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Yearly Review Round up 2014


Yearly Review Round up 2014

Over the last week I have posted my favorite books of 2014, below you can find the complete list of all the books that I have nominated. I read a lot of good books and hope that 2015 will see the same!

Many festive cheers,
Jasper

Best Books
 - The Emperor's Blade by Brian Stavely, Tor
- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, HarperVoyager/AceRoc
- Lock in by John Scalzi, Gollancz
- Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, Tor
- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, Orbit 


Best Debut

- The Emperor's Blade by Brian Stavely, Tor
- The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs, Gollancz
- The Boy With the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick, Gollancz
- A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin, Bantam Press
- Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell, Jo Fletcher



Best Epic Fantasy
- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, HarperVoyager
- Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press/Tor
- Blood Will Follow by Snorri Kristjansson, Jo Fletcher
- Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, Gollancz
- Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz/Tor



Best Urban Fantasy
- Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, Tor
- Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock, Jo Fletcher
- The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher, Orbit
- The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig, Angry Robot
- Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams, Hodderscape



Best Military Fiction
- Seal Team 666: Reign of Evil by Weston Ochse, Titan
- Control Point by Myke Cole, Headline
- American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle, Tor
- Andromeda's Choice by William C. Dietz, Titan
- The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher, Titan/Tor



Best Science Fiction
- The Forever Watch by David Ramirez, Hodderscape
- Binary by Stephanie Saulter, Jo Fletcher
- The Causal Angel by Hanny Rajaniemi, Gollancz/Tor
- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, Orbit
- Lock in by John Scalzi





Best Alternate History
- Blood will Follow by Snorri Kristjansson, Jo Fletcher
- Age of Iron by Angus Watson,Orbit
- The Emperor's Knives by Anthony Riches, Hodder and Stoughton
- A Plunder of Souls by D.B. Jackson, Tor
- The Black Stone by Nick Brown, Hodder and Stoughton



Best Horror
- The Girl with all the Gift by Mike Carey, Orbit
- Revival by Stephen King, Hodderscape
- The Three by Sarah Lotz, Hodderscape
- Murder by Sarah Pinborough, Jo Fletcher
- Parasite by Mira Grant, Orbit



Best Young-Adult
- MetaWars: Freedom Frontier by Jeff Norton, Orchard Books
- The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler, Doubleday Childrens
- Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, Delacorte/Gollancz
- Half a King by Joe Abercrombie, HaperVoyager
- Red Rising by Pierce Brown, Hodderscape



Best Steampunk
- Once Upon a Time in Hell by Guy Adams, Solaris
- The Bullet-Catchers Daughter by Rod Duncan, Angry Robot
- Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett, Tor
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, Tor
- Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, Double Day  



Best Detective
- Murder by Sarah Pinborough, Jo Fletcher
- The Curse of the House of Foskett by MRC Kasasian, Head of Zeus
- Retribution by Mark Charan Newton, Tor
- The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell, Tor
- Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall, Titan 



Best First in Series (no debut!)
- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, HarperVoyager
- The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher, Orbit
- Willful Child by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press/Tor
- Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz
- Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press/Tor



Best Short Fiction
- Unlocked by John Scalzi, Tor.com
- The Messenger by Mark Charan Newton, Tor
- A Spell of Vengeance by D.B. Jackson, Tor.com
- Sleeping Beauty by Mark Lawrence, HarperVoyager
- Forsworn by Brian McClellan, Orbit




 

Best Books of 2014

Best Books of 2014


So it has finally come down to the list of lists. The Best Books of 2014. I read many different kind of books this year, all my friends and family said I read way to much... and I always reply with: there is always more to read! It was really hard to make this final list, in many different subgenre I read some ace books. After a lot of contemplation I have made this final list. 

Just as last year where Emperor of Thorns made the list as well, Mark Lawrence once again made it on my yearly favorites list. Prince of Fools, the first book in The Red Queen's War was released this summer and with this book Mark Lawrence proofs that he is far from a one time success with his The Broken Empire series. Prince of Fools takes place within the same universe of his first series but focuses on a completely different protagonist Jalan. The Broken Empire gave the gritty grimdark setting and a dark protagonist, in Prince of Fools, Mark Lawrence shows the story is a bit more funnier and humurous way making Jalan more of a joker. This doesn't take away that the setting of the story is pretty dark at times. The narration of the story is just as what you have come to expect of Mark, you are directly taken up in the story and not let go off. With this first book he is once again off to an amazing start.

