Monday, December 31, 2012

Final MFB Blogpost - What We've Enjoyed in 2012 & The Future

As we've been saying for a few months now, My Favourite Books will shut its doors today, 31st December 2012.

It has been an incredible ride for both Sarah, Mark and myself.  We've made some terrific friends along the way and met some great debut, mid-list and stratospherically well known authors.  Our knowledge of the publishing world has exploded and we've come to know a great many editors and publicity and marketing people (including other folk who look after artwork and digital files and audio etc within the publishing industry) and let me tell you: these people aren't in it for the money, they are in it for the love of stories and reading, even if publishers at the end of the day have to make money.  We are grateful to all of them for giving three bloggers the chance to meet them and review their books.  It's been a rather splendid seven years!

As today is our final blogpost, we've decided to offer you a handful of our favourite titles we've read in 2012 - a quick stipulation here: it's books we've read this year, which means they may not have been published this year.

Sarah’s Best Books of 2012

2012 was a bit of a slow-grower for me in terms of books. I despaired of ever finding something I loved but then February hit and I was off.

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
This is a breathtaking book and one that utilises different points-of-view beautifully. I started the book full of sympathy for Misskaella who’s largely ignored by her family and the rest of the community of Rollrock. She takes her revenge in an unflinching fashion. However, after the last chapter I had tears in my eyes and went back to read the beginning again. Such beautiful writing.

The Wood Queen/Falling to Ash by Karen Mahoney
Mistress of Urban Fantasy a.k.a Karen Mahoney gave us two wonderful books this year. One let me be a part of my much-loved world of Ironbridge again and the other heralded a new series about Moth the teenage vampire. I adored both of them and will not choose a favourite – do you hear? Falling to Ash made me think of super heroes and I loved the tough yet vulnerable Moth. The Wood Queen developed the intriguing storyline beautifully. The dialogue in both was razor-sharp. It’s my list so they’re going in on an equal footing of love. So there.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami speaks to a boy in her head but one day he turns up in her village. Jared and Kami fight to understand the mystery of Sorry-in-the-Vale and of each other. It’s Gothic and spooky all wrapped up with SRB’s brilliant dialogue. Yum.

Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones
I made the classic error of reading this in pdf form from the publisher then, realising it was far too early to review, put it to one side. All I could remember was that it was ghostly, Victorian and I loved it. I re-read so I could actually write something coherent but basically it’s wonderful.

Unrest by Michelle Harrison
Speaking of ghosts this was a seriously scary book with a great male protagonist. His voice just pulls you in and I wanted to know what had happened to him and how he was going to turn things around. This book seriously put the frighteners on me in the middle of the day. Terrifying.

Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Jeane has a stunning voice and even though at times I hated her, I always loved her too. She’s pretty much an emancipated teen with a self-absorbed family who has carved out a career for herself through social networking and blogging. Michael hates her too, or does he love her? Funny, awkward and a hundred percent brilliant.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
I’ve just read and reviewed this so I don’t have the benefit of a few months to be able to think about what it meant to me. It’s all still very immediate but this story of two broken teens who attempt not to mend each other is both addictive and beautiful – it crept up on me in a good way.

Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi
I’m not a big one for angel books but this really got me. An angel whose job it is to collect souls tries to save just one. She finds herself in a pact with a helpful man and eventually discovers that she needs to rethink her priorities. I’m feeling a bit tearful just remembering it. Beautiful. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Mark's Favourite Titles of 2012

Shieldwall by Justin Hill

I really enjoyed the rich and evocative language used in Shieldwall, and taken with the great action and Hill's consistent attention to detail, this is was a fantastic and immersive read.

Outpost by Adam Baker

Outpost surprised me several times and steadfastly refused to conform to my expectations. It's an exciting end-of-the-world thriller and well worth investing in.

Know No Fear by Dan Abnett

The combination of a fresh and cleverly constructed narrative, tight and explosive action sequences made KNF stand out as one of my favourite books in the Horus Heresy series.

Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

This was a terrifically fun book to read, well paced and offering a fresh and well realised setting and mythology as the backdrop for a kick ass adventure.

The Great Betrayal by Nick Kyme

I had expected good things from Nick Kyme, having read and enjoyed his Space Marine / 40K series (The Tome of Fire) but TGB surpassed my expectations. Nick delivered a solid, well crafted fantasy that was a pleasure to read from start to finish, well grounded in the rich background of the Warhammer setting but simultaneously independent and eminently accessible to newcomers. 

Double Dead by Chuck Wendig

An absolute blast and the most fun I'd had with a book for some time. I loved the vampiric main character -a likeable bastard- and wound up reading this in a day.  

Liz's Favourite Books of 2012 

Itch by Simon Mayo

Oh I did so love Itch.  Fun, quite adult MG novel for younger readers (but also for older folk) with a great main character and lots of shenanigans and also: science and adventure and bad surfing.  As I'm clueless to most famous people, I had no idea who Simon Mayo was when we were shown the info about ITCH at the beginning of the year at Random House. I was smitten by the idea of the story and the image of this boy carrying rocks around.  So I went in and read this without having a clue and it was plain good writing and good storytelling.

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey 

Folklore and legend combined with some truly great writing by Karen Healey has this book firmly in my "never let it out of my sight" bookshelf.  I can't gush enough about this book and the author - it genuinely ticks all the boxes for me and her voice is so clear and vivid.  Really, do everything you can to get a copy of this to read.

Dead Scared by SJ Bolton 

SJ Bolton is a nice lady.  I've now met her a few times and I've realised the ability to scare and frighten the living crap out of you has nothing to do with how NICE an author can be in real life.  A SJ Bolton book guarantees you a good read.  Every single one of her books is ace.  And scary.  And I love each one of them.  So basically, this recommendation is about Dead Scared but it is more about recommending everything this lady has ever written and will write.  Because she is honestly that good a crime writer.  You will not be disappointed.

The Hum and The Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

Beautiful, haunting, evocative, rich...magical.  Bah.  I don't need to say more.  Buy it, read it and utterly fall in love with these strong flawed characters he's created. This is urban fantasy / magical realism writing at its utmost best.

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie 

Picture books lie close to my heart.  I have no kids to pass them along to or to read them to but that doesn't stop me from buying them and thoroughly falling in love with them.  The Worst Princess is definitely one of my faves for this year.  Deliciously subversive with its tongue firmly in cheek, I do think TWP is a great title for all ages, and especially for the mums and dads reading it, because basically: girls and boys should be allowed to do what they want and not conform to gender roles!

Fire City by Bali Rai

I am a big old fan-girl of Bali Rai's writing.  He's a born storyteller and its evident from all his books how much fun he has when writing.  In Fire City, Bali gives us something he's not done before, a semi-fantasy/post-apocalyptic novel rich in world-building and depth.  Even if this doesn't sound like your kind of reading, do pick up any of Bali's other books.  You'll be in for a real treat.

Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan

Another great contemporary urban fantasy with super strong characterisation and a bit of a wicked sense of humour.  The first in a series from Lou, this is a well researched, dark and gripping novel that will leave you wanting for more.

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne 

Ridiculously well written, HSB, made me grin, laugh, cry and swear.  Basically, I acted a bit odd whilst reading it and then I had to tell everyone about it.  My only criticism about this is aimed at me: next time, just read the bloody book and don't put it off.  And to you: if you've seen it around, mentioned all over the show and you think it's over-hyped...and it's made you cautious: really, give it a try.  It's an accomplished debut that made a lot of people sit up and take notice.

Honorary mention:  Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt - beautiful, strange, eerie, this feels like an old old fairy tale or fable retelling, but it isn't.  I loved it, thought it was really well written, but I just wish there was more of it.  More of the story, the characters and more of the writing.  I suppose this means I should re-read it.  If you're in the mood for something dark and strange and wonderful and a bit melancholy, definitely try Keturah and Lord Death.


That's our recommendations for 2012 from Team MFB.

We'd like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the publishers who decided to take a chance on us these past few years, for sending us books for review, inviting us to meet their authors and for trusting us to become part of their publishing campaigns and for valuing our opinion to help spread the word on so many fantastic books.  Personally, I'd like to say thanks to the publishers MFB started out with: Bloomsbury Kids, Simon and Schuster Kids and also Random House Kids but also Gollancz and Orion Kids.  Without you guys taking a chance on us all those many years ago, we would never have been able to build the reputation we pride ourselves on having.

