This year was exciting for me, both as a writer and as a reader. My debut novel came out in October, and over 50 copies have been sold. I’ve made several friends who are also authors, and they have helped me along the way to getting the word out about Juniper Crescent. I’ve also read some amazing books.
With New Year’s Eve tomorrow, I got a little nostalgic about what I’ve read this past year. There have been so many amazing books, I thought it would be cool if I recapped what stood out to me most about this year’s readings. So, here goes:
Wow. That’s really all I can say about the genius Christ Wooding put into this book. A self-proclaimed twisted fairy tale and anaddicting read, Poison mixes together some of the strong elements from The Wee Free Men series by Terry Pratchett and Silent Hill the video game. The main character, named Poison, must save her younger sister from the realm of Phaeries. Then the mind-blowing climax is reached when she discovers that the god (basically) of this world is the one writing her story. As in he wrote every element in her life. He put her through everything, and he “wrote her that way.” That was a chilling moment to read, and Chris Wooding’s powerful writing brought that to life. This is a book worth owning, and the first to come to my mind as far as the best books I’ve read this year.
- Skyship Academy, by Nick James
A lot of books are jumping on the dystopia scenario since Suzanne Collins made it cool with The Hunger Games trilogy, but there was something about the dusty realism that Nick James brought that made Skyship Academy such a great read. This wasn’t a future that barely remembered what the country and culture looked like before a cataclysmic event, but one where people still talked about the good ol’ days, and the younger generation can recall the changes that have had to be put into play to create the world they now live in. The twist at the climax of the novel is the best I’ve read all year.
Usually, the phrase ‘fairy tale’ means a bedtime story, and everything has a happy ending. For a long time, I had lumped most fairy tales with “The Happy Elf” story eluded to in the first “Series of Unfortunate Events” book. You, know, where everything is happy, and there’s only minor conflict. Then I read Fablehaven. Brandon Mull brings the Fae world back to where it should be. (See also The Hunter’s Moon, below) Man, these creatures had attitude. Any single one of them could beat the living daylights out of any creature some of these Disney-fied stories could dish out. I physically cringed when I read about all the faeries ganging up to hex the younger brother in the story because he had broken one of their laws. See, that would actually happen if you did that to anyone else, so why shouldn’t pixies and cute miniature winged females have that same kind of wrath? Beautifully written. Mister Mull, keep up the good work.
- Jaunten, by Honor Recanteur
Just as Juniper Crescent was getting ready to hit the bookstores I met Honor Recanteur. Her self-published novel Jaunten has beensuccessful. (The second book, Magus, came out this week. It’s already on my wishlist.) Jaunten was a very enjoyable, light read that had a form of magic that genuinely intrigued me. Magic, as a story element, is so common it takes a beautiful mind to put it in a new light. Jaunten succeeds in that regard. I’ll be honest, one of my two character crushes is in this book. Everything I read about Chatta made me think “Dang, I’d love to date her.” I’m still working on the Weird Science technology to make that possible. (For the other character crush, see The Soulkeepers, below.)
Have you ever read a book, and get the impression that the author could write whatever he wanted to and it would be awesome enough to need two copies of the book? That’s how I felt about An Abundance of Katherines. Most people know John Green from his vlog Brotherhood 2.0, but this book deserves as much if not more attention. This was one of the few books that had me losing sleep to finish. Not a lot of books can do that. It’s funny and the events that take place are just the kind of crazy that makes you think it could happen in real life.
- The Esperanto Teacher, by Helen Fryer
Yes, I know this is technically a textbook, but it has been worth it to read it, even though I still can’t find a college/ university that’ll offer Esperanto as a class. For those who don’t know, Esperanto is a language created to be an international language, and the one that has succeeded the most as far as attempts at an international language is concerned. This is an easy language to learn, and of all the books I have read and studied in order to learn Esperanto, this one has been the best. If you are planning to learn a language, learning Esperanto first will make it all the easier to know, understand, and apply to another language.
- The Call of Cthulhu, by H.P. Lovecraft
As a bibliophile and a nerd, there’s no way I could have avoided the Cthulhu mythos and the culture it has created. But going back and reading what H.P. Lovecraft created was a completely different experience. It was kind of like eating McDonald’s and then suddenly someone introduces you to Outback. Once you taste how amazing it is, you can’t go back. Lovecraft changed horror writing. For as much as he could only describe as indescribable, Cthulhu has succeeded in becoming the stuff of legend and nightmare. His piercing, poignant writing unleashes a new view of what lies just beyond the corner of our eyes.
- The Soulkeepers, by G.P. Ching
G.P. Ching is one of the author’s who have helped me feel confident in getting Juniper Crescent out there. Her novel The Soulkeepers was available for free to celebrate the release of her second novel, Weaving Destiny. This book had the intensity of the Prince of Persia, but the deep character relationships of Percy Jackson. As mentioned above, this book has my other character crush. I fell in love with Malini. She’s an amazing character. I always have a special place on my bookshelf for novels that present a character well enough that I develop feelings for them. But, my affections for fictional characters aside, it was hard to put the Soulkeepers down until I had finished it.
My best friend got to visit Ireland this past summer, and insisted I read this so I could understand all her excitement. This book transported me to Ireland. I felt like I could see these places, and feel the wind and smell the salt from the ocean. Irish culture and landscapes burst out of the pages and created a story worth rereading.