Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Most Anticipated Reads of 2018

As we head into the final weeks of the year, I wanted to hijack my usual "Waiting On" Wednesday event (originally hosted at Breaking the Spine, and now over at Wishful Endings as Can’t Wait Wednesday) to focus not just on one title, but look ahead to the next year. This is, by no means, meant to be an exhaustive list of all the big releases coming out next year. Instead, it's an exploration of those titles that I most desperately want to read.

JANUARY brings us City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, the latest in the Agent Pendergast saga, one of my favorite literary characters of all time. It's a shame the TV series pitch didn't take off, because I would have loved to see Aloysius on the screen.

Next up is Shroud of Eternity by Terry Goodkind, the second epic fantasy adventure focused on Sister Nicci, a series that rekindled my love for the saga by moving away from prophecy and back into adventure.

Finally, the newcomer of the bunch i Choosing a Master by S. M. Perlow, an exciting new vampire novel that came my way as an ARC last month.

FEBRUARY looks to be a busy month, kicking off with Child of a Mad God, the launch of a new epic fantasy series by R.A. Salvatore. While he will always be known as the father of Drizzt, I have enjoyed his non-Forgotten Realms sagas as well.

One of the most exciting releases of the month is Art of War: Anthology for Charity edited by Petros Triantafyllou. I don't recall the last time I saw a cast of author that excited me this much, with Mark Lawrence, Brian Staveley, Sebastien De Castell, C.T. Phipps, Rob J. Hayes, and Nicholas Eames just a few.

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole is another ARC-in-hand that I'm excited about, the first book in his Sacred Throne epic fantasy trilogy.

Finally, in what has become an annual tradition, Greg Cox brings us The Librarians and the Pot of Gold, the third TV tie-in for one of my favorite genre shows and a follow-up to two fantastic books.

MARCH opens up with Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon, an epic, standalone, dark fantasy novel from two of the most exciting names in the field.

A Veil of Spears comes next, the third book in Song of Shattered Sands by Bradley P. Beaulieu, which promises to be one of the year's top reads.

Closing out the month is a pleasant surprise that I'm sure I will be reading long before March (I got an ARC last week) with Elizabeth Bear taking us back into the world of Karen Memory with Stone Mad,

APRIL seems to be a slower month at the moment, but with a pair of exciting releases, starting with Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence. Even if I had my issues with the first book, this is still a must read, and I have high hopes.

The month also brings us The Forbidden City by Deborah Wolf, the second book the The Dragon's Legacy, and a sequel to a book I really, really need to get off my butt and finish before then.

MAY looks to be a kick-ass month, starting with Dragon Road by Joseph Brassey, the second book of The Drifting Lands. I still need to give the first book a read, but I love the Firefly meets Final Fantasy blurb.

One of my most anticipated books of the year lands in May as well, with Owl and the Tiger Thieves by Kristi Charish, the 4th book of her Indiana Jane adventures.

After what seems like an endless series of rescheduled release dates, Raymond E. Feist finally brings us the long-awaited first book in his post-Riftwar saga with King of Ashes. Even if the date should move again, I already have an ARC, so I'm not worried.

JUNE looks to be pretty busy as well, which means plenty of birthday present ideas (hint, hint), starting with The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan, which I'm hoping can recapture the adventure of the first book.

Starless by Jacqueline Carey has me really excited, both because it's a new Carey novel, and because it sounds like a welcome return to the fantasy days of her Kushiel saga.

Outcasts of Order by L. E. Modesitt, Jr is the latest Recluce novel, and a direct sequel to last year's The Mongrel Mage.

Also out in June is The Skaar Invasion by Terry Brooks, the second book of his epic four-part conclusion to the Shannara series.

JULY doesn't have a lot of titles announced yet, but it does have Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames, the sequel to one of my favorite books of 2017. Seriously, if this is half as fun as the first book, it will be worth waiting for,

Redemption's Blade: After The War by Adrian Tchaikovsky is another book that I'm anxiously awaiting, a new dark fantasy that sounds fantastic.

AUGUST open up with Privateer by Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes, the second book of their swashbuckling adventures of the Dragon Corsairs, which sounds like a lot of fun.

I'm embarrassed to say I still have yet to read the first two books in the series, even though they're staring at me from the shelf, but The Dragon Lords: Bad Faith by Jon Hollins offers up more of his Guardians of the Galaxy meets the Hobbit series.

Finally, Ravencry releases in August as well, the second gritty installment of the Raven's Mark series from Ed McDonald. The first book was a genuine surprise, and I'm anxious to see where he takes the story next.

There aren't a lot of titles announced for the rest of the year, at least now yet, but SEPTEMBER does have Poor Relations by Jo Walton on the schedule, one of the few science fiction title to catch my eye, along with the long-awaited Initiates of the Blood by Cecilia Tan, in which ancient magic is accessed through modern BDSM.

