Mark Terry

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What I've Been Reading This Year

February 22, 2007
I decided to keep track of the books I read this year, rather than to try an assemble a list at the end of the year. Here's what I've read to-date along with a few comments.

The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
This is a first novel and an amazing one. The faithful spy in question is the CIA's only man to infiltrate al-Qaeda. When he is sent by the AQ higher-ups to return to the U.S. after 4 years in deep cover, the CIA doesn't trust him because he's converted to Islam, and it's unclear to him whether al-Qaeda trusts him. He also finds that he has changed, as has America, in the years he's been gone. This was nominated for this year's Edgar Award, and although I might have a quibble about so clearly an espionage novel being nominated for a mystery award (not much of a quibble), it's quite a remarkable novel.

Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman
I've long been a fan of Tony Hillerman, but I found this very disappointing.

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
I really enjoyed this. I loved Hiaasen's early books, but thought he floundered a bit recently. This one I found refreshing; although it has the usual impulse-control-problem characters, none of them had a particular environmental ax to grind, so rather than get hit over the head repeatedly with Hiaasen's environmental cudgel, you can just enjoy a wacky story about crazy people.

Jack In The Box by John Weisman
Hardcare espionage novel, complete with footnotes explaining some of the terminology. This is sort of an "insider's insider" espionage novel. I thought it got off to a slow start, but in the end delivered.

Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
After giving up after the first 50 pages, I went back and read this and enjoyed it, although it felt padded. There are some wonderful concepts in here, but it felt to me like a cross between "Rose Madder" which I didn't like and "Bag of Bones" which I loved. I doubt I'd ever re-read it.

The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
Partly because I'm writing a kids' book, I've started reading some and this one is a real treat. I loved it. Disney World has selected 5 kids to be the models for interactive holograms that will wander the Magic Kingdom. But something happened with the technology and the kids find that when they go to sleep, they become the holograms. And there are evil forces lurking in the Magic Kingdom--characters from various rides come to life--and they intend to branch out and take over the world. Only the Kingdom Keepers can stop them. Maybe it's just my general love of Disney World, but this novel was so much fun I can't wait for the next one.

Scavenger by David Morrell
Already reviewed it here on the blog.

Chokepoint by Jay MacLarty
Already reviewed it here on the blog.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Another kids' book. I thought it had a slow start, but once it got going it was terrific. Gregor, a 12-year-old, and his baby sister (Boots) get sucked into a laundry chute in their New York City apartment and find themselves deep, deep beneath ground in the Underland, where a war is ongoing between the Underlanders (humans of a sort) and the rats (which are giant, six-foot-tall rats). Gregor is the key player in a prophecy and in order to get back home he has to go on a quest, teaming up with giant bats, cockroaches, spiders and Underlanders. This is the first in a series and I'll be reading the second one soon, The Prophecy of Bane. And I'm looking forward to it.

High Profile by Robert B. Parker
A Jesse Stone novel. Same old Parker. A so-so mystery and in the case of Jesse, I've grown tired of his issues with his ex-wife. By the end of the novel I thought, "Tell the stupid bitch to get out of your life and not come back. You'll both be better off for it." I guess that's why I'm not a shrink.

There's a 11th I need to mention. Murder On The Side by Ron Estrada. This is a manuscript by a friend of mine, as-yet unpublished, though I think it might be eventually. Ron's a good writer and although I thought it needed a little more juice between the various characters, I can see a market for this sort of mystery. I enjoyed it and if Ron gets a contract, I'm sure I'll write more about it here.

How about you? What have you been reading?

Mark Terry


Blogger Shannon said...

That's an impressive list and it's only February! Do you not sleep?
I've been pushing myself to use most of my "spare" time to write this year (New Year's resolution). But, I have managed to squeeze in Joe & Lynn's The Grail Conspiracy. (I've got The Last Secret waiting in the que) Lots of new twists and I leaned a bunch of interesting facts from it. Also read The Handmaid's Tale (Atwood) which was brilliant and haunted me for days. Oh, and I keep rereading King's On Writing so it gets burned into my brain.

By the way, good luck Ron!!! Sounds like you've got a great novel going.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Well, I'm a reader, plus I pretty much took care of two of those books hanging around airports and on planes. And the kids books are shorter, probably anywhere from 40,000 words to 60,000 words.

I've read "The Grail Conspiracy" and liked it quite a bit. "The Last Secret" is also in my queu and I expect to read it in March, hopefully.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Ron Estrada said...

Hey! The first mention of my book on a blog! Thanks for the kind words, Mark. I took your advice to add more tension and ran with it.

Shannon, you must dwell in the world of books on tape/cd/mp3. I'd never get enough read if not for my one hour on the road every day.
Right now it's The Copper Scroll by Joel Rosenburg. And my "print" read is Forgiving Solomon Long by Chris Well.

10:50 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

I read the Faithful Spy last year and loved it. Quite a few novels came out with similar themes, and I just couldn't pick them up. Berenson was the first (I think), so he deserves an award (a mystery one, though?). He did it well.

I'm so depressed about reading. I do read every day, it's just I don't have time to finish anything. (I can't do the little bit each day thing. If it's a good book, I have to read it in two or three days, maximum.) Insert major whine here. Get out the fiddles.

It's to the point where I'm getting depressed every time I see another great book I can't wait to read. I've got a stack of fifty here!

1:13 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I used to listen to audiobooks all the time. Weirdly, I'm often reading 2 or 3 at the same time now, although it's a bad habit I picked up in the last year and am trying to break.

SS, my TBR pile is getting ridiculous. And new books keep coming out that I pick up by favorites (Robert Crais has a new one coming out about Joe Pike next week, for instance) and I keep tripping across new authors or first-time authors that sound intriguing. So little time...

1:44 PM  
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