Monthly Archives: December 2013

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2013 Reading List

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to set a goal for myself to read more books. Since I’m working at a job that has a long commute, that goal has been made much easier since I listen to audiobooks to keep my sanity while sitting in DFW traffic.

Anyway, I wanted to share my list and I may add some comments about some of the books. If you see something that you might be interested in, just ask and I’ll tell you what I thought of the book.

2013 books read (so far) – in no particular order

Audiobooks

1) Callis Rose by Mark Tufo

  • Great book!

2) Life of Pi by Yann Martel

3) The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell

4) Daughter of the Sword: A Novel of the Fated Blades by Steve Bein

5) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

  • Interesting twist on a world with people with super-powers. 

6) Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler

  • If you wanted a “popcorn-movie” book to read, this would be a good one. 

7) The Disciple by Stephen Coonts

  • Very interesting fictional story involving Iran.

8)  Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
9)  Lycan Fallout: Rise of the Werewolf by Mark Tufo
10 )Killing Floor by Lee Child
11) Greywalker: Book 1 by Kat Richardson
12) City of Bones The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 by Cassandra Clare

  • Meh. Some interesting ideas about the supernatural world, but not much else.

13) The Cobweb by Neal Stephenson, J. Frederick George
14) Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

  • Super heroes in a zombie apocalypse. ‘nuff said.

15) 14 by Peter Clines

  • Hard to describe this book, but it was a quick and enjoyable read.
  • It has a very Stephen King-like feel to it, because it basically takes a collection of normal people and puts them into a very unusual situation.

16) The Cartel by Ashley & Jaquavis

17) Suspect by Robert Crais
18) Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey

  • Great “hard sci-fi” story. I’m looking forward to picking up the sequels.

19) As the Crow Dies: A Jason Crow West Texas Mystery, Book 1 by Ken Casper
20) Among Others by Jo Walton
21) Blowback, A Retrieval Artist Novel by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
22) Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson
23) The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

  • Ugh. 
  • It’s not that she doesn’t tell a good story, it’s just that I didn’t care about the story or the characters. 

24) The Racketeer by John Grisham

  • Meh. It’s a good read in one sense, but I hated the small-town lawyer goes to jail for a few years and is now some sort of master criminal plot. 

25) The Bat: A Harry Hole Thriller, Book 1 by Jo Nesbo
26) The Wind Through the Keyhole: The Dark Tower by Stephen King

  • Great story for fans of the Dark Tower, but not sure anyone else would enjoy it.

27) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

  • Another interesting teenage book with a couple of new ideas about magic.
  • Awkward ending, but still pretty good.

28) Paper Towns by John Green

  • Teenage angst story. Quick and good read. 

29) The Keeper of Lost Causes: Department Q, Book 1 by Jussi Adler-Olsen
30) The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

31) Redshirts by John Scalzi

  • Hilarious! – read by Wil Wheaton

32) 11-22-63 by Stephen King

  • More fantasy than horror, but a great story. King puts a lot of detail into the world of the late 50s and early 60s. Great detail about Dallas as well.

33) Under the Dome by Stephen King (re-read)

  • One of King’s best!

Novels

34) Twelve Years a Slave – Enhanced Edition by Solomon Northup and Dr. Sue Eakin

  • This is the source material for the movie of the same name. This book is Northup’s original account of his experience as a free African-American who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery for 12 years before being found and returned home to New York.
  • It also contains footnotes to Dr. Sue Eakin’s incredibly thorough research documenting the actual people, places and events that take place in the book. 
  • If you see the movie, then I’d recommend reading the book. There are a lot of details the movie didn’t cover that are in the book.

