Thursday, October 09, 2014

Review: "The Red Magician," by Lisa Goldstein

Though it was a National Book Award winner in 1983, the recent reissue of Lisa Goldstein’s “The Red Magician” ($7.99, Open Road Media) was my introduction to the tale.

Kicsi, a young Jewish girl living in Hungary during World War II, dreams of adventure and exotic locales. So she’s naturally taken with a strange, red-haired wanderer calling himself Voros who comes to town and is invited by her father to dine with the family. Voros has traveled the world, and Kicsi longs to hear about his adventures.

Voros gets on the bad side of the controlling local rabbi when he breaks a curse the rabbi has placed on Kicsi’s school because they teach classes in Hebrew and because of Voros’ attempts to warn the people of the town that disaster is coming.

The feud is the talk of the town, but the evil that’s about to descend on Kicsi’s family and friends will make the skirmish between the two magicians seem unimportant.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Review: "Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues," by Diana Rowland

I was looking for a quick, fun read for a busy week when I remembered how much I enjoyed Diana Rowland’s first White Trash Zombie book. It just so happened that I had the second, “Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues” ($7.99, DAW) loaded on my Nook, and my decision was made.

Becoming a zombie has been good for Angel Crawford. Once a drug addict and on probation for possession of a stolen car, she’s turned her life around. She’s straightened herself out, found a steady job that she enjoys at the coroner’s office – which has the added benefit of giving her access to the brains she needs to survive – and is even dating a police officer.

But as with most things in Angel’s life, that peaceful existence can’t last for long. A mysterious death at a local research lab rocks her world after the body that she’s delivering to the morgue is stolen from her at gunpoint. The event puts Angel in the headlines and pulls her deeper into the complicated politics of the zombie world.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: "Red Rising" by Pierce Brown

When I started Pierce Brown’s “Red Rising” ($25, Del Rey), I spent a lot of time thinking that I’d read this book before. By the end, though, Brown had used some great storytelling to leave me hanging on every word.

Darrow is a Red, the lowest rung on the social ladder. He’s a miner in a colony on Mars, but not just any miner. Darrow is a Helldiver, which means he goes into the dangerous caverns – filled with explosive gases and deadly pit vipers – to harvest all-important Helium-3. He and his kind are pioneers, collecting the element that makes terraforming possible and paving the way for the human race to colonize the stars, where all of the Colors will live in harmony.

Or so he’s been told.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Legend of Drizzt: "The Third Level," read by Greg Grunberg

I hit the first bump on my audiobook journey with the third tale of this collection, “The Third Level,” read by Greg Grunberg of Heroes and Alias.

The story focuses on one of Drizzt Do’Urden’s arch-enemies, the thief and assassin Artemis Entreri. “The Third Level” tells of Entreri’s early years in Calimport and his meteoric rise from a teenage street thug in a poor neighborhood to a lieutenant in Pasha Basadoni’s thieves guild.

The story establishes the cunning and commitment of the young Entreri, and gives us a few glimpses of both the life that led him down this path and the ruthless man that he will one day become.

I always liked Entreri, as his mind seemed just as sharp as his blades, and I looked forward to the times when he locked horns with Drizzt because they always made for some magnificent combat scenes – one of R.A. Salvatore’s greatest strengths.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: "Hollow World" by Michael J. Sullivan

I almost didn’t want to read Michael J. Sullivan’s “Hollow World” ($15.95, Tachyon Publications).

Don’t get me wrong. I love Sullivan’s work. His tales of the Riryia are some of my favorite fantasy discoveries of recent years – the kind of rousing, old school adventure tales that brought me to the genre in the first place. Now, he suddenly shifts to science fiction, a genre that I don’t read often and am very picky about what I do read.

But the Riryia tales were too good for me not to give “Hollow World” a go, and, oh man, wow.

Ellis Rogers leads an unhappy life. He’s stuck in a loveless marriage and has been since the suicide of his son, a tragedy that he’s still trying to cope with. Now, he’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness and is looking at six months if he’s lucky.

During his years of misery, Ellis has secretly built a time machine in his garage. With the news of his impending death, he decides to go against his character, throw caution to the wind and crank up the machine for a trip 200 years into the future. He misses slightly.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Review: "Scourge of the Betrayer" by Jeff Salyards

When I was about 20 pages into Jeff Salyards’ “Scourge of the Betrayer” ($14.99, Night Shade Books), it seemed like a book I might abandon. After reading the final page of the story, I’m still kind of wondering how I feel about it. If nothing else, it’s an interesting approach to storytelling.

We view the action through the eyes of Arkamondos, a scribe that has been hired by a group of savage Syldoon warriors to chronicle their actions. Arki isn’t sure exactly why these rough-edged soldiers need a chronicler, and he knows nothing about what their mission is or where they might be headed. He knows, though, that it won’t be dull. And he’s right about that.

That’s really about the best that I can do for a plot synopsis. Any other details that I let you in on would kind of spoil the way that the book is set up, and that’s something I try hard not to do.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Random Rants: Ten life-impacting books

I was tagged by a friend this week in the Facebook thing going around that asks you to name 10 books that had a big effect on you. I don’t usually participate in those sorts of things, but I thought this was an interesting question.

If you know me, you know that when you ask me about books that have affected me in some way, I can’t just give you a title. I must provide some sort of explanation. So, knowing that would go way beyond the average Facebook post, I decided to do it here instead, where I’d have all the room I need.
Of course, staying  true to my metal roots, my list goes to 11.

Feel free to add your own books in the comments, too.

1. "Green Eggs and Ham," by Dr. Seuss. I chose this one, but it could have been any of Dr. Seuss’ books. They were read to me from a young age by my mother, then I read them over and over on my own. When my son was born, I read them to him almost from birth. Without Theodor Geisel, I would not have the love of reading that I do today. He has to be No. 1.