Another year begins. Time to summarize last year’s activities. I’ve continued to finish 2 or 3 books per month again this year. That translates into 10K+ pages over the course of the year. What did I read? Take a look…
Desperation and The Regulators (Stephen King)
I’m a big fan of The Stand and a few other King titles. These are standard King fare and not unlike his work from the ’80s. If you’re a King fan, you’re likely to enjoy. Otherwise, you probably want to pass. Jim’s score: C.
A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs)
The movie, John Carter, is largely based on this book. It is a typical pulp fiction novel from the early 20th century. The primary reason most science fiction fans should read this is to get a sense for the development of the genre from its 19th century beginnings (i.e., Shelley’s Frankenstein) through the golden age (i.e., mid-1930s through 1950s: Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, etc). Jim’s score: C.
The Night’s Dawn Trilogy (Peter F. Hamilton)
Hamilton is currently my favorite space opera author. If you’re a fan of Cherryh’s Alliance-Union novels or Simmon’s Hyperion novels, you owe it to yourself to check out Hamilton. Jim’s score: B.
The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss)
Hands down, the best fantasy I read all year. I’m eagerly awaiting the 3rd book in this series to be published in ‘13 or ‘14. Most fantasy readers should check these out. Jim’s score: A.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (John le Carré)
Good Cold War espionage novel. Difficult to follow at times and laced with a lot of jargon. Probably of most interest to fans of Ludlum and the like. Jim’s score: B.
Why Does E=mc2? and The Quantum Universe (Brian Cox)
These books provide a good explanation of relativity and quantum mechanics for the layperson. Recommended for those of us outside the field of physics. Jim’s score: B.
Bluebeard (Kurt Vonnegut)
I think Vonnegut, like beer, is an acquired taste. As a fellow Hoosier, I’ll continue to read his works. 😀 Jim’s score: B.
Armageddon’s Children, The Elves of Cintra, and The Gypsy Morph (Terry Brooks)
This is the trilogy Brooks uses to connect (the destruction of) our world to (the beginning of) Shannara. I’m not a fan of Brooks and yet I continue to read his stuff. Not sure why. If you’re a fan, go for it. Otherwise, pick something else! Jim’s score: D.
Rules of Prey (John Sandford)
First novel with Lucas Davenport (police lieutenant and game designer) as the main character. The start of another good thriller/suspense series. Fans of Harry Bosch or Alex Cross should take a look. Jim’s score: A.
Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords (Robert Jordan)
The 6th and 7th Wheel of Time novels. These were both fun reads but the plot progression slows considerably during the 7th book. I understand 8 through 10 are real slogs. After reading these two back to back, I realized I need to separate future volumes with other books! Jim’s score: B.
Deep Down and Second Son (Lee Child)
A couple of Reacher short stories. Recommended for Reacher fans. Jim’s score: B.
The Doomsday Book (Connie Willis)
Good time travel novel although some may not care for Willis’ style. Jim’s score: B.
Nemesis (Isaac Asimov)
Asimov’s lean writing style and big ideas are always a worthwhile read. Jim’s score: B
A Wanted Man (Lee Child)
The latest Jack Reacher novel. Not quite as good as some of the earlier novels and much less action than I’ve come to expect. As an escape, Reacher is still a lot of fun. My recommendation … skip the movie (Jack Reacher) based on the book, One Shot, and read this or any other Reacher novel. You’ll thank me later!. Jim’s score: B.
The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Reread one of the fantasy classics this summer. The storytelling hasn’t aged as well as I would like. Still, this plus The Lord of the Rings are the beginnings of the high fantasy genre and led to all of the great fantasy being written today. It’s good to read the classics now and then. Jim’s score: B.
The Color of Magic (Terry Pratchett)
The first in a long series of tongue and cheek fantasy. The first volume is a bit bumpy and not sure I got all the references or British humor. Jim’s score: C.
Odd Thomas (Dean Koontz)
First in a series by Koontz about a young man that can see ghosts. Interesting idea but the story didn’t really grab me. Jim’s score: C.
Fallen Dragon (Peter F. Hamilton)
All of Hamilton’s space opera distilled into a single volume. Fun read. Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained are still my favorite but I need to read the Void Trilogy. Jim’s score: B.
A Deepness in the Sky (Vernor Vinge)
I’ve had this book sitting around for many years and stalled out on it a couple of times. Ultimately, it was a satisfying read but a little slow out of the gate. Jim’s score: B.
Perdido Street Station (China Miéville)
Miéville describes himself as a writer of weird fiction. He is that, in spades. I’m still not sure what to think about this book. I have a couple of his other books to read to figure out whether I like his style or not. Fan of Lovecraft? If so, you need to read this. Jim’s score: C.
Hominids, Humans and Hybrids (Robert J. Sawyer)
Otherwise known as The Neanderthal Parallax, this trilogy considers the idea of parallel universes and what might happen if you open a door to one of those parallel universes. Read this if you’re open to other perspectives, cultures and ways of thinking. If you do, be prepared to take a critical look at humanity’s less desirable actions. Jim’s score: B.
The Fifth Witness (Michael Connelly)
The fourth Haller (i.e., Lincoln Lawyer) book. I’m a big Connelly fan and have enjoyed all of his books. This was a fun read but not as spectacular as earlier books in the Bosch or Haller series. Jim’s score: B.