Archive for December, 2014

This one is the twelfth book in the series.

Links to my reviews of the previous Dresden Files books:

One: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/book-review-wednesday-dresden-files-storm-front-5-stars/

Two: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/book-review-wednesday-fool-moon-dresden-files-4-stars/

Three: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/book-review-wednesday-dresden-files-grave-peril-4-stars/?preview=true

Four: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/book-review-wednesday-dresden-files-summer-knight-5-stars/

Five: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/book-review-wednesday-death-masks-dresden-files-book-5-5-stars/

Six: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/book-review-wednesday-blood-rites-dresden-files-five-stars/

Seven: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/book-review-wednesday-dead-beat-dresden-files-5-stars/

Eight: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/book-review-wednesday-proven-guilty-dresden-files-book-8-5-stars/

Ninth: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/book-review-wednesday-white-knight-dresden-files-book-9-5-stars/

Tenth: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/book-review-wednesday-small-favor-dresden-files-book-10-5-stars/

Eleventh: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/book-review-wednesday-turn-coat-dresden-files-book-11-5-stars/

I’m going to assume by this point you know what this series is about. So here’s the blurb for this particular book:

Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover—until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it—against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry’s not fighting to save the world…

He’s fighting to save his child.

Yup, you read that right. Harry Dresden has a kid. Everything changes. I do feel for these action hero guys. It seems like they hardly ever have a kid the traditional way. Instead it’s a baby ending up on your doorstep, or an until then unknown child being kidnapped by their enemies. Poor Dresden gets landed with the second option. There is quite a bit of wondering on his part of what could’ve happened if he’d known about her before this, and had the option to be around for all those moments he missed out on.

Given his protective instinct over The Archive recently, and his slight pining over Michael’s family life, I think he would’ve made a great father.

There are big, seemingly impossible stakes in this book, but Harry has even more reason to fight given it’s his daughter’s life on the line. He gives up a lot, and has to make some big deals with nasty people in order to give him, and his daughter a fighting chance. He loses a lot too. There’s this moment at the end when someone close to him dies (I won’t say who.) It was the only way to save the day, but what it must have cost him is indescribable.

There’s some neat banding together of characters in this one, as all Harry’s friends who can fight come to do so. Mouse of course is one of them, and has some great moments. As usual there’s lots and lots of action, but in this book there’s more tension than usual since the odds seem so insurmountable. And at the very very end there’s a twist that came out of nowhere. I didn’t see it coming, and usually I do.

My verdict. One of my very favorite books in this series so far. Definitely five stars.

For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6585201-changes

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I’m a big fan of Bones the TV show. I know some of the people involved in the making of it have said she’s not autistic, but if she’s not, then she’s the most autistic non autistic TV character I know. In my mind she’s one hundred percent undiagnosed aspergers, and being diagnosed autistic myself I know what I’m talking about. Not that has anything to do with this book, but that connection with the character was what introduced me to Kathy Reichs books in the first place.

So of course when I heard she’d tried her hand at young adult science fiction with this series, I had to try it.

Here’s the blurb:

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage “sci-philes” who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends. They’re a pack. They are Virals.

It took me a little while to get into the swing of this book. Something about the writing style rubbed me the wrong way, and the first real chapter (after the action packed flash forward) seemed heavy with infodump. I kind of wonder if she started this book in the right place. Instead of hearing about her mother’s death, and how she’d become friends with the other kids on the island and settled into an awkward but functional relationship with her father, we could see some of it. It could open with emotionally shook up Tory landing on her father’s doorstep after the death of her mother. Through the events of the book she could forge that relationship with her father, meet and form her pack with the other kids.

I think that would’ve added something else, gotten rid of some infodump and added another layer of plot. As it is, the kids seem a little too settled. They start off tight friends with each other, and that changes little over the book. The only thread of plot seems to be the big mystery – which is a cool and well plotted mystery – but I think the book might’ve gained from another more emotional layer that helps us delve into their personalities a little more. This book kind of reminds me of the old mystery books I used to read like famous five. The characters don’t really change or develop, but the winding plots are fun to follow.

That said, as enjoyablity goes this was a good book after my first jarring reaction to the writing style. I’d say it’s worth a read, just don’t expect anything really deep. The characters are entertaining, but this is a mystery first, everything else second kind of book. If you liked those old Enid Blyton mystery books then you might get a kick out of this one.

