Thursday, December 8, 2016

Best of the West 2016

It's hard to narrow things down, so I'm helping you out.

I am still in the midst of a stack of friends books - I am a polygamist reader - I am in Utah after all - so don't anybody worry if theirs wasn't mentioned or reviewed just yet - I will get to it, but for the here and now, this is a list of favorite reads for the year.

So without further ado.

Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy is among my favorite fantasy period. So coming back to the world of the First Law with this collection of shorts was welcome indeed. The tales are all over the place with characters we know, love and hate - and best of all we get to meet some new great ones too. These stories are are gritty, action packed, and funny. Its a perfect combination.
Gritty, bizarre Lovecraftian adventure and mayhem! This is the stuff! Charles Phipps delivers some serious bone crushing action amidst a destroyed American landscape that owes as much to H.P. Lovecraft as Mad Max. Something I realize going through this list of favorite reads of the year, how much I love humor with my darkness, I think it helps balance it all out and you need that when you are dealing with  ghouls, ghasts and the undead in general - not to mention the matriarch of the Biake. Right when I wonder where Phipp's is going to take a story he throws in some great surprises and always raises the stakes! Wake the Dreamlands, we have a new walking nightmare!

I enjoyed Larry's Monster Hunter International, but wondered what I'd really think of his foray into epic fantasy. I was not disappointed, Larry has the chops for action, humor and intrigue but he also has the world building skills for a great new series. I'm glad I was surprised with this one. Built around a survivor and warrior - not your average chosen one - this had so many surprises both dark and wonderful. The villains are delightfully despicable and mysterious. We really feel like our hero is in danger  - but did I just say hero - even he doesn't really think he is.

I don't review or talk about non-fiction too often on this blog even though that's gotta be at least half of what I read - research and history and such - Steven Pressfield type books are about as close as I ever get to self-help and that's kinda why I picked this one up - Pressfield's blurb was right there on the cover. That was enough for me to crack it open. Seeing how much Holiday puts stock in Marcus Aurelius was the clincher. I had to read this. Its short but very worthwhile.

My fiend Craig is a true renaissance man. He rocks, acts, creates games and off course writes killer books. His latest could be my favorite, a trippy noir ghost story in rural setting is amazing. Mixing teenage angst and stories that feel like we know them and then getting the rug pulled out from us is a tough job, but Craig delivers in spades. Do yourself a favor and grab this!

Another friend of mine I truly admire is Dave Butler. His work is all over the place and this jump into middle grade is an amazing amalgam of Steampunk Pinocchio along with a bevy of fairy-folk creatures. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a middle grade book, Butler's work is clever, even esoteric, there are lots of folklore references inside, whether from our own world or his that is enchanting and deep. This is quite the book. Check it out. Butler has lots more coming.

This is another of the non-fiction books I use for research, though if you have read anything else by Boren it reads like historical fiction. I'm not even sure I believe everything he has to say but it literally makes for a fiction writers gold mine. Not to be missed.

My friend Jason King wrote this one a few years ago, so its an oldy but goody in this list. This is phenomenal flintlock fantasy - something I know I'll be reading more of in the new year - and even has spoiler alert - some unearthly manifestations involved. Think low magic historical science fiction or something like that - its different but great. So great I even wrote a novella in the world of Valcoria that will be released in an anthology that sits between this book and its sequel (coming October 2017)!

Much thanks to Paul McNamee for pointing this out to me. Weird westerns! I love them and this one knocked my socks off! I wasn't even halfway done and I had to write to author Joel Jenkin's telling him how great this was. It blew me away. Somebody was writing exactly the type of weird, adventure, with Lovecraftian references stories I dig. And with "Last of the Mohican's raised by Mormon's vibe to boot! These are collected from numerous anthologies of the the weird that Jenkins has been doing for awhile - he has quite the body of work out there and I've got to check out more! You should too!

This has been a great year for fiction - I still have lots more to catch up on along with working on my own and I have got big plans for 2017. How about you guys?

Oh and for the next two days, Cold Slither is just .99 cents - it could always use a little more love = reviews etc - thanks.