Posts Tagged: best of

End of Year Book Survey

December 31, 2012 Books 13

I knew, oh, probably about July or so, that my end of year round up was going to be hard. And it just continued to get harder as the year progressed. I had such a great reading year. I’ve read 106 books. Thank God for The Perpetual Page Turner and her end of year questionnaire!

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1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

Adult fiction: The Stand by Stephen King
Historical YA: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Contemporary YA: The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater, Every Day by David Levithan
I-Don’t-Know-What-To-Call-It YA: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Dystopian YA: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Sci-fi/supernatural/paranormal-ish: The Stand by Stephen King
Fantasy: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

 The Stand by Stephen King

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein or Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I did a lot of recommending of both.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

The Ender series by Orson Scott Card

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Eowyn Ivey, Rachel Joyce, Audrey Couloumbis, Kendare Blake, David Levithan

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Stand by Stephen King

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

Anna Dressed in Blood/Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
13101889 and 11250053
11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

Ender Wiggin from Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I discovered I CAN read Margaret Atwood! And enjoy the experience! And also The Stand, because I discovered I do have the discipline to read such an extremely long novel!

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 

No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one’s life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins. – Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

But when it comes to human beings, the only type of cause that matters is final cause, the purpose. What a person had in mind. Once you understand what people really want, you can’t hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can’t hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart. – Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

I’ve seen most of what there is to be afraid of in this world, and to tell you the truth, the worst of them are the ones that make you afraid in the light. The things that your eyes see plainly and can’t forget are worse than huddled black figures left to the imagination. Imagination has a poor memory; it slinks away and goes blurry. Eyes remember for much longer. – Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

During the time I lived in the sea, nothing happened in the sense that humans know happening. Seals do not sit about and tell, the way people do, and their lives are not eventful in the way that people’s are, lines of story combed out again and again, in the hope that they will yield more sense with every stroke. Seal life already makes perfect sense, and needs no explanation. At the approach of my man-mind, my seal life slips apart into glimpses and half memories: sunlight shafts into the green; the mirror roof crinkles above; the mams race ahead through the halls and cathedrals and along the high roads of the sea; boat bellies rock against the light, and men mumble and splash at their business above; the seal-men spin their big bodies by their delicate tails as lightly as land-lads spin wooden tops, shooting forward, upward, outward. Movement in the sea is very much like flying, through a green air flocking with tiny lives, and massier ones more slowly coasting by. – The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

People have wanted to narrate since first we banged rocks together & wondered about fire. There’ll be tellings as long as there are any of us here, until the stars disappear one by one like turned-out lights. – Railsea by China Miéville

Oh, I could go on and on, but those are the ones that jumped out at me when I flipped through.

 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 

Shortest: 63. The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm by Laura Amy Schlitz (40 pages)

Longest: 55. The Stand by Stephen King (1,163 pages)

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Andi knows what I’m talking about, cause I emailed her immediately!)

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

The boys in The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Rhiannon and A in Every Day by David Levithan

Verity and Maddie – Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Geez, just typing that made me tear up. Damn.)

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

The Stand by Stephen King

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

The Stand by Stephen King

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

Keep up better! This was my year to let things slide a bit. 2013 will, hopefully, bring more focus.

My Top Twelve Reads

1. The Stand by Stephen King
2. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater
6. The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
7. Every Day by David Levithan
8. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
9. Railsea by China Miéville
10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
11. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
12. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Stats:

106 books total
76 books read – 19,265 pages
30 audiobooks listened to – 343 hours, 36 minutes

24 Rereads

57 Books by Females
49 Books by Males

Goals met:

I read a Margaret Atwood!
I read Madame Bovary!
I freaking read The Stand!
I read more classics!

