[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Hi! It's been several months since I posted any kind of book list, so this covers the last three months of the year. I felt all year that I wasn't reading very much, but in the end my total was fine. Not as high as some years, but totally acceptable.

Hoozah! )


Books for Oct - Dec: 11
Books for 2016: 55

I feel like I had a decent year for reading. I really enjoyed the Bernard Cornwell stuff (thanks to the gal at work that introduced me to it!) and am looking forward to reading more of his stuff. This year is bringing just a few changes so I don't know what my reading will be like this year but hopefully I can hit at least 50 books again.
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Oh summer, wherefore art thou? : (

The Winter King
by Bernard Cornwell

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Saxon Tales I decided to check out more of Cornwell's work. Rather than jump into his 24(!) book Richard Sharpe series I opted for this trilogy based on the Arthurian legends. It was a little slow at the beginning, with Cornwell's usual throwing 1,000 different names of people and places at the reader, but the more I read the more I got into it and I was really enjoying it by the end. It has Cornwell's usual fantastic battle scene descriptions, along with his take of Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, and all the other familiar characters. It's told from the perspective of Derfel, who starts out as a boy living in Merlin's home and eventually becomes one of Arthur's most trusted and able warriors. Looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. 3.5/5

Smokejumper: A Memoir of America's Most Select Airborne Firefighters
by Jason Ramos

Saw this at the library and thought it looked interesting, and it was. Smokejumpers are sort of the firefighting equivalent of the military's special forces, like Navy Seals or Army Rangers. They're highly trained, highly capable, highly versatile wildfire fighters who are also expert parachutists. They can be dispatched in small groups closer (and quicker) to fires than ground-bound firefighters and can make a huge difference in the fight against wildfires. Ramos tells his story of how he became one and tells the history of the smokejumpers. He also touches on some of the biggest wildfires in history, especially the ones where firefighters lost their lives. The book is very fast-paced and a quick read, which I really like. It's so fast-paced there were one or two times where even I was wanting a little more detail! Most of it takes place in the PNW and California of course, so that made it a little more interesting for me as well. 3.5/5

Stone Cold
by David Baldacci

Third book in the Camel Club series. Oliver's past is catching up to him as his former teammates are being killed one by one. The casino boss that Annabelle bilked out of millions is also in town, ready for revenge. Another good book in the series; I liked Harry Finn, the new character that was introduced and there was plenty of action as usual. The finale with the mob boss was a little anti-climatic but at least it didn't get dragged out into more books. 3.5/5

Divine Justice
by David Baldacci

Fourth book in the Camel Club series. As Oliver tries to escape in order to protect himself and his friends he ends up in the tiny coal mining town of Divine, Virginia. But of course he runs into trouble even there, and has to rely on his friends to save him. Another good character, Joe Knox, is brought it and like Harry he starts out hunting Oliver down but eventually ends up on his side. Good stuff as usual for this series. 3.5/5

The Door into Summer [audio book]
by Robert Heinlein

I think I've read everything Heinlein has written, but most of it's been a long time ago. I may have to do some more rereads. I've read Door into Summer at least a couple times but it's one of his best so I didn't mind listening to it on my road trip. It was written in 1957 and takes place in 1970 and 2000. The 1970 stuff sounds pretty realistic (especially to someone who wasn't actually alive then :p) but the 2000 parts are kind of funny for how off they are. When the main awakes in 2000 from 30 years of The Big Sleep (cryogenic sleep) and wants to look someone up he goes down to the county office to look at microfiche records, hahahaha! It's funny because Heinlein both understated and overstated the technology level we'd be at now. He totally missed computers, the internet, inter-connectivity, and all that kind of stuff, but he also had us all owning personal servant robots that would cook, clean, etc. The story itself is really good but the best part is looking at Heinlein's vision of the future and how close (or far off) he was to what actually happened. 4/5

Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie

I read a little bit of Agatha Christie as a kid but nothing since then. I wasn't super into this book at first but it got going pretty quickly (it's fairly short) and by the end I was really enjoying it. It had a very satisfying reveal and was very cleverly written. It is a little dated at this point, but nothing that can't be overcome. 4/5

Books for August: 6
Books for 2016: 38

July Books

Aug. 3rd, 2016 01:24 pm
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Odd Thomas
by Dean Koontz

I'd never read anything by Koontz before but I know he's a popular and prolific author. My Dad lobbed this one at me, telling me several times it was “weird”. He said it wasn't bad, just very weird. Turns out it's not really that weird (it does deal with supernatural stuff, which Dad isn't really into) and I LOVED it. Great book, read it in 2 days. Odd (that's the main character's actual name) has the ability to see and be seen by deceased people. Yes, like Sixth Sense but as he says at the beginning of the book, he sees dead people but he does something about it. An encounter with a very strange man leads to a plot to attack a busy mall and Odd must race to save the innocents, including his girlfriend who works at the ice cream shop. Lots of twists and turns and overall a real page-turner. Hope the rest of Koontz's stuff is as good as this one was. 4.5/5

The Burning Land
by Bernard Cornwell

I had a monumental struggle trying to read this book; long story but I eventually ended up actually buying it. Buying a book! 58 cents on Amazon ; ) I'm going to pass it along to the gal at work who got me into the series. This series continues to rock. It's interesting because there is lots of foreshadowing and prophecy stuff that lets you know some of the big stuff that's going to happen but there continue to be plenty of plot twists to keep you surprised. 3.5/5

Death of Kings
by Bernard Cornwell

Next book in the series. This one built up to one huge battle at the end with some good twists and turns. Only a couple books left in the series. 3.5/5

The Pagan Lord
by Bernard Cornwell

This one takes place 10 years after the end of the last book. Uhtred is getting up there in years and a tentative peace has come over the land, but a devious plot and bold attack shatter the peace. Uhtred finally makes an attempt to take back his rightful home as well. 4/5

