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Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

Cover Unveiled for City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett's City of Stairs was my and many others favorite book of 2014. Bennett built a richly imagined world with a vivid cast that I'm glad he decided to revisit as this is the first sequel he has undertaken after 5 other novels. The cover of City of Blades carries on the style of the first quite well and it seems as if magic will still be very much involved in the telling. City of Blades is scheduled for a November 3rd January 26, 2016 release and I can't wait to see what trouble Shara and Sigrud find.

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Cover Unveiled for Robert Jackson Bennett's City of Stairs
The Hattie Awards 2012!!! Or the best books of 2012 (That I've read)
The 2014 Hattie Awards!!! Or the Best Book of 2014 (That I've Read)
GUEST POST | What Does It Mean to Be Compelling? by Robert Jackson Bennett

Cover Unveil for Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Whenever Neal Stephenson comes out with a new novel it becomes a major event and his latest Seveneves sounds like the Space Opera we always knew he could write. I believe this would be a first for him though judging by the description he will surely give it his own original spin. I haven't been excited personally for a Stephenson novel in quite a few years, but this one has me salivating more than a little bit. It seems a bit like The 100 only on a grander and surely deeper scale. Here's the current blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anatham, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years

What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

Seveneves will be release May 19th.

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The 2014 Hattie Awards!!! Or the Best Book of 2014 (That I've Read)

2014 was a busy year for me with lots of challenges at work and plenty of travel. Even though this blog was dormant nearly all of the year it was probably still one of my highest word count years when counting all of the reread posts done for on The Way of Kings, a project I was proud to be part of and glad to have behind me. As many others out there know: Writing on a schedule is hard work, especially when you have other work to do.

I still managed to read quite a bit this year even though my overall numbers are still down. I miss reading 100+ books a year, but appreciate all the added time I spent with friends and family this year. Looking over my reading log I've read 81 stories though many this year are novellas and graphic novels. I've not counted most short stories unless I bought them for my Nook and there were only 2 or 3 like that, but the novella and novelette length really hit me hard this year with a dozen or so of those. There was just one anthology read being the all-star Dangerous Women. Here's how the numbers breakdown:

Graphic Novels: 12 (though I read many more and only list those I thought worth remembering)
Short Fiction (novellas, novelettes, short stories, etc.): 24ish (Not counting Dangerous Women)
Novels: 45

Now on to the Hattie Awards!

Best Fantasy

 Winner - City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Runner-up - Smiler's Fair by Rebecca Levine
Honorable Hat Tips -The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman, and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Bennett's latest stole the show as far as I am concerned though Smiler's Fair took me by surprise. Sanderson's WoR was what I hope it would be, but only time will tell if it will all payoff. My money's on yes. The Mirror Empire leveled up Hurley's game though there was some shakiness in the first quarter. I think Hurley's best is still to come in this series since some beautiful ground work has be laid.

Best Science Fiction

Winner - The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Runner-up: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Translated by Ken Liu)
Honorable Hat Tips - Lock In by John Scalzi, Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi, and Red Rising by Pierce Brown, On A Red Station Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

Some will be surprised Andy Weir's The Martian isn't on this list somewhere. That's because I read it in 2013 with it winning in one category.  But North's story has stuck with me a long time and never wavered from being my favorite in this area though it is probably better labeled Science Fantasy it merits a top spot. The Three-Body Problem left me cold for the first half of the story to the point I almost put it down, but I'm glad I stuck with it as it is one of the most unique First Contact stories I've ever encountered. Lock-In is probably Scalzi's best novel since Android's Dream and I friggin loved AD. Koyanagi's Ascension hit me right in the Firefly spot while bringing a unique cast that I was just as quick to fall for. Red Rising is the real please-me-deal in the same way Ender's Game was only more brutal. de Bodard's novella lives up to the accolades to date and I look forward to delving into more into this universe.

