WEEKLY BOOK BUZZ- The Best Books of 2008 - Mania.com



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WEEKLY BOOK BUZZ- The Best Books of 2008

Give us your Picks for the Best of 2008

By Tim Janson     December 28, 2008


Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover(2008).
© Del Rey

 

Well here we are, the last Book Buzz for 2008. It’s been a week of chaos to say the least. A week ago we had about 16” of snow on the ground here in Michigan. By Saturday, it had all melted due to the temperature getting to an unseasonably high 63 degrees. Such is life in the Great Lakes state.
 
Of course you LOVE to see these sort of year-end review columns right? Including graphic novels, I read probably 5 – 7 books a week, so were talking almost one a day and it’s hard to pick the very best but let me give you some of mine and then please let me know your picks and make them YOUR picks…thing’s you’ve actually read and not what other people have been choosing.
 
Here are a few of my choices:
 
Best Genre Fiction Novels
 
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Harper Collins)
The Black Cathedral by Cathedral L.H. Maynard & M.P.N. Sims (Leisure Books)
Small Favor Dresden files Book 10 Jim Butcher (Roc)
 
Best Anthologies
 
The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard (Del Rey)
The Rising: Selected Scenes from the End of the World Brian Keene (Delirium Books)
 
Best Graphic Novels/Comic Trade Paperbacks
 
Tomb of Dracula Omnibus (Marvel Comics)
Forgotten Realms - The Dark Elf Trilogy Omnibus Volume 1 (Devil’s Due)
Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 Scott McCloud (Harper Collins)
The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle Jim Butcher (Del Rey)
 
Best Non-Fiction Genre Books
 
Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts Rob Smith (Chronicle Books) 
The Marvel Chronicle Tom Brevoort (DK Publishing) 
Watching the Watchmen Dave Gibbons (Titan books)
The DC Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book Martin Pasko (Running Press)
The Vertigo Encyclopedia Alex Irvine (DK Publishing)
 
Now lets look at this week’s top new releases:
 
New In Fantasy
 
The Unnatural Inquirer (Nightside, Book 8) Simon R. Green (Ace)
 
The publisher of The Unnatural Inquirer—the Nightside’s most notorious rag—has offered John Taylor one million pounds to find a man who claims to have evidence of the afterlife stored on a DVD. The Inquirer made the guy a sweet deal. Then he and the disc vanished. And if Taylor’s not careful, he may be next.
 
A Sword from Red Ice: Book Three of Sword of Shadows J.V. Jones (Tor)
 
This sharply observed saga makes utterly real the hope and heartbreak of a cold, splintered world on the brink of a terrible war. A thousand years earlier, the Unmade, souls of the dead, shook the land and decimated the Sull, a legendary ancient people. The Blindwall, breached by power unleashed by enigmatic, powerful young Ash March, no longer will hold back the Unmade from the land of the living, so the Sull are readying for a war that must inevitably come.
 
Across the land, clans oblivious to the threat vie for dominance. Dangerous, arrogant clan chiefs urge their followers to frenzied battles, killing one another and plotting against rivals. And a darker threat comes from Spire Vanis, a city with a black heart of evil, whose rulers have long sought to control the outlying clanholds, and whose new protector, Marafice Eye, is bent on conquest.
 
As Ash trains to become the great mystic warrior predicted by the Sull, Raif Sevrance, who loves her and has been exiled from his clan, seeks to discover where he belongs. The Rift, a deep crevice in the barren land of the Want, draws him. And that puts him in grave danger, for the Rift is said also to be a crack between the world of the living and that of the Unmade. Raif, Ash, and those whose fates are tied to them must follow their own paths with courage and faith in themselves and their goals, lest all be lost when the war with the Endlords is come.
 
Queen Ferris: Book Two of the Stoneways Trilogy S.C. Butler (Tor)
 
Reiffen, true heir to the kingdoms of Banking and Wayland, had lived his entire life quietly with his mother and best friends, Ferris and Avender. His days were filled with sailing, fishing with the talking seals, and trying to swipe as many extra maple candies as he could.
 
