My top SF recs:
1. John Scalzi's Redshirts. This is a must-read for anyone who loves SF, loves to hate bad SF on TV, and discusses it at length. Its meta has meta. Hilarious, recursive and deeply twisted. I loved it. And double extra kudos for taking a well-known classic fanfic and turning it into original fiction.
2. The Kris Longknife series by Mike Shepherd (aka Mike Moscoe). This is the most fun I've had with space opera in a long time. Cross David Drake's Leary series with Tanya Huff's Valor series, and add a dash of Honor Harrington and Miles Vorkosigan. Light, fun and packed with plotty action.
3. Cursed and Fated by Benedict Jakka- think Butcher's Harry Dresden, only English.
Other than that- I've been reading less nonfiction than usual, and lots of mystery and thrillers, mostly forgettable. I loved Matt Reilly's new Scarecrow book, which I listened to on audiobook. There's nothing like big explosions and fast paced action for cheering me up when I'm stuck in traffic.
And otherwise, life is pretty good...some work crazy is calming down (and replaced by other work crazy, but hey, it's good crazy for the most part). I ducked and ran from some volunteer things I would otherwise have been sucked into, and am enjoying actually having time to relax over the summer. I even rewatched some SGA this week...step one to getting my headspace back into the 'Gate universe...won't commit to the 'w' word yet but it could happen.
My reading list:
100. Kris Longknife: Daring by Mike Shepherd
This catches me up to the end of the series and leaves me chewing my nails for the next book. Write , Mike, write!
99. Redshirts by John Scalzi
98. Big Trouble by Dave Barry
In which Dave Barry is funny as usual, but proves that having a sense of humor is no substitute for knowing how to write a novel. (However, his impassioned description of Miami Airport was worth the price of admission.)
97. Kris Longknife: Redoubtable by Mike Shepherd
96. 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
95. Running Scared by Elizabeth Lowell
94. Kris Longknife: Undaunted by Mike Shepherd
93. Death Echo by Elizabeth Lowell
92. The Road of Danger by David Drake
91. Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs
Okay, I'm not going to go into detail because someone might want to read this anyway, but... when the resolution of your plot depends on a) the protagonist doing something really dumb, b) the bad guy being incompetent and c) the good guys getting lucky, to wrap up the book? Time to think about writing another draft before submitting it. The plot where the murderer tries and fails to kill the protagonist until enough pages have gone by that the author can stop writing is not a good plot. Which is not so say that this book didn't have a lot of good plot in it. It's just that nothing that happened in it led to finding the murderer.
90. Kris Longknife: Intrepid by Mike Shepherd
89. The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell
88. Kris Longknife: Audacious by Mike Shepherd
87. Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn
86. Kris Longknife: Resolute by Mike Shepherd
85. Kris Longknife: Defiant by Mike Shepherd
84. Kris Longknife: Deserter by Mike Shepherd
83. Kris Longknife: Mutineer by Mike Shepherd
This series is the best SF fun I've had in ages. A nice mix of action and humor with the occasional serious touch, I think it has the general feel of David Drake's Lieutenant Leary series or Tanya Huff's Valor series. Can't think how I managed to miss it until now!
82. Blue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell
81. Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey
80. Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs
79. Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn
78. London Under by Peter Ackroyd
77. Scarecrow Returns by Matt Reilly (American title- Australian title is "Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves", listened to audiobook)
76. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
75. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
74. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann
73. Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly (reread)
72. Area 7 by Matthew Reilly (reread)
71. Ice Station by Matthew Reilly (reread)
70. Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs
69. The Color of Death by Elizabeth Lowell
68. Cursed by Benedict Jacka
67. The 27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders by Nancy Pickard
66. Die in Plain Sight by Elizabeth Lowell
65. Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light by Tanya Huff (reread)
64. Fated by Benedict Jacka
63. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
62. The Quartered Sea by Tanya Huff
61. Rebel's Seed by F.M.Busby
60. No Quarter by Tanya Huff (reread).
59. Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
58. Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff (reread)
57. Fifth Quarter by Tanya Huff (reread)
56. Stealing Magic by Tanya Huff
55. What Ho, Magic! by Tanya Huff
54. Relative Magic by Tanya Huff
53. Ranks of Bronze by David Drake
52. A Morbid Taste for Bone by Ellis Peters
51. A Fall in Denver by Sarah Andrews
50. The Demu Trilogy by FM Busby
49. Fire on the Border by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.
48. Shame by Alan Russell
47. Spring of Violence by Dell Shannon (reread)
46. Into the Hinterlands by David Drake and John Lambshead.
45. Insatiable by Meg Cabot
44. Wolverine: Weapon X by Marc Cerasini, Richard Isanove and Greg Land
It's possible that die-hard X-man fans would enjoy this. I thought it might help me to catch up a bit on the backstory, as I have a number of comic-loving friends. I found it very unengaging however- lots of action (normally a plus for me), character development of bad guys who were subsequently killed without their character being relevant and a generally incoherent narrative (it's very hard for me to call it a plot).
43. A Slice of Murder by Chris Cavender
A mildly entertaining mystery...I may need to try the pizza recipe.
42. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Political intrigue, religious fanaticism and a magical mystery in a fantasy setting. This was an enjoyable read, though the politics and economics of the setting don't bear too much deep thought.
