2013 has been a good year for feeding my book addiction. The majority of my reads have gone well and while many of the books were not from a new series I tried to branch out into the undiscovered whenever possible. However, there is only so much time for reading for those of us with everyday working lives so I remain true to my favourites.
Maybe you are now questioning why you should care what some random reviewer with access to Word and has to say about this year’s reading material? The simple answer is there is no particular reason you should but I like to talk, I am rather opinionated, but you never know where a good recommendation might come from…
If I’d had the time I would have liked to of reviewed each and every book I have read, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Thankfully others have the same love and passion and together we can complete the picture and bore you ad nauseam about why we love or hate a particular book.
This year my hits have been many, my misses few. There have also been some I have placed on the back burner, which will get a second chance even though the first read was a struggle.
Down to it then.
Good – Top picks first
Dodger by Terry Pratchett
One of the best Pratchett books I have read in many years and my top pick of 2013. Come one come all to the greatest city in the world. In London, all men are free, the streets are lined with gold and the naughty ladies are friendly to all.
“Pratchett has beautifully narrated Dodger. The story has been written in such a way you can feel the cobblestones under your feet as Dodger works his way around London; thankfully you don’t have to feel some other things described. The quality of the writing takes me back to discovering Terry Pratchett for the first time.”
Read my full Dodger review
The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
A very welcome surprise. My preconceived expectations of this story were blown out of the water. I went in preparing for the worst but it really came out as a cracker.
” I found the main characters and view to be engaging. The principle character, Bobby Dollar, is a nice balance of several characters types. If you have seen the movie or read the comics, you will find elements of Constantine, in his view of aspects of Heaven, Hell and Demons. I also found characteristics of Sandman Slim in the anthropomorphic depiction of demons and miscellaneous things that walk. Dresden is also in the mix in the elements of Bobby’s motivation and actions towards demons. Divine hero, wounded, beaten, and tired, out of his depth and trick but ever growing, evolving and becoming something more.”
Read my full The Dirty Streets of Heaven review
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Comic book superheroes that make Lex Luther look like a girl scout. In a world turned upside down, humanity struggles to survive. Great read, highly recommended.
“Strength, speed and immortality are a few of the Epics powers, but ridiculously stupid evil villain names like Conflux, Deathpointer, Pink Pinkness: I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. I say laugh as it’s got to be some strange homage to Stan Lee. I will be honest, I went into this book not expecting to like it and came out pleasantly surprised. Don’t dwell too long on some of the comic book silliness and you will be pleased.”
Read my full Steelheart review
Ender’s Game & Speaker of the Dead by Oscar Scott Card
There is not much I can add to this that already hasn’t already been said over the years. My usual literary bread and butter is fantasy and I don’t often venture into sci-fi however, with the talk of the upcoming movie I wanted to get the original story before the edited movie version. Once I finished the first book it was suffice to say I choose not to see the movie. This may be a little harsh but after watching the trailers and reading the reviews I knew too much had been amended to give a true representation of the story. The quality, complicity, and nuances of the books where lost. The concepts behind the need for Ender’s existence, his treatment and isolation where not, could not be a tale for a children’s movie. The realism, pain and gut crippling fear just wouldn’t be possible in a PG movie. I would urge anyone who has seen the movie and found it lacking to redeem the story by reading the book, you will not be left wanting.
Hunted by Kevin Hearne
Book six in the Iron Druid Chronicles. If you are into these books, you need no further explanation. It delivers everything the other books have previously; fast paced, magical, Gods and the ever impending doom of the Apocalypse. If you have read the series, get a move on – it’s great little read. Book one, Hounded, will drag you into a world of the Last Druid, Atticus O’Sullian, 2,100 years old but doesn’t look a day over 21. Old hatred doesn’t die for the Immortal Gods the Tuatha Dé Danann, hiding for centuries Atticus is tired of running and finally will face his enemies down.
Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey
Book four of the Sandman Slim novels. While not as gripping and engaging as the other three novels, Kadrey gives it a red-hot go. Older Gods from before time, supernatural squatters in abandoned shopping malls where the dead roam free. What could go wrong? If you have not come across the series before, have a read of the review for the first book, Sandman Slim, absolutely awesome.
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Book four of the Rivers of London series and Aaronovitch is still going strong. Layer upon layer is built and we begin to see a world build around Peter and the Folly Team. Laughs, action, betrayal and the realisation that the Faceless Man is fallible.
“You can’t go past the humour in these books, reading Peters attempts to use dog barks as scientific measurement in his research into magic and let’s not forget Molly’s learning to cook and everyone still going hungry. The times when magical ‘kick-assery’ is employed are absorbing and energizing; Nightingale coming to the rescue of Peter and Lesley, a cottage collapsing around him and walking out fixing his tie in one hand and dragging the bad guy with the other, very Bond. Laughs, action, betrayal and the magic woof-scale. What more can you ask for?”
Read my full Broken Homes review
Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
I was given this recommendation by my local bookmonger (which sounds better than just plain “guy in book store”). I wasn’t lead wrong: French revolution, mixed with guns and magic.
“Love, betrayal, swords, magic, muskets and Kresimir returned, there is trouble on the horizon for Tamas in book two. I will say this now, Tamas will die; he is going to sacrifice himself to the Kresimir to save the world or his son or both. I just can’t see another out outcome for him. Thankfully we are a while away from that, maybe I should say hopefully…”
Read my full Promise of Blood review
Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy
If you are this far down the rabbit hole you have to admit that your “dirty little secret read”. A fun, dark page-turner. Only one more book and it’s all done. If you haven’t read it, pick up book one and pretend your going to give it to the kids…
Cursed by Benedict Jacka
Book two of the series and Jacka really begins to add meat to the bones of the Alex Verus world, and slowly move away from the Dresden stereotype. Assassins, Magical Councils, Martial Arts and angry women – what more can you ask for?
