December 25, 2016

Thirteen Books I Read and Enjoyed in 2016

I may not be the guy to look to for a definitive list of the best books from this year, mainly because I didn't read nearly as many as I had intended to, but I can at least come up with a list of a baker's dozen that I did read and enjoyed enough to recommend to my fellow genre mutts.

So here ya go. And have a MERRY MERRY and a HAPPY HAPPY!

Resume Speed by Lawrence Block - Maybe the best noir writer out there? Maybe? Yeah, probably. This novella about a new fella in town trying to make a fresh start as a dark past catches up with him is as good a call sign for the kind of dark fiction at which Block excels.

Zero Lives Remaining by Adam Cesare - While the book isn't drenched in the 80s nostalgia like so much of what has been heralded this year, the arcade is one of those things I associate with my formative years of that time, and Cesare manages to turn it into coin-operated carnage as only he can.

The Terminal by Amber Fallon - 2016 was a tire fire, but at least we weren't invaded by interdimensional barbarians. Yet. Same can't be said for Fallon's gory ode to holiday air travel though. as she turned the dial from zero to mayhem in no time flat. 

In Midnight's Silence by T. Frohock - This novella was the first in Frohock's Los Nefilim trilogy, and is a riveting piece of urban fantasy that has the added touch of being historical fantasy with a tremendous backdrop of the impending Spanish civil war.

In the Shadow of the Axe by Nicholas Kaufmann - Speaking of historical, Kaufmann's channeling of Hammer films was a treat to read, with the spectre of a necromancer terrorizing a remote German village.

Pressure by Brian Keene - In keeping with the globetrotting was this bit of deep sea horror set in the Indian ocean. A sea bed crawling with Lovecraftian horrors isn't a bad way to go and the first half of this novel was absolutely spellbinding with the buildup to the monster's reveal.

Hap & Leonard by Joe R. Lansdale - A year can't go by without me including something by Lansdale on a year-end list. This time it was the short story collection that complemented the airing of the TV series. The meat of the book comes from two novellas, but there's plenty more to enjoy.

Wilted Lilies by Kelli Owen - Maybe this novella is the best thing Owen has written yet, but it's hard to say because I haven't been let down by anything of hers I've read so far. This one starts off with a police interrogation of a young girl who claims to talk to the dead and it just gets more unsettling from there.

Greetings From Moon Hill by Anthony J. Rapino - Granted, I had already read everything in this collection at one time or another before it was all brought together through a Kickstarter campaign. But that doesn't change the fact that the guy can spin one weird tale after another.

Mother of Abominations by Desmond Reddick - If being a brilliant podcaster wasn't enough with Dread Media, Reddick is turning into a heckuva writer too, and this debut novel with kaiju beasts romping and stomping the globe shows real promise.

Devils in Dark Houses by B.E. Scully - I hadn't heard of Scully's work before, but enough people whose opinions I hold in high regard praised her work enough that I felt the need to check out this book of connected novellas. I was not disappointed.

Still Mine by Amy Stuart - Stuart's mystery novel was another debut that caught my eye this summer. I felt her protagonist, Claire, was more compelling than the actual mystery Claire was trying to solve in this book, but that's hardly a complaint considering I'm keen to read more Claire in the future.

Little Dead Red by Mercedes M. Yardley - This novella won a Bram Stoker Award this year, and it was a well-deserved win at that, as Yardley's prose is downright magical. Even with a story that had an ending I felt was a bit too telegraphed, it was the journey of a distraught mother seeking justice for her missing daughter that had me captivated.

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