Ranking Every book I read this year

Fiction

  • Hallowed Hunt
    • B+
    • Re-Read. High Fantasy, third book in the ‘World of the 5 Gods’ series by Lois McMaster Bujold,
    • Better than I remembered, but this is still the black sheep in the original trilogy.
  • Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep
    • B
    • Graphic novelization of events just prior to the game Bloodborne.
    • I liked it, but you can skip it if you haven’t played the game.
  • Blood of the Chosen
    • A-
    • Good book. High, Epic Fantasy. Book 2 in a trilogy. Great pacing, fun science-fantasy setting. Better than book 1, and book 1 was one of my favorites of the year. Would recommend.
  • Shards of Honor
    • A+
    • This is a fantastic story. The two protagonists fall in love, but the actual romance is very low-key. This book is really a political sci-fi space opera. This is my 3rd time reading it.
  • Barrayar
    • A+
    • Sequel to Shards, and in many ways a better book. I loved every minute of it. Political sci-fi, where the two protagonists from Shards of Honor must fight off a civil war before their family is killed.
  • Dragon Mage
    • B+
    • This is a well-written traditional bildungsroman fantasy, in the vein of ‘The Riyeria Revelations’ or ‘The Belgariad.’ The Twist is that the protagonist is autistic, and gets to ride a dragon. If you’re an aspie, check this one out.
  • Empire of the Vampire
    • B+
    • Epic, High Fantasy. First of a trilogy. Grimdark. I enjoyed this a good deal- top 5 books of the year- but this book had a REALLY long and sloggy start. Read this if you like vampires.
  • Red Rising
    • A-
    • Space opera, dystopian, Battle Royale. I had fun reading this, and the author did a good job of bringing a very thematically vibrant story into the text of his story. I can see why this is popular, it’s good.
  • Sharpe’s Tiger
    • A+
    • Historical fiction, about the British invasion of India.
    • Really well-written. Arguably the best prose and authorial style of every book I read this year. Great adventure tale. Best fiction book I read this year.
  • Fires of Vengeance
    • C+
    • A good followup to the first book in this series. I enjoyed it, and felt that the author improved from the first book in the series.
  • When Jackals Storm the Walls
    • B
    • Good book 5 in a series
  • A Desert Torn Asunder
    • A-
    • Better book 6 in a series. Final book in the ‘Song of the Shattered Sands’ series. Fun series, I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood for some desert/Arabic/Ottoman fantasy.
    • Favorite fantasy book of the year (not counting books I’ve read before)
  • Assassin’s Apprentice
    • C
    • Re-read. Gotta admit I didn’t like it. The author is skilled on a technical level, but Fitz is too much a sad puppy for my taste. I don’t think I’ll read more in this series.
  • A Master of Djinn
    • B+
    • I had a pleasant time reading this book. Great aesthetic, setting, characters. I was a little disappointed by the plot, but everything else is excellent.
  • Rings, Swords and Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature
    • Nonfiction lecture series… but it’s about the Fantasy Genre! If you are a fantasy nerd, check this out.
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015
    • A-
    • A P. Djeli Clark novella, set in the same setting as ‘Master of Djinn.’ This was very enjoyable Egyptian, turn-of-the-century fiction about a trolly which is haunted by a demon ghost.
  • Gideon the Ninth
    • C
    • Fun book, great vibes, extremely iffy plot. I’m not sure I’ll read more, the plot didn’t impress me at all.
  • The Book of Rumi
    • A+
    • A book of persian/ottoman folk tales. Really fun, I want to read it again.
  • Unsoulsed
    • C+
    • Ignore my downer of a review, in retrospect I enjoyed reading this. The prose and characters felt clunky, but I had great vibes and joy every step of the way. I’m trying to fit book 2 into my schedule one of these days.
  • Breach of Peace
    • B-
    • Novella. This was a good, but not great story. I enjoyed the flawed characters, but the plot let me down. Trying to fit the next book into my schedule.
  • Terrier
    • B
    • Re-read. Fun mystery story in a fantasy medieval setting.
  • Blackwing
    • A-
    • Fun grimdark noir fantasy. I really enjoyed the setting and vibes of the author, even if the protagonist was a bit cliché in the noir mode. I’m not a fan of grimdark, but if I was I’d read more in this series.
  • Light of the Jedi
    • C
    • In retrospect, I see the flaws in this more and more. This book felt like a hodgepodge of two novellas glued together. I wish they published them separately, this didn’t work for me.
    • That said, I listened to the audiobook and it was glorious. Easily the best audiobook I’ve listened to of the year, maybe of the last two or three years, and I’ve listened to hundreds of audiobooks in that time.