Lock in is the second book that I have read from John Scalzi. I know he is a well known sci-fi author and only read his Old Man's War book prior to Lock in. The thing that drew me the most to Lock in was the combination of both the synopsis and what I read in the short story published on tor.com, Unlocked, the prequel/introduction to Lock in. Science Fiction is a genre that is very diverse, anything can happen, what I like a lot about Science Fiction is when author write on the border of our capabilities. This is what I found in Lock in. John Scalzi broaches the fact of a modified virus that locks people into their own bodies. With all the attention that the bird flu and swine flue had received and virus jumping species this comes really close. Added to this John Scalzi explores the societal aspect that comes along with it. This books will make you thinks twice on how to act.

Just as with Mark Lawrence, Max Gladstone also made my list last year. His Craft Sequence is just utterly cool and something unseen heretofore in Urban Fantasy. Full Fathom Five is the third book in the Craft Sequence following up on Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise. With each book Max Gladstone manages to surprise amaze and awe me. The idea behind his series, gods, lawyers, gargoyles and penitents all thrown in a weird mix paid off from the first book and continues to pay off. The books in this series aren't written in a chronological order but there are bits and pieces that fall in to place and you start to connect. As you delve deeper into this series it only gets better and better. Last First Snow, the fourth book is due to be released next year!

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Well do you have an hour for me to say just how awesome this book is? I never heard of Claire North and did a lot of google searches to find out who Claire North was... none gave any extra information. Then I got a press release saying that Claire North was the pseudonym of Catherine Webb who also writes under Kate Griffin her urban fantasy series of Matthew Swift and Magicals Anonymous which both rock. well that aside. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was one of Orbit's biggest Science Fiction releases this year. In essence this story is about immortality. thinks of when you die, you wake up at the same time and date of when you were originally born BUT with all the memories that you made in the life previous. EVERYTIME. You could amass amazing wealth as you know just what will happen in the stock markets. Though on first this sounds cool, there are also limitations as you could have a very high impact on changing history. So as a wise man has said. With great power comes great responsibility. And this is something that is highlighted in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry Augustus. This is a time travel story but Claire North explores a lot of boundaries of human life; actions, morale, virtues and vices. 

This year I read Brian Staveley's debut and when I finished it I sat for a while recounting everything that happened. In Epic Fantasy it is hard to come up with new things, new elements to show and idea's to bring to the reader. The Emperor's Blade has all this and much more. It uses a few classical elements to build it story but the surroundings all make this story very unique. Military system with the amazing Ketteral birds, magic users that are to be feared and held in awe. The story is divided into three different points of view, the three children of the Emperor each has their own vices and virtues and expertise. In these three characters Valyn, Kaden and Adare, Brian Staveley has created very humane, emotional and relatable characters. The sequel is out this coming January, if it is just as a success as The Emperor's Blades, Brian Staveley is the next big thing. Trust me. 

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- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, Ace/Roc, HarperVoyager
So the bottom line. Prince of Fools is one AWEsome read, what else if there to say? Mark Lawrence had already established himself as one of the genre writers on the rise and he done so again with his new series: The Red Queen's War and the first entry Prince of Fools. He further proves that his writing wasn't a one time deal, Prince of Fools is just as solid in writing and has just as an interesting storyline  and concept as his earlier stories, what adds even more to Mark Lawrence's skill is that he has written a completely different story than that of Jorg, nicely diversifying his repertoire and adding a few extra layers to his Broken Empire universe. Jalan and Snorri are both great protagonists that despite the flaws in their characters make up for a great time and readily pull the story forwards. Being set in the same time frame as that of Jorg's story I can imagine that it must have been hard writing a story that takes place in the same time with a bit of an common enemy and character that appear of both story but Mark Lawrence pulls this off as it should. Top notch. Where magic was mostly in the background of Jorg's series, in Jalan's part it takes on a more prominent role. Just as when I finished each book of the Broken Empire series, I need the sequel NOW! period. Prince of Fools is set out to be released 5th of June. Make this your summerread guys and girls, it really is that good. There isn't any info yet about the sequel, I have my fingers crossed for next year hopefully.

