Review of Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

August 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

PENGUIN AUDIO - Blood Rites by Jim ButcherBlood Rites (The Dresden Files, #6)
By Jim Butcher; Read by James Marsters
11 CDs – 13 Hours 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: April 6, 2010

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, takes on a case as a favor to his friend Thomas – a vampire of dubious integrity – only to become the prime suspect in a series of ghastly murders.

I can honestly say, Blood Rites is my favorite in the series so far. Now, this was also my first audiobook of the series so that could have something to do with it. It’s hard to tell at this point, but either way, I highly enjoyed Bood Rites.

At first, I thought Marsters was a bit too serious for Harry, at least the Harry I had in my head, but the more I read, the more I realized Marsters is pretty much as perfect as you can get. Harry’s wit and constant one-liners were actually made more hilarious by this narrator who is serious for the majority of the time. I think the heightened seriousness really works better for these books because it gives you a sense of this highly dangerous world where Harry works on a daily basis.

It’s hard to separate the story from Harry himself because it’s told in first person so you’re in Harry’s head the entire time (outside of dialogue from other characters). I thought this was a brilliant way to handle it though, where you get Harry’s sense of humor through his dialogue mostly, his thoughts as well of course, but a seriousness that anchors the narrative because Harry still lives in a world of scary monsters.

I hope any of that made some remote bit of sense.

Anyhow, Blood Rites gets back into the vampires (they seem to be a pretty regular fall back for Butcher) and that makes sense because the set up has been an all-out war between vampires and wizards. Someone’s taking out people on an adult film set and Harry has to go undercover to discover who’s behind it. Of course, it goes deeper than he imagined at first and there’s where the money is for this series… Harry getting into stuff only to get beaten down and beaten on … a lot.

I struggled a slight bit with the first books in the series, but they have really hit their stride now. I didn’t even notice the typical repetitions this time (Harry disrupts electricity, Harry gets really protective of women, etc. etc.) that are explained in each volume as if no one’s ever heard about them before. It probably helps that it’s been a year or so since I last read in the series.

Blood Rites was excellent. James Marsters is so perfectly Harry Dresden it’s almost scary. What a great combination. I’ve already broken my rule of leaving a year between each Dresden file read and started on Dead Beat.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Posted by Bryce L.

Reading, Short And Deep #078 – The Rejected Sorcerer by Jorge Luis Borges

August 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #078

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Rejected Sorcerer by Jorge Luis Borges

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Rejected Sorcerer was first published as El Brujo Postergado in Crítica: Revista Multicolor de los Sábados 1.4 (2 September 1933).

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #431 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Fitcher’s Bird by Bros. Grimm

July 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #431 – Fitcher’s Bird by Bros. Grimm; read by Julie Davis. This is an unabridged reading of the folk tale (8 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa

Talked about on today’s show:
a rather unusual Brothers Grimm folktale a wizard sorcerer, his magical power is to make people fall in love with a beggar, a male witch from Hansel and Gretel, to live forever, to control women, from the girl’s perspective (the third sister’s perspective), body parts, a backpack full of gold, revenge, get back up on your legs, she’s got the power, magical spells by rhyme, a girl controlling a duck, becoming a duck, ducks are desirable, delicious duck eggs, so bizarre, gruesome, a bathtub full of cut-up body parts, the dropping of the egg, how clever!, betrayal, testing women for faithfulness, keys to every room in the house, she now has all the power, trust, a Garden of Eden situation, promises, the keys to a cage, egg is the future, she can’t think for herself, lying, power, Protector by Larry Niven, a variation of another famous fairy tale: Bluebeard, a donut shaped planet, tell the the Bluebeard myth, a forbidden room, a test, an egg to take care of, a Bluebeard test, I would not have submitted, authority, Julie is stunned, the majority gets cut-up, potential wives, a wife who will obey/trust him, the flaw, everything she desires, lacking mutual trust, curiosity, bewitching, a Pandora’s Box, Charles Perrault, The Robber Bridegroom, Beauty And The Beast, a transformation story, what’s needed, for mutual benefit, an amazing ending, The Castle Of Murder, every window with blood, a skull decked out, diamonds in the eyes, gruesome monster story, a charnel house, the last sentence, “the wizard and all his crew”, who are these people?, a different invitation, “brothers and kinsmen”, rescue, avengers, all his folk, all his friends, burn ’em, hardcore, no one’s doing this again, his mindset, they’re as bad as he is, honey and feathers, magic, Fowler’s Fowl, a white apron, Gretel, magic blood, a virginity test, the concern of men, the concern of women, Philip K. Dick, women want one thing and men want another thing, why would anyone marry Donald Trump?, an evil wizard, women want to make sure their children are well supported, what if she lets in someone who’s not me?, who is this story for?, the lesson is you should be smart not just loyal, loyalty will get you burned to death in a house, a bad hombre, the charismatic guy, it’s the money, fame, it’s easy to give in to thoughtless negative impulses, did he have bad hair?, tiny hands?, cycle of life, breaking out of the egg, a strange new wonderful bird, a great misfortune, like God talking in the King James Bible, God or Jesus, Arthur Rackham illustration, the Wikipedia entry, a Jewish caricature, it’s all turned around on him, resting, “I’m looking through my little window”, he got so tired, Cinderella, cutting off heels and toes, Prince Charming, a title and castle and money, she’s not even human anymore, I’m headed to New York, good enough, they all had poor eyesight and hearing, a very tall castle, an axe, why is he cutting them up?, a serial killer, Dexter, Jesse’s students are from Asia, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, explaining why these conventions come up, projecting backwards, 1850s, Split (2016), we should all watch it together, what are the things you don’t expect to find?, slash movie conventions, survivors, The Descent (2005), all C.H.U.D.s are underground C.H.U.D.s, she’s been reborn, covered in blood, no longer is she weak, she’s powerful, mettle tested, don’t just marry any old prince, exploring every part of your house, Julie rescinds her invitation, knowledge is power, powerful and useful, curiosity killed the cat, people are curious, Clark Ashton Smith, Arthur Machen, “since thou hast gone into my room — thy life is ended”, with the rest, she did not fair better than her sister, the bloody chamber, it has to happen three times for the magic to work, the three sisters, the three journeys, the three pigs, Goldilocks, somebody’s been sitting on my stool, somebody’s been sleeping in my bed and there she is!, what is the meaning behind this story, the ur story, Lady Macbeth, smart and disobedient, gaslighting, you can’t tell me how to think about what I’m seeing, Gaslight (1944), the moral is it’s best to be third born.

Hermann Vogel illustration of Fitcher's Bird

Fitcher's Bird illustration by Arthur Rackham

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Legion Of Flame by Anthony Ryan

July 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

PENGUIN AUDIO - The Legion Of Flame by Anthony RyanThe Legion Of Flame (The Draconis Memoria, #2)
By Anthony Ryan; read by Steve West
25 Hours 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: June 27, 2017
ISBN: 9780735206700

For centuries the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood – and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed – to fuel and protect its empire. But now a fearsome power has arisen – a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it. Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and ironship captain Corrick Hilemore embark upon perilous quests to chase down clues that offer faint hopes of salvation. As the world burns around them and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few are the last hope for the empire and for all of civilization.

Executive Summary:
Another solid entry in this series. Here’s to hoping for a good ending with the final book.

Audiobook:
I hate narrator changes. I’m bad with names, so at first I almost didn’t notice the change from Stephen Brand to Steve West. Plus I like Stephen Brand, and he narrated the last four Anthony Ryan books. So Steve West had his work cut out for him because I came into this book heavily biased against him.

I’m happy to report I thought he did a good job. I don’t know why they changed narrators, but Mr. West read with good volume and inflection and he added a few voices into the mix to make for a good audio experience.

Full Review:
This series mixes such a wide variety of themes, it still seems strange that they all work together, but they do. First you have Lizanne, who I always just think of as Jane Bond in my head. Then there is Clay, who’s got a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe to his story. Finally there is sailor Captain Hilemore.

Their narratives are all tied together with Dragon Blood. Added to the mix is Sirius. I don’t recall if he was introduced in the last book as a minor character, but he certainly wasn’t a POV in that. Much like Hilemore in the last book, his story felt mostly disconnected from the other three until near the very end. Unlike Hilemore however, I had a much better idea how his story was going to fit in with the rest well in advance.