For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7800188-virals

This one is the book that gave Stephen King his big break, so I’ve been wanting to read it for a while. Most literate adults, and quite a few illiterate ones have heard of Carrie. My first introduction to Carrie was watching the film as a teenager. There was a lot I didn’t like about that movie, but what resonated with me was the plight of Carrie herself. Too many of us have been that abused pushed aside child , treated as less than human just because they’re different.

And I know with me, when I’m really really angry I expect things to happen. I expect doors to slam, people to fly across rooms, light bulbs to smash. It just seems wrong to have so much chaos burning you apart inside, and none of it to show on the outside world. (I connected with Firestarter – my first Stephen King novel for that very reason.)

For Carrie, what she feels inside starts to show outside through developing telekinesis. This is beautiful, but also horrible. I think the greatest tragedy in all adaptions of this story is Carrie’s lost potential. She could’ve been someone really great. And she gets so close. She starts standing up to her abusive mother, making friends, believing she could be worth something. Then in one terrible prank she loses it and it all goes away.

Before I go any further here’s the blurb:

The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.

In my honest opinion the recent remake of the film was brilliant, and a lot truer to the book than the last film, but it’s still the book that puts across this loss of potential most. There’s a heartbreaking piece from the point of view of a woman (a teen at the time) who witnessed three year old Carrie’s mother emotionally and verbally abusing her – and it’s hinted physically abusing her.  She talks about wanting to pick her up and run away with her to save her from the life she’d be about to lead with her mother. And it makes you wonder what would’ve happened differently if she had been separated from her mother at that point. Maybe she wouldn’t even develop telekinesis, but if she did then could she have used it as a force of good instead of evil?

Another big potential turning point happens when Sue, feeling guilty for joining in a bullying incident on Carrie, persuades her boyfriend to bring Carrie to the prom to make up for it. I always wonder why she didn’t go up to Carrie, apologize and determine to become friends with her. Sure, Tommy Ross was a great character. A perfect gentleman to Carrie, and he instantly knew as soon as Sue said what she’d done that she’d been wrong to bully her. But I think Carrie would’ve been happier going with Tommy if Sue gave her blessing, and maybe tried to articulate her reasons why she wanted her to go with him. And more than that, Carrie needed a friend – as many friends as she could get. Maybe if Sue had spent time with her before the prom, given her some good memories and shown there were people out there who cared about her, things might’ve gone differently.

That’s what’s so heartbreaking about Carrie. It didn’t need to end up the way it did.

The only thing that stopped this from being five stars for me, is I think Stephen King went a bit overboard toward the end. I was totally with Carrie until somewhere in the gym when she turned completely psychotic and wanted to kill everyone in sight. She then goes on a rampage through town killing everyone she can, and ends the book by killing Sue’s unborn child, even after she’d seen that Sue had tried to help her.

This is one of the things the recent film did a lot better than the book, and the previous film. (If you haven’t seen it, go see it.) In the film, Carrie was never a psychopath. She was a victim. She killed people in the gym, but only as a response to what’d happened. There was a great moment when she almost lost it and killed the gym teacher who’d helped her, and tossed her to safety at the last moment. Then she went out and killed the people who’d just killed Tommy. In the film you could understand her actions.

In the movie, her last act is to save Sue by using her telekinesis to push her out when the house collapses. I felt this was a more believable, sympathetic Carrie than the book where her last act is to kill an unborn child of two people who’d tried to help her. In the book Carrie slipped quickly from victim to monster, and her thoughts and actions were that of a monster. The film understood better that you don’t have to be a monster to do monstrous things, and I wish Stephen King had shown that a bit better in that part of the book.

My verdict: If you’re a horror fan, and maybe even if you aren’t this is a classic. Read it, but also watch the latest film adaption for it. Unusually for a movie adaption of a book, the movie actually does better in some areas than the book itself.

For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10592.Carrie

This one is the eleventh book in the series.

Links to my reviews of the previous Dresden Files books:

One: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/book-review-wednesday-dresden-files-storm-front-5-stars/

Two: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/book-review-wednesday-fool-moon-dresden-files-4-stars/

Three: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/book-review-wednesday-dresden-files-grave-peril-4-stars/?preview=true

Four: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/book-review-wednesday-dresden-files-summer-knight-5-stars/

Five: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/book-review-wednesday-death-masks-dresden-files-book-5-5-stars/

Six: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/book-review-wednesday-blood-rites-dresden-files-five-stars/

Seven: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/book-review-wednesday-dead-beat-dresden-files-5-stars/

Eight: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/book-review-wednesday-proven-guilty-dresden-files-book-8-5-stars/

Ninth: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/book-review-wednesday-white-knight-dresden-files-book-9-5-stars/

Tenth: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/book-review-wednesday-small-favor-dresden-files-book-10-5-stars/?preview=true

I’m going to assume by this point you know what this series is about. So here’s the blurb for this particular book:

When it comes to the magical ruling body known as the White Council, Harry keeps his nose clean and his head down. For years, the Council has held a death mark over Harry’s head. He’s still thought of as a black sheep by some and as a sacrificial lamb by others. But none regard him with more suspicion and disdain than Morgan, a veteran Warden with a grudge against anyone who bends the rules.