Read the full review here

- Lock in by John Scalzi, Tor, Gollancz
I think you can make up from the glowing review I am writing here that John Scalzi's Lock In is just brilliant stuff that you don't want to miss out on. From the first sentence I read of Unlocked I was hooked line and sinker to the idea behind Lock In. John Scalzi presents his idea in full colors and has created a very dangerous and dire setting, it's not only a story that focuses on the virus alone or it's consequences alone or how society is dealing with it, it is much more than those parts alone. It's a detective kind of story that combines all of the above mentioned aspects in a brilliant story. Besides the world, the two lead investigators, Shane and Vann are just as unique to read about, they offer some interesting perspectives that help bring this story to another level. You can see that I write brilliant a lot and it is justified, this book only get better the more you think about it. Now I had a quick peek on Goodreads and it says Lock In #1, will this be a series?? Fingers crossed! But in the mean I suggest you start reading this book. Right about. now.   

Read the full review here

- Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, Tor

Just one last thing that I do have to mention is the world building. Max Gladstone keeps on intriguing and provoking me to think about his world. Can you say that it is a mash-up of Epic Fantasy and Science Fiction or is it pure Urban Fantasy? It has influences of all three of them. There is the Craft, the magic system in series, the huge cities that are ruled by either Gods or Kings, the technology used in the series gives the Science Fiction vibe a nice swing. But you also have the laywer business and necromantic firms that gives more of an Urban Fantasy feeling to the story. Added to this come a lot of other things like the Gargoyles, Penitents and many many others. In building his world Max Gladstone doesn't let one detail to be overlooked and his writing style readily paints those very vivid images of the scenes that take place in the book, but more over he steps over several worldy boundaries that have been set in fantasy.

Full Fathom Five is another winner for me and I just cannot get enough of the Craft Sequence. As I said with Two Serpents Rise these book are just over to soon. From the beginning of the Full Fathom Five I was glued to the pages and just couldn't let go. The characters really grown on you and they, as I have come to learn from the other protagonists in the series, far from your standard cardboard cut outs, Max Gladstone invests a lot of time in creating the right set of characters and showing that they grow as the story progresses.

In a recent guest post that Max Gladstone wrote for the blog you can find out more about how he took nonfiction as an influence to building his world 


By the by, you can read a pretty cool announcement here

Read the full review here

- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, Orbit
With The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, the anonymous author Claire North (pseudonym of a well known author), creates a stunning and genre-defying entry in science fiction. I don't know if this is her first science fiction book but is good. It's solid. In short it's brilliant. From start to finish I was absorbed in the story. Claire North carefully plans her story from the initial setup with the trigger of "Let us begin at the beginning" wherein she explained all the previous events of Harry's lives and eventually the young girl that appears on his deathbed, which leaves only Harry to save the world from imminent doom, was plotted into the finest detail. Through all the experiences of Harry, you as a reader learn a lot of the rules that apply and again these are brought very casually and not as an information dump. Here the narration really helps as gradually you learn more and more, creating a very engaging storyline. Though the focus is really on Harry himself there are plenty of secondary characters, most of them kalachakra, that each stand out, the interplay between Harry and Victor was shown in a great way and even though Victor was the bad guy in this part, I did feel for him. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is much more than a simple time travel story. Claire North explores a lot of boundaries of human life; actions, morale, virtues and vices. I can safely say that this is another book that will make it on my best off 2014 list in December! What are you waiting for go. read. this. book. 

Read the full review here

- The Emperor's Blade by Brian Stavely, Tor

Brian Staveley writes up a very strong opening in a new and exciting series and the fact that this is his debut makes him even more of an author to watch out for! The Emperor's Blades is an awesome book that is already a heavy contender for a best of 2014 list come this December. it has everything that you seek when you read and Epic Fantasy story, from great, relatable characters all throughout the solid storyline, interesting environments and a lot of pretty darn cool action! It has in some parts relation to young adult storyline but i think it is more suited for an older audience. I was hooked from the first page and I hope to see the release of the sequel soon, this is one of those books that leaves you needing more.  

