The best of the best of the best 2016

As is my tradition I’m breaking in the New Year with a little look back at my favourite books from 2016.  Another good reading year with plenty to choose from and I admit that I struggled narrowing this down to 10, in fact I singled out at least 25 in my initial search.  I really did read some most excellent books this year in fact I was lucky enough to get through 120 books.  My list for the year is here.  Without further ado my favourites for 2016 with links to the reviews.

  1. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence
  2. City of Blades by Robert J Bennett
  3. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
  4. The Silver Tide by Jen William
  5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  6. Company Town by Madeline Ashby
  7. Fix by Ferrett Steinmetz
  8. The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
  9. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  10. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

I feel like I should also make honorary mentions for Monstrous Little Voices by Jonathan Barnes, Emma Newman, Kate Heartfield, Fox Meadows, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards, 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, The Hike by Drew Magary, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J Birch






Waiting on Wednesday: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky

74757-new2bwow“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week I’m highlighting: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky.  I loved the first book – The Immortals.  My review is here.

Winter of the Gods.jpgMyth and reality collide in this sequel to The Immortals that sets Greek Gods against a modern Manhattan backdrop.

Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

Winter in New York: snow falls, lights twinkle, and a very disgruntled Selene DiSilva prowls the streets looking for prey.

But when a dead body is discovered sprawled atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, it’s clear the NYPD can’t solve the murder without help. The murder isn’t just the work of another homicidal cult — this time, someone’s sacrificing the gods themselves.

While raising fundamental questions about the very existence of the gods, Selene must hunt down the perpetrators, tracking a conspiracy that will test the bonds of loyalty and love.

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

theimmortalsJust finished reading The Immortals.  I was so looking forward to this book and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.  You may now call me ‘She that reads until late at night’ or ‘Devourer of Books’ or perhaps ‘Goddess of book love’ (you’ll understand if you’ve read this!)  Gushing will commence but firstly a little about the book.

The book starts with a murder victim found by a lone woman walking her dog.  However, not only is this no ordinary killing but this is no ordinary ‘lone woman’.  Manhattan is about to become the scene for a number of grisly murders.  Unfortunately the police have few clues but Selene DiSilva recognises only too well the signs of a ritual sacrifice and doesn’t intend to let this brutal killing go unsolved.  Once known as the Protector of the Innocent she’s about to team up with a classics professor and the two will embark on a desperate scramble around Manhattan in a bid to pick up clues before the body count rises.

I don’t think too much more introduction is really necessary to be honest, it’s an interesting plot that involves quite a lot of ancient history being thrown into the mix and it moves forward at a very good pace.

The setting is modern, everyday Manhattan.  People racing to and fro at a hectic pace little aware that walking amongst them are The Immortals.  What I really loved was that the author managed to incorporate such a lot of unusual places into the story.  Many long since forgotten places, boarded over or living beneath the skyscrapers above, hidden in the park or just simply beneath the pavement on which people walk.  I completely loved this element to the tale, it’s an aspect that I found fascinating and gave the story an additional richness that I really appreciated.

The characters – well, this is where it becomes really interesting.  The main character is Selene, otherwise know as Artemis, twin to Apollo and Goddess of the Hunt.  Selene is a great character to read about and through her we learn that the Gods are slowly dying.  This new modern world no longer feeds their immortality.  Selene is starting to age, her powers are not only weak but practically none existent!  She still manages to help women who pray to her in their moment of need but she no longer finds it quite so easy as she once did.  However, with the loss of most of her powers a small seed of humanity has sprouted inside Selene, instead of the once cold and ruthless virgin Goddess she now shows a more vulnerable side, she maybe even craves more in her life, she just doesn’t know it yet.  On top of this Selene’s family life is less than perfect.  She hasn’t spoke to her brother Apollo for centuries and her mother is fading fast so when Selene finally meets up with our charming and geeky professor it’s almost inevitable that her feelings will be conflicted.  Opposites do attract after all and Selene has been alone for a very long time!

Just let me be clear, this isn’t a love story at all, although a small amount of romance does eventually enter the stage, but the pairing of Selene and Theo makes for great reading and I really liked them both.  Theo has a whole raft of intelligence about the ancient Greeks which he tries to take to the police to assist with their investigations.  Unfortunately, in doing so he puts himself under the spotlight a little.  Theo is one of those characters that you can’t help falling for a little – well, I can’t.  He’s just massively bookish and geeky in terms of his own passions, he has a lovely bashful charm but on top of that, and in spite of his own misgivings, he really does put his heart and soul into this investigation.  He really isn’t a kick ass sort of character at all but what he lacks in fighting prowess he more than makes up for in his willingness to try.

On top of this – well, yes, we meet a number of other Gods.  Gods that Selene has spent years avoiding.  Hermes the messenger, who can still speed about even though his winged sandals are no longer working and of course we pay a visit to Hades in his Underworld which was certainly an interesting experience.  All of them of course are in decline although some are doing better than others as the modern world seems to love money, wine, communications, etc.

So, why did I really love this?  Well, I loved the idea of these immortals walking amongst us.  The Greek Gods were always more accessible to humans, toying in their everyday lives but that really has been taken to the extreme here and their decline in the face of the modern world is a really interesting idea. I loved all the background elements to the story.  We have Theo on one hand who is expert in his field and then of course Selene who, well, lived in that field!  I loved the contemporary setting that still retains a few tiny specks of wilderness living between the skyscrapers if you look close enough, but, more than that I loved reading about the Greek Gods.  It’s a period of history that I’m probably in equal measures fascinated by and absolutely useless at retaining any of knowledge of and yet I so enjoy all the stories and myths and what the author manages to do here is bring a new interpretation to some of those which I thought was really clever.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have any to be honest.  I thought this was a really good read that I would have happily sat and read without any disturbance (shakes fist at life having other ideas) and I would certainly read more instalments.  I think I second guessed the actual culprit fairly early on (which is quite unusual for me) but did that really matter – I think not – and there was still a twist to the tale as it turned out that I didn’t see coming.

I would definitely recommend this.  Well written, enjoyable and clever.  Bring on No.2 (no pressure or anything).

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.