“In ‘Cursed’ we are starting to build into the back story and get some legs behind the world of Alex Verus, it’s still verging on a Dresden story but we are staring to see some breakout individuality. The more I read, the more I enjoy and the more I want to read.”
Read my full Cursed review
Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams
Bobby Dollar crawls through Heaven and Hell for love and we follow him every step of the way. Great second installment.
“That aside, in book two we begin to delve more into heavenly and demonly (yes I know that is not a word) affairs. We are reminded that Bobby is a small fish in a big pond, mostly by himself. However, for such a small fish those in power are very interested. I am unsure if there is a hidden path for Bobby or if it’s just the depths of his abilities and determination flow from his forgotten history. I am currently favouring two options at the moment. One: Bobby is an Arch-Angel, disillusioned with Heaven and trying to regain some faith by doing some leg work on earth. Two: Bobby is actually a Fallen Angel who has been granted access to Heaven again. More than likely it’s neither, but it’s fun to guess.”
Read my full Happy Hour in Hell review
The Desert Spear by Brent Weeks
A great second installment in the Demon Trilogy. We begin to get the history behind Ahmann Jardir and Arlen. Betrayal, from those we love cuts that much deeper. Brent Weeks has provided us with a depiction of a man trying his best to help a world in fear by teaching them to help themselves. And a man who thinks he can save the world by strength and will alone.
Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
All of the Discworld feel but lacking in that quirkiness. In a universe of magic and anthropomorphised characters, steam power has come to Ankh-Morpork, hot, dangerous and alive. Raising Steam has all the elements of our Discworld favourites: Vimes, Vetinari, dwarfs but for me the spark was missing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book but I did walk away feeling it was a little lacking. Maybe I am still looking for that first Discworld hit, that pee in my pants, sniggering on the bus like a mad man while everyone is looking at you moment and maybe I should realise you can’t have that very time. Read and judge for yourself.
Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson
Death is a business and it runs in the family. Even when people die they need help. Help to let go and move on. Death Most Definite is a nice twist on the tale of death and the afterlife. Death is a business, broken down into regions, nice bite size pieces and business is good. When the people who facilitate death begin turning up dead themselves, the recently deceased are left stranded. A cataclysm is coming, someone wants promotion and nothing will get in their way. This is a great little read from a Brisbane local and I particularly liked the concept for the afterlife; death, recycling and the tree of life. Dark, funny and mythic.
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Cheesy, somewhat predictable modern fantasy with hard notes and a nice twist of a future, alternate world. Mages, monsters and necromancers abound the main character Kate is an underdog with teeth. Surprisingly fun little read, it won’t take up to much of your weekend.
Already Dead by Charlie Huston
Vampire fiction is not my usual could of tea but this was a recommendation and I decided to give it a go. You know how the story go, man becomes vampire, man BECOMES the vampire, man eventually see the errors of his ways and tries to redeem himself. In a city of vampire loyalty and divided territories, a single vampire walks a path of survival and maybe do a little good. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can’t have a heart. Don’t get me wrong here, he will rip the still beating beat from the chest of the bad guy, but he’ll feel bad about it.
Bad – Worst first
Prophecy’s Ruin by Sam Bowring
On the plus side was well-written and the story had legs. However, the characters where flat and a quarter of the way through, we still hadn’t progressed past the character build up and back-story.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I just don’t know what I was thinking – young adult drivel at it best. At least there aren’t any sparkly vampires. If you were a fan of Edward or Jacob, then this is for you.
Daylight War by Peter V Brett
I was really looking forward to the third installment in the Demon Cycle books. The first two books were very good, and while I can understand the concept Brett was trying to put across, it just didn’t work. In book one we had Arlen’s story, in book two we had Jardir’s and for book three we focus on Inevera’s story. The problem with this is that Inevera is not a relatable character. I developed no empathy for her or her back-story and while Inevera’s story depicts a harsh upbringing it was unmoving and dry, in the end I just put the book down half way through. I will most likely read about the book online before trying to progress to book four, I just hope that we don’t have to go through this Robert Jordan-esque character development again.
Magician’s End by Raymond E Feist
This one was bitter sweet for me, I didn’t want it to end but after the stretching of the plots over the last couple of books it was time. Magician’s End had so much potential, we could have really had a real tearjerker but Feist played it safe and as such it was all very deflating. It really shouldn’t be in the bad pile, maybe in the “to revisit”, but it could have been so much more. It deserved to be so much more.
“There is an old saying “whoever brought me here must also bring me home”. Feist brought us to Pug and Midkemia many years ago and has finally brought us home to an ending; unfortunately I am just not sure that it is an ending worthy of the life of Pug and the Midkemia Universe. When I read a series I have a tendency to not read the last novel, I guess I don’t want it to actually be over. Nevertheless, it felt like it was time to close the page on Pug (pun intended); I just wish it were more. In Magician’s End I found the plot to be lean, the sub-stories unconnected and I found no empathy or connection with a lot of characters laid out in the story.”
Read my full Magician’s End review
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
No need to shoot the messenger here (pun intended) and I am sure to get come flack for this, but I just couldn’t make myself like it. I just found the story too laborious, the characters to be monotonous and we just don’t seem to be going anywhere. Time and perspective are a great boon.
Clockwork Vampire Chronicles by Andy Remic
I will be honest: I found the story and world to be vivid and compelling, Remic has an excellent writing technique and makes the world jump out from the page. Unfortunately the characters did not. I am not sure if it was just my frame of mind but I felt they lacked a certain spark. I will sit on it for a while and give another go, as I can really see this being a very good series.