Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bye-bye 2013

Dear Readers,

2013 is nearly gone and I feel the need to review it a bit regarding  books, reviews and blog.
I started the blog in April 2010 and ended the year with 130 posts. In 2011 it dropped to 99 post. It rose to 118 posts in 2012 and dropped dramatically to xx posts in 2013.

At the beginning of 2013 I posted some dreams instead of targets like reading 100 books.

- I dream to improve my sewing knowledge
That worked well. I attended some more sewing courses and worked on my own at home. 

- I dream to write and post one review per week 
I failed completely. There was a bundle of reasons.

- I dream to read all books in the Malazan Empire series within one year
I failed completely. I reread Gardens of the Moon and got stuck after 171 pages in Deadhouse Gates.
There was a bundle of reasons which I do not want to explain in detail

But there are more things that went worse.
Following authors deserve an apology because I failed to read and/or review their books:
Courtney Schafer, Rosalie Skinner, John Marco. Mark Lawrence, Geoffrey Wilson. Duncan Hamilton.

A lot of "Best of 2013" lists pop up in the book blogosphere. I decided not to add one more. I prefer to talk about a few books which impressed me.

First of all it is obvious that my taste changed a bit. 32 of the 50 books I read in 2013 are related to Steampunk, time travel, Victorian Era and crime mysteries. Beside that I read four SF books and 14 other fantasy books.

I think I impressed my love for Steampunk, Victorian and time travel again and again. Most of my decisions to read which book was base on my mood and my gut feeling.

It seams I chose the right books to read because most of them got four or five stars over at GOODREADS. Maybe I'm to generous but why should I give less stars when I really enjoyed a book. Sometimes I'm surprised when I read two star reviews over at GOODREADS saying the story was good but the cover did not hit the expectations.

A worthy end of a trilogy
I have had the pleasure to read in advance CassaStorM (September 17th, 2013) [Print ISBN-13: 978-1939844002] [E-book ISBN-13: 978-1939844019] by Alex J. Cavanaugh
which is the third and final book in the Cassa trilogy

Furthermore I have had the pleasure post my review of CassaStorM on the official publishing day.
"Congratulations Alex J. Cavanaugh. You crossed the high like the Himalaya hurdle to deliver a worthy end of your trilogy and excelled yourself. "
Thank you Alex for a great book and for your support through the whole year. You are a true friend and I hope and wish that 2014 will be a good one for you and your wife.

Two female authors new to me who surprised me
The digital world offers new opportunities for authors and readers. I'm not sure if I had discovered following author without getting a free digital copy. I talk about I Heather Blackwood.
She is the author of  The Time Corps Chronicles series which consist of three books so far. Due to information on her site there will be at least two more novels in the series: Book 4: The Sound of Wings (2014) and Book 5: A Twice Told Tale (2015).
I got a digital copy of the second book - Cat's Paw (pbl, digital, 2013) [ISBN-13: 978-0988805422; Kindle Edition ASIN: B00FM7OHOQ] for free. After reading the blurb and a look at her site, I bought immediately a copy of the first book:

The Clockwork Cathedral (pbl, digital, 2013) [ISBN-13: 978-0988805415; Kindle Edition ASIN: B00CZBR74O]
"Medical student Felicia Sanchez is only trying to help an injured man when she slips through a time rip and into a 19th century New Orleans, one very different than the one she knows from history books.

The only person who can get her home is Professor Seamus Connor, a former convict seeking a quiet life of obscurity. But even the “mad Irishman” knows that recreating a freak accident is next to impossible.

With the help of a local street urchin, they discover that their problems run deeper than solely getting Felicia back to her own time. The three of them must unravel the secrets of a steam engine that operates upon a scientific impossibility and the mysteries of a grand cathedral at the center of town, where clockwork automatons perform for rapt audiences.

But can a convict, a guttersnipe and an accidental time traveler prevent the destruction of a city and the death of thousands? Others are watching, and Felicia may not be the only time traveler in New Orleans." [Source]
This was a surprisingly good read. A first time travel by accident followed by the desperate tries to return home. I like the setting and the characters a lot. And there a greater things in the background and the reader gets nothing more than a few hints which lead to more questions.
I read the second book directly after the first one. With the Cat's Paw Heather Blackwood introduced one more layer into the story. It is a kind of magic.
Of course I bought a digital copy of the third book - Luna Park (digital, 2013) [Kindle Edition ASIN: B00H3RF7QA]. The blurb promise new characters and new twist and turns. I hope to read it soon.

But there is one more book by Heather Blackwood which fascinated me just a bit more. I talk about  Hounds of Autumn (digital, 2013) [Kindle Edition ASIN: B00AZMU8W8].

"It is 1890, and the windswept moors hold dark secrets. Chloe Sullivan is an amateur inventor whose holiday takes a dark turn when her friend and colleague, one of the few female mechanical experts in the British Empire, is murdered.

