Book Review: Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

Spoiler free summary: Right off the heels of Peace Talks, (my review is here) Battle Ground ramps up the action as the battle for Chicago (and the world) begins. Everything changes in this tragically beautiful, action packed story that amounts to what might be the longest battle sequence in history.

The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character: The character development in this book is much different here. I must give a special nod to Butters. I feel like he stole the show. Molly is interesting here as well. Honestly every character has huge revelations in this book that change the scope. I’m still shocked at the rumor that Dresden is ending since I feel like these books opened so many new doors to explore. I still think Butters and Molly steal the show, though neither has a ton of screen time. I must also give Murph some credit.

Exposition: This might have been too short for a casual reader, but for fans who just wanted to get going, it’s perfect. So the quality of this category probably depends on your familiarity with the series as a whole. I loved it because I didn’t need to read segments of a story that were clearly put there just to fill in people who may not have been familiar with the series.

This image of Jim Butcher was taken from his website (quite some time ago) for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: While there are many revelations in this book, the world building only expands a slight amount. Now that’s a metaphorical crack in the universe (Doctor Who reference), but it’s not in the amount of new data but the magnitude of the data.

Dialogue: This book actually contains a great example of how to use dialogue to develop and reveal character. Now that I think of it, it has a few. So many of the conversations, especially those that happen after the more major (spoiler related) events. If this category is an area in which you want to improve, this is a book that can help.

Description: While I think the same major thoughts apply from my last review, I do think this is better. That perception might be because this book is so much more action oriented. It would make sense, but this book did more for my imagination than its predecessor.

Overall: This book easily competes with the end of the war against the Red Court. It’s that good. I’m heartbroken if there really is only one book. If you can confirm it either way, please do so in the comments below. This story is fantastic, and brings Harry right back to his beloved place.

Thanks for reading,


Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: Peace Talks is the sixteenth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. All the magical powers in the world are holding negotiations to end hostilities, and that’s when Harry’s brother, Thomas, decides to do something stupid. Already caught between four very different and conflicting lives, Harry must navigate these tightropes that can’t coexist. But most people aren’t even remotely interested in peace. One group plans to use this for its own ends.

Character: On one hand, it was just so good to see Harry and Murph and the others, that a part of me just sort of relished having them back. I remember feeling like this book was good to see old friends, but that the story itself didn’t really move for me. However, just having the gang back after I don’t know how long, made me happy. I must also note (and I feel this is the right section to do this) that I sort of consider these two books to be one larger story kindly split in two reasonable chunks. They are absolutely part of one narrative arc. However since both were individual titles, I kept them as separate reviews. I think readers should read both one right after the other to get the right effect.

Exposition: I was a little surprised here because while there is exposition, I actually expected there to be more. It’s be a looooong time since we’ve seen Harry, and I for one didn’t re-read the other books to re-familiarize myself with the plot. There’s really not so much going on that one can’t catch up, but maybe this isn’t the book to start. Honestly, this book (if I understand what I think I understand) is sort of leading up to the very end of the Dresden Files, which I disagree with. There’s so many more directions for this story to go. Hopefully I’m wrong. Regardless, it’s still leading to the end of a conflict that has been building for a few books now. So new readers will, I think, be a bit lost.

This image of Jim Butcher was taken from his website (quite some time ago) for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: Given that this is the sixteenth book, Butcher doesn’t really expand on the world he’s been writing in. Instead, he just uses it as a launching point. This is another reason why it’s not a recommended path for new readers. It’s a solid edition to the series, though not great in and of itself.

Dialogue: Most of my favorite authors have witty dialogue. This is no different. It’s good to hear the banter between characters. It’s every bit as enjoyable as any other. I don’t really know what one would have to do to have “great” dialogue. But good dialogue is that in which the conversations express character at least (if not more than) advance the plot or provide exposition.

Description: If I’m being fair, it’s hard to evaluate something I don’t typically want to think about. I know Harry is tall. I know Murph is short. I know Thomas is handsome. I know Harry’s grandfather is old. So I have what I need to a certain degree. I think Butcher is great with fight description and scene description. But I don’t know that I can see the characters so much. I don’t personally care. I tend to want stories where I can sort of book my own cast. But then I think about Wheel of Time, which got annoying with description, but I can picture those characters in my head. I think writers should consider this and what they want readers to do when they write stories.

