Writer Reading Report: Peace Talks

cover185217-miniI received an ARC of Peace Talks by Jim Butcher through NetGalley. The one drawback? I’ve already read it, so now I have to wait longer before I can read the NEXT book.

Peace Talks is (will be?) a solid entry in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, but it wouldn’t stand well on its own even if it wasn’t novel #16. It concentrates on setting up big-picture conflicts, and it ends on a chapter-break cliffhanger of epic proportions.

True confession: I loathe cliffhanger endings with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. I have quit following series after being subjected to gotcha cliffhangers. 

I enjoyed Peace Talks despite the lack of ending, which says good things about Jim Butcher’s ability to sort out plot points in a satisfying way.

It’s been five years since the last book released, and at least two since I did a series re-read, but I was immersed from page one, like settling into my comfy chair after a long trip away from home.  Peace Talks has all the fun elements I’ve come to expect from a Dresden Files novel: Harry demonstrates the self-awareness of a kumquat but is shepherded to A Revelation by his friends;  scenes bounce from snarky dialogue to tender affection to outrageous hijinks and back; and conflicts of duty, honor and heart-ties abound.

A sense of Impending Events hangs over every small moment, and the plot was a typical Dresden Files rollercoaster, careening from one disaster and/or painful, no-win decision to the next.  By the end, when some elements were resolved, it felt like reaching the eye of a hurricane, a welcome breather for characters and readers alike.

I think that’s the main reason the cliffhanger didn’t bother me. I was ready to set down the book and take a break from the intensity.

I was honestly ready for a break from Harry, too. Peace Talks also has all the usual sketch-stereotype Dresden Files characters and the main characters make a lot of problematic value judgments about sexuality, race, gender, consent…yeah.

One of the things about the series that keeps me reading is that it doesn’t shy away from moral conflict, but that doesn’t make it comfortable, especially when the murkiness is presented in first person POV. Things are getting darker and darker, and Harry’s choices are getting…iffier and iffier. So. Break good.

And here’s a third reason the cliffhanger didn’t bother me: events in this series have been heading toward a cliff for several books now, so I’m more inclined to forgive it reaching one it had to jump off. Despite all the action, the plot of Peace Talks was mainly setup. All the various characters who’ve been introduced (over what, sixteen books?) are shifting into new ( and final?) configurations.  It isn’t a short book, but to break out yet another analogy, it only had enough pages to show the opening moves in a chess match that may take the rest of the series to resolve.

So brace yourself, because major shenanigans are about to ensue.

 

A post full of happy things

The world is a burning roller coaster from hell, but there are bitty bright spots, and today I’m choosing to share those bits instead of ranting about the deadly, ignorant, hateful bullshit splattered all over my social media walls.

Fair warning, full disclaimer and all, these are personal happies. If that makes me a self-absorbed, entitled, privileged, self-righteous asshole of a human being, welp, your exit is just a click away. Buh-BYE. Side note: one of my new Quarantine Social Media Self-Care routines is muting strangers & friends alike who post name-tagged complaint memes. And walking out of real-life conversations where such “jokes” are made. #FirstNameProblems

Okay, I accidentally digressed into a wee, prickly rant, but look. Those shit memes leave me wounded & defensive. Today I refuse to apologize for feeling joy. Wallowing in sadness, guilt, or anger won’t help anyone, and I will NOT post about what I do for others because it feels performative and uncomfortable. Just quietly doing kind or generous things is much easier.

ANYway. Here’s the joy part. AND PICTURES. If I did this right, the most current pic of an area will be on top, with a series of progress shots & then remarks below.

First, the first-impression zone. It is wholly transformed. I can’t wait to sit under those windows in sunshine, summer & winter.  Light. Air. Room to move. Level. Floor. There will be plants.

Next, the area we’re calling the Whatnot room. No for-sure plans for it yet. Might become a nook for Spouseman’s painting desk & minis, might be where the chest freezer goes, might be BOTH, because there’s room! Hiding in that back right corner will be a sweet little half-bath with its own window. Which will be privacy frosted, yes.  It isn’t there yet, but it will be soon. Happy, happy anticipation.

Lookit this gaming room. Is looking POSH, yes? Scroll down for the view from the other side. The TV stand is gonna look SWEET in that nook, and the built-ins have lights at the top.  

What’s gonna go on those shelves? Dunno. Booze, maybe?  Maybe Legos on the left side with the shallower shelves. No decision yet. Still in the pleasant pondering stages.

Lastly: I have a washing machine again!!! Words cannot express my relief at being able to do laundry without leaving the house again. Except those words did, I suppose.

Oh! wait. One more last pic. The first floor bathroom had to be ripped open to gut all the 88-year-old nasty, corroded iron drains & galvanized pipe. Which meant only one bathroom in the house, upstairs. And then Spouseman started working from home full time, too, and…yeah.

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But now it’s all back together & repainted. Good-bye, dirty-gold walls (technically olive bronze, but…uh…) hello, Antique Blush (aka a whiter shade of pale or whatever.)

Today, the last bit of cabinet & mirror go back up, or so I’m told. What I know for sure is the “Stay Home Stay Safe” life has been much easier since the sink and toilet went in. Big yay.

So. Um. That’s that!

It’s been a wacky couple of weeks. I’ve gotten plenty of Things done, but not posts or sharable fiction because, well it’s hard to concentrate on those when much of the worst-case research material I’ve collected for literally decades is coming true all around me in real time. But!  I’ve changed up my media blocking so I stop surfing from site to site for fresh statistics to fret over, and I hope to tackle Actual Writing again soon.

Until later, all!

 

A low-priority request

Hiya friends! I hope StayAtHome Spring 2020 Day X (where x is an integer value greater than zero) is treating you well.

If you have perchance ordered paperback copies of Novices from Big River Online, could you let me know when the book reaches you?  I’m collecting data for science! I expect it will take a lot longer than usual, with books being in the non-essential column compared to a lot of things BRO is shipping right now, and also I’m made of curiousity.

(Big hat tip to Seanan McGuire for my new favorite search-engine-dodging alternative for a certain retailer’s name.)

Note 2: If you care to leave a review for Novices online somewhere, that would be beyond fabulous and I would be ever so grateful, but…well.  I know reviews are hard. True confession, I’m behind on them too. Three reviews on my Habitica to-do list are bright red for being late-late-late.

**Note 3: Also remember that when you alert ME (privately, thx) to any typos/proofing glitches in any of my books, you get entered in a raffle for a free copy of the next book.

On the other hand, if you report typos & errata to Big River Online, the book gets pulled off the website & the creator gets penalized. Just an FYI for those who didn’t realize that.

And that reminds me, I owe someone a free copy of Novices. I do love giving people free things when I can.

AND I need to change the cover picture and add the paperback link to the book page on my website and ask Author Central to link the paperback & ebook entries…ah, all the authoring details. Never-ending fun. (for some values of fun)

Until later, all!