Posts Tagged audiobooks

Book Review – Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story

Die alone....

So I’ve been meaning to write this review for awhile, I kind of a did a little mini review of it when I first started reading, but I’ve been finished for awhile and it’s had time to digest for me. I imagine there will be spoilers, so you have been warned.

Overall score: 8/10 Pentacles

The book was another great Dresden adventure, but I don’t think it will go down in the records as my favorite in the series. But it was hardly a failure. I spent half the book yelling at the pages wishing I was some kind of speed reader because there were so many questions to answer and they were all dragging out so slowly. Harry spent a lot of time alone and isolated from his allies in this book, and that’s not terribly unique, he practically had no allies in Book 1: Storm Front, but at the same time it was frustrating because on top of that he was incorporeal and unable to interact with the world around him. He’s a ghost and in the Dresdenverse only insane ghosts can physically interact with the mortal world, sane ghosts can only interact with certain magically gifted individuals and other spirits or magical creatures. So it was a central challenge of the book for Harry to over come, not being able to just blow shit up, kick down doors, and burn down buildings.

Harry’s Chicago and the rest of the world has also been turned upside down as a direct result of his actions in Changes when he destroyed the Red Court, but also as a result of his absence for the 6 months after his death. Murphy is even more beat up and demoralized since we last saw her, she’s lost her badge and has been forced to ally herself with the king of crime John Marcone and occasionally the White Court of Vampires too. She hasn’t taken up one of the Swords of the Cross yet, but I think that’s coming down the tunnel for her. I also think Michael eldest son, Daniel is bound to end up with his father’s sword here in short order, which I think would be fitting and great to see unfold. I wanted to see more of Michael, which we actually saw zero of him in this book, but we did learn that Maggie (Harry’s daughter) is living with the Carpenters now which made me very happy. It was totally fitting and within character for both Michael, Charity, and Father Forthill that Maggie would be sent to live with them and their secret service detail of guardian Angels when Harry couldn’t take the girl himself. When Molly developed magical abilities, Harry not only took her as an apprentice, he put his life on the line to do so, the Carpenters are the perfect guardians for Maggie.

I didn’t get to see enough of Michael, Thomas or Mouse in this book and that was very frustrating. All of those characters had very legitimate reasons to be absent, and we at least got to see Mouse and Thomas by the end. BTW good on Justine for finally figuring out a loop hole in the whole White Vampire’s weakness to True Love thing. It’s just the sort of thing that could bring Thomas back out of the darkness and onto the side of Good again. I’m really surprise Bob’s nasty dirty mind didn’t think of that solution, a kinky threesome is right up the skull’s alley of thought. I deducted star because I missed these characters so much. Also, not that I missed him, but John Marcone was sure talked about a lot considering he never got any screen time. What the hell is that bastard up to?

Speaking of Bob! Oh. My. Science! It was awesome getting this one chance for Harry to be inside Bob’s skull and see the spirit’s “home” in a sense. We did get to learn lots of awesome little bits about Bob in this book and that was very cool. Also it was very interesting to see Bob and Butters partnered up, Bob being an insane resource into all things magical (and now that he can tap into the EM spectrum and get the internet pretty soon it’ll just be all things period), but Butters being a pure mortal was still able to utilize him, and in some cases in better ways then Harry ever did.

Also, I think it’s awesome that Mort Lindquist has turned out to be much more of a supernatural heavy hitter. I love the idea that while Harry has been out running around Chicago, that Morty could have been running around having his own insane adventures that Harry was never aware of.

In a lot of ways this book was about Harry’s supporting cast, Murphy, Butters, Molly, Billy & the Alphas, becoming the new champions of Chicago’s supernatural world. Which considering Harry really isn’t out of the woods yet, is a good thing. It’s also made some of them into Bad Ass Mo Fo’s. And being inside Molly’s mind and to find out she’s a classic Trekkie at heart….I just wish this was a TV show (done right this time) so we could see what ever sexy actress they cast as Molly running around in classic series mini-skirt uniforms. Sigh. I’m sure my imagination is letting me down somehow…

It was also very gratifying that Kincaid turned out to be the trigger man in the end, as we had all suspected all along, but to have Harry turn out to be the architect of his own murder was just brilliant! I don’t think anyone could have seen that coming. Or at least I didn’t. We all knew that Harry had a record of cheating his way out of deals with the Fey, but this was a masterful stroke. However, I think Mab cheated some how, the Winter Knight is supposed to serve until death. I know that since his body never actually died it doesn’t seem to have qualified, but hells bells she’s a bitch! Even for a faerie!

I actually deducted a star for the ending. Really another…maybe not cliff hanger…but open ended ending? Up until Changes, most of the Dresden books all wrapped up pretty well be the end. There were some story points that stretched from one book to another, but they didn’t make contemplating an entire year until the next book seem an unbearable proposition. Now Harry is off to the Winter Court with Queen Mab, and he’s still the Winter Knight. I know this is Harry’s life and it kind of makes sense, but that’s just gods damn unfair! For Harry and the readers damn it. It was just disappointing to get to another open ended ending of another Dresden book. I accepted it from Changes, although it was very frustrating at the time. It’s going to be a bit souring if this starts happening with every installment. Especially if Jim Butcher get’s in the habit of falling behind on his publishing schedules and making us wait more than a year. He managed to do a 12 month release on his other Dresden Books when he was still writing Codex Alera, I don’t think Ghost Story warranted the extra 4ish month wait time personally.

