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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015


Here are my top 5 favorite/best books of 2015 (in no particular order). Each of these novels deserves a place on your reading list!



Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

Silver on the Road is one of my favorite books of 2015 because of the wonderful characters and the gorgeous worldbuilding. The novel is at moments like the soft brush of gently swaying prairie grass and at times like the thunder of a herd of buffalo stampeding. There is magic. There are monsters and a 16 year old girl - Isobel - learning her place in the world. The mythology and lore underpinning Silver on the Road are terrific. Isobel is a great character and watching her learn and grow into magic and her new life is captivating. Silver on the Road is a fabulous coming of age story set in a deeply memorable alternative American West.



Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig is a technological thriller surrounding issues of government surveillance and overstepping. The Zer0es of the title are 5 hackers on the hook for one year of servitude to the government instead of multiple years in prison. Wendig quickly introduces us to this disparate group as they are rounded up. The novel starts off as hackerpunk and gently slides into cyberpunk and then into what-the-hell-is-that? I absolutely loved it. Wendig has a talent for writing fabulous characters and I always enjoy his offbeat ones immensely. Zer0es surprised me, occasionally frightened me, and totally delighted me.



Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Los Nefilim, Part One and Part Two by T. Frohock

I can't tell you how much I adore this series so far - In Midnight’s Silence (Part One) and Without Light or Guide (Part Two). T. Frohock has written engaging characters with an extremely well thought out mythology while at the same time making them confront deeply human emotions and conditions. Diago Alvarez who is half angel and half daimon struggles with this conflict in his nature and the way others perceive him. The relationship between Diago and Miquel (his lover) is gentle and loving and rings with veracity. The writing and pace are gorgeous. The machinations of humans, Nefilim and others create a great backdrop for Diago's story. I can't wait to see what happens in the Part 3 of this series.



Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Planetfall by Emma Newman

I am a big 3D printing fan with 2 printers running most of the time at home. Newman takes 3D to new levels in Planetfall - where most everything that the settlers use on a new world is 3D printed. While this part of the novel charmed me, it's not what kept me reading. This story of betrayal, lies, religion, science, and extraordinarily flawed characters is fantastic. Newman pulls off the neat trick of making me empathize with characters that I often did not like, in particular Renata Ghali. Things really go sideways for Ren during the 22 years she and the rest of the settlers have been living on a planet far from earth. Newman slowly peels back the layers of lies and mysteries that surround planetfall and the colony giving readers a fascinating look at human behavior.



Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
The Killing Kind by Chris Holm

Hands down this is the best thriller I read in 2015. Holm bends the hired killer trope to give us a fascinating look at hit man who kills hit men. Getting inside the mind of our 'hero', Michael Hendricks, was a blast if often somewhat disturbing. The cat and mouse game between Hendricks and the hitman hired to take him out is nerve wracking and exciting,  The action scenes are often breathtaking. The writing is top notch. The Killing Kind kept me on the edge of my seat. Hendricks is the morally challenged good guy that you'll come to really like.







Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Silver on the Road
The Devil's West 1
Saga Press, October 6, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price?

Isobel, upon her sixteenth birthday, makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel circuit through the territory. As we all know, where there is magic there is chaos…and death.





Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Zer0es
Harper Voyager, August 18, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

An exhilarating thrill-ride through the underbelly of cyber espionage in the vein of David Ignatius’s The Director and the television series Leverage, CSI: Cyber, and Person of Interest, which follows five iconoclastic hackers who are coerced into serving the U.S. government.

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed—and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X-Files and the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, Zer0es explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.





Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
In Midnight’s Silence
Los Nefilim: Part One
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 23, 2015
eBook, 128 pages

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can't get to him directly, they do the one thing he's always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover's life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world's next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock's In Midnight's Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he'll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.



Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Without Light or Guide
Los Nefilim: Part Two
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 3, 2015
eBook, 128 pages

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Always holding themselves aloft from the affairs of mortals, Los Nefilim have thrived for eons. But with the Spanish Civil War looming, their fragile independence is shaken by the machinations of angels and daimons…and a half-breed caught in-between.

