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Holiday Reads!

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I’m not much of an Xmas guy. My family never celebrated it growing up and neither did my wife’s. But I do look forward to the holidays, particularly because they give me a chance to read and write. And so I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve enjoyed best this year, as well as the top of my To-Be-Read pile with you.

Best of the Year

The Game Bird, Aidan Walsh

Aidan’s debut novel, the Game Bird, is a nautical adventure set in what feels a bit like our 19th century, but is in fact a fantasy world populated with mythological beasts and demons. This book has a cracking good pace, likable but flawed heroes, hideous villains, and a stew of incongruous story elements that I assure you is most delicious. Original, suspenseful, and just straight up fun. You can’t go wrong with this one.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

A new Coen Brothers movie is always a treat. I have enjoyed their recent forays into the Western genre and this anthology piece–a Netflix original–feels like their final word on the genre. It’s weird and obtuse and violent and funny as you expect; magnificently shot, cast and performed. I am unable to pick a favourite among the mostly unconnected vignettes, each of which examines a different mode of storytelling that has, in one era or another, been applied to the genre. See it if you can.

Top of my TBR Pile

Devouring Dark, Alan Baxter

I am a longtime fan of Alan’s and I expect that this book, a supernatural thriller about a murderous vigilante with dark powers of his own. Alan writes fast, action-packed horror-thrillers and this one looks like it’s playing to his strengths. Definitely should give it a look–I know I’m keen.

The Subjugate, Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda is best know for her military SF Aurora series, but her newest book, The Subjugate, is a bit of a different beast. A pair of homicide cops investigate  string of murders in a small religious community, in a world where violent offenders are ‘neurologically edited’ into placid servants. Looks like a suspenseful and thoughtful new work from an up-and-coming star writer.

We Ride the Storm, Devin Madsen

I am a fan of Devin’s earlier Broken Empire trilogy and her new book, We Ride the Storm, is a fresh entry into her intriguing, Far East inspired fantasy world. The setting isn’t the only thing different about these books–the magic system is completely original and the characters are dark and fascinating. I believe that you can jump straight into this new book without having read the earlier trilogy and I am very much looking forward to it. We Ride the Storm is currently a finalist in Mark Lawrence’s SFPBO competition, so you know it’s going to be good.

Tide of Stone, KaaronWarren

I don’t think Kaaron needs much of an introduction here after her stint as Guest of Honour at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, but I will say that she’s probably the only prose writer in the world whose books I am actually terrified to read. In Tide of Stone, the world’s worst criminals can choose between the death penalty and eternal life–locked in a tower with others like themselves. I’m looking forward to reading this in the holidays… if I have the guts.

That’s it from me this year. I hope to have some news about some exciting new projects–Shadowmancy! Gourmand Go!–early next year but for now, have a safe and excellent holiday season. 

All the best,

— Jason 

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