Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What I Read (2011)

First up, this constitutes my 1000th post! More on that in a future post . . .

Second, here's what I read in 2011.

Jan. 2011 Elizabeth George, A Great Deliverance "Great characters & dialogue, as Lynley & Havers investigate a murder in a rural village. Grim as hell ending." [When I was a teenager, I had several of these mysteries and really liked them, but got really annoyed for some reason when one of the books was set out of the timeline with the others--I've been carrying them around for almost a couple of decades now, and thought I owed them a re-read, and I'm glad I did]

Jan. 2011 Marie Laberge, Sans rien ni personne "'Cold case' mystery novel about murdering midwife. Very talky & boring, with biggest twist mostly foreseeable."

Jan. 15 2011 Elizabeth George, Payment in Blood "Disappointing . . . felt like a first novel, dialogue too stagey, first 1/2 too much Agatha Christie."

Jan. 23, 2011 Michael Stackpole, Isard's Revenge "Last of the X-Wing novels, and probably a good thing."

Jan. 27, 2011 Jane Austen Northanger Abbey "A fun, light romance with a great parody of gothic literary tropes."

Jan. 30, 2011 James Joyce Ulysses "The most infuriating, annoying book I've ever read. But then somehow it starts to make sense." [Actually finishing Ulysses is a badge of honor as far I'm concerned, but at what cost! Oh, what cost!]

Feb. 7, 2011 John Marsden Lettres de l'intérieur "Letters between two teen girls, one incarcerated. Realistic, touching, thought-provoking end." [and sad too, once one reaches the natural conclusions at the end]

Feb. 10, 2011 James P. Othmer, The Futurist "What a great, compulsively readable novel. Cynical, idealistic, perfect evocation of globalization and its discontents."

Feb. 11, 2011 Steven Waldman Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America "A persuasive, balanced, and cogent discussion of the religious beliefs of the 'founding fathers.'"

Feb. 13, 2011 Orson Scott Card Ender's Game "An amazing, extraordinary book--one of the best I've read in years. The 20th anniversary audio book is a quality production." [this one, and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, have really stayed with me, and to my mind exemplify, along with Nancy Kress' Beggars in Spain, the heights to which a much-derided genre like SF can achieve in exploring the nature of humanity]

Mar. 1, 2011 Otis A. Kline, The Swordsman of Mars "Better than Moorcock's homages, interesting twists. Generic protagonist."

Mar. 12, 2011 Shae Davidson The Gathering Storm "Call of Cthulhu monograph about the Great Depression. Mostly scenarios, but worthwhile."

Mar. 14, 2011 Elizabeth George Well-Schooled in Murder "Good stuff, a big improvement over Payment in Blood. Interesting depiction of prep-school mores."

Mar. 15, 2011 Robert Jordan The Path of Daggers "Solid 8th book. Some good action scenes as Rand fights the Seanchan"

Mar. 17, 2011 Michael Reeves Street of Shadows "Second book in the 'Coruscant Nights' trilogy. Captain Typho is suddenly madly in love with Padme, and gets his dumb ass killed trying to kill Vader."

Mar. 20, 2011 Tim Wiseman Tatters of the King "A Call of Cthulhu campaign featuring 'The King in Yellow.' Purist, RP-heavy campaign. Has some structural problems in terms of adventure hooks and clues, but also some great imagery and themes."

Mar. 26, 2011 Elizabeth George A Suitable Vengeance "A prequel Inspector Lynley book. Dialogue unrealistically introspective, heartfelt, and cogent."

Mar. 30, 2011 Michael Brooks 13 Things That Don't Make Sense "An interesting and understandable discussion of 13 scientific anomalies such as dark matter, cold fusion, homeopathy, and free will."

Apr. 10, 2011 Charles Dickens Oliver Twist "Great characters, but a plot that is all over the place."

Apr. 13, 2011 Nancy Holder Blood & Fog "Buffy book with Jack the Ripper as demon tied to evil faerie lore. Some good characterization, but plot didn't hold interest."

Apr. 25, 2011 Constance Backhouse Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975 "Case studies--revealing, if not comprehensive."

May 2011 Philip José Farmer To Your Scattered Bodies Go "The first book in Farmer's famous Riverworld series, featuring Richard Burton awakening on a strange world with millions of others. Fascinating premise, average execution."

