White Night

Nine months after reading the eighth book in the series, I finally got around to reading book number nine of the Dresden Files.  By now, it should be fairly clear that I love these books.  They aren’t “High Art” (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean), but damn it if they aren’t fun.

White Night doesn’t mess with the formula that works as Dresden gets dragged in to trouble, this time helping out an old flame look into the deaths of some lesser talented practitioners and protect those that are still alive.  We also get to see that Harry has been training Molly, and he’s been continuing his work as a Warden of the White Council and fight in the war with the vampires.  But the kicker here is that someone has been trying to make it look like a Warden has been killing off the little witches, while some other reports put Harry’s half brother, a vampire of the White Court, at the scene of the crime.

While this book doesn’t have quite as many knock down drag out fights as the last couple in the series it certainly doesn’t lack action.  Plus, I don’t mind spending time getting to know more about the characters.

As always, I enjoyed my trip to Butcher’s Chicago.

Made To Suffer

I’m a huge fan of Robert Kirkman’s series The Walking Dead.  Not huge enough to pick up the single issues, but enough to buy the trades.  I’ve been sitting on Book 8 entitled “Made to Suffer” for some time now.  I bought it off Amazon when I was buying a few other items and decided to throw it in the box.  After finishing up The First Law, I found myself between books and decided to go ahead and delve back into the world of zombies.

Two words: Holy Shit!

If you don’t want anything ruined for you, stop reading now.  I mean it.  Stop.

Still here?  Good.  What Kirkman does here takes a serious set of balls.  For seven volumes, he has gotten us to know these people, to care for them, and in part this has been done by inflicting small tragedies on them.  Small, I say, in comparison to the enormous one of the world succumbing to zombies to begin with.  But all that we have read so far is nothing compared to this volume.

I couldn’t put the book down.  Volume seven had ended with an attack beginning on our survivors’ prison home, but eight leaps back a bit and shows us how the attackers arrived.  For the first section of this book, you know where it is going, but getting there is no worse off for it.  Once the attack begins, you find yourself wondering how the hell they will survive this, and bit by bit and piece by piece you see their plan form, you see that they are going to make it.  Then Kirkman punches you in the gut and pulls the rug out.

Book nine is sitting on the shelf next to book eight, but I told myself I’d read another book or two first, to spread out the zombie awesomeness.  But it is taunting me, and I don’t know how long I can hold out.

Movie Round-Up: July 1st, 2009

Normally, Wednesdays are reserved for zombie posts, but this being the 4th of July weekend, all the movies open on Wednesday, so for this week only movies on Wednesday, zombies on Friday…

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs:

This is the third film in the Ice Age series, and I have yet to see any of them.  I once bought an Ice Age/Ice Age 2 twin pack from Target, but they turned out to be in full screen instead of wide screen, so we returned them.  I do, however, love the little short films with the prehistoric squirrel.  Anyway, I suppose if you liked the first two, you’ll like this too.  I’ll see them all some day.

Public Enemies:

In my personal opinion, Johnny Depp doesn’t make bad movies.  Or at the very least, he is always worth watching even if the film around him is lacking.  This movie is definitely on my watch list, but I’m not sure I’m going to make it to the theater to see it.  If I can manage to find the time and the money, though, I will.

Movie Round-Up: April 3rd, 2009

Fast & Furious:

I have to admit, I liked the first movie in this series.  Really liked it.  It didn’t make me want to trick out a car and start racing, but I felt it was a well crafted film and worth watching.  The second one… not so much.  As for Tokyo Drift, well, I’ve never really enjoyed when a series gets to the point where no one from the original is involved.  Its like those direct to DVD movies that were filmed to stand alone, but once it became clear that it wasn’t going to the theater the studio decides it will sell better if its “Urban Commando 5: Rough Water” rather than just “Rough Water”.

So the tag line for this film, “New Model, Original Parts”, was just pure genius.  Its clearly aimed at people like me.  People who wanted to see “The Fast and The Furious 2” instead of “2 Fast 2 Furious”.

And having said all that, the movie delivers.  The only thing the movie fails at is making the timeline clear.  Even now, I’m still unsure of exactly how much time has passed since the first film.  Other than that, though, Fast & Furious rocks.  Its got the fast cars, the hot chicks, the adrenaline pumping races and chases.  If you liked any of the previous entries in this series, you’ll like the fourth installment as well.


Growing up, I knew a few people who’d get those summer jobs working at the local theme park.  Being in Atlanta, we have Six Flags and White Water.  They loved those jobs… and they hated them too.  I never worked one myself, but sometimes wish I had.

Anyway… this movie, in my opinion, suffers from the same problem many many movies do: bad advertising.  The commercials for Adventureland emphasize that its “from the Director of Superbad” and it has upbeat music and lots of funny lines, but the reality of the movie is different.  Its not anywhere near as crazy or foul as Superbad, and while it is funny at times, its also a story about a guy whose post college plans fall apart and him trying to figure out how to get what he wants, all while falling in love.  This movie is less Superbad and more Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

That said, I really enjoyed it.  As always, managed expectations are important, so if you go with the right attitude I think you’ll like this one, if its something you like.  But go in expecting a profanity filled “dick & fart” joke-fest and I think you’ll be disappointed.

