Tag Archives: Urban Fantasy

A Beautiful Lie (The Monster Series Book 1)

A Beautiful Lie (The Monster Series Book 1)

by Amber Naralim

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Ellie is struggling to adjust to her new life after her parent’s deaths. The young girl is adrift, searching for something to give her life meaning. She finds that meaning in a young man, a drifter in need of help.

Vincent is lost. Cursed and haunted by his actions, he drifts through life. If he can find something, even a lie, to cling to, perhaps he can put himself back together. Perhaps he can tame the beast inside of him.

Two paths cross and two lives are forever changed.

A Beautiful Lie is a prequel to Naralim’s fantastic Walking with Monsters, showing how Ellie met Vincent and how the tragedy that befell her family and catapulted her into a life of danger, the life of a fugitive. It’s a fascinating look at the characters before the darkness claimed them. Before Ellie walked with a monster and left the light behind.

Naralim is an indie author who writes powerful stories full of dark and engaging themes. Any fan of urban fantasy, dark romance, and fairy tales needs to check out her series! You will not be disappointed!

You can buy A Beautiful Lie from Amazon.

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Review: Safe and Sound (The Monster Series Book 5)

Safe and Sound (The Monster Series Book 5)

by Amber Naralim

Reviewed by JMD Reid

After the disastrous events of Into the Black, Ellie, her monstrous lover Vincent, and Reese, Vincent’s brother, have returned to the safe house. There they try to settle down with the others who had their lives disrupted by the shady organization breeding new monsters. But Ellie itches to get back out and hunt the other monsters she freed rescuing her brother Edward, chaffing at playing house.

Edward also battles his own demons. He was experimented on, transformed into a deadly version of the monsters, and fights to keep control of his dark impulses with the help of his blind lover Anna. But the urges to kill, to hurt, to cause fear lurk in his depth.

The household tries to heal, everyone of the residents scarred in their own ways. But when women who look like Anna began being murdered, they fear one the monster Delilah has found them and it will only be a matter of time before more pain and suffering are inflicted.

Naralim builds on the foundation of her two previous books, using the characters she has built and nurtured, using that as the strength of this novel. Where the previous two relied on fast-paced action to drive the narrative, Shed Some Light is stationary, rooted in a small house in the remote country of Canada. Here the characters, their relationships, struggles, hopes, and fears drive the plot.

And she pulls of this transition flawlessly. Her writing has never been stronger. The depth of her characters sustains this novel all on their own so when things start getting tense, you’re all the more anxious because you care for these characters.

Naralim blew me away with the depth of her storytelling and the tragedy of the tale she unfolds. If you haven’t read Walking with Monsters, do so. Then read Into the Black, and then read this amazing book!

You can buy Safe and Sound from Amazon.

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Interview: Clay Gilbert

This week, I got to get to know a new indie author. Clay Gilbert is man who writes what he loves: horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction! He’s just released his seventh novel onto Amazon, The Kind Memory’s Children: Book One The Golden Road. And that’s just one of his intriguing novels!

First, let’s get to know Clay with some fun, quirky questions!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you.
The Bible, Moby-Dick, and Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Dune, that’s a good choice. My favorite science fiction novel, and there is a reason the Bible has endured the centuries whether or not you believe in god or even Judeo-Christianity. Lot of truth about reality found in there.

What animal best describes your personality?
Cats.
Interesting.

If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?
Oakley Court, near Windsor, in the UK, the location for much of the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Are you a cat or dog person?
Cat
I had a feeling after your personality answer!

If you could have a dinner with one historical person, who would it be?
Hmm. Maybe Frank Herbert or Robert Heinlein.
Frank Herbert had such fascinating ideas about the great man fallacy.

 

Now let’s get down to brass tacks!

Besides writing, what are you passionate about?
My Christian faith, and the Bible; music of all sorts, but particularly the music of the Grateful Dead; movies, and books.

What drew you to the craft of writing?
I started writing and reading early, and from the time I realized that there were people who wrote as a job, the way that my father went to his office every day, that’s the job I wanted. I published my first short story at the age of thirteen, in Scholastic magazine. They paid me $25. I never really looked back after that.
Awesome! I never shared what I was writing with anyone at thirteen. Too scared. That, and I couldn’t finish a story before a new idea caught my attention.

When writing a novel, are you a detailed planner or do you fly by the seats of your pants?
Thank you for not using the term ‘pantser.’ I don’t outline. I don’t plan in advance, much. At the same time, my process isn’t as random as what ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ suggests. I usually start with a character, or pair of characters, and let them tell me what the story is. In other words, the conflicts, situations, end goals, and the world my story happens to be set in are all centered around and suited for the people in the story. And I find that they know what’s best for the story much more than I would, if I were to force things. Outlining to me seems like trying to have control over something I don’t want control over.
Interesting take on it.

What has attracted you to writing across such diverse genres as science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror? Of the three, which is your favorite to write about.
I probably consider myself mostly a science fiction writer, although I do have a strong love for horror and urban fantasy as well. I just published a second horror novel, Cassie’s Song, the sequel to my vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and I plan on publishing two more horror novels next year, along with more science fiction. The Kind, Book One: The Golden Road is the first of a two-part urban fantasy, and while I like that genre, I don’t know if I’ll have more to say in that area once the second book, To Terrapin and Back Again, is published this fall. We’ll have to see.

