Showing posts with label Last Post of the Year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Last Post of the Year. Show all posts

Saturday, 31 December 2011

The 'Big, Fat End of the Year' Post!

And another year comes to an end in a flurry of genre related goodness... Well, not counting yesterday’s review but even that book wasn’t all bad so I’m still going to say that 2011 ended on a high reading wise :o)

2011 was a great year for reading, in my house, although once again there’s a caveat in that you could say that I didn’t take much of a risk with my reading. If 2011 was a year for anything, it was the year of ‘Life being too short to read anything other than the good stuff’. We’ll see if that changes next year...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the blog in 2011; whether it was to post a comment, answer some questions for an interview or set me straight when I hadn’t got my facts right. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and make this blog better than I ever could on my own :o) No thanks at all though to the spammers and spambots who seem to go to a lot of effort to leave comments that never get anywhere near the front page (or any other page for that matter). Guys, take a hint... please?

Like I said, 2011 has been a great year for reading and below is a list of all my favourite reads (complete with handy links to each review just in case you missed them). Apologies to Sykes, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, Martin, Erikson and the rest for not getting round to your books this year. I’ll give it my best shot to get them all read in 2012! :o)

So, list! Here goes (in no order whatsoever)...

‘Zoo City’ – Lauren Beukes (a worthy 'Arthur C. Clarke Award' winner)
‘The Damned Highway’ – Brian Keene & Nick Mamatas (superb)
‘Robopocalypse’ - Daniel H. Wilson
‘Low Town’ – Daniel Polansky
‘The Dragon’s Path’ – Daniel Abraham (can't wait for the sequel)
‘Never Knew Another’ - J.M. McDermott
‘Leviathan Wakes’ – James S.A. Corey (see 'The Dragon's Path')
‘Among Thieves' - Doug Hulick
'Theft of Swords' - Michael J. Sullivan (awesome 'old school' fantasy)
‘The Cold Commands’ – Richard Morgan
‘Manhattan in Reverse’ – Peter F. Hamilton (Hamilton is just as good at writing short stories as he is with the long stuff)
‘Blood Reaver’ – Aaron Dembski-Bowden (the king of Warhammer 40K fiction)
‘The Ritual’ – Adam Nevil
'Blood of Aenarion’ – William King
‘Salvation’s Reach’ – Dan Abnett
‘Dragonmage’ – Chris Wraight
‘The Outcast Dead’ – Graham McNeill
‘Sword of Vengeance’ – Chris Wraight
‘Stories for Nighttime and Some For the Day’ - Ben Loory (highly recommended, please read it)
‘The End Specialist’ – Drew Magary

If you’re looking for a good read then any of these should do the job I think :o)

Well that’s all for me this year, have a great last few hours of 2011 and I’ll see you all on the other side...

Friday, 31 December 2010

'It’s the End of the Year…'

And what an amazing year it’s been, certainly the best year for reading good books since I began the blog. I have to add a little caveat there though as the main reason the reading has been so good is that I’ve found myself deliberately gravitating towards the good stuff, rather than taking a chance, after Hope arrived. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year it’s that there’s only so much time in the day for reading at the moment and I’d rather make the best use of that time! This will probably be the case more often than not next year but you should still see me taking the occasional chance here and there with things that I wouldn’t normally try.

Still, a good book is a good book and there were plenty of them read this year. I listed my favourite zombie reads over Here, if you fancy a look but there were many more…

‘Surprise Find of 2010’ had to go to Guy Adams’ ‘The World House’ and considering I read this way back in February you can see that it blew the competition out of the water before the year had barely begun.  I said that ‘If there was ever a writer who could write in Technicolor it’s Guy Adams; his creations leap off the page at you and make you jump back in shock’. Never a truer word spoken I think, ‘The World House’ has lived in my head ever since and I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel ‘Restoration’.

Like I said, there were far too many good reads in 2010 for me to go and make a ‘Definitive Best of List’; there’s another reason as well but I’ll come to that in a second. Here though are a few that really stood out for me…

‘Farlander’ – Col Buchanan

February was a good month for reading! ‘Farlander’ mixed a well-conceived setting with a plot that threw up a climax that makes me go ‘what the f…’ even now.

