Good Books 2017 and 2016 Edition

good books 2017

Instead of listing every single book I read in 2016 and 2017, I’m just going to list a few good books I’ve read over the past few years that I feel like recommending. Every single book listed here is a great read. So, get reading!

GOOD SCIENCE FICTION:

The Last Colony (Old Man’s War #3) by John Scalzi

Link to Book One
Link to Book Two

This is book three in the Old Man’s War (first) trilogy. A very entertaining series for anyone remotely interested in science fiction. Scalzi writes his science fiction in an approachable manner, so even if you don’t regularly read science fiction, you will enjoy these books. Scalzi is among the best sci-fi writers out there right now.

“Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane’s past reaches out to bring them back into the game–as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.”

Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1) by Pierce Brown

Link to Book 2
Link to Book 3

I’ve never read a trilogy of books as fast as I read the first three books in the Red Rising Saga. They are extremely fast-paced. A hybrid of science fiction and fantasy that will leave you yearning for more.

“Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.”

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Another fast read, Dark Matter will take you for a loop. Part Science Fiction, part Thriller, and Mystery, this is one exciting book.

““Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.”

GOOD FANTASY:

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

Link to Book 2

Now moving on to fantasy, and this is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in years. Can’t wait to dive into book two.

“Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.”

GOOD NONFICTION:

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson

I read this book while I was in the Caribbean, and it had me aching to dive the coral reefs in search of a lost treasure ship. Robert Kurson is a master story-teller. His books read like novels and will grip you like the best mystery fiction out there. If you love history, or pirates, or ships, or diving, or archaeology… give this book a read!

“Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister’s exploits would have been more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s, but his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.”

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Part nonfiction, history, and adventure, The Lost City of Z was a fascinating look into the exploration of the Amazon rainforest. And all the … horrors … that abide within. From bugs laying their larva in your skin, to fish crawling up your urethra. The age of exploration at its finest.

“A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve “the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century”: What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett & his quest for the Lost City of Z?

In 1925, Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humans. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions inspired Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions round the globe, Fawcett embarked with his 21-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilisation–which he dubbed Z–existed. Then his expedition vanished. Fawcett’s fate, & the tantalizing clues he left behind about Z, became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness.

For decades scientists & adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party & the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes or gone mad. As Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett’s quest, & the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungle’s green hell. His quest for the truth & discoveries about Fawcett’s fate & Z form the heart of this complexly enthralling narrative.”

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

For years the only thing I knew about the sinking of the Lusitania was that it caused the USA to fight in WW1. There is so much more to this story and, like usual, Erik Larson does a great job telling it.

“On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship – the fastest then in service – could outrun any threat.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small – hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more–all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster that helped place America on the road to war.”

There you have it. Some good books 2017 and 2016 edition.

Book Recommendations: What I Read in 2015

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Here is my annual book recommendations list for 2015. Are you ready? Okay. Let’s start from the bottom and count up to my favorite book of the year.

Note: These are books I read this year — doesn’t mean they came out this year.

15. Armada by Ernest Cline

After reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, his first novel, I was fucking thrilled to read his second novel. I even pre-ordered a hard copy on Amazon. I NEVER pre-order books. I don’t think I have since Harry Potter was flying off the shelves on release day. Really the only good thing I have to say about this book regards the cover art. It’s a beautiful looking book. But, unfortunately, that won’t save it. Where RPO is a sci-fi nerd’s wet dream, Armada is being wet dreamed on by a fat, smelly, neck-bearded 43-year-old that lives in his parent’s basement.  It doesn’t even compare to Cline’s first novel. It was simply… Meh. I give it 2 out of 5 stars for effort and I do not recommend.

14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

This book must be forgettable because I’m having trouble remembering the plot. Oh yes. It’s about a girl whose entire family was murdered by Satanists. Sounds fun, right? It was okay. A good girl power book from the author who gave you that movie where you see Ben Affleck’s dick. I liked it. The book. Not the … Anyway, I give it 3 out of 5 stars. The book.

13. The Fold by Peter Clines

I have a love hate relationship with this book. It starts out wicked slow. And the plot drags and drags. Giving you just enough to want to keep reading and find out just what the fuck is going on. But it’s a smart book, and rubs that sci-fi itch pretty damn good. And the last third is fantastic and super inventive. So I give it 3 out of 5 stars and a pretty decent recommendation.

12. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Just finished this one. This is a collection of shorts by the one and only Mr. King. There are some really great stories in it. And none of them are bad. I especially enjoyed Blockade Billy, The Dune, and the one near the end about the fireworks. I highly recommend this book and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Stephen King is always amazing. If you don’t read short stories, this is a great way to start.

11. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6) by Stephen King

The penultimate book in Stephen King’s highly regarded Dark Tower series. Which … did you hear Idris Elba might play the Gunslinger in the movies? That would be fantastic. I honestly didn’t love this book, but it’s part of a greater whole which I highly recommend. So I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars — and suggest you read the entire series.

10. Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1) by Stephen King

One of King’s newer books about a psychotic fuckhead bent on killing innocent people and the ex-cop trying to track him down. I enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 stars to this one.


9. The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1) by Conn Iggulden

I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and I heard Conn is a master. So I’ve started reading his books from the first series he wrote — the Emperor series about Julius Caesar. Spoiler alert –  he dies. But not in the first book — it focuses on his childhood. I plan on reading out the rest of the series and starting some of Conn’s other series while I’m at it. I recommend this book if you enjoy Roman Historical Fiction. 4 out of 5 stars.

8. Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #2) by Stephen King

The sequel to Mr. Mercedes. If you enjoyed Mr. Mercedes you’ll like this one even more. Better plot and better characters IMO. 4 out of 5 Stars.

7. The Ghost Brigades (Old Man’s War, #2) by John Scalzi

Okay — let me introduce the Old Man’s War series here. I enjoyed the first book better than the second, but not by much. If you enjoy sci-fi — like the fun Star Trek/Star Wars type of sci-fi…. you will love this series. John Scalzi is honestly one of the best new authors I’ve read in a really really long time. I am going to read everything he’s ever written. Eventually. But in the meantime — go buy the books in the Old Man’s War series. They are thoughtful, action packed, hilarious, and smart. 4 out of 5 stars to this bad boy, but almost, almost a 5.

6. The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I started reading Sanderson this year with the Stormlight Archive, and you can read what I think of those books coming up. I think under normal circumstances I would have given The Final Empire 5 out of 5 stars … but I enjoyed the Stormlight Archive so fucking much, it bumped this book down to 4 out of 5 stars… but it soooo wants to be a 5 star you can taste it. And it tastes good. The Mistborn series is a fantasy novel about people who can use Allomancy — that is a magic that has to do with different metals. Sanderson is a master of magic systems and the best fantasy author I’ve read in forever. I will read everything he’s ever written. Eventually. And he writes like 12 books a years. So… fuck.

5. Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) by John Scalzi

I’ve already told you what I think of the Old Man’s War series up above, so all you need to know is this first book is fantastic and you should click on the title up above which will take you to an amazon page where I command you to buy it right now. Okay? Great. 5 out of 5 stars.

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

The first book by Andy Weir — and I will be buying the second. I only hope I don’t get burned like I did with Ernest Cline.  I’m sure you’ve heard of this book — after all, a giant fucking hit of a movie with Matt Damon was adapted off it. I don’t care if you do or do not like the movie or if you haven’t even seen it. This book is fantastic. It’s in my top five books of the year. And you must read it. 5 out of 5 stars.

3. Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2) by Brandon Sanderson

This book is amazing. See below. 5 out of 5 stars.


2. The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

If you enjoy fantasy novels, you must give this series a try. It’s practically the best book I read all year. It’s really long — over 1000 pages, as is the sequel, but they are fantastic. Sanderson is amazing at world building, creating extremely unique and interesting locations, and his magic systems are some of the best. This is a series that Sanderson is currently writing. There are two books out now, out of a planned ten. The third is set to release sometime near the end of 2016 or early 2017. 5 out of 5 stars for sure. I highly recommend. Oh jesus, I just realized these books will still be coming out after I have children. And I will read them with my children. Or they will be disowned.

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Even though I don’t necessarily think this is the best book I read all year, I have to give it the top spot because it captivated me more than any other book I read. I couldn’t put the book down. It’s so easy these days to get distracted or overwhelmed with the amount of entertainment being shoved in our faces, however this book completely took over my life. I was even reading it at work. I don’t know how he did it, but Cline simultaneously holds the best and worst spots on my 2015 book recommendations list. I give RPO 5 out of 5 stars and super highly recommend.

Christmas Gifts for Writers (From a Writer)

gifts for writers

Christmas Gifts for Writers!

Doesn’t matter how old this post is. These are great christmas gifts for writers.

Want to get that writer or screenwriter something they’ll love and actually USE for Christmas? Here’s a quick buying guide. Enjoy.

USEFUL CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR A WRITER:

Kindle Paperwhite

I bounced this item to the top of my list because it is literally my favorite electronic device. The kindle paperwhite is a brilliant piece of technology. And it actually looks like you’re reading off paper. And the battery life lasts for weeks. I would rather cut off my hands than ever read off an ipad or kindle fire again. Buy this. Now. Even if the person you’re buying it for is all like… “I LOVE REAL BOOKS, MEH”. Just tell them to read ONE book on the kindle paperwhite. They’ll never go back to reading “real books” ever again. You can also consider buying some of my recommended books!

Coffee Mug Warmer

This thing is awesome. I have one. It rocks. Keeps that coffee warm if you enjoy drinking out of a mug — if you don’t like a mug, check below item.

Yeti Rambler

I literally use the Yeti Rambler every single day. Works for hot drinks and cold drinks. It is my favorite cup/mug/travel mug. A little embarrassed to say it, but I actually own three of these things. They clean easy and keep drinks cold all day long. No shit. Put ice coffee in this thing at 8am, you’ll still have ice cubes well after lunch.

LAPTOP STAND

Another thing I use on the reg. Adjustable height. Great if you don’t want to buy a super expensive stand up desk.

Writer Emergency Pack

26 Illustrated cards designed by those great guys over at the ScriptNotes Podcast. Designed to help you out of a bind when you’re hitting some much dreaded writer’s block. And even if they writer doesn’t end up using them very much, it’s still a cute gift.

On Writing by Stephen King

This is one of my all time favorite books, let alone my favorite book on the craft of writing. Advice works for screenwriting just as much as novel writing. A must read for anyone interested in writing. AND YOU CAN BUY IT ON YOUR KINDLE… hint hint.

SHARPIES

A writer can never have enough sharpies. ‘Nuff Said.

NOTE CARDS

A writer can also never have enough index Cards. They’re amazing for breaking story.