The Best of 2013

Now it’s time to look back at what I thought was the best of the best for 2013.  I read 78 books in 2013 in print, ebook, graphic novel and audiobook. While I usually do a Top Ten or Top 15 best of list, this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. I’ve decided to go with a Top 15 for fiction, and then “top” categories for Young Adult books, Nonfiction and Graphic Novels. While I read a decent selection in each category, I chose the few I thought were the best.

And here we go . . .

Top 15 Fiction Reads
Top Nonfiction Reads
Top Young Adult Reads
Top Graphic Novel Reads

Top 15 Fiction Reads

.1.

Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois: A new anthology featuring women as main and/or important characters, with new original stories from Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughan, and a new novella from George R. R. Martin.

.2.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill: The novel that puts Joe Hill on the map as one of the great horror writers, about a place called Christmasland where children’s souls are slowly stolen. NOS4A2 proves Joe Hill deserves to share the horror stage with his dad, Stephen King.  READ REVIEW.

.3.

Let the Old Dreams Die by John Adjvide Lindqvist: From the author of Let the Right One In and Handling the Undead comes his first collection of short stories featuring original chilling tales, as well as sequels to Let the Right One In and Handling the Undead.

.4.

Joyland by Stephen King: In this short novel, a young man has lost the love of his life and has chosen to spend his summer working at an amusement park, where there’s a murderer on the loose. READ REVIEW.

.5.

No Way Out by Alan Jacobson: Karen Vail is back on the case, and this time she’s traveled over the pond to London to solve the mystery of a terrorist attack that has much deeper ramifications.  READ REVIEW.

.6.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: From the bestselling author of American Gods and Neverwhere comes a short tale of fantasy and folklore and history and legend and magic. A tale that spins its web around you and entrances you, escorting you across the dreamscape of its story. READ REVIEW.

.7.

The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice: From the son of Anne Rice comes a dark tale of the bayou where things are never as they seem and strange creatures lurk in the swamps and grasses. 

.8.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: The official sequel to The Shining puts Danny Torrance in his middle-age years facing a drinking problem and helping a girl who has stronger shining abilities than he, while an ancient cabal is look to end her. READ REVIEW.

.9.

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay: A sort of sequel to Under Heaven, Kay sets River of Stars four centuries later during the Song Dynasty, writing in the same wondrous and magical style. READ REVIEW.

.10.

Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson: In this alternate world to ours, it is the near future and a strange alien presence is in control of communication and broadcasting enshrouding Earth in a blocking layer. There is a group that knows about its existence, and they were almost wiped out by the alien presence, but now it is time to put a stop to it. READ REVIEW.

.11.

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey: Since 1980, one percent of the population born have been “brilliants,” special gifted children that develop unique abilities putting them above regular humans. Some brilliants use their abilities for good, others for harm. READ REVIEW.

.12.

Big Egos by S. G. Browne: What if you could be your favorite celebrity or hero for a couple of hours? Browne posits just this in Big Egos, giving his characters the chance to take a serum that momentarily changes their DNA and makes them Indiana Jones or Captain Kirk, or whoever they want. READ REVIEW.

.13.

Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer: This is the great noir detective novel set on the planet Mars. Alex Lomax is a private Eye on New Klondike trying to forget his illicit past back on Earth and try to solve a decades old murder mystery. READ REVIEW.

.14.

Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin: Originally released as a series of short stories collected in Tuf Voyaging that has now been reprinted, these are the tales of Tuf and his giant ship that is kilometers long that lets him create just about any animal you could imagine. READ REVIEW.

.15.

The Colony by A. J. Colucci: What if a supercolony of ants was developed and then control of it was lost. The Colony is classic-style Michael Crichton with science gone awry. READ REVIEW. A. J. Colucci Interview.


Top Nonfiction Reads

.1.

Gold Rush in the Jungle: The Race to Discover and Defend the Rarest of Animals of Vietnam’s “Lost World” by Dan Drollette Jr: A fascinating look into Vietnam’s wildlife and rainforests, one of the last places on Earth still left relatively untouched. But this is all changing now. READ REVIEW.

.2.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach: Mary Roach, bestselling author if Stiff and Bonk, takes readers on a journey from where food goes in at the mouth and comes out at the other end. Filled with entertaining anecdotes and fascinating facts, any reader will love GulpREAD REVIEW.

.3.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen: A comprehensive and absorbing look at the epidemics that have plagued our world and how the current ones could lead to the end of humanity with the next pandemic.

.4.

The World Until Yesterday: What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies by Jared Diamond: A compelling look at the way numerous traditional societies around the world handle everyday things like conflict resolution, neighboring populations and interacting with them, and child rearing. READ REVIEW.

