I know I only have 21 books on this list, which seems like a major slide from previous years. And as I mentioned last year this is partly because of reading more magazines and articles (via Pocket, if you don’t have this app go get it.) But this year it’s also because of increased reading to our 5 year old Goddaughter. I have read Bad Kitty Gets a Bath and Bad Kitty Vs. Uncle Murray about 4,000 times this last year. She absolutely loves these graphic novel style early reader chapter books. Check out my post for 5 books for 5 year-olds to see more of what we’ve been reading lately.
The Rating System:
Liked It A lot
- Dreamlander – This book premise was really unique, which is why I borrowed it from the Kindle Lending Library. The main character in this book passes between worlds when he sleeps. Falling asleep in our world he awakens in Lael, as a Gifted. One Gifted is born every generation, however because the previous gifted made some bad choices he was put to death. Most of the Kingdom of Lael isn’t very happy to have see a second gifted in their lifetime, esp the princess whose job it is to guide the Gifted in her world. Switching back and forth between worlds, and trying to find a balance in two worlds while life is falling apart for Chris this book is a great ride. I enjoyed the process of Chris learning to use his talent, and the increasing stakes for both worlds.
- Rising Sun – Michael Crichton books are hit and miss with me. Especially when the books are really dated, like Rising Sun. I’m sure it seemed more cutting edge and suspenseful in 1992. Even then I bet people thought it was sort of a rip off of Die Hard. Hollywood has learned how to take this basic plot outline and do it 100% better. Plus it’s full of racism against Japanese. The only reason to read this book in today’s world is if you really want to read through all of the Crichton collection.
- Avalon: The Return Of King Arthur (The Pendragon Cycle Book 6) – Stephen R Lawhead is one of my top five favorite authors of all time. I fell in love with his books as a teen and never looked back. Avalon is an interesting entry in the Pendragon cycle. I love Taliesin and Merlin, this entry in the series fast-forwards to modern Scotland. The monarchy is in trouble, and about to be disbanded all the royal family either dead or having signed abdications, when a man from Scotland makes a startling claim to the throne. Captain James Arthur Stuart will become the king of England. But there forces of evil out to see that he doesn’t stay king for long. This book blends sword and sorcery tales with Tom Clancy like political intrigue, an interesting mix to be sure.
- Giants (Lost Civilizations: 1) – Another book from the Kindle Lending Library, set in post Eden/pre-Flood Biblical earth.
- Miramont’s Ghost – A Kindle First selection. First of all, I do not like spooky stories. I am not normally a “ghost story” type of person. I didn’t know it was a ghost story at first. I thought it was going to be a supernatural period piece. A sort of steam-punk-lite book was what I got from the description. Well, I was wrong. It was a ghost/horror-lite story. The main character is one you have a lot of sympathy for and well you end up really hating the antagonists. The fact that someone can dream up such cruel characters really baffles me. These character aren’t just bad they are cruel and evil at heart and the further the book goes into their motivations the more you dislike them. Well written but with characters I’d like to forget which is why it gets an “okay” rating.
- Leviathan (Lost Civilizations: 2) – This book begins right where Giants left off and kept the action up most of the way through. Which is why the ending is so baffling. It ends on such a “blah” that I haven’t bothered to continue reading the series. It’s almost like he couldn’t decide how to end the book, so he just left it and went on to his ideas for the next project.
- The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) – The closer I got t o the end of this series the more nervous I became. Especially with some of the revelations in this book. The gloom and doom factor is really high in the part of the series. It follows the same basic plot as the rest of the books, they find someone they can trust, that trust is broken through some devious means by Count Olaf and the orphans are in worse shape than before. Although this time is brings back characters from the other volumes and sort out the best of the best and worst of the worst.
- The Gemini Effect – A Kindle First selection. Again (as with Miramont’s Ghost) what I thought I was getting turned out to be very different with the book I ended up reading. I thought this was going to be a science fiction book, it turned out to be a monster-horror novel. The book is about some toxic substance that accidentally ends up int the back of car in a junk yard, where it is forgotten about for years until it leaks out mixes with acid rain gets onto some rats who then mutate into monsters. As the book goes on the monsters multiply and mutate more and more. The country begins to fall apart, and there is some crazy subplot about a Soviet sleeper in the Presidents inner circle. The sub plot is absolutely ridiculous and in my option takes away from the real action of the story. The only good thing about this book is the twist at the end. Read it if you like monster-horror, but otherwise skip it.
- Beyond the Ashes: The Golden Gate Chronicles – Book 2 –(Disclaimer: The Author is personal friend of mine.) This book picks up where Out of the Ruins left off. But it follows a different set of character for the majority of the book. Beyond the Ashes, focuses on Gerald and Ruby, but still continues the story of Robert and Abby. It really a story of second chances and rebuilding broken lives, and a broken city of the earthquake of 1906. What I like about Karen’s books is that even though they are “Christian Romance” they don’t feel like a romance book. The characters feel real and personal, like people you might know. They also feel just like they fit into the setting and action (which when I’ve read other Christian Romance stories it’s felt like modern characters with modern motivations stuck into a historical setting… I have started and not finished several of these novels.) Karen has created characters and a story that draws you in. I have already preordered Through the Shadows because I really want to spend more time with these characters and to find out what happens to them.