Tell us about Annah, the heroine from your Children of Evohe Series. What makes her such an intriguing character to read about?
I sometimes refer to the first book of that series, Annah and the Children of Evohe, as ‘Jane Eyre’ in space. Like Charlotte Bronte’s heroine, Annah is an outcast in her world, and an independent thinker. Also like Jane, Annah finds love with a much older man—the human Gary Holder, whose ship crash-lands on Annah’s homeworld of Evohe, and whom she nurses back to health. Unlike Jane, though, Annah becomes a messiah figure to her people, similar to Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s Dune. And that was one of the things I wanted to explore when I started that series—why are there no female messiah-figures in fiction, science fiction specifically? What would it be like to merely want to fit in, and to have this sort of destiny put upon you? Annah’s interesting because she has a strong desire to belong, but the other things she feels called to do can’t help but divide her from her people in some ways. She’s also not some kind of flawless, perfect heroine. She has many strengths, but she also has fears and weaknesses and failings, and certainly doesn’t always do the right thing.
That does sound interesting. Nice foundation to build off of!

Eternity and its City sounds intriguing. What was the inspiration behind Eternity’s quest to lead it to freedom?
I wrote the original draft of Eternity between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, or, in other words, between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, the same time period that passes for Eternity in the novel. I revised it a number of times, but it’s surprising to me that, in its published form, it’s still about 75% the book that seventeen-year-old me wrote all those years ago. The inspiration was twofold, really: I’ve also enjoyed dystopian books like Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’ s 1984, but I also enjoy coming-of-age stories like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I wanted to write a dystopian novel in which the broad political struggle was more a metaphor for the growing-up process of adolescence. It was very immediate struggle to me when I first wrote the book, because it was pretty much my life, or how I experienced it, internally. Revising it, later, as a adult, I was able to refine the raw emotions and the inexperienced prose style of my younger self into a form that, if seventeen-year-old me could see it, I think he’d say that was what he meant in the first place. Next year, I’m writing a sequel called Islands of Light. It takes place thirty years later, and, like the original book, will attempt to function on two levels. What do the struggles of youth look like to an adult, thirty years on? And also, what happens, politically, when you win a war? We won, but do we become the oppressors now? What does that look like? I’m looking forward to going back to the City and exploring those issues.

What do you have coming up next?
So far, in 2018, I’ve published The Conversationalist, Book One: Out of the Blue, the first part of a sci-fi romantic comedy, Cassie’s Song, the second book in my vampire series Tales of the Night-Kind, and the first book of the urban fantasy The Kind, entitled The Golden Road. This fall, I’ll be publishing Book Two of The Kind, titled To Terrapin and Back Again, the second Conversationalist novel, entitled Mission to Mercy Prime, and the fourth Children of Evohe novel, Annah and the Arrow.

Last, do you have any advice for a new or aspiring author?
Write what you love, not what you think is going to sell. You must be your primary audience, starting out. If you write a story you are passionate about, other people will be, too. Write from passion, not fashions or trends. Write every day. Treat it like a job. Same time, same place, every day, for as much time as you can spare. Dismiss the idea of ‘writer’s block’ from your mind. ‘Writer’s block’ is made up BS that people use as an excuse not to do their work. If you had a stopped-up toilet, and the plumber showed up and apologetically said he couldn’t do his job because he had ‘plumber’s block, would you stand for that? Don’t stand for it in your writing, either. Set a goal. I try for an average of 20,000 words, or ten pages, a day. Whatever your daily goal is, don’t stop until you achieve it, and eliminate ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary.
That is some great advice that I personally agree with. Writing is my job, and I try to keep a schedule for it.

Well, thank you for letting me get a chance to talk to you! I wish you well on your writing!

Clay Gilbert says he’s always liked stories, and that from the time he knew there were people who told them for a living, that’s what he wanted to do. Clay’s work in various genres has been in print since his first short science fiction story, “The Computer Conspiracy,” was published in Scholastic magazine when he was just thirteen. Clay is the author of the science fiction series Children of Evohe, including the novels Annah and the Children of Evohe, Annah and the Exiles, Annah and the Gates of Grace, and Annah and the Arrow. He is also the author of the YA dystopian novel Eternity, the science fiction novel The Conversationalist: Out of the Blue and its sequel, The Conversationalist: Mission to Mercy Prime, as well as the vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and its sequel, Cassie’s Song, all published by Dark Moon Press. He lives and works in Knoxville, TN. His author blog can be found at http://portalsandpathways.wordpress.com/, and the official website for his Children of Evohe novels resides at https://childrenofevohe.com/.

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Review: Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (Bobby Dollar Book 3)

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (Bobby Dollar Book 3)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After the events of the last two novels, he is in a whole lot of trouble with Heaven. His personal judgment day approaches and he has to work fast to keep from being damned.

But when one of his judges is the very angel who has betrayed him and seeks to bury him for what he knows, things look grim. Worse, his girlfriend, the demon Casmira, remains imprisoned in Hell. His only shot of saving her is finding the demon horn kept by Anaias, proof of the angel’s bargain with Hell.