Read the full review here

Best Epic Fantasy of 2014

Best Epic Fantasy

When you tell that you are a big fantasy reader people always ask me if I like Lord of the Rings, I say yes. But from this question you can see that a lot of people automatically associate the fantasy genre with Epic Fantasy. In essence Epic Fantasy has rules and regulations and is a genre that many authors have ventured into, with good and sadly sometimes also bad results. However the current books that are published in this genre all have something interesting working for them. They are and aren't comparable to Lord of the Ring, yes that have the same elements but the writing style is much more from our time. The authors below are helping to breath new air into this age old genre. Mark Lawrence's Prince of Fools, is the sort of continuation sort of not continuation of his The Broken Empire series which he finished last year, creating a new protagonist that is flawed and an cowered, but taking place in the Jorg era, his writing style is super. Forge of Darkness is the "spin-of" series to the Malazan Empire of the Fallen series of Steven Erikson, taking place well before the original series and showing the perspectives of the ancient races. Blood Will Follow shows a very strong turn of events, I liked the direction that Snorri Kristjansson ventured into. From the first book of Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora, he has created a very strong world with some exotic influences, one of the best things in this books is powerplay of magic through the bondsmagi which is a very fresh interpretation of a magic system. Talking about magic systems, one of the best crafstmen of current Epic Fantasy is Brandon Sanderson and his Stormlight Archive, this is perhaps the best example of rewriting the rules of Epic Fantasy.

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- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, HarperVoyager

So the bottom line. Prince of Fools is one AWEsome read, what else if there to say? . Mark Lawrence had already established himself as one of the genre writers on the rise and he done so again with his new series: The Red Queen's War and the first entry Prince of Fools. He further proves that his writing wasn't a one time deal, Prince of Fools is just as solid in writing and has just as an interesting storyline  and concept as his earlier stories, what adds even more to Mark Lawrence's skill is that he has written a completely different story than that of Jorg, nicely diversifying his repertoire and adding a few extra layers to his Broken Empire universe. Jalan and Snorri are both great protagonists that despite the flaws in their characters make up for a great time and readily pull the story forwards. Being set in the same time frame as that of Jorg's story I can imagine that it must have been hard writing a story that takes place in the same time with a bit of an common enemy and character that appear of both story but Mark Lawrence pulls this off as it should. Top notch. Where magic was mostly in the background of Jorg's series, in Jalan's part it takes on a more prominent role. Just as when I finished each book of the Broken Empire series, I need the sequel NOW! period. Prince of Fools is set out to be released 5th of June. Make this your summerread guys and girls, it really is that good. There isn't any info yet about the sequel, I have my fingers crossed for next year hopefully.

Read the full review here
 
- Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press/Tor

With Forge of Darkness, Steven Erikson single handily shows that he is one of the major voices currently writing fantasy. I have enjoyed his Malazan series with full pleasure and Forge of Darkness is just the same. It's a terrific read and I cannot say this too often but if you are a fantasy reader you really have to have read his books, or go stand in a corner and shame on you! Forge of Darkness takes the reader back about 300.000 years before the first book Gardens of the Moon, and tells the story on how the Tiste lands are on the brink of war and how corrupt and backstabbing they can be, having had the pleasure of this revisit I got many of my questions answered but what would a great author be if he wouldn't raise me tenfold! This is definitely another winner. Fall of Light, the second book in the Kharkanas Trilogy is out 2015! write it down in your agenda!! 

Read the full review here

- Blood Will Follow by Snorri Kristjansson, Jo Fletcher

Swords of Good Men was a very solid debut, and with Blood Will Follow Snorri Kristjansson has really outdone himself. I do have to say that the tone in Blood Will Follow is different from what I read in Swords of Good Men, where there was first a lot of action, Snorri Kristjansson now slows down the pacing of the story and takes him times to completely develop the premise of his story. But just as what I have come to learn from the first book, there is never a dull moment in the story. For this development of both the story and the characters Snorri Kristjansson took an interesting approach that made them grow in their own way giving you as a reader much more grip on them. Adding the third perspective from Valgard added a lot of new possibilities which I am eager to see how Snorri Kristjansson will develop in the third book. And just lastly Snorri Kristjansson shows Vikings are pretty damn awesome! Bring on the next, I am hooked. 

