Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: "As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride" by Cary Elwes and Joe Laydon

If you asked me to name my favorite movies of all time, “The Princess Bride” would certainly be in the Top 3, if not No. 1. So it should come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” ($26, Touchstone), a memoir of the making of the movie by Westley himself, Cary Elwes, and Joe Laydon.

In the book, Elwes offers his thoughts on the movie and the popularity that it’s come to enjoy over the years despite its soft initial run in theaters, as well as some fantastic stories from his casting through a reunion of the surviving cast members 25 years later.

Scattered throughout Elwes’ remembrances are short notes from many of the film’s stars, as well as director Rob Reiner and producer Andrew Scheinman.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: "Flex" by Ferrett Steinmetz

What if magic could be distilled in drug form so that everyone could experience its benefits? That’s the concept that drives Ferrett Steinmetz’s “Flex” ($14.99, Angry Robot).

Unfortunately, the magical crystal Flex also comes with Flux, the downside in Steinmetz's world – the counter to the magic that causes bad, often disastrous things to happen.

That is, until Paul Tsabo comes along. Paul is an ex-cop, who now works for an insurance agency, tracking down magic users, called ’Mancers. He’s legendary as the only mundane ever known to have killed a ’Mancer, but he lost a foot in the process, and is still haunted by what he did.

Now, going through a divorce, he’s discovered a secret about ’Mancers – that while the consequences of their magic can often be devastating, they’re also capable of great beauty. They’re broken people whose ‘mancy is fueled by their own obsessions: video games, music, art, even bureaucracy – Paul’s specialty.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: "Kill City Blues" by Richard Kadrey

I thoroughly enjoyed the early books in Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, but I wandered away after “Devil Said Bang.” I thought the idea of Stark being Lucifer would be more appealing than it actually was, and I thought that was the weakest book of the series.

So, a couple of years later, I’m looking for a quick read, and “Kill City Blues” ($14.99, Harper Voyager) is still sitting there in my TBR pile. I decide that it’s time to dive back in to the story.

Stark is out of Hell and back in L.A., though he’s still enjoying the devil’s posh digs on Earth for the moment. His Jade girlfriend Candy is with him, and for the moment, life is pretty good for the Sandman.

He still has a mission, though. The rebel angel Aelita has escaped with the Qomrama Om Ya, a powerful weapon that she intends to use to kill the split personalities of God. It just so happens that the Qomrama might be the only thing that can save the world from a race of gods more ancient than its own who are determined to break through and take their revenge.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Review: "Maplecroft" by Cherie Priest

Do you ever keep slogging through a book that’s not really doing much for you just because you think you should like it?

That’s kind of what Cherie Priest’s “Maplecroft” ($15, Roc) was like for me.

I picked it up on the recommendation of another author I really enjoy and one who has steered me toward several really good books over the past few years. On the surface, it seemed like something I should love. Lizzie Borden fighting Lovecraftian monstrosities. How great a setup is that? Maybe it made my hopes too high.

“Maplecroft” opens a number of years after Borden’s famous murders. She’s been acquitted and is living in Fall River, Massachusetts, serving as caretaker for her ailing older sister Emma. Lizzie lives quietly and stays mostly under the radar, or so it seems.

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.