Books in 2013

2013 in Books

My goal in 2013 was to read 50 books.  I didn’t even get half way.  I read only 22.  In my defense I did have a new baby girl in September to look after and took a business class for work.  My goal for 2014 will be 25, a much more realistic goal, however, I hope to exceed it.

I read 4,925 pages from 17 books.  That’s less than last year too.

  • Longest book was Catherine the Great (642 pages)
  • Shortest book was Guide to Yosemite (38 pages)

I listened to 62.8 hours (2.6 days) of audio from 4 different books.

  • Great Expectations was the longest at 18.3 hours
  • Golden Compass was the shortest at 11 hours
The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials
The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials

I started out the year by listening to the Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.  I wanted to read this because I had recently seen the movie again on television and realized that it was a okay story, “I bet the book is better though”, as it is in most cases.

This children’s book is listed on some of the ‘must read’ list I have come across on the Internet. So I added it to my to-read list here on goodreads. I liked listening to this book. The reader was great. As those of you who listen to books know a reader can make or break a book. The story was very good and I enjoyed it. Nothing very difficult as plot goes, after all this is a children’s book. I watched the 2007 movie

The Golden Compass [Blu-ray]
The Golden Compass [Blu-ray]
while reading this book and I think it helped me put things in perspective. This book like some other science fiction/fantasy novels I have read quickly jumps into the story of an alternate universe with little to no explanation of the terms used. I think the movie helped pull things together for me a little. If I have time I will read the next book in the series, especially if I can find it as an audiobook.

The next book I read was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I have seen the movie which is based on this novel and I think the other novels in the Barsoom series.  I think the book is out of copyright, so you should be able to read it for free online.  I really loved this book and can’t believe I didn’t already read the second one.

Next I listened to At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson.  I gave the book 4/5 stars.  While I enjoyed it, the information is mostly useless, but mildly interesting.  Whoever you are the information applies to you, its so wide reaching.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Next I read a book that I won as part of a group read in the history club at goodreads I recommend the group highly for anyone who likes to read historical non-fiction.  The book was Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie a bit dry and you really have to be into the subject to read it.  It was somewhat a monster at 642 pages.

The book did not keep me coming back and I read many other books while I was reading this one. About 3/4 through the book I pretty much knew what I was going to write for my review. The first part of the book, the part leading up to her marriage, was interesting, and for me the best part of the book. From that point until just before the end of the book, it read like a soap opera. She went from man to man and had so many woes. Towards the end it was the story of a geriatric old woman, and her pains. Her triumphs in war, but more so her art collections, and her passing fancies. It wasn’t that this book was written poorly, that’s not it at all, I just didn’t find the story of Catherine II’s life all that interesting. Maybe for people who are more interested the her social relationships there might be more, but I didn’t find myself identifying with any of the people discussed in the book. I didn’t get to really know anyone but Catherine, which is who the book was about so again no fault of the author. I was a little let down by this one and I think it will be a while before I pick up another historical biography. I need to refresh my mental palate.

The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code

Next I listened to The Da Vinici Code by Dan Brown.  I was surprised that I had not read this book until now as I remember reading Angels and Demons and enjoying it.  I saw the movie.  I don’t know why it took me so long to listen to the book!  The movie follows the book very closely!

I read and really enjoyed By the Book by Dean Wesley Smith next.  It is a Star Trek book, if your still reading after that…It is from the Enterprise series of books.  The second one.  Some of the books in the series are exact novelizations from the television series.  I’ve seen all the episodes of this short run show at least twice, their on Netflix.  I only gave the book 3 stars our of 5 at the time, but I realized later that it was a nice escape and later in the year read more of these novels.

From Dead to Worse: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)
From Dead to Worse: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)

I then went back to the Sookie Stackhouse series.  This time I read book 8 in the series, From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris.  It was also a nice escape.  I really liked the surprise ending at the end of this one.  I plan to read the rest of the Sookie novels.

This book I heard about on a blog post.  I had wanted to read it for a long time and finally bough a copy.  The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale by Susan Maushart, is a great book despite its horribly long title!  It is a great look at just what we can do as humans when we totally disconnect from all the electronics in our life.  I’m one of the most connected people I know.  I don’t think I could ever do what Ms. Maushart did here!  I even read on a electronic device!

I think I am the only person who like Wil Wheaton’s character on Star Trek

Just a Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise
Just a Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise

and missed it when he left the show.  I didn’t know he had this huge following online.  He has a podcast and blog and has written books!  So I checked out Just a Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise by Wil Wheaton.  I was really into the first 3/4 of this book then it got a little repetitive and slower towards the end. Very funny and interesting for a Trekie like me to read though.  All in all a good book, and I might read more of his work.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was very challenging for me.  It’s pretty boring.  I like some classics, I feel like you are supposed to like some of them.  But honestly this one was pretty dry.  I listened to this one because I knew it would be hard to get through and while I made it through I won’t be going back to read this again.