Forever Odd
by Dean Koontz

The followup to Odd Thomas, I didn't like this one nearly as much. This time Odd's best friend is kidnapped by an evil woman who knows about his powers and he must track them down and rescue his friend. The blurb on the cover calls it a “marvelous cat-and-mouse game” but it just felt simple to me. Not much going on, barely anything having to do with the paranormal stuff, and almost no interaction with any of the characters introduced in the first novel. I hope the next book is a lot better. 2.5/5

The Empty Throne
by Bernard Cornwell

Uhtred continues his long journey to his fate, as a powerful ruler dies and creates a power vacuum that needs to be filled. Meanwhile, the Danes are slowly being driven out of Britain, and the vision of the new land of Engaland is becoming closer to reality. Only one more book left in the series, but I'm worried it's not actually completed yet. Pray that the next book ends the series... 4/5

Warriors of the Storm
by Bernard Cornwell

Nope, not the last book in the series! Good read, but Uhtred hasn't even started on his main quest to recapture his home land. But at the end of the book he was heading north, so the next book may be the one that wraps it all up. I was afraid my favorite character was going to die in this one but he didn't so all is well. 4/5

Brother Thomas
by Dean Koontz

Third book in the Odd Thomas series. I wasn't totally into this one at first and I thought I might be done with the series but it got better and better as it went along and when I finished it I was eager to read the next one. Odd decided to hang out at a monastery for a while to try to get some R&R but of course he eventually finds supernatural trouble anyway. Probably the strangest of these books so far, at least until the reveal, when everything is explained and tied together nicely. 3.5/5

The Collectors
by David Baldacci

This is the second book in the Camel Club series. It felt like it took my library FOREVER to get it to me but it was worth the wait. This time the Club is up against a spy ring that uses rare old books to communicate government secrets, a corrupt defense contractor, several murders, and a charming female con artist. Liking this series a lot and the library already got me the next one in the series ; ) 4/5

Books for July: 9
Books for 2016: 32

June Books

Jul. 3rd, 2016 06:05 pm
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Yet another very slow month of reading. BUT I now have three different good series I'm into, and I'm totally in a reading mood. I think July and the rest of the year will be productive reading months.

The Camel Club
by David Baldacci

I had read a couple of Baldacci's books and thought they were OK, but a gal at work told me I should read the Camel Club series because it was his best stuff and I'm glad she did. It's political intrigue/CIA/terrorist kind of stuff, but it's a little different because the Camel Club is made up of 4 old geezers with some strange quirks and backgrounds. So instead of the usual young, studly Superman-type you've got these older guys running around trying to save the day. First of five in the series, will definitely keep reading. 3.5/5

White Teeth
by Zadie Smith

A (different) gal at work lobbed this at me, saying “I got it a garage sale and it's supposed to be good...read it and tell me how it is.” Alrighty then! It was just OK though. It's a zany, slice of life, comedy kind of book, following three generations of three families. But the author is British and it takes place there, so a lot the references didn't have much impact on me, and it also leans heavily on religious themes, so much of that was lost on me too. It did have some laugh out loud moments and it's not a bad book, but ultimately it just felt like a long slog to me. Took me forever to get through it, and even then I didn't read the last 50 or so pages. 2.5/5

Books for June: 2
Books for 2016: 23

May Books

Jun. 1st, 2016 01:09 pm
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett

What a great book. The story of a snotty little girl who has to go live with her uncle in a large estate. When she hears of a secret garden that has been off limits for 10 years since the death of the uncle's wife she vows to find it and along the way transforms into a new and better person, along with her cousin who mistakenly thinks he's an invalid. There's a third child who uses his knowledge of the outdoors to help them along. Just very well-written, very charming and a great story. There's a reason they're classics! 4/5

Sword Song
by Bernard Cornwell

Fourth book in the series and still loving it. This time the king's daughter is kidnapped and Uhtred tries to rescue her on his own. The book ends with a chaotic battle where no one is really sure whose side they are on and who is fighting who. 3.5/5

North and South
by Elizabeth Gaskell

This Victorian-era novel (you may recognize the name from the television adaptations) is about contrasts and differences. Margaret is a snooty girl forced to leave her plush southern estate and live amongst the dirty factory workers of northern England. The events that follow reshape her and her vision of the world around her. If you like Jane Austen this book is right up your alley. 3/5

Nine Innings
by Daniel Okrent

One of those books that I really enjoy but can't recommend to anyone else. Orkent takes a totally humdrum regular season baseball game and analyzes every aspect, every at-bat. He goes into details that a typical fan never would know or hear about. Well, an average fan in 1982 at least. A lot of the stuff he goes over is pretty common knowledge for a baseball fan, but there's still a lot of good stuff in there. A lot of great detail, especially on the mental battle between the pitcher and hitter. Fun to read about some of the players from that era who are now Hall of Famers, broadcasters, or managers. 4/5

Books for May: 4
Books for 2016: 21
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
The Pale Horseman
by Bernard Cornwell

Second book in the Last Kingdom series. I'm definitely getting into the story and am interested in reading the rest of the series to see what happens (gosh, does England survive or does it get conquered? I have no idea!) 3.5/5

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith

So I've decided that I've been reading way too much fluff lately and need to get some books with actual substance back into the mix. This popped up on some list or another of classics and it was really really good. It's the semi-autobiographical story of a young girl growing up very poor in Brooklyn. Very reminiscient of Angela's Ashes (which was written much later): dirt-poor family, father of Irish descent that drinks too much and doesn't provide for his family, family really scraping to get by, etc. This book isn't nearly as dark as AA though, and in the end is actually uplifting. Even though the circumstances are similar, this book is more about triumph, the power of the human spirit, community, and the good things in life. Highly recommended for anyone. 4.5/5

Othello
by William Shakespeare

And I figured well what the heck if I want to read something more meaty I'll try some Shakespeare. I think I read Romeo and Juliet in high school but other than that I've avoided Bill over the years. I always figured it would be too overwrought, too archaic, and just not very fun to read. And I was right. 1/5

Lords of the North
by Bernard Cromwell

Third book in the series and by far the best so far. Uhtred, the main character and narrator, goes through some new and different adventures, and the whole book just really worked for me. Part of it may be that after three books I'm finally used to all the weird names of people and places and can actually understand who and what they're talking about most of the time :p 4/5

Books for April: 4
Books for 2016: 17
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Never got around to posting Feb books so here's two months worth. Heck, almost too late to post March books ; )

American Assassin
by Vince Flynn

Chronologically this is the first book in the Mitch Rapp series. It goes all the way back to Mitch's training and recruitment. It's pretty fun reading about Mitch when he was you know, still sort of human instead of the supernatural beast he eventually becomes. All the old gang shows up too of course. Good stuff. 4/5

Term Limits
by Vince Flynn

This was Flynn's first novel and I knew going in it wasn't a Mitch Rapp book. But to my pleasant surprise it took place in the same fictional world, meaning that while Mitch wasn't there a lot of the other characters from the series, like Irene Kennedy, Thomas Stansfield, Scott Coleman, Stan Hurley, etc. (I just felt like listing them). The premise is that a group of fed-up former soldiers try to force the government to start actually running the country via assassinations. Sounds like an idea whose time has come. Very good read, and I'm kind of glad I read it after the Mitch novels. 4/5

Kill Shot
by Vince Flynn

The second book chronologically, in this book Mitch has already become a scourge to terrorists. So much so that they set a trap for him and set him up to take the fall. But of course Mitch survives and exacts his revenge. I really like these prequels, it's fun to take it back to when Mitch was just dealing with terrorists and not having to fight his own government. 4/5

The Guards
by Ken Bruen

I read a collection of short mystery/thriller stories by “up and coming writers” and Bruen wrote the only interesting one of the bunch so I decided to check out this book. It was OK, I wouldn't mind reading more of his stuff sometime. He's Irish and it takes place in Ireland, so there's a lot of Irish slang and terms to spice things up. Apparently “guards” is what they call the cops; this was about a former cop fighting his own demons while trying to help others as a private investigator. Definitely not the superhuman, perfect leading character that often appears in these kind of books. 3/5

The Last Man
by Vince Flynn

An extremely high-level CIA operative has disappeared and Mitch Rapp has to try to track him down before any of the devastating information he has on the CIA comes to light. Mitch suspects something isn't right, and the answer ends up being even worse than anyone had feared. This was Flynn's last novel before his death, and I hoped the series would continue with the same intensity with a new author. 4/5

Modern Romance [audio book]
by Aziz Asani

An audio book?! Been forever since I listened to one. It's not at all what you would expect from Asani; it's basically all about how the internet, technology, interconnectedness, and our shrinking world has effected dating. Not a topic that really matters to me too much, but it was interesting hearing all the different takes on the issues and the methodologies he and his researchers used. 3/5

The Survivor
by Kyle Mills

This is the Mitch Rapp novel that was written after Vince Flynn died...and it might be my favorite of the series. Mills takes up right where Flynn left off, continuing the Rapp style of intrigue and action. He wrote the characters a little more human and believably, and overall I think his version of Rapp's world might be a little better. Looking forward to his second effort in the series, due out this year I believe. 4/5

Rogue Lawyer
by John Grisham

I know a lot of people didn't like Grisham's latest offering because it wasn't exactly like his previous legal thrillers, but I really liked it. At this point Grisham has sold so many books and made so much money that he's kind of figured “heck with it” and started taking some political stances in his books; he figures if it pisses a few people off it doesn't matter at this point. Grey Mountain was about environmental issues (coal mining in particular) which didn't do much for me, but this one takes on the fascist police state we live in now, a topic near and dear to me. I loved how he pointed out some of the awful things that are happening right under our noses in the name of security and safety now. One of my favorite Grisham books ever. 4.5/5

Takedown
by Brad Thor

This is the second book in the Scot Harvath series I've read. They're OK but nothing great; CIA/special forces/terrorist kind of thing. They're supposed to be “thrillers” but there isn't much thrill in them; lots and lots of description and very little action. SO much talk about geography and positioning; the end fight takes place in a building in New York and he spends an unbelievable amount of time talking about the entrances and exits to the building, the streets around it, etc. Yawn. Won't rush to read any more. 2.5/5

Books for Feb/March: 9
Books for 2016: 13
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Consent to Kill
by Vince Flynn

This was the old “hunter becomes the hunted” deal, where assassins are sent to kill Mitch. Well-written as always and I liked the ending and the aftermath. 4/5

The Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown

Wow, what a book. It's about the Olympic gold medal winning crew team from the University of Washington in the 1930s. It weaves a fascinating story of hard work, determination, willpower, teamwork, and triumph. Some of the stuff that happens to the main character (all true) is unbelievable. I didn't really care that it took place in my hometown and alma mater, but it did make it that much more interesting to know the places they were talking about. Definitely can recommend this one to anybody. 4.5/5

Act of War
by Brad Thor

This was a random grab from work. One of the managers had heard it was good so I gave it a shot. It's like the Mitch Rapp books except the guy's name is Scot Harvath: action/thriller with political intrigue. In this novel the Chinese are trying to launch a massive attack on the U.S. and Scot and his crew have to save the day. Good stuff and another series to work on at some point. 3.5/5

Act of Treason
by Vince Flynn

Mitch Rapp just keeps firing away...this time the President-elect's wife is killed by terrorists, and Mitch has to figure out who really did it and how he can bring them to justice. 4/5

