It was kind of a sparse year for books. Most of my favorite authors and series were in between books this year unlike last year where I could have dropped a dozen recommendations on you. Still, there were some gems to be found this is year. Here were my three favorite books:
Dawn of Wonder (Jonathan Renshaw): I was in the mood for some fantasy so based off a recommendation from a friend, I gave this one a chance. The author was a former high school teacher who tried his hand at fiction and this book is his first effort. It is raw but exhilarating. Sure, the story is the classic coming of age fantasy story of a small kid with big dreams – the whole thing is ‘Heroes Journey 101’…but the guy made his character so likable and his prose is so good that it sucked me in and I had to get through it! Great attention to detail, world building, and some of the most vivid fight scenes on paper. I thought I was a little too old to be suckered in by stories like this but it turns out the magic is still there if the writing is good. Recommended for all ages.
The Nightmare Stacks (Charles Stross): The Laundry Files series, now on its seventh book, is probably one of the most interesting series going. It is about a group of modern day wizards who work for a division of British Intelligence and are fighting a losing battle trying to prevent the impending apocalypse. Seven books in, their fight has become increasingly grim and desperate – and the main event hasn’t even started yet. This isn’t a lighthearted series as horrible things can and do happen. This is the book that everything finally starts to come apart. A surprising and unexpected threat materializes in a big way and all hell breaks loose and if you ever wondered what a desperate magic and armored vehicle battle in the middle of a major city would look, here it goes. The ‘dogfight’ between two dragons and a pair of RAF jet fighters is the best scene I read all year.
The Illuminae Files (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff): A new series of books I discovered this year – Illuminae and Germina are the two entries – and I’m glad I did because they are the first young adult series I have read since Harry Potter which I didn’t want to throw out the window. These are science fiction books about teenagers having to save the day but don’t let it throw you, these books are among the most cinematic books I have read. The world building is impeccable, the dialogue is good, and I became very invested in these characters. The second book, set on a space station, is Die Hard meets Aliens meets Event Horizon – if a well-written mix of those three stories doesn’t thrill, I don’t think you love Science Fiction/Fantasy.