A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine.  While this book was somewhat interesting it got old quick.  What I mean is, the author states his hypothesis and then goes on to support it, however, he didn’t stop.  It was too much supporting information that wasn’t all that interesting.  I lost interest in this book about 1/3 in.  I read it because of an interesting post on lifehacker.

The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days by JJ Virgin Ph.D. CNS.  I don’t usually read diet books.  I like non-fiction and I like learning about my body and why it does the things it does.  But like I said, I don’t really think I need a diet book.  Least of all a bunch of healthy recipes I won’t cook.  Having said all that this book was different.  It was introduced to me in a strange way.  My sister liked one of the videos that Dr. Virgin put out on youtube and I sent it to me.  When I watched it I was very interested in what else this doctor had to say, because she talks about eliminating foods that are bad for you.  We all know that fast food is bad, that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about whole food groups.  Like bread, eggs and milk.  Eliminating these things makes since to me since I’m already lactose intolerant.  So that’s why I read this.  The first half of the book says why you shouldn’t eat those foods and that was the part I read, the rest, diet stuff and recipes I ignored.

The Wizard of Oz (Oz #1) by L. Frank Baum was much better than I ever thought it would be.  I read this to my daughter who was 4 at the time.  It was an interesting novel.  I didn’t know that it would differ so much from the movie. I also didn’t know that there were other books in a series, I hope to go back and read the next Oz book in 2014.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach was GREAT!  It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for but it was very good!  I really enjoyed this book! This is really a 4.5 star book at least. It was nice to read a book where the “ick” factor as Ms. Roach calls it, doesn’t hold the author back. Very enlightening and enjoyable read. Some of my favorite tidbits:

“sticky rice mochi, a traditional Japanese New Years food, kills about a dozen people every year”

She explains how the myth of the dragon started. As well as,

lactose intolerance, a subject near and dear to my posterior.

The average person “toots” 22 times a day!

Where and how inmates in prisons hide items they are not supposed to have. Might want to be careful buying your next “slightly used” cell phone!

“Pharmaceutical companies make money by treating diseases not by curing them.”

“what exactly is in the “probiotic” seen in stores now. “marketing,” he replied”

Another gem:
“scientifically proven fact:j the flatus of women has a significantly greater concentration of hydrogen sulfide and was deemed to have a significantly worse odour[sic]…”

Only in this book will you find sentences like:
“he reverse engineered a fart.” or “He’s an unlikely hero, quietly saving lives and restoring health with the product of his morning toilet.”

And lastly but certainly not least:
“Wow, that Mary Roach has her head up her ass. To which I say: Only briefly, and with the utmost respect.”

What Price Honor? (Enterprise)
What Price Honor? (Enterprise)

Time for another Star Trek book.  What Price Honor? (Enterprise) by Dave Stern was very good.  This was the best Enterprise book I’ve read yet. It has a couple a plots going on at once. I didn’t figure things out until the middle of the book and even then I didn’t know exactly how it was done. I like reading these books! I don’t learn too much from them. I don’t feel smarter for reading them, but I really enjoy the stories and easy read. Some time you just need a fun read!

The next two books Guide to Yosemite – A Handbook of the Trails and Roads of Yosemite Valley and – The Adjacent Region – The Original Classic Edition by Ansel Hall and Indians of the Yosemite Valley and Vicinity: Their History, Customs and Traditions by Galen Clark were read as I was about to and while I was in Yosemite this summer on vacation with my family.  Both books were free on the Kindle.  The first on a Guide to Yosemite, had a great introduction, but then went into way too much information about the trails, something I wasn’t really interested in.  I wanted to know the history more.  The second book, Indians of the Yosemite Valley and Vicinity was a very good history of the park. It is dated, but then again not much changes in Yosemite. An excellent history of the Indians in the area and what became of them. How they lived etc.

Dead And Gone (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 9)
Dead And Gone (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 9)

And back to Sookie, the second novel for me this year and the 9th in the series.  Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse #9) by Charlaine Harris.  I liked all the action in this one. Can’t believe I’m already done with the 9th book. On to the next!  However, I never got to the next novel in 2013 maybe this year.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan was recommended to me by a friend.  I have already read most of Pollan’s work, but this one was very good too.  Quick read. A short introduction, then 64 rules for eating. All good ones. Something to keep around and re-read every so often.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie was another book I read to my daughter.  She enjoyed this one as did I.  About as many surprises as there were in Wizard of Oz.  I found it enlightening to finally read this childhood classic.

