2013 – A bookish year

 So another year is behind us and in spite of the personal life stuff going on resulting in the dearth of reviews, reading was still going on behind the scenes.

So what books made us sit up and beg?

Grete

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett – The fantastic third book in the Demon Cycle.

Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Military sci-fi with superheroes.  This second book was an excellent addition to the Shadow Ops series.

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey – This series needs to be on either the big or small screen – any screen!  Until then it’s an amazing sci-fi story and this third book was a brilliant addition to the Expanse.

Parasite by Mira Grant – An amazingly creepy but riveting novel. If you liked her Newsflesh trilogy, you are going to love this!

Kevin HearneThe Iron Druid Chronicles was a series that entranced me so much, I ended up romping through and didn’t take time to review.  It’s a fantastic series and one I will be re-reading, slower this time, so I can actually do reviews!

Bound by Night by Larissa Ione – The first in a new series by Larissa and just as exciting as her Demonica/Lords of Deliverance.  Speaking of which, the next book in that series, Reaver, is on this list too as it was utterly fantastic and had my jaw dropping several times as things were revealed.

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones – This is another series I love so much that I keep racing through them and end up not reviewing.  It’s a habit I really have to stop as my memory is just not up to it these days!  Charley Davidson is one of my favourite paranormal heroines and I just can’t get enough of her!

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon – I loved, loved, loved this book.  I cried, I laughed, I may have shouted a few times.  A worthy companion to Acheron and a brilliant addition to the Dark-Hunter’s series.  It does take you through the wringer though!

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – I absolutely loved this light hearted approach to the paranormal and look forward to the next one, out this year!

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan – A gritty and powerful epic fantasy debut.  I loved the magic system he devised and I hold high hopes for the second book.

Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin – First in a new series by Gail and it’s off to a promising start.  I loved her two previous series a lot so it had a lot to live up to!  Looking forward to book two!

J.D. Robb – Thanks to Tracey, I discovered the In Death series and devoured the whole lot one after the other.  It amazed me how good they are and how, even 35+ books in, they are still extremely enjoyable and great reads.

Watch Your Back by Karen Rose – So many of Karen’s books have characters that appear or are related to people in other novels and this one felt like it had been a long time coming.  It was utterly amazing and prompted me to go back and read ALL the previous books!

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – This book honestly surprised me and I’m annoyed at myself that I didn’t do a review after I read it, as it so very much deserved it.  It’s an amazingly gritty fantasy, written with a single focus and I urge anyone who loved David Gemmell’s work to pick this up.  I will be re-reading this (and reviewing this time, dammit)!

Unseen by Karin Slaughter – Every time I think Karin has outdone herself, she releases the next book and raises the bar even higher.  I can’t get enough of Will Trent and Sara Linton!

Lover at Last by J.R. Ward – The latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was hotly anticipated and I was not left disappointed!

Tracey

While my list has some similar ones to Grete, I also have some totally different genres to her.  Being much more of a romantic sap, it will come as no surprise that I have a number of romances on my list.

The books I share Grete’s love for are :

Styxx of course – the most anticipated book of the year for me and one that did not disappoint. Probably my book of the year!

Reaver by Larissa Ione – another eagerly awaited novel that ticked all the boxes for me.

The In Death series by J.D. Robb – I read all 35 books in 4 weeks and absolutely loved them.

For me though the year was all about romance! There were books from my favourite romance authors: Stephanie Laurens, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Sarah MacLean and Sarah Morgan.

I really cannot express all the books that I loved this year, I read well over 100 of them! Since I tend to read books I know I will enjoy, it is so hard to only pick a few.

If I was to recommend a few books to other readers I would go with the following:

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan – I have been a fan of Ms. Morgan for many years, reading all her Mills and Boon books and it was great to have a longer book to enjoy. This is romance at its best and a great start to a new series.

Nora Roberts has featured heavily in my reading this year but a trilogy I particularly enjoyed was the Key Trilogy – Key of Light, Key of Knowledge and Key of Valour. This has a paranormal slant with Ms. Roberts’ usual excellent romance story.

Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series is recommended reading, particularity if you enjoy historical romance. I have loved all the books in this series and look forward to the next one hopefully coming in 2014!

Will definitely be doing more reviews this year, even if only a few lines, there are so many great books I want to share my love of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortress Frontier

 ***Please note there may be some very minor spoilers for Control Point in this review***

Fortress Frontier has an interesting and surprising start, not at all what I expected.  Not only are we seeing it from the perspective of someone different to Control Point, but the events overlap slightly, revealing new details about the previous story.  Colonel Alan Bookbinder (US Military) isn’t a front line soldier but the man behind the scenes.  All the things that need to be kept track of, for resupply, for scheduling, he is responsible for and he likes it that way, feels comfortable with it, even if he feels it is all he is.  After a weird dream and a day feeling like he is drowning, he realises something has fundamentally changed.  He’s a latent, and like a good soldier, he follows orders and turns himself in… and that’s when his life really goes to hell.

