Reading is one of my first memories, and will be with me for the rest of my life, through thick and thin, until death us do part! And despite the other challenges in 2020, this relationship continued. Interestingly, I didn’t really read any more books than usual, despite all the extra hours in the year. I guess I just wasted those hours. Oh well, pissing away opportunities is also something I’ve been known to do. Anyway, here’s the year-end summary of the books I did read this year.
The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron. Well, wasn’t this an awesome way to start the year and the list! I have an interest in ancient human origin stories, and keep up-to-date with the latest discoveries as best I can. Although this fictional account was only half ancient (with a modern day parallel story ongoing) it didn’t disappoint. Highly recommended.
Standard of Honour by Jack Whyte. I’ve read most of his historical fiction, and can depend on it for a satisfying read. But is my taste changing? After above-noted book, the writing style in this book now struck me as tediously old-fashioned. Can writing style get old-fashioned? The story is good. Long-winded. Recommended anyway.
Second Sleep by Robert Harris. This is what I’m talking about. I admire Harris’ writing style immensely. Concise but filling, tells a great story; I always feel immersed in the world he creates. Surprise, this is a science fiction story, unlike the usual historical fiction he writes. With a medieval twist, this is just good old speculative fiction. Human nature. Highly recommended.
Shackelton’s Heroes. The Epic Story of the Men Who Kept the Endurance Expedition Alive by Wilson McOrist. If I had to mention one book that affected me in 2020, this is it. Non-fiction. Diaries of Antarctic explorers. Talk about heroes. Only human nature at its most challenged, honourable best. This book took me a long time to read, starting it as I did at the beginning of my pandemic experience. I went through whole days of non-reading, in shock with the rest of the world at our changed universe in those early days. But we can’t let the lessons of the past go unheeded, and this book, with all the ups and downs, mostly downs, was absolutely inspiring about how to cope with one disastrous situation after another. Highly recommended.
Prelude to Sophie’s War by Susan Jennings. I’ve read other books by Jennings. I admit I wouldn’t have been attracted to them based on the romantic-style covers, but wow, glad to have discovered her. Good writing, good plots, good reading. A nice getaway book, and welcome after the heavy non-fiction noted above. Highly recommended.
A Casualty of War by Susan Taylor Meehan. Because Jennings left me wanting more, I was eager to read this historical fiction of the same World War I era. Again, not disappointed. Great writing, great story. I don’t know why this author isn’t famous yet – I haven’t read anything by her that didn’t rate 5stars. Highly recommended.
Order in Chaos by Jack Whyte. One would think I only highly recommend books, but my streak hit a stall, again with Whyte. I did finish this one. Good historical fiction, well-researched, but I am definitely jaded by the similar characters, similar plots, predictable writing. Sorry, again, nothing to not recommend it. I think it’s me, not you, Jack!
The Reckoning by Jeffrey Pierce. So, off to try new things, I enlisted on Bookbub for free offerings by lesser known writers. This one seemed like a WW1 action adventure, fantastic writing that couldn’t be more unlike previously-mentioned Whyte. The historical details were shockingly wonderful; I truly felt my heart pounding in the middle of battle with the characters. But. This is a zombie book!!! No one was more surprised than me. I never read books like this and this is the reward for trying something new. I probably won’t read the followup books (now that I know) but I’m sure glad I met this writer. Highly recommended, if you like this kind of thing.
The Extinction Agenda by Michael Laurence. Because of the first free book experience being so exciting, I tried another. Nope. Didn’t even finish. Should I even include this in my list?
Ice by Kevin Tinto. Again, a bomb. (another freebie, uh-oh) I did finish, but can’t even recall a thing about it, so…
A streak of bad freebies follows. All had too many typos to handle, bad writing, stupid ideas of plots. I won’t bore you with them other than titles (as a public service). I didn’t finish any of these, getting quite tough with my precious reading time :
FERTS by Grace Hudson
The Green House by Dan Lawton
The Inner Circle by Kevin Tinto
Primordia by Greig Beck. Ok, not as bad as the other freebies. I did finish it. It was a cool idea for a story (Lost World on an isolated plateau in South America), lots of action and steamy jungle. But just ok. Sort of recommended, but I’m done with freebies. Authors need to get paid, folks! I’ve learned my lesson.
The Outsider by Stephen King. I deserved this one after what I went through with the freebies. Ahh…. Dependable great writing. Yet King always seems fresh in his style, to me. Although, as I read this one, I did see the miniseries taking shape in my mind. I think King is more of a screen-writer than book author nowadays. Talk about authors getting paid! Highly recommended, of course.
A Better Man by Louise Penny. Another accomplished author, this book is in a series, none of which I’d previously read. Turns out, another surprise, I liked it, despite the genre of modern police detective stuff, which I don’t normally read. I know many people do, so this one is highly recommended to you.
Song of Kali by Dan Simmons. An oldie by an author I like. More of what I usually like to read, fantastical, weird, great writing. Yes, I still like this stuff. Highly recommended.
Strange Karma by Willow Healy. I snuck back to a freebie because this one promised Mount Everest stuff, which I can never get enough of. Good story. I finished the book. But won’t I learn? Bad writing, and terrible amount of typos and obviously edited by a software program. (How do I know? Besides being a former software developer myself? Oh, the commas added after every instance of a proper noun. As in : Michele, wasn’t going to read any more of Willow’s, books. Sorry, please hire a real editor. Then charge for your books.)
The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett. Like Whyte, a dependable author with great historical fiction chops. Liked the style, the story. A little predictable, similar to his other books with character and plot. Satisfying. Recommended.
And that’s it for 2020. I wish I could say that in a wider meaning. All the best for 2021, in reading and in everything else.
Enjoy reading? Check out reviews of my Books!