Reading Roundup for 2016

Here are most of the books I’ve read during 2016:

Classics

Contemporary Fiction

Drama

Graphic Novels

Rereads (these are all pretty much also Science Fiction & Fantasy)

Science Fiction & Fantasy Series

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Spiritual

Writing Instruction

Art Appreciation

Find my latest book on Amazon: Christ Simply, A Chronological Self-Guided Study through the Life of Christ.

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Science Fiction and Fantasy I read this year and why I did or did not like them

9780316246620_p0_v6_s192x300Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Genre: Science Fiction; Space Opera
A starship, thousands of years old, has been dismantled and its memories downloaded into one of its mechanic beings that seeks revenge. First of all, the narrator of this story is the starship who cannot distinguish gender, so every character is male, although some of them are actually female. This makes the story both clever and confusing. Clues exist to should which are female, but then the question arises: does it really matter?

9780374104092_p0_v2_s192x300Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Southern Reach #1
Area X has been cut off from civilization for years and everyone who goes in either disappears or goes insane when they return. While I enjoyed this well-written episode in this series, I felt unable to really care about the characters. I can see why this series is popular, but I probably won’t read the rest of the books in it.

9780804137256_p0_v2_s192x300Armada by Ernest Cline
Genre: Science Fiction
One day, teen nerd Zach Lightman sits in class bored to death and the next he finds himself fighting off invading aliens and asking, “How did I get here?” It seems every science fiction book, movie and tv show of the past several decades have actually been training modules for earthlings to fight off the nasty lizard beings heading toward earth. It’s very similar to Ender’s Game and strangely enough, that’s the whole point. I loved, loved, loved Cline’s novel Ready Player One, and even though I get what he was doing in Armada, I thought it lacked something. Not a bad read, but don’t go into it expecting Ready Player One.

9780812976823_p0_v2_s192x300The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Genre: Urban Fantasy; Horror
A young woman finds herself in the middle of a war between two groups of mystical humans. This ended up being one of my favorite reads in 2015. It’s quite long, but I enjoyed the well-developed characters and storyline that is pieced together with each chapter. And the ending nearly killed me emotionally. Mitchell is the author of A Cloud Atlas, which I have not read, but I’ve heard The Bone Clocks is better.

9780316217583_p0_v2_s192x3009780316334686_p0_v2_s192x300Cibola Burns and Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey
Genre: Sc
ience Fiction; Space Opera
Series: The Expanse (#
4 xand #5 respectively)
I will just go ahead and admit this series is currently my favorite in the SF genre. A new tv series based on these books just started on the SyFy channel, which is no surprise; these novels were meant to be adapted for the screen. The last installment, Nemesis Games, is probably my favorite along with the first book in the series. What makes NG special is the revelation of the backgrounds of the main characters. Finally. In the first four books, their histories were only hinted at, but this volume shows more about why they are the way they are. And it’s a pretty epic Apocalyptic story that turns the series in a whole new direction.

9781481455923_p0_v9_s192x300City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Genre: Urban Fantasy; Young Adult Fiction
Series: The Mortal Instruments #1
Clary Flay is a teen girl who finds out she has a supernatural background. This is the first in a series that falls into the Young Adult Urban Fantasy genre, to which the Twilight series belongs. I’ve never read Twilight. But I did like this book. A movie was made of the book a few years ago and now there is a television show based on the books.

9781482567434_p0_v2_s192x300Days Gone Bad by Eric A. Asher
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Vesik #1
Damian Valdis Vesik is a Harry Dresden type modern day wizard who fights the local supernatural bad guys. Okay, I wanted to like this book more than I did. It had great dialogue, characters, and action scenes but I could not figure out who the antagonist was in this novel. The characters are reacting to situations, but I wasn’t sure why. I feel the author should have made the bad guy more tangible. The reviews for the next book in this series are positive, so I’m going to give it another shot because, overall, Asher is a good writer.

2940045438209_p0_v2_s192x300Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland
Genre: Fantasy; Urban Fantasy
Every time Chris Redston falls asleep, he wakes up in a different reality where he is a messiah figure everyone wants to kill. That would put a cramp in anyone’s day. This ended up being one of my favorites for 2015. Weiland has written several books on the craft of fiction writing, and all her skills are obvious in the execution of this story. If you like swash-buckling adventure, romance and fantasy, you’ll enjoy Dreamlander.

