Tag Archives: novels

My Reading List for 2018

My Reading List for 2018

2018 draws to a close, and I can’t really say I’ll miss it. However one of the best highlights from the last year was reading so many amazing books. Every year I compiled a list of the novels I’ve read over the last 365 days. Everything I this list was pleasure reading, I tend to skip listing research books.


“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
—Stephen King

This list correlates with my Goodreads reading challenge but is always a few books longer since I can’t list the books I beta read on Goodreads. Overall, I’m pleased with myself this year. I surpassed my goal (thirty-five) and ended up reading the most books in a single year I’ve ever read.

Since this list is always enormous, l forgo reviews. However, follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally leave reviews. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you, then I encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s vital for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able.

Okay, to the list!


📚 Novels

  1. Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4)
    by Max Gladstone
  2. Those Across the River
    by Christopher Buehlman
  3. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) 🎧
    by Leigh Bardugo
  4. Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2)
    by James S.A. Corey
  5. Railsea …again
    by China Miéville
  6. Foreign Devils (The Incorruptibles #2)
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  7. Outlander (Outlander #1) 🎧
    by Diana Gabaldon
  8. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  9. The Etched City
    by K.J. Bishop
  10. The Force: A Novel 🎧
    by Don Winslow
  11. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
    by Robin Sloan
  12. Xenos (Eisenhorn #1)
    by Dan Abbet
  13. Lexicon
    by Max Barry
  14. Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard #2) 🎧
    by Scott Lynch
  15. Poor Man’s Fight (Poor Man’s Fight #1)
    by Elliott Kay
  16. Side Life
    by Steve Toutonghi
  17. Heart of Darkness
    by Joseph Conrad
  18. Rencor: Life in Grudge City
    by Matt Wallace
  19. Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder’s Arc #1)
    by Jeff Salyards
  20. The Stone Boatmen
    by Sarah Tolmie
  21. The Ballad of Black Tom
    by Victor LaValle
  22. Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archives #3) 🎧
    by Brandon Sanderson
  23. All the Birds in the Sky (All the Birds in the Sky #1)
    by Charlie Jane Anders
  24. Sip
    by Brian Allen Carr
  25. Vurt (Vurt #1) 🎧
    by Jeff Noon
  26. The Hike: A Novel 🎧
    by Drew Magary
  27. Fates and Furies
    by Lauren Groff
  28. The Twilight Pariah
    by Jeffrey Ford
  29. City of Stairs (The Divine Cities #1)
    by Robert Jackson Bennett
  30. Random Acts of Senseless Violence (Dryco)
    by Jack Womack
  31. Borne: A Novel 🎧
    by Jeff VanderMeer
  32. Blackfish City
    by Sam J. Miller
  33. A Song for Quiet (Persons Non Grata #2)
    by Cassandra Khaw
  34. Lost Gods: A Novel
    by Brom
  35. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) …again 🎧
    by Dan Simmons
  36. Between the Shadow and Lo
    by Lauren Sapala
  37. The Haunting of Hill House
    by Shirley Jackson
  38. Titus Groan (Gormenghast #1) 🎧
    by Mervyn Peake
  39. The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1)
    by Robert Jordan
  40. The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  41. Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, #2)
    by Octavia E. Butler
  42. Artemis 🎧
    by Andy Weir
  43. Senlin Ascends
    by Josiah Bancroft

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2018:

Vurt by Jeff NoonVurt
by Jeff Noon

A wild trip of a ride. A cyber-punkish exploration of addiction and depravity, but told through the technicolored language of beauty and desire. I was stunned. I couldn’t put it down and months later I still find myself hankering for a jam fix and dreaming of feathers.


🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2018:


A Note: This was so hard. I mean seriously, picking two runners-up was nearly impossible this year. I read that many good books. That said, while Vurt eventually won out there were two others in serious contention.


The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky: A Novella of Cosmic Horror by John Hornor Jacobs The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky
by John Hornor Jacobs

A masterpiece of modern cosmic horror that grounds itself in humanity. The setting and characters are captivating and unique to the genre. The result is a surprisingly deep novella that recasts cosmic horror’s themes with raw originality. I was enthralled.

Side Life by Steve ToutonghiSide Life
by Steve Toutonghi

Any attempt to encapsulate Side Life in a small review will ultimately do it an injustice. It is a book of facets, and each reflects a theme as varied as the realities explored within its pages. A study on love, loss, and family, an introspection on humanity, reality, and self-identity. Utterly tragic and yet ultimately hopeful.


