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Top 6 Books I Read This Year:

I managed to read 30 books this year, less than last year but I’m fine with that - my only real goal is to read a good mix of books from horror to contemporary fiction to non-fiction. I used to read a heap more e-books in previous years due to my old job having a periods of downtime, so not doing that definitely affected my tally this year. So given the total number of books read, here is a Top 6 list instead of a Top 10.

Book covers for A Brief History of Seven Killings and Don't Fear The reaper

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James is one of those big books that sat on the bookshelf for a few years waiting patiently for me to finally commit to the length and time to read it. But I’m glad I finally did as it was an epic slice of historical fiction - examining Jamaica in the years leading up to the assassination attempt on Bob Marley’s life and then following the various involved parties in the aftermath. A rich and dizzying kaleidoscopic journey through the musical and political history of Jamaica.

Don’t Fear The Reaper, in true Stephen Graham Jones fashion, was a beguiling and beautifully heartfelt slasher novel. I have no idea how SGJ manages to weave a million different disparate threads together into a very satisfying whole, but there is arguably no other writer today doing what he does. And in the Native American final girl Jade Daniels, he has created my favourite modern fictional character - a bad ass, funny, wounded, sad and strong young woman. There will be tears when the final book in the trilogy comes out next year.

Book covers for Cinema Speculation and Dead People I have Known

Tarantino’s Cinema Speculation was a pure electric deep dive into the mind of one of our greatest filmmakers / film critic who entwines his memories of moviegoing as a youngster with his musings on cinema in general. You can hear old motormouth Quentin’s voice in your ear as he lectures you on some of his fave and formative film experiences.

Shayne Carter’s musical memoir was fantastic - a dark, funny, sad and honest memoir that took me to early '80s Dunedin and all of the great music being made at the time, through the Straitjacket Fits and their major-label dealings and beyond. Shayne also writes about music brilliantly, from what makes a song work to encapsulating the feeling of being in a band and all the highs and lows that go along with it. As a bonus Shayne was at the Featherston Booktown festival that I work on and I managed to get my book signed and had a good chat with Shayne.

Book covers for Remains To Be Told and We Have Summoned

Remains To Be Told - Dark Tales of Aotearoa edited by Lee Murray includes my story Ngahere Gold, but ignoring that, I can honestly say that this was the best anthology I read this year. It was so refreshing to read all NZ set (and written) horror stories and the fact they were all fantastic is the icing on the kiwi fruit cake.

We Have Summoned by Judith Sonnet is the second novel by the author I have read and it wont be the last. Judith cranks out about 10 books a year so it can be hard to know which one will appeal but this mix of small town folk horror, gnarly gore and well drawn characters was a winner for me.

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