Book review: “Cold Days” by Jim Butcher
Book Reviews / June 23, 2013

Book 14 of “The Dresden Files” follows up on Chicago-based wizard/detective Harry Dresden’s apparent death in “Changes” and post-death experiences in “Ghost Story”. If you haven’t read those books yet, I’ve already spoiled that much; to say anything about this book, I’ll have to spoil a lot more.

Book review: “Daniel Deronda” by George Eliot
Book Reviews / May 25, 2013

The last completed work by one of the greatest English novelists, this book proves that Victorian literature need not be staid, conventional, and formulaic. In fact, it is such a daring and intricately-wrought book that even some avid readers my be intimidated by it. I won’t fib: it’s a big bite to chew. But it is also a mouthful of rare, delicate flavors, and nourishing to the mind and heart.

Book review: “Princeps’ Fury” by Jim Butcher
Book Reviews / May 19, 2013

In Book 5 of the “Codex Alera” series, young Tavi of Calderon, recently outed as Gaius Octavian—the grandson of Alera’s ruling First Lord Gaius Sextus, and thereby Princeps of the realm—faces a crisis in which the antagonistic races that populate his world must either come together or perish separately. At the same time, the question of who will succeed Gaius Sextus reaches a crucial climax that will only be resolved in Book 6, “First Lord’s Fury.”

Book review: “Captain’s Fury” by Jim Butcher
Book Reviews / April 8, 2013

Now, two years later, “Captain’s Fury” picks up the plot-line just in time for Tavi to be relieved from his command and move beyond his role as captain. And though Book 5 is titled “Princeps’ Fury”, it is in this book that Tavi is first recognized as the Princeps—i.e., the First Lord’s grandson and heir, rightly named Gaius Octavian. If I just surprised you, you’ve missed a lot and should go back to “Cursor’s Fury” before reading any further. Spoilers ahead!

Book review: “The Woman Who Died a Lot” by Jasper Fforde
Book Reviews / March 17, 2013

In book 3 of the second quartet of “Thursday Next” novels, we find Swindon U.K.’s greatest literary detective facing a vast array of mid-life challenges, such as controlling the residual pain in the leg she broke in her previous adventure, not being bitter when command of the newly re-organized Spec Ops literary division is handed to a younger agent, settling into a new career as director of the Wessex All You Can Eat at Fatso’s (Drink Not Included) Library Service, and having trouble remembering to visit the body-art parlor to ask why she got a tattoo reminding her that her daughter Jenny is a mind worm created by a super-villain able to tamper with people’s memories.

Book review: “The House of Silk” by Anthony Horowitz
Book Reviews / March 6, 2013

Horowitz builds his original “Holmes” novel on what must be an amazingly detailed knowledge of canon Holmes, organized so well that he makes it seem simple. Even though his narrator—Sherlock’s sidekick Dr. John Watson—admits that the present case is unlike any other that he has chronicled; even while he points out the limitations of the type of tidy detective stories represented by Conan Doyle’s work; even while he admits that in real life, the story of a crime does not end when a sleuth deduces who done it; even while the detecting duo explores a darker, drearier side of London life than Conan Doyle ever touched on—nevertheless the personality of this novel’s hero is distinctively “Holmes”.

Book review: “Ironside” by Holly Black
Book Reviews / March 5, 2013

Subtitled “A Modern Faery’s Tale”, this companion-book to “Tithe” and “Valiant” brings back characters from the previous two books in a climactic tale of magic, romance, court intrigue, and hard-hitting action. Once again, the Bright and Night Courts of Faerie collide against the urban backdrop of New York City and its down-and-out New Jersey suburbs. Once again, a spotlight shines on the spine-chilling side of fey creatures—the child-stealing, pain-dealing, backstabbing, amoral side of beings that are just like sociopathic killers except that they are unnaturally beautiful, they can’t endure the touch of iron, and they cannot lie. Fun, right?

Book review: “Ghost Story” by Jim Butcher
Book Reviews / February 28, 2013

Book 13 of (so far) 14 in “The Dresden Files” finds Harry Dresden—detective, wizard, guardian of all things Chicago—tasked with solving his own murder. It’s not easy, being dead. When you’re only a shade of your former self—an intangible, invisible, inaudible presence made up of memories, thoughts, and a pinch of will—there isn’t much you can do. Even with loads of raw magical power, you’re limited to spells that affect denizens of the spiritual world. Unless… well, there are a couple of exceptions. Having friends who can see (or at least hear) dead people, for example.