With the help of his angel friends and two lesbian amazons, Bobby will have to deal with a vengeful goddess, an insane group of modern-day Nazis, and the very bureaucracy of Heaven to uncover the truth of what’s been going on and to save his girlfriend from eternal torment.

It’s a lot for one angel to do.

The final Bobby Dollar novel keeps the fast paced and twisting plots of the first. Williams peels back his mythology even farther, showing us the layers of world building that went into this well-thought out trilogy. Characters are tested, friendships are strained, and lives are lost against one goddess eager to get back what she lost.

If you’re a fan of fast-paced stories, exciting adventures, and urban fantasy, you need to check out the Bobby Dollar Trilogy. And if you’ve read the first two books, you need to see how this story ends.

You can buy Sleeping Late on Judgement Day from Amazon!

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Review: Happy Hour in Hell

Happy Hour in Hell (Bobby Dollar Book 2)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After the events of the first novel, his life has been shaken up. He found love in the arms of the demon Casmira, Countess of the Cold Hands.

But she’s gone, taken back into hell by the Eligor, one of the Dukes of Hell out of jealous possession. Unable to let her go, Bobby embarks on a dangerous journey into hell itself. He will do anything to save Caz, even lose himself to an eternity of torment.

And even if he survives the trip through the layers of hell and finds her, he will have to contend with one of its most powerful ruler.

Williams paints a very bleak and disturbing hell. Like Dante before him, he takes you into the darkest pits. But Bobby, unlike Dante, doesn’t just witness the suffering and torment. He lives it. He has to experience the horrors day after day as he treks across its layers and meets its inhabitants. Williams shows the lives of those damned to suffering, how they survive, how they are tormented, how their dystopic societies work. Everything wears down the spirit and you suffer it with Bobby.

It is powerful writing and a great follow-up to the Noir detective novel of the first book. Williams takes his world into the fantasy quest with seamless effort. The journey through hell is one of the most macabre that I have written, with imagery that will haunt you. It is clear the author put a lot of effort into his imaging of how Hell would function, from its different classes of people, each with their own motivations and dreams, to the vagarious ways they are tormented.

Happy Hour in Hell is a dark, disturbing, and powerful read. Fans of Urban Fantasy need to check out his series and understand why Tad Williams is a huge name in the world of fantasy literature.

You can buy Happy Hour in Hell from Amazon!

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Review: The Dirty Streets of Heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar Book 1)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After so many years living on Earth, he’s grown bitter, disillusioned, going through the motions in the never ending contest between Heaven and Hell.

When a soul comes up missing on his watch, everything changes. Never has a soul been lost, and Bobby Dollar has to figure out what’s going on before he takes the fall. Has Hell stolen the soul out from under heaven’s nose or is something even worse going on? And worse off, the new guy is asking questions. With the help of Sam, Bobby’s best friend and fellow angel, and a cast of colorful characters, Bobby will have to ask the right questions to figure out what is going on.

Bobby Dollar will have to dodge ancient demons, sultry femme fatales, and angry Lords of Hell to uncover the secret that may shake the foundation of Heaven and Hell.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a classic Noir detective story. You have our bitter, borderline alcoholic protagonist in Bobby, people who should be on his side but he can’t quite trust, bad buys who may or may not be out to kill him, women who can’t be trusted, a macguffin to recover, and a conspiracy to unravel. And all set in the sunny streets of San Jude in the bay area. A modern take on the noir story complete with a fantasy patina.

Williams has created a rich mythology for his war between Heaven and Hell. It is clearly thought out with plenty of new revelations to come on how it all works and the secret war being waged beneath the noses of regular mortals. The same care he puts into his other works is on display here. Form the noir to the urban fantasy elements, Williams balance them all perfectly to make an exciting tale keeping the pages turning and you wanting to find out what’s next.

If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy, Noir, and good writing, then you need to check out this series!

You can buy The Dirty Streets of Heaven from Amazon.

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Reread of Fool Moon: Part 1

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 2: Fool Moon

by Jim Butcher

Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Intro!

Chapter 1

Harry is at McAnally’s pub for dinner with Kim Delaney, a former student of Harry’s. Kim was a minor talent that Harry taught the basics to. She asked Harry to come (with the promise of free food) if he could tell her about a complicated magical circle she came across. Harry advises her to forget about it, that it’s out of her league. She protests, saying its not for anything serious, just “academic interest.”

Harry’s hunger causes his resolve to waver and he agrees to tell her about it. Harry’s had some financial troubles lately. For some reason Karrin Murphy hasn’t been hiring him as a consultant for Chicago PD lately. After they finish eating their steaks and fries, Kim asks Harry about the circle.

Harry explains that it is High magic and the three concentric circles act like “layered walls.” The outermost stops creatures of the Nevernever, the middle stops mortal flesh, and Harry calls the third circle a mistake and asks if she copied it right which Kim insights she did. Harry explains that it looks like the circle was built to hold something of spirit and flesh, and Harry lies and says there are no beings like that. Harry lied because a cage like this would only be need to stop something immensely powerful like a demonic demigod or archangel.

Kim doesn’t believe Harry because someone made this circle to trap something. She persists and Harry finally tells her that what this circle is meant to contain is way out of her league. Harry knows its more than academic interest driving her and warns her that she doesn’t have the training or knowledge, comparing it to a grade school kid trying calculus. Kim gets angry, saying Harry has no right to tell her what to do.

