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12 Days of Best Covers of 2014: Day #1

Last year I started a seasonal “Best of…” list that focused on some of the best covers I saw that year, whether for novels or comics. And now, it being the same time of the year in the new year, it is an opportunity to bring the list back, more so since it was really popular when I started it.

The first of these “Best of…” book covers is actually a tie between William King’s Terrarch Chronicles #2: The Serpent Tower and Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns #1: The Thousand Names. None of these two are 2014 publications, which is usually how I do these lists, but I wasn’t particularly taken with the covers of the two 2014 books I did read, so here we are (Though, it should be mentioned that the mass paperback of The Thousand Names came out in July’14). I’ve long been a fan of William’s work for Black Library, and Terrarch Chronicles was his first self-published work, the first novel in the series being one of my favourites last year. And with Django’s debut from last year, I’ve become a big fan of his work too and will be reading the sequel in a few days, hopefully. Looking forward to that!

The first of these “Best of…” comics covers is another tie, owing more to how many more comics I began to read this year compared to previous years, each week. And the picks are the covers for Witchblade #172 by Stjepan Sejic and for Black Widow #2 by Phil Noto. The Witchblade is a character I’ve long been a fan, specifically its bearer Sara Pezzini and with Ron Marz coming back on the title last year, it proved to be a new fun era for the title in all respects. And on Black Widow, I’ve seen some of the best content from Marvel all-year, with the new title being matched in consistency only by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel.

So 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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Best of 2014 Part 1a: Novels

This post is coming in at a slightly later time than I’d prefer, about two weeks late at least, but I guess I can’t really “complain” when the lateness is due to my own wedding which took place exactly two weeks ago on the 5th. It has certainly been a very busy and intense time, what with being engrossed in all the marriage stuff and then even after that there’s been one thing after another. Reading time has definitely suffered greatly, which makes me a little sad considering how much I love reading, but eh, all for a good cause really.

With half the year now over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st January to 30th June. There’s been a ton of books that I’ve read in this period as usual, and I made a very strong effort to read more tie-in fiction than I usually do, so the list is most assuredly going to reflect that. Tie-in fiction is a very important part of the publishing industry I feel and it always deserves some recognition. Now if we could only get an award started that celebrated tie-in fiction and all would be alright with the world. Or so my thinking goes.

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

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2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (Book Review)

Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a novel that I will never forget. It has the distinction, for me, of being the first ever full-on space opera/science fiction novel that I ever read (I am not counting the young adult Animorphs novels). It was also the first novel I read at my new school in Dubai when we moved there in July 2001 (I read the book sometime late September 2001). To this day, I remember the book very fondly. It started off in an amazing place, and it ended with the most wondrous climax that I’d read to date, and that applies to all the hundreds of novels I’ve read since then.

There is something about nostalgia, and that first book. Frank Herbert’s Dune will always be an amazing masterpiece for me and a true space opera classic, but 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great companion at the top of that table. Clarke’s novel is the one that really set me on the path to reading the wider science fiction and fantasy genres, and that is why it will always have a special place in my heart. Just a few days ago, I re-read the novel for the first time ever since that first reading almost twelve and a half years ago. The sense of wonder and grandeur in the novel is just as compelling today as it was to an inexperienced reader all those years ago. A timeless classic.

Note: This novel is part of my 25 Series To Read In 2014 challenge.

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The Thousand Names by Django Wexler (Book Review)

Django is one of the authors that I discovered through Twitter. And I meant to read his debut last year itself, but didn’t really get a chance to do that. Which is why The Thousand Names is one of the first books that I read this year. I’d long been interested in it, especially given the premise and since it had been getting a lot of positive buzz in the part of the blogosphere that I frequent. And that’s actually quite important to me. If my friends like something, then I am much more liable to check it out, just because of all that buzz.

And with The Thousand Names, the first in Django’s The Shadow Campaigns series, I was quite impressed with it. I’ve been noticing, among all the debuts I’ve been reading in the last two years, that the quality is often quite high indeed. Some really talented authors are making themselves known and I feel really excited to say that Django is right up there too. The Thousand Names is easily one of the best novels that I’ve read since becoming a reviewer and thinking about books and stuff critically. So that’s quite an achievement on a personal level, all things considering.

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25 Series I Want To Read in 2014

Last year, I blogged over at The Founding Fields about 25 book series from various genres, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, etc that I wanted to read in 2013. The intention behind that particular reading challenge was to read a broad variety of some of the most popular names in those genres as well as to try out several new authors and revisit some favourite classics. While I wasn’t as successful in the challenge as I might like, I’ve made it a new year resolution to make sure that I do indeed repeat the challenge in 2014 with new books, new authors, and finish it this time.

To that effect, here are the 25 book series I’ve picked for this reading challenge for this year. You can see the previous list for 2013 here.

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NANP: A Process That Requires Aspirin

The first guest in August for Names: A New Perspective is debut author M. L. Brennan, who had an urban fantasy novel (featuring vampires) called Generation V released earlier this year from Roc Books. I’ve only recently started getting into the monsters subgenre of urban fantasy and I haven’t been disappointed with it much. Books like Amanda Carlson’s Jessica McClain series and Lee Collins’ Cora Oglesby duology have been quite good and I’m hoping that Generation V does the same for me. I love vampire movies, and I’d really like to be able to say the same for books as well. While I get around to reading the book, here is Brennan on the topic of names within his book.

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NANP: Naming Verisimilitude

Joining me today on Names: A New Perspective is one of this year’s most promising authors, Django Wexler. The first book in his Shadow Campaigns series, called The Thousand Names interesting enough, was released earlier this month and has generated quite a big buzz both before and after its release. I’m definitely interested in picking it up because I like both editions of its cover and because I like the premise of it. I’m buried under ARCs at the moment and am behind my reading as well so I won’t get around to the book anytime soon, but I’m definitely reading it this year. Till then, there’s Django talking about names in fiction.

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