2011 Book review

Another year over and much as I did last year, I’m going to briefly go over the books I read this last year.

I will freely admit, very few of these could be considered ‘classic literature’, most is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy or adventure fiction. That’s just what I like to read.

Book total this year was 53, up from the 45 I managed in 2010 and above the 50 that I aimed for. Part of this is that I travelled more (and hence had time with nothing to do but read), part is because I took a couple of small vacations (and spent time reading) and part is due to getting an iPad and loading a couple of book apps on there.

The iPad is never going to replace real, physical, paper books for me. I love the smell of new books, the feel of the book (and you can’t read an iPad in the bath without significant risk). That said, it is convenient when travelling and for carrying a few books easily. It’s especially nice when getting books from Amazon. 6 week shipping vs immediate delivery. No contest there.

My choice for best books of the year:

  1. First Lord’s Fury (Codex Alera) by Jim Butcher. This is the climax of the Alera series and definitely the best of the bunch. Fast moving, tense, full of action and altogether an excellent ending for an excellent series. One thing I really like about this one: It doesn’t end with ‘happily ever after’.
  2. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. This is a bit of a surprise. I got this on sale without too much in the way of expectations. Not to say I don’t like Brandon Sanderson, I’ve enjoyed everything of his that I’ve read, but this was his first published book and so I was willing to give it a little leeway. Not necessary. Good characters (though I’m sure I recognise that headstrong princess from a few places), good plot without too many holes and an intriguing mystery that all comes together logically in a way that leaves you saying ‘But, of course that’s the problem’. Definitely recommend and looking forward to more of his work.
  3. Star Trek: Destiny (trilogy). Yes, I’m recommending Star Trek novels. The world has not ended. I find most Star Trek novels are quickly churned out, mediocre novels. Average writing, average plotting (at best) and usually a reset button to return the universe to the way it was at the end. This trilogy is none of those. The plot works, it’s intertwined over three books and about four time-periods and the crew of at least four ships, and it works. It also leaves the universe dramatically changed (in a way that I did not foresee coming). Finally it’s one of the few time travel tales I’ve read that doesn’t leave me cringing.

Sooo… books per month.


You can almost see from that which months I was travelling or on holiday. June – trip to UK and a few days at leisure. Oct – trip to Pass and lots of time to read while travelling. Nov – Week away in the middle of nowhere.

Lastly, books per genre. Yes, I read a lot of fantasy. (note, these links go to the library pages on this blog, there’s a link to the Amazon page from there)

Science Fiction

  1. The Long Night of Centauri Prime (Babylon 5: Legions of Fire, Book 1) by Peter David
  2. The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke
  3. Star Trek: Destiny #3: Lost Souls by David Mack
  4. Star Trek: Destiny #2: Mere Mortals by David Mack
  5. A Confederation of Valor (omnibus) by Tanya Huff
  6. Star Trek: Destiny #1: Gods of Night by David Mack
  7. Earthfall (Homecoming) by Orson Scott Card
  8. Deathstalker by Simon R. Green
  9. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
  10. Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke
  11. The Time Machine (SF Masterworks) by H. G. Wells
  12. The Call of Earth by Orson Scott Card


  1. The Phoenix Transformed (The Enduring Flame) by Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
  2. Nightingale’s Lament (Nightside, Book 3) by Simon R. Green
  3. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  4. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower) by Stephen King
  5. Agents of Light and Darkness (Nightside, Book 2) by Simon R. Green
  6. The Dragon Token (Dragon Star, Book 2) by Melanie Rawn
  7. Something from the Nightside (Nightside, Book 1) by Simon R. Green
  8. A Calculus of Angels (The Age of Unreason, Book 2) by J. Gregory Keyes
  9. Stronghold (Dragon Star, Book 1) by Melanie Rawn
  10. The Crystal City (The Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 6) by Orson Scott Card
  11. Guards of Haven: The Adventures of Hawk and Fisher by Simon R. Green
  12. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5) by Rick Riordan
  13. The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4) by Rick Riordan
  14. The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3) by Rick Riordan
  15. The Sea Of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) by Rick Riordan
  16. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
  17. Heartfire (The Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 5) by Orson Scott Card
  18. Alvin Journeyman (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 4) by Orson Scott Card
  19. Prentice Alvin (The Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 3) by Orson Scott Card
  20. Red Prophet (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 2) by Orson Scott Card
  21. Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card
  22. Rides a Dread Legion: Book One of the Demonwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist
  23. First Lord’s Fury (Codex Alera) by Jim Butcher
  24. Issola (Vlad Taltos) by Steven Brust
  25. Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, Book 11) by Jim Butcher
  26. Hawk by Simon R. Green
  27. Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead

Other Fiction

  1. Robert Ludlum’s The Lazarus Vendetta: A Covert-One Novel by Robert Ludlum, Patrick Larkin
  2. Robert Ludlum’s The Altman Code: A Covert-One Novel by Robert Ludlum, Gayle Lynds
  3. The Bourne Identity: A Novel by Robert Ludlum
  4. The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel (Thursday Next Novels (Penguin Books)) by Jasper Fforde
  5. Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden
  6. Robert Ludlum’s The Cassandra Compact: A Covert-One Novel by Robert Ludlum, Philip Shelby
  7. Robert Ludlum’s The Hades Factor: A Covert-One Novel by Robert Ludlum


  1. Three Roads to Quantum Gravity by Lee Smolin
  2. Expert SQL Server 2005 Development by Adam Machanic, Hugo Kornelis, Lara Rubbelke
  3. Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  4. 19 Deadly Sins of Software Security: Programming Flaws and How to Fix Them (Security One-off) by Michael Howard, David LeBlanc, John Viega
  5. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) by Frederick P. Brooks
  6. On the Shores of the Unknown: A Short History of the Universe by Joseph Silk
  7. Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy Seal by Chuck Pfarrer


  1. Michael Carroll

    Hi there, I’m hoping you can help I have a question which is off topic… I’m looking to purchase SQL Server Web 2008 R2 x64 License. No idea where to buy. Online stores are all in the U.S. But I stay in SA. No international shipping of the product is done from what I can tell/read. I’d be extremely grateful if you could point me in the right direction. Thanks!

  2. Gail (Post author)

    Offhand….. There are many companies that resell SQL. First Technology is the one that comes to mind (disclaimer they are a partner company), or maybe Microsoft SA directly. I don’t work on the sales side, so not really sure.

  3. Jared Karney

    Unfortunately I spend too much time on video games in my off time… A friend turned me on to The Dresden Files and I have since only finished the first book. I really liked it, but haven’t gotten into any more as of yet. What is your favorite series of his?

  4. Gail (Post author)

    I love both the Dresden files and the Codex Alera. Both start a little slow and get way better in the 2nd or 3rd books.

    If I had to chose the better of the two, it would be the Codex Alera, but only slightly. I’ve read some of the books of that series 5 or more times.

  5. Andre Guerreiro Neto

    How are you enjoying The Dark Tower? Although I find that the characters develop quite slowly I think it’s like Stephen King’s on drugs. Can’t recommend them enough. Nice selection BTW.

  6. Gail (Post author)

    I’ve only read the first one, but I did very much enjoy that. Bought the second, it’s somewhere in the reading pile.

  7. Sauron J. Terrill

    In response to the response on The Dark Tower series, Gail:

    The Gunslinger hooked me, and I’ve read all seven novels to great enjoyment… overall. The exceptions were books 3 and 6. I’m not a fan of King, really, but I find Roland a singularly engrossing character. Like Andre, I recommend them… and sticking through the rough spots to the end.


  8. Sauron J. Terrill

    Please pardon my laziness (in not researching your library page(s)), but have you read much Ursula K. LeGuin? She remains my favorite SciFi and Fantasy author. Spare of verse, but deep in social commentary… which I feel is the noblest aim of those two genres of fiction.


  9. Gail (Post author)

    Ursula LeGuin, yes but a long, long time ago (talking high school era).

    The Earthsea series, the Left Hand of Darkness, the Word for World is Forest and probably a whole lot more than I’ve since forgotten.

  10. Darryl Chong

    I couldn’t see them in your library which probably covers only a tiny portion of your complete list but if you’re open to a couple of recommendations I can suggest the following I have read and re-read over the years:-
    Frank Herbert – Dune series (the original ones in particular – the later ones written by his son aren’t quite up to the same standard but at least finish off the saga tidily)
    Julian May – Pliocene Exile Saga and Galactic Milieu Series
    Both of these authors series are excellent so give them a shot in your copious spare time (ha!) you won’t regret it. 🙂

  11. Gail (Post author)

    The library is pretty much limited to the last few years. It is everything that I’ve read during that time (excluding re-reads of old favourites), but there’s hundred of books that I read years ago that aren’t there.

    Dune – read it (more than once) and loved it. The first two sequels also, past that, well not so much…
    Exiles saga – I tried. I really tried to get into it and enjoy it but I couldn’t. Tried a couple other of May’s books, same problem

  12. Mike Harness

    IF you like sci-fi and fantasy, check out Scott Sigler. Infected and Contagious are very good with the third book, Pandemic, is coming out in January of 2014. He also has his GFL series, and a few others (Ancester specifically) that are fantastic.


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