Top Young Adult Reads

.1.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson: What if the world was full of superheroes, except these superheroes were called epics and they were actually evil and preferred controlling and subjugating ordinary humans and running the world the way they wanted. But what if there was a group called Reckoners who were looking to put a stop to the Epics?

.2.

Homeland by Cory Doctorow: Continuing from where Little Brother left off, Doctorow puts the reader right back in the action in a world where the government is always watching, even when you think they’re not, and it’s up to a a bunch of kids to make a difference. READ REVIEW.

.3.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson: In this world there are fifty united islands where one would expect to find the United States, where Rithmatists are born, who are able to create chalkings to fight each other and enemies with magic. READ REVIEW.

Top Graphic Novel Reads

.1.

Saga Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan: Two soldiers on opposite sides of a galactic war have fallen in love and now have an offspring, and its up to them to keep it alive and keeping on doing what they do best.

.2.

A compelling story of the Boxer Rebellion as told from two viewpoints in this stunning graphic novel project. READ BOXERS REVIEW. READ SAINTS REVIEW.

The Reviews Are Coming

Now that it’s 2014 and my newborn is working through his fifth month of life, my own life has settled a little and has more structure and control to it. I also have a backlog of reviews developing, with my two-post a week schedule.

Therefore, starting next week, I’ll be going back to the three-post a week schedule: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Book Report will be appearing on Wednesdays now. This should clear out my backlog a bit and get more reviews to you faithful readers.

Bookbanter Blog 2013 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Books Read in 2013

We come once again to the beginning of a new year, and the end of an old one. So it is time, once again, to do a roundup of what I got read from cover to cover in 2013. Previous years’ lists can be found here.

The most notable difference with 2013 is the number of ebooks read, due to my having an ereader and tablet, and also ebooks being more readily available for the book reviewer.

Who knows what 2014 will hold?

NUMBER

TITLE

AUTHOR

GENRE

EDITION

1

A Casual Vacancy

J. K. Rowling

Fiction

2

Cold Days

Jim Butcher

Fantasy

3

Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell

Fiction

Ebook

4

Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares

Joyce Carol Oates

Horror

5

Ash

James Herbert

Horror

6

Fables: Cubs in Toyland

Bill Willingham

Graphic Novel

7

The Colony

A. J. Colucci

Horror

8

Seconds

David Ely

Science Fiction

9

Frozen Sky

Jeff Carlson

Science Fiction

Ebook

10

Tuf Voyaging

George R R Martin

Science Fiction

11

Gold Rush in the Jungle

Dan Drollette Jr.

