Thursday, January 02, 2014

2013 - Qwill's Favorite Novels

This past year, 2013, will probably go down in my own personal history as one of my least favorite years if not least favorite.  January 2013 ended with the loss of my amazing Dad and things seemed to go downhill from there. I know! I think there's a direct correlation between that and the fact that I read the fewest number of books I've read in a year ever. I'd start books, find it difficult to read, and stop. There was nothing wrong with the book I think, but my feelings of gloom and doom made enjoying reading very difficult. I became hyper-critical and I'm fairly critical to start. Nonetheless I did read quite a few books and I do have some favorite books from last year. See below. While I never make resolutions, I am going to be a better reader this year. I'm hoping for 2 books a week, but probably 1 will be more realistic. I also did not realize how much time actually running a growing blog takes. Maybe this year I'll get an assistant.

Now on to my favorite novels of 2013 with very brief notes on why I like them. These are the novels that come to mind when I think of last year's reading.

Dead Things
Necromancer 1
DAW, February 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 256 pages
Necromancer is such an ugly word, but it's a title Eric Carter is stuck with.

He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He's turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course.

When he left LA fifteen years ago, he thought he'd never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him.

But now his sister's been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why.

Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it's the patrion saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who's taken an unusually keen interest in him.

Carter's going to find out who did it, and he's going to make them pay.

As long as they don't kill him first.

I really liked Stephen Blackmoore's debut City of the Lost, but I love Dead Things. Mr. Blackmoore writes great noir urban fantasy. Eric Carter is a necromancer and he's back in L.A. after a long absence. His sister's been killed and the killer left him a message. Eric is a take no prisoners kind of guy with great power as a necromancer. He's in deep this time. Watching him figure out what's going on and try to survive was great fun. There are some great supernatural goings on and some really creepy creatures. This is terrifically written gritty novel set in an equally gritty L.A. Again Mr. Blackmoore has written a deeply flawed hero that I love.

Saxon's Bane
Solaris, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages

In a supernatural novel with echoes of Alan Garner and Kate Mosse, Geoffrey Gudgion chills the modern reader as the supernatural past invades the present.

Fergus Sheppard’s world changes for ever the day his car crashes near the remote village of Allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he returns to thank the villagers who rescued him, and stays to work at the local stables as he recovers from his injuries. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love – and be targeted for human sacrifice.

Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The young archaeologist’s dream find – the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior – is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior had been ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman. And their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep.

Fergus discovers that his crash is uncannily linked to the excavation, and that the smiling and beautiful countryside harbours some very dark secrets. As the pagan festival of Beltane approaches, and Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple’s bloody fate.

"Once there was a great classical tradition of rural British horror from MR James to The Wicker Man. Now Geoffrey Gudgion has revived the style and modernised it to great effect, proving there's still nothing as creepy as the countryside." Christopher Fowler

Saxon's Bane is probably my favorite book of 2013. This is a debut novel set in a sleepy English village. It's suffused with horror... the kind that sneaks up on you and creates a certain sense of dread. There is mystery, mythology, and magic. I absolutely adore this novel. The story moves back and froth from the present to Saxon times and has unexpected twists as these timelines seem to merge. The main characters are each interesting and engaging as they try to deal with the events surrounding them as well as those directly affecting them. The villain of the novel is utterly awful I was on the edge of my seat reading this wonderfully written novel. This is a novel that I did not want to end.

The Big Reap
The Collector 3
Angry Robot, July 30, 2013 US/Canada
     August 1, 2013 UK
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.

However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Soul Solution | Secret Origins | Flaming Torches | Double Dealing ]

This is the 3rd and final novel in The Collector series. As with the novels that came before in the series The Big Reap is engaging and fun to read. The main character, Sam Thornton, and his handler Lilith are great characters. There's another job for Sam - kill the Brethren. We've learned about them before, but you don't need to read the prior novels (though you should) to understand what is going on in The Big Reap. The interactions between Sam and Lilith are as usual priceless. There are some wonderful secondary characters in the series that make an appearance in The Big Reap. They were fantastic too! Mr. Holm has a knack for writing superb action sequences as well as moments of deep introspection and I found The Big Reap oddly uplifting. 

The Darwin Elevator
The Dire Earth Cycle 1
Del Rey, July 30, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi.

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.

