Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My Favorite Fiction of 2018: Lots Of Book Recommendations

What were your favorite fiction books this year?

Back in December 2011, I started a series, Authors, Alcohol & Accolades, which asked some of my favorite authors about their preferred drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. There have been 11 editions of this column so far, with more coming in the future. The inspiration for this series is that I am a voracious reader, of both fiction and nonfiction, and I wanted to combine that interest with my love of food & drink. The series has proven popular and it has been fascinating to explore what authors enjoy drinking.

Each year, as an addendum to that series, I've been posting a list of my Favorite Fiction Books, including books of Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Mystery/Crime/Thriller. During the past twelve months, I've read over 200 books, both fiction and non-fiction, which provides a large pool for my choices. Most of the books on these lists were published in 2018, though there are some exceptions which were published in prior years but which I didn't read until this past year.

Onto my Book Recommendations...

First, let me provide my Top Three Reads Of The Year, those three books which thoroughly impressed and engaged me, compelling works which I've already read at least twice this year, and which I'll read again in the future. These exceptional books have my highest, and unqualified, recommendation.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
A compelling fantasy, based in part on Chinese history, this is a grim and riveting novel, depicting the horrors of war, including the moral decisions that may be made. In part, it is also a coming of age novel, detailing how a determined, young peasant girl is able to enter an elite military academy and become a potent force against those seeking to destroy her country. The history of China is well integrated into this tale, the characters are interesting, and the magic system is intriguing. And the ending has a powerful and shocking impact! Such an impressive debut novel from R.F. Kuang and I eagerly await the sequel.

The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky by John Hornor Jacobs
I've long enjoyed the work of John Hornor Jacobs and this could be the best thing he's ever written. It is a superb novella on several different levels. It is very well-written, evoking such powerful emotions with poetic & beautiful language. On the surface, the book is about an odd friendship, fueled in part by a shared origin in a repressive South American regime. Then, the story becomes about so much more, such as cosmic horror and mundane evil, love and hope. It is absolutely riveting from start to finish, and on a reread, you will find more of the nuances that you might have missed from a first read.

The Midnight Front by David Mack
I was hooked on this book from the very beginning and I remained so until the very end. An impressive and riveting supernatural thriller, this book focuses on a magical war during WWII. The magic system, where wielders derive their powers from demons, is intriguing and well developed. The magical battles are intense, complex and fascinating. The various characters are interesting and their moral dilemmas helped to elevate the novel. WWII was well integrated into the narrative and you experience a number of the most important aspects of the war. The novel can be dark at times, as expected, but overall there is a thread of hope pervading through the text. Plus, alcohol, from wine to spirits, plays a role which especially pleased me. This is another book where I highly anticipate the sequel.

Second, let me provide some of my other Favorite SF/Fantasy/Horror Novels of 2018. Please note that these books are not in any specific order of preference.

Starless by Jacqueline Carey
Priest of Bones by Peter McLean
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown 
Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence 
The Point by John Dixon
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Shadowblack and Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell 
The Moons of Barsk by Lawrence Schoen
Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan
A Veil of Spears by Bradley Beaulieu 
Mecha Samurai Empire by Peter Tieryas

And these two books deserve some recognition for simply being fun, popcorn-novels.
Chicken Dinner: A Novel of Battle Royale by Timothy Long
Kill Hill Carnage by Tim Meyer

Third, here are my Top 10 Favorite Mystery/Crime/Thriller Novels of 2018. From gritty noir to more high-tech thrillers, this books are exciting and riveting, sure to get your blood pumping and your heart racing.

Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner
Super Con by James Swain
The Far Empty and High White Sun by J. Todd Scott
Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz 
Raven's Sword by Adam Baker
Blood Standard by Laird Barron
Deep Silence by Jonathan Maberry
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Fourth, here are My Favorite Novellas of 2018. Novellas often seem to get ignored on many other "Best Of" lists but I believe they are definitely worthy of attention, especially considering the high quality novellas that are appearing more frequently.

War Cry by Brian McClellan
Invasion, Scorched Earth, and Bitter Harvest (Seeds of War #trilogy) by Jonathan Brazee and Lawrence Schoen

All of the books on this list garner my earnest recommendation and you should check them out. They would make great holiday gifts for others, or even yourself. Please support an author, a small, independent business person, and buy more books. And if you read and enjoy a book, please leave a review of that book online and also tell your friends about it. The author would greatly appreciate your efforts.

What were some of your favorite books this year?

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