Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Turn Coat" Book 11 of "The Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher

"Turn Coat" Book 11 of "The Dresden Files"
by Jim Butcher
Read by James Marsters
Published by Penguin Audio
Approx 15 Hours

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher packs a punch like all the other 10 "Dresden Files" books, and once again I was sucked into Wizard Harry Dresden's Chicago and never wanted to leave. Harry Dresden is a wizard and private investigator in Chicago, and was recently made a warden of the White Council. The White Council is the government, so to speak, for the world's wizards. The wardens are all the Council's police force and are out to capture and punish anyone practicing black magic. Usually that punishment is death. Now, the strange part about Harry being made a warden is that he was once on probation for the possibility that he may start to lean to the dark side given his family tree and it's history.

While Harry was on this "probation" Warden Donald Morgan was assigned to watch over Harry's every move. Morgan did his job well, in fact the way Morgan did his job was to torment Dresden to the point of nearly accusing every move of Dresden's to be black Magic. In other words, Morgan and Dresden were enemies fighting for the same side. So when Morgan is accused of murdering a member of the White Council, and escaping their prison, no one would ever expect Harry Dresden to hide him from the others. But, that's just what has happened, and since Harry is always fighting for the underdog, who else could help him?

Harry is awakened by banging at his door and opens to find a bloodied and beaten Warden Morgan. Morgan tells Harry he must hide him. When asked why, of all people, he should help Morgan, Morgan tells Harry he is on the run from the White Council because they suspect him of murdering one of the White Concil wizards. When asked why they suspect that he says, "Because I was found standing over the body with the murder weapon."

Anyone that has read any of the other books from "The Dresden Files" series knows Warden Morgan could NEVER do anything against the White Council, it is not in his nature. Dresden knows this and decides to take on the case and find out who framed Morgan for the murder.

In the process of investigating this case Harry may have taken on more than he can handle. Not only might he have to go against the White Council. Every magical being and person is out to collect the huge bounty on Morgan's head.

The biggest foe seems to be a magical creature known as a Skin Walker, from Native American lore. This creature is a shape shifter and very powerful flinger of magic, and fast to boot. The first battle with the Skin Walker (of which there are 3 in the book) proves to be fatal to one of Harry's friends. Harry must pull in all assets he can find, werewolves, White Court Vampires, faeries and even the White Council to prove Morgan's innocence and defeat this "Shagnasty."

This book is one where from the opening sentence to the end, is non-stop action. Top it off with the great humor/sarcasm/wit of Harry Dresden and you will not want to stop listening. James Marsters captures the voice and being of Harry Dresden in the reading of this book that makes the listener feel as though their listening to Harry Dresden himself. I should point out that, yes that is the same James Marsters that played "Spike" in the "Buffy the Vampire Hunter" television series. His voice is perfect for the role.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:26 PM Comments: 0

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Something Borrowed" a short story from the Dresden Files

"Something Borrowed" a short story from the Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
From the book "My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding"
edited by P.N. Elrod
Published by St. Martin's 2006

Okay here I am waiting for the next Jim Butcher "Dresden Files" novel "Turn Coat" and I have nothing to read. So I go look on his website ( http://www.jim-butcher.com ) and find he has written a few Dresden short stories. I can't get enough of Wizard Harry Dresden's wit, wisdom and ability to kick serious supernatural butt, so I'm going to devour all the stories I can.

I picked up the book and have found it full of some fun supernatural short stories, I'll be posting a review of the book as a whole later. Here I am to tell you of this adventure of Harry Dresden. This story takes place between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty.

As you can probably tell from the title of the collection all the stories have weddings as the centerpiece. Weddings are hard enough to bear but throw in some monsters, faeries, vampires, wizards et. al. and you have a real mess on your hands. And we all know Harry Dresden is a magnet for trouble.

