On to the questions....
1. What are your thoughts on the pop culture references Butcher includes in his work, largely coming from Harry himself?
Uh-oh! I can't say I have really noticed the pop culture references. Maybe because I am enjoying reading the book and not taking a lot of noticed.
I am always wary about the way that pop culture references are used in books! Done well it can add touch points for the reader to help understand the characters. Overdone it makes me feel like the book is going to date really quickly. An example of a series where the pop culture references are overdone and I therefore think the books are unlikely to stand the true test of time are the House of Night books by PC and Kristin Cast.
2. As I finished part two of Storm Front I realized that each section of the book thus far feels like a distinct act in a three act story arc. How do you compare the events in this second section of the book with what happened it part one? Is there a mood or theme or such that you feel is embodied by part two of Harry's adventures?
Beginning, middle and end? The first third of the book is getting to know our main character, meeting the secondary characters, getting a feel for the relationships between them, building the world and of course finding out about the crime.
The second third of the book builds a little more but is all about action! Harry is put in danger, and to a degree finds himself more isolated from the people that he normally can rely on. You get the feeling that when time comes for the big showdown that leads to the resolution of the crime Harry is pretty much going to be on his own!
In effect, Harry is put under pressure in this section of the book - emotionally, physically, magically and more!
I have to say the reading this week ended at a pretty crucial point! It was all I could do not to keep on turning the pages so it took a little self control to stick with the scheduled reading this week.
3. One of many things Jim Butcher demonstrates in Storm Front is a healthy sense of humor. Share with us your thoughts on one (or more) of the humorous moments in the story thus far.
The humour is really the factor that makes this series very readable and in many ways distinguishes it from other paranormal series that have murder mysteries associated with them! Quite a few of those lost their emphasis on mystery rather focusing on trying to be more paranormal or more humourous after a couple of weeks but I don't envisage this happening with Harry.
4. Our hero Harry had disastrous interactions with the women in his life in section two of the book (Four by my count). For first time readers, were you surprised by any of these and what are your thoughts? For those who've read the books before, had you forgotten about any of these? If so, or even if not, share your thoughts on Harry's luck with women.
Harry is so not a ladies man, but I really don't think that he sees himself any different. I was sure that there was a quote somewhere where he talked a little about this, about his shortcomings romantically. I don't think this is the one I meant but it shows that he is aware of his limitations in this area of his life:
I stared at her. Oh my gosh. I had forgotten my date with Susan. How in the world could I have forgotten that? I mean, the White Council, the police, vampires, concussions, junkies, mob bosses, and baseball-bat-swinging thugs notwithstanding -
Well, no. There probably weren't any women incredible enough to make me keep my mind on them through all of that. But all the same, it seemed a little rude of me.
He hates that he lets down the women in his life because of who he is and what he does. He hates knowing that he does it, but it doesn't stop it from doing it, particularly when he thinks it is in their best interests. At heart, I think that Harry is chivalrous in his own way, he is just not all that good at showing that chivalry in a way that isn't going to upset those near him.
I did understand, really. I understood the pressure she was under, her frustration, her anger, and her determination to stop the killing from happening again. If I was some kind of hero from a romance novel, I'd have said something brief and eloquent and heartrending. But I'm just me, so I said, "I do understand, Karrin."
Carmichael stepped out of my way.
And I walked away from Murphy, who I couldn't talk to, and from Linda, who I couldn't protect, my head aching, weary to my bones, and feeling like a total piece of shit.
5. A few other popular characters have been brought up in the first round of discussion about Storm Front. What books, films, tv shows, etc. does this story/these characters call to mind and why?
Not sure on this one I must confess. I don't watch a lot of TV or film to be able to compare. The only thing that came to mind was the TV show Charmed simple because of the paranormal aspects combined with the humour.
6. For new readers, what is your overall assessment of the story thus far? For re-readers, what have you picked up on this time that you either forgot about or don't remember seeing from your first trip through the book?
This is a reread for me and I am thoroughly enjoying the book. Normally I pride myself on being able to remember books I read a while ago, but while I have remembered the basic plot, I have found myself not recognising much of the action, so in some ways it is like reading the details for the first time! Maybe I should reread a bit more often!
Time to go and read some more.