2016 Reads

I finished just over 30 titles in the last year. Looking at the ratings I gave on Goodreads, a little over half were 4 stars while the rest were 2 or 3 stars and no 5 stars this year. I am either a grumpy old man now or am picking the wrong books to read considering I gave several 5 star ratings in 2015 and 2014. This is everything I read in the last 12 months:

  • Cotton Malone – Steve Berry
    • The Templar Legacy
  • I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
  • Hello, Startup – Yevgeniy Brikman
  • Mistborn: Wax and Wayne – Brandon Sanderson
    • The Alloy of Law
    • Shadows of Self
    • The Bands of Mourning
  • Mitch Rapp – Vince Flynn
    • Act of Treason
    • Protect and Defend
  • His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
    • The Golden Compass
  • Amos Decker – David Baldacci
    • Memory Man
    • The Last Mile
  • John Puller – David Baldacci
    • The Forgotten
    • The Escape
    • No Man’s Land
  • Revival – Stephen King
  • Redshirts – John Scalzi
  • Call for the Dead – John le Carre
  • Eon – Greg Bear
  • Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne – Brian Staveley
    • The Emperor’s Blades
    • The Providence of Fire
    • The Last Mortal Bond
  • Bill Hodges – Stephen King
    • Mr. Mercedes
    • Finders Keepers
    • End of Watch
  • NOS4A2 – Joe Hill
  • Harry Bosch – Michael Connelly
    • Blue on Black
    • The Wrong Side of Goodbye
  • Jack Reacher – Lee Child
    • Night School
  • Culture – Iain M. Banks
    • Consider Phlebas
  • From a Buick 8 – Stephen King
  • Rainbows End – Vernor Vinge

I won’t go into detail on everything I read but I will highlight a few titles.

Mistborn: Wax and Wayne – Brandon Sanderson

Without a doubt, Sanderson is a great writer. I like his unusual magic systems. They tend to be reasonably sound as far as magic systems go. The Wax and Wayne books are a fun jaunt back into the Mistborn world. I’m looking forward to the third Mistborn trilogy in the coming years. If you’re a Mistborn fan, you will likely enjoy this. If you haven’t read any Sanderson, pick up Elantris and the first Mistborn trilogy. Those are great stories. Jim’s score: B.

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne – Brian Staveley

This series started out great and I was really looking forward to reading each successive book but by the end of the trilogy, I just wanted it to be over. Upon reflection, I was hoping this would be a wonderful fantasy distraction until GRRM released the next Game of Thrones volume or Rothfuss gave us the final installment of the Kingkiller Chronicle. Alas, I continue to pine for awesome fantasy. Jim’s score: C.

Bill Hodges – Stephen King

With the exception of the Dark Tower, King hasn’t shown a penchant for writing a series of books. Between 2014 and 2016, he broke with that tradition and released a series of books known as the Bill Hodges trilogy. It is a bit more mainstream but still has many of the trappings of classic King horror about the books. I enjoyed the read and feel they are one of the better latter day King publications (along with 11-22-63). Jim’s score: A-.

2014 Books: Macabre/Fantasy

Suspense • Science Fiction • Macabre/Fantasy

I strayed heavily (back) into the writings of King last year. Outside of The Regulators/Desperation in 2012, it’s been 20 years since I read a King novel. Needful Things (1991) is the last work I remember reading prior to the 2012 flirtation and last year’s obsession. I blame Chris Brooks. He recommended 11-22-63, claiming it was a great read. What did I do? I listened Thanks, mate! ;-P

The Crystal Shard (R. A. Salvatore)

This is only one of two traditional fantasy (and non-King) stories in this group! I read and enjoyed the Dark Elf trilogy (Homeland / Exile / Sojourn) a few years ago. I’ve had the Icewind Dale trilogy (The Crystal Shard / Streams of Silver / The Hafling’s Gem) queued up but never pulled the trigger on reading them. I jumped off the starting block with the first volume last year but still need to crack open the other two volumes. As with the Dark Elf books, I enjoyed reading The Crystal Shard. At the same time, there is nothing new here. It is traditional, straight forward fantasy fare. Fans of the character will enjoy and it fulfills that occasional guilty pleasure of reading a swashbuckling fantasy adventure. Jim’s score: B.

11-22-63 (Stephen King)

This is King’s take on time travel and it is not without merit! What would have happened if the JFK assassination was averted? Read this to find out! 😀 It doesn’t reach the heights of The ShiningThe Stand, or It, but it is a good read. Jim’s score: B+.

The Shining (Stephen King)

The Shining

Doctor Sleep

The Shining is King at his best. I re-read this as a precursor to reading, Doctor Sleep, the sequel. Both are great rides but The Shining is, without question, one of the top three books he has ever published.Yes, there is paranormal stuff going on here but watching Jack spiral out of control as his sanity unravels is an amazing piece of writing. In the followup, we learn how Danny’s life turns out and, while different, is a worthwhile read for fans of the original. Jim’s score: A+ (The Shining), B+ (Doctor Sleep).

The Eyes of the Dragon (Stephen King)

This is one of the first non-horror novels King wrote and received considerable criticism since it was outside what everyone (fans and critics) expected from him. It is a solid, young adult fantasy novel with a very clear good versus evil theme. I read it in my run-up to start reading The Dark Tower series since it features (Randall) Flagg as the antagonist who also turns up as the bad guy in The Stand and The Dark Tower novels. Jim’s score: B.

It (Stephen King)

It was another re-read. This, too, was another reading in preparation for starting down the road to The Dark Tower. Like The Shining, it’s been nearly 30 years since I read this and had forgotten how good his material from the ’70s and ’80s was. Beyond the scary monster, King incorporates a number of themes including the magic of imagination and the power of friendship. Jim’s score: A.

The Little Sisters of Eluria (Stephen King)

A short story about Roland sometime before the beginning of The Gunslinger. Jim’s score: B.

The Gunslinger (Stephen King)

The Gunslinger is the first of The Dark Tower novels and concerns Roland as he chases Walter (aka the man in black aka Randall Flagg) across the world. Just as important, though, is what we learn about Roland through flashbacks and reminiscences as the chase unfolds. Jim’s score: A-.

Thoughts on 2015

Without a doubt, more King. I’ve already finished the second book of The Dark Tower and am more than half done with the third. Based on my Dark Tower plan, I will meander through a considerable amount of related material before I am finished and not all of that will be this year. I may knock out the remaining two volumes of the Icewind Dale trilogy and will probably read The Slow Regard for Silent Things while I await the third entry in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss.

That’s all I have for 2014! Drop me a line with your recommendations. I’m always looking for great new reads in science fiction and fantasy!

Suspense • Science Fiction • Macabre/Fantasy