A black mechanical hound roams the moors, but could it have killed a woman? And what secrets are concealed within the dark family manor?

Accompanied by her naturalist husband and her clockwork cat, Chloe is determined to see her friend’s killer found.

But some secrets have a terrible cost." [Source]

This is definitely one of the best Steampunk books I read in 2013. A fascinating female main character. A lot of twists and turns. The book breathe the Victorian era and the Steampunk elements are integrated into the story. To my pleasure it lacks the romance which are part of a lot of Steampunk books.
The full review is in progress and I promise to post it in January 2014!

Within all the digital books must be a place for a real book. I discovered following cover, read the blurb and knew immediately, that is a book I will love to read in paperback format.
Darkwalker (pb, digital 2013) [ISBN-13: 978-0451419989; Kindle Edition ASIN:  B00C5QULVK] by E L Tettensor.

"He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted...

Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.

When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doom…..." [Source]
It sounds Victorian with a  urban fantasy touch. Then I visited the official website, The background intensifies the impression of a Victorian background. Following information rised my expectations:
 "E L Tettensor likes her stories the way she likes her chocolate: dark, exotic, and with a hint of bitterness."
With impatience I awaited the delivery of my copy. Fortunately it did not take too long until I could dive into the book. Wow! and Wow! The story is set NOT in Victorian England!! It is an own created world with English and French sounding names. It is a world inhabited by different races. The story is a dark one and main character Nicolas Lenoir is not the lovable one whom you may inspect. Throughout the book Inspector Lenoir develops and the story delivers twists and turns. I have been mesmerised. Did I mention that  Darkwalker (pb, digital 2013) [ISBN-13: 978-0451419989; Kindle Edition ASIN:  B00C5QULVK] is E L Tettensor's debut novel. I recommend to read an excerpt and an essay by following THIS LINK,

Three male authors new to me who surprised me

All three authors have a few things in common. They all write detective novels set in Victorian England.  Their main characters are far beyond to be streamlined. The all did and do a lot of research for their stories.

London in the 1840s is the stage of the Albert Newsome series by James McCreet.
From the first page the author cast a spell over me. As much as I like the book as much I can understand why people will not like it. I liked  The Incendiary's Trail (digital 2011) [Amazon Kindle ASIN: B004P1JB82] very much. I recommend to read the additional information about  the book offered by the author.
"Murder is rampant in Early Victorian London. Detective Inspector Newsome of the new Detective Force decides to recruit a recently-apprehended master criminal to help bring the culprits to justice. A polymath with a mysterious past, the man is no eager volunteer. And when the ghastly murder of conjoined twins galvanizes the city, Newsome blackmails his prisoner - Noah Dyson, as he calls himself - into working with the Force's finest: Sergeant George Williamson. Unknown to the policemen, the criminal genius behind the murder shares a dark past with their new associate. It is not justice that is on Dyson's mind, but retribution. As Williamson and Dyson together close the net, the murder-rate soars and the streets of London begin to burn. Ingeniously plotted and seething with grotesque characters, James McCreet's striking debut will grip readers from its first dark pages." [Source]
This is exactly my cup of tea, there are three more books available and I own copies of book two and three.

 With the discovery of the Furnivall and Stubbs Cases by Michael Conway Stewart I learned about  Amelia Dyer, one of the most profilic baby farm murderer in Victorian England.  Caversham Lock (digital, 2012)[AMAZON ASIN: B00A3VLV68] tells the story of from poilice side of view. The description of the atmosphere is excellent and you get a faint image about the poilce work at that time.
 "When a parcel containing a dead baby is pulled from the Thames, detectives Furnivall and Stubbs are sent to deal with the matter. They investigate at breakneck speed- it is 1896, after all, and they have all the advantages of the modern world to help them. Using microscopes, the rail network and the telegraph, they identify the culprits- a Mrs Dyer and her daughter, Polly. Even as they close in, Mrs Dyer has been back to Caversham Lock with another victim. By the time the two women are arrested there are seven little bodies in the mortuary at Reading. Each has Mrs Dyer’s trademark white dressmaker’s tape around its neck.

The case doesn't work out as planned, however, and they're forced to travel to the west country. Despite being under strict orders to return to Reading, they set an ambush on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. But a storm is rolling in, and there is another man in Bristol – a man from the Home Office sent to clean up his superiors’ mistakes." [Source]
So far Michael Conway Stewart has delivered three books and I hope there will be more in future.

The third author chose a different town for his stories. I talk about the Inspector McLevy mysteries by David Ashton which are based on the real James McLevy who was born in 1796 and died in 1875. He became Edinburgh's first detective in 1833 and served 30 years and solved 2.200 cases during this time. David Ashton knows the town and Victorian society very well. He adapted the language and use old Scottish and English words. The charactersare well done.
I got a digital copy of Shadow of the Serpent (pbl, digital, 2011) [ISBN-13: 978-1846971938; Kindle Edition ASIN: B006WB2BDU] by David Ashton for free.

