Tag Archives: books

Year-End Book Wrap-up 2017

Books Read in 2017:
1. Entanglement by Emma Tarlo
2. The Einstein Prophecy by Robert Masello
3. Space Rocks! by Tom O’Donnell
4. Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
5. The Madonna of Las Vegas by Gregory Blake Smith [quit 20 pages before the end]
6. All My Friends are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John
7. Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett
8. Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
9. Breathers by S.G. Browne
10. The Yellow House by Martin Gayford
11. Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
12. Hot Donut Salad by Alison Cowell
13. Taft 2012 by Jason Heller
14. How to Success! by Corinne Caputo
15. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
16. Lost Science by Kitty Ferguson
17. How My Cat Made Me a Better Man by Jeremy Feig
18. Step Aside, Pops! by Kate Beaton
19. Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
20. Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Audiobooks Listened to in 2017:
1. A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin
2. What If? by Randall Munroe
3. Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
4. Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman
5. Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton
6. Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo
7. The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey
8. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
10. A Kiss before dying by Ira Levin
11. M is For Magic by Neil Gaiman
12. Undeniable by Bill Nye
13. Charlie Chaplin and His Times by Kenneth S. Lynn
14. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
15. Dead Wake by Erik Larson
16. Doc by Mary Doria Russell
17. Dr. Mutter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowitz
18. Swarm by Scott Westerfeld
19. A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani
20. Ever by Gail Carson Levine
21. Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
22. Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
23. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
24. Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
25. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
26. Professor Gargoyle by Charles Gilman
27. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
28. America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis
29. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
30. The Daily Show (The Book) by Chris Smith
31. Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell
32. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
33. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
34. George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade
35. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
36. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
37. John Dies at the End by David Wong

Previous years: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | Review Archive

Year-End Book Wrap-up 2016

Books Read in 2016:
1. The Evolution of Useful Things by Henry Petroski
2. Puckster Plays the Hockey Mascots by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
3. Feminist Ryan Gosling by Danielle Henderson
4. Are You Dissing Me? by Simon Winheld
5. Seriously, You Have to Eat by Adam Mansbach
6. The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin
7. Monster Trucks & Hair In A Can: Who Says America Doesn’t Make Anything Anymore? by Bill Geist
8. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
9. Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, etc… edited by Mark Dawidziak
10. Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists by Carla Sondheim
11. Freehand Drawing and Discovery by James Richards
12. Nightfall and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov
13. You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons by Mo Willems
14. The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen
15. Fearless Drawing by Kerry Lemon
16. Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger
17. Drawn In by Julia Rothman
18. Lincoln’s Dreams by Connie Willis
19. The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
20. Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
21. Torchwood: The Undertaker’s Gift by Trevor Baxendale
22. Animals Talking in All Caps by Justin Valmassoi
23. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
24. MegaTokyo vol. 1 by Fred Gallagher
25. The Cartoon History of Humanism: Volume One: Antiquity To Enlightenment by Dale DeBakcsy
26. To Sin Again by Beth McMullen
27. The Wrong Reflection by Gillian Bradshaw
28. Kate the Great Except When She’s Not by Suzy Becker
29. Wings of Madness by Paul Hoffman
30. Visit Sunny Chernobyl by Andrew Blackwell
31. What in God’s Name by Simon Rich

Books Listened to in 2016:
1. Fool by Christopher Moore
2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
3. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
4. Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
5. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
6. The Mental Floss History of the World by Steve Wiegand and Erik Sass
7. Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman
8. My Antonia by Willa Cather
9. The White Cat by Holly Black
10. Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton
11. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
12. Mystic Warrior by Tracy and Laura Hickman
13. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
14. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
15. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
16. Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher
17. America Again by Stephen Colbert
18. Food by Jim Gaffigan
19. Longitude by Dava Sobel
20. The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton
21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
22. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
23. Ubik by Philip K. Dick
24. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
25. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
26. La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
27. Earth: The Book by Jon Stewart
28. Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
29. Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke
30. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
31. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
32. Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld
33. The Bat by Jo Nesbo
34. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
35. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
36. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

Previous years: 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | Review Archive

Year-End Book Wrap-up 2015

Books Read in 2015:
1. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
2. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, vol. 2 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim
3. The Fly by Elise Gravel
4. Death Masks by Jim Butcher
5. ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy by Gavin Edwards
6. The Lynne Truss Treasury by Lynne Truss
7. Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory
8. Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster
9. A History of PI by Petr Beckmann
10. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke
11. Midnighters: Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld
12. Stimulated! by Andrew Pek and Jeannine McGlade
13. Farscape: Dark Side of the Sun by Andrew Dymond
14. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by John H. Watson
15. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
16. Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman et al
17. Tolstoy’s Short Fiction by Leo Tolstoy
18. Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson
19. The Stranger and the Statesman by Nina Burleigh
20. Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
21. Latitude Zero by Gianni Guadalupi and Antony Shugaar
22. Torchwood: Another Life by Peter Anghelides
23. The Tower Room by Dorothy Daniels
24. Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming by Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley (reread)
25. Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory
26. If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland
27. The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World by Gabriel Campanario
28. If at Faust You Don’t Succeed by Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley
29. Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture and Cityscapes by Gabriel Campanario
30. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton
31. Night of the Avenging Blowfish by John Welter
32. Finder by Emma Bull

