2018 in - Books

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Steve Taylor-Bryant cannot be bothered with awards or nonsense arguments. Instead he is just going to force upon you his highlights of the year. First up in his look back at 2018 is books...

It’s not easy this time of year. Everyone wants your ‘best of’ lists. The Problem is I can’t narrow things down that simply so I’m not going to. This year I’m just going to divide my articles into sections, film, books etc, and wax lyrically about what I’ve enjoyed from each chapter of my life in reviewing in this Year of our Coffee 2018. I’m not going to mention my disappointments or what’s really let me down, there is enough ugliness in the world at the moment, and I’m also not stating this is anything definitive. If you enjoyed something else or didn’t quite like the same things as I did that’s absolutely fine, this article isn’t Twitter, we don’t have to go to war over whether a film or comic I consumed was worthy of praise or not. So where shall I start? Books, I think.


Moving Target by Richard Gray
 
Considering how much my private reading time as been impacted by my ever-changing busy real life I still managed to exceed my Goodreads reading challenge and as I write this, I’m quarter of the way through book number 60. For a semi illiterate dyslexic this is a proud moment! Books have gripped me this year, with two publishers grabbing my attention more than the others. I mention this as I only discovered one of them this year and I’m going to mention a book of theirs in a moment but it’s not a book from this year, however I discovered the publisher this year so I’m counting it. My top two publishers in 2018? Titan Books and Sequart Organisation. Sequart are new to me but my six-year-old wanted me to have a book about Green Arrow for my birthday and so I unwrapped my gift to find Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow by Richard Gray. My review is here for your perusal, but this book changed my outlook on comics, educated me, and entertained me like not many other nonfiction books could do. This led me to two great documentaries made by Sequart, Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods, and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, and I’m currently working my way through The British Invasion: Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and the Invention of the Modern Comic Book Writer by Greg Carpenter and Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitan edited by Chad Nevett. If you are interested in the behind the scenes or cultural impact of comics then Sequart is for you.

I’ve always loved Titan Books, mainly because of the sheer variety of genre goodies available to me. Want to see art? They got you covered. Want adaption novels or geek encyclopaedia? They got you covered. But in the main it’s because they release novels I can’t help but fall in love with. Every year they are mentioned by me in some kind of highlights article and I’m honestly not on their payroll, if wishing made it so, but this year they exceeded even my expectations. Just to save me time and you my drool coming through your device screen, I’m just going to list the books from this wonderful publisher that have made my year. [Click on the highlighted titles below to read Steve's reviews of the books - Ed]

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven't seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she's got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter's been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting. 



Pray for Death by James Hilton

Pray for Death (Gunn Brothers #3) by James Hilton

EVEN PRAYER WON’T SAVE THEM NOW

Brothers Danny and Clay Gunn were brought up an ocean apart. Both served in the military, and both know how to kill, taking work as private military contractors and freelance “fixers”.

Celine Chavez is the closest thing to a daughter that Clay Gunn has. But now she has disappeared while vacationing in Mexico. Clay and his brother Danny must venture into the ultra-violent criminal underworld to bring her home. From the bright lights of Cancún to a living nightmare in the wildest jungles of the Yucatán, the Gunn brothers face the direst of enemies yet.

One thing is for sure: if they survive, the Gunn brothers will never be the same again.



The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey

In a future London, humans are watched over by AIs and served by bots. But now that justice and jobs are meted out by algorithm, inequality blooms, and protest is brutally silenced.

Anna Glover may be the most hated woman in the troubled city – the media’s scapegoat for an unpopular war. Now she hides from the public eye, investigating neglected cases by using the mind-invading technology of the synapse sequencer to enter witnesses’ memories. When a PI brings her a new high-stakes case, Anna sees a chance for atonement. But soon she is drawn into a plot that threatens to upend her hard-won anonymity and put everyone in danger – even those she hopes to save. 

The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark. 

Madman Walkin by L.F. Robertson

Madman Walking by L.F. Robertson

Howard Henley is not a killer. That seems obvious to lawyer Janet Moodie when she’s called in to work his appeal. Her new client was convicted of arranging the shooting of a drug dealer, but the man who pulled the trigger has always said Henley had nothing to do with it. So why is Henley the one on death row?

Janet’s new case takes her from the desperate world of prison gangs, where men are murdered as an initiation rite, to the courtroom, where a mental illness might mean the difference between life and death. Can she convince a judge of her client’s innocence before it’s too late?



AND IF I WAS GIVING OUT AWARDS? MY BOOK OF THE YEAR BY MILES...

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

A super-powered collision of extraordinary minds and vengeful intentions—V. E. Schwab returns with the thrilling follow-up to Vicious.

Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships now soured on the vine.

But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her newfound power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other once more.

With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity—and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.



Image/Synopsis - Titan Books/Sequart Organisation