And HERE’S what I read (and this shows just how embarrassingly little I reviewed this year) (*sigh*) (I see some short reviews in my future…):

106. Bridge to Teribithia by Katherine Paterson
105. Pantomime by Laura Lam
104. The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey, et. al.
103. Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas
102. Visions in White (Bride Quartet #1) by Nora Roberts
101. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
100. Dodger by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
99. Matchless: A Christmas Story by Gregory Maguire
98. Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham
97. Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin, read by Ilyana Kadushin
96. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, adapted by Nancy Butler
95. Around the World by Matt Phelan
94. Owly: Volume 5 – Tiny Tales by Andy Runton
93. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
92. Enclave by Ann Aguirre, read by Emily Bauer
91. Outlander: The Exile by Diana Gabaldon, illustrated by Hoang Nguyen
90. The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay
89. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, read by Steven Crossley
88. Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham
87. Click-Clack the Rattlebag written and read by Neil Gaiman
86. Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Couloumbis
85. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
84. Diary of a Submissive by Sophie Morgan
83: Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy, read by the author
82. The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
81. The Good Neighbors #3: Kind by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh
80. The Good Neighbors #2: Kith by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh
79. The Good Neighbors #1: Kin by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh
78. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
77. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, read by Stefan Rudinicki (leads off site)
76. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
75. Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale by Zach Whedon
74. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, read by Joanna David
73. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
72. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
71. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, read by Simon Vance
70. The Wrath of Mulgarath (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #5) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
69. The Ironwood Tree (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #4) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
68. Lucinda’s Secret (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #3) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
67. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
66. The Seeing Stone (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #2) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
65. The Field Guile (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #1) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
64. The Bookseller by Roald Dahl, read by David Ian Davies
63. The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm by Laura Amy Schlitz
62. The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
61. Every Day by David Levithan
60. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, read by Juliet Stevenson
59. The Sandman, Vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
58. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
57. Ida B…and her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan
56. City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5) by Cassandra Clare
55. The Stand by Stephen King
54. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, read by Elizabeth McGovern
53. The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty
52. Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness, read by Jennifer Ikeda
51. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
50. A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
49. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harkness, read by Jennifer Ikeda
48. Burning for Revenge (Tomorrow, #5) by John Madden, read by Suzi Doughtery
47. Owly, Vol 4: A Time to be Brave by Andy Runton
46. Dust Girl (The American Fairy Trilgoy, #1) by Sarah Zettel
45. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, read by Tamara Lovatt-Smith
44. Owly, Vol 3: Flying Lessons b y Andy Runton
43. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
42. Railsea by China Mieville
41. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green
40. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
39. Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham, read by Wil Wheaton
38. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
37. Where She Went (If I Stay, #2) by Gayle Forman
36. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Larson, read by the author
35. Fables Vol 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham
34. If I Stay by Gayle Forman, read by Kirsten Potter
33. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, read by Nick Podehl, Angela Dawe, and MacLeod Andrews
32. The Fairy-Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, #1) by Michael Buckley
31. Fables Vol 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham
30. Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor
29. Fables Vol 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
28. Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
27. Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1) by Kristin Cashore
26. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, read by Nick Podehl and Angela Dawe
25. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
24. Mercury by Hope Larson
23. Lost and Found: One Woman’s Story of Loosing Her Money and Finding Her Life by Geneen Roth
22. The Knife of Never Letting Go (The Chaos Walking Trilogy, #1) by Patrick Ness, read by Nick Podehl
21. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
20. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins, read by Catherine McCormick
19. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
18. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) by Suzanne Collins, read by Catherine McCormick
17. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
16. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins, read by Catherine McCormick
15. The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
14. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton
13. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
12. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
11. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
10. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by the author
9. Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga, #1) by Orson Scott Card
8. Darkness Be My Friend (Tomorrow, #4) by John Marsden, read by Suzi Doughtery
7. Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) by Maggie Steifvater
6. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
5. Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
4. The Frost (Tomorrow, #3) by John Marsden, read by Suzi Doughtery
3. The Doctor’s Wife by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
2. RASL: The Drift by Jeff Smith
1. Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan, read by the author

So long 2012. Reading wise, you were a fantastic year! Here’s hoping 2013 is the same.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!

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Best of 2011 – Books of the Graphic Kind

January 17, 2012 Book Reviews, Books, Lists 5

Better late than never, right? I hope so, because I am sooooo late with this post. Put I had to get it out there, because, despite the decrease in number, the increase in quality of graphic novels I read last year just has to be put out here. I only read 23, 11 of which are from one series, but I seriously loved them all. Where do I begin?