Read the full review here

- Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, Gollancz

The Republic of Thieves is a terrific read that further roots down the Gentlemen Bastard series on it's rightful place for me as one of the best fantasy series that I have come across. It is for these kind of books that I read fantasy. Of course a book stand and falls by how the author executes his story but for me Scott Lynch hasn't faltered any moment in any of his books so far. They are fresh, original and a lot of fun to read. Where the first two book really build-up the story and the world of the Gentlemen Bastard series, The Republic of Thieves starts to explore much of the early presumed events making the series that much more dynamic. Characterwise and story wise The Republic of Thieves is rock solid and a lot of readers will enjoy that finally the enigmatic character of Sabetha is explored in more detail. Plotwise you will be in for a lot of surprises. This is a series where the books, eventhough they are 600+ pages are just over too soon. The Thorn of Emberlain will be released in November later this year, but with already three strikes in a row I know the fourth book will be just as great and luckily no wait of a few year just a few months... but they will start to feel that way very soon... 

 Read the full review here

- Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz/Tor

With Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson greatly builds up on the success of its predecessor The Way of Kings. What I have come to learn from his writing is that if you pick up one of his books you are in for a ride. Brandon Sanderson writes with a clear confidence and utterly engaging writing style, one that will pull you in from the first page onwards and doesn't let you go when you finish page 1000. The best thing here is that even though his books are tomes and would make for an excellent blotting weight, they don't feel like 1000 pages, more on the contrary, he makes them seem 300 pages and when you finish Words of Radiance you will be screaming for more. It's all over to soon, sadly. One important thing when it comes to sequel is to not let the story falter and this is exactly what Brandon Sanderson shows. He keeps everything exciting and on one hand greatly builds on the world that he had introduced in The Way of Kings, but also keeps on expanding and adding new things to his world. This gives a nice boost to the worldbuilding itself and overall character development. Brandon Sanderson has answered a few question regarding the world and characters in Words of Radiance but as any great storyteller he has raised many and many more. And just as with his predecessor he lets Words of Radiance end on a cliffhanger moment again with the Wit. I really start to enjoy reading about the Wit and I know there must be more to what we have seen so far... could he be a higher entity?? The next book in the Stormlight Archive named Skybreaker has a expected publication in 2015 and will focus on Szeth, YES!! Because stuff happened to him in Words of Radiance that explains some answers! As for the bottom line: pick up this series or... well you will be missing out on one of the best epic fantasy series ever, you don't want make that mistake trust me.  

Read the full review here

Best Science Fiction of 2014

Best Science Fiction

The future is closer than you think. Are there boundaries? Where is our world going too? Will there be a technology rush or will we succumb to our own inventions, will robots or AI take over for good? These are some of the aspects that are discussed in Science Fiction, but of course with every subgenre there is always more. What I like most about Science Fiction are the daring stories, stories that closely resemble our own reality and where authors have introduced several scenarios of possible futures. When author take examples of our current technology and translate them into possible happenings I think that the whole setting comes even more to justice as I then I always think the question just what if? David Ramirez's The Forever Watch is a very interesting start, imagine a ship that seeks new planet to live on. In the depths of this spaceship much more is going on than what meets the normal unsuspected eye. Its a powerful and evocative story with a hauntingly twist. Binary by Stephanie Saulter is the direct sequel to her outstanding debut Gemsign. The human society has been divided into norms and gems norm being the normal human and gems are modified humans, genetically engineered. Besides this science aspect, Stephanie Saulter writes a very emotional story about the perception and societal difference associated with being a gem or norm. The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi is the conclusion to the Jean Le Flambeur series. I am going to be honest, The Causal Angel isn't for everyone. Hannu Rajaniemi involves mathematical models in his story telling which does make it a hard read BUT most rewarding in the end. Accessing multiple universes and much more in his story makes it utterly intriguing. One of the biggest Orbit released this year was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (the pseudonym of Catherine Webb). What if you could life endlessly? Returning when you die to the say that you were born and live your life once over? This is exactly the case for Harry. But where many would see the direct benefits a lot more comes looking around the corner, as not everyone is using this unique trait fairly. Some are after ultimate power... Lock In by John Scalzi is well brilliant. John Scalzi plays very well into the fears of society. A modified flu, unknown origin, decimates society. As inventive as humans are they are able to come up with a solution, however this is just the start. This flu caused a division amongst society similar to the emotional side in Binary. Now with in between this all, a locked in person and a healthy human have to team up to solve a serious murder. 

