Books I Read in 2011

Here are the books I read in 2011. I rated them with 1-5 stars. The book must be truly phenomenal to get 5 stars.

  1. ***Footsteps of the Hawk (Andrew Vachss). Number 8 in the Burke series.
  2. ***False Allegations (Andrew Vachss). Number 9 in the Burke series.
  3. ***Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (Seth Graham-Smith). A retelling of history, in which Lincoln is a master vampire killer. And it all fits! My review.
  4. ****I Am Number Four (Pittacus Lore). The first of a series about children from another planet, with growing superpowers, who are being hunted on earth by the Mogadorian race, which devastated their home planet. Very engrossing. My review.
  5. ****Matched (Ally Condie). Engrossing story about a girl in a dystopian future, where everything is tightly controlled. The state “matches” her with the spouse they intend for her, but another boy enters the picture. I really liked it. My review.
  6. ****The Man with the Getaway Face (Richard Stark). The second book in the “Parker” series, written pseudonymously by Donald Westlake.
  7. ***The Blonde (Duane Swierczynski). Like all Swiercyznski books, a quirky thriller. An ordinary guy is caught up in a plot in which he must stay within 10 feet of a mysterious blonde, or she’ll die–and she slipped him poison, and only she knows the antidote. There’s a big government conspiracy behind it all. My review.
  8. ****Hot (Mark Hertsgaard). Excellent, excellent book about climate change and what various countries and cities are doing to prepare for it.
  9. **Rough Country (John Sandford). The third Virgil Flowers books, and my least favorite so far. My review.
  10. ****The Professional (Robert Parker). The 37th Spenser novel. A little bit different than most Spenser fare, but totally worth reading. My review.
  11. ***The Longest War (Peter Bergen). Superbly reported history of Al Qaeda and our war with it. My review.
  12. ***Choice of Evil (Andrew Vachss). Number 10 in the Burke series. My review.
  13. ***Area 51 (Annie Jacobsen). The whole history of Area 51, with many government secrets revealed. Loved it. My review.
  14. ***Dead and Gone (Andrew Vachss). Number 11 in the Burke series. My review.
  15. ***Pain Management (Andrew Vachss). Number 12 in the Burke series. My review.
  16. **A Renegade History of the United States (Thaddeus Russell). A look at politically incorrect and off-beat areas of US history. Some interesting, thought-provoking stuff. My review.
  17. **Generation X-Christian (Drew Dyck). Understanding and dealing with people from the younger generations who grow up in the church, but reject Christianity as adults.
  18. **Love Wins (Robb Bell). A controversial book questioning the traditional teaching on hell. Raises lots of good questions, but not a serious academic book.
  19. *Murder at the Savoy (Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo). A very disappointing book in the Martin Beck series. My review.
  20. *The Abominable Man (Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo). A terrible, terrible book in the Martin Beck series. My review.
  21. ****One Shot (Lee Child). Five people are killed by a sniper, and Jack Reacher knows the guy arrested for their murders. Involves some brutal Russian gangsters. Good read. My review.
  22. ****The Hard Way (Lee Child). The head of a mercenary organization hires Reacher to find his kidnapped wife. Lots of twists and turns. One of the better Reacher books. My review.
  23. *A Death in China (Carl Hiaason/Montalban). Very so-so.
  24. ***Borkman’s Point (Hakan Nesser). Another Inspector Van Veeteren mystery, set in an unstated European country. A very good procedural series. My review.
  25. ***I, Alex Cross (James Patterson). A fairly typical Alex Cross (the 15th) book, this one involving a White House employee connected to a murder. My review.
  26. ***Bad Luck and Trouble (Lee Child). Another Reacher novel.
  27. ***The Renegades (T. Jefferson Parker, Aug. 19). The second Charlie Hood novel, following the excellent “LA Outlaws.” Very interesting structure, with two stories being told at once–the killer telling his story, and Hood trying to figure out who the killer is. My review.
  28. *The Woman Chaser (Charles Williford, Aug. 20). An odd little book from 1960. No real plot. Skip it, unless you’re a big Willeford fan (like I am). My review.
  29. *****City of Thieves (David Benniof, Sept. 5). Incredible book set during the siege of Petersburg during World War 2. Highly recommended. My review.
  30. *Magnificent 12: The Call (Sept. 13). A Free Book Friday piece of juvenile fiction I read on my Nook. Didn’t like it.
  31. ***The One from the Other (Phillip Kerr, Sept. 24). No my favorite Bernie Gunther novel, and the plot is quite complicated. But a superb book nonetheless. Set a few years after WW2 ends. My review.
