A Drink Before the War, by Dennis Lehane
I was expecting more from Dennis Lehane, but I suppose for a first novel it’s good enough. A little more cheesy and hard-boiled than I would have liked, and the story itself had little to keep my interest. Still, it moved quickly enough to keep it going. Issues of race and family are addressed in a heavy-handed sort of manner, very black and white (no pun intended) in the sense that the good...
Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson
After giving this a day to settle in my brain, I have to put this in the same company as Dune. He builds an entire world, history, religion, political structure, social structure, magical powers, inhuman creatures, etc. and then builds a story that is inherently glued to every single one of those pieces, all while developing interesting characters and giving us unforseen twists to boot. This was...
Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our...
I have not read many parenting books yet, but this one is going to be hard to top. If I didn’t have others waiting on the shelf I’d start this one over again! Much like his more well known book, Sacred Marriage, the idea is that God uses our children to bring us closer to him, and change us further into the kind of people he wants us to be. Since I suspect that such change is far...
Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files, by Jim...
A sweet collection of short stories that begin before Storm Front and end after Changes. Most of these are just fun additions to the storyline, but Backup, The Warrior, and Aftermath serve to give us a better understanding of key characters and events that Dresden could not be aware of. I give the book 4 stars because there’s more fluff than meat for the price of a hardcover book, but...
Rage, by Stephen King
Like a sinister Breakfast Club. Much better than I expected it to be. Rating: 4 out of 5
Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I’d been waiting 15 years to read this book but never got around to it. It should be right up my alley as I’ve enjoyed books by both authors as well as Douglas Adams. But I slogged through the first half of the book with little more than a couple of chuckles, and wanted to give up long before I did. Technically it’s still on my to-finish list, but with so many other books on my...
Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours, by Jim Butcher
I think most people who read this book will do so because they’re fans of Jim Butcher, and know that the author of The Dresden Files could write Spider-Man with half his quick-witted snark tied behind his back. I wasn’t sure if it would be an exciting book though. I’m not a fan of Black Cat or Rhino, and have never heard of the Ancients (it’s been a while since I collected...
UR, by Stephen King
A fun novella that takes a simple (and relatively common) idea and turns it into a much longer and more interesting story in the buildup. Nothing particularly special here, but it’s a good read nonetheless. Rating: 4 out of 5
A Maiden's Grave, by Jeffery Deaver
Now that’s what a thriller should be! Non-stop from beginning to end, every page filled with suspense. There’s a reason Jeffery Deaver is my favorite mystery writer. Rating: 5 out of 5
The Passage, by Justin Cronin
This one is tough to judge. The beginning and ending are both very good, and really engrossing. But the middle half of the book is really slow and hard to slog through. I feel like this book could have chopped about 40% out of it and been much better. Hard to like or recommend a book that I so often considered dropping. My advice for anyone picking this book up is to know that the first 25% or...
Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales, by Stephen...
As with most short story collections from any good author, some of these were great, some fell pretty flat. But overall, a good set of stories. 1408 is definitely the standout story, it genuinely freaked me out. Rating: 4 out of 5
The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
Although this story suffers from the same kind of very straightforward plot that most older fiction does, and I have become accustomed to intricate twists and surprises, this father of all time travel stories still holds up quite well. One can imagine just how unusual the entire concept of traveling into the future was to its first readers, and what an imagination Wells must have had to come up...
Sunstorm, by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
Baxter and Clarke are both hard sci-fi visionaries, but they’re also hit-or-miss, and this is one of their mutual misses. What do you get when you take a world disaster movie, remove all the visuals and special effects, make the characters so flat as to be interchangeable, and fill all the gaps with science jabber? You get a plot that the reader cares nothing about, even to the last page. ...
Changes, by Jim Butcher
Bravo, Mr. Butcher. The Dresden series has been a thrill ride of all kinds so far, but the aptly-titled Changes is a high point in a fantastic series. It’s here that we finally get a glimpse of just how well planned the story arc has been from the beginning, as pieces of mysteries from all parts of the series begin to come together. Many questions are answered, major resolutions are brought...
Storm Front, by Jim Butcher
Opinions about this first novel of the Dresden Files vary widely. People either hate it, or think it’s pretty good (I don’t know anyone that loves it). This book is one part hard-boiled detective novel, one part fantasy, mixed together to present a lukewarm product that is not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts, but still an entertaining read as long as you don’t take...