Thursday, July 31, 2014

"A Clash of Kings (ASoIaF #2)" by George R.R. Martin

This is the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. For those of you who haven't read A Game of Thrones, (or haven't watched the tv series), there are major spoilers for the first book of the series in this review.

One of the reasons that I never gave a second glance to the A Song of Ice and Fire Series before the tv show came out was the awful, hideous, uber-stylized covers. Looking at the cover, you'd think it is a stale history, not a fantasy- and despite my trolling of the Barnes and Noble fantasy/sci-fi section, I never wanted to pick up that book. Because of the tv series, they changed the cover of A Game of Thrones to Ned Stark sitting on the Iron Throne, and that was the only reason I chose it for my bookshelf. The newer editions are a bit better- landscapes, but really? Why does this series have such ugly covers? To better camouflage its awesomeness?

The Plot:
A comet leaves a trail of fire in the sky, leading to a plethora of prophecy. Melisandre, a priestess of R'hllor, predicts it to be the first breath of dragons, and begins a plot to endear herself to Stannis, a potential claimant to the Iron Throne. Arya, continues her adventures masquerading as a boy in a group headed for the Wall. Sansa is now reluctant about her engagement with King Joffrey, and looks for ways she might escape him. Jon and Sam set off on an expedition beyond the Wall, led by the leader of the Night's Watch, Jeor Mormont (the Old Bear). The King in the North, Rob, continues his goal to overthrow Joffrey and exact revenge on the Lannisters. Dany, now in possession of the only dragons known to exist, struggles to keep her brother's dream alive, but will the cost be to high?

One thing that always gets me about the ASoIaF series is that you're constantly waiting for your favorite characters to catch up with each other, or better- stop trying to go somewhere when you know the character they're looking for is somewhere else. Mr. Martin has a way of making me grind my teeth at night after reading a few chapters, when I wanted to read all of these in one night each, because you can actually weep for the characters when he does something truly awful to them. This author can crush your dreams within a paragraph- that's all I'm saying.

I've noticed a lot of people don't like Sansa as a character. To be frank, I don't care for her much either, even though I'm sure if she were an actual person, she'd be perfectly lovely. But the reason behind it is more because compared to the rest of the Starks, she's rather dull. She's willing to bend the knee to her keepers, but in all reality, that's the only reason she's alive in this book. I think she's much like Sam in that she has very human qualities- she isn't the bravest, she isn't the brightest, and she isn't trying to challenge her position (and therefore make her life much more challenging). Realistically, we're talking about a teenage girl, and, not to say teenage girls can't be extraordinary, she acts more like a teen girl than the rest of the teen (and pre-teen) girls in this book. Her weapons in this book are her beauty and her unobtrusiveness, and she uses them very well.

Also, there are real dragons in this book. Real as in untamed and not cute innocent and fluffy. Dragons that need a bit more polish as far as social graces, and dragons you wouldn't want to be in the vicinity of. Real dragons. And I love them- almost as much as the direwolves.

A Clash of Kings is an admirable sequel that maintains the conniving and plot-twisting qualities of its predecessor. This book keeps you on your toes, trying to predict the next dilemma the protagonist (or antagonist) will run into, or better who will live and who will die. I can honestly tell you, having read the series, the fun is not in predicting, it's in simply reading this book as it was meant to be read- late into the night, until the sun comes up and you realize you haven't slept. As you may be able to tell from that statement, I recommend this book to anyone willing to stay up late and wake up only to grab it and read some more.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for a second book that only improves upon the depth of the series!

Content: It's the continuation of A Game of Thrones, and contains the expected objectionable content. Ages 18+

Page Count: 968 pages in my brick of a mass-market paperback.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"The Optimist's Daughter" By Eudora Welty

This one of the few books I've finished reading that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. That immediately heightens everyone's expectations, including mine, but this book felt like an odd choice for the award, due to its rather everyday plot.

