November helped me break through to my 100th read this year. That is of course not counting the other plenitude of things I read such as short stories and even more graphic novels then I usually mention (I try to focus on graphic novels I think most highly of). A big help was my annual Thanksgiving break where 7 of these were finished. As we approach the end of the year I've been thinking about what other books to read for my year end list and I've definitely got a few thoughts. Anyway here are my brief thoughts on books read in November.
100. Theft of Swords: Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan - The 2nd half of the first omnibus in The Riyria Revelations series. I enjoyed one of the two major stories lines quite a bit, but the Princesses story didn't pull me in she comes off as more of a secondary character with little will of her own despite her strong showing in the first novel The Crown Conspiracy. Even with those problems I enjoyed everything else. See full review here.
101. Briarpatch by Tim Pratt - Pratt gets very dark on us and I half wonder if he was going through a depression during the writing. The story was beautifully told and explores what is typically known as the "Otherworld," but this isn't just some dimension with frolicking fairies filled with golden apples. No, Pratt's Otherworld is a mysterious, dark, and ever changing place filled with lost beings and some scary-ass monsters. Emotionally fueled, Briarpatch explores what it means to live and love. There were definitely some pacing issues, but the twisted characters were all so intriguing I couldn't turn away. This is Urban Fantasy as you've not seen it before. Recommended.
102. The Emperor's Knife by Marzakis Williams - This is a Fantasy debut that deserves a wide audience. If you couldn't already tell by my interview with Williams I quite enjoyed the story of Sarmin who after witnessing the murder of nearly his entire family is locked away in a tower for nearly two decades. The setting is mostly a mix of Middle Eastern and Asian in a land besieged by a plague that turns people into zombie-like carriers bent on overthrowing the Empire. Politics and magic play well along with some nice action. Highly recommended.
103. Locke and Key: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez - This volume I felt was the most rushed, but this is still without a doubt one of the best comic series in many years.
104. Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez - This volume brings us closer to answers as the main villian's past is explored more in-depth and the Locke kids finally start connecting the dots. I'm this -> <- close to going to issues on this series, which I never do.
105. Seed by Rob Ziegler - One of the strongest Sci-Fi debuts this year. Highly recommended. Review to come.
106. The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern - An incredibly beautiful novel. Definitely one of my favorites of the year and it is shockingly a debut. Two magicians battle on circus grounds to test one another's skills. But it is so much more and better then I can describe. It is the kind of novel that is so well done it will even get your cousin who never reads to fall in love with it. Highly recommend.
107. Boneyards by Kristin Kathryn Rusch - The third Diving Universe book brings Boss and her crew closer to finding answers about the Dignity vessels and their crews. Like the last excellent book in the series City of Ruin we're left on a cliffhanger, which disappointed me after so much, but it appears Rusch has no plans to stop. I truly hope Rusch gets to write more novels in this series as it is a golden age series that could have been written just as easily 40 years ago as today. She evokes the sense of exploration with each volume so well. Recommended.
108. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle - It has been more than 15 years since I last read Beagle's most beloved book. Age has definitely made it a deeper read for me. There are so many things I never noticed in the past, especially just how weird a story this is. What begins simply enough as a mission for a unicorn looking for other like her turns into something so much more. An unforgettable read just as much today as it was when it first came out in 1968. Highly recommended.
109. All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen - In the fun read category of the month All Men of Genius wins hands down. This may be my Steampunk read of the year. Mixing in Steampunk ascetics, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and devilishly Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest this is as pleasing a novel as you're like to find. There are secret societies, mad inventors, and a crazy crossed love story that will keep you guessing at every one's reactions, which more then kept me rapt. Highly recommended.
110. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells - An outstanding book. Very few authors can pull-off having no human characters so well. Most definitely one of the best second world Fantasies I've read in the last few years. Highly recommended.
111. The Library of Forgotten Books by Rjurik Davidson - A nice collection of short stories most of which surround a city full of weird happenings and creatures. The titular story was obviously my favorite. Davidson definitely like to play with the way reality is perceived. Recommend for fans of New Weird.
112. Ico: Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe - Remember that awesome Playstation game from about a decade ago? No? Well even if you don't read this novel about a young boy born with horns who is destined to be sacrificed to a mysterious castle. Along the way he saves a girl and tries to save the world. Miyabe is one of the best-selling Sci-Fi authors from Japan, but this is her first franchise related novel. It does differ from the game in some large ways so even if you're familiar with the game you'll get a lot out it. Recommended.
113. The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmussan - This is a must for Shakespeare fans who have always dreamed of owning an original folio no matter how far out of grasp they are. Another big audience would be big collectors or those who like to real about true crimes. I fall somewhere in the middle being a bibliophile as well as having a fascination with most things Shakespeare. Nearly every chapter focuses on one particular copy of the first folio, its history, and current likely whereabouts. The family histories and shady behavior of descendants were particularly interesting. In a way I wish there was more of a payoff overall such as a big discovery or confirmation of a new or recovered folio, but much is left up to supposition as many people in the world simply won't let their copy be reviewed by Mr. Rasmussen and his team. In any event The Shakespeare Thefts does a good job of giving the first folios an air of mystery.
November reading treated me to a lot of first timers and brought me back to a classic. Out of this month The Cloud Roads and The Night Circus are destined to be remembered years from now. Seed, The Emperor's Knife, and All Men of Genius were very strong debuts for their respective subgenres, each bringing something new to the table. But it is The Last Unicorn all of you should be reading, especially at this time of year.
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GUEST POST | Lev AC Rosen on Shakespeare and All Men of Genius
REVIEW | Diving Into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch