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My Top 10 Reads of 2015

I realize most on this list were not released in 2015, but I am okay with that. I don’t like hype or jumping on bandwagons, so I generally wait until all of it dies down before I delve into something new.

Also, 2015 was the year of fantasy for me. I jumped head first into the genre with much fervor and great enthusiasm. Since I had only opened myself up to the genre last year (2014), I had much catching up to do. My first being, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. So, I apologize for the lack of variety in this list but it was what I decided was worth reading in 2015.

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10. Alice in Zombieland – Gena Showalter

I absolutely love Gena Showalter’s YA novels. Yes, they always have romance in them but they are beyond fantastic. Plus, I had been trying to get my hands on this novel for a while (without ordering it online) and it was always sold out. When I finally got it in my possession, I wasted no time in cracking it open and sinking into the pages. I also read this on the heels of The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie and it was a welcome change from the heaviness of that novel.

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9. Eragon – Christopher Paolini

I did mention I just started reading fantasy as of last year, right? I know, I know. I’ve already heard it from so many people. How could I not have read this series until now. Well, I had no interest until now. I was raised in a house where horror reigned supreme and dragons were stupid, big lizards. When I did start reading fantasy, that opinion quickly changed and I couldn’t get enough. I loved the movie adaptation of this novel and so I purchased it. It took me so long to read it because I didn’t want to hate the movie afterwards. And I don’t. I love them both.

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8. Tin Men – Christopher Golden

I was browsing Goodreads one day and I came across one of their giveaways for an ARC of this novel, so I clicked it. A few weeks later, it came in the mail and I began reading it. I was so wrapped up in the story that I forgot to eat for almost an entire day. This solidified my love for Christopher Golden. (Dead Ringers is also fantastic).

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7. The Iron King – Julie Kagawa

I absolutely love stories of the Fey. Even as a little girl I would seek out these kinds of stories. There is a lot of nostalgia behind this choice. The Iron King has all of the elements I look for in a story, adventure, twisty story lines, humor,  taking something known and putting your own spin on it… the list goes on. I love the melding of genres. I can’t say enough good things about this book. I cannot wait to finish this series!

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6. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling)

I have to admit, I was completely nervous picking up this book. I am a huge Harry Potter fan and I knew Rowling had written this series. I wanted it to be just as good as Harry but I wanted it to be so completely different. I was battling with myself. What if it isn’t as good? Could anything be as good? How is she going to pull this off? But when I started reading, I forgot I was reading a book by the same person who wrote Harry. I was thrilled that while still good, it wasn’t even the same style. There were no similar themes… well, not enough for me to be like, “well, she did that again”. I am so happy to see her break away from a worldwide beloved character and prove she’s not a one trick pony.

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5. Cinder – Marissa Meyer

Okay, not going to lie. I am a sucker for a good retelling of classic fairy tales… even those of the princess variety. This book was beyond hard to put down. I needed to know what was going to happen next. I believe I read it all in a 24 hour period. I am excited to continue this series.

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4. The Warded Man – Peter V. Brett

I loved this story!! There were so many elements that I loved, to list them all would just be annoying. However, I am going to list a few.

Oh, the Victorian values of this culture. I adored this element, simply because it was something familiar in a world so strange.

The fact that a boy, not a man, not an elder, not a priest, figures out how to ward his own skin and no one else has this idea. At first I was like, don’t you think someone else would have figured this out by now, that’s just idiotic. Then I was like… you know what… Maybe that’s the point. Maybe it is idiotic and that’s why it takes a boy willing to do it, to prove it works. Who else would tattoo their flesh on a whim? Once I realized that I was on board with the idea.

And lastly, I loved the world building in this novel. While it was simple and many things from our world translated fluidly, I feel like the melding was well done.

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3. The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

I HATE THIS NOVEL… NO, I LOVE THIS NOVEL… NO, I HATE JOE ABERCROMBIE… NO, WTF ARE YOU DOING?

That seems to summarize my reading of this novel. I loved it, I hated it… Needless to say, the book riled me up 90% of the time I was reading it. I threw it at one point. And then BAM… nothing happens (ie, cliffhanger). WTF, Joe Abercrombie.