The Optimist's Daughter is about a little bit of everything: grief, growing up, cutting ties to the past, and looking to the future, and is set in the late 1960s. It is told in a style verbose prose that borders on poetic, capturing mundane things we all eventually experience in a unique way. It is said that a "good bit" of this novel is autobiographical, which was not the author's usual style.

The Plot:
Laurel, the only child of Judge McKelva, arrives in New Orleans to assist him and her stepmother (Fay) after he has his eye surgery. Laurel also happens to be a widow whose husband died in the War, and has chosen not to remarry. Things become more difficult when her father dies unexpectedly, and suddenly she has a funeral to plan, as well as a past to confront.

Have you ever had to go to a relative's funeral in a town you grew up in? That is the discernable (and very compacted) plot of this book. I breezed through it easily enough a year ago, but it didn't meet my expectations of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, mainly because I like more dynamic reads. The only action I can readily recall happening in this book was when a bird got stuck in the house, so if you're looking for something non-introspective to read, this isn't it.

I really wanted to love this story, as I know what it's like to have someone in the family die and then to have to deal with vulture-like relatives and well-meaning family friends. But as the book drew on, I realized this is one of those books I avoid: it probably has some abstract second meaning that I'll never catch onto without someone explaining it to me- twice. And while I appreciated the basic story, it didn't make the list of classics I want everyone to know about and read.

The Optimist's Daughter is incredibly introspective and very well written. But, as an accomplished book devourer, I wanted a little more meat to the story than what was given. If you're interested in reading classics, this one is certainly worth reading for its small page count, as well as its themes of grief and the past. But for the average reader who expects a lot out of their reads, this book doesn't have much to offer.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a interesting, but ultimately unremarkable read.

Content: Really not a lot to object to, but I advise Ages 16+ for interest reasons.

Page Count: 176 pages in my paperback edition

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How To Make Your Blog Really, Really, Ridiculously Good-looking (For Free)

I'm taking a break from confessing to bring you some tips on how I dressed up my blog (for free).

A Zoolander-Inspired Post
When I started this blog, I knew very little about how to do the designs I saw on other blogs. I wanted that cool header, the grab button, and overall feel that made me want to sit and read every dang blog post that certain blog had to offer. However, being as cheap as I am, I needed to do it for free, and in a timely manner, as patience is for saints.

From GifWave
After hours moments of furious googling, I found some ideas. First off, I found this post:
How to Create a Custom Blog Header For Free

Also, I found this to make Blogger-friendly blog buttons- the only site that made them work for me:
Code It Pretty: Make an HTML Grab Button For Your Blog

I found some new favorite pattern-making sites (to use for the header or the blog background):
Pattern Cooler (has customizable bold graphic designs)
BgPatterns (has softer, also customizable designs built around an icon [fleur de lis, etc.])
Colour Lovers (has a mind-boggling amount of designs and colors, but you must sign up [for free] to use it)

It's also good to think about your blog's color scheme when making the patterns- don't make a bunch of red patterns if the grand color scheme of your blog is pastels and whites.

I actually was having a terrible time finding all my patterns I'd saved onto my computer. (They end up in your "Downloads" folder, in case you're wondering, and technologically stunted like me.) I then set out to make the perfect header for my blog.

...and didn't end up using those patterns I downloaded, at all (for the header). If your blog is a lifestyle blog, and the theme is whatever you like, the patterns will do perfectly. But if you have a book blog (and have chosen to omit the "books" for your blog's title), you need some totally rad book images of your physical bookshelf. (Or, if you haven't many physical books, go to a library or friendly bookstore and take some pictures of their bookshelves.) Take lots of pictures, but here are some ideas to make plain books look even more interesting:

Set the books (or whatever your blog is about) someplace interesting (chairs, side tables, old storage trunks):

Make a statement:

Using PicMonkey's black and white effect, I painted back in the original color of the books (click the paintbrush and then click the original tab in the pop up- they also have some handy undo buttons for mishaps up top).

