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Best Reads of 2016

Before I start I will confess that I had a bit of a reading dry spell for most of this year. It’s ok, it wasn’t serious and I’m certain that I’m over it now and will be taking measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

What I have read this year has mainly been within the last 3 months, I’ve got back into a natural rhythm for devouring books. A few of these have been lucky finds on Kindle (kept me going while travelling) and others have been sitting on my shelf most of the year waiting to be read. 

Here are the books that cured my reading slump:

Sol.Terra – The Leap by C.A. Harland

This was a nice light novel to pick up and get back into reading again. It’s kinda like a detective story set in space – our main characters, Pia the waitress and Cal the government bounty hunter, meet on Earth (Sol.Terra) and journey through the universe together catching otherwordly criminals and trying to piece together clues that may lead to something larger. It’s fast paced, sometimes leaping ahead so far it almost feels rushed in parts, but that can be forgiven since there is enough to spark the imagination in the form of strange planets and new alien species.

It has a sequel – Sol.Terra, The Originals – but it works just as well as a standalone. Both are available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback. 

Nod by Adrian Barnes

An ‘end of the world’ tale with a different angle. What if suddenly you couldn’t sleep anymore? This answers that question with a somewhat plausable scenario. Following a protagonist who is one of the few still able to sleep we are shown the slow break down of the every day that quickly descends into hysteria. It’s well thought out, somewhat follows facts, and adds in a surprising adversary who keeps our protagonist on his toes. I’ve read a lot of apocalyptic themed books and after a while they can become a tad ‘samey’, however this one was a welcome change with interesting ideas and a very clever ending.

End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

Another world-ending scenario. We’re introduced to Ed, he’s pretty lazy and a bit of an arse, oh and it’s up to him to change his ways and do the right thing for him and his family to get through the end of days. It’s a tough journey and there are many obstacles – it’s now a dog-eat-dog world out there – this isn’t so much a story of survival as it is personal growth. Be prepared to shed some tears though as this one finds ways to pull at the heartstrings.

The Survivors Club by J. Carson Black

This is a change from my usual selection of genre. A mystery/thriller following a sheriff with an exceptional memory as she investigates the murder of a former cop. There are several suspects and some extremely curious crimes along the way that have you swapping suspicion like pass-the-parcel and just when you think you know who-dunnit the plot twists again. It’s intriguing enough although it is slow in places and there are elements that seemed redundant to the plot, but maybe that’s just another clever device to keep us off the scent of the killer.

Day Four by Sarah Lotz

What better way to spend New Years Eve than on a luxury cruise in the Caribbean. This book is less dream holiday and more nightmare vacation however. Each chapter – named similar to tarot cards “The Angel of Mercy””The Witch’s Assistant” etc.- sees the events unfold from a different character’s perspective as their ship undergoes a bermuda-esque experience. The suspense is incredible, I read this in a night as I couldn’t put it down, it draws you in until you are as stuck on the ship as its passengers. This is not a sequel to Lotz’s first novel – The Three, but it does take place in the same story universe with our unlucky few recalling its events and characters. While it leaves more questions asked than answered (as did The Three) theres a chance that some may still be given as both books are going to be given the tv series treatment. 

So there they are. Those are the best books I have read this year. If I hadn’t gone through my non-reading phase there would probably be more – some of these may not have even made it onto this post. I do know that this time next year I’ll have a much harder time deciding my favourite reads as I have a huge stack of books to get through – I may not have been reading but that didn’t stop me from accumulating more books. I’m still a bibliophile.

Happy reading and Happy New Year!

– Dee

Best reads of 2015

I have read an awful lot of books this year. This is not unusual, in fact this year I’ve actually read less than I usually would have. I think I may have been having an ‘off ‘ year.

Nevertheless there were a few books that outshone the others – the ones that kept me up all night and into the wee hours unable to stop turning pages, desperate to know what happens next.

These are my best reads this year:

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is by far the best book I have read in an extremely long time. It’s set in a dystopian future where the only way to escape a harsh reality is to enter virtual reality. Your main character is a nobody, just some guy who happens to be really good with computers, and he takes on a mega-corporation in a battle to save virtual reality from their greedy hands. This story is easy to read, fast paced and packed with so many tasty tidbits of 80’s nostalgia it draws you further into its world until you realise it’s 4 am and you can’t put it down until you know how it ends. It doesn’t disappoint. This may be the opportune time to get your hands on a copy of this book as Cline has sealed a deal to have it adapted into a movie – I really can’t wait to see how it turns out. His second novel Armada has also had a pretty successful release and I’ll be looking forward to reading it as soon as I get down to the bookstore.

 

The Explorer + The Echo by James Smythe

I’ll start with The Explorer. Our main man is a reporter who has been chosen to join a team of scientists and astronauts on a journey into an uncharted region of space and to document everything to send back home. It all goes wrong from the beginning. This story has twists and turns and pretty gross descriptions of events. There is one section in particular which was very hard for me to read, I’m pretty squeamish and this added to the horror and feeling of dread that permeates every chapter. It left me wanting more.

Hop on over to the sequel, The Echo. Some time has passed and now another team of scientists and astronauts are ready to head out into space and investigate exactly what happened to the previous mission. There is a lot more sciencey stuff happening in this book, possibly because it’s main focus is on scientists and not a journalist. For some this may lead to a few problems – mainly being that some of the science isn’t quite factual. Don’t let this deter you from reading. There’s enough dread and suspense to make up for these little faults, and trust me, they are tiny. I read both these books in one very long night. It was worth it. And the good news is there should be two more additions to this series to wrap up the intricate storylines as these are part of Smythe’s Anomaly Quartet.

 

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

It’s so hard to try and describe this one, I’ve tried to three times now. Just read it . . .

. . .only kidding – but seriously you must read it. The paths of the main characters weave together in what I can only describe as perfect storytelling. The main thread is of a mysterious virus that kills quickly, those who are immune must go to the only safe haven which may or may not just be a rumour. The aftermath is seen from the viewpoints of several survivors all making their way to this place of safety. I really can’t say anything else, I can’t do justice to how wonderful this book is. The ending is like a revelation, bulbs start lighting up, everything falls together. It’s brilliant.

 

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Melanie is 10 years old. She is being studied by the military because she is infected. This is a nice little twist on your run-of-the-mill infection story. Melanie is the key to finding a cure for the infection, but it may not be what you would expect. It’s really lovely to see things from a child’s veiwpoint for once, there’s a lot more hope and less of the doom plus it’s still slightly chilling enough to whet your horror tastebuds.

 

And Then Emily Was Gone by John Lees and Iain Laurie

Here’s a wee change for the lineup, a graphic novel. Did anyone chance upon a prologue of this little beauty on Free Comic Book day? This is a creepy little comic about a private investigator who is asked to find out more about the disappearance of a young girl in the Orkney Islands. There’s a folk legend of Bonnie Shaw, a bogeyman who takes children in the night after their parents make a wish. Iain Laurie’s art style is perfect for the story and adds to the unsettling theme. Nothing is what it seems. If you live in the UK it might be a tad difficult getting your hands on a hard copy, I had to use the American Amazon site to get to the ComixTribe section – there’s very little choice left on the UK version. If you’re happy reading an ebook version check out the ComixTribe twitter – they recently had a link for their newsletter and for signing up they gave away 5 ebook versions of some of their popular graphic novel series – one of which was And Then Emily Was Gone.

 

Happy reading and Happy New Year! May 2016 bring you books you can’t put down ^_^

– Dee