Books Listened to in 2015:
1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
2. Blade Runner by Philip K. Dick
3. The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
4. The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall
5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
6. The Scavengers by Michael Perry
7. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
8. Stories edited by Nail Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio
9. My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster
10. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
11. Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
12. Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
13. Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
14. The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester
15. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
16. Birdseye by Mark Kurlansky
17. The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
18. Flight by Sherman Alexie
19. God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
20. Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
21. The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
22. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
23. How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
24. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
25. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
26. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
27. A Curious Man by Neal Thompson
28. Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen by Terrance Dicks
29. Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry by Neil Gaiman and the Twitterverse
30. Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov
31. Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
32. Street Gang by Michael Davis
33. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean
34. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
35. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
36. Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman
37. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
38. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Previous years: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | Review Archive

Year-End Book Wrap-Up 2014

Books Read in 2014:
1. Obstacles by Chris Reardon
2. The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol
3. The Conspiracy Kid by E.P. Rose
4. The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey
5. Noodles by Michael Zulli
6. The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson
7. The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland
8. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
9. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
10. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
11. The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs
12. Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg
13. Lexicon by Max Barry
14. Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
15. Tokyo Fiancee by Amelie Nothomb
16. Doctor Who: The Clockwise Man by Justin Richards
17. Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer
18. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
19. The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett
20. A Gazillion Little Bits by Claudia Brevis
21. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
22. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
23. World War Z by Max Brooks
24. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
25. The Infernals by John Connolly
26. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
27. Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
28. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
29. Lies Across America by James W. Loewen
30. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth and Other Useful Guides by Matthew Inman
31. Doctor Who: The Monsters Inside by Stephen Cole
32. City of Illusions by Ursula K. LeGuin
33. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
34. You Have to F*****g Eat by Adam Mansbach
35. How I Paid for College by Marc Acito
36. Attack of the Theater People by Marc Acito

Books Listened to in 2014:
1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
2. The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
3. The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
4. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
5. Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
6. Reckless by Cornelia Funke
7. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
8. Don’t Know Much about Geography by Kenneth C. Davis
9. The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
10. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
11. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
12. First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
13. Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross
14. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
15. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
16. Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy by Peter Carlson
17. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (abridged)
18. The Hit by Melvin Burgess
19. Dreamwood by Heather Mackley
20. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
21. The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O’Melveny
22. The Gates by John Connolly
23. Fearless by Cornelia Funke
24. Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
25. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
26. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
27. Dark of the Moon by John Sandford
28. The Children Act by Ian McEwan
29. Life Beyond Measure by Sidney Poitier
30. Bossypants by Tina Fey
31. Vampirates: Tide of Terror by Justin Somper
32. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
33. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon

Only 69 this year, fewer than usual but not half bad. My car died, so I had a few weeks of listening to nothing until I got a new one, which explains some of it. But mostly I just wasn’t spending as much time reading. No long plane rides and very little solo travel. I also did not keep track of the books I started but didn’t finish, but there were a bunch of those, for various reasons.

A coworker introduced me to Ben Aaronovich and Marc Acito by lending me their books. Acito is fantastic but unfortunately has only written those two books. I gave the Sookie Stackhouse and Outlander series (serieses? seriesss?) a go but decided they weren’t my thing. I rediscovered my love for Erik Larson and Connie Willis, and was delighted by just how excellent 11/22/63 by Stephen King turned out to be.

All in all, a pretty good year, literatarily. (Oh come on, that’s a great word.) Here’s to the next!

Previous years: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | Review Archive

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (unabridged audiobook read by Davina Porter; 32.5 hrs on 28 discs): Claire is vacationing in Scotland with her husband Frank in 1945 when suddenly she is transported 200 years into the past. This is more historical romance than science fiction, and a lot of it is quite unsettling: graphic violence, corporal punishment of children and spouses alike, and lots and lots of sex, much of it very rough. The homosexual characters are all pedophiles, sadists, and/or rapists. I did, however, really enjoy the glimpse of ordinary life in the 1740s, the witch trials, and the comparison of medical practices between the 18th and 20th centuries. I may actually give the second book in the series a try, as the ending of this one implies it may have more to do with actual time travel, changing history, and the like. This book is mostly about Claire’s relationship with Jamie, an intriguing Scotsman whose fate seems intertwined with her own. Which is fine, as far as that goes, but don’t come into this expecting a science fiction tale. That said, if you’re a sucker for 18th century Highlands romance, this is not to be missed.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson: In 1900, one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history leveled the city of Galveston, Texas. This story is as much about the weather as it is about the troubled beginnings of the National Weather Bureau and turn-of-the-century American culture in general. The tale is intricately woven and exquisitely detailed, blunt and unflinchingly tragic but never gratuitous. It’s fascinating and maddening and hard to put down. I wish my edition had photographs in it, especially since the text makes so many references to them, but to be honest I was able to picture most of it in my mind without any trouble. This was written before Katrina; I wonder how it would have been different after, with that so fresh in the mind for comparison. Anyone with an interest in severe weather or the time period would get quite a lot out of this one. Lucky for me, I happen to have an interest in both.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Tokyo Fiancee by Amelie Nothomb