In the beginning of this story Harry has been "drafted" to be the best man for the wedding between the werewolves Billy and Georgia. He is being forced into the position because the original best man (another werewolf) was severely injured during a battle the night before. Harry was involved in the battle but turned out to be battered less than the wolf. So with a black eye and sore muscles, Harry is being fitted with a last minute tux. Georgia's evil stepmother (not supernaturally evil, just evil) is being a control freak in everything that could make this wedding go bad. Harry is one such thing.

After dealing with the step-mother, Billy expresses to Harry he's concerned for Georgia, she doesn't answer her phone. He asks Harry to check on her. Harry goes to her apartment to discover a scuffle had taken place, so he calls in backup, in the form of Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago police, Special Investigations unit.

Harry and and Murphy track down Georgia to discover a faerie is seeking revenge on the werewolves from when they took down someone from the Winter Court of Faeries. Georgia is swapped with a faerie so Billy will marry the faerie and then Billy and Georgia will die. After Georgia is found in a spell, Harry discovers the spell can only be broken by a kiss.

With evil-stepmothers, true love and a sleeping beauty, this story carries all the fun and excitement of a Dresden Files novel but condensed down to one fun-filled short story.

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posted by Gil T. @ 1:56 AM Comments: 0

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

White Night The Dresden Files, Book 9 by Jim Butcher

White Night
The Dresden Files, Book 9
by Jim Butcher
Published 2007 by ROC

As any of my friends in Chicago can verify, life in the Windy City can be hectic and still full of adventure. Well, to say that's an understatement in Harry Dresden's Chicago is in itself an understatement. Harry Dresden is a wizard and private investigator that has set up shop in Chicago. Harry has a hero streak in which he HAS to help the common man. Oh yeah, he's also a warden for the White Council (the governing body of wizards world-wide), holder of one of the swords of the Knights of the Cross (which he is supposed to be find a true holder), fighting off possession of Lasciel (a fallen angel/Denarian), mentor to a teenage wizard, half-brother to a vampire of the White Court (a vampire that lives off sexual energy) and consultant to the Chicago P.D. Special investigations division. Busy guy.

If that weren't enough, Harry is sometimes called upon in his duties as warden to train new wizard recruits for the war between the White Council and the Red Court of Vampires. The war has taken its toll on the White Council, thus the reason Harry, of all people, has been made a warden, and new wizards are few and far between. The wizard's power is passed down through the mother's line of ancestry.

In this book someone is targeting female wizards with small amounts of power, and killing them. The women targeted are not powerful enough to be part of the White Council but have enough power to perform small magicks and they all seem to be suicides.. The person who is last seen with the murdered/suicidal women seems to be either Harry or his half-brother Thomas. Sgt. Karrin Murphy of the C.P.D. S.I. calls in Harry on one scene due to some strange circumstances on the scene. The suicide just doesn't feel right to Murphy. Harry soon discovers a "magical" message that was meant only for him to find. The message is, "Exodus 22:18," a Bible quote which states, "Suffer not a witch to live." Harry soon finds this hidden message on the body of another victim. The second victim was made to look like a suicide, but with the help of Harry's apprentice, he discovers she died in sexual ecstasy, as in an attack of a sexual vampire, from the White Court.

Suspecting his half-brother, Harry tries to find why Thomas is avoiding all of Harry's attempts to communicate. Harry goes to Thomas' home and finds a map with all the addresses of the missing women and some of the dead ones. Harry knows Thomas is not capable of such acts and tracks him down.

What comes next is a conspiracy within the White Court of vampires, an attack on Harry's psyche, an attempt to destroy the White Council of wizards, and a huge battle between vampires, wizards and an army of mercenaries hired by Chicago's own crime boss, "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone.

Things just aren't easy for Harry, but that same excitement is what makes the Dresden Files books a great series to sink your teeth into. I will warn you it would be best if you picked up the first book, "Storm Front" and read them in order before you get to this book, which is number nine in the series, because of plot points that were started in earlier novels. Trust me, once you read one you'll want to get through the series as fast as you can.