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- The Forever Watch by David Ramirez, Hodderscape

With The Forever Watch, David Ramirez creates a powerful and unique entry into the dystopian science fiction genre. I am always on the look for books that have a heavy science influence,being a scientist myself it is something that I really enjoy reading about. I have encountered a few wherein the author itself had facts checked by people in the field, but David Ramirez was able to use his own background when setting up this story, and I have to say I was very impressed with the ideas he brought to life. For some readers it might seem like another fiction story but our technology is advancing as well... What makes The Forever Watch even better is that it is David Ramirez's debut, and he hits all the right snares: an interesting, unpredictable story, well developed characters and an amazingly rich storyline. The Forever Watch is a rich and evocative story, is has many dark influences and in the end everything comes together producing an hauntingly beautiful story. Definitely recommended.

Read the full review here


- Binary by Stephanie Saulter, Jo Fletcher

Just as with her debut, Gemsigns, Stephanie Saulter creates a powerful entry in the science-fiction genre with Binary. She never stopped surprising me with her twists and turns that were riddled all throughout the story. What Stephanie Saulter managed to do in Gemsigns, exploring both the science of science fiction and a heavy emotional side with the gem and norm society, she does so again in Binary and perhaps even better. Given the fact that Aryel character and the relation to Zacka is explored in much more depth. Great characters and a superb storyline that will make you stop and wonder. If you are looking for a unique concept in science-fiction, get the revolution series. You wont go wrong. 

Read the full review here

- The Causal Angel by Hanny Rajaniemi, Gollancz/Tor

The Causal Angel is the best yet in the Jean Le Flambeur series. From the start of the series in The Quantum Thief Hannu Rajaniemi dared something new and defied most of the rules of the current science fiction genre. Creating a complete new set of rules with his hard wired science science fiction space opera. There are some concepts in the books that took me sometime to fully grasp or look up to what the theories really mean but I am always in for a challenging read and what made these books even better for me is the limited explanation of several of the technology that Hannu Rajaniemi uses in his story, this readily allows you to think for yourself that what it all could mean. In The Causal AngelHannu Rajaniemi again hits all the right spots, the characters and the rich and interesting surroundings from the spaceships down to the vir's. The bottom line for The Causal Angel and the Jean Le Flambeur series: it's evocative and can be mind-bogglingly at times but this creates a highly addictive air around it, and once you get through to the fine details you will be amazed. This is must read science fiction.   

Read the full review here

- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, Orbit

With The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, the anonymous author Claire North (pseudonym of a well known author), creates a stunning and genre-defying entry in science fiction. I don't know if this is her first science fiction book but is good. It's solid. In short it's brilliant. From start to finish I was absorbed in the story. Claire North carefully plans her story from the initial setup with the trigger of "Let us begin at the beginning" wherein she explained all the previous events of Harry's lives and eventually the young girl that appears on his deathbed, which leaves only Harry to save the world from imminent doom, was plotted into the finest detail. Through all the experiences of Harry, you as a reader learn a lot of the rules that apply and again these are brought very casually and not as an information dump. Here the narration really helps as gradually you learn more and more, creating a very engaging storyline. Though the focus is really on Harry himself there are plenty of secondary characters, most of them kalachakra, that each stand out, the interplay between Harry and Victor was shown in a great way and even though Victor was the bad guy in this part, I did feel for him. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is much more than a simple time travel story. Clair North explores a lot of boundaries of human life; actions, morale, virtues and vices. I can safely say that this is another book that will make it on my best off 2014 list in December! What are you waiting for go. read. this. book. 

Read the full review here 

- Lock in by John Scalzi

I think you can make up from the glowing review I am writing here that John Scalzi's Lock In is just brilliant stuff that you don't want to miss out on. From the first sentence I read of Unlocked I was hooked line and sinker to the idea behind Lock In. John Scalzi presents his idea in full colors and has created a very dangerous and dire setting, it's not only a story that focuses on the virus alone or it's consequences alone or how society is dealing with it, it is much more than those parts alone. It's a detective kind of story that combines all of the above mentioned aspects in a brilliant story. Besides the world, the two lead investigators, Shane and Vann are just as unique to read about, they offer some interesting perspectives that help bring this story to another level. You can see that I write brilliant a lot and it is justified, this book only get better the more you think about it. Now I had a quick peek on Goodreads and it says Lock In #1, will this be a series?? Fingers crossed! But in the mean I suggest you start reading this book. Right about. now.   

