Saturday 2 January 2016

My Top Five Reads of 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all have a good 2016. I have another busy year planned, with two new novels planned (The Church of Virtual Saints should be out in a month's time and The Space Inbetween later in the year) as well as continuing the Tau Ceti Mission saga. I'm sure work will keep me occupied as well!

As is customary at the start of the year I choose five books from the previous year that I rated highly and would recommend for anyone to give a try. Note that these are books that I read for the first time in 2015, they weren't necessarily released last year and I didn't include books that I've read before.

So let's get started!

Click on image to buy from Amazon
David Haynes is no stranger to my Top Reads list and for good reason. In my opinion he is one of the best indie horror authors out there and he almost filled over half of this list with his releases last year! This particular book stood out from his more contemporary set stories by returning to the era he portrays best (the other books are still excellent reads).

His writing style suits the evokes the spirit of the Victorian era with such resonance that you find yourself wrapped up in it. The story also represents a development in the author's craft, he really builds a sense of mystery and menace throughout the book and it is that which put this straight to the top of my top reads list for 2015.

Click here to buy The Journal of Reginald Perigar from Amazon

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If this list was about my strangest reads of last year then Black Hole Butterfly would be at the top of the list. It wrestles with the question of what is reality in a complex interaction of different quantum realities through which a detective must conduct his investigation.

It's superbly written and explores some interesting, if sometimes confusing, ideas. This did make it a difficult read in places, but one worth persevering with. The characters are well drawn and help guide the reader through the intersecting realities.

While a little more esoteric than my usual science fiction reads and that helps it stand out, but it was a book that made me think and that is always appreciated.

Click here to buy Black Hole Butterfly from Amazon

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I've read a lot of horror over the years, along with science fiction it's probably my favourite genre. It's not often I come across a book that really gives me a sense of horror as I read it and Milk-Blood exudes menace and horror.

Beyond that it is a sad tale and in places heartbreaking. The author's craft in weaving the story is sublime and for me the story was over all too quickly.

The story is told from a number of different perspectives and often when this is the case there will be
favourites, but I didn't have that issue here. Each character brings something different to the mix, the good and the bad.

With a grim urban backdrop bringing everything together this is an example of the finest modern horror.

Click here to buy Milk-Blood from Amazon

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This most definitely not released last year and considering the good things I'd heard over the years I don't know why it took so long for me to read it! Well I finally did and I have to agree that this is one of the classic stories in science fiction and one I'd recommend to all readers of the genre.

It's an interesting take on a first contact scenario and one that ties into another aspect I love to explore and that is an excession event (sparked by the book of the same name by Ian M Banks). Apparently that's not a real word, but I like it so I'll keep using it! The visitation by the aliens is completely beyond human comprehension and is likened to ants discovering the detritus of picnic from humans and trying to understand the purpose of what they find.

The story tells of a stalker who investigates the zones created by the alien technology and trying to understand what it's all about. The personal story is what carries the reader through the remnants of the alien passage.

It's very well written, I can't comment on the original Russian, but the translation is superb and tightly written. I would have liked to learned a bit more about the aliens, but what is revealed is tantalising enough.

Click here to buy Roadside Picnic from Amazon

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I've generally found humour a bit hit and miss in books, there are exceptions of course and this was one of them. The core idea is solid with Satan deciding that he wants no part of Armageddon. That doesn't necessarily make him a good guy, but being the King of Hell does make for some amusing escapades when dealing with humans.

Satan is the reason I enjoyed the book so much. I like my humour dark and here it's as black as night. There's a good story here too, but to be honest I was more than happy following him on his adventures.

There's also a decent mystery here and following it evolve and seeing how the characters are drawn together adds some depth to the story. I've found that comedy is something that rarely clicks with me, but it did so here and resulted in a fantastic read.

Click here to buy What Would Satan Do? from Amazon

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