O’ Children – The Orphans of Harry Potter

The influence of a song on a scene in Harry Potter

I was laying in the tub today trying to grasp a slippery thought. I have most of my semi-deep, to semi-ridiculous ideas while neck deep in the suds. Goes back to my deep and unabiding love of bath bombs from Lush. The problem was that I had had a song on repeat in my head for two days. It was maddening. Especially when it is only a few bars of it. It was as if the thought was made of eel and Vasoline in equal parts, and every time I got just enough of it to push the song into coalescence it slipped through my mental fingers. By the time I had become sufficiently pruned, and the last of our sad little hot water heater was sputtering its last blessed drops, I had figured it out. I had the epiphanic moment.

The song was “O’Children” by Nick Cave, and the Bad Seeds and the scene was the dance scene from Harry Potter 8.

The connection that had been maddeningly bouncing around my neurons for two days was it’s connection to Harry Potter. Weird right. But I

Hey little train! Wait for me!
I was held in chains but now I’m free
I’m hanging in there, don’t you see
In this process of elimination

have funny thoughts pass through my brain a lot while nackt in der Badewanne (naked in the bath – practicing my German). There is a scene in Harry Potter 8 that is both lovely and mellow; until this point, I wouldn’t have described it as brilliant.  But it is utterly brilliant, and wonderfully written. When Harry and Hermione are waiting together in their tent. Ron had just left their expedition in a fit of madness and rage. Both Ron and Hermione are feeling down in different ways. It is an exceptionally well-acted scene, showcasing the talents of Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliff. They are listening to the radio, waiting for news, for death, for anything, when Nick Cave comes on. His voice is melodious but dark and deep and slow.  This is definitely not music you would usually dance to.

Do you remember where you were when you saw this scene? Did you hate it? Love it? In the Harry Potter film universe, it is one of the most divisive scenes ever written. On first watching, you could assume that it is hinting at a possible romantic connection between the lead characters. But, not everything has to be about romantic love. Harry and Hermione are completely worn down like butter scraped over to much bread. The body language of the scene suggests this. Hermione is almost fetal while Harry is at the far edge of the scene. The lighting of the scene suggests a somber dark and shadowy environment. Harry walks over to Hermione and takes her hand and begins to dance in a goofy way. For one blissful moment, they escape their lives

O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice

and dance together in the joy of friendship. A way that two friends would do to cheer themselves up. To bring a moment of levity into their world that is falling apart. The music is, for me, one of the best selections in a cinematic scene ever done. Bold words.

Here me out, and take a look at the lyrics.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – O’ Children

[Verse 1]
Pass me that lovely little gun
My dear, my darling one
The cleaners are coming, one by one
You don’t even want to let them start

They are knocking now upon your door
They measure the room, they know the score
They’re mopping up the butcher’s floor
Of your broken little hearts

O children
Forgive us now for what we’ve done
It started out as a bit of fun

Here, take these before we run away
The keys to the gulag

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice

Come on, come on, come on, come on

[Verse 2]
Here comes Frank and poor old Jim
They’re gathering round with all my friends

We’re older now, the light is dim

And you are only just beginning

O children

We have the answer to all your fears
It’s short, it’s simple, it’s crystal clear
It’s round about and it’s somewhere here
Lost amongst our winnings

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice

[Verse 3]
The cleaners have done their job on you
They’re hip to it, man, they’re in the groove

They’ve hosed you down, you’re good as new
And they’re lining up to inspect you

O children
Poor old Jim’s white as a ghost
He’s found the answer that we lost

We’re all weeping now, weeping because
There ain’t nothing we can do to protect you

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice
[Outro]
Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
And the train ain’t even left the station

Hey, little train! Wait for me!
I once was blind but now I see
Have you left a seat for me?
Is that such a stretch of the imagination?