For although Diago Alvarez has pledged his loyalty to Los Nefilim, there are many who don't trust his daimonic blood. And with the re-emergence of his father—a Nefil who sold his soul to a daimon—the fear is Diago will soon follow the same path.

Yet even as Diago tries to prove his allegiance, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilim's suspicions—including the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.

The second novella in T. Frohock's Los Nefilim series, Without Light or Guide continues Diago's journey through a world he was born into, yet doesn't quite understand.





Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
Planetfall
Roc, November 3, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thornscomes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…





Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015
The Killing Kind
Mulholland Books, September 15, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Trade Paperback to be published September 1, 2016

A hitman who only kills other hitmen winds up a target himself.

Michael Hendricks kills people for money. That aside, he's not so bad a guy.

Once a covert operative for a false-flag unit of the US military, Hendricks was presumed dead after a mission in Afghanistan went sideways. He left behind his old life--and beloved fiancée--and set out on a path of redemption...or perhaps one of willful self-destruction.

Now Hendricks makes his living as a hitman entrepreneur of sorts--he only hits other hitmen. For ten times the price on your head, he'll make sure whoever's coming to kill you winds up in the ground instead. Not a bad way for a guy with his skill-set to make a living--but a great way to make himself a target.


Interview with Laura Anne Gilman - March 28, 2015


Please welcome Laura Anne Gilman to The Qwillery. “Heartbeat” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!

Interview with Laura Anne Gilman - March 28, 2015

I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here.


TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What are the challenges in writing in the short form as opposed to the novel length?

Laura Anne:  It's very similar to the difference between running down to the store for something, and taking a week-long road trip. For the first, you have a pretty good idea of what you're going to get (say) and where the store is, but sometimes you get there and you discover oh, I needed to say that, too, and pick up this and... and sometimes you get delayed by traffic, but you're pretty sure you'll get home in time for dinner.

For a novel, you've got to make sure you've got your shit in order. Is the car gassed up? Do you have maps? Your AAA card? Music playlist? Idea of where you're going to stop each night, even if only a vague area, and a list of things you want to do along the way? And you're pretty sure you know where you're going but are aware that if something catches your eye, you can take another day or so to follow up on it, and oh hey, look at that, we thought we were on a road but we're actually driving across a field in the middle of the night light only by the headlights, let's try to get back on the road, and who ate the last protein bar?

That's the difference, pretty much.



TQ:  Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Laura Anne:  eeeek. Um... the magic systems in your book seem to have, at heart, a logical, almost scientific origin - the "electrical base" of the Cosa Nostradamus, the agricultural magic of the Vineart War trilogy. Why is that?

Everyone, when they try to create a fantasy world, they know to build the magic into the culture, the daily lives... but a lot of times people forget to build it into the science of the world, too. So when I work on a magic system, I start with the natural sciences, and build up. It's fun for me (geeky research!) and I've found that once I have the scientific basis for something, my research keeps turning up new, cool things that fit within that world...

I am all about the geeky researching.



TQ:  Describe “Heartbeat”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.

Laura Anne:  Out in the middle of nowhere, some things look too closely at the human soul...



TQ:  Tell us something about “Heartbeat” that will not give away the story.

Laura Anne:  Geology buffs might get an extra kick out of it. And by kick I mean a shiver down the spine.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for “Heartbeat”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?

Laura Anne:  The inspiration was a road trip I took through Kansas last summer. A spur-of-the-moment side trip took us down a long dirt road....

I can't swear that I ever have encountered one... but I'd lay good money I've been in the presence of a few, if you see the difference. There was a pine forest where I went to summer camp; it was entirely human-planted and maintained, but there was a sensation there, especially late at night, that wasn't human at all. And I'm convinced that there's something very old, and very angry, deep in the sands under Jerusalem. The city, beautiful as it is, gave me the spooks.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Heartbeat”.