Make a book spiral:

Situate the books in a spiral pattern by placing each slightly skewed on top of one another. (This is an idea that came from looking in bookstores.) Then, take a photo from whichever side looks best.

For a Blog Header, Post Picture, or to Make Any Picture on Your Blog Look Cool:
When you have plenty of pictures (or patterns), head over to PicMonkey and hit the Collage button. Make sure you have the dimensions you want your header (or picture) to be on hand, as shown in this post from Thinking Outside the Sandbox. For my blog, I used the Ducks in a Row option available in the Layout area (the button with a bunch of squares). For my most recent header, I used the layout under Cards with a modified Ducks in a Row that has an extra skinny picture under the main ones. You can also adjust the background color, spacing between pictures, and how much you want the corners to be rounded.

For this phase, you end up with something like this:

It looks so much different in black and white:

When you're satisfied with the size of the pictures and everything else, click Edit.

On PicMonkey, you can go bananas with everything- there are plenty of free fonts, overlays, and final exposures and textures to apply. For the sake of my sanity, I'm sticking with some of my favorites, but you'll have plenty of options to make your header look uniquely you and ridiculously good-looking.

A basic header (adding only text) for the black and white:

A basic header for the color version:

It's more difficult to work with color pictures for your header, because unless you use drastically different colors or shades, it'll blend right in. Sometimes if you try different Blend modes in the font popup, the text will become more readable.

If you want to get more elaborate, you can add some Overlays. You may notice some in my blog header: the bird on the gateway, the rose below the books, the butterfly on Critiques. To get the butterfly as I have it, you have to erase half of it using the overlay editor. You can also solve the unreadable text problems by putting an overlay behind it, as I did with my black and white header.

Black and White, with arrow overlays behind to make it pop:

Note: I combined multiple pieces of the arrow overlays to put behind the title and text.

Color, with uber-girly overlays:

The next step I use is to add Effects (the button with the wand). But first, up top click the "combine all elements" button. This will ensure all of your text and overlays get the same effect as the header behind them.

My favorite effect is called HDR: it makes everything really pop, adding a halo effect to colors and adding more contrast. There are other cool effects, like Warhol (makes your picture two colors instead of black and white) and Black and White (which I demonstrated earlier), but HDR makes all my easy work look good. I recommend dialing it down a lot: on the preset, the Intensity is 200%- I make it about 60%. I also use the Fade to dial it down- usually I put it right around 50%, but for the more graphic black and white header, I set it at 29%.

Graphic Black and White:

Uber-cutesy Color:

As you can see, the lower text quote for the Color header is getting faint- if this were for an actual blog, I'd start over. The black and white header's font is much more readable.

You can add more than one effect, but for this exercise I'll just use HDR because it's tried and true.

Next, you can add Textures or Frames. I never use Frames for headers. The ones that are free aren't my style, so I'll skip that step.

For Textures, I use almost exclusively the ones involving light: Space, Burst, Light Trails, or Water.

For the Graphic Black and White, I used the first option for Burst, dialed the Saturation down to 0%, then used Move to make the effect bigger and less noticeable.

For the Uber-Cutesy Color, I used the fourth option for Light Trails, left a little blue-ish Saturation, and again, used Move to make the effect bigger.

While the Color header does look cool, you can barely read the text beneath, which would make it redo-worthy. If people can't read it, it doesn't matter how cool your blog header looks because it isn't fulfilling its purpose: to greet people coming to your blog with a brief description and give them an idea of what to expect of you.

For Backgrounds:
Blogger has a nice array of backgrounds, but if you want something more customizable, go back up to the top and check out the pattern-making sites. The current one for my blog is from Colour Lovers, but in the course of my relatively new blog I've used both of the other pattern sites. I've also used some of the pre-made backgrounds available on The Cutest Blog on the Block and Hot Bliggity Blog, but the corner link perturbed me, as well as the fact when you have a tablet or phone and have it held vertically, they don't look that great. I'm very picky about some things, and I want my blog to look good if I visit it on my Kindle Fire.