🎈 Honorable Mentions

This year was different than previous years so I have a few other Honorable Mentions. These are books that resonated with me long after I had finished them and they deserve a little callout. In no particular order…

  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
    A modern retelling of The Horror at Redhook.
  • Lexicon by Max Berry
    Language as powerful mind-twisting magic.
  • Sip by Brian Allen Carr
    A post-apocalyptic tale where people drink and become addicted to shadow.
  • The Force by Don Winslow
    A dirty cop tries to navigate his web of lies while protecting his city.
  • Lost Gods by Brom
    A lost soul discovers that purgatory is a dangerous place to live.
  • Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala
    A young alcoholic struggles to find hope in the rainy streets of Seattle.
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
    A spy struggles to solve a murder in a city where dead gods once reigned.

💥 Graphic Novels:

Normally I list the graphic novels I’ve read over the year here.

But… uh, I didn’t read too many graphic novels.

In fact, I read only a handful.

I finished the latest in Matt Nelson’s Catbeard series (Book Five is out! Go buy it, I wrote the forward) and completed my reading in Lars Brown’s Penultimate Quest. (Go buy that as well.) So you get a few recommendations here but no real list. Sorry, perhaps next year?


So, that’s my list! Overall, I’m content with my reading for the year. It’s been a blast to lose myself in so many imaginative worlds and discover new and fresh perspectives on life and humanity. Books are a gateway and one I am eager to step through—so thanks, 2018. Here’s to more books in 2019!

Are you looking for a good book? Want to see my reading lists from previous years? Check any of the links below and see what I was reading in the bygone halcyon days.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 2016 • 2017

Next year, why not join me? Goodreads does a reading challenge every year, and I am an active participant. First, follow me on Goodreads (leave me a review while you’re there), and once the New Year arrives, participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2018.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

My 2017 Reading List

My Reading List for 2017

Can you feel it? The end of a year approaches. That means it’s time to revisit all the books I’ve read over the last year. As always most of this list correlates with my Goodreads reading challenge. (See my Goodreads Year in Books here.) It’s always a bit longer here because I can’t list any of the beta readings I do for friends.

I had no challenge this year. Which was great. There’s a lot of books on this list that I had been saving after the last few challenges. It was nice to be able to work through the proverbial nightstand pile. One minor note, there’s are a few books on here I’d consider novellas. Usually, they wouldn’t make the cut or they’d be shifted to another list, but I am keeping them this year. I read a few enormous tomes, so I feel they balance things out.

Since this list is always enormous, l forgo reviews. However, follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally leave reviews. I call out some of my favorites of the year at the end of each list. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you, then I encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s vital for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able.


📚 Novels

  1. Yesterday’s Demons (The Verdant Revival Book 1)
    by Mike Ripplinger
  2. Red Rising
    by Pierce Brown
  3. Hard Magic
    by Larry Correia
  4. The Incorruptibles (The Incorruptibles #1)
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  5. Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)
    by Octavia E. Butler
  6. The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni #1)
    by Helene Wecker
  7. The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company #1)
    by Glen Cook
  8. The Last Days of New Paris
    by China Miéville
  9. Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence #2)
    by Max Gladstone
  10. Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata #1)
    by Cassandra Khaw
  11. The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl With All The Gifts #1)
    by M.R. Carey
  12. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)
    by N.K. Jemisin
  13. The “Wonderful” Wizard of Futhermucking Oz (Futhermucking Classics Book 1)
    by Matt Youngmark
  14. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  15. Rocannon’s World (The Hainish Cycle #1) …again
    by Ursula K. Le Guin
  16. The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1)
    by John Scalzi
  17. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  18. River of Teeth
    by Sarah Gailey
  19. The Magicians
    by Lev Grossman
  20. The King in Yellow …again
    by Robert W. Chambers
  21. The Half-Made World (The Half-Made World #1)
    by Felix Gilman
  22. Engines of the Broken World
    by Jason Vanhee
  23. The Brotherhood of the Wheel
    by R. S. Belcher
  24. Alif the Unseen
    by G. Willow Wilson
  25. Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin #1)
    by Patrick O’Brian
  26. “I Give You My Body . . .”: How I Write Sex Scenes
    by Diana Gabaldon
  27. A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
    by Patrick Ness
  28. The Rise of Ransom City (The Half-Made World #2)
    by Felix Gilman
  29. Devil’s Call
    by J. Danielle Dorn
  30. Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3)
    by Max Gladstone
  31. Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #1)
    by Stephen R. Donaldson
  32. A City Dreaming
    by Daniel Polansky
  33. The Stand
    by Stephen King
  34. This Dark Earth
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  35. Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1)
    by Annie Bellet
  36. Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)
    by Fonda Lee
  37. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
    by Susanna Clarke
  38. The House on the Borderland
    by William Hope Hodgson
  39. Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines #1)
    by Philip Reeve
  40. All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)
    by Martha Wells

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2017:

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni
by Helene Wecker

I can understand why The Golem and the Jinni took so long to write. (Apparently, ten years.) It’s captivating. Wecker’s command of language is stunning. The story is a classic American tale exploring the immigrant experience through the eyes of two people who are both similar and yet unlike anyone else. A must read.

🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2017:

The Half-Made WorldThe Half-Made World
by Felix Gilman

This was recommended to me by a friend, and I am so glad I picked it up. The weird west is fast becoming one of my favorite genres. Its worldbuilding is superb and its characters fantastic. The conflict between the Line and the Gun is well realized. I was hooked and loved every moment I spent with its pages.

Jonathan Strange and Mr NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

It has magic and fairies and English gentlemen magicians. Its characters are fully realized, its plot more intricate than most novels, and all of this is handled with a deft hand. (Oh, Clarke’s use of language is divine.) A love letter to Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and England.

Picking this was difficult this year. There are so many others I could have named as runners-up but tradition dictates I only pick two. Sorry other books and authors of aforementioned other books, thems the rules.


💥 Graphic Novels:

  1. House of the Holy
    by Mike Carey (Author), Dave Kendall (Illustrator)
  2. Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
    by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Roc Upchurch (Illustrator), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
  3. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes …again
    by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Keith (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator)
  4. Rat Queens Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth
    by: Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Stjepan Sejic (Artist)
  5. Triceratots
    by: Josh Montreuil (Author & Artist)
  6. Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars
    by Jeff Lemire (Author), Dustin Nguyen (Artist)
  7. Injection Vol. 1
    by Warren Ellis (Author), Declan Shalvey (Illustrator), Jordie Bellaire (Illustrator), Fonografiks (Illustrator)
  8. House of Penance
    by Peter J. Tomasi (Author), Ian Bertram (Illustrator), Dave Stewart (Illustrator)

🏆 Favorite Graphic Novel of 2017:

Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Roc Upchurch, Fiona Staples (Illustrators)

Rat Queens is a traditional D&D fantasy-style book, but it’s not the setting that’s so engaging. It’s its characters. Every single one is delightful in their own particular way. Hannah, Violet (my fav), Betty, and Dee are complex, and that complexity makes this book shine.

🏅 Favorite Graphic Novel Runners-up of 2017:

House of PenanceHouse of Penance
by Peter J. Tomasi (Author), Ian Bertram, Dave Stewart (Illustrators)

A story of guilt, loss, and humanity. The Winchester House is a strange place. This book explores Sarah Winchester’s motives behind the building of the infamous house. The art is gorgeous, if not a bit difficult. Violence should never be easy to confront, and House of Penance refuses to glorify.

The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & NocturnesThe Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes
by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg (Illustrators)

So, this is a bit cheat, since Sandman has long been one of my favorite comic series of all time. But I needed to include it here. Gaiman’s book is still as delightful as it was when I first read it. Dream’s quest to regain his stolen possessions still serve as an excellent catalyst for a fantastic journey.


So there’s my list for 2017! I read a lot of amazing books and some really great graphic novels. (Sadly, no short stories this year.) I have no reading challenges in 2018. So, I plan on continuing with my escapism theme for the foreseeable future.

Are you looking for a good book? Want to see my reading lists from previous years? Check any of the links below and see what I was reading in the bygone halcyon days.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 2016 •

Next year, why not join me? Goodreads does a reading challenge every year, and I am an active participant. First, follow me on Goodreads (leave me a review while you’re there), and once the New Year arrives, participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2018.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

The Beauty of the Standalone

The Beauty In The Standalone

I watched Whiplash the other day and I absolutely loved it. In my opinion, it should have won best picture. Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons are fantastic and Damien Chazelle’s storytelling is superb. In many ways, it’s a fantastic example of the perfect story. It didn’t have thirty minutes of slow character introduction and back story like so many of the superhero movies leading the box office these days. It didn’t have a long drawn out ending that wrapped everything up in a nice little package. It was succinct. It was sharp. It was alive. It left a lot to the imagination. It was beautiful.

