2014 #50BookChallenge

Well, I finished my 2014 #50BookChallenge by the skin of my teeth. I was on a pretty good pace, but then life derailed me in October, and I didn’t feel like doing much of anything for a few months.

But here’s the final list for 2014.

1. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

The continuing saga of the Stark & Lannister families. Fast-paced with a lot of page time for Tyrion Lannister, who I’ve come to quite like.

2. The Ghoul Goblin by Jim Butcher

Another solid win for Butcher. Compelling story, beautiful artwork, solid dialog and really evil baddies. Harry gets out of Chicago, too.

3. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

BBC performance by an amazing cast of talented actors – Cumberbatch, McAvoy, Head – the list goes on. Going to read unabridged novel next.

4. Dawn by Eli Wiesel

The second in a trilogy, Dawn sees a young man face his own mortality & uncomfortable choices when he’s forced to execute an innocent man.

5. The No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide by Dan Romanchik

A necessary read for anyone wanting to obtain their ham radio license. Condensed breakdown contains everything you need to pass the test.

6. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (read by Elijah Wood)

Elijah Wood is Huck Finn. He nails the dialect, boyish charm and likeability of Twain’s best character. Slavery commentary is eye opening.

7. Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kabuishi

Beautiful artwork and alt-world storyline bring this book to life. Aimed at a younger audience, but still enjoyable for this adult. Rabbits!

8. Peter Panzerfaust Volume 1: The Great Escape by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins

Peter Pan set in Nazi Germany with a ragtag band of orphans as the Lost Boys. Solid story, great lettering, beautiful art bring this to life.

9. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

This was a short read that provided insight into what successful CEOs do before beginning their work day. Bottom line is that the most succesful people tend to be those who get up early and set aside time for exercise, meditation/prayer and family. I enjoyed reading it and learned a few things to incorporate it into my daily routines.

10. Amulet 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi

This was a great entry in this series with a compelling storyline and beautiful art. I’m enjoying it, even though it is a little too YA for me. But, I’ll finish it out since I’ve invested time into it.

11. Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick

This is my obligatory, once-a-year romance read, but I was pleasantly suprised by this year’s entry. Amanda Quick *finally* moved away from paranormal romance (a blah for me) and went back to her bread-and-butter historical mystery. I loved the storylien between Benedict and Amity. The dialogue was great, the plot moved quickly and the book kept me engaged. A solid read for anyone who is a fan of Quick’s books.

12. The Walking Dead Vol. 19: March to War by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (artist)

Rick, Jesus and Ezekial must join forces if they want to remove Negan and his band of Saviors from their lives. In this installment, the three men work diligently to implement a plan that will finally give the three communities freedom from the extortionist band of maruaders. But something goes terribly wrong and now, the three men and their groups face all out of war.

As always, TWD offers a compelling look into what a world without rules might look like. As more and more people look to Rick for leadership, he questions whether he’s making the right choices. In addition, he must work to ensure Carl’s safety. Beautiful, stark and often horrifying art complement this volume.

13. The Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War (Part One) by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (artist)

Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom have joined forces to launch an attack against the Sanctuary, where Negan and his band of men have gathered. Rick’s preemptive strike doesn’t go quite as planned, though, and Negan retaliates against Alexandria, forcing Rick and company to find safety elsewhere.

This volume was definitely action driven, with panel after panel of gunfire, grenades and not a whole lot of zombies. That last distinction is important, as we see humanity fighting not against the undead, but rather themselves – a theme that becomes prevalant in the next issue.

14. The Walking Dead Vol. 21: All Out War (Part Two) by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (artist)

In this volume, Rick and his group face one final battle against Negan and the Saviors. The latter invent the post-apocalypse version of the dirty bomb – taking their weapons and rubbing and rolling them in zombies, thus infecting them with whatever accelerates the zombie mutation.

As they advance to the Hilltop for one last stand, Rick and his army must decide how to meet them on the battlefied.

I really enjoyed this final installment in the war trilogy. I feel like Rick has finally found himself again and is becoming comfortable with a leadership role once more. Carl is still struggling to regan his humanity, but Rick is there to guide him along. As the survivors come together, they must decide whether they’ll continue to fight one another or band together to unite against the zombie enemy.

15. Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris by Eric Jager

This book started off slowly. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but initially, it read like an interesting, but dry, history lesson; however, as the scene was set, the story began to pick up pace and become more intriguing to me. I enjoy history, so I’m sure that helped me get through it during the slow parts.