Harry changes the subject, asking about how her fund-raiser is going. Kim is an environmental activist and she is burned out on the whole thing right now. Harry tries to get her to promise one last time to not mess with the circle.

She tossed her napkin down, left a few bills on the table, and stood up. “Enjoy your meal, Harry,” she said. “And thanks for nothing.”

I stood up as well. “Kim,” I said. “Wait a minute.”

But she ignored me. She stalked off toward the door, her skirt swaying along with her long hair. She cut an impressive, statuesque figure. I could feel the anger bubbling off her. One of the ceiling fans shuddered and let out a puff of smoke as she walked under it, then whirled down to a halt. She raced up the short flight of stairs and exited the bar, banging the door shut behind her. People watched her leave, then glanced back to me, speculation on their faces. I sat back down, frustrated. Dammit. Kim was one of several people I had coached through.

Harry broods in McAnally’s worrying about Kim. That circle was the big time and it could go wrong from her. Not to mention the White Council doesn’t like it when people mess around with major summonings. Harry’s just wished Kim trusted him enough to listen to his advise. As he broods, Murphy walks in to the pub and over to Harry’s table. She notices Kim’s paper, which Harry had balled up and thrown on the floor, and tidily picks it up.

Harry greets Murphy, trying unsuccessfully to keep the anger out of his voice. Murphy starts to explain and Harry cuts her off, talking about an article in the Tribune that called him a charlatan and asks if Murphy read it. Murphy is impatient with Harry’s whole rant and tells him that there’s been a murder in Harry’s field of expertise.

My Thoughts

The book starts with a quote about how Harry know keeps track of the phases of the moon, presumably after the events of this book.

Kim Delaney is far to eager and excited by this magical circle for it to be academic. She is going to attempt it and due to the law of storytelling, it will go wrong. It has been foreshadowed. Of course, maybe she’ll buck convention and actually succeed.

Once again, we see Harry denying someone the whole picture, just telling them they need to listen to what he says because he’s the wizard without telling them why. Maybe Harry would have been more effective if he explained what the circle for and maybe talk about how the White Council is and why they’ll cut your head off if you break one of their laws.

Weirdly, in later books, the local minor talents, like Kim, are well aware of the White Council and the seven laws and the Wardens who cut peoples heads off for breaking them. It really feels like the Dresdenverse is still in flux right now. The third book is where Butcher starts thinking more about the universe and how it works beyond Harry and Chicago.

Kim Delaney is also an environmental activist. Probably not important. Nope. I’m an author, that’s how I know that things like this are never important.

And Murphy picking up Kim’s discarded paper is probably not important. Just Butcher making sure his characters are environmentally responsible and discarded their trash.

Harry, passive-aggressiveness is just petty. I’m from the Seattle area and that’s how everyone up here handles conflict so I know. Petty and annoying. Be the bigger man! Murphy here to give you work. There’s been a murder.

I should not be so excited about someone’s untimely death, but it’s the start of a Harry Dresden Investigation.

Chapter 2

Harry and Murphy drive to the scene in Murphy’s Saturn. Murphy is in a hurry, driving reckless even for a cop. Their destination is a half built strip mall and Harry is confused since they are outside of Chicago city limits and asks if there out of her jurisdiction. “People need help wherever they can get it, Dresden.” She explains the other killing took place inside city limits.

Murphy leads him to the building and Harry realizes its the Varsity, Marcone’s club that burned down last spring, and Murphy explains its being rebuilt. Inside, the police are documenting the murder scene of a man that had been badly mauled. Harry recognizes him as one of Marcone’s bodyguards that Harry calls Spike.

Murphy is not pleased when Harry tells her who the victim is, and she tells him to look around. Harry finds blood on broken glass and it looks like someone or something smashed through the window. Harry pockets a piece of bloody glass. Harry continues to look around and spots a large paw print and then notices the almost-full moon through the window. He asks Murphy is the other attacks happened about a month ago. Murphy nods in agreement and asks if werewolves are real. They are.

Four FBI agents enter the scene and Murphy gets pissed, wondering how they got here so fast. The lead FBI, Agent Denton, is not pleased to see Murphy here and reminds her that she’s not welcome in his investigation. Denton asks who Harry is and makes snide comments about him being a charlatan. He orders Agent Benn, the female agent, to escort “these two civilians” from the scene. Murphy refuses to leave, saying she has permission from the local police to be here. Denton orders Benn to remove them again, and she tries to grab Murphy. Blows are traded, and Murphy slams Benn into a wall.

Benn’s expression went from shocked and surprised to furious in the space of half a second. Her hand dipped into her jacket, hesitated for half a second, and then resumed motion. She drew her gun with an expert’s precision, smooth and quick without seeming hurried. Her green eyes blazed. I threw myself at Murphy, colliding with her and driving her over and down as the gun went off, louder than a close clap of thunder in the interior of the half-finished restaurant. We landed in a heap on the dusty floor.

Denton moves between Murphy and Agent Benn. All the cops on the scene race over and Denton says there was a misfire. Murphy backs Denton up, to Harry’s confusion. He keeps calling Benn a “crazy bitch.”

Denton orders the two other FIB agents, Harris and Wilson, to escort Harry and Murphy. Harry asks why Murphy didn’t say what really happened. Murphy is just pissed that Agent Benn tried to sucker punch her. Harry points out she also tried to “ventilate” her. Harry watches as Denton is talking to Benn and thinks Denton is hiding something.

Agent Harris, the youngest of the FBI Agents, apologizes on behalf of Benn, saying she’s been stressed out by the Lobo killings. Agent Wilson tells Harris to shut up and tells Murphy to leave or they’ll contact Internal Affairs.

My Thoughts

Wow! Really, Agent Benn, shooting your colleagues it so not cool. This woman needs to be relieved of duty immediately. Why are you guys covering for her, especially you Murphy. I know you’re not really supposed to be here but that was like attempted manslaughter or something.

Anyways, we have full moon related animal killings. It’s a werewolf! They’re calling them the Lobo Killings. That’s a great name for a werewolf serial killer, The Lobo Killer. And poor Spike. We barely got to know you. So, somehow Marcone is involved in this mess.

So, how did the FBI Agents arrive so quickly, what’s the real reason for Agent Benn’s temper tantrum, and what is Agent Denton hiding? All these questions and more simmer through the book. Butcher is great at setting up his mysteries and throwing so many twists and turns at you. But they’re still coherent on a read through and don’t fall apart under scrutiny.

Chapter 3

Outside, Harry takes a minute to get his stomach under control after viewing such a gruesome murder scene and coming down from the adrenaline high of saving Murphy from a psychotic (my words) FBI Agent. Murphy apologizes to Harry at the car, saying she wasn’t supposed to be here and for dragging Harry into it. Harry asks her to explain what’s been happening. She hesitates, and Harry points out that he saved her life twice now. Things get awkward between them.

Harry knows that their relationship has been off since last spring when Harry held out information from Murphy and Harry tries to talk about it and Murphy asks why they didn’t talk about six months ago. Harry tries to explain why he held back on here and she is still angry because she trusted Harry and he broke that trust.

I winced. That stung. What’s worse, she was in the right. “Some of what I knew… It was dangerous, Murph. It could have gotten you killed.”

Her blue eyes fixed on me with a glare that made me lean back against the car door. “I am not your daughter, Dresden,” she said, in a very soft, calm voice. “I am not some porcelain doll on a shelf. I’m a police officer. I catch the bad guys and I put their asses away, and if it comes down to it, I take a bullet so that some poor housewife or CPA doesn’t have to.” She got her gun out of its shoulder holster, checked the ammo and the safety, and replaced it. “I don’t need your protection.”

“Murphy, wait,” I said hastily. “I didn’t do it to piss you off. I’m your friend. Always have been.”

She looked away from me as an officer with a flashlight walked past the car, shining the light about on the ground as he looked for exterior evidence. “You were my friend, Dresden. Now…” Murphy shook her head once and set her jaw. “Now, I don’t know.”

Harry doesn’t know what to say, he had never tried to see it fro her perspective before and realizes that by not telling her everything, he left her defenseless and unprepared last spring. Harry apologizes and she accepts and tells Harry that there can be no more secrets this time and refuses to involve anymore if he doesn’t promise. He reluctantly promises to tell her everything this time.

She glanced at me, at my eyes for a breath, and then looked away. She started the car and drove from the parking lot. “All right,” she said. “I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you because I need every bit of help I can get. Because if we don’t nail this thing, this werewolf, we’re going to have another truckload of corpses on our hands this month. And,” she sighed, “because if we don’t, I’m going to be out of a job. And you’ll probably end up in jail.”

My Thoughts

OMG! Harry realizes that not telling Murphy is why there relationship is strained and he realizes he did the same thing to Kim. Maybe you can eventually overcome this problem, Harry. I’m glad it occurs to Harry just what a compromised position he put her in last spring.

But, even with this self-realization moment, Harry is still reluctant to commit to telling Murphy the whole truth. Come on, Harry. Murphy’s a big girl, she can handle it. Hell, she’s not flinching at all away from this whole werewolf business.

Murphy trusted Harry and he re-payed that trust with secrets. He deserves to be in the doghouse with her so he would have to be an idiot to make the same mistake again. She’s given him a second chance.

And not pressure to put too much pressure Harry, but Murphy’s job and his freedom is on the line. Nothing like High Stakes to motivate a character. Especially Harry who thrives when the shit hits the fan.

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Reread of Fool Moon: Intro

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 2: Fool Moon

by Jim Butcher

Intro

619uoim4iolAfter devouring the first book of the series, Storm Front, in a day (I miss my younger years when I could do that), I was eager for more. I was hooked from the very beginning thanks to Harry’s advertisement:

HARRY DRESDEN—WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advise. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other
Entertainment

Now I was eager to dive into Book 2 and find out what new adventures were in store for the only practicing wizard in the city of Chicago. Like the first book, I devoured Fool Moon. Butcher does a great follow-up to his first book, building on the events that happened which all impact the plot of this book from the strain in Dresden and Murphy’s relationship, the politics of the city, and the activities of the gangster Johnny Marcone.

And even better, it’s about werewolves. And not just any werewolves, but all of them. Butcher manages to take all the dispirited different versions of werewolves from mythology and legend and weave them into his story, giving different flavors. The world building of the Dresdenverse is always something I enjoy about reading them.

