Mark Terry

Friday, December 28, 2007

What I Read In 2007

December 28, 2007
Well, I read a lot of books in 2007. A total of 66, which surprised me. Here's the list:

  1. The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
  2. Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman
  3. Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
  4. Jack In The Box by John Weisman
  5. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
  6. The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
  7. Scavenger by David Morrell
  8. Chokepoint by Jay MacLarty
  9. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
  10. High Profile by Robert B. Parker
  11. Stealing the Dragon by Tim Maleeny
  12. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
  13. The Watchman by Robert Crais
  14. Plug Your Book by Steve Weber
  15. The Side Effect by Bob Reiss
  16. Obsession by Jonathan Kellerman
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by JK Rowling
  18. Trial & Error by Paul Levine
  19. Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz
  20. Fear by Jeff Abbott
  21. Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell
  22. Capitol Threat by William Bernhardt
  23. The Last Secret by Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore
  24. The Narrows by Michael Connelly
  25. Critical Space by Greg Rucka
  26. Fat, Forty & Fired by Nigel Marsh
  27. Invisible Prey by John Sandford
  28. Stone Rain by Linwood Barclay
  29. Percy Jackson and The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
  30. Escape Clause by James O. Born
  31. The Serpent’s Kiss by Mark Terry
  32. Bag of Bones by Stephen King
  33. The Cleaner by Brett Battles
  34. Hunter’s Moon by Randy Wayne White
  35. The Second Horseman by Kyle Mills
  36. Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
  37. The Judas Strain by James Rollins
  38. Spare Change by Robert B. Parker
  39. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
  40. No Man’s Land by G.M. Ford
  41. Patriot Acts by Greg Rucka
  42. Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich
  43. The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett
  44. Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
  45. Dead Watch by John Sandford
  46. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  47. Rebel Island by Rick Riordan
  48. The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  49. Red Cat by Joe Spiegelman
  50. Dead Heat by Dick Francis & Felix Francis
  51. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  52. Outsourced by RJ Hillhouse
  53. Dirty Martini by JA Konrath
  54. Dark of the Moon by John Sandford
  55. Some Like It Hot-Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen
  56. Now & Then by Robert B. Parker
  57. The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi
  58. Allah’s Scorpion by David Hagberg
  59. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
  60. Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz
  61. Requiem for an Assassin by Barry Eisler
  62. Capitol Murder by William Bernhardt
  63. T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
  64. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
  65. The Devil’s Code by John Sandford
  66. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
Once upon a time I used to write my Top 10 list for books I read, and I'm not inclined to do that any more. I will say, here are the ones that struck me the most:

Capitol Threat by William Bernhardt
Capitol Murder by William Bernhardt
I read CT by Bernhardt for a piece I wrote for the International Thriller Writers, Inc. newsletter and surprised myself by enjoying the hell out of the book. Bill writes legal mysteries, but in these two he goes to Washington, D.C. for them, and I found that mix particularly fun.

Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell
Toby's a friend, but I enjoyed this book. It's been years since I read SF and I find Toby's to be original and unusual.

Percy Jackson and The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
I've been reading a little bit more YA novels and in some ways it's not surprising that they've been striking me more than so many other novels. I feel like I'm ever-so-slightly tired of mysteries and thrillers--or I just have to cast around harder to find ones that seem fresh and original. I don't know if that's a slam to the industry or just a sign of someone who needs to broaden his horizons. 

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett
Written In Bone by Simon Beckett
Beckett was a powerful discovery for me. He writes about a forensic anthropologist, but what he does with the books is interesting--essentially moving his burned-out sleuth to isolated British villages--first a small town in the countryside, and in the second, to one of the Outer Hebrides islands--and makes the environment itself, the people, the landscape, the weather, a major character in the book, and one of the biggest obstacles the main character has to deal with.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi
More SF. I discovered him pretty much through Toby and I really have enjoyed all his books this year. Old Man's War is the favorite, although I really enjoyed the follow-up, The Ghost Brigades, and laughed my way through his standalone, The Android's Dream.

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Another YA novel and so unique and fresh I could barely describe it. Funny, sad, odd, weird. Reading the author bio itself was worth the price of admission and I'm really looking forward to the next one.

Disappointers? Did some of the old regulars write books that left me going, uh, jeez, that sucked? Well, it's not nice to say so, but let me point out a couple.

"T" is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
Grafton typically is one of my favorite novelists. I still rank "I" is for Innocent as one of the best mysteries ever written. I haven't been too wild about any of her books for the last 4 or 5 years and I may just be growing out of her. That happens sometimes. I thought this book was well-written, but the structure works against her, the entire topic is depressing, and it took at least 100 pages to get going. Sorry Sue.

