Not all of these were published in 2008, they are just the best reads (for me) of 2008. This year, most of those on the list were new authors. I’m still reading the tried and true, but not every book in every series is a standout.
Without further rambling, here are the best reads of 2008:
One Jump Ahead (Jon & Lobo Series) – Mark Van Name A great little read–space opera mystery meets tough guy. This story includes a space ship with AI and a lot of personality. The characterization is particularly strong–not only for the two main characters, but side characters as well.
The Automatic Detective– A. Lee Martinez Just a wild, wacky tale of a futuristic robot with a heart–a hard-boiled detective on a mission, only he has the power to destroy more than mend. A funny mystery that uses sci/fi as a setting.
New Tricks (A Dog Days Novel) – John Levitt (his Dog Days, first in the series, quals for the top reads of 2007!) This was my favorite read of the year. A jazz player with a knack for improv–both magically and musically. This series is made quite special by Mason’s sidekick and trusty partner, a dog name Lou. He’s no ordinary dog though. Be prepared for tricks and twists!
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, Book 1) – Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampire Series–YA) A good read–emotional teenage angst with vampires and other worries thrown in. The progtag is a young teenager quite out of her element. I think what I liked best was that while there were vampires and other paranormal elements, the protag is dealing mostly with normal insecurities, trying to fit in and worried about doing well in school. Some of the early college scenes sure brought back memories–and not necessarily good ones!
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) – Illona Andrews – An enjoyable urban fantasy with some very interesting characters–not just your standard werewolf here! Definitely one of the better urban fantasy series out there.
Jim Hines – Goblin War (Goblin Series) — Jig the Goblin is still an underdog, but he’s learning a few new tricks to survive. He’s going to need every one of them because he has to go…earthside in this adventure. Goblin War is the third and last book in the trilogy–and a very satisfying ending it was. I truly appreciate series that end with a reasonable number of books. I’m not much of a series reader to begin with, so it’s really great to come across a “complete” series that starts and ends so well.
I almost forgot to list Shadowmagic by John Lenahan. This book is probably only out in the UK, but most books can be bought via Bookdepository. ShadowMagic is a fast YA read with good characterization, great action scenes and my favorite element–humor! From the back of the book:
Conor thought he was an average 21st century teenager. OK, so his father only had one hand and was a bit on the eccentric side but, other than that, life was fairly normal. Until, that is, two Celtic warriors on horseback and wearing full armour appear at his front door and try to kill him.
Late addition! Dead Woman’s Shoes by Kaye C. Hill. This wonderful cozy/mystery has a lot of suspense and great characters including Kinky the chihuahua, a missing cat, a vet, a policeman, an entire drama club, and of course, an amateur sleuth, Lexy, who must sort it all out even though she is on the run herself! There are twists and turns, capers–many threads woven into a completely captivating tale.
State of the Onion (White House Chef Mysteries, No. 1) – Julie Hyzy. I enjoyed this “chef at the White House” story. It was a nice, breezy read with some unusual, very light history thrown in (such as the fact that the tableware is changed out for each president).
This year the pick was very, very easy:
Todd McAulty’s The Soldiers of Serenity in BlackGate, Issue 12. As I said in my review on my website at the time: The Soldiers of Serenity by McAulty read like a novel. In so many short stories, the payoff is quick, sometimes dirty. Just as you “get” the characters, the story is over. Not So Here. McAulty took his time. He introduced characters. He ran down corridors. He twisted a bit…he teased. It’s all ordinary, right? But you knew every character held a key, every detail mattered. I kept wanting to check to see how much story was left because I just KNEW the pay-off was a few pages away! I couldn’t read fast enough! WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, DAMMIT?????
Two late entries that deserve honorable mention:
Dead Men Don’t Cry by Nancy Fulda (I read via www.anthologybuilder.com)
A Buffalito of Mars by Lawrence M. Schoen (Also via www.anthologybuilder.com)
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