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Best of 2014 Part 2a: Novels

Doing one of these posts often takes a lot out of me because of all the linking and checking and verification and formatting and everything, but lists like this also help me crystalize my year in reading, so I value them quite highly. Thankfully, I’m able to get this list out in time and most of the books on the list have already been reviewed as well, so that’s something too.

With the year 2014 now done and over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st July to December 31st. I didn’t read as many books this time as I wanted to, primarily because I got married in the first week of July itself, and things have changed a fair bit. But life remains exciting and interesting in equal measure, and my reading also happens to match that rather closely, so I’ll take that in full indeed!

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2014: Day #12

The twelfth and final book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Erin M. Evans’ fourth and most recent Brimstone Angels novel, Fire In The Blood, the cover for which is done by Min Yum. I just posted my review of the novel, so you can head over to the post before this one to check it out, but suffice to say that Fire In The Blood happens to be the best novel in the series so far and that the ending of it gives me a lot of hope for the next novel, which Erin is currently in the process of writing and which will be called Ashes of The Tyrant.

The first of the twelfth and final set of comic covers I pick this year is for Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #3 by Jim Zub, Max Dunbar, John-Paul Bove and Neil Uyetake with the cover by Sarah Stone. The second is for Hexed #5 by Michael Alan Nelson, Dan Mora, Gabriel Cassata and Ed Dukeshire with the cover by Dan. The third and final cover is for Secret Six #1 by Gail Simone, Ken Lashley, Drew Geraci, Jason Wright and Carlos M. Mangual with the cover by Dale Eaglesham and Jason. Legends of Baldur’s Gate, Hexed and Secret Six are three of the most recent and also best comics of 2014, and that’s aptly reflected by the internal and external content both, and it really gratifies to be able to share these great covers with you all.

So without further ado, hit the break to see all the covers in their full glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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Advent Review #24: Fire In The Blood by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

Erin M. Evans’ Brimstone Angels series has proven to be quite a good one as it has progressed. These novels feature the tiefling twins Havilar and Farideh as the main characters, with a great cast of supporting chracters, each of whom is different from the other. And as great as the characters are, the plots themselves have been fairly engaging on a minimal level. I love reading the adventures of these two, with Farideh struggling to learn more about her warlock pact with the cambion devil Lorcan, and Havilar falling in love with a fellow young adventurer Aubrin Crownsilver, and both of them managing all of that while also taking down the bad guys one by one.

In the recently released Fire In The Blood, the fourth novel in the series, we pick up from where we left off at the end of The Adversary last year. The characters have all made their way to the city of Suzail, the capital of the Cormyr empire where Aubrin happens to be a noble, and even one with a half-strong claim to the throne itself. Things have been pretty rough for everyone, and Erin M. Evans revisits the concept of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. Each character has to face a great many personal challenges as they are assaulted by tons of things on all sides, and have to figure out what they really want out of their lives and the events around them. Goes without saying really that Fire In The Blood is a pretty damn good novel and is certainly the best in the series so far.

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Brimstone Angels: The Adversary by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

The Adversary is the third novel in both the Brimstone Angels series and in the crossover The Sundering series which was the big event for Forgotten Realms last year. Massive upheavals on a multiversal scale aside, the novel also featured some major changes to the status quo when Lorcan’s sister Sairche tricked Havilar and Farideh into a bargain that sent them forward in time almost a decade, time which they lost and never recovered from. But that wasn’t everything of course and as The Sundering progressed in the other novels, with many old heroes returning all over the multiverse, the tiefling twins also took their place in the grand scheme of things with a climactic twist that changed them completely. The Adversary also made it to my “Best of 2013 Part 2” list at the end of last year, a deserved spot.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

Erin’s second entry in the Brimstone Angels series was unfortunately not as good as the first, but it was still a rousing story in which she moved the story forward significantly as new challenges, new allies, new enemies and new complications presented themselves to the tiefling twins Havilar and Farideh. Here Erin explored their personal conflicts a great deal, and really made the novel about them, which is all you can ask really.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Brimstone Angels by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

Brimstone Angels is Erin M. Evans’ first novel in the series of the same name. I read the novel towards the tail-end of 2012, and it also happened to be the first book from the author that I’d read. And I was immediately a fan. The journey of the tiefling twins Havilar and Farideh was something that I enjoyed on a whole lot of levels, and it also got me much more interested in the Forgotten Realms sagas, much as Paul S. Kemp’s own Erevis Cale novels had done just a few months ago. If you want to get started with the Forgotten Realms setting, then the Brimstone Angels series is the way to go!