Johnny U
by Tom Callahan

I don't know how many times I'm going to fall for this “biography” scam. Every time I decide to read a biography, in this case on the greatest QB to ever play, the book ends up being one of these “life and times” things. In other words, it's only a little about Johnny Unitas, and a lot about the Colts, life in the 50s, etc. Happens every time. I guess I need to start grabbing biographies that are low-rated instead of highly-rated. 2.5/5

Protect and Defend
by Vince Flynn

This time Mitch's friend and the head of the CIA is kidnapped while in Iran and it's up to Mitch to save her and expose the nuclear weapons plant Iran was trying to hide. Do you get the feeling I like these books? 4/5

Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer
by James Swanson

This was a very nice LJ recommendation. The level of detail and research Swanson puts into this book is incredible, yet he manages to keep the pace up and not bog the story down with too many facts and details. It reads like a fictional adventure story, a real page-turner. If you like history at all I can highly recommend this one. 4/5

The Lost Throne
by Chris Kuzneski

My manager, who got me on to the Vince Flynn books, lent me this saying it was better than Flynn's books. They're the same kind of books except in this series there are two guys, and my manager likes that they can play off each other. I thought it was OK. It's one of those “lost ancient treasure scavenger hunt” things that I'm not all that excited about. It was fine but not something I'll run out and read more of.

Extreme Measures
by Vince Flynn

Wow, 4 of these in one month...this time the terrorists have been caught launching a plot on U.S soil. Two cells have been caught but a third one is out there somewhere. This was the most 24-like of these books so far; I could see old Jack Bauer in this one easily. And more of that show is always welcome in my life. 4/5

Books for December: 9
Books for 2015: 76
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
High Heat
by Lee Child

This is a short story that takes place when Jack Reacher is 16. It's totally ridiculous. The regular Reacher stories really push the limits of suspension of disbelief as it is, but you can sort of give it the benefit of the doubt when he's an mature, 30 or 40-something year old man with decades of experience. But here the 16 year old version accomplishes all the same things: beating up bad guys, outsmarting gang leaders, and making amazing observations. Poor effort by Lee Child on this one. 1.5/5

Deep Down
by Lee Child

Another short story, this one takes place in Washington D.C. and has Jack investigating a possible spy involved in an arms deal. It was OK; I think the Reacher character isn't very well suited to these short stories. A full-length novel is needed to develop the background of the story, the other characters, and the mystery itself. 3/5

Confessions of a Wall Street Analyst
by David Reingold

This is the kind of book that I found pretty interesting but wouldn't recommend to anyone else. The subtitle of this book is “A true story of inside information and corruption in the stock market.” Reingold was a buy-side analyst of the telecom sector during the late 90s/early 2000's when the whole dot.com bubble built up and burst. Looking back it's hard to believe/remember we went through all that. Anyway, this book was a very good inside look at what goes on in the market and how the big boys have advantages the individual investor can never match. Even the last thing the author says in the book is that individual investors shouldn't buy individual stocks! It goes pretty deep into the inner workings of finance, but I find all that pretty interesting. The book seemed a little self-serving, Reingold paints himself as an angel amongst a den of thieves, but overall I believe what he was saying. One of my co-workers saw the title and her response was “Corruption on Wall Street? Well, duh!” :p 4/5

The Summer Game
by Roger Angell

This is considered a classic sports book that I recently found out about. It's basically a series of collected articles Angell wrote as a sportswriter in the late 60s/early 70s. I was a little unsure about it at first, but his writing style is very entertaining and very witty. It was so interesting to read his thoughts and the general feeling about the first indoor stadium (Astrodome), Astroturf, expanded playoffs, giant lighted scoreboards, and other things we take for granted now. 3.5/5

Memorial Day
by Vince Flynn

Although this plot has been done approximately 475,332 times (“Oh noes, the terrorists have a nuke!”) this book in the Mitch Rapp series was still great because of Flynn's detailed and entertaining writing. I also liked that his new wife was only mentioned once in passing; she's kind of annoying and the whole dynamic between them isn't really contributing much to the series. Great read 4/5

Make Me
by Lee Child

Well, now I'm totally caught up on this series. I won't even talk about the plot at all since it's a current book in a very popular series, but it was definitely something different and interesting. Now I'm one of those poor souls that has to wait around for the next Reacher book to come out : / 4/5

Books for November: 6
Books for 2015: 67
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Executive Power
by Vince Flynn

This series continues to impress. Mitch now has to balance the fact that he's married with his dangerous job and national security. I feel like Flynn does an outstanding job of giving his characters realistic feelings and thoughts; when Mitch and his wife have a fight he gives both characters' thoughts on it and why they think the other one is being unreasonable and it's exactly how a man and woman would think about it. Pretty good action in this one too. I wish my library was faster about getting me these! 4/5

Personal
by Lee Child

Let's have a moment of silence for the fact I am essentially caught up with this series (the only one I haven't read is the one that just came out). It was a good Reacher book, and I didn't know who the ultimate bad guy was until the reveal, although I did know one major part of the mystery from the beginning. It started out in the Seattle area; it would have been fun to have a Reacher book take place here but he was quickly whisked off to North Carolina, then Paris and London. 4/5

The Fate of Ten
by Pittacus Lore

I'm kind of ready for this series to be over with. It gets a little weirder with each installment and it's dragging out a little bit for more sales I'm sure. I still like it and find it interesting, especially the background stuff that's finally being revealed, but it feels like this series is reaching its natural conclusion. It seems like the next book should be the last, hopefully it can wrap the series up well. 3.5/5