I haven’t listened to the Audiobook and it may skew my score further one way or another. Although there isn’t much room to go up. But I’ll probably do that next. After I finish the 3rd Game of Thrones audiobook. I also think I’m due for a Hotel Business type post relatively soon.

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Well hello Monday. We meet at last…

Mondays are my Fridays. I think I mentioned that before. Meaning I have the next 2 days off after I finally get off work tonight. Other managers had vacation requests to cover, so I ended up having a 6 day work week this week, and it’s dragging on me a little. Meaning I’m looking forward to my afternoon of video game playing tomorrow even more. And of course, finishing Ghost Story. I breezed through the first 50% over my last weekend, but I just don’t get much of a chance to read during the week. I’ve got about 25% left though, and I’ve stopped shaking with anticipation as I try to read which really speeds up the process. The book hasn’t gotten any less intense, I’ve just settled in for the ride finally.

D&D night is also this Tuesday which since I don’t play weekly anymore, just every other week, I look forward to tremendously. Our gaming group is actually large enough that we had to break into two separate groups on alternating weeks, and over half the time our main DM is the DM for both tables. And he don’t double dip into the writing, he does entirely separate campaigns for both nights, although he does recycle old campaigns periodically. Which is kind of fun even for those of us that haven’t been in the group the whole time and played those games before. It’s kinda cool to know that the campaign he’s running has a history and a past to it, and that the story has been essentially drafted and redrafted multiple times, refining and improving it each time.

The last few days at work have been pretty smooth all things told. After Friday everything just seems like a cakewalk. And today brought unforeseen but possibly very awesome career considerations my way. I don’t want to jinx anything by posting in more detail then that, because it is still in a very speculative and hypothetical sphere, but if nothing else I’m taking what has come up as a tremendous compliment.

I’m most of the way through the audiobook for Clash of Kings, the sequel to Game of Thrones. I’ve enjoyed it over all. The world that Martin has created is just so rich and thorough, and world building is a particular aspect that I’ve always enjoyed when trying to write fantasy, sci-fi, and D&D campaigns myself. However, I feel a little more disconnected from this book then the first, and I’m not entirely sure why. Part of it could certainly be, that I don’t have the TV series playing in the back of my mind as I listen. I don’t think that’s entirely it, the story just seems more disjointed. The author switches character perspective every chapter generally because the story is so vast and taking place in so many different places around the world. The cast of characters has grown, the scope of the story has grown, and as a result much more time goes by between each character’s POV and the continuation of the their part of the story. That process makes it so that I can’t get attached to any particular character and slows down what little action there is. I’m not saying it’s a bad book, but I don’t know if I would have the patience to get through it if I was actually reading each page, and not having it read to me as I drive. And all that said, after the amazing job they did with the first season of the show, I can very much see how this book will translate perfectly into the medium, so long as HBO gives them the budget to produce it as faithfully as the first. I love that the development and continual improvement of CGI has made it possible for such shows to exist. And that HBO can throw boobs around on TV willy-nilly.

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Avengers Assemble!…oh and Netflix and Game of Thrones talk….

So a little nerd talk today…

Avengers Assemble

Just watched the last episode of the latest Avengers cartoon series that Marvel has put out (thank you Netflix Instant watch). All told, I think it’s one of the better cartoon series that Marvel has put out. They didn’t stay true to comic book cannon, but I think even most diehard fans have to admit that trying to do so is a fool’s errand. After all with a comic like the Avengers where would you start? Back in the 70’s at the beginning? That wouldn’t pull in the mainstream, heck there are comic fans that would have trouble with that. No, they did a very good job in my opinion of staying true to the characters and the themes of the Avengers and even adapting stories from the comics into a different format. They told a few origin stories, and just as that was starting to become a drag, they assembled the team, in a manner very similar to how the original Avengers team formed. In fact I quickly realized that they used the exact original team roster for their starting cast and was very pleased by that. I’ve always been frustrated by the X-Men cartoons for never even trying to honor that piece of cannon, especially when it would have been so much easier to do so. They made the team form in the modern era which was perfectly OK with me. And they used bits and pieces from the movies, specifically the Iron Man movies (like a black Nick Fury). They also haven’t been afraid to play with the team roster, subtracting and adding new members. That was something they did well with X-Men Evolution, but that the original X-Men cartoon series always drove me nuts with. That is bringing in team members from the comics for just one or two episodes as a guest start, but never having them join the team or stick around for long. I could never understand that in a cartoon where voice actors are relatively cheap compared to adding a cast member to a live action series, but I’m sure there was some weird business reason for it. The entire process of watching this Avengers cartoon has even got me going back to read some comics again via my Xoom.

