Because all of life is stories.
Hey look. This thing is still here.
*wipes away dust*
*catches up with family of spiders in the corner*
Well, being that the time is right and that I have a bunch of books I haven’t reviewed, I suppose it’s time for one of those “Best Of” posts. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to micro-review 10 books. One Top 5 list of my unreviewed books of the year, and one Top 5 of my overall books of the year. Which may feature things that I’ve already reviewed.
You know what, of course it’s going to feature things I’ve already reviewed. As always with this blog, not all these books may have come out this year, but an old book is always new to someone who hasn’t read it. Let’s begin.
Top Five Unreviewed Books of 2013
5. Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest
The latest from sci-fi/fantasy humorist A. Lee Martinez, Road Quest is the story of two teens, ripped and sensitive jock Troy and minotaur waitress Helen. After fending off attack and digestion from a ravenous lost god, Helen and Troy are sent on an official sanctioned quest to accomplish his tasks and avoid a grisly fate. In a world where enchanted americans are taken for granted, you never know what will get in there way or help them along on their quest. It’s funny, it’s well paced, and it integrates the feel of a Jack Kerouac novel with the Odyssey, and a little Christopher Moore on the side.
I’ve never been shy about extolling the wonders that are Brandon Sanderson novels. This one follows his same winning formula. Engaging characters, unique and well fleshed out magic system, and interesting setting. This one takes place in Chicago. But only after the entire city, from the water in the lake to the furniture, has been turned into steel by the titular antagonist Steelheart. Some years ago a mostly unexplained event called the Calamity has brought super powered humans into the world. But here’s the catch, they’re all villains. All of them. Not one superhero in the bunch. Steelheart follows the story of a young boy who may be the only one alive to have seen Steelheart injured. It’s fast paced and reads like it’ll make one hell of a movie. We’ve got epic fights, we’ve got chase scenes, we’ve got intrigue and a lovable protagonist. Read it. Love it.
Yeah, so I’m a few years late with this one. Like, almost two decades late. I took this one in on audiobook this year. Mostly because it’s read by Tim freaking Curry. He does an astounding job. Beyond that, Nix is a master and I hate myself that it took me so long to finally pick him up. Sabriel is a child of two worlds, our own, and The Old Kingdom. After a sudden disappearance, she finds herself tasked with taking on the role of Abhorsen, settler of the dead. And the biggest and baddest of them is coming back. Beautiful prose, unique and inventive magic, and characters worth reading about again and again make up the first of a legendary trilogy.
Man. Where did this come from? Apocalyptic fiction that managed to tear my heart out in the first 35 pages, and then let me stew in it for next several hundred. Hugh Howey joins Larry Correia and Erin Morgenstern amongst a growing number of authors who prove self-publishing and events like NaNoWriMo can be phenomenal gateways into the traditional market. I loved every minute of this, and anxiously await books two and three (They’re already out by the way). I can’t tell you a whole lot more without ruining it, but really, just READ IT.
Christopher Moore. Funny guy extraordinaire. Resident lunatic. Possibly the best comedic writer on the planet. This is his crowning glory. I reviewed Fluke earlier in the year and loved it. This is better. Reading the Bible we really only see Jesus as a baby in a manger and as the food multiplying, water walking, injury healing miracle man. But what happened in between? Well if you listen to Christopher Moore it involved Jesus (Joshua) and his best friend Biff tracking down the Three Wise Men, hanging out with a Yeti, and learning Kung-Fu among other things. I’ve never laughed so much at a book. So even though it wasn’t published this year (It’s my system, deal with it) Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is my as yet unreviewed Book of 2013.
Top Five Books of 2013
5. The Rithmatist
Sanderson occupies the number five spot on both of my lists this year. This time it’s with his alternate history magical boarding school, where students train with chalk to fight a war, America is a loosely connected series of archipelagos, and The East has basically taken over everything else long ago. It’s inventive in terms of magic, it’s a little bit steampunk, and I can’t wait for the rest of the series (as yet unpublished) to explore the world in which it takes place.
4. The Daylight War
Though it took a few steps back in my opinion, it was still a strong entry in a refreshingly new fantasy series. Arlen and Jardir come closer to The Daylight War, when all of human kind will be united against the demon spawn corelings that rise from the ground every night. Already the world is beginning to change, as men and women begin to embrace the night. Lines on the map are being redrawn. And though we are told there can only be one Deliverer, is that really true? Utterly original, The Daylight War was a solid middle installment of one of the best fantasy series to be released in years.
3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Surprising and charming, Penumbra came out of nowhere to be one of my new favorite books of all time. A story combining the old with the new, print books versus the internet, in a mystery-slash-adventure-slash-romance-slash-comedy that read the whole way through while missing several classes to do so. It has heart, humor, and manages to bridge a gap between the exciting technological advances of the Information Age with the romanticism of a good old fashioned book.
2. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman’s powerful fairy tale about survival, memory, and things lost and found again. It’s short, but doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. It’s the crowning work of an impressive career that also includes massive literary and commercial successes like American Gods and Coraline. I never wanted to put it down. And I own it as an ebook, audiobook, and two signed first editions. I’m a tad bit obsessed. It easily gets my recommendation as 2013 Book of the Year.
What I’m Looking Forward to in 2014
4. The continuation of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War universe.
3. If I’m really good, The Skull Throne by Peter Brett will bring more Demon Cycle awesomeness.
2. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. Book two of the successor to The Wheel of Time and eventual 10 book minimum series. Due out in March!
1. The Kingkiller’s final installment. Maybe. Hopefully. Please?
Here’s to an amazing year in books! Happy New Year all! Stay literate!