For Social Media Follow Buttons (Those Things Under "Shadow My Critiques"):
I accidentally stumbled on this site in my pursuit of better blog button tutorials (Code It Pretty's is the best), but didn't know a newbie blogger like me could do these Social Media Icons, and for free.
Carrie Loves: Free Social Media Icons

But remember, in the words of famous male model Derek Zoolander:

"I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good-looking. And I plan to find out what that is."

There's more to life than having the coolest, most eye-catching blog on the block. For example, even if your blog is the most ridiculously good-looking blog ever, it won't make up for the lackluster blog posts you typed out after giving your blog a makeover night after night for the past month. And even if having that beautiful blog brings you followers, it certainly doesn't guarantee those followers will listen to what you have to say.

From Giphy
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an after-funeral party to attend,"

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Fevre Dream" by George R.R. Martin

Sometime after I devoured all of the ASoIaF series, it became clear I needed another George R.R. Martin fix. Given my love for vampires, Fevre Dream was a no-brainer, but ended up being a lot more than I'd come to expect in a historical vampire tale.

Steamboats- something you learn about in history lessons, but come to forget as soon as you close the textbook (unless you live along the Mississippi). I've never read a book that is set almost entirely on a steamboat. I've never wanted to read a book set on a steamboat- I'm not much for boats, period. But somehow, during the course of reading this, I've come to appreciate them- steamboats and I are now on reading terms. Because George R.R. Martin can really change my mind about things like that- his writing (and worldbuilding) is so incredible.

The Plot:
Abner Marsh has lost all his steamboats but one in a freak ice accident, but he soon receives a letter from the mysterious Joshua York proposing a deal to save his steamboat business, Fevre River Packets. In exchange for a vast amount of money and an entirely new steamboat, York asks that Marsh pilot and run the new vessel, while remaining discreet about York's activities and proclivities. Marsh agrees, as long as the boat is made to his tastes, but it soon becomes apparent that the venture may cost Marsh his life.

I love the way this book portrays vampires, because they're much more human than I've read in other vampire novels- they too have emotions, ambitions, and dreams. In some books, the vampires are there simply to look sinister, or to romanticise, but this author does a little bit of both. They never seem truly human, but at the same time, they have human qualities and frailties. And they don't sparkle.

It's interesting that this story is mainly about vampires, and yet the protagonist is a human (and I believe the POVs are mostly human as well). I never thought I'd enjoy a story about an out-of-shape (and relatively old) steamboat aficionado, but again, Mr. Martin has a way with characters, and Abner Marsh is a great one.

In case you're wondering, this book's epilogue is utterly perfect. I would recommend reading it just for the epilogue, because it puts most other epilogues to shame. Not many epilogues can compete with a George R.R. Martin epilogue.

Fevre Dream is an unexpectedly worthy vampire read Mr. Martin wrote before the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I had high expectations of this book, and they were almost completely fulfilled. I recommend this to those who are searching for a different take on vampires, or want to find out how awesome 1857 steamboats can be for a book setting.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for an exceptional yarn of vampires and steamboats!

Content: Gore, blood, and a smidgen of sexual content. Recommended for Ages 18+.

Page Count: 461 pages in my mass market paperback

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Pirates!" by Celia Rees

Pirates! is the kind of book I expected when I picked up The House of Four Winds: a tale mainly about pirates, with a believable world (in this case, a historical one), plenty of adventure, and nail-biting moments. Pirates! starts out slow, but quickly builds into a rather inspiring tale of an unlikely friendship and the courage it takes to find freedom.

