Books - Books of the Year

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Books of 2015, what a really hard job it is to come up with a list. Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand do their best...

Reviewing books can be a chore sometimes. You aren't gripped after twenty pages but there's still about four hundred to go. It's time consuming, more so than analysing a film but, when you get a cracker of a novel or a piece of non fiction that educates and entertains at the same time, it makes all the time you've taken worthwhile. This year was a rich year of pickings for us as we didn't really get many subpar offerings so coming up with a list is difficult. Obviously we read some books by good friends of ours but even though they were author types before we stalked them and made them submit to our will, it would be unfair to include them in the list. However we have lots of love for Tripler by Neil Vogler, Lemon by Barnaby Eaton-Jones, and of course the continued world building within Virulent Blurb by Kneel Downe so obviously buy their stuff first!

So in no particular order here are mine and Susan's 'Ten from 2015'...

The Border Reiver

The Border Reiver - Nicholas Christophides (dystopian political thriller)

The cruellest master is named REVENGE. 

Nat Bell is a farmer, a family man and an uncompromising hunter. When he is wronged irrevocably by the new revolutionary government, he is consumed by a need for vengeance.
Bell’s ambitious and intelligent savagery will intertwine his destiny with that of the country’s new leader. A man who is in the midst of his own battle to protect the ideology that brought his party to power. 

As civil war ignites in the border counties of England and an independent Scotland wades into the fight, can Nat resist the devil that is hatred and protect his daughter from the futility of war.

Night Blade: Dawn of Discovery

Night Blade: Dawn of Discovery - Kyle M Perkins (Japanese cat demons)

Being a son of a cat demon and a human isn't all it's cracked up to be. As a half-demon, Niko has a unique ability: he can control his demon transformations. However, while he is participating in a Martial Arts tournament, where the best of the best are competing. During his last fight with the last opponent he would expect, his demonic powers become uncontrollable.

Mono

Mono - James Knight (surrealist poetry)

Set in a surreal totalitarian state populated by spies, vampires, robots and chimpanzees, Mono offers the reader a kaleidoscope of mutating story-lines. Eve is abducted and imprisoned in a subterranean compound. The sinister Mirrors inject readymade dreams into the minds of citizens. Dr Mort brings extinct animals back to life. Serge plots the assassination of a dictator... Binding all the strands together is the portrait of a writer who is desperate to expose the truth about the bleak world in which he lives, but who cannot distinguish between memories, fantasies and dreams. Accompanied by sixty monochrome illustrations and written in Knight's characteristically terse, darkly humorous style, Mono is perhaps best described as an entertaining nightmare.

Willem of the Tafel

Willem of the Tafel - Hans Hirschi (dystopian political scifi drama)

The world we know is gone, destroyed by greed and ignorance. On a post-apocalyptic Earth, centuries into the future, few have survived the great war. Some have taken refuge deep inside a mountain. One of them, Willem, is exiled to the surface...

Struggling to survive, alone, Willem embarks on an epic journey, making a discovery that could alter the future of humanity, once again. 

Biblia Longcrofta

Biblia Longcrofta - Simon Marshall-Jones (Fantasy)

Biblia Longcrofta is a series of connected short fiction stories, semi-autobiographical in nature, set in the imaginary town of Longcroft. Although it has no precise geographical location in the ‘real’ world, nevertheless it is located somewhere on the northern coastline of Britain. It exists contemporaneously and separately in a different time stream from the rest of the world, the reasons for the split lost in the mists of time. 

It is no ordinary town, however – here miracles happen on an everyday basis, and the numinous and marvellous sit side-by-side with the banal and mundane. Into this wonderland comes a tattooed stranger called Simeon, a man bored of his old life, but still unsure of what his place in the world is, who he is, and what purpose he has. 

Through a series of connected incidents, he comes to understand the world around him, and the person he is. Along the way he meets wonders and living myths and, through interacting with them, he finds his true destiny – however, it’s not what he was expecting nor what he would have chosen for himself.
 

Horns of the Minotaur

Horns of the Minotaur - David Ross Wood (Espionage thriller)

In an attempt to halt the rapidly escalating attacks on Minotaur Resource assets, the CEO of the company, George Pollard, instructs his Operations Manager to organise a strike force to work for Minotaur and deal with threats to company assets. He contacts Captain Thomas Ritter who has recently served in Afghanistan, to lead the team.