I know exactly where I begin. With Bone.

Bone came to me early last year. On a whim, I picked up the first in the series, not really knowing what to expect. Next think I knew, I was buying the rest of the series (nine books total) and devouring them in less than a week. Here is my complete review of the series, with a bit of a highlight here:

That is just at tiny taste (and an inadequate one at that) of the awesomeness that is Bone. I loved Bone. I adored Bone. I want to marry Bone and have it’s children. Okay, that’s a little too far, but seriously, I loved it. It has been over a month since I plowed through all nine books and I find still find myself thinking about the story, the characters, the in jokes (Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures!!!), the gorgeous gorgeous art, and more. This story is so many things. Adventure. Coming of age. Road trip. Love. Loyalty. Destiny. Friendship. Finding yourself. Trust.  It’s dark. It’s funny. It’s epic.

And the art, again, is gorgeous. Seriously.

Other highlights include Anya’s Ghost, the Brian Selznicks and The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt. I hope to read many, many more graphic novels this year, to make up for last year. At least there was a lot of quality, if not a lot of quantity. And hopefully I’ll review them better too!

The rest:

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (review)
Shivers, Wishes and Wolves, ed by Donald Lemke (review)
The Stuff of Legend, Vol. 1
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Bone: Tale Tales by Tom Sniegoski and Jeff Smith
where i live by Eileen Spinelli and Matt Phelan
Bone: Rose by Tom Sniegoski and Jeff Smith
Little Red Riding Hood by The Brothers Grimm, Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus (review)
Bone 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith
Bone 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith
Bone 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith
Bone 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith
The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
Bone 5: Rock Jaw by Jeff Smith
Bone 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith
Bone 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith
Bone 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith
Bone 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith

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Best of 2011 – Best of the Rest and a few goals….

January 1, 2012 Books 20

So I’ve posted my best reads in audiobooks, YA/MG, and (soon) graphic novels. Now it’s time to do the best of the rest. I managed to fit in a couple more slim volumes  before I kissed 2011 good riddance, so I finished with 102 books read. Now that I have weeded out the audio, the YA/MG and the graphic (I swear, it’s coming, I have to polish) I can get down to the best of the rest. And my favorite book of the year is, for me, a no-brainer. I knew as soon as I closed the book that it would be my favorite and it hasn’t changed in the 6 months (give or take) since. The Name of the Wind captured me unlike any book I read this year and, honestly, I think the last few years. The next book in the series, which I have been holding off on simply because I don’t know how long it will be until the third book comes out, will be read this year, I’m sure. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (review) – Favorite book of the year!

From my review:

It seems like it’s been forever since I fell so completely, so totally, so helplessly in love with a book. Or, rather, with a character. It has happened though. With this book. The Name of the Wind is my latest book crush and I hope I can do it some measure of justice as I attempt to tell you why you need to go out, buy this huge, mammoth, monster of a book and give it a chance. Now, yes. It’s huge. It is gargantuan. It is, like, the biggest book in the whole known universe. At least it looks that way, right? Believe me though, it’s worth every minute it takes… every hour… every week! The narrative is so strong, so quick, so amazing… oh heck, I need to stop or I’ll just gush on and on. 

I’m sad to say most of my review is like that-gushing. I couldn’t help it. Still can’t. I could start gushing right now. Please don’t fear it because it is fantasy. It transcends its’ genre into something I think anyone who loves a good story can enjoy.

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (review)

This, and my next book, practically tie for second. Never has setting so completely enthralled me, as it did in this book. And it is heavy with the atmosphere, so it’s a good thing I loved every word of it.

I feel like this book was made for me. I don’t normally like circuses, mainly because I detest clowns, but this circus…this circus is special. It’s unlike anything I have ever encountered in my life, be it in real life, or in print. And oh, how I would love to encounter it in real life.

You see, this circus is special. Magical. Morgenstern’s imagination, it was set free, let run wild, and the things it came up with…just breathtaking. 