10. – 15. The Powerless Series: Complete 5-Book Set – Since I read this series back-to-back I am going to review it as one entry. The first thing you have to know about this series is that it’s set in an imagery world where they have absolutely NO IDEA how to educate children. If this is going to bother you then don’t read the Powerless Series, because it will be a big deal in the first few books and really set the underlying tone for the world-building.
The next thing you need to know is that because of the education system the military is run by power hungry dunder-heads. If an completely incompetent military will drive you nuts that you probably shouldn’t read this series.
Those things aside, this is one of the most unique worlds I’ve ever visited in a book. The author’s idea for the world is so outrageous that I just had to read through all the books to find out where he was planning on taking it.
The back drop is a world where everyone has some sort of power, everyone that is except for Mira. These powers range from useful (controlling the weather) to bizarre (sweating oil or giving birth to random animals.) Basically instead of relying on scientific understanding to get things done they reply on finding someone who has the power to do it.
We being the story with Mira, who has been kept from the outside world by her fathers ability to control the weather who has created a cloud wall around their home. Her mother (who has the power to put you to sleep with a touch) and father are afraid that a powerless person would be a freak and wouldn’t be able to make it in the outside world. So they’ve kept her at home teaching her from a series of scientific manuals.
Teenage Mira finally gets to join her peers in school and tries her best to fit in. The problem is that her peers do think shes a freak, and the education system is set up to pit power against power to see whose power can win in a fight (really, I warned you that their system was the worst.) It becomes a story about overcoming the odds, coming of age and learning to work together.
Like any series some books are better than others, but over all I enjoyed the journey.
- Crooked Little Lies – A Kindle First selection. Finally a Kindle First Selection that lives up to my expectations. I thought it was going to be a drama, and it WAS A DRAMA! There were a couple of times in the book that it hinted at something supernatural being behind the events that were occurring, but thankfully it didn’t turn into a horror story at any point. The story certainly has lots of twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the end. I would put this up there with a Mary Higgins Clark novel. The story revolves around two characters Lauren Wilder, who had a traumatic brain injury and as a result an opiate addiction and Bo Laughlin, a young man who seems to be on the Autism spectrum who disappears shortly after a run in with Lauren. The books description sums it up nicely…
Unable to trust herself and unwilling to trust anyone else, Lauren begins her own investigation into the mystery of Bo’s disappearance. But the truth can prove to be as shocking as any lie, and as Lauren exposes each one, from her family, from her friends, she isn’t the only one who will face heart-stopping repercussions.
- The Illearth War: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book Two – This book is a major reason my reading stalled out… It’s so hard to get through a book when you don’t like the characters. Everyone seems to think that the Thomas Covenant books are classic fantasy, but I just have a lot of trouble getting into them. It’s a really unique idea to have a leper at the center of the story, but the character of Thomas Covenant pushes the troupe of the reluctant hero past the point of tolerance. If you can’t relate to or even like the protagonist the story is going to have trouble keeping your attention. (Which by the way, is why my husband can’t stand NCIS… he thinks that same way about Gibbs.) Plus the not so subtle incest lust side story in this book really turned me off.
- The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13) – With every chapter I became more and more afraid for how this series was going to end. Which is why I started the book in May and didn’t finish it until November. I kept putting it aside to read other things. However I was pleasantly surprised by the way the series ended. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but you take up reading the series you can go ahead and read it all the way through without a big let down.
- The Looking Glass Wars –I love this re-telling of the Wonderland story. Alyce is a spoiled princess when we first meet her. Her mother is the queen of Wonderlandia, a place when imagination is basically magic. And just like magic there is white imagination (good and productive) and black imagination (bad and destructive.) White imagination rules the land since the elder sister of the queen, Redd, was banished. New and inventive creations are paraded through the streets and some are chosen to be sent into the Heart Crystal into the other realms (including earth.) Redd comes out of hiding with her army of card soldiers and her personal assassin, the Cat, and suddenly Alyce is on the run falling through the pool of tears into our world.
- Prophet (Books of the Infinite Book #1) – I reviewed this book in 2012 (#1 in the Bonus area at the bottom of the list.) I do try to re-read a book every year and this year it happened to be Prophet, because I finally got my hands on the next book(s) in the series.
- Judge (Books of the Infinite Book #2) – This book picks up right where Prophet ended. It digs deeper into the character of Kien and his relationship to the Infinite when he is sent on a mission of his own, to warn a neighboring territory that they are to return to the Infinite. When he fails to do that… well there is a bigger adventure awaiting him if he will choose follow the Infinite’s voice. Meanwhile Ela faces a revelation about her home and the evil that has settled into the heart of the people there. A great mix of action, and spiritual intrigue. I loved every minute of Judge.