Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: "Walking the Labyrinth" by Lisa Goldstein

I was introduced to Lisa Goldstein a few months ago with the re-release of her National Book Award winner “The Red Magician.” I enjoyed the book immensely, but I’m not certain that I don’t like “Walking the Labyrinth” ($7.99, Open Road Media) even more.

Originally released in 1996, “Walking the Labyrinth” tells the tale of Molly Travers, a temp worker with an on-again, off-again writer boyfriend who mostly ignores her. She lives a fairly normal and dreary life. That is until private detective John Stow shows up on her doorstep and begins asking questions about her Aunt Fentrice, who raised her after her parents died.

The detective’s inquiries lead Molly to question what she knows about her life and sets her on an unlikely path of adventure and mystery and she uncovers the secrets of her family’s sordid history.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Random Rants: There and back again ... sort of

It’s been about a week since I finally saw “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies,” and I’ve taken some time to reflect on Peter Jackson’s adaptation before putting my final thoughts down.

(Note: If you haven't read "The Hobbit" or seen the films and don't want spoilers, it's probably best not to proceed. Then again, if you haven't read "The Hobbit," what are you doing here? Go read it. Now.)

I’ll start by stating what most regular readers of this site already know. If I had to pick a single book as my favorite of all time, it would be “The Hobbit.” So, going in, I knew there were going to be things about this adaptation that I didn’t like.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Review: "Golden Son" by Pierce Brown

Darrow has survived being carved from a Red into a Gold. He’s survived the brutal Institute and emerged as the top graduate, coming under the wing of none other than the ArchGovernor of Mars Nero au Augustus. But, as Pierce Brown’s “Golden Son” ($25, Del Rey) begins, he finds himself in a position as precarious as any he’s been in.

Due in part to overconfidence, Darrow has lost a battle – a battle that would have made him the commander of an armada, and more importantly for his short term prospects, a battle against the sworn enemies of Augustus, the Bellona family. 

The ArchGovernor has disowned Darrow and put his contract up for auction. He knows that it will likely be bought by the Bellona, who want to serve his heart to the family matron in vengeance for killing her youngest son during one of the trials of the Institute. What’s more, Darrow hasn’t had any contact with the mysterious Ares, leader of the rebel group Sons of Ares – the man who sent him to infiltrate Gold society in order to bring it down from the inside.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My favorite reads of 2014

It's that time of year again when all the "best of" lists arrive. I do those over on my music site, but I do something a little different here.

Because my reading time is limited, and there's really no possible way that I could read every book in every genre that I enjoy, I don't believe it's really reasonable for me to say what the best books of the year are. Instead, I simply offer up my favorite reads of 2014.

Not all of them will be from 2014. There are a couple from 2013, one that's nearly 20 years old, and even one from 2015. They're also in no particular order. The first three or so stand out as the ones that had the biggest impact, but after that things get a little muddy and, if I rewrote this list 10 times, the order would likely change every time.

Enjoy, and I'll see you next year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Reader Picks: Your favorite posts of 2014

Before I get into my favorite reads of 2014, I want to give my two loyal readers the spotlight. So, based on page views, here are the Top 10 reviews of 2014, according to readers of The Royal Library. There will be some overlap with my list, coming soon.

Thanks for reading the blog this year, and I hope to see you again in 2015.

10. "Raising Steam" by Terry Pratchett. Published May 7. It's hard to go wrong with Sir Pterry, even if there's not quite as much bite as there used to be in his work.

 9. The Legend of Drizzt: "The First Notch," read by Felicia Day. Published August 20. So, my experiment with Audiobooks got derailed quickly as I found it hard late in the year to spend an hour or so listening to a story. You guys seemed to enjoy the first installment (or maybe it just had to do with the flirty cosplay photo of Felicia Day?), so I may try to finish this series up in the new year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: "Owl and the Japanese Circus" by Kristi Charish

Though I read a good bit of it, I’m really quite picky about urban fantasy. There seems to be a lot of sameness in the genre, and it’s hard to sell me on a new series. Kristi Charish did it quickly, however with “Owl and the Japanese Circus,” ($18, Simon and Schuster).

“Owl and the Japanese Circus” contains all of the expected elements of urban fantasy – the prickly and clever heroine, a little bit of mystery, a little bit of horror, fast-paced adventure, vampires. It also sets itself apart in a lot of ways.

Owl is an antiquities thief. She was once an archaeology student named Alix Hiboux, until she stumbled on something that she shouldn’t have. Her discovery got her kicked out of school and made her a pariah in the archaeology community.

Now, she lives in a Winnebago with her Mau cat – a natural vampire hunter – and procures artifacts for shady clients. One of those happens to be Mr. Kurosawa, owner of the Japanese Circus Casino in Vegas. After she delivers him an ancient egg, he requests a personal meeting, which Owl doesn’t do. Mr. Kurosawa is quite insistent, though. He’s also a dragon.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Review: "Veil of the Deserters" by Jeff Salyards

Events begin to take shape and become a little more clear in Jeff Salyards’ second volume of Bloodsounder’s Arc, “Veil of the Deserters” ($24.99, Night Shade Books).

I was intrigued by the first book in the series, “Scourge of the Betrayer,” and the way that Salyards slowly doled out information to our viewpoint character, the scribe Arki. In this volume, Arki has gained more confidence from his commander Braylar Killcoin and the other soldiers and isn’t quite as in the dark.

In the midst of a plot to cause chaos in a neighboring kingdom, Braylar and his Syldoon warriors receive surprising visitors. A pair of Memoridons – memory witches – arrive to order the company back to their homeland in the name of the new emperor.

One of the Memoridons, Soffjian, just happens to be Braylar’s sister, but the reunion is not a happy one. The siblings are uneasy in each other’s company at best, and openly hostile toward each other at worst. Unfortunately, Soffjian may be Braylar’s only hope for surviving his cursed flail Bloodsounder.