Special indeed. If you haven’t taken the plunge into Morgenstern’s world, do it. Ignore the hype, bite the bullet, and just try the first chapter.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (review)

This book, even now, gives me chills of delight, just thinking of it. It’s books like this that make me wish I had a book club. I would LOVE to discuss this!

There is so much to discuss in this book, it would be impossible for me to even chip the surface. I’m not even sure where to begin; mainly because I don’t want to give to much away. There is much food for thought; issues of race, religion, feminism, and rights. This is one of the more elaborate coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read, for even though Hannah is in her 20s, she is so naive, she feels like a teenager. Her sheltered, religious, upbringing has left her with a very limited world-view. Her world has been small, her relationship with God limited by the teaching of others, and she has a long journey towards finding her true self. And what a journey it is. Watching Hannah find a new inner strength she never dreamed she had is empowering. This story is powerful, it’s upsetting, it’s gripping…it’s almost impossible to put down until the last page has been turned, with the satisfaction of a tale well told. Book clubs will love this book and should provoke interesting discussion.

American Gods: The 10th Anniversary; Author’s Preferred Text by Neil Gaiman

I don’t normally count rereads, but AG is special. And he added text, so part of it I hadn’t read before! It was also the first time my hubby and I read a book at the same time (he listened to the audio), so that makes it doubly special. I enjoyed talking with him about it every night after the kids went to bed.

I didn’t review this book and that is a shame. American Gods introduced me to the magic that is Neil Gaiman 10 years ago. As soon as I heard about this edition, I knew I had to have it. As it was 10 years ago, I raced through this book with bated breath and a wondering eye. His brilliance captivated me as before, and probably even more so now that I am older and maybe slightly wiser. I will be rereading this for years to come.

Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (review)

Thank you again, Ana, for introducing me to Elizabeth Hand. I will definitely be reading more by her this year. This book of two cousins, descendants of a famous stage actress, who fall in love with each other and the stage, is not to be missed by anyone who once flirted with the desire to perform, to force oneself to conform to ones own desires like Maddy, and perhaps even flamed out or knows someone who did, like Rogan.

Illyria is set in late 1970s New York and tells the story of Madeleine and Rogan Tierney; first cousins, best friends, soul-mates and first loves. Or, in plainer terms, young, innocent Maddy falls for the wild and James-Dean-wannabe Rogan.They are descendants of the original Madeleine Tierney – a famous stage actress – and part of a huge extended family who all live within a defunct housing development. It’s just recipe for disaster, all that family (and I mean a lot of family) all living within a 5 mile radius of each other. When the original Madeleine Tierney married and started a family, she quit the stage and never looked back. And neither did any of her descendants, it became something of a no-no, until Maddy and Rogan came along. They do all kinds of secretive things together, in a hidden room in Rogan’s attic bedroom. Where there is a magical secret that I think is best left for you to discover should you choose to read the book.

Just a gorgeous, gorgeous book.

The rest of my 5:

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (review) – Still one of the creepiest stories I read this year!
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (review) (discussion) – Yes, more vampires. But this vampire, he’s a little bit…different.
Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World by Signe Pike (review) – A modern woman’s search for faeries who finds a little something more….
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl – The former Gourmet editors’ look at how she came to love food so much, with fascinating glimpses at her life growing up. I love how she actually worked her way up; seems like you can’t do that any more.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson – My first Persephone and just plain fun.

Reading Goals for 2012

– I want to read more classics this year. At least one a month, with having one month this year dedicated to them. If I wasn’t reading a YA book at the moment, one that I want to finish, I might would even do it this month. I may do it anyway.

– I want to read more with the kids. We read, don’t get me wrong, but I want to do it more. We don’t read every night like I would like and I think it’s time to move on to some more… interesting… books. I plan to pull out my grandmother’s classic literature for kids collection (includes Heidi, King Arthur, Tom Sawyer, Arabian Knights, etc) and tackle a few of them this year

– This years’ motto is Quality, not Quantity. I’ve read over 100 books for two three (!) consecutive years. I’ve proved it to myself at this point. Now it’s time to slow down and enjoy the ride a little  more. That said, I’m instituting a zero tolerance policy. If the book isn’t grabbing, I’m not going to feel guilty about putting it to the side. If I can tell it will get better, I may try to push through a bit, but I’m not going to force myself to read something that is making me miserable.

