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The Qwillery

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Review: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

Brief Cases
Author:  Jim Butcher
Series:  Dresden Files
Publisher:  Ace, June 5, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
List Price:  USD$28.00 (print); USD$14.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780451492104 (print); 9780451492128 (eBook)

Review: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
An all-new Dresden Files story headlines this urban fantasy short story collection starring the Windy City’s favorite wizard.

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue—and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you’ll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published “Zoo Day,” Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

The collection includes:

    “Curses,” from Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow
    “AAAA Wizardry,” from the Dresden Files RPG
    “Even Hand,” from Dark and Stormy Knights, edited by P. N. Elrod
    “B is for Bigfoot,” from Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
    “I was a Teenage Bigfoot,” from Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
    “Bigfoot on Campus,” from Hex Appeal, edited by P. N. Elrod. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
    “Bombshells,” from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
    “Jury Duty,” from Unbound, edited by Shawn Speakman
    “Cold Case,” from Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes
    “Day One,” from Unfettered II, edited by Shawn Speakman
    “A Fistful of Warlocks,” from Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop
    “Zoo Day,” a brand-new novella, original to this collection

Doreen’s Thoughts

It has been a while since a Harry Dresden novel has been published and the next one scheduled, Peace Talks, is still is a long time off. Thankfully, Butcher writes short stories with his main character and others. Better yet, he collects them into a complete anthology like Brief Cases. As a completist, I appreciate that I do not have to purchase multiple other anthologies to ensure that I have every Harry Dresden story, including a new one that has never appeared before.

In his introduction to “B is for Bigfoot,” Butcher explains that he researched monsters from all around the world when he started writing his series, but it was not until after several books, that he thought about America’s Bigfoot. The three related stories actually focus on a Bigfoot’s son, Irwin, and some of the problems he faces as a Bigfoot/human hybrid.

Butcher does not just write about Dresden in his short stories; he also writes about some of his other characters, which not just fleshes them out more fully for character development, but also gives us some different perspectives on Harry himself. Three of the stories are about his apprentice, Molly, both before and after she becomes the fairy queen, Winter.

The last story here, “Zoo Days,” is my favorite in the bunch, not just because it is new, but because it is about Harry and his daughter. Here the story itself is split into thirds, with each main character (Harry, Maggie, and Mouse) taking lead as narrator for a section. As a reader, this is my first introduction into Maggie’s narration, and it is eye-opening. It makes me wonder what Butcher may have in store for the future of his characters.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016

It's a big happy milestone birthday to my sister Lauranne who introduced me to fantasy not so many years ago. I am missing the party and the cake but if I wasn't, you would be missing my post! It was a week of shorts rather than a short week. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Amazon keeps popping up Grace Draven's short story Wyvern at me whenever I browse for books so I thought it was time I give it a go. In this story Elsbeth makes a brave deal with the wyvern that has been terrorising her community. Elsbeth has offered to entertain the wyvern by playing her fiddle in order to save her grandfather for getting lynched. Elsbeth soon finds herself drawn the large beast that reminds her lost but not forgotten love. What Elsbeth has yet to realise is that the wyvern is none other than Alaric the bard she lost her heart to years before. Can Alaric convince her he is more than the fearsome beast who has put her beloved grandfather in danger?

I thought this short story was OK. I wasn't wowed but I wasn't completely bored either. The song 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' kept running through my head when I came to the parts where Elsbeth was making the deal with Alaric to play her fiddle to save her grandfather. I thought it was mediocre in comparison to some of Draven's other works.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Amazon also recommended Bec McMaster's short story The Many Lives of Hadley Monroe. In this tale Hadley actually makes a deal with Death to give her more time with her dying grandmother. She has a month to answer Death's question and in the process of trying to find the answer she comes to realise there is more to Death than a black cloak and a scythe.

This was a very short story indeed. I think it took me no more than a half hour to read. Again, I was a bit disappointed. I am not sure whether it was the super short length of this story that bothered me or the fact that Hadley very quickly started to make 'swoony' eyes at the grim reaper.