Well played, Joe Abercrombie…

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2. Queen of Fire – Anthony Ryan

The final installment of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy, which just happens to be my favorite fantasy trilogy, didn’t pack quite the punch that the first two did. While I love that it wrapped up loose ends, that seems to be all this book was for. Don’t get me wrong. It was still an amazing book (it is ranked #2 in my favorites of the year!!). The entire series is amazing and you should go pick them up and read them right now!!

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1. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

This book is so… I honestly do not even have the words. Amazing, yes. Beautifully written, yes. Magical, yes. I just don’t feel I can do the writing justice. The descriptions in this novel make you feel as if you are participating in everything that is taking place. The flow of the novel is seamless. There is nothing I can even critique and say… well, it’s not perfect. It is a genuine masterpiece (and I am in the process of reading book 2).

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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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Last Minute Gift Guide for the Book Lover in Your Family

Okay, it’s down to the wire. What are you going to purchase for that book lover in your family?

Duh, a book!!

But there are so many…

Of course there are. No book lover is built alike. We are all interested in something different.

So, how do I pick something for someone when there is such a huge selection?

Your best bet is to go with a new release. This I say, because every book lover holds out on the one book they have really been wanting when the holidays roll around, simply because they know that is the obvious choice as a gift for them.

Top Gift Picks – HORROR

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This to me is the obvious choice for the horror fan in your life. Most fans of the genre love anything written by the King of Horror… see what I did there 😉

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So, you happen to know that your book lover does not love Stephen King. That’s okay, here’s a solid contender. Your horror fan will not be disappointed.

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But, my horror fan only reads vampire novels. Then they will be pleasantly surprised by this collection of shorts, unless the vampires you speak of are of the sparkly variety. (Umm… Just realized this is the 2nd book I have recommended with Christopher Golden on the title page but not going to take it back 🙂 )

 

For the Fantasy Fan:
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I am almost positive your fantasy fan has not picked up this novel but they should. Such an enchanting read, a coming of age novel that is par for the course of fantasy at the moment.

I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.

For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst.

Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society.

Such has always been the tradition—until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate.

Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.

Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.

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If a new author isn’t something you want to give your book lover, how about one of the best in the genre?

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father’s fate.

Combining the best of Shogun and Netflix’s Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

For the Young Adult Reader

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This is a great choice if you really just want to open up a new world to your young adult reader. Imagine how hard it is to write a novel with no sound words.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

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Looking for a spine-tingling YA read. This is it.

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

For the Historical Fiction Lover

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A little history, a little fantasy and very good.

The beginning of an epic historical fantasy that rocks the foundations of the ancient world

Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar’s ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar’s legacy. As civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may shape the course of history.

Juba, Numidian prince and adopted brother of Octavian, has embarked on a ruthless quest for the Shards of Heaven, lost treasures said to possess the very power of the gods—or the one God. Driven by vengeance, Juba has already attained the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which may also be the staff once wielded by Moses. Now he will stop at nothing to obtain the other Shards, even if it means burning the entire world to the ground.

Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves . . . and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.

The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.

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This…

In March of 1909, Mark Twain cheerfully blessed the wedding of his private secretary, Isabel V. Lyon, and his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. One month later, he fired both. He proceeded to write a ferocious 429-page rant about the pair, calling Isabel “a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded and salacious slut pining for seduction.”Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemens, then slandered Isabel in the newspapers, erasing her nearly seven years of devoted service to their family. How did Lyon go from being the beloved secretary who ran Twain’s life to a woman he was determined to destroy?

In Twain’s End, Lynn Cullen reimagines the tangled relationships between Twain, Lyon, and Ashcroft, as well as the little-known love triangle between Helen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Anne’s husband, John Macy, which comes to light during their visit to Twain’s Connecticut home in 1909. Add to the party a furious Clara Clemens, smarting from her own failed love affair, and carefully kept veneers shatter.

Based on Isabel Lyon’s extant diary, Twain’s writings and letters, and events in Twain’s boyhood that may have altered his ability to love,Twain’s End explores this real-life tale of doomed love.

