Top 5 Books of the Year So Far...

So we’ve past the halfway point of 2019 and I’ve read a fair few books so far. Not as many as some but more than I did last year. I thought it would be good fun to have a look through all the books I’ve read so far and choose my 5 favourites. If you haven’t read the following 5 books then I recommend you go grab a copy!

5. The Girl Next Door - Jack Ketchum

This is a horror book and it’s not for the faint hearted. It’s pretty up there in terms of… well horror. It’s a nasty book. If you have a look at some of the reviews this book has then you’ll see how strongly some people feel about the content in this book.

I cam across this book during a time when I was wondering exactly where the line was for horror. For me anyway. I found that line in this book. I wouldn’t want to read a book that went beyond this.

A teenage girl and her sister lose their parents and they are taken in by a woman and her teenage sons. The woman is not all there, to say the least. She and her sons, as well as some other boys from the neighbourhood, take the girl prisoner and keep her tied up in the basement. She is then sunjected to various kinds of torture and the book jsut grows progressively more horrible.

This books is certianly not for everyone and if you don’t like hardcore horror then steer well clear of it. Don’t worry the rest of the books on this list are all a lot nicer!

4. Grimm - Shayne Silvers

This book is part of the Nate Temple series. This is the third book in the series so I’d recommend you start with book 1. Nate is a wizard/maker (you’ll have to read it to find out what that is) who lives in St Louis.

I’ll have to tell you about this book without giving much away or I’ll ruin the books that come before it. The Brothers Grimm have excaped from a prison realm and want to resume their quest to kill everything superntural they come across. Starting with Nate Temple.

It’s an exciting read that is action-packed and rund at about 1000mph. It didn’t take me long to burn through this book. The whole Templeverse is a thrilling creation that spans across 12 books and has 2 spin-off series too. If you like urban fantasy I sugest you go and get book 1 now!

3. Kill Creek - Scott Thomas

This is another horror and it’s a cracker of a read! It’s a haunted house story that’s succesfully avoided becoming a cliche of the genre. The story follows 4 authors who have all been lured there with a promise of publicity and a lot of money.

The author does a great job of building hte characters up so they come alive perfectly in your head. The first half of the book is focused on character building and psychological things going on in the house. The second hosue is when the author cranks up the horror.

I’d say it was kind of a cross between The Shining and The House on Haunted Hill.

If you like horror then you need to read this.

2. Summer Knight - Jim Butcher

If you like urban fantasy then you already know what this book is all about because you’ve heard of the Dresden Files.

This is as far as I’ve read in this series and I’ll be honest, the first 3 books in the series were a bit meh. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. This book changed that. This is the best one I’ve read so far. It was amazing.

Harry Dresden, a wizard living in Chicago, has gotten himself right in the middle of a brewing war between the summer fay and the winter fay. He has to figure out who killed the Summer Knight before the fay go to war with each other. Oh, and if he fails his own people would probably kill him.

This was the second best book I’ve read so far this year and I’ve finally started to see hwat all the other fans see in the Dresden Files.

If you haven’t already then go and start this series.

1. Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

Here it is — the best book I’ve read this year so far. This is a young adult fantasy novel set in a fictional world that seems to be based on Europe.

The worldbuilding is on point and the characters are fleshed out to perfection. Kaz Brekker is such a fascinating character that he has become one of my favourite fictional characters.

It has mutliple viewpoints (six - clue in the title) and focuses on a task given to them. They are hired to break into one of the most secure fortresses in the world and break out a prisoner who has the potential to change the world of magic for forever.

It’s kind of like Game of Thrones meets Oceans Eleven. It’s a fantastic heist story set in a fantasy world. I don’t think any book will beat this in the second half of 2019, that’s how amazing it was. I’m now palnning on reading all of the books set in this world.

The Red Duke

I finished reading The Red Duke by C.L. Werner this week. The Red Duke is a fantasy novel about a duke who goes on a crusade. Whilst on the crusade and he is poisoned by his enemies and betrayed by his vassals. Whilst on the brink of death he is discovered by an ancient vampire and turned. After becoming a vampire he is convinced that his brother the king was behind his betrayal and he wages war on him. The king defeats him and seals his body in a tomb protected by magic. Centuries later the Red Duke is freed and goes about exacting revenge on those families who betrayed him and reclaiming his duchy. 