Like Harry.

So when Morgan turns up asking for help, Harry isn’t exactly eager to leap into action. Morgan has been accused of treason against 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.

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 may cost someone his head.

Like Harry…

In the very first book Morgan was stalking Harry, looking for an excuse to cut his head off. Understandably since then their relationship has been a little shaky. What I love most about this series alongside the humor and oh so cool action are the deep characters. See, I wouldn’t call Morgan a bad guy, but because of their spotty history me (and Harry) spent this book going ‘OK Morgan, I want to trust you, but I just don’t trust you.’

A lot happens in this book. We’ve spent a number of books before this one seeing everything build up. The Red court against the White council, and more importantly the traitors operating behind the scenes in the White council. In this book that plot gets a big shove forward, and some of the traitors (but I really doubt all of them) come to light. If you’re on your toes you might get to guess who the traitor is before the reveal since there are some neat hints dropped.

Of course we get lots of snark, lots of action, and lots of awesome Mouse the wonder dog. There’s a nice amount of struggle for Harry to get to the bottom of the mystery, and some of the consequences of what he finds out hit him some pretty heavy blows. Poor guy. He always ends up banged up by the end of a book, but in this one he gets a few emotional hits to go with the physical.

He’s always been haunted after being demonized for killing his guardian in self defense. He was sixteen years old, and the guy tried to kill him. It all seems pretty clear cut until you consider the addictive nature of black magic. This book helped him look at that again, and I think helped him come to terms with it a little more. Harry turned out good, but this book shows us more the other side of things, and why the council acted like they did. It was interesting and helped humanize Morgan more.

Another great addition to the series. For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3475161-turn-coat

This one is the sixth book in this series, and if you haven’t read at least ‘gone baby gone’ you’re likely to get confused. In that book little Amanda went missing at four years old. I was just as surprised as Kenzie to find out she’s sixteen now.

Yup, this book is a jump ahead in time from the last one. Kenzie has a family and everything. Guys, he has a daughter who is amazingly cute, and has his love of word play which leads to some odd but amusing conversations. I thought he was starting to feel a little creaky around the edges in the last book, but in this one he’s definitely not feeling like a spring chicken anymore.

Here’s the blurb:

Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child’s aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girl—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.

Now Amanda is sixteen—and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda’s aunt is once more knocking on Patrick Kenzie’s door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman—a woman who hasn’t been seen in weeks.

Haunted by their consciences, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, a mentally unstable crime boss and his equally demented wife, a priceless, thousand-year-old cross, and a happily homicidal Russian gangster. It’s a world in which motives and allegiances constantly shift and mistakes are fatal.

In their desperate fight to confront the past and find Amanda McCready, Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question if it’s possible to do the wrong thing and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken families and broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don’t always stay buried and the crimes of today could end their lives.

Gone baby gone was always my favorite book of the series, mostly because of the moral problem Kenzie and Gennaro found themselves in once they finally found Amanda. There is no right answer. I mean, you can’t just take it on yourself to snatch kids from neglectful parents. If an individual off the street is allowed to judge parents and find them lacking, then where would that lead? On the other hand, Amanda could have had a much better childhood if she were allowed to stay with the parents who loved and took care of her instead of going back to her mother.

This book takes another look at those moral problems we faced in that book, and see the impact of the choice Kenzie had to make. And of course there’s a whole boat load of action, made even more scary by Kenzie being a little rusty and stupid thugs threatening his daughter what seems like every couple minutes. I didn’t realize what a unique position he had before only having friends who can kick ass until there’s a little girl these guys can try and use for leverage.

On a happier note Bubba has a decent amount of face time, and is much loved uncle Bubba now. He’s shooting guys in one scene, then babysitting in another. It’s both cute, and scary.

The plot is as usual for this series full of twisty twistiness. I think the only thing that stopped this being five stars for me was my sadness about Kenzie losing his grove. Still, he does pretty good, and I guess he does have to slow down eventually.

For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7853757-moonlight-mile