Whiplash is a great example for what I am about to dive into. You see, several times at recent conventions, during discussions of favorite books, I have had people tell me that they only read books in a series. That is unfortunate. There are a lot of great books out there, and many of them are standalone novels. But I’ve heard this sentiment many times, and I think this kind of thinking tends to prevail within the speculative fiction market. Many novels get thrust into a series when they would have been better off remaining a single work. Sci-fi and fantasy publishers tend to be looks for writers who want to work on a series, especially in the YA market. Take a look at this list of the purported “Top 25 Fantasy Novels” only three are stand alone books (Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Robert Jackson Bennet’s City Of Stairs, and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.)

Some of this is a reaction to the marketplace. Publishers want to sell a bunch of books and people clearly love supporting a series. They love the long story. They enjoy following characters from one book to the next. The odds are high that someone who loves the first book will come back to the second. As a reader, author, and a publisher, I completely understand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the series as a concept. I love reading them. Hell, I’m writing one. But, I think as fans of speculative fiction we need to be willing to embrace the standalone novel as quickly as we embrace the series. Not every sci-fi and fantasy story should be three, six, or twelve novels long to catch our interest. Like Whiplash we should have vibrant stories that are told in one succinct volume. We should allow for stories that leave us wondering and send our imagination spinning. We should be eager to support those books as quickly as we support a series. Think back to some of the classics speculative fiction authors: Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, and the likes of Alfred Bester. Some of their best work was standalone novels. There’s a beauty in the standalone. And as fans of sci-fi and fantasy, it’s important to remember that.

How about you? What is your favorite standalone sci-fi or fantasy novel? Why not leave a reply and let us know in the comments!

Friday Link Pack 08/29/2014

Old Broken Road

The weekend approaches! That means it’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!

Old Broken Road:

Sample Old Broken Road Next Monday!
That’s right, on September 1st I will be releasing a sample chapter of Old Broken Road at oldbrokenroad.com. Really excited to get this out there. We’re getting really close! Those who sign up for my newsletter get notified first when Old Broken Road is released, so sign up today!

Writing:

What It Takes To Cook Some Of Literature’s Most Famous Meals
The Smithsonian looks at Dinah Fried’s new book Fictitious Dishes, which brings some of literature’s most famous meals to life. Everything from the chowder from Melville’s Moby Dick to the roasted eggs and potatoes from Burnett’s The Secret Garden. This is a food and literature lovers dream.

How Big Is Your Pond?
Dave Farland answers the question of every budding speculative fiction author, “should I write science fiction, or should I focus more on young adult novels? Which way should I go?” It’s good advice and something to consider. (Spoiler: above all, write what you love.)

Why Don’t Authors Compete?
Seth Godin explores the idea that writing isn’t a competition, and how the community works towards the betterment of all… although someone forgot to tell that to the authors in our next link.

Amazing Author Insults That Actually Raise Insults To An Art Form
An amusing collection of authors insulting other authors about their work. Someone should have sent them Seth Godin’s link. (Thanks to Kevin for submitting this one.)

Art:

80’s Sysadmin Warning Posters Look Like Dystopian Parodies
Strange and hilarious these System Admin posters from the 80s have that perfect mix of retro and strange dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four future. (Thanks to Chris for sending this one in.)

1950s Hong Kong Captured In Street Photography By Fan Ho
Beautiful photography of everyday life in Hong Kong, China during the middle of last century. Haunting. (Thanks to Dwayne for this one. Fantastic find.)

Visual Inspiration by Gustavo Mendonca 
Going back into the archives for this one. Mendonca’s cityscapes for the now canceled Star Wars: 1313 creates a multilayered and gritty version on the Star Wars universe. Cool stuff.

Random:

33 “Facts” Everybody Knows That Are Actually Total Lies
You’ve heard a lot of these before, from alcohol killing brain cells (it doesn’t) to being able to see the Great Wall of China from space (you can’t) to vaccination causing autism (nope.) Nice collection. Worth checking out, or sending to that obnoxious family member that posts scare-articles on Facebook without actually vetting them.

Classic First Lines of Novels in Emojis: A Quiz
How many of these can you figure out. I got about half, which I think makes me pretty old, or kind of dumb.

Pop Sonnets
Take the pop songs of today, throw in a bit of the Bard, and what do you get? Pop Sonnets! (Thanks to Ben for this one. So great.)

The King And His Objects
“I think it is pretty clear that people who call for more objectivity are actually calling for subjectivity more closely aligned with their own viewpoints.” Fantastic article on “gamers” and the marketplace by writer, composer, and video game creator Matthew S. Burns. (Thanks to Chris for pointing this one out.)

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

Hypnos
A sculptor meets a mysterious man, and what comes of that meeting will change his life (and his work) forever.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

I have no idea what is going on here, but I like it.