Sunday, 22 December 2013

COASM's Year End Awards - 2013's Top Ten Books

Written By Patrick Scattergood

Welcome again to the second set of year end awards here at COASM.  This time, our little corner of the internet is about to be filled with our favorite ten books that we've reviewed this year.

Where will your favorite of the year end up?


 The Newbury and Hobbs Casebook

Written By
George Mann

Published By
Titan Books

George Mann has been an incredibly prolific writer this and his books have been a popular series of reviews on the site.

This has a series of short stories featuring some of his most popular characters in the shapes of his popular detective duo.

The stories themselves have a great selection of past and present but they do brilliantly well at adding layers to not only Newbury and Hobbes themselves but also to some of the supporting characters.  We even get some stories with Newbury's past partner as well.

If you are a fan of detective stories in the vein of Sherlock Holmes but with a steam punk slant then you are well in luck with this collection.


Faceless: A Mystery 

Written By 
Dawn Kopman Whidden

Published By
Brighton Publishing

This crime thriller by Dawn  Kopman Whidden is absolutely gripping from start to finish.  If you are expecting a gory and blood filled crime novel then you would be completely out of luck.  However, if you are a fan of subtle and well paced crime novels with some well written and placed twists then this is most definitely the book for you.

I'm a little harsh in some of the crime reviews I do because, just recently, I've read so many of them that were so similar that they all kind of merged in to one.  That's not the case here.

This well paced story has definitely made me want to check out her other work.  If you are a fan of authors such as Patricia Cornwell then you are more than likely to find a lot to like here.


Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Written By
Brad Ricca

Published By
St Martin's Press

As a comic book fan, there is no escaping the impact the iconic Superman has had on fans and on the industry that spawned him.  However, there was a darker side to the tale of his creation and that's told in well written style here by Brad Ricca.

You can see just how much love Ricca has for the subject in how respectful he is with his writing.  That said, he doesn't pull any punches either or canonize his subjects at all.  Shuster and Siegel weren't perfect men and that's written here.

Ricca also tells the controversial story about how Shuster and Siegel struggled to get recognition for creating the character and to get the royalties and credits that they were owed, a story that has been told before but does so in such a way that he tells it from both sides without straying to far in to taking sides.

If you are a comic book fan or a Superman in particular then this is an essential purchase.  Well written, informative and full of tidbits of information that not even a long term fan such as myself knew, I really can't see a reason to not get this one in your collection.



Written By 
Stephen King

Published By
Hard Case Crime

Stephen King.  A man who needs no introduction.  In fact, a man that is truly a master of terror.  Here he turns to the Hard Case Crime imprint of Titan Books to publish an old fashioned crime thriller.

While he is most largely known for his horror novels, King has also done a few crime thrillers in his time.  Some have matched his level of quality and others have fallen a little short.  This one is definitely one of his very good ones.

Set in a summer during a young man working in a theme park, this murder mystery moves along at a quick pace yet there are some marvelously calm and quiet moments too to get the reader to care about the characters.  It was great to see a non horror novel by King that didn't feel like it had to fit in with what the fans wanted from him as a writer.

This crime thriller has a bit of an old fashioned charm to it and that really endeared it to me as a reader as I love reading the older 1950's style crime novels.  This one is a recent King novel that is well worth picking up.


Park Avenue

Written by 
Christopher Smith

Published By
Fifth Avenue Productions, Inc

Christopher Smith has a reputation amongst his fans for writing fast paced, exciting and witty novels with really well fleshed out characters.  As a fan of his work, I was very eager to get my hands on this, his newest novel, to see if it would reach the high standards of his other novels.

This one most definitely reaches those standards and even surpasses some of them as well.  The pacing that Smith is famous more is evident here and the sheer amount of twists really keep the reader guessing what is going to happen next.  Don't let the amount of twists put you off though, Smith has a great knack of choosing exactly the right moment to drop one in to the story to completely throw the reader off track.

The witty dialogue in this one reminded me a bit of the superb television series 'Castle' that stars Nathan Fillion yet at the same time, retains his rather unique voice.  On the strength of this and his other novels, I would actually like to see him pen an episode or two of the series.

If you want a quality thriller with twists galore, witty dialogue and some great action that will make you want to keep reading until the very final page then you should definitely pick this one up.