Also, over at ThinkGeek I found this DVD of every Star Trek comic book released from 1967-2002 stored in PDF. It makes me ask the question, why isn’t every comic book company doing this with their franchises? For a long time I’ve referred to myself as a recovering comic book addict. In my teens I collected a lot, and read every issue and loved comics. When it became time to pay rent, go to school, work, and all around support myself as an adult, I stopped having time to read comics and so I couldn’t really justify the expense anymore. I still have my entire collection, stored in Rubbermaid containers in my closet. I’ve considered getting back into the hobby multiple times, but I’m the sort of collector that would feel the need to gather up every back issue in between now and when I first quit, or at least graphic novels of the major story arcs. That’s a major and daunting investment, and a high barrier of re-entry for me. I know that much of the information is out there to figure out what happened in the interim, Wikipedia is actually fairly helpful for that. Aside from the expense of getting back into the hobby, comics take up an insane amount of space, and I just don’t have anymore room for them in my physical life. But I think the DVD containing digital copies of the comics is absolute genius. I’m told that Marvel has much of their issues available via a digital subscription package, but they haven’t built an app for the Android OS yet, and the only way I see digital copies working for me is if I can read them on my Xoom. The screen is actually perfect for that purpose. So for the time being, I’ll use less legitimate sources…. shhhhh don’t tell anyone.

And if you’re curious, I started reading an old Avengers mini series from a few years ago titled Avengers Forever, and loving it so far. I plan to move on to some of the other major Marvel Universe story events afterwards, like Civil War and House of M. Or go back and actually read Age of Apocalypse and/or Onslaught in their entirety. I haven’t decided yet.

Netflix raises prices? Not really....

Elsewhere, I received an email from Netflix yesterday, as did the rest of their subscribers I guess concerning their new membership plans. My morning news told me that Twitter and Facebook are all abuzz, mostly with outrage over the plan, and I can’t entirely see why. I’m paying $10 a month right now for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs (1 at a time). I never really use the DVD features though, if it’s not available on instant watch then I usually just don’t watch it, or I go see if it’s on OnDemand on my cable box. I’ve only ever gotten 1 DVD from them, I never opened it and haven’t sent it back yet. So their new plan makes perfect sense for me. I’ll change over to unlimited streaming only and save $2 a month, thank you Netflix. I imagine there are other people out there with Netflix subscriptions that never use their streaming and only want DVDs, they can also save some cash. This is only a price increase for those that use (or want) both features, and I guess I can understand their consternation, because this is pretty much a 50% rate jump and they’re not getting anything new. But who isn’t raising their prices these days? At least they’re offering an option that allows some of us to safe a little cash, they didn’t have to do that. They could have left the “stand alone” packages at $10 a month and jacked the combined package up to $15 still and told us all tough cookies. Seriously, who else offers a service like Netflix and offers it as good as they do? No one. Blockbuster has a DVD mail service, and I imagine they have some sort of streaming, but I don’t know for certain. Other places offer purely streaming services but most of them you have to pay-per-view (Apple and Amazon I’m looking at you). Netflix just does it better, and they have to make a profit still. Ultimately, I hope this will let them demonstrate to the movie companies that their subscribers really want Instant Watch and don’t care about the physical DVDs as much and we can get new releases when they’re actually new. That’s where this is all heading after all.

The Dragon is also the Hotness!

I’m most of the way through the Game of Thrones audiobook. Maybe I haven’t discussed it here, but I do most of my “reading” via audiobook these days. I find I want to consume all these stories, but I don’t have a tremendous amount of time to just sit and read. Comics are easy to pick up and put down, but generally I want to spend more time with a book. Right now I save my “book reading” energy for two series of novels The Dresden Files, which the newest book is coming out later this month (FINALLY!) and the Emberverse books (see my books page) which the newest will be out this fall. Otherwise I generally listen to audiobooks. I listen while I’m in the car especially since I spend over 2 hours every work day commuting (round trip) and usually as I’m falling asleep at night, or at the gym, or doing chores around the house if there’s nothing on TV. A well produced audiobook is a pleasure to enjoy. And Game of Thrones has been especially great after watching the first season of the HBO series. To my surprise and delight, I’ve found that the series is a tremendously accurate rendition of the book. Some people seem to think that the best compliment to a book is that they turn it into a movie. That’s just not true. So many books are too big for a movie, and Game of Thrones is a perfect example. Doing a short 10 episode season of TV allows for a far better translation of a complex book onto a screen. I just wish more people in Hollywood had figured this out sooner. There are many scenes that are practically torn from the pages, and even exact dialogue put straight into the actors mouths. Now that I’m almost done with the audiobook and the series is awaiting the 2nd season, I’m torn with a dilemma. Do I carry on with the audiobooks and listen to the rest of the series? Or do I wait for season 2 to come out entirely and then listen to the audiobook? Either way, I’ll be technically “spoiling the story” of one format for the other since they’ve stayed so true. A problem I haven’t faced with a similar series like True Blood since the book and TV show, which I both enjoy, are just different enough from one another to let me enjoy them independently.

I’ll have to consider this further.

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