Thursday, December 26, 2013

Favorite reads of 2013

It was a disappointing year for me as far as reading goes. Not because of the quality of the books, mind you, but simply because I had very little time to read, especially later in the year. There are still a number of books – including *gasp* a new book from Neil Gaiman – that I haven’t gotten around to, and I’ve only managed to read about five books in the last six months. That has to be a lifelong low for a guy that’s used to reading at least 40 a year, and it makes me want to cry. Here’s to fixing that problem in the coming year.

That said, I still read some pretty good books this year, so here’s the list. As a reminder, this is in no way a “best of 2013” list (they're not all even from 2013). Even in a good year, I don’t manage to read enough books to even remotely think I’m qualified to name the “best.” These are just my favorite reads of the last year (in alphabetical order by author, not order of preference).

Friday, December 06, 2013

Review: "The Republic of Thieves" by Scott Lynch

We waited quite a while for Scott Lynch's "The Republic of Thieves" ($28, Del Rey), but the wait was definitely worth it.

After being blown away by Lynch's debut novel, "The Lies of Locke Lamora," I was a bit disappointed in the follow-up, "Red Seas Under Red Skies," but the third installment in the tales of Locke Lamora is the equal of the debut.

As the story opens, Locke lies on his deathbed, having been poisoned while his loyal friend Jean Tannen makes ever attempt to save him. Jean has brought a string of physicians and charlatans through the door in a desperate attempt to cure his friend, but they've all delivered the same news -- Locke is going to die.

It's just a matter of days, or possibly even hours, when salvation comes from a very unlikely source -- the Bondsmagi of Karthain. Jean and Locke are visited by Archedama Patience, who tells them she can remove the poison from Locke's body in return for their service. Locke is understandably reluctant considering his past experience with the Bondsmagi, but Jean convinces him he has nothing to lose.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: "The Last Argument of Kings" by Joe Abercrombie

I hoped that Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series was building to an incredible ending, and I was not disappointed with “The Last Argument of Kings” ($17, Pyr).

After reading the first installment, “The Blade Itself,” I found myself intrigued, but not really hooked. Things picked up in the second book, “Before They are Hanged,” and I decided to push immediately into the final installment, and I’m pleased that I did.

I find myself struggling to put together a short summary of the story in this book without giving away anything that a reader might not want to know before picking it up. It’s one of those books. Most of the primary characters have come back home, so to speak.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Review: "Before They are Hanged" by Joe Abercrombie

I read Joe Abercrombie’s “The Blade Itself” some time back, and though I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel compelled to continue the series. Recently, I picked up the second book, “Before They are Hanged” ($17, Pyr) on a whim and discovered a couple of things. First, I remembered that I really liked Abercrombie’s characters despite their roughness and flaws. Second, I discovered that, much like book one, book two still feels like a big setup.

In a story that picks up pretty much right after the first, we are quickly thrown back into the action. Don’t think you can pick this book up without knowing something of the first. There’s not a whole lot of recap to be found. In fact, the entire trilogy feels more like a single book that was split up for convenience than three separate stories.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: "Emperor of Thorns," by Mark Lawrence

We're fashioned by our sorrows -- not by joy -- they are the undercurrent, the refrain. Joy is fleeting. -- Jorg Ancrath

It’s finally time for Jorg Ancrath to claim what he’s been working toward – or at least try – in “Emperor of Thorns” ($25.95 , Ace), the finale of Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy.

The story finds Jorg on the road again, but this time in slightly different company than he’s used to, though there are plenty of his old road brothers on the trip with him. He’s being escorted to Vyene by the Gilden Guard. He’s joining the Hundred, the leaders of the lands of the Broken Empire, at Congression, where they will once again vote to try to name an emperor to reunify the lands.

If you’ve been following the tale of Jorg thus far, you know where his vote will be cast and you also know that it will likely be cast violently.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins

So now I’ve caught up with the rest of the world by finishing Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, and my first thought after reading “Mockingjay” ($18.99, Scholastic) was that this is exactly what the final book of a trilogy should be.

I thought “The Hunger Games” was quite good and “Catching Fire” was OK, though it did echo the first book a bit. But even if the first two books had been lousy, “Mockingjay” would have made it worth the effort to read them.