NOVEMBER is home to the other science fiction title, with Willful Child: The Search for Spark by Steven Erikson, the third book of his parody/homage to the genre.

*please note, of course, that publication dates can (and often do) change frequently, so please let me know if you spot a title that's shifted down the calendar

Friday, December 22, 2017

Best of 2017: A Year in the Ruins

By the Numbers
This year I read 100 books (down a bit from last year), and abandoned 12 to the DNF pile (which is also down from last year). Among the books that I did not abandon, there were only 6 perfect 5-star reads this year (which, I am sad to say, is about half of last year's total).

At a quick glance, it looks like 42% were shelved as Fantasy and 35% as Horror (which is no great surprise), while a quick look back shows that 19% were written by women, 18% had some sort of LGBT content, and 10% were Canadian (which is pretty cool).

Most Popular Guests
We had the great pleasure of hosting a number different authors for guest posts or interviews this year, with the most read/visited being Gail Z. Martin and Julie Czerneda.

Gail has been a regular visitor the last few Halloweens, but she also makes a point of popping by and refreshing her posts throughout the year. Julie is something of an annual guest as well, and whether it's for her fantasy or her sci-fi, it's always a pleasure.

Most Popular Reviews
Going strictly by traffic to the Ruins, this year's most popular review was a pleasant surprise - Vampire of Blackpool by Catherine Green - followed very closely by a book I would have expected - Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb.

Rounding out the top 5 were The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams, The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore, and Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames.

Surprisingly, these titles represent a mix of the good, the bad, and the abandoned.

The Best of 2017
Even with such a small class of stellar books, there are some familiar names amongst this year's 5-star reads, with Sebastien de Castell making it for the third year in a row, and Peter V. Brett and Robin Hobb making return appearances.

Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that 2 of this year's top 6 reads - John Everson and S. Nano - were review contributions to the new WTF Are You Reading blog, where you'll be seeing more of me in the new year. Finally, I strongly suspect we'll see Nicholas Eames become one of those familiar names!

  • The Core by Peter V. Brett was (by far) the greatest book of an already impressive saga.
  • Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames was the most pleasant surprise of the year, a fantastically fun read, from beginning to end
  • Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell  is about as close as epic fantasy gets to the legendary plateau of a truly perfect read.
  • Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb was everything I could have asked of Robin Hobb, an entirely satisfying conclusion to the entire Realms of the Elderlings.
  • NightWhere by John Everson is a work of erotic horror that delivered on both fronts.
  • Mistress Of The Air by S. Nano was a brilliant combination of steampunk adventure, bondage erotica, and pulp humour.

What's Next for 2017
While I had a quiet December in the Ruins, I used that time to rekindle my love of reading with my WTF contributions, so I am feeling better about starting the new year.

I already have a handful of 2018 titles that I'm excited about, with Shroud of Eternity by Terry Goodkind and Fallen Gods by James A. Moore both releasing in January; The Armored Saint by Myke Cole hitting shelves in February; Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon publishing in March; and the long-awaited King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist finally arriving in May.

There are some other big titles coming out next year that I'm very excited about (look for my Most Anticipated post next week), but I am going to be selective, keep the pile under control, and only read what excites me.

Friday, December 1, 2017

WTF Friday . . . Has a New Home!

Historically, WTF Friday has always been the day I turn the Ruins over to those titles that are a bit odd . . . a bit different . . . a bit bizarre . . . and a bit freaky. The day I focus on books that don't always get a lot of press, and which rarely benefit from any prominent retail shelf space.

The reason I haven't done so lately is because I have some exciting news to share. It seems I am not the only blogger/reviewer with a taste for such books. A small group of us got to talking, and we decided to take things to the next level. Together, we have launched a new blog . . .

Weird | Taboo | Forbidden

Regular visitors to the Ruins may notice that a few of my WTF Friday reviews have migrated over to the new site (we all contributed a few reviews to get it established), and I'm having fun rifling through my darkest of shelves, reading WTF I want, and not worrying about release dates or review commitments.

Beauty in Ruins isn't going anywhere, but the freedom that the new blog has created for us is fantastic. I'm realizing just how desperately I needed an excuse to enjoy the thrill of reading again, and it's definitely recharging my batteries.

If you're looking for an opportunity to write discreetly/anonymously about books that just don't fit your blog profile or overall reviewer image, we would love to add another few regular reviewers, and we are equally hungry for guest reviews and one-off contributors as well.

So, if anybody has ever raised their eyebrows and asked WTF Are You Reading?, I invite you to pop by and check us out on the Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or over at Goodreads.