Lisey's Story by Stephen King
Well, critics loved it. I thought it was a depressing, confusing, frustrating mess.

Spare Change and Now & Then by Robert B. Parker. 
Well, I'm a huge fan of Parker and I think if you've published 50-plus novels you're probably entitled to being uneven from time to time, but Spare Change, a Sunny Randall novel, was a big, lazy mess with technical errors no novice would be allowed to get away with. I thought Now & Then was better, but not good. Readable, yes, but I wonder if he's phoning these in.

Well, enough of that nonsense. I'm currently reading Capitol Crimes by Fay and Jonathan Kellerman as well as sifting my way through A Thousand  Bones by PJ Parrish. It's possible I'll finish one of them before 2008 starts, but I doubt it.

Overall, it was a great year of reading. In 2008 I'm reminding myself to try to read a little more SF and fantasy, to find some good narrative nonfiction--I was checking out some travel books at Borders yesterday--as well as maybe, gulp, some mainstream fiction. I love mysteries and thrillers, but I do think you can read so much of it that it all starts to seem the same.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

7 Comments:

Blogger spyscribbler said...

I don't know about mysteries and thrillers, but I'm pretty sure there were three or four at least with the same theme as The Faithful Spy. I'm not sure I read all of them, but I liked The Faithful Spy best.

I'll have to check William Bernhardt out. I haven't gotten around to trying Sue Grafton. No particular reason. And, sadly, I never finished Lisey's story. It was odd. Of course it's fiction, of course I understand it's not autobiographical, but while reading it I had this odd squeamish feeling, because it's about a famous, dead author, and I don't want Stephen King to die. Even though I know he didn't write about himself.

Okay, that's really weird. But that's how I felt, reading it. I almost felt like I shouldn't be reading it, like I should be giving the widow her space and privacy to grieve, rather than reading about her personal life.

And I kept thinking, if I were Tabitha, I'd kill my husband for writing this. (Because, see, while I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea of killing my husband, I am not at all comfortable with the idea of him ever dying. So if my husband were a famous novelist writing about a famous novelist who died, I'd fear the curse of the nine symphonies or something. Me being me, I probably would've gotten a little weird and prevented him from writing it at all. Really.)

9:47 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

The Faithful Spy was terrific. What I felt most when I read it was a sort of grinding jealousy, because I didn't think I could write a book like it--and I have, obviously, written books about spies and biological warfare.

I know how you feel about Lisey's Story. I wondered the same thing about Bag of Bones, actually, which is my favorite King book, which is about a bestselling author's WIFE dying. Always wondered what Tabitha King thought of that.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

Kudos to you for mentioning the disappointing books.

I only read a couple of pages of "Lisey's" and gave up - you are not alone in your negative opinion.

I've put "Chemistry of Death" on my TBR list because of your mention.

Best wishes for the New Year, Mark!

9:13 AM  
Blogger PJ Parrish said...

This is what I love about books, that they engender passion and disagreement.

I loved Lisey's Story. Loved its its parallel-universe oddness, its open sentiment, and the fact that I had to stay with it until its internal logic started to make sense. What it has to say about a celebrity author's life is fascinating and its portrait of a complex marriage just broke my heart.

As far as its personal aspects: King spoke about this at the Edgars. He said the book was inspired by the fact that when he returned home from the hospital following the car accident that almost killed him, his wife Tabitha had cleaned and reorganized his writing room. It unnerved him, like he had died and she was already trying to cope -- and it inspired this story.

I don't have any problem with a writer using their personal life for fiction. I think it's courageous; I think King took big changes with this novel and not enough authors -- especially in genre fiction -- do that. (To be fair, most of us don't have the cushion of King's huge fame to let us be TOO adventurous! We tend to get wacked on the wrist if we try something too odd.)

But I think if you are going to write fiction, you have to open a vein and be willing to spill some blood on the page.

1:14 PM  
Blogger r2 said...

I think Now & Then is a tremendous book. Good plotting. Patented Parker humor. This is one of the few Spenser books in which I wasn't totally turned off by Susan Silverman. In fact, I actually grew to like her in this one. So, not to be a contrarian, but I totally disagree with you about Now & Then---Maybe not the best Spenser, but certainly one of the better ones.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

r2
Thus proving PJ's point--that we all respond differently to books. I've noted with interest how many positive reviews Grafton's "T" is getting, both from professional reviewers and the Amazon ilk and I don't agree with them. I agree it's well-written, but I thought it lacked tension and was slow. But it could just be me.

7:11 AM  
Blogger JaaJoe said...

Berenson is a great Author. Check out The Ghost War by Alex Berenson

2:18 PM  

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