The Plot: (taken from the back cover)
"Nancy Kingston, an heiress fleeing an arranged marriage, and Minerva Sharpe, a runaway slave, both find unlikely salvation on the pirate ship Deliverance. Life as a pirate is difficult enough, but can the two young women escape the cruel Captain Bartholome, who has pledged to follow them over the seven seas? And will Nancy's long-lost friend, a sailor in the Royal Navy, love the pirate she has become?"

What drew me to the book as a teen was the promise of pirates, and the story elements that come with pirates (lying, cheating, adventure, stealing, being an outlaw, etc.), definitely not the romance. As a teen I was deeply unromantic, having been raised with an older jock brother who exploited the lust of women (girls bought my brother chocolates on Valentine's Day, not the other way around). This book was right up my alley- the romance is sweet, but it isn't used as the main plot (even though Nancy is a bit attached to her beau).

Cheating Pirates! From Giphy
This is my first historical read that deeply explored the concept of slavery from multiple angles. It's almost horrifying to read some passages where people are left out to die or die slowly and horribly, knowing that it actually happened. Even though this book is fiction, it paints a gut-wrenching picture of a time in history when our humanity wasn't valued, much different from the glossed-over depictions of Gone With The Wind.

I kind of wish they'd used this as the cover- Minerva deserves a place on the front as well.
I also liked the tentative friendship between Nancy and Minerva- I mean, if they were insta-buddies, it would have been odd. Their friendship may have started as one of convenience, but grows as the plot unfolds. Young Adult characters usually aren't my favorite, but these two grew on me.

This is a book choice both the adult and teen me can agree on- Pirates! is a historical adventure that goes beyond being just a story. It isn't often you have such an interesting (and unlikely) depiction of friendship in YA, and it truly made this book be memorable for me (having not read it for six years). If you're looking for a historical that doesn't gloss over the history, but isn't likely to bore you with details, Pirates! may be a book for you.

Pirate Rating:
From Giphy
Actual Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a nautical historical YA that takes you (many) places!

Content: Lecherous scum, naivete, slavery, and violence. Best read when Ages 14+.

Page Count: 374 pages in my paperback edition

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Early Critique: "The House of Four Winds (One Dozen Daughters #1)" by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

I received this e-book for free via NetGalley, but in no way did it affect my literary taste buds. This critique is my honest opinion.

To Be Released: August 3rd

Book #1 in the One Dozen Daughters Series

The Plot:
Clarice Swann is a princess of Swansgaarde out to find her destiny. On her eighteenth birthday, as planned by her parents, she is sent off to wherever she wishes to make a life for herself. A princess's dowry is a costly thing, and the King and Queen of Swansgaarde know they cannot afford twelve dowries, and therefore the princesses are taught a trade before they set out. Clarice has chosen the path of swordsmistress, but first she must go somewhere faraway to gain her fame and then settle down. To that end, she boards the Asesino, a merchant ship, hoping to pay her way to New Hesperia or thereabouts, dressed as Mr. Clarence Swann. But it soon becomes apparent she chose the wrong vessel, as the captain is merciless and the crew grows mutinous. Will she be able to make her way across the sea without shedding some blood?

I loved the plot of this book, even though crossdressing girls are quite frequently found in fantasy (and historical) books. Unfortunately, Clarice had none of the predictable trouble of crossdressing, so the thrill of that line of the plot was reduced to nothing. Not to say I don't like a book to do exactly as its predecessors had, but what was the point of her crossdressing when it didn't feel like it factored in to the grand scheme of things?

Another thing that bothered me about the book was its world. It is an odd mesh of fairytale and historical, with perhaps a tad of fantasy thrown in for the hell of it, and at one point there is mention of a story from the book of Kings (from the Bible). I mean, not to complain about Bible references (I wouldn't have a name without that book), but it felt odd to have it thrown in a world where magic (or thaumaturgy) exists, and is somehow biblically based.

The characters were simply okay. They did have moments when it felt like they might be adults, but the rest of the time it felt like they were all stuck in junior high. There was some plot with regards to the ship's crew having a hand in the Asesino politics and such, but that angle was quickly thrown aside as well.