Ocean at the End of the Lane 

Written By 
Neil Gaiman

Published By

Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors of all time and has been responsible for some truly brilliant writing.  The man that was  responsible for books such as 'Coraline', 'American Gods', 'The Sandman' and much more always has a massive amount of hype around him whenever he releases a new book and that was no different with this one.  Just how would he reach the quality of his other novels?

Well, as a fan, I shouldn't have worried.  Gaiman crafted a superbly written and heartfelt novel that has so many layers to it each reader will take away a different feeling from it.  Personally I felt a sense of child like wonder at some of the story and it both left me with a lovely, warm feeling but was also quite heart breaking in places.

If you're a Neil Gaiman fan then chances are you have already added this one to your collection but if not, why not?  If you've not read any of his books before, grab this one.  It's utterly superb.


Light of Darkness: Day of Reckoning 

Written By
Victor Wright

Published By
Geeky Books

As a fan of his comic book work, I was really eager to read this novel to see if Victor Wright's skill at weaving a story in that medium would translate  well to a novel and it does.  If anything, it works even better because there's more room for  the story to breathe and more scope to give what happens a cinematic feel.  That's exactly what you get here.

If you are in to your supernatural horror stories but without the cliched 'shock for shocks sake' style writing that seems so popular these days then you really need to get this novel.  The deliberate pacing will really hook you in from the first to the last page and leave you wanting more.  To be honest, as a reader, what  more could you want from a book?


The Executioner's Heart 

Written By 
George Mann

Published By
Titan Books

One of George Mann's strengths has always been his incredibly strong and well rounded characters.  The best of these in this installment of the series is by far the villain.  Evil, brutal and cold blooded, the villain of the story is not only evil to the extreme, leading to some truly shocking moments, there is also a truly tragic back story to the character.  That, for me, made the character in to a villain that absolutely gripped my attention with an iron grip.

There were so many points in the story where you didn't know just whom was on who's side.  That's where George Mann's brilliant grasp of pacing really  came in to it's own.  Some mystery writers  tend to dump all the twists and revelations in one or two goes but that's not the case here.  Mann seems to always be able to choose just the right moment to let fly.

Even if you're not a fan of steampunk novels, this is definitely one that is more than worth picking up.  Fast paced, loads of character development and tons of shocking twists and turns, there's plenty of excitement here to grip even the most ardent of readers.


The Liger Plague

Written By
Joseph Souza

Published By
 Cactus Tree Publishers

This blood soaked tale by Joseph Souza really gives feelings of Stephen King and Dean Koontz while retaining his own, unique voice.  Not only is this Souza's best book, it is also one of the best horror novels that  I have read this year.  The brutal nature of some of the killings may sound like they would put you off but if you let it do that then you would be missing out on a really good book.
My one complaint would be the character named Versa.  A massively unlikeable character to such an extent that I would have probably thrown her to the infected.  That's just me though.  I did like the fact that not all the characters are perfect.  Some make mistakes, some go too far.  That makes the story have a more realistic feel and in turn, makes it more affecting to the reader.
Definitely one worth picking up, especially if you are a King or a Koontz fan.  This is a massively impressive book but then again, what else can you expect from the winner of the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Speculative Fiction winner?


Wrestling With the Devil

Written By 
Tonya Russo Hamilton
Antonio Russo

Published By
Gemelli Press

This book manages to be a look at the social history of the era, a look at how the family unit works together, a wrestling autobiography as well as a look at the immigrant experience but told from an intensely personal point of view.
The hardships that Russo went through to become who he is today are absolutely heart breaking.  I'm not ashamed to say that reading about those and about the personal demons he had to fight with had me in tears more than once yet even after all of that, this is a story of hope and hard work.
All in all this is a very good autobiography.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it is one of the best that I've ever read and by that, I mean one of the best books I've read not just autobiography.  This mans life would make an amazing movie if I'm completely honest.
Once in a while however a book comes along that absolutely touches you.  This is one of those books.  As soon as I finished it, I flicked it back to the start and read it over again.  It really is that good

Well, that's the best  books we've reviewed this year and you know what?  We've enjoyed each and everyone of them.

Where did your favourite turn up?

1 comment:

  1. I am honored to be in such excellent company! Congratulations to all of the other's on this list, but most of all thank you PATRICK for taking out the time to read our work!
    Merry Christmas everyone.