2010 Reading List with reviews

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Books, Entertainment, sci-fi
Tags: , , , , ,


2010 was another great year in my reading life. I would have to say that my top favorite books this year were:

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

This book was integral to our getting a real handle on our finances, getting on a budget, becoming debt free, amassing six months worth of expenses in an emergency fund, and starting to build wealth.

The “In Death” police procedural mysteries by J. D. Robb.

These near-future, gritty, sexy mysteries really grabbed me this year and I have now read more than half of her 30+ books. The characters are great and the interplay between all their relationships kept me intrigued enough to keep picking up the next one in the series. I especially like the audio books because Susan Erickson does such a great job acting all the different characters with distinct and entertaining voices.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett.

I don’t normally read a lot of pure fantasy with magic and things, but this was some awesome, hardcore demon slaying goodness. I also really like how we followed three characters from very early ages up through adulthood. This is a great book. A mysterious world with captivating characters pull the reader along on an incredible journey through years of their lives. It was hard to put this one down until I was done. I could see this being a great video game or movie in a few years.

After that, there were so many others and I enjoyed almost all of them. The books on Afghanistan were very interesting and also a few of the survival type books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Dune Frank Herbert

I can see why it has remained a sci-fi/ fantasy classic for decades. This was a great story with powerful world building.

What your contractor can’t tell you Amy Johnston

This is mostly geared towards homeowners who are going to be using professional contractors to fix up their house, not DIYers like me.

Welcome To Afghanistan: Send More Ammo by Benjamin Tupper

A real and gritty account of life as a US soldier over in Afghanistan. It was especially cool since the author is from my home town and I got to meet him.

Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles) by Frank Herbert

The saga continues.

Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book 3) by Frank Herbert

This one was filled with intrigue and I was curious to see how it would play out. However, after this third book, I was pretty much Dune’d out.

Pay It Down!: Debt-Free on $10 a Day by Jean Chatzky

A decent book about paying down your debt.

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow

This was a cool idea from Doctorow but I could tell that it was one of his earlier works. It had a choppy flow with flashbacks taking up a large portion of the book.

The Total Money Makeover Dave Ramsey

Probably the single best book on money management that I’ve ever come across. Anyone who uses currency of any kind, be it Klats or Dollars should read this book. After several months of taking his advice, my family is debt free (except for the house), we have six months of expenses in the bank, and we are saving for retirement. The future is looking bright and wealthy.

The New Space Opera

Makers by Cory Doctorow

One of his better novels. It’s amazing how many fresh ideas come out of Cory’s mind, especially since so many of them deal with recycled or repurposed materials.

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by

Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

Another great economics whirlwind from Levitt & Dubner.

The Sunless Countries: Book Four of Virga by Karl Schroeder

A good sequel to the previous Virga books. I liked the story and the darkness of setting. I still love the Victorian steampunk style. I can’t wait for the next one!

7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins

Very gripping storytelling. I liked all the government conspiracy and cool new tech. I also liked it since it bears a resemblance to the novel I’m currently writing. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Quiet War  byPaul J. McAuley

This had all the makings of a good book, but I couldn’t get into it. It had great science ideas, a cool, yet plausible future for Earth, and great settings, but… I couldn’t identify with the characters. Plus there were WAY too many names. A random politician that only appears twice in the book has a three part name. The reader shouldn’t have to wade through a paragraph and pick out two of the fifteen names that they should invest their time into. It was also overly political for my taste. And it seemed like it was trying to hard to be political as well. So sorry, but I won’t be finishing this one.

Geosynchron (Book Three of the Jump 225 Trilogy) by David Louis Edelman

A fitting end to the series. I liked how all the loose ends got ties together, but it’s not my favorite in the trilogy. Overall though, pretty good. I would not recommend someone just pick this up and read it, unless they had read the previous two books though.

Metatropolis by John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, …

I really liked this compilation. I thought the stories flowed well into one another and the whole idea of building a common world/ history really worked to each author’s advantage. This book is packed with cool “green” ideas that may not be so far off in our future, if they aren’t here already. Anyone who is interested in being eco-concious should read this. Or, if you’re listening to the audio version like I did, listen. The voice actors did a superb job.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

A truly interesting, epic, insightful, and realistic account of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. The author packs so much detail into each character’s story, I really felt the realism of fighting the undead. I can tell he did a ton of research. An entertaining and gripping look at how our current society might face an outbreak. Great read. Also, go buy a machete right now.

