09 January, 2014

A Letter to OTBSFF Readers

Dear Only the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Readers,

Is anyone out there? Is this thing on? I hope the new year's off to a great start for you, 2014's been insane already but it's looking good so far. After looking for a job for about a year and a half, I finally found one last month. I started just under a month ago (one month is tomorrow in fact) and as you can imagine it's keeping me busy. I've passed the bar (and most importantly can add esquire to the end of my name now, Wild Stallions!), but not yet in California where I am working ... so that means I get to take the bar again.

That also means I have just about no time for anything other than working and studying at the moment. I get to see my adorable kids and lovely wife for about an hour a day for dinner and then I'm off to study.

Luckily, the bar's only about a month and a half away (you mean it's only a month and a half away, I need more time!), so I will be back on track here by the end of February.

I'm dreadfully behind on reviews, I think I have nine books last time I counted, but I have a couple reviews I've submitted to SFFaudio where my audiobook reviews go, so I'll post updates when those go up. I might also put up a couple short reviews just to get back on track sooner, but otherwise don't plan on seeing me much, not that I'm presumptuous enough to think anyone will notice...

Anyway, hope you have a great couple months, if you're reading fantasy you probably are. If you're reading good fantasy, let me know. I'll see ya when I see ya.

All the best,


01 January, 2014

Only the Best (of the Year) - Top Ten New Releases of 2013

It seems like more and more of these end of the year posts are going up less and less close to the end of the year. I've always tried to get close and sometimes I realize I won't be able to finish anything new by the end of the year, so it's understandable. I've done so myself even. However, I think I'm done with that.

Maybe it's because I have a December birthday and I'm sick of this perfectly great month getting neglected when it comes to "best of" lists. Goodreads starts their process in November for crying out loud. I vow right now to do December justice ... erm ... to wait until the new year for any of my year-in-review type posts because come on. For December!

Disclaimer and all that: Please remember that this is from the books I read so if your favorite didn't make the list it's probably because it's a terrible book and you have just as abismal taste I didn't read it.

Top 10 New Releases of 2013

10) A Discourse in Steel (Egil & Nix #2) by Paul S. Kemp - Review - Even better than the first, Egil and Nix are becoming one of my favorite duos.

9) The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire #1) by Mark T. Barnes - Review - This was a surprising find for me. I was curious given the beautiful by the same artist as for Abraham's The Long Price Quartet, but blown away by the world Barnes has created here.

8) The Lives of Tao (Lives of Tao #1) - Review - and The Deaths of Tao (Lives of Tao #2) by Wesley Chu - Review Not Yet Posted - Interview - Wesley Chu

7) The Crown Tower (Riyria Chronicles #1) by Michael J. Sullivan - Review Not Yet Posted - I find I can't put Sullivan's books down and this is yet another.

6) Promise of Blood (Powder Mages #1) by Brian McClellan - Review - This series is only just started and I'm dying to read its sequel. For any release, this was excellent, for a debut, it's incredible.

5) Fortress Frontier (Shadow Ops #2) by Myke Cole - Review - Myke Cole keeps getting better and better and Breach Zone is already in my hands. Very much looking forward to this.

4) The Forever Knight (A Novel of the Bronze Knight) by John Marco - Review - The discerning reader will notice this is actually rated lower than the previous book on the list. I'm not saying there's a failing in a number rating system (okay, yes I am), but I rated this compared to the prior series probably a little more than compared to any book ever. Yeah, it makes ... sense?

3) The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) by Peter V. Brett - Review - I was dying to get my hands on this book. I know many were disappointed as this installment contains lots of backstory, but let's just say that Brett will have to really throw this series off for me not to love it.

2) Joyland by Stephen King - Review - A big surprise in a little package, especially for Stephen King. It's more coming of age than anything it proclaims to be (horror? no; hard case crime? no), but still a great tale.

And the best release for 2013 goes to ...

1) Emperor of Thorns (Broken Empire #3) by Mark Lawrence - Review - Lawrence does the impossible and writes an excellent conclusion to an already stellar trilogy. He's jumped quickly into my list of authors to slavishly follow.

Honorable Mentions:

Inheritance (Heir to the Blood Throne #1) by Tim Marquitz - Review - This just barely missed the list. I enjoyed it immensely and thought it an excellent spin on the typical vampire tale.

The Gate Thief (Mither Mages #2) by Orson Scott Card - Review Not Yet Posted - Yet another I still need to review. This one was slow to start but had a great ending. Lots needed to be explained for the ending to make sense, so it gets bogged down for a while because the world is so intricate yet fascinating.

Missing From the List:

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett - I was waiting for the perfect time to read this book. I know I'll enjoy every bit of it and I wanted to savor it ... but somehow that perfect time never happened to reveal itself. Ever happen to you? It happens to me all the time.

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson - Review - I enjoyed this enough to lend it to a friend to read, but it just didn't quite hit everything exactly as it could have. I do see the potential and I'll be lining up for the next installment.

There are actually quite a few missing. I haven't kept up with Daniel Abraham's The Dagger and the Coin series and The Tyrant's Law came out this year. Then there's Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and of course the final installment of the Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light and a couple more that just didn't quite fit into my schedule. To this coming year!