May 2011 Eoin Colfer Artemis Fowl "A really fun, original story about a boy criminal mastermind and his intrusion on the Faerie realms. Surprisingly excellent action scenes."

May 2011 N.D. Wilson 100 Cupboards "Well-plotted story, first in a series, about a house with 100 portals to other places. Comes with cool map."

May 2011 Elizabeth George For the Sake of Elena "Deaf university student murdered. Very well done, but I'm not sure if the end of Chapter 1 cheats considering later events."

May 2011 Dean Koontz Darkfall "Average horror novel about evil voodoo priest sending monsters after people."

May 2011 Brian Hayes Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon "Average adaptation of T.V. episodes."

May 2011 A. Lee Martinez Monster "A really funny urban fantasy about a monster-catcher and the impending end of the universe. Should buy more by this author."

May 2011 Gregory Levey Shut Up, I'm Talking and Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government "At times laugh-out-loud funny book about NY law student stumbling onto important position. Very readable."

June 6, 2011 Elizabeth George Missing Joseph "I read the first 200 pages of this during my wife's delivery of our first son. About average for a George novel, and not enough Havers."

June 12, 2011 Diane Duane Omnitopia Dawn "Interesting story about massive multiplayer RPG and attempted invasion by computer hackers. Needs characters less black & white, good & evil."

June 12, 2011 J.K. Rowling Harry Potter et L'Ordre Du Phénix "1,000 page story, as Dumbledore loses Hogwarts to a great villain, Delores Umbrage. Another strong entry." [reading the Harry Potter books in French has been really enjoyable, as I already have a good conception of the characters and plot]

June 17, 2011 Carrie Vaughn Kitty and the Midnight Hour "Werewolf becomes host of late-night supernatural radio talk show. Solid, some originality, worth reading more."

June 29, 2011 Noah Feldman Divided by God "Readable, concise history of church-state relations in America. Good elucidation of conflict between 'legal secularists' and 'values evangelicals.' Proposed solution unconvincing."

June 30, 2011 M.K. Hobson The Native Star "Magic & technology intermingled in 19th century America. Interesting conception of magic and solid story. A bit sappy at the end."

July 1, 2011 Richard A. Muller The Instant Physicist "Short, fun explanation of some counter-intuitive physics principles, primarily focussed on radiation and energy sources."

July 6, 2011 Stiegg Larson The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest "Less a thriller, and no mystery, but still interesting in spots."

July 16, 2011 Michael Capuzzo The Murder Room "Nonfiction story of the Vidocq Society, a club devoted to solving cold cases. Oddly structured and unpersuasive." [I think what irked me about this virtual hagiography of the Vidocq Society and its leading members is that one has to read between the lines before realizing that the club has only really helped solve one murder in its decades-long existence]

July 22, 2011 Jude Watson A Tangled Web "Fifth book in the Last of the Jedi series, as Ferus comes under the employ of Palpatine to save his friends. Large cast of characters hard to keep track of."

July 23, 2011 James Ellroy Le Dahlia Noir "Slow start, average mystery with interesting portrayal of 1940s L.A. policing."

Sep. 2011 E.C. Bentley Trent's Last Case "Interesting deconstruction of the mystery novel, showing how same set of facts can be manipulated by author to create myriad 'solutions.'"

Sep. 2011 Jeff Kinney Journal d'un dégonflé "Hilarious fictional novel of school child, must get more in the series."

Sep. 2011 Charlaine Harris Gravesight "First book in a new series about woman who can sense location of corpses. Well-written with solid characterization. Somewhat rushed ending."

Sep. 2011 Gary Gygax Death in Delhi "Last of the Setne Inhetep novels. Good characters, but plot still needs work and more of a sense of danger for main characters."

Sep. 2011 Kat Richardson Greywalker "Private investigator who can see ghosts. Interesting premise but muddled world mixes vampires and witches into the brew."

Sep. 2011 Jeffrey Toobin The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court "Very readable portrayal of Court politics, individual personalities, and the confirmation process."

Sep. 2011 David Whitaker Doctor Who and the Crusaders "The First Doctor and companions get mixed up with Richard and Saladin. Actually pretty good and entertaining."

