring the entire White Council down?  Most sane men would turn Morgan in but hey, this is Harry.

Wow.  That’s the first word that sprang to mind when I finished Turn Coat and I even had to sit and reflect for a while.  You get answers to some questions that have been running through several books, new questions needing answers and some truly emotional scenes.  Harry as usual is in over his head and the highly entertaining part is how he gets out of it, with mind, skin and bone mostly intact.  I feel that Harry has become just that bit more mature as well, while the usual supporting cast are there, by and large, he figures things out on his own.

Jim Butcher has such an entertaining writing style that lets you get up close and personal with his characters and this latest and 11th book in the Dresden Files certainly has that, in spades.  Many a long running series can suffer with the reuse of plot, phrases and same old descriptions of characters but I can honestly say there is nothing like that here.  The only downside I can think of is that it will be another year til the next one is released.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 182008

It’s been a long time since I read and subsequently reviewed a book. That’s mainly because it’s been a long time since I read (or at least, finished) a book. I asked Grete specifically for something that was easy to read and entertaining, and she had no problem recommending the Jim Butcher books, of which Storm Front is the first.

The first thing that struck me about the book is the similarity to the Dirk Gently stuff by Douglas Adams. This isn’t a bad thing, I loved the Dirk Gently books and the Dresden Files (the name of the series for which Storm Front is the first one) felt comfortable almost from the first chapter.

Jim’s writing is clean, tidy and easy to read. The books are detective novels in the classic style with the current popular added theme of the supernatural / magical / mythical world playing a great role. Our hero is Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the phone book. The first person style makes it very easy to get into Harry’s head early and within a few pages we’re already empathising with him and feeling his pain. The pace is good, carrying us through the introduction of the world (modern America) and the principal characters, and into the story all in a fairly short time. We meet pretty archetypical police staff, paranormal magazine reporters, bad guys and people who need the services of magical private investigators.

The story arc is pretty simple, I can’t decide if I was pleased or upset at the lack of major twists. I certainly felt that there was going to be a huge twist at the end, and it never arrived. Having said that I don’t think the story suffered for it, it was unpretentious, and delivered exactly what it set out to do at the start. There was plenty of action, humour and good character interaction. In any first person style work, you spend a lot of time in the head of the main protagonist and so you have to feel something for them, otherwise the story just isn’t going to be worth reading. Harry Dresden is interesting, witty and worth spending time with, so it was no chore to listen to his thoughts and follow the story through his eyes.

It was a fun book, worth reading, and although I don’t think it made me laugh as hard as it could have done, it certainly kept me interested all the way through, and it’s a long while since I actually finished a book as quickly as this one. Worth getting, worth reading, and easily worth the price.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)