Tokyo Fiancee by Amelie Nothomb: I have no idea how much of this “highly autobiographical” work is supposed to be true, so I’m going to treat it like a novel. Amelie is a Belgian woman living in Japan in the early 1980s. Rinri, a Japanese man close to her age, comes to her for French lessons, and soon they begin dating. It’s clear from the beginning that while Amelie likes Rinri very much, she harbors no romantic feelings for him. His personality is actually not very well defined; he seems to exist mostly in reaction to her antics. The whole situation is rather awkward and their inevitable split is heartbreaking. I did enjoy Amelie’s somewhat spiritual adventures in mountain climbing, and her experiences with Japanese culture were charmingly familiar, but as a romance I found it largely disappointing. I don’t like finishing a book disliking the main character, but up until that point it was kind of nice.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross

Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (unabridged audiobook read by Emily Gray; 12 hrs on 10 discs): It’s the far future, and our narrator is Krina, a sort of being we might consider to be somewhere between an android and a clone. It’s several thousand years in the future, and almost nothing is familiar to someone from the 21st century, from the extreme genetic modifications to the spaceship planets to the monetary system. In fact, I felt like there was too much going on here. I like extensive world-building, especially in science fiction, but I had a lot of trouble keeping up. It didn’t help that many of the differences between Krina’s world and our own were explained in lengthy essays on the different speeds of money, financial fraud, semi-autonomous clones, mermaids, and bats, rather than as a natural part of the plot. Had the people been physically familiar with a crazy economic system (I never quite got the hang of slow money); or barely humanoid cyborg clones living on a planet without needing to organize their economy around slower-than-light space travel; or the plot focused mainly on the interactions between clones, their originals, copied soul chips, and the tricky ethics thereof; or the characters had been either bat-humans or insurance pirates but not both; or even just focusing on the underused Church of the Fragile, a cult dedicated to humans without any physical modifications — any of those alone could have been fascinating. All of them stuffed into a single novel got in the way of the story. I had a lot of trouble following what was going on and keeping the characters straight. There is surely a very specific audience who would love this sort of ultra-exotic science fiction, but I prefer my story/concept balance to be tipped just a little bit further toward the former.

A note on the audio: Gray is a splendid reader, but this was a little strange for me because the audiobook I finished just before this was also read by her, but completely different (one of Jasper Fforde’s delightfully silly Thursday Next novels), so it took me a while to get accustomed to the new crop of characters using her voice.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg

Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg: I first discovered Goldberg in a college creative writing class that used Writing Down the Bones as a textbook. I instantly fell in love with her gentle-yet-firm “just write it” philosophy. I read several of her other writing books and her novel, but am only now getting to her autobiographical works. Here, she talks mostly about her life as a Buddhist and her relationship with her teacher while she lived in Minnesota. It’s actually a really interesting glimpse into a life that is so completely foreign to me. I’ve never lived in a hippie neighborhood or taught sixth graders or spent entire days in meditation or even ever visited the parts of New Mexico, Minnesota, and New York where Goldberg lived. This is certainly not an exciting book by any stretch of the imagination, but I really enjoyed joining Goldberg on this quiet journey from childhood through love and loss until finally finding her true home.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (unabridged audiobook read by Emily Gray; 12.75 hrs on 11 discs): Several years have passed since we last checked in with Thursday Next, and now she is the mother of three children, the eldest a despondent teen. SpecOps was disbanded and she swore off the book world, but still works as both a literary detective and for Jurisfiction in secret. Her latest assignment for the latter is training the latest recruit: herself. That is, herself as portrayed in the novels based on her life. Meanwhile, Pride and Prejudice is on the verge of being turned into a reality show, highly dangerous cheeses are being traded on the black market, and time travel may not actually have been invented after all. In short, it’s the same sort of silliness we’ve come to expect from this series, though for some reason it felt kind of lacking compared to previous installments. I think not enough was resolved, with too many elements tossed in, presumably to be dealt with in future books. I don’t need each book in a series to stand on its own, but several scenes felt like they should have been delayed until the book in which they are actually addressed. Of course, this all means I’ll probably read the next book as soon as possible, just to find out how it all turns out. If it all turns out in the next book, anyway – the Minotaur’s been hanging out, unresolved, for two books and over a decade in story years now, so my hopes for imminent and thorough resolution are not high.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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