– Review better, more often, and continue to do my own thing. I tried it the other way and it made me miserable. I’m also going to make more of an effort to get around and comment more. My feed reader is about to take a huge hit. I love all the blogs I follow, but sadly, I just don’t have time to follow them all. If you follow me and comment here, I will be following you and a few other favorites, but the rest, well, *finger across throat.*

– Work on getting back into shape and into healthy life habits. I managed to loose 22 pounds last year and make my goal of weighing 125. I’ve gained a bit back over the holidays, which was fine since I wanted to enjoy them fully, but now it’s time to get back to business. Now that we have a dog, that means more exercising opportunities and I can’t wait for the gardening season and fresh vegetables again!

So that’s it. What was your favorite book of the year? What reading, blogging, life resolutions have you made? Do tell all!

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Best of 2011 – Books of the Audio Kind

December 30, 2011 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books, Lists 7

Ah, audiobooks. Where would my reading life be without you? Besides approximately 23 books less than what I read? Seriously, I don’t think I could live without audiobooks now. I love them so much.

Here are my top five favorite audiobooks this year.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, read by Anthony Heald (review)

Oh, how I loved this book. It stayed with me a long time and, actually, some of the thoughts on land, farming, and what we hand down to our children really stayed with me. So much so that it made me add some garden space for the kids last year, which was great. My daughters tomatoes were just about the best thing we had! Anyway, I adored this book. Here are my thoughts on the audio production, from my review:

I listened to the audio production by Blackstone Audio. Anthony Heald read The Good Earth and did a marvelous job. I have never listened to him read a book before, but I will definitely seek him out in the future. I loved the way he did the old man, Wang Lung’s father. And he was able to feminize his voice for the women, despite having quite a deep voice. All in all, he made it a pleasure to listen to this book.

A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

As I said yesterday, I haven’t reviewed this books simply because I do not know how to put my love of Terry Pratchett into words. This series (which starts with The Wee Free Men, which I actually read myself and therefore is not listen here) is just a delight. Terry Pratchett can do no wrong in my eyes. And Stephen Briggs is fantastic. I completely adore his narration and I swear there is nothing funnier than the way he reads the Nac Mac Feegles. Oh geez, now I want to listen to it again, starting with the first book. I know these will be well read, or rather, listened to books around this house.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwhistle

I never did get around to reviewing this one. I have a half written blog post in my draft folder, so I’ll give you a little of what I wrote there:

And read by Jayne Entwhistle. Who made the book for me, hands down.

Yep. That’s all I got. Yet it says a lot, I think. I did adore Jayne Entwhistle’s reading of the first book in the Flavia de Luce series. Her reading of Flavia was fantastic and I need to get on with the next book in the series already!

Nerd Do Well written and read by Simon Pegg (review)

I thought I could like Simon Pegg no more, but then I listened to him read his book and it kinda became love. He’s just so funny and down to earth and such a fanboy himself, I just couldn’t help it! From my review:

There is something very lovely and down-to-earth about Mr. Pegg and I think listening, rather than reading, to his book amplified that. Pegg is a great reader, for one thing, and his enthusiasm comes across brilliantly. Beginning with a childhood that showed early signs of his comedic talents and he shows how he came to be obsessed with science fiction, we learn how he met Nick Frost, and, I like how he put this, “journey from ordinary nerd to nerd participating in the world that made him nerdy in the first place.” Adding to the fun, Pegg offers up a “fake biography” of his alter-ego, a James Bond-esque debonair secret something like an agent that I found just hilarious.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, read by Kate Burton

With each reading, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn inches up my all-time-favorite-books list.  Watch out Princess Bride! Oh, if only you had a decent unabridged audiobook…. *sigh* Anyway, ATGiB is such a wonderful, cozy, comfort read for me and the reading by Kate Burton was superb. It appears I have never formally reviewed this book (I know! I can’t believe it either!) but I did mention it in a post from 2007 where I said:

Ah, this is my comfort book. I discovered it later than most people; most seem to have read it when children. I didn’t first read it until I was in my 20s. I have read it several times since. It was the book I took with me to the hospital when my beloved Papa went in for the last time. I think I may be due another read soon.