Overall: This book is more of a ramp up to the next, and that’s OK. It’s not a great stand alone story. I even remember feeling a bit let down when it came down to it. However, the next book (see my review next week), delivers on the promise this book makes.

Thanks for reading,


What Authors Owe Readers

What Authors Owe Readers

Greetings all,

I was just thinking about books I’ve been waiting forever for, and that led me to this post.

caught-front-coverFirst, I’m very guilty. I was supposed to have the entire Oneiros Log done by now (Hey! I’m getting there). I got derailed on quite a few projects, and while I still produced books, I didn’t publish the titles some of you are waiting for.

The thing is, authors owe readers stories. More importantly, they owe readers the stories they’re waiting for. Now, the author doesn’t owe the reader the stories the reader wants in terms of I want Kaladin to marry Shallan, but they do owe readers the next chapter in the story.

There should be some grace in this. For instance, any Stormlight book is some 700 pages. They’re huge, so waiting two years for 500,000 words is probably fair. But what about three, four?

Readers should be patient. I think Towers of Midnight had some issues here and there because they were working so hard to get it out there. So there’s a balance between the fact that the author owes the reader another story and the reader needing to be patient.

I dream of the day someone gets mad at me for not having this book or that book done. It hasn’t come yet, though I do have a few readers who are indeed waiting for Betrayed. Thinking about how angry I was waiting for word on the next Dresden book gave me some perspective on that.

Why is this important? Well for starters, it’s very hard to gain momentum when you’re not putting out product. A guy like George R. R. Martin can make anyone wait as long as he wants because he has his money. The worst readers can do to him is say, “Well, HBO ended it, so I’m good.” Please know that I don’t think that’s the case; I’m only saying if it was, no one could really do anything about it.

However, a guy like me trying to earn a living doing this needs to make sure that he’s always ready with the next book.

I get a lot of questions about being an author, and in the context of this post, I always say, “If you’re writing a story, don’t publish book one until you have the other two books in the series ready.”

Caught and the rest of Oneiros taught me that. For starters, when you publish books in quick succession, you give yourself more visibility. We’re in a binge age, and people want that next series. However, they want that series readily available. Even as I mention the need for readers to have at least some degree of patience, I understand that people want to marathon a whole season of television. I do the same with books. I don’t want to read one book in a series; I want to read the whole series, and I don’t want to wait a year to move to the next book.

Sojourn_Ebook_CoverDoes that mean authors are evil if they don’t release books in quick succession? No. I confess Power of Words, Repressed, and Sojourn all distracted me from the book I probably should have written. Sometimes an artist has to go where the muse takes him.  You may want a book quickly, but you don’t want a quick turd. Again, there’s  a balance. I finally got Betrayed ready and COVID obliterated the chance for conventions (and therefore the opportunity to make what I need to get edits done).

That led me to start working on Discovered, and I even had the chance to return to Images of Truth. I have so many things I want to release, but I live on a budget. Yes, I owe you the rest of Oneiros, and I’m getting it done as quickly as I’m able with that budget.

What about the big guys? Well, I don’t think they’re being rude either. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wonder what Martin is up to (probably editing another series). It doesn’t mean I didn’t wonder what Butcher was up to. As a reader, I found myself frustrated at the wait. As an author, I feel convicted about not having stuff ready to print.

So maybe you’re not personally waiting for Betrayed, but you might be waiting for the next Ice and Fire book or something of that sort. I agree, it is frustrating to wait. You have a right to that emotion. Authors owe readers stories, and they should be produced in a timely fashion.

On my end, I’ll start drafting Discovered on the first. Once I’ve saved up enough money, I’ll send Betrayed to Sara for edits.

So I’m curious. How long do you feel it is appropriate to wait for “the next book?” Are you satisfied if an author at least publishes something in that time?

Thanks for reading,


Story Review: Day One by Jim Butcher from Unfettered II

Story Review: Day One by Jim Butcher from Unfettered II



Cover for Unfettered II taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Day One by Jim Butcher is the fourth story in the Unfettered II Anthology. Waldo Butters is about to embark on his first mission as a Knight of the Cross. Not too long ago, he was a somewhat reluctant associate of Harry Dresden. Waldo loves Harry, it’s just that Waldo is a bit of a scardy cat (understatement).  Now he’s a Night of the Cross fresh out of training. Can he truly step up to be a hero in his own right?