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posted by Gil T. @ 1:56 AM Comments: 0

Friday, December 26, 2008

Proven Guilty The Dresden Files, Book 8 by Jim Butcher Published 2006 by ROC

Proven Guilty
The Dresden Files, Book 8
by Jim Butcher
Published 2006 by ROC

Things just never get easy for Harry Dresden. The White Council who always had it out for him has recently mad Harry a Warden for the White Council (basically the police force for the wizarding community). You'd think with this promotion Harry Dresden, wizard/private investigator, would be more accepted. But at the beginning of this book, Proven Guilty, a trial is being held for a young man that has used magic to influence the mind of a human, this not only breaks one of the 7 laws of magic but also uses black magic which can bring harm the user. As with most trials conducted by the White Council the youth is found guilty,declared a warlock and sentenced quickly. There is only one sentence for breaking the laws; DEATH.

The White Council held this trial in Chicago to make sure Harry saw the outcome. Harry remarks how blood does not stain the gray cloaks of the wardens as he is forced to watch the beheading of the warlock.

With this impression made Harry and the rest of the council depart. Most go off to continue the war with the Red Court Vampires, others go off to continue their duties. Harry in the meantime is contacted by The Gatekeeper, a higher up Council member that through some mysterious method of sending a message from the future asks Harry to investigate some black magic going on in Chicago.

Before I go too much further I would like to talk about the Dresden Files series in general. I've said before that Jim Butcher has created one of the best series of myth / magic / and mayhem with this series. One of the things that makes these books so good is they always start out with some big event grab you and you have no choice but to hang on and enjoy the ride. Proven Guilty is no exception. Without giving too much of a spoiler hereI will point out that the beginning and the end of this book is perfectly bookended and not only comes full circle but hits with some great life lessons. In fact I love the way Jim Butcher through Harry Dresden turns the Parable of the Talents from they Holy Bible into the catch phrase of Stan Lee's Spider-Man, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Back to the story...the black magic Harry has to track down seems to be occurring at "Splatter-Con" a convention held in Downtown Chicago celebrating the art of horror movies. Creatures from the movies are coming to life and attacking the patrons of "Splatter-Con." One of the many talents of Jim Butcher is to be able to write some wit and humor into these stories, in fact Harry Dresden wouldn't be worth reading about if it weren't for the quality of "wise-assness." During some of the magical battle scenes with some of the more popular creatures, Harry Dresden quotes the movies with some great tact and fun reactions.

The creatures creating the monsters are known as fetches, they are from the "Nevernever" and they feed off fear. The fetches have come for the daughter of Michael Carpenter, Michael is a Knight of the Cross...yes THE CROSS...and is God's swordsman (one of 2 left). It seems that Michaels daughter, Molly,has some magic abilities and the fetches abduct her. Now it is up to Harry to rescue her.

With a rescue party that features, Karrin Murphy of Chicago PD, Harry's half-brother/ White Court vampire, Thomas and Molly's mother, Charity, Harry follows the fetches into Arctis Tor, the castle of the Winter Queen and fights off the fetches, the faerie and fae of Winter's court, the Erlking and many more to come to an exciting climax which then forces Harry to bring Molly in to a trial with the White Council.

For some great action, thrills, chases and everything that makes a great read the Dresden Files is the perfect series, and Proven Guilty fits into the series offering even better action, thrills, chases and everything mythical and magical.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:35 PM Comments: 0

Monday, December 08, 2008

"Dead Beat" Book 7 of the "Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher

"Dead Beat"
Book 7 of the "Dresden Files"
by Jim Butcher
published by ROC, 2005

Once again Jim Butcher has created a great novel of suspense, action, thrills, and dare I say... a little romance, featuring the coolest wizard of all time Harry Dresden. In this novel the Wardens of the White Council are all but wiped out by the Red Court Vampires, all of humanity is threatened by the Erlking, Chicago will be destroyed by 5 necromancers seeking godhood, Harry Dresden faces a Fallen Angel that threatens to take over his soul, and his half brother is a slob. But hey, this is just a typical Halloween for Chicago's wizard for hire Harry Dresden.

