Tag Archives: horror

Top Twelve Books I Read in 2012

“I know what I’ll do,” I said to myself a few days ago. “I’ll write a post sharing the best books I read in 2012. That should be fun and easy, and it lets me do my favourite thing and recommend good books to people who may not have come across them.

Yeah. Great idea, Jo.

Over the last few days, I’ve been desperately trying to whittle my list of 69 books down to the top 10 must-reads. But I just couldn’t do it.

“I know,” I said to myself, never afraid to keep up a conversation in my own head. “Just treat a series as a single entity. I read lots of books that were part of a series last year.”

Yeah, didn’t help much. I managed to get my list down to 6 stand-alone novels and 10 series.

When I vented my frustration on Facebook and Twitter, Richard Lake suggested I make it a Top 12 list. You know, since it was 2012. That’s not cheating, right? Right?

So here you have it. I’ve divided my list into 6 stand-alone books and 6 series, and written a super-short description of why you should read them. (Note: I’ve listed them in alphabetical order by author. Because that’s just how I roll. And that way I didn’t have to find a way to rate them in comparison to each other.)

Stand-Alone Novels

Tiger Lily — Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger LilyA retelling of the Peter Pan story from the perspective of Tiger Lily. It’s a beautiful, tragic love story that had me laughing out loud, feeling awe and wonder at the beauty and casual cruelty of Neverland, and crying pitifully for the last few chapters. It’s rare that I’m so moved by a story. When I finished I clutched the book to my heart and carried it around with me, because I wasn’t ready to let it go.

City of the Lost — Stephen Blackmore

City of the LostJoe Sunday is not a nice guy. He’s a thug, a leg-breaker, and a sometime killer. And that’s before he’s murdered and turned into a zombie by a maniacal old man intent on achieving immortality.This bloody, visceral, gore-filled horror novel is amazing. Joe Sunday’s voice is what really makes it work. Despite his thuggish ways, he’s honourable, courageous, and the consummate hero — even when his deeds are less than heroic. I couldn’t get enough of him.

Ready Player One — Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneIf you know there’s a difference between an African and a European swallow, you’ve ever written “Don’t Panic” on the front of a notebook, or you know how many lions it takes to form Voltron, this book is for you. The plot revolves around Wade Watts, a VR computer game known as OASIS, and a search for hidden clues and treasures. But more than that, this book is an homage to the ’80s and geek culture. I loved every moment of it. Oh, and Hello, Firefly-class spaceship!

Addition — Toni Jordan

AdditionThis is a romantic drama about a woman living with extreme OCD, while searching for love and meaning in her life. It’s an authentic look at the mindset of someone whose own mental faculties seem to be working against them. Grace is unable to hold down a job, and struggles with the day-to-day necessities of choosing what to wear and doing the shopping (ten bananas, ten toothbrushes, ten eggs…). While I didn’t like the ending, I appreciated the story and think it would appeal to readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult and similar authors.

Goodnight Nobody — Jennifer Weiner

Goodnight NobodyWhen a free-spirited fashion journalist and ex-singer goes from being a single girl-about-town in New York to the suburban mother of three kids under 4, she’s pretty sure her life is over. And then one of the ‘Perfect Mommy Brigade’ is murdered, and she can’t help but investigate. Especially when she finds out her ex-boyfriend is somehow involved. This romantic crime novel is easy to read, relatable and engaging.

Giants of the Frost — Kim Wilkins

Giants of the FrostA romantic thriller involving supernatural elements by way of Norse Gods. An english scientist takes a posting to a remote Scandinavian island when her engagement goes horribly wrong, and finds herself embroiled in a love story a thousand years in the making. She’s the reborn soul of the God Vidar’s true love, and now that she’s back in the world Vidar is prepared to sacrifice anything, including his divinity, to be with her. It’s scary and exciting and romantic and tinged with enough tragedy to make it a truly authentic love story.

Series

The Morganville Vampires — Rachel Caine

Glass HousesI read all 13 Morganville Books in 2012. This is a Young Adult series set in a small town in Texas where vampires run the city and attempt to live amicably and openly with humans. Claire is 16, super-smart, and completely unprepared for what she finds when she starts college in Morganville. Packed with interesting secondary characters, an engaging plot, and more twists and turns than I can count, this series is a great example of YA writing at its best. I look forward to more Morganville in the future.

Revivalist — Rachel Caine

9780451464132_WorkingStiff_CV.inddI read the first two books in 2012, and am looking forward to the next book in the series coming out in 2013. First, let me say that this is the same Rachel Caine who wrote the above Morganville Vampires series. But if you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t know it. The tone, theme, and writing style are completely different. Bryn is a hard-working, no-nonsense, ex-soldier who decides to start a new career as funeral director. All is going well until she’s turned into a zombie. Not a slobbering, brain-eating, apocalypse-causing zombie. Oh no, something much better. A zombie created by… (wait for it!) Science! The series has it all — action, horror, romance, secret conspiracies, evil corporations, and enough double- and triple-crosses to keep me guessing from start to finish.

The Athenian Mysteries — Gary Corby

The Pericles CommissionI only read the first book in 2012, but will be reading more. The Pericles Commission is an historical crime novel set in Ancient Greece. When the older brother of Socrates has a corpse almost dropped on his head, he sets out to solve the crime. There’s plenty of real historical information and people, and an amazing crime story. I loved the cleverness and wit in the writing, and it’s a really easy read, even with the names (which were all Greek to me…).