This is a Warhammer book so I went in not expecting much. This is for two reasons. 1, the author didn't create the characters or world and I personally would find it much harder to write about other peoples creations. 2, I thought the book would just be a catalogue for the Warhammer models. I was wrong on both counts. 

The book was not used to try to sell models at all (at least not in a way that I noticed). I thought that it would be full of battles and mindless fighting, but instead, I got very little fighting (a few fights throughout and one main battle at the end) and a decent story. The author does a good job of making the characters his own, although many of the "good guys" seemed a bit two-dimensional. The only relatable characters, for me, was the Red Duke, who was the villain protagonist and the necromancer who released him from his tomb. There was another character, but he died too early on. I think that if he had lived then the book would have been better for it. it would have provided a hero to get behind. As it was I found the other hero-types to be a bit boring. 

Each chapter starts off with a flashback from before the Red Duke was defeated. The flashbacks were interesting but told out of order which at times was a little confusing. It got less confusing the further along I got in the book, however. 

The Red Duke's story was fascinating as was the world he was trying to conquer. Werner did a good job of keeping me hooked from beginning to end. The end, however, was disappointing. SPOILER WARNING. The story culminates in a battle between the living and the dead. The Red Duke was winning with relative ease and had killed a good few of the heroes during the battle. He then saw something in a tomb, that it turned out belonged to his son, and he fled. It is never explained what he saw in the tomb. I also found the victory to be rather disappointing. Knights did go after the Duke but they never found him and that is where the story ends. 

Up until the end I would have said it was a chuffing brilliant book, but that epically poor ending really ruined it for me, espoecially becasue I stayed up late to finish it. 

Book Review - Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K.Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures is the first novel in the Anita Blake series. It's an urban fantasy series which followers Anita Blake, an animator; she raises the dead for a living. In this world the supernatural do not live in secret, the whole world knows about them. They all have their place in modern society and new laws have been written to accommodate them. At first, I hated the idea. I've always preferred books in which the supernatural have to remain in the shadows, but actually I ended up loving it. Reading about how the world had changed to live with vampires and animators and lycanthropes was fascinating. Anita also hunts vampires and has to apply to a judge for a warrant before she can carry out an execution. I thought that whole aspect of the story was brilliant. 

This book was heavily about vampires, I don't know if the whole series is but this book certainly was. I really liked the author's take on the vampires. Despite being set in the modern world the vampires managed to retain a horrific, old-fashioned element that most vampire fiction just doesn't have anymore. They still slept in coffins and couldn't move during the day (except for the really old ones). If you disturbed their rest they could enthrall you with a single glance. Eye contact with a vampire was deadly during daytime or nighttime because of their hold on the mind. Even the mighty hunter avoided looking them in the eye. There were parts of the vampire lore that I was not a fan of. There was a system by which a vampire can gain control over a human by biting them up to four times. Each bite conferred a different level of control. Personally, I thought that was a bit of a complicated idea and I didn't like it very much. That's just my opinion, though. 

The plot was good. My attention did wander around the middle but overall I was gripped. It didn't get particularly slow anywhere and I didn't figure out who the bad guy was until it was revealed to me. Although, thinking about it I perhaps should have done. I think I was given all the information to deduce the baddie. That's a fault with me, however, not the book. 

The characters were all well fleshed out. Anita was at times your stereotypical urban fantasy heroine but still likable and interesting. Edward was an intriguing hunter who I would have liked to read more about. I'd definitely like to know more about history with Anita. I found elements of Philip interesting but overall I found him boring. There were a few vampires who I felt could have been combined as they sort of rolled into one anyway. I kept getting Valentine and Aubrey muddled up and I think they could have just been one character. Other than Jean-Claude and NIckolaos, I wasn't much interested in the other vampires.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read and I'd definitely recommend that any fans of the genre grab a copy of the book today! I'll certainly be continuing with the series. 

You can get a copy of Guilty Pleasures from Amazon by clicking here