Best Weird/Horror

Winner - The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey aka Mike Carey
Runner-up - Datura by Leena Krohn
Honorable Hat Tips - Truth and Fear by Peter Higgins, The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, and The End of the Sentence by Maria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard

Datura is the stuff that eerie nightmares are made of. I know because it kept giving them to me. Truth and Fear feels very middle-bookish, but the writing has a stark beauty and strangeness that captivated me. I'm still trying to wrap my head about Murakami's odd little novella. The design by Chip Kidd was worth the price of admission all on it own. The End of the Sentence gave us a dark a slightly creepy American fairy tale well worth checking out.

Best Finish to a Series

Winner - The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Runner-up - Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole

Grossman left me amazed throughout his Magician's series and he was able to close it out quite poignantly. It will be a series well worth re-reading. Cole's finish to the first Shadow Ops arc executed all the goals I had for the series with big screen action on a small page.

Best Urban Fantasy

Winner -  California Bones by Greg van Eekhout
Runner-up - New Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko 
Honorable Hat Tips - Skin Game by Jim Butcher, and Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna

van Eekhout is back in UF after a 5 year absence with a new series that re-imagines California as if ruled by powerful magicians who eat other magicians. Not nearly as dark as it sounds since van Eekhout plays to the lighter side of things more times than not and plays up the thief angle quite well. Who knew Lukyanenko wasn't done with the Night Watch series? At first I thought this was going to stretch a series too fair as the fourth book really did close most threads off well, but the author managed to dig up a story that is as good as the rest.

Best Other

Winner - Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

I wasn't sure where to put Harkaway's latest, but I knew it needed to be mentioned. The story involves a a superhero of sorts, an island scheduled for demolition, and a bevy of most likely disreputable men. Though it meanders as Harkaway works tend to do that's the joy of the story. And that twist at the end! OMG, Harkaway is truly l33t.

Best Overall Book of the Year - You guys have got to read this!

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Considering Bennett nabbed this spot in 2012 for The Troupe this shouldn't come as too much of a shock. Now who do I have to talk to about the sequel City of Blades getting in my hands ASAP? Don't make me send Sigrud... The Girl With All the Gifts and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August have also stuck with me. These three books are also the ones I keep giving or recommending to friends depending on how their tastes bend.

Best Books Published before 2014 (That I read this year)

This year a third of the novels I read were not necessarily published this year. It is hard to rank them so here are a few of my favorites: Foundation by Isaac Asimov (re-read and deservedly in print for more than sixty years), American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett (Bennett has to be the love child of Bradbury. Has to be!), Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire (Toby just stole my heart from Dresden), The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (Action/Adventure with Aliens FTW), and The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig (Badass/drugs are bad/also blue apparently).

So what were some of your favorites this year?

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Cover Unveiled for The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

After five years of waiting more concrete information on  Paolo Bacigalupi's first adult book since The Windup Girl has been revealed. The title The Water Knife has been floating around for at least the last 2 years as he worked on his younger audience books such as Ship BreakerThe Drowned Cities, and Zombie Baseball Beatdown. Now we have the cover and a description to boot.

The eagerly anticipated follow-up novel by the best-selling, National Book Award-nominated author of The Windup Girl: a scorching thriller born out of today’s front-page headlines that preys on our worst fears about potential catastrophic failures awaiting us in our resource starved future. Think Roman Polanski’s Chinatown as written by Michael Crichton. WATER IS POWER.

In the very near future, the American Southwest is battling for water. Phoenix is covered in dust, desolate, and on the verge of total breakdown. Severe drought has demolished Texas. Nevada, as always, is trying to cash in.