Vampire Zero

Rounding out David Wellington’s vampire trilogy is Vampire Zero.  Unlike his zombie books which were uneven (the three of them were, in order, great, alright and good), the vampire series has been far more consistent.

This time around, our intrepid trooper Laura Caxton is on her own… sort of.  With the events of 99 Coffins behind her, she is now living in the aftermath.  She’s been given her own department within the State Troopers to continue the hunting of the remaining vampires.  She has learned well and knows how to hunt vampires, but these vampires know her as well and they’ll try to outthink her, something vampires aren’t supposed to do.

The body counts here aren’t small, but they are nothing like the last book.  While Caxton tries to tie up her loose ends, Arkeley is trying to tie up loose ends of his own, and its a race to see who gets there first.

I really enjoyed the book, just as much as the previous two, and who knows… there might be a fourth given the way things end.  I know I wouldn’t mind.

Blood Rites

Another Dresden book down… and another enjoyable ride.  In Blood Rites we find Harry matching wits with two sets of vampires: the Black Court, and Mavre, are out for blood, while the White Court is both employing him and working against him.

Thomas, a member of the White Court, hires Dresden to look in to some not-so-accidental deaths around the production of some adult films.  Someone is using a nasty entropy curse to force bad things to happen to good people around producer/director Arturo Genosa.  And when members of the Black Court make their presence known, Harry decides to take the fight to them and try to hunt down their lair and kill them while they slumber.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dresden adventure if things went according to plan.  Six books in to the series, and I am still enjoying them very much.  My only concern is that I hope Jim Butcher does have an end in mind for the troubles surrounding Harry.  I’d hate for the books to go on for twenty volumes and become derivative of themselves like other series have done in the past.

Death Masks

Oh, it should be no surprise by now that I like the Dresden books.  And the fifth book in the series is no different.  Death Masks picks up a little while after book four, the Red Court is still calling for Dresden’s blood and someone has stolen the Shroud of Turin.

Like all the other books, the book begins with a bang, then spends a few chapters laying out the framework, and then the real action begins.

Yeah, I enjoyed it.  I recommend it.

Summer Knight

As is evidences by my reviews of the three previous books, I like the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  So it should be no surprise that I enjoyed book number four, Summer Knight.

Although, I must admit, after reading about an angry wizard, werewolves, and vampires, an impending war between faeries just didn’t pull me in as well as the previous books.  Butcher’s concept of faeries living in the Nevernever is alien to me.  Sure, he’s touched on them before in the earlier books, but I’ve never encountered them outside of Butcher even close to the way he uses them.

Still, an enjoyable read.

Grave Peril

The third book in the Dresden Files series, Grave Peril, is more of the same of the previous two books… and that’s no bad thing in my opinion.  The first book was a bad wizard, the second was werewolves, and this time around Harry tangles with ghosts and vampires.

Well done, Mr. Butcher.  Well done.

New Toys

I’ve always wanted a Wacom tablet, and for my and the wife’s two year wedding anniversary, I bought one for myself.  I bought her one too, a larger one with more frills because February 14th through March 13th is a gangbuster gift giving season for me (Valentine’s, the anniversary, and then her birthday).   Anyway, I really love the thing.  Being left handed but having accepted the right handed orientation of all software and hardware design for PCs, I’ve never been able to draw well with a mouse unless I was willing to take hours to make images that should have taken minutes.  My right hand on the mouse works great for gaming, but never for the really fine motor work of graphical art.  But with the tablet, I’m able to move the task of drawing over to my left hand without having to fight with software and seeking out rare left handed mice.

I’m not great at drawing, but its nice to be able to doodle directly into the computer what I would normally be doodling on pieces of paper.  There are a few examples of my new digital doodling handiwork rotating through the banner images here on the weblog, and there will be more to come.

The wife also got me another gift, one I didn’t pick myself, for our anniversary: Burnout Paradise.  I’ve always been fond of the Burnout series of games, and this one is no different.  The single player game play really isn’t much different from prior games, you race, you win, you gain rewards.  Where this game really shines, however, is in the online play.  While previous entries in the series offered online racing, Burnout Paradise offers up what they call “Freeburn” which is where you get into game with up to seven other people and can explore the city together.  During this Freeburn, the host can initiate races or can pull up one of 50 challenges for everyone to do together (there are 350 challenges in all, 50 for each grouping of players from 2 to 8).  The only disadvantage to the new Burnout game is the “sandbox” style set up for the single player.  Races begin at intersections and proceed to wherever, and if you fail to win the race, you have to drive back to the start to try again.  It can be extremely frustrating if you lose a race by just a couple of seconds several times in a row.

I’m really enjoying both of my new toys.