30 January 2012

2011 Superlatives ~ What were your favorite books in 2011?

I've finally compiled my reading list for all of 2011.

Out of a total of 42 books I read:

3 books I rated as 5*
7 books I rated as 4.5*
12 books I rates as 4*

What were your top reads?

Here's a surprise for me; 9 of the books that I read were books I had previously read. I am not a big rereader of books. I generally figure there are so many books out there that I haven't read that I shouldn't spend the time on rereading books.

Did you reread any books last year?

Here are the titles of the books I read in 2011, to which I gave the top ratings.

5* titles
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (a reread)
Arctic Homestead by Norma Cobb (a reread)
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (a reread)

4.5* titles
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Postmistress bySarah Blake
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
A HeartbreakingWork of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
A Lotus Grows in the Mud by Goldie Hawn
Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo

4* titles
Shakespeare in an Hour by Christopher Baker
Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough
A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel
Emma by Jane Austen
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood
Spooky Little Girl: A Novel by Laurie Notaro
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
There's a (Slight) Chance I Might be Goingto Hell by Laurie Notaro
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Little Women Illustrated Classic Editions by Louisa May Alcott
The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt
Entombed in Alcatraz by Robert Victor Luke

Authors from the above list who are ones thatI return tofor fresh titles, timeand again, are: Natalie Babbitt, Bill Bryson, Laurie Notaro

Who are your favorite go-to authors?

I also broke my reading down into genres. I have listed only one genre for each title even though many could fall into more than one genre. I chose the genres based only on my own feelings and  not by the publishers' designations.

Classics - 5
Non Fiction or Biography -  8
Fiction - 4
Juvenile Fiction - 9
Historical Fiction -2
Memoir or Auto-Biography - 8
Mystery - 2
Humor - 1
Young Adult Fiction - 3

My favorites, sorted by genre are:

Classic - Emma
or Little Women (because I read it to our five year old daughter)
Non Fiction or Biography - Dark Tide, then At Home
Fiction - Spooky Little Girl (I loved Notaro's jump into fiction)
Juvenile Fiction - Phantom Tollbooth, with Search for Delicious a worthy second
Memoir or Auto-Biography - Arctic Homestead, followed by Heartbreaking Work
Mystery - 13th Tale, followed by Red Herring (I love Flavia de Luce)
Young Adult Fiction - I Am the Messenger rates just above Looking for Alaska

Have you determined your favorites in each genre for 2011?

21 January 2012

Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix (3rd in the Missing Series)

The focus of this final book of the Found trilogy is Virginia Dare who was the first white child born on American soil. I've got to tell you I was very intrigued to see where this story would go.

The author held my attention well and then, I felt, abruptly ended the story, leaving me unsatisfied. I found the story-line confusing too. I think a lot of kids could read this book and just see it as an exciting story. For adults, I think the author created unanswered questions and scenarios. I was left wanting more from it.

My Review of: Found (Book 1)

My Review of: Sent (Book 2)

18 January 2012

Why are websites going black on January 18th?

If you need the scoop, here are some vital links explaining what is going on.

Click here>Wikipedia's Explanation

Click Here>Reddit ~ Stopped they must be...

Here it is:

Click Here>Google ~ End Piracy, Not Liberty

On the right side of the page is where you sign.

I'm signing off now for the rest of the day.

16 January 2012

The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbitt

I read this book because I loved Natalie Babbit's Tuck Everlasting. This was nothing like that.

This selection felt very juvenile in its writing style. Many of the stories felt very similar to each other. 

Each selection is meant to have the reader walk away with the sense of a moral. The end product just really didn't suit me though. 

If you haven't read Tuck Everlasting, I highly recommend that. If you have, rest in that. The prose of Tuck Everlasting was pure joy.

15 January 2012

The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer

If you dont mind crying...

I read this book because I was intrigued by the mystery it seemed to hold. It holds more than that. It was on one of our sons' Christmas lists last year because he'd seen it on the Caudill Award Nominee list in 20100 for 2011.

This is a book about: fostering, adoption, pet fostering, death and life, trust, and facing your fears.

Gabe is used to being shuttled from foster home to foster home when a caring caseworker is finally able to locate his uncle who agrees to take him in. Death strikes unexpectedly and Gabe finds himself alone and unsure of what to do. When this happens he also finds a curious correspondence has begun between him and a stranger, via Uncle Vernon's mailbox.

This is a book written for juveniles but it explores some very mature themes. There is some discussion about a Vietnam vet who mistakenly fired upon a Vietnamese child who was firing on him. This tragedy haunted the vet who eventually fired upon himself due to the guilt for which he couldn't forgive himself...

This same veteran, though mentally unstable, reaches out to Gabe, via the mailbox, and the two become friends from afar. Each helps the other in his own way, to face a world without Vernon.

This story also portrays teachers, caseworkers, and law officials as being human beings with feelings and with the ability and need to reach out to others. In the end, the story line is nicely tidied up with everyone moving appropriately forward.

I strongly caution a pre-read by parents and teachers prior to allowing or encouraging children to read this book. While it is well-written and thought-provoking, in my opinion, it should probably only be read by kids ages 12 or 13 or older. And then only if they will not be tormented by a man shooting half his head off in an attempt to expunge himself of guilt... This story has its place but it isn't for everyone. It certainly isn't something I'd have chosen to read if I'd known the subject matter more fully. If our boys choose to read it I'll be glad I've already read it.

12 January 2012

Sleepwalk With Me: and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike Birbiglia

Mike Birbiglia is one of my favorite comedians. If you aren't familiar with him you can find snippets of his routines on Pandora Radio.

This book will feel familiar to anyone who has listened to his stand-up routines. He expounds on those bits, giving us the bigger picture.

Prior to reading this book I knew nothing about his sleepwalking. Sleepwalking can be triggered by stress in one's life. Mike's sleepwalking was definitely triggered by stress. He chronicles his need to be honest with himself and the people in his life. His sleepwalking became quite dangerous.

Though I was familiar with his comedy, I still enjoyed reading this book. I enjoy Mike's conversational tone. 

This book has adult themes and adult language.

10 January 2012

The Face of a Naked Lady by Michael Rips

I read this book, borrowed from the library, in April 2006. This year I received a copy through my Paperbackswap account. I decided to reread it slowly. I placed it in our bathroom and read it only a few minutes a day.

I was curious to know if I would enjoy it as much as I previously had. Michael Rips was not particularly close to his father. After his father died Michael happened upon a photo of a naked black woman in his father's things. He decided he hadn't known his father well enough.He decided he had to try to find out who the woman was and how his father had been involved in her life.

That part of the story is a somewhat touching one, really. The thing is that Michael is a story-teller, and a pretty good rambler.  The first time I read the book I kind of enjoyed that I guess. This time through I just wasn't nearly as enamored. I think I've matured a lot in my reading style over the years. We all surely hope to do that.

I love memoirs and this title certainly falls into that genre, at least in part. I generally enjoy a bit of self-discovery too but Rips is a bit holier-than-thou in the way he draws analogies. I enjoy a bit of fun in a story too. I think Rips goes too far in both directions though. He can't find a happy medium. In the earliest parts of the book he includes one story that is simply there just for its shock value, nothing more. I didn't like  that. Most readers, I think, wouldn't.

I was glad to be reminded the identity of the naked lady but I'm not so thrilled that I reread this book. Today, I wouldn't recommend it to most people and can only give it about 2 - 2.5 stars.
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