This really is a tough blogpost to write without falling over into the emo-side of things but as I'm sure you guys'll understand as I waffle along a little bit more! Also, a huge big thanks goes out to all our blogging pals.  We have made a vast amount of friends within the blogging community and it's been amazing to see how fledgling sites have grown from cautious newbie beginners to confident and charming blogs where their voices are strong and vibrant. I am really proud to be the "blogging godmother" - you guys make us proud.  Please don't stop anytime soon because you know, we still need to know what's coming up so we can buy 'em!

And lastly, to all of you guys, our readers and commenters: thanks for hanging out with us over the years.  We really do hope you've had fun reading our reviews and that some of what we've waffled on about convinced you to buy one or two of the titles we've reviewed.

And so, it is with tears in our combined eyes that we say goodbye to you all.  Please do follow us on twitter - Liz = @LizUK / Sarah = @Esssjay / Mark = @Gergaroth - because we will still be around and we will still be talking books, movies, and utter nonsense.


CarlyB said...

This made me a bit emotional, guys! As you know, I've always loved MFB, you were the first blog that ever hosted a guest post from me and definitely inspired me to start my blog.
I'll miss reading your posts but will obviously catch up on Twitter/FB/REAL LIFE and I can't wait to follow all of your bookish journeys! Much love x

Mieneke van der Salm said...

I'm grateful that MFB allowed me to meet you guys, both blogging-wise and in real life :-) Enjoy your free reading time and I look forward to be able to read all of your books at some point in the future! <3

Unknown said...

A sad day indeed. I'll miss the posts here on MFB. At least you'll still be about on twitter. :) Good luck with your writing endeavours to you all.

BookZone said...

I've known this day was coming for quite a long time and yet it still hits hard. When I started blogging back in 2009 I had no idea what I was doing, and used MFB as my benchmark for quality and integrity. I remember my panic when the books started to arrive, and I found myself drowning. Liz, you dispelled that panic immediately - if you hadn't I may have given up there and then.

I want to wish the three of you every success with your various writing dreams, and hope that one day I will be featuring reviews of your books on The Book Zone. You are always welcome to review for me, should you get the occasional twitch. Perhaps before you leave the blogging world you should write a How To manual and self-publish it? :-)

I know this is not goodbye and you are great friends and we will continue to geek out about books, films, games, whatever in real life, but thanks for the memories anyway. You will be missed x

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

This must have been such a hard post to write! You guys will be really missed, but as long as you're around on Twitter to carry on being the blogging godmother I can just about handle it :)

Anonymous said...

You guys will be really missed!
Liz you were the first blogger I actually met and have been so nice and supportive to this newbie blogger, thank you!
I love reading all of MFB's reviews and have found great books through them. Your blog has been an inspiration to me.
Best of luck to you all and you better all still be around on twitter :D

Cicely said...

I know I only met Liz for the first time this year, but MFB was one of the first book blogs I read and really admired. I'm really going to miss it :( I hope I'll still get to see you and chat and stuff at events and talk to you on Twitter!

prophecygirl said...

Hey guys,

I'll miss your blog but will be speaking to you all on Twitter as per usual. I won't say any more cos I don't like sad stuff like this ;)

Jenny :D

Ynysawdre Elderly Residents Association said...

*weeps* *sobs* *wails* *throws self at MFB's feet & begs them not to leave*

Sarah said...

Even though I knew it was coming this is still a sad post to read :o( You guys will all be missed by the blogging community! I guess I'm going to have to pop onto twitter occasionally to catch up!

I'm wishing you all every success in your future writing careers and I know that one day I'm going to have copies of books by each of you lined up on my shelves :o)

serendipity_viv said...

God you guys will be missed. It has taken me all week to get to this post and I still have tears in my eyes knowing you guys won't be reviewing. Thank God for Twitter! *hugs*

Caroilne said...

That's too bad :( Good luck with your future life and projects!