Top Ten Reads of 2015

18466509#10 – Breakers by Edward W. Robertson (ReviewUS – Audible (Omnibus .5-3) – UK)
My new favorite scifi/post-apocalyptic franchise keeps packing quality character relationships with a fresh apocalyptic adventure. The first three books are free, and the first 3.5 books are one credit on Audible. The narration is top-of-the-line produced by R.C. Bray and Podium Publishing.
25558260 #9 – The Ninth Wind by Moses Siregar III (ReviewUS – Amazon UK)

Moses delivered on the highly anticipated follow-up to his debut novel, The Black God’s War. His blend of Fantasy storytelling weaves unique magic systems with cultural influence, emotionally charged characters forced to war against each other and a poetic flare deeply rooted in spiritual philosophy. His skill was already top-notch in TBGW, so I was very pleased to see how he’s developed in the years since. Prepare to be surprised and to discover a fascinating world and the war they can’t escape.

13254665 # 8 – Mountain Man by Keith C. Blackmore (Review – Amazon US – Audible (Omnibus Books 1-3))

I love zombie books, and this one hit hard on one of my favorite elements of post-apocalyptic survival: bunker building. This one was mostly fun mixing high stakes scavenging with a good buddy-buddy battle with guns, zombies and crazies. No let down in the pacing on this one, and a great narration from R.C. Bray for audiobook fans.

20765775 #7 – The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu (ReviewAmazon USAudible – Amazon UK)

Samples from my review at Adventures in Scifi Publishing: Do you like spies? I do. Jason Bourne is a favorite. Imagine the next Bourne film started with him dying and losing the alien spirit that had taught him everything, from philosophy, to the ancient history of alien influence, to fighting, to you name it. The alien spirit, Tao, requires a human host to survive. It is late at night and Tao, a Prophus (the good guys of aliens), can’t afford to be picky on its next host. A cab door opens up and an overweight computer programer throws up on the sidewalk.

The narration by Michael Naramore continued on from his dominance in the first two books. This guy is one of the best I’ve heard. His characters evoke personality that seamlessly transport us into the story without the barrier of realizing we’re being read to. His pacing and ability to inject tension at the right moments are also among the best. I hope he sticks around for the next series.

23164927 # 6 – The Fold by Peter Clines (ReviewAmazon US Audible)

Count me as one of many readers wishing for a reading experience worthy of comparing to the first seasons of the TV hit, Lost. Peter’s novel, 14, was close, and quite enjoyable, but The Fold was better. Worlds collide with just the right amount of character interest as we see a fascinating take on parallel worlds and possible world destruction as the darker one tries to take over. I recommend Ray Porter’s narration if you’re into audiobooks.

20518872#5 – The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (ReviewAmazon US)

Winner of the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and I was there to celebrate. This book amazed me. I spent a fair amount of time reading with only partial understanding of where it was going and the physics described, but in the end I was very glad to have completed the read. This is the kind of alien invasion series that only a brilliant physicist could write, and for the most part it is delivered in language and metaphors I could understand. The character level work did a great job illustrating the Chinese culture and how they would react to discovering a world destroying threat. It’s dark, but mind opening and monumental in its genre.

28400479#4 – Dark Knight (WYRD #2) by Nick Cole (ReviewAmazon US)

The placement of Dark Knight between two powerhouse novels in The Three Body Problem and The Goblin Emperor exemplifies how indie publishing can match or exceed Big Publishing when you have strong writing, ideas, and in this case, a stand-out character that bled my heart like no other this year. Cory is a teenager with mental disabilities who is heartbroken about losing his daddy, a police officer. The way Nick introduced and made our lives a part of Cory’s in his search for his father was one of the best reading experiences I’ve had. This is my current favorite series in the zombie genre. Book Three can’t come out soon enough.

17910048 #3 – The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (ReviewAmazon US)

Phew, these top three* are some tough fighters. The Goblin Emperor is masterfully done, but “fell” to three simply because the political intrigue/high fantasy plotline isn’t exactly my cup of tea. I prefer that in Space Opera with more action, but this kind of Fantasy is a hard sell for me. That it made it this high on my list is indicative of how strong the other elements are. Her dialogue and subtle but powerful character development is worthy of studying in-depth. I posted examples in my review.

23287202#2 – Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher (ReviewAmazon US – Amazon UK)

That eyebrow raising experience we get in our favorite books is found too many times to count in this one. These characters are introduced in a state of complete dark, and while the good ones slowly open up to shed glimmers of light and hope, the bad ones grow darker and scarier than we thought possible. Beyond Redemption and Chains of Heretic delivered simultaneous knockout punches. Chains wins for best third book in a trilogy and BR wins for best first book. Now shake hands and try not to cause too much damage at the tavern celebrating.

25159315(Tied for #2, but since it doesn’t release until Feb. 2016, it will go on next year’s list) – Chains of the Heretic by Jeff Salyards (Review – Amazon USUK)

Everything I was hoping for in my most anticipated read of the year. It’s more Epic, more battle efficient, paced perfectly, and wraps up character goodbyes with legendary skill. Jeff’s first two books showcased his skill in dialogue and battle scenes as top in the field; the dialogue is just as good in this one, but the battle scenes improved from some which I felt were too long in the previous books to just right in this one. The pacing in the first two books lagged a little at times because of this, but was perfect in this one. It takes a lot of polish to write a book this large that didn’t have a single boring page. How’s that for a compliment to put on your cover, Jeff? “No boring pages.” – Tim Ward

22522744 #1 – Wayward by Blake Crouch (Review – Amazon USAudible – UK)

Very similar to the perfect pacing in Chains of he Heretics, Wayward delivered a breakneck combination of mystery, character/relationship tension and gauntlet thrown conflict. If I had to pick the specific reason why Wayward conquered over Chains and BR, Wayward fit more into my preference of horror/scifi, while also packing the same amount of “wow” into a quicker read. Wayward also surprised me because I’m almost always disappointed in sequels. This one held nothing back. In a way, this led to a little letdown in the last book, which was still an excellent conclusion, but didn’t match the excitement of the second book. (Count this also as my best Kindle Unlimited read. These three books more than paid for the month’s subscription.)

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About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former executive producer and Hugo Nominee of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. He has been broke and lost on the other side of the world and now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. This summer, he released his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant, and a new series that begins with Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up for his newsletter for news, sales, giveaways and more: http://www.timothycward.com/newsletter/.

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