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.