Biology

Ebook

12

Midnight Blue-Light Special

Seanan McGuire

Fantasy

13

King Arthur’s Battle for Britain

Eric Walmsley

History

14

Homeland

Cory Doctorow

Young Adult

15

Penny Arcade 9: Passion’s Howl

Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik

Comic Strip

16

Gulp

Mary Roach

Science

17

14

Peter Clines

Horror

Ebook

18

Worlds of Arthur

Guy Halsall

History

19

Red Planet Blues

Robert J. Sawyer

Science Fiction

20

The World Until Yesterday

Jared Diamond

Anthropology

21

Farside

Ben Bova

Science Fiction

22

NOS4A2

Joe Hill

Horror

23

The Rithmatist

Brandon Sanderson

YA

24

Saga: Volume 1

Brian K. Vaughan

Graphic Novel

25

Walking Dead Vol. 17: Something to Fear

Robert Kirkman

Graphic Novel

26

Joyland

Stephen King

Horror

27

Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy

Audiobook

28

Chimes at Midnight

Seanan McGuire

Fantasy

29

River of Stars

Guy Gavriel Kay

Fantasy

30

Happiest Baby on the Block

Harvey Karp

Parenting

31

The Shining

Stephen King

Horror

Ebook

32

Husband-Coached Childbirth

Robert A. Bradley

Parenting

33

No Way Out

Alan Jacobson

Mystery

34

Cuckoo’s Calling

Robert Galbraith

Mystery

Ebook

35

Cat’s Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut

Fiction

Ebook

36

The New Earth

Ben Bova

Science Fiction

37

Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut

Fiction

Ebook

38

UR

Stephen King

Horror

Ebook

39

Breakfast of Champions

Kurt Vonnegut

Fiction

Ebook

40

Big Egos

S. G. Browne

Fiction

41

Parasite

Mira Grant

Horror

Ebook

42

Overlay

Blaine C. Readler

Science Fiction

43

Brilliance

Marcus Sakey

Science Fiction

Ebook

44

Summer of Night

Dan Simmons

Horror

Ebook

45

The Plant

Stephen King

Horror

Ebook

46

Phantoms

Dean Koontz

Horror

Ebook

47

Desperation

Stephen King

Horror

Ebook

48

Boy’s Life

Robert McCammon

Horror

Ebook

49

Boxers

Gene Luen Yang

Graphic Novel

50

Saints

Gene Luen Yang

Graphic Novel

51

Long Walk

Stephen King

Horror

Ebook

52

It

Stephen King

Horror

Audiobook

53

Doctor Sleep

Stephen King

Horror

54

Interrupt

Jeff Carlson

Science Fiction

Ebook

55

Snoopy: Cowabunga

Charles Schultz

Comic Strip

56

The Heavens Rise

Christopher Rice

Horror

57

The Wreck of the Zephyr

Chris Van Allsburg

Picture Book

58

Old Bear

Jane Hissey

Picture Book

59

Queen of the Falls

Chris Van Allsburg

Picture Book

60

Insomnia

Stephen King

Audiobook

61

The Abominable

Dan Simmons

Horror

62

The Walking Dead 18 What Comes After

Robert Kirkman

Graphic Novel

63

Burning Paradise

Robert Charles Wilson

Science Fiction

64

Codex Born

Jim C Hines

Fantasy

Audiobook

65

Fairest in All the Land

Bill Willingham

Graphic Novel

66

No-Cry Sleep Solution

Elizabeth Pantley

Parenting

67

Spillover

David Quammen

Science

68

Steelheart

Brandon Sanderson

Young Adult

Audiobook

69

Let the Old Dreams Die

John Ajvide Lindqvist

Horror

70

Blood Brothers

James Rollins

Thriller

Ebook

71

Midnight Riot

Ben Aaronovich

Fantasy

Audiobook

72

Chiliad: A Meditation

Clive Barker

Horror

73

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens

Fiction

74

Moon Over Soho

Ben Aaronovich

Fantasy

Audiobook

75

Walking Dead 19: March to War

Robert Kirkman

Graphic Novel

New Posting Schedule

Changing up the posting schedule here at Bookbanter, because it works better with my regular life schedule to make sure I’m posting when I am, and gives you readers a post to enjoy on the weekend.

So instead of Monday, Wednesday, Friday posts, there will now be new posts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

That is all.

Bookbanter’s Top Ten Reads of 2012

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson: From the author of the Mars trilogy, as well as many other bestsellers, comes a science fiction novel that pushes the boundaries of the genre through story and character and writing to keep the reader hooked from start until finish.  2312 is a lengthy book that will stay with you long after you have turned and read the final page. Continue reading . . .
Little Star
Little Star by John Adjvide Lindqvist: From the international bestselling author of the chilling and horrific Let the Right One, Handling the Undead and Harbor comes a new novel that appears innocent and charming at first, but eventually leads the reader down a long dark path, covered in blood and filled with bodies.  Little Star will lull you into enjoyment and then terrify you all the way to the end. Continue reading . . .
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines: Libriomancer is one of those books that feels like it should’ve been written a lot sooner, given its subject matter, and yet when one is done reading it, one is left wishing they could read it over again for the first time.  From the author of The Princess novels, Libriomancer is the first in the Magic Ex Libris series that will hopefully make Jim C. Hines the well-respected and appreciated author that he already is. Continue reading . . .
Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King: To the delight of many fans across the globe, Stephen King returns to his familiar Mid-World in this new Dark Tower tale with The Wind Through the Keyhole.  King has fun here, with the book set between the fourth volume, Wizard and Glass and the fifth, Wolves of the Calla, as he tells a story within a story within a story. Continue reading . . .
Lucky Bastard by S. G. Browne: The bestselling author of Breathers and Fate returns with another entertaining and funny book that is well keeping in the style of one S. G. Browne.  Readers who have come to enjoy Browne’s particular style, humor, and characters will be delighted in this latest offering with Lucky Bastard. Continue reading . . .
Redshirts by John Scalzi: Most scifi fans are familiar with the curse of the “redshirts.”  For those who are not, it applies to the original Star Trek show where any minor character in an episode wearing a red shirt ultimately ended up getting killed on an away mission before the end of the episode.  Bestselling author John Scalzi takes this humorous concept to a whole new level in his appropriately titled novel Redshirts. Continue reading . . .
Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell: In the sixth book of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales, he makes it clear with the title that this is the most important book of the series, as it’s the one where Alfred the Great finally passes from this world, leaving this torn country with an uncertain future, and it will be up to his successor to decide what to do. Continue reading . . .
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed: Saladin Ahmed has been on the writing scene for a little while, publishing stories in the likes of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and StarshipSofa, as well as receiving praise from the likes of Publisher’s Weekly and Locus.  And now he arrives with his first novel, the surprisingly slim, but action- and detailed-packed Throne of the Crescent Moon, the first in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms series. Continue reading . . .
The Death of King Arthur translated by Simon Armitage: Simon Armitage’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was a delight to read and well-received by many readers (it remains one of the top read reviews on BookBanter), and now Armitage is back with his new translation of The Death of King Arthur, appearing in 1400, also known as The Alliterative Morte Arthure; it is imbued with the passion and panache of Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf. Continue reading . . .
Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez: Bestselling author Daniel Suarez delighted readers with his gritty and hard-edged take on technology gone haywire with Daemon and Freedom, and now he’s back with his next techno-thriller, Kill Decision, scrutinizing the subject of unmanned drones that cover our skies when we’re not looking.  Suarez certainly seems to be fortifying a bridge between the late, great Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy, which fans of either or both will thoroughly enjoy. Continue reading . . .