I loved the world building in Mr. Hough's debut novel. This is terrific SF - plausible, very well-written, and incredibly engaging. The Darwin Elevator features alien technology, a post apocalyptic world (plague), a lot of action, and unforgettable characters. I loved reading about this future earth (the novel is set in the 23rd Century) though I would not at all want to live through what is happening in Hough's world. There are many pulse-pounding action sequences, machinations, tension between the haves and the have-nots, and mysteries to be solved. The twists and turns kept me guessing! Fortunately the next 2 books in The Dire Earth Cycle were published quickly after The Darwin Elevator.

The Watchers
The Angelus Trilogy 1
Signet, April 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 784 pages
Hardcover, Blue Rider Press, May 29, 2012

Every hour, childlike Marc Rochat circles the Lausanne cathedral as the watchmen have done for centuries. Then one day a beautiful woman draws him out of the shadows—the angel his mother once promised him would come.

But Katherine Taylor is no angel. She’s one of the toughest and most resourceful call girls in Lausanne. Until something unnatural seething beneath a new client’s request sends her fleeing to the sanctuary of an unlikely protector.

Into their refuge comes Jay Harper. The private detective has awakened in Lausanne with no memory of how he got there—and only one thing driving him forward: a series of unsettling murders he feels compelled to solve.

Pray for the three strangers. They have something in common they can’t begin to imagine.  

Angel City
The Angelus Trilogy 2
Blue Rider Press, June 4, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 528 pages

It's been almost three years since we left Detective Jay Harper and high-priced escort Katherine Taylor on the esplanade of Lausanne Cathedral, bruised and battered from a biblical showdown with the Nephilim. Katherine has retreated to small-town life in the woods of Washington State with her son, Max and a close protection detail of heavily-armed, elite members of the Swiss Guard. Harper is living in Paris, haunted by voices in his head and bone-tired after what turns out to be two and a half million years on Earth.

Though Katherine and Harper have been prevented from remembering each other , baby Max has unwittingly stirred the interest of vengeful spirits and only a worldwide (and cosmic) effort to save his life will bring Harper and Katherine together again.

Meanwhile, from the shadows steps a defrocked priest named Astruc, whose face looks as if it has been clawed by some terrible beast and who hides his eyes behind blue lenses. He and his brilliant young ward, Goose, have discovered something unfathomable in the Catacombs under Paris, something that will confirm that the time of the prophecy is at hand. . . .

Electrifying from its explosive first scene to its unexpected and shocking conclusion, Angel City reunites the unforgettable characters from The Watchers to reveal more of the earthly and otherworldy mysteries of the Angelus trilogy.

The Angelus Trilogy (so far) is a great series. It's complex, deeply engaging and also fun to read. Mr. Steele has taken the war between good and evil and overlayed it on 2 fascinating thrillers. The main characters of both novels Jay Harper and Katherine Taylor are flawed and wonderful. There is an exceptional supporting cast as well. Both novels are riveting: angels, demons, prophecy, history, intricate plots, and gorgeous writing!  Warning: you won't want to stop reading either of these novels. Also warning: If you can't take cliff-hangers don't read the second novel until the third is out.

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win his or her choice of one Mass Market Paperback book. Choose from
  1. Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore;
  2. Saxon's Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion;
  3. One of the three The Collector Novels - Dead Harvest, The Wrong Goodbye or The Big Reap - by Chris F. Holm;
  4. One of the three Dire Earth Cycle novels - The Darwin Elevator, The Exodus Towers or The Plague Forge - by Jason M. Hough;
  5. The Watchers by Jon Steele.
How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on January 11, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'd actually not heard of most of these... Thanks for posting!

    1. The Darwin Elevator was actually the only book published in 2013 that I read in 2013... so I guess that was my favorite!

    2. Awesome. I hope that you give some of the other novels a try! :-)

  2. I didn't read any books that were published in 2013 last year. I started on one a few days ago and have yet to finish it. The rest of the books I read were not published in 2013. I did enjoy Cinder by Marissa Meyer but overall I liked The Hunger Games series more.

  3. The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes and The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. 2013 was a pretty good year for me as far as book reading goes. Otherwise it had the normal ups and downs of life.

  4. I have a long list of favourites, but on top of that list is Written In Red byAnne bishop :)

  5. I haven't read any of these books but they all sound really good. My favorite reads of 2013 were Long Live the Queen, Frost Burned and Celtic Moon.
    Thanks for the wonderful giveaway.

  6. fallen too far by Abbi Glines

  7. Hard to say which 2013 book would be my absolute favourite. I'm strongly leaning to Courtney Schafer's "The Tainted City," though. I'm more than a little in love with that series!