Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books Read 2011 - final count

The goal was to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2011 than you did in 2010. FAIL - 2010 I read 99 but this year I only got to 91.

The goal was to read 100 or more books. Again - FAIL!

Oh well, better luck next year!

Here's my final list:

1. Anne of Green Gables

2. The Hour I First Believed

3. Katie Up and Down the Hall

4. By Fire, By Water

5. War

6. Bulls Island

7. Anne of Avonlea

8. I Dare You

9. The Faith Club

10. Don't Blink

11. My Reading Life

12. Remarkable Creatures

13. Thanks for the Memories

14. Marley and Me

15. The Devotion of Suspect X

16. False Impression

17. Change of Heart

18. Veil of Roses

19. Dreaming in English

20. Rescue

21. Safe Haven

22. Hitched

23. Milkweed

24. The Red Tent

25. The Year She Fell

26. Jane Eyre

27. Girls' Night In

28. Miss Hildreth Wore Brown

29. Hell's Corner

30. Death Dance

31. All The Time In The World

32. Stuck in the Middle

33. Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled

34. In the Name of Honor

35. Eclipse Bay

36. Miranda's Big Mistake

37. Forever Friends

38. I'm Black and I'm Proud Wished the White Girl

39. The Lace Reader

40. The Return Journey

41. Can You Keep A Secret?

42. Picture Perfect

43. Butterfly's Daughter

44. What Good is God?

45. Mrs. Pollifax on Safari46. America's Women

47. Southern Comfort

48. Hector and the Secrets of Love

49. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

50. Shopaholic Ties the Knot

51. Listen for the Whisperer

52. The Art of Racing in the Rain

53. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

54. Phantom Prey

55. Never Change

56. 1984

57. Room

58. Spoken From the Heart

59. 40 Love

60. Gone

61. My Horizontal Life

62. Strangers in Death

63. Last Man Standing

64. Queen of Broken Hearts

65. Your Heart Belongs to Me

66. Divergent

67. Between, Georgia

68. The Puppy Diaries

69. Knit the Season

70. Two Little Girls in Blue

71. Wishin' and Hopin'

72. The Last Juror

73. One True Thing

74. The Glass case

75. Chasing Amanda

76. The Mill River Recluse

77. Of Mice and Murders (Z series)

78. Perfect Timing

79. The Woods

80. Hardly Knew Her

81. The Last Odd Day

82. The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook

83. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

84. The Women

85. BossyPants

86. America's Women

87. Down Came the Rain

88. Diary of A Wimpy Kid

89. Notes From the Underwire

90. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

91. Walking in Circles Before Lying Down

The Puppy Diaries by Jill Abramson

From Goodreads: One sparkling summer day, Jill Abramson brought home a nine-week-old golden retriever named Scout. Over the following year, as she and her husband raised their adorable new puppy, Abramson wrote a hugely popular column for The New York Times's website about the joys and challenges of training this rambunctious addition to their family. Dog-lovers from across the country inundated her with e-mails and letters, and the photos they sent in of their own dogs became the most visited photo album on the Times's site in 2009. Now Abramson has gone far beyond the material in her column and written a detailed and deeply personal account of Scout's first year. Part memoir, part manual, part investigative report, The Puppy Diaries continues Abramson's intrepid reporting on all things canine.

I really wanted to like this one. It was an ARC through the Library Thing Early Reviewer program that I had requested becsue it sounded sweet and Scout's puppy picture on the cover is too cute for words. But it just didn't capture me. The way that Jill told the tale just didn't give me the warm fuzzies, it was too accurate/clinical feeling. It may have been better in small doses as she reported in her column rather than all at once in book format. The ARC packet included tow pages of photos and they were as "awww"inspiring as I had hoped the book would be - Scout is one cute dog!

I read this book for the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.

It also counts for some of my other challenges....

Friday, December 30, 2011

Diary of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

From Goodreads: Greg records his sixth grade experiences in a middle school where he and his best friend, Rowley, undersized weaklings amid boys who need to shave twice daily, hope just to survive, but when Rowley grows more popular, Greg must take drastic measures to save their friendship.

Youngest has read this series from start to finish, in fact, Santa gave him the newest book in his stocking this year. So Santa decided, after having invested about $60 in this series over the years, to read one. It was alright. I am definitely NOT the target audience, so I won't get too unhappy that I didn't love it. I do love that my child has read and reread them all. I was just expecting them to be a little bit funnier, but they just weren't written with me in mind!

This works for these challenges..