Books Read in 2012

It’s the beginning of a new year — 2013 — which means it’s time for a round up of what books I read over the course of the twelve months of 2012.  My annual goal was to read 100 books, be they print, ebook, audio or graphic novel, and I was delighted to achieve this goal, totaling up at 107.  Below you will find the complete list.  For books read in 2011, go here.

NUMBER

TITLE

AUTHOR

GENRE

EDITION

1

The Death of King Arthur

Simon Armitage

History

2

Hex

Allen Steele

Science Fiction

Audiobook

3

Wintertide

Michael J. Sullivan

Fantasy

ebook

4

Spontaneous

Joe Harris

Graphic Novel

5

The Last Unicorn

Peter S. Beagle

Fantasy

Audiobook

6

Percepliquis

Michael J. Sullivan

Fantasy

7

Crucible of Gold

Naomi Novik

Fantasy

8

Hood

Stephen Lawhead

Fantasy

Audiobook

9

Lucky Bastard

S. G. Browne

Fiction

10

Scarlet

Stephen Lawhead

Fantasy

Audiobook

11

Death of Kings

Bernard Cornwell

Fiction

12

1Q84

Haruki Murakami

Fiction

13

Tuck

Stephen Lawhead

Fantasy

Audiobook

14

The Crack in Space

Philip K. Dick

Science Fiction

15

The Once and Future King

T. H White

Fantasy

Audiobook

16

A Study in Scarlet

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

17

A Sign of the Four

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

18

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

19

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

20

Hound of the Baskervilles

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

21

Throne of the Crescent Moon

Saladin Ahmed

Fantasy

22

Valley of Fear

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

23

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

24

His Last Bow

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

25

Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

Audiobook

26

Winter King

Bernard Cornwell

Historical Fiction

Audiobook

27

Enemy of God

Bernard Cornwell

Historical Fiction

Audiobook

28

Excalibur

Bernard Cornwell

Historical Fiction

Audiobook

29

The Kingdom of Gods

N. K. Jemisin

Fantasy

30

The Penultimate Truth

Philip K. Dick

Science Fiction

31

1491

Charles C. Mann

History

Audiobook

32

Triggers

Robert J. Sawyer

Science Fiction

33

Forest Laird

Jack Whyte

Historical Fiction

34

The World Without Us

Alan Weisman

Anthropology

Audiobook

35

The Warded Man

Peter V Brett

Fantasy

Audiobook

36

The Maze Runner

James Dashner

Young Adult

Audiobook

37

A Bridge of Years

Robert Charles Wilson

Science Fiction

38

The Scorch Trials

James Dashner

Young Adult

Audiobook

39

The Twenty-One Balloons

William Pene du Bois

Middle Reader

40

Poisoner’s Handbook

Deborah Blum

Science

Audiobook

41

The Beasties

William Sleator

Middle Reader

42

Furies of Calderon

Jim Butcher

Fantasy

Audiobook

43

The October Country

Ray Bradbury

Short Stories

44

Academ’s Fury

Jim Butcher

Fantasy

Audiobook

45

After the Quake

Haruki Murakami

Short Stories

46

Cursor’s Fury

Jim Butcher

Fantasy

Audiobook

47

Game of Thrones

Daniel Abraham

Graphic Novel

48

Captain’s Fury

Jim Butcher

Fantasy

Audiobook

49

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Haruki Murakami

Short Stories

50

Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murakami

Fiction

51

First Lord’s Fury

Jim Butcher

Fantasy

Audiobook

52

Feed

Mira Grant

Horror

53

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

Nancy Kress

Science Fiction

54

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

Science

Audiobook

55

Over the Edge of the World

Laurence Bergreen

History

Audiobook

56

Princep’s Fury

Jim Butcher

Fantasy

Audiobook

57

A Game of Thrones Graphic Novel

Daniel Abraham

Graphic Novel

58

Deadline

Mira Grant

Horror

59

Patient Zero

Joe Ledger

Horror

Audiobook

60

A Princess of Mars

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Fantasy

61

Prague Winter

Madeline Albright

Biography

62

The Illustrated Man

Ray Bradbury

Science Fiction

63

The Wind Through the Keyhole

Stephen King

Horror

64

The Great Influenza

John M. Barry

History

Audiobook

65

Demonologist

Andrew Pyper