Star Trek: Enterprise: Daedalus
Star Trek: Enterprise: Daedalus

Daedalus: Part One of Two (Star Trek: Enterprise #7) by Dave Stern is another Star Trek book.  See a pattern yet?  This one was very good.  I gave it 4/5 stars.  I liked it the more I got into it.  It really started to pick up at the end.  It’s book one in a two book series.  I want to read the second one badly and hope to get to it early in 2014.

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell was a strange book for me.  It was okay, I gave it 3/5 stars.  No slouch!  I think I read it because I have enjoyed some of his other books.  But I didn’t think this one was as good as his others. Interesting topics and good supporting stories. May be disturbing to parents as I found a few passages difficult to read.

Books of 2012


While I didn’t make my goal of reading 50 books in 2012, I did get through a good portion, 36.  By the numbers:

Here is a brief review of some of the winners and losers:

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is part of a series call The Last Survivors.  The series consists of 3 books so far.  Book 4, The Shade of the Moon, is expected September 3rd, 2013.  This was a book on a subject that has interested me for some time, the apocalypse.  This novel is written from a teenage girl’s point of view.  The story starts before an apocalyptic event occurs, and continues, with most of the novel occurring during the worst of things.  A good book from a child ’s view.  Some things are more important to a child than an adult so it was interesting to see things from that perspective.  While I enjoyed the book, especially the day-to-day dealing with the apocalypse stuff, it did drag on a little.  I listened to the unabridged audio of this book.  The reader was very good.  All in all this book is a solid 3-star.

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith.  This book was one that I won because of my membership in The History Book Club on goodreads.  Great book. I wasn’t really in to the royal family before, but now I have had my interest peaked. This is a great starting book for anyone wanting to know more about the royal family.  This is a history book, so if you think you will be bored reading it and you have no interest in the royal family.  Chances are you will not like this book.  Skip it and read something fun.  I have an interest in the royal family and history so I gave this book 4-star.

The Iliad by Homer.  This is on my list because I want to read more books considered to be classics by many of the ‘must read’ list floating about the Internet.  I listened to this book.  The reader was okay.  Can’t rate this any higher until I have time to read the cliff notes and figure it out more. I caught the general idea, but geez!  It was a good read, but a difficult one.  I gave it 2-star.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  A very good book about Steve Jobs.  I read this on a kindle.  I found that while Steve was a marketing visionary he was not a very nice person.  If you have ever wanted to know more about Steve Jobs, read this book first.  This is a must read for apple fans!  4-star

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris.  This is book #4 in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  I started reading this series when I first saw an episode of True Blood.  I liked the series so I started to read the books.  They are a fun read.  You defiantly don’t get much intellectual stimulation from these books, but they are a fun read to add to your line up of biographies and other non-fiction.  This was the first in the series I ‘read’ instead of listening to.  I read it on a kindle.  I enjoyed it more than the others. Great series. I’m looking forward to the next book. 4-star

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks.  I listened to the unabridged audio of this book.  Pretty good. A lot like Gladwell’s books. He even quotes Gladwell once or twice.  4-star

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris.  This is book #5 in the series.  Back to the audio book for this series again.  I enjoyed this one as much as the last.  4-star

Beowulf by Unknown.  Another attempt to read the classics.  I listened to this book and enjoyed it more than The Iliad, probably because I understood more of what was going on.  3-star for this classic.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.  I have always wanted to read Kipling.  Such a famous name and associated to many stories we all know, but few of us have read.  This clearly falls into my classics list.   I listened to a good reading of this novel. This is of course a children’s novel and must be read that way.  Even still it is a great story and I liked it.  4-star

The Witches by Roald Dahl.  A fun quick read.  I had read this before when I was much younger and I also remember the 1990 movie of the same name.  Great book, but beware, it may be too scary for some children.  My little girl Samantha, age 4, saw the cover (I didn’t read it to her) and said it was too scary.  I had to hide the book after that for fear I would give her nightmares.  4-star

The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan.  This is book #3 in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  I listened to the unabridged version of this book and enjoyed it as much if not more than the other books in the series.  It was a fun quick read.  4-star

Zone One by Colson Whitehead.  I listened to this apocalyptic novel unabridged.  While I liked the idea, I didn’t enjoy the execution as much.  I was disappointed that this ended when it did. I also did not like all the switching back and forth from one timeline to another. Would have been better if it just covered the timeline it ended on. 3-star

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez.  While many would agree that this book is a classic, I have to say that I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to.  I still have the link to the list this book was on:

I think this got better towards the end. It was a long read. Many characters many generations of the same family. There was a lot to keep track of throughout the story. Some themes and ideas weaved in and out of the story and that was a nice surprise. Great prose. Read out loud it sounds great!  It took me a very long time to read.  I kept interrupting it with other reads that were more fun to read.  3-star