Laura Anne:  "Only the curious come down here, past the chestnut-red bulk of cows and the narrow ditches, down the long long road."



TQ:  In which genre or genres does “Heartbeat” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?

Laura Anne:  Oh.... ghost story, a little. And yeah, classifications are useful - it's like any classification system, it gives you a general area to start looking. But I don't take it seriously, beyond that. Most of my work, it straddles categories, sometimes it square dances with a bunch of them. Swing your partner, do something new.



TQ:  What's next?

Laura Anne:  Next up.... my alter ego, L.A. Kornetsky, has a mystery coming out this spring - Clawed. The series is set in a Seattle bar, and they're a lot of fun - and had a lot to do with me moving to Seattle last year. and then in October, there's SILVER ON THE ROAD, which is something new for me - playing with North American history, divergent history, and a touch of what I've been calling magical practicalism, about a young woman in a world where the fantastic is completely entwined with the pragmatic. There have been a couple of short stories set in this world, the Devil's West, but this is the first novel-length work, and I'm really rather obnoxiously excited about it...

And it has the most perfect, gorgeous cover!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





About Laura Anne Gilman

Interview with Laura Anne Gilman - March 28, 2015
Photo © 2009 Elsa M. Ruiz
Laura Anne is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus novels and novellas, and the award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy. Her next project is SILVER ON THE ROAD, the first in the Devil’s West series from Saga / Simon & Schuster, beginning in October 2015.

She has also dipped her pen into the mystery field as well, writing as L.A. Kornetsky (Collared, Fixed, Doghouse, and the forthcoming Clawed).

A member of the writers’ digital co-op Book View Cafe, she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres, selling most recently to the anthologies Genius Loci and Temporally Out of Order (2015).

Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter @LAGilman ~ Tumblr



BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014

On Friday and Saturday of last week I attended Book Expo America (BEA) and BookCon at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City. I mostly go to connect with publishers and publicists that I interact with because of The Qwillery. It's a wonderful professional resource for any one in or connected to the book industry including bloggers. I generally only see some of the publicists twice a year - BEA and New York Comic Con (NYCC). I was also able to meet some publicists that I had not yet met. I had a fascinating discussion about UK vs US covers with a wonderful publicist from Quercus, which has recently been acquired by Hachette. I also picked up a few signed books and met some authors I was interested in interviewing and/or including in the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.

The BEA floor is huge and I can not even guess how many miles I walked, but I did realize that I am a wee bit out of shape (read very out of shape) and I will be starting an exercise program of some sort so that I don't need 3 days to recover from NYCC in October.

Saturday was BookCon as well as BEA. I did not know what to expect since this was the first year for BookCon and 10,000 tickets were sold. Imagine approximately10,000 additional people being let into less than 1/3 of the space for the entire BEA. It was incredibly crowded, very chaotic, hard to walk around, loud, and somewhat fun. It seemed very much like New York Comic Con. I must note that one of the exhibitors who was in the BookCon section of BEA did not show up for BookCon. I can only guess at the reason but I suspect that they did not want to be part of what became the public part of the show. In addition the BEA section of the Exhibit Hall seemed much less crowded than the day before. It was actually nice to get away from BookCon and take a break in the much more quiet BEA. However, I do not know what that means for BEA attendance while BookCon is taking place. Fewer professionals coming that day because of BookCon? Everyone was at BookCon? Your guess is as good as mine. I believe that the idea of BookCon is good one but since this was the first year there is much to be worked out. I hope that the publishers have better ways of controlling lines for some of the signings and it's all better organized than this year.

BookCon will be held on Saturday and Sunday next year, which also extends BEA by one day. Again only part of the Exhibit Hall will be open to BookCon attendees as it was this year.

Enough about that stuff. You want to see some pictures. (I'll also do another post about the books I picked up. There are not many because I only take a few books and am not interested in a haul of books that I probably won't read.)


BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
My teens and I watch Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. We love this show. I had no idea that Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar were going to be at BEA. I was thrilled to chat with Debi briefly and get a copy of their book, Extra Virgin. I will have to buy one that I can use though because there is no way I am going to get food on the signed copy.

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Alethea Kontis, Ellen Datlow and Esther Friesner
at the SWFA Booth
(Probably my favorite picture of show!)

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
 Errick Nunnally and Jennifer Allis Provost signing at the Spencer Hill Booth

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Errick Nunnally with a copy of his upcoming debut Blood for the Sun
(and yes, he will be featured in the 2014 Debut Author Challenge next month).

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Jeaniene Frost

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
John L. Campbell, author of the Omega Days Series

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Jonathan Maberry

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Laura Anne Gilman (and my son hiding)

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
Michael R. Underwood showing off some of the posters at the Osprey Booth  (includes 
Angry Robot). Michael's Shield and Crocus is out on June 10th from 47North.

And last but not least:

BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014
My son (left) shaking hands with Cary Elwes (right) whose book, As You Wish
Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, is out on October 7, 2014


BookExpo America 2013 - The People


BookExpo America 2013 - The People
I missed BookExpo America (BEA) last year due to stuff. I was thrilled to be able to spend a day at BEA this year. BEA was held at the Javitz Center in New York City (where it will be in 2014 and 2015). It was a fantastic day. I was able to say 'hello' to authors and publicists I'd only met online and see others that I've met before.

If you are a book lover too (and I bet you are because you are reading a book blog), you can attend BEA as a Power Reader. I wasn't there on Saturday when BEA was opened to the Power Readers/public so I can't tell you if it was crowded. It seems like a great chance to pick up some wonderful books and meet some of your favorite authors.

Here are photos that I took of people on Friday. I'll write a separate post about the novels I picked up. There is a tendency to take every book offered, but I was careful to take only what I would read. It took a lot of self-control, believe me. 


BookExpo America 2013 - The People
John Hornor Jacobs and The Twelve-Fingered Boy. This is John's first YA novel.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Ben Smith and Jon Oliver from Rebellion Publishing (Solaris, Abaddon, etc.).
I talked with them before I had coffee. It's amazing that I made any sense (if I did).



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Pierce Brown and Red Rising. There was a long line and many ARCs.
I owe Pierce a gold star for book signing.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Jon Land and Strong Rain Falling at the ThrillerFest booth.
ThrillerFest will be held in NYC July 10 -13.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
I was just walking around and spotted Giada De Laurentiis. She had just finished
signing Recipe for Adventure (a children's book). She is super nice!



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Jon McGoran and Drift.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Andrea Cremer as A.D. Robertson with Captive (Forbidden Nightshade 1),
an adult fantasy novel set in the world of her Nightshade books.
We'll be talking about this!



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
V.E. (Victoria) Schwab with her first adult novel, Viscious.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Edward Lazellari and The Lost Prince. The much anticipated second novel in
the Guardians of Aandor series.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
John Carter Cash and Lupus Rex. This is the first novel being published by
Ravenstone, the children's and YA imprint of Rebellion Publishing.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Michael Molcher (Rebellion's PR Coodinator) with Lupus Rex
(that's King Wolf for those of you who don't read Latin).



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Grumpy Cat!!! She is so calm. I think the longest line I was on at BEA was
to snap this photo. GC has a book coming out in the Fall and
has just signed a movie deal (actually her hooman did that on her behalf).



My final stop of the day was the SFWA booth:

BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Laura Anne Gilman, who has written the Retreivers, Vineart War, and 
Paranormal Scene Investigations novels (and more) and the upcoming Portals series.



BookExpo America 2013 - The People
Karen Heuler, author of The Inner City, The Made-up Man
The Soft Room, and more.




Look for my next BEA post - BookExpo America 2013 - The Books
Qwill's Favorite/Best Books of 2015Interview with Laura Anne Gilman - March 28, 2015BEA 2014 / BookCon 2014BookExpo America 2013 - The People

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