Horror

66

Kill Decision

Daniel Suarez

Thriller

67

Redshirts

John Scalzi

Science Fiction

68

Bloodline

James Rollins

Thriller

69

The Hollow City

Dan Wells

Thriller

70

Arkham Asylum

Grant Morrison

Graphic Novel

71

Walking Dead 15:We Find Ourselves

Robert Kirkman

Graphic Novel

72

Libriomancer

Jim C. Hines

Fantasy

73

2312

Kim Stanley Robinson

Science Fiction

74

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson

Science Fiction

Audiobook

75

Legion

Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy

76

When Will You Rise?

Mira Grant

Horror

77

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Diaz

Fiction

Audiobook

78

Ashes of Honor

Seanan McGuire

Fantasy

79

V Wars

Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Horror

80

Red Rain

R. L. Stine

Horror

81

A Book of Horrors

Edited by Stephen Jones

Horror

Anthology

82

Mortality

Christopher Hitchens

Biography

83

Little Star

John Ajvide Lindqvist

Horror

84

The Secret of NIMH

Robert C. O’Brien

Childrens

85

Good Omens

Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Fantasy

86

Rainbows End

Vernor Vinge

Science Fiction

87

The Fifty Year Sword

Mark Z. Danielewski

Fiction

88

Bad Glass

Richard E. Gropp

Horror

89

The Passage

Justin Cronin

Horror

90

The Twelve

Justin Cronin

Horror

91

The Emperor’s Soul

Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy

92

I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus

S. G. Browne

Horror

93

Penny Arcade 8: Magical Kids in Danger

Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik

Comic

94

Revenge

Yoko Ogawa

Short Stories

95

The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula LeGuin

Science Fiction

96

Pirate Cinema

Cory Doctorow

Young Adult

97

The Hobbit

J R R Tolkien

Fantasy

98

Diverse Energies

Tobias Bucknell

Science Fiction, Anthology

99

This is How You Lose Her

Junot Diaz

Fiction

100

A Fit of Shivers

Joan Aiken

Young Adult

101

The Blood Gospel

James Rollins

Mystery

102

The New Deadwardians

Dan Abnett

Graphic Novel

103

Spunik Sweetheart

Haruki Murakami

Fiction

104

Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland

Bill Willingham

Graphic Novel

105

Fairest

Bill Willingham

Graphic Novel

106

1356

Bernard Cornwell

Historical Fiction

107

Anomaly

Skip Brittenham

Graphic Novel

Bookbanter Holiday Gift Book Guide

FICTIONNONFICTIONGRAPHIC NOVELSORIGINAL WORKS

Bookbanter Holiday Gift Guide 2012

FICTIONNONFICTIONGRAPHIC NOVELSORIGINAL WORKS

We have reached the month of December once again, and the ravenous holiday season is now upon us. Books continue to be churned out each week, whether through print or e-edition. And this year, like any other, had another full run of great titles released, making that decision of what to get that family member, special someone, or the dog so that way you’re basically getting yourself the book harder than ever.

And here is the Bookbanter Holiday 2012 Gift Book Guide. This year I focused just on some of the amazing books I’ve read in 2012. I reached my 100-book mark, and below you will be find my 30 book choices for the year, divided into the categories of fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels. At the very bottom you will find my three works that I released this year, two of which a free ebook downloads, making them the cheapest gift possible!

Anyway, like I said, my focus was on books I read this year, whether they were brand new releases for the year, or older titles I’d been meaning to read for some time, and they ended up making a great impression on me. Where possible, my book reviews are linked when you click on the title.

And if you’re already set on what you want to get from this gift guide, simply click on the cover of the book and you’ll be magically whisked away to Amazon where you can purchase the book in the format of your choosing. Plus I get a little commission out of it to help support Bookbanter. Even if you’re not getting any of these titles, you could still click on one of the covers, as Bookbanter still gets the commission whatever you choose to buy through Amazon.