Beyond the Setting Sun
by Colin Skinner

The true story of Colin deciding at a young age, after working in hospice, that he wanted to walk all the way across Britain and across the U.S. in order to raise awareness of it. He covers Britain pretty quickly in the book then spends most of the time in America. Fascinating premise for a book but it wasn't written particularly well and I had trouble getting into it. The end got a little better though, and it was fun reading about what and who he encountered along the way. Amazing how nice and hospitable people can be when you get them away from the big city and all the crap that comes with living too close together. He was totally unprepared for the trip and had no idea what he was getting into, but he had luck on his side (mostly) and the right attitude. Good story, mediocre writing. 3/5

The Smiling Dogs
by Kenneth Robeson

I was out of things to read so I asked a co-worker if he had anything I could read and he loaned me this, which he called his “backup book.” (“Don't you have a backup book?” he asked me). It's from a 40s pulp fiction series called The Avenger, a man who loses his wife and children when they are killed by criminals at the same time he is disfigured. He goes on to fight crime as The Avenger, a name feared by all who hear it haha. It was not bad, what you would expect from a 40s crime novel. Not going to run out and read the rest of the series, but it filled the gap nicely. 3/5

Rising Sun
by Michael Crichton

Well, better than the last book of his I read (Timeline), but still not great. I really liked the first two books of his I read, but now he's only batting .500 This one started off well and I was really into it at first but then it just dragged and dragged and it was one of those books where by the end I didn't even care about the big reveal. It was written in 1990 and is basically one big screed against Japan taking over our country. Not that I disagree with what he was saying, but he laid it on pretty dang thick. It also got tiresome hearing about the differences between Japanese and American culture over and over again. 2.5/5


Books for October: 6
Books for 2015: 61
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
The Affair
by Lee Child

This novel takes us back to the very end of Reacher's military career; it takes place immediately before the first book in the series. It was fun seeing lots of allusions to various staples in the Reacher world such as him buying his first travel toothbrush, making the decision to buy new clothes instead of washing his old ones, not bothering with a bag or suitcase, deciding there was a lot of country out there for him to see, etc. So I liked that, but the story itself was not up to par. The pacing was a little off, the mystery wasn't that mysterious, and even the fight scenes weren't up to snuff. Still good, but not up to the usual Reacher standards. 3/5

The Year of Fog
by Michelle Richmond

My parents lobbed this book at me. Abby takes her fiance's 6 year old daughter to the beach, looks away for a minute, and little Emma is gone. She spends the entire rest of the book looking for her, trying to figure out what happened. I started this at work yesterday on my break and ended up staying up late last night to finish. I was tempted to skip to the end just to see how it resolved. Very compelling book that looks at memory, relationships and the strain they come under, determination, and tough decisions a parent has to make in that situation. The end was a little flat, but not enough to take away from what is a great story. 4/5

Wanted Man
by Lee Child

Ah, now this is a good Reacher book! While hitchhiking Reacher stumbles into an undercover FBI operation and a terrorist organization. He ends up taking the bad guys on single-handedly in order to pull off a daring rescue. Great Reacher novel: nice little mystery, good pacing, nice action-packed conclusion. I think I'm down to three books in this series : ( : ( : ( 4/5

Never Go Back
by Lee Child

...and yet I keep plowing through them. Been on a bit of a dry spell with the library; everything I've ordered is taking forever to get so I keep going back to Reacher (I snagged the last few books from a book exchange). In this book Reacher finally makes it to Virginia to meet Susan, who we were introduced to several books ago and he's been trying to meet in person ever since. Of course when he gets there she's in trouble and Jack had to break her out of prison, figure out a conspiracy, and kick butt along the way. 3.5/5

Separation of Power
by Vince Flynn

The third book in this series wraps up the ongoing storyline started in the first book. I know the series really jumps around chronologically; I keep seeing lists online of the chronological order of these books. This one was really good and I read through it pretty quickly. I just realized recently that these remind me a lot of the Tom Clancy books as far as style, realistic use of military jargon and specs, tone, etc. Looking forward to reading more about Mitch Rapp and his exploits. 4/5

How to Write a Damn Good Mystery Novel
by James Frey

Frey's How to Write a Damn Good Novel is a really helpful guide and one of the books I've added to my collection, but this one didn't jive with me as much. Partly because the mystery I'm thinking about writing is a little different than the standard novel so some of his advice wouldn't fly. I also kind of read it disjointedly; a reread may be in order at some point. Heck, maybe I'll even pick it up someday to add to the collection; I'm sure it would offer some help for mystery or non-mystery writing. 3/5

Timeline
by Michael Crichton

I love the concepts of time travel and alternate dimensions. Most of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: TNG involve one or the other, and I'm always ready to watch more shows or movies that have them. But after reading this book and the Time Riders series from earlier I've realized that while I love time travel and alternate dimensions on screen, it's not so great in books. The reason is because on the screen you're only got an hour or two to tell the story, so it has to be crisp and tight, but with a book the author can prattle on as long as he likes. And the problem with that is instead of a book about time travel what you end up with is a book that's 10% time travel and 90% adventure in some other timeline or era. In this case it was some college students traveling back to medieval times to rescue their professor who was trapped back then. As usual for Crichton books everything was very well researched, but almost the entire book was spent following the kids in the past, and there was very little actual dimension hopping involved. So it ends up being basically a story taking place in the old times, and I wasn't particularly interested in following all the nobles and their schemes and all that. Just didn't hold my interest. 2/5

Books for September: 7
Books for 2015: 55
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Time Riders: The Doomsday Code
by Alex Scarrow

I'm really close to giving up on this series. This one has the Time Raiders going back in time to search for the Holy Grail, which may have a message on it just for them. This one was super convoluted and way too complicated for its own good. 2/5

Time Riders: The Eternal War
by Alex Scarrow

Yup, done with it. Great potential wasted. 2/5

Worth Dying For
by Lee Child

This time Reacher encounters a domestic violence victim and eventually a family that has a small Nebraska town in its grip. Reacher brings justice for the long-suffering townsfolk and solves a 20 year old mystery in the process. Only 4 or 5 more books to go in this series! : ( I rarely re-read books but I may very well come back and restart this series in a few years. 4/5