Katniss finds herself in the heart of the rebellion in District 13, recovering after being rescued from the arena in Panem’s capitol. She soon discovers that some things never change, though. She finds living conditions are not a whole lot better and that she’s still being manipulated. President Coin of the rebellion has plans to use her as the face of the movement, something that neither of them are completely comfortable with. Once the Capitol begins attempting to use Peeta against her, though, she throws herself into the role, rushing into combat against orders and giving the rebellion everything it needs, but Coin more than she wants.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: "Hunted" by Kevin Hearne

In “Hunted” ($7.99, Del Rey), the sixth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles, Kevin Hearne puts the pedal down hard before giving fans a little bit of a late breather before the next volume.

The book picks up right where last year’s “Trapped” ended. Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, his former apprentice Granuaile –  who was recently made a full druid – and his faithful Irish wolfhound Oberon are on the run across Europe – quite literally. They’re being pursued by the hunters of the Greco-Roman pantheon, Artemis and Diana, because of a misunderstanding – sort of. A few books back, Atticus put a stop to some shenanigans by Bacchus, and the only way to escape the mad god’s vengeance was to imprison him in Tir na nOg. Then there was a little thing with some dryads, who were returned unharmed, but the Greeks and Romans still didn’t take things very well.

Their only  hope is to reach Herne’s Forest in England, several countries away, and they’ll have to do so primarily on foot. The grove passages to Tir na nOg, which would let them move magically through, have been cut off by Pan and Faunus. The Old Ways that would allow the same access have either been destroyed or guarded. And there’s a bit of a hidden competition going on amongst the pantheons of gods to either help or hinder them indirectly.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: "Blood Song" by Anthony Ryan

Every now and then a book just sneaks up on you. You start the tale thinking it's not bad, and at the end, you're left sitting, staring at the last page, thinking "wow." That's what happened to me with Anthony Ryan's "Blood Song" ($27.95, Ace).

Vaelin al Sorna, known to his enemies as the Hope Killer for reasons you'll discover in the story, is on his way to a battle to the death arranged by two lands that seek vengeance against either Vaelin or his family. His only companion on the journey is a scribe that detests him. Still he listens as Vaelin lays out his tale.

Born to a life of promise, Vaelin al Sorna was the son of the Battle Lord of King Janus. For reasons that the boy doesn't quite understand, his father gives him over to the Sixth Order, one of the divisions of his realm's religion, the Faith. The Sixth Order dedicates itself to defending the Faith through force, and with grueling and harsh training, Vaelin finds himself transformed into a warrior, one of the finest the order has ever seen, and bonded with a new family, his brothers in arms.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Why The Royal Library?

This is a question that I get in my e-mail or Twitter feed from time to time, usually from readers who don't agree with my opinion. Typically, it comes with a derisive inference that I consider my opinion supreme when it comes to books.

Anyone who knows or has read my material regularly should know that's not the case. I've said repeatedly over the years that I don't consider myself an expert, just a guy that likes to talk about books and music. The websites that I write for give me the opportunity to talk about it to people who might actually care instead of just blabbing away at my family members who really just wish I'd just shut up about it. The opinions expressed in my reviews are mine and mine alone and should never be taken as more. There are great books and music that I don't like and not-so-great books and music that I love.

So where does the name come from? Well, it's a bit of an inside joke.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Memory Lane: "It" by Stephen King

I often feel downright guilty about going back to re-read a book when there are so many others out there that I haven’t read. It’s especially bad when that book is nearly 1,500 pages, and I know with my limited reading time, that it’s going to take me a couple of weeks to get through. That’s why I’ve had Stephen King’s “It” ($9.99, Signet)on my reader for a couple of years, but put off diving back into it.

Well, at least that’s part of the reason. Another part is that “It” has stood, for many years, as my favorite modern horror novel. I last read it as a teenager, though, and there’s always that niggling doubt about how my 40-year-old self would perceive the tale. Indeed, I did come away with a different take, but I’ll save that for a little later.

