A year on books
My 2020 Notable Book List
So, it is 2020 and yep, I don't think I will be able to get away without mentioing the thing that has affected us all. That little virus that began with innoocuous reports of a flu like virus in China and then went on to become a global pandemic that has affected us all.
Anyway, whilst it has had a negative effect on people's lives, businesses and the economy etc, it certainly got me doing this book blog.
I was happily reading books and putting the occasional review on Goodreads. However, I started to get a little but curious and found out that there was this little thing called Book Tube and stumbled across the fabulous Mike's Book Reviews and ended up on the Discord Channel for that book tube channel. From there it got me thinking about starting my own blog and reviewing books. I subsequently ended up on Twitter and it went from there.
I have to say, Twitter surprised me. It's full of people that are nice and helpful. I then went on to see other people's blogs and decided that I wanted to do my own.
However, the other thing that amazed me was that I found people wanted to read the bumblings that I write about the books that I read, and it is you people that have visited the site, and the people on Twitter that have kindly retweeted posts time after time,that has given me the spirit to carry on with the blog and enjoy it as much as I am doing.
Anyway, I think that it is time to get on with the post. I was originally going to do a top ten and try to whittle it down. However, I decided against that and decided to go with a most notables that does not put anything into rankings, but hopefully will lead you to either search out the reviews or the books.
So without much further ado
Gareth Hanrahn - The Shadow Saint
I am astounded by Gareth Hanrahan's books. The world building in these books is amazing. The Gutter Prayer blew me away. It is totally original. It is set in the city of Guerden that is about to be besieged by the God War. This is a brilliant second piece to The Gutter Prayer and elevates the story incredibly. The third of The Black Iron Legacy is definitely one of the most anticipated books of 2021.
Mark Lawrence - The Impossible Times Trilogy
This is not strictly one book, but three. Mark Lawrence's Impossible Times Trilogy is my favorite books of Mark Lawrence. I simply could not put this lot down until I read the complete trilogy. I would find myself with a spare few minutes and the book would simply be in my hand and I would end up having a crafty ten minutes in Lawrence's world.
The story centres around fifteen year old boy genius and his D & D playing friends. He finds himself in a race against time and the only thing that he has to contend with is a terminal disease, a psychopathic school bully and the laws of physics.
This book is simply good time travelling fun. If you are used to Mark Lawrence's other stuff, this is a lot lighter, but for me it is my favorite. This has teriffic characters,a fantastic timey wimey plot and it moves at about a thousand miles an hour. This is simply one of my favorites ever - do you think I said that enough?
Simon De Castell - The Greatcoats Quadrilogy
I had so much fun in Tristia with Falcio, Brasti & Kest. I laughed, I cried, I read with my mouth hung to the floor at times and I fist pumped the air when I got to the end.
Simon de Castell's books are so full of warmth and humour that they are an absolute treat. He writes fast paced actions sequences and his dialogue is amazing.
However, whilst the books are good fun, they do have a certain amount of darkness running thorugh them and the scene in book two is gut wrenching.
Mary Robinette Kowal - The Lady Astronaut Series
This is a funny one becasue it is a duology and a stand alone. The story centres around an alternative history in which the USA is hit by a meteorite that destroys most of the East Coast. However, not only does it destroy half of the USA but it also affects the world climate which will subsequently make the earth uninhabitable.
The first two centre around our main character Elma York, a sassy, anxiety ridden maths genius. Whilst the third shifts focus and introduces a new main character in the form of Nicole Wargan.
The books cleverly juggle a fifties style nostalgia, with expansive scifi and has a modicum of social commentary as both our protaganists battle mental health difficulties, sexism and racism.
I enjoyed all of these books immensley and I have to say that Mary Robinette Kowal did a storke of genius when she introdiced Nicole Wargan in the third book.
Marc de Jager - Infernal
I knew absolutely knew nothing about this book, and that is the best way to enjoy it. Just go in blind and go with it.
I really liked the main character, Stratus who most of the times is on the grey front of the moral scale.