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris.  The sixth book in this series.  Not as good as the last two.  I again listened to the audio of this book.  3-star

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling.  My second Kipling novel of the year.  While this was enjoyable I think I liked The Jungle Book better.  3-star

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  This one was a recommendation from my wife, who after watching the TED talk wanted to read the book.  She ordered it on Amazon and I couldn’t wait for her to finish her copy and read it on my kindle while she was reading the print copy.  It was an excellent read for everyone, especially those of us that are introverts. 5-star, the highest rating of the year thus far.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli.  I’m not a big graphic novel fan but I did enjoy this book.  I probably picked it up because I had just been to Comic-Con in San Diego that month.  It was a fun read. 4-star

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl.  Another Dahl book and movie.  It was okay only.  Definitely for children.  I listened to this book and gave it 3-star.


It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell.  My father-in-law shared a Parade article with me that was an excerpt from this book and that had me hooked.  I found the book on audio and loved listening to it.  Excellent leadership book, filled with entertaining stories and great advice. Listening to an unabridged version read by the author was a huge plus! 5-star, the second perfect score for 2012.

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris.  Another Sookie Stackhouse novel that I listened to the audio of.  It is number seven in the series.  This one is slow to begin, but ended so well that it still gets 4-star.

Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner.  This book was another that I won through the History Book Club on goodreads.  I didn’t have high hopes for this book, I thought it would be dry based on its topic and thickness. However, I really like how the book was laid out, covering an era at a time and what was going on in the nation and how the FBI reacted to it. It made the book very easy to follow and a nice read. While I was not very excited about the story, it was not the first book I picked up when I had time to read, it was well written. It did have some fairly excited parts for me like when discussing spies especially. I wish there would have been more discussed about spies as that is very interesting to me. However, I realize that this would have left the book astray of its intended topic.

I learned a lot about the history of the FBI so the book succeeded in its goal. I had no idea that Hoover was such a large part of the agency. For the first 2/3 of the book I felt like I was reading his biography.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the FBI. I now feel I have a better understanding of one of our nations super secret agencies. 3-star


Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts.  I really enjoyed this first book in the Jake Grafton series and I hope to read more of them.  I listened to this book and thought it was read very well.  I immediately went out and watched the movie version as well. 5-star, 3rd perfect score of the year.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.  I listened to this classic.  It a bunch of stories written as poems. Some of the stories are adult in nature. Its written a very long time ago so you have to concentrate on the language to understand it. It is a good book to listen to. It was a little too old for me to enjoy. I did like some of the naughty bits as they were entertaining especially the language used! It was one of only two books I’ve read that used the word ‘defenestration’. The other was a history book speaking of the Defenestrations of Prague.  2-star

The Bible (New Testament KJV) by Anaymous.  While anyone who knows me knows I’m not very religious, this book definitely falls in the classics category, as the most read book in the world.  So of course I listened to this huge work read by non-other than James Earl Jones, which made it more enjoyable, however it was still very long and hard to get through, so it earns only 2-star.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  The best of both worlds, this book falls into the classics category but also science fiction.  While I love the idea, I didn’t love the story in this book.  I’m glad that I listened to this book though, otherwise I may not have finished it. 3-star

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan.  After a bit of a dreary story from The Time Machine, it was time for a fun read.  However, I was a little let down by this audio book.  This is the fourth book in the series and the story reads the almost the same as the previous 3.  Every time I finish one I’m not sure if I will read the next book in the series. 3-star

charlottes web

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  I had already read this book before, but I wanted to read it to my four-year-old Samantha.  While her attention wavered over the 3 weeks that we read the book (a chapter a night every other day, mommy reads on the alternating nights to Samantha) mine did not, I fell in love this wonderful work all over again.  After we finished reading the book we watched the 2006 movie together.  I think I prefer the original 1973 animated movie better, but I had trouble finding that at the library. 5-star

The Athena Project by Brad Thor.  I read this via my kindle and enjoyed the story.  It was a good fun read.  This is supposed to be the first in a series of Athena books, however, it was originally published in 2010 and I can’t find any mention of a second book in the series. 4-star

Surak’s Soul by J.M. Dillard.  Part of the Star Trek: Enterprise series, book #5.  This was a guilty pleasure.  The book had a very simple plot and you have the book figured out about a ¼ into it and there is really now need to read the rest, nonetheless, I did enjoy reading it immensely.  I think I enjoyed reading the book since the television series needed so quickly with only 4 seasons.  I liked the characters in this last television star trek series, so I really enjoyed that their stories can continue in print form, or for this book at least, in pixel form and I read this book on a kindle.  I have already obtained the second book, By The Book, in the series.  I’m skipping the first since it is just a novelization of one of the episodes of the television series.  3-star