Character:  I probably would have paid for the whole anthology to get me a piece of the Dresden world. In a way, I sort of did. Waldo is a fun character, and I’ve liked seeing his growth through the books. He’s earnest, and that makes me want to root for him even before you add the fact that he wields one of the three blades. He’s proactive, but the interesting thing is  he’s still not quite a star on his own, and this story shows that. 

Exposition: This is wonderful when you consider the first person narrative. Waldo’s an interesting character, so it stands to reason that he’s a fun guy to listen to. Having read all of the Dresden books, I have a bit of trouble separating this book as a stand alone. I worry that those who don’t know the story will feel a bit lost. It’s self contained well enough, but this is clearly for fans of the series and not what I’d use to introduce someone to the series. 

Worldbuilding: As a part of a series, we have what we need in the Dresden world. We get a new spooky villain, and we can move on. As a stand alone, we get what we absolutely must know in regard to the Knights and Waldo. It doesn’t have the same skillful world building the last story had, but it’s a much better story overall because the characters move and grow. I feel that sort of comparison is important. If writers are trying to pick which is more important, aim for characters that connect to readers and grow rather than meticulous worldbuilding. Sure, it’s great to have it all, but doing so is usually pretty hard to do in shorter fiction.

This photo by Karen Hacker with The Portrait Gallery was taken from the author’s website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: This has all the clever banter and wit I like in dialogue. Note: I’m a pretty simple guy to please in that regard. Butters has a unique voice, and it felt good to see him. If any were to accuse Butcher of aiming for too much snark, I couldn’t argue, but I also wouldn’t care. You get what you get, and I wanted more Dresden. 

Description: Butcher is probably underrated in this. There’s an art form to providing description that is detailed enough to activate the senses but vague enough to challenge the imagination. Butcher has a mastery of this. The challenge is greater when you have a suspenseful or horror angle. In those genre’s what you leave out is every bit as important as what you put in. I always get the right mix of both with Butcher, and this story is no different. 

Overall: Given my bias for Butcher’s work, this was easily my favorite story, and as a fan of Dresden, it was worth the price alone. I don’t know that I could say the same is true for people who don’t love Dresden. I can objectively say it is one of the most entertaining stories in the collection. It also gets me excited for the new release coming out July 14. So get that TBR shelf cleared and ready!   

Thanks for reading



What is it to be a Hero?

What is it to be a Hero?

My favorite thing about the blog so far is the inspiration I see from comments to older posts. I’m glad you all enjoy character studies as much as I do, and when I talked about “flawed” vs “Traditional heroes, you all gave me some great ideas.

The first idea I wanted to tackle was the idea of a hero, and what makes one heroic. I thought about this for some time, and decided it came down to sacrifice, courage, and loyalty. For my character study, I’m going to say I’d like my hero (regardless of his flaws or perfections) have all three of these if you look hard enough.

So since I have three traits, I should highlight three characters right?  Makes sense to me at least.  So without much more ado, here are three characters that I think are fantastic heroes because they exemplify these traits.  BUT as a special aside, NONE of these characters are (at least regarded) as the main character of their stories. This means Sam is out from Lord of the Rings because I honestly think  he is the hero of that book.

All images from Pixabay because I fear copyright even when I feel I fall under fair use.

Perrin Aybara is absolutely my favorite character from Wheel of Time. Oh Rand is awesome and Mat is fun (and he has my name, so he has to be awesome right?), but Perrin’s heroics are worthy of study.  (Look, Rand is easily a hero, but he’s too easy).

Sacrifice: He didn’t sacrifice his family. He LOST his family, but that doesn’t actually make one heroic. Not in my standing anyway. Instead, what he sacrificed was the simple life he always wanted. Through the whole saga he wants his wife and a simple life. This is exceptionally heroic as most people don’t long for that, especially in fantasy. Most characters dream of adventure and discovery, but Perrin just wants to be a blacksmith. He gave that up to be the man he knew he had to be. He continued to do so even thought it cost him.

Courage: Here’s where Perrin may fall short a bit in relation to the other two heroes I cover, but he still has it. No. I’m not talking about facing trollocs or whitecloaks. I’m talking about facing a part of himself that he doesn’t like. Look anyone can face external dangers. Fight or flight kicks in, and a man has to defend himself. That’s not (in and of itself) courage. It’s self preservation. Perrin faces his identity as a wolfbrother. He’s lived his whole life taught to believe wolves are evil, and THEN he realizes he’s becoming one (or like one).  He doesn’t necessarily want to embrace this part of his life. Instead, he chooses to. He has reasons, but he doesn’t just face this part of himself out of self preservation or even to save his friends. He does so because he must.

wolf-1768913_960_720Loyalty: This is where Perrin has the title. Rand frequently puts Perrin in the most danger. He even forces Perrin to go back home to deal with events in Book 4 that Rand can’t deal with. Rand has his reasons, but Perrin never fails to support Rand. He’s the first to try and understand Rand. He’s the one who goes home to defend it. He’s the one who steps up.

