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.