A plot summary is probably not necessary for this book, but I’ll give one anyway. “It” is set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, where a lot of bad things tend to happen. In cycles of 25 years or so, really bad things – and a lot of them – happen. King introduces us to seven kids who are brought together by a strange bond. They’ve seen terrible things, and they begin to understand what lies at the root of the evil in the town and plan to destroy it. Years later, most of them are successful adults in various fields and have mostly forgotten their childhoods, but when the cycle begins again, they’re all drawn back to Derry for one more showdown with their old enemy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: "Grimoire of the Lamb" by Kevin Hearne

With book six of the Iron Druid Chronicles, “Hunted,” due out later this month, Kevin Hearne treats us to a quick story from Atticus O’Sullivan’s past with “Grimoire of the Lamb” ($2.99, Del Rey).

The story begins with Atticus receiving a call about an ancient Egyptian cookbook that he has in his collection. It’s one of the more innocuous-seeming books that he rescued from the Library of Alexandria before its destruction. Most contain powerful magic and dark spells, but this one seems only to have recipes for lamb. Intrigued, Atticus demands that his Egyptian caller come to the U.S. to meet him in person and negotiate the price of the book.

As it turns out, the book, which Atticus has nicknamed the “Grimoire of the Lamb,” contains much darker secrets than what’s for dinner. When the mysterious buyer snatches the book and defeats Atticus’ magical attempts to stop him, the druid finds himself in Egypt and facing the power of more than one ancient god.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Review: "Mistborn: The Final Empire" by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn: The Final Empire” ($7.99, Tor) may have spent a record amount of time on my to-read pile. The hardcover got shuffled around for at least a year or so, and when the paperback came out, I added it to the pile as well, where it spent quite a bit of time. I never seemed to get around to it, though.

After enjoying what Sanderson did with the conclusion of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, I thought it was time to give some of his works a try. I looked at “The Way of Kings,” but I wasn’t really ready to start another monster epic fantasy series that might take up a couple more decades of my life. So I returned to “Mistborn,” which had always seemed to have something that interested me, but never seemed to make its way off the pile.

I’m sorry I waited so long.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Random Rants: Seeing Red

Sunday night I logged on to Facebook to find dozens of shocked and awed comments from friends and acquaintances about “Game of Thrones.” Even though I’m a season behind on the series, I knew immediately that they’d hit the Red Wedding.

I have to admit to getting a little annoyed. The “I read the book” snob came out in me, and I posted a snarky comment saying that I was tempted to tell everyone what happens next. Of course, I wouldn’t really do that, but I did have this irrational aggravation about what was going on.

Maybe it’s the metal kid that still lives inside me, but whenever something I love becomes wildly popular outside its genre, I feel an acute sense of loss. It’s hard to explain, but I don’t believe I’m the only one.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: "The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey

The invasion of the world from space comes not with laser beams and strange alien creatures in Rick Yancey’s “The 5th Wave” ($18.99, Putnam), but by much more chilling and seemingly insurmountable means.

When the mothership appears glowing over the Earth, speculation runs wild. Reactions vary anywhere from panic to optimism that the visitors come in peace and will bring valuable knowledge to help us. That optimism fades as soon as the First Wave hits – a massive electromagnetic pulse that knocks out electricity and disables vehicles and communications. With the Second Wave, the alien invaders drive a spike into the ocean floor, setting of tsunamis that wipe out most of the coastlands and concentrate people in the central part of the continent. That’s where the Third Wave can do the most damage – a violent and virulent plague that wipes out the majority of the remaining population. Perhaps most fiendish is the Fourth Wave, humans that have been taken over by the invaders, sowing mistrust and paranoia among those that remain.

But it gets worse. The Fifth Wave is coming, and it’s by far the most sinister.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: "Dead Ever After," by Charlaine Harris

So far, 2013 has brought the end of two long-running series that I’ve had mixed feelings about. Granted, I didn’t live with Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series quite as long as the Wheel of Time, but “Dead Ever After” ($27.95 , Ace) also didn’t give me quite as satisfying an ending.

Last year’s “Deadlocked” pleased me in that it seemed that Harris’ story was finally clicking back into place after being lost in the wilderness for a while. I thought that she’d gotten caught up a little bit in the longer contract and the “True Blood” phenomenon and was stretching to keep the story alive. I said in my review of that book that I almost felt the click, when it got back to the story that she’d planned, and I was hoping for a big bang of a finale with this one. Instead, I found it disappointing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: "NOS4A2," by Joe Hill

For a guy who chose a pen name that would distance himself from his famous dad, Joe Hill certainly proves where he comes from with his latest novel, “NOS4A2” ($28.99, William Morrow).