Xander Harris is the only character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer who doesn’t grow into something more. Heck even Dawn gets training as a slayer. Xander is just a guy.

Sacrifice: So where Perrin has some obvious areas of sacrifice. The question, if my criteria hold up, is what did Xander give up?  This is tough because Xander is actually a pretty selfish character. Sure he LOSES people, but what does he let go of that he would have if he’d stepped away from the Scooby Gang?  I thought about it, and nearly changed characters when it dawned on me. What he gave up was any chance to be special. Most people want a chance to shine.

bat-149892_960_720Most people want a chance to be in the lime light or be seen as important. Xander happily plays third or forth fiddle to a group of people that become exponentially more powerful and unique than he is. There was an adorable episode in Season 3 where all he wants to do is help. He KNOWS something’s going on, but everyone sort of shuns him away. He also finds his power there. In that same episode he sacrifices the opportunity to be exceptional just to be a part of something greater than himself. Go watch that episode and see how he eventually turns that to an advantage. Every progressing season he stays back. He is the normal, consistent part of life for individuals that are so much more. This becomes the need he fills for the team.

Courage: This is more on the nose than I’d like. But when his sacrifice is his choice to remain normal in a paranormal world, he’s also choosing to willingly put himself in danger when he’s always out of his league. It’s different from Perrin. Perrin faces his own fears because he’s bigger and stronger. Then he gets more powerful. Xander doesn’t have those advantages. All he has is the willingness to put himself in harms way over and over again just to stay near those he loves.

Loyalty: He takes a knock here, but not a big one. Let’s put this elephant on the table. He hates Angel and wants to kill him. Maybe even still. BUT, when he CHOOSES to see good in a person, he’s untouchable. He brings Willow back. What helps his loyalty shine here is how fierce he is with it. He hates who he hates, and loves who he loves. He’s as true as the North Star, and he doesn’t shift. Even his tolerance of characters he’d rather see take a stake to the heart is based on his friends’ desire to see them protected (though again, Angel makes this hard to justify).

wizard-147663_960_720My final character is one I’m proud of myself for. This is mostly because, again, it’s easy to point out the hero of the story. They’re usually the ones on the cover. But my point is what makes a person heroic, and is it always the main character? In this case, how about Charity Carpenter from the Dresden Files.  (Love you Waldo, but you have a (INSER COPYRIGHT) as you’re a (INSERT SPOILER) now. Don’t freak. I’m not saying he’s NOT a hero. But he was already rewarded as one, so I don’t have to defend him.)  Charity though, she’s fascinating to look at under this light.

Sacrifice: I’m in the Navy, and I’m a coward. I chose to avoid a certain problem rather than ever face it. But let someone you love put himself or herself in danger time and time again. It’s harder than ACTUALLY putting yourself in danger. (Any of my service members want to argue?) She gives up her husband for years, and THEN has to let her daughter go. She also sacrifices the VERY power that would make her able to fight, and she lets this power go to be a mom.

Courage: I’m going to double tap this. Facing danger, easy. Letting those you love PUT themselves in danger? Nope. I can’t do that. I’d rather take on the entire magical world by myself with a slingshot and a prayer (no offense to that guy who fought a giant) than let someone I love come anywhere near danger.

Loyalty: Where Xander is loyal to a fault, Charity’s loyalty shines despite her wishes. She lets Harry in her life (and those of her children) because of Michael. In point of fact, she, though begrudgingly, allows Harry to remain in that family despite every reason to turn him away. THEN she agrees to watch over his child. Loyalty isn’t always shown by being there when your needed. Sometimes loyalty is putting up with a person you’d rather not just because someone you cared about asks you to. This is where Charity shines. No, she doesn’t exactly like it, and that much is obvious, but she still does it.

What do you all think? Do I have too many qualifications? Not enough? What would you add?  What would you let go? Feel free to comment below. Or, offer other characters (I left a bajillion out).

Thanks for reading,