  32. ***The Outfit (Richard Stark). The third book in the “Parker” series, written pseudonymously by Donald Westlake.
  33. ****The Power of Six (Pittacus Lore, Sept. 26). The sequel to I Am Number Four, and just as good. My review.
  34. *Ninth Grade Slays (Heather Brewer, Oct 9). Juvenile fiction involving a vampire child. The second in the series, and the last one I’ll read. Just didn’t keep my attention.
  35. ****Night of Thunder (Stephen Hunter, Oct 23). Fascinating Bob Lee Swagger novel set around the Bristol NASCAR race. Someone tries to kill Swagger’s daughter, and he comes to get revenge. Excellent book. My review.
  36. ****I, Sniper (Stephen Hunter, Oct 26). Carl Hitchkock, a renowned Vietnam sniper, is framed for several high-profile celebrity murders. Swagger is called in by the FBI to confirm that Hitchock committed the kills, but determines otherwise, and nobody likes it. Another superb Hunter book. My review.
  37. ****Nothing to Lose (Lee Child, Oct 28). Jack Reacher stumbles into trouble in a small Colorado town, and he can’t let it go. One of my favorite Reacher books. My review.
  38. **Agent X (Noah Boyd, Oct 30). The sequel to the much better “The Bricklayer.” Disappointing. My review.
  39. ****Blood Safari (Deon Meyer, Nov 3). A B&N Free Book Friday selection which introduced me to a remarkable writer. This was a truly excellent thriller, set in South Africa with a protagonist, Lemmer, whom I’ll be reading more about.
  40. ***Cross Fire (James Patterson, Nov 5). Kyle Craig is back, tormenting Alex Cross from very close range. My review.
  41. **The Strategically Small Church (Brandon O’Brien, Nov 5). Pointing out the strengths of smaller churches, and fiercely battling the current evangelical culture which emphasizes bigness and discredits the small.
  42. *The Drowning Pool (Ross MacDonald, Nov 12). Maybe my least favorite Lew Archer book. My review.
  43. ****Spade and Archer (Joe Gores, Nov 20). A delightful prequel to “The Maltese Falcon,” spanning 1921-1928. Shows how Sam Spade left the Continental agency and set up his own detective practice, and takes us through several cases. A really good book, and a pleasant surprise. My review.
  44. *The Gordion Knot (Bernhard Schlink, Nov 25). A strange little character-drive spy novel. The second book I’ve read by this German mystery writer, and I didn’t really care for either of them. My review.
  45. *The Man from Beijing (Henning Mankell, Dec 3. A mass-murder plot that starts out great, but ends disappointingly, with some glaring inconsistencies. My review.
  46. ***A Cure for Night (Justin Peacock, Dec. 6). An urban murder mystery involving, with a public defender as the protagonist. Very good. My review.
  47. ****Bad Blood (John Sandford, Dec. 16). The latest in the Virgil Flowers series. This one–maybe my favorite–involves sexual abuse in a cult-like religious community. My review.
  48. **Crossed (Ally Condy, Dec. 22). The sequel to the much better Matched, and the middle book of a planned trilogy set in a dystopian society. This is juvenile fiction. I loved Matched, but this one was disappointing in that very little was explained, and not much happened.
  49. ***The Maze Runner (James Dashner, Dec. 25). The first book of another juvenile fiction trilogy, also set (like Crossed) in a dystopian society. Really really liked this book.

My 10 Best of 2011

  1. City of Thieves, by David Benniot. Set in St. Petersburg, Russia, during World War 2. My review.
  2. Blood Safari, by Deon Meyer. My introduction to a fabulous South African writer.
  3. Hot, by Mark Hertsgaard. An artfully written look at the ramifications of a warming earth.
  4. Nothing to Lose, by Lee Child. Jack Reacher stumbles into trouble in a small Colorado town named Despair. My review.
  5. I Am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore. The first of a planned series about an alien war brought to earth. My review.
  6. Matched , by Ally Condie. A young girl comes of age in an interestingly-imagined dystopian society. My review.
  7. Night of Thunder, by Stephen Hunter. Bob Lee Swagger, master sniper and all-around tough guy, tackles a conspiracy built around the Bristol NASCAR race. My review.
  8. The Professional, by Robert Parker. The third-to-the-last Spenser novel written by the master, and it’s a good one. My review.
  9. Area 51, by Annie Jacobsen. The whole fascinating history of the super-secret chunk of Nevada known as Area 51. Loved it. My review.
  10. Spade and Archer, by Joe Gores. How Sam Spade, the famous Dasheill Hammett sleuth of “The Maltest Falcon,” got to be Sam Spade. My review.
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