Friday, January 08, 2016

Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015

Here are my top 5 favorite/best books of 2015 (in no particular order). Each of these novels deserves a place on your reading list!

Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

Silver on the Road is one of my favorite books of 2015 because of the wonderful characters and the gorgeous worldbuilding. The novel is at moments like the soft brush of gently swaying prairie grass and at times like the thunder of a herd of buffalo stampeding. There is magic. There are monsters and a 16 year old girl - Isobel - learning her place in the world. The mythology and lore underpinning Silver on the Road are terrific. Isobel is a great character and watching her learn and grow into magic and her new life is captivating. Silver on the Road is a fabulous coming of age story set in a deeply memorable alternative American West.

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig is a technological thriller surrounding issues of government surveillance and overstepping. The Zer0es of the title are 5 hackers on the hook for one year of servitude to the government instead of multiple years in prison. Wendig quickly introduces us to this disparate group as they are rounded up. The novel starts off as hackerpunk and gently slides into cyberpunk and then into what-the-hell-is-that? I absolutely loved it. Wendig has a talent for writing fabulous characters and I always enjoy his offbeat ones immensely. Zer0es surprised me, occasionally frightened me, and totally delighted me.

Los Nefilim, Part One and Part Two by T. Frohock

I can't tell you how much I adore this series so far - In Midnight’s Silence (Part One) and Without Light or Guide (Part Two). T. Frohock has written engaging characters with an extremely well thought out mythology while at the same time making them confront deeply human emotions and conditions. Diago Alvarez who is half angel and half daimon struggles with this conflict in his nature and the way others perceive him. The relationship between Diago and Miquel (his lover) is gentle and loving and rings with veracity. The writing and pace are gorgeous. The machinations of humans, Nefilim and others create a great backdrop for Diago's story. I can't wait to see what happens in the Part 3 of this series.

Planetfall by Emma Newman

I am a big 3D printing fan with 2 printers running most of the time at home. Newman takes 3D to new levels in Planetfall - where most everything that the settlers use on a new world is 3D printed. While this part of the novel charmed me, it's not what kept me reading. This story of betrayal, lies, religion, science, and extraordinarily flawed characters is fantastic. Newman pulls off the neat trick of making me empathize with characters that I often did not like, in particular Renata Ghali. Things really go sideways for Ren during the 22 years she and the rest of the settlers have been living on a planet far from earth. Newman slowly peels back the layers of lies and mysteries that surround planetfall and the colony giving readers a fascinating look at human behavior.

The Killing Kind by Chris Holm

Hands down this is the best thriller I read in 2015. Holm bends the hired killer trope to give us a fascinating look at hit man who kills hit men. Getting inside the mind of our 'hero', Michael Hendricks, was a blast if often somewhat disturbing. The cat and mouse game between Hendricks and the hitman hired to take him out is nerve wracking and exciting,  The action scenes are often breathtaking. The writing is top notch. The Killing Kind kept me on the edge of my seat. Hendricks is the morally challenged good guy that you'll come to really like.

Silver on the Road
The Devil's West 1
Saga Press, October 6, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price?

Isobel, upon her sixteenth birthday, makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel circuit through the territory. As we all know, where there is magic there is chaos…and death.

Harper Voyager, August 18, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

An exhilarating thrill-ride through the underbelly of cyber espionage in the vein of David Ignatius’s The Director and the television series Leverage, CSI: Cyber, and Person of Interest, which follows five iconoclastic hackers who are coerced into serving the U.S. government.

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed—and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X-Files and the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, Zer0es explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.

In Midnight’s Silence
Los Nefilim: Part One
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 23, 2015
eBook, 128 pages

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can't get to him directly, they do the one thing he's always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover's life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world's next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock's In Midnight's Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he'll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.

Without Light or Guide
Los Nefilim: Part Two
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 3, 2015
eBook, 128 pages

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Always holding themselves aloft from the affairs of mortals, Los Nefilim have thrived for eons. But with the Spanish Civil War looming, their fragile independence is shaken by the machinations of angels and daimons…and a half-breed caught in-between.

For although Diago Alvarez has pledged his loyalty to Los Nefilim, there are many who don't trust his daimonic blood. And with the re-emergence of his father—a Nefil who sold his soul to a daimon—the fear is Diago will soon follow the same path.

Yet even as Diago tries to prove his allegiance, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilim's suspicions—including the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.

The second novella in T. Frohock's Los Nefilim series, Without Light or Guide continues Diago's journey through a world he was born into, yet doesn't quite understand.

Roc, November 3, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thornscomes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

The Killing Kind
Mulholland Books, September 15, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Trade Paperback to be published September 1, 2016

A hitman who only kills other hitmen winds up a target himself.

Michael Hendricks kills people for money. That aside, he's not so bad a guy.

Once a covert operative for a false-flag unit of the US military, Hendricks was presumed dead after a mission in Afghanistan went sideways. He left behind his old life--and beloved fiancée--and set out on a path of redemption...or perhaps one of willful self-destruction.

Now Hendricks makes his living as a hitman entrepreneur of sorts--he only hits other hitmen. For ten times the price on your head, he'll make sure whoever's coming to kill you winds up in the ground instead. Not a bad way for a guy with his skill-set to make a living--but a great way to make himself a target.


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