It says a lot about a book, when you take it with you to the hospital when your, well, father-figure is dying, yes? It truly is a comfort to me and this audiobook production just added to the love for me.

Here are the 23 audiobooks I listened to this year:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, read by Tim Curry
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, read by Roxana Ortega
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, read by Kate Burton
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, read by Paul Ansdell
All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin, read by Ilyana Kadushin (review)
The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, read by Teri Clark Linden
Blood Rites by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters
Wildwood by Colin Meloy, read by Amanda Plummer
Dracula by Bram Stoker, read by Christopher Lee (review)
Nerd Do Well written and read by Simon Pegg (review)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwhistle
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, read by Campbell Scott
A Study in Emerald, written and read by Neil Gaiman
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, performed by Stephen Briggs
The Great Gatsby by F, Scott Fitzgerald, read by Tim Robbins (review)
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, read by the author
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, read by Nick Podehl
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, read by Anthony Heald (review)
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, read by Peter Jeffrey

There are so many audiobooks I hope to get to next year!! How about you? Did you listen to any fantastic audiobooks this year? What do you plan to listen to next year?

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Best of 2011 – The Books for the Younger Ones

December 29, 2011 Books 16

I’ve read 100 books this year. I didn’t expect so many of them to be YA and MG, so I was so surprised when I pulled the titles out to see I read 54 YA/MG books! That’s over half what I read! And so many were fantastic. I am finding it very hard to pick a top ten! I have three who could easily tie for number 1. So I’m going to do this in no specific order, but here are my top favorites:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd. (review)

I still can’t think about this book and not feel the tears well up. From my review:

Every so often, a book comes into my life that leaves me utterly speechless, speechless in wonder, in awe, in tears, and in stupidity. This one certainly went in directions I didn’t expect, it went in directions that moved me, that rattled me, that made me sit up and think and, yes, sob out-loud at the beauty, the pain, the very gravity of this powerful story. I just don’t know what to say, because what I want to say-I want to say it in a way that it to makes you run out and devour this book, and love it as much as I did.

Looking for Alaska by John Green (review)

John Green can do no wrong in my eyes. I have adored everything he’s written and am waiting with bated breath by for my copy of The Fault in Our Stars to arrive in January. John Green, in my opinion, completely captures what it is like to be a teenager and all the angst, pain, love, misery, perfect turmoil, and amazingness it is to be that age, what it’s like to grow up, to mature, to become an adult and he it does it with such a considerate, “I’ve been there myself my friend” feel that it somehow feels like it lessens the overwhelming fullness of it. He’s magic.

Shine by Lauren Myracle (review)

Such a great, wonderful, marble-less (that’s the boy speak for marvelous) book. From my review:

This is the first book I’ve read by Lauren Myracle but I know it won’t be my last. Her writing is tight, honest; she doesn’t pull punches with her characters. She’s not afraid to push them. And she has a great way with dialogue. Just hearing these characters “talk” I would have known they were from the South. She’s great with the little details (something I always appreciate), she paints a picture of a dying mountain town on the bring of combustion when something happens to one of their own, a something that many want to ignore. And she’s dealing with issues that are so important. Issues that people are ignoring just as hard as the people in this book and we need to stop ignoring them. People should NOT be hurt or persecuted or made to feel inferior for who. they. love. The characters are so wonderfully written. I dare you not to adore Cat by the end of the book. Months later, I still find myself thinking about this book and to me, that is some of the highest praise I can bestow.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor  (review)

There came a point sometime this year, where it felt like all YA was starting to read alike. Like they all had the same formula. Upon reading this book and Cinder however, I have hope that publishers are starting to take notice and are taking some new things. As I said in my review:

I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t go down easily. I’ve read quite a bit of YA in the past few years and, like most genres that become super popular, formulas begin to pop up. There is the beautiful, unattainable yettotally attainable guy. Self-conscious, unbecoming-feeling, but totally capable girl (with the exception of Bella) who is actually quite beautiful, smart, etc. She just. doesn’t. know. it. She needs HIM to tell her. There is always some sort of paranormal element. And (all together now) it’s LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. And Daughter of Smoke & Bone, when starting out? Feels a LOT like this.

