Archive for Year End Books

Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2012

Posted in books, comic books with tags , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

Here we are, my year end recap of the books I’ve read this year. You can check out my Google Spreadsheet for the full list of books I’ve managed to read in 2012 (and every year prior).

So, like last year, I’ll list out the top 5 books I read and the top 5 comics I read this year. I’m excluding re-reads in my evaluations. I’m only including books I read for the first time in 2012.

Here we go.  In no particular order.

Books


Ready Player One – Ernest Cline – Okay, I’m immediately going to call myself a liar.  I said these were in no order, but I’m telling you right now, this was the best book I read in 2012.  Hands down.  There was a lot of buzz going around about the book and I had several people recommend it to me.  Which usually makes me not want to read things.  However, my friend Trish over at Love, Laughter and Insanity believed that I would love it so much that she actually traveled to a bookstore in which Ernest Cline was signing, had him sign a copy of the paperback and then mailed it to me.  And that’s why she’s awesome.  Thanks, Trish.  Your hard work paid off and it has been named as my favorite book of the year.  Seriously, this book is the truth.  Don’t read anything about it or the story.  Just experience it.  You’re welcome.


Star Wars: Darth Plagueis – Honestly, this was the best book I read for most of 2012.  Then, in early July, I read the above book.  But even if this isn’t my #1, it’s absolutely in my top 5.  This is probably also in the top 5 of Star Wars books of all-time.  This book had been planned, started, stopped and delayed several times.  Finally, James Luceno grabbed the reins and drove this baby home.  It’s a very ambitious novel.  Focusing on the behind the scenes machinations of Darth Sidious and his master, Darth Plagueis.  It’s fascinating to see the rise of Plagueis, his meeting with Palpatine on Naboo, and their cultivating the plan that will eventually be unleashed in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  This book is so good it makes The Phantom Menace a better movie.  Luceno was never one of my favorite Star Wars writers but this book and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader have changed that.  I’m now on the lookout for what Luceno plans to do next.


11/22/63 – Stephen King – I’ve been a fan of King’s work for years.  My favorite stuff are his short story collections but I’ve read most of his other seminal novels.  Earlier in 2012 I had decided to finally read The Stand.  I didn’t just love it.  And after 1130+ pages of that, I was reluctant to read another King book that tops 800 pages.  But I acquired this hardback in early 2012 at a used library book sale for around a dollar.  I’ve always been fascinated with the Kennedy assassination and time travel, so this was a perfect topic for me.  And the story delivers.  King really outdoes himself with this book.  King meanders a bit in the middle, but honestly I didn’t mind because the characters were so engaging.  Really, the Kennedy assassination is almost an afterthought.  But when it finally comes it’s awesome.  This book blew me away.  I highly recommend giving it a shot.  Especially since the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death is Nov 22, 2013.  But get the eBook version.  An 800 page hardback is a little tough to read.

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Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2011

Posted in books, comic books with tags , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

Here we are, I finally begin my year end round up articles. In February. Sorry about that. I wanted to do it earlier but I wanted to give myself a little bit more time to finish off some movies and books that are eligible for this list. But, apologies aside, my lists are here.

As you know, back in 2009 I started keeping a book log with everything I read. It makes looking at this list easier. I keep it in a Google Spreadsheet so I can access it from any computer.

Here it is.

My Book Log

You can click the image to view it or just click here.  So I perused this list and made my selections.  Below are the best books I read last year (not including re-reads).

Unlike last year, I’ve split this list into books and comics/trade paperbacks.  I read enough of both of them to create their own lists and it was hard to weed out stuff just because it was a comic in order to make room for a book.  So, last year I only read three books that were actually released during the 2011 calendar year.  Did they make the list?  Read on to find out.

So without further ado, here are my favorite books I read in 2011.

Lost Hero Son of Neptune
Heroes of Olympus series – Rick Riordan – This is the sequel series to Riordan’s Percy Jackson series which made my inaugural best of list in 2009. It is currently up to book 2.  Son of Neptune is one of the three books that was released in 2011 that I read. I loved the first book in this series, The Lost Hero and Son of Neptune is almost as good. Riordan has created a fascinating world and I long to return to it when book 3 comes out.  And despite what Riodan had said earlier, Percy Jackson is all over this series.  Especially Son of Neptune.