Ritter takes up the challenge and with the assistance of Major Peter Cornish, puts together a team of ex-military from around the world.

Ritter and Cornish must mould the individual soldiers into a team, men who carry both the emotional and physical scars of the warrior. It is not long before their mettle is tested when a Minotaur Resources oil platform off the Falkland Islands is threatened by a force of Argentine Marines.

In a battle for their very lives, the team achieves its mission and returns to London but is soon presented with another serious threat to the companies assets. Somali pirates have hijacked a Minotaur owned supertanker, holding the ship to ransom for five million dollars. The team is ordered to re-take the ship and release its hostages but the mission does not go exactly to plan and they find themselves in a fight for their lives in an attempt to complete their objective.

From Afghanistan to the South Atlantic, from Northern Ireland to Somalia,Horns of the Minotaur is a novel that takes the reader into a world of corporate intrigue, non-stop action and thrills that the reader will find hard to put down.

Emily Nation

Emily Nation - Alec McQuay (post apocalyptic Cornish action)

Emily Nation is the greatest assassin in a post apocalyptic world. Raised with a gun in her hand and under her adoptive father's watchful eye, she made a name for herself as an utterly ruthless killer with a firm moral code, never taking a commission against anyone who didn't deserve it. Armed with an assortment of bizarre weapons provided by an extremely secretive sponsor, nobody is safe once Emily has them in her sights. When a commission goes south and follows her home to her wife and daughter, everything that kept her on the straight and narrow begins to crumble, uncovering the darker, crueller side of the master assassin. With the precarious balance of her life in ruins she puts the west of England in her rear view mirror and doesn't look back, until the faces from her past come looking for her. With her mistakes threatening everyone she used to care about, a vicious enemy growing stronger in her absence and her powerful sponsor waiting in the shadows, Emily has to drag herself out of the bottle and back to her feet, back into her armour and finish the job, whatever the cost.

Macadamian Pliers

Macadamian Pliers - Steve Conoboy (YA Horror)

Cherry’s heart crammed into her throat. She was alone with Mr. Pliers. Nobody to hide behind. She turned to see him filling the threshold of the room. He resembled a grotesque ill-fitting door carved into the shape of a black-suited golem. ‘The room,’ he clarified. ‘It’s the one I would have chosen. You have taste similar to mine. Lucky you.’ He turned and tilted so he could get into the room, an obsidian monolith with the power of movement. The top of his head brushed the ceiling. Suddenly the bedroom didn’t seem anywhere near big enough. ‘It’s the view, isn’t it?’ He chuckled then, a sound which made the ends of Cherry’s bones grind together. Phlegm and rust and sparks: these are the things she thought of when she heard that laugh. ‘I would gaze out of the window for hours, imagined I could pick up the little people as they went about their days and place them anywhere else if I wanted to. Drop them from a great height if it pleased me.’ He mimed the action with nimble pinching fingers, plucking a distant imaginary figure from a sidewalk and flinging them off towards the horizon. In Cherry’s mind there was a tiny scream. ‘I think you’re going to have quite a time in this house, Cherry. Don’t you?’

Macadamian Pliers is an unpleasant man with a hideous plan. He’s just sold a house to Emmet’s Peak’s newest family, and they’re about to find out it’s haunted. He made it that way. 

Zero World

Zero World - Jason M. Hough (science fiction espionage)

Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.

Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.

Anti-Hero

Anti-Hero (Arthur Wallace #3) - Jonathan Wood (Urban Fantasy)

Machines attack MI37 while they’re attending Clyde’s funeral. Their US equivalent Area 51 contacts them about a version of Clyde (2.0) that has escaped onto the Internet. Area 51 wants their help in catching 2.0 and sends over Agent Gran as their contact. The team follow a lead to a trash dump in India, where they discover 2.0 in the mind of a child, 2.0 believes he is saving the world but to do this must destroy humanity.

They head to Area 51 which is attacked by 2.0 and the versions of Clyde they thought were working for MI37, Tabitha activates 2.1 who gets them out of the building but New York City has been destroyed by spore zombies. They trace 2.0’s servers to the Arctic where a small Alaskan town is populated entirely by spore zombies. They locate 2.0’s massive ice palace base populated by strange, half vegetable life forms that Clyde seems to be creating via biological 3D printers. The group is divided on how best to proceed – eventually Arthur finds a way to save everyone and fix Clyde.


Image/Synopsis - Goodreads.