Hill has yet to disappoint me. His debut novel, “Heart-Shaped Box,” is probably my favorite horror novel of at least the last decade. In fact, it’s the book that inspired me to write again myself after a long fallow period. I loved his varied and fascinating short story collection, “20th Century Ghosts,” and I enjoyed “Horns,” as well. In fact, my only complaint has been that, when it comes to novels, he’s not as prolific as his father. “NOS4A2” continues the trend, though there’s a bit of a different vibe to it.

Hill begins the book by introducing us to one Charles Talent Manx III, a not-so-nice old man known for wheeling around in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with the license plate of the title and taking children to Christmasland, a place where he’s certain they remain happy and innocent forever. We meet him in a hospital bed, aged and frail, in a coma and near death.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Review: "Catching Fire," by Suzanne Collins

In need of a quick weekend read, I found myself drawn back to the world of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, to which I was a latecomer, for the second volume “Catching Fire” ($12.99, Scholastic).

Katniss and Peeta find themselves trying to settle back into a semi-normal sort of life after their harrowing experience in the Hunger Games. They have money and better living conditions thanks to their victory, but nothing can erase the nightmares and other issues the experience has left them with.

To complicate matters, Katniss’ defiance of the Capitol is still resounding throughout the districts. She and Peeta learn this on their victory tour, traveling under threat from President Snow, when they see other districts that are approaching open rebellion, a situation which Katniss unintentionally feeds with an impromptu tribute to Rue. As a result of the tour, things take a turn for the worse in District 12. New, brutal Peacekeepers are brought in, and the district falls more under the thumb of the Capitol.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: "Archon," by Sabrina Benulis

In her debut novel, “Archon” ($14.99, Harper Voyager), Sabrina Benulis offers up an intriguing idea, but the execution leaves me with mixed feelings.

Angela Mathers is a troubled child. Obsessed with angels, Angela has a death wish that she seems unable to accomplish, no matter how she tries. Knives won’t penetrate to her vitals, guns misfire. She’s even tried to burn herself, which ended with the deaths of her parents and severe scarring to her body, but she survived. Now, she’s gotten out of an asylum after that incident and has been enrolled in West Wood, an academy run by the Vatican on the island of Luz. She’s been accepted both because of her artwork of angels and the fact that she’s a bloodhead, a term originating from a prophecy that says a redhead will become the Archon, referred to by most as the Ruin, who will challenge the devil for the throne of Hell.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: "The Merciless Book of Metal Lists" by Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins

I think there’s something innate in music fans that drives them to want to make lists. And then, of course, to argue about those lists to the death.

With "The Merciless Book of Metal Lists" ($18.95, Abrams Books), Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins take it to a new level. After a foreword by Slayer’s Kerry King (which is really more of a Q&A, actually), they jump right into all of the obligatory lists — best metal bands, best guitarist, best singer, best drummer, best bassist and so on.

Sure, those are fun to agree or disagree with, but it’s the other pieces of the book that actually make it so entertaining. It’s quite possible that even the hardcore metalhead might find something to explore in some of the lists where they play it straight.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Review: "My Life as a White Trash Zombie," by Diana Rowland

I probably would not have picked up Diana Rowland’s “My Life as a White Trash Zombie” ($7.99, DAW) if not for a recommendation from one of my other recent favorite discoveries, Kevin Hearne. It didn’t seem like something that would normally appeal to me, but I’m glad I gave it a shot, as it was great fun.

Angel Crawford comes from a seriously broken home. Her father gave up her mentally ill mother to protect her, while he descended into alcoholism and she became a junkie. When Angel wakes up in the hospital, she has no idea what has happened, but begins to piece it together. She was found naked on the side of the road by police, with a cocktail of drugs in her system. Now, though, she seems to have a mysterious benefactor. Before she leaves the hospital, she gets a note informing her that she now has a job as a van driver for the coroner’s office, and that if she doesn’t want to go to jail, she has to keep it for 30 days. Along with the note are bottles of a strange liquid that she’s instructed to drink.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Random Rants: Rage of Thrones

OK, this is a little off-kilter for my usual material here, but I absolutely loved it, and I'm sure a few of my four readers (that's right, added one) can relate.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Review: "And Blue Skies from Pain" by Stina Leicht

I thought Stina Leicht’s opening book of the Fey and the Fallen, “Of Blood and Honey,” showed a lot of promise. The second book, “And Blue Skies from Pain” ($14.99, Nightshade Books ), though delivers exactly what I hoped it would.