A spoiler regarding the main plot, and my frustration over it (Highlight to view):
The sorceress who holds Dominick (Clarice's love interest) in thrall needs him because he is a virgin as well as a ship's navigator (a rarity). Clarice and Dominick know this, but not once is it even discussed that they might consummate that and therefore destroy the sorceress's chances to get what she wants. I don't think it would have been appropriate for them to do that (being Dominick has only known Clarice as a girl for a little while), but instead the authors have them break the magic by virtue of true love (or as I like to say, to blave). They don't even try to see if it works- they go into the final battle blind. Blinded by their true love that has grown from a friendship between what was thought to be a guy and another guy. If I were Clarice, I would've been leary of his confession (despite his being a virgin and all). It was just a bit too odd for me to accept that they have true love so soon.

This is a book I would've loved to read as a teen, or even as a tween. As an adult, it falls a bit short of my expectations of a good fantasy pirate yarn with a dash of romance. If you like young adult books, you may be of a different opinion, but for me, this didn't qualify as quite good enough to broach three stars.

Rating: 2.5 Stars, for a simply okay read that didn't fulfill my expectations.

Content: Mild violence. Ages 14+

Page Count: 307 pages expected in the hardcover edition.

P.S. I (Talitha) am named as one of the dozen princesses of Swansgaarde in this book. Even though this book wasn't for me, I'll definitely be reading the one that features that princess.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Fun Five: The 5 Genres (or Subgenres) You Never Get Tired Of

The Sunday Fun Five #6

Sunday Fun 5:
#4: The 5 Authors You Would Revive, If Only For a Day
#5: The 5 Books That Define You as a Person and a Reader
#6: The 5 Genres (or Subgenres) You Never Get Tired Of
For the 3rd of August: #7: The 5 Husband-Material Characters You Wish Were Real
Feel free to participate by commenting below or writing a blog post: I wrote up some guidelines for blog participation here.

A Countdown of

The 5 Genres (or Subgenres) You Never Get Tired Of

5. Memoirs
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a veterinarian? Or a poor kid growing up in Ireland during the depression? Or a social worker who uncovers a hideous secret about Britain's previous adoption and foster care system? Memoirs are books that give you a bird's eye view into the life of someone else, letting you experience their life through their words, and I rarely get tired of reading them.

The closest books in my physical copies to Paranormal Romance
4. Paranormal Romance
I'm relatively new to the adult spectrum of the genre, and was unaware this was an actual genre until Goodreads came into my life (I lived under a rock and my books consisted of scrolls before Goodreads, in case you were wondering). I love it when romance has more of a plot than "and they ended up together forever", and this genre is full of engaging stories and mythologies.

3. Classics
They are called Classics for a reason, and even if they don't live up to my high expectations of them, they often have ideas that grow into other books (most of the fantasy books available today wouldn't exist without the Lord of the Rings trilogy). It's interesting to read a classic and then look at a modern book that owes its plot or themes to that certain classic. 

2. Historical Fiction
One of my favorite genres, historical fiction takes its cues from history and then runs wild- sort of like those Hollywood movies where the film is based on a true story. It benefits from the ability of the author to bring us back in time to meet characters that have left no autobiographies of their life, while not bogging us down with details. It would be very difficult for me to tire of historical fiction, because there is so many times and places in history to write about.

1. Fantasy
I never get tired of fantasy. I never get tired of hearing about a girl (or boy) riding off from her farm to seek her fortune in fantastic realms populated with strange races and creatures. I never get tired of reading about epic battles of good and evil and those in between. It's my genre, and someday years from now you'll find me in a nursing home clutching my beloved fantasy mass market paperbacks and talking about the good ol' days when George R.R. Martin was still scribbling out tomes.