41. Imagine by Jonah Lehrer
A fascinating survey of research into creativity in it's different forms. It goes into some detail on the differences between the 'flash of insight' and the long slow refinining stages of the creative process, and as with his previous book on decision-making, a lot of concrete and applicable ways to apply the lessons. A well-written and interesting book.
40. A Perilous Conception by Larry Karp
Fans of Columbo will love this mystery. A period piece set in the 70s, it features a dogged and clever detective and a slippery doctor playing a game of cat and mouse. To say more would risk spoiling it.
39. Disappearing Act by Margaret Ball
Light fun space opera thriller. A little disjointed with several plotlines, but an enjoyable read.
38. Blind Descent by Nevada Barr
This is my favorite Nevada Barr mystery to date. While it probably helped that I recently watched a piece on the BBC Planet Earth series on the setting of this book (Lechuguilla Caverns in New Mexico), it also had all the classic elements- a small pool of suspects, a plethora of motives, and a slow reveal of the solution. An experienced mystery reader may guess parts of the answer simply from the presence of certain plot elements, but it was a very enjoyable ride.
37. On Thin Ice by Alina Adams
36. Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (reread)
35. Death Masks by Jim Butcher (reread)
34. Endangered Species by Nevada Barr
33. Death at Gallows Green by Robin Paige
32. The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews
31. Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
30. Starfist: First to Fight by David Sherman & Dan Cragg
If reading about the daily life of US Marines in space is your idea of a good time, have at it. "Marine Life" is the main character of this book- there is little other characterization and (oddly for military SF) almost no action until the last third of the book. A yawner for anyone not fascinated with military life.
29. The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (reread)
28. Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
27. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It by Charles Duhigg
26. Chosen- Buffy the Vampire Slayer tie in, based on the TV scripts. Get the DVDs- much more rewarding.
25. Death at Rottingdean by Robin Paige
Meh. An excellent setting, but the so-called mystery relies on a witness who does not divulge what he knows until the end of the book, and the bad guy making stupid mistakes. The detectives detect very little, and the authors' habit of digressing into factoids on things that happened in the real life Rottingdean years after the story was profoundly annoying. I appreciate that they did research- but dumping chunks of it into the middle of the book does nothing for the narrative flow.
24. Old Scores by Aaron Elkins (reread)
23. A Deceptive Clarity by Aaron Elkins (reread)
22. A Glancing Light by Aaron Elkins (reread)
Having finally acquired the third book in this sequence, I can now reread them all together!
21. Delete All Suspects by Donna Andrews
The fourth of her Turing Hopper mysteries.
20. Death at Bishop's Keep by Robin Paige
Billed as a Victorian mystery, this winds up being a little too PC to really ring true for me. And the mystery relies on a second and third murder and a couple of big coincidences. I have another of these lying around and will likely read it, but not seek out more unless the second one impresses me considerably more than the first.
19. The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach
This is an English translation of a German science fiction novel, and quite beautifully done. The language is polished and evocative. The book is organized as a related set of short stories, but they are not independant- each segment shifts point of view and you catch another glimpse of an emerging pattern as the book unfolds. Thought-provoking, structurally idiosyncratic, and extremely well written-- I enjoyed it a great deal for the vivid language, imagery and slow reveal of the plot.
18. An Old Faithful Murder by Valerie Wolzien
This one tries to implement the classic form. I enjoyed it for the view of Yellowstone (which I have been seized by a desire to visit ever since seeing the Ken Burns National Parks series), and liked the setup. I found some of the characters and motivations unconvincing, and the crucial clue wasn't so much slipped in, as came crashing down anvil-like from the sky toward the end of the book.
17. The Third Option by Vince Flynn- a solid B-list thriller, with a strong-jawed hero, dastardly and unprincipled bad guys, lots of action. Good airplane read (which is exactly where I read it).
16. Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
If you've somehow missed the hype about this book, the first thing to know about it is that it's a split story- most of it takes place in medieval Germany, with another plot thread in the present day. I've been told by several people who read this that they liked the past story, but found the present story un-engaging. In general I agree with that- the present day characters are interesting enough, but we don't spend enough time with them to really care about their concerns. Overall, I'd have to characterize this as an ambitious failure, which in some ways makes it a more interesting read than a book that shoots low and succeeds. The past story has a lot of interesting idea content, but it lacks a strong through-plot- what plot there is gets buried under the philosophical discussion. There's a lot here to like--but it isn't destined to take a place among the classics.
15. A Dangerous Talent by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins
14. Table of Contents by John McPhee
13. Firestorm by Nevada Barr
12. Wicked Prey by John Sandford
11. A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber
10. Why Architecture Matters by Paul Goldberger
9. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
8. Ghost Ship by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee (reread)
7. Saltation by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee (reread)
6. Fledgling by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee (reread)
5. 7th Sigma by Steven Gould
4. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
3. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister
This was useful as well as entertaining, as Tierney and Baumeister do a roundup of studies of motivation and self-regulation, and distill practical and easily applicable advice on which strategies work, which don't, and how to use this information to tackle everything from sensible eating to the eternal to-do list. Highly recommended.
2. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Book 2 in his YA steampunk-historical-fantasy. Set in an alternate WW1 where the British 'Darwinists' breed fabulous beasts to do the jobs that German 'Clankers' do with biologically-inspired machinery. Fast-paced, fun and a great read. I'm looking forward to the third one enormously.
1. All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Another book of humorous knitting essays that will strike a chord with crafters of all sorts.