‘The Third Bear’ – Jeff Vandermeer
Just thinking of this book sends a little shiver down my spine. Gorgeously weird and disturbing in equal measure.

‘The Body Snatchers’ – Jack Finney

A read that grew on me without my even realising it with a downbeat ‘happy’ ending that I would love to see more of in other books.

‘Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles’ – Michael Moorcock

A book that combined two of my favourite things in speculative fiction; that’s all I need to say really.

‘A Gathering of Crows’ – Brian Keene

I don’t know where Keene will be published next but what a book to (possibly) bow out on.

‘Salute the Dark’ – Adrian Tchaikovsky

I wasn’t sure where this series was going, quality wise, but this is the book that has ensured I’ll definitely be on board for the duration of the series.

‘The Bird of the River’ – Kage Baker

What a gorgeous read and a nice contrast to the grittier fantasy that’s in fashion at the moment, the fantasy genre is all the poorer for Baker’s absence.

2010 wasn’t just about the books I managed to read though… Demands on my time meant that I wasn’t able to get to all the others that I really wanted to read and it’s only fitting that some ‘photos of shame’ be included to mark the passing of a year when I didn’t read…

There are many reasons (excuses?) why I didn’t get round to reading all these books. Perhaps my first New Year’s Resolution should be to make these books priority reads for 2011…

That’s all for me this year. Have an amazing last day of 2010 and I’ll hopefully see you all again in 2011 :o)

Thursday, 31 December 2009

The ‘Big Fat End of the Year Post’ – 2009 Edition!

What’s big and fat and appears on the blog at the end of every year? You guessed it. Once more it’s time for me to wax lyrical about 2009 and all the reading that I’ve done... :o)

2009 has been perhaps the best year yet for the blog. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and checking out what’s going on (and that goes double for all the family members who I regularly coerce into multiple clicks on the site...)! Numbers and I don’t tend to get on so well so have a click on the ‘View My Stats’ link at the bottom of the page to get a better idea of what’s been going on over the course of the year.
As always, the plan for next year to give all you guys more of the same but better! An impending house move and a baby due in April are both going to do their level best to put a spanner in the works as far as that goes though. I don’t mind at all :o) Stick around and we’ll all find out what happens together!

Anyway, back to the books...

Despite certain ‘big hitters’ not delivering finished books (naming no names, we all know who they are...), 2009 was a great year for speculative fiction in my house! The year did have its fair share of stinkers as well but I’ve done my best to forget those. Have a click through the blog and see if you can find them...

Perfect reads were few and far between but they were well worth the read when I came across them! Joe Abercrombie’s ‘Best Served Cold' was the stand out fantasy read of the year for me (although there were a few others that could have been contenders which I never got round to...) It delivered on all fronts and just kept delivering, I’ll have more of the same next time round Mr Abercrombie!
I’m a big fan of Brian Keene’s work (so will admit to some bias) but this year he really stepped things up a gear and delivered his best work yet with 'Urban Gothic'. Compelling, scary as hell and a book that not only has plenty of gore but also contrives to rub your face right in the viscera. You won't catch me going into deserted houses now!
I’d never read Robert Holdstock’s ‘Mythago Wood’ and the release of ‘Avillion’ prompted me to go and give it a try. I’m glad I did, it was beautiful and fantasy fiction is very much the poorer for losing Holdstock so soon.

A few books just scraped the edges of brilliance but fell short for one reason or another. ‘The Sad Tale of the Brother’s Grossbart’ almost got there and so did 'Finch'. 'Cadian Blood' and 'Titanicus' did the Black Library proud and have got me looking forward to reading more by these two authors. Mike Carey’s 'The Naming of the Beasts' was his best outing yet for Felix Castor and promises great things for the next instalment.

As with other years, 2009 was about the books where I had no idea I would end up enjoying them so much. Jeremy de Quidt’s 'The Toymaker' was a surprise read that crept in at the end of the year (only a couple of weeks ago) and edged out S.A. Swann’s 'Wolfbreed' my surprise read of the year. Both were very good indeed.

Other notable 2009 reads for me (in no order whatsoever) were...