This title of this edition of the "Dresden Files," "Dead Beat," refers not to Harry having to hunt down a dad not paying child support but rather the relentless toll the never ending perils facing humanity that he must defeat, thus leaving his body "Dead Beat." One thing I've noticed in all the Dresden files books I've read is it seems that Wizard Harry Dresden always takes on more than seems like he can handle, but usually through friends and sometimes pure dumb luck he comes out on top. He always seems reluctant to ask for help but eventually volunteers come out of the woodwork. That excitement of not knowing whether he will survive the ordeal and the absolutely wonderful wit and humor by author Jim Butcher keeps me coming back to these books.

This book however Harry finally admits he's in over his head and asks for help from the Wardens of the White Council. The White Council is the Justice League for wizards and out to battle evildoers, the Wardens are their police force. The problem is , when Harry asks for help it's a bad time for the White Council, the ongoing war between the Red Court and the White Council (started by Harry, by the way) has cut down the number of Wardens from 200 to only 50 remaining alive around the world. Thus only 5 can come to Harry's aid. In the process and much to the dismay of Morgan, the Warden that hates Harry, the Council makes Harry a Warden. But before I get to far ahead of myself, let's talk about what happens here.

Harry gets a message from Mavra, the leader of the Black Court of vampires who Harry supposedly destroyed in the last book, apparantly Mavra got away and now wishes to speak to Harry. Remember the Black Court are the most evil of all the vampire courts and are the ones best represented in the Bram Stoker novel, rumor has it that the White Council encouraged Stoker to write that book so the average joe can kill a Black Court vampire, which led to their near extinction. It seems Mavra wants Harry to find a book for her. Only this book is the ultimate of all evils and the ultimate book of Necromancy, black magic raising the spirits of the dead. With this book Mavra could become a god. The catch is that if Harry doesn't find this book, Mavra will destroy the life of Harry's best friend and possible love interest, Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigations. A little blackmail and Harry pretty much has to do this, actually this is where chivalry gets the best of Harry Dresden.

At the same time Harry is searching for this book, 3 days before Halloween, 5 powerful Necromancers are also looking for this book. When they learn Harry is searching for the book they now have to hunt down Harry.

Dresden learns that the necromancers will use this book to raise the Erlking, a faerie king that can destroy humanity, and make one of the 5 a god with ultimate power to destroy all of mankind. The race is on and Harry is finding these necromancers too powerful to be handled alone.

Harry decides to call in the Cavalry, in this case the Wardens. Keep in mind here that Harry has been under constant surveillance by the Wardens and under the most extreme scrutiny that if he were to ever delve into the Black Arts, he would be executed immediately. Well the Wardens come in to help but before they do they make Harry a Warden, big decision for Harry. He accepts and they go to battle with the Necromancers.

Big action, big thrills, big suspense in "Dead Beat" the 7th book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. A little bit of a spoiler before I go--- It is so cool when Harry goes riding through Chicago on the back of a T-rex with a polka playing one man band riding with him.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:48 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Blood Rites" Book 6 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher published 2004

"Blood Rites" Book 6 of the Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
published 2004 By ROC

Book 6 of "The Dresden Files," "Blood Rites," starts out with the wizard Harry Dresden, running down the hallways of an old school saving a box full of puppies from flying monkey demons that fling balls of flaming poo. How can you not get hooked from that? After all he's saving puppies, dodging demons & poo all within the first 10 pages. He manages to save the puppies and destroy the flying monkeys but as with all the books in "The Dresden Files," that is only the beginning. You see, Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire and is ready to help the common man, sometimes he gets paid for it and sometimes not. He is also a sometime consultant for the Chicago P.D. Special Investigations department headed by Lt. Karrin Murphy.