9780545284141_p0_v2_s192x300False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult Fiction
The setting is a Middle Earth type world where an orphan boy named Sage is kidnapped and used to replace a prince who’s gone missing. Although I’ve classified this as Fantasy, there is really no magic in this novel, just a great story.

9780544336261_p0_v4_s192x300The Giver by Lois Lowry
Genre: Science Fiction; Young Adult Fiction
I read this about 20 years ago when it first came out and after seeing the 2014 movie, I became inspired to read it again. Having gained twenty years of sorrow and joy, I appreciate this book more. The question of “Why is there pain?” causes more people to lose their faith in a supreme being, causes many people every year to take their own lives, causes the lonely and hurting to fall into the depths of hopelessness. But pain in life is necessary. This book shows why.

9780765381323_p0_v3_s192x300Lock In by John Scalzi
Genre: Science Fiction; Murder Mystery
A mysterious disease causes a portion of the world’s population to be locked in their bodies, unable to move. Technology is created in which their consciousness is transferred to robotic bodies so they can interact with society. Chris Shane is one of the disease’s victims who finds himself solving a murder in his robotic body. This novel was obviously written to be adapted for television or movies, but that’s okay. It’s a fun read.

9780452296299_p0_v1_s192x300The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Magicians #1
Quinten Coldwater finds himself enrolled in a secretive school for magic. This book has been described as “Harry Potter for adults” and I would say that is a fair assessment. It’s a little dark at some points, and too be honest, the protagonist is kind of hard to like, but overall a good read.

9780553418026_p0_v3_s192x300The Martian by Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
In the not too distant future, astronaut and botanist, Mark Watney, finds himself accidentally stranded on Mars after his crewmates took off during a sandstorm. The book and the movie follow each other as closely as possible, but the endings are executed slightly differently. If you liked the movie, you’ll love the book as it goes into more detail. Also, the author is fantastic at making the scientific infodumps seem comprehensible.

The_Maze_Runner_coverThe Maze Runner by James Dashner
Genre: Science Fiction; Young Adult Fiction
Thomas wakes up with no memories and finds himself in a strange prison-like environment. Too make things worse, everyone blames him when out of the ordinary things begin to happen. I finally got a chance to read this. I enjoyed it. If you like The Hunger Games or the Divergent series, you’ll like this one. Movies based on this book series have been released–seems like that is the case for many of the books I read in 2015.

9780316198363_p0_v1_s192x3009780316198387_p0_v1_s192x300The Spirit War and Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Legend of Eli Monpress (#4 and #5 respectively)
You know how you get sad at the end of a book because you’ll miss the characters so much? That’s me and this series. I finished the last two books of this series and now I’m sad that there are no more stories about Eli Monpress and his associates.

9781468132335_p0_v1_s192x300The Unraveling by Hugh Howey
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Wool #4
Post-apocalyptic tale of humans living inside an enormous silo and the rewriting of history by the winners. The author originally wrote this in five parts and then put them together in one volume. Eager to read the last book soon.

What I read this past year

For some reason, I did not read as many books as I usually do during a year. Looking at my list, I was heavily influenced by books that came out as movies. Also, lots of books marketed to young adults. Overall, still a great year of reading for me. In case you are interested, here is what I read in 2014:

9780375842207_p0_v6_s260x420The Book Thief

World War II literature from the viewpoint of the German citizens. A mystery narrator tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl who has a difficult life in Germany as Hitler rises to power. Don’t worry, the mystery narrator is revealed. A sad story to read, but brilliantly told.

 

9780062387240_p0_v1_s260x420Divergent

A mix of The Hunger Games and The Matrix. Fun to read if you don’t take it too seriously. Beatrice Prior’s lives in a dystopian Chicago world, where everyone in is divided into five factions. But what happened to everyone outside of this apocalyptic city?