Inferno
by Dan Brown

So sometimes while I'm reading a book I'll be writing these little reviews in my head (I do this with Yelp reviews when I'm at a restaurant too). Halfway through this book I was all ready to give it a 2/5 and say something like “This was my first Dan Brown book and will probably be my last” but as it got towards the end I warmed up to it a little more. This one is about a zealous doctor concerned with world overpopulation who tries to release a virus. It took place in Italy and the doctor was an obsessive fan of Dante; I got a little sick of all the Inferno references and history. I also got super tired of “Main character entered the cathedral. The such and such cathedral was built in 1497 by blah blah blah. Then 50 years later this happened. Then 122 years later this happened. Then it was turned into a fish market. Then it was cleaned up and now it's a mall...” Wayyyyyy too much bakground and no enough action, especially in the first half. I'm not going to run out and read more of his stuff, but if someone lobs another book at me I'd probably read it. 3/5

One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "the Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player
by Nolan Dalla

Stu is one of, if not the most, interesting characters in poker and gambling history. He is considered the best poker player ever, but poker wasn’t even his best game! His best game was gin rummy, but he was so good at it no one would play him. All of his action dried up when he took on the guy who was considered the greatest gin rummy player in the world at the time…and beat him 81 games to 0. The guy never played competitively again. Stu’s poker exploits were equally legendary. But he was the very definition of “degenerate gambler” and couldn’t keep it together in his personal life. He struggled with drugs, especially cocaine, for years before succumbing at the age of 45. It’s a fascinating story; it’s also a shame he died before the “poker boom”. Who knows what he could have done nowadays and how big of a poker celebrity he’d be. Can you imagine him against Phil Ivey? Or Stu Ungar on High Stakes Poker? It’s fun to think about, and this book was fun to read. 4/5

Airframe
by Michael Crichton

Dad had this book laying around and after reading The Great Train Robbery I was anxious to read more of Crichton’s work. Now it’s official: I’m a fan. I had no idea what this book was about going into it; I didn’t even read the back cover. Turns out it’s about an airplane accident and the subsequent investigation/cover-up/media coverage. The story focuses on Casey Singleton, a single mom who is in charge of the investigation and is being set up to take the fall for the accident. I knew from the very beginning what actually happened in the accident, but it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the story. There was a fair bit of technical detail and “airplane talk”, but having worked in the aerospace industry I was at least familiar with a lot of it. Heck, I shipped a lot of the products they talked about! Fun read and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work. 4/5


Books for August: 6
Books for 2015: 48

May books

Jun. 2nd, 2015 01:24 pm
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Someday I'll write an entry that isn't my monthly books, I promise ; )

Green River, Running Red
by Ann Rule

Anne Rule has led quite the life. She is a true crime writer who used to wok at the Univeristy of Washington as a psychologist. While she was there, and already writing true crime stuff, she had a partner she worked with; that partner turned out to be Ted Bundy! How weird is that? This book however, is about the Green River Killer, who it turns out she lived about a mile from 0_o So bizarre. The GRK was active when I was a kid, and I remember hearing about him at the time. I also remember when they captured him but hadn't really heard many details. This book tells the whole story of Gary Ridgeway, his victims, and the circumstances surrounding them. Fascinating read. 4/5

One Shot
by Lee Child

Our buddy Jack Reacher is back, this time trying to figure out the truth of an ex-marine sniper who apparently killed several people in a planned shooting. Glad I got into this series, and even though I'm only about halfway through it I'm already getting sad thinking about finishing it. 3.5/5

Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt

[Yes, I've joined The Finer Things club from The Office] Wow. This book...I don't know if I can even convey how powerful it is. It's the author's memoir of his childhood and upbringing and it is jaw-dropping. Talk about dirt poor. His parents came to America separately at the beginning of the Great Depression, Frank was born here, then they moved back to Ireland. And if you thought things were tough in the U.S. in the 1930's, Ireland was even worse. I wanted to reach through the book and strangle the father, because whenever he made money (which was rare) he spent every penny on getting drunk at the pub. Just a total alcoholic loser. Not the most uplifting book ever, but an incredible read. Really puts your “Wah, my iPhone won't update to the newest version” first-world problems in perspective.

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
by Douglas Adams

Eh, while Hitchhiker's Guide is a classic and something that I should read every few years, the rest of the series isn't nearly as good. It took me weeks to get through this one because I just wasn't into it. It still had some moments, but wasn't nearly as fun or humorous as the original. 3/5

Young Zaphod Plays it Safe
by Douglas Adams

I don't know if I ever read this one before. It's a very short story; Zaphod helps find a crashed ship that has an incredibly dangerous thing aboard that can't ever be allowed to escape. And of course it does, but we never find out exactly who it was (we know it was a person). I didn't get it so I looked it up and apparently it was an allusion to Ronald Reagan! Weird. 3/5

The Hard Way
by Lee Child

This was a really good Reacher book. I liked the mystery, I liked the resolution, I liked the action. This series just gets better and better. 4/5

No Country for Old Men
by Cormac McCarthy

I'd seen this book on all kinds of recommendations and lists so I decided to give it a whirl. When I saw the back cover was comparing it to people like Joyce and Melville I was like “Oh crap...”, but it wasn't that bad. Even after finishing I'm not too sure what I think of it. It's ostensibly about a man who finds a bunch of money from a drug deal gone bad and trying to get away with the money while being chased by a very bad man trying to recover it. But it's not really about that at all; it's more of a “slice of life” look at a group of people with the events as a backdrop. The story itself plays out very oddly, and it isn't necessarily my kind of book, but it was definitely interesting and I'm glad I read it. One of the more peculiar books I've ever read. 3.5/5

Books for May: 7
Books for 2015: 26

March Books

Apr. 5th, 2015 08:10 pm
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
By the way, what the heck happened to March? 0_o Freaking month evaporated on me...

