November 2014: My write up on last year’s reading has been sitting around in draft form for the past 10 months. Why I didn’t publish this back in January, I’ll never know. But, if you’re interested in my thoughts on the books I read last year, keep reading …
The Drop (Michael Connelly)
Another in the long line of books with Harry Bosch as the main character. Harry has mellowed out (a little) over the years. If you’re a fan of gritty, police procedurals, read this or any other Bosch novel. Jim’s score: B.
Shadow Prey (John Sandford)
Second Davenport novel. Another good action/thriller. Jim’s score: B.
Anathem (Neal Stephenson)
Science fiction novel exploring the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics with a heavy dose of mathematics, physics and philosophy. Be prepared for a wild ride. Highly recommended! Jim’s score: A.
The Wheel of Time, Books 8-11 (Robert Jordan)
The Path of Daggers / Winter’s Heart / Crossroads of Twilight / Knife of Dreams
I took on the remaining Jordan-written Wheel of Time books in the spring. Although the plot progression crawls through much of these volumes, I ultimately did enjoy them if only because Jordan’s writing was very good. The Wheel of Time is one of the ultimate expressions of the high fantasy genre and is worth the read. Just be forewarned about the middle books and read them for the writing and characterizations, not for the action. Jim’s score: B- (C+ for Path of Daggers progressing toward B by Knife of Dreams).
Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
Ready Player One is a guilty pleasure for any geek raised on video arcade machines and ’80s pop culture. The writing is a little weak but the ride is worthwhile. Jim’s score: B.
The Black Box (Michael Connelly)
Harry Bosch and I like Bosch novels. Harry will retire some day but for now, he continues to solve cases! Jim’s score: B+.
Eyes of Prey (John Sandford)
Lucas Davenport on the trail of another serial killer. Jim’s score: B+.
Silent Prey (John Sandford)
More Davenport and serial killers. Jim’s score: B+.
In the Ocean of Night (Gegory Benford)
The first book in Benford’s Galactic Center novels centering on first contact and the impact on Earth. The pace is slow at times but an enjoyable story. Jim’s score: B.
Inferno (Dan Brown)
The fourth novel featuring Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code). This time Langdon puzzles out the trail with clues from Dante’s Inferno. Jim’s score: B.
The Innocent (David Baldacci)
Will Robie is a hitman employed by the US government. Baldacci weaves a web of intrigue and action in the first novel featuring this character. Recommended! Jim’s score: A-.
The Hit (David Baldacci)
The second Robie novel continues in the vein of the first. Another enjoyable read. Jim’s score: B+.
Never Go Back (Lee Child)
Jack Reacher finally makes it to Virginia and then the trouble starts. Another good Reacher novel by Lee Child. Jim’s score: B+.
The Wheel of Time, Books 12-14 (Brandon Sanderson)
The Gathering Storm / Towers of Midnight / A Memory of Light
Sanderson picked up the pieces after Jordan’s death and finished the Wheel of Time series. Using the outline and notes left by Jordan, Sanderson does an admirable job wrapping up the series and leaves you feeling as though Sanderson is merely a pen name for Robert Jordan. If I had any complaint, it would be that, in the end, the Wheel of Time turned out to be more like the typical high fantasy series than I would have liked. Still, worth the read if you are willing to commit yourself to a 14K+ page read spread over 14 books. One of the reasons I stuck this out was I already knew Sanderson was a great fantasy writer and I wanted to see how well he could finish this series. If you haven’t read them already, I recommend Elantris and the Mistborn series by Sanderson. Jim’s score: B+.
Dark of the Moon (John Sandford)
The first book in the Virgil “that fuckin’” Flowers series by Sandford. Flowers is the rock star homicide investigator of the Minnesota BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) working for Lucas Davenport (of the ‘Prey’ novels). Sandford writes compelling stories and has another winner with the Flowers’ series. Recommended. Jim’s score: A-.
High Heat (Lee Child)
A quick Reacher novella to squirrel away and pull out while you wait for the next full length novel to be released. High Heat finds Reacher in New York City on the night the lights went out. Jim’s score: B+.
Heat Lightning (John Sandford)
The second Flowers book sees Virgil following a trail of murders leading back to ‘Nam. Filled with Sandford goodness…recommended! Jim’s score: A-.
Darwin’s Radio (Greg Bear)
This is a science fiction novel set in the present day. The novel explores the idea of what happens if a species (namely, us) has the ability to evolve rapidly (in a single generation) to the stresses and pressures in the environment. Bear’s writing is reasonably good and the story engaging. Recommended. Jim’s score: B+.