Saturday, January 4, 2014

A year in review 2014

A year in review 2013:
 
This is the 4th year of doing this post and I love it each year. 2013 has been quite a year for me. In the summer I finally realised my dream and became a published author. The whole process was daunting and bloody hard work but well worth it.
 
Ritual of the Stones performed better than I expected it too for a first book by an unknown author and has encouraged me stick with this writing lark. On Amazon I have received a couple of cracking reviews and even the three star review (the lowest so far), was highly praised the book.
 
The year also saw me commit to releasing Pewtory the Lesser Bard on a weekly basis, which was an added pressure I did not need. This was snapped up by www.SFFworld.com after the first week. I originally intended for this to only run for around 6-8 weeks but it is not on week 21 and going strong.  I know I have been slack posting it on here, so I will look to make amends for that in future.
 
Speaking of this site, it continues to grow in readership which is amazing and Jacqui and I would like to thank you all for your support. Lately, I have made the decision to put my writing first before the reviews, which is how it should be, but I am still managing to keep on top of it all – somehow!
 
In regards to my writing: I had a small break over the Christmas period but I am back to writing each day. NaNoWriMo was a fantastic achievement and I am looking to do something similar to get the first draft of the second book completed by the end of February (162,000 words so far if you are interested).
 
The aim is to release both Pewtory the Lesser Bard and the sequel to Ritual of the Stones this year (it has a name now but I am not willing to divulge it just yet).
 
So enough rambling. Let’s get on with what you really came here for the awards!!! Actually before I hand out any awards some brief stats for you on my reading habits in 2013.
 
Total books read = 53
 
Most read genre = Fantasy (15 books not including re-reads).
 
Most read authors:
 
Stephen King = 3 books
Scott Lynch = 3 books (including re-reads)
Mark Billingham = 2 books
Linwood Barclay = 2 books
Joe Hill = 2 books.
 
53 books is quite impressive considering I devoted so much more of my time to writing this year. Stephen King once again tops the most read author chart, but I am surprised that I have read only one book from my other favourite authors: Robert McCammon, Bernard Cornwell and John Connolly. Even more surprising is that last year I raved about David Gemmell’s “Legend,” stating that I would be reading much more of him and yet I have not read a single book. Considering one reviewer compared my own work to Gemmell’s (completely flattered by the way), it is something I intend to rectify. 
 
I am pleased that I have caught up a bit with Mark Billingham though.
 
Anyway on to the ceremony. We start with the biggest prize. The countdown of my top 5 books from last year in order. And in 5th place....
 
5. Outlaw – Angus Donald.
 
 
Jacqui put me on to this one. I love Robin Hood and this book was a fantastic start to a new series about him. They feel very much like Cornwell’s warlord Chronicles, which is one of my favourites trilogies ever. Enough said really.
 
4. Wolf’s Hour – Robert McCammon.
 
 
The only book by Rick I have read this year and of course it made the list. Once again, Robert McCammon displays his diversity by writing an action / adventure novel and doing it in style.
 
3. Joyland – Stephen King
 
 
I read three novels from King this year. The two he released and the Shining.  To be honest, they could have all made the list. King is on fire right now, but Joyland was the perfect demonstration of how to write a dam good story. It is one of his shortest novels but still quite brilliant.
 
2. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
 
 
I finally got round to reading it! To be honest, I read Anthony Ryan’s, “Bloodsong” at the start of the year and loved it. Ryan’s work was compared so much to Rothfuss that I had to give this book a whirl. Of course I loved it and will soon read the sequel and join the masses in waiting for the third. A special mention to Ryan’s debut though, as it could easily have been on this list as well.
 
And the winner is....
 
1. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
 
 
I was aware of this book when it was first realised but put off by the women in the office saying it was a political story. It sounded drool to me. Years later, I apologise and confess I am the fool. This book should have been described as “to kill a mocking bird set in Afghanistan.” It is a triumph and one of my all time favourite stories.
 
Those were the top 5 books I enjoyed last year. You can click on the links on the right hand side to see my proper reviews of them. However, an awards ceremony would not be a ceremony with only one award and so...
 
Best new Series discovered:
 
The Painted Man – Peter V Brett.
 
 
Obviously I could have gone for a few of the books above that made my top 5 but I thought I would spread the awards around a bit. The Painted Man had a great concept and offered something different..
 
Best continuation of a series:
 
D I Thorne – Mark Billingham
 
 
I neglected this series for too long. This year I reminded myself why I loved Mark’s books.
 
Favourite scene from a book:
 
The description of Christmas Land in N0S4R2.
 
 
There were so many scenes I enjoyed this year: Stephen King’s reference to his son’s work in “Doctor Sleep”, the final fight scenes in Trudi Canavan’s, “The High Lord,” and the scenes in the shack in Adam Nevill’s, “The Ritual,” are a few that spring to mind. Joe Hill’s “Christmas Land,” though was just chilling. Hill took something so innocent and pure and turned it into something that was as creepy as hell.  In Charlie Manx he created one of the all time best villains.
 
Biggest surprise:
 
Ann Cleeves – Raven Black
 
 
I brought this book on a whim and it really impressed me. So much so that I immediately went out and brought the other books in the series.
 
Biggest disappointment:
 
Disturbia – Christopher Fowler
 
 
This book has been on my shelf for years. Every now and then I hear someone say how good it is and I grow tempted to read it. This year I succumbed. It is undeniably well written, but is flawed to pieces and too high brow for its own good.
 
Most anticipated book of 2014
 
River of Souls – Robert McCammon
 
 
Matthew Corbett is back this year. I can hardly wait.
 
Well that is it for the review of 2013. Look forward to doing the whole thing with you next year.