The Magicians
The Magicians – Lev Grossman – Wow, this book is really good. It’s billed as sort of a Harry Potter in high school, and I see the parallels, but this story is tonally a 180 from Harry Potter. From the friendships to even how magic is actually executed, it’s just completely different. And great. This book is great. I look forward to checking out the sequel, The Magician King.  I’ll probably check out a few of Grossman’s other books, too.

Darth Bane 1 Darth Bane 2 Darth Bane 3
Star Wars: Darth Bane trilogy – Drew Karpyshyn – This series was recommended to me years ago by my friend Dr Mike, but I was reluctant to read it because it was about a bunch of Star Wars characters I didn’t know in a time period I knew nothing about.  Boy was I wrong.  It’s amazing.  This series needs to be the template for all the Star Wars books that want to focus on a specific character.  Interesting origins, cool bits of Sith history.  It’s just great.  If you read Star Wars (or science fiction) at all, read this series.

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Year End Book Report: The best books I read in 2010

Posted in books, reviews, Star Trek, Star Wars with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2011 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

Okay, time to “wrap up” my end-of-the-year “wrap up”. Last week I posted my annual Movie Board articles featuring the best and worst movies of 2010.  I’ve been doing those lists since 2007Starting last year, I added The Book Report reviewing all the best books I read throughout the year.  Today is the 2010 Book Report.

During the year, I keep a Google Spreadsheet logging all the books I read.  Here’s a screenshot and link to the spreadsheet.

Google Spreadsheet
Google Spreadsheet containing my book log.

The spreadsheet tells me I read 62 books this past year.  That’s about 10 more books than the year before.  I read a lot more graphic novels this year as opposed to last year which accounts for the increase in books.  Those graphic novels can be read in an afternoon, so it pumps up my book totals.  Plus I read several Young Adult books that took only a few days to read.

I also did a lot of re-reads this past year.  I re-read 6 or 7 Star Wars novels I hadn’t read since the 90s. I also re-read the final Harry Potter book. Every once in a while I get in a kick of re-reading books I loved but haven’t read in years. After two or three years, you’d be surprised how much you forget about the story. It’s like reading the books again for the first time.  But I will not include any books I re-read in this list.  Only books I read in 2010 for the first time will be included.

Anyway, on to the list. Here’s the best books I read in 2010 in no particular order.

7 Deadly Wonders 6 Sacred Stones 5 Greatest Warriors
Jack West, Jr series by Matthew Reilly – I found the second book, Six Sacred Stones, in a box of books my buddy Dr Mike was getting rid of a year or two ago.  I read the back and it sounded good, so I took it.  Mike mentioned he thought there may be a book before it because he felt he was missing some of the story when he read it.  I searched Paperbackswap.com and found out he was right.  So I ordered the first book, Seven Deadly Wonders and read both books back to back.  And I loved them.  The story is very much part Indiana Jones, part Da Vinci Code and part National Treasure.  The action is very fast paced.  I had read two other Reilly books, Area 7 and The Contest, before this and they were equally as awesome.  Reilly really can write fun action books.  The story centers around Jack West Jr, an Australian military solider and his international and eclectic team who discover that a supernatural event will soon cause the end of the world and set out across the globe, uncovering clues to find out how to stop it.  That’s a really high level explanation, but you get the idea.  The third book in this series, Five Greatest Warriors, was just released in paperback on Dec 28.  I read it last week.  Unbelievable.  I love each one of these books.  The first one, Seven Deadly Wonders, is the best, followed closely by Six Sacred Stones and Five Greatest Warriors which are tied.  Such good reads.  I am concerned though.  The final page in FGW actually says THE END.  I don’t know why you’d start a series counting down from 7 and then not finish it because the story in Book 3 ends with no cliff hanger.  However, Reilly has stated he has other ideas and if he continues Jack West’s story, it’ll count down to 1.  I’m glad, because I adore these books and want more.  I may have to continue Reilly’s other book series about a special forces soldier code named Scarecrow while I wait.

