Life update, future posts, and Quinn.

It’s been twelve days since my last post and the neglect makes me feel like a dirtweasle. When I started this blog my goal was to write something every few days, possibly daily. But, reality is a bit different so I have to compromise and recalibrate my goal. From now on I’m going to aim for at least a weekly blog post.

The last couple of days I have been somewhat preoccupied with exploring my new neighborhood, trying out restaurants, decorating my apartment, and reading a lot of short stories. In the near future I will share in detail my short fiction magazine reading and talk about all the Amazon Kindle subscriptions that I enjoy each month. I also finished the third Dresden Files novel “Grave Peril” so expect my review really soon. In the novel department I am currently reading “The Chaplain’s War” by Brad Torgerson, a interesting bit of military scifi intertwined with a bit of religious exploration that I am really enjoying. I have a lot to say about this book so when I get the time it should be a long post.

Saving the best for last. The one thing that has been keeping me 100% preoccupied is the awesome new family member the wife and I adopted. Quinn, our classy weasel dog hybrid that we rescued last week. Being a three month old puppy she’s been quite time consuming yet exceptionally entertaining. Expect to see a lot of her from now on because she’s fabulously fantastic.

The fantastic Quinn
The fantastic Quinn

Fool Moon(Dresden Files #2)

fool moon

Rating 3/5

Harry Dresden is back and doing the supernatural detective wizard thing in Fool Moon, the second book in the Dresden Files series. This time Dresden is caught up investigating a series of grisly murders where the victims are massacred by what seems to be a pack of wolves. Complicating the matters his police officer friend Murphy is being investigated by Internal Affairs, she doesn’t trust him anymore, and a squad of FBI show up to meddle in the investigation. Throw in the mob, a vicious biker gang, some Eco-warriors, and Harry has his hands full.

After really enjoying Storm Front I immediately ordered Fool Moon and started making my way through it. Just like the first novel, this one is fast paced, witty, and a pleasure to read. So far the Dresden books remind me of watching Buffy the Vampire episodes, fun, witty, and filled with a monster of the week plus a continuing arc. The action is fast and brutal, Harry gets his ass kicked up and down Chicago in this one. The highlight scene is when a werewolf beast of epic proportions runs amok through the Chicago PD station. It’s brought back images of the first Terminator movie where Arnold destroys the police station. Imagine that scene but with a giant unstoppable werewolf.

Unfortunately being Butchers second published book, written at the same time as Storm Front I believe, Fool Moon suffers from some annoying imbalances. Harry is insufferable in some chapters, at one point he sees a murder victim, curls up, and starts crying. Nobody does that, let alone a powerful wizard who escaped from his black magician mentor by setting him on fire. Karrin Murphys character is beyond unlikable, she treats Harry like crap throughout the book and has no redeeming qualities. I see the trope Butcher is going for with her and I hope that it gets fixed in future books because right now shes quite atrocious. The main flaw with this book lies in the pacing, too much awesome action. The book is pretty much a long sequence of beatdowns that Harry goes through and by the time I got to the final confrontation I felt worn out and the final fight felt anticlimactic and tiresome.

Even with a few character and pacing issues I really enjoyed this one and decided to continue with the series. Reading different reviews it seems like Butcher hits his stride in book 3, and being 60% done with it I have to agree. Keep on reading, this series pays off.

Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)

stormfront

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.

Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.

No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Above is the Yellow Pages ad put out by Mr. Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only Wizard for hire and star of the Dresden Files, a series of 15(20 planned) books by Jim Butcher detailing his exploits as a crime solving wizard living in Chicago.

In Storm Front, the first book in the series, Dresden gets called in by his police officer friend, an aggressive blonde named Karrin Murphy, to help her solve a series of brutal murders obviously caused by magic. Throw in a vengeful mob boss, sexy Latino reporter, seductive vampire madam, talking skull, a few faeries, a murderous frog demon, and you get a fantastic adventure and a great opening act to the series.

This book has been on my to-read pile for awhile now. A few of my friends with respectable taste in books strongly recommended this series so when I finally started Storm Front I had a lot of expectations for it. Safe to say it did not disappoint, I devoured it right away and ordered its sequel Fool Moon.

