Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Reads of 2011

Here you are! The list for 2011! (NOTE: it is still being written! 1/4/12.)

The criteria - that the title was new to me and read by me for the first time during 2011.(I have read only about 75 titles that were new-to-me this year . . . not counting board and picture books.) The books can be in audio format, ebook format, etc. The titles will be listed here in alphabetical order by title and include the year of publication in parentheses.

The List:

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
by Alexandra Robbins(2011)
This book is about the "Cafeteria Fringes" and the author's "Quirk Theory" that those who are kind of on the outside in high school ultimately do better in life than the "populars" who tend to conform and not form their own opinions. (Nonfiction)

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern (YA Fiction)

The Little Women Letters
by Gabrielle Donnelly (Fiction)

Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell
by Crickett Rumley (2011)
(YA Fiction)

Notes From an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne (2011)
I just read this book. Wow! I stayed up to finish it one night recently. It is about a high school girl who needs to join a school music group in order to strengthen her application to a premier music program - she plays french horn and plans to get into the Boston Symphony Orchestra someday. However, she suddenly finds herself playing mellophone and learning drill for marching band . . . maybe she likes it more than she thinks she would? (YA Fiction)

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde (2011)
This is the latest installment of the Thursday Next series (which began with The Eyre Affair back in 2002 or so.) This book is actually about the fictional Thursday of book world having to left her book to go find the real Thursday. . . well, if you've read the previous books, you'll get it. This one was highly enjoyable! (Adult Fiction)

Run Like a Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives by Mina Samuels (2011)
The entire book celebrates how sports and activities can make women very happy. (Nonfiction)

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (2007)
I just read this book - starting late in the year - on December 24, 2011. I "won" this book in a white elephant game. Excellent book! It makes my list this year. In summary, an American journalist in Paris is covering the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup . . . and discovers a personal connection through her husband's family. It is a very emotional story. (Fiction)

Saving Henry: A Mother's Journey by Laurie Strongen (2010) (Nonfiction/Memoir)

Unbearble Lightness by Portia de Rossi (Nonfiction/Memoir)

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011) (Adult Fiction)

Where She Went by Gayle Forman (2011)
This is the sequel to "If I Stay"
(YA fiction)

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure (2011) (Nonfiction and vaguely memoir)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2007 Favorite Reads List

Same criteria as the 2006 list, of course. . . see yesterday's blog entry!

2007 Favorite Reads:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A Novel by Sherman Alexie (2007)
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (2005)
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (2007)
The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks (2001)
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (2005)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (2007)
Marley and Me by John Grogan (2005)
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (2007)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (2005)
A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (2007)
The Story of my Life by Farah Ahmedi (2005)
Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald (2006)
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs (2007)

Friday, December 16, 2011

2006 Favorite Reads List

(Remember, the criteria includes that I must have read the book for the first time during that year - rereads of favorites don't count! Also, they don't have to be new books. . . just new to me. Year of publication is included. The list is in alphabetical order by title.)

- Cell: A Novel by Stephen King (2006)
- A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore (2006)
- Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman (2003)
- Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas (2003)
- Garlic and Sapphire: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl (2005)
- The Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther by Rebecca Kohn (2004)
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Celebrating Interethnic, Interfaith, and Interracial Relationships by Brenda Lane Richardson (2000)
- The Joy of Doing Things Badly: A Girl's Guide to Love, Life and Foolish Bravery by Veronica Chambers (2006)
- Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)
- Ludie's Life by Cynthia Rylant (2006)
- Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (2003)
- Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen (2006)
- Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish by Tom Shachtman (2006)
- Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp (2006)

That year, I read more than 100 titles, so to pare it down to this list was difficult. Tomorrow, I'll post the list from 2007.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


So . . . it is actually the middle of December, and I haven't really had the time to update this blog in months.

What I intend to do in the next week is post my 2011 Favorite Reads list. If I do so, it will be the tenth year that I will have compiled my annual Favorite Reads list . . . but the first year, in 2002, I just sent it to a few people because I was nervous about it.

I am not sure if I still have a copy of the 2002 list (although it might be on a floppy disk somewhere), but we'll see. I would like to at least list all of the titles so far that have made my lists to this point, here on this blog, and see if I would revise those lists today. Most of my lists contained 12 to 15 titles and the reasons why I liked each title.

Usually I have printed my list with my holiday letter to family and friends, but alas, I have been too busy lately! In addition, I am still reading some books that I could consider for the list. I just finished one last night that I could not put down!

So . . . stay tuned for my 2011 list!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell by Crickett Rumley

I picked up this book at the library from a display shelf. . . I loved the title, first of all! Secondly, I have always wondered what it would be like to wear a hoopskirt ever since I read the Little House books. Thirdly, I loved Jane's voice just from reading the blurb on the back cover.

It was a fun read, and I must admit that I was sorry when it ended. It gets emotional when recounting her mother's life and death, and as other moments from the past come to Jane's mind. Parts of this were very well done. Also, I, as the reader, appreciate the friendships that eventually form amongst the girls (the Magnolia Maids), and how they all come to help each other out, despite the rocky beginnings.