Let’s find out if Book 2 is as good as the first! (Spoiler, it is)

Be warned. There are SPOILERS ahead. It’s a given that I’ll be spoiling this book and may touch on themes that happen later in the series, but I will keep those to a minimum. This is an amazing book series. While each novel is a standalone story (though that line did blur with the last few), there is an overarching mythology and plot points spawned from this very book. If a character survives and had a modicum of impact on the story, expect their return. Butcher gathers a rich tableau of allies, enemies, and frenemies for Harry Dresden while weaving myths from every culture into a seamless universe.

So lets dive into an amazing urban fantasy series!

If you haven’t gotten bored yet, click her for Part 1

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 9

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 9

Welcome to Part 9 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 8!

Chapter 25

Harry’s Sight reveals no magical alarms or traps as he limps up the porch stairs. For the hell of it, he tries the front door and is stunned to find it unlocked. Inside, the house appeared to Harry’s Sight, just as vile as the outside, and hungry, glittering eyes stared at him from the shadows.

Harry can hear music, the same song that played at Tommy Tomm’s hotel room, coming from a hallway. Harry makes his way towards the music and a room filled with purple light. Finally, Harry heard a man repeating an incantation and a woman moaning in pleasure. The hallway opens up a living room. Stairs lead up to the second floor where the ritual is being performed.

Against the wall are boxes and crates stacked. Harry finds them filled with ThreeEye or the ingredients to make the drug: absinthe, ammonia, peyote mushrooms, alum, antifreeze, glitter, and other materials.

Thunder rumbles closer, and Harry hears Victor’s chanting increase in volume. Harry gathers his courage as the ritual nears its climax. “You pays your money, you takes your chances,” Harry mutters and slags the stereo with fire magic. Then, using wind, lifts himself up to the second floor.

Victor is in a circle of purple light with a rabbit bound before him and a sharpened spooned to dig out the rabbits heart. A lock of Harry’s hair is tied to the rabbit’s head. In another circle, the Beckitts were “writhing together in mindless, sweating desire” to power Victor’s spell. Victor is stunned to see Harry.

“You!” he shouted. “Me,” I confirmed.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about, Vic.”

His shock transformed into snarling anger in a heartbeat. He snatched up the sharpened spoon, raised it in his right hand, and screamed out words of the incantation. He dragged the rabbit in front of him, the ceremonial representation of me, and prepared to gouge out its, and therefore my, heart.

I didn’t give him the chance to finish. I reached into a pocket and hurled the empty plastic film canister at Victor Shadowman.

As a weapon, it wasn’t much. But it was real, and it had been hurled by a real person, a mortal. It could shatter the integrity of a magic circle.

The canister went through the air above Victor’s circle and broke it, just as he completed the incantation and drove the spoon’s blade down at the poor rabbit. The energy of the storm came whipping down the cylinder of focus created by Victor’s now-flawed circle.

There’s an explosion of power and Victor screams “Why don’t you just die!” Victor sends flames at Harry manages to conjure an adequate shield. Victor summons a bone tube as Harry does the unexpected in a magical duel, tackles Victor and starts to kick him on the ground. Harry is interrupted by Beckitt, who shoots Harry in the hip.

Victor dumps a half dozen scorpions out of the bone tube and turns they grow into identical creatures that had just tore up Harry’s office. Harry crawls backwards into the kitchen and ducks behind a counter and grabs a broom, his only weapon.

A roomful of deadly drug. One evil sorcerer on his home turf. Two crazies with guns. One storm of wild magic looking for something to set it into explosive motion. And half a dozen scorpions like the one I had barely survived earlier, rapidly growing to movie-monster size. Less than a minute on the clock and no time-outs remaining for the quarterback.

All in all, it was looking like a bad evening for the home team.

My Thoughts

Come on, Victor. You have an evil lair and are preforming evil rituals, as well as storing quantities of illegal narcotics, and you don’t even lock your door?

I once again love the potion ingredients. Butcher manages to take such mundane items, mix them with some exotic, and it makes intuitive sense for why they work as potions. He really needs to have Harry whip up more potions just because I love the creativity he puts into them.

Harry makes quite an entrances, especially when you consider he’s wearing sweatpants and cowboy boots. SciFi or SyFy or whatever stupid name you call yourselves now, why wasn’t this scene in the adaptation of Storm Front for the Dresden File TV show? Why couldn’t you be bothered to a faithful adaption to begin with.

I could write an entire blog post on the subject, but I digress.

“Why won’t you die!” Many bad guys ask this about Harry. He’s like the energizer bunny, he just keeps going and going.

Love how Harry is more than willing to just kick Victor ass than bother to have a proper magic duel. Poor Victor. Spent all that time learning how to carve the hearts out of bunnies to kill people and not enough time on the self defense. Lucky the Beckitts are packing or that would have been such a pathetic end to a villain.

Butcher brings all the elements of his magic system to play, with rituals, magic circles, all the stuff he has taught us about over the course of the book and how easy it is for Harry to disrupt it.

Chapter 26

Trapped in the kitchen, and without his blasting rod, evocation magic is too dangerous in the close quarters of the kitchen. Harry remembers a spell he learned when he was an apprentice, and enchants the broom he’s holding. The broom comes to life, much like in Fantasia, and sweeps the scorpions off the second floor before they had a chance to grow much.

