The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

They are finally here! What you’ve all been waiting for. The Hatties Awards have returned! At first I was behind. Then I was set on not putting this together until after the New Year as I don’t care for best of the year lists coming out when there is still time left in the year. Then I got busy with other projects, but it is done. So with further preamble let’s get to it.

Top Fantasy Novel of the Year

Ocean - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

Winner NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Runner-Up – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Honorable Mentions – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Age of Ice by J. M. Sidorova, and The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Seeing Hill at the top is not too much of a surprise, at least to me. Some would say this is more of a Horror novel, but there are large fantastical elements that I think more than qualify it to stay in Fantasy. Wecker’s is a book that caught me by surprise, but soon after starting it I knew I found something special. And Wecker and Sidorova definitely reminded me that I really like Historical related novels. Sidorova goes much further than I would have guessed with her ice cold protagonist showcasing parts of the world not seen nearly enough in Fiction. Lynch is the sole “traditional” Fantasy book on this list which surprised me though the debut category had plenty in that vein.

Top Science Fiction Novel of the Year

LoveMinus80 - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)JACK GLASS by adam roberts - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)
Winner – Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh
Runner-Up – Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Honorable Mentions – Dark Eden by Chris Beckett,  The Martian by Andy Weir, and Jack Glass by Adam Roberts

From the moment I finished McIntosh’s latest effort I knew it would be hard to top in the Sci-Fi area at least. He brings the emotional side to Sci-Fi better than few authors and this is his best book yet. Leckie did some very interesting things with her debut that ten years from now people will be referencing as big influences in their own work. Once you get over the ick factor of Dark Eden you’ll find it to be one of the most original worlds ever encountered in Sci-Fi.

Top Hybrid Novel of the Year – Forging New Ways

violent century lavie tidhar - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)Wolfhound+Century - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)


Winner – The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar
Runner-up – Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
Honorable Mentions – No Return by Zachary Jernigan and Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis
This has probably been my favorite category for the last couple of years simply because of how original the works strike me. Tidhar has written the book that will hopefully catapult him into everyone’s damn good category and earn him the awards he deserves. Higgin’s debut is staggeringly good. Jernigan made Science-Fantasy feel very cool again and Tregillis gave us an angel/noir story that is lovingly twisted.
Top Mind Fuck

apocalypsenownow uk - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human
It is impossible to read Human’s debut and not be awed by the strangeness. If you ever thought Indian, Asian, or Irish mythology is weird than South African mythology mixed with Urban Fantasy will blow your mind hole.
Top Popcorn – Ohhh, that was fun!

martian us - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

Winner-The Martian by Andy Weir

Weir’s book was exactly what I hoped it would be. It is as if Scalzi did something a bit more contemporary along with trying to keep as close to hard science as possible. MacGyver stuck on Mars, indeed.


Top Debut Novel

GolemJinniHCcFINAL - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)Promise of Blood - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

Winner –The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Runner-Up (Tie) – Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan and Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
Honorable Mentions – Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, The Grim Company by Luke Scull, The Scroll of Years by Chris Willrich, Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human, and Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein 
Wecker’s novel has just stuck into my head even many months after reading it and it is probably the book I gave the most personal recommendations to this year. McClellan has almost instantly created the perfect Epic Fantasy series. Higgins novel brings the weird in wonderful ways and I can’t wait to read the second half of this duology.
Series That Keep Turning Out the Hat-tricks

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 Winner – Necessary Evil by Ian Tregilis   
Runner-Up – Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
Honorable Mentions – The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett and Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone
I had to give it up for Tregillis this year. He continued to up his writing game with each book in the series and this being the cap to a trilogy he brought everything together perfectly. Cole upped his game a lot with the second volume to his trilogy fixing many misgivings I had with the first volume though the third volume is even better. Lynch’s story is clearly not over, but his story-in-a-story was masterfully done and he recaptured much of what was so special about The Lies of Locke Lamora. Brett’s world continues to enthrall me while Gladstone continues to unveil his very strange yet orderly world to us.
Best Overall Book of the Year – You guys have got to read this!

NOS4A2 - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

Winner – N0S4A2 by Joe Hill
Runner-Up –The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Honorable Mentions –The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh




This was a tough year to chose as so many of my favorite authors had new books out, but Hill manages to hit all the right buttons with me again as he did with Horns. Wecker’s book is a beautiful look at early 20th century Manhattan and the only debut to make this list. Tidhar surprised me in all the best ways while Gaiman and McIntosh gave me exactly what I was hoping for from them: heartfelt, endearing stories with relateable characters.
Best Book I Read This Year Not Published This Year

WintersTale - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
Helprin’s book has been on my bucket list for sometime now and I’m glad I got to it, but it is one I probably would have bounced off of 5+ years ago though it fit me perfectly now. Pure beauty in written form. No movie production could do it justice and I shutter to think how they would condense the story done. This goes on the to-reread shelf.

Best Graphic Novel
Saga - The Hattie Awards 2013!!! Or the best books of 2013 (That I've read)
Winner Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
Runner-up – Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill
Honorable Mention – The Manhattan Projects Volume 2 and 3 by Jonathan Hickman

Saga is shockingly good. Star Wars good. It showcases a huge new universe yet centers on a love story for the ages. Hill’s Locke & Key remains one of the best written graphic novels in the last ten years. Hickman is a wild and his alternative history of the Manhattan Project brings the best bad science, aliens, and strangeness possible.

In Closing…

2013 was a weird reading year for me where I didn’t step outside my comfort zone much, but I had resigned myself to that as this was personally a very busy year even outside of The Way of Kings reread going on which all added up to the slowest reading year since before I started this blog. In all I read fewer than 70 books where my usual number is at least 100. That’s still a good sampling, but hardly as exhaustive as I like to be. Hopefully, 2014 will be better and I’ll get to share more with you all.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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