1)Most Fun Website
This is going to be a big old tie (but the only tie in my 20 categories, promise!) I've forced myself into proper decisions in all other areas - but simply could not separate SlushPile Hell and Good Show Sir! Both are incredibly funny, wickedly sharp and highlight some of the absurdities of this publishing industry we know and love. Check them out immediately!
2) My Best Interview
Told you these categories would be totally arbitrary! I have conducted very few interviews on my blog (I like to think they come along so rarely that everyone appreciates them all the more) but, out of all the interviews I've conducted, I have to call out the 'Living With the Writer' feature I did with Deborah Beale. I was surprised and pleased that Deborah would talk to such a fledgling blog - to then receive such candid and charismatic answers made it a joy to interview her.
3) Biggest Tearjerker
There is only one book that had me in tears this year - real to goodness, bawling my eyes out tears. The ending was positively visceral, and I can't believe that this author was a) brave enough to write the book and b) strong enough to go where she did in the last twenty pages. An exceptional story - Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.
4) Best Tie-in Novel
Okay, my tie-in novel experience has been confined so far to Warhammer 40K, but, of those, two authors have been standout - Graham McNeill and Dan Abnett. Both of incredibly talented and should not be confined or dismissed by people as JUST writing tie-in work. My absolute favourite novel, though, has been Horus Rising by Dan Abnett.
5) Breakthrough Blog
Okay, I've discovered some brilliant new blogs this year - they're doing some incredible work. Of those I've loved I'd like to recommend Tea & Tomes and A Fantastical Librarian, but my winner this year could only be Bookworm Blues, run by Sarah Chorn. Her reviews are insightful and sometimes biting; she is sarcastic and funny; and, more than anything, she is incredibly brave - fighting cancer while under a fairly public spotlight. Hopefully 2011 will bring her many books and lots of luck!
6) Novelist of the Year
7) Best Character
There honestly could be no other choice than Johannes Cabal. This sarcastic, bitter and dark character jumps from the pages of the two novels he's featured in so far - Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and Johannes Cabal the Detective. He's clever, grumpy and a total smart arse. He has almost zero social skills and, in many ways, I have no idea why I love him so much. But, truly, the books sparkled most when he was on screen.
8) Biggest Disappointment
Only one novel could win this award for me this year, and that is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin. I know that this book will feature in many top ten lists of 2010 by other readers, but I found myself incredibly underwhelmed by this tale of Yeine and the gods. After hearing so many glowing reviews, I thought it was rather dull in comparison. Maybe if it hadn't been talked up so much, I might have liked it more? As it is, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was my biggest disappointment of the year.
9) Best International Choice
By this, I mean Best International Blog - and my decision was incredibly easy. Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews is always entertaining, informative and has a unique focus on the artwork of novels. His interviews with heavyweights of the artwork are conducted incredibly well, and give real insight into the process behind producing the art for novels. At the moment his blog is a little quiet, but this is for the best of reasons - Mihai recently introduced a baby Wolf into the world, so congratulations to him!
10) Most Innovative Publisher
Honestly, there could be no other choice. Angry Robot Books are at the forefront of innovative new publishing choices - eBooks, electronic ARCs, picking up daring authors and mashing up genre. They have linked up more effectively with bloggers than any other publisher, creating a Robot Army that aims to spread the word about the books being released. Good job all round.
11) Breakthrough Novelist
Difficult choice, this one. There have been some outstanding novelists coming to the fore in 2010, but I think key among them is Stacia Kane. Props to Voyager for releasing her Downside trilogy in three quick months during 2010, but Ms. Kane is as much the architect of her success as her publishers on both sides of the pond. She has created a little Downside community, reaching out to her readers, creating a two-way communication and even producing merchandising. It has been an incredible year for Stacia Kane, and I wish her all the best for 2011.
12) Worst Book
I've had a small handful of truly awful reads this year (thankfully they've been in a real minority!) but worst of them was Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. Here is my closing lines from my review of the book:
Wicked Appetite can be equated to eating candy floss – seems like a good idea at the time, but leaves you unfulfilled and with a great sense of disappointment.
Very, very poor - unfunny, ill-considered and a bad advertisement for such a popular novelist.
13) Breakthrough Publisher
Funnily enough, considering they published Wicked Appetite, I have decided to list Headline as my Breakthrough Publisher. I don't mean, in this case, NEW publisher. Rather, I mean the publisher that has fully embraced the new world of blogging and were the first to try and create a community by inviting the bloggers into their world. They are also picking up some creative new series - such as the Lex Trent novels, the Johannes Cabal novels. They stride across many genres, and have a proven track record in all of them.
14) Best Fight
There can be only one!
Many of the reviews about Sykes' first novel complained about the fight scene that went on for some 200 pages. It was, however, wildly imaginative and exciting. Everytime you thought it had reached a breathless climax, Sykes brought in another adversary and dialled up the action to another level. Just brilliant.
15) Blogger of the Year
This is going to be a little ode to a blogger who has now departed. His final post was dignified and moving. But we all know he has gone onto better pastures - pretty much the pastures that all of us bloggers aspire to. I'm talking, of course, about James from Speculative Horizons. His blog was always professional; he raised a number of pertinent issues; and his occasional rants were controlled. His reviews were second to none, and I think everyone in the blogosphere will miss him keenly. Here's hoping he's enjoying his new role at Orbit as Editorial Assistant!
16) Best Duo
This is a bit of a cheat, since I have not yet read the whole book or reviewed it *grins*. I'm currently reading Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson, and Icarium and Mappo are just brilliant. Achingly sad, always mysterious and gentle humorous. I love all of their conversations, and I want them on-screen all the time.
My next two awards will feel a little repetitive, so I'm just going to list them rather than go into details:
17) Best Kiss - Chess and Terrible, from the Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane.
18) Best New Series Discovered - the Johannes Cabal novels, by Jonathan L Howard
And now to the two big awards....
19) Best Publisher
And 2011 looks like being more of the same, with The Quantum Thief having a great chance of being shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke award, and some massive releases on the way. I can't wait to join them on the journey.
20) Best Novel
This is by far my biggest cheat, but when I sat down and thought about all the books I'd read this year there was only one that I could feasibly put in the number one slot. I was blown away by the quality and the imagination. This is the start of something big. You guys will have to wait until March 2011 - but, seriously, it's worth the wait.
My book of 2010 is Department 19 by Will Hill.
Here is a key quote from my review (which will go up nearer the release date):
This book is going to be a phenomenon – you heard it here first. To all those publishers looking for the “next Harry Potter”? Harper Collins have found it in the form of Will Hill’s debut novel Department 19. This is going to be huge. Get in there from the very beginning.
There you have it - the inaugural Floor to Ceiling Books Awards! Hope you enjoyed.