“Blood Rites” Review

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In two days I’ll be in Miami, able to spend time with my fiance and peruse his Dresden collection at my leisure. As part of my preparation for that (and as an entry for this blog), I finished up the last book in my possession, “Blood Rites.” This one had tons of spoiler-y revelations, so of course I’m gonna keep this as spoiler-free as possible. Oh, and after some deliberation, I’ve decided to nix the rating system I’ve been using in all my reviews. It just felt arbitrary since I try to make my opinion known through my critique. Anyway, that said, let’s sum this one up.

As a favor for Thomas, Harry is put onto the set of an erotic film shoot to find out who’s been targeting and killing the women surrounding the head honcho, Arturo Genosa. It seems the deaths might be magically induced and it’s up to Harry to find and stop the culprit. Harry’s also forced to contend with being a temporary dog owner as well as watching out for Mavra, a Black Court vampire, who’s looking to take him down. And besides all that, Harry learns a few things about both Thomas and his mentor Ebenezar that will change his life.

Once again, I’m going to be direct: I loved this book. I honestly have no legitimate complaints this time around. I was invested in every part of the story from the very first chapter, and the one small complaint I did have involving the Mavra plot was easily resolved by the end of the book. I really have to stop underestimating Jim Butcher’s ability to tie up loose ends. I really enjoyed both plots at work here, as well as the little character subplots like meeting other members of Thomas’ family and, of course, Harry acquiring an adorable-sounding puppy. I knew I’d be in for a good book when it kicked off with his initial rescue of the puppy and its brethren.

There are tons of great character moments here with some of my favorites being from Thomas (nice to learn more about him), Murphy (an inside look at her own family), and Ebenezar (more than he seems). Even Kincaid is brought back and given an expanded role as part of Harry’s 3-man (or 2 man, 1 woman team) to take down Mavra and her goons. We get some of his backstory as well and I hope to see more from him down the line. The twists thrown in here were also well done and didn’t feel at all forced to me. I think part of that is because they act as more than twists and actually add depth to the characters involved. There’s even an effort to continue the coin plot from the last book that I found was executed great. It’s hinted at through the book before being properly addressed at the end and made for a good payoff.

I mentioned earlier the family elements and this book takes that theme and runs with it. As I said, we get to see Thomas and Murphy interact with their families and meet a few of them. The topic of Harry’s mother and father is brought up to counteract these as he’s someone who doesn’t really know what having a family is like, for all the good and bad of them. It was a theme that didn’t feel too in-my-face and I liked how Butcher weaved it throughout the story while still keeping focused on the crime-solving/action-y elements.

Overall, “Blood Rites” is my new favorite Dresden title hands down. It had great action, an engaging mystery, some amazing character moments, plenty of game-changing twists, and a meltingly adorable puppy. Like I said, I seriously have nothing bad to say about it. It’s set a new standard of quality for me.

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My Current Obsession: Firefly

Firefly

For the past two weeks, I’ve been doing something I’ve meant to do for 2 or 3 years now: watch all of “Firefly” and its finale film “Serenity.” I started watching the show with my fiance, but we only got a few episodes in before stopping for reasons that I can’t recall. Recently, I found out that a few cast members would be appearing at a convention we’ll be at next month, so I figured now was as good a time as any to buckle down and play catch up. Needless to say, I’m glad I did.

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t have the faintest knowledge about “Firefly,” but I’ll go ahead and give you the know-how. “Firefly” is a space western show created by Joss Whedon that ran in 2002 on Fox. Many people know it as the show that was unceremoniously cancelled by Fox after airing 11 of its then 14 episodes out of order. The show followed a crew of smugglers on “Serenity,” a Firefly-class spaceship. Lead by Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, this crew embarks on all sorts of adventures in the aim of making money and staying under the radar of the government, known as the Alliance. There’s plenty of laughs, tears, and drama throughout the show among the crew itself and the people they come across.

In both the show and movie, you can easily tell they’re products of Whedon. The sardonic humor he loves to inject is here in full force, and there are a good bunch of action scenes to balance out the quieter character-focused moments.Even though the show only lasted a short time, I really enjoyed the nuances of each character and was sad to see them go by the end. Mal will forever be my favorite, partially thanks to Nathan Fillion’s performance, but I felt all the characters were great and that includes the various baddies they come across.