I found the start of the book a bit slow. It took me awhile to remember the characters and the details from last year’s The Waking Fire, and even afterwards I didn’t find myself completely sucked in. Once the book got going however I definitely enjoyed it.

Clay’s story started the slowest of the four, although I didn’t find Sirius much better. Even Lizanne who’s definitely my favorite of the series felt like she was meandering a bit before her story got going again.

The world building continues to be excellent. We learn a lot more about the Dragons and the blood blessed, and the nature of many of the mysteries from the first book. Clay’s story in particular reveals quite a bit of interesting details. I really like the world Mr. Ryan built here.

Based on his previous series, I feel like Mr. Ryan’s good at writing both beginnings and middles, but struggles with endings. Queen of Fire felt rushed, and partially spoiled an otherwise perfect series for me.

I hope he takes as much time as he needs (assuming his publisher will let him) to write the final book of this series. I think this book set things up nicely for that. Now I just have to wait and see how it all comes out.

Review by Rob Zak

Reading, Short And Deep #074 – Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

July 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #074

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

Goblin Market was first published in 1862.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #426 – READALONG: A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

June 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #426 -Jesse and Juliane Kunzendorf talk about A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Talked about on today’s show:
1960, is it true that Peter S. Beagle wrote A Fine And Private Place when he was 19?, Mary Shelley, Mr Rebek has been in the graveyard for 19 years, self-aware, unforeseen circumstances, November 2016, lightweight material, subtext, it’s not deep, on the nose, a bit long?, novel length for a novella idea, a raven here, a lady doing her shopping, a time capsule, 1960-ish, darn interesting, how New York was, a social study, science fiction and werewolves, a light touch fantasy, pretty effective, 272 pages, six to eight hours, narrated by Peter S. Beagle himself, a calm voice, a pleasant listen, more better work, a special and distinct voice, kind of amazing, it feels super-old, wise, philosophical about death and how to live, how do you get to this?, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, one of Jesse’s favourites, nobody cared, Jesse’s theory as to what is going on in The Raven and how it relates to this story, Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, a metaphysical poem, start to kissing, rhyming with the comeuppance, but none do there embrace, reading poems aloud, forced rhymes,