Hey little train! Wait for me!
I was held in chains but now I’m free
I’m hanging in there, don’t you see
In this process of elimination

Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
It’s beyond my wildest expectation

Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
And the train ain’t even left the station

The lyrics talk of a world being destroyed by the adults of the system, and it is up to the children to sort it out. It is hopeful. The bombs may be dropping, the world might be ending, but lift your voice children for there is always hope. Rejoice in that.

This is what the Harry Potter story is. I think it is even more powerful when you think of Harry and Hermione as lone orphans. Harry against his will, and Hermione to protect her parents. Both children, fighting a battle and losing. Alone in the world, and now abandoned by their third. Lift your voice children and dance.  Rejoice.

It is a really damn powerful scene, and I have so much more appreciation for it now that I can look at it through the lens of time.

Top Urban Fantasy Series To Get You Hooked on the Genre

You know you want to get into it! Think of me like your dealer.

According to Wikipedia, “Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has an urban setting. Works of urban fantasy are set primarily in the real world and contain aspects of fantasy, such as the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and paranormal beings, and other changes to city life. A contemporary setting is not strictly necessary for a work of urban fantasy: works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined. 

Basically, it is taking something fantastical, and shoving it into a real-life scenario. This can lead to quite a lot of interpretation, and as the genre develops, many subgenres are evolving out of it. The quite famous paranormal romance being the main one. Some people might take Umbridge with me calling paranormal romance a subgenre, but mostly paranormal romance focuses on a romantic relationship or in the case of Sookie Stackhouse, relationships. It still is urban fantasy. Something fantastical taking place in an urban setting. Book geeks can argue over semantics for days. That is why it is important to note that I am always right. (I am sadly not always right, ahem.)

Jim Butcher – Dresden File Series

This is the grand-master of Urban Fiction. When people talk about stuff in this genre, they usually suffer by comparison to him.

“Holy shit,” I breathed. “Hellhounds.”
“Harry,” Michael said sternly. “You know I hate it when you swear.”
“You’re right. Sorry. Holy shit,” I breathed, “heckhounds.”
― Jim Butcher, Grave Peril

Although there are plenty of other favorite series out there in this genre, this is the most beloved. It even had a meh TV show created a few years ago that was hideously miscast. The first book is a bit weak-sauce. Butcher doesn’t really find his steam until the second book, and it just gets better from there.

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Ilona Andrews – Kate Daniels Series 

Excellent series from a writing team under the pseudonym Ilona Andrews.

“You know anything about investigative work?”
“Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilt party tries to make you go away.”
― Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites

Romance element, but a solid foundation of plot outside of that. Utterly fabulous and binge-worthy reads. 

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Patricia Briggs –  Mercy Thompson

I adore strong female leads where the woman doesn’t need saving. You would not believe how rare a thing that actually is. Mercy is a shifter/car mechanic who basically just wants to go about her life but keeps getting interrupted. There is a romantic element, but again it is not the end all be all of the novels. Her relationships, both platonic and romantic are more of a foundation in her life that allows her to be who she is.

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Mike Carey – Felix Castor Series 

This series is set in modern-day London with an exorcist for hire. Kinda like Constantine. It is gritty, dark, and he takes no shit.

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Seanan Macguire – October Daye

Oh geez. Seanan Macguire or Mira Grant depending on what series you are reading by her is becoming a heavy hitter in the urban fantasy realm. For a good reason. Her books are without fail damn good. I rarely reread series, there are too many fantastic books out there to check out, and I have read the October Daye 10 book series three times save for the second book of the series, I usually skip that one on a reread. But they are fantastic.

“She laughed like she’d just invented laughter.​”
― Seanan McGuire, Rosemary and Rue

They are exciting and edgy. Excellent character development, and a particularly snarky but smart heroine I love. There is a romantic element, but again it is more foundational then anything else. She is a knight who solves problems for her court. How cool is that?!

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Mira Grant – Newsflesh Series

Again this is Seanan Macguire writing under her nom de plume. Here is the blurb from goodreads.com, “The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.
The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the most significant story of their lives—the dark conspiracy behind the infected.
The truth will get out, even if it kills them.” This about sums it up. New reporters writing in an era of a global pandemic. 
 Trying to tell the truth to the masses.

