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2014 Year in Review

Book Notes

I read these books in 2014. I didn't reach my goal of one book a week, for 52 books for the year. I did okay, though. Instead of doing full book reviews, I'm just dumping them all in this list. Hopefully, I'll be better in 2015.

  • The Shining Girls (Lauren Beukes)

    Fast read, a bit jarring in the plot twists that come with trying to span two stories that occur 100 years apart.

  • Darkness Visible (William Styron)

    Styron's account of depression, and the closest account I've read that describes the descent into the hell that blackness is.

  • Acceptance (Jeff VanderMeer)
    Authority (Jeff VanderMeer)
    Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer)

    I did not like these books. I read them as fast as I could. I was confused after the first one, slightly less confused after the second and ready to throw the third book into the fire. I was never able to see the world VanderMeer was trying to create. It was one gigantic white blur of crappy story-telling.

    Plot is some event happened that made this dome of the East Coast impenetrable, where time is accelerated and man's influence (toxins and poisons and the like) are removed. It's a bizarro worm hole to another world, but you never really know that and it's all a giant fog, like the writing. I do not recommend these books.

  • The Witch with No Name (Kim Harrison)

    Final book of the Hollows series. An eye-roll but expected ending to the series. I enjoyed all of the books, though I think Andy stopped reading a few books back.

  • Hidden (Alex Verus 5) (Benedict Jacka)

    Enjoying the series. Read it. Enjoyed this one.

  • Personal (Jack Reacher) (Lee Child)

    Reacher. Not else needs really be said. Recommended.

  • Lock In (John Scalzi)

    Scalzi. Not else needs really be said.

    Okay, a little more. I enjoyed it. Feels like it'll be a series. Will definitely be a movie or tv show in the future.

  • Not a Drill (Jack Reacher novella) (Lee Child)

    Novella that leads into Personal, short, with a nominally pointless plot, but Reacher.

  • Chosen (Alex Verus 4) (Benedict Jacka)
    Taken (Alex Verus 3) (Benedict Jacka)
    Cursed (Alex Verus 2) (Benedict Jacka)
    Fated (Alex Verus 1) (Benedict Jacka)

    Okay, I think Jim Butcher recommended Benedict Jacka's books. Well, Butcher or maybe Harry Connolly. Either way, the books are entertaining. I read all four of the published books, boom, boom, boom, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The world is different than the Dresden world, but Jacka hints at Harry Dresden, which is just delightful.

    The books are serial, you should read them sequentially. The humour isn't Dresden/Butcher-esque, but the books are a fun read. I preordered the fifth book immediately, and added Jacka to my buy-the-next-book-published list.

  • City of Heavenly Fire (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Lost Souls (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Fallen Angels (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Glass (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Ashes (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

    I read these straight through. I really enjoyed the first one. The second one was fun. I grew tired of the series around the fourth one and had to plow through the last one to finish. One of the great things about the books is that the main female character is a strong one, though, god, are teenagers really that stupid about communication? I remember just asking the boy questions instead of assuming what an inane action meant, but these characters seem to assume the worst in each other. When I realized the author was probably trying to recreate her childhood in a favorable way, well, the series lost its sparkle for me.

    That said, the part that I REALLY liked about these books was the idea of one's character riding in one's soul. I'm not saying that correctly, but something like when a soul is taken from a body, that person is no longer who you thought they were, that the new soul / entity in the body is that, a new person. I'm not describing it well. The idea is thought provoking, to the point that I consider it still, from time to time. It's like the tumor that causes certain behaviors in people, remove the tumor and the unexpected, erratic behavior disappears. It's a fascinating bit of ethics.

    Thankfully, these books WERE NOT Twilight, he's so perfect, Bella Swan crap. *shudder*

  • Skin Game Dresden 14 (Jim Butcher)


    I read it three times. It's a good one.

  • Unlocked (Locked In prequel novella) (John Scalzi)

    Okay, having read World War Z, I have to say that this book paled in comparison. They are both oral histories of the world they are describing, this one being a lead into Locked In. The big difference is that in WWZ, Brooks managed to get the different voices of the persons being interviewed, whereas Scalzi did not. In WWZ, you could feel the shift in tone, demeanor, phrasing of the different interview subjects; you could hear the different voices, the accents; you could see the body language.

    In Unlocked, all I heard was Scalzi's story-telling voice. It was one person, first person omniscient, telling everyone's stories.

    However, see above: Scalzi.

  • Allegiant (Veronica Roth)
    Insurgent (Veronica Roth)
    Divergent (Veronica Roth)

    After the Hunger Games, but unsurprised that I read these. Thankfully, I read them before the movie came out. The first book was great. The second book is as most second books are: get me to the third book. In this case, the third book was okay. I enjoyed reading about O'Hare, since I go through there a lot, and can imagine the airport. Downside, holy crap does the author have her distances wrong. The people in the city would totally see the airplanes taking off, and Lake Michigan is not that far away that they wouldn't know about it.

  • The Antidote (Oliver Burkeman)

    Read this one three times. Highly recommended.

  • The Undead Pool (Kim Harrison)

    Second to last Hollows book. Enjoyed it.

  • 47 Ronin (John Allyn)

    Did not particularly enjoy this one. Listed to it at 2x speed most of the way, with 3x speed to hurry it up.

  • A Forest of Stars (Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 2)
    Hidden Empire (Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 1)

    There are seven books in this series. After book two, I couldn't have cared less about the characters, I cared so little. The books are written to describe large time spans, with brief glimpses into moments, so that you don't see the years of boredom in between the glimpses. After I finished the second book, my thought was, "F--- it, where's the Wikipedia page?" I read that, knew the plot, and felt nothing but relief about my choice not to continue with five more of these books.

  • Emperor Mollusk vs the Sinister Brain (A. Lee Martinez)

    Okay, I know what the author is trying to do here: something so campy and over the top that it's unpredictable and humorous. It failed. I found it campy and annoying. Not recommended.

  • Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)

    Kris recommended this one. I enjoyed it.

  • One Second After (William R. Forstchen)

    Wow, I struggled with this one. The struggle likely began with the forward by Newt Gingrich. If that's not a turn off, I don't know what would be.

    The basic premise is that America goes post-apocalyptic after an EMP takes out all electronics in the United States. I can totally agree with the premise, I can even agree with the horrors that would happen with no communication methods and the lost art of self-reliance. The book itself, however, I had to play on triple speed because it was so slow. If I had had the print version, every fourth word would have sufficed.

    So, boring, but important.

  • Deadly Decisions (Kathy Reichs)
    Deja Dead (Kathy Reichs)
    Death Du Jour (Kathy Reichs)

    Well, I liked these books well enough to read three of them. Which is to say, I bought the first one, read the first chapter, liked it enough to buy the next two books, continued reading the first book, and thought, ugh.

    The books are good enough to read the first few. I didn't enough them enough to keep reading past the ones I had already bought.

  • World War Z (Max Brooks)
  • First Grave on the Right (Darynda Jones)
  • Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely)

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