Field of Science

What I read 2019

A      The Shining by Stephen King. Excellent book! Saw the great movie of the same name. They're different, I'll leave it at that.

C-      Sherlock Holmes vs Cthulhu: The Adventures of the Deadly Dimensions by Lois H. Gresh. If you want to combine two distinct universe into one and spend a few hours on the beach reading about it, this one's for you. If you're looking for depth, look elsewhere.

A      The Institute by Stephen King. Great story, probably my favorite of King's recent works. Maybe a prequel/sequel to Firestarter, never read it, but saw the movie many years ago. Deals with many themes, not the least of which are reminiscent of locking kids in cages for political purposes.

D      Origin by Dan Brown. Pretty much every other Dan Brown book, except in Spain. Fast paced easy entertaining read, but I already read this story when it was called The DaVinci Code.

C      The Dread Wyrm by Miles Cameron. A good book to pass some time but meh. Good prose regarding troop movements and ideas of warfare, but I could use more, much more, on character development.

C+   Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings. Only read this book because I started binge watching Murdoch Mysteries on Hulu, which are based on the characters in the books this one starts. The characters in the book are profoundly different from those in the TV series, but its a fun read. I am looking forward to reading the next one by the fire this winter at Lake Itasca.

A     The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter. A great world built by Winter. Definitely ephansizes the difference between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. In this day and age, it is good to see the unaccountable powerful get knocked down a peg or two. Reminds me of Pierce Brown's Red Rising books in this way. 

B-    Nest by Terry Goodkind. Not sure how to define this book. Kind of suspense/thriller, but kind of sci-fi, if you count psionic powers (I do). Interesting premise, but as is Goodkind's want, it becomes a heavy handed political hammer in the latter portion.

B+   Empire of Grass by Tad Williams. Really did not like some of characters in the first book, which I expect was part of Williams story arc. Maybe I'll like root for them by the end of the trilogy. Could also be having a teenager, makes reading about teenage angst hit too close to home rather than being a fun escape.

B     The Stiehl Assassin by Terry Brooks. Been reading Brooks since I was a teenager, it's weird knowing this world is coming to end with the next book. Regardless, this quadrilogy is some of the best Shannara work since Elfstones and Wishsong.

A-    The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. I enjoy King's forays into different genres and styles, like the installments of The Green Mile and this pulp mystery short story. Really the mystery is a mechanism to describe how an outsider becomes accepted into a small community.
A     The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Did not see this coming! Sometimes its great to have a Barnes & Noble 20% coupon to take a chance on a book. Another new world, but this seems to be inspired, at least in part, by East Asian mythos.

B+   Pet Sematary by Stephen King. Book is so much better than the first movie or the more recent version. Particularly the ending.

C     The Dark Forest by Cixin Lui. The Three Body Problem did not need a sequel, it was a great read in and of itself. Regardless, The Dark Forest takes us into dealing with the future arrival of an alien fleet and how to survive. Seemed a little clunkier than The Three Body Problem, but that could be an issue of translation from the original Chinese. 

A     She Has Her Mother's Laugh by Carl Zimmer. This is probably the best science book I have read over the last decade. Should be required reading for anyone into the biological sciences. This is my book of the year!

B     The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. A great horror story/decent into madness story. Leans more towards the horror side. Reminded a little of Stephen King's Rose Red miniseries, where a group of strangers are brought to an ostensibly haunted house. Just googled it, and Rose Red is a degree of separation from Jackson's work.

B+   Sand by Hugh Howey. A different world built by Howey, from the Wool trilogy. A post-apocalyptic story where the world, at least what we see of it, is basically buried in desert. Looking forward to the next follow up, if there is one, to see where this goes.

A     The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Horrific book that captures what I think many male Evangelicals would like the country to look like. Albeit they would miss out on the fact they would not be the elite with wives and broodmares.

B+   Outsider by Stephen King. A continuation of the Mr. Mercedes universe, but since (spoiler alert) Hodges is dead how does it continue? This story focuses on a new police officer and Holly, the introverted colleague of Hodges from the early stories. Like the earlier books, its a mystery crossed with sic-fi horror.

C     Echo Burning by Lee Child. Jack Reacher being Jack Reacher. To be read at the beach with a beer or two.

B     An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington. A solid second novel in the Licanius Series. After establishing a strong world in the first book, absent much historical information, we begin to fill in those gaps. This makes the second book more than simply a lever to help get us to the third book. 

D     Night flyers and Other Stories by George R.R. Martin. A collection of good short stories by GRRM. All, if I recall correctly, are sci-fi and not fantasy which is distinct from his more popular Game of Thrones books.

22 books read this year. Slightly better than last year. Of these, 21 were fiction, 10 were sci-fi/fantasy, 5 were by Stephen King, and 1 was a classic. Only 1 non-fiction book and it was biology.

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