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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Best (and Worst) to Grace My Shelves in 2012

Well, it's just about that time again . . . time to be inundated with obligatory end-of-year lists. :)

For my year-end wrap, I thought I'd take a few moments to talk about both the best and the worst books to grace my shelves (digital and physical) over the course of 2012. While the introduction of a baby boy into the household and the death of my e-reader did conspire to curtain my reading a little bit this year, I still managed to consume my fair share of pages.

The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby was my one-and-only 5 star review of the year. You can find my full review here, but I can sum it up by saying I have never found so much sheer enjoyment in a novel, right from the narrative itself, to the character building, to the story line. Ask my wife, and she'll only be too glad to tell you about the odd glances and weird looks she bestowed upon me as I laughed aloud throughout the tale.

Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, edited by Jonathan Oliver, was the strongest short story collection I read all year. Again you can check out my review here, but all you really need to know is that it was creative, original, and even inspired, with a solid mix of stories and styles. Gail Z. Martin's Button was worth the price of admission alone, but Sarah Lotz, Thana Niveau, and Gemma Files were definite standouts.

     

Under the heading of pleasant surprises, you can put The Duchess of the Shallows by Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto and The Scar by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko. You can check out the reviews here and here if you're interested as to why. I really didn't expect much out of either, one being a small-press release and the other a foreign translation, but both ended up being 4 star reads.

     

Strangely, I didn't read a lot of pure horror this year, but Spook House by Michael West was the best of the batch for me. Check out all my Micheal West reviews here and stock your shelves!


Despite a few flaws, Amped by Daniel H. Wilson was probably the strongest science fiction novel I read all year. You can read the review here. I still have yet to give Robopocalypse a read, so I can't make the comparisons others have done, but it's on the shelf.

Alternate steampunk histories were all the rage again this year, with The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton and The Janus Affair by Philippa Ballantine & Tee Morris coming out on top for me. Both were just good, solid, well-told reads that will keep me coming back for subsequent volumes. On top of that, my review of the latter was my first to be selected as featured review on Edelweiss, which is immensely satisfying.

         

While it fell shy of being one of my favourite reads of the year, Scourge of the Betrayer secured Jeff Salyards a spot as the author I'm most curious to watch in 2013. The book didn't work for me on all levels (check out my review here), but there was so much promise there, so many glimpses of the talent beneath, I am looking forward to the follow-up.


Biggest disappointment? Without a doubt, The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter. The waste of their talent was only equalled by the waste of my time. You can get right to the point and check out the review here. The only reason it beats out The Omen Machine is that I don't expect much from Terry Goodkind at this point (despite this original trilogy being one of my all-time favourites), so relegating it to the DNF pile was almost a foregone conclusion.

    

What about you? What were your best/worst reads of 2012? Is there a ground-breaking, earth-shattering volume I need to catch up with in 2013? Armed with my new Kobo Glo (thanks to a wife who understands reading cannot wait for Christmas), I am ready to get caught up on that towering TBR pile . . . and open to the possibility of adding to it.

5 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to heat that The Long Earth was disappointment. Authors and premise promised a lot. I have the ebook on my ereader but still did not read it.
    My biggest disappointment in 2012 was Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. This book got so many award but it simply was not interesting to me. Too much human relationship drama and too little scientific explanation what is really happening.
    Nothing ground breaking and earth shattering to recommend. But if I have to pick the best I read in 2012 it's Nexus by Ramez Naam (There is a review on my blog if you are interested to learn more...).
    Thanks for writing a list of your favorites, some of these look like they will be interesting to me too. :)
    Happy holidays and enjoy your new Kobo. :)

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  2. I know what you mean about The Long Earth. I spent the whole book basically waiting for something to happen. I'm hoping it'll make more sense as the first in a series, and these two writers have enough credit in the bank that I won't give up on it just yet. But yeah, all a little beige.

    Best new book this year? Rapture. Not without it's problems, but still great. But then you probably knew that already.

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    1. I just picked up God's War & Infidel last month, courtesy of Night Shade's giveaway, so I have some catching up to do before reading Rapture.

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  3. Ooh, tell us more about the Kobo Glo. I'm all about the road less travelled, and after three years of reading on a tablet, I think I'm ready for an actual e-book reader. Just... not a Kindle. So how has your new gadget stacked up?

    Thanks again for the recommendations, Bob. Particularly The Corpse-Rat King - what a good time that was - meantime I've ordered a copy of The Duchess of the Shallows based solely on your say-so. Great to see another small press represented in the year-end celebrations... speaking of which, I'd love to hear your thoughts on The Vorrh. :)

    In case I don't see you, sir: merry Christmas!

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    1. Coming off of an early generation Sony, and having been stuck with a cheap tablet for a few months, the Kobo Glo is absolutely astounding.

      1. The touch screen works better than most I've tried - something about my perpetually dry skin has always made touch screens a little unresponsive, but this has been great.

      2. The page refresh speed is almost perfect - with the Sony I had to get in the habit of timing the next page button for when I hit the half-way mark on the current page, but with the Kobo its almost instantaneous.

      3. The built-in light is fantastic - it's clear, evenly distributed, and I love that you can control the brightness.

      4. The new screen and higher resolution is very, very easy on the eyes - I rediscovered how bad the eye strain could get with the tablet, but I've been reading a 100+ pages in a sitting on the Glo quite comfortably.

      5. While the Kindle has a better selection in-store, I love the fact that the Kobo is open to all stores and all formats - I would have lost all my Adobe DRM ePub titles with a Kindle, but everything I bought on my Sony or the tablet works fine.

      Glad to hear you liked The Corpse-Rat King. Good luck with The Duchess of the Shallows - the characters really drive that one along. I hadn't heard of The Vorrh until now, but I just checked it out and I think it's definitely going in the TBR pile.

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