Over the past few days I had an abundance of free time that fortunately lent me more time to read than be able to do any other activity. Unfortunately and frequently, a good amount of free time is used up on video games. In moderation that can be fine and spent on games that are well made and tell a challenging story, all the better.

I read two books. The first being My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland. I’m accustomed to admitting to my penchant for consuming all things zombie and doing so in an apologetic manner on my podcast, so a reader gave me a recommendation. I have to admit, based on the title alone, I would have discarded the recommendation out of hand. But- I checked my library’s digital selection, and they had it and it was available. Nothing to lose but a little time if I gave up two chapters in.

To cut to the chase, I liked it. Would I give it a strong recommendation? No. Will I read the sequels? Maybe. The story was a tad formulaic, but there isn’t anything new under the sun. One of these years, I’ll get around to writing that book of mine and someone will say the same thing about it. The thing that I didn’t like is really the strength of the book, its abundant colloquialisms. The story is given from first person and the main character speaks and thinks in a very convincing “white trash” manner. Being from a place that is brimming with folks that would claim that title with a perplexing pride, I found it to be a touch overwhelming at times. If you’re from the Pacific Northwest, I’m sure you’ll be fine. The author’s spin on the zombie idea is one that was nice. The story isn’t post apocalyptic and, although doesn’t come out and say it, feels very satirical of the Sookie Stackhouse character. My hat is off to any author that can live on the fruit of their pen, but those books weren’t for me. It’s a short read, if you’ve got a free afternoon, give it a crack and get back to me.

Second, the tenth book in the Dresden Files, Small Favor. I cannot ding Ms. Rowland for being formulaic and let Mr. Butcher off the hook. That’s ten of his books I’ve read now and they all seem to have the same framework, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? I had, initially, praised Jim Butcher for the humility he had shown as an author by not assuming the reader had read any of the other books thereby including a complete history of everything of note that Harry Dresden had done in the first chapter of the next book. Then it became the first two chapters, then three. Then I got tired of having to re-read all of the books again in the first few chapters. Starting with this one, Butcher didn’t do that, but instead achieves an elegant inclusion of only pieces of the main character’s history that is relevant to the story being told. The story brought back all of the characters that I cared about from earlier books and I really like the stories that are Michael heavy. I described him as a sort of badass Ned Flanders from The Simpsons. Even though Harry Dresden stories have a predictability to them, Butcher does give us a few twists and he is not afraid to abuse his characters and do a good job of having the reader suffer with them. Recommended.