Into the fray, steps Angel Velasquez, a water knife working for Las Vegas water mogul Catherine Case. Case is in the Arcology business, opulent real estate in which lush, luxury living environments are raised out of dry earth. Zipping around in his tricked out Tesla, Angel “cuts” water for Case. Hijacking pumping stations or unearthing long forgotten water rights, he is a detective and mercenary rolled into one. When an informant shows up dead in Phoenix, Angel is sent to find out what has happened. It turns out that a major power play is taking place, and the race is on to find a long-forgotten deed between the state of Arizona and a Native American tribe that grants Phoenix the rights to enough water to rebuild itself but to crush Las Vegas in the process. Angel is not the only one hunting down the old agreement. A shady West Coast conglomerate is watching closely, as is Lucy Monroe, a journalist and Phoenix native, desperate to save her city. Angel and Lucy are natural enemies, but the two realize the only way they may stay alive is by joining forces. The missing piece to the puzzle is Maria, a fifteen-year-old Texas migrant, blessed with street smarts, but burdened by getting herself into something over her head. Pretty soon the body count begins to rise, alliances come in to question, and it looks like either Phoenix or Las Vegas is going down in flames.
The Water Knife is currently scheduled for an August, 2015 release from Knopf. For those who can't wait for more Bacigalupi, his latest YA book The Doubt Factory will be out this October.

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GUEST POST | Foes and Friends by Tom Doyle

Foes and Friends
by Tom Doyle
author of American Craftsmen

I owe my first novel to my childhood enemy.

I’ve always been fascinated by war. War stories may be exciting or appalling, but always interesting. It’s not surprising then that my debut novel from Tor, American Craftsmen, is a modern-day fantasy of military intrigue.

As a kid, from the time I was first selecting which books to read, I was devouring war histories. My mom indulged me with a membership in the Military Book Club. Like many, I was primarily obsessed with the Second World War, with its sweeping strategies and tactics and its grand-scale battles across the globe.

What I didn’t realize was that many of the truths of war were hidden in the armchair-general style of nonfiction that I was reading. Then, I read All Quiet on the Western Front, and my childhood enthusiasm for military history became more restrained and thoughtful. For the first time, I acquired an intellectual sense of the personal cost of war for both friend and foe.

As an adult, I read more of the oral history-based accounts of war that dealt with the experiences of individual soldiers. In lieu of abstract strategies and tactics, I also developed more of an interest in the equipment and organization that made a difference in combat, if only to improve my play at computer strategy games based on individual campaigns and battles. When I decided to write American Craftsmen, I read special ops and espionage histories and particularly noted the successes, failures, and limitations.

Still, all these educational experiences were at a considerable remove from the realities of special operations combat, even if I threw magic into the mix. For my novel, especially its opening, I knew I would need primary source material for its real-world military aspects. My main source for much of the immediate detail in American Craftsmen was my long-time friend Dave. Dave served during the First Gulf War and had the personal experiences that I needed to hear.

Oddly enough, during my grade school years Dave was my nightmare, an enemy on a scale I haven’t known since. But in high school, we became friends almost for perversity of it. We've maintained this unlikely friendship through his time in the U.S. Naval Academy and his service, and through his civilian life since. Though this wasn't my intention in writing it, people may see a distant echo of our story in the rivalry of two of the characters in my novel.

For writing a fantasy thriller, living in Washington DC has definite advantages. I’ve toured the Pentagon, and I’ve made some more friends who are ex-military or ex-intelligence. Also, many of the great Civil War battlefields are a just a short trip from the capital, and my tours of those provided descriptive detail for one section of my book. From living and working in DC, New York, and Tokyo, I’ve also been uncannily close at hand for some of the great terrorist incidents of the last generation.

A final war-related theme of American Craftsmen is its multigenerational military families. Again, this concept required some research and thought on my part; in my family, military service has been the exception rather than the rule. As the Scipios were to Roman history, multigenerational military families are a significant part of U.S. history, as one can see in the Lees of the Revolution and the Civil War, and in the stories and real life of Lucian Truscott IV. Elite military families also dovetailed nicely with my concept of secret magical family lineages in the U.S.

The experience of writing my novel, the first of a three-book series, has taught me how much I still would like to learn about military life and combat. I look forward to more research, reading, and touring, and to hearing more of the comments and stories of soldiers, intelligence officers, veterans, and one particular childhood enemy who’s now my friend. I hope you’ll feel free to contact me or connect with me on the social media platform of your choice.