For the Literature Fan</strongimage

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Because, what literary fan doesn’t like John Irving?

John Irving returns to the themes that established him as one of our most admired and beloved authors in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.
As we grow older—most of all, in what we remember and what we dream—we live in the past. Sometimes, we live more vividly in the past than in the present.

As an older man, Juan Diego will take a trip to the Philippines, but what travels with him are his dreams and memories; he is most alive in his childhood and early adolescence in Mexico. “An aura of fate had marked him,” John Irving writes, of Juan Diego. “The chain of events, the links in our lives—what leads us where we’re going, the courses we follow to our ends, what we don’t see coming, and what we do—all this can be mysterious, or simply unseen, or even obvious.”

Avenue of Mysteries is the story of what happens to Juan Diego in the Philippines, where what happened to him in the past—in Mexico—collides with his future.

For the Sci-fi Fan:

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I was able to read this novel in its beginning stages and it wasn’t quite up to par. However, it was rewritten into a fantastic novel that any sci-fi fan will enjoy.

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized – even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.

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There is so much buzz about this one that I want it myself.

In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte’s attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.

But when the attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he’s Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive … and what makes life worth living.

If I missed a genre it is either because I don’t read that genre or there have been too few releases recently to give a solid recomendation.

Feel free to contact me (via comment) if you need a more specific recommendation.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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Seize the Halloween Weekend

Please welcome this guest post from Gallery Books! 😀

Enjoying a great treat is not just for kids on Halloween. Indulge yourself this week and read SEIZE THE NIGHT: NEW TALES OF VAMPIRIC TERROR, the new “stellar anthology of tales” (Publishers Weekly Starred Review), sure to quench your thirst for a Horrific Halloween read! Conjuring reactions such as “Going back to the heydays of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot” and “For anyone who likes tales of the creepy sort like Stephen King’s short stories in Everything’s Eventual or Nightmares & Dreamscapes,”  how can one resist?

SEIZE THE NIGHT

Edited by Christopher Golden

Gallery Books

October 6, 2015

ISBN: 9781476783093

Trade Paperback

$18.00

Once upon a time, vampires were figures of terror…and they can be again. Legends of these dark creatures sprang from every corner of the world and infinite variations throughout history—with even more of them waiting in the farthest corners of the imagination. SEIZE THE NIGHT takes hold of a popular culture environment where the vampire has largely lost its ability to inspire fear, and now brings out the dread, showcasing twenty all-new tales of horrifying evil from an extraordinary lineup of twenty contributors:

John Ajvide Lindqvist

Kelley Armstrong

Laird Barron

Gary A. Braunbeck

Dana Cameron

Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry

Charlaine Harris

Brian Keene

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Michael Koryta

John Langan

Tim Lebbon

Seanan McGuire

Joe McKinney

Leigh Perry

Robert Shearman

Scott Smith

Lucy A. Snyder

David Wellington

Rio Youers

The dusk is upon you, and your fright-filled journey to the shadows of the hereafter is about to begin with SEIZE THE NIGHT—old-school vampire fiction at its finest.

“The notion of the romantic vampire is transcended to chilling and even heartbreaking effect in this stellar anthology of tales…These stories move smoothly from the subtle to the horrifying…”

—Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Twenty stories of varying lengths offer quick bites of otherworldly entertainment. Edited by Christopher Golden, this collection takes vampire fiction back to its bloody, frightful roots. Readers looking for old-school horror laden with darkness will appreciate these diverse stories from some of the best writers in the genre…all are entertaining…With new spins on classic traditions and inventive, unexpected twists, it’s the perfect spooky read for Halloween — or any night that calls for a touch of terror.”

—RT Book Reviews

“The twenty-one authors collected in this volume have…succeeded in returning vampires and their ilk back into our nightmares where they belong…each tale delivered the goods. And by goods, I mean terror…These are not your Count Dracula vampire stories, but thankfully they’re not of the friendly variety either. What they all have in common is that each and every story is a cut above the ordinary. My highest recommendation.”

