Sunday 19 December 2010

The Floor to Ceiling Books Awards - 2010

Hey y'all! I've seen a large number of 'Best Of' lists cropping up all over the Internet, and I figured I sort of wanted to do one, but they're so arbitrary and basically me telling you my opinion. So I've decided to go one better, and created 20 special awards for 2010. I've picked the categories arbitrarily and decided on the winners arbitrarily. But, behind the fun, these are my serious choices as to the best and worst of 2010. Enjoy!

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

It might seem strange to people that I would pick a novelist that I haven't even read yet, but I think Adrian Tchaikovsky has had an absolutely storming 2010. He's released a number of books in the Shadow of the Apt series, has signed contracts for more, been handed consistently lovely covers for his novels, and received very strong reviews for said books. I can't think of anyone else who has achieved quite the same amount in just one year - and all with a very quiet persona on the Internet. Incredibly impressive - believe me, 2011 will see me catching up on this series very soon!

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

Seriously, this publisher is right at the top of their game right now. From having three contenders on the Arthur C Clarke shortlist to being the publisher of such fantasy greats as Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss. Their success with Charlaine Harris cannot be quantified. This year they've branched into the lucrative YA market with some excellent titles. I've read a large number of their books this year and, even when not directly engaged, have either found something to like or been challenged by.

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.


  1. I actually haven't noticed the trend. But I'm glad I saw this post. It absolutely makes sense to do some sort of summation. So I guess I'll begin working on mine!

    I enjoyed reading your list, #3 caught my eye because I just finished a tearjerker. I writing the review now. Hopefully I'll have it ready to go live in the morning.

    I'm going to check out the links you've included.

    Although its a little early, I might not make it back in time to say Happy New Year!!!!!!


  2. I always love those year end awards and I love the format you've chosen. There is so much more than jsut "best" books read in the year.
    Besides it is nice to read favorite bookk of the year that might not be speculative fiction.
    You need to read Tchaikovsky. I started his series just this year and was blown away at his imagination. I'm reading The Scarab Path now and I'm enjoying it greatly.
    I never heard of Angry Robot books until I picked up Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard a few weeks ago. That book was a fabulous blend of Aztec historical fiction, a murder mystery and some fantastical elements. I'll be reading the sequel, Harbinger of the Storm in January.
    Have a very Merry Christmas!


  3. i just bookmarked every site you mentioned, except for the ones that weren't already bookmarked, and put all of the book titles on my list of stuff I want to read!

  4. Wow, that is so FLATTERING that you put my blog down as the "breakthrough blog." I seriously admire you and having you put my blog down on this list is - well, to me it's mind blowing. I really, really appreciate that. :)

  5. Sooooo much I learn from you! Many thanks!

  6. TY for the recommendation :D

    And I completely agree with your tearjerker of the year. I cried my eyes out over that book.

    I've added SlushPile Hell to my reader too ;)

  7. Ah Icarium and Mappo. Such a pairing indeed. I think the only two others who comes even close in the Malazan books would be Tehol and Bugg (first show up in Midnight Tides, which you may not have read yet).

    Great list!

    I realized that you are a heavy hitter in the blogosphere of book reviews and aren't on the blogroll at my review site. I've fixed that now. :)

  8. Congrats to James and Sarah for their awards, they're very well deserved!!

  9. Thank you very much, Amanda! You are the most kind! :)

  10. Hey, I got an honourable mention! That's pretty cool; thanks! :D

  11. Woohoo! Thanks, Amanda! :-D