But the problem with Harry is that life isn't just one case after another, he's got vampires to worry about and many other magical beings ut to kill him. Oh and vampires in Harry's world aren't simple, they fall into 3 categories:
-- White Court Vampires: These vampires are the type that feed on the emotional energy of humans to survive.
--Black Court Vampires: These vampires are the type most similar to the Dracula legends. They are reanimated corpses that feed on blood of the living. There are few of this court remaining due to the popularity of the novel Dracula, but the ones that still remain are some of the strongest known.
--Red Court Vampires: These vampires are similar to the Black type, who feed on blood.

Harry recently destroyed the leader of the Red Court and has learned that Mavra, the leader of the Black Court has set up shop in Chicago, so Harry must destroy the Black Court vampires. At this same time Thomas Raith,son of Lord Raith the leader of the White Court, has asked Harry to help out a film producer whose fledgling film company is being attacked by a malacchio, the evil eye type curse, which is killing the females associated with the producer. Thomas is one of Harry's friends and is the driver of the getaway car when running away from the flying monkey demons. As they return the box of puppies to the person that hired them, who turns out to be a monk from a Tibetan temple that is to be guarded by the puppies, one of the puppies ends up missing. Later the pup is found in Harry's car and Harry adopts the pup since the owner cannot be located.

Now Harry has 2 major things to worry about; destroying Mavra and the Black Court, and finding out who is cursing the film producer. Oh, I guess you could add a third, staying alive through all this. Once again that is just the beginning through the book Harry learns a secret that will forever bond him with Thomas Raith and could bring down the White Court Vampires.

To fight the Black Court, Harry calls on help from Lt. Karrin Murphy, Kincaid, an assassin for hire and bodyguard for The Archive (The Archive is the little girl that represents the knowledge of all time) and his old mentor Ebenezer McCoy (the man who took Harry in after Harry killed his uncle). But in this case a new question comes out about Kincaid and Ebenezer and Ebenezers role in the White Council of Wizards, a dark secret revealed about Harry's mother and Ebenezer's role in the Council.

It turns out that Thomas' family is behind the curse on the film producer, by the way the films produced are adult films, so the ever chivalrous and modest Harry is put to the test on the set. While it appears that the producer is the focus of the curse the gain from the curse and the problems created run much deeper than just to keep a man from making money in films.

It seems that as I read more and more of these novels by Jim Butcher each one becomes a turning point in the life of Harry Dresden. In this one he learns family secrets vital to his future, receives a major injury that reveals another demon after him, another demon is unleashed in the curse that has it out for Harry, and finally Harry gets a new roommate and guard dog.

These books are full of action and excitement, and with Jim Butcher's ability to weave a tale, keep you hungry for more.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:26 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Small Favor" The Dresden Files Book 10 by Jim Butcher (pub. 2008)

No one's tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.

An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she's calling in her marker. It's a small favor he can't refuse...one that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills-and loyalties-to their very limits.

It figures. Everything was going too well to last...

That's what lures the reader into this tenth installment of the Dresden Files and the exploits of the better Wizard named Harry...Harry Dresden that is. I decided to give this latest book by Jim Butcher a go before reading books 6-9 for one main reason. As you know from reading my past reviews, I like to read book series in order but sometimes you just have to jump around. The reason for this jump is that I wanted to listen to the audiobook. The audiobooks in this series are all narrated by James Marsters. He's the actor that played "Spike" in the "Buffy the Vampire" and "Angel" TV series. His narration really brings these books to life...maybe if they would have cast him in the TV series it wouldn't have been cancelled ...naw...Paul Blackthorne did an excellent job on the TV series, the Sci-Fi channel just didn't know what they had.