With the background of the story and the political volatility of 1970s Ireland established in the first book, this one gets down to the business of the supernatural war. Liam Kelly, after discovering he is half-fey in the first book, has submitted to be tested by the Catholic Church to prove that he is human and stop the church’s violence against the fey. For ages, the militant arm of the church, charged with hunting down and destroying fallen angels, has made no distinction between the fallen and the fey. Now, at the urging of Liam’s friend Father Joseph Murray, the church has called an uneasy truce until it can be determined whether the two are different.

Naturally, there are elements in the church that don’t want it proven that the fey are not fallen angels. It’s an uncomfortable question for the best among the warrior priests and a downright onerous thought for many who have spent their lives cruelly executing what they thought were evil beings.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: "Tomorrow, the Killing" by Daniel Polansky

No, Daniel Polansky’s “Tomorrow, the Killing” (Hodder & Stoughton) hasn’t been released in the U.S. yet, but after enjoying the first book, “Low Town,” immensely, I got tired of waiting.

“Tomorrow, the Killing” returns us to the world of The Warden, a one-time war hero and government agent turned drug dealer. The Warden is king of the walk in the part of the city known as Low Town, but his past is about to come back to haunt him. He gets a call from a former general whose daughter has gone missing in Low Town. She went there to investigate the death of her brother, Roland, The Warden’s former commanding officer and head of the veteran’s association, a victim of a political murder when his ambitions became a little too big.

Meanwhile, the veteran’s association is cranking its efforts up again. The government has reneged on a promised payment to veterans, and the association is planning a march to protest. The Warden’s friend and co-owner of his tavern, Adolphus, has gotten heavily involved, which gives him some concerns.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Review: "The Black Prism," by Brent Weeks

With “The Black Prism” ($7.99, Orbit), Brent Weeks delivers a tale that will have some familiarity, but a very different tone for fans of his Night Angel trilogy.

Weeks introduces us to Gavin Guile, The Prism, which basically means that he’s the most powerful magic user in the world, an emperor by title, though not necessarily in the traditional sense.

Guile knows exactly how much time he has left to live. Prisms tend to rule in multiples of seven years, and he’s working on his third set of seven, an unusual length of time. He has great purposes planned out for the things that he’ll achieve, but his life is thrown into chaos when he learns that he has a bastard son in a backwater satrapy that has been neglected since he battled his brother Dazen there in the Prism’s War.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Review: "Of Blood and Honey" by Stina Leicht

I’ve had pretty good luck with debut novels of late, but I leave Stina Leicht’s “Of Blood and Honey” ($14.99, Night Shade Books) with mixed feelings.

The story focuses on Liam Kelly, a young man growing up in the turmoil of the 1970s in Ireland. Liam is a Puca, a shapeshifter of Irish legend, only he doesn’t know it. He’s grown up with a stepfather and other members of his family who don’t really like him. He’s been told his father was Protestant, while is family is devoutly Catholic, and he assumes that’s the reason. Other than his mother, the only two people who really seem to care about Liam are a local priest, Father Murray, and a neighborhood girl named Mary Kate. Both, though, will end up getting him in trouble.

Father Murray carries secrets that are important to Liam’s very survival. Mary Kate comes from a staunchly Republican family and is a regular at demonstrations and protests. At these demonstrations, Liam is arrested by British troops and imprisoned without trial twice for no greater crime than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. During his first stint in prison, he discovers that there’s something lurking within him that’s not quite human. During the second, his non-political outlook on life changes and he volunteers for the IRA.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

I could probably skip reviewing “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins ($10.99, Scholastic) because I feel like I’m probably one of only a handful of people out there who haven’t read it or seen the movie.

