This is my third annual end-of-the-year post. On the writing front, I wrote a lot this year, even with my eye troubles during the summer and fall. In fact, 2006 was my most productive year ever. But I'm not reporting any numbers this year because I think I obsess too much about such things. I'd rather say that I think I did some pretty good work. I'm especially proud of the story that I wrote for the World Fantasy Convention/Robert E. Howard anthology, CROSS PLAINS UNIVERSE, and my story that appeared on the Hardluck Stories website. Mostly, though, I'm just thankful to still be writing after all these years.
As for reading, I read 139 books this year, down a little from last year. Here are my ten favorites, in alphabetical order by author, with a few comments on each book:
THE SECOND LIFE OF MONSIEUR THE DEVIL, H. Bedford-Jones -- a fine pulp adventure yarn with some very atmospheric writing in it.
THE LINCOLN LAWYER, Michael Connelly -- I didn't like this one as much as most people seemed to, but it's stayed with me, something that I can't say for every book I read. I hope Connelly writes more about Mickey Haller.
GRAVITY, Tess Gerritsen -- Livia has been a fan of Tess Gerritsen's books for several years and convinced me to give one of them a try. I started with this one about a bizarre virus causing havoc on the international space station and really enjoyed it. Great pace and really smooth prose. I read another Gerritsen novel, BLOODSTREAM, that almost made this list.
RIDE INTO YESTERDAY, Ed Gorman -- I read several Gorman Westerns this year and really liked all of them, but this one, originally published under the pseudonym Christopher Keegan, was my favorite. It has an absolutely wonderful ending.
DEAD CAT BOUNCE, Norman Green -- I'd never heard of this author before, but I really liked the book, a crime novel told in a distinctive, highly entertaining voice. I've rounded up some other books by Norman Green but haven't gotten around to reading them yet.
LEARNING TO KILL, Ed McBain -- This collection of early stories by Evan Hunter, along with a fine introduction and story notes, is simply great. What else would you expect?
RED, Jack Ketchum -- From what I've read, this novel, despite some violent scenes, isn't really representative of the rest of Ketchum's work. Doesn't matter, because it's a fine, fine book.
ORCSLAYER, Nathan Long -- Heroic fantasy from the Warhammer series. Great action scenes and good characters in this one.
INVASION OF PRIVACY, Perri O'Shaughnessy -- I read the first two books in the O'Shaughnessy sisters' series of legal thrillers about Lake Tahoe lawyer Nina Reilly. This is the second one, and I liked it a little better than the first, MOTION TO SUPPRESS, but both of them are very good and I intend to read the others in the series.
FAITH AND FIRE, James Swallow -- An action-packed science-fiction novel from the Warhammer 40,000 series.
It was really difficult paring my choices down to just ten books, so in addition to the extra titles I've already sneaked into the comments, this year I also enjoyed two books by Kinky Friedman, COWBOY LOGIC and THE GREAT PSYCHEDELIC ARMADILLO PICNIC; Dick Francis's comeback novel, UNDER ORDERS; BLACK EVENING, a collection of short stories and novellas by David Morrell; the THRILLER anthology from editor James Patterson and the International Thriller Writers; and two fine traditional Westerns, THE CHEYENNE POOL by Lewis B. Patten and TRAIL OF THE HUNTER by Dudley Dean. As you can see, I read across a broad spectrum. Always have and probably always will.
I couldn't even begin to tell you how many movies I watched, but I can pick out my favorite without any trouble: KISS KISS, BANG BANG. I think that's just a great film. I still need to subject it to the repeated watchings test, though, if I can ever get around to it.
I don't make New Year's resolutions, never have. But I hope 2007 is a great year for all of you.
WAR HORSES (Part Two) by VONN McKEE
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