The book and setting remind me of playing World of Darkness rpg’s growing up. Urban Chicago where every shadow hides vampires, wizards, and a secret world of the occult and unknown. I would not be surprised if Dresden did not come right out of a Mage: The Ascension game. Storm Front totally scratched my geeky rpg WoD itch. I finally understand why some people love Twilight because Harry Dresden is now my official wish fulfillment fantasy. Who doesn’t want to be a wizard solving crimes, blasting demons with magic, and drinking beer with other supernatural creatures?

So if you are looking for a fun, quick, pulpy, read about a crime solving wizard go ahead and pick up Storm Front and join me in reading the series.

Loving the new hood.

I started this blogging adventure during a chaotic time in my life, right smack in the middle of moving. Naturally I have been somewhat occupied with exploring my new City and sampling all the fine food, coffee, and beer that my neighborhood has to offer. Now that I’m settled in, I will be updating on a regular basis, so stay tuned.

Right around the corner.
Right around the corner.

University Heights so far is leading the race as my favorite place to live. It has the urban feel I enjoyed while living in Chicago mixed with the laid back attitude of San Diego. Fantastic 24 hour coffee shops, bars filled with craft beer, restaurants, and shops all within walking distance. Most of importantly all the locals I have met have been amazingly friendly and fun to hang out with. I look forward to living here for the next few years.

In other news of interest, I have been doing a lot of research for my next short story and expect to begin the submission process sometimes next week. I will keep updating on the process as work it out for myself. Hopefully I don’t get distracted by all the awesomeness around me.

Guardians of the Galaxy and the problem with Marvel movies.

Guardians

Sunday Judy and I went on a mid-afternoon movie date and finally got the chance to catch the latest Marvel eyeplosion Guardians of the Galaxy. Directed by James Gunn and starring Chris Pratt, the ever obnoxious Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel(sort of), Dave Batista, Bradly Cooper, and a few others under a lot of makeup and CGI, the movie is based on a more obscure series of comics that date as far back as 1969.

Guardians of the Galaxy was a fantastic chicken nugget and extra-large fries kind of movie. Stupid, full of idiotic plot holes, but exceptionally fun. The first half of the movie when the characters are introduced and come together as a team is easily the best Marvel movie action so far. Quail Star-Lord a kind of Han Solo mixed with Fry from Futurama , teams up with a weird genetically engineered raccoon named Rocket, his giant inarticulate tree creature Groot, a violent buff and scarred Drax bent on revenge, and the typical warrior princess turned good Gamora. There’s a crazy McGuffin orb that contains a infinity stone that the evil bad guy, who’s kind of a Darth Vader with some face paint, wants to get so he could destroy the planet of boring people or something or other.

The plot made absolutely no sense but the movie was still awesome, guns were shot, a crazy talking Raccoon did things, a giant tree, Benicio del Toro was in there somewhere, stuff blew up some more, and everybody looked like they were having a blast. Well except for Zoe Saldana, she always has that arrogant fart sniffing face in everything she does. Overall I enjoyed myself, it actually fondly reminded me of The Fifth Element, so if you want a stupid fun summer explosion movie, go ahead and give it some eyeball attention.

Best characters in the movie.
Rocket and Groot, I could watch an entire movie about them.

Besides casting the always annoying Zoe Saldana in another boring blue/green/ whatever color alien fighty badass princess cliché and the obvious logical inconsistencies and plot holes, Guardians suffered from the same unfortunate flaw of every single Marvel movie, a complete lack of quality kickass villains. All of the Marvel movies lack decent, interesting, and scary villains. Looking back I can’t even remember the bad guy in the first Iron Man or any of the sequels. I vaguely remember Loki in Avengers teaming up with some alien robots or something. Compare the Marvel movie villans with all the amazing memorable Batman cast and my point is easily illustrated. Evil robot dude, Loki, and that other guy with the metal whips don’t hold a candle to Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, Two Face, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and Mr. Freeze.

So evillll, so boring.
So evillll, so boring.

The big scary evil dude in Guardians is Roan the Accuser who wants to blow up the planet Xandar for some reason or other that I might have missed. Either way, the guy is boring, and every time he shows up the movie gets dull. The third act becomes predictable losing all  fun and energy when it turns into a giant CGI battle above space New York that is exactly like the final fight in Avengers. If Guardians lacked a villain completely and focused on the crew stealing space junk and escaping the space police for three hours it would have been an five star movie but because all the fun was anchored around a boring bad guy and an illogical plot involving yet another all-powerful orb of some sort I have to give it a good fun 3/5.