If I’d known about the change of character before I started reading, I might have been worried but actually I thought it worked really well, even if it was unexpected.  Alan is an interesting if unassuming character, worried about his family, and the impact his change has on his life is monumental.  The differences between Alan and Oscar are huge but they are both good people and their individual characteristics have you rooting for them very quickly.

That’s not to say Oscar doesn’t feature, he does and I really liked the way Myke Cole wove the story, moving to integrate the two characters in small steps.  I loved the way Alan slowly comes out of his shell, as events in the world progress around him. He grows in confidence and attitude until he becomes the man and leader I think he was meant to be.  I can only say again how fascinating and beautiful I find the source world, Cole’s creation of this rich magical but deadly world is amazing and I’m glad we get to see more of it in this book.  The intricacies in the way he describes the magical talents, their creative uses and peeks at how they might be used if the military wasn’t keeping them locked up tight for their own uses.  It’s just wonderful and superbly done.

We also get to see more of the impact of magic on the ‘home’ world, the government’s rigidly tight grip on it and the resistance that wants to bring it all toppling down and I can’t honestly blame them.

The story is a little more straightforward in Fortress Frontier but it doesn’t lose any impact despite that. It was still gripping and there were a couple of twists that had me exclaiming aloud!  The action is just as intense and emotional as the first book and Myke Cole’s writing style is so easy to read, I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished.  The supporting cast again were brilliant and we get to see some familiar faces and several new ones. When the end came, I was almost beside myself and chattered at my husband about it for quite a while; he’s used to that when I’ve been really caught up in a book.

If I thought the first book was great (which I did!), then this second novel is just superb.  The third book can’t come along soon enough, I need to know about the things that happened but can’t mention because of big spoilers!!

Highly, highly recommended to anyone who likes urban military fantasy, but do start with the first book in the series, Control Point!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Myke Cole
  • Series: Shadow Ops (2)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Control Point

 In the great Reawakening, magic has flowed into the world and those who manifest latent talents must hand themselves in immediately and become part of the Supernatural Operations Corps. In the name of public safety new laws and restrictions have risen to control and govern magic.  The only other option is to run and be branded a ‘selfer’, one who is selfish and doesn’t care about anyone but themselves.  They are to be hunted down and forced to join the SOC, killed if they resist.  And that’s only if you manifest in an approved ‘school’.  If your talent is in a prohibited (probe) school, there is no chance, it is illegal and you must be destroyed.

Oscar Britton is a Lieutenant in the US Army, and has always believed in what they do, even when working alongside the Supernatural Operations Corps.  However, his faith is shattered while hunting down a selfer and a probe and he learns the hard way that being a probe is an automatic death sentence.  When his own latent ability manifests in a prohibited school, he realises the choice isn’t a choice at all and runs.  Now he is the one being hunted.

I started writing this review several times only to stop, delete and start again.  My instinct is to cry ‘OMG this book is amazing!’, but I think it needs a little more consideration than that.

Oscar is a first class character, admirable, likeable and troubled.  I found it very easy to empathise with him and what he believes to be right and wrong.  He is humane and hates seeing cruelty done to people, even those whose actions perhaps deserve it.  On the other hand he is very much an army man, it’s his family and his purpose in life and when he is cast adrift from it, I could feel his pain and loneliness.  I thought they way he just wanted a home again, to feel like he belonged to something greater than himself was very cleverly written. This then allows Myke to remind us that being forced to do something and choosing to do something are two very different things.  He is thrust into an alien world where the rules of conduct he has been taught all of his army life just don’t apply anymore.  He is now a weapon and owned by the US government, being trained how to point so they can shoot.

The world that Myke Cole created was fascinating and he populated it with wonderfully detailed creatures that capture the imagination.  Some of them are terrifying but beautiful.  I loved the friendly ‘goblins’, the indigenous sentient population although I’m not too sure about how they honour their dead!  I did growl several times at the way they were treated, as little more than slaves rather than allies.

There are several supporting characters who are well fleshed out.  I either loved or hated them, but all of them moved me on an emotional level whether bad or good.

The first thing I did when I finished Control Point was to spend several hours thinking about Control Point; I went to bed thinking about it and I woke up with it still on my mind. There is no black and white, only some nasty shades of grey relieved by a few rays of light.  Oscar in desperation makes some seemingly extreme decisions and the ramifications are going to be huge.  There was a twist at the end which I honestly didn’t see coming and it made me want to howl.  The ending seemed fitting and right, almost calm, but I can only imagine the storm which is coming.