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Still on the short story theme and this time from NetGalley I received Shadowed Souls. This is a anthology of short stories by various authors including Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Tanya Huff, and Rob Thurman. The anthology is edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes. Butcher wrote the foreword and describes how a pack of coyotes are circling his house, waiting in anticipation for his elderly pet dog to come outside. He scares them off in defence of his beloved pet but acknowledges that they aren't evil just predators who are doing what is instinctual. This sets the theme of this anthology - predators who aren't evil but do bad things.

I won't tell you about every story but what I can say that I liked some better than others. Notably, Jim Butcher's which was set in the Harry Dresden world and told from Molly's POV. This was a chilling tale indeed and very good. I also loved Tanya Huff's short from the Vicky Nelson series. I loved that series and it was great to find out what Vicki has been up to since the end of the series. I also thought Rob Thurman's contribution was very tense as was Kristine Kathryn Rusch's. I haven't read anything from Rusch before and I liked her tale of the grief stricken Kaylee. I think I will be checking out more from this author. I didn't feel that all of the shorts lived up to the 'predator' label especially Seanan McGuire's. I have to say that her predator the succubus Elsie wasn't very predatory at all. Overall, I enjoyed this anthology and found a couple of authors I am going to investigate further.

That is it for me this week...short and sweet (tee hee). Until next week Happy Reading!

A Dragon Shifter Novella
Grace Draven, September 5, 2016
eBook, 88 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
Eight years earlier the talented fiddler, Elsbeth Weaver, gave up the man she loved to care for her ailing grandfather. Now, she must risk her life to save her grandfather from a lynching by playing for the wyvern terrorizing the countryside. When she comes face-to-face with the beast at the haunted cliffs of Maldoza, she is both frightened and fascinated. Something about the creature reminds her of the bard who once stole her heart, something more than just a shared name.

Alaric has never stopped loving the human woman he left behind in a dusty village almost a decade before. When he meets her again at Maldoza, wearing old dragon armor and playing her fiddle as if her heart would break, he is overjoyed. Elsbeth doesn’t know her erstwhile lover is only an illusion for the wyvern, and Alaric must convince her that the heart of the beast is no less devoted than the heart of the man.

~Second edition. Originally published by Amber Quill Press in 2007~

Note: Some scenes contain graphic descriptions of physical intimacy.

The Many Lives of Hadley Monroe
Lochaber Press, April 4, 2016
eBook, 52 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
When the clock stops ticking, and the storm rolls in, Hadley Monroe knows exactly what’s going on. Forty years ago her grandfather made a pact with Death, and now Death has come calling again.

Forced to make her own deal with the reaper, Hadley has only three weeks to answer his question, or he’ll take her grandmother too. The problem is, there’s no way to answer it, and three weeks is not long enough with the reaper who’s beginning to steal her heart…

Warning: This short story has been previously published in the Mammoth Book Of Southern Gothic Romance.

Shadowed Souls
Roc, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016
In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad…

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner…

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals wih some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters.

Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015

Apologies for missing last week but I had my eldest sister visiting and we went to the Peak District last weekend. For those of you who aren't that familiar with British geography the Peak District is in the middle of England AND perhaps more importantly  - the home of Mr Darcy from Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. As big Jane Austin fans my sister and I couldn't miss the opportunity to go visit Chatsworth which was used in the 2005 version of the movie as Mr Darcy's estate - Pemberley.  Check it out! It was pretty cool but sadly most of my potential 're-enactment' areas were marked as private so I didn't get to pretend I was Eliza Bennett! Oh well, I guess I have will have to resign myself to another re-read of the story instead.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015
Anyway enough of my holiday you probably want to know what I have been reading since I last posted. I did a bit of a swapsy with my sister on reading devices so I got to read 3 great books on our travels.  I started with Skin Game by Jim Butcher which is the 15th book in the Harry Dresden series. This was the book I meant to read a few weeks ago but bought Cold Days by mistake. Skin Days is a bit of a departure from the plots of the previous books with Harry given a task by his new boss Mab to team up with one of his many, but perhaps most hated arch enemies Nicodemus Archleone. The task is to break into the near impenetrable vaults of non other than the king of the Underworld Hades and steal a holy relic. All in a days work for Mab's new Winter Knight.