Tom Doyle’s first novel in a three-book contemporary fantasy series from Tor, American Craftsmen, was published in May 2014. His short fiction collection from Paper Golem Press, The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories, includes winners of the Small Press Award and Writers of the Future AwardIf you’d like to read more about American Craftsmen or his other stories, please go to his website at

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The Hobbit as if edited by Peter Jackson

Cover Unveiled for Robert Jackson Bennett's CITY OF STAIRS

Robert Jackson Bennett has steadily been putting out fantastic fiction the past few years. His work has traditionally been first world albeit with his own odd slant on the fringes of society. With City if Stairs Bennett turns his skills to a second world creation. The cover above is for the US edition and with it Bennett has joined the hooded society, which just seems to want every author in their clutches. Here is the blurb:

An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city—from one of America’s most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

City of Stairs will be out this September. There is also a sequel titled City of Blades that will follow in 2015, most likely, which will also be Bennett's first attempt at a sequel of any sort.

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Sam Sykes Finally Gets A Cool Cover in the US!

Sam Sykes is returning to share more of his cynical wit with us later this year. The City Stained in Red will be the start to a new trilogy called Bring Down Heaven that centers around Lenk and his merry band yet again. From the sounds of things they'll be mired even deeper than before. 

Sykes has been plagued by eye popping yet odd cover direction with the Aeons Gate trilogy so I'm quite happy to see that his new publisher in the US, Orbit have opted for something with a darker tone and probably more mass market approach (still no dragonman).

US Design by Lauren Panepinto
The UK cover was released a while ago and Gollancz too tried something very different and to go along with it here is the blurb to whet your appetites:

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

UK Design by Benjamin Carrè
Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs, the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier'Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.
And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.

'Your world is breaking around you,' He Who Makes says, 'let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out.'

The City Stained Red should be out in early October January 2015 in the US and late August 2014 in the UK. And because my dreams have been answered here is the Dragonman I've been wanting.

French cover to The Skybound Sea by Marc Simonetti
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The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

They are finally here! What you've all been waiting for. The Hatties Awards have returned! At first I was behind. Then I was set on not putting this together until after the New Year as I don't care for best of the year lists coming out when there is still time left in the year. Then I got busy with other projects, but it is done. So with further preamble let's get to it.

Top Fantasy Novel of the Year

Winner - NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Runner-Up - The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Honorable Mentions - The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Age of Ice by J. M. Sidorova, and The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Seeing Hill at the top is not too much of a surprise, at least to me. Some would say this is more of a Horror novel, but there are large fantastical elements that I think more than qualify it to stay in Fantasy. Wecker's is a book that caught me by surprise, but soon after starting it I knew I found something special. And Wecker and Sidorova definitely reminded me that I really like Historical related novels. Sidorova goes much further than I would have guessed with her ice cold protagonist showcasing parts of the world not seen nearly enough in Fiction. Lynch is the sole "traditional" Fantasy book on this list which surprised me though the debut category had plenty in that vein.

Top Science Fiction Novel of the Year

Winner - Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh
Runner-Up - Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Honorable Mentions - Dark Eden by Chris Beckett,  The Martian by Andy Weir, and Jack Glass by Adam Roberts

From the moment I finished McIntosh's latest effort I knew it would be hard to top in the Sci-Fi area at least. He brings the emotional side to Sci-Fi better than few authors and this is his best book yet. Leckie did some very interesting things with her debut that ten years from now people will be referencing as big influences in their own work. Once you get over the ick factor of Dark Eden you'll find it to be one of the most original worlds ever encountered in Sci-Fi.

Top Hybrid Novel of the Year - Forging New Ways

Winner - The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar
Runner-up - Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
Honorable Mentions - No Return by Zachary Jernigan and Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis

This has probably been my favorite category for the last couple of years simply because of how original the works strike me. Tidhar has written the book that will hopefully catapult him into everyone's damn good category and earn him the awards he deserves. Higgin's debut is staggeringly good. Jernigan made Science-Fantasy feel very cool again and Tregillis gave us an angel/noir story that is lovingly twisted.

Top Mind Fuck

Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human

It is impossible to read Human's debut and not be awed by the strangeness. If you ever thought Indian, Asian, or Irish mythology is weird than South African mythology mixed with Urban Fantasy will blow your mind hole.

