What did I read in 2018?

Most of these got read during long TV hiatuses – winter break, summer, that sort of thing.

One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to read 30 books this year. I actually read 60, but they were mostly re-reads. I think 16 of these were new reads (bolded). Next year: more new reads.

  • The Herald Spy Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Wars Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff
  • The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Arrows of the Queen Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Winds Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Storms Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Owl Mage Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Vows & Honor, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Kerowyn’s Tale, Mercedes Lackey
  • Exile’s Honor, Mercedes Lackey
  • Exile’s Valor, Mercedes Lackey
  • Take a Thief, Mercedes Lackey
  • The Collegium Chronicles, Mercedes Lackey (5 Books)
  • Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
  • A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
  • Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
  • I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett
  • The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett
  • Lords & Ladies, Terry Pratchett
  • Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett
  • Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
  • I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, Michelle McNamara
  • Brief Cases, Jim Butcher
  • Storm Front, Jim Butcher
  • Fool Moon, Jim Butcher
  • Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
  • Summer Knight, Jim Butcher
  • Death Masks, Jim Butcher
  • Blood Rites, Jim Butcher
  • Dead Beat, Jim Butcher
  • Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher
  • White Night, Jim Butcher
  • Small Favor, Jim Butcher
  • Turn Coat, Jim Butcher
  • Changes, Jim Butcher
  • Ghost Story, Jim Butcher
  • Cold Days, Jim Butcher
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher
  • Firefly: Big Damn Hero, James Lovegrove & Nancy Holder

Movie: All the President’s Men

“The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.” – Deep Throat, “All the President’s Men” (Movie)

Bob Woodward: The story is dry. All we’ve got are pieces. We can’t seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like. John Mitchell resigns as the head of CREEP, and says that he wants to spend more time with his family. I mean, it sounds like bullshit, we don’t exactly believe that…

Deep Throat: No, heh, but it’s touching. Forget the myths the media’s created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.

You can watch All the President’s Men at Google Play or Amazon (affiliate link, I need more stuff to read), and it’s worth the few bucks to rent or buy it – great movie, and unfortunately topical these days. You can also read the book (affiliate link). It’s a bit dry, but a good read.

‘Johannes Cabal the Necromancer,’ Jonathan L. Howard

“He’d painted himself into a corner and a thousand lazy reporters and ever-so-sincere politicians had rendered the only word that he could use comically melodramatic. ‘I think … Johannes Cabal … is evil.’” – Jonathan L. Howard, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer

I don’t remember how I stumbled across this book – maybe my sweetheart recommended it to me? At any rate, the Johannes Cabal series by Jonathan L. Hubbard has been delightful and they’re among my favorite books.

Johannes Cabal is a clever necromancer and student of various sciences on a mission to defeat death. He’s taciturn and cranky and short of patience, and does not suffer fools well, at all. He’s aided in his missions by a fantastic cast, including his brother Horst, a vampire.

I love these books. They’re fun and smart and the writer’s sense of humor is dry and hilarious. The writing style reminds me of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, which is pretty good company to be in if you can manage it.

There are five books and a handful of short stories in the series (so far?), and you should definitely read every single one of them.

Here’s a link to the first book. That’s an affiliate link, so if you buy it through there, I get a few pennies, which I’ll definitely spend on more books.

‘Go Set A Watchman,’ Harper Lee

“But the white supremacists fear reason, because they know cold reason beats them. Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.” – Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

Go Set A Watchman was the “sequel” to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. It was marketed as a sequel, that is, but it wasn’t, really. It was the first draft she wrote for To Kill A Mockingbird.

It does work as a sequel, sort of. And it’s a good book, a good read. But it absolutely ruins Atticus Finch as a character. It does so for the reader in the exact same way as it does for Scout, the character.

I was never sure what I thought of this book. I loved To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s one of my favorite books. Go Set A Watchman was certainly an interesting read, and it made me think a lot, so it’s got that going for it.

There was a lot of drama surrounding the publication of the book, and a lot of weirdness in the way the book was written. It doesn’t work at all without Mockingbird, but it was thought to be a first draft? Was Harper Lee taken advantage of in the publishing of the book? It’s hard to read the book and look past all that.

But despite the mess, it’s worth a read. I wouldn’t consider it… canon, exactly. More like, and alternative version of events, maybe?

Anyway, here’s a link to buy the book: Go Set A Watchman. That’s an affiliate link, FYI. If you buy it through there, I get a few cents, which will promptly be spent towards buying more books.

Linkdump: So many things I’ve been saving up…

Lots to do and not much time to do it in, so I’ve cleaned out my linkdump folder and located a pile of good reading to check out.

I have three days to do a week’s worth of work and I already used up one of those days, so this’ll have to be quick.

🚀 First up, a new Oatmeal comic: On November 26th, a Mole Will Land on Mars. This is super neat and I just found out about it.

📚 Here’s a brand new free short story from John Scalzi: Automated Customer Service.

🍔 From Thrillist, “I Found the Best Burger Place in America. And Then I Killed It.,” the story of how a restaurant review killed an awesome burger place in Portland, Oregon.

📰 NiemanLab has an article on how journalists are being trained to detect “deepfakes,” or fake videos.

🤬 So, nationwide, cops are marking rape cases solved without actually arresting the perpetrator. Like, the rapist walks free, and the cops mark the case solved. Read it and get your rage on.