I did enjoy Skin Game and I was glad that I had just recently read book 14 as I didn't have to jog my memory (too much). There were some quite touching scenes with Michael, who I have always liked, who gives Harry a talking to and makes him realise why he needs to be involved in his daughter's life. Harry gets put through the ringer in this instalment with broken limbs, gunshot wounds and a resolution to the 'bug in his brain' storyline from previous novels. I wonder when Butcher is going to cut Harry a break and have something nice happen to him that lasts more than a few minutes.

One of the books that regularly comes up on my Amazons recommendations is the Reluctant
Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015
Concubine by Dana Marton which is the first of the Hardstorm Saga series. This is the story of Tera who is sold as a slave to a more barbarian race where she is expected to use her healing skills before becoming one of lord's many concubines. Before that happens an ancient prophecy comes into play and Tera may be the key to saving the realm.

I found this story a tad dull. Tera's healing skills reminded me of Maria V Synder's Avry in her Healer series but she wasn't as interesting of a character as Avry. There also wasn't much chemistry between Tera and her love interest the High Lorder. I can only describe their romance as lukewarm at best. I won't be continuing with this series.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015
The final book I wanted to tell you about is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Agnieszka loves her family, her home and everything about the valley in which she lives. However, her village relies on the help from a wizard to keep the evil powers of a malevolent force in the surrounding forest at bay. In payment the wizard, known as the Dragon, takes one of the girls from the village to live with him and then releases them 10 years later. The girls never return to live in the village and no one really knows what happens to them while they live in the wizard's tower. Agnieszka (and everyone else in her village) is certain her best friend Kasia will be the next girl who is selected to live with the wizard. When the Dragon comes to chose his new companion no one is more surprised than Agnieszka when he doesn't leave with Kasia. Agnieszka finds herself in the Dragon's tower and soon becomes embroiled in a battle to save everything and everyone she holds dear.

This is a great book. I loved reading every minute of it. I even broke one of my own rules and paid almost £8.00 for the Kindle version but it was worth every penny. Novik paints such a clear picture of her characters and the lives they lead. You can really picture Agnieszka's village and feel her pain and sorrow when she thinks she has lost her best friend Kasia. Agnieszka is a great character who you can't wait to read more about. Dragon starts out the antagonist, or so it seems but then you start to see him through Agnieszka's eyes and watch him become very much a hero. There is a real sense of folklore and fairytale in this story and if you enjoy high fantasy I highly recommend it.

That is it for me for this week. I hope you have found some books that you have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed Uprooted and until next week Happy Reading.

Skin Game
Harry Dresden 15
Roc, March 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Hardcover and eBook, May 27, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015
From Jim Butcher comes the newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files…

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day. Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

Mab has traded Harry’s skills to pay off a debt. And now he must help a group of villains led by Harry’s most despised enemy, Nicodemus Archleone, to break into a high-security vault so that they can then access a vault in the Nevernever.

Problem is, the vault belongs to Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld. And Dresden is dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess.…

Reluctant Concubine
Hardstorm Saga 1
March 2, 2015
eBook, 297 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015
To escape punishment, Tera, a maiden healer sold to barbarians must hide the truth: she has not yet come into her healing powers. Born into a much gentler world, she struggles to survive in a land of savage warlords and their cruel concubines. When ancient prophecies begin to come to pass, can the healer-slave save the realm and awaken the High Lord’s heart?

Del Rey, May 19, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015
North America Cover
Naomi Novik, author of the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Every so often you come upon a story that seems like a lost tale of Grimm newly come to light. Uprooted is such a novel. Its narrative spell is confidently wrought and sympathetically cast. I might even call it bewitching.”—Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015
UK Cover

Release Day Review - Cold Days (The Dresden FIles 14) by Jim Butcher - November 27, 2012

Cold Days
Author:  Jim Butcher
Series:  The Dresden Files
Publisher:  Roc, November 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Price:  $27.95
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher

Release Day Review - Cold Days (The Dresden FIles 14) by Jim Butcher - November 27, 2012

After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…His soul.

My Thoughts:

(Please note that this is a spoiler-free review and therefore I am limited in what I will say.)