The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman

This was like Harry Potter meets Narnia, meets Animal House style sex and drinking. The story was intriguing but I found the ending disappointing.

American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

Wow what an epic! Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller, and this novel is no exception. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I loved all the little vignettes and other things thrown in. His use of dreams was great as well. I also really like all the little details he throws into a scene that other authors (and most people) miss. The characters were believable and the plot was crazy.

Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss

Wow. What a cool practical, dangerous book. This made me see how much I still have to learn about how to become self-sufficient, and how much I already know, which was nice. Now for making lists. So much to do before society collapses!

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

A very intriguing book. I thought the authors note and appendix at the end were nearly better than the story itself, which was very good to begin with. Beware: huge science dumps. One of the main characters just likes to spew facts for pages at a time.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

This was a great, eye opening, hugely interesting book. Everyone who eats food should read this.

44 Scotland Street: A 44 Scotland Street Novel (1) by Alexander McCall Smith

A Rrrreally Grrreat book about characters in Edinburgh. Some scenes were hilarious. Poor Bertie who is forced to wear crushed strawberry dungarees to school, etc. I will be reading the sequel for sure.

Rollback (Sci Fi Essential Books) by Robert J. Sawyer

This was an interesting take on a situation. (SPOILER) “Hey, take a couple who have endured 60 years of married life, then see what happens when one of them is twenty five again.” An entertaining read, but not too challenging.

Big Jack (In Death) by J.D. Robb

A good page turner ( or in my case, continuous mp3-er) of a police mystery. I loved the fact that it was set slightly in the future. The love scenes were a little over-written and cliche-ridden, but apart from that, the cast of characters was great. I might have to read more.

Espresso Tales: A 44 Scotland Street Novel (2) by Alexander McCall Smith

What a wonderful book! I loved the characters and it was filled with hilarious and poignant scenes of true human nature.

A Place So Foreign and Eight More by Cory Doctorow

I always like Cory Doctorow’s stuff and this is no different. Very cool ideas, displayed with geek savvy and hip prose.

Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

This was my first Star Wars novel and I have to say… I liked it. It wasn’t amazing literature by any means, but it was fun.
I will say, the one thing that impressed me most was the quality of the audiobook production. When there are suspenseful parts, music creeps up. Blaster shots use the real effects from the movies. Even the wookie sounds are there. This made a mediocre book spectacularly entertaining for me. It is worth a listen, if not a read.

Judgment in Death by J.D. Robb

I liked the emotional tension in this addition to the Eve Dallas series.

Kindred In Death by J.D. Robb

Another good, if formulaic addition to the series. The method of murder in this book was a little rough, but it makes it all the more satisfying when (or if) Eve gets the bad guy (or girl) (s?)

Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

A good, if predictable, volume in the Eve Dallas mysteries.

Origin In Death by J.D. Robb

Another good Eve Dallas mystery with a lot of cool science.

Digital Fortress: A Thriller by Dan Brown

A somewhat dated cyber thriller. Not too bad.

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams

A great collection of post apocalyptic stories from some very diverse authors. They really spanned a range from cool slick futures to gritty, nasty desolation.

Innocent In Death by J.D. Robb

The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

A pretty good story with intriguing characters, but a little weighty with political subterfuge. Still, a fun coming of age tale. It’s not good enough that I will be continuing in the series though.

Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines by Richard A. Muller

A very good read to bring the average citizen up to speed on many of today’s pressing issues. The section on nuclear reactors was especially enlightening.

Survivor In Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Yet another good mystery by Nora Roberts.

The Warded Man (Demon Trilogy) by Peter V. Brett

This is a great book. A mysterious world with captivating characters pull the reader along on an incredible journey through years of their lives. It was hard to put this one down until I was done. I could see this being a great video game or movie in a few years.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, with Jeffrey Zaslow

An inspiring, thought provoking tale.