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Kevin Hearne – Iron Druid Chronicles

I include the blurb from his first novel to better explain. “Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.” This is a cool series. The lead character is a magic-wielding badass, who has a snarky dog he speaks to telepathically. It sounds so trite and silly, but damn is this a fun romp.

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Ben Aaronovitch – Rivers of London Series

This is a cool series where the protagonist is not fantastical in any way, just a regular Britsh bloke. From Goodreads, “Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.”

I hope this has sparked some interest in reading some new series. Is this all of the good ones out there, heck no! There are so many fantastic things out there, it is hard to know where to start.  If you start some of these or are looking for some ideas on books, leave me a comment. I am always down to discuss books.

Continue reading “Top Urban Fantasy Series To Get You Hooked on the Genre”

Review of Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1)

Review of Justice Calling of the Twenty Sided Sorcery series. Written by Anne Billet

 

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Image Courtesy of Goodreads.com

Bellet, Annie. Justice Calling. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014.

 

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

“Justice Calling,”  is an absolute treat for lovers of Urban Fantasy with strong female characters. A la Mercy Thompson, Kitty Norville, and my favorite Rachel Morgan. Holla at “The Hallows!”  It is an exciting, albeit too short romp through a new world created by Anne Billet. The protagonist is fun, saucy, and not at all annoying. Something that I have missed in the last few Urban Fantasy novels I have read as of late

 

The summary is as follows:

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe.

As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

When dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, a sexy shape-shifter enforcer shows up. He’s the shifter world’s judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one, and he thinks Jade is to blame. To clear her name, save her friends, and stop the villain, she’ll have to use her wits… and her sorceress powers.

Except Jade knows that as soon as she does, a far deadlier nemesis awaits.

Justice Calling is the first book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series. Readers who enjoyed The Dresden Files or The Iron Druid Chronicles will likely enjoy this series.

Jade Crow, Sorcerous, shop owner, and gamer finds herself in a pickle of a situation. Does she stay or does she run? Does she out herself, and possibly bring ruin upon her future? Can she do all that she needs to do, and not use magic? I think if you are a fan of the Mercy Thompson Series or the world of Kate Daniels this might be a good series for you. Although definitely not as well developed as those worlds, is has the bones of a great series. Good plot points, fun characters, and I have to admit I absolutely love the gamer bent. Me being a gigantic geek myself, I can relate to her quite a bit. I hope that in her later books the author can flesh out the characters a lot more and give us more to read but, great start! Also, Jade has a very cool superpower. She knows every language. That is a superpower for a total geek. I love it!

Things that I don’t dig. Why is it that every Urban Fantasy with a female character needs to have some sort of love angle? No really. C’mon. Not all ladies need to have a love interest. Nor do those ladies need to be saved by the said love interest. Although, props to Anne Billet for letting this lady do the saving. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoy a good romance now and again, but this particular possible love interest seemed a bit shoehorned. Yes, he is hot, yes he has rippling muscles, yes he turns into a (sexy?) white tiger? Blah blah blah. I think it would have been much more of a compelling character if he was a just a plain normal looking guy. A guy with a particular skill set that led him to the job he is now in (I don’t want to give away to much).  He doesn’t need to speak like a combination of Dolph Lundgren and Daniel Craig to be compelling. At least that’s how I picture him. It makes him much more relatable. How many guys like Daniel Craig have you met in your life? Also, to some extent, there isn’t much of a story. This is more like an introduction to the characters. Which I really like and a very quick problem that they need to overcome. That is fine for me for a start of a series.

Do yourself a favor, read the novella. It is good light fun. Not a barn burner or anything. I don’t think anyone will be getting a Jade Crow tattoos like Twilight and Dresden. But its fun and saucy and thankfully not sugar-coated crap. Read up.