"Known as the father of forensics and a likely influence on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, real-life police inspector James McLevy is here reinvented by David Ashton in this the first thrilling Inspector McLevy Mystery, Shadow of the Serpent. 1880, Edinburgh, Election fever grips the city. But while the rich and educated argue about politics, in the dank wynds of the docks it's a struggle just to stay alive. When a prostitute is brutally murdered, disturbing memories from thirty years ago are stirred in McLevy who is soon lured into a murky world of politics, perversion and deception—and the shadow of the serpent." [Source]
David Ashton "fell in love with" James McLevy and this is the result so far:
- Nine McLevy radio play series  each containing of four episodes with a duration of 45 minutes each plus a 90 minute Christmas special in 2006! [Source]
Duration: 45 min each
- Four books
and more to come.
For me this is really impressive.  Fortunately I own copies of the first three books.

Two posts which convinced me to read books

The first thank you goes to The Speculative Scotsman for the absolutely convincing review of
Mayhem (digital 2013) [ASIN: B00BTEWYEG; HC ISBN-13: 978-1780871257] by Sarah Pinborough.

"A new killer is stalking the streets of London’s East End. Though newspapers have dubbed him ‘the Torso Killer’, this murderer’s work is overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes.
The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames – and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them.
Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where monsters stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight..." [Source]

The story is based on real events (The Thames Torso Murders of 1887 - 1889) and persons (Dr Thomas Bond).

And the perfect addendum to this review is  Mihai's interview with Sarah Pinborough over at Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews.

The second thank you goes to the extraordinary Dark Roasted Blend.

They surprise me nearly every week with excellent posts.
On  24th of December, Christmas Day, they delivered following post:

Until then I never read a book by Alastair Reynolds. After reading the post I could not withstand and bought a digital copy of Revelation Space (pb, digital) [ISBN-13: 978-0441009428; Kindle Edition ASIN:  B001QL5MAA] by Alastair Reynolds.
"Nine hundred thousand years ago, something annihilated the Amarantin civilization just as it was on the verge of discovering space flight. Now one scientist, Dan Sylveste, will stop at nothing to solve the Amarantin riddle before ancient history repeats itself. With no other resources at his disposal, Sylveste forges a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. But as he closes in on the secret, a killer closes in on him. Because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason—and if that reason is uncovered, the universe—and reality itself—could be irrecovably altered…." [Source
Today, the 31st of December 2013, I finished the book which really impressed me.  Great story and strong characters. An excellent potion of science and an unexpected end. An intimate play on the galactic stage. This is definitely a series I need to follow.

Finally Kudos and thank you to all my followers and readers who kept faith with me in 2013 despite the fact that there have not been many posts and reviews.



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

More steampunk - will work on that with my current manuscript.
I have a Clockwork Cathedral downloaded and hope to read soon.
If I enjoy a book, it will get at least four stars. I've never given below three.
And I am glad CassaStorm was the proper ending!
Thank you for your friendship the past three years. Hope it continues and if I ever make it to Germany, we'll spend an evening in pub somewhere discussing books. movies, science fiction, and everything in between!

Zoltán Gecse said...

Happy New Year!

2013 wasn't a bad year, but I hope 2014 will be a little bit better (I read 14 books last year).

I received the signed copy of CassaStorm before Christmas, but I haven't got time to read to it. I think it won't be imposible to read within a year. :)

Bibliotropic said...

Happy new year!

Sewing is something I need to work on more. Between reading, health issues, and returning to work last year, a lot of my craft stuff got left by the wayside. I'm hoping to pick it up again in 2014 and make more things. Better things!

EL Tettensor said...

Thanks for the kind words and warmest wishes for 2014!

ediFanoB said...

Dear Alex,
a new manuscript. You make me curious. I'm a big Steampunk fan. It is a great counterpart to my work. I combines imagination, DIY, politeness, art and deceleration.

Thanks for sharing about how you cope with rating books.
CassaStorm = Both thumbs up!!
Three years ... how fast time pass. Would be great to meet you and I hope our friendship will last many more years. It is a rare gem which I highly appreciate.

ediFanoB said...

Happy New Year,Zoltán!!
I means a lot to me that you visit my blog regularly.
Fingers crossed that you find more time for reading in 2014.

Take your time to enjoy CassaStorm. It is worth reading.
Who knows what surprise we can expect from Alex in 2014 ......

ediFanoB said...

Happy New Year, Bibliotropic!

I started sewing a year ago and it is something which is great for me to relax.

Thanks for stopping by. I write more in the comment section of your blog ...

ediFanoB said...

Hello E L Tettensor,

Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by. It is always a pleasure to find a comment from an author. Your book really impressed me. I work on a review which I hope to finishe within January 2014. I will let you know when it will be available.

May 2014 be a good one for you.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for the excellent reviews - I'm adding those to my want to read shelf at goodreads . . . and then maybe a few soon to purchase lists.

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