35) Near Death: Book 1 of the Near Death Series by Richard C Hale
36) Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill
37) Death Sight: A Will Castleton Novel by David Bain
38) Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
39) Divergent by Veronica Roth
40) NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
41) The Fixer: A Lawson Vampire Novel 1 by Jon F. Merz
42) World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
43) Horns: A Novel by Joe Hill

44) A Storm of Swords: A Song of Fire and Ice, Book Three by George R. R. Martin (re-read)

45) Blood Skies (Book 1) by Steven Montano

46) Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins (re-read) 

 

Graphic Novels

47) Locke & Key Vol 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
48) Flashpoint by Geoff Johns
49) How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You by the Oatmeal
50) Batwoman Vol 1:Hydrology (The New 52) by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder

51) Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis

  • Part of the New 52, I think. A new twist on Superman that fun to read. Superman is  a hard character to deal with, I think. 
52) Batman: Earth One by Gary Frank & Geoff Johns

53) Hawkeye, Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon by Mark Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido  

  •  I’ve never read much on Hawkeye and thought he was a strange choice to include in the Avengers. After reading this graphic novel, I was much more intrigued by the character and will probably pick up the next volumes of the comic.

Callis Rose – If “Carrie” had a sister…

While it may feel like it’s not completely original, Mark Tufo’s Callis Rose creates a wickedly intriguing and even cringe-worthy horror story around teenage girls that’s very entertaining.

The best way I can think of describing the story would to be take Stephen King’s Carrie and mix it up with the obnoxious popular girls from Mean Girls. 

The story follows Callis Rose, who is a girl with a special ability that she barely understands and has little control over. Her power turns her otherwise happy world upside down and she ends up abandoned to the overtaxed foster care system. The first part of the story follows Callis through the system and we see her go through a series of foster homes that unfortunately give her opportunities to learn more about her abilities. Using her power has a cost, but a part of her also begins to enjoy using the powers against others. 

The story quickly advances her through several years and she ends up with a stable but indifferent family just as she’s about to start high school. In spite of everything she’s lost and everything she’s encountered in the foster care system, Callis appears, on the surface at least, to be a pretty normal but poor teenage girl. 

On her first day of school she meets two people. One of them will become her favorite person in the whole world, and the other the complete opposite. Kevin, who is a junior varsity quarterback quickly becomes her friend and eventually something more. His cheerleader sister, Mindy, despises Callis and makes it her mission in life to destroy Callis and to prevent the relationship with Kevin from getting serious. 

At this point, the story may feel like something you’ve read before, and with the exception of Callis, most of the characters are pretty one dimensional. There’s plenty of teenage angst here. Nice guy quarterback and nice “normal” girl go through the motions of their first dating relationship. Bitchy sister doesn’t approve of the girl her brother is seeing. Popular cheerleaders pick on the poor but pretty new girl. 

But, as Mindy escalates things, we begin to see something deeper both in Mindy and in the relationships between Mindy and her two cohorts. 

Of course, the story gets more interesting and much, much darker once Callis decides to start fighting back. As things progress, there are a couple of scenes that are very cringe-worthy. By the end, though, the lines are so blurred between Callis and Mindy you’re not sure who to really root for. 

Overall, it’s a very entertaining story, and Tufo adds enough new twists to the story, Callis’ powers, and depth to the characters to keep things interesting. I listened to the audiobook and I also enjoyed Sean Runnette’s performance. The story takes place in Colorado, but there are really no elements to the story that are unique to that location. That didn’t really bother me because I could easily imagine the story taking place in DFW or any large city. 

This is the second book I’ve listened to by Mark Tufo. Earlier in the year, I picked up Lycan Fallout: Rise of the Werewolf. I picked it up because I was on a supernatural kick and was tired of reading books on ghosts and vampires. I hadn’t read a good story about werewolves, so I picked this one up.

it’s a great story as well with a mix of variations on the post-zombie-apocalyptic supernatural world. The main character, Mike Talbot, is a great character and enjoyed the story. I’d recommend that book as well with one caveat. I did not know when I picked the book that it picks up from another series from Mark Tufo. I’d recommend starting with his Zombie Fallout series first before getting to the Lycan Fallout book, if only so you can follow Mike Talbot’s adventures from the beginning.

Anyway, Callis Rose is in a completely different vein from Tufo’s other books, and I think if you liked reading King’s Carrie, you’ll enjoy Callis Rose, too.