I just wonder if this is going to be part of a series, because it feels like we didn't get enough of Jane with Luke, and then there is the issue of Jane and her father (who never did make it to visit her by the end of this book.) It feels like these parts of the story are unfinished.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dying to Tell Me by Sherryl Clark

Once I started reading this book, I had trouble putting it down. I received this book (in .pdf format) for LT's Early Reviewers. This story, which would be perfect for tweens/young teens, starts off rather cliched in a way. . . a family whose dynamics and circumstances have changed are moving to a new town to start a new life. However, there is more at play here, particularly for the main character Sasha. She has a lot more going on than is on the surface, and one of her issues is that she doesn't want to be the embodiment of one of those "weird" shows on tv where the main characters can see dead people. Oh, and she finds out she can mentally speak with her dog. (That's my favorite part.) I love the mysteries in this book, and how they are resolved.

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

This sixth book in the series is told from the perspective of the "written" Thursday Next. Personally, I highly enjoyed this new point of view. It showed even more fully how BookWorld works, and I found the technical descriptions fascinating. Written-Thursday started to come into her own as a person, which was also fun to watch. It is one of the best books I've read so far this year.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cinderella, Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan

First, I have to say that overall, I loved this book. The reader can pick differing paths to reach the same end, but I ultimately read them all. Cinderella finds the magic the she has always possessed (literally) inside and also studies the way of the ninja on the insistence of her cat, Max. This all come in very handy when it comes to escaping her miserable life trapped (by her stepmother's magic) inside her home, made to do an incredible amount of work.

There is another book in this series: Sleeping Beauty, Vampire-Slayer. Try as I might, I could not get into this book. I am rather disappointed, after thoroughly enjoying Cinderella. It just seems very off-putting in tone.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Look At Flower by Robert Dunn

I just read this for LT's Early Reviewers. . . and I wanted to keep reading. I feel it ended rather abruptly in a sense, perhaps. As another reviewer has said, it also annoyed me that the story never returned to the "present", to get the main character's childrens' reactions to the story they never really knew about their mother and the year she ran away from home to join the "hippie world" in the mid to late 1960s. At first the story seems rather disjointed, perhaps because the point of view keeps changing (third vs first person, and past vs present), although I did get used to it fairly quickly. I liked, also, that Flower/Cynda also feels no need to get high like those around her, that she is confident enough to stick to it, too. Overall, it was a quick, interesting read.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Notes from a Totally Lame Vampire by Tim Collins

Notes from a Totally Lame Vampire by Tim Collins

I picked this book up off the new book shelf at the local public library branch. It was a vampire book I hadn’t seen before. It’s an easy, fun read. It is a juvenile/teen fiction title, but that did not stop me, of course. The author basically makes fun of all of the various vampire legends and lore – including Twilight. (Anything that makes fun of Twilight makes me laugh.)

Nigel is a nearly 100-year-old teenage vampire. He has been going to school all of this time, to blend in, but he slacks off in certain subjects (hey, he’ll be learning it all again in the years to come!) He still has the typical and not so typical arguments with his parents (after all, they are hundreds of years old). Nigel did not get the beauty, the speed, and the power that most vampires acquire when they become vampires. It may have been due to his age. When he is exposed to the sun, he even breaks out in pimples! So this is what makes him “totally lame.”

Because he has no natural vampire attractions, how does he get Chloe to go out with him?

This book is written in diary format (Nigel is a talented writer, painter and musician, but he can’t show his talents to the world, or people might become suspicious as to the family’s vampire natures), and really well done. It becomes obvious that Nigel has followed the times . . . he loves various video games and game systems.

I won’t give away the ending! I look forward to reading the sequel.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Wilder LIfe

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure is the book (actually in e-book format) I am reading at present.

What I liked:

- Ms. McClure gets the idea of "Laura Land" (as she calls it) right in that I had a “Laura Land” of my own, but as she finds out, everyone’s is just a little different.

- The comparisons between the actual Little House books, the real lives of the Ingalls and the Wilders, and then the TV series. I have such a trained eye when it comes to all of the differences that I could have been bored by things maybe other people don’t know, but I have enjoyed making sure Ms. McClure gets things right.

- Ms. McClure also visits all of the actual Little House sites. . . I haven’t even been to them all, only a portion, so I have enjoyed reading her impressions and descriptions of these places.

- Some of her descriptions of attempts to enter “Laura Land” as an adult quite funny.

- I am jealous that she got to camp during a hailstorm on the Ingalls’ Homestead in DeSmet, SD. . . that would be the ultimate experience! (Besides a triplet tornado in the distance . . . )

- That she came to the realization that she was really searching for her mother and her younger self.

What I am not sure I have liked, or don’t agree with:

- Ms. McClure finds it creepy to walk on gravesites in Pepin. Oh, come on, that is ridiculous! I grew up next door to a cemetery that was a delightful playground in every season. When I am buried, I wish to be in a small cemetery where small children will play hide-n-seek.

- She (the author) always desired as a little girl to be able to have Laura come visit her in present day to “show her around.” I never wanted to do that. I always desired a time machine so I could go back to Laura’s time. I used to imagine going to school with her in about 1880 or so!