Short story compilations are always a part of the marketplace. Some writers work exclusively in this genre. I’ve often found anthologies of short stories to be a mixed bag. Sometimes there are some extraordinary stories to be found. Other times I get the feeling the editor put stories in simply to pad the size of the book. Jim Butcher’s Side Jobs doesn’t feel like that kind of anthology. While not all the stories are spectacular, there are enough great mini-adventures in the book for die-hard Dresden fans.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Whenever I read erotica, the first thing I look for are compelling characters. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But when one thinks about it, if the characters don’t resonate with the reader, all the sexy dialogue and vivid descriptions won’t matter one bit. A Payment in Flesh by Clara River is a wonderful fantasy that has enough going for it to be an enjoyable read.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
When Jim Butcher does wholesale change, he doesn’t mess around. Changes, the 12th novel of in The Dresden Files, is a book with twists aplenty and a story packing maximum emotional wallop. Many of the disparate threads from the previous 11 novels meet their end in this book. Like many books in this series, Changes is filled with explosive payoffs and tectonic shifts in narrative.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
As an unabashed lover of both Star Wars and the Bard, I simply could not pass up the opportunity to read a mash-up of the two. Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is great fun to read. The author manages to capture the quintessential myths underpinning Star Wars and make them over using an Elizabethan idea of drama. All of the elements of good Shakespearian drama are present and Doescher uses the medium to explore the characters in new ways.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
When your most dogged detractor shows up at your door, half-dead, wrongfully accused, and asking for help, what would you do? If you’re Harry Dresden, you curse, take the poor bastard into your home, and you work his case. Turn Coat by Jim Butcher takes a few of the conventions used throughout the series and turns over on their ear, creating a tense who-done-it with style and sarcasm.
Monday, July 28, 2014
When it comes to advice on sex, marriage, monogamy, and politics, Dan Savage approaches each subject with equal parts vigor and venom. American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics is a caustic series of essays Savage uses to assault perceptions and throw a light on mundane gay life. One could call the essays biting commentary but that would be a misnomer. Biting involves a catch-and-release type of activity. Savage chews on his subjects, savoring every opportunity for salacious commentary.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
When a Fae Queen asks you to take on a favor, you just know nothing good is going to come of it. Especially not when it involves Johnny Marcone and the Denarians are involved. Small Favor is the first novel where major shakeups begin in the Dresden universe. Nothing remains the same, especially in an action-oriented series like this. The upheaval is always hell, though, and this book’s journey is no different.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Millenials are leaving religious affiliation in droves. Some of those young people are coming out as atheists. The causes for this increase in lack of religiosity are varied; each atheist can give a different reason or set of reasons why they abandoned faith. Generation Atheist by Dan Riley sets out to humanize a segment of the population generally mistrusted by the public at large. The stories presented in this book discuss the why, the how, and the effect of living without religion in a world soaked in religion.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
By the time the audience meets Harry Dresden in White Night, the 9th book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, our hero has been exposed to nightmares galore. Combine the events of the previous books with the seductive whisperings of a Fallen Angel and the recipe for breaking the hero is almost complete. White Night is a grim story dealing with the cost of and manipulation of power. The deck continues to be stacked against Dresden, leaving the hero dragged down by hard choices.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Only James Ellroy could take an unscrupulous scandal-monger like Fred Otash and make him an entertaining character. For those familiar with Ellroy’s decadent dialect, this book serves up a fictionalized version of history. Fascinated with the sleaze of 1950s Hollywood, Ellroy uses Shakedown to plum the same territory as his most famous novels. It’s scandal rags, salacious behavior, and smutty situations. It’s also a good read with the kind of characters one can be simultaneously repulsed by and engrossed with.
Friday, April 25, 2014
In Harry Dresden’s world, the good guys usually win. Winning doesn’t always entail victory, though. Over the course of the previous seven books it can be said that Dresden has only had 4 clean victories by the end of a given novel. The other three are arguably pyrrhic victories, where more was lost than gained. The best example is Grave Peril, which changed the tone and scope of the series going forward. In Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher advances Dresden in significant new directions, proving that after 8 books, there are plenty of new discoveries to be made.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
If you could see into the future or the past, what would you do with that information? What kind of burden would the visions impose on your life? Would you accept the fate you’ve seen or would you seek to change it? These are some of the questions raised by the premise of Rerun by Chris Manteria. The story concept is a great idea for fiction and the execution is good for an author’s first foray into novel writing. There are a few setbacks that keep it from being an excellent novel.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
As Jim Butcher continues the Dresden series, the sensation of accumulated damage leading to massive shifts in the setting and characters are becoming more apparent. In Dead Beat, Dresden is put into a position where compromise is essential for his survival. The plot of the novel is a step up from Blood Rites, with stronger antagonists and a brief return of a wonderful villain. The underpinning of the plot is a story of a man taking his first step into the abyss of moral ambiguity.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Comedy is often built on tragedy. Memoirs are a form of literature that often mines a person’s tragedy to create universal feelings in the reader. Billy Crystal’s Still Foolin’ Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys is a brilliant memoir from a supremely funny man. Much like Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up it serves as both a career retrospective piece as well as means for Crystal to show some of the events that shaped the performer we see.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Sexy vampires have been part of pop culture for the last 20-odd years. In literature, one could say Anne Rice began the trend of mixing eroticism into vampire storytelling. Later writers like Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlene Harris (of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series and The Southern Vampire Mysteries series, respectively) would continue the trend. In the Dresden universe, Jim Butcher first introduced the White Court vampire Thomas in Grave Peril. Blood Rites, the 6th book in The Dresden Files, places the White Court at the center of the plot. The White Court members are the seductive vampires, the ones who excel at manipulation and sexual slavery. But this is Harry Dresden’s world and sexy vampires are still vampires.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Every so often I come across a bad book. When you read almost 30 books a year, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. In the past, I had a policy about not posting reviews for books I didn’t like. Now, I find that policy feels more than a little dishonest. This review is a first for The King’s Crier blog. The book for today is Slave of Passion (The Harishtu Saga) by Brian Warren. This is Mr. Warren’s first book and I commend him for making the effort to publish this book. Unfortunately I find myself unable to like the book for numerous reasons.
First among them was the formatting of the e-book, specifically the font size. I use a Kindle Fire for the majority of my readings. When I opened Slave of Passion after downloading it from Amazon, the font on a normal setting was so large that a “page” was little more than a paragraph. I bought the book from Smashword as well to see if it was just my copy. The Smashword copy had the same formatting problem. This is not a good first impression for a first novel. Format errors show a lack of quality control that should be completed long before submitting for publication, even self-publishing.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Defining humanity is always a tricky proposition. Science fiction novels over the decades have grappled with the dilemma of what makes us human. The genre often uses body modification as a means to explore this question as well as to tell a good story. Augment: Human Services by Phil Elmore uses the question to set up the opening chapter of a potentially lengthy serial work. The novella presents a future where humanity is rigidly defined by society. On the fringes of this society, not everything is concisely defined.