—Cemetery Dance

“Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror is a highly successful anthology, one that puts vampires back into the shadowy, hidden corners where they belong and makes them creepy, chilling, at times downright frightening…we’re getting back to the old-school roots of vampiric lore, going back to the heydays of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot…this is a vital return to form for these stoic, and historic, universal baddies…Seize the Night has the singular aim of making vampires terrifying again, and it heartily succeeds in its mission. Golden and the contributors deserve a fair amount of applause for their work here, and this anthology is a wonderful reminder of what made vampires such a popular horror staple, and why they continue to endure across the ages.”

—Michael Patrick Hicks

“Anthologies have always been one of my favorite things. A chance to read old favorite authors and a chance to also find some new favorites as well, all based on some short stories. Which is, of course, why I chose to read Seize the Night – New Tales of Vampiric Terror… Seize The Night –New Tales of Vampiric Terror is slated to be released on October 6, 2015. Be sure to get your copy before they disappear! Anyone who likes tales of the creepy sort like Stephen King’s short stories in Everything’s Eventual or Nightmares & Dreamscapes should check out Seize the Night.”

—The Goth Girl Reads

“…a diverse and high quality collection of new stories from some great names within the horror and paranormal sub-genres…Quite simply, if you are a fan of vampires, do not miss this one. 4 Throbbing Carotid Arteries for Seize The Night.”

—Horror After Dark

“Sink your teeth into this collection with caution, it’ll bite back.”

—Hardboiled Wonderland

“I would really recommend this wonderful book to anyone who wants to read a vampire anthology that harks back to the heyday of quality horror fiction.”

—Book Nutter’s Reviews

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Seize The Night…well-written with plenty of frights to keep any horror fan awake at night.”

—Coffee Addicted Writer

“I really prefer my vampires evil, so this anthology was just what I was looking for. It opens with a novelette by Scott Smith, and that one story is worth the price of the book. The victims are suitably disgusting and deserve their fate, which is rapid and brutal. Michael Koryta suggests a rather different cause for vampirism. Charlaine Harris has a very nice story about an energy vampire rather than a blood drinking one. Kelley Armstrong suggests there is a genetic marker for vampirism. Tim Lebbon takes us back to a particularly brutal period of history for his story. John Langan presents a time traveling vampire that can duplicate bodies to ensure it has a steady source of prey…well above average.”

—Don A’mmassa On Horror

“…Brings out the dead and dread, showcasing 20 all-new tales of horrifying evil from a coffin full of different writers who dabble in the undead from various angles, from horrific to heart-wrenching, romantic to rough. We especially feasted on Rio Youers’ “Separator”, set in a typhoon-devastated Philippines where a land developer gets a brutal taste of local legend. Ouch!”

—Examiner.com – A Tricky Treat for Fright Night

“I honestly had nightmares reading this anthology, which is a first for me, and found the writing samples to be strong and powerful tales that twisted an already frightening lore. I definitely recommended reading Seize The Night as a Halloween novel. This book will appeal to readers who enjoy horror, frightening tales, anthologies and short stories, gruesome and violent vampires. I would wholeheartedly recommend reading Seize The Night if you are a horror fan or a supporter of real, gritty vampire novels without the romanticism and moral questions.”

—Silk & Serif

“Now, from some of the biggest names in horror and dark fiction, comes this collection of short stories that make vampires frightening once again.”

—Bookgasm – Halloween-Ready New Release Awaiting You to Treat Yourself

About the Editor

Christopher Golden is the #1 New York Times bestselling and Bram Stoker Award-winning author of such novels as Snowblind, Tin Men, Of Saints and Shadows, and The Boys Are Back in Town. His novel with Mike Mignola, Baltimore; or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was the launching pad for the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series Baltimore. As an editor, he has compiled the short story anthologies The New Dead, The Monster’s Corner, and Dark Duets, among others, and has also written and co-written numerous comic books, video games, and screenplays. Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world. Please visit him at christophergolden.com.

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AMAZON

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BAM

INDIEBOUND

IBOOKSTORE (ebook)

KINDLE (ebook)

NOOK (ebook)

GOOGLE PLAY (ebook)

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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