I had a little trouble with Oscar’s wavering commitment and decision making, but ultimately I understood it.  He chose to join the army and believed in it.  He is being forced to serve now, controlled by people who see him as nothing more than a weapon and as he manifested in an illegal school, he has absolutely no choice.

I loved the magic system, it was extremely well created and the uses for each of the schools were fascinating and imaginative.  Even the prohibited schools had their place, even though ‘illegal’.  I liked the call signs a lot and it appealed to my inner superhero fangirl.

The military side of the story was extremely crisp and well envisioned, clearly something Myke Cole has personal experience of.  While Jargon is used, it doesn’t overwhelm and he includes a handy glossary of terms at the back of the book.

The action is just full on, exciting and the battle scenes are depicted in realistic terms, often poignant and shocking.  The inclusion of magic in these fights doesn’t seem out of place at all and make for extremely gripping reading.

This is an amazingly well written debut novel, descriptive, imaginative and easy to read. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Fortress Frontier and see what the outfall has been of Oscar’s actions.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves urban fantasy, futuristic military novels or superheroes.  Control Point is a fantastic blend of all three!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Myke Cole
  • Series: Shadow Ops (1)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Irreverent Questions With… Myke Cole!

Headshots of Myke ColeMyke Cole exploded onto the Urban Fantasy scene with the amazing Control Point last year.  A superb blend of magic, military and mayhem, it is a gripping read that leaves you thinking about it long after finishing it.  But what about the man himself?  His bio is a dizzying read of occupations that quite honestly would leave me huddled under my desk and not only adds author to the impressive list but does it with flair! He’s also a roleplayer, loves fantasy books, comics and has a unique brand of humour that I like a lot. I know I am wittering again, so enough! On with the Irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
An officer in the finest maritime military service in the world – the United States Coast Guard.

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
The same ritual that EVERY writer has, mad procrastination. I play iPad games. I go on social media. I think of last minute chores that need doing, or friends I haven’t spoken to in ages. By the time I actually get to work, half my allotted time is gone.

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.) Include a picture if you like, unless it’s the bathroom!
Uh . . . er . . . ahem. Yes, well. It is rather spacious as bathrooms go.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I went to every single bookstore in New York City and signed shelf stock with my long-suffering agent. It took all day from the early morning to blackest night. It was exhausting and painful and I’ve never been happier.

Whose opinion matters most to you?
Peter V. Brett’s.

Do you get fully dressed to write? (Nothing, PJ’s, etc?)
I do most of my writing on the go, so it varies depending on where I am and what I’m doing. I’ve written in my skivvies, in a business suit, in a military uniform, in a t-shirt and jeans.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Other people’s success. Because. I’m not eating anyone’s dust.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Hugh Jackman. Which, now that I think about it, is quite possibly the most egotistical thing I’ve ever said.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
Hand over the celery, sir. That donkey is underage.

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
Every gaming table at every con everywhere, ever. There is nothing in this world quite like being hip-deep in fellow nerds, trading snark over Settlers of Catan.

What do you value most?
Crushing my enemies, seeing them fly before me, and hearing the lamentations of their women.

How do you deal with negative comments?
I listen to them, take them seriously and don’t take offense. The words “that offends me” is the cheapest, easiest way to avoid having to listen to someone else’s argument. I don’t roll like that.

It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After, Everyone Dies, Or…?
As far as I’m concerned, every film should end with Captain America staring off into the middle distance, with the Stars and Stripes fluttering behind him. Especially When Harry Met Sally.

What do you do to relax?
I don’t. Ever. I’m not kidding. Ask anyone who knows me.

Do you have pets, and if so, describe them? (Include a picture if you like!)
I am holding out until they come up with a breed of dog that doesn’t poop.

What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
The Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library, well-caffeinated and fed, empty bladder, and movie soundtracks blasting in my ear-buds.

What is your favourite type of music?
I’m a big fan of the good kind. I hate the awful stuff.

Do you have any phobias?
Pretty much all of them, but each one is balanced by highly effective coping mechanisms. Whenever I come up against something I’m frightened of, I go charging into it. I must do it.

Do you have a party trick?
I can offend anyone in a room in record time.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Non-skid, steel-toe combat boots. Cushioned soles for jumping, side zippers. They better be up for some punishment.

 Fortress Frontier, the second novel in the Shadow Ops series, is released on 31st January… and I can’t wait!

Huge thanks to Myke Cole for taking the time to answer our questions (and for such entertaining answers!), and if you want to know more about the author, visit his Website, Twitter or Goodreads!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of Myke Cole


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author, agent or publicist and would like to take part, please get in touch!