Sep. 17, 2011 A. Merritt The Ship of Ishtar "Original, interesting, about man pulled aboard ancient ship locked in battle between gods of love and death."

Sep. 2011 Mica Ostow & Steven Brezenoff The Quotable Slayer "Serviceable collection of Buffy quotes."

Sep. 28, 2011 Elizabeth George Playing for the Ashes "Inspector Lynley mystery involving murder of famous cricketeer. Unconvincing motive, but good subplot involving animal liberation force."

Oct. 11, 2011 Orson Scott Card Speaker for the Dead "Sequel to Ender's Game. Murder of xenographers by ostensibly peaceful aliens requires investigation. Great idea of role for Speaker of the Dead."

Oct. 19, 2011 Jak Koke The Edge of Chaos "Forgotten Realms novel set near the Plaguewrought Lands, a dangerous area of wild magic. Entertaining."

Oct. 2011 Scott Martelle The Fear Within: Spies, Commies, and American Democracy on Trial "A very readable overview of the Dennis Smith Act trial that led to the Communist Party's American leadership being imprisoned."

Nov. 3, 2011 René Barjavel La nuit des temps "Interesting and original SF novel. A polar expedition finds two people of an ancient advanced civilization frozen in suspended animation for 900,000 years."

Nov. 2011 Kate Novak & Jeff Grubbs Azure Bonds "Great Forgotten Realms novel with intriguing central mystery. Warrior wakes up with strange, mystical tattoos--who put them there and why?"

Nov. 2011 Various The Halls of Stormweather "Collection of 7 short stories by various authors featuring different members of the Uskreven family in Sembia. Enjoyable throughout."

Nov. 2011 Ray Garton Resurrecting Ravana "Buffy novel featuring Ethan Rayne trying to summon Hindu god Ravana. Competent."

Nov. 2011 Christopher Hitchens Thomas Jefferson: Author of America "Crisp, very readable short bio of Jefferson, with trenchant criticism of past scholarship on Sally Hemmings."

Dec. 10, 2011 Elizabeth George In the Presence of the Enemy "The best George novel I've read yet. A great mystery, a thrilling conclusion, great characters. Excellent & memorable."

Dec. 2011 C.W. Mevius Couching Tiger, Hidden Toddler: A Zen Guide for New Dads "A slim, sometimes humorous book that does contain some good advice."

Dec. 2011 Gamma World Core Rulebook "A fun, light-hearted post-apocalyptic game with some interesting tweaks on d20 rules."

Dec. 2011 Plate The Trial & Death of Socrates "Collects Apology, Crito, and Phaedo. Apology has relevance to charges of corrupting youth and introducing new gods."

Dec. 2011 Gregory Lang Why a Son Needs a Dad "Skimpy book with photos and statements, mostly banal."

Dec. 23, 2011 Kevin J. Anderson The Jedi Academy Trilogy "Excellent trio of novels, detailing Luke's rebuilding of the Jedi Academy, the destruction of the Sun Crusher, and more. Great dialogue & characterization."

Dec. 31, 2011 Jude Watson Return of the Dark Side "Sixth book in The Last of the Jedi series, plot continues to surprise, not 'kiddie' at all."

Dec. 31, 2011 Fluke, Levine, Meier The Gingerbread Cookie Murders "Three short novels with different characters by different authors, recipes (!) interspersed throughout. Fluke's prose is embarrassingly bad, but the other two are solid reads."

1 comment:

Steve - an Av in Nebr said...

If only I read as quickly as you do....

You still have a number of Wheel of Time books to catch up, and the final one should be out later this year. I really enjoyed the last several, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts not only on them but on the writing of Sanderson compared to Jordan.

I would add a couple suggestions for reading. First Stephen King's "Under the Dome" was really good. I would also add the Cormyr series especially the "Death of a Dragon" but that one you may want to wait on for a couple months. I also read "The Hunger Games" recently and enjoyed them, though the first book is my favorite of the trilogy.

I'm currently re-reading "The Hobbit", something that would take you an afternoon I know but takes me a bit longer. After that I'm not sure what I'll read next. I have the GRR Martin books but don't want to start on another series until the Wheel of Time is done, especially since it isn't finished yet either.

Btw, for shows I would recommend I've been watching "The Big Bang Theory" lately and think you'd love it. It regularly has me laughing out loud...