Victor screams in rage and the Beckitts try to shoot the broom. Fire from Victor’s spell is spreading now and Victor offers to let Harry go. Harry counteroffers of waiting for the fire to spread and kill them all and wipe out Victor’s drug stockpile.

Victor snarled and pitched another burst of flame into the kitchen. This time, it was much easier to cover myself, half-shielded as I already was by the counters. “Oh, cute,” I said, my voice dripping scorn. “Fire’s the simplest thing you can do. All the real wizards learn that in the first couple of weeks and move on up from there.” I looked around the kitchen. There had to be something I could use, some way I could escape, but nothing presented itself.

“Shut up!” Victor snarled. “Who’s the real wizard here, huh? Who’s the one with all the cards and who’s the one bleeding on the kitchen floor? You’re nothing, Dresden, nothing. You’re a loser. And do you know why?”

“Gee,” I said. “Let me think.”

He laughed, harshly. “Because you’re an idiot. You’re an idealist. Open your eyes, man. You’re in the jungle, now. It’s survival of the fittest, and you’ve proved yourself unfit. The strong do as they wish, and the weak get trampled. When this is over, I’m going to wipe you off my shoe and keep going like you never existed.”

Dresden lies and tells Victor the police, the White Council, and Marcone all know about him. Victor demands to know who hired Dresden, and Harry continues to mock him, hoping to angry Victor enough that he makes a mistake. Victor tells the Beckitts to start the car and then begins to summon his toad-demon, Kalshazzak.

Harry’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he peers over the counter to see the demon being summoned. Harry see the same toad-demon he banished last night (you can’t kill a demon, just destroy the bodies they create to inhabit the mortal world). Victor gloats in triumphant, “There Dresden. Do you see? The strong survive, and the weak are torn to little pieces.” Victor sics the demon on Harry. Harry stands to face it.

“My God, Victor,” I said. “I can’t get over how clumsy you are.”

Victor’s smile immediately became a snarling sneer once again. I saw fear touch the corners of his eyes, uncertainty even though he was on top, and I felt a little smile quirk my lips. I moved my gaze to the demon’s.

“You really shouldn’t just hand someone else a demon’s name,” I told him. Then I drew in a breath, and shouted out in a voice of command, “Kalshazzak!”

Harry speaks the demon’s name a second time and struggles to speak it’s name a third time. He thinks of Jenny Sells, Murphy unconscious on a stretcher, and Susan sick and unable to run. Harry had beaten it once and gathers his will and yells “Kalshazzak” for the third time.

The demon turns turns to Victor and ignores his orders. Victor runs for the door, but Harry tackles him and the pair grapple at the balcony. Victor demands to know what Harry did, and Harry explains about the Fourth Law of Magic forbids “binding any being against its will” so Harry set the demon free.

“What do we do?” Victor said. His voice was shaking, and he started shaking me, too. “What do we do?”

“We die,” I said. “Hell, I was going to do that anyway. But at least this way, I take you out with me.”

I saw him glance at the demon, then back to me, eyes terrified and calculating. “Work with me,” he said. “You stopped it before. You can stop it again. We can beat it, together, and leave.”

I studied him for a moment. I couldn’t kill him with magic. I didn’t want to. And it would only have brought a death sentence on my head in any case. But I could stand by and do nothing. And that’s exactly what I did. I smiled at him, closed my eyes, and did nothing.

Victor tries to throw Harry at the demon, and the pair continue their grapple. The railing on the balcony snaps, and Harry fall down onto the first floor with the scorpions while Victor hangs onto the railing. Harry, seeing Victor prepare to use magic on the demon, distracts Victor by telling him Monica ratted him out. Victor is stunned and furious, and the demon bites Victor in the neck, severing an artery.

Harry climbs up Victor’s dying body, dangling over the balcony in the toad-demon’s maw. Harry’s weight pulls the toad-demon and Victor over the railing and drop them down with the scorpions. Harry was prepared for this, and hung onto a guardrail. He pulls himself up onto the balcony as the scorpion tear into Victor and Kalshazzak.

Harry’s strength gives out, the house is engulfed in flames and Harry lies there waiting for death when Morgan strides into the house, sword drawn. Morgan kills a scorpion and walks over to Harry, sword raised to strike at Harry.

Typical, was my last thought. How perfectly typical, to survive everything the bad guys could do, and get taken down by the people for whose cause I had been fighting.

My Thoughts

What an epic battle. Harry the underdog comes through, outsmarting Victor through the sheer fact that Harry was the professional and Victor was the amateur. Again, SyFy, why wasn’t the broom sweeping scorpion monsters in the Storm Front adaptation?

While Harry isn’t the most intelligent guy at figuring out what’s going on until it’s too late, under pressure, when everything is going down, he can think fast and throw together ballsy plans while others might be too overwhelmed by the situation to think. That and his pig-headed stubbornness is probably the character’s greatest strengths.

Most of the time.

Victor fails in classic villain manner, destroyed by his own creation. Well done, Dresden.

Of course, Morgan shows up at the worst possible time. Poor Harry. Except Morgan has a code. And though he’s a dick, he lives by that code.