 

 

 

Review of “The Thing Beneath the Bed (The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss”

First and foremost, an honest disclaimer, This is not a kid’s book. It is delightfully wicked fun, but In no way shape or form should you read this to your unsuspecting child. Unless of course, you are a bit of an asshole. In that case, read on. I had the fortune of hearing a live reading of this by Mr. Rothfuss himself a few years ago.

 

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

You would think by the sweet saccharine pictures that there was nothing menacing underneath it all, but oh god you will see. I don’t want to give it all away because of spoilers.

The fun part of this book is once you finish it, go back and reread. See what you missed. It is hilarious what we readers gloss over. Try to get your hands on a copy of this, it is out of print I’m afraid. The library has a few copies. Do it. I would give it six stars if I could.

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Rothfuss, Patrick. The Thing Beneath the Bed. Subterranean Press, 2010.

 

Comic Book Herald’s Best Comics of All Time

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“1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, it features Superman lifting a car on its cover and originally cost 10 cents”

I got this list from comicbookherald.com. I was out searching for the reading order of Batman and found this beauty of a list. I think I am finally ready to tackle the Batman books in all their nihilistic glory. I love finding things like this because it always introduces me to new things to read and reminds me of some old favorites. I know that it is lengthy at 325, but most of these are well worth it to check out. It is also fabulous because the original author went through all the trouble of adding the links. Total win-win.

The Best Comics Of All Time

1) Watchmen

2) The Sandman

3) Bone

4) Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison & Richard Case

5) Miracleman

6) The Bulletproof Coffin + Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred

7) Mind MGMT

8) Maus

9) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

10) Y: The Last Man

11) From Hell

12) Scott Pilgrim

13) Blankets

14) Boxers & Saints

15) Punk Rock Jesus

16) Starman

17) All Star Superman

18) Invincible

19) Preacher

20) Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima

21) Chew

22) Gotham Central

23) Transmetropolitan

24) Batman: Year One

25) Usagi Yojimbo: Grasscutter

26) Fear Agent

27) Epileptic

28) Criminal

29) Batman: The Long Halloween + Dark Victory

30) Marvels

31) Morning Glories

32) The Walking Dead: Compendium One

33) Sweet Tooth

34) Supreme: The Story of the Year

35) Infinite Kung Fu

36) Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1

37) Saga

38) Batman (The New 52)

39) East of West Volume 1 to Vol. 6

40) Fables Vol. 1 – Vol. 6

41) Dreadstar

42) Love & Rockets

43) Daytripper

44) Vision

45) Jessica Jones: Alias

46) Hip Hop Family Tree

47) Astro City

48) The Contract with God Trilogy

49) Grendel Omnibus Vol. 1: Hunter Rose

50) The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga

Continue reading “Comic Book Herald’s Best Comics of All Time”

ARC of The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter J. Tomasi, Sara DuVall (Illustrations)

I received this as an advanced copy from Netgalley.com for an honest review.

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There are countless stories rich in history interlaced in the concrete, wire, and foundations of human civilization;  whether it be a tower in Pisa or a bridge that spans the waters between New York City and Brooklyn; every brick, trestle, and pylon could tell a story.  It is up to us, the stewards of the past, to recognize, learn from, and appreciate these works.  We would not be where we are as a society without people like the Roeblings. I can now say after reading this novel the Roeblings are added in my mind to the likes of Guggenheim, Olmstead, and Vaux.

The novel is not the dry telling of pounds per square inch of pressure in the caissons or the tensile strength of the wires; It is the story of a monumental project and the people who dedicated their lives to see it through. Specifically, a husband and wife team whose love and respect for each other are tantamount, as well as their mutual intelligence shines throughout the story much to the credit of the author Peter J. Tomasi. Graphically it is beautiful. They set the historical tone without being overly fussy and fastidious to detail. Sarah Duvall did her research into the period. Pictures of the bridge are not overly technical. I would assume this is a stylistic choice, yet they convey all the necessary information to the reader. This allows the story to move at a good place and pause when necessary for reflection. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who appreciates a good history lesson that is so intriguing it could be written as a work of fiction. I look forward to reading many more works by the author and enjoying the art of the illustrator.