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Best of 2013 Part 2a: Books

Since 2013 is now over, its time to do my second “Best of the Best” list, for the second half of the year from July-December. There were some really good reads in this period, and as always, picking the best has been a chore. I always try to keep these lists as diverse as I can and hopefully you agree.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then! Read the rest of this entry

12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #12

The twelfth and final pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for author Erin M. Evans’ latest Forgotten Realms novel from Wizards of the Coast, The Adversary. This novel is the third in her Brimstone Angels series that features a pair of twin Tiefling teenage sisters, one a spellcaster and the other a warrior, and is also the third novel to be set in The Sundering, the current big event of the Forgotten Realms setting. I started reading Brimstone Angels last year and all the three novels in the series have been quite good. They’ve maintained my interest in the Forgotten Realms setting and have provided a great counterpoint to all the other novels I’ve read in the setting.

The twelfth and final comic cover that I pick is Matteo Scalera and Dean White’s brilliant cover for Black Science #2 from Image Comics. Written by Rick Remender and drawn by Scalera, this series debuted last month and has been one of my best monthly reads for both November and now December. A (weird) pulp SF adventure that also involves dimensional travel and alternate history, the series has some great characters and some truly fantastic art. It is, for sure, one of the best new comic series of 2013.

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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The Cover Art Mega-Post

I haven’t done something like this before, but I was thinking of doing this for a while. Thing is, there are so, so many books coming out later this year or just about to be released actually, that I really, really want to read, and doing individual posts for all of them on The Founding Fields would be a bit of chore. So I’m just doing a general bumper post collecting all these covers and details on the books.

Hope you enjoy!

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Publishing and Marketing 03: Women in SFF Part 1

One question that is being asked by many in the wake of the recent SFWA controversy, and all the commentary it has spawned in various places about misogyny and sexism within the publishing industry is: “If I want to read more books by female authors, where do I start?”

Often times, I think it is rather disheartening to hear such a question. Women have been writing books for a long, long time. And for people to not even be aware of that, or for that matter, be able to perform a basic google search about who are the big names right now? Doesn’t speak so well for us as a community. Speaking of the industry in the broadest sense, we are all very close-ranked, and to break out of the apparent restrictions is not easy. Sure its “easy” to get published as a woman, but to receive recognition? That’s an uphill battle.

It all comes down to respect. And when it comes to respect within the publishing industry (or even just in general in daily life), never ever use the word “political correctness”. That’s a dirty word to use, and it betrays a lack of ability to engage, and wilful dismissal of a very serious and ongoing issue that affects us all. Just look at the entire entertainment industry as a whole, whether its novels or comics or movies or even news.

In such a state, it is absolutely essential that we willingly look to broaden our horizons. We should take chances and read outside of our comfort zones, because otherwise we don’t challenge ourselves and we just propagate the “like begets like” scenario and we cannot grow as an individual.

Which is what this editorial, the third in my Publishing and Marketing series, is about: stepping out of your comfort zone. If you’ve never read a book by a female author before, then my suggestions herein are an excellent place to start.

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NANP: Other People’s Names

Today is a special bonus post on Names: A New Perspective as I take part in Erin M. Evans’ blog tour for the promotion of her latest novel, Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils, released last week from Wizards of the Coast. Having read Brimstone Angels (Review), I can honestly say that Lesser Evils is going to be spectacular. The Tieflings are my new favourite fantasy race, with Havilar and Farideh taking top spot (for the moment) on my favourite female fantasy characters list. Here’s what Erin had to say about her naming process.

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Names: A New Perspective Part 2

A little late, but I finally have the schedule of posts down. Post-NaNoWriMo blues and a massive reviewing/reading backlog plus my Advent Reviews series has kept me rather busy. Which reminds me, I still need to do that NaNoWriMo “after-action” report too! Ack! You can read any of the previous posts by using the series tag: “Names A New Perspective“. The previous line-up of authors is here. So, without further ado, here you are.

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