Demonata 1 Demonata 2 Demonata 3
Demonata series by Darren Shan – I was recommended this series by my brother-in-law’s brother-in-law (brother-in-law once removed?)  Anyway, he knew I liked Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak series so he told me to give this series a try.  And I did.  And it’s awesome.  Very dark and sinister, Shan is building up a very interesting world of magic and demons.  The story is kind of in depth and builds over the entire series so it’s tough to nail down a synopsis for you without ruining anything.  But the world is dark and the demons are horrific.  Know that so far I’ve read books 1 – 3 in this series and I plan on reading more.  So far the series sits at 10 books.

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Year End Book Report: The best books I read in 2009

Posted in Book Report, books, reviews with tags , , , on January 21, 2010 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

I don’t read books like I watch movies.  Most of the books I read in a year didn’t come out that year.  I will rarely read a brand new book the year it is released.  Part of that is because I don’t like reading hardback books.  I prefer sitting down with a nice paperback.  It just feels right.  Are there exceptions?  Of course there are.  Harry Potter.  Dan Brown.  Larry Bird.  All of these will get me to buy a hardback book and read it the moment it is released.  As a matter of fact, two of those three authors released hardback books this year that I got and read (Dan Brown and Larry Bird).  Did they make my favorites list?  Wait and see.

I’ve never really done a book list for this blog and that’s mainly because I’ve never kept a good, consistent log of what I read in a given year.  This past year, however, I did start keeping a detailed log of books I read.  I kept a log in previous years, but it includes only about half the books I read and very little detail about the book.  In Jan 2009 I started keeping track of more data and I did it with consistency (which is key).  I keep it in a spreadsheet on Google.  Well, it started in a book journal called Book Lust (which Steph gave me for Xmas 2008), but then, when I completed the journal on New Year’s Eve I moved it to Google Spreadsheet.

Here’s the Google Spreadsheet containing my book log

The first tab on the left is all the data for every year in the spreadsheet.  Then the tabs moving to the right are each year broken out by itself.  2009 has the most data, 2008 is fairly complete, but 2007 is almost bare.

Perusing my book log I see I finished 52 books last year.  That’s a book a week.  Not bad.  It’s almost exactly the number of 2009 movies I saw last year (53).  Eerie.  Anyway, like I said, most of the books I read were not released in 2009.  The only books actually released in 2009 that I read were Star Wars: Death Troopers, The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown and When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

So, without further ado, here are my five favorite books I read in 2009 (in no particular order).

When the Game Was Ours
When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson – Okay, I know I just said these books were in no particular order, but I lied.  Every book but this one is in no particular order.  This book was my favorite book I read last year, and I didn’t even get it until Christmas day and then I read it in 3 days.  Fantastic, fantastic book.  A great look back at one of the greatest times in NBA history, the razzle, dazzle 1980s, by two of the game’s greatest stars, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.  I can’t even begin to describe how great this book is.  If you are a fan of basketball, especially back in the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s, then you owe it to yourself to READ THIS BOOK.  Hell, I’ve followed Larry Bird since the ’80s, I read his autobiography, Drive (TWICE!), as well has his book on coaching, Bird Watching, and I STILL came out with information I’ve never known before.  Larry and Magic discuss in frank detail what it was like to be them and playing each other.  AWESOME.

Percy Jackson series
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Books 1 -5) by Rick Riordan – I’m counting these as one.  I read Books 1-4 in 2009.  I started Book 5 on Jan 1, 2010.  But, the series, I think, should be judged as a whole.  This is one fantastic series.  For those lamenting the ending of Harry Potter, this is a great series to read to fill that gap.  Of the five books, four of them easily belong on this list.  EASILY.  Book 2, while good, is not great.  Almost a little boring.  But Books 3-5 are so unbelievably fantastic that I can easily give Book 2 a pass.  I hear Riordan may be retiring Percy Jackson after Book 5, but the world he’s created with the Greek/Roman gods and demigods will continue on in another series.  I can’t wait to start those too because the world Riordan created is fascinating and fun.  If you love Harry Potter and/or Greek/Roman mythology, you will LOVE this series.  I can’t wait for the movie of Book 1 in February.

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