2012 Recap and My Best Ofs

2012 came and went just like that. Christmas and New Year celebrations are finished and we’re still alive, still waiting for an apocalypse to come.

At the beginning of last year, I set myself some challenges. I wanted to read more than 50 ebooks, well I certainly read more than that but only managed to write up 37 reviews. I wanted to read at least 10 self published novels and in the end I have 16 reviews written.

I’m not good at ranking things. It depends on my mood and my feelings at that moment in time. So here is a list of the best books I’ve read in 2012. I’ll keep it simple by picking only 5 debut novels and 5 non debut novels. The following lists are ordered alphabetically by the authors’ names.

Debut Novels

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.

A brilliant, high-octane action novel that explores the implications of magic in the modern world. How would governments react if any civilian has the potential to become a weapon of mass destruction and is the regulation worth the sacrifices? Review

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible, but if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

Take some monsters; a kickass female lead; place them in a western setting; mix well and you get a fantastic adventure that you would not be able to put down. Review

Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

Another amazing debut from Angry Robot Books. A tale of heaven and hell with a damned soul in between. This is one story that I would love to see translated on to the big screen. Review

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. Born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora dodges both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains, neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected family of orphans “Gentlemen Bastards.” Locke grows to lead, delightedly pulling off one outrageous trick after another, infamous as the Thorn of Camorr—no wealthy noble is safe from his sting. But the Gray King is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game—or die trying

I know this has been out for many years but I only got round to reading it in 2012. In Lies of Locke Lamora Lynch creates a vibrant, living world with every little detail accounted for. This book is filled to the brim with culture, history and lore. The Blade Itself is another book with great world building that I read in 2012 but in the end I picked LoLL because the story is more self contained. Review

Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: Will she find the psycho or die trying?

On one level this thrilling story tells of an unsolved murder with an urban fantasy twist but on another level, it is also a statement for the unfair treatment of minorities. Definitely my surprise hit of the year.Review

Non Debut Novels

 

Eisenhorn Omnibus by Dan Abnett

Inquisitor Eisenhorn is one on the most senior members of the Imperial Inquisition. With his warband he scourges the galaxy in order to root out heresy. When that heresy is found to infiltrate the hierarchy of the Imperium and the Inquisition itself, he must rely on himself alone to deal with it – even if it means making deals with the enemy. All three books of the Eisenhorn trilogy along with two short stories and Eisenhorn’s case book and compendium are included in one big volume.

If Jack Bauer was born in the 41st millenium then he would be Eisenhorn. Even branded as a rogue agent, Eisenhorn will go to any length to bring down the enemies of the Imperium. A classic Warhammer 40k story. Review

Seasons of War by Daniel Abraham

The poets and their magical andat have protected the cities of the Khaiem against their rivals in Galt for generations. Otah, Khai of the Winter City of Machi, has tried for years to prepare his people for a future in which the andat can no longer be safely harnessed. But his warnings have been ignored, and now it’s too late. A ruthless, charismatic Galtic general believes he has found a way to strip the andat of their power. If he is wrong, Galt will be destroyed. If he is right, the Khaiem will fall. Only one thing is certain: conflict is inevitable, and Otah and his old friend and enemy the disgraced poet, Maati, must fight a desperate battle to protect their cities from slaughter. These two men, bound together by shadow and betrayal, will bring the world to the edge of a cataclysm unlike anything either side had imagined. For if the cost of war is high, the price of peace may be unimaginable …

It’s rare to find a book that can be so beautiful yet so sad at the same time. The final two books in the Long Price Quartet shows how amazingly talented Abraham is at his craft. I know some people struggled with the first book due to its pace but the entire series is well worth the effort. I still need to write down my thoughts for this book.

Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons…

One of the most outstanding 40k books I’ve read. This story is not just about the first war for Armageddon but also the aftermath of that war when the Inquisition has to purge all taint from the survivors. This story is ultimately about characters doing their best to survive in the grim dark future. ADB is among the very best in creating characters that you truly care about. Review

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

My first exposure to Sanderson and what a real treat this was. This was everything I could have hoped for and more. Now I see why so many people hold Sanderson in such high regards.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

The book reads like a Tarantino movie and grabs you from the very beginning with its enigmatic protagonist Miriam. If you are looking for a dark, gritty urban fantasy then this one is for you. Review