All that changed when the three Wizards snatched Reiffen away to their fortress in the north. There they offered Reiffen the twin gifts of power and immortality--if he helped them wrest control of Banking and Wayland away from his uncle, the usurper.
 
Although Reiffen's friends rescue him at great peril, Reiffen now decides to return to the Wizards knowing that he would never again be trusted in this old life--even his best friends would fear that the Wizards had “turned” him. He intends to fool the Wizards--gain their knowledge, find their weaknesses, and defeat them with their own weapons and regain the throne that is rightfully his. But Reiffen is forced to do terrible things to gain the Wizards' trust. Has he become as greedy, ambitious, and avaricious as the three Wizard brothers?
 
Royal Exile: Book One of The Valisar Trilogy Fiona McIntosh (EOS)
 
From out of the East they came riding like a merciless plague—destroying kingdom after kingdom and the sovereigns who had previously mocked the warlord Loethar and his barbarian horde. Now only one land remains unconquered—the largest, richest, and most powerful realm of the Denova Set . . .
 
Penraven.
 
The Valisar royals of Penraven face certain death, for the savage tyrant Loethar covets what they alone possess: the fabled Valisar Enchantment, an irresistible power to coerce, which will belong to Loethar once every Valisar has been slain. But the last hope of the besieged kingdom is being sent in secret from his doomed home, in the company of a single warrior. The future of Penraven now rests on the shoulders of the young Crown Prince Leonel who, though untried and untested in the ways of war, must survive brutality and treachery in order to claim the Valisar throne.
 
New In Science Fiction
 
Starfist: Wings of Hell David Sherman (Del Rey Hardcover)
Planet Haulover has been invaded by Skinks. Until now the aliens’ existence has been kept confidential. But Force Recon’s shocking report leaves the Confederation no choice but to mount a military campaign and reveal to the public its biggest secret: the threat of fierce alien predators bent on human destruction. What’s no secret is that the four army divisions and two Marine FISTs sent to Haulover aren’t nearly enough to defeat the well-entrenched aliens, who have a tunnel system second to none.
 
Back home, the Confederation’s president is being denounced as a warmonger bent on exterminating “harmless” aliens. And if she loses the upcoming elections, the Confederation will have a lot more Skinks than those on Haulover to worry about.
 
Newly promoted Lieutenant Charlie Bass and his third platoon have more pressing concerns, such as staying alive. But what would be a suicidal mission for most–whether it’s raiding a well-defended Skinks base or destroying the enemy’s most lethal weapons during a desperate firefight–is for them just another job.
 
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor Matthew Stover (Del Rey Hardcover)
 
Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader are dead. The Empire has been toppled by the triumphant Rebel Alliance, and the New Republic is ascendant. But the struggle against the dark side and the Sith Order is not over. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and their faithful comrades have had little time to savor victory before being called on to defend the newly liberated galaxy.
 
Powerful remnants of the vanquished Empire, hungry for retaliation, are still at large, committing acts of piracy, terrorism, and wholesale slaughter against the worlds of the fledgling New Republic. The most deadly of these, a ruthless legion of black-armored Stormtroopers, do the brutal bidding of the newly risen warlord Shadowspawn. Striking from a strategically advantageous base on the planet Mindor, they are waging a campaign of plunder and destruction, demolishing order and security across the galaxy–and breeding fears of an Imperial resurgence. Another reign of darkness beneath the boot-heel of Sith despotism is something General Luke Skywalker cannot, and will not, risk.
 