‘Lord of Silence’ – Mark Chadbourn (I can’t understand why more people aren’t talking about this book, it deserves all the praise it gets)

'Triumff' - Dan Abnett (an example of an author really enjoying telling his story)

'A Madness of Angels' - Kate Griffin (Urban Fantasy how it should be done, I’m looking forward to seeing more from Griffin)

Unseen Academicals - Terry Pratchett (the book that got me liking ‘Discworld’ again)

'Avilion' - Robert Holdstock (sits firmly in the shadow of ‘Mythago Wood’ but is excellent nevertheless)

'The Sword Edged Blonde' & 'Burn Me Deadly' - Alex Bledsoe (Raymond Chandler fantasy style. If you like either genre then you should check these out)

'Nights of Villjamur' - Mark Charan Newton (one of 2009’s most anticipated reads and for very good reason)

'The Cole Protocol' - Tobias Buckell (another example that there’s nothing wrong with tie-in fiction if it’s done well, it’s certainly done well here)

'501st' - Karen Traviss (Star Wars fiction at it's finest, what a shame that the final book has been cancelled)

'Death Troopers' - Joe Schreiber (Star Wars and Zombies, need I say more? Oh yeah, it’s scary too...)

'Blood Pact' - Dan Abnett (this man can’t keep out of my ‘Best of 2009’ post and it’s all well deserved)

'Burning Skies' - David J. Williams (Williams does everything that he did in ‘The Mirrored Heavens’ only this time his foot is firmly on the accelerator)

'Thicker than Water' - Mike Carey (only ‘The Naming of the Beasts’ stopped this one from featuring more prominently...)

As far as comic books go, 2009 was all about ‘The Goon’ but you knew that already... ;o)

That’s me for this year. See you all in 2010 when I do this all over again, but better! Have a good one tonight, whatever you're doing!

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Another Big Fat End of the Year Post...

Where did the year go? One minute it was there, I turn my back for a few seconds... and it's gone! And why doesn't a day spent at work go as quickly? Seriously, if anyone could tell me I'd be very grateful...

It's been a great year for the blog in terms of some of the stuff I got to have a look at as well as meeting new people (author interviews and readers who left comments next to the posts). Thanks to everyone who stopped by over the course of the year, I hope you liked what you saw and I'll do my level best to give you more of the same (and stuff that's even better hopefully!) in 2009.

Highlights? I love reading so in one sense the whole of 2008 has been a highlight as I've read so many cool books that I've really enjoyed. More on that in a bit... In terms of the blog itself though, I was very surprised (to say the least) when my review of 'Paul of Dune'(don't pick it up if you have any love at all for the original books) racked up an impressive 4,420 hits... That's almost enough to make me waver in my decision not to pick up another of these books! :o)

Anyway, back to those really cool books that I read. People have been posting their 'Best of 2008' lists and I've got in on the act over at The Book Smugglers and on the forums at SFFWorld. All of these books were great, as far as I was concerned, but I held a few back for inclusion here instead; mostly because these were the ones I enjoyed the most and wanted to gush about them here! :o)
Ready? Here goes...

I was hard pressed to choose a favourite read for 2008, R. Scott Bakker's The Judging Eye (look out for it next month) and Matthew Stover's Caine Black Knife came close but, in the end, it was this book that really did it for me...

Joe Abercrombie's Last Argument of Kings was nothing less than a superb ending to a superb trilogy, if you haven't read any of these books then that should be your first New Year's resolution for 2009 ;o) I'm looking forward to seeing what Joe comes up with next in 'Best Served Cold'.

As for the rest of them...

'Ravensoul' (James Barclay) - I didn't think I'd ever see the Raven again, after 'Demonstorm', but James brings them back in style. I couldn't put this one down.

'Shadowbridge' (Gregory Frost) - A gorgeously realised world of stories within stories within... you get the idea. This one had me gasping for the sequel 'Lord Tophet' before I had even finished it.

'The Tower of Fear' (Glen Cook) - A slightly older book than the rest but clear evidence of Cook writing at the top of his game.

'Bloodheir' (Brian Ruckley) - A worthy sequel to 'Winterbirth' that promises good things for the concluding volume 'Fall of Thanes'.