Okay let's talk about this book. The title should give this one away, basically Harry owes Mab 3 favors, he's delivered one, now she's come to collect the second. Gentleman Johnny Marcone, the Chicago crime boss has been captured by the Denarians and Mab wants him back. The Denarians are also known as the Fallen, as in Fallen angels. There are 30 of them and they each have a silver coin which houses the demon that takes over their souls. (30 pieces of silver sound familiar?) They are the sworn enemies of "The Knights of the Cross." Harry's friend Michael is one such knight and he carries a sword in which a nail from THE CROSS is embedded. The problem is the knights cannot go after the fallen, they have to try to turn them back to god first, then as a last resort kill them with the holy swords and take the coin and put into safekeeping with the church.

In order to negotiate with the Denarians, Harry must have a council of the White Court of Wizards, kind of like in order for the President to go to war he must get congress to agree. In doing so Harry must get the Archive (Knowledge of all time in the body of a young girl) to be his emissary. When the Archive arrives in Chicago she is captured by the Denarians. Now Harry must rescue her and Gentleman Johnny Marcone.

Oh yeah and while all this is happening, the summer court has decided to kill Harry. In doing so the court sends goat like creatures to hunt Harry down. The creatures are called Gruffs and as he defeats each one (remember he's battling the Gruffs while fighting Denarians and trying to rescue Marcone and the Archive) their elder brother comes later and each elder brother is bigger and badder. (3 billy goats gruff...heh heh).

In this series Jim Butcher not only has really great characters but the creatures he comes up with are always interesting. So if you like wizards, vampires, Holy Knights, fallen angels, mythical creatures, faerie and fae, check out Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series of books.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:38 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Death Masks - Book 5 of the Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher (published 2003)

So, you're upset that the series about the Wizard named Harry is over. Well actually it isn't. Okay so this Harry's last name is Dresden, he lives in Chicago and he advertises that he is a "Wizard for Hire," but hey, he is a wizard. Oh yeah, he also has attitude. In his series "The Dresden Files," Jim Butcher has created not only a great character in Harry Dresden, but he has also reinvented the mythic and magical. In earlier books we learned their are different types of werewolves and the faery world is not so friendly.

In this book 5 of the series we join Harry, once again, in the middle of life:

Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he's getting more than he bargained for.
A duel with the Red Court of Vampires' champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards...
Professional hit men using Harry for target practice.
Harry gets hired to find the missing Shroud of Turin.
A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified and it seems only Harry could do it.
Not to mention the return of Harry's ex-girlfriend Susan, who's still struggling with her semivampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.
Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you're charging.

So it's Harry's life but with all that action it ain't boring.

The book starts off with Harry appearing on a "Jerry Springer" type TV show (hey it's Chicago), he only agrees to the appearance because another magical person needs to pass a message to Harry, but cannot afford to risk being seen with Harry. After all Harry did start the war between the Red Court Vampires and White Council Wizards. On the show are not only 2 representatives of the magical realm but 2 people to ridicule magic. One is a Catholic Priest and the other...well it turns out to be a major player from the Vampire's Red Court.

These other two "guests" also have something for Harry. After Harry's magical aura destroys the studio equipment, a hazard with Harry being a wizard; electronics quit around him, the vampire challenges Harry a duel to the death. This duel will end the war and all threats of violence against Harry's friends and family. The priest is there to hire Harry to find the recently stolen Shroud of Turin. After telling the vampire he'll think about it, Harry and the priest leave the studio only to be confronted by Chicago's head of the crime syndicate, Gentleman Johnny Marcone's hit-men.

The men shoot at Harry and he and the priest barely escape with their lives in Harry's beaten down VW Beetle. And this is only the first chapter. The action continues and never stops throughout this fifth edition of "The Dresden Files." Harry later teams up with the Knights of the Cross to fight the ultimate demons "Denarians," fallen angels that can manifest on earth.

What leads to an ultimate battle and some great fun. All throughout this book we are constantly treated to Harry's great wit and sarcasm. Do yourself a favor and start reading this series now.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:51 PM Comments: 0