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields

From Goodreads: When Brooke Shields welcomed her newborn daughter to the world, her joyful expectations were quickly followed by something unexpected crippling depression. In what is sure to strike a chord with the millions of women who suffer from depression after childbirth, Brooke Shields shares how she, too, battled a condition that is widely misunderstood, despite the fact that it affects many new mothers. She discusses the illness in the context of her life, including her struggle to get pregnant, the high expectations she had for herself and that others placed on her as a new mom, and the role of her husband, friends, and family as she struggled to attain her maternal footing in the midst of a disabling depression. Ultimately, Brooke shares how she found a way out through talk therapy, medication, and time.

I listened to this on audio. I would NEVER EVER EVER have made it through in print. It felt like I was at a long lunch with a friend who monopolized the conversation talking about their pregnancy and birth and new baby. And just like those friends in real life, there were some interesting bits, there were moments where I cared about what might happen but overall, my mind was elsewhere a lot of the time. I only stuck it out because it was Brooke Shields and we have grown up together. Brooke and I are less than a year apart in age, Blue Lagoon came out when I was in high school, Suddenly Susan when I was an adult. Our life experiences may have been a little different (ha!) but we share a timeline and that makes me have a soft spot for her and thus, be willing to listen to three CD's of "Post-partum depression, me? How is that possible? My life is perfect." and then a few more CD's of "I love my meds, my life is perfect again, let me tell you all about it". So, in the end, the message is important and I am glad Brooke is willing to talk about it....but it could have been much shorter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

From Goodreads: Nonny Frett understands the meaning of the phrase "inbetween a rock and a hard place" better than any woman alive. She's got two mothers, "one deaf-blind and the other four baby steps from flat crazy." She's got two men: a husband who's easing out the back door; and a best friend, who's laying siege to her heart in her front yard. And she has two families: the Fretts, who stole her and raised her right; and the Crabtrees, who won't forget how they were done wrong. Now, in Between, Georgia, a feud that began the night Nonny was born is escalating and threatening to expose family secrets. Ironically, it might be just what the town needs...if only Nonny weren't stuck in between.

Bummer, this one just wasn't that good. I loved Backseat Saints and gods in Alabama so I was really eager to read this one. Then I acquired it in a magical way so it seemed like I was just meant to have it and surely it would be wonderful. (that story...after scouring the library book sale tables thinking I had seen every book there was to offer more than once, a friend wandered by and gave me the name of a book she was loooking for. I said I'd look and told her I was looking for Between, Georgia if she happpened to see it. Well, she reached down and plucked it out of the pile right underneath my nose, I had overlooked it again and again but she spotted it.) So those two things combined to give me some seriously high expectations and this just didn't meet them. I liked the quirky characters in Jackson's other books but this book was ALL quirky characters - there wasn't a normal one in the bunch and it was just too over the top. And, it didn't grab me like her other books. The other books once I started, I just couldn't put them down. This one I put aside several times in favor of other books.

But...2 out of 3 of her books being on my "amazing" list means Joshilyn Jackson remians on my "must read" list! I am on the hunt for her other book, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and will look forward to her newest one coming out next month, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty.

This works for these challenges..

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

From Goodreads: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

This one was very good. I would probably say great except that I read the Hunger Games first. I just loved that series and thus can't help but think of this one as a bridesmaid but still very good. Roth created an interesting and detailed world in dystopian Chicago and the factions were well defined and easy to sort out as I read. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Insurgent, when it comes out next year.

The cover...

This works for these challenges..

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb

From Goodreads: It's 1964 and ten-year-old Felix is sure of a few things: the birds and the bees are puzzling, television is magical, and this is one Christmas he'll never forget.
LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade—easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.
Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School—where Mother Filomina's word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone's business. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from QuÉbec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin' and Hopin' barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.
From the Funicello family's bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin' and Hopin' is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we've been—and how far we've come.

This one was really fun! I can't remember how the author described the main character, Felix's appearance but I pictured him as the kid from A Christmas Story. The book just had that same vibe of 1960's America and, of course, it's Christmas. You read the description above and you get a feel already for how it is - just a romp with a few touching moments scattered throughout. I'll reread this one come Christmas time next year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Last Juror by John Grisham

From Goodreads: In 1970, one of Mississippi's more colorful weekly newspapers, The Ford County Times, went bankrupt. To the surprise and dismay of many, ownership was assumed by a 23 year-old college dropout, named Willie Traynor. The future of the paper looked grim until a young mother was brutally raped and murdered by a member of the notorious Padgitt family. Willie Traynor reported all the gruesome details, and his newspaper began to prosper.
The murderer, Danny Padgitt, was tried before a packed courthouse in Clanton, Mississippi. The trial came to a startling and dramatic end when the defendant threatened revenge against the jurors if they convicted him. Nevertheless, they found him guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
But in Mississippi in 1970, "life" didn't necessarily mean "life," and nine years later Danny Padgitt managed to get himself paroled. He returned to Ford County, and the retribution began.