Notable Exclusions:
Science Fiction, even though I'm a huge fan of it, it takes a lot of my brainpower to read it and puzzle out certain gizmos and what that alien would look like (in other words, it's a mental workout to read).
Mysteries and Crime Thrillers can also sometimes go on forever, or feel like the same old thing I've read before.
Historical Romance can be really hit or miss with me, the best of the genre comes from the ten percent authors who write outside the box in the genre.
Plain History is very refreshing to read about, but only when it's done well and not long-winded.

What are your go-to genres? Are there certain genres you used to like, but have gotten tired of? Do you have to be in a particular mood when reading some genres?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Summer Knight (Dresden Files #4)" by Jim Butcher

Cover from Goodreads
This review features a book that is the fourth in the series, and may have minor spoilers for those who have not read Storm FrontFool Moon, and Grave Peril. My critique of Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) can be found here.

I've been in love with faeries ever since I read Tithe as a thirteen year old: beings that seem angelic up close, but below the skin, they hold darker intents. I was sure if there was to be any Dresden Files book I would absolutely love, this would be it.

Nope, Sorry Litha. Reaction Gifs
I suppose I was wrong to have such high hopes. This read certainly was less busty than the last (two mentions of breasts vs. eleven in Grave Peril), which is a good vast improvement, but at the same time, sometimes I wonder if Harry Dresden will ever grow up. It feels a bit like that has-been college athlete who hangs out with the new college kids trying to hold on to the glory days- except in Dresden's case, there's a bunch of young werewolves.

The Plot:
Harry has been asked, by yet another damsel in distress (in Harry's world, damsels in distress grow on trees and guys never ask for help with magical issues- ever) to help with a murder investigation. Trouble is, the damsel turns out to be the Winter Faerie Queen Mab, the murder looks to be an accident to the average detective, and Mab has the most motive to kill the Summer Knight. And Mab also has the keys to his freedom, or his destruction, in her hands...

Harry Dresden has minor faults that never cease to annoy me. He is always Captain Unprepared, never having what he really needs on hand when the item is most needed. Mr. Dresden also never takes care of himself- at the end of battles or brawls, it always falls to someone else to patch him up, as he's busy recovering his wits staring into space. And, in this book, despite frequent pleas to cut his hair, he never does. Leading me to feel like I need to do this:

Will cutting a wizard's hair take his strength away? No, just his vagrant-esque look.
And I'm also starting to feel the covers for the Dresden Files are deceiving- I don't recall Harry throwing on an old cowboy hat at any point in this book. During the final battle, he dons a debonair black Coca-Cola cap with a red label, and realistically, the cover should reflect this:

What Hairy Dresden Looks Like For the Final Battle, 'Merica Style
In the end, Summer Knight lived up to my expectations of the first two Dresden Files, with plenty of humor, action scenes, and dorkiness to be found. Although my grievances with Harry stand, I generally find him quite likeable when he's not being stupid or slavering over the fae ladies. And, despite the similar ratings, I consider this book my favorite of the Dresden Files so far.

Rating: Bouncing back up to 3.5 of 5 Stars, for a better-than-the-last-Dresden-File book.

Content: The usual fare of violence, innuendos, and inexplicable blurtings of Hell's Bells. Ages 18+

Page Count: 376 pages in the ebook edition

Thursday, July 17, 2014


On Tuesday, I woke up to severe stomach pain and nausea, and after googling my symptoms today it's very likely I had food poisoning or a weird stomach bug. Either way, I spent my Tuesday and Wednesday within ten seconds of my bathroom, and loafing around like a...

From Giphy
zombie, without the perks of being able to keep anything down. Today, the above gif accurately demonstrates my situation- lurching around the house looking ghoulish. So, naturally, as I am a night-before book review writer, I had nothing to post today, until I saw this:

Word Crimes
It's by Weird Al, and thus has the requisite one inappropriate word (that if you blink you'll miss), but let's face it: if you've watched Blurred Lines, you can watch Word Crimes. Plus, it mentions blog posts.


Isn't my blog post fantastic?
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