The Appeal: A Novel by John Grisham

The writing was OK, but I felt it was ponderous and fell flat at the end. Not sure what people see in Grisham.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs: A Professor Dr von Igelfeld Entertainment Novel (1) by Alexander McCall Smith

A ridiculous book. Very funny characters, and a dry wit.

Promises in Death by J.D. Robb

A great addition to the Eve Dallas series. Nora Roberts has succeeded again in creating a richly layered world and believable characters. I love the familiarity of this series, but also the surprises.

The Darwin Awards 4: Intelligent Design by Wendy Northcutt

Another great addition of stupid, incompetent people removing themselves from the gene pool.

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

Another great book by Cory Doctorow. The only downside was that it got slightly bogged down in economics data dumps. But the many interesting characters and the pace more than made up for that. If you enjoy MMORPGs at all, you should read this right now!

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

A great book about a great man and the terrible tragedy of his death and the worse offense of the cover up by our government. I also especially like the in-depth history of Afghanistan.

Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb

Another good Eve Dallas mystery with the plot stretching back years, as always.

Naked in Death (In Death, Book 1) by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

I loved this book. But…if it was the first one I read in this series, I might not have liked it so much. However, having read nine other books, most of them later and even at the end of the series, I loved how I could go back in time and see how everyone met and how Eve and Roarke’s romance developed from nothing. Seeing how these characters have grown over so many books, and all the little stories of their first meeting dropped throughout the rest of the series, I loved seeing things play out. When Eve fiddled with her loose button on her ugly grey suit, I knew exactly what was coming up and enjoyed every minute of it. All that said, this book involves serious issues like murder, rape, etc. and sometimes can not be stomached lightly. But for all that, the main characters bring it alive. I hope Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb) will write thirty more!

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

What a great book. I think anyone who is an educator and/or wants to know more about the Pakistan / Afghanistan region should read this. “Dr. Greg” is an inspiring human and really lives out his beliefs.

Creation in Death by J.D. Robb

Haunted in Death (In Death Series) by J.D. Robb

Jim Cramer’s Stay Mad for Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer) by James J. Cramer

This was a good brief view of a traders look at financial fitness. I took some pointers, and left others.

The Department of Mad Scientists by Michael Belfiore

A sweet preview of some cool new technologies coming out of DARPA.

Born in Death by J.D. Robb

A great “addition” to the Eve Dallas series.

Memory in Death by J.D.Robb

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A great story with a character that the reader really roots for. The plot tugs the reader along so that you can barely put the book down ( or press pause). Great world building too. I can’t wait for the sequels.

The Unit by Terry DeHart

A decent tale about life in the near wasteland. Not amazing though. The constant switching of POV between 5 or more characters was annoying.

The Darwin Awards V: Next Evolution

The Art and Craft of Coffee: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Selecting, Roasting, and Brewing Exquisite Coffee

The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

A great tale with interesting characters. He sets up the book well so that the reader gets a sense of both cultures and their mind sets before they clash. I can’t wait for the last book!

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

A great sequel to “The Hunger Games.” This opened out the story started in the first book and really set the stage for the final book in the trilogy. The only negatives were the teenage character not knowing how she was feeling about…well everything. But then again, isn’t that what being a teenager is all about?

Glory in Death (In Death, Book 2) by J.D. Robb

Another great one by J.D. Robb Her characters have such great emotional interplay. Very good.

Immortal in Death (In Death, Book 3) by J.D. Robb

Another great installment in the series. I just love her character development! I get very excited when Eve meets someone who will become so important in later books.

Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb

Yet another great mystery. I didn’t call this one till the middle this time.

How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion

Hilarious! Stupendous. Ridiculous.


Ceremony in Death by J.D. Robb

The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor–and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car! by Tim Harford

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)

The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy. While it was action packed, it lost some of the previous momentum in intrigue and Catniss’s habit of questioning everything and being egocentric. But overall, an interesting end to the series.

Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale

A great back story with a few good twists.


No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beaven

An important book about striving to make a personal effort to combat climate change. It really depicts the struggle of a normal family trying to be “green.” This was a fun read and made me feel pretty good about all that my family already does to lessen our impact on the planet.

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