I really enjoyed this book, learning more about France’s history – much of it was new to me – and discovering the underlying factors which led to the French Civil War. If you’re a history fan, I recommend reading it.

16. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

If you like post-apocalyptic books, read this book. If you’re an animal lover, read this book. If you love Colorado, read this book.

Peter Heller has crafted one of the best-written, post-apocalyptics stories I’ve ever read. It’s evident he’s a Colorado resident. He paints his state with reverance and care, instantly transporting the reader to plains and mountains that dot the landscape. The story centers on Hig, a pilot who flies a 1957 Cessna, and his blue heeler, Jasper, as they navigate life after a flu and blood-disease wipe out most of the American population. Living on an airfield with a gun fanatic named Bangley, the two take life day by day, protecting their small refuge while trying to retain some semblence of humanity.

This book could have easily been just another PA-book, but instead, Heller infuses it with love, warmth, danger and sadness. I’m not going to lie. There was a part where I sat and cried for a solid five minutes, even though I knew the part was coming long before I got to that page.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It’s worth the time and tears.

17. Amulet #2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kabuishi

18. Amulet #3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kabuishi

19. Amulet #4: The Last Council by Kazu Kabuishi

The Amulet series is a wonderful YA series where humans have been affected by a disease that slowly turns them into various animals and sea life. It’s inventive, wonderfully drawn and filled with action. I recommend reading it if you like YA graphic novels.

20. The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens

21. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

22. Peter Panzerfaust Volume 2: Hooked by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Tyler Jenkins (artist)

23. Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson

24. Plugged by Eoin Colfer

25. Skin Game by Jim Butcher

26. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

27. The Artemis Fowl Files by Eoin Colfer

28. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

This dark, gripping tale is told in Gaiman’s usual haunting way. As a man sets out on a quest, his story unravels and the reader learns of the treachery that took his daughter from him and the cunning he employs to avenge her death.

29. Darkwing Duck: Crisis on Infinite Darkwings by Ian Brill

30. Darkwing Duck: Duck Knight Returns by Ian Bill

31. Darkwing Duck: F.O.W.L. Disposition by Ian Brill

32. Darkwing Duck: Volume 4 by Ian Brill

33. Darkwing Duck/Ducktales: Dangerous Currency by Ian Brill

34. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft and I.N.J. Culbard

35. The Autobiography of Black Hawk by Black Hawk

This was an audiobook read for me as I traveled to Las Vegas. As a Native American, I’m well aware of the atrocities committed against my tribe and other tribes. But, I’m not always aware of other tribe’s histories. This firsthand account from Chief Blackhawk of the Sauk Nation was compelling and gave me a glimpse into the lives of the Plains Indians and their struggle as the white man introduced their ways into their society and worked to eradicate the Native American way of life.

36. The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar by Gail Carriger

37. The Wrath of the Just (Apocalypse Z) by Manel Loureiro

The final installment of Spanish writer Loureiro’s post-apocalyptic tale that spanned the globe. At one point, his narrator shifted perspective and it really threw the book off. But once he returned to his usual style, the story picked back up and concluded with a satisfying ending.

38. The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer

39. The Ripper Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

40. Peter Panzerfaust Volume 3: Cry of the Wolf by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins

41. Peter Panzerfaust Volume 4: The Hunt by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins

42. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

I have never been able to read the Narnia tales. For some reason, they didn’t appeal to me. But doing them as audiobook was satisfying and learning how Narnia was created and meeting the characters seen in the more popular The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe book helped me to appreciate the world Lewis created. I enjoyed this story very much.

43. Waistcoasts & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

44. The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (artist)

45. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

I love how Gaiman takes a well-known story and flips it entirely on its ear. With his gothic overtones, shadowy figures and dark morality, Gaiman effectively weaves a haunting tale that empowers women, makes you question the truth of what is told to us as children and leaves you wanting more.

46. Hard Magic by Larry Correia

This is quite possibly my new favorite series. Correia seamlessly melds 20th century history with magic and produces an alternate universe in which Actives shape the world as we know it. I was enthralled with Bronson Pinchot’s narration – his range of voices is absolutely incredible.

47. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

48. Mind Slash Matter by Edward Wellen

49. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

50. Warning: Contains Language by Neil Gaiman