 

9780062234933_p0_v2_s260x420Insurgent

The story from Divergent continues as Tris attempts to discover the truth about her whole life and her society. The answers to what exactly is going on are unpeeled like an onion. At this point, fans of this series have already figured out which camp they belong to: “I would be Euridite” or “I would be Dauntless.” The author, a mere 26 years old, incorporates Christian themes into this series.

9780062024060_p0_v6_s260x420Allegiant

The conclusion of the story began in Divergent. Some fans of this series became upset because this third installment of the series is told in a different manner than the previous two: the point-of-view switches between two of the characters, rather than just the main heroine of the series. At the end, it’s understood why the author did this, but it sent some readers out of their comfort zone. Besides that, a good conclusion to the series.

9780307887443_p0_v1_s260x420Ready Player One

Calling all nerds, dorks and geeks for this science fiction thriller that romps through 1980’s pop culture. Even if you weren’t a teen in the 80’s or were born yet, you’ll enjoy this SF romp through virtual reality. Probably my favorite book I read this year.

 

9781630871161_p0_v1_s260x420

Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey In and Out of Calvinism

Describes the spiritual journey of a young man as he enters and leaves Calvinism in his Christian beliefs. I have worked for a church from a reformed tradition and a church from a non-denominational background. This book presented the differences in a concise and clear way. The author is fair and doesn’t slam anyone in the process. I just found out this book is a best seller in the Christian book market for 2014.

9780553588941_p0_v3_s260x420The Lies of Locke Lamora

If you think you’d like Ocean’s Eleven in a fantasy setting, then you’d probably like this book. Lynch is a master of dialogue and description. Great character interaction. Probably could have been a little shorter, but overall a great treat for anyone who likes speculative fiction that slants toward fantasy. Definitely going to read the others in this series.

9780525478812_p0_v1_s260x420The Fault in Our Stars

Two teens with cancer fall in love and contemplate the time they may or may not have left. The author attempts to get into the mind of a teen girl who will probably die young. This is one of those books made into a movie and marketed to young adults, but anyone will enjoy it. Lots of good quotes.

9780553418361_p0_v2_s260x420Gone Girl

Lots of twists along this journey. It is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Enjoyable read, but the ending left me a little unsatisfied.

 

9780062200587_p0_v4_s260x420N0S4A2

If you like Stephen King or Dean Koontz, you’ll probably like this. Surprised at how much I liked this book. Great protagonist. I kept thinking, “This reads like a Stephen King book” and later I found out the author is his son. By the way, the title is a license plate that is pronounced nosferatu, which is a word meaning vampire.

 

9781594632341_p0_v2_s260x420The Interestings

Examine the relationships of six people over several decades. I have to admit I was a little disappointed in this novel. While the author has a pleasant writing style, the story felt slow to me and I had a hard time caring about the characters. While some people may enjoy this story, I was not one of them.

9780310337973_p0_v4_s260x420Moment Maker

You can live your life or it will live you. Whitaker is a church worship leader and musician. He’s led worship at my church a few times so I thought I’d read his book. While not deep theologically, Moment Maker makes some good points and is entertaining.

 

2940014544085_p0_v2_s260x420Wool (Omnibus)

Dystopian/post-apocalyptic setting in which Earth’s survivors like in a giant silo and history is a big mystery. The author took five novellas and put them all into one volume. I didn’t realize this at first, so the book overall seems disjointed because the protagonist keeps changing every hundred pages. Once I realized it was five short novels in one volume, it didn’t matter. Good read for SF readers and it’s gaining popularity.

9780803741713_p0_v2_s260x420The Book With No Pictures

Children’s book that turns the reader into a comedian for kids. I read this book to a first grade class and they loved it. It is hilarious. The author, B.J. Novak, is an actor known for his role as the intern in the sit-com The Office. Fun book and helps children to start seeing the value in word choice.

9781613181577_p0_v1_s260x420Princess Pain

Marina is a cold-hearted courier of contraband who likes to play rough. Her life as a loner is just fine until the delivery of a flash drive with stolen weapons technology ends her alias and makes her the target of a power-hungry militia leader who wants her alive, and his sultry assassin lover who wants her dead. I admit that I read this book because I designed the cover, but it ended up being a story with all my favorite guilty pleasures: science-fiction, action, violence and space opera.