Harry Dresden, wizard extraordinaire, trouble magnet and now the Winter Knight, is back in the 14th Dresden Files novel.  I confess that I'm a Harry Dresden fan. The Dresden Files is without doubt one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series. While Cold Days is a hefty novel, weighing in at 500+ pages, I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.  Reading a new Dresden Files novel is like hanging out with old friends... and then watching all hell break loose.  I would expect nothing less.

In Cold Days, Harry has to take on the mantle of being Mab's Winter Knight, reconnect with friends and family, and deal with another out-sized supernatural threat.  So it's pretty much business as usual for Harry.  His first order to kill from Mab (the Winter Queen) is a doozy.  However, carrying on is what Harry does best. Harry launches himself head first into figuring out what is going on with his usual aplomb (read a bit of bumbling and a lot of detective work).  Harry has several personal issues to deal with in Cold Days and is at times more introspective than usual.  I find this adds a great deal of depth to the novel without overwhelming the story.

The supporting cast is wonderful as usual.  Interesting things have been happening with some of them.  Plus new questions are raised about who some of them really are.  (No spoilers!)  The exceptional world of the Dresden Files has been built over the prior novels, but Mr. Butcher always treats us to something more, something that surprises Harry and us.  This is clearly the case with Cold Days.

The ending of Cold Days is both superb and unexpected.  No cliffhanger, but there is definitely more to come as Mr. Butcher, Harry and friends take on what happens next.  I must add the Mr. Butcher has achieved the near impossible with Cold Days: I almost like Mab... a little bit.

Cold Days is one of my favorite books in the Dresden Files.  It's full of action, twists and turns, Harry's trademark humor, and is an immensely satisfying wild ride.

While you can read Cold Days as a standalone, I highly recommend that you read the prior books in the Dresden Files.

Winners x 10 - August 7, 2011

Lots of winners!

Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Anassa who said...

I read about 4 books a month, and am developing a complex over being too busy to read more.


Bride of the Wolf, Luck of the Wolf, and Code of the Wolf by Susan Krinard

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Saribonita who said...

I like Vampires, but LOVE werewolves! Always have, I guess maybe because of the shape-shifting mystique! :)


Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Jack Provencher who said...

I like Spring, but I love Autumn. It can contain an Indian Summer, but it also can be cool & breezy. And for atmosphere, it can cause chills, and is a perfect time of year for gothic tales, as well as stories of horror.


The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross and "Radioactive" Steampunk Necklace by Cemetery Cat Jewelry

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

RtB Admin who said...

I haven't read any steampunk. It's a genre I've kept meaning to try, but just haven't found the book to do it... perhaps this is the one. :)


Soft Apocalypse (2 e-books) by Will McIntosh

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Tore who said...

Dystopia but I do like both. Please enter me in contest.


Vivien who said...

This really sounds fantastic!!!


500 GFC Follower Giveaway: Ghost Story (Dresden Files 13) by Jim Butcher

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Annette said...


I'd love to enter the contest. I'm follower Annette.


Signed copies of Shadow Fall by Seressia Glass (2 copies)

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Escape by Fiction who said...

I think all aspects of ancient mythology is cool - I'm really fond of Egyptian, Mayan and Greek.


Lee who said...

What is your favorite mythology? African? Egyption? Greek? Indian? Something else?Mine..Native American, east coast Cherokee, or southwestern Dine and just about all in between.. especially tales of coyote. But I also admit I like a Celtic tale or two about the Shide. But as Joseph Campbell says all mythos touch on each other.


Signed copy of Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis

Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

Bethany C. who said...

Hmmm, usually doesn't matter to me if the story's good, but I guess I would like to see some (more?) set in the DC metro area.

The winners have been notified and have until 11:59 PM United States Eastern Time on August 14, 2011 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner and winners.

Thank you to everyone who reads the blog!
Review: Brief Cases by Jim ButcherMelanie's Week in Review - October 16, 2016Melanie's Week in Review - August 9, 2015Release Day Review - Cold Days (The Dresden FIles 14) by Jim Butcher - November 27, 2012Winners x  10 - August 7, 2011

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