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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 #11

The eleventh book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for James Lovegrove’s Age of Shiva, the latest novel in his Pantheon series. The new novel is a major departure from the previous novels since it covers Hindu Mythology this time, and presents the most compelling “origin” yet of the superhero-ish characters to be found within. With a subtle story that also deals with issues of cultural misappropriation and religious satire, Age of Shiva stands as one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

The first of the eleventh set of comic covers I pick this year is for John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 by Ron Marz, Abhishek Malsuni, Nanjan Jamberi and Rob Steen, with the cover by Bart Sears (another variant this time). The second is for Justice League #36 by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Carlos M. Mangual with the cover by Jason and Brad. The third and final cover is for Velvet #8 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser and Chris Eliopoulos, with the cover by Steve and Elizabeth. The first of these is obviously the first in a new series, one that has been pretty damn good in its first issues, with its soft reboot of John Carter’s mythology as developed by Dynamite and going in a very different to before. The second is for a series that I’ve recently come back to, only to find that two of my favourite artists are now on the title, which pleases me immensely, and the AMAZO virus story has been pretty fun I’ll admit. The third one is for a title that I think is one of the best ongoing titles of this year, by a good margin, with its focus on an awesome female protagonist and some great noir spy-action.

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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12 Days of Best Covers of 2014: Day #10

The tenth book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Gareth Powell’s second Ack-Ack Macaque novel, Hive Monkey, which was an absolute joy to read this year. It follows on from last year’s Ack-Ack Macaque and is pretty much just as good a novel, if not better. Gareth expanded on the world he’d created for this series, and he did it magnificently, with a twist that you could never have seen coming from a mile off. That’s the fun thing about his work, his twists are always awesome.

The first of the tenth set of comic covers I pick this year is for Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 by Ales Kot, Marco Rudy and VC’s Clayton Cowles with the cover by Marco only. The second is for Catwoman #35 by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, Lee Loughridge, Sal Cipriano and Taylor Esposito, with the cover by Jae Lee and June Chung. The third is for Predator: Fire and Stone #1 by Joshua Williamson, Christopher Mooneyham, Dan Brown and Nate Piekos of Blambot with the cover by Lucas Graciano. The first cover is for the first issue of a new Bucky Barnes series set in the aftermath of the recent Original Sin
event wherein Bucky undertook a thankless but vital task on behalf of all of humanity, inheriting one of Nick Fury’s oldest burdens. The second comic is a soft reboot on the title and follows on from events in Batman: Eternal that see Selina Kyle leave behind her life as Catwoman to become Selina Calabrese-Kyle, one of the most powerful of all the mob bosses in Gotham, and the switch has been darn amazing. The third one is yet another new comic that is a part of Dark Horse’s wider Fire and Stone event and is definitely among the best of the four new mini-series launched by the publisher.

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 #9: Age of Shiva by James Lovegrove (Book Review)

James Lovegrove’s Pantheon novels have been quite unlike other novels that I’ve read to date, irrespective of whether or not I like them. Starting with Age of Zeus and then Age of Aztec, these novels explore various religious mythologies from around the world and do an interesting contemporary science-fiction spin with them, trying to explain the existence of these gods in a way that you really can’t predict. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve only read the two books so far, though there are many more in the series, and reading James’ latest makes me really want to go back and read the ones I haven’t.

Age of Shiva, as the name implies, takes its cues from Hindu mythology. Specifically, the many Avatars of the God Vishnu, who is one of the Hindu Trinity of Supreme Gods. For me, Age of Shiva is like a culmination of everything that James has done with the series so far, being a perfect commentary on some key topics that have cropped up in the series again and again. It has a much better gist, much better characters, much better story, and much better pacing of the books I’ve read, and I think it is a great example of “Godpunk” as James has come to define the term through his works.

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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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Rebellion by Lou Morgan (Book Review)

Lou Morgan’s 2012 debut Blood and Feathers proved to be one of the best novels I’d read that year, and also a fine guide in my exploration of the urban fantasy genre which started that very year with Chris F. Holm’s Dead Harvest from Angry Robot Books. Blood and Feathers was a great read but it missed the mark a little, yet it was good enough that I looked forward to reading the sequel Rebellion, which was released in early 2012. However, I couldn’t get the time to read it then, which is why I made the effort to finally get through it last month. And it proved to be every bit as good as its predecessor.

Rebellion continues the story of Alice as she tries to find her place in a world where the Fallen have left Hell in a mass exodus and are causing all sorts of trouble in her world. This is also the world where the Archangel Michael will stop at nothing to destroy Lucifer once and for all, even if it means sacrificing his own people, or that of the other Archangels. Rebellion is much more cerebral and fascinating than its predecessor, and that’s what I loved most about it, in the end. That was exactly what I was looking for in the novel and Lou Morgan delivered on that front quite handsomely.

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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

NANP: Names Need Their Rough Edges Knocked Off

Today I welcome Juliet E. McKenna to the blog for Names: A New Perspective, a science fiction/fantasy author of long standing who has put out several novels over the years, many to great acclaim. She was one of the authors on my “25 Series To Read In 2013″ list and my first encounter with her work, Hadrumal Crisis #1: Dangerous Waters (review), proved to be a really good experience. As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, I will definitely be looking to continue on with this quartet of novels because I find the world and the characters to be quite fascinating. Given how long she’s been in the industry, Juliet certainly has some great advice for authors new and established alike on the matter of how to name characters, and her post is well worth the read, so here it is.

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The Cover Art Mega-Post Part 3

So this is the third such post I have done for the blog. I took a 2-month break in between posts so that I could have some more material to showcase here, and it certainly has helped. There were a lot more books I wanted to cover, but I chose to stick withe magic number 17, the number of books I’ve covered previously.

A lot of the books on this list are next year’s releases, and just as before, they all sound great, even some of the ones that are second or third (or else) in their respective series. I’m not sure if I can put aside the time to catch up to them any time soon but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get around to some of them at least. We’ll see how that works out.

In the meantime, enjoy all these great covers and these books! Hope you liked the previous posts and that you’ll like this one as well.

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The Cover Art Mega-Post Part 2

Two weeks ago I did the first of these kind of posts, which can be found here. There were some really fun-looking books on that list that I would love to read (all of them) this year, but given how these kind of things work out for me, especially of late, that is probably not going to happen any time soon. My only consolation is that these covers are so bloody damn good!

Hope you liked the previous post and that you’ll like this one as well.

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Best of 2013 Part 1

I did two “Best of the…” lists last year, one for the half-year from January to June, and the other for the half-year from July to December. The lists proved to be quite popular, and I was recently asked if I was going to be doing any more. To which I said yes. I like putting together lists like this. It gives me a chance to reflect a bit on all the good stuff I’ve been reading in novels and comics, or listening to in terms of audiobooks, audio dramas and so on.

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!

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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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