Mobilizing the ace fighters of Rogue Squadron–along with the trusty Chewbacca, See-Threepio, and Artoo-Detoo–Luke, Han, and Leia set out to take the battle to the enemy and neutralize the threat before it’s too late. But their imminent attack on Mindor will be playing directly into the hands of their cunning new adversary. Lord Shadowspawn is no freshly anointed Sith Chieftain but in fact a vicious former Imperial Intelligence officer–and Prophet of the Dark Side. The Emperor’s death has paved the way for Shadowspawn’s return from exile in the Outer Rim, and mastery of ancient Sith knowledge and modern technology has given him the capability to mount the ultimate power play for galaxy wide dominion. Dark prophecy has foretold that only one obstacle stands in his way, and he is ready–even eager–for the confrontation.
 
A Desert Called Peace Tom Kratman (Baen)
 
Five hundred years from now, humankind has found a link to a remarkably Earth-like planet and settled there, dividing –as humans will -- into dozens of nation-states. The Federated States of Columbia has consolidated power and risen against the oppression of Earth's corrupt Caliphate. But when Salafi madmen bent on a new jihad kill FSC Captain Patrick Hennessey's family in a cowardly attack, they create an enemy that will show even less mercy than they do. A legendary warrior is born: Carrera, the scourge of Salafism. He will forge an army from the decrepit remains of a military in a failing state. He will find those who killed his family. He will destroy them utterly. And he will try like hell to not become exactly like the enemy he is fighting.  
 
The Vampire Agent Patricia Rosemoor (Del Rey)
 
On the sultry streets of New Orleans, Captain Scott Boulder and Leah Maguire are about to begin a deadly mission. The traumatized, genetically altered subjects of a Department of Defense experiment gone wrong have escaped, among them Rachel Ackart, a beautiful, seductive, and powerful woman–who is now under the dangerous influence of Andre Espinoza de Madrid, a vampire of incomparable evil and power.
 
While Predator drones circle above New Orleans, and the sound of Black Hawk helicopters rends the air, Scott and Leah must fight their growing attraction to each other as they pursue their quarry amid the haunted and the damned. But Rachel is one step ahead of them. Andre’s vampire agent will soon unleash the greatest terror of all.
 
Jake’s Wake John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (Leisure Horror)
 
Pastor Jake promised his followers everlasting life…he just didn’t say what kind. So when the small-town televangelist and con man climbs out of his coffin at his own wake, it becomes Judgment Day for everyone gathered to mourn—or celebrate—his death. Jake is back, in the rotting flesh, filled with anger and vengeance. And accompanied by demons even more frightening than himself. What follows is a long night of endless terror, a blood-drenched rampage by the man not even death could stop.
 
The Black Cathedral LH Maynard & MPN Sims (Leisure Horror)
 
At an old manor house on a remote Scottish island, six managers of a large corporation arrive for a week-long stay. Within days they will all suffer horrifying deaths and their bodies will never be found. The government assigns the case to Department 18, the special unit created to investigate the supernatural and the paranormal. However this is no mere haunted house. The evil on this island goes back centuries, but its unholy plots and schemes are hardly things of the past. In fact, while the members of Department 18 race to unravel the island’s secrets, the forces of darkness are gathering…and preparing to attack.
 
Creepy Archives Volume 2 (Dark Horse Comics)
 
This vein-chilling second volume showcases work by some of the best artists to ever work in the comics medium, including Alex Toth, Gray Morrow, Reed Crandall, John Severin, and others. Each archive volume of Creepy is packed with stories (usually up to eight short stories were featured in every issue!) running the gamut of gruesome subject matter, from reimagined horror classics such as "The Cask of Amontillado," to spectacularly mind-twisting shorts such as "The Thing in the Pit," or the macabre maritime yarn "Drink Deep."
 
Dead She Said  Steve Niles & Berni Wrightson (IDW Publishing)
 
Detective Coogan knows well that there are some pretty shady freaks out there in the big city... but he doesn't know that some of those freaks aren't human! He learns it the hard way, and ends up on the wrong side of a bullet in this new series that mixes horror and noir into a tightly wound nightmare of twists and turns. An all-new story by comic book legends Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson.

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