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.