Maybe it’s just my contrarian nature coming out, but I’ve avoided the book while people around me raved about it. But after finishing the final volume of the Wheel of Time, I was looking for something a little shorter and less epic to wind down, and this book kept coming up on my Nook.

At first, I thought I was going to be a little disappointed with the story, but by the time the games began, I was riveted.

For the one other person out there that doesn’t know the plot besides me, the book focuses on Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 of Panem. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic United States, where there are 12 districts under the bootheel of the Capitol, which is located somewhere in the Rockies.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: "A Memory of Light," by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan

So ends a 20-plus year journey.

With “A Memory of Light” ($34.99, Tor), Brandon Sanderson brings Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time to a long-awaited close. Despite Jordan’s death, despite a great deal of disappointment in the middle volumes of the series, I’m ultimately pleased with where it ended.

I still remember picking up the paperback version of “The Eye of the World” in college. I devoured it in one sitting, which was, and still is, pretty unusual for me. I came back to the dorm after a mid-morning class with nothing to do – or at least nothing I wanted to do, I’m sure I could have been studying something – and started it. I missed my afternoon class that day. I ordered pizza so I wouldn’t have to leave the book at dinner. I read late into the night, finally coming to an end that left me hungry for more.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Review: "Trapped" by Kevin Hearne

Throughout the first four books in the series, Kevin Hearne’s 2,000-year-old druid, Atticus O’Sullivan, has made a habit of pissing off some of the most powerful beings in the universe. But as “Trapped” ($7.99, Del Rey) opens, it’s been quite a while since he’s been in real trouble.

For the past 12 years, Atticus has been training his apprentice Granuaile, destined to become the first new druid in centuries. During that time, he’s laid low after faking his death with the aid of the Native American trickster Coyote.

Now, it’s time to bind his apprentice to the Earth and make her a full druid, but there are complications. For one thing, the Tuatha de Danann have discovered that he still lives. For another, the Norse god Loki has arrived on the scene, perhaps heralding the beginning of Ragnarok, which Atticus will have a large hand in thanks to his exploits in a previous volume. Then, there’s the fact that the passages to all of the areas where he might bind Granuaile have been mysteriously closed save one, which will put him in the shadow of Mount Olympus, the home of the Roman god Bacchus, who has Atticus at the top of his hit list.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Favorite reads of 2012

I’m going to try something new this year. I’ve been reluctant to do a year-end list for books because it’s such a daunting task. It’s fairly easy with music because I get tons of new music, I can easily listen to it on the go, and at the end of the year, I feel like I’ve at least heard all of the major releases in my favorite genres.

Books are tougher. In a good year, I figure I read 40-50 books. That’s not even a drop in the bucket as far as what’s released, even just in my favorite genres. Plus, I’m always dipping back a few years to pick up books that I missed or revisiting some classics that I either missed or haven’t read in years.

So this list certainly won’t reflect “the best books of 2012.” Instead, I’ll just call it my list of favorite books that I read in 2012. It doesn’t necessarily mean the book was released in 2012, and I’m not making it a Top 10 or putting any numeric requirement on it at all. If I read it and really liked it, it’s here. Beyond the first two, they’re in no particular order.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Review: "Cold Days" by Jim Butcher

After ending “Changes” with a jaw-dropping event that left readers wondering what was to become of their favorite wizard Harry Dresden, Jim Butcher followed up with the sort of strange “Ghost Story,” a tale that really didn’t live up to the previous volumes of The Dresden Files. The good news for those of us left scratching our heads is that with “Cold Days” ($27.95, Roc) that little bump in the road has been completely smoothed over.

Not only is “Cold Days” a return to form for Butcher and The Dresden Files after the lull of “Ghost Story,” it’s easily one of the best volumes in the series.

After his little jaunt through the spirit world, Harry wakes up in Arctis Tor, the home of the Winter Court of faerie. He’s made a deal with the Winter Queen Mab to take the mantle of the Winter Knight. Mab’s rehabilitation techniques are somewhat unique, but they leave Harry back in fighting form – somewhere he’ll need to be to deal with the treachery of the Winter Court. Not the least of his problems is Maeve, Mab’s daughter and the slightly insane heir to her throne. His introduction at court makes her the first of his problems.