Marc de Jager does a good job of maintaining a sense of disorientation and as the story unfolds, so does your understanding of the world around you. This book is bloody, but has a dark streak of humour running through it.
Evan Winter - The Rage of Dragons & Fires of Vengeance
Everyone loves Evan Winter (Me too!) and it is not hard to see why. He writes books that are on the one hand traditional, but on the other hand highly original.
The story centres around our hero Tau Solarin and his quest for vengeance against those that killed his father.
These books have already been lauded with high praise and put in the top 100 list of most influential fantasy books.
Evan Winters books are simply brilliant. They are brutal and tender and his world building and magic systems are amazing. What more do you need? Go and Read 'em!
Sam Hawke - The Poison Wars
I was really impressed with City of Lies, a murder mystery set in a fantasy world, and I thought it was really good.
However, the second installment, Hollow Empire just surpassed it.When I began the second book I was comfortable in the world that Sam Hawke had developed and I found that the characters had grown more in this book.
Now, I have to say that on the whole I am not a fan of locked room mysteries. However, if they were all like Sam Hawke's books I would read more of them.
Mike Shackle - The Last War Series
What can I say about these two books? Totally friggin amazing! These books have placed themselves firmly on my favorite books of all time list.
If you think I may be a bit of a Mike Shackle fanboy, you're right! These books are dark and hopeful at the same time.
The first book 'We Are the Dead' starts with the epic final battle between the good lot and the bad 'uns. However, what we don't expect is that the evil empire simply decimate the land of Jia and then occupy it.
The book has all sorts of things running through it. It is a tale of opression and hope. It tells the story of the impossible choices that people make when faced with a hopeless situation. Honestly, it's brilliant!
And then we come onto the second 'A Fool's Hope'.
My goodness, how can you improve on the first one. I have no idea, but Mike Shackle does and he did! I don't want to go into it too much as I don't want to spoil it. But my advice! Read it!
I cannot wait to see what happpens at the end of this series and I will be waiting impatiently till the next one
Matthew Ward - The Legacy Series
Another one that is now on my favorite series of all time list. Matthew Ward's Legacy of Ash and the follow up Legacy of Steel are Epic Fantasy, they are epic in scope and are fantastic books.
In both of these books, the characters, action and dialogue are excellent. Ward has all sorts of elements in his books. The first book concerns itself with Legacy and what impact the actions of others has on the characters. Whilst the second book deals with consequences and those actions that are taken either for good or ill.
The conclusion of the Legacy series lands in 2021.This is defintiely going to be on the preorder list.
Marcus Lee - Kings & Daemons
I really enjouyed Kings & Daemons. This is the first book of the Gifted & the Cursed.
Marcus Lee has a really unique voice and I found his writing quite beguiling. The story revolves around Maya who is hidden away from the Witch King Daleth for posessing magic. It tells of her becoming captive to the witch king's forces and her ability to heal the land.
Marcus Lee introduces us to a rich land and brilliant characters, that I really liked.
I have to read the second instalment of this series and will be reading it very soon.
I have only just finished this next book and have recently posted a review, so go and have a look! But I need to mention Anna Stephens' The Stone Knife. This is a fantastic book that at times had my jaw dropping, It's a dizzying, brutal tale of Empire, love and friendship.
The Cursed Diary of a Brooklyn Dog Walker by Michael Reyes
I found Michael Reyes' book to be such good fun. He writes amphetamine paced weird fiction.
Again, go and have a look at the review. It will tell you more about this lovecraftian tale of demon worship, Clandestine secret cults and gun toting LArping enthusiasts.
The fantasy horror book that I didn't know that I needed. Lee C Conley's tale of the dead walking the lands of Arnar is atmospheric whilst creating a solid fantasy world. This surprised me and it had me mulling over things that I had read a couple of days later. In fact, there are still things that I recall and think, I liked that bit.
The second book is on my TBR to be read very soon.
So, as a final goodbye to 2020, I want to say
To all of you people that visit my little blog, to those special people that follow me and to all those people that I have met on Twitter who retweet and like the stuff that I put out.