As promised, here’s part 2 of 2014 in review:

“Skingame” by Jim Butcher. It’s no secret I’m a Dresden Files fan. I’ve posted about the series here. I’ve posted memes on social media. I’ve referenced Jim Butcher’s stories as examples in writing discussions. This one was a hard copy. It’s also number 15 in the series and the latest published. I won’t delve into any details, but I enjoyed the book. There were a few things that left me scratching my head such that I had to chat with other fans to figure out, but hey, it left me talking about the book days later.

“Pines (Wayward Pines #1)” by Blake Crouch narrated by Paul Michael Garcia. What can I say about this story besides wow, what a head spinner. Although this is the first of a series of books, I stopped at the first one. I have not yet decided if I’ll continue the series. The narrator did an acceptable job, but did not leave me with a memorable performance. Crouch does a great job with descriptions, but some of his plot enforcing seems a bit, well forced.

“Kiss the Girls (Alex Cross, #2)” by James Patterson narrated by Robert Guillaume and Chris Noth. I was disappointed in the narrators’ performance. I can’t put my finger on whether or not the switching between narrators for hero and villain threw me off or I had Charles Turner’s performance as Alex Cross stuck in my head. The story itself was an admirable follow up effort to “Along Came A Spider.” Perhaps this was one best left for hardcopy.

“Die Trying (Jack Reacher #2)” by Lee Child narrated by Jonathan McClain. Thus begins the McClain era of Jack Reacher. At first I wasn’t sold on McClain as Reacher, but he grew on me. The story is well plotted out and begins to show that Lee Child has hit on a formula that works. His trademark descriptions continue and weave a tale that keeps me coming back for more Jack Reacher.

“Tripwire (Jack Reacher #3)” by Lee Child narrated by Jonathan McClain. McClain’s character voices truly shine through in this performance. I think “Tripwire” is my favorite in the Jack Reacher series. The villain, Hook Hobie, is a memorable one who deserves a place among other great literary blackguards.

“Joyland” by Stephen King. I had high hopes for this book. It was published in 2013 as the second book for the imprint Hard Case Crime. I have enjoyed King’s evolution into mysteries and thrillers and away from the purely supernatural horrors he started with. The descriptions are great. The concept is great. The execution, eh.

“The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire, #1)” by Craig Johnson. I picked up this book for no other reason than I’m a fan of the TV series “Longmire” on A&E. As I read, I could easily hear most of the characters’ voices in my head. The writing style is unique at times, so unique I was left confused on a few pages and had to thumb back and read again to figure out what was being said. Despite that problem, I did enjoy this book. If you’re a fan of the TV show, read this book.

“Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King narrated by Will Patton. Of all the books that blew me away in 2014, this was near if not at the top of the list. I love watching Will Patton on the screen, but listening to his narration was a whole new experience and really made me a bigger fan of Patton. As of this date, this performance is the only one that has made me actively search for a way to leave this narrator a love note for his reading. Now, King did an admirable job as well. I loved this story and found myself conversing with a stranger in an airport over the book. If any book could bring back the age of Stephen King movies, this would be it.

“The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger, #2) by Jonathan Maberry narrated by Ray Porter. What can I say about this book that I didn’t say about “Patient Zero.” This is my new favorite series. The descent in madness of the world around Joe Ledger is near palpable in this book. Read this series.

“The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger, #3) by Jonathan Maberry narrated by Ray Porter. Maberry wrote a “love letter” to Ray Porter on Audible.com saying that when he writes Joe Ledger’s lines now, he hears Ray Porter’s voice in his head. What bigger compliment could a narrator receive. I loved this book, but its reach for a global scale nearly slipped through Maberry’s fingers. Some of the plot points were confusing. Some of the chapters unnecessary. But, I’ll still pick up book 4 for a listen.

“Locke & Key, Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft” by Joe Hill. I was turned on to this graphic novel after having read Joe Hill’s “N0S4A2.” The art is wonderful and the story gritty and magical. I’d love to see this come to the small screen. If you don’t mind a little horror and gore in your comics, pick this up. Disclaimer: not safe for the kiddies.

“Running Blind (Jack Reacher, #4) by Lee Child narrated by Jonathan McClain. This book is the last of the McClain era, but his performance holds true. One of the parts of Child’s Reacher formula is that he’s always on a deadline. And those deadlines can be tight at times. This story had Reacher flying all over the place to talked to witnesses, potential suspects, etc as he worked with the FBI. Having faced first hand much of the read tape and the slow moving bureaucracy of the U.S. Government, I found it hard to believe he was able to jet all over the country at a moment’s notice so easily. Good story, Lee Child. But, keep it closer to home next time.

“Echo Burning (Jack Reacher, #5) by Lee Child narrated by Dick Hill. The return of Dick Hill. I don’t know if the fans spoke out for Dick Hill’s return or if the author did, but either way, he’s here to stay. I listened to this book out of order, but it didn’t matter. It still worked out just fine. Apparently, Lee Child took my advice from #4 and kept everything in a much smaller locale, although that locale was Texas. Reacher faces off against a killing team with high stakes if he fails…formula complete.

“Without Fail (Jack Reacher, #6) by Lee Child narrated by Dick Hill. Reacher is haunted by the life of his brother. This time, he interacts with the Secret Service and provides advice on how one might kill the vice president of the United States. At this point, Child may run out of government agencies to call on Reacher’s expertise before he even reaches book 10. But, as I said before, the formula works. Child’s writing is solid. Dick Hill’s performance is superb.

“The Curse Merchant” by J.P. Sloan. I picked this book up at a book launch at a local brewery. The author let each person who bought a book pick a tarot card. If they chose a particular card, they got the book for free. Very cool. I don’t want to say much about this book at this point because I intend on doing a full blown review and author interview on this book. Yes, J.P. Sloan is in my writing group. Yes, I’m doing a little sucking up. But, I don’t care. I liked the book. You will too.

Check out some of these books.  Heck, check out all of these books, and leave me a comment to say what you think!

About the author

Dana Gunn Dana Gunn is currently a code monkey for a large company. His interests include genealogy, fencing, reading, and writing. A red Honda CRX has been a part of his life for so long, it is either considered a family member or an obsession based on who one talks to. He aspires to be a writer of fiction, however, based on the number of hours put in, he can be considered an expert reader of fiction.