Nonfiction

  • The Fall and Rise of China:
    • Nonfiction lecture series. I read this in preparation for reading ‘The Burning God,’ so I can understand more about the source material it’s based upon.
    • It’s really good. The lecturer was a US scholar who worked in Taiwan during the Cold War. He did a great job bringing to life events from the Korean War/Vietnam War because he was actually there translating intercepted Chinese communiques. Discusses events from the end of the Qing dynasty to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
  • How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization
    • Nonfiction. Contains lots of information, well constructed history of the Catholic church. It was good.
  • The Church History by Eusebius
    • Nonfiction. Written thousands of years ago about early religious events in Christianity. Would not recommend.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Body Recomposition
    • Nonfiction, book about fitness. This covers the basics of weight loss and muscle building.
  • Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World
    • Nonfiction lecture series. Discusses the mainstream religions of Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Levant. Lots of niche info. I enjoyed it greatly, but if you don’t have a special interest about religions, you probably won’t enjoy it.
  • Craft in the Real World
    • This opened my eyes to some of my subjective biases in reviewing and editing books. If you are an author/editor/reviewer, I suggest you seek this out.
  • Introduction to Sufism: The Inner Path of Islam
    • Nonfiction. A short book about the history of Sufism.
  • Rings, Swords and Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature
    • Nonfiction lecture series… but it’s about the Fantasy Genre! If you are a fantasy nerd, check this out.
  • Real Zen for Real Life
    • Nonfiction Lecture series about Buddhism. Focuses on the importance of meditation, chanting and community.
  • The Ottoman Empire
    • Nonfiction lecture series about the rise and fall of the Ottoman empire. I enjoyed it a good deal.
  • Sacred Texts of the World
    • Nonfiction Lecture series about the sacred texts of the world. From the bible, to the torah, to the Buddhist canon… this series has it all.
  • Hinduism
    • A short nonfiction piece about hinduism. If you’re curious, check it out.
  • Witchcraft in the Western Tradition
    • nonfiction lecture series. Not truth in advertising. This is surprisingly NOT about witchcraft, but the witch hunts/witch trials/inquisition. That said, it was REALLY GOOD at being about the witch trials. If curious, check it out. Only 6 hours.
  • The Catholic Church in the Modern Age
    • Nonfiction Lecture series about the catholic church. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the one I listened to later in the year.
  • Zoroastrianism
    • Nonfiction. A child’s picture book about the Zoroastrian faith, people and culture. I learned a thing or two.
  • Empire of Gold
    • Nonfiction lecture series. History of the byzantine empire. Holy cow, those byzantines were crazy. How many Emperors can get assassinated without collapsing the empire? A lot, apparently.
  • The War of the Three Gods
    • Nonfiction, about the clash of empires between early Islam, late Zoroastrian Persia and the middle Byzantine Rome. Discusses both military and economic aspects.
  • A World Undone: Story of the Great War
    • Nonfiction, about WW1. A great summary of ww1 on the Western Front. If you want to learn more about the topic, this is a great place to start.
  • Mystical Traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam
    • Nonfiction lecture series. Discusses the kabbalistic, sufi and hermetic traditions of the Abrahamic religions.
  • The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad
    • Nonfiction lecture series. Spain is a fascinating place. The author discusses the Iberian Peninsula from the prehistorical stone age, until the modern era.
  • Religions of the Axial Age
    • Nonfiction lecture series. Honestly, I have no memory of listening to this series. Going back to my written review, apparently I liked it?
  • The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism
    • Nonfiction lecture series. About soviet Russia. Holy cow, those Russians were crazy. How many disasters resulting in thousands of death can the soviets cause without being held accountable? All of them, apparently.
  • Cultural Literacy for Religion
    • Nonfiction lecture series. This is a 101 course on most of the world’s mainstream religions. Highly recommended.
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
    • Nonfiction. Are you an editor? Are you trying to improve your editing skills? Read this.
  • Hyperfocus
    • Nonfiction, re-read. I read it once; if I read it twice, it has to be good!

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