Eats, shoots & leaves : the zero tolerance approach to punctuation
by Lynne, Truss

This was a little disappointing. It's all about the decline of western civilization vis-a-vis deteriorating punctuation. In the beginning of the book she says something along the lines of there are two kinds of people who notice this: people who shrug and go “Well that's language, it's always changing” and people who get up in arms about it. I'm most definitely in the first camp, so most of it comes across as the old person yelling at the kids on the lawn. And at various points she dials it back and acknowledges that language has always been fluid. But then next paragraph she's back ranting about Oxford commas (which I personally couldn't care less about). And the topper is everything she says is bogus anyway, since she's British and all her punctuation is wrong anyway. 2.5/5

The Enemy [half audio, half printed]
by Lee Child

Started this one on a road trip as an audio book and ended up finishing the printed version. It's actually a prequel; we get to hear about Reacher back when he was actually in the army. I've always thought he didn't really seem like the military type the way he's written, and he seemed even less so in this book :p I don't know, I can't buy he would have made it to major without getting booted from the army. Anyway, this was a pretty good Reacher novel, although the end reveal whodunit part was a little convoluted. But lots of good action as usual. 3.5/5

Persuader
by Lee Child

This time Reacher goes undercover, infiltrating a mob family and running into an old enemy. And (spoiler!) he actually loses a fight! Well, basically. I mean of course he actually wins in the end, but really the guy kicked his butt. Anyway, I'm really enjoying this series and plan on reading some more soon. 3.5/5

Day
by Elie Wiesel

After reading Night I was really looking forward to reading more of Wiesel's work, but this was not nearly as powerful. It's a fictional story of an Israeli terrorist plotting to assassinate a British officer for retaliation. It just didn't hold my interest, especially following the first book, which was just so moving. Probably won't be finishing up the trilogy (Dawn is the final book) 2/5

Gray Mountain
by John Grisham

The latest from the legal thriller master was one of my least favorite of his books. But Grisham is such a talented writer that even the least of his books is worth the read. A young New York lawyer is laid off and has to intern at a small legal clinic in the middle of West Virginia coal country in order to have a shot at keeping her job. I think the biggest problem was this book seemed like just an excuse to talk about the coal industry and the environmental implications of it. 3/5

Cannery Row
by John Steinbeck

I somehow had never read this book before. A short (185 page) book by my favorite author? Count me in! It's about an interesting group of characters that are based on people Steinbeck knew growing up. Their stories are interesting, but ultimately the book is about how people cope with life when it can sometimes be lonely and depressing. It's about community and people trying to fit into the world. Very good book, another worthy effort by Mr. Steinbeck. 4/5

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams

It had been so long since I read this series that I had basically forgotten all of it. Very embarrassing when other geeks start making references and I have no idea what they're talking about! I read it back in high school, almost 30 years ago, time for a reread! And as Jessica pointed out, I'm 42 this year, so it's perfect : ) The book is still great, with lots of laugh out loud parts. I love the deadpan delivery of so many of Adams' lines. Definitely an all-time classic. 5/5

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
by Douglas Adams

The continuing adventures of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect continue to impress and amuse. I'd say it's not quite as good as the first book, but still right up there. I have all 5 books in one nice collected leather edition (that I bought new in 1991 and am now reading for the first time :p) so the stories are all kind of running together in my head, but Hitchhiker's was definitely a little bit better. It's all fantastic though. 4.5/5

Books for March: 8
Books for 2015: 17
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Fugitive
by Phillip Margolin

I screwed up and didn't get my books from the library before the hold expired, so I had nothing to read. But I spotted this at the book exchange at work and after taking a second to remember the author I grabbed it. I've read a couple of his books and really liked them; I always meant to read more of his work. I was totally into this one at the beginning but by the end my enthusiasm had waned. I don't know if I've just read too many murder-mystery type of books or if it's because of the weather or if it was just the book itself, but it all seemed very paint-by-the-numbers and “been there done that.” 3/5

Three and Out
by John Bacon

The back cover says “College basketball has Season on the Brink, high school football has Friday Night Lights. Now college football has Three and Out.” I think that's a good description. Bacon spends an entire year with the Michigan Wolverines: their practices, meetings, road trips, hanging out with the players, even a memorable workout. The reader learns a lot about college athletics/football, and the U of M culture. Highly recommended to all you sports fans ; ) 4/5

The Rosie Effect
by Graeme Simsion

I loved The Rosie Project, but the sequel was a bit disappointing. I enjoyed the first half, but towards the end there was just too much going on, too many extraneous characters, and the focus went away from Don and his uniqueness, which is the draw of this series. The situations were not very believable, and people were acting out of character. It's wide open for another book and I'd probably read it but I won't be as enthused about it. It feels a lot like The Hunger Games: one really good book that should have been a standalone. 3/5

Books for February: 3
Books for 2015: 9
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
2 fantastic books this month, and no stinkers!

