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.

12ptCourier’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

There are a lot of movies coming out next year that didn’t make this list. A few that deserve a mention are Mission Impossible 5, Ant Man, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I really enjoy those franchises, but I feel like I’ve already seen what they have to offer, and I’m excited for something a little different in 2015.

THE LIST:

#10: INSIDE OUT

I love Pixar movies and the trailer looks really cute.

#9: CRIMSON PEAK
I am excited about anything Guillermo del Toro is directing.

#8: UNTITLED SPIELBERG COLD WAR SPY THRILLER
I know nothing about this film except that it’s directed by Spielberg, stars Tom Hanks, and is about a cold war spy. ‘Nuff Said.

#7: JURASSIC WORLD

I am very scared of being let down by this movie. But it still hits my top 10. Because Jurassic Park.

#6: THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Because Quentin Tarantino.

#5: CHAPPIE

Neill Blomkamp is one of my favorite new directors. District 9 is one of the best Sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen. I also really enjoyed Elysium despite unfavorable reviews. I’m very excited to see his next film.

#4: THE MARTIAN
I still have faith in Ridley Scott despite his recent string of movies. I haven’t read this book yet, but it is rated one of the best of the year. Also — Matt Damon.

#3: 007: SPECTRE
I love James Bond. I grew up watching these movies with my grandparents. I’m in the Daniel Craig camp. I think this new era of James Bond movies are fantastic — with Casino Royale being one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t know a whole lot of details about Spectre, but it’s #3 on this list because — James Bond.

#2: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

I really love the original Mad Max movies. The fact this new one is from the same creator and an all-star cast has me really excited. But perhaps the most exciting thing about it was the trailer. Which is probably not only the best trailer of the year, but maybe the best trailer I have ever seen.

#1: STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

I have never felt more anticipation for a movie in my life. Maybe that statement isn’t totally true. But that is how I feel right now. My entire childhood evolved around the original three films, and the trailer brought back those feelings. Not the prequel feels… but the original feels. I can not wait to see this movie opening night.

12pt’s Best Movies of 2014

Not going to go into detail. Just a quick list. Also — there are a ton of movies I haven’t seen this year. This is just a list of what I was able to see!

1 – Guardians of the Galaxy (A)

2 – Edge of Tomorrow (A)

3 – The Raid 2 (A)

4 – The Lego Movie (A)

5 – Gone Girl (A-)

6 – 22 Jump Street (A-)

7 – X-Men: Days of Future Past (A-)

8 – The Grand Budapest Hotel (B+)

9 – The Hobbit (B+)

10 – Snowpiercer (B+)

11 – Night Crawler (B)

12 – American Sniper (B)

13 – Whiplash (B)

14 – Unbroken (C)

15 – Into the Woods (D+)

Still haven’t seen:

Jodorowski’s Dune

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Calvary

The Purge: Anarchy

How to Train your Dragon 2

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Fury

The Babadook

Birdman

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chef

Big Hero 6

Bears

John Wick

The Unknown Known

Interstellar

Just Read: What I’ve Been Reading – Jan. 2013

My new years resolution was to read more. It has gone very well. Too well in fact. I find myself getting into long series of books. Even worse than that, I am reading multiple series as the same time. It can get confusing. Here’s a little look into the pages I’ve turned in 2013.

228665I’ve always been a sucker for a good high fantasy novel, and I just recently started reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I always planned on reading this series, I was just scared to commit. This a long series, with the 14th book just being released on Jan. 8 of this year. These aren’t short books either, with the average page count coming in at 827. The books borrow thematically from The Lord of the Rings, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, as Jordan really holds his own in the genre. I’ve read through the first book, The Eye of the World, and just started the 2nd installment, The Great Hunt.  I’m not sure how long it will take me to finish the series, as I sometimes get burnt out reading the same books in a series back to back for too long. However, I’m excited to continue. The book follows a young farmer named Rand al’Thor who discovers he is a key figure in a plot to save humanity from The Dark One.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

68527As a huge fan of historical fiction, I have come to love Bernard Corwell over the past few months. I started his Saxon series in mid December with the first book, The Last Kingdom, and I was hooked after the first few pages. I am already on the 5th book in the series, and the only reason I’ve stopped is so that I don’t burn myself out. The 6th book was just released last year. Corwell really knows his stuff, and besides the main character, almost everyone in the book was a real person, and most of the events really happened. His battle descriptions are epic and gruesome.  I found myself lifting my eyes off the page at times, just picturing myself standing in a Danish Shield Wall, preparing to take a sword in the groin. I highly recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in awesome historical fiction.

In the middle years of the ninth-century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until but one realm remained. And suddenly the fate of all England–and the course of history–depended upon one man, one king.

375802I just finished reading Ender’s Game the other day. It’s a super easy read, and I flew through it. I decided to pick it up since they’re making a movie based off it starring Harrison Ford. A lot of the science fiction I read is very dense. Like, I find myself sometimes re-reading pages multiple times until I figure out just what the hell they’re talking about. But not this one. It read like a Harry Potter book. You don’t even need to be a big sci-fi fan to enjoy it. The story tackles some pretty great social and political themes, without ever lacking in action and adventure. At 324 pages, it’s a short book, so there is no reason not to go pick it up and spend a weekend on it. The book is part of a Saga, but I don’t necessarily feel the need to read the rest of the series now, as the book works great as a stand alone.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut€”young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training … 

There’s a few more series I’m working on now. But I’ll leave that for another post. Go pick up some of these recommendations and read!

Just Read: The Brigands of Rattleborge

This page used to hold a review of The Brigands of Rattleborge, but I have since concluded that reviewing screenplays is fucking stupid. So, sorry to waste your time, but I’ve since deleted this review. Go find the script and read it for yourself!

Just Read: BURIED

BURIED

by Chris Sparling

Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.

This entire story takes place in a coffin. From start to finish with no flashbacks or anything. With that said, this script is awesome!

The Good.

  • Being only 79 pages this script is short and fast paced.
  • This script is exciting and entertaining! Once I started reading I was sucked in and didn’t stop turning pages until the end.
  • There is one part in the script where I almost had to stop reading. It made me squirm and I loved every minute of it.
  • The ending was awesome!
  • This movie is really unique and proves that locations do not matter if you can tell a good story.

The Bad.

  • Paul is running out of oxygen in the coffin. Then he lights a candle. Fire burns O2. This bothered me.
  • The script was great, but I’m not sure if an audience is going to be able to watch a dark coffin for an hour and a half.

The Verdict.

READ IT!

This script is amazing, short, exciting, unique, entertaining, and the movie will star Ryan Reynolds.  One thing I learned from this script is that story is really the only thing that matters.  This whole script takes place in a coffin. One actor.  One location.  If anything, this script is a perfect exercise on relying on story alone. Why don’t you try and write an engaging script with one location.  You think you can do it?

Script Link

(UPDATE: Apparently the script over at script shadow was taken down. Sorry folks.)