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

sweet!, come on baby!, 1681, a tutor to a rich man’s daughter, post-mortem publication, The Twilight Zone, World Enough And Time, inspired, amorous birds of prey, iron gates of life, chaste love, Jonathan and Mrs. Clapper, finding another person to be with, all during WWII, an interesting backstory, reading books, washing his clothes in the bathroom sink at night, is it all in his head?, is he just a crazy homeless man?, fitting the facts, dirty and smelly, well groomed, disheveled, shaving, grooming, what are we to make of Mrs. Clapper falling in love with not the greatest catch ever?, her (dead) husband, tickles a sense of adventure, I’m not your husband, the rain-jacket, museum visitor than stay-at-home, the store scene, the Stillman family, when are you getting married?, she’s trapped in her role, her place in society, her apartment, the social environment of the 1960s, widowhood, when are you going to Florida?, other options, how she’s going to be buried, Mr. Rebek’s prison, an incomplete explanation, acting as a witch-doctor, love-potions, the scarred up boxer, making a love-potion, it’ll just make her receptive, when the love-potion works…, a weak character, he plays along, whiter teeth, his girlfriend died and he can’t get over her, he’s fleeing from the world and responsibility, in a time loop, frozen in time, just being, going on vacation is not a life, more of the same, his icy tomb, other stories like this, Beatrice in Dante’s Paradise, Orpheus and Eurydice, Odysseus, is Mr. Rebek going to move in with Mrs. Clapper?, living together, wearing her husband’s old clothes?, his room, they have to find a new apartment, from the Goodwill (but actually from her), she’s trying to replace her dead husband, marriage, domains, the boss, the nameless raven, Elijah, a squirrel with a wife, more raven, a couple of rules, how ghosts act and animals can talk, the ghosts, subversion, that’s what ravens do, the nightwatchman, alcohol, Spanish singing, sung as it should have been sung, another reflection of the raven, a psychopomp, Charon, the ferryman, Anubis, Pluto, deep in every religion, a man alive in the place of the dead, you’re a terrible guard, a passenger stuck on the barge to the underworld, not dead, not alive, seeing the dead, Mrs. Clapper can’t see the dead, an idea working below the surface, a lazy slow river journey, a slowboat to hades, Michael, I don’t want your nepenthe, Laura, more friends than anything else, a seagull lost in Iowa, seeing a bird, what is the metaphor there?, heavy with metaphors, things underlying, Juliane has time, listening to the sound of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, certain sad uncertain rustling, a story of madness, Jesse’s theory but first the poem itself, Beagle must have been familiar with The Raven, books: “many a quaint and curious volume”, not nameless, wrought as a homophone for rot, a ghost of flame, morrow and marrow, surcease of sorrow, ending sorrow by reading, distraction, “to still the beating of [his] heart,” December, at night, midnight, “once”, Charles Dickens, big on ghosts, Into That Darkness Peering a collection of Poe narrated by Wayne June, what is he dreaming about?, suicide, what’s behind suicide, teasing, the passive voice, Guy de Maupassant, premature burial, Japanese or Korean ghosts, a real creepy ghost story, back from the dead, “chamber” not house, a lattice, panes and shutters, curtains, a shade, purple as the royal colour, layers, why is his soul burning?, slight variations, eyelids as shutters, “perched upon a bust of Pallas”, Athena, why Pallas?, palace, there were two goddesses, Pallas was eaten by Athena, distance away from Athena, perched above wisdom, “though thy crest be shorn and shaven”, Sampson, you can’t shave a raven, you can pluck a raven, crest, no fur nor hair nor feather’s on it’s head, that’s a different bird, it’s a condor aka a buzzard aka a carrion eater aka a vulture, why vultures head’s are are shaven, mistaking the bird, his perception of it as a raven is odd, why doesn’t anybody comment on this?, Athena’s helmet has a Raven on it, when you make a drawing you have to choose, in a poem we can have it both ways, a comparison to a vulture, craven as lustful, vultures don’t look young, he’s having it both ways, a much scarier story, a fire theme, ungainly = ungraceful, a talking raven, nesting ravens, does the Raven always tell the truth?, “fiery eyes” burning, Gustave Doré, a ray of light, fire and light, censer, seraphim, nepenthe again, always subverting, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, desert land, balm in Gilead, skin soothing stuff, radiant, “still is sitting, still is sitting”, how can the shadow throw from the lamp stream over?, “my soul from out that shadow”, he burned his house down and he’s a ghost, the perfume of smoke, a room (not a house), Mr. Rebek’s house is a tomb, a man without a Lenore, eh, what are you going to do?, ravens in Greek mythology, Apollo, why all ravens are black today, creator god, the Ravens in the Tower of London, Mabel and Grip, trickster god, ravens stealing food, experiments with crow communication, sharing information, Jesse’s crow friend, zebras, lions making a plan, he cried like a baby, a reading raven, a gentle fantasy, the social structure, Michael and Laura, suicide or murder?, a prison of his own making, the prison of her own head, a golden cage, a satisfactory book, Mr. Rebek is 53, Mrs. Clapper is a little older (maybe), children are really absent, what’s real and what’s just in his head?, the nightwatchman is the sanest of all of them, so little evidence for insanity, very little below the surface, The Last Unicorn film adaptation, thematic connections, the death theme, The Innkeeper’s Song, five novels, We Never Talk About My Brother, funerals, death of child, hanging out in graveyards, pillars that didn’t support anything, the symbology of graveyards, a broken column indicates a life cut short, burial vs. cremation, a line between life and death, formalized words, affective, more philosophical, working as a mortician, Six Feet Under, a good book and pretty impressive, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (and the comic book adaptation), similarities, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a boy raised by ghosts, Tarzan, raised by animals, Tantor the elephant, Nobody Owens aka Bod, subtle illustrations, the babysitter characters, reading with students, tweeting Neil Gaiman, a signed poster, monster characters, Coraline, Tim Burton, thanatophilic, a weird relationship with death, if you’re dead you’re just gone, exactly like before you were born, we’re all just living in our heads.

BALLANTINE - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
IDW - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Posted by Jesse Willis

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