I am on a roll - two good books in a row. I really enjoyed this one. Grisham captured the feel of a corrupt Southern town - small town law thinking they are big stuff, arrogant white men abusing blacks, and the insulated quality that means no matter how long you live there, you are never from there unless you were born there. The narrator had a great Southern accent and just made the audio book work for me. I had not too long ago seen The Lincoln Lawyer so I just couldn't help but picture Matthew McConaughey as the lawyer in this book. And since the lawyer narrates the book he was there for every minute. And since I have a huge crush on dear Matthew that was just. fine. with . me!

These all count for these challenges:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higggins Clark

From Goodreads: Mary Higgins Clark weaves the mystery of twin telepathy into a mother's search for a kidnapped child, presumed dead. Margaret and Steve Frawley celebrate the third birthday of their twin girls, Kelly and Kathy, with an afternoon party in their new home, a modest fixer-upper in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The evening of the twins' birthday party, Steve and Margaret attend a black-tie dinner in New York. When they return home, the police are in the house, and they are told that the babysitter had been found unconscious, the children are gone, and a note demanding an eight-million-dollar ransom had been left in their room.

I picked this one for my T book to wrap up the A-Z Reading Challenge because I knew it would be fast and easy and I hoped it would be good. After disappointment with my last two MHC (here) and (here), I was so glad that this one was entertaining, I was actually a little bit scared at one point! There were characters that you knew were in on the kidnapping from the beginning and you got to see how evil they were and ooh and ahh about just how bad they could get. But then there was the mystery character the "Pied Piper" and it wasn't until the end that this character was revealed and it was actually a question for me until the very end. Satisfaction.

This book counts for these challenges:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

From Goodreads: Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership. Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake. But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Seven years ago a friend gave me this book and I read it in about an hour in the airport trying to finish it before my plane boarded so I could leave it and not have the weight in my carry on. I thought it was cute and so later picked up, Can You Keep A Secret by the same author which became and still is one of my favorite Chick Lit books. Flash forward to today and I need a "U" book for the A-Z Reading Challenge and decided to read this one again with a little more attention and see if I still liked it. It was okay - as the very first British Chick Lit book I read, it was unique and fresh and funny but now that I have read dozens in this genre, it's not as impressive.

Monday, December 12, 2011

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

From Amazon: After caring for her mother during her final, painful battle with terminal cancer, Ellen Gulden discovers many surprising things about her mother's life and finds herself accused of murdering her mother in a mercy killing.

I usually love Anna Quindlen but this one was a little bit slow for me. And, it turns out, I must have read it before because there was one part I remembered quite clearly (the "Minnies" decorating Christmas trees on the town square) and I had a feeling about the ending being a twist but couldn't remember what the twist was. So, Black and Blue remains my favorite of hers so far and I am looking forward to finding a copy of her newer book, Every Last One.

This book counts for these challenges:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

And then there was T

I am down to the last book in the A-Z Reading Challenge and it's T. I looked over my TBR pile and came up with these possibilities so my job today is to pick one and get started.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Religion Flowchart

My old priest posted this on Facebook and it made me smile. I think it offends all except for maintstream Christians that somehow get a free pass. That's a tremendous error on the creator's part because there is ample material to get those guys too. Catholicism with the statues, the incense, the scapulars, and Mary everywhere has enough material for a flow chart of it's own.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Audio book round up

I've listened to several audio books without taking the time to post. This time of year is always hectic for me and 2011 has been particularly busy. Some of it in a good way - the tour of homes fundraiser for which I chair ticket sales was a great success but that meant fielding even more requests for me so it sucked my entire November into a hurricane of charge slips and check deposits. The bad way was Youngest getting hurt in basketball requiring two weeks on crutches and a flurry of appointments for x-rays and orthopedics and physical therapy all with a miserable little boy whose armpits hurt and his goood leg hurt and everything hurt because crutches are not nearly as easy as they look! So here's a quick summary of my listens for posterity's sake!

Queen of Broken Hearts by Cassandra King I feel like the wicked witch when I say this but she just doesn't do it for me. I enjoyed bits and pieces of this one but not enough to say I liked it. My biggest regret with this one was that I didn't think to save it for my 2012 Q book!

Strangers in Death by JD Robb I've listened to one other in this series and didn't really care for it but this one sucked me in. I liked all the characters, even the bad ones, and even though we know "whodunit", I enjoyed Eve's unraveling of the crime.

Gone by Johnathan Kellerman Good but not great detective story.

Last Man Standing by David Baldacci Solid Baldacci, his are consistently good listens for me except when he veers off into the romantic (Christmas Train).

Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz I was expecting better. I thought Dean Koontz would be really scary, this wasn't. And I thought it would suck me right in and it didn't. Took two dics before it got interesting, I perservered only because it was audio, a print version would have been set aside.

These all count for these challenges: