Bookbanter’s Best Reads of 2014

Top Reads

.1.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss: Rothfuss takes a short break from working on the the third Kingkiller Chronicle to show readers and fans a unique and in depth look at one of his strongest characters, Auri.

.2.

[REVIEW]

Snowblind by Christopher Golden: Golden brings you his best novel to date in this truly chilling horror story that uses a cold language and will have you yearning for hot tea or cocoa and trying not to be scared out of your skin.

.3.

[REVIEW]

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: In the impatiently-awaited second installment of the Stormlight Archive Sanderson does what he does best, moving his characters along and opening up new plots and story lines that will just blow the reader’s mind.

.4.

[REVIEW]

Influx by Daniel Suarez: From the bestselling author of Daemon comes a daunting tale of an impossible world we dread might exist, where technology is far more advanced than we ever could have imagined, and ideas that we consider science fiction are in fact in existence right now.

.5.

[REVIEW]

The Martian by Andy Weir: Another story about a trip to Mars gone wrong, only this one is so well-researched and detailed that each page is a nail-biting shocker, as you wrap your mind around the concept of what it’s like to be stranded on a distant planet.

.6.

[REVIEW]

Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch: A story about a town where everything isn’t as quaint and idyllic as it seems, but when the protagonist starts to unravel what’s behind the fake facade, it turns out to be far much worse and unbelievable.

.7.

[REVIEW]

Spectrum by Alan Jacobson: Karen Vail is back and this time she returns to her old haunts in New York to check out an old and unsolved case, and readers get to see how Vail became the great agent she is today.

.8.

[REVIEW]

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert: We are living in an unprecedented time where things just continue to get worse and worse; The Sixth Extinction shows what that catastrophic effect looks like and its ramifications.

.9.

[REVIEW]

Lock In by John Scalzi: In his new novel, Scalzi plays around with the idea about those who are different and somewhat outcast by society and wish to be accepted and not have their disability “cured.”

.10.

[REVIEW]

Kronos Rising by Max Hawthorne: An ancient creature from the deeps arises and decides it likes the taste of human flesh and blood. What if Jaws was in fact a much more terrifying giant marine dinosaur?

.11.

[REVIEW]

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: In the follow-up to the successful Cuckoo’s Calling, Galbraith presents a picture of the British publishing world and when a well-known but not so beloved authors turns up in a horribly murdered, private detective Comoran Strike finds himself in some hot water.

.12.

Desert God by Wilbur Smith : Smith returns to ancient Egypt, a world he knows well, and his beloved character, Taita, who is now quite old but still possessed of great might and even greater intelligence, as he leads his people across a great land in a dangerous mission.

.13.

[REVIEW]

S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst: In a truly monumental undertaking, S. is a work of art that is a great book with magnificent props and details that will boggle the mind.

.14.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (translated by Jay Rubin): Murakami is back with another tale of some truly unusual characters who are close friends and then one of their members is ostracized and he knows not why and so, later in life, must begin his pilgrimage to answer this question.

.15.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King: King takes a turn to mystery and sleuthing with a retired cop, Bill Hodges, who may not be so retired and out of practice as he thought.

.16.

[REVIEW]

The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell: Cornwell continues his Saxon Tales series with this sixth installment featuring the tough pagan, Uhtred, looking to reclaim his stolen home, Bebbanburg.

Top Graphic Novels

.1.

[REVIEW]

Saga Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: In the third volume of this award-winning, terrific series, our main characters (as well as some enemies) take a trip to Quietus and meet an old friend.

.2.

[REVIEW]

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks and Caanan White: The author of World War Z turns to a truly remarkable graphic novel story about the African-American infantry regiment during World War I.

.3.

[REVIEW]

Climate Changed by Philipe Squarzoni: A sobering graphic novel tale about how far climate change has come and how we are at the point now where things can’t be suddenly changed and it will take centuries for the planet to return to the state it once was.

.4.

[REVIEW]

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang: A story about a young gamer girl who learns about gold farmers and a whole world on the other side of the planet she never knew existed.

.5.

The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy: An original story epic in scope about an invader that takes over the world and controls it for some time, but there are those few who still have hope that there is a way to stop them.

.6.

[REVIEW]

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh:  A collection of the popular online comic strip that goes beyond just being funny but has some important life lessons and advice for readers.

The Best Reads 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.

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