You can also get the full Bookbanter Holiday Gift Book Guide on my official site, as well as plenty more book recommendations if you’re still undecided.

But enough talk, you’ve got some important holiday shopping to do. So for now, enjoy the Bookbanter Holiday 2012 Gift Book Guide . . .

FICTION

The Death of King Arthur translated by Simon Armitage (Norton, 2011)

Armitage does a fantastic job of creating a translation of this tale that is both entertaining and addictive to read, but still maintains its alliterative originality.  Published in a bilingual edition, readers can enjoy glancing over at the original Middle English text and see the original lines and stanzas, and also see how Armitage has masterfully crafted this text to be alliterative as well as encompass the modern English language.  Both King Arthur fans and fans of Armitage’s work will not be disappointed.

Lucky Bastard by S. G. Browne (Gallery Books, 2012)

Lucky Bastard is over the top and fast-paced, taking you all over the wonderful city of San Francisco, but Browne does a great job of suspending the reader’s disbelief, creating a character that isn’t perfect by any means – in fact he gets quite annoying – but remains true to the writing and the character, keeping readers hooked to the very last page.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW, 2012)

Throne of the Crescent Moons is a delightful fresh fantasy story, featuring a new host of gods and magic that don’t fall under the common western paradigm, set in a fun world that will have readers quickly tearing through the 270-page book and anxious for more.

Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace, 2012)

In Triggers, Robert J. Sawyer should first be applauded for a wonderfully diverse cast, as readers are immediately introduced to a powerful female secret service agent, an impressive African-American female doctor who is the president’s primary physician, and the interesting Dr. Singh, who is actually Canadian, which is Sawyer’s own nationality.  The book juggles an impressive cast of characters, which Sawyer does excellent job of keeping both straight and complex.

Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2012)

The conclusion to the action-packed and riveting Newflesh trilogy, Blackout, does what Feed did in exploding out of the gate with great writing, strong characters, and a story you couldn’t stop reading; as well as what Deadline continued with in ratcheting up the tension and delving out shocking plot twists to keep readers demanding more.  The most important thing about this book is that it remains true to its characters in every way so that if the reader has been paying attention from the first line of the first book, they shouldn’t be too surprised, and yet it’s still satisfying and rewarding to see the events you hoped might happen on the page before you, as well as some great shockers you might not have seen coming.

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez (Dutton, 2012)

Daniel Suarez has once again managed to take hold of a subject that is featured in today’s headlines and spin it into a bunch of what ifs that serve to educate as well as terrify.  Told with skill, tension and drama, Kill Decision is a book that won’t leave you sleeping easy at night as you imagine those unmanned drones flying overhead.

Redshirts by John Scalzi (Tor, 2012)

Most scifi fans are familiar with the curse of the “redshirts.”  For those who are not, it applies to the original Star Trek show where any minor character in an episode wearing a red shirt ultimately ended up getting killed on an away mission before the end of the episode.  Bestselling author John Scalzi takes this humorous concept to a whole new level in his appropriately titled novel Redshirts.

Bloodline by James Rollins (William Morror, 2012)

Rollins continues to do what he does best in Bloodline, weaving unusual storylines together with links the reader never saw coming.  A strong cast featuring some impressive female characters makes this a thrilling read; though it is contrasted with the shocking procedures some other female characters have to endure.  Bloodline is not for those with a weak stomach.  But for those wishing to get some answers about the clandestine group known as the Guild, this is the book for you.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (DAW, 2012)

Libriomancer is simply a fun book, featuring a great story and some fantastic characters.  Hines has plenty of fun throwing in many nerdy book references, as well as the books libriomancers choose to use to gain special objects.  With a diverse cast of interesting people, Libriomancer is a fun, addicting read that will leave readers impatiently wanting more.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 2012)

Robinson has outdone himself with 2312, blending a story of gripping science fiction, a captivating plot, and unique characters that exist a future world of acceptance and normalcy to them that seems advanced and developed when compared to our.  A delight to read, 2312 will be keeping you up late, reading.

Red Rain by R. L. Stine (Touchstone, 2012)

Bestselling author R. L. Stine has terrified children for decades with his Goosebumps and Fear Street series, and now for the first time (and long overdue, in my opinion) he seeks to create fear in the minds of grownups with his first adult horror novel, Red Rain.  But fans of Stine need not worry that the book will feature too many “old people,” for the devils at the heart of this story are identical twin boys.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire (DAW, 2012)

Just another ordinary day of mayhem and adventure for Toby, though this time the stakes seem higher than ever.  And she can easily identify with a half-changeling not knowing what is really going on and how to control her powers, and if this were to get out about Etienne, it would ruin him.  Plus there’s Tybalt who keeps lending a helping hand and is always there when she needs him, and Toby really needs to work out what her feelings are about him.  Just another ordinary day.

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Thomas Dunne, 2012)

Lindqvist’s novel is another addictive read, like his others, with a seemingly simple story that turns into something dark and sinister, combined with the harsh geology of Sweden, and his own unusual characters.  Little Star will keep you up late, and by then you’ll be too scared to go to bed.

Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp (Ballantine, 2012)

A gripping kind of horror, Bad Glass uses an interesting device of describing photographs and video footage that are shocking and unbelievable, as well as drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the story.  While the ending feels a little rushed, as the answers finally start to come, the story is well worth the wait.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012)

Robin Sloan’s debut novel plays well on the enjoyment of the reader, as well as slowly unraveling the mystery, in addition to taking the reader around San Francisco and into the heart of the Googleplex, and then across the country and back in time through a hidden history, all on the subject of books and their meaning.  Readers will be hooked with Sloan’s easy reading style, and curious tale, until the very end.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin (HarperCollins, 2013)

Justin Cronin’s long-awaited sequel to the bestselling The Passage brings readers back to the incredible post-apoclyptic world of killer vampires and those remaining humans trying to eke out their survival. Cronin also returns to the time before the end of the world and continues some unfinished storylines.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (HarperCollins, 2013)

From the bestselling author of The Way of Kings and the Mistborn trilogy comes a new fantasy novella involving a forger who has magical powers to forge anything whether it be a work of art, an inanimate object, an entire wall or building, and even when necessary, someone’s soul.

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa (HarperCollins, 2013)

In the style of Haruki Murakami, comes this popular Japanese author’s short story collection of tales that will terrify and enthrall. Revenge has an element of its title in most of these original tales that are linked together through small details.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher (HarperCollins, 2013)

Harry Dresden is finally back after his visit with the afterlife in Ghost Story, and now has to begint he next chapter of his life. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, 2013)

From the bestselling author of The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union comes a new novel about two close friends owning and running Brokeland Records on the borderlands between Berkeley and Oakland.

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (HarperCollins, 2013)

In J. K. Rowling’s first adult novel, she presents an idyllic English town where everything seems perfect and well, until the death of a popular person in town starts to reveal skeleton after skeleton that has remained hidden in this town’s closet for a long time.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (HarperCollins, 2013)

From the award-winning author of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao comes his new novel about the power of love and everything associated with it, pain, pleasure, lost, heart-break, and joy through the lens of the incredible Dominican Republic.

NONFICTION

The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum (HarperCollins, 2013)

In this well-titled book, Blum presents a fascinating history of poisons and when they were created and discovered, but coupled with this is also the amazing work of detectives and coroners who furthered science and medicine to discover how to identity and fight these poisons.

1491 by Charles C. Mann (Knopf, 2005)

Much as Guns, Germs and Steel was revolutionary in changing our outlook on the way the world is, 1491 has the same affect on how the world views the Americas, what its true history was, the immense effect it had on the world after Columbus, and how the idea that these people were simple and primitive is just ridiculous.  The book is by no means an easy read, but once the reader makes it through, the fulfillment is well worthwhile and enlightening to say the least.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (HarperCollins, 2013)

This moving tale covers the sad passing of Henrietta Lack to ovarian cancer, and how her unique cells that continue to live on to this day have become a part of the world of science and have played a part in most science laboratories across the globe, and yet the family of Henriette Lacks still remains poor and without health insurace, after her cells have gone on to be crucial in so many cures and the further of medicine.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (Thomas Dunne, 2007)

Alan Weisman’s introspective book, The World Without Us, which became a bestseller, seems clear when one sees and reads what’s on the front cover.  Yes, it’s a book about the concept of what the world would be like if humanity suddenly disappeared, and how long it would take to recover from the severe imprint we’ve made upon it.  But the book is also much more, as Weisman analyzes why we have had this effect on the planet, and to what extent it has reached.

Prague Winter by Madaleine Albright (HarperCollins, 2012)

Albright has clearly done a lot of research for this book, not just on her own family, but on the history and sources of the period, along with many photos from that time, it presents a thorough picture of this part of Europe during World War II and the rise of the Fuhrer.  It is also an insight into the culture of the Czechs, a people who do not bow down lightly and whose patriotism and culture is everything to them.  In some ways, Prague Winter reads like a powerful history book that would make great reading for any high school or college student wanting to learn more about the period; and at the same time it is a poignant biography of these people and of this child that was shaped into the incredible woman that she was to become.

Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy (Viking, 2012)

Few know that when someone is suffering from rabies, they have an innate aversion to water; just seeing a glass of it will make them turn violent as they try to get away from it.  Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus is the story of the hows and whys of rabies.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Daniel Abraham and George R. R. Martin (Bantam, 2012)

For anyone familiar with George R. R. Martin, his work, and the books and authors he likes, it should come as no surprise that his good friend, Daniel Abraham of The Dragon’s Path, was the one chosen to adapt his bestselling first novel of his Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones.  In the introduction, Martin gives a brief history of how the epic fantasy series came to be and the various adaptations that have been done, including the now popular and successful HBO series.  He also talks about their long search for the right artist to illustrate this graphic novel and how once they found Tommy Patterson; he was the right guy for the job.

Penny Arcade, Volume 8: Magical Kids in Danger by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (HarperCollins, 2013)

The Penny Arcade duo are back with their next hilarious and addicting collection of comic strips, collection the year of 2007. Presented again with Jerry Holkins commentary on each strip, it’s a necessary addition to anyone’s collection.

ORIGINAL WORKS

Kyra: The First Book of Enchantus by Alex C. Telander (CreateSpace, 2012)

Kyra is a teenage girl who has problems fitting in with school and friends and just her whole life in general; even her family seems odd. But when she closes her eyes at night, she is transported to another world, a place of wonder and joy, where she finds her real friends, and everything she’s ever wanted. And then the day arrives when she is finally transported to this world, and it is just as incredible as she ever imagined.

Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers: Stories by Alex C. Telander (Smashwords, 2012)

In this debut collection, readers get to see into the dark and twisted mind of Alex C. Telander. “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers” features ten original short stories that run the gamut of genres, from dark and bloody horror to futuristic science fiction; from a captivating thriller to an epic tale of historical fiction. And then there are those stories that simply can’t be classified, but once you read them, you won’t be able to get them out of your mind . . .

In That Quiet Earth: Stories by Alex C. Telander (Smashwords, 2012)

Much like his first collection, “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers,” Alex C. Telander’s new short story collection, “In That Quiet Earth,” runs the gamut of genres, showing his extensive breadth and range as writer. Readers will not be disappointed and will find a number compelling storylines and complex characters to become engaged in reading about.

Faces of Publishing: An Interview with Brady McReynolds, publicist for Ace/Roc

Just finished updating the BookBanter site, where you can find a brand new Faces of Publishing interview with one entertaining and funny Brady McReynolds, a publicist for Penguin Putnam’s imprint’s Ace/Roc, a sample of which you can find below.  You’ll also find the latest BookBanter column on Ray Bradbury Remembered, as well as the latest book news from Forces of Geek.  I’ve also made it easier for you to download copies of my free ebooks: In that Quiet Earth and Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, simply click on the covers and download the ebook in the format of your choosing.  There’s also a guest post from TW Brown on the Zombie Summer Blog Tour.  Finally, I’ve included links to the various BookBanter columns that I’ve published on the sidebar of the site.  Enjoy!

Brady McReynolds

Brady McReynolds grew up near Atlanta, GA and Asheville, NC, and he is the son of two high school teachers. Brady grew up reading and before long enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2010, he joined Penguin’s Ace/Roc publicity department and has been working there ever since!

Michael Homler

Alex C. Telander: How did you first get started in publishing?

Brady McReynolds: Well my first gig in publishing was as an intern at Algonquin Books in Chapel Hill, NC. During my junior year at the University of North Carolina I knew that I should start looking for opportunities outside of academics and a friend who knew of my love of books recommended I start there. It was only a couple of hours a week (and consisted mostly of filing and mailing) but I thought it was fascinating to be a part of the book creation process.

Alex: Did you always want to work in publicity?

Brady: Well since I started working in publishing all I’ve ever known is the publicity side of things. It wasn’t until I landed my current job with Penguin that I began to see the other types of work (editing, marketing, agent-ing [?]) that people do. However, now that I am doing publicity there isn’t any other job I’d want to do. I really enjoy working with authors to promote their books once the editorial and promotion processes are finished.

Alex: Who are some of your favorite authors you’ve gotten meet and/or work with?

Brady: Well my auto-generated reply as a publicist is to say that “all my authors are my favorites!” but I feel like it wouldn’t make for interesting or enlightening reading. As someone who grew up reading science-fiction and fantasy, I’ve now had the privilege of working with a lot of the genre’s great contemporary authors. Charles Stross, Harry Turtledove, and Jim Butcher immediately come to mind. I also had a blast at last year’s New York Comic-Con working side by side with Taylor Anderson, Jack Campbell, and Myke Cole (all great guys) whose books I can’t recommend often enough.

[CONTINUE READING . . . ]