Top Popcorn - Ohhh, that was fun!

Winner-The Martian by Andy Weir

Weir's book was exactly what I hoped it would be. It is as if Scalzi did something a bit more contemporary along with trying to keep as close to hard science as possible. MacGyver stuck on Mars, indeed.

Top Debut Novel

Winner -The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Runner-Up (Tie) - Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan and Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
Honorable Mentions - Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, The Grim Company by Luke Scull, The Scroll of Years by Chris Willrich, Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human, and Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein 

Wecker's novel has just stuck into my head even many months after reading it and it is probably the book I gave the most personal recommendations to this year. McClellan has almost instantly created the perfect Epic Fantasy series. Higgins novel brings the weird in wonderful ways and I can't wait to read the second half of this duology.

Series That Keep Turning Out the Hat-tricks

 Winner - Necessary Evil by Ian Tregilis   
Runner-Up - Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
Honorable Mentions - The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett and Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone

I had to give it up for Tregillis this year. He continued to up his writing game with each book in the series and this being the cap to a trilogy he brought everything together perfectly. Cole upped his game a lot with the second volume to his trilogy fixing many misgivings I had with the first volume though the third volume is even better. Lynch's story is clearly not over, but his story-in-a-story was masterfully done and he recaptured much of what was so special about The Lies of Locke Lamora. Brett's world continues to enthrall me while Gladstone continues to unveil his very strange yet orderly world to us.

Best Overall Book of the Year - You guys have got to read this!

Winner - N0S4A2 by Joe Hill
Runner-Up -The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Honorable Mentions -The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

This was a tough year to chose as so many of my favorite authors had new books out, but Hill manages to hit all the right buttons with me again as he did with Horns. Wecker's book is a beautiful look at early 20th century Manhattan and the only debut to make this list. Tidhar surprised me in all the best ways while Gaiman and McIntosh gave me exactly what I was hoping for from them: heartfelt, endearing stories with relateable characters.

Best Book I Read This Year Not Published This Year

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

Helprin's book has been on my bucket list for sometime now and I'm glad I got to it, but it is one I probably would have bounced off of 5+ years ago though it fit me perfectly now. Pure beauty in written form. No movie production could do it justice and I shutter to think how they would condense the story done. This goes on the to-reread shelf.

Best Graphic Novel

Winner - Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
Runner-up - Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill
Honorable Mention - The Manhattan Projects Volume 2 and 3 by Jonathan Hickman

Saga is shockingly good. Star Wars good. It showcases a huge new universe yet centers on a love story for the ages. Hill's Locke & Key remains one of the best written graphic novels in the last ten years. Hickman is a wild and his alternative history of the Manhattan Project brings the best bad science, aliens, and strangeness possible.

In Closing...

2013 was a weird reading year for me where I didn't step outside my comfort zone much, but I had resigned myself to that as this was personally a very busy year even outside of The Way of Kings reread going on which all added up to the slowest reading year since before I started this blog. In all I read fewer than 70 books where my usual number is at least 100. That's still a good sampling, but hardly as exhaustive as I like to be. Hopefully, 2014 will be better and I'll get to share more with you all.

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Cover Unveiled for John Scalzi's Lock In

Fresh off his Hugo win for Redshirts and the commercial success of The Human Division, John Scalzi is coming back with what looks to be another standalone. And it is also his second near-future novel, if you could Agent to the Stars, which I do. Lock In explores a virus that is running rampant and for the most part it is manageable, but for some it turns them into virtually living statues. I'm definitely interested to see how Scalzi's trademark snark work into such a story.  Here's the teaser description:
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

One per cent doesn't seem like a lot. But in the United States, that's 1.7 million people “locked in”...including the President's wife and daughter.

Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse....
I'm not sure if the cover is final, but currently it seems a little bland for a Scalzi cover though it moves him into the clean look that has become so popular for many best-selling authors. Lock In should be out in late August, but it should be noted Scalzi is still currently writing the manuscript.

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