Chapter 27

Harry wakes up to Morgan performing CPR on him. Harry is stunned that Morgan saved him and Morgan explains he saw the confrontation, how Harry risked his life to stop Shadowman without breaking the Laws.

“I wasn’t the killer,” I said.

“No.”

“So,” I wheezed, “that would make me right. And then that would make you—”

Morgan scowled. “More than ready to carry out the Doom if you cross the line, Dresden. Don’t think this has gotten you off the hook, as far as I’m concerned.”

Harry realizes that Morgan is now obliged to report what happened to the council and Morgan is not pleased. Morgan, and others, still think Harry “consorted with the powers of darkness.” And plan to continue watching Harry closely. Morgan stalks off as the police arrive.

The Beckitts are arrested fleeing because they’re naked and later are convicted of drug trafficking and sent to prison. Marcone burned the Varsity down for insurance money and put out the rumor that Harry was hired by Marcone to take out the ThreeEye gang.

Harry was in the hospital when the White Council met and the Doom of Damocles was lifted from him for “valorous action above and beyond the call of duty.” Murphy was in the hospital room down the hall from Harry and he sent her some flowers and the remains of her handcuffs. Murphy claims she doesn’t remember what happened in the office, rescinded the arrest warrant, and paid Harry his fee. She even called Harry to consult again.

Monica Sells and her children vanished into Witness Protection. Bob returned after his 24 hours were up, and there were rumors of a very wild party a the University of Chicago. Susan published her article, DATE WITH A DEMON. She visited Harry in the hospital, and he used sympathy to leverage another date with her. “That time, we were not interrupted by a demon. And I didn’t need any of Bob’s love potions or advice, thank you very much.”

Mac got his TransAm back, while Harry got the Blue Beetle back. Harry missed the TransAm. Harry sends a pizza a week to Toot-toot and his friends out at the lake. Mister the cat got nothing, but didn’t seem to care.

The world is getting weirder. Darker every single day. Things are spinning around faster and faster, and threatening to go completely awry. Falcons and falconers. The center cannot hold.

But in my corner of the country, I’m trying to nail things down. I don’t want to live in Victor’s jungle, even if it did eventually devour him. I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter. Where trolls stay the hell under their bridges and where elves don’t come swooping out to snatch children from their cradles. Where vampires respect the limits, and where the faeries mind their p’s and q’s.

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call.

I’m in the book.

My Thoughts

What a great end to book and the start of a promising series. After I finished this book, I had to race back to the bookstore to pick up the next in the series. For a week, I read through the books up to Proven Guilty, where, sadly, I caught up with the what was published.

Harry can’t help but bait the bear with Morgan even when the guy just saved his life. Harry, sometimes you can give your smart mouth a rest. Geezs. Lucky for you, Morgan believes in duty and tells your story straight to the council.

Not much to say, pretty straight forward chapter that explains how everything turned out over the the next few months. As always, Harry’s personality adds quite a bit of humor and color to what is essential a checklist and makes it into something enjoyable and entertaining.

The foundation that Butcher builds later books has been laid here, many of the elements wrapped up at the end will come back as plot points in later books. Many of the characters will return (even in the case of one, not for a while) and we’ll even learn more about Victor’s killing spell way down the line and exactly what the spell is called. There will be a few continuity issues (like Harry claiming he saw his master summon He Who Walks Behind but in Book 13 when Harry tells the story, he doesn’t see it at all). But those are minor quibbles to the start of a great series.

At the end of the book, Harry ponders whether he really is a dangerous wizard like Morgan thought and realizes the temptation will always be there for Harry to do evil. He just plans on never giving in. We’ll see, Harry, we’ll see if you can keep walking that path as your enemies only get harder.

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Review of Shed Some Light (The Monster Series Book 3)

Shed Some Light (The Monster Series Book 3)

by Amber Naralim

Reviewed by JMD Reid

b01m354oqj-01-lzzzzzzzAfter the disastrous events of Into the Black, Ellie, her monstrous lover Vincent, and Reese, Vincent’s brother, have returned to the safe house. There they try to settle down with the others who had their lives disrupted by the shady organization breeding new monsters. But Ellie itches to get back out and hunt the other monsters she freed rescuing her brother Edward, chaffing at playing house.

Edward also battles his own demons. He was experimented on, transformed into a deadly version of the monsters, and fights to keep control of his dark impulses with the help of his blind lover Anna. But the urges to kill, to hurt, to cause fear lurk in his depth.

The household tries to heal, everyone of the residents scarred in their own ways. But when women who look like Anna began being murdered, they fear one the monster Delilah has found them and it will only be a matter of time before more pain and suffering are inflicted.

Naralim builds on the foundation of her two previous books, using the characters she has built and nurtured, using that as the strength of this novel. Where the previous two relied on fast-paced action to drive the narrative, Shed Some Light is stationary, rooted in a small house in the remote country of Canada. Here the characters, their relationships, struggles, hopes, and fears drive the plot.

And she pulls of this transition flawlessly. Her writing has never been stronger. The depth of her characters sustains this novel all on their own so when things start getting tense, you’re all the more anxious because you care for these characters.

Naralim blew me away with the depth of her storytelling and the tragedy of the tale she unfolds. If you haven’t read Walking with Monsters, do so. Then read Into the Black, and then read this amazing book!

You can buy Into the Black from Amazon.

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