Son
by Lois Lowry

The conclusion to the wonderful Giver series, I liked how things from the previous books were tied together, bringing some of the characters and events full circle. I was also really into the story that was introduced this time around, but the ending was a little disappointing; kind of anti-climatic. But still, very good series and a nice conclusion. 4/5

Basketball Junkie
by Chris Herren and Bill Reynolds

We've all heard about the athletes who get into drugs and ruin their lives and careers, but this was a really interesting in-depth look at an athlete who was hooked on drugs before he ever became rich and famous. Chris takes you through the pressure he felt living in a basketball crazed town following in the footsteps of his dad and older brother, how he began drinking and using in high school, and his gradual descent to a full-blown heroin junkie, culminating with his arrest when he was found passed out in his car with heroin under the seat and his young daughter in the back. He was so talented he was able to play b-ball at a high level even when he was using. Not a particularly well-written book, but a very interesting read. 3.5/5

Dawn
by Elie Wiesel

Not sure I can even describe this book and do it any justice. Elie was a young Jew who was taken to Birkenau and Auschwitz in 1944. What he recounts in the book is unbelievable. The horrors he saw...the book actually isn't that graphic in terms of the descriptions, but just the events themselves are chilling (I hate the word "chilling" and think it's totally overused, but it fits here). I don't know, me talking about this book is useless. Just read it. 5/5

Without Fail
by Lee Child

Jack Reacher is brought on by Secret Service to help protect the Vice President-elect, who has come under some serious death threats. His dead brother's ex and a mysterious old army friend are in the mix as well. Jack was much more passive than usual in this installation, but it was still a good read. 3.5/5

Notes From a Small Island
by Bill Bryson

Bryson lived in Britain for 20 years before returning to America. Before he returned he decided to do a 7 week tour of the island to take in as much as he could. Bryson is a funny writer and his observations of those quirky English were pretty amusing. He threw out so many place names (sometimes assuming we knew them) that it was hard to follow sometimes; I felt like I needed to have a map by me while I read. But that's a minor quibble, this was a fun read.

Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes

I don't know why I never read this classic before now. It just sort of stayed below my radar all these years. But I'm glad I read it now. Charlie has a 70 IQ but is chosen for special surgery that gradually increases his IQ to 180 or more. The entire book is in first person journal style, so we get an intimate look at Charlie as he transforms from moron to genius. The book is really about what makes us human, what that means, and the essence of our existence. Wonderful book, highly recommended for anyone. 5/5


Books for January: 6
Books for 2015: 6
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Fun! Here are my answers:

1. How many books did you read in 2014? (If you don't keep track, you can give an estimate.)  76

2. Which did you read more: physical books (or on Kindle) or audiobooks? Mostly printed books, maybe 20 or so audio books and the rest were printed.

3. What were your favorite books from the year?
My favorite book this year was The Martian [audio book] by Andy Weir

Honorable mentions include:

Waiting to be Heard [audio book] by Amanda Knox
World War Z by Max Brooks
No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty,
The Road [audio book] by Cormac McCarthy

4. Favorite new authors that you hope to continue reading in 2015? If Andy Weir
writes anything else I would love to read it. I also enjoyed what I read by Lois Lowry.

5. And for fun: do you own an e-reader? If so, what kind? I don't own one.
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Fragment
by Warren Fahy

This was a book I randomly grabbed from the small book exchange at work. The cover describes it as “Jurassic Park on steroids” and it's pretty apt. A small extremely remote island has developed along its own separate evolutionary path. The animal and even plant life on the island is extremely deadly and will kill everything else on Earth if it gets off the island. I wasn't super into it at first, but towards the end I really liked it and even took it home to finish it off. 3.5/5

The Giver
by Lois Lowry

I would say this was a cross between The Hunger Games and Divergent but it was written in 1991 and proceeds those books by decades. It has a very interesting premise and background (don't want to reveal it exactly!). It was a short but very good read. Highly recommended if you're into the whole Dystopian thing. It's deeper than most books in the genre and will make you think a little bit. 4/5

Tell No One
by Harlan Coben

Another standalone book by Coben that I enjoyed. I love how even the standalones have small references to other books and even the occasional minor character will pop in for a guest appearance. 3.5/5

Where the Red Fern Grows [audio book]
by someone

Ugh, this stupid book. Some website recommended it to me, and didn't tell me it was about an Ozark hillbilly kid and his two stupid dogs (named Little Anne and Old Dan, oh brother). To make matters worse I thought for a while I had lost it and came within a whisker of paying for it at the library. Definitely one of the worst books I've ever read. 1/5

Pandemonium
by Warren Fahy

The sequel to Fragment, I didn't enjoy it as much. There was this whole lame underground city thing going on in Russia that I didn't care about, and it wasn't nearly as interested in this story. It was the opposite in that it started out pretty good and got less interesting as it went along. 2.5/5

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & The Prison of Belief
by Lawrence Wright

My best friend from high school ended up in Scientology when we got to college, so I know a lot about this particular cult. But I haven't really read up on it lately, so this new book (published this year) was a good update. The result: still a scary, corrupt, mind-controlling, money-grubbing, horrible cult. Big surprise! Unfortunately it seems to be gaining a little more acceptance and influence in society. Scary. I was pretty well versed on this evil organization, but there was a lot of stuff in there I didn't know. Frustrating but informative read. 4/5

A Walk in the Woods
by Bill Bryson

A recommendation by [livejournal.com profile] kiwiria and seconded by [livejournal.com profile] hestergray that I really enjoyed. Bryson ends up unknowingly moving next to the Appalachian Trail and decides to walk the entire 2400 mile length of it. He's a very funny writer and he intersperses some history and good anecdotes. Nice quick read I would recommend to anyone. 4/5


Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry

The followup to The Giver, this book takes place in the same world but focuses on an entirely new main character in a different part of that world. I knew going in this book didn't really have anything to do with the first (who says spoilers are always a bad thing!) so I wasn't wondering how and when it was going to tie in. Wasn't quite as good as the first book, but it was still very interesting. The world and setting definitely make you want to learn more about what's going on. 3.5/5

Messenger
by Lois Lowry

The third book in the Giver series, it is a direct sequel to the previous book, following the secondary character from that book. It also relates these two books to the first one with a nice little tie-in that pops up suddenly toward the end. Very anxious to read the fourth and final book in the series. 4/5


Books for December: 9
Books for 2014: 76

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