But then DoS&B takes some unexpected twists and turns that had me on the edge of my seat by the end. I seriously cannot wait for the next in this series and Laini Taylor has, I’m pretty sure, found a fan for life.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

I cannot believe I didn’t review this book. Bad, bad Heather. I read it during my beach trip this year and it was spectacularly good. Hate List is a in depth look at survivor’s guilt and how tragedy affects not only the families of those affected, but also those who (in this case, somewhat unwittingly) played a part in a high school shooting. Jennifer Brown wrote a tight, well written story about a a girl, Valerie, all the complex emotions she feels prior to, and after, the shooting. A very powerful book.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (review)

Geez, but I loved this book. From my review:

This book wrapped it’s sweet little Gothic arms around me and held me tight until the very last page. I could not put it down. I did not WANT to put it down. Something about Jacob, and the kids at the Home… they just spoke to me. They are all so extremely different, different in ways I can’t comprehend, but at the same time…I just know. I know what it’s like to feel different. And how it feels to find someone who is different too and the… just… homecoming of that.

What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson (review)

One of the books I had to read for Nerds Heart YA this year, the book I picked to go on in the tournament, and the book that eventually won.

Serenity Evans is a fantastic character. She is a strong African-American teen who is not only a great example for other African-Americans; she is a great example for all young teenage girls. She faces extraordinary challenges with an inner-strength that, while faltering in a typical way for her age, is enviable. She acts like a typical teenager in her struggle to do what’s right while staying true to herself. When her brother gets mixed up the wrong crowd, Serenity is torn between wanting to help and protect her brother or keep silent like he so desperately wants her to. Her story feels, sadly, true to life and I can see this book being a valuable resource to teens living through similar experiences.

The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett (Includes The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight), read by Stephen Briggs

I haven’t reviewed any of these books. Basically, I don’t know how to put my love into words. I say that a lot, I know, but this time it is completely true. I just don’t know how to say it. I fill up with love at the thought of Terry Pratchett and my brain goes dead. Stephen Briggs kills the audiobooks, I highly recommend.

If ever you need a laugh, a light hand with parody, and feeling of… there, see… I’m at a loss for words again. Just… love.

Geez, now I want to listen to them all again.

That brings me to 11, if I count all four Tiffany Aching books separate.  Gosh, I had a great reading year in the YA/MG section! Did you read any great YA or MG books? Do share, you know I love recommendations!

Here are all the YA/MG books I read in 2011, in reverse order, since I’m too lazy to type it all up backwards. :)

Cinder by Melissa Meyer (coming out in 2012)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, read by Kate Burton (review)
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor  (review)
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (review)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (review)
Chime by Franny Billingsley
The Son of Neptune: The Heroes of Olympus Book 2 by Rick Riordan
All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin, read by Ilyana Kadushin (review)
The Dead of Night by John Marsden
Deadly Little Secret: A Touch Novel by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Wildwood by Colin Meloy, read by Amanda Plummer
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (review)
What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson (review)
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Looking for Alaska by John Green (review)
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (review)
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden (review)
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (review)
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd (review)
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan
Bone: Tale Tales by Tom Sniegoski and Jeff Smith
where i live by Eileen Spinelli and Matt Phelan
Bone: Rose by Tom Sniegoski and Jeff Smith
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, performed by Stephen Briggs
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (review)
Shine by Lauren Myracle (review)
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
Darkest Mercy: Wicked Lovely #5 by Melissa Marr
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, read by Nick Podehl
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (review)
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
The New World by Patrick Ness
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Bone 1-9 by Jeff Smith (review)
Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie (review)
Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (review)
The Lost Hero: The Heroes of Olympus Book 1 by Rick Riordan
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (review)

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