Late 2016 Wrap-Up and Best of 2016

I’m a bit late to the party since I should have done this on December, but life and chronic illness got in the way. I made a Goodreads challenge for reading 25 books, but fell a bit short. Most books I read last year are old school fantasy classics I’ve made a personal goal to catch up with, and only a couple new releases. Btw this is why you shouldn’t ask me to review new releases. Unfortunately I am not one of those people who read 150-200 books a year, my own writing takes a lot of my free time. Here goes my 2016 top ten list:

1. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence

The Wheel of Osheim I had been anxiously waiting for this book, since I’m a huge fan of Mark Lawrence, and his was hands down the best book I have read in 2016. See my review.

2. The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher

The Mirror's Truth I had been looking forward to sequel to Beyond Redemption, and it turned out to be more glorious than I expected. Superb characters, excellent prose and a superb grimdark setting, this was definitely the best grimdark I have read in 2016.See my review.

3. Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

Senlin Ascends I picked this one up after it made it to the SPFBO semifinals and Mark Lawrence recommended it. I normally read fantasy in pre-modern settings, but I have been curious about steampunk and Senlin Ascends turned out to be quite an excellent choice. It’s very different from the usual genre fiction, leaning more towards literary fiction/magical realism, but steampunk to the core. I can’t recommend it enough. See my review.

4. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Eye of The World I have been wanting to get into the Wheel of Time and finally managed in 2016. Never too late to read the Eye of the World! I loved it so much I am planning to re-read already after I finish the whole series. See my review.

5. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

The Farseer Trilogy

I will cheat and put the whole trilogy here. I loved these books to death, though it is quite a heavy read and you need to read something funny afterwards to get out of the intense melancholy it gives you. See my reviews for book #1, book #2 and book #3.

6. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt The Eye of the World got me hooked and this book got me addicted to the Wheel of Time. The way Jordan unfolds the world and the characters is truly stellar. The length of the series may be intimidating, but it’s such a great joy to slowly explore the eormous diverse world, you gotta read it to see how awesome it is! See my review here.

7. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

The Dragon Reborn Book #3 of the Wheel of Time distinguished itself with the non-Rand POV’s and the impressive character development while showing the plethora of diverse cultures and lands. Matt’s slow character development reaches the level of awesomeness I have a hard time describing with words and the Aes Sedai world has the supreme dose of magic all epic/high fantasy fans will love. Character development and depth in general is some of the best I have read in fantasy to date. See my review here.

8. Road Brothers – Tales From The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

Road Brothers : Tales from the Broken Empire This indie published collection of short stories from the Broken Empire explores the various side characters in depth and gives a good glimpse to their background stories. I greatly enjoyed this book, it was like meeting old friends again. See my review here.

9. Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

Last Argument of Kings I am a huge fan of the First Law Trilogy and this book made a superb ending with fireworks and lots of twists. See my review here.

10.The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Tombs of Atuan I am glad to read the first two books of the Earthsea Cycle, and liked this book more than A Wizard of Earthsea. Perhaps it was the gritty, melancholy atmosphere, or the awesome female protag, but Earthsea is definitely a must read for all fantasy fans. See my review here.

Guest Post by Michael R. Fletcher: To Be A Writer Is To Be A Junkie

When you’re a kid, you can point at pretty much any object, blurt out what it is, and people will cheer and pat you on the back and tell you how smart you are. It’s a great feeling, all that praise. You get addicted to the approval and accolades. But somewhere in your forties people suddenly become less impressed. You can point at a tree, yell, “Tree!” and no one is impressed. Sure, if you know exactly what kind of tree it is (Oak tree!) you might buy yourself another few weeks. But people soon tire of that too. Particularly as it may have been a maple tree.

Eventually you learn to live without the constant praise and adoration of your fellow humans. Yeah, your life is shallow and meaningless and you’re no longer quite convinced you’re as clever as your mom told you, but you soldier on. Maybe you do something particularly clever at work once like remember to label something correctly and your boss says “Good job” but you don’t really care. Maybe if she clapped and jumped up and down and got all giddy about it you might get some small taste of that old rush. But she won’t. And if you ask, she’ll look at you like you’re a nutter.

And then one day you write a book. It takes several years to write, twice as long to edit, and three times as long as that to find a home with an indie publisher. You’re pretty pleased with it. I mean, how often do you actually complete a task like that? In truth, this is the beginning of the end. You’ve started down that slippery slope to soul-destroying addiction.

When you read that first glowing review, a rush of that old pleasure slams through you. You’re three all over again and someone is raving about how awesome you are! More reviews come in and you bask in the praise of the good ones and plot terrible deaths for the fools who wrote the negative ones. Eventually the reviews stop coming in as it’s a tiny publisher and you’ve done a terrible job of promoting your book because you thought that’s what publishers did. You probably won’t clue in until your second book isn’t selling well, but that’s another topic.

You read the old reviews over and over but it’s not the same. They’re nice but you don’t get the same rush. You need a new kick!
So you write another book. This time, because you somehow accidentally learned a ton of stuff during the editing of the first book, this one sells to a big publisher. More reviews come in. Hundreds! You get to pretend you’re three all over again, and for many months you are constantly receiving praise for your efforts. Eventually, even that deep well dries up and you have to write another book. And another. And another.

It’s too late. You’re a junkie.
I gotta go now. I’m jonesing for a fix. The Mirror’s Truth just came out and is still getting reviews. Oh, fresh reviews! Does it get any better?

About the books:

The Mirror’s Truth is the second book of Manifest Delusions. First book is Beyond Redemption, which was critically acclaimed and well liked by the grimdark community. See my review here.