Read the full review here

Media Alert: Pan Macmillan to publish a new exciting trilogy!



PAN MACMILLAN BUYS NEW TRILOGY IN THE TRADITION OF JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL
 
Pan Macmillan is delighted to report the acquisition of Sorcerer to the Crown by debut novelist Zen Cho. Senior Commissioning editor Bella Pagan bought UK and Commonwealth rights in this novel and two others by Cho from Penguin US. And this book generated a great deal of excitement, with auctions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Zen Cho’s creation is an irresistible combination of Georgette Heyer and Susanna Clarke, with a pinch of fairyland in a brilliantly-drawn Regency London setting. With the BBC TV series of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell due in 2015, enthusiasm for this type of fiction will be running high.

In the novel, Cho draws us in with charismatic protagonists and sparkling plotting. Here Zacharias Wythe is England's first African Sorcerer Royal. But a faction schemes to remove him from his position by fair means or foul. He must also contend with the Fairy Court refusing to grant Britain the magical resources it needs and with pernicious rumours that he murdered his predecessor. However, his most outrageous problem yet is a female magical prodigy. Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life. Now things are looking up – as she has just stumbled upon English magic's greatest discovery in centuries.

Zen Cho said:I'm delighted that the book has found such a wonderful home in the UK. It's a great honour to join Pan Macmillan's fantastic list, and I know they will do a fabulous job of orchestrating Zacharias and Prunella's debut in society!’
Malaysian author Zen Cho lives in London and she is already building a name for herself. She was on a number of speaking panels at London’s Nine Worlds convention last year. She’s also had short stories published and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. 

Pagan shared her enthusiasm, saying:  Sorcerer to the Crown is warm, clever and witty. I just adored the characters, their dilemmas and the lively world Zen Cho has created. It’s very special and I just can’t wait to share this wonderful book with as many readers as possible’.

Author Naomi Novik is already a big fan of the book, also finding it ‘an enchanting cross between Georgette Heyer and Susanna Clarke, full of delights and surprises.’
Pan Macmillan will be publishing Sorcerer to the Crown in Autumn 2015, with the two sequels to follow in due course.

Best Urban Fantasy of 2014

Best Urban Fantasy books

What I normally say when it comes down to Urban Fantasy is that it comes in many different shapes and sizes. Urban Fantasy must be one the most diverse genre out there. Ever since seeing the movie Blade being introduced to vampires and the other supernatural side of the world but I never came across a crucial part in many Urban Fantasy stories, the urban sorcerer in movies. Luckily for me there are many books that have an emphasis on this aspect. The books below cover a lot of ground within the rich urban environment. Max Gladstone's Full Fathom Five is the third book in the ground and genre breaking Craft Sequence, really provocative. Tom Pollock's Our Lady of the Streets is edge of your seat Urban Fantasy, Gods and magic where you just can't get enough off. The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher was something quite extraordinary, featuring a Urban Fantasy story heavily inspired by the Gothic scene, haven't read about this before very nice. Chuck Wendig's The Blue Blazes, probably owed to Chuck's writing but this is a down in your face kind of story powerful story. Sleeping Late on Judgement Day well what can I say... this is just plain awesome stuff a very cool usage of the ever going battle of heaven and hell and the area in between. 
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- Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, Tor


Full Fathom Five is another winner for me and I just cannot get enough of the Craft Sequence. As I said with Two Serpents Rise these book are just over to soon. From the beginning of the Full Fathom Five I was glued to the pages and just couldn't let go. The characters really grown on you and they, as I have come to learn from the other protagonists in the series, far from your standard cardboard cut outs, Max Gladstone invests a lot of time in creating the right set of characters and showing that they grow as the story progresses.