'Sly Mongoose' (Tobias Buckell) - It only needs three words to tell you why this particular book caught my eye (and is damn cool)... Zombies in Space! ;o)

'Iron Angel' (Alan Campbell) - I wasn't too keen on the first book, 'Scar Night', but 'Iron Angel' made me look at things in a completely new way. I'm looking forward to 'God of Clocks'.

'Order 66' (Karen Traviss) - If only George Lucas had got Karen Traviss involved when he was filming the prequels, that's all I'm saying...

'Agent to the Stars' (John Scalzi) - I don't think I read a bad book by Scalzi, this year, but this was the one that made me laugh the most.

That's all from me this year, work will be finishing soon and then I'll be off for dinner, drinks and fireworks with friends. Whatever you do, have a great one too :o)

Monday, 31 December 2007

The ‘Big Fat End of the Year’ Post!

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I was thinking to myself, “how’s about doing a book review blog…” All of a sudden it’s the end of the year and loads of cool stuff has happened. Whether you’re a first time viewer or a family member who has been coerced (into reading every single post I’ve ever written) into paying the site a visit I’d like to say thanks for stopping by, it was good to see you ;o) I hope you liked it, the aim for next year is to do the same thing all over again but even better this time!
Without turning this into some weird ‘awards acceptance speech’ (which it isn’t!) I just want to say a quick thanks to Pat and Robert for all the advice they gave me when I was getting started, cheers guys! ;o)


2007 has been a great year for sci-fi and fantasy, hasn’t it? I think it has, I’ve read some real rubbish but I’ve also read some great stuff that has really stayed with me afterwards. What’s that? You want to know what my ten favourite books have been from this year? Well… alright then! There’s a list below but you can also head over to the SFFWorld forums, for their end of year review, where I offered up a similar list. This one will be a bit different, purely because the SFFWorld lists were split up into sci-fi and fantasy so I had to choose from these genres. Fantasy was more my thing this year so you’ll see a bit more of that in this list! Also, this is a list of books I read this year so I’m not being picky about whether or not a book has been published.

Here goes…
Before They are Hanged – Joe Abercrombie (More of the same, but twice as good: just what I wanted and my Fantasy novel of the Year)

Acacia – David Anthony Durham (There was a lot of hype about this and having read the book I’d fully agree with it although I didn’t get on with all of the characters… My pick for Debut of the Year, Patrick Rothfuss may have something to say about that but I never got around to reading ‘The Name of the Wind’)

Dark Hollow – Brian Keene (I can’t say enough good stuff about Brian Keene, quite simply my favourite horror writer right now. I think this is the best book he has written, look out for it in 2008)

Auralia’s Colours– Jeffrey Overstreet (This was a real surprise find and a magical read, keep an eye open for this one as well)

Reaper’s Gale – Steven Erikson (Because I’m a big Malazan fan and this book had almost the level of emotional resonance as Memories of Ice. A book that leaves you gasping at the end.)

Black Man – Richard Morgan (I’d really gone off Richard Morgan’s more recent stuff but this book grabbed me by the throat and pulled me back in. I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes out of Morgan’s foray into fantasy…)

Inside Straight – George RR. Martin (I’d never read any Wild Cards books before and Inside Straight is forcing me to think again about this. Nine authors writing like one ‘uber-author’ is a real treat to read and I don’t think I’ve ever been so engrossed in the outcome of a reality TV show… Recommended reading, it’s that simple)

No Dominion/Half the Blood of Brooklyn - Charlie Huston (I couldn’t pick between these two books so I picked them both! This is how a vampire novel should be…)

The Lees of Laughter’s End – Steven Erikson (Another entry for Mr Erikson. He doesn’t just write epic fantasy, he does comedy too and it’s bloody funny)

The Ivory and the Horn – Charles de Lint (I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy but I will be looking for more books by Charles de Lint. Stunning stuff)

So there you have it, my list for 2007. What will 2008 bring? I’ll be sporting a rather fine hangover and frostbite from standing in Trafalgar Square tonight… Have a good one, whatever you’re doing, and I’ll see you next year!