Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Reading List for 2016

This is published kind of late because I've been so busy with teaching.

I'll give each book a star rating, as follows:

  • 5 stars: I loved it, and I want to read the next in the series.
  • 4 stars: I liked it, but I'm moving on.
  • 3 stars: Meh.  You might like it a lot.
  • 2 stars: Not worth it.  Read something else.
  • 1 star: Avoid this.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Phillip K. Dick
Phillip K Dick is one of those prolific authors who’s managed to get an amazing number of his novels and short stories made into movies.  This is the book that inspired the movie Bladerunner.  Very much worth a read.

Magnus Chase – The Sword of Summer
– Rick Riordan
Riordan has started a new series of god-novels.  This time it’s Norse gods.  I love the way Riordan weaves real-world mythology into his stories.  I had a lot of fun with this book.

Son of the Black Sword
Larry Corriea
I don’t read a lot of high fantasy.  I can only take so much rambling world-building and political intrigue before I lose interest (it’s an ADD thing).  Corriea keeps this story moving along.  You get just enough world-building to keep things interesting before the action sweeps you along.

The Last Apprentice, books 1 and 2
Joseph Delaney
I got this as two-in-one book, and  really liked it.  The main character becomes apprenticed to a spook, which is a sort of bogey-man hunter.  The story takes place in a fictional England-like place, in maybe the late renaissance. 

The Aeronaut’s Windlass
Jim Butcher
This is the first steampunk novel I’ve read.  I like Jim Butcher a lot, and I’ve read most of the Dresden Files novels.  It was a fun story.  Good writing.  Okay plot.  I have a hard time getting into steampunk.  

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments)
Cassandra clare
If you haven’t read this, you really need to.  Clare has a whole series set in this universe.  It’s urban fantasy, demon hunters, with a little bit of magic thrown in.  The plot has a really good twist at the end, even if I did see it coming.  In fact, I kind of wish the main character had connected the dots quicker, but that was my only complaint.  Look forward to reading the next one.

Harry Potter book 1
J. K. Rowling
I’m an avid student of Rowling’s writing style.  This is probably my 4th re-read.  I like the way she introduces the reader to her world one chapter at a time, and weaves each element of the world into her plot.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Brandon Sanderson
This was a lot of fun.  The main character’s super power is breaking things.  It’s light hearted, and a fast read.  I don't like Sanderson's high fantasy, but I've liked just about everything else he's read.  I thought this was very creative and funny.  I love the way Sanderson can take a really nutty idea and build a believable story around it.  I should study his writing more.  He has a whole series on YouTube about writing.

The Man in the High Castle
Phillip K. Dick
You’ll like this if you’re into alternate history.  What would the world be like if Germany and Japan had won WWII?  This book has been turned into a miniseries on Amazon prime.

The Empty Throne
Bernard Cornwell
I love the Utred books.  I spend a lot of time studying Cornwell’s writing.  He does three things really well.  He writes great anti-heroes, he has perfect character voice, and his battle scenes are truly epic.  Cornwell is my spirit-animal.

The Last Colony
John Scalzi
5 stars.
This is one of the books in the Old Man’s War series by Scalzi.  Scalzi is great at doing epic sci-fi, and at writing aliens that are nothing like us yet appear oddly human, but most of all he does humor and he pulls it off in a way that you can still take the story seriously.

Sharpe’s Fortress
Bernard Cornwell
I got a whole bunch of these books from my father-in-law, who found them at Deseret Industries.  This is the series that Bernard Cornwell is best known for.  These books are historical fiction, and are set during the British colonial period.  This particular book is the last of the books that covers the British campaign in India.

Sharpe’s Trafalgar
Bernard Cornwell
I couldn’t get enough Sharpie.  This one takes place onboard a ship, as Sharpe leaves India and returns to Britain.  This is one of the most brutal naval battles in history.  This victory cemented Britain’s place as ruler of the seven seas up until the time of world war 1.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
J. K. Rowling
I had such hopes for this one.  I want more of the Potter universe, and I like the characters, too.  But what I really want is a new story line.  The story follows Harry’s estranged son Severus, and involves time travel, and a thorough re-hash of the first seven books.   Uuuuugh!  I hate it when an author gets successful and starts writing stuff that plays purely on the nostalgia.  This story works if you’re a teen-ager and you’ve just binge-read the whole series.  It doesn’t work if you’re expecting the characters to move on to a new adventure.

Mere Christianity
C. S. Lewis
I’ve been reading this off and on.  I still haven’t finished, but I’ll mention this book for two reasons.  First, this book is short and you certainly can read it casually, but to truly understand Lewis’s message this book needs to be studied.  Second, because I recommend that you read this book, and seriously study it yourself.