The Mirror’s Truth is even better and the characters and plots are truly stellar. My review is coming soon. Click the images to order the books.

Beyond Redemption

The Mirror's Truth

About the Author:

Michael R. Fletcher lives in the endless suburban sprawl north of Toronto. He dreams of trees and seeing the stars at night and being a ninja. He has a rather insane blog, which can be seen here:

Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher – Cover Reveal!

Grimdarkians, good news for you: The sequel to the wonderful grimdark masterpiece Beyond Redemption (read my review here) is on its way!

I must say this cover is awesome. There’s a half-naked berserker dude wielding an axe, what’s there not to love? Mirror’s Truth is going to be self published and it’s delightfully grimdark. If you haven’t read Beyond Redemption, check my review and if you love gritty books with witty and dark humor, remarkable characters and fast paced action, you will definitely love it and want more.

Mirror’s Truth should be out before Christmas, oh and I almost forgot to mention Mike Fletcher posted an excerpt from Chapter 1 on his blog along with the cover image. Head to his blog for more info:

Mirror's Truth

Book Review: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

Beyond Redemption

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Author info:

I have received a review copy from the author in exchange of an honest review. My opinions are my own.

A lot of reviewers call Beyond Redemption ‘The grimdarkest of grimdark’ and as a grimdark fan, I agree with them. It’s the epitomy of grimdark but far from depressing. It has plenty of twisted humor and dark satire between the lines. The best way I can describe this book is that it’s immensely dark and gritty with slivers of hope, witty philosophy and stunning black humor scattered around. The point of view characters are horribly vile and amoral, perhaps with the exception of the little boy, whose innocence turns out to be tarnished like everything else in the book. Everyone is batshit crazy except for the one sane character.

Even though the characters are all insane and horrible, you still root for them. Don’t ask me how that is possible, this book is a work of genius and makes you care about those awful cretins. You end up feeling sorry for them. There’s only one character I (and I think everyone else) hated, which is the gluttonous, greedy slug Erbrechen the Slaver. Erbrechen one is 1000 times more revolting than all other characters and I’d say I hated him as much as I hated Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and Joffrey from Asoiaf/The Game of Thrones. None of the fantasy books I recently read featured such a horrible villain. Reading this book made me realize how much I missed reading a well written, awful villain I could hate like no tomorrow.

One of the female characters, Stehlen the kleptic, is all kinds of awesome. She’s hideous and messed up beyond any hope, and she’s a horrible cutthroat bitch with no shred of morals or honor, but she’s still an awesome character and I liked her. The other female character, Gehirn the pyromaniac, is equally hideous and even more messed up. She also behaves like a damn weakling but I rooted for her more than anyone else. Two thumbs up to Mr. Fletcher for this stellar accomplishment.

The most entertaining parts for me were 1)the constant bickering between the three main characters and 2) the bantering and plotting between the doppels of the other main character Konig. Doppels are the aspects of personality becoming real beings of flesh. Kind of like the multiple personality disorder, but they are fragments of the same person’s character and they have the exact likeness. But delusions make reality in this crazy world, so everyone else can see and hear those delusions, too. The doppels are creepy as hell but quite intriguing, full of surprises and great fun to read. I really hope Mr. Fletcher writes some short stories featuring the doppels.

The other thing I found great about Beyond Redemption is the totally unpredictable twists and turns. If plot twists and fresh, original stuff is your thing, you will love this book without question. If you like magic systems you will love it, though it’s a different kind of magic system than you see in most fantasy books featuring significant magic elements. If you hate magic systems you will still love it for the same reason.

The concept of death is also quite original and unusual. I can’t say much for the sake of keeping this review spoiler free, but you will have a lot of fun after the character deaths. That’s all I can say, you have to read and see for yourself.

The morbid adventures of Bedeckt, Stehlen and Wichtig are insanely entertaining and the action never lets up. There’s also deliciously dark philosophy and black humor to be found in this story. Hilarious and macabre dialogues, messed up events and the cleverly woven satire making this book a 2 am in the morning page turner. It ends with a cliffhanger with the promise of a sequel. What can I say, I’m dying to read the second book.

Verdict: Buy it ASAP! If you love grimdark and complex characters, you will be a big fan. If you don’t like grimdark, you might still enjoy this book a great deal cause it’s much more than just grimdark.

PS: Someone opened a rather interesting discussion thread on reddit as I finished writing this review. There’s a bit of controversy about the book and the author chimed in to answer some of the questions. Here is the link.

WWW Wednesday 25 November 2015

WWW Wednesday weekly blog meme

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading:

Beyond Redemption by Michael Fletcher.

It’s a batshit crazy world full of batshit crazy people. The lines between delusions and reality are quite blurred, if they exist at all. It’s dark, gritty and full of horrible, amoral characters. Even the little kid isn’t an innocent little angel, if that tells you something. The concept is very original and the characters are compelling. If you are a fan of grimdark, you will definitely love this book.

Beyond Redemption by Micheal J. Fletcher

Recently finished reading:

The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence.

Great book, a work of genius. The first book of the series is called Prince of Fools and this book continues the story there. See my reviews for Prince of Fools and The Liar’s Key.

The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence

I’m planning to read next:

Fae: The Sins of the Wyrde by Graham Austin-King.

I read the first two books and they impressed me a good deal. See my reviews here, Fae: The Wild Hunt and Fae: The Realm of The Twilight.

Before they are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (I read The Blade Itself and totally loved it, see my review here)

Fae: The Sins of the Wyrde by Graham Austin-King Before they are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie