30 November 2010

Book Review: Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files

Note: Some spoilers from Changes in the following review.

The Book:

Jim Butcher's Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files (2010) is a collection of stories about Harry Dresden: his world, his work, and the varied characters of friends, family, colleagues and enemies. All but one have been previous published. Highlights include "Restoration of Faith", one of Butcher's first works where readers can first meet Harry, glance at Officer Murphy, and see that Harry mantle of "protector of children" has always been worn. "Last Call" is one of two stories that shines a light on the ever dour but enjoyable Mac and his bar, and Harry's friends Will, Georgia and the rest of the young werewolves bring unfortunate work during Harry's "Day Off". Not all are told from Harry's perspective, as his brother Thomas' lead in "Backup" shows Harry outside of the droll internal monologue that is the normal point of view in the novels.

In the last story, the brand-new novella "Aftermath", which begins just after the final scene in Changes, the view shifts to the ever-present Murphy. We find that Murphy may not be carrying her badge anymore, but her cop instincts are tested to their limits as she steps up to investigate the disappearance of werewolves in the wake of the decimation of the Red Court, while simultaneously dealing with the increasing evidence of Harry's death.

The Yarn:

While I had read most of these stories before in various anthologies, being able to read them all together and in order gave me a more cohesive view of Harry and the intricate web of secondary characters. These relationships are what makes Harry shine in his role as investigator and friend, and I look forward to diving into the stories about each of them as much as I do about Harry. Butcher's continuing development of Harry's brother Thomas, his assistant Molly, and (among my personal favorites) "allied enemies" like the Valkyrie Gard give Dresden a broader life beyond his supernatural PI role. It is because of this large number of characters that I would not recommend this book to those who have never read any of the Dresden Files before. However, it is a great refresher for those (like me!) anxiously awaiting the next book. While "Aftermath" gives no relief to the climactic ending of Changes, it will make the reader resolve to believe as Murphy does, and keep going "until Dresden gets back."

The Ink:

Title:       Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files
Author:    Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Date:       October 2010

16 November 2010

Reading, Writing, Reviewing

I read.  I read a lot.  Not as much as I used to when I was younger, I admit, but then I didn't have a life beyond my homework, my art  and my books.  Now, I have a job and niblets and a house and a cat and friends and...well, a bit more than I did in my teen years.  But, I do still have books.  Not as many as I used to keep and cart around, but some that have traveled with me since I was a child.  Hopefully some of those my children will eventually pick up.  I also admit to being a fast reader due to skimming more than reading, at times.

I loved being a cataloger and acquisitions librarian in my previous jobs, as that gave me the chance to buy books for my libraries, to make decisions on what to add to the collections, for patrons (including myself) to have access to and read.  Such joy!   Part of this joy was reading review sources: Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Ingram and even websites like B & N and Amazon.

I always wanted to be one of those reviewers.  However, one thing I never got the hang of in library school was reviewing.  My only experience with it was in my Childrens' Literature course, and I never made my instructor happy with my reviews.  I would compare what I wrote to what I saw in those publications, to my fellow students in class.  I lost faith in my ability to do them, much like I lost my faith in my art when I compared myself to what I saw others produce.

I thought I couldn't write, but here I am putting pieces of me in posts for the whole world to see.  Of course I can write.  I am just my harshest critic.

My current job is out of libraries, but I am still a librarian.  I handle library catalogs and webpages instead of books and CDs.  But I still love reading, and sharing that with other people.  Being a LibraryThing Early Reviewer has made me dip my toe back into reviewing books.  I have also just signed up for NetGalley and received my first couple of items from Harlequin there to read and review.  You will start seeing some of those reviews here too, along the way.

If I can put my thoughts about my work, my home, my kids - all things that I love - here on my blog, why not about something else I enjoy?  Why not?