The Disillusionists Trilogy — Carolyn Crane

Mind GamesUnlike many Urban Fantasy series out there, this one is a set trilogy of books. I read the whole series in 2012. The series centers on Justine Jones, a neurotic hypochondriac, and her role amongst the Disillusionists — a group of vigilantes set on finding the wicked and disillusioning them of their selfish behaviours. For a fee, of course. It’s a dark, gritty series set in a world of psychic powers, super-villains, and treachery, where no one can be trusted — least of all your allies — and reads like a dark superhero story.

H&W Investigations — Jess Haines

Hunted by the OthersI read the first two books in 2012, and am looking forward to reading more. This series is everything an Urban Fantasy series should be. It’s full of vampires, werewolves, and mages — but the protagonist is PI Shiarra Waynest. Human. With a major grudge against Others — the name given to supernatural creatures as a whole. The vampires are seductive and dangerous and the werewolves are honourable and prone to bursts of aggression. The series reminds me of a World of Darkness RPG. Only better. Much, much better.

Downside Ghosts — Stacia Kane

Unholy GhostsI read the first three books in 2012, and the next two are first off the rank in 2013. This is a dark Urban Fantasy series set in a near-future world where ghosts killed most of the population and magic is part of every day life — as long as it’s Church-sanctified magic. Let me say again, this series is dark. There’s ritual sacrifice, murder, drugs, disease, and betrayal. Chess, the main character, is as screwed up as it’s possible to get, and the mysteries she solves are intertwined with her own traumas and drug addiction. It’s an amazing series, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who prefers their fantasy to be full of rainbows and unicorns.

Honourable mentions also need to go to:

  •  The Black Sun’s Daughter series by M.L.N. Hanover
  • Croak by Gina Damico
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Have you read any of these books/series? Do you want to? What were your top reads of 2012?

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Flash Fiction: Song Shuffle Stories

This week’s terribleminds challenge was to do the following:

  1. Put the music player of your choice on shuffle.
  2. Press play.
  3. Take the title of the first track that comes up, and use that as the title for a 500 word story.

So, off I went, worried that my MP3 player would come up with either one of my son’s songs, or something insanely embarassing. As it is, I ended up with Adrian Alexis singing I Want to be a Vampire.

Hmmm.

I give you:

I Want to be a Vampire

Vlad Dracula II smiled as he surveyed the apartment. The burgundy drapes and black walls were a nice touch.

“Well, this looks lovely, Kevin,” said a friendly female voice behind him.

Vlad spun on his heel, his cape flaring dramatically around him. “I told you to call me Vlad,” he said coldly.

“Sorry Kev— I mean, Vlad,” the woman said with an indulgent laugh.

“What do you want, Mum?”

“I just wanted to see how you were settling in,” she said. “And I brought you a casserole.”

The young man scowled – it was an expression he’d spent hours perfecting in front of the mirror.

“It’s your favourite: macaroni and tuna.”

Vlad hesitated, running his tongue over the sharp edges of his new dental work. “Okay,” he said finally. “Put it in the fridge.”

She smiled and disappeared into the kitchen. “Oh,” she said a moment later. “Even the refrigerator’s black. That’s a…” she hesitated, “… a nice touch.”

“Is there anything else?”

She returned from the kitchen, a slightly hurt look on her face. “No, dear. I’m glad you’re settling in alright. Will you be home for dinner on Sunday? It’s just that your Dad… Well, it would be nice if you could leave some of your…” she trailed off, and waved her hand vaguely around the room. “Well, it would be nice to have a real family dinner. If you know what I mean.”

“It will have to be after dark,” Vlad said. “I sleep during the day.”

“Oh. Of course you do. Well, that would be fine.”

Vlad just nodded, and then looked expectantly at his mother.

“Right then,” she  said. “Well, have a good week. I’ll see you Sunday. I’ll show myself out.”

Once she was gone, Vlad locked the door and started stacking the books he’d purchased on eBay from Occult_Superstarz on to his new black bookcase.

 #

 It was eleven o’clock Saturday night. Vlad was sitting at the bar, pretending to drink a glass of Coke. They wouldn’t sell him the scotch to go with it.

“What’s your name?”

Vlad turned. A cute girl with bright red lips was smiling at him. “Vlad. Vlad Dracula II,” he said.

She laughed. “Really? That’s so…” she paused to look him up and down, taking in the black boots and jeans, skin-tight black shirt, cape, and designer fangs. “…delicious,” she finished.

“Come home with me,” Vlad said. He’d tried the line all week. This was the first time he didn’t get slapped.

“Sure,” she said. “Call me Lillith.”

 #

Pain. Blood. Darkness. Fear.

“It’s not like the movies,” Lillith said, gore dripping from her fangs. She grinned at him, her knees pinning him to the bed and her eyes glowing red. “But you’ll find that out.” She lowered her head.

Vlad gasped as he felt the seductive caress of her tongue on the open wound at his throat.

 #

Vlad Dracula II awoke alone, covered in blood, and hungry.

So hungry.

It was Sunday night.

Time for dinner with the family.

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