I really got invested in this world Whedon created too. It’s set up in a fashion where humanity has made enough advancements to branch out into space and terraform planets, yet still relies on farming and trading to grow and prosper. While the whole idea of western meets sci-fi can be off-putting at first, I really liked how it set itself apart from other space-themed shows with its mix of shiny, futuristic technology and buildings with barren planets and old-school clothing and weapons. A lot of it is thanks to the Alliance’s influence (or sometimes lack thereof), and I thought that that and the idea of the US and China forming the ultimate union made “Firefly” feel fresh to me from the usual futuristic sci-fi fare.

The unfortunate thing about the show is that it deserved better treatment by Fox. Sure, the movie did its best to tie up loose ends and give the show a mostly satisfying conclusion despite the restrictive 2-hour run time, but there was so much potential for the characters and possible plots that never will see the light of day. Thankfully, supplemental materials like comics have tried to fill in the gaps and expand on the universe itself (I hope to read these at some point myself). I’m proud enough to call myself a Browncoat (aka “Firefly” fan) at this point, especially since I’m looking forward to checking out some merchandise when I visit that convention.

However, I’m not sure this is the kind of show that would appeal to anyone. A lot of it could easily be attributed to the lack of a major overarching plot, leaving many episodes having that “slice of life/space adventures” feel to them. I could also see people being thrown off or uninterested in the space western setting as well. Despite that, I will still recommend this show whether you’re a Whedon or sci-fi fan. While it doesn’t top “Buffy” as my favorite work from Whedon, I definitely love it for what it is and appreciate it for trying something outside the box.

Update Time!

In less than two weeks, I’ll be off once again to Miami to visit my fiance (crosses fingers for good travel weather). Since I’ll be staying for a month this time, I can’t say for sure if I’ll be doing a blog each week I’m there. I do want to blog about a convention we’ll be revisiting, so look forward to that.

As for the next two weeks, I’ll still have a blog up at some point. Because I’ll be busy spending time with my man on the second week, I’m hoping to read and blog about the final Dresden book in my possession before I leave that Wednesday. Who knows? Maybe most of my blogs while I’m there WILL be about Dresden, since I’ll have more access to my fiance’s collection.

I figured I’d just do up a simple blog this week to make my plans known. It hasn’t been the most eventful week anyway, though right now I’m mostly hoping and praying for the apparently upcoming snowstorm to be the only one (again, crosses fingers). I’m getting super sick of winter and really want to see all this snow melt. But I suppose that’s an added benefit to getting some quality time in Florida, huh? Until then, look forward to the next two blogs while I try not to freeze.

Heavy Topics & Family Ties

I consider myself the neutral type when it comes to politics. I’ve never once felt the urge to vote nor the inclination to pick a side, if only because I have zero interest in the whole process. People tend to say that sometimes your political leaning can come from family. If that’s the case, then I can fully understand why I have no particular stance.

My parents, during mine and my sisters’ childhoods, never spoke about politics. Over time, we deduced which party they preferred, but they never told us their choice up front nor pushed it on us. Being the carefree kid that I was, I never found the whole thing interesting. It just seemed like a thing grown-ups had to do. And now, seeing as I AM a grown-up, I still find it boring. This is even despite doing a little political-themed work through college. I know the whole thing is important and whichever side gets power can have major pros and cons, but none of it is for me. And don’t mistake me for someone who gets hypocritical. I know there are some who don’t vote and then later complain about the changes that have taken place. For me, though, I prefer to roll with the good and bad.

Another thing I’ve learned over time is that my parents find the whole concept of same-sex marriage (and by extension homosexuality) gross. Of course, a lot of that has to do with their upbringings and when their childhoods took place. Having spent my high school years around people who admitted to being gay and knowing people through online circles who are as well, I can say that my opinion quickly changed. Initially, from what little I’d seen or known about homosexuals, I found the whole thing kinda gross too. But I realized that this wasn’t anything new and wasn’t harming me personally. Having spoken to homosexuals and bisexuals, the realization set in pretty quickly that they’re just people who want what anyone wants. I may not be an overtly religious Christian, but I’m of the mindset that everyone deserves to be loved no matter what their orientation is. And who am I to tell them how to live their life if I wouldn’t like someone doing the same with me?

I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to be in-your-face about my stance on certain topics, both in person and the internet. I hate arguments, debates and confrontation in general. But if it comes down to defending something or someone I care about, I do my best to take a stand. There are many topics I could discuss here, but I figured I’d cover the two that, for me, also tie into my upbringing. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from growing up, it’s that I’m my own person and I don’t have to carry forth the beliefs my parents have. Family can play a big part on your stance on issues, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s unchangeable.