🚓 The New York Times has a longread about how cops failed to see the threat of white nationalism and now aren’t prepared to deal with it: “U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It.

💩 Bad news, guys. A significant percentage of the conversations you’re having online about current events are BS driven by bot accounts and bad actors. Read it in Wired.

⚠️ The Southern Poverty Law Center says “The Alt-Right is Killing People.” And yes. Yes they are.

🚨 Speaking of the “alt-right” and all that fascist, nazi bullshit, here’s a great article from Robert Evans at Bellingcat about how people get sucked into extremism.

📓 An oldie-but-goodie: Here’s an article in Strange Horizons, from 2005, about the Lovecraft influence in Stephen King’s writing.

To wrap things up, the Arrowverse crossover is coming up Dec. 9, and we’re up to four 30-second teaser trailers. Here they are:

Holy crap, I cannot wait for a full trailer to drop. These crossovers are the highlight of my TV year.

Jim Butcher on Evil

“Most of the bad guys in the real world don’t know that they are bad guys. You don’t get a flashing warning sign that you’re about to damn yourself. It sneaks up on you when you aren’t looking.” – Jim Butcher, Proven Guilty

“There’s no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and undisciplined. But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.

“As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend—all grown up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago, but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob..”

👆 Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher, part of his Dresden Files series. If you haven’t read ’em, you should, because they’re excellent. The first book in the series is Storm Front. You’re welcome.

Saturday Book Suggestions

Usually I’m pointing you at interesting articles or news stories you should read, but today we’re talking about books. I’ve got four nonfiction book suggestions and one fiction suggestion you should check out.

Usually I’m pointing you at interesting articles or news stories you should read, but today we’re talking about books. I’ve got four nonfiction book suggestions and one fiction suggestion you should check out.

FYI: All the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click through and buy the book, I make a few cents. Rest assured, I will use any earnings gleaned this way to purchase more books. Or possibly things for my dog. But most likely books.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff
Y’all probably already read this one because it was a viral sensation when it came out, but just in case you didn’t, you should. Caution: This book is wall-to-wall hyperbole and probably at least 90% bullshit, but it is a fun read. Also, I strongly suspect the whole thing was set up to be a viral sensation and make people money, because my cynicism knows no bounds. But still: fun read. And if even 10% of it is true? Holy crap you guys.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara
Michelle McNamara was Patton Oswalt’s first wife, who passed away suddenly and too young a couple of years ago from a freak heart thing. She was a well known true crime writer, and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is her last book, detailing her hunt for the Golden State Killer. McNamara passed away before the book was completely finished, and another reporter/crime writer helped edit it together and polish it off. Shortly after the book was released, they caught the Golden State Killer, which lent some added drama to the whole thing and, honestly, is most of the reason I picked the book up to read in the first place. All that having been said, it’s a great book. Detailed, thorough, engrossing, well-written, all that. If you love true crime stuff (as I do) and haven’t read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark yet, put it on your to-do list.

All the President’s Men, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
I’ll warn you, this book is dry. It was written by two old-school reporters, and it shows in the prose. The story is fascinating, so if you can handle the dry writing, it’s well worth a read. For you young’ns, this book tells the story of two reporters from the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who were hot on the trail of Nixon and his cronies back during the Watergate scandal. This book is really only the tip of the iceberg as far as the Watergate story goes, and illuminates one part of the whole sordid affair: how journalists were doggedly tracking the story. I watched the movie with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, first, which led me to the book. I only knew vague details about Watergate when I watched the movie, and was still pretty vague on the whole thing when I read the book, which led me to a lot of Googling as I read. If you’ve got any historical curiosity at all, you can expect to make the same journey.

Note: I linked to the Kindle version, which is $13, but if you’re strapped, you can get used paperbacks and hardcovers for way cheaper at the same link.

One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon, Tim Weiner
So, after reading All the President’s Men, and about a million Wikipedia pages about Watergate and its players, I ended up snagging this book by Pulitzer- and National Book Award-winning writer and reporter Tim Weiner, and it is excellent. I found it to be a bit more sympathetic to Nixon than he really deserved, but that doesn’t interfere with the story too much. The book is based on relatively recently declassified documents and tapes and the story it tells of Richard Nixon as a drunk, paranoid and seriously mentally ill person in a position of near-absolute power, surrounded by enablers, will scare your bowels loose. Seriously, I read this whole thing with my jaw hanging open. I think I read half of it outloud to my sweetheart in horrified, disbelieving tones. Read this book. It’s mind-blowing. Especially in the current political climate.

Carter & Lovecraft: A Novel, by Jonathan L. Howard
Okay, the first four recommendations were nonfiction and, let’s be honest here, kinda downers. This one’s for fun. I’m a vocal fan of Jonathan L. Howard and I adore his Johannes Cabal, Necromancer series. But equally as good is his Carter & Lovecraft series, about Daniel Carter, a former homicide detective turned private eye, and Emily Lovecraft, a shotgun-wielding bookstore owner, and their Cthulhu-drenched adventures through a Lovecraftian multiverse. Carter & Lovecraft: A Novel is the first of two books (so far), and if you like urban fantasy, the Mythos, horror-action-mysteries, or any combination thereof, you’re gonna love this book. It’s a hoot.