In a recent guest post that Max Gladstone wrote for the blog you can find out more about how he took nonfiction as an influence to building his world 


By the by, you can read a pretty cool announcement here

Read the full review here

- Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock, Jo Fletcher

Our Lady of the Streets is a pitch perfect ending to a brilliant series. The third book lets everything that was proposed in the first two books collide in a heavy way. Giving this time not a strong focus on either Beth or Pen but putting both in the spotlight. THere is only one thing left for them and that is stopping Mater Viae from ripping apart London and if she succeeds the rest of the world. Bam! Who would have dared to guess this would be the ending of the story? When I read the first book I hadn't dared to think that the story would end this way. Tom Pollock's vision of an Urban Fantasy London is a unique setting and not many authors have managed to grip with their series as The Skyscraper Throne has. The wide imagination that Tom Pollock has comes back in the creatures that he uses to inhabit his world and though they are far from normal, their are weird and not at all mainstream, you won't put them off as a simple imaginary beings, you will be taking these creatures deadly serious, Tom Pollock's writing style will make sure you do this from the first introduction. With The Skyscraper Throne Tom Pollock has created an exceptional and remarkable, action-packed series and it turned out to be quite the emotional rollercoaster as well. I will be definitely be keeping a close eye on the next project that Tom Pollock will write about next. If this is his debut series, I wanna see what else he can do!  

Read the full review here 
 

- The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher, Orbit

I think you can pretty much make up that I thoroughly enjoyed The Oversight, Charlie Fletcher has created a very solid entry withing the Urban Fantasy genre, one that will knock some books of their pedestals. I haven't read Charlie Fletcher's Young Adult series so I can't draw a comparison on that front, but the writing that he shows in The Oversight is engrossing to say the least, from the first page you will be sucked into the story and he just won't let you go to take a break, it's highly addictive. The strong narration combined with the engrossing world and intriguing characters definitely make The Oversight a winner for me. If you are still looking for a vacation read be sure to pack this one in your bag. Charlie Fletcher leaves the story of The Oversight on an interesting premise, we have seen some of the necessary details of the many different characters, but a lot of questions have been raised. The Oversight is a solid foundation, one that Charlie Fletcher can readily use to write a sequel, can't wait to dive into it.    

Read the full review here

 
- The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig, Angry Robot

The Blue Blazes is a book where you will first say WOW what the hell is going and will secondly make your mouth drop and gape in awe with how powerful a story Chuck Wendig wrote. And thirdly you will wonder "Did he really just do that!?". It's great stuff guys if you are into reading Urban Fantasy this is definitely not a book that you want to miss out. The Blue Blazes has a great protagonist well fleshed out on many different fronts, not only the hard-ass from the beginning but with a softside as well. The secondary characters like Nora, Ernesto and Skelly are similarly like the main protagonist well rounded and versed. Added to this is the amazingly rich world with many aspects still to be uncovered. The plot twist in the end of the book was very neatly executed, raising a lot of promise for the sequel. I heard that Chuck Wendig wrote quite a few books last year but this didn't slow down The Blue Blazes at all. The whole book is really brought to life by the writing style that he employs, its part to the point and in your face but a true pleasure to read. In the end of The Blue Blazes it comes to show that Mookie's problems haven't completely disappeared... I have very high hopes for The Hellsblood Bride. 

Read the full review here 

- Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams, Hodderscape

Though I expected a different type of story in Sleeping Late on Judgement Day as I explained above, but no worries there, Tad Williams still went above Heaven and through Hell to deliver one final, explosive and grande plot twist that will leave you with an echoing WOW. Trust me you won't see this one coming. It takes skill to write the story features in Sleeping Late in Judgement Day as the action takes places at the 3/4 mark of the book but this is followed by how everything fit together with the Third Way initiative. Tad Williams keeps up the lively and entertaining persona of Bobby Dollar and his friends but also introducing a gritty undertone and maintaining the dark visions of Hell in his story. 

It's been a wonderful two years enjoying three Bobby Dollar books on after the other. Sadly the series has now come to an end, or is it... You know I have a gut feeling about a certain something that happens right at the end of the book... 

I cannot recommend Sleeping Late on Judgement Day or Happy Hour in Hell or The Dirty Street of Heaven often enough. These books are a lot of fun to read and breakthrough the current tropes of Urban Fantasy, I have read most of Tad Williams' other books and with the Bobby Dollar series he proves